17th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– The wife of a man who holds -an important position in a munitions factory recently went from Melbourne to Sydney for business and family reasons, but the Australian National Airways’ aircraft on which she had travelled broke down, and, although she held a return ticket, she was unable to use the means by which she had arrived and is now stranded in Sydney. Can the Minister for Transport provide facilities for her return to Melbourne?
– Although the case mentioned by the honorable member concerns only the wife of a humble munitions worker, I shall certainly .see that facilities shall be provided for her to return to her home.
– Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping make available the report and estimates of experts in connexion with their investigation of the aluminium industry, to which the honorable gentleman referred in his second-reading speech on the Aluminium Industry Bill, so that honorable members may speak with informed minds when the matter next comes up for consideration.
– I shall consider the request. Honorable members will be able to deal fully with every aspect of the matter when the bill is in committee. All documentation will then be available, and information will be supplied in response to any questions that may be asked.
– I ask the Treasurer whether or not an agreement exists between the Governments of the United Kingdom and South Africa, under which the Government of South Africa participates in the profit that is obtained from sales of gold on the open market in India. If so, could a further agreement be made, so that Australia also may participate in the proceeds? ‘
– The honorable member mentioned this matter to me some time ago, and I have had the position exactly ascertained. It is true that under a comparatively recent agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom and South Africa, the Government of South Africa participates to a minor degree in the proceeds of sales of gold on the open market in India.
That Government, after providing for the needs of the South African Reserve Bank, sells the balance of the Union’s gold production to the Bank of England, as agent for the British Treasury, at the official price of ?8 8s. sterling per fine ounce, delivered to Gape Town or Durban. The British Treasury bears the expense of shipping the gold overseas. This price is the basis on which the rate to gold producers in the Union is calculated. The importation of gold into India is subject to ‘strict control, but with the concurrence of the Indian Government the United Kingdom has been able to sell gold on the open market in India at a considerable premium. The Government of the United Kingdom applies the proceeds towards its expenditure in India.
– Last Tuesday the Minister for Transport made in this House a statement which contained allegations against a school-boy named Holyman. He said, among other things, that this boy was a member of a party of school-boys who had been involved in a “ border-hopping “ episode. On the same day, the father of the boy - Captain Holyman - published in the press the statement that his son had not been in New South Wales at any time during this year, and, therefore, could not have been guilty of the charge that had been made against him. On Wednesday, I asked the Minister publicly to withdraw his allegation, but he refused to do so, stating that further inquiries were ‘being made by his officers. I now ask whether or not he will withdraw this unfounded charge before the termination of this sessional period, and thereby make amends for the injustice that he has done to this boy and his parents?
– About three-fourths of the question is out of order, but the Minister may answer the substance of it.
– I desire to say, first, that the question is not based on fact. I did not accuse the son of Captain Holyman of having been involved in a “ border-hopping “ escapade. What I said was that, according to reports that had been furnished to me by the officers of roy department, Captain Holyman’s son was a passenger on the special .plane that had been provided for the transport of school-boys from the Geelong Grammar School to Sydney. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of my officers or the accuracy of their reports, and. have nothing to withdraw.
– Has the Attorney-General seen newspaper reports of the statement of the Minister for Transport that it was amazing to him that any decision could be made by the Attorney-General without first having received and perused all the papers in connexion with the Geelong Grammar School boys, and that he would be interested to hear from the Attorney-General on what evidence he arrived at his decision not to proceed with the prosecution? Are the facts as stated ‘by the Minister for Transport, and, if so, has the right honorable gentleman any comment to offer ?
– I answered a somewhat similar question yesterday when I said that I had acted on a report by the Solicitor-General. There is nothing which I can add to that answer.
– The veracity of a citizen with an honorable reputation, Captain Ivor Holyman, has been impugned by the Minister for Transport. He declared that Captain Holyman’s son had, with the authority of the Department of Civil Aviation, travelled by air from Victoria to New .South Wales. Captain Holyman denied that statement, but the Minister refused to withdraw his allegation or to produce any evidence to support it.
-Order ! Will the honorable member ask a question?
– In order to clarify the matter, I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation to examine passenger lists showing the names of the persons who travelled in that aircraft, and inform the House, before it adjourns to-day, whether the record discloses that Captain Holyman’s son travelled <by that machine.
– I am not personally aware who travelled on the aircraft, and although the passenger lists are available, I consider that I should not be asked to interfere in this matter. Both parties have expressed their views, and I dislike the idea of being made the referee.
– by leave - The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has requested a statement of the principles governing the issue of permits for building construction. Permits for non-government civil building operations must be obtained from my department under the National Security (Building Operations) Regulations. The acute shortage of man-power and .materials in the building industry, arising from the heavy claims of defence buildings and constructional works, and from the enlistment of building workers in the Services, as well as their engagement in the Civil Constructional Corps and on other war work, made it imperative that in Australia, as in Great Britain and all other belligerent countries, the use of resources for private building should be confined to work of urgent necessity. The administration of the regulations by my department is directed to that end. The relative need and urgency of each application must be weighed and balanced against the level of resources available. All applications cannot be granted. It is the department’s responsibility to ensure that permits shall not be issued in excess of capacity to carry them out, and that due economy in the use of resources shall be observed. This means that there must be some selection of the more urgent and important of the applications, and of those in respect of which undue hardship would be caused if the permit were refused. The main applications received by the department seek permission for the erection of industrial buildings, schools, hospitals, residential buildings and communal facilities of one kind or another. Subject to what I have already said, the provision of child or adult communal facilities is discussed with competent authorities, in order to ascertain their importance and necessity. In respect of hospitals, medical officers appointed in each State by the Department of Health, -who maintain contact with the appropriate authorities within the State,, are consulted by the department. In this way, full consideration is given to the need for the proposed buildings.
Applications by religious or private bodies to erect additional educational buildings are examined in the light of the individual circumstances of each case. Applications are considered as favorably as possible when, by reason of lapse of time or deterioration, the facilities available have fallen below the desired standard, or where there is no satisfactory alternative to the erection of additional facilities.
In genera], hardship is the guiding principle governing the issue of permits for residenta; buildings. Permits are granted in cases where the applicant, or his dependants, would bc without a shelter, or would be accommodated in conditions of undue hardship, if the permit were refused. Hardship may be established for a number of reasons. The dwelling may be in a state of disrepair, sufficient to make it dangerous or unhealthy; insufficient accommodation may be available in relation to the number of people to be accommodated; it may be clear that a serious degree of personal friction exists between the occupants of the dwelling; a change of location, or improved accommodation, may be necessary for the health or welfare of the applicant or a member of his family. Circumstances such as distance from work, undesirable surroundings, and adjacent nuisances, may, in conjunction with other factors, justify the issue of a permit.
Very careful consideration is given to all applications for permission to erect buildings in rural areas, particular attention being paid to the possible increase of food production. The general principle is to give favorable consideration to applications where increased production will result, and permits are refused only when it is considered that no undue hardship would be suffered.
– Why is the standard of accommodation permitted by the department lower in the country than in the city?
– That is not a true statement. After examination by my department, all works of a value of £5,000, or more, are submitted for the consideration of the award of a priority by the Defence Committee, on the recommendation of the Works Priorities SubCommittee, before permits are issued. This procedure ensures that the claims of the various projects, both civil and defence, shall be fully considered by one authority in relation to the over-all availability of resources, and that those most urgently required shall receive whatever manpower and materials may be available.
I assure honorable members that the task with which my department is faced, in allocating the slender resources available for civilian building purposes to the most urgent and deserving applicants, is an extremely difficult one: I appreciate the degree of understanding with which members on both sides of the House are dealing with the pressing representations which all of them are constantly receiving from constituents who are anxious to obtain building permits. The officers of my department are endeavouring to deal sympathetically and helpfully with each applicant, and I personally shall welcome the time when it may be possible to grant permits freely, and remove some of the existing restrictions. Unfortunately, in present circumstances, building materials and man-power are in acutely short supply. Until the war situation enables a greater diversion of man-power and other resources to the building industry it would be of no avail for my department to grant a greatly increased number of building permits. However, the matter is being kept in close review in collaboration with other departments concerned, in order that the maximum of civil building may be undertaken consistent with the needs of the war effort.
– Will the Minister for War Organization of Industry add to the list of considerations which govern the issue of a permit, the fact that a man has served this country in the war and that during his service, or since his discharge, has married and desires to establish a home ?
