17th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister for
War Organization of Industry give consideration to an increase of the amount which is permitted to be expended upon repairs and improvements to property, particularly homes? Will the honorable gentleman also state at what stage the operation of a more liberal scale of permits to home-builders may be expected ?
– The matter of permits for housing construction is a very difficult one. The regulations in . relation to repairs to houses lay down that individuals may expend £25 on exterior work and £25 on interior work without obtaining a permit from my department, a permit being necessary only in the event of the proposed expenditure being in excess of that amount. I am quite sure that if it can be shown that repairs which property-owners wish to make are absolutely essential, the department will readily grant the necessary permit. The budget disclosed that during the present financial year more than 50 per cent. of the labour force of this country will be employed either directly or indirectly in the prosecution of the war. Until more man-power can be made available as the result of a decision by the Government in the light of events, I cannot see any possibility of relaxing to any very great degree the administration of. the building regulations.
– I have been advised from Brisbane that certain drivers of trucks transporting primary produce have been granted permits to purchase tyros, but cannot do so because no tyres are available in Brisbane. They have ascertained that they can be obtained in Melbourne, but have been refused permission to have them transported from another State. Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping instruct that tyres which are available in Melbourne shall be made available to persons in Queensland who have been given permission to make purchases ?
– I frankly admit that this fault in the distribution of tyres should not have occurred, and I shall take steps immediately to have it adjusted.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral been drawn to a recent broadcast by Dr. Norman Haire. on the subject of population? Was a copy of the address by Dr. Haire submitted to the Australian Broadcasting Commission before the broadcast was given, and is the Minister aware of Dr. Haire’s views on sex? Will he see that broadcasts such as that of Dr. Haire, which are offensive to the community and damaging to the future of Australia, shall not be permitted over the national network?
Mr.CALWELL. - I have discussed this matter with the Postmaster-General because I heard the broadcast myself, and took certain action in regard to it. I understand that the commission was supplied with the script of the addressed delivered by the various speakers, and that it approved of them before they were’ delivered; but it had no notice of the questions which wereasked, or of the replies given to them. I understand that objection has been taken, not only to what was said in the main address, but also to what was saidin answer to questions. The Minister is not responsible for the conduct of such broadcasts, because the act gives the commission complete discretion in the matter.
The Minister is considering what action should be taken in the future to prevent the broadcasting of such matter.
Station 2HD Newcastle.
– In yesterday’s press a statement appeared by Bishop Batty in relation to wireless broadcasting station 2HD. In the course of his statement, he made certain allegations regarding the terms which had been suggested to the diocesan authorities of Newcastle for the sale of the station. Is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement on the matter, and if not, will he arrange for one to be made by the appropriate Minister before the end of the week?
– I was informed yesterday that the Leader of the Opposition proposed to ask a question on this subject, and I was prepared to give an answer. In the meantime, however, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy) has placed upon the notice-paper a question which covers substantially the same ground, and an answer is being supplied to that question.
– Will the Minister for the Army consider the granting of free interstate rail travel to exservicemen desiring to attend annual re-unions of their units?
– Seeing that only 2,000 miles of a total of 27,000 miles of railway in Australia is under the control of the Commonwealth, this matter is obviously one which will have to be discussed at a Premiers Conference. At a recent conference it was decided that free rail travel for life should be allowed to holders of the Victoria Cross. The honorable member’s suggestion goes further, and I shall discuss it with the Prime Minister with a view to having it brought before a meeting of Premiers.
– Can the Minister for Supply and Shipping say whether it is a fact that the Government has asked the Maritime Commission to consider the restoration of the 50 per cent. loading to the war risk rate for seamen ? If so, will he say why such advice has been tendered to the commission in view of the diminishing risk to seamen?
– The Maritime Commission is the authority which deals with the war risk bonus and many other matters affecting merchant seamen. Last April, the commission which was responsible for establishing the war risk bonus proposed to discuss its reduction. The’ bonus was established at various rates, say, 25 per cent., 331/3 per cent. and up to 50 per cent. under certain conditions. The commission, for reasons which it apparently thought adequate, did not discuss the matter in April. It has to be guided by the Government, or, really, the Navy Department, as to the extent of the risk in certain waters. In some Australian waters the risk is still great, but in others’ has diminished. The commission must, in the course of reaching a decision, obtain information from the Government as to the risk. Towards the end of August, or early this month, the commission discussed this matter and, I am advised, decided to vary the war risk bonus rate in certain waters.
– By increases?
– No, by decreases. The date from which the reduced rates will operate has not been decided. That is where the matter rests at the moment.
Post-War Maintenance of Permanent Forces - Army Research Council
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether consideration has been given to the maintenance of permanent military forces in Australia after the war ? Many young men have entered the Army without having had training for business or any other vocation and are wondering about their future. It would help them if they knew what the policy is to be.
– Whilst a good deal of thought has been given to that matter, no definite decision has been made by the Government, but the honorable member may rest assured that within the next twelve months it will receive serious consideration, because the Government is determined that Australia shall never be allowed to drift again into the unprepared state it was in when Japan struck. Full advantage will be taken of the very fine young officers, non-commissioned officers and men of other ranks who have been so well trained and equipped in Australia for the work which lies ahead of them.
– During July I wrote to the Minister for the Army for information concerning the functions of the Army Research Council and also its personnel, with rank and service in each case. I ask the Minister whether the information is yet available?
– I shall take steps this afternoon to obtain the particulars desired by the honorable member.
Mr.FRASER. - As the War Disposals Commission has now been established, is the Treasurer able to inform the House how the proceeds of the sales of surplus war stores will be applied? The value of these stores is estimated at £500,000,000, and the cost of acquiring them has been substantially metby increasing the national debt. Therefore, will the Government ensure that the amount realized by sales shall be applied to a reduction of the national debt?
– The Leader of the Opposition referred to this matter yesterday. The Government is now considering various ways in which the proceeds of the sales may he utilized. At the moment, I am not in a position to give any details, but as soon as a decision is reached. I shall supply full information to the honorable member.
Man-power - Milk Price at Tamworth.
– Regarding the urgent man-power difficulties in the dairying industry, can the Minister for the Army inform the House definitely whether 4,000 sons of dairymen now in the Army, whose release has been applied for, will be discharged regardless of the military categories in which hundreds of them are serving?
– by leave- On the 6th September, I made a statement regarding the release of 30,000 men from the Army over and above the normal wastage due to physical unfitness, &c. The War Cabinet, at its last meeting, decided to ask the Army to give special consideration to the discharge of 4,000 Army personnel to the dairy industry, irrespective of the location of their units. This decision was prompted by the great urgency of increasing butter production in order to satisfy the demands of the fighting forces and the civilian community in theSouth-West Pacific, and to maintain exports to Great Britain.
I have been constantly in touch with the Armyauthorities on this matter; and the Army has issued authority for the discharge of the 4,000 personnel who had previously been refused release for employment in the dairying industry because of the location of their units. It is estimated that discharges in all eases will be completed in the next six weeks, except where the location of the soldier’s unit may delay movement to his home State, for discharge. Employers who desire the release of other personnel from the Army should submit their applications for rural workers to the War Agricultural Committee of the district in which they are located. If release is required for other employment, the application should be submitted to the National Service Officer, who is the representative of the Director-General of Man Power in the area.
In short, the conditions governing the special release of 30,000 soldiers under the newplan are similar to those effected when the plan operated for the discharge of 20,000 men recently. An exception has been made in the case of the 4,000 men for the dairying industry. The Army requirements will not permit of the release of the following personnel : -
Those conditions will not apply to men over 40 years of age or to those over 35 years of age who have completed three years’ full-time Army service, except when they are classified as key men in their units.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that considerable dissatisfaction exists among milk producers in the Tamworth zone because the Prices Commissioner has imposed a ring around their area and allotted to them a lower price than that fixed in any other town on the northwest slopes and the tableland area? Will the Minister discuss with the Prices Commissioner the advisability of increasing the price of milk in Tamworth to the figure which applies in adjacent areas? Will he also seek a fuller inquiry into the cost of production than that which was made recently when an official of the Prices Branch visited the town?
– Whilst I am aware of the dissatisfaction that exists in the Tamworth zone, the matter comes within the administration of the Minister for Trade andCustoms and the PricesCommissioner, and I shall discuss it with them. Like the honorablemember, I am at a loss to understand the reason for the difference between the price of milk in, the Tamworth zone and that in adjacent zones.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether, in connexion with the reconsideration of the cases of the 4,000 men whose release from the Army was recommended by district war agricultural committees and the manpower authorities, fresh applications will be needed or the old applications will be sufficient?
Mr.FORDE. - Fresh applications will not be necessary. The Army and the man-power authorities are operating on the old applications. Discharge permits have already been issued to 500 of the 4,000 men mentioned. The remainder of the permits will be sent out within the next six weeks.
– Can the Prime Minister state whether or not the considerations which apply to applications for the release from the Army of trained men for the dairying industry, apply also in relation to the Navy and the Air Force?
– I find difficulty in answering the question.
– The point has not been investigated ?
– It has. For reasons which I regard as proper, I prefer to adopt some other method of imparting the information; because obviously there is information which I cannot reveal in regard to the Navy and the Air Force. The Army contains a considerable number of men who have been operating on the mainland of Australia, and the change of their circumstances does not convey information which could be of use to the enemy. The general disposition of the Air Force and the Navy is a matter about which I prefer to be silent.
– In view of the fact that the abnormal coal production of the last fourteen days has been achieved by the miners in spite of adverse conditions due to the pinpricking tactics of the mine-owners, who have attempted to bring into operation changes of conditions and variations of wages in certain mines which are not in accordance with the regulations issued in February, 1942, I ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping what action the Government proposes to protect the miners? I point out that at Abermain No. 2 colliery the management is deliberately trying to force the use of mechanized loaders in a fall to load stone and coal under conditions which are extremely dangerous. Mechanized loaders have never been operated under such conditions. At Lambton B colliery the management has refused to allow the normal watering of dusty places to continue, and is trying to force borers and the crew of a mechanized unit to do the work of youths.
– Order ! I remind the honorable member that the purpose of questions is to elicit and not to impart information.
– Although the management has sent nine men home, the mine is continuing in production. Does the Government propose to prosecute the management in these instances?
– The regulations relating to mine-workers and mineowners must be applied impartially. If conditions are being changed contrary to custom, action should be taken against those responsible. In regard to the honorable member’s allegations concerning safety, I point out that this is entirely a matter for the Mines Department of New South Wales. When complaints of this nature are brought to the notice of the Coal Commissioner, he advises the State Department of Mines, which has the necessary skilled men at its disposal to undertake a proper investigation. The Commonwealth has not an adequate staff to undertake these duties. The Prime Minister reminds me that on one occasion recently, when the Coal Commissioner advised the State Mines Department that a complaint had been made, ten days elapsed before an inspection took place. That was far too great a delay, and was most unsatisfactory.
– It was badly handled.
– Did that occur in Victoria ?
– No; in New South Wales. I direct attention to this instance of delay because the Coal Commissioner is entitled to be defended in this Parliament and because I feel justified in indicating some of the difficulties that arise in this industry. The Prime Minister will discuss that matter in another connexion, with a view to seeing whether or not something can be done. I shall take steps to have the matter raised to-day investigated by one of the industrial inspectors operating in the north. There is a dispute at Lambton B Colliery in connexion with the acceptance of an award that was made by Mr. Connell. I am advised that production has been reduced by 200 tons as a protest against the award. I cannot say whether or not that has any connexion with this matter. It is our duty to apply the conditions that are prescribed by the act, and I am confident that the Coal Commissioner will do that.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether or not the Government has considered the request of the miners’ federation for an inquiry regarding the reason for the stoppages that have been occurring in the coal-mining industry? Will the Government also consider the advisability of instituting an independent inquiry, judicial or other, in regard to the causes of industrial unrest generally, particularly in the key industries of food, fuel, and transport, with a view to determining whether or not subversive elements such as fifth columnists are attempting to dislocate Australia’s war effort?
– I shall consider the making of these inquiries. Many inquiries have been instituted in respect of a variety of subjects, and the House has not appeared to be more pleased after the reports have been presented than it was prior to the inquiries having been made.
– Early last week, I asked the Attorney-General for information concerning the circumstances in which Mr. Alderman, K.C., and Mr. J. S. Hutcheon, K.C., were engaged to represent the Commonwealth in an action in the High Court, sitting in Brisbane, in relation to the acquisition of a launch valued at £53. I endeavoured to learn why the Commonwealth had considered it imperative to take counsel from Adelaide to Brisbane. The right honorable gentleman undertook to look into the matter, and furnish a reply later. Is he yet in a position to give the information ?
– I shall give the honorable member a detailed reply, either tonight, or to-morrow morning.
– In order to obviate the inconvenience that is now caused to persons travelling between Sydney and Melbourne by ran, by reason of the unavailability of sleeping-car accommodation, will the Minister for Transport investigate a proposal to substitute for the night journey a day service between those two capital cities?
– The proposal will be examined, and the honorable member will be advised of the result.
Penalties on Garage Proprietors.
– Can the Minister for Supply and Shipping state what action he has taken or proposes to take in order to prevent the imposition of grievous penalties on service station owners by the Liquid Fuel Control Board, without an adequate trial?
-Can the honorable member mention a service station in which he is interested?
– I wrote to the honorable gentleman some days ago.
– That letter was in general terms. The House would be interested to learn of the great difficulty that is experienced in applying and policing the petrol rationing system, because of the use of counterfeit coupons. Every one of the persons involved has had as many as three warnings to discontinue this practice.
– I shall supply the honorable gentleman with the information that he needs.
– In spite of the record of those who are implicated, consideration is ‘being given to the establishment of an appeal tribunal. I am investigating three propositions. Even though I may be convinced that the men are guilty, particularly a man in my electorate, nevertheless I shall do my utmost to ensure the provision of necessary safeguards.
– Will the suspensions be lifted, pending an appeal?
– I should not care to give that undertaking. I am sure that the House would support me if I could place before it the history of every case; but harm might be caused to the men concerned, and I want to avoid that. The House would be well advised to leave it to me to do the right thing.
– Some years ago, the Government decided to establish a wool appraisement centre at Towns ville. I have made repeated efforts to have that decision implemented. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state what prospects there are now of the establishment of this centre?
– The establishment of wool appraisement centres in operational areas was left in abeyance until the war position had improved. The proposal to establish a centre at Townsville came within that category. The war position having improved, an investigation of the matter will be made immediately, and the honorable member will be acquainted with the result.
Prosecutions for Absenteeism
– Last week, prosecutions were launched against certain railway employees in Adelaide for having failed to present themselves for work. Can the Attorney-General explain why summonses were taken out against two men conductors on the Adelaide to Melbourne express, who could not have participated in the strike because they were in Victoria and not in South Australia, with the result that the cases against them had to be withdrawn, with costs against the Commonwealth?
– It is very difficult for me to explain how that happened. Investigation officers inquired at the place of employment, and complaints were issued. The facts which the honorable member has related were made known to me by the head of my department, and it is true that errors were made. There were many prosecutions, and the mistake lay with the persons who gave the information to the investigators. That is the only explanation that I can give.
– While coal has been in short supply honorable members from the southern States have had to sit up all night when travelling to Canberra. Ministers apparently travel by car in company with some of their party colleagues, and as only about twelve members of this House are concerned over the absence of sleeping accommodation on the trains, and as twelve civil aircraft are being released to air operating companies, will the Prime Minister arrange that air travel be permitted to honorable members,who do notwant to take 17½ hours over a journey which can be made by air in 1½ hours?
– The suggestions which have been made on this subject appear to be legion. One was made to the Minister for Transport a few moments ago, who undertook to see whether it would be possible to substitute a daylight train service betweenCanberra and Melbourne. He should be given an opportunity to complete his examination before anything else is done. Generally speaking, I have, as a matter of habit, as well as of courtesy, endeavoured to do my best to meet the convenience of honorable members.
– The Prime Minister has said that he will take into earnest consideration the difficulties experienced by honorable members travelling from Victoria to Canberra. In view of the fact that Queensland members have to spend twice as long as Victorian members in coming from or returning to their constituencies, will the Prime Minister ascertain whether it is possible to provide Queensland members with means of air travel in order that they may have the opportunity during sessional periods to return to their constituencies to attend to their many duties.
– My answer applied generally. The demands on air travel in Australia for essential purposes are heavy. I quite acknowledge that attendance of Parliament is in itself one of the most important aspects of the work that the country has to do in time of war.
– One would not think so on Friday afternoons.
– I am speaking of what I regard as the obligation on the Government to provide reasonable facilities for members of Parliament to attend to their parliamentary duties. To the utmost of my capacity, I have, I believe, met the convenience of honorable gentlemen in that respect, and where cases of emergency or special difficulty have been put to me, I have been at pains to endeavour to overcome them. As to the suggestion of the honorable member for Moreton that, we should provide some opportunity to honorable members to visit their constituencies, I propose that we shall sit four days in each of the next two weeks. Then I shall ascertain whether it will be possible to enable honorable members to make an extended visit to their homes.
– Will the Minister for Transport say whether it is true, as has been reported, that he is negotiating with State governments with a view to bringing about the standardization of railway gauges? If so, how does he propose to overcome the constitutional difficulty which, we were given to understand, was hindering Commonwealth action in this direction?
– It is true that Commonwealth transport authorities have been consulting with the State authorities with a view to having this important work undertaken. It is also true that if the referendum proposals had been accepted by the people the way would have been clear for the Commonwealth to move directly in connexion with this undertaking. We have now to adopt the indirect method. The States possess full powers, and if we can obtain their cooperation, we shall be able to allot this work a high priority after the war.
– Will the Minister for Transport, during his negotiations with the State governments, give an earnest of the good faith of the Commonwealth by announcing that it is intended to convert to the standard gauge the Commonwealth railway between Quorn and Alice Springs, a distance of a few hundred miles?
– There is no need to do anything as an earnest of the good faith of the Commonwealth Government; that is well known throughout Australia. As for the line between Quorn and Alice Springs, I shall be pleased to take this matter up with the Minister for the Interior, who controls the Commonwealth railways.
– I ask the Minister repre senting the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the decision to allow a six months’ overlap in the use of clothing coupons implies that fewer coupons will be issued?
– I am not fully informed, but I should say that the total number of coupons will not be affected.
– Perhaps there will be more coupons than material?
– More and more material is becoming available every week. It is true that there have been lean periods, due to factors over which we in Australia have no control, but the Prime Minister and I, when we were in Washington, tried to overcome the difficulty by urging the authorities there to expedite the supply of back orders for 30,000,000 yards. With the aid of Judge Paterson, who personally intervened, we were able to have that matter adjusted, and the material is coming forward between now and the end of the year. However, current orders have still to be met.
– Can the Minister for Commerce say whether Queensland is the only State where emergency supplies of food are still stored? Having regard to the fact that the storage of such supplies is no longer necessary in any part of Australia, and bearing in mind the saving of transport which would be effected if they were released, will the Government review its policy in this regard?
– A constant watchhas been kept over emergency supplies throughout the Commonwealth. For reasons that must be obvious, it has not been deemed possible to release the emergency supplies of food stored in Queensland.
– A considerable time ago, a number of Queensland growers delivered a quantity of potatoes under contract to the Department of the Army. Later, a Potato Board came into existence, and a dispute arose as to whether the board or the Army was liable to pay for the potatoes. Will the Minister look into the matter with a view to seeing that justice is done to the men who grew the potatoes?
– In this instance, the Army authorities had entered into contracts with growers in certain parts of
Queensland for the supply of potatoes. When the potatoes arrived at their destination, they were graded as not up to standard, and for that reason there has been a dispute over payment. Action was taken by the legal representatives of the growers, and notice was served on the Crown Solicitor. I am now awaiting a report from the Crown Solicitor on the subject.
Formal Motion fob Adjournment.
– I have received from the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The position of the wheat industry and particularly the failure of the Government to arrange realization of wheat held in various pools in accordance with prevailing market values and the consequent very serious financial losses to wheatgrowers “.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– If the policy applied by the Government in the sale of wheat held in the various wheat pools be continued, on calculations which I have made and which, in the course of my remarks, I shall substantiate, over a period including the latter half of this year and the whole of the calendar year 1945, wheat-growers will be involved in the loss of £10,000,000. That represents the greatest “ steal “ in the history of public administration in this country. The wheat industry is second only to the wool industry, both in the volume and value of its products and as an exporting industry. No industry has experienced such a long succession of vicissitudes as has the wheat industry. The low prices of the depression years, the long succession of adverse seasons, the interruption of its normal processes of production, limited supplies of fertilizer and changed procedure of sale arising from circumstances of war, have combined over the last fifteen years to involve this great industry in a succession of vicissitudes unequalled in the history of any other great Australian industry. Therefore, it behoves us to ensure that this industry shall receive not less than justice. “With the interruption of the normal processes of sale, the taking over by the Government of all wheat grown, and the other interruptions of war, it was generally recognized that the only stop possible was to establish government pools to make advances, or first payments or minimum payments -to wheat-growers, to realize stocks as and when possible to the best advantage, and to pay subsequent dividends. That was put into effiect, and a little later a scheme for the stabilization of the industry was devised by the government of the day in consultation with the wheat-growers’ organizations. In its final form the scheme was almost identical with that requested by the wheat-growers. That scheme is the measuring stick. Its basic principle was i hat there should be assured to the wheatgrowers a minimum gross return of 5s. 2d. for wheat sold in Australia for gristing as flour for human consumption, in combination with declared prices and the imposition of a. flour tax. Sales for export were made at such prices as could be secured, and other sales for local consumption were made on the basis of export values. In the course of implementing that scheme, it became necessary to establish !i committee whose duty was to state from time to time the declared price, which “was, in effect, the prevailing export value. The flour tax was imposed to bridge the gap between the declared price and 5s. 2d. a bushel. The procedure was automatic. That system prevailed until the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) changed it by introducing what is known as the Scully plan and by abolishing the procedure of declaring prices. The Scully plan changed the method of acquisition, and the cessation of the periodic declaration of prices completely altered the value of all wheat sold in Australia, other than that sold for gristing, for human consumption as flour. The Scully plan acquired wheat at two different values, 4s. a bushel and 2s. a bushel. It later varied the values to 4s. a bushel and 3s. a bushel. This is the first time in the history of Australia that any government, has thought itself constitutionally entitled to acquire a standard product on the same day at two different prices.