– That matter has already been considered, although I did not mention it specifically in my statement. When only a limited number of permits can be issued, a fact to be borne in mind is that a discharged member of the fighting services, who is only newly married, will not have a large family, and, therefore, his application will have a lower priority than that of an individual with a large family to accommodate, whose circumstances require urgent consideration. However, the provision of homes for discharged members of the services is given a high priority.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Transport, and by way of introduction I quote the following from the Melbourne Herald of Wednesday last -
In a pamphlet issued-
– It is disorderly to read out long slabs from a newspaper.
– But I had only begun.
– It is permissible to summarize a newspaper report in order to make a question clear, but not to quote it extensively.
– I had read only four words, but if that is a long slab, I shall try to condense it. The Minister for Transport is no doubt aware of a statement published in the Melbourne press that his department is issuing a pamphlet warning motorists that, when they get their October petrol ration, they must be more careful in the use of petrol and rubber, and reasons for this are set out. Does he propose to address one of the pamphlets to himself and others to his fellow Ministers? Can he say whether he has himself been using a motor car to make long interstate trips instead of travelling by train? Will he see that the same economy is exercised by members of the Government in the use of motor cars as is expected of others?
– It is true that the Commonwealth Department of Transport is issuing a pamphlet drawing attention to the need for conserving petrol and rubber. The control of petrol and rubber is in the hands of my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), but the Department of Transport is regarded as the appropriate authority to issue a warning regarding the use of those commodities. Government motor cars come under the control of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings). For myself, I do not use cars unnecessarily, but only on important government work.
– In view of the tardi ness of State governments in coming to the relief of farmers affected by drought conditions, which are general in at least three States, and having regard to the fact that many farmers have been reduced to a state in which they are hardly able to get a living, will the Prime
Minister give an assurance that the Commonwealth will act promptly in order to ensure that relief shall be forthcoming?
– This matter is listed for consideration at the Premiers conference to commence in Canberra next Tuesday, and I shall then ascertain whether there has been undue tardiness in affording relief. At the recent Premiers conference, a special item for drought relief was added to the loan programme for the current year. If that does not prove sufficient, or if other steps are necessary, I assure the House that, insofar as ‘Commonwealth resources can abate the seriousness of the situation, they will be so applied, because the importance of dealing with the problems arising out of the drought are as clear to me as to the State Premiers.
Reduction op Rank - Use of Political Influence.
– Some time ago, in response to representations from me on behalf of Australian airmen who had been reduced in rank and stripped of their wings, the Minister for Air said that, in some of the cases which had been investigated this action had been improperly taken, and he would rectify the injustice. Will he also arrange to make up to these lads the pay which they have lost, and restore to them . their previous ranks? Will he see that young Australians who have qualified for commissions in the Air Force shall not be denied them merely on the ground that they are too young, as has happened in the past ?
– When the honorable member first raised this matter, I undertook to have it investigated, and it was found that some of the men concerned had been wrongfully reduced in status. For reasons ‘beyond their control, they had been unable to continue as members of air crews. This is a somewhat delicate matter, about which I do not like to say much, because there were also some men who, for reasons within their control, were stripped of their wings. Several cases, specifically mentioned by the honorable member, have been inquired into, and in some instances wings have been restored. Others not specifically mentioned by the honorable member are also being inquired into. As for restoring rank, L point out that men who failed to qualify, even for reasons bev Jnd their control, cannot retain the rank of sergeant - which is the lowest given to members of air crews - if they are placed in other musterings. Therefore, I cannot promise to comply with the honorable member’s request in that respect, but if men have suffered any other injuries, I shall seek to have them remedied. The ‘Government is anxious to treat fairly these men who have rendered such meritorious service. I do not know of any instances of men not being given commissions solely on the ground of youth. If such a thing has happened, it calls for inquiry. Men who have qualified, and are considered to have sufficient judgment to hold commissions, should not be deprived of them merely because they are young.
– Is the Minister for Air in a position to make a statement regarding a notice posted in a Royal Australian Air Force camp in New South Wales warning Air Force personnel against making representations on their various problems through their parliamentary representatives and pointing out that to do so is a breach of an Air Force order? The notice reads -
Notwithstanding frequent orders to .the contrary, a large number of ministerial inquiries are still being made at Air Force Headquarters. These result from private communications between service personnel and members of Parliament or their acquaintances relating to alleged grievances. Air Board takes a very serious view of this direct contravention of A.F.O. 12/A/22. All personnel are warned that severe consequences will result from a breach of these orders.
In order to allay misgivings of honorable members and their service constituents, will the Minister state whether there is any truth in this report, and if so whether the notice has had any effect?
– The honorable member’s question is based on an article published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph last Monday under the heading, “Warnin.? on Political Influence “ -
Some Royal Australian Air Force personnel sought parliamentarians’ influence to gain promotion, the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford ) said to-night.
As far as I am aware, no warning against the use of political influence has been issued, nor has political influence been used. Since this .article was published I have made some inquiries and I am informed that air force head-quarters has not issued any directions or warnings concerning political influence. Probably the press statement refers to an air force order which has been in operation for a considerable time. In my opinion, the direction of attention to that order at this this time is unwarranted. The article also stated -
Mr. Drakeford said lie was not aware that the Air Board was taking such a serious view of the matter. “ I will make investigations to-morrow and will then make a full statement.”
I said no such thing. The answer 1 gave to inquiries when I was wakened out of my sleep on Sunday was that I was not prepared to make any statement until I saw the alleged order and that I would make inquiries. I do not propose to be stampeded by the press into making statements. The position now in regard to the use of political influence by service personnel is no different from what it was under other administrations.
– by leave - On the 13th September, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) announced that, in due course, I would make a statement to the House concerning government policy on civil aviation. Policy on civil aviation may conveniently be divided into two parts, viz., policy in respect of external or international air transport, and policy in regard to internal civil aviation. In the field of international air transport, Australia and New Zealand were the first two nations to declare their policy, which, as honorable members know, was a joint policy. The declaration was contained in an agreement between the two governments promulgated in January, 1944. Insofar as civil aviation was concerned, the two governments, in addition to advocating a convention to supersede the International Convention on Aerial Navigation of Paris, 1919, sought to establish as a first choice the operation of all international air trunks routes, and the ownership of the aircraft employed thereon, by an international air authority to foe created through international agreement; and in the event of failure to achieve that objective, as a second choice, the control and operation under government ownership of a system of air trunk routes ‘by governments of the British Commonwealth.
It is regrettable that the proposal for internationalization of international air transport has not received the support that the Governments of Australia and ‘ New Zealand expected. Certain nations, so the ‘Government has been informed, are not in favour of international ownership and operation. The principle is not, therefore, likely to be accepted at the forthcoming United Nations conference. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth Government will, with the utmost endeavour, continue to urge the need for reaching an understanding among the United Nations, with the object of laying down a basis of international co-operation in international air transport, and will also continue to advocate the appointment of an international air transport authority, whose constitution and functions will provide for the exercise of executive as well as regulatory powers over the operation of international air transport services. This is felt to be necessary, both in the interests of world security against the possible misuse of civil air fleets in the future, and also in order to obviate as far as may be possible the disastrous effects of unregulated competition in a race to ‘become predominant in the air commerce of the world.
The Government realizes, however, that great difficulties may be experienced in achieving that objective, in view of the national ambitions of certain countries to become predominant in air commerce. Consideration has therefore been given to other proposals in the firm belief that, if a common understanding with all the United Nations is impracticable of achievement, at least it should be possible to secure agreement amongst the nations of the British Commonwealth and Empire.
As a step capable of immediate achievement as soon as war conditions will permit it, the Government will cooperate in bringing about the reestablishment of a full passenger, mail and air freight service between Britain and Australia, and linking up with the service to New Zealand. The service in operation before the war had to be discontinued in great part as a result of the loss of Singapore and Java, but for over a year past a restricted service has been operated by Qantas across the Indian Ocean from Western Australia to Ceylon and Karachi, linking up with a service operated by the British Overseas Airways ‘Corporation from England. This service has been recently augmented with additional aircraft, thereby permitting the introduction of a light-weight letter service to Britain. It is planned, however, to expand this service as soon as it is practicable to do so, to provide for full passenger and air-mail requirements and to give it a frequency at least double that which existed before the war. British aircraft will be employed as far as practicable on this service. The Government believes it to be a first and necessary step to restore and expand this service, which is peculiarly a BritishAustralian conjoint enterprise.
The Government considers, too, that no time should be lost in the operation of the service across the Pacific Ocean. Many Australian crews have flown the Pacific, both in ferrying aircraft to Australia and in providing ^essential military air services. By far the greater part of the Pacific air services have, however, been operated by the American authorities. The Australian bases operated on behalf of the American Transport Command are being used less and less as our own and American troops move northwards. It is possible that in a comparatively short time the American terminals will have moved north of Australia altogether. There will exist, however, the need for the conveyance of military and other high priority personnel and freight between North America and Australia. Hitherto, this service has been performed for us by the American authorities, but the time is fast approaching when we shall have to provide a service for ourselves. While the war lasts, the Pacific service will have to be operated as a military service, and justification for it will rest primarily on military grounds.
The Government’s proposal is that the service should, therefore, be operated by the air forces of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain, using military transport aircraft. It will be necessary for arrangements to be made with the United States of America for the use of the landing fields en route which are under the control of the United States Army Air Force, and also for permission to land and refuel on American territory, but this should present no difficulty .under war conditions. Similar rights have been granted by British nations in respect of American military transport aircraft. Such a service, the Government believes, would provide valuable experience in flying the Pacific Ocean on a regular service, and would pave the way for a commercial service at the appropriate time from Australia to New Zealand, the United States of America, and Canada.
A further proposal originated by the Australian Government relates to intraCommonwealth services, the objective being to provide between the constituent parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations an air transport service which will be operated by Britain, the Dominions and India, in collaboration. This proposal was first submitted during the visit of the Prime Minister to London in May last, and will be further considered during British Commonwealth talks which are to take place shortly. An integral part of the plan is that facilities should be made available in all Commonwealth countries on the same terms as they are available to the internal air-line operators who conduct the internal services.
The Commonwealth Government believes that these intra-Commonwealth services, in addition to catering for the governmental, commercial, industrial and social needs of the British Commonwealth, will do much towards vitiating the former feeling of distant isolation experienced by individual Commonwealth countries. Properly organized and conducted, intra-Commonwealth air transport services will in time engender among the constituent parts of the British Commonwealth the same feeling of contiguity as is now enjoyed by widely separated States in the United States of
America. It is desired to emphasize that this proposal does not mean that Australia advocates a British Commonwealth bloc to offset or compete with any other national operators or groups of operators. Australia still advocates and is prepared to support international operation and ownership of prescribed international routes by an international authority appointed by the United Nations. But if, as seems evident, that proposal is not acceptable, and if it becomes impracticable also to secure the appointment of an international authority with powers over the ‘allocation and operation of international routes, Australia is willing to co-operate with those who will co-operate with Australia in the provision of services to develop air commerce between Commonwealth countries. In. this attitude Australia has the full support and co-operation of its sister dominion, New Zealand, with which the Government has maintained the closest consultation.
The Government believes that the intra-Commonwealth plan which it has submitted should provide for the inclusion of any other nations which may wish to join in the scheme. Towards this end, the Government has proposed that the British Commonwealth, during the forthcoming discussions, should endeavour to formulate a policy and define objectives acceptable to all Commonwealth countries, including India, for the provision of services with non-Commonwealth countries. The aim is to evolve a formula which would expand the pattern of intraCommonwealth services to all foreign countries willing to participate. Any arrangements entered into would be with the Commonwealth countries as a whole and not with individual Empire countries.
To sum up, the Commonwealth Government’s policy in regard to external air transport services may be regarded as a four-point plan: -
I shall make a statement concerning the Government’s policy in respect of the development of aviation within Australia as soon as I am in a position to do so. I lay on, the table the following paper : -
Civil Aviation Policy - Ministerial Statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. White) adjourned.
– I ask the Treasurer how many co-operative credit unions are operating in Australia, how many are operating in each State, and under what act or acts they are registered?
– Obviously, I cannot answer the question offhand, but I shall forward a reply to the honorable member.
– Has the Attorney-
General seen the following statement issued at Montreal by the Canadian War Information Board on the 27 th June last : -
Canada has received its first order from UNRRA. It is for 20,050 tons of agricultural machinery to the value of $4,709,431, deliverable next year. Other relief orders under discussion betweenUnrra officials and the Canadian Government include $6,000,000 worth of woollen outer clothing.
Can the right honorable gentleman state whether Australia has received any orders from Unrra or whether sales discussions are taking place, particularly in relation to agricultural implements? Can the right honorable gentleman explain why orders for woollen outer garments are being placed in Canada rather than Australia? Can he say whether this is due to the action of the Minister for War Organization of Industry in not allowing high-grade cloth to be manufactured here?
– As the honorable gentleman has pointed out, the order is the first that Canada has received. There has just been a conference of Unrra at Montreal from which I have no doubt that order results. Australia has not yet received similar orders. A delegation from Unrra is in Australia, and I hope that in the near future, particularly in relation to Pacific andFar Eastern Relief, Australia will receive similar orders. I shall ascertain the facts in greater detail for the information of the honorable member.
Expenditure and Staff of the Department of Labour and National Service, the Man-power Directorate, the Department of War Organization of Industry, and Food Control.
– In view of the increase in expenditure and staff of the Department of Labour and National Service, the Man-power Directorate, the Department of War Organization of Industry, and the Food Control compared with last year, will the Prime Minister, with a view to effecting desirable economies, request the War Expenditure Committee to undertake an urgent inquiry during the parliamentary recess and to make recommendations on the subject ?
– The increase of the staffs of those departments has been the subject of very careful review by the Treasurer and myself with a view to deciding whether or not such increased provision should be made in the Estimates. We came to the conclusion that it was necessary that this should be arranged. The right honorable gentleman desires that the War Expenditure Committee shall make an inquiry in the recess. Yesterday I approved of the committee making another investigation which I think will occupy it between now and the loth November.
– The right honorable gentleman and the Treasurer, I submit, should not have to go carefully into these matters.
Mr.CURTIN. - We did not go into all the details. When the War Expenditure Committee has completed its present investigation, I shall consider the right honorable gentleman’s proposal.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday, the loth November next, at 3 p.m., unless Mr. Speaker shall, by telegram addressed to each member of the House, fix an earlier day of meeting.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
1939-43 Star - Research Council.
– by leave - I state most emphatically on behalf of the Government that it always has been, and always will be, the policy and firm determination of the Government to ensure that all sections of our fighting men shall receive full recognition of their services in the respective battle theatres. In the course of a public announcement which I made last Monday, I said -
Although official determination of all areas has not been decided, to avoid further delay a divisional order was promulgated to cover cases where eligibility had already been established. As further areas are approved particulars will be announced.
Certain negotiations are now in progress between the United Kingdom and Australian authorities, but I am not yet at liberty to anticipate the outcome. It is hoped to reach each agreement shortly, and I shall then announce the full details. I assure honorable members that when this official announcement is made, they will be fully satisfied that our gallant troops in Malaya have been given full recognition, and that no discrimination has been made against them.
– Some time ago, I asked the Minister for the Army a question about the Army Research Council. I have now received from the Minister an answer to the question and also a letter. Both of them, I consider, are evasive. Will the Minister give more details of a unit of 24 members of whom nine are colonels, two majors, and two captains, and the remainder lieutenants? I am aware that one member is a noted anthropologist and that her appointment is justifiable, but others have recently been promoted to high rank. An explanation should be given of w-hy the Army Research Council, which many believe to be an excrescence, was established.
– I shall obtain the additional information for the honorable member.
– Despite the order that the Department of Transport has issued for the carrying of all live-stock by State railway systems, stock is accumulating in the drought-stricken areas of Victoria. Trucks have been ordered for them, but an insufficient number appears to be available. Will the Minister take positive action to remedy the matter ?
– The Commonwealth transport authorities gave a direction that the railways must accept all livestock and fodder, subject only to the limitations imposed by availability of trucks. I am not aware whether that is the cause of the difficulty in the particular cases mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall make inquiries to see that the instruction of the Commonwealth transport authorities is carried out in its entirety.
– Recently, the Minister for the Army made a statement regarding the release of soldiers for the dairying industry. Like other honorable members, I am receiving many letters on this subject. I ask the Minister whether these releases will be made automatically following the applications which have, been lodged during the last six months? If so, how long will it be before these men are released, .because the dairying industry is now approaching the peak of the season?
– The 4,000 applications which were previously refused are now being automatically reconsidered. Further application will not be necessary. I am assured that, more than onehalf of that number has already been approved for discharge, and that discharges are being implemented to-day. I am informed also that within the next month, the remainder of the 4,000 will have been discharged for return to the dairying industry. I am fully aware of the necessity to speed up these discharges in order that the services of the men may be available in the flush of the dairying season that is now approaching.