– That is incorrect.
– I challenge the validity of acquisition of a standard product on the same day at two different prices. It has been said that that is not the end of the matter, that the two prices are merely the guaranteed minimum prices, and that subsequent dividends will be paid. You cannot have it both ways. If it is acquisition, the Constitution places a limit upon the process of acquisition, and if it is not acquisition the property right in .the wheat still remains with the wheat-growers.
– It still remains with them.
– I thank the Minister for saying that, but ‘I doubt whether his legal advisers will confirm his interjection. If the property right still remains with the wheat-growers, they are entitled to dispose of their property in the best market, or as they think fit.
– Which they do.
– I challenge the constitutional validity of acquiring, or taking physical possession of a produet, under conditions which permit two different prices to bc paid for it, whilst the subsequent dividends, if any, depend ii pen the policy of the Government or of a subsequent government. That is the position to-day. Any dividends which accrue to the growers, subsequent to their first advance, become entirely dependent upon the policy of the Government. The policy of the Government - and I shall prove my charge - results in robbing the wheat-growers of many millions of pounds.
Wheat for gristing for flour for human consumption is sold to millers at a declared price of 3s. 11 1/4d. a bushel. Flour tax of ls. 2 3/4d. a bushel is then imposed. But wheat exempt from sales tax is 3old to th» manufacturers of breakfast foods.
– The Government of which the honorable member was a Minister, decided that.
– If the policy of the previous Government had not been interfered with, manufacturers of breakfast foods would pay a price comparable with export parity. The latest sale for wheat for export was 7s. 6d. a bushel.
– It was not.
– The Australian Wheat Board has informed me that the latest sale for wheat was 7s. 6d. a bushel f.o.b. If the Minister bad not interfered with the policy of the previous Government, manufacturers of breakfast foods would be paying that price to-day. That instance enables us to measure the loss that wheat-growers have sustained through the policy of the present Government. Now, the Government is selling to the produce trade wheat for stock feed at 3s. 4¾d. a bushel.
– It is 4s. a bushel.
– After a vigorous protest had been made against this outrageous step in disposing of wheat at. such a low figure, a subsidy of 6d. a bushel was paid and to-day the gross return to the Australian Wheat, Board for bulk wheat sold for stock feed i? 3s.10¾d. a bushel. Wheat is sold to power alcohol distilleries, I am informed, at 3s.11¼d. a bushel.
– What, has that to do with the wheat-grower?
– Oh, that has nothing to do with the wheat-grower! The wheat was only taken from him at 2s., 3s., or 4s. a bushel - whatever price some one happened to think of one bright day - and is sold for him at 3s. 4¾d. a bushel, plus 6d. subsidy, for pig feed. Wheat is sold to manufacturers of breakfast foods at 3s.11¼d. a bushel, for resale in its most expensive form; for bread, at 5s. 2d. a bushel; and for conversion into power alcohol at 3s.11¼d. a bushel. “ The guardian of the wheatgrowers “, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, then has the temerity to ask, “ What has that to do with the growers?” If the Minister is unable to see what it has to do with the growers it is beyond my capacity to explain it to him.
– Ask the pig and poultry breeders how they appreciate the 6d. subsidy. They could not get any assistance from the anti-Labour government.
– I have said no word against the sale, as a matter of government policy, of wheat for stock feed at whatever low price the Government decides. That is in accordance with general government policy to keep down the cost of production and the cost of living by subsidizing many commodities. I believe that it is entirely proper policy that stock-feeders should be subsidized ; but I cannot imagine a more improper policy than the exercise of government authority to ensure that the wheatgrowers shall subsidize stock-feeders.
– That has not been done.
– Any subsidy or sale at less than market value should he borne, not by the wheat-growers, but from Consolidated Revenue.
– And that has been done.
– I cannot imagine anything more improper than the exercise of power under the National Security Act to introduce a policy which results in the sale of wheat from the same silo on the same day at the following prices : - To British consumers, 5s. 3d. a bushel; to Australian pig-breeders, 3s.10d. a bushel.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– Obviously, the Minister does not know what is happening in his own department. The Government, having taken possession of the growers’ wheat, is under an obligation to dispose of it at a price equivalent to the best available market. If we add the present stocks of wheat in Australia to the prospective harvest, and subtract from the total sufficient wheat to meet Australian requirements for human and stock consumption until the 1945-46 harvest, no more wheat would be available than the quantity that is readily saleable to-day to the British Government at a figure of not less than 6s. 6d. a bushel, f.o.b.
– That is ridiculous.
– We shall see whether it is ridiculous when the next sale of wheat to the British Government, which is probably being negotiated now, is revealed. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that cargoes have been sold to Mexico for 6s. 2d. a bushel and to Peru for 6s.11¾d. a bushel? .
– Of what sizes were those cargoes?
– They were small cargoes.
– Oh, they were only little ones! We have heard that tale before. The baby was illegitimate, but it was only a little one. What a poor excuse! I understand that the latest sale was at 7s. 6d. a bushel. How can the Minister justify the disposal of the product which the Wheat Board has held in trust for Australian wheat-growers, who endured terrible privations for fifteen years, at less than one-half of the highest price obtainable overseas?
– Fifteen years’ privation under governments of the United Australia party.
– Order ! The honorable member for Ballarat, must not; interject.
– The Government has been paying a subsidy of 6d. a bushel for stock-feed wheat, but. there has been a great clamour from the wheat-growers against this arbitrary sale at such a low figure.
– There has been only a political clamour from men like the honorable member.
– The clamour has been so great that the Minister has felt obliged to announce that an extra subsidy will be paid to the Australian Wheat Board, the effect of which will be to bring up the realizations from stock-feed sales to the average of the overseas disposals during the year.
– Then what is the honorable gentleman complaining of?
– The Minister’s statement was followed by another from the Treasurer, when he introduced the budget, to the effect that a sum of £800,000 would be made available for the continuance of the subsidy on wheat sold for stock feed. I point out that £800,000 would be absorbed by the payment of 6d. a bushel on 32,000,000 bushels, and that last year the disposals for stock feed totalled 30,000,000 bushels. This does not take into account the existing drought conditions and consequent additional demand for feed wheat. [Extension of time granted.] The Treasurer’s statement makes it quite clear that the policy of the Government is to continue the payment of 6d. a bushel subsidy on wheat disposed of for stock feed.
– Is the honorable gentleman aware that about 70 per cent, of the wheat being used for stock feed is quota wheat for which an equivalent of 5s. a bushel has been paid ?
– I know that the wheat sold at 5s. 2d. a .bushel for gristing into flour, wheat sold for 3s. ll$d. a bushel for the manufacture of breakfast foods, wheat sold to Peru at 6s. 11 3/4d a bushel, and wheat which was being sold to power alcohol distilleries for 3s. Hd. a bushel all came out of the same silos.
We have heard a great deal prior to the 19th August about the need for the orderly marketing of primary products, and the wheat-growers have been asked to believe that they can look only to a Labour government to take measures to ensure such orderly marketing.
– And that is quite correct !
– To-day, this Government has all the constitutional authority possible behind it, and is interpreting orderly marketing with the help of an array of constitutional authorities. Yet it is acquiring wheat from the same paddocks at varying prices - from 4s., 3s., and 2s. a bushel - and is selling it at” anything from 3s. 4ld. plus 6d., to 7s. 6d. a bushel. And it expects the wheatgrowers to be overcome with gratitude to it for its marketing procedure!
– They are grateful.
– I ask the Minister for Information to examine the vote of the electors of Wimmera to discover how grateful they are for the orderly marketing of wheat a la- Scully. The strong negative vote in that constituency is a complete answer to the Minister. I need say no more on that subject.
– The regimentation lie worked there.
– A. comparison of the estimated return from wheat that will be sold in Australia prior to the 1945-46 harvest under the present policy, with the valuation of that wheat at present export value - and I do not ask the Government to accept 7s. 6d. a bushel as the export figure, although it is the figure at which the Wheat Board has made its latest sales, for I arn willing to accept 6s. 6d. as a fair value - will snow th at, in the next eighteen months the wheat-growers will be the victims of a “steal” of £10,000,000, for that would be the gap, in my calculation, between the two totals. The Minister may find that the wheat-growers feel so strongly on this subject that they will challenge in the law courts of this country the validity of tho Government’s actions. I was astounded, and extraordinarily interested, to hear the Minister say that ownership of the wheat held by the board still vests in the growers. In the light of that statement, I have no doubt that he will shortly hear something from the growers on the subject.
I wish to refer to two other matters. The first is the prospect that thousands of wheat-growers in Australia will not produce enough wheat this season to provide them with seed for their next sowing. Such growers will have to obtain seed elsewhere. Under the present pooling procedure, sufficient wheat of known strains and guaranteed purity will not he available for next season’s sowings. I therefore ask that steps be taken to examine crops in paddocks in order to ascertain their purity of strain and, in appropriate cases, to arrange that such wheat shall be bagged, and not bulked, so that it will be available for seed purposes. We shall need a very large quantity of such selected and segregated wheat for distribution for seed purposes. The segregation of selected areas for this purpose will impose additional handling costs on the grower. I ask the Government to take steps not only to have suitable wheat segregated and held for seed, but also to allow the growers who hold this wheat an extra amount for it to recoup them for the additional work involved. I suggest an amount of 6d. a. bushel would be reasonable,
The next point I raise relates to the Government’s intention, declared by the Treasurer, to continue its policy of paying certain wheat-farmers in Western Australia for not sowing wheat. In view of the extremely small harvest that is expected this year, the prospective European demand for wheat, and the diminution of stocks in the United States of America and Canada, a revolutionary change of policy is required in this country.
– The next wheat crop of the United States of America and Canada will be the largest they have ever had.
– I referred to stocks and not to crops. Undoubtedly, in view of present circumstances, the Government should review its policy in regard to the wheat-farmers of Western Australia.
– That policy has been discontinued.
– There is a provision in the budget for the continuance of the acreage payment to growers.
– That is contingent upon any shortage of superphosphate.
– That is an interesting explanation, for which I thank the Minister. It brings me to my final point. The Government having recognized the need ‘to lift the control imposed on the production of wheat, the next logical and sensible step will be a review of the allocation of superphosphate to the wheat industry.
– That has been done.
– I trust that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) will endeavour to clarify the constitutional position to which I have referred.
– I have instructed the official in charge of the grain section of the department to keep in constant touch with the Australian Wheat Board, and to do all those things mentioned by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), so as to ensure that those wheat-growers who have had the misfortune to lose crops will have sufficient quantities of high-grade seed for the production of a decent crop. The elected representatives of the growers on the Australian Wheat Board will know what is required in that respect. The Government undertakes that everything possible will be done to ensure that adequate supplies of pure seed shall be made available to distressed wheat-growers throughout the Commonwealth.
I regret that I did not receive sufficient notice of the adjournment motion to secure the latest available figures from the Australian Wheat Board. But I shall cite figures that are not more than a month, old in reply to the argument which the honorable member for Indi has advanced. It is rather anomalous that the honorable member, who in 1940 refused to sign a pledge to the Australian Wheat Growers Federation to move for an increase of the price of wheat when advances were at the rate of 2s. 6d. a bushel, should now raise this matter, which is controlled entirely by representatives of the wheat-growers throughout Australia. The honorable member was prepared in 1941 to allow the industry to go bankrupt rather than give consideration to the legitimate claims of the growers, yet he now attempts, to assume the mantle of their friend. At that time, if I recall correctly, bc refused to take action on the ground that money was required for war purposes. Yet he raises this matter when not only are we still spending huge sums on war, but also when wheat-growers are receiving the best prices they have known since the depression. The wheat industry now is in n sounder position, and has a better outlook than it has had for the last fifteen years. That is not an idle claim. A good deal of the credit can be given to the quota plan, which has provided the small growers with an assured price for all their production, and has also given the big grower the same price assurance for a quota of 3,000 bushels. Whilst this quota does not cover the total production of the big growers, it does give to them a substantial “backlog” on which to rely. Further, as the guaranteed advance on non-quota wheat for next season is 3s. a bushel, even the big growers can plant to their full capacity with the knowledge that the advance will give to them a reasonable amount on delivery, and also that the market price for the rest of their crop will be fairly good. Quota wheat will represent approximately 70 per cent, of ti normal peace-time crop, and with the small crop of last year more than. 80 per cent, of wheat marketed was acquired at the quota rate. The quota plan, therefore, gives to the industry a price assurance which it has never had before. Growers in all States have shown that they appreciate this, by giving full support to the quota plan.
– But it does give two prices.
– Explain how it does not.
– It gives a guaranteed price for a proportion of the crop.
– Which price happens to be higher .than the other price.
– In the sense of subsidization, it gives a higher price. The industry has faced great difficulty during the war years, because of the shortage of labour and superphosphate. The keen desire which growers show to revert to a full-production basis, and the’ strenuous efforts they have made to maintain production in face of difficulties, indicate their satisfaction with the plan, and their conviction that wheat-growing can be carried on under conditions that are satisfactory for the grower. In fact, over the last few years we have altered his outlook. He no longer regards himself as tied to a hopeless and unprofitable industry, for he knows that wheat can be produced with the assurance of a reasonably profitable return.
The honorable member built his case on the fact that wheat for the produce trade within Australia is sold at less than current overseas prices. The first thing I make clear is that the Government has no intention of tying Australian prices to the export price. It considers that at all times growers should get a fair price for the wheat that is used within Australia and that the consumer should be able to purchase wheat within Australia at a fair price. Export prices were ruinous during the 1930’s, and a big measure of international co-operation will be required if they are not to slump again and become equally ruinous during the coming years. Nobody with a knowledge of the wheat industry is prepared to forecast the course of prices for more than a year or two years ahead. But no matter how much overseas prices may fall, the Government will do its utmost to ensure that the Australian wheat-grower shall be able to make a reasonable living. It will not again tie Australian prices to an overseas market which fluctuates widely. The Government considers that it is equally unfair for the Australian grower to have wheat worth only ls. a bushel on the farm, as it was in Western Australia a few months before the war started, and to charge excessively high prices for wheat in Australia on the basis of what people have to pay under war conditions on the other side of the world. Fair play works both ways, and the Government is determined that neither the grower nor the consumer shall be exploited. I am sure that the wheatgrowers are in agreement with this policy. They want only a fair deal. They know that a period of high prices would be one of the biggest dangers that the industry could face.
– On a point of order. It appears to me that the Ministor is reading a statement prepared before the honorable member for Indi had presented his case. The House requires an answer to that case.
-The Minister is entitled to make his answer in his own way.
– If the honorable member for Barker were to prepare his speeches, they would be more intelligible.
Our wheat has to sold abroad, and overseas buyers will not pay excessive prices for long. Therefore, the health of the industry depends on efficient growing, sales at fair prices, and a reasonable, assured return to the wheat-grower. The present price for stock feed was a very good one when introduced. The honorable member for Indi will admit that.
– I will.
– A considerable number of wheat-growers are benefiting from the subsidy that is paid on the stock feed which they are using in the raising of poultry and pigs, and their other stock.
– -The extraordinary feature is that apparently some of them are putting wheat into the pool and receiving 4s. a bushel, then withdrawing it and paying 3s. 4d. a bushel.
– Only in the last twelve months did it become obvious that some revision was necessary. After full consideration, I announced that the price of stock feed would be increased so as to bring it up to the return from the pool concerned. This involves an additional subsidy by the Treasury, in order to maintain supplies of cheap wheat locally, and assure our war-time food production. It represents a fair offer in all the circumstances, and also ensuresa reasonable return to the growers for all the wheat they produce.
Honorable members must also remember that the wheat-grower is receiving substantial benefits from the Government’s price stabilization policy. A glance at the budget will show the great benefit which they are receiving from the superphosphate subsidy and the subsidy on cornsacks. The fertilizer subsidy is more than £3 a ton, and the wheat-grower gets a substantial proportion of the total fertilizer available. The proportion is increasing, and this year the growers will get about 50 per cent, more superphosphate than they had last year. The expense to the Government will be greater than it was last year. As increased quantities become available, the benefit to wheat-growers, already great, will increase. In addition, cornsacks are being subsidized at a cost of 5s. a .dozen. This confers a substantial benefit on wheat-growers as well as other farmers. The quota payment to the wheat industry was increased by ltd. a bushel to cover increased harvesting costs. The value of this action to the industry is more than £1,000,000 a year. It is only a ..part of the benefit which wheat-growers derive from the price stabilization policy of the Government. “Wheat-growers also receive, in common with the rest of the community, the benefits of controlled prices in relation to the long list of things which they buy.
Prevention of inflation and the injury it would inflict on primary producers, is a cardinal point in the Government’s policy. At considerable cost, we are preventing growers’ costs from rising. It follows that, if costs be kept at moderate levels, there will be no reasonable argument for allowing selling prices to rise skyward. How would it be of benefit to the grower if he were allowed to sell at whatever the market would bear, but had to pay the actual cost of superphosphate, cornsacks, and all the odds and ends that are included in his production costs? Growers themselves will agree with this policy, especially as they know that, as soon as the war ends they must be able to grow wheat in competition with the world, as they have always done. They do not want to be hobbled by inflationary costs when open markets return. They know that the welfare of the industry depends not on the price received, but on the margin between that price and the cost of production. The argument for an increase is founded on overseas sales. Nowadays, the open market has practically ceased to exist. Sale through government agencies has replaced it. Normal trading operations are one of the minor casualties of the war. Our chief customer is the United Kingdom, and that customer is keenly aware of what constitutes a fair price, and what alternative supplies are available. It is of no use quoting odd sales made to Mexico or Chile, because the prices realized are not representative. This market is small and, in normal circumstances, our chances of selling to those countries would be practically nil. I defy anybody, under present conditions, to tell me what is the world price for wheat, and all those with knowledge of the wheat industry know quite well that the tattered remnants of a free market which still survive do not indicate the world price.
I can give to honorable members an indication of the return from a current pool. Let us take No. 6 pool, which is now being realized. On the 12th. August, there was approximately 35,000,000 bushels of wheat in No. 6 pool still to be sold. On the 3rd August, the Australian Wheat Board estimated that the average return from experts of wheat and flour would be 4s. 11.23d. a bushel f.o.b. This estimate took into account unsold wheat available for export as wheat or flour at 5s. 3d. a bushel, and made certain arbitrary decisions regarding quantities which would be shipped east and west of Suez under Ministry of Food contracts. The Wheat Board also estimated that the expenses of No. 6 pool would he 11.804d. a bushel, so that the return to growers would be a fraction under 4s. a bushel at ports.
Then there are such matters as wheat freights and the sale of wheat for breakfast foods. The first has been a burning issue for months, and has received the attention of the Wheat Board and the Government. The secretary of the Wheat Board has been in London for some time negotiating on this matter. It is only necessary for me to add that the Government has taken the necessary steps to put our case. Public controversy at the pre sent time will certainly not help. Regarding breakfast foods, when the flour tax was imposed by a former government, these foods were specifically excluded from its operation. The honorable member for Indi was a member of that government.
The position can be summed up by saying that the industry now is sound, and this is true in spite of the severe drought affecting the crop this year. It will remain sound as long as Australian farmers continue to put into it the skill they have always shown. Under this Government’s policy the growers have received, and will continue to receive, a fair price, and the charge to the consumer will be reasonable. The benefit derived from keeping down costs outweighs any benefit which could possibly be secured by chasing overseas prices up to inflation and then back to poverty.
Lastly, the “very serious financial losses “ referred to in the motion are mythical. Growers will get a fair deal, and they realize it. That is one reason why I think that this House will not support the honorable member’s motion, and it is also the reason why tens of thousands of wheat-growers spread over the Commonwealth are supporting the Government and its wheat policy. The statements of the honorable member for Indi might tickle the ears of some farmers who have read stories about extravagant prices paid for small parcels of wheat sold overseas. The honorable member is no novice in political propaganda, and he is suggesting to the farmers that they ought to .be receiving such prices for the whole of their wheat. He thinks that the farmers have short memories, and have already forgotten the raw deal which they received when the Government, of which he was a member, was in office. I told the representatives of the wheatgrowers, including those of Western Australia, that all wheat used as stock feed would be paid for at the price which the pool realized!. They told me that nothing could be fairer than that. The honorable member for Indi has tried to inflame the minds of the farmers by talking of appeals to the High Court. It is evident that the growers are satisfied with the Government’s wheat policy, because, at the last elections, many brilliant young
Australians, were returned by wheatgrowing constituencies to support the Government. [Extension of time granted.’]