– Is the Minister for Transport in a position to make a statement regarding the availability of trucks for the carriage of timber? Last Wednesday the honorable gentleman stated that a conference was being held in Melbourne to consider the matter.
– Last week-end, I received a deputation from all interests in the timber trade, and arising from those discussions I have made a submission to the Minister for Supply and Shipping to provide assistance by making ships available for the transport of timber on the coast. The Department of the Navy, which originally took over some of those ships for its own purposes, is about to release them and I hope that they will be available to relieve the transport, position. I have also requested the Director of Rail Transport to see whether a greater proportion of trucks can be made available for the carriage of timber, which is so important in defence works. If, during the next few days, I receive additional information on the subject I shall convey it to the right honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister for Information whether the salaries of officers who will be appointed to overseas capitals will be on a scale enabling those officials to live in the same standard of comfort as they do in Australia, whilst permitting them to undertake the essential social duties associated with their position.
– The salaries, allowances and other expenses of the officers who will be appointed under the scheme adopted by Cabinet for expanding Australia’s representation abroad, will be on a just basis. It will be determined by the Treasurer, the Minister for External Affairs and myself in conference, some time after the House has gone into recess.
Debate resumed from the ‘7th September (vide page’ 590), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of this bill, as the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has already explained to the House, is to enable Australia to fulfil the obligations which the Commonwealth Government accepted on behalf of this country in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation
Administration. It is interesting to note the growth that has taken place in recent years in the machinery for international co-operation. Before the present war, we had the experience of tho rather ill-fated League of Nations, but some people have allowed themselves to be blinded by its failure in the political field to the successes which it undoubtedly achieved through its technical committees and through the International Labour Office. Despite the failure of the League in the political field, the governments of many countries have not allowed themselves to overlook the unquestionable benefits which the world was receiving from the technical cooperation of the nations on so many matters of common interest.
In this war, we have had the very happy experience of one form of inter- national co-operation for the purposes of mutual aid and benefit. I refer to the growth and operation of the lend-lease organization. That has been a remarkable development, which might well prove to be a model for international aid in peace-time. Although the lend-lease organization has been termed the first war-time experiment in which one country has given aid to another without any expectation of repayment, that statement is not historically accurate. During the Napoleonic wars, the British Government found it expedient, when its allies became unable to make cash repayments or ultimate payments on advances to give the best assistance it could in goods, supplies, and munitions. Whatever was the experience then, the system has been expanded to a remarkable degree in the lend-lease organization of this war. The policy of one country making its resources available for use by its allies where they could most effectively be employed for the purpose of achieving a common purpose has been carried out with expedition, efficiency and results which have not only been astonishing but also have had a marked effect upon the rapidity of the advance of the United Nations to victory. One significant feature of lend-lease is the manner in which this aid has stimulated the capacity of the recipients to give in return aid in the form of materials produced as the direct result of the equipment or resources made available to them. There again we have a lesson which can be applied in the post-war period. Even during the currency of the war, we have seen evidence of the determination of governments to avoid the international anarchy which marred the interval between the end of the last war and the commencement of this one, by co-operating one with the other, not only in the political field, because that problem has yet to be faced, but also in regard to certain technical essentials, particularly control of currency and exchange, and in making available the full food-producing and agricultural resources of the world to meet the needs of the world. Already, we have had before us in this House papers relating to the recent international monetary conference, and we have on the notice-paper to be debated at a later stage a ‘bill dealing with a conference of the United Nations on food and agriculture. So, we see all around us evidence of a determination on the part of the United Nations to co-operate to the most effective and complete degree of which they are capable in dealing with these problems which spread beyond national boundaries, and have an influence on internal policy, according to the success or failure of efforts at international co-operation. The task of Unrra may be summed up as that of giving aid and relief to the people of areas liberated by the armed forces of the United Nations. This task will include the provision of food, clothing and shelter, aid in the prevention of pestilence and the restoration of health, arrangements for the return to their own lands of prisoners in exile, assistance in establishing urgently needed agricultural and industrial production, and the restoration of vital services such as fuel, water supplies, and communications. If we compare the situation which has been created by this war with that which occurred after the last war, we find that the problem to-day is even more intense and more extensive than it was on that occasion. We all have still vivid memories of the ravages of starvation and disease which left their scars on Europe after the last war. They were sufficiently widespread and serious then to call for the aid of nations which were in a position to provide assistance, but the position to-day is incomparably worse. Not only have we to face the problem of starvation, or at least malnutrition resulting from the lack of essential foodstuffs, amongst the people of the larger cities of Europe, and also the ravages of disease, but also there is the equally important problem caused by the destruction of hundreds of thousands of homes, industries, communications, and great public utilities. All these are matters which will call for urgent action if the people of Europe and of the Far East who have felt the impact of war are to be given substantial relief. Perhaps I may illustrate to the House the extent of this problem by drawing attention to some phases of it. Take, for instance, the task of sending back to their homes, or at least to their own lands, the huge number of persons who have been displaced as the result of war conditions. It is estimated that in Germany to-day there are 1,800,000 Frenchmen, and it has been computed that 24 trains a day for three months would be required to return these men to their homes. Exclusive of territories of the (Soviet Union and far eastern territories, it is estimated that there are between 20,000,000 and 30,000,000 homeless or displaced persons in the Continent of Europe, some of them forced labourers, some civilian prisoners, some inmates of concentration camps, and others refugees from the effects of war. It is impossible, of course, to estimate accurately the number of such persons, but the rough estimate, as I have said, is 20,000,000 or 30,000,000, most of whom will desire to he restored to their former homes or to new dwellings in their former towns or villages. That is but one phase of the problem which Unrra will have to face. Then there is the matter of food supplies. In the early stages of the European invasion, as the armies of the United Nations were sweeping across Western Europe, surprise was expressed at the comparatively prosperous conditions, and the state of well-being, in some areas of France. This was noticeable to a lesser degree in Belgium, but we are now receiving reports that conditions in Holland are very much worse. In the larger cities of France, there is ample evidence of malnutrition, particularly amongst the younger people; but France, Holland and Belgium are the countries which have suffered . least on the European continent. In Greece, Italy and Poland, there is to be found overwhelming evidence of an acute shortage of food, resulting in malnutrition, disease and chronic ill health. Unless this condition he remedied immediately, or at least as soon as practicable, the results will be even more disastrous. Unrra is so determined to tackle the food supply problem, and regards it so seriously, that at one of its recent conferences it made an appeal that in the first crop year after the war, attention should be given to the production of food for immediate and direct human consumption, rather than activities which bring much slower returns, such as pig and poultry raising. The most acute shortages, apparently, are in the supplies of milk, meat and fats, and a recent statement by Mr. Bankes Amery indicates how seriously these shortages are likely to be. He said that even although Germany was virtually beaten, Great Britain . did not know whether, during 1944, it would be able to obtain sufficient quantities of meat and dairy products to provide the meagre weekly rations per person of ls. 2d. worth of meat, 2 oz. of butter, and between 2 oz. and 3 oz. of cheese. In these circumstances, he asked, what could be done for devastated countries such as Greece, Yugoslavia and Poland? He suggested that the answer was that thousands of tons more food would have to be produced. We know from production figures in this country that we have been unable to maintain shipments of butter and meat to Great Britain on anything like the same scale as in previous years, and if Australia cannot do that for Great Britain, we can see how difficult it would be to send from this country large quantities of foodstuffs for the people of Europe. As I understand it, Unrra has not been established on any basis of permanency. Its job is to deal with the problems of relief and rehabilitation. In fact, it was stressed at the recent conference that the problem of reconstruction proper was one outside the scope of Unrra. Unrra’s task is an emergency one, namely, that of providing aid and relief in order that the normal economy of devastated countries may be re-established. The actual problem of reconstructing these countries will not be the task of this organization. I am sure that all Australians will desire to help in this great humanitarian work.