– Did I understand the Minister to say that wheat was not now being compulsorily acquired?
– I did not say that. Quota wheat is taken and paid for at 5s. a bushel f.o.b. In regard to other wheat, the growers will receive every penny which is realized through the pool.
– ‘Rut, in the meantime, the wheat is being acquired by the Crown ?
– Yes, and the Government has undertaken to market it on behalf of the growers. It will pay a guaranteed price on a certain proportion, mid on the rest will pay whatever is realized. I have received numerous requests from growers’ organizations and from individual farmers to maintain the quota plan at all costs. For the first time in the history of the industry the wheatgrowers as a body are solvent, notwithstanding the unfortunate drought in parts of Victoria and South Australia. The Government has undertaken to do whatever is possible to afford relief to growers in drought-stricken areas.
Mi ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) 1 4.9]. - It is necessary to get this point clear: wheat to-day is grown under licence. That is the only legal way in which it can be grown, and one of the terms of the licence is that all wheat so grown shall be delivered to the Commonwealth Government, and to nobody else. I t is an offence to deliver wheat to any one else. The wheat is divided into two categories. The man who grows up to 3,000 bushels, and no more, is paid the fixed price of 43. ltd. But any wheat grown in excess of 3,000 bushels is acquired at 2s. ltd. per bushel.
– No. He receives that amount as an advance against his wheat.
– Yes, and he eventually receives whatever price is realized by the pool. If that does not constitute acquisition of the crop, words have lost their meaning. The Minister came into the House with a prepared statement. I do not object to that, but I do say that he did not answer the case made out by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.
McEwen). One of the main points made by the Deputy Leader was that wheatgrowers are being deprived by Commonwealth action of moneys amounting to about £10,000,000, to which they are morally,, though not legally, entitled. At no stage of his reply did the Minister challenge that statement. The Minister agreed that, the Government is selling pool wheat out of one stack or silo at a variety of prices according to the classification of the buyers, notwithstanding the fact that the Labour party has always condemned the practice of monopolies in selling their goods at varying prices to suit themselves and their customers.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Government should refuse to accept a high price from Mexico, for instance?
– No, but I say that there should be some recognized market price. I admit that there will always be variations of the export price, but the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party did not address himself to the export price. He complained of variations of price on the home market. Under the law, wheat used for making bread in Australia must fetch so much, and in order to make up this amount a flour tax was imposed. That tax is still being collected, notwithstanding the fact that the overseas market price is now greater than the fixed price for home consumption. A false price is being quoted to millers for home-consumption wheat, and the difference between that and the true price is being made up by a flour tax which need not be collected if the true price were allowed to prevail. Varying prices are also charged for wheat according to whether it is used for the manufacture of power alcohol or for stock feed. I maintain that, whether a man is growing quota wheat or non-quota wheat, he is entitled to the market price. I always said that the Scully wheat plan was the worst that had ever been introduced into this Parliament, and I still say it.
– The honorable member robbed the Victorian growers of £200,000 which they should have received from the flour tax.
– That was because the honorable member’s friend, the Premier of Victoria, refused to comply with the law which declared that he should supply certain information to the Commonwealth Government. What I said when the Scully plan was introduced has proved true. It was one of the worst pieces of political manoeuvring ever put across the Australian primary producers. The only reason for its introduction was political. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is now in the position of having to justify the administration, of which I do not think he has proper control. Mr. Teasdale is worth all the other members of the Australian Wheat Board put together. Because of his knowledge of the Australian wheat industry and of world wheat, the Commonwealth could have as its representative on the Wheat Board no better man. I should like the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to ask Mr. Teasdale publicly what he thinks of the administration of the board and the attitude of the Minister towards it.
– Has Mr. Teasdale been whispering to the honorable gentleman about his colleagues on the Wheat Board?
– No. I have not seen him for many years, but I am well acquainted with him, and I have met a few of the growers’ representatives on the hoard, and I say of them that there ave many reasons why selection is better than election. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) can take that back to his wheatgrowers. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has not attempted to deal with the points made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). He evaded them by talking about superphosphate and cornsacks. Those matters were not raised by the honorable member for Indi. Another matter raised by him is one against which I protested when the Scully plan was introduced, namely, the crazy plan under which wheatgrowers in Western Australia were paid 12s. an acre to keep their land out of production.
– That was asked for by the honorable gentleman’s esteemed friend, Mr. Teasdale, in a communication which he sent to me.
– That may be so, but I do not caro a damn who asked for it; it is no less crazy.
It is evident from what the Minister said this afternoon that he does not know what the Treasurer said about that scheme in his budget speech last week. Too frequently we have one Minister saying one thing and another Minister something totally different on the same subject. It is impossible to dovetail the two statements.
.- The speech of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), to which I listened with interest, was effectively answered by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully). Apart from the honorable member for Indi, I have heard three people tell the same story as hetold. One was no other than Mr.. Teasdale, who was one of the unsuccessful candidates for the Senate at the last general elections. He advocated the same policy as the honorable member for Indi advocated to-day. He had his answer. The second was Mr. Diver, another former member of the Australian Wheat Board. The third was an astute politician, Mr. Dunstan, the Premier of Victoria. At the last meeting of the executive of the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association, a resolution was carried warning Mr. Dunstan to keep off the subject of wheat, because the growers did not wish to become again a political football. The honorable member for Indi said that he challenged the validity of the Scully plan. The place in which to challenge its validity is the High Court. The honorable member did not talk about challenging the plan when we were receiving 2s. 6d. a bushel on the export market.
– I challenged it two and a half years ago.
– I was not a member then; otherwise I could have replied to the honorable gentleman then. I reply to him now. When war occurred the wheat merchants closed their doors because there was no longer any world parity on which they could base their business. Private enterprise failed and the Government had to take over. It was not able to ascertain world parity and it had, therefore, to fix an arbitrary price. Even before the war, world parity was not always reflected in the local price. I say that, in order to point out to the House that the sale of one shipload of wheat gives no indication of the true value of wheat either in time of war or in time of peace, because, before the war, in Germany wheat was worth about 10s. a bushel and in France about 12s. a bushel, whereas Australian wheat-growers received 2s. 6d. or 3s. a bushel. To-day, with the world at war, there are practically only two buyers of wheat, Great Britain and the United States of America. The British Ministry of Food and the Economic Administration of the United States of America jointly control the purchase of wheat for the Allies and liberated countries. They are practically the only bodies which could do the job because they control the whole of the shipping of the Allied nations, and it is only by sea that wheat can be moved from one country to another. Therefore, Great Britain and the United States of America decide what is, in effect, world parity, and it is on their decision that the Australian Wheat Board must trade. I believe that the prices cited by the honorable member for Indi are true, but it is also true, as the Minister said, that they were for single parcels of wheat, amounting to 8,000 or 9,000 tons, depending on the size of the ship, and, as such, would have little effect on realization on the whole crop. Some years ago, I put all my wheat into the Western Australia wheat pool, of which Mr. Teasdale was Chairman of Trustees. It was the best managed cooperative wheat pool in Australia because its manager was Mr. John Thomson, who is now manager of the Australian Wheat Board. He is the most able administrator of wheat transactions in Australia, and when the story of his management of the Australian Wheat Board can be told, it will be realized that his contribution to our war effort is unequalled. When I put my wheat into the Western Australian pool, the price was about 3s. 8d. a bushel. The season in Western Australia was bad. In other parts of the world sowing prospects were not good. The result was an upward trend of prices. A small quantity of wheat was put into the pool. The first price on the world market was 3s. Sd. and it rose steadily until it reached 4s. 6d. But we did not get any more, because the trustees, on advice from over-
*eas, had entered the future market. Honorable members will realize that sales must be spread over the year. Even if we desired in peace time to sell all our crop at once, we could not do so because to attempt to do so would be to cause a crash and prices would tumble by 6d. or 7d. a bushel. So the trustees sold on the future market.
– That, was not good business, but speculation.
– It was not speculation. When you have a large quantity of wheat to quit, you must look ahead for the sale of a part of it. [Extension of lime granted.] The fact is that, we sold on the future market. World prices rose and ihe trustees had to meet those future sales with the wheat they had in store. Because of a bad season in Western Australia, nearly the whole of the “ futures “ which had been purchased was absorbed. We had to ‘ accept that unfortunate position. ‘That is sometimes inevitable when one adopts the principle of pooling. It could happen to-day. To a certain degree, it has happened.
– That arose through speculation.
– We are not dealing with “ futures “ now. The Western Australian Wheat Board did not indulge in speculation, as I understand the meaning of the term. It was normal business practice. A considerable portion of the Australian wheat harvest has been sold to Great Britain at the following prices : - West of Suez, 4s. 10.7d. for bagged wheat and 4s. o.ld. for bulk wheat; east of Suez, 5s. 4.5d. for bagged wheat and 4s. 10.9d. for bulk wheat. These prices would average approximately 5s. Id. f.o.b. Australia. Some honorable members may not be aware that the contract with Great Britain has not yet been fulfilled. The honorable member for Indi demanded an explanation of why Australian wheat was not being sold at 7s. 4d. a bushel, the price which was obtained for a small cargo sold to Peru. The reason is that Australia earlier contracted to sell a large quantity of wheat to Great Britain at a lower price. Are we now to break that contract? Does not the honorable member believe in the sanctity of contracts ? I do. “We must honour our contract with Great Britain.
– No one questions that.
– If Australia endeavoured to sell at 7s. 4d. a bushel all the wheat that is in store, no huyer would be forthcoming. Of course, ‘ we could sell another cargo to Peru.
M’r. Scully. - The cargo sold to Peru was carried by a vessel which had brought nitrate of soda to Australia.
– Yes, the ship picked up a return cargo. The wheat industry is too important to be made a political football. Any one who tries to convince the wheat-grower that he is entitled to receive 7s. 4d. a bushel is doing ;i disservice not only to the industry but also to Australia as a whole, because the contention is untrue and will create great dissatisfaction. If we demand from the United Kingdom and the United States of America 7s. 4d. a bushel, they will tell us to keep our wheat, and the grain will rot in the bins. In that event, ihe Commonwealth Government and the growers will be the losers.
The figures which the honorable member for Indi quoted were inaccurate. In order to make a proper comparison between prices, we must deal in each case with the f.o.b. price. The figure of 5s. 2d., which is the price of wheat for bread and includes the sales tax, is f.o.r. If that wheat were being sold overseas, we should have to estimate the f.o.b. value and that would give to the grower an advantage of Jd. Regarding wheat for breakfast food, the average price is 3d. better than that quoted by the honorable member. In addition, the price which he quoted for stock feed showed a disparity of 1 1/2d., again in favour of the grower. The honorable member also omitted to mention the assurance of the Minister that a subsidy will be paid on all wheat sold for stock feed, increasing the price to that of the final realization of the pool. That assurance destroys the honorable member’s criticism. “When Mr. Teasdale prepared these figures, he estimated the loss at £6,500,000. Mr. Diver believed that it would be £9,000,000, but the honorable member went one better and made it £10,000,000.
– Mr. Teasdale cited the figure of £9,500,000.
– Mr. Teasdale’s figures were for one year, but mine were for eighteen months.
– If I were to tell that story to my little boy, he would reply, “.Say £12,000,000, Dad, and beat the lot of them “. iSo much for the value of their arguments ! Their contentions have been answered by the Minister, and the Government, as usual, has acquitted itself well in the interests of the wheat-growers.
.- 1 did not understand the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) when he said that the wheat-growing industry is now securing the best prices since the depression. As I have often pointed out, wheat-growers in Queensland are at a disadvantage under the Scully wheat plan, and Australia as a whole is not benefiting by it. According to the Minister, 153,000^000 bushels of wheat was grown during the first year of the 1 operation of the plan; 143,000,000 bushels in the second year; and 94,000,000 bushels in the third year. The estimate of the Australian Wheat Board for this year is only 66,000,000 bushels. If that rate of decline continues, we shall soon have no harvest at all. The acreage sown with . wheat has declined as follows : -
Compared with the number of licences issued, the acreage planted in Queensland is smaller than that planted in any other State. The Minister has urged Queensland wheatgrowers to increase their production. Last year, he threatened, that, if they did not grow more wheat, he would acquire their properties, and give them to men who were prepared to comply with his wishes. At the time, I challenged him to implement his threat. I knew that no practical men would offer themselves as substitutes for the farmers, because they could not make a living from 3,000 bushels returning a gross price of 4s. a bushel. Naturally, the Minister did not attempt to implement his threat. This year, he has increased the number of licences, and has pleaded with the farmers to grow more wheat. But why should Queensland growers, in view of the price, comply? For nineteen years, including the period of the depression, the Queensland State Wheat Board returned to farmers an average net payment of 4s. 7£d. a bushel. Of what value is the Scully plan to Queensland farmers, when it offers them less than 4s. a bushel? Is it any wonder that they are growing less wheat and are turning to more profitable commodities? That is the result of the Minister’s neglect of the Queensland wheat-growers.
To meet demands for flour and stock feed Queensland imports wheat at no less than 400 tons a day. The Minister took credit for subsidies paid for stock feed. What is the use of paying subsidies if primary producers cannot obtain stock feed? The Director-General of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock, went to Queensland and, as is usual with him, secured some publicity for Eis plans to provide increased quantities of stock feed for Queensland. The stock feed did not arrive. Primary producers were without bran, pollard and stock wheat during a serious drought.
– Queensland is receiving three times the quantity o( stock feed consumed a few years ago.
– About two months ago I wrote to the Minister about the shortage of stock feed. Last week I received from him an assurance that the position would be all right. The feed did not arrive during the drought. After the drought broke, the Minister said that the position would be satisfactory. It is not satisfactory, even at the present time. Primary producers in the droughtstricken areas, which have not yet completely recovered, are unable to obtain supplies of bran and pollard.
An examination of the production figures proves that the Scully wheat plan has failed. The Australian Wheat Board reveal? that, on the 30th June last, Australia had 150,000,000 bushels in store and 116.000,000 bushels of wheat unsold. The Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales declared that the wheat position was most disturbing and that, even before next harvest, that State would ho importing wheat for flour. Of course, Australia has sufficient wheat for its requirements, but the large stocks are in Western Australia and South Australia. In view of shipping difficulties, the problem of transporting the wheat to the Eastern States will be enormous. Railway rolling-stock in Queensland has broken down under the enormous demands that have been made upon it. The wheat-growers in that State have repeatedly asked the Minister to grant thom relief by increasing the price. Why should they not be given a higher price? Every bushel of wheat brought to Queensland costs 5s. 6d., even on the basis of the low prices that growers in other States are receiving. Farmers in Queensland are not guaranteed even 4s. a bushel to grow wheat. I remind the Minister that the soil of Queensland is probably the richest in the world, and does not require superphosphate.
– But the farmers require bags.
– Bags have to be used when wheat is brought from South Australia to Queensland. If sufficient wheat were grown in Queensland to meet the needs of that State, the bags could be used three or four times. When wheat is brought from other States, the bags can be used only once. The main factor in this situation is price. We have been informed that the cost of living has increased by about 22-£ per cent, since the outbreak of war, but the wheat-growers are not getting 22-J per cent, more for their wheat. The Queensland farmers are losing 7d. or Sd. a bushel on their wheat. The Minister stated some time ago that during the first year of operation of the Scully wheat plan, the growers received 3s. lOd. a bushel for their wheat. They had actually received 3s. 7d. at the time the honorable gentleman spoke, and he paid that they would receive an extra 3d. a bushel later. During the referendum campaign, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) visited the wheat-growing districts of Queensland, and is reported to have made the statement that the wheat-growers had benefited by an amount of £40,000,000 through the Scully wheat plan, and were satisfied with it. Rather might it be said that they have lost heavily. How then will the right honorable member explain Hip four to one adverse vote given by the wheat-growers of the Dalby district to the constitution alteration proposals? [Extension of time granted.] The Queensland growers are so dissatisfied with the Scully wheat plan that they are taking steps to urge the State Government to revert to the Queensland wheat marketing organization. That, of course, is no compliment to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
If the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture wants us to believe that he has a national outlook on this subject, he should allow the Queensland wheatgrowers to produce as much wheat as possible. By that means he would effect a’ saving of1s. 6d. a bushel in respect of all the wheat consumed in Queensland by either civilians or army personnel. He would also ensure a considerable saving in respect of coal and transport. At one stage an average of 27 trucks a day was being used to transport wheat from the south to Queensland. I do not know whether that condition still obtains. Recently I asked the Minister to take steps to encourage Queensland farmers to grow as much wheat as possible in the coming season. The mere issue of licences does not produce wheat. “What we need to do is to increase the acreage under wheat cultivation.
– There has been no restriction of wheat production in Queensland since I have been in office.
– The growers will not produce wheat for which they can expect only 3s. a bushel ; they will devote their attention to producing other more payable commodities. I direct the attention of the Minister also to the fact that the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board has stated that the freight charge of1s. a bushel for transporting Australian wheat overseas is excessive.
– We have clone our best to secure a review of freight rates.
– A representative of Australia should be authorized to make strong representations on the subject.
– We have sent an officer overseas to negotiate on the subject.
– I hope that he will be successful. The main pointI wish to make, however, is that the Government should encourage the Queensland wheat-growers to produce as much wheat as possible, and, in that connexion, price will be the determining factor. Given a stable and payable price, the growers will produce the wheat.
.- The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) said that the Government was treating the wheat-growers unfairly, for it was permitting the Australian Wheat Board to realize on the wheat at varying prices, but was not ensuring that full advantage was taken of the present favorable market. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), and also the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon), who is a practical farmer with recent personal experience of the industry, made an effective ‘reply to this charge. The Minister also disclosed that while the honorable member for Indi was in ministerial office some years ago, the best that the government of which he was a member could do was to guarantee the farmers 2s. 6d. a bushel for their wheat. When the Curtin Government assumed office, the wheat industry was still in difficulties, but the Government at once guaranteed 4s. a bushel for wheat, and paid it. To-day, the farmers are receiving 4s. l1/3d. for their wheat, and they will be paid the ultimate realization price, whatever it may be. Consequently, I am justified in saying that the farmers are being very fairly treated.
The honorable member for Indi also said that the farmers would probably challenge the validity of the present pooling system. It would be most unfortunate if any such step were taken, and more unfortunate still for the farmers if a legal decision were given against the continuance of the present system. The principal customer for Australian wheat at present is the British Government, and the average price that is being obtained for our wheat is about 4s.11d. or 4s.10d. f.o.b. When rail freights and other transport and handling charges are taken into consideration, I consider the farmers are being fairly dealt with by the payment of 4s.11/3d. f.o.r.
It mU8 t be remembered that the outlook for the wheat industry is not so favorable now as it was even a short while ago, when we were being told that immediately upon the cessation of hostilities, an unlimited market would be available overseas for Australian wheat. Recently, however, large wheatgrowing areas in Rumania, France and Russia have been liberated and a substantial acreage of wheat may be sown in those countries in the near future. If the war does not end for another twelve months, obviously considerable quantities of wheat will be available in these recently liberated countries. That would undoubtedly limit the market overseas for our wheat. It may easily happen that in the not distant future, our chief market for wheat will again be our home market.
The attitude of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) was most illogical. He said that the Government should allow the wheat-growers to obtain the best price possible for their wheat and use all their resources to obtain a maximum production. The present guaranteed price for wheat is 4s. Id. a bushel up to 3,000 bushels from each grower, and 3s. a bushel for the wheat in excess of the quota, or whatever may be the realization price. Consequently, growers should feel quite safe in producing all the wheat that they, can grow. Under the Scully plan they receive a guaranteed price which may be considerably lower than the full price that will be paid to them on realization. No grower should have reason for complaint under these circumstances. I emphasize the undoubted advantage to the wheat-growers of operating under a guaranteed price. The fact is that the wheat industry is in a more stable position than at any other time for many years, and that this has been due to the manner in which the Scully plan has been administered through the Australian Wheat Board, on which the growers, due to the action of this Government, have a substantial direct representation.
– The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. McEwen) initiated this debate in a very able and clear speech. His remarks have given rise to a considerable discussion of the facts. I do not propose to intervene to discuss current facts in the wheat “industry, for I am not sufficiently familiar with them; but I wish to say a few words about the point as to how far the Government is acting rightly in paying two different prices for the same commodity, as it is doing for wheat under the Scully wheat plan. Early in his speech the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) stated, inadvertently I believe, that property in the wheat that was acquired remained with the growers. Quite clearly, that cannot be so as I am sure the Minister must realize.
– I did not intend to make that statement.
– I was sure that it was made inadvertently. The position, of course, it quite clear. The wheat is acquired by the Crown, and its disposition rests with the Australian. Wheat Board on which the wheat-growers have considerable direct representation. The situation will be quite clear to honorable members if they will refer to regulation 14 of the National Security (Wheat Acquisition) Regulations, which reads -
For securing the public safety and the defence of the Commonwealth and the Territories of the Commonwealth, for the efficient prosecution of the war, and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community, the Minister may, from time to time, by order published in the Gazette make provision for the acquisition by the Commonwealth of any wheat described in the order, and that wheat shall, by force of and in accordance with the provisions of the order become the absolute property of the Commonwealth, freed from all mortgages, charges, liens, pledges, interests and trusts affecting that wheat, and the rights and interests of every person in that wheat (including any rights or interests arising in respect of any moneys advanced in respect of that wheat) are hereby converted into claims for compensation.
Whatever formal changes may have occurred as the result of the licensing SYstem, the truth is that the wheat of Jones and Brown, adjoining wheatgrowers is acquired by the Crown. They have, as against the Crown, a claim for compensation ; and that claim for compensation, according to the Constitution of this country, is a claim for acquisition on just terms. The thing that puzzles me - and I shall be very glad to have clarity given to it by somebody in authority - is this: Both Jones and Brown are growing wheat. One grows 6,000 bushels, and the other grows 3,000 bushels. They grow the same strain of wheat on country of the same type, and at the same distance from a railway siding. As farmers, they are “ in the same boat “ exactly. Can it be seriously contended that, under this scheme, the average price per bushel paid to Jones will be different from the average price per bushel paid to Brown?
– One gets a first advance.
– The honorable gentleman may call it what he likes. Is it not clear that, in the final result, one gets a better average return per bushel for bis wheat than does the other?
– That is the whole object of the scheme.
-Of course it is.
– A scheme of which the right honorable member for Cowper approved.
– I have never approved of it.
– The right honorable gentleman complimented the Minister when he introduced the scheme.
– I did not.
– What I am concerned to get at is the basic fact of this matter.
– Each man gets the final realization.
– The basic fact is that in the end result one gets 4s. l1/3d. a bushel, or whatever the price may be.
– As a first advance.
– But he may get no more. The other gets 3s. a bushel, and he may get no more. It is quite true that, as the result of further realizations, the one man’s 3s. may become 3s. 3d., 3s. 6d., or what you will. But there is nothing in this scheme which, in essence, provides that in the long run each man shall get the same price. Therefore, the two men whose commodity is expropriated - an identical commodity - are paid two different prices by the expropriating authority.
– That is, if the average price received when the pool has been realized does not reach 4s. a bushel.
– The whole argument of the right honorable gentleman is acquisition at a just price.
– That is precisely what I am putting.
– A just price would be the price realized.
– What I am putting is that, under certain contingencies such as not uncommonly arise, one man will get a price different from that given to the other man. Both prices cannot be just within the terms of the Constitution.
– They could be.
– If one man is paid 4s.1/3d. for a bushel of wheat, presumably the assumption is that that is a just price at which to acquire his wheat.
– Not necessarily.
– If the honorable gentleman concedes that it may be something more than a just price, how does he decide that 3s. a bushel is a just price for that man’s neighbour?
– It is not 3s. a bushel for his neighbour. Every grower receives 4s. a bushel for the first 3,000 bushels.
– I am afraid that I am. not conveying myself to the honorable member. I took the cases of two persons, Jones and Brown. Jones grows 3,000 bushels and Brown grows 6,000 bushels. The wheat produced by each of them ceases to be their property and becomes the property of the Crown. How in the name of common sense is it determined that 3s., 3s. 3d., 3s. Cd., or whatever average return may be paid to one grower, represents a fair price for a commodity that is taken under compulsion, when his neighbour is given 4s. 11/3d. a bushel for exactly the same kind of wheat, acquired in the same circumstances? I shall not discuss this as a technical matter of law, because, as the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) rightly pointed out, the High Court is the proper authority for its determination. If it be taken to the High Court, that tribunal will determine it, as it has determined other questions - for example, the acquisition of blue peas. I believe that one of our responsibilities as a Parliament is to see that the substance of the Constitution shall be recognized; and the Constitution provides a power in the Commonwealth to acquire property from any person on just terms. I challenge any member of the Government to point out what fact shows that the amount paid to the grower of more than 3,000 bushels of wheat under the Scully scheme represents just compensation for the goods taken from him. Throughout the whole of this discussion, there has not been the slightest evidence to indicate that what happens is more than that as a matter of political policy it has been decided that it would be a good thing to give a higher price to the small wheat-grower. Therefore, a premium is put upon small production; whereas the man who, on better wheat country and in more favorable circumstances, produces 8,000 or 9,000, or 10,000 bushels of wheat, is told that in consequence, except in very extraordinary circumstances, he will be given for his wheat a lower price than is paid to his small neighbour, who has had enough sense to grow 3,000 bushels or less.
– The right honorable member’s, time has expired.
.-I listened with interest to the case presented by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). I noted his submission that possibly the payment by the Government of two prices for wheat could be successfully challenged in the High Court and his statement that in his opinion such differentiation is unconstitutional. He was very careful to guard his statement with the preface that that would be the result in the event of a certain contingency arising. It may well be observed by those who read the remarks of the right honorable gentleman that the contingency which he mentioned has not yet arisen. Should it arise, the Government will do what is right. This Parliament, and the people of this country, should realize that the Government is paying 4s. a bushel for the first 3,000 bushels, and a sum equal to actual realization on all the wheat of every grower in excessof 3,000 bushels. Unfortunately, from the standpoint of the grower and the country, the net average price of realization has not yet reached as much as 4s. a bushel for the wheat of all growers. The right honorable gentleman has given the im pression, even though without deliberate intent, that the’ Government is acting illegally; and he has encouraged the wheat-grower to believe that, in presentday circumstances in relation to payment of prices, he has a case which might succeed in the High Court.
It is unfortunate that, every time I have heard the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) state a case in this House, he has worked himself up to what appears to be a state of righteous iiidignation regarding the treatment of certain people in this country by the government of the day. Those who are acquainted with the honorable gentleman know that invariably he speaks with his tongue in his cheek, and endeavours to cover uphis record as an administrator in governments which preceded the present occupants of the treasury bench.
When I review the unfortunate history of wheat production in Australia, and consider what governments were in power in the period unguardedly mentioned by the honorable member for Indi, when the wheat industry was in a state of depression, due to seasonal conditions and other adverse factors, I ask myself whether or not the facts reveal that the’ honorable member, or the government which he supported, took any practical steps comparable with those that have been taken by this Government in a war crisis, to lift the grower from a condition of poverty to one of comparative affluence.
– Many more millions of pounds were voted to the industry by governments of which I was a member or a supporter, than have been voted to it by this Government.
– Preceding administrations were abject failures in this respect. I remind the House that not many years ago the honorable member forBarker (Mr. Archie Cameron), as Minister for Commerce, had a difference of opinion with the Minister for Agriculture in Victoria, in consequence of which he deprived the wheat-farmers of that State of no less than £200,000, the proportion to which they were entitled of the revenue which resulted from the imposition of the flour tax. The honorable gentleman Confirmed that to-day, when he said that the wheat-farmers of
Victoria did not get the money because the Minister for Agriculture in that State would not submit a reasonable plan. Fancy a responsible administration, of which the honorable member for Indi was a member, depriving the farmers of Victoria of money to which they were entitled !
– The honorable member ought to know that he is quite wrong, because it was marginal area money.
– Of course it was,
– It was not to go to wheat-growers.
– If was marginal urea money, due to the wheat-farmers of Victoria out of the receipts from the flour tax, imposed by a Government of which the honorable gentleman was ii member. He was ashamed of what had been done. I have the idea that even the then Prime Minister was ashamed of the action of one of his Ministers. The honorable member for Indi and a colleague walked out of the House during the making of the statement, and hid behind the green curtains at the entrance to the chamber; in order that they might not- be embarrassed. I have previously recited these facts in this House, and I consider that they hear repetition.
The case submitted to-day will not convince the wheat-farmers, or the fairminded people of this country, that the Government has done other than the right thing. The honorable member for Indi has not even been decently accurate in his statements. First. he said that if the present policy be continued in 1945 the loss to the wheat-growers will be £10,000,000. He then went on to relate a sale at 7s. 6d. a bushel, and deliberately conveyed the impression that all the wheat sent abroad was being sold at that price.
– That is sheer misrepresentation.
– The honorable member knows that 7s. 6d. a bushel was received for only a small parcel of wheat. Subsequently, under challenge by way of interjection, he reduced the price to 6s. Gel. Had he spoken long enough, and been challenged more frequently, he might have tome clown to 3s. 6d., or even 2s. 6d. - “nothing over half-a- crown “. The attitude to the wheatgrowers of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), and those associated with bini; has always been “ nothing over 2s. 6d. for the wheat-grower “. That is in marked contrast to the attitude of the present government policy.
.- mi reply - The Government of which I was a member always made a first advance to the wheat-growers in excess of the world parity price. The present Government set out to make itself a good fellow by advancing to the growers something far less than the world parity price. Our Government voted millions of pounds for the support of the wheat industry by way of subsidies, and in. the form of assistance to growers suffering disabilities because of adverse seasons. In these ways, it provided more money than this Government has done.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257b.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Nash and Senator Herbert Hays had been appointed members of the Broadcasting Committee.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 13th September (tide page 74S), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and Allowances, £8,480”, be agreed to.
.- I listened with pleasure to the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) yesterday, because I am now able to hail him as a convert to the views which I myself have advocated in this Parliament for the last 25 years. The right honorable gentleman has evidently been convinced that the only way to maintain the permanent peace of the world is to expand international trade, and to improve living conditions in all countries throughout the world. He is also convinced that, in the unity and strength of the British Empire there is a powerful factor making for world pence. The Prime Minister was not always of that opinion, and I was pleased yesterday to hear of his conversion.
During the period between the two wars the record of the British Empire in the sphere of international co-operation was an impressive one. The Empire has made some mistakes, but if every other country had sought as assiduously and selfsacrificingly to expand international trade, the second world war might never have broken out. I am glad that the war has converted the Prime Minister to this view. I am hopeful that he will be able to convert his supporters, and give a real lead to the people of Australia.
I join with him in his expression of pride in the war achievements of Australia. I am not so pleased, however, that it has been found necessary to spend so much money on the war, because war expenditure is, necessarily, wasteful. I am proud that my reform of the financial machinery of the Commonwealth, by bringing into being the Loan Council and the Financial Agreement, made possible the quick and easy raising of the hundreds of millions of pounds necessary to finance the war. [ do not forget that when we moved in this Parliament to validate the Financial Agreement, our measures were opposed by the Labour party.
I agree with the Prime Minister that Australia has a good record in connexion with price control and the prevention of inflation. However, it should not be forgotten that, immediately the war broke out, the Prime Minister of the day, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), appointed the present Prices Commissioner, Professor Copland, who has occupied his position for the whole five years of the war. It is an important position, and he is largely responsible for the fact that prices have been kept within reasonable limits. During the first two years of the war, despite increased freights, and rising prices in neutral countries, the general level of prices in Australia rose by only 10 per cent.
I also join with the Prime Minister in applauding the great effort made by Australia in the production of munitions. It is a wonderful achievement, but it was made possible only by the careful plan ning of pre-war governments, which established munitions annexes to important factories, and co-ordinated the efforts of the leaders of industry. On that foundation, the enterprise and initiative of manufacturers, together with the adaptability and patriotism of the workers, have erected an imposing structure.
All this, however, will pass, and be remembered only as an episode in the history of the war. It will be otherwise with the imperishable pride which the people of Australia will continue to feel in the valour of our fighting men. They have distinguished themselves on every continent, in every ocean and in the skies over every part of the world; but not many of them would have had the opportunity thus to distinguish themselves if the policy supported by some members of the Government, and even by the Prime Minister himself, had been adopted. In that event our men would not, during the first two years of the war, have been able to add lustre to the reputation achieved for valour and gallantry by our fighting men in the last war.
Let us not forget, either, the unrecorded heroism of the men and women, and even children, on the farms, on the outback stations and in city homes, the heroism of old men who have gone on year after year trying tomake things do, putting forth extra effort in order to release men needed for the fighting forces or in the munitions factories. Iam not so concerned with the comparison made by the Prime Minister as to how much money the various countries have spent on the war or the quantity of munitions manufactured. I am more interested in stories of human courage and endurance which the war has brought to light. Especially should we remember the bravery of Great Britain’s fighting men, how they stood with practically nothing in their hands after Dunkirk, ready to resist the onslaught of the Huns. We should also remember the patriotism and endurance of the men and women who work in the factories of Great Britain. In December, 1941, I went through some of the factories in Sheffield, in company with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill. I was told that during the year there had beer 126 alerts, and many actual bombings. On two nights there had been an almost continuous bombardment from the air. Every three minutes for more than eight hours waves of enemy aircraft came over. As I was leaving one factory the manager put in to my hand a note telling me that, despite the 126 alerts and two nights of continuous bombing, they had lost only four hours and twenty minutes actual working time.
A similar story comes from Russia of the fortitude and fighting capacity of the soldiers, and the burning patriotism and devotion of the women and men behind the lines. Eve Curie, daughter of the discoverer of radium, visited Moscow in January, 1942, just after the invaders had been driven back from the environs of the city. Speaking to the Russian women working in a machine-tool factory, she asked, “Wheredid you shelter when Moscow was bombed ? “ They looked surprised and said, “ Shelter? We were not supposed to shelter ; we were supposed to keep the machines working, bombing or no bombing”. She said, “Eleven hours a day making grenades, mines and munitions - aren’t you tired?”. She declares in her book that she will never forget the way those Russian women and girls proudly replied, “No, no. We are not tired. Our men at; the front fight night and day in the snow at 40 below zero, and they are not tired. How should we dare to be tired? “ Before the war this factory employed 5,000 workers, who worked 40 hours in a six-day week. Sometimes only five days were worked. In January, 1942, the men and women employed in the factory were working eleven hours a day for seven days a week. They spent twelve hours each day in the factory, one night shift and one day shift, with an hour off for lunch. On one occasion, when twelve bombs had fallen actually in the factory grounds, work was interrupted for only two minutes.
We know that the people of other countries also - the Poles, the Greeks, the French, and the Yugo-Slavs, men without country for years - have been carrying on the fight against the enemy for years past. Then we turn our eyes again to Australia, and we realize that our war effort has been tarnished by the action of a few “ rough-necks “ who have been allowed to undermine the morale of the people. Something should be done about this or we shall be for ever shamed.
What is the industrial position? Consider the coal-mining industry. The miners have no real industrial grievances. Their leaders have practically been given control. Fines for breaches of discipline are allowed to be imposed by the federation. Special tribunals, instead of the Arbitration Court, have been established to deal with their claims. Yet, the miners strike for most extraordinary reasons - because a horse has a sore back, or some fellow has a bad foot, or a pair of boots is missing, or for other trivial reasons. Because of that our mails are delayed. In parts of my constituency, deliveries of mail have been reduced from six’ to two a week. Our soldiers are unable to get supplies. ‘Munition factories have to put off men. We see all sorts of things which are a disgrace, simply because the Government has not had the courage to stand up to the miners. They are working to-day, not because of anything that the Government has done, but because the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and other industrial organizations have said to them, “ You must stay at work, not because the country is in danger, but because, if you do not, 100,000 of us will be out of work and without pay cheques “. Consider, too, the slaughtermen. We have a duty to feed not only ourselves and the Allied and Australian servicemen in this country, but also the people of Great Britain. Yet, the slaughtermen often work four hours a day, from 7.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. to complete their daily tally, after which they positively refuse to slaughter another beast even for a bonus. What do they care that in our own cities poor women with kiddies dragging at their skirts have to wait hours and hours in queues to obtain their meat ration, and that women and children in Great Britain can only get meat now and then? The Government does nothing to ensure that the slaughtermen shall kill enough beasts to meet the needs of ourselves, let alone the people of Great Britain. I am credibly informed that there will be tremendous delay in handling the lambs in Victoria and South Australia this season, and that, as the result, we shall be 60,000 tons short of our needs.. Contrast the slaughtermen with the women who work almost without pause in the factories of Russia. Compare them with the women of Sheffield, whom I recently saw singing at their work, and doing three shifts a day. They contribute a penny a week each in order to buy gramophone records to provide themselves with music while they toil. Millions of British people, who have held the fortress for civilization, are going short of meat because we, owing to the laziness of the slaughtermen and the indolence of the Government, cannot fulfil our obligations to feed them. Consider, too, the wharf labourers. It is an ineradicable disgrace that Allied servicemen, who say that they came from their own country to fight for this country, are compelled to load and unload ships so that their American and Australian comrades shall be supplied, while the wharf labourers, who should be doing the job, loaf along the wharves. We have reason to hold our heads in shame that the Government is so lax as to permit such things to occur. Our morale has declined because the Government has always taken the line of least resistance in applying its policy, and has not stood up to the slackers. It will only move when it is forced to do so by public outcry which enables it to force caucus and the outside organizations to agree to delayed and imperfect action. There is no concerted attack on our problems, only a sort of a rearguard, panicky action undertaken spasmodically. The attack is not against the root causes of our ills, but against the symptoms which manifest themselves owing to the Government’s failure to take firm action. Let me recite some of the things which the Government has been forced to do. It was forced to bring into being “ pay-as-you-earn “ taxation. It opposed that at the general elections as a hopeless proposition, but, when public resentment grew, the Government finally brought down a scheme so loaded and distorted that it brought in extra money for the Treasury. Honorable members will remember also the despicable position in which Australia stood for weeks and weeks while we waited for the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and other industrial organizations to decide whether the Government should be allowed to introduce military conscription. Finally, we were rewarded with a decision that our men could be conscripted to fight, hut only in an area bounded on the north by the equator, notwithstanding that almost a whole division of Australian troops is imprisoned in Malaya. Then, the Ministry was forced to yield to a public demand that men should he released from the Army to assist in food production. It decided that 20,000 men, of whom 10,000 were destined to return to the dairying industry, should be released; but the dairying industry did not get those 10,000 men. Subsequently, the Government has brought down another proposal for the release of a further 30,000 men, of whom 4,000 will be necessary to meet the deficit in the number from the first 20,000 who were to have been sent to the dairying industry. Recently, I asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to supply to me statistics of’ butter production in the last five years. His answer disclosed that notwithstanding the introduction of butter rationing, since the outbreak of war our exports of butter to Great Britain have declined from 113,000 tons a year to 41,000 tons; and it is upon Australia and New Zealand that Great Britain depends for the paltry quantity of butter that it can afford to distribute amongst its people who, having passed through the horrors of the “ blitz “ have recently passed through the ordeal of the flying bombs, the horror of which we cannot conceive. The letters I have received from London lead me to the belief that the flying bomb is the most infernal machine ever devised. What has happened and is happening in industrial Australia is symptomatic of the decline of morale generally. Only last week we witnessed two stupid strikes in Sydney. The butchers refused to work on Saturday mornings. Families without ice chests had to go without meat on Sunday, because they could not keep meat fresh from Friday. The waitresses stopped work regardless of the fact that their claims were being considered by the Arbitration Court. Both strikes are an indication of the state of anarchy which has been created because the Government has not firmly grasped the nettle.
A vital defect in the budget is the intrusion of peace-time policy into a wartime budget in such a way as to make post-war reconstruction, very difficult. I refer to the attempt which is being made to finance social services. It is wrong in its timing, lacks order of programme, and it . is hopelessly wrong in its method. Its timing is almost the same as it would he if the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) told a man who had been shot through the lung and was bleeding to death that he was to be the donor for the next blood transfusion. That is exactly what we see in this budget. We are taking £30,000,000 of extra tax at a time when we are struggling for our existence, coming up like a drowning man as it were for the third time, and the Government is saying to us that we must provide that extra amount to help it carry out a peace-time programme of social services. Here is the order of the Government’s programme : free funerals; free medicine; free hospital beels. The order should be: plenty of good food: plenty of hospitals, and plenty of hospital beds. Those are the things which should come first. If the people had plenty of food of the right, sort there would be far fewer patients and less necessity for mcn to be absent from work, and there would be fewer calls on the sickness and unemployment fund. That would start a beneficial circle.
– Is that the right honoraide gentleman’s policy?
– My policy is the provision of plenty of good food. As I pointed out during the debate od the Pharmaceutical Benefits Bill, if we expended the £3,000,000 which that legislation will cost us annually on the provision of orange juice and fresh milk to our kiddies our sickness bill would be halved within ten years.
– It is remarkable that the right honorable gentleman did not take advantage of the opportunities he. hpad to do something of that kind.
– The honorable gentleman has a very short memory. I ought not to have to remind him that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and I launched the King George V. Memorial Fund, one of the results of which may be seen in the King George V. obstetric hospital at Annandale, Sydney. We induced the States to deal with the provision of free milk for school children. We brought into being the National Health and Medical Research Council with an endowment which maintained it for four years until other financial arrangements were made. That council has done wonderful work. Its book on Nutrition Standards is a standard work.
– The right honorable gentleman said what the people should eat, but he did not do anything to enable them to eat.