Two main criticisms of Australia’s participation in this organization have been voiced. The first is a fear that Australia’s link-up with an international organization of this kind may involve some loss of sovereignty and independence. To those critics I point out that by -participating in this organization we are not surrendering any degree of our sovereignty, but merely entering into a partnership for humanitarian purposes. Although in the final analysis, undoubtedly the major decisions in regard to the work of this organization will he left to a few countries, Australia’s internal policy will not be adversely affected. This is an undertaking in which we certainly desire to participate. Another criticism is that by participating in a single world-wide relief organization, we shall lose the benefits which would be derived from making our own direct relief to the countries which require, it. I admit that there is much to be said for the provision of direct relief , say, from Australia to the people of Greece, and there may be some truth in the suggestion that by joining a single organization we shall lose something of the good fellowship and goodwill which is created between the two countries when one is able to give direct assistance to another in time of need; but surely whatever is lost in that way will be more than compensated by the increased efficiency of distribution of available (resources, and the absence of overlapping which might prevent the best results from being obtained. I have already mentioned the humanitarian aspect of this work. Australia has been singularly fortunate during the war years. Our principal territories are unscathed. We do not carry any of the scars which will mar the landscape of Europe and the Far East for many years. Our industries, far from being damaged through the war, have been expanded and improved. Although we are suffering disabilities in the form of man-power shortages and loss of agricultural production, they have been to some degree offset by technical efficiency and scientific progress. So we can count ourselves a very fortunate people, and it should be regarded as a privilege that we gladly take to assist those countries which have had a much less happy experience than we have had during the period of the war.
Another reason why Australia should do all it can to make for the success of another experiment in international co-operation is that, in terms of geography, we are a people remote from aid, as we have found in the course of this war. We have a direct interest in seeing that all of the agencies for international co-operation are encouraged as fully as we can assist them, because by the strength and growth, of those agencies we improve, not only our own trade position, but also our prospects of security, by the removal of sources of friction which would otherwise be likely to affect the peace of the world. We have a direct and practical interest in seeing that the countries which have suffered as the result of the war resume their normal, peaceful economic activities, because Australia is an exporting country, and it has a practical interest in the health and well-being of the rest of the world. The healthier other countries are, the more able they will be to engage in trading activities, and the greater Australia is likely to benefit. So there is an overwhelming case in favour of our participation .in this kind of activity.
The organization of the council is worthy of passing reference. I shall come a little later to a weakness which the mechanics of the organization suggested to me. There is a council which is to direct the affairs of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and on it are represented the 44 countries which comprise the administration. This council, I understand, is to meet at least twice a year, and in between the sessions of the council the direction is to be carried on by a central committee representative of the United Kingdom, the United States of. America, Russia, and China. Where matters of supply are involved, the chairman of supplies is to be a member. Any country entitled to membership of the organization is entitled to membership of the central committee, and the director-general is to be a member of the committee ex officio. In addition to these bodies there are at least four principal committees and fifteen subcommittees. Fortunately, it will not be found necessary to maintain a large staff, and such staff as is to be employed will be of an international character. We have found, during the war, in connexion with our lend-lease administration, Red Cross activities, and the activities of the war comforts organization, that by working closely with the appropriate agencies it is possible to carry on with a comparatively small staff, making use of the appropriate personnel in the countries involved. Unrra will have available to it very substantial funds from the outset. These have been estimated at between £500,000,000 and £600,000,000 sterling, and it will be found that the United States of America with a contribution of £337,500,000, and the United Kingdom with a contribution of £80,000,000 will, between them, be providing the bulk of the funds for the organization.
It is worth pausing to comment here that it is a remarkable tribute to the people of Great Britain that, notwithstanding the devastation of their homeland, and the tremendous burdens they have had to carry- in financing this war, and maintaining in their own country the servicemen of so many other countries, they have, nevertheless, undertaken to make a full contribution to this fund, which, it was decided, should be made by those countries whose territories had not been affected as the result of the war. It is a matter that calls for some tribute to the warmth of heart and the generosity of the people of Great Britain that, notwithstanding their own burdens and the destruction of their own territories, they are making this full contribution. Australia’s contribution, as the Minister for External Affairs has already pointed out, is to be £12,000,000. That is our full proportion based on 1 per cent, of the national income, which, following the discussions that took place, was adopted as a basis. In addition, there is our share of the administrative charges amounting to £47,000. It should be noted that the £12,000,000 which we are to contribute can be made up by having nine-tenths of the amount supplied within Australia, and £1,200,000 supplied from our overseas exchange resources. So it should not be any great burden for the Australian people to carry, having regard, not only to the part we desire to play from the humanitarian point of view, but also to the practical advantages that we are likely to derive from the work of this organization. As the Minister pointed out, the relief given by Australia in other directions, that is by the provision of wheat and wool, will be taken into account when, working out Australia’s share. “We are to direct our contribution in the main to the peoples of the Far East, and the definition of “ the Far East “ for this purpose has been drawn to include Eastern Continental Asia, the East Indies, the Philippine Islands, Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the Eastern Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean. It is thought that the best way we can assist will be in the supply of food, clothing, medical care, drugs and equipment, but possibly, as the problems of relief in the East become better known, a wider range of items will be suggested to us. Our problem in the East is likely to be more difficult than that in Europe, first, because there have not been developed in the Eastern countries, to the same degree as in Europe, governmental agencies which can readily make relief available in the countries needing it. Eastern countries have not the same fairly definite body of statistics, for instance, to work on, but there have been relief activities in those parts in periods of peace, and, no doubt, the experience of those who have taken an active part in that work will be called on, in order that the aid may be most effectively given.
I now come to a brief examination of what appears to me to be the principal problems which this organization has before it at present. In the first place, quite obviously, there is the rather difficult problem of dovetailing its relief activities with those of the military organization. That itself is a matter which must call for some delicacy of handling and some technical competency. A rather more serious matter is what appears to me to be an unwieldy direction in the affairs of this organization. The great virtue of the lend-lease arrangement is that it was primarily a business proposition as between countries. I am quite certain that a great deal of the explanation for its success is the fact that it was not cluttered up with government conferences and a great team of government representatives. Red-tape, I understand from my own contact with its activities, has been, kept at a minimum. The prime objective was to get supplies where they were needed and to argue afterwards, if necessary, about matters of policy, and problems of repayment and refunding and the like.
– It has developed in the last three years into a huge organization, and a tremendous number of agencies and committees has been established.
– That may be so, but I do not know that there are governmental committees in the sense that they will be formed under Unrra. To me it seems a matter for comment.
– Of course, under the lendlease arrangement there were not so many countries concerned. It was a series of two-party arrangements.
Mi-. HOLT. - Yes, the country which had the resources in the first instance dealt with the country which required them. Later, as Australia benefited, it was able to play its part, and the reciprocal provisions began to come into full play. In the early years of the lend-lease arrangement with the United States of America, Australia was receiving considerably more than, it could supply in return, but the balance is gradually shifting to the point where Australia is able to play its full part, even to the extent of providing more as time goes on than it requires from America. But much of the success of the programme has been due to the fact that regular government conferences have not been- held, with motions on intricate matters of policy coming up for lengthy debate. I certainly feel uneasy at the policy laid down for Unrra to have a conference at least twice a year of the 44 member nations which are to lay down the policy to be applied in the conduct of the organization.
– And a two-thirds majority vote will be sufficient to alter the policy.
– Yes. I have already mentioned the sums of money to be provided. Of an estimated amount of £500,000,000 or £600,000,000 to be provided, Great Britain and the United States of America are to supply about £420,000,000. I should feel happier about this matter if I thought that the prime purpose of the conference was to reach a determination as to how much was to be expended in the countries to be relieved, and then leave it to the executive of the organization and the government of the country affected to work out how that money could best be expended.
– Broadly, that is how it will work out.
– At this stage I have not that same confidence as the Minister appears to have. When the council met in November, 1943, a vast number of resolutions were carried. Those present believed that the conference had been conducted in a business-like and practical way, but the report of the resolutions - I do not refer to the report of the detailed discussions - occupied 200 pages. Should a similar process be repeated, at least twice a year, I fear that the valuable work of relief will be impeded, particularly if the director-general has to be drawn away from the task of relief in order to engage in discussions and attend to all the preliminary work that we know is inevitably associated with international discussions of this kind. I do not see how what should be a business agency can hope to function efficiently if it is to be cluttered by the necessity to hold conferences, at which the delegates, being drawn from diplomatic spheres, will probably regard political problems as of paramount importance, and will give only scant consideration to the practical problems of relief. Already there are indications to that effect.
– They will be representatives of contributor countries.