– The honorable gentleman will find that, in 1926-27, as the result of our policy, 452,000 men were working in Australian factories, a greater figure than before or since. We put money into their pockets and food into their mouths. This provision for the financing of social services will impose a tremendous rigidity on post-war finance and may seriously interfere with the methods that we ought to adopt to bring about post-war rehabiliation. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) introduced the legislation which brought into being the National Welfare Fund to which he referred in the following terms in his budget speech : -
Honorable members will recall that into the National Welfare Fund is paid each year from Consolidated Revenue a sum of. £30,000,000, or one-quarter of the total collections from income tux on individuals for Commonwealth purposes whichever is the lower.
The National Welfare Fund has been in existence for about a year, and, according to page 144 of the budget papers, we are to take, this year, from, the fund £20,560,000 for social services. At the same time, as the Treasurer said in the budget speech, we shall have to provide another £4,400,000 to finance the free hospital beds scheme. That means that £24,960,000 is to come from the fund this year. Only one has passed. After two years, the £30,000,000 will have been hypothecated. We shall be committed to that enormous sum to finance social services. The act provides that the amount shall be £30,000,000, or onequarter of the tax on incomes derived from, personal exertion, whichever be the lower. The Commonwealth must raise £120,000,000 a year by taxing the incomes of individuals. In his budget speech, the Treasurer said that the largest amount of income tax that had been collected from individuals in any pre-war year was £8,000,000. Therefore, the Treasurer, after the war, will have to collect fifteen times as much tax on the incomes of individuals as he did in any pre-war year.
– That is to be permanent!
– The Commonwealth must raise £120,000,000 a year permanently from the income tax while this National Welfare legislation stands. In addition, the Commonwealth is committed to many other items of expenditure. Invalid andi old-age pensions, child endowment and maternity allowances will absorb £37,000,000. Our war debt exceeds £1,000,000,000, and the budget papers show that the Commonwealth pays £14,500,000 a year into sinking fund and £35,500.000 in interest. That accounts for another £49,000,000. Repatriation and defence will absorb at least £20,000,000. Thus, the few items which [ have mentioned will require about £140,000,000 a year, without any departmental expenditure. Although great reductions may be effected in certain departmental expenditure and many war-time departments may be eliminated, at least two departments will increase in size and function. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture will have greater functions because of the necessity for our engaging in international collaboration, whilst the Department of External Affairs will increase in importance because it will make our international contacts. Consequently, any economies that will be effected by the reduction or elimination of certain wartime departments, will be offset by the growth of those two departments. The Commonwealth Government has committed the Australian population of 7.000,000 to an inescapable expenditure of £140,000,000 a year. The tax bill for every man, woman and child will be £20 a year. For the average family of three, the taxation liability will be £60 a year, or £1 3s. a week. Where will that money be obtained ? It cannot come from government monopolies. That policy was tried unsuccessfully after the last war, when the Commonwealth established its own shipping line. Mr. Anstey, a former deputy leader of the Labour party, was a member of the royal commission which examined the operations of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. He signed a report which declared that the entry of the Commonwealth Government into the shipping sphere had resulted in substantial losses, and that other shipping companies were able blandly to point out, when the Government requested them to reduce freights, that the Commonwealth’s own; undertaking was showing huge losses and that, consequently, they could not be charging excessive rates. When the Commonwealth Government sold its ships, it negotiated successfully with the overseas companies to reduce their freights by an amount of £2,500,000 per annum. The sale of the ships did not realize a much larger sum. Under that agreement, the Commonwealth arranged for the ships to continue to ply between Australia and Great Britain.
– Mr. Jowett moved the adjournment of the House to discuss high shipping freights, and the Government was defeated on the motion.
– The Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was still in existence then.
– It was not.
– I remind the Minister for the Navy that Mr. Jowett’s seat was abolished under the redistribution in 1922 and that the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was not sold until about 1926. I ask, where can this money be obtained? It will not come from the operation of government monopolies. Incursions into State trading by setting up timber mills and butcher’s shops were disastrous. The money will have to come from the expansion of private enterprise, and private enterprise can expand only if we are able to ensure to Australian manufacturers and producers a good home market and a satisfactory entrance into overseas markets. What is the position of the home market? As the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister have said, the
Atlantic Charter pledges us to international collaboration and a world-wide reduction of tariff rates.
– I did not say that.
– The Prime Minister said, “Freedom of trade must be assured “. How are we to assure it unless tariff rates be reduced ? My second point is that in 1942 the Government signed the lend-lease agreement, which reduces the benefits under British preference. “We are skating on thin ice. Within the Empire our position is not sure. In the outside world, international obligations, rather than domestic considerations, must determine our policy. To ensure that we shall expand our industries, we must be certain that they are efficient. They cannot be efficient unless they are efficiently equipped, and they cannot be efficiently equipped unless they can retain some of their earnings with which to purchase equipment. If r.hey are to attract capital they must be allowed to pay reasonable dividends. I was gratified to read that the Prime Minister welcomed the idea of an influx of British capital, but that capital will be available only if companies are given a reasonable opportunity to make profits from their investments and enterprise. Therefore, the Government must be prepared to reduce taxes, and make the taxation system flexible in order to enable Those companies to establish reserves and provide efficient equipment. Unfortunately, the present system of providing finance for social services makes our income tax system one of the most rigid in the world. I propose to contrast the Australian approach with the British approach. Of course, the British Government is not so hostile to a contributory scheme of social service benefits as is the Commonwealth Government. [ quote from the British White Paper on Employment which the Prime Minister laid on the table recently -
The Government, after examining a number of methods, favour the adoption, when settled conditions return, of a scheme for varying, in sympathy with the state of employment, the weekly contribution paid by employers and employed under the proposed new system of social insuranco. The standard rate of contribution would bc assessed on the basis of a forecast of the average level of unemployment, in such a way as to keep the social insurance fund in balance over a number of years. But the rate of contribution actually levied would exceed the standard rate at times when unemployment fell below the estimated average level and would be less than the standard rate at times when unemployment exceeded this average.
By contrast, the Commonwealth Treasury will receive reduced collections from income tax during a depression, and will be obliged to meet a bigger bill for unemployment benefits without any compensation when conditions improve. I had an opportunity to observe at close quarters the operation of the British system in war-time, and I declare without hesitation that the manner in which Great Britain faced its problems of food production, rationing, and finance was a revelation. For two and a half years the index figure of prices has remained stationary.
– So it has in Australia.
– Although for a period Britain had to stand alone against powerful enemies, it managed to maintain a satisfactory domestic position. Consequently, we should examine its methods, and seek to emulate its example. The White Paper continued -
The Government have also examined a number of other devices for influencing the vo) owe of consumption, such as the variation of rates; of taxation and the incorporation of some system of deferred credits as a permanent feature of national taxation. Since after the war a very considerable proportion of tha.t national income will have to be taken in taxes, it is clear that the relatively small variations in rates of taxation, whether effected bv deferred credits or otherwise, will have a significant effect on the purchasing power available to the public and so on employment. Deferred credits are preferable to any system of direct variation which, apart from its other advantages, would come into operation more slowly than an effective policy demands.
I urge the Government to substitute for its present rigid financial system a more flexible method, as Great Britain has done. Those of us who had experience of the position after the last war know how almost in a week an unexpected crisis would arise. It had to be dealt with immediately. It could not await the introduction of the budget, or an amendment of the income tax law. When I was in practice, I attended dozens of patients, and if I had not taken with me a hypodermic syringe with strychnine, they would have died.
But after au injection they are still “ alive and kicking “.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Not merely, is the Australian Government’s taxation procedure more rigid than that of the British Goverment, but it meets our problems from the wrong end. In regard to social services, for example, the Government is proposing to provide free funerals, free medicine, and free hospital beds. Surely the proper approach should bc to provide plenty of food, as many hospitals as are needed, and skilled medical attention. By that means people would be really helped. The theory that an increase of taxation is the best way to overcome financial difficulties has been proved a fallacy. We have had two bitter experiences of the application of that fallacy in the last 26 years. During the last war taxation rose steeply, as is inevitable in war-time, for war-time taxation is designed to prevent an excess spending power from coming into the hands of the people, and to obtain money for carrying on the war. As soon as war raids, however, every effort should be made to stimulate employment; therefore, taxation imposed in war-time for war purposes should be reduced as rapidly as possible. That policy was not applied after the last war until Mr. S. M. Bruce and I became associated in the government of this country.
– And a tragic pair you were!
– The fact is that Mr. Bruce has rendered such extraordinarily valuable service to Australia in London that this Government has twice extended his period of office. The Government has also called upon me at different times for services which it believed I was competent to render. Apparently, it has been rather difficult to replace us. The Bruce-Page bogy has disappeared. During the regime of the Bruce-Page Government taxation was progressively reduced until in 1927-28 it was back to the 1915 figure. During that period of progressive reduction employment in factories in Australia increased until in 1926-27 it reached the record figure of 452,584. [Extension of time granted.] Our second experience of the fallacy of high taxation as a remedy for financial difficulties came to us during^ the depression years. High taxation did not get us out of our difficulties at that5 time. The placing of an extra burdenof taxation on people at such times may be likened to penalizing a racehorse by extra weight with the idea of helping it to win the race. Horses, we know, travel faster and further the less weight they have to carry. We found in the years following the depression that the steady reduction of taxation led to a steady increase of primary and secondary industry and an improvement of the standards of living and comfort of the people. The Government should! apply a policy of taxation reduction assoon as possible. The ideal is to leave as much money as possible in the pockets of the people for them to spend ‘as they desire, and not for the Government totake as much money as possible from* them to spend, as it desires.
The Prime Minister referred yesterday to the absolute necessity for international collaboration to ensure postwar rehabilitation throughout the worldFood, of course, is the key to the situation. Normally, half the population of” the world is engaged in agriculture. Theproduction and handling of food constitutes the biggest single item in world trade. The true formula for peace is(rood food and plenty of it. The Government should therefore announce a longterm policy designed to encourage food production and to impart confidence and assurance to the people. It will takemany years to restore farming to its proper place, but everything possible should be done without delay to achieve thatend. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to canvass the pros and cons of the world situation, as he did yesterday, but the essential thing isto apply here an Australian food policy which will yield results. .Even, though the position in Europe may be better to-day than any one could haveimagined it would be even a few short months ago, there is still a very wide gap to be bridged before people generally will reach a .proper standard of nutrition.. An American royal commission examined the food position in 1940, and it found, among other things, that 40* pei- cent, of the people of the United States of America were undernourished,. according to ordinarily accepted standards. If that be the position in the United States of America, which has a larger per capita national income and greater financial resources than any other country, as well as the capacity to produce food practically on the doorsteps of the people who need it, how much worse must the situation be in some other countries ! Very great advances will need to be made before we can hope to provide sufficient food for world needs.
The Government should formulate a long-range policy designed to ensure proper nutrition and health for all its people. The greatest step forward for the maintenance of peace will undoubtedly be the adequate production of foodstuffs. How may this forward step be taken? Great Britain has set the whole world an example which has yielded remarkable results even during the five years of the war. The Government of the United Kingdom laid its plans for the stimulation of food production soon after the conclusion of the last war by assuring guaranteed prices to food producers. Production was thereby stimulated. That, of course, meant that the consumption of foodstuffs increased. Appropriate action wasalso taken to ensure that retail prices to consumers would be reasonable and that ample food would be available for their needs. Such a policy should be applied more completely in Australia. Guaranteed prices are of little use, however, unless associated with them is provision for the payment of subsidies where necessary to assist consumption. The vagaries of free food production cannot be allowed to depend entirely upon marketing arrangements, and producers should be assured of a fair return for their labour. Unless they be given such assurances they will cease production in difficult times, shortages will occur, prices will rise and consumption will diminish.
A complete survey of the whole position should be undertaken by the Government with the object of determining which items of foodstuffs should have priority in production. If larger supplies of eggs, milk, butter, meat, and vegetables are necessary, and smaller quantities of wheat and certain other commodities would meet our needs, then everything possible should be done by improved relative prices to encourage the production of the mostneeded items. Only by the adoption of a balanced economy of this description shall we be able to overcome our problems. The statement was made in one of the reports I read of the proceedings of one of the International Food Conferences that the Dutch delegates had asked that three times as much meat be allocated to Holland as was ordinarily allotted on a per capita basis. The representatives pointed out that the people of Holland had been subjected to such a measure of starvation, that, in order to regain normal health, they needed food in concentrated form. If meat, eggs, and butter are the great needs, the production of them should be stimulated. The policy that was applied in Great Britain was successful because it was full orbed. Half-and-half policies of compromise will get us nowhere, for they will not stimulate production to the required degree. Unless a comprehensive policy be adopted failure will result. I would liken the adoption of a policy of compromise in food production to the action of a surgeon, who, after operating on a patient, neglected to stitch up the wound. Unfortunately, this Government has applied only policies of compromise. A good deal has been done to assist the dairying industry, for instance, but a great deal more should be clone. It must be done, too, if we are to supply Great Britain with all the dairy products that are needed in that country.
When the Treasurer brought down his financial statement early last year I endeavoured to persuade him to apply a policy more in keeping with the needs of the situation. Therefore, I moved, that there be added to his motion for the printing of a certain paper the following words : -
And that it be an instruction to the Government to add to their financial proposals the methods which have proved successful in Britain in preventing further inflation by -
My proposal was resisted very strongly by the Government for several months. The House adjourned on the 1st April - an appropriate date perhaps - for an indefinite period. On the 12th April the Government brought threequarters of my scheme into operation by means of regulations, but, because it did not adopt the whole scheme, we find ourselves in our present mess. The adoption of the ceiling price principle did not go far enough. The ceiling, in fact, was so full of holes that people poked their heads through it. There must be a floor or minimum guaranteed price as well as a ceiling price. We must have a complete programme of food production if we are to meet the needs of the next five or ten years. Nothing short of maximum production should satisfy us. I therefore urge the Government to plan for progressive increases of agricultural production of every necessary kind. There must be a payable price, a guaranteed market, and some assistance in relation to man-power. I was gratified by the statement of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) that further releases from the Army are to be made. I hope that the Army authorities will not be allowed to cut across the policy of the Government in relation to food production, by preventing the transfer of manpower to avenues in which it is essential. We must offset the shortage of manpower, which will persist until the war against Japan has been won, by the early application of electrical power to supplement what man-power is now available. I plead with the Government to give the highest priority to electrical equipment for transmission lines, for lines from transmission lines to farm houses, and for the motors which will enable the necessary installations to be made. I tried to secure a high priority for these four or five years ago, when
I was a member of the government, but was over-borne by the military and munitions authorities. I fear that the position has not changed inside the administration. The end of the war in Europe is in sight, and these facilities could quite easily be given high priorities for the benefit of the man on. the land. In the scheme of post-war reconstruction, provision should be made which will ensure that cheap electricity will be in abundant supply over the whole of well-settled Australia, in order that the domestic conveniences of the people in country areas may be comparable to those of the people in other parts of the continent. To that end. I have urged the adoption of a national policy, in association with the States, for the provision of general high tension electrical transmission grids which will make possible the linking of all installations for the generation of power. Those already in existence should be used to the utmost capacity, and steps should be taken for the commercial development of others capable of attachment. [Further extension of time granted.] It would appear that water is the commodity of which we in Australia are most short, and we should make the best use of all that we have. Every horse-power that can be generated out of the 3,000,000 potential in Tasmania should be harnessed and put to the service of industry. On the mainland, every irrigation dam should be connected by electrical transmission lines to a main transmission system, so as to ensure that, concurrently with the discharge of water for irrigation purposes, electricity will be generated and fed into the general system. The Commonwealth has not the constitutional power to act alone in this matter. I pioneered the Nymboida hydro-electric system, which is the biggest on the mainland. It supplies an area 300 miles long by 60 miles across, at a flat rate for town and country districts. That is a shining example of what can be done with rural electricity. With Sir William Willcocks, I believe that if we had expended on water conservation one-half of the money that has been expended on the construction of railways, the railways “ would have built themselves “.
.-We have just heard a most extraordinary speech from the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). In the early portion of it, he praised every country except Australia. He lauded the efforts of Russia in the war, and quoted from n work by Eve Curie in regard to what the Russians had done, yet did not say a word in commendation of Australia.
– That is an absolute lie. In the morning, Hansard will show that the honorable member is a liar.
– Not one word did the right honorable gentleman utter in regard to the great achievements of Australia, which will bear comparison with those of any other people in the world. Whilst admiring the ‘efforts of Russia, we should also acknowledge the great assistance which it received from the British Empire. The Australian Navy played an important part in transporting munitions of war to Russia. I resent the lauding of the efforts of any other country, whilst failing to say one word about the great achievements of our men at El Alamein and along the Kokoda trail in New Guinea. The successes of the Australians in the Middle East made possible the subsequent progress of the Allied armies in Italy. The attitude of the right honorable member for Cowper is in sharp contrast to that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who yesterday, replying to efforts in America to decry the part which Australia had played in the war, said that what we had done would compare more than favorably with what had been done by any other of the Allied nations.
The right honorable member for Cowper, as Treasurer, submitted many budgets to this Parliament. All of us can recall the period during which he occupied that responsible position, and many of those who have fought in this war bad experience of the conditions that then obtained. With his ability, why did he not put into operation, during the depression years, the schemes that he expounds to-day, and thus find work for the unemployed? Instead of doing that, he and the government with which he was associated left hundreds of thousands of men, women and children on the verge of starvation. Our people should be gratified at having in power a Government which brings down a budget that is directed principally to the war effort. Every one looks forward to the easing of the disabilities under which the people are suffering to-day. I hope that victory will have been achieved, and the war will be over, when the next budget is presented, and that the existing excessive taxation on all sections of the community will be reduced, the mistakes of past governments will be rectified, and the Commonwealth Bank will be restored to the position which it held originally, so that it may make possible the construction of the great national works that are so necessary.
I was particularly struck by that portion of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in which he envisaged another depression in this country. The right honorable gentleman stated that great public works should be postponed until there was unemployment. This clearly indicates that if honorable members opposite were in power to-day they would look forward to hundreds of thousands of men being out of employment. There is no need to await a depression before undertaking great activities. Many reproductive works of considerable national value could be commenced almost immediately. Included among such works should be water conservation and irrigation projects, and measures for the prevention of soil erosion.
I remember that when the right honorable member for Cowper was en route from Australia to England in 1941, as the representative of ‘ the United Australia party Government, he visited Singapore, and was reported as saying that Singapore would be able to resist any attack which might be made upon it. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman was correctly reported, but that is what he was supposed to have said. The present Government came into office during his absence, but it allowed him to continue his journey to London as its representative. However, his statement about the defensive strength of Singapore, which fell to the enemy a few weeks after he left, somewhat discounts his opinion regarding military matters.
– The Government thought so much of his opinion that it requested him to stay overseas for ten months.
– I have a great admiration for the right honorable gentleman as a. citizen, but my opinion of him as a statesman is such that I would gladly give him a single ticket to London at any tame.
There are in Australia a great many government-owned factories engaged in (he production of munitions and other war supplies. Had the referendum proposals been accepted by the people, those factories might, after the war, have been used in the interests of the community as a whole-. But as the referendum was lost they will probably have to be disposed of to private enterprise. That is the principal reason why such enormous sums of money were spent in opposing t,ho referendum proposals. Interested persons wanted to cash in on the assets of the Commonwealth after the war. For some years I was a member of the War Expenditure Committee which inspected many of the government factories, and it was evident to ‘roe that the Commonweal th had established a magnificent industrial organization which ought .to be kept in existence for the benefit qf the people, hf is to he hoped that these assets- will not be sacrificed to private enterprise after the war. It was interesting to hear the right honorable member for Cowper refer to the part played by Australian shipping after the last war. Eventually, he told us that the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers had been sold. We all know what happened to that line when the right honorable gentleman was a member of the Government. The ships were sold at a price so low that (hey were almost given away, and even then the purchase price was never paid. It is to be hoped that when the Disposals Commission is selling Commonwealth assets after this war it, will see that .the purchase price is paid.
The Canadian High Commissioner in Australia (Mr. Justice Davis) recently toured central and northern Australia, and. after his return, he expressed him self as being much impressed with the economic possibilities of those areas. I know that some members of this Parliament have already visited central Australia, but others have not had the opportunity because facilities have not been available. I suggest that partiesof honorable members should periodically be taken on visits to central and northern Australia so as to become acquainted with conditions in those regions. Then, upon their return, they would be able to legislate intelligently for their development. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson), who is well acquainted with central Australia, shares the opinion of Mr. Justice Davis that this area would well repay development.
I regret that the Government has not seen fit to introduce legislation for the relief of aged and invalid persons, but we have an assurance that this will be done early next year, and that something will also be done to meet the special requirements of burnt-out servicemen.
I direct the attention of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) to the vicious sentences sometimes imposed by courtsmartial upon servicemen, some of whom have been committed to civilian gaols for purely military offences. This should in no circumstances be done. I urge the Minister to have these vicious sentences, some of them imposed on men for having been absent without leave, reviewed and partly remitted.
I congratulate the Government upon this budget, and upon its achievement during the war, and I hope that when the next budget is presented the Allied armies will have achieved complete victory.
.- I congratulate the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) upon his very fine contribution to this debate. I regard his as one of the most constructive speeches made in this House for a long time. It was in most effective contrast to the puerile, even kindergarten effort of the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy). I desire to place on record my keen appreciation, as a soldier of the last war, of the very fine war .record of the right honorable member for Cowper. Every one who is acquainted with his record knows that he was one of the most gallant and fearlessmembers of the fighting forces. He played a prominent and effective part in the last war, and, to-day, two of his sons are in the fighting forces, one in France and one in New Guinea. During this war he has rendered valuable service by going to New Guinea, not to Port Moresby only, but into the heart of the jungle to conduct medical investigations at the request of the Government. He has produced a report that is a classic of its kind, one that will have the effect of saving tens of thousands of lives of Australian servicemen; yet honorable members opposite say that he has done nothing for the fighting forces in this war. The right honorable gentleman, ever since he first entered this Parliament shortly after the last war, has devoted his keen mind and his voice to forwarding the interests of returned soldiers. He, played an invaluable part in the shaping of our fine repatriation system. The experience he gained in the, last war has enabled him to fill a role in the political life of this country which few other men who havesat in the Parliament could have filled. The right honorable gentleman’s deeds are themselves sufficient to protect him from injury by such malicious attacks as that delivered by the honorable member for Lang.Criticism of the right honor- able gentleman does not come well from t he honorablemember, or, indeed, from any other honorable gentleman opposite, because, if in the years which led up to the outbreak of this war the Labour party had been in occupancy of the treasurybench and had applied its policy of isolation which it endeavoured to force on the then government, Australia would never have been able to resist the attack launched against it by Japan. Why, even when war broke out, the Labour party carried its advocacy of aloofness from world affairs to the length that it endeavoured to prevent the despatch of the Australian Imperial Force overseas to meet , and destroy the enemy there rather than on our own shores. Again, when we introduced legislation to bring New Guinea within the scope of the Defence Act, the honorable member and his colleagues vigorously opposed it. There is no need for me to emphasize the predicament in which this country would have been had we not takensteps to ensure the defence of our outposts.
– Who took those steps?
– The successive governments formed from the ranks of honorable members now in Opposition ensured the safety of this country by rebuilding that which the Scullin Government destroyed during the depression, namely, our Citizen Military Forces trained under the universal training system. When the Government, led by the late Mr. Lyons, took office after the defeat of the Scullin Government, it immediately set to work to build on what remained of the foundations of our defence system. In all steps towards protecting this continent against aggression the right honorable member for Cowper has played a notable part. What I have said is a sufficient answer to the vicious attack on him by the honorable member for Lang, who, having made his aspersions, I notice, has not had the courage to remain in the chamber to hear them answered.
The budget has received scant praise from any one, inside or outside Parliament, not even from government supporters. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) appears to be bitterly disappointed, at any rate, with the treatment of invalid and old-age pensioners, to whom he wants to see paid a minimum pension of £2 a week. Not even the honorable member for Lang is pleased with the budget, because he, too, has advocated increased payments to invalid and old-age pensioners. In short, no onehas expressedapproval of thebudget. The reduction of expenditure by £39,000,000 proposed for the current year is hopelessly inadequate, andI am firmly of the opinion that, with closer supervision of expenditure a nd the elimination of a great deal of the current waste, the estimated outlay for the current year could be many millions of pounds less. I concede that this is the first occasion since the war began on which a Treasurer has been able to come before Parliament and announce that less would be expended than in the previous year; but, as we have long ago passed the time when we had to move rapidly with scant regard for cost, the Treasurer ought to have been able to announce, not a reduction of a mere £39,000,000, bub that the Government had used the time pending the next big move in the push towards Japan to scrutinize all avenues of expenditure, with the result that substantial reductions of expenditure could be made without impairment of our war effort.
– How would the honorable member do that?
– I will tell the honorable member. We have passed the peak. For months we have been marking time. The Treasurer and his officers should have spent those months in closely examining all accounts and all items of expenditure, particularly expenditure by the Allied Works Council. Re-organization of our forces could have saved millions of pounds.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– I (base it on facts. The waste of man-power has been lamentable. Again and again in this and other debates we have cited the extraordinarily large number of men in the munitions industry who are not fully occupied, and the thousands of men on “ waiting time “ in the Civil Constructional Corps-. All that waste could be eliminated by re-organization and better management. Re-allocation of man-power on a proper basis would enable the drafting to .essential primary industries of large numbers of men, which would enable us to produce the quantities of food that are wanted badly now, and will soon be needed even more when, after the suppression of Germany, the vast forces of the United Nations will be concentrated on defeating Japan. Th© meeting between Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt at Quebec this week makes it clear that Germany is on the verge of defeat, and that final plans are being made for the advance against Japan from our shores. When that day comes we shall be under a heavy obligation to feed the millions of Allied servicemen who will be brought into this area. We have the current obligation to supply as much food as we possibly can to Great Britain in order that, at the earliest possible moment, the meagre ration which the British people now receive may be substantially increased. The arrival of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) in the chamber recalls to dry mind that he was recently in Great Britain and ought to know the force of what I am saying. Hp knows the great debt that we owe to the British forces, and I suggest to him that when, after the liberation of Europe through the final defeat of Germany, British troops arrive here, he should use his influence with the Ministry to enable us, in token of our realization of our debt, to arrange for those forces to march through our capital cities in order that they may receive the rousing welcome from the Australian public which is their due. The British forces, from the days of the epic retreat from Dunkirk, saved, not only Great Britain but also democracy itself, and the Commonwealth should not hesitate to contribute in every way possible towards ensuring that those forces shall receive a rousing welcome to this country. By a combing out of the Army, the Navy, and r,he Air Force, which are marking time, the Allied Works Council and the Civil Constructional Corps, which it administers, and munitions establishments, we should be able to obtain the men needed to do many jobs which sadly need doing, and one of those jobs will be the feeding and provisioning of the forces that will be gathered here as a preliminary to the fin all onslaught on the Japanese.
The gap between revenue and expenditure is being filled by means of public loans and bank credit, and go far, since the war began, ib oth have combined to produce a floating debt amounting to .the colossal sum of £343,000,000. It is time that we took steps to reduce our expenditure to the level which the present state of affairs justifies. Our national debt has been doubled in the last five years. The use of bank credit cannot be ended at a. stroke, but it is high time that this method of financing wa? curbed. A committee of businessmen and accountants should be set up to examine ,all aspects of our expenditure in order to ascertain where economies can be made. Ibelieve that the recommendations of such a committee would lead to the savingof millions of pounds. Oneof the main failures of this budget is the lack of realization by the Government that the day of haste without regard for economy has passed. Extravagance is oneof the horrors of war that could be avioided by the exercise of care. Had the necessary care been taken by theGovernment the remissions of taxes which I, and hundreds of thousands of Australian citizens, thought we had reason to expect this year could have been granted. There is great disappointment among the people that, taxes have not been reduced.
– That does not square with what the Leader of the Opposition said.
– The right honorable gentleman endorsed the proposal of the Treasurer that the easy-money merchants on the honorable gentleman’s side of the chamber should be kept in check, but that is as far as he went in that respect.
The provision in the budget for deductions to be allowed, in assessing taxable income, of amounts lodged with the Government in respect of deferred maintenance on property and plant is welcomed, but it is regretted that the provision is vitiated in that the amounts must be expended within two years of the end of the war. It is obviously impossible for industry to rehabilitate itself within two years, because materials will be in short supply. The example set by Great Britain should have been followed. Great Britain has realized that if it is to regain its rightful place as a manufacturing and exporting country, industry must be provided with the necessary funds to enable restoration and the installation of modern means of manufacture. Great Britain has adopted another policy. The latest British budget introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer provided a special tax allowance of 20 per cent. of the cost of new plant, exempted 10 per cent. of the cost of new buildings, and excluded from taxation money expended on research. The Commonwealth Treasurer has made a niggardly proposal that will not help the nation. The State governments have realized the importance of establishing special reserves for the post-war development and reorganization of industry. If they find it necessary to set aside money for that purpose, how much more important is it for the Commonwealth Government, which has taxed industry to the last sou, to make available funds to rehabilitate our secondary industries. Unless industry be allowed to accumulate funds by substantial reductions of taxation, it will not be able to resist the attack that will come from all quarters when the trade routes are re-opened. If industry is to succeed, it must receive from this Government the funds necessary for its rehabilitation. With its worn-out and obsolete machinery, it will not be able to resist competition. Great Britain and the United States of America are wise in making such provision. The Commonwealth Government is doiug a great injustice to Australian manufacturers if it does not assist them to provide for the restoration of their plant and equipment. Approximately 85 per cent. of the workers in industry obtain their livelihood from private enterprise. If private enterprise be not in a position to meet competition, what opportunities will there be for men and women who, in the post-war era, will seek employment in industry? A reduction of taxation is essential.
A serious anomaly occurs as the result of double taxation. First, the profits of a. company are taxed, and the dividends, when distributed among shareholders, are again taxed. The Treasurer should have rectified that anomaly. Taxation must be reduced also for the purpose of encouraging investment in the new industries which Australia must establish. We must invite British manufacturers to commence operations in Australia. But if they find that excessive taxation will cripple them, they will not, establish enterprises here.
The Commonwealth Government can assist in the development of secondary industries by the provision of capital urgently needed for the establishment of new enterprises. After the war, many small industries will spring up like so many mushrooms, and they will require financial assistance. Private enterprise must play a valuable part in postwarreconstruction, and the provision of capital for new industries will be a responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. Several large British trading banks recently published statements that in the post-war period they will make special provision to meet the capital requirements of new industries developing in Great Britain. Canada has gone a stage further. To provide capital for small industries, the Dominion Government is introducing legislation for the purpose of creating an industrial development bank which will be a subsidiary of the Bank of Canada. New industries cannot be developed overnight. Sites have to be found, plant has to be obtained, raw materials must be arranged, and man-power must be employed. That requires a great deal of planning. Unless businessmen know that funds will be available to them through an institution such as the industrial development bank, they will not be in a position to plan the development of industries. Therefore, I asked the Treasurer recently a series of questions regarding the need for the establishment of such a bank. The questions were -
The Treasurer, in reply, stated that he had no information on the subject, but would make inquiries. Yesterday, he Supplied the details. They are lengthy, but I shall read two paragraphs -
The object of the bill is to provide financial resources for industrial enterprise. The preamble states - “ Whereas it is desirable to establish an Industrial Development Bank to promote the economic welfare of Canada by increasing the effectiveness of monetary action through ensuring the availability of credit to industrial enterprises which may reasonably be expected to prove successful if a high level of national income and employment is maintained, by supplementing the activities of other lenders and by providing capital assistance to industry with particular consideration to the financing problems of small enterprises.”
Reasons for the establishment of the bank are given, as follows: -
The Canadian Government in introducing the bill pointed out that small enterprises in that country meet with special difficulties in acquiring fixed and long-term capital funds. Chartered banks arc not expected to make loans of this nature. As their liabilities are largely in the form of deposits withdrawable on demand, it is considered prudent that their assets should be kept in rather liquid form. Their function in relation to industrial enterprises is to provide working capital rather than medium and long-term credit. Small business has to depend, therefore, to a large extent on the investment market, but suffers handicaps there such as the investing public’s lack of knowledge of the issuer’s name and financial record, and the cost of launching a public issue. Resort might be had to insurance companies or mortgage and loan corporations, but the somewhat highly favorable conditions demanded would in most cases prove too restrictive.
I should like the Commonwealth Government to introduce next session a bill to authorize the central bank to grant financial assistance for the purpose of encouraging new industries in Australia. When that policy is adopted, we shall go a long way towards helping to restore to profitable employment the members of our fighting forces.
Australian taxpayers will be surprised at the meagre concessions that have been granted to them for medical and dental expenses. The limitations and restrictions, which the Treasurer has imposed, are unreasonable. People do not incur medical and dental expenses for the sole purpose of reducing their tax liability. The taxpayer may have the misfortune to undergo a serious operation for which the surgeon’s fee will be 100 guineas. Other members of his family may also have required medical attention. By arbitrary ruling, the taxpayer will be allowed to claim a deduction of only £50 for medical expenses and £10 for dental expenses for each person. Every time the Treasurer grants a concession, he surrounds it with restrictions that render it almost worthless. Expenditure incurred upon medical and dental treatment should be allowable deductions, and I hope that the Treasurer will favorably review the position. The extension of the rebate to cover expenses incurred for the full-time education of boys and girls up to the age of eighteen years is a just but belated concession that I have advocated for the last two years.
This year, the Department of Home Security has been voted £226,000. Recently, I asked the Prime Minister whether it would be possible, in view of the favorable development of the war in this theatre, to remove unsightly and dangerous air-raid shelters from our cities. The right honorable gentleman replied that he had no objection to their removal, but added that man-power difficulties would be an obstacle to having them removed. As I stated, the Department of Home Security expects to expend this year £226,000, which is only £17,000 less than the amount which it expended last year. That is an extravagance. The Department of Home Security is concerned with the defence of Australia against air attack. As that clanger has so far diminished as to be nl most non-existent, I fail to see the necessity for the provision of this substantial sum of money. On page 65 of the budget papers I notice that the department proposes to expend an additional £115,000 upon new equipment.
– That money is to meet accounts falling due in respect of materials already used.
– It is described as new expenditure for 1944-45 and calls for some explanation.
– The Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini) will explain the position when the estimates for his department are being considered.
– Will the Prime Minister explain why the vote this year has been reduced by only £17,000”, in view of his statement that air-raid shelters may be removed? In my opinion, this proposed expenditure is wasteful.
– They have to pay for Vivo demolition.
– If the Commonwealth Government proposes to pay for demolitions, I am satisfied that every municipality throughout Australia will welcome such help. Does the Commonwealth propose to meet this expense on their behalf? May I tell the municipalities in my electorate that the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) assured me that all the expenses for demolitions would be met by the Commonwealth Government?
– I did not say that. I said thai the demolitions will have to be paid for.
– I notice that food control is expected to involve an expenditure of £117,000 more this year than the £370,000 that was expended last year. In considering food control, we must pay regard to the amount of food that will need’ to be controlled. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has said, again and again, that food production has decreased considerably. Why, then, should the Government be budgeting for a substantial increase of the cost of food control activities?
We have heard ,a great deal recently about the hardships of persons who have had to work long hours of overtime in various industries during the last four or five years. I suggest that the Government should do something to relieve these individuals of the need to pay excessive taxation. After a great deal of agitation the Treasurer .accepted ,the Opposition policy of pay-as-you-earn taxation. I now invite him to go another step forward abd accept our policy of post-war credits. The adoption of this scheme would assist persons who are being called upon to pay heavy rates of taxation. Such a gesture on the part of the Government would do a great deal to maintain peace and goodwill in industry.
Controls and rationing in industry are causing much dissatisfaction and inconvenience. I believe that the time has carnie when they could .be eased substantially. Many controls at present in force are quite unnecessary, and I urge the Government to review the whole situation with the object of easing the restrictions. I cannot believe that any need exists to-day to ration tea and sugar. Some items of clothing could also be removed from the operations of the rationing system. Recently, I received a letter from one of the chief executives of a big and long-established business in
Brisbane which deals with this subject. It reads -
I suggest that you endeavour to assist industry by moving for the cancellation of the innumerable controls under which we have to carry on at present. The size of the “ No “ vote in Queensland must surely show the Federal Government the feeling of the people generally at the excessive bureaucratic control. You cannot buy a box of 25 cartridges to shoot wallabies or other pests, without a permit from the police; you cannot get a picture framed without an order from the Department of War Organization of Industry, and you will note from my letter yesterday that, to buy 2 Hi. citric acid’, it is necessary to secure a. permit from the Ministry of Munitions. Boracic acid can only bc sold under permit and although we have had over-stocks of this line for two years, wc are not permitted to sell to storekeepers who were our main customers. We were in the practice of importing a tons boracic acid a year, but owing to the control it has not been necessary for us to import any for two years, and under the- conditions prevailing we arc overstocked.
Before we can sell an alarm clock or a hammer, the .purchaser has to apply for a permit. The man on the land is held up with his fencing because the Government will not release any galvanized barbed wire until rusty and unsuitable. Wire not required now by the military is sold - this rusty barbed wire is not strong enough to hold cattle and its life is so short that, in my opinion, it i.not worth using except for repairing old fences.
I have only mentioned’ a few of the many controls and resentment although not always articulate, is general.
– How- could that individual expect to obtain additional imports of boracic acid seeing that ships are not available?
– He does not desire bo make additional imports. He merely wishes to sell the stocks that he now holds and which ,he cannot sell .without permission. I am firmly of the opinion that controls are unnecessary in respect of many items of hardware which are being controlled bo-day. The Government should give earnest attention to this serious problem, with the object of assisting to restore normal trading throughout the country.
A subject that is causing concern in many branches of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia is the provision of vocational braining facilities for the tens of thousands of service personnel who will need them in the near future, we hope. The subject has been discussed recently in branches of the league throughout any district, and I know that ,it is also exercising the minds of members of branches of the organization throughout the Commonwealth. Nothing has been done so far, to my knowledge, to implement the second report of the Repatriation Committee which was presented to the Government on the 2%h January last.
– Can the honorable member direct attention to any specific instances of neglect?
– I know positively that the facilities for vocational training in Queensland are hopelessly inadequate. Recently, I asked the service Ministers for information as to the number of sailors, soldiers and airmen who have been discharged after serving in the forces for six months, but I have not yet received the information. We know that, before very long, tens of thousands of young men will need vocational training if they are to be saved from entering the rank,’ of the unskilled labourers after they have been demobilized. The Repatriation Committee of six returned soldier members of this House, of whom I am one, recommended, last, year, that the scheme of vocational training .which was adopted after the last war should he substantially enlarged. Prior to formulating our recommendations, we sent Mr. Eltham, the (Controller of Technical Services, a questionnaire, in which we asked -
If the classes to be eligible are similar to those of the last scheme - i.e., incapacitated and unable to follow pre-war occupation, also those who enlisted while under, say, 21 years of age, will the facilities in Australia for school training be sufficient ‘for the large numbers to be trained on termination of the war, and also for the normal purpose of the schools - the training of youth ?
His reply was -
No; definitely the existing facilities will not be sufficient.
We shall have to provide for the vocational training of probably three times as many men as were trained after the last war. We shall, therefore, need to increase our equipment for this purpose.
– I discussed this subject with Mr. Eltham, and he informed me that even before the war the equipment for the technical training of civilians was not anything like adequate in Australia.
– That emphasizes my point that the problem is becoming acute. It should be tackled efficiently.
– I suppose the honorable member realizes that education is a matter forState action?
– But an obligation rests upon theCommonwealth Government to repatriate our service personnel, and, in particular, to provide vocational training facilities for them. Ifwe shelter behind the statement that education is a State responsibility, we repudiate our obligations tothe men and women of the services. I urge that every endeavour be made to utilize the equipment available in munitions establishments and annexes, and in trade schools, technical colleges, and the like, to provide the foundation far the technical training of service personnel. We ought to be well on with this job.
– I take it that the honorable member expects the Commonwealth Government to establish a system of technical education for adults, quite independently of existing State facilities of the kind?
– I consider that we have a definite obligation to the service personnel.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– We must accept our obligation land provide facilities for vocational training on a scale commensurate with the needs. The necessary equipment is not available to-day, and the number of skilled instructors is also inadequate. Unless we act promptly, we shall find ourselves in an impossible position,and many discharged servicemen will have to enter the ranks of unskilled labourers.
– I take it that the honorable member is advocating that theCommonwealth Government should establish the necessary schools.
– I consider that we must make proper provision for this purpose.
Mr.Curtin. - I agree with the honorable member.
– Why, then, has the Government not acted promptly to give effect to the recommendations of the Repatriation Committee? I ‘know a good deal about what happened after the last war. We did our utmost, at that time, to encourage our returned men to take courses of technical training in order to fit them to re-enter civil life. [Extension of time granted.] My circumstances at that time required me to keep myself informed of the situation. In view of the fact that we shall need to meet the needs of probably three times as many men after this war as we dealt with after the last war, I am anxious that we shall not loseany time in preparing ourselves to do so. We shall need to make provision for men of 20, 21 and 22 years of age. The recommendation of our committee in this regard was as follows: - The Committee considers that training should be available not only for the classes eligible in 1918, via. - those incapacitated by war service to the extent of being unable to follow their pre-war occupations, and those who enlisted at an early age, but also the following classes: - (a.) Those who have commenced a course of instruction under a Service scheme of education or training, with a view to improving their earning capacity, and have shown that they have the ability to complete the course;
As regards those enlisted at an early age, the conditionlast time was that the member enlisted while under twenty years of age. The Committee considers the condition should be “ enlisted at the age of 22 years or under “.
Another recommendation which, if implemented, would increase the number of personnel to be trained, reads -
The Committee recommends that this form of re-establishment be available to the following classes: -
A member incapacitated to the extent ofbeing unable to engage in his usual occupation and who is unsuitable for vocational training for another occupation ;
b ) A member who, immediately prior to enlistment, was dependent for his livelihood upon a business owned and conducted by him, and disposed of the business in order to enlist;
The report points out that to-day very many men are undertaking the educational courses provided by the military, naval and air force educational authorities, which have done a very good job.
It is desirable that these men shall be given an opportunity to complete the courses when they return to civil life. Accommodation will be needed, and areas in which they might be properly trained will have to be provided. This requirement is now being side-stepped.