– That is so. But how can we expect Peru and Equador, and other small countries, to have much influence at these conferences ? Even Australia may be regarded as a small nation, although we may ‘think that Australia’s voice should have influence. We have our own experience in this country as a guide. Wherever a large number of people wish to express their opinions, the task of government and efficient administration becomes difficult. I fear that some of the efficiency which developed under the lend-lease administration is likely to be lost unless a more workmanlike method of handling the problems of relief be developed. I have no doubt that the delegates will approach their duties full of lofty and humanitarian ideals ; but when they get down to the actual discussion of the motions that come forward we shall probably find that political considerations will obtrude themselves, as has already happened. In the Sydney Morning Herald recently there was an interesting article from a special correspondent in Washington, which I am confident, the Minister has read. It was headed, “ Planning Help for Needy. Unrra’s Political Problems “. That article dealt with the discussions which had already taken place as to whether Italy should be given relief in preference to other countries. It is likely that problems which are primarily of a political nature will come into the discussions of a body set up on an emergency basis to provide urgently needed relief. The council got away to a good start by deciding that once supplies have been gathered, allocated and shipped, they shall at no time be used as a political weapon, and that no discrimination shall be made because of race, creed or religious belief. I remind the House of the provisions of the Atlantic Charter, in which the President of the United Sta.tes of America and the Prime Minister of Great Britain stated certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries. The fourth article of the Atlantic Charter reads -
They will endeavour, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access on equal terms to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity.
That was a practical recognition of the fact that, as my leader pointed out eloquently earlier this year, we cannot expect to have a healthy, sane world while some portions of it are in a diseased or otherwise unhealthy condition. That was recognized in the articles of the Atlantic Charter. It was recognized also when the council met, .but I submit that it will be impossible at a conference of delegates from 44 countries, each of whom will press the rights and needs, either of his own country or of some country for which he entertains a feeling of close friendship, to prevent political problems from obtruding on the problems of relief. We cannot wave aside the fact that political problems do exist and will require solution. My point is that this organization is not the body to settle problems of that kind. Its task is the urgent one of providing relief to the people who need it; and, just as with lend-lease the arrangements were made first and the problems argued later, so I suggest that that should be the policy in connexion with this organization also. In this scheme of things, Australia can exercise only a small voice in the g. e’.A discussion. The Government has already shown - and the people are behind it in this matter - that it is prepared to accept, its full proportionate responsibility in a financial sense, and no doubt that financial obligations will be followed by the practical provision of the things that are required. If, when we are called upon to forgo some national advantage for the attainment of high humane objectives, we can show our good faith as a member of this organization, we shall have done something practical and effective towards the restoration of sanity, health, security, and contentment to a disordered world.
.- I congratulate the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) on having introduced this measure. [Quorum formed.] The Minister’s attitude towards this subject is in keeping with the broad statesmanship that he has exhibited in all matters relating to international affairs since he has been in office. In his second-reading speech he said -
The purpose of this measure is to enable Australia to discharge its obligations as a member of the United Nations Belief and Rehabilitation Administration, shortly known as Unrra. It authorizes the Australian Government to furnish supplies and services for the work of relief in devastated countries and to pay Australia’s fair quota of the administrative expenses of the organization, as allocated by the Council of Unrra.
The importance of the task of relief and rehabilitation is very great. After the war of 1914-18, the relief problem in Europe was enormous. Starvation and disease were the lot of many innocent victims of war, especially children. In view of the far greater ravages caused .by the .present war in both Europe and Asia, an even greater task now faces the United Nations. In both Europe and Asia the aggressors have plundered, despoiled and cruelly ill-treated. The economy of the occupied countries has been disrupted.
We must be ready to avoid any recurrence of that state of affairs at the conclusion of hostilities, or earlier. There have been meetings of various bodies to deal with the post-war situation. Among them was a conference at Dumbarton Oaks, to discuss the creation of an international court to deal with matters at issue between nations. There was also a conference at “Bretton Woods, in the United States of America, to deal with monetary stabilization. In my opinion, the movement for the relief and rehabilitation of devastated countries is even more important than any of the others. It has been said that if we would receive, we must give. Under these proposals we shall, at least, receive goodwill in return for our giving. If we desire to ensure the peace of the world, we cannot in future disregard the conditions under which the peoples of other lands live. As President Roosevelt has reminded us, insecurity in one country means insecurity everywhere. Unless we take action to relieve the poverty-stricken peoples of the world, we shall pave the way for the rising of some Hitler or Mussolini in the future, who will capitalize the suffering of the downtrodden. We have seen the results of man’s inhumanity to man; let us now see what the milk of human kindness can do. War brings out the worst elements of human nature, but there is good as well as bad in every human being. War also reveals the nobler attributes of man. On the one hand, we have the barbarous atrocities of which the Nazi hordes have been guilty; on the other hand, we have the noble deeds which have been performed by members of the Allied Nations. In addition to the valiant deeds that are being performed by members of the fighting services, valuable contributions are being made by individuals and organizations in this country. Among them are the Red Cross Society, the Australian Comforts Fund and various other patriotic, philanthropic and religious bodies in the community. The Minister has pointed out that 34 .different organizations in Australia are associated with the Government’s proposals. I trust that it will not be long before effect is given to the intimation by the Minister for External Affairs that the trade union movement also will be given representation on the Australian body. The trade unionists of Australia are concerned about the conditions of their fellow workers in other parts of the world, particularly in Allied countries. They have contacts with trade unionists in other countries who will be able to assist in making this scheme effective. The Minister has stated that it is not proposed, at this stage, to set up a permanent’ body, although there is nothing to prevent that from being done. I hope that the organization which is to be established will become a permanent body. As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) pointed out, we have had during the present war an excellent example of mutual aid in the form of lend-lease. In the immediate post-war period that principle should be extended by this movement, and I hope that it will be transformed into a permanent arrangement. After the last war, the League of Nations was the outcome of the vision of President “Wilson and other great leaders. Whilst it may have failed in some degree, at all events it was a step in the right direction, and was the first real movement throughout the world to achieve international stability and to bring all peoples together on a common basis. During the present war, the declaration of the Atlantic Charter by Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt was a step in the same direction, and this proposal carries the matter further. I regard it as the key to world peace and the security of all peoples.
The council has recommended that each member government whose home territory has not been occupied by the enemy should make a contribution of approximately 1 per cent, of its national income for the year ended the 30th June, 1943. As the national income of Australia in that financial year has been calculated by the Commonwealth Statistician to have been £1,200,000,000, the recommendation of the council, if adopted, would mean that the Australian Government would make a total contribution of £12,000,000, 10 per cent, in foreign currency and 90 per cent, in Austraiian currency. We pay a higher rate of premium for insurance against burglary, fire, and other causes which ravage cur homes, and 1 per cent, of the national income would be a small price to pay for insurance against wars in the future. Wars germinate in poverty, unemployment and the frustration of human beings. The world still is materialistic. Good wishes alone will not promote pacific relations. We must contribute materially to the welfare of other people, so far as we are able to do so, bearing in mind our own requirements. The mutual aid represented by lend-lease illustrates what cam be achieved in that regard. If we can have lend-lease in order to carry on the war, surely we can have it also for purposes of peace, and can make it a permanent arrangement. As the Attorney-General pointed out, a considerable proportion of our contribution will be expended in Australia in the provision of foodstuffs and other commodities, thus establishing a purchasing power which will keep many of our people in constant employment. If we had a surplus of production after local consumer needs have been met, would it not be better to provide credits for other people who are in need of our commodities, rather than bum them, tip them into the ocean, or restrict production, as was done after the last war and during the great depression? Charity begins at home, certainly, and we must consider the conditions of our own people. There must not be large-scale unemployment in the future, or a repetition of what occurred after the last war. Our post-war reconstruction proposals should ensure that there shall be no more slums in the capital cities.
We must also have regard to the conditions of the people in the sister
Dominions. I cite India in this connexion. We cannot disregard the conditions of its people as they have been disregarded in the past; otherwise, we shall sow the seeds of future menace to our security. Press articles disclose the serious position that has arisen in India because of the disregard of its people by the other parts of the British Empire. This has been thrown into bold relief recently by a storm in the United States of America that was caused by a diplomat’s letter on India. A Daily Mirror article on the subject contained these comments : -
What is becoming known as the affaire Phillips is developing along international lines.
William Phillips, U.S. Ambassador to India, and more recently political adviser to General Eisenhower, has returned to America. The feeling here- the reference is to New York - is that if his recall was not demanded, be was made to feel so uncomfortable that his position became untenable.
The reason for the storm in diplomatic circles was that Mr. Phillips made a report to the Government of the United States of America, in which he referred to the conditions in India. We realize only too well that during the war the people of the Dominions have had very little knowledge of what has occurred in India. Rumours have percolated through various channels, but the true position has not been disclosed officially. Mr. Phillips, in his report regarding India, said this -
At present the people in India are at war only in a legal sense, because the Indians feel they have no voice in the Government, and therefore no responsibility in the conduct of the war.