– It is not.
– This report was made in January, 1943.
– It was made at the request of the Government.
– It is not being implemented.
– I challenge the honorable member to name one case in which it is not being implemented.
– The Minister has merely said that he had a preliminary scheme.
– The man whom the honorable member has been quoting is the most competent authority in Australia on the subject, and is active in getting the work done.
– When I last raised this matter, the Minister said, “We have a tentative scheme, and have done our best “. After five years of actual warfare, I am not satisfied with a tentative scheme of vocational training for the completion of courses undertaken by members of the forces.
– The educational course in the forces is the beginning of their vocational training.
– Is the right honorable gentleman satisfied that in every instance that is all that can be done now?
– I am not.
– I appeal to the Prime Minister and the Government to go ahead with the job, and complete it. Returned soldier organizations, which have the welfare of the soldiers at heart, are protesting daily. The proposals of the Government should be presented to the House without further delay.
– The proposals are set out very largely in that report. That is what we are putting into effect.
– If effect is being given to the report, let honorable members know what progress has been made, and give to them an opportunity to discuss the matter.
– The honorable member would then be disappointed at having his illusions dispelled.
– Those who are acquainted with me know that I have always shown a genuinely sympathetic and practical interest in returned soldiers. On that account, I make this appeal. I hope that the Prime Minister will present a full statement, and will submit a motion that it be printed so that honorable members may have an opportunity to discuss it and give all the help that lies in their power in what I regard as a major problem.
.- I invite the committee to contrast the speech just delivered with that delivered yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies)-. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) devoted the whole of his time to an emphatic criticism of the efforts of this country in relation to the war, whereas yesterday the Leader of the Opposition said that Australia’s war effort is comparable with that of any other country in the world. The honorable member for Moreton is one person who should not refer to the treatment of soldiers who came back from the last war. He should be anxious to forget what he and his government did or failed to do on behalf of those men after peace had been declared. At that time, I was a union secretary, and day after day was faced with the problem of providing help for the returned soldiers. To-night, the honorable member criticized the proposals of the Government for meeting the situation that will have to be met when the war is over. The Government will be equal to that task, and will honour the pledges which it gave to our soldiers. At all times, I, as an Australian and a public man, resent attempts by honorable members to decry the efforts of the people of this country, who at one period were fighting with their backs against the wall because governments supported by the honorable member for Moreton had left a legacy of inefficient defences. I am well aware of the state of the defences of Western Australia when Japan declared war, consequently I resent criticism that is designed to cloak the failure of past administrations to provide adequately for our protection.
Yesterday, reference was made to the work of the War Expenditure Committee, which investigates the expenditure of vast sums on Australia’s war effort. It is easy to say that there has been wasteful expenditure here and there. The critics view the matter retrospectively. Over £1,000,000 was expended on defence works at Tocumwal. Had we failed in tho battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the people of Australia would have said “God bless Tocumwal”, because there we had a base to which we could have retired.
Honorable members opposite have stressed the need for an addition to our population. All of us realize the importance of increasing the number of people in this country. It is the bounden duty of the Government to tackle this important problem. In order that people may he encouraged to come to Australia, employment for them .must be provided. Australia produces more than 3,500,000 bales of wool ,per annum. Less than 500,000 bales are treated by manufacturers in this country, leaving more than 13,000,000 bales to be exported overseas for treatment. Why not grasp the opportunity to provide wider employment, and thus increase the national wealth and add to the population, by the establishment, of factories aud the provision of employment in the manufacture of cloth from our wool, instead of exporting the wool and then importing the manufactured article? This would make for decentralization, and thus enable country districts to obtain the amenities that they need. To-day, because of a false policy of centralization, all industrial activities are confined to the metropolitan areas. If people are to be encouraged to live in country districts, they must be provided with decent living conditions. This is in consonance with the declared policy of the Government. I hope that, as time goes on, not only will a considerable portion of our wool bc manufactured into cloth, but in addition appraisement will take place in the districts in which it is produced. No government can afford to make .promises which it is not prepared to fulfil. In this connexion, I have a grievance. The Government undertook te establish a wool appraisement centre at Geraldton, and all the arrangements were made for the work to be commenced, but certain departments claimed that materials and man-power were not available. Those facts were known when the undertaking to establish the works was given, consequently the Government should have fulfilled its promise. Without a policy of decentralization, the hinterland will not be developed, as it must be if our population is to be increased.
I congratulate the Government on the appointment of a panel, representing all interests, for the purpose of making a complete review of the whole of the mining industry. Critics say that the panel is not necessary, and that the Government already has all the information that it needs in order to prepare for the rehabilitation of the industry. I do not agree. I believe that a panel could furnish very useful information. This is an industry which would be capable of absorbing a large number of men in a short time. I hope that the committee will examine the position, and that steps will be taken to provide decent living and housing conditions for the workers. In this regard, we might learn a lesson from the Allied Works Council in the use of prefabricated houses, particularly in outback areas. The old days of the frying pan and the canvas tent have gone, thanks largely to the Allied Works Council, which has done much to improve the living conditions of the workers employed on war construction jobs. To those people who criticize the Allied Works Council, I say that I know from my own observations that it has done a remarkably good job. The council was formed to carry out defence undertakings. It did not have the services of experienced labourers, or of clerks to act, as timekeepers or of skilled tradesmen. It had to collect a crowd of men with no previous experience in the work which they were to do, and with this material it had to get the jobs clone. ‘ know that in one day 30 Catalina flying boats and four or five American bomber.” were shot up at Broome because there were no facilities available to enable the machines to get into the air to defend themselves. Recently, when I returned to Broome, I saw what a wonderful joh the Allied Works Council had done in providing the necessary facilities.
I protest against the action of the Treasury in taxing district allowances granted by the Arbitration Court to workers in Western Australia. The practice there is for the Arbitration Court to fix a basic wage, to which is added something extra by way of zone allowance. The base rate in Western Australia to-day is £4 19s. Sd., but when men go out into the interior they are given an allowance to offset the higher cost of living as compared with the metropolitan area. I maintain, therefore, that the district allowance should not be taxed. The amount allowed varies from 9s. to as much as 3Ss. a week. If it is regarded as taxable income, it places the worker in a higher tax group, and thus he is doubly penalized. I ask the Treasurer to investigate this matter with a view to giving the workers some relief.
I draw attention to another anomaly. There are in Western Australia 600 tubercular men - burnt-out miners. While they were in employment they paid 9d. a week into the miners’ relief fund, and this was supplemented by a further !*d. a week from the employer and a similar amount from the State Government. The fund now amounts to almost £25.0,000, and is administered under a State act. The State Government is anxious to increase the weekly payment to beneficiaries, but it is prescribed in the act that, in order to qualify for relief, men must first apply for and receive an invalid pension of 27s. a week. The Commonwealth act provides that an invalid pensioner may draw no more than 12s. 6d. a week from an outside source, so that the income of the burnt-out miner is limited to 27s., plus 12s. 6d. These men arc in a different category from ordinary pensioners. They are ill, and most of the money they receive from the relief fund is spent on medicine, or on special treatment. They should be allowed to draw at least £1 a week from the relief fund without its affecting their invalid pension.
The budget reveals that expenditure by the Postmaster-General’s Department has been heavy, but receipts have been satisfactory. I protest emphatically against the cheese-paring policy applied by officers of the department when considering the provision of postal facilities in isolated areas. Apparently, the deputy directors regard such services in the light of their profit-earning capacity. I point out, however, that if we arc to encourage people to develop the outback areas, we must at least provide them with postal facilities. I have repeatedly had to protest against the curtailment of mail services because they were not paying. The Postmaster-General has at all times received my representations with sympathy, but the deputy directors should be instructed that, in future, they are noi to regard country mail services merely as profit-making ventures.
I desire now to make some observation? upon the Kimberley district in Western Australia, and I preface my remarks by quoting the following report of an interview with the High Commissioner for Canada in Australia, Mr. Justice Davis : -
Declaring that he hurl seen Australia’s greatest asset, the High Commissioner for Canada, Mr. Justice Davis, who recently returned f.rom a trip to Central anil Northern Australia, said that everywhere he had been told that the centre and north were vast stretches of useless wasteland. “I wish that all Australians could see what I have seen “, he said. “ They hold an Eldorado of potential agricultural wealth. I have seen a great undeveloped area, greater in size and in sheer possibilities than cither the Canadian or the American west.”
I can confirm the statement of Mr. Justice Davis. Recently, I made a comprehensive tour of the Kimberley district, and as an Australian I find it difficult to understand why the Commonwealth has not done something, in co-operation with th, State Government, to encourage the development of this area. There are miles of black soil plains of a quality equal t>> anything to be found in other parts o;’ Australia. The area is watered by two fine rivers, the Fortescue and the Ord. perhaps the only two good rivers in. the State. Mr. Dumas, an engineer in th» service of the State Government, was on the Ord River when I was there, and In’ was making an inspection of dam sites. Nature has been kind to the Kimberleyin this respect, because & gorge adjacent to the river has been estimated by Mr. Dumas to be capable, when dammed, of holding more water than the Hume reservoir on the Murray. I agree with the proposal of the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) that these areas should be visited officially by a delegation, from this Parliament. We go to the trouble and expense of sending parliamentary delegations abroad and yet refrain from making provision for honorable members to see their own country. “See your own country first” is a sound slogan which should be adopted by the Government. I am convinced of the great potentialities in the Kimberleys. The 1,000 miles of undeveloped coastline of Western Australia must remain, a menace to this country unless wc encourage substantial settlement in the Kimberleys. I regret that we are discussing this budget without our having had granted to us at the referendum the powers necessary to enable the Commonwealth to undertake the reconstruction which will bc vital when the war ends, hut, as the people have given their verdict, we shall have to make the best use of the powers we have, and, in collaboration with the State Government, do the best we can to develop the Kimberleys. When I was recently there with the Minister for the North-west in the State Government, several propositions were made to me by the residents. One was that at Fitzroy crossing an inland abattoir should be established so that beef cattle should be .slaughtered on the spot and sent to the metropolitan market by carrier aircraft instead of being driven TOO miles to Derby and then shipped to Fremantle for slaughtering. Graziers say that it costs at least £5 a head to drove and ship the bullocks to Robb’s jetty at Derby, and that as each beast loses at least 1 cwt. of condition on the journey, the cost amounts to £8 10s. all told, because, at Gd. per lb., a conservative estimate, the condition accounts for another £2 10s. a head. Whether frozen beef could be delivered by air from the Fitzroy crossing to the metropolitan market at an economic cost is more than I can say, but T commend the suggestion to tho Government in the hope that it will ask its experts to investigate the proposal. It would appear to be better to take the abattoirs to the beef rather than the beef to the abattoirs. It would also be more humane than to drove the bullocks over a long distance and then herd them into ships for delivery at Fremantle.
– Is the Fitzroy River navigable ?
– No. The people who are trying to develop the Kimberleys are living under conditions which no Government can justify. I have visited the stations in the area. At one station, where the wife of the manager is the mother of children whose ages range from two to thirteen years, there had not been, a mail delivery for six weeks. They had not seen another white person for six weeks. 1 ask that the Government extend the air mail service from Derby to the Kimberleys so that the people there shall have a mail at least every fortnight. It is also necessary that planes should regularly call at the Kimberleys in order that people struck down by illness or accident might be taken to hospital for treatment. The difficulties under which the people of the Kimberleys labour are not sufficiently known to Australians. Their small number is no reason why they should not be given all the facilities to which they are justly entitled, and every effort should be made by the Commonwealth Government, in co-operation with the State Government, to remove as many as possible of their difficulties. One way in which the Commonwealth Government could assist the Kimberleys is by doing its share of the work necessary to enable the re-opening of the Wyndham meatworks. Cattle-raisers in the Kimberleys, particularly the smaller men, are having a particularly difficult time, because the only outlet they have for their beef i.= provided by the monopolistic concern of Vestey Brothers. The company fixes the price and the cattle-raisers have no alternative to accepting it, no matter how paltry it may be. Many complaints have been made about the treatment that Vestey Brothers have meted out to the small men in that district. I suggest that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) should take up with the Commonwealth department responsible the matter of removing the vessel which is lying in the channel as the result of enemy action so that the jetty may be used again and the meatworks re-opened.
The Minister will recall that the closing of the meatworks was enforced bv enemy attacks.
– We have taken up with the department concerned the necessity to remove that vessel and we are hopeful that we shall be able to resume operations at the meatworks soon.
– The Minister will do a great service to the beef-raisers in the area if he makes arrangements for the re-opening of the meatworks at Wyndham this season.
I do not think that any genuine effort lias been made to survey the Irwin coal deposits in Western Australia. Sometimes I suspect that other interests have prevailed to prevent a thorough geological survey of those deposits to test their value. Twelve months ago, the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) assured me that the Irwin coal deposits would be marked down for consideration after the war, and he undertook that there would be a thorough investigation to decide whether it would be wise to develop them. I hope that the Government will honour that .promise because the development of the coal seams there would give a fillip to the further development of the district.
Like other Labour members, I know that there are many restrictions perpetuated in the budget which we should like to see eased. No man would like to case them more than the Treasurer himself. That desire is shared by all on this side. Immediately opportunity offers, the burden of taxation of those on the lower rungs of income, who can least afford to pay taxes, will be eased, and invalid and old-age pensioners will be given real service, not lip service.
.- No good purpose is served by honorable members endeavouring to blame any political party for the alleged unpreparedness of Australia at the outbreak of war, hut, in view of the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) I am compelled to say (hut the previous Labour Government disarmed Australia to the point of danger. If the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) reads Ilansard, he will see that the Labour party voted against the defence proposals of the
Lyons Government. The Scullin Government closed down the Royal Military College at Duntroon. Do honorable members opposite deny that? It closed down the Royal Naval College at Jervis Bay. It practically “ sacked “ the Navy. It did not train one airman. It abolished universal training. It reduced the defence vote to a record low level. The Lyons Government and the Menzies Governments laid the foundation for the war effort of this country. The present Government built on the foundation; laid down for it, for which I give full marks for having built so well on that foundation. I resent the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that the previous governments left a legacy of unpreparedness. It is a statement which cannot be borne ‘out by facts. The budget is a dull, colourless and uninspiring document, which conveys no message of hope to the people. The only bright spot in it is the proposal to remove the sales tax on building materials. The suggestion for the appointment of a committee to examine proposals for granting welldeserved recognition to members of the fighting forces is also most commendable. Incidentally, the Government’s belated interest in the welfare of the men and women of the services is somewhat amazing. In the past, the Government has shown a complete disregard for their welfare. When troops were on compassionate leave, the Government, until recently, refused to allow them their ordinary service pay. It also refused to introduce legislation to grant to returned soldiers preference in employment. Many returned soldiers who served in the present war, have been offered only pick and shovel work.
– Men who had been discharged from the forces were offered pick and shovel work at Butler’s Gorge, Tasmania. Obviously, the Minister for Information does not know what is happening. The Government paid the soldiers 7s. or Ss. a day, but paid employees of munitions establishments and other essential workers, who took no risks, over £1 a day. When men were discharged from the forces, the Government allowed them the sum of 50s. for a “ zoot “ suit. After the public had protested, the Government increased the amount to £6 10s. Even that sum is very low and will purchase only a slop suit. The Treasurer has made a few minor and trivial adjustments to income tax law, hut the relief to taxpayers will be infinitesimal.
The budget is remarkable, not for what it contains, but for its omissions. The Treasurer, I believe, is trying to check the evils resulting from a policy of inflation, but is receiving no assistance from some ofhis colleagues. To the 30th June last, the Government had to meet £343,000,000 of treasury-bills, and this year the gap between revenue and expenditure is estimated at £328,000,000. The Treasurer conveniently did not indicate how he proposed to bridge the gap. Waste in government expenditure is appalling.I realize that in an emergency, we must hope for the best but prepare for the worst. When we prepare for the worst, a certain amount of waste is inevitable. But the waste that is occurring to-day is colossal and inexcusable, as the reports of various committees will disclose when they are published. I expected that, with the contraction of the activities of the Allied Works Council and economies that could be effected in many directions, some relief would be given to taxpayers, or the necessity to indulge further in a policy of inflation would be obviated. At any rate, the Government must accept the responsibility for any unsound financial methods that it adopts.
Tremendous waste is occuring in some of the war-time departments. Many hundreds of inspectors, controllers, supervisors, assistant supervisors, directors, assistant directors, and economists are employed. Many have “ cushy “ jobs, the best that they have held in their lives. Many of them are redundant. This Government has created some 400 boards to deal with various matters, and most of them are only embarrassing, harassing and irritating the people. Officials appointed by this Government have aided and abetted the commission of crime in order to secure a conviction, apparently in an endeavour to justify their jobs.
T support most strongly the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.
Menzies) that a secret meeting of the Parliament be held during the present session. I realize that it is impracticable and inadvisable to discuss fully in public the man-power position, but honorable members should be given at a secret meeting all possible information relating to man-power. I advocate also the appointment of an economy committee to determine where savings could be effected in government expenditure.
The Pood Control section of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has made some shocking errors. For example, an edict was made a few months ago prohibiting a person from keeping more than twenty hens. As the result of that edict, millions of laying hens were slaughtered. Now, the experts of Pood Control are wondering why there is a shortage of eggs. The ill balanced and cock-eyed man-power directorate refused to supply farmers with labour for their dairies, and the Government refused to pay them a reasonable price for their milk, or restricted payment to only a part of the year. As the result tff those irritating tactics, dairy-farmers throughout Australia are reducing their herds. Thousands of dairy cows have been fattened and sold to butchers. Dairymen have been forced out of business. Again, the experts of Pood Control have been wondering why there is a shortage- of butter. Is it any wonder that butter production for the eleven months ended the 30th May last was 12,000 tons less than it was for the corresponding period of the previous year. I endorse the comment of an Assistant Minister in the British Government that “never before have wo seen so many who knew so little about so much “. The whole trouble is that men have been placed in charge of certain departments who have no practical knowledge of the subjects with which they have to deal. I believe in the old proverb that “ an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory”. As I stated, the number of dairy cows is being steadily depleted, especially in Tasmania, and, unless it be halted, producers will find it impossible to obtain sufficient cows with which to stock their properties after the war. From December, 1940, to March,1943, the number of dairy cowa in Tasmania declined from 93,819 to 80,559, a difference of 13,260. What is more significant is that the production of yearlings during the same period declined from 35,132 to 22,833, a difference of 12,249. Sufficient young stock is not being reared to make up herd requirements, let alone to increase the size of herds or to establish new herds. lt is useless for Food Control to set targets of production unless it assists producers to reach that goal. Under the present administration, it is impossible for the Government to make arrangements for the producers to attain those targets. The producers, who might have had a little faith in the Government, are losing it.
Some time ago, the Government encouraged the farmers of Tasmania to grow blue peas. They did so. In 1942, the Government acquired the crop at 15s. a bushel. The law provides that when a commodity is compulsorily acquired, the producer shall be granted just compensation. Some growers, who were not prepared to accept, 15s. a bushel, appealed to the High Court, which ruled that the just price was 22s. 6d. a bushel. Those growers, whose financial position enabled them to appeal to the court, received 22s. 6d. a bushel, but poorer farmers, who could not afford litigation, were robbed of 7s. 6d. a bushel by this Government.
– Rubbish !
– What I have said is true. I want to know whether the rate of 22s. 6d. a bushel will be paid. The Government should honour the decision of the High Court, because failure to do so will meanthat the growers will be robbed of 7s. 6d. a bushel for their blue peas. The court’s decision was given two months ago, and although I have repeatedly asked what the Government intends to do in the master I have not yet had a reply. I understand that at one stage the Government considered appealing, against the decision of the High Court, bu t that the idea has since been dropped. The Government shouldmake up its mind on this matter.
The Government is losing caste rapidly because of its failure to deal effectively with persons who are causing industrial dislocation. Even the trade unionists of Australia are joking about the Govern ment’s frequent capitulations. From timeto time the Prime Minister makes forthright declarations, but no results follow. Two years ago he said that no more humbug would be tolerated, but he has fallen down on the job. The fact is that the Government is incompetent to deal with the industrial position. The coal minors are ignoring the orders of the Prime Minister and are doing just as they like. Their defiance of authority acts as ari incentive to other unionists to do likewise. Workers in other industries say, “ If the miners can successfully resist the Government, we will see what we can do “, and so we have had strikes by butchers, slaughtermen, gas workers, engineers, railway and tramway men, waterside workers, waitresses and others. This dislocation of industry is the result of weakness on the part of the Government. There is a spirit of lawlessness throughout Australia which is due entirely to the vacillation and ineptitude of the Government. Almost every weekend in Sydney many persons find it impossible to secure a meal because many butcher’s shops and restaurants are closed.
– The honorable member appears to be well fed.
– I do well on two meals a day.
I shall refer now to the socialistic policy of the Government. In this connexion it is interesting to recall the speeches of some members. In February last the Standard, which is the official organ of the Labor Party, reported -
At a recent Federal Labor conference it was resolved that a nation-wide campaign for socialism be started immediately and that the implementation of such campaign be left in the hands of the Federal executive.