If this is so, then conditions surrounding our base in India become of vital importance.
They feel that they have nothing to fight for, being convinced that the professed war aims of the United Nations do not apply to them.
Churchill, in fact, has stated that his provisions in the Atlantic Charter do not apply to India, and the Indian leaders are beginning to wonder whether the Charter is only for the benefit of the white races.
General Stilwell has expressed concern over the situation, particularly the poor morale of the Indian officers. The attitude of the general public to the war is even worse.
Lassitude, indifference, and bitterness have increased as a result of famine conditions, the growing cost of living, and the continued political deadlock.
All political groups have one thing in common - eventual freedom and independence of British domination.
It is time for the British to issue a solemn declaration from the King-Emperor that India will achieve independence at a specific date after the war, and, as a guarantee of good faith, re-establish the Provisional Representative Coalition Government with limited powers. I feel strongly, in view of our military position in India, that we should have a voice in these matters.
If we accept the British viewpoint, that conditions in India are none of our business, we must be prepared for very serious internal conditions in India, which may develop as a result of the despair, misery and anti-white sentiments of 100,000,000 subject people. The people of Asia - and I am supported by other diplomat and military observers - cynically regard this war as one between Fascist and Imperialist powers.
A generous gesture to India would change this atmosphere, and India might be expected to support more positively the war against Japan. China, which regards the AngloAmerican Hoc with misgivings and mistrust, might then be assured that we in truth are lighting for a better world, and colonial people conquered by the Japanese might hopefully feel that they have something better to look forward to than simply a return to their old masters.
This matter vitally affects not only our future security but also the prosecution of the war and the final determination of the conflict with Japan. I hope that this scheme will embrace immediate consideration of the position of the people of India. The need for that is borne out by a report contributed recently to the Sunday Telegraph by Ronald McKie. It is headed, “ India doesn’t like our ways “.
– What would the honorable member expect the British Government to do in the light of the failure of the Cripps Mission and the talks between Ghandi and Jinnah?
– It should keep on trying, and “never say die”, because success would be well worth while. Mr. McKie said in his article -
Indians dislike Australians almost as much as they do the British - if that is possible.
By Indians I mean the educated mcn and women of India, because the vast majority of Indians have never heard of Australia. This is an unpleasant truth, but it must be faced, because we must realize that what happens in India in the not far distant future will react on Australia.
That is the point which I am trying to make. If we do not heed the position, our neglect will react on us in the future. The article continued -
There are several reasons for the dislike and distrust of Australia. This distrust has been brought home tome by frank talks with many Indians, some of them personal friends, and by a study of the Indian press.
It is significant that whenever the Indian newspapers get a chance they snipe at us hard. The main reason is Australia’s White Australia policy, which has never been explained to Indians, who regard it as an expression of bitter, intolerant race and colour hatred.
We should make it clear that the White Australia policy represents not racial prejudice but the need for economic security. The article went on to say -
The average educated Indian is astonished to learn that all Australians arc not obsessed with this idea of race hatred and do not regard the Indian as a coloured inferior coolie - to use the mildest terms.
The second reason is that, like many other countries, we have been unfortunate in the type of some Australians living in India
If we want the Indians to remain ignorant of Australia; if we want them to continue disliking us as they do - and this dislike will get progressively worse unless we do something about it - all we have to do is tell them nothing about ourselves, a job we seem to have done remarkably well.
But I believe we cannot continue to sit at the tail of Asia and ignore nearly 400,000,000 people who to-morrow may be even our enemies.
It is time we tried to make friends with these neighbours of ours before the present dislike, fanned by propaganda and ignorance, turns to active hate.
That is exemplified by the rebuke administered by an Indian newspaper to the Governor of Bengal, Mr.R. G. Casey, who was at one time Treasurer of the Commonwealth. The matter is reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph as follows : -
Indian Press Resents Food Review.
From Ronald McKie.
BOMBAY, Monday. - The Bombay Sentinel to-day attacked Mr. R. G. Casey for his optimistic review of food and health in Bengal.
Mr. Casey, Governor of Bengal Province, said last week Bengal was surviving the worst famine for several years without difficulty.
He quoted figures showing the decline in the number of people needing food relief.
In a two-column editorial to-day, the Sentinel (an English-language newspaper) said: “Mr. Casey’s presumption is the height of impertinence by a Governor who has warned outsiders against one-sided propaganda.”
The paper said Government Ministers were feeding the people “ dope “.
It added: “Public-spirited people were responsible for warning their countrymen of what was happening in Bengal last year while the whole Press was under a rigorous censorship deliberately imposed to prevent the world from knowing that the people of Bengal were dying like flies. [About 3,000,000 people died of starvation and disease in Bengal during the famine lust year.] “Pompous” Tours. “ We do not believe the Governor is favorably situated to gauge the real positionin Bengal through expensive, pompous tours of his districts. “ The Administration makes it its business to keep information of the real situation from the public. “We know what is happening in every country where the Press is muzzled or doped. “ The public, wanting to know the truth, will not be satisfied with official dope from an Australian whose interest in this country is temporary.”
Mr. Casey said last week that in thefirst half of August more than 300,000 people received food relief, while in the first half of September the number dropped to 275,000.
He pointed out that this was only a small percentage of the 60,000,000 inhabitants of Bengal.
Mr. Casey added: “Rice hoarders, conscious of the Government’s large and growing stocks, have realized that the hoarding game is up. “ They can no longer hope for a price rise and are selling stock more freely.”
Between November last year and August this year 17,000,000 people were inoculated against cholera and 31,000,000 were vaccinated against smallpox.
Australians recall how they resented the remarks of Sir Otto Niemeyer, who came here from England during the depression and, at a time when 300,000 men and women were lining up every day for the dole, told us we could stew in our own juice. Therefore, we can understand the feeling of the people of India about the attitude of Mr. Casey. Not long ago, a member of the British Government denied that 3,000,000 people had died of starvation in Bengal. “ Why” he said, “ it was not more than 2,000,000 ! “ Incidents of that kind embitter the Indians. If we disregard the feeling of the Indian people, and do nothing to promote a better understanding between them and ourselves, the time may come when a modern Moses will rise up amongst them, and lead them to the promised land - in this instance, Australia ; and perhaps we shall not be so fortunate as to be rescued again by the United States of America and Great Britain. The people of India are divided now by religious differences, but serious efforts are being made to achieve unity. For some time past, the Hindu leader, Ghandi, and the Moslem leader, Jinnah, have been in conference, but, according to the latest reports, the negotiations are not prospering, as the following report in the Sydney Morning Herald indicates: -
(Our Stuff Correspondent, T. L. Goodman.)
Bombay. - Sept. 25. - As the talks between Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah, the Hindu and Moslem leaders, drag on, an earlier feeling of subdued optimism seems to be giving way to a sense of frustration among the millions of Indians who have been hoping that the leaders would succeed in showing the world that India is capable of settling her own internal problem.
Both leaders are maintaining silence as to the progress of the talks, and Mr. Gandhi’s chief consultant outside conference, Mr. Rajagopalachari, who is probably the only other man who knows what has been going on, is, for once, not talking.
When the conference at the Jinnah home survived the shock collisions of the opening days, the feeling grew that the leaders would be quickly agreed on principles, so determined were both on settlement of the communal deadlock. Now, however, opinion is that the two veteran negotiators are struggling to hold together the thread of the talks, the result of which will affect the future of 400,000,000 Indians.
Mr. Jinnah, in his message to Moslems on the occasion of the ramzanid festival, spoke of the need for Moslem determination to secure the goal of Pakistan - proof that he was still uncompromising on his two-nation policy, under which the Moslems would be conceded sovereignty as a prelude to any concerted Hindu-Moslem move further to press on the British Government demands for an immediately independent National Government.
It is believed that Mr. Jinnah is adamant on the point that, once the principle of Pakistan is conceded, there will be no need of any plebiscite in the territories affected, certainly not one in which Hindus, as well as Moslems, would have the right to express an opinion. Mr. Gandhi, on the other hand, strongly favours a plebiscite.
Mr. Gandhi, despite the fussing of doctors and reports that he needs rest, seems as sprightly as ever, and continues to set a fast pace on his daily walks from Mr. Jinnah’s home to his own temporary residence at Birla House. Mr. Jinnah, on the other hand, seems to be feeling the strain of the talks intensely. His stoop is more pronounced, and his sallow face more lined.