– Was the editor of the Standard at that time the present honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) ?
-I think that he was, but I am not sure. I know that later the honorable member for Parkes had publicly to apologize for something that he had said.
– I did not make any apology.
– In carrying out the instruction of the Federal Labour Conference I hope that the Government will bear in mind the disastrous results of State socialism where it has been tried. I could cite many instances of the complete failure of government enterprise. One has only to recall the losses incurred in connexion with various State enterprises in Queensland, where. of £5,000,000 that was borrowed, £4,500,000 was lost. The losses last year on the State coal mine at Wonthaggi, Victoria, a mounted to £76,000, whilst State enterprises in “Western Australia have resulted in losses amounting to £2,500,000. I understand that the Cockatoo Island Dockyard is operating at a loss of £70,000 a year under government control, whereas, when it was conducted by private enterprise, a profit of £50,000 a year was made.
– That was when men employed at the dockyard were working under sweated conditions.
Mr.GUY. - The Minister for Information repeats the same oldparrot cry, but [ remind him that he is not now on the Yarra bank. The men at Cockatoo Island Dockyard work under awards of the courts. It cannot be denied that socialism is being demanded by several members of the Cabinet. That is seen in speeches of the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron), the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), the Minister for the Navy and Minister for Munitons (Mr. Makin), and the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell). The Minister for Munitions said that the Government would convert munitions factories into factories which would compete with private enterprise in supplying civilian needs. That, I submit, would be unfair competition, because the government factories would not have to pay taxes which would be demanded of establishments conducted by private enterprise. Moreover, government factories could claim a prior right to raw materials, leaving private enterprise in short supply. Those in control of government factories are not greatly concerned whether the enterprises are run at a profit or a loss, because the taxpayers make up any losses that may be incurred. There is no incentive to work efficiently or to avoid losses. The position is entirely different in a concern run by private enterprise. Unless private enterprise be allowed to play a most important part in connexion with post-war reconstruction, we shall have chaos. I shall reserve any further remarks until the appropriate measures are before this chamber.
.- This is my first speech in the Parliament for some months, and it will also be my last speech here for a long time. At the outset, I wish to thank those honorable members on this side of the chamber who have graciously stood down and allowed me to speak ahead of them, even though they rose before me. They have done that because they know that I must get away to-morrow and cannot again be present in this chamber before I proceed on operations infive or six weeks time. By way of preface, I desire to say that some months ago, when I applied to be transferred to the reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force, there was considerable comment by interested persons, with the result that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) blocked my application for the reserve. At that time, I thought that I had been badly treated, but now I believe it was probably the best thing that could have happened.
There are some things which I must say before I go away. They will necessitate a certain amount of plain speaking. I hope that no person who may be affected by what I shall say will take my remarks as being directed against him personally. It would be a sorry state of affairs if any criticism of a department was considered by the person entrusted with its administration as being a personal attack upon him. There are some subjects upon which I can claim to have greater knowledge than is possessed by even the Ministers in charge of certain departments. I refer mainly to the Department of Aircraft Production and the Department of Air. If my knowledge in that respect is not greater, I have at least more uptodate and more intimate knowledge of those departments. Because the budget involves an expenditure of over £600,000,000 it is my duty to express my belief that much of the aircraft production now being undertaken in Australia is wholly unjustified. Australia is capable of producing aircraft comparable to the best that can be produced anywhere; but, unfortunately, the Government ha3 adopted the policy of manufacturing outofdate machines, and proclaiming officially that such aircraft are available for use by the Royal Australian Air Force. The result is that people in Great Britain and the United States of America are asking what is the use of their supplying Lancasters, Liberators, or Mosquitoes to Australia when the Commonwealth Government says that it is manufacturing sufficient aircraft to equip its squadrons. The fact is that we are embarking upon the production of Mosquitoes and Lancasters, but by the time these machines become available they will be entirely out of date. The Government could make much better use of the man-power and money now being used on this work in keeping up to date with developments in the aircraft production field, so that when the war is over we shall be able to compete with other countries in the manufacture of aircraft. Instead, of making Lancasters ostensibly for passenger and freight traffic after the war, we should realize that our requirements for the conveyance by air of all first and second class mail matter, and passenger and freight traffic, could be fully met by the purchase straight out from Great Britain or the United States of America of 100 D.C.3’s or D.C.4’s or D.C.5’s. Douglas planes of the type now engaged on the run from Sydney to Canberra and Melbourne could be purchased in sufficient numbers more cheaply than we could construct them, and by doing that we could better engage in the construction of more up-to-date aircraft. It is useless to say that the machines now being constructed are of types that can be readily converted for transport purposes after the war. My criticism in this respect is substantiated by the opinions of experts. The Government not only proposes to expend money in this direction, but it has also on its hands a large number of aircraft which are apparently obsolete. About 200 Vultee Vengeance short-range divebombers which we imported when we were hard pressed by the Japanese are now practically useless. These machines arc lined up in an aircraft park, and are rusting. It 13 a pity that we do not send them to China, or Burma. I understand that squadrons equipped with this class of machine are operating in Burma. However, these machines are now lying here idle, and under lend-lease we are debited with the sum of £3,000,000 on that account. In addition, many Australian-made aircraft are entirely useless’. I refer to the Boomerang, a Wackett production, which is being manufactured by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, and the Beaufort. I can see no reason why these machines also could not be sent to China, where good use could be made of them. Despite these facts, and the fact that we are undertaking the manufacture of some of the more obsolete types of aircraft, the Royal Australian Air Force has been compelled to place orders with the Department of Aircraft Production for a number of a certain type of aircraft designed by Mr. Wackett. I shall not relate the history of the experiments with that machine beyond saying that it has proved a complete “flop”. Therefore, the Government’s action in compelling the Air Force to place orders for this machine with the Department of Aircraft Production is a retrograde step.
As an inter-departmental committee has been considering the matter for some considerable time, I was hopeful that the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) would have made a definite statement by now with regard to post-war civil aviation. T have not had an opportunity, owing to my absence on duty in the Air Force, to press this matter; but many members of the Royal Australian Air Force are anxiously inquiring as to what is going to happen to them after the war. They are entitled to an answer to that question now; and unless the Government immediately brings forward a definite policy in this matter it will let down those boys who are doing one of the grandest jobs of the war. Merely to contemplate the organization of air lines for passenger and freight traffic within Australia itself, or between Australia and contiguous islands, such as New Guinea, and, possibly Java and Sumatra is not sufficient. Australia should open air routes to China. Burma and India, and to the Soviet through China,’ and to England via the Marquesas Islands. As the range of aircraft is developed, there is no reason why wo should not establish a direct route across the Indian Ocean to South Afriea. In that way it would be possible, for the Commonwealth to employ air-crew members of the Royal Australian Air Force after the war, who will otherwise be confronted with unemployment, because most of them are young lads who went straight from school into the flying service. These lads bore the brunt of the strike against the enemy, and they are entitled to primary consideration in this matter. Aircraft of many types which are available to the Government, including light training machines, could very well be handed over to the Air Training Corps, which consists of lads from sixteen to eighteen years of age. An opportunity would thus be given to those boys, should they volunteer, to start flying in suitable machines. I refer particularly to the Tiger Moth and the Wirraway. That would be a progressive step; but like many other members of the Royal Australian Air Force, I have an impression that some Ministers are concerned only with day-to-day administrative matters, and are failing to give a lead on matters of policy in a way which would inspire confidence in them on the part of personnel in their departments. Quite a number of the maintenance personnel who have been skilfully trained by the Royal Australian Air Force could be carried on after the war, conditionally upon their services being available at a nominal charge for the maintenance of aircraft purchased by individuals from the Disposal Commission or any other Commonwealth authority.
Within recent months, there has been considerable waste of money in the Department of Air. In many ways, the department is in excess of establishment. I could cite a number of specific instances of wastage of man-power. I have been on stations on which A1 personnel were employed merely in digging gardens and making the place look pretty. Some stations are only temporary, and I know of one station that is to be closed shortly. Those personnel could be made available for other work. Having regard to the number of fully operational squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force in the South-West
Pacific Area, there is a sheer wastage of man-power. I do not know from what source, or on whose recommendation, the allocations of man-power are made, but it would seem desirable that the persons responsible should be informed of the wastage.
– The honorable member has no right to mention in this Parliament the strength of the Air Force.
– If I have made any undue disclosure, I am sorry. On many occasions censorship has not been applied to disclosures which may be detrimental to members of theRoyal Australian Air Force. For example, the newspapers are allowed to print particulars of methods by which certain members of air crews have escaped from the enemy, thus furnishing to the enemy information of means of escape which other members of air crews subsequently captured might wish to use.
– That, too, is wrong.
– Within the last week, there has been such a disclosure. If the Prime Minister can say that it will not occur again, many members of air crews who are flying over enemy territory willbe glad.
When I applied tobe transferred to reserve, the press alleged that I had said that I had nothing to do in the Air Force and that, recruiting should come to an end. Those statements have since been vindicated, even though the language reported is not exactly that which I used. When I spoke, recruiting had already ceased in the United States of America and Canada. Australia is not to contribute further to the Empire air training scheme overseas
– That is utterly incorrect. Men left Australia quite recently.
– I can only state what I have read in the newspapers. Two months ago, a photograph was published, with the caption that the group shown was the last lot of men who would go overseas under the Empire air training scheme.
– Photographs could have been taken more recently, and it could have been said that those were the last men who had gone. 858 Budget 1944-45. [REPRESENTATIVES.] Budget 1944-45.
-If personnel are still going overseas, the number is not large.
Many remustered army officers who served in the Middle East and have recently passed through flying training schools, were told in polite language when they had reached a certain stage in their training, at an expenditure to the Commonwealth of up to £2,000 each, that they were not needed for further training, and they were re-mustered to do guard duty and the like in the Royal Australian Air Force. It was unwise to encourage persons who had had operational experience in the Army, to ‘believe that they could complete a flying training course and serve the country in air crews, if it. was not intended that they should be used operationally. Many flying training schools in Australia have been closed, and under the present scheme for the reduction of the Air Force, many more will be closed. Having regard to the small number of squadrons that are on operations in the South-West Pacific Area, the number by which it is proposed to reduce the Royal Australian Air Force could be trebled. I suggest to the Prime Minister that the whole trouble is bound up with the persons themselves. I know that the right honorable gentleman makes decisions onthe recommendations of the Chiefs of Staff or the Ministers concerned. Many persons are interested in maintaining the ranks that they hold. Consequently, they are unwilling to allow any one of lower rank to leave the Air Force, because eventually only air vicemarshals, air commodores, and group captains would remain, and they would have no L.A.C.’s, A.C.l’s or A.C.2’s under their control.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister was not in the chamber when I began my speech. I then said that it would be a sorry state of affairs if I could not mention in the Parliament certain things which I considered would be helpful to the persons concerned in the administrationof the Department of Air, without having my remarks construed as a personal attack on them.
– I do not regard the honorable ‘member’s remarks in that light; but I wish they were factual.
– Apparently, the facts supplied to the Prime Minister and to Cabinet are different from those that are observable by myself and others when we are undergoing training at the different stations.
I pass from that subject to the problem of population. I am disappointed at the lack of provision in the budget for the benefit of persons who assist the country by reproducing their kind and thus providing the most desirable of all immigrants - the natural-born. I suggest that the Government should not make appeals for the increase of population unless it first considers the difficulties which mothers experience in obtaining layettes. They are most difficult goods to get, even if one is provided with coupons, because either the goods are not available for purchase, or, even where they are, the prices are entirely disproportionate to pre-war figures. Possibly the greatest urge for families to be increased would be a guarantee to the mother of adequate assistance in the home during the period before and after confinement.New Zealand has a nursing scheme by which nurses visit the home before and after birth of the child, and I suggest that the Government should examine whether a plan of help along those lines is possible.
Now is the time for the Government to make a definite declaration of its postwar aims. An almost paramount need is for a strong declaration of immigration policy. That, I think, is extremely desirable now, because the war in Europe may come to an end this year, although I admit that, it may take longer. There is no doubt that quite a number of people will want to come to Australia from England and other countries. For that reason, a declaration of immigration policy on. the part of the Australian Government would be highly welcome at this time.
Confidence might also be inspired in the ranks of the Labour party by a declaration on financial policy on the part of the Government. We have a majority in both Houses to enable us to amend the ‘Commonwealth Bank Act, abolish the Commonwealth Bank Board, and use the bank in the way laid down from time to time in the policy of the Labour party. The rank and file of the Labour movement, who, after all, are responsible for the presence of the Labour Government on the treasury bench, would . then know that another rung of the ladder leading to our objective of socialism had been safely climbed. “We ought to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act, and the bank should be placed under the control of the Treasurer as the representative of the Government, so that he might utilize it to its fullest extent, and guarantee the carrying out of government programmes.
A more definite declaration of policy in regard to housing is desirable. Admittedly, the programme which has been outlined in that regard is only a commencement. I realize the difficulties associated with such a programme, but if wc could -make a more substantial start on its implementation at once, possibly many .hardships which are being suffered would be alleviated. At the same time, persons who are exploiting those who lack adequate housing accommodation would be prevented from continuing their unpleasant practices.
I join with other supporters of the Government who believe that the present amount of the old-age and invalid pension is not adequate. Although Ministers have their own problems to face in the financing of the war, I am sure that most of them, too, consider that something could be done either in Supplementary Estimates or in some other way during the current financial year to increase the pension.
In regard to repatriation pensions, the Government ought in my view to be guided by the consideration that, when a person is killed in the service of his country it should, as nearly as it is able to do so in terms of money, restore the widow and family to the same standard of livelihood as the husband would have been able to provide for them.
– That could and should be done by abolishing the means test for dependants, and for parents.
– I have not sufficiently examined the effect of the abolition of the means test to be able to agree or disagree with the honorable member.
– There is no means test for the wife.
– I know that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) is sympathetic in repatriation matters, but, unfortunately, when the benefits are beginning to take effect, anomalies always crop up, many of which are publicized in the newspapers. After a while defects are adjusted, and I hope that will happen, so that discharged men may be dealt with promptly and effectively, enabling the repatriation schemes to work out smoothly in the way intended by .Parliament. I trust that in that way jio hardship which could be prevented by the exercise of a certain amount of tact and common sense will be inflicted on any one.
Unfortunately, the referendum proposals were not carried, but I should like the Government to ascertain whether at the conclusion of the war it would not be possible to introduce a 30-hour week of five working days. I believe it can be done. In 1936, President Roosevelt said that it could be done in America. One indication that such a reform is possible is that labour is not the largest item in the cost of production of manufactured goods. .Basically, the largest cost item is material. It may, therefore, be possible to guarantee employment for all by cutting down the number of working days and hours, making a survey, and spreading out the man-hours required to produce the necessary goods and services. If it is possible to increase the efficiency of machinery latter the war, I do not see. why the workers of the country should not have the benefit of it. Perhaps some time must elapse before a 30-hour wording week will be possible, but if it can be achieved, then the earlier it is done the better.
The last thing I should like to say in connexion with, the declaration of postwar aims is that the Government should give a clear indication as to its intention to implement the policy of the Labour party for the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. That is the very thing which honorable members of the Opposition want to talk about, because they feel that they can damage us on the hustings with it, but our policy has been clear for more than 50 years. It has stood the test of time, and now we have the numbers to make a commencement with its implementation. If we can pass before the next elections one or two measures in lino with the party’s platform and policy, they will have such an effect upon the people that they will return the Government again, with a mandate to implement its full platform and policy. Unless we do that, there may be a sad story to tell after the next elections. I say that, not because I fear what may be done by honorable members opposite, because in my opinion they are completely disintegrated as a political force in this country; but because I am afraid that, in the light of the history of previous Labour administrations, failure may come from within our own ranks. In that regard, I contend that the more members of the Labour movement who can be given jobs where they will be in a position to advise members of the Government, and government departments, in accordance with the principles of the Labour party, the better. During elections, the Labour party receives the assistance of many competent individuals, who are lost to uswhen the elections are over, because we are unable to reciprocate in any part the assistance which they have given voluntarily and gratuitously. I believe that we have a certain obligation tothese people and that we should treat them in the best possible manner. We should not hand over to individuals who are not completely au fait with the objectives of the Labour party, jobs in which they will be called upon to advise Labour Ministers and officials whohave to come into contact with the public and afterwards to accept electoral responsibility for their acts.
I believe that, on many occasions, Parliament is brought into disrepute by the newspapers, and I contend that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives should exercise freely their power to charge newspaper proprietors for contempt of Parliament.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should muzzle the press?
– No ; but casual newspaper men sent to Canberra by employers in the capital cities can knock on the doors of rooms occupied by Cabinet Ministers, or even enter without knocking, and demand an answer to questions involving matters of policy or administration. That is very wrong.
– That does not happen.
– I beg to differ. It has been my experience on several occasions to have something to say to newspaper reporters who have done that. If the Prime Minister believes that such things do not happen, it is rather unfortunate, because apparently he has not been around when these things have been going on. Other honorable members will tell the right honorable gentleman that what I have said is quite true. I have seen such happenings many times.
– I am certain that no Minister was ever forced to see a pressman.
– I do not doubt that; but the fact remains that members of the press have access to ministerial rooms at all hours, and that Ministers are obliged to answer questions, giving information which is not available even to their colleagues, with the result that government supporters often hear of important matters for the first time in the press. In some cases, individuals who have obtained information from Ministers in the manner which I have suggested, have immediately bitten the hand that fed them, and used the facts which they obtained to bring Parliament into disrepute. In that regard, some honorable members have not been very helpful.
I have nothing further to say on this 1944-45 budget. This is my last appearance in the House before I undertake operational service. I trust that, within the next few weeks or months, the Government will be able to make a definite announcement in regard to what the future holds for members of air crews, and also other servicemen who have served in operational areas, when the war ends.
Mr. S. M. Falstein, M.P. : Service in Ais Force.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
I am sure that honorable members would like me to wish the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) good fortune, and a safe return from the operational service on which he is about to embark.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Australian Wool Board -Eighth Annual Report, for year 1943-44.
Land Tax Assessment Act - Applications for relief dealt with during the year 1943-44.
National Security Act - National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders - Protected undertakings (43).
House adjourned at 11.17 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he state the totals of treasury-bills held by each of the departments of the Commonwealth Rank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank at the 30th June, 1943, and the 30th June, 1944?
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Coa l-mining Industry.
y. - On the 1st September, the honorable member for Balaclava asked me the following questions upon notice: -
What has been the average tonnage from 1941 to 1944?
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1.Information is not available in the form asked, but the following are the numbers of working days lost through stoppages for the last three completeyears: - 1941, 404,520; 1942, 226,299; 1943, 335,787. 2 and 3. Efforts are being made to obtain this information from the department concerned.
Broadcasting: Station 2HD
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
This method is adopted to take care of the individual needs of ex-servicemen according to whether their pre-war wardrobe is still available for wear and grants all deputy directors discretion to cover the needs of those with lengthy service. (i. Many traders do grant preference to exservicemen inregard to goods in short supply, and traders generally are being urged through their trade organizations to adopt this practice.
Civilian Dental Services in North Queensland.
s asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be made available when it is to hand.
Vegetable-growers in South Australia.
y. - On the 8th September, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), asked me a question; without notice, concerning the present position of vegetable-growers in South Australia as regards prices. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that my colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs has advised me that vegetable prices were not controlled in South Australia until more than twelve months after maximum prices had been fixed in other States.
Extensive inquiries were made by a committee consisting of representatives of the Deputy Prices Commissioner, the Department of Agriculture, and Food Control, but the Prices Commissioner considered that the prices recommended by the committee were too low, and they were returned for reconsideration.
The prices now fixed are higher than those originally recommended. The same principles have been applied in fixing maximum prices in South Australia as in other States.
However, special provision has been made in the order to cover the method of marketing which is peculiar to South Australia. The decision to discontinue deliveries of vegetables for two days was made without approaching the Deputy Prices Commissioner in order to obtain an adjustment of the supposed anomalies.’ Actually a later meeting of 100 growers refused. to take part in the strike, but decided instead to use the normal method of appeal against a decision, i.e., to submit the case to the Deputy Prices Commissioner for consideration and subsequent report to the Prices Commissioner. real Estate Transactions.
asked the AttorneyGeneral,upon notice -
t. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
I have read the article since the honorable member brought it under my notice. 2 to8. Pursuant to the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations, the Treasurer in 1942 prescribed certain general principles to be observed in the sale of subdivided land, as a condition of obtaining his consent to the transaction. The vendor of a subdivided estate in Melbourne objected to the condition referred to in question 3 and brought an action against the Treasurer in the High Court claiming that the regulations themselves were invalid or alternatively did not authorize the Treasurer’s action. During 1944 the Treasurer reconsidered the conditions generally, with a view to liberalizing them in the light of the changed war situation. Having decided that the particular condition referred to could be omitted in the future he informed the plaintiff in the case pending that he was prepared to waive that condition in respect of the transaction in question. . The case was thereupon settled on the following terms: -
Having regard to the difficult and doubtful . questions of law raised by the claim and to the Treasurer’s decision not to insist on the future inclusion of the particular condition, no useful purpose would be served by contesting the action.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 September 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1944/19440914_reps_17_179/>.