Should these negotiations fail an atmosphere may be created favorable to the rise of a fanatical leader, who will unite the people of India and, perhaps, the whole of Asia, in such a way as to constitute a direct threat to our security. Therefore, we can no longer blind ourselves to what is taking place in Asia, and we should do everything possible to improve the conditions of the Asiatics. Australia can produce much more food than is required by our comparatively small population. Indeed, the world generally can produce a great deal more food than is necessary to support the existing population. There are only 2,000,000,000 people in the world, whereas it has been estimated that the world can produce enough food to feed 8,000,000,000 people. Production should be increased, and arrangements made to distribute more fairly the good things provided by Providence. Wo should not be deterred by lack of gold or by monetary considerations. If we have the labour and materials we can produce goods for ourselves, and for those less fortunately situated in other parts of the world. In this way, it might be possible to usher in a period of lasting peace instead of looking forward to new and devastating wars every 25 years. Instead of acting on the assumption that man’s real enemy is man we might come to a realization that our real enemy is disease, and set out to defeat it. Man could then become in fact the master of his environment, and rise to unprecedented heights. [Quorum formed.]
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
.- In contributing to the debate onthis important measure I may say that I welcome the formation of any properly constituted organization to distribute food to the starving nations. I am especially pleased to learn that the aid to be given will be provided by the nations as a whole, and not entirely by the producers of the needed products. But an examination of the organization and the suggestion that it should operate immediately terrify me. I fear that the world will again fall into the same errors in trying to succour the starving peoples of the world as it did after the last war.
Should this organization begin to operate immediately we shall have, while the war with Japan is being pushed to the utmost, two bodies operating simultaneously in the food field. These will compete actively with one another for supplies, shipping and other transport, for the fighting forces and ex-enemy countries on the one hand, and for the evacuated countries on the other. I suggest, therefore, that until Japan is given its quietus, the existing combined Food Board, with its London Food Committee, which speaks with one voice for the whole Empire, should still operate and- control the whole set-up in combination with the War-time Shipping Board to guard against duplication and overlapping. My argument in this respect is reinforced by our own war-time experience and the general story of events after the last war. In Australia in 1942, the duplication and division of functions between the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Department of Supply and Shipping caused delay, resulting in a decrease of production from which we have not yet recovered. In Europe, a new international commission of many members, under a very able American chairman, failed to do the job satisfactorily after the last war, and he was replaced within a couple of months. Inefficiency and friction arose from the improvisation of an organization that did not function actively in war-time.
Before recounting the story of failures after the last war, however, I shall point out certain defects in the proposed new organization. I trust that in the interval between, now and complete victory, these will be eliminated from the permanent organization set up to deal with world food and agriculture. I frankly confess that I am very disappointed at the functions and nature of the organization suggested. Duplication is inevitable because Unrra will deal only with occupied countries, and not with ex-enemy countries, with our own, or the Allied countries which are actively fighting with use. A war-time organization is to look after them. Insofar as occupied countries are concerned, according to the American journal Time of last Sunday, a keen discussion is already taking place as to who will look after Italy; and, if
Unrra looks after Italy, why should it not look after Germany and Japan as well?
In this proposal continuity in the wartime handling of food and economic problems is not secured. There is no direct and continuous contact with the shipping board; there is no specific provision to ensure that the British Empire will speak with one voice on a definite, agreed, coherent policy. A two-thirds vote could alter the basis of the agreement and the whole outlook of the organization. If we study the 44 nations to be represented on the organization, and their contributions to the administrative costs, the position is as follows: -
The British Empire will contribute 32 per cent., and have six votes;
The United States of America will contribute 23 per cent., and have one vote;
Russia will contribute 8 per cent., and have one vote;
China will contribute 0.5 per cent., and will have one vote;
France will contribute 5.7 per cent., and have one vote; and
Brazil will contribute 3.40 per cent., mid have one vote.
Thus, the countries which will find 80 per cent, of the administrative expenses will have only eleven votes. As there are 44 members, one-quarter of the votes will provide four-fifths of the contributions; yet a two-thirds majority of votes can upset the whole undertaking. I notice that the organization is already divided as to its policy.
It may lie said that this is only a temporary organization to deal with postarmistice problems. But it seems to have all the signs of living to a ripe old age, either under its own name, or as a permanent organization to deal with food production and agriculture. It may prove to be temporary only in the sense that our Australian Parliament House is temporary - just permanent for our lifetime. It may easily become a permanent commission of food and agriculture. Therefore, we should examine its defects and see if they can be removed.
I fear that we may reproduce unwittingly all the difficulties and troubles that beset us after the last war. These not merely delayed action in distributing food, but permitted enemy propaganda to be broadcast for many years. The propaganda that German women and children were deliberately starved to death helped to precipitate this war; and it is still making the final resistance of the German people much more stubborn. This danger of duplication and friction is aggravated by the expressed reservation that Unrra shall not handle the food position in enemy countries, but only in enemy-occupied countries.
In order to present the picture in proper perspective, let me recall the conditions after the last war, remembering that conditions will be more chaotic after this war. To-day, a greater portion of Europe is ravaged and without organized governments. The shipping problem is further complicated by the necessity to handle an immense number of men and enormous quantities of stores and supplies for the Pacific war against Japan for an indefinite period. The heaviest fighting in the Pacific war will take place thousands of miles away from our existingbases of production and supplies, such as America, Australia, India and Great Britain. To finish the fighting quickly, we shall need an immense assemblage of ships; in fact, every bottom that we can lay hands on. For success in this direction certain factors are indispensable. The first is a pool of allied, neutral and ex-enemy mercantile marines under one control; secondly, there must be no competition between allied, neutral or ex-enemy countries in the market for supplies needed for the vital needs of the Allies, or for relieving distress in the devastated countries. To permit neutral, or exenemy countries to buy for themselves, or through some other organization, such as is now suggested, would cause entire dislocation of the general economic position, with disastrous results to the civilian populations of both the allied and neutral countries. The third factor is that the whole of the shipping and transport resources must he available and controlled in order to ensure full military supplies being available to our fighting forces. Countries on the verge of collapse must receive food and essential materials before any space is allotted for the resumption of peace-time trading activities by individual countries.
At the end of the last war, it was not foreseen that the task of supplying a disrupted world would be so formidable as it proved to be. The general impression in December, 1918, was that the main lines of the peace treaty with Germany would be agreed upon in a few weeks. Actually seven and a half months passed before the peace treaty was signed, and over a year passed before it was ratified ; and more than five years elapsed before the ratification of the last of the treaties of peace with enemy countries was obtained. In the meantime, there were scores of little wars going on.Some of these, Mr. Lloyd George said in his memoirs, were -
Conducted with a savagery which looked as if man had reverted to the type of barbarism of Attila and Tamerlane. What happened in the ruthless struggle between the Red and White in Siberia and southern Russia and the Ukraine is too ghastly to perpetuate in the memory of man. Hell was let loose and made the most of its time. But the little wars were nearer to us than Russia. All the emancipated races seemed to be at one another’s throats.
Within the Empire, the difficulties in India and Egypt and civil war in Ireland occupied our whole attention and grave labour troubles broke out on all sides. It was obvious that whilst we had to deal with all these problems we had to allow the competent war-time organizations to carry on for a time whenever and wherever they were able to deal with their own special problems. The provision of foodstuffs was only one part of the problem. Effective distribution was at least of equal importance, and this meant the provision of shipping. There had been in existence during war-time, as there is now, the Allied Maritime Transport Council. There was then a Food Council as we have a combined Food Board. The council was provided with an adequate permanent staff, which by the time of the Armistice had learned its job. It would have been only common sense to use the existing organization which had proved its efficiency rather than set up a new organization. This council was in touch with the Food Council. The one gap, as Sir Frederick Maurice pointed out in his book on the Armistice of 1918, was that it had no authority or power to finance the feeding of Europe. If it had, it could have done so as we propose to do now. Sir Frederick Maurice wrote -
On the 18th October, M18, the Allied Maritime Council and the Food Council passed a joint resolution to the effect that the supplies required for Europe after the Armistice should be arranged through the existing Allied organization, that the Merchant Marine of the enemy powers should be placed under the direction of the Allied Maritime Transport Council for this purpose, and that this Council should be enlarged and converted, without breach of continuity, into a General Economic Council. This recommendation was approved by the British War Cabinet on the 13th November, and the proposal was transmitted to the Associated Powers. It met with a very cold reception from Sir. Hoover, who wrote to the President expressing the strongest objection to the distribution of supplies and credits coming from the United States by a body mainly composed of foreigners. Mr. Hoover sailed for Europe and arrived in Paris on the 26th November.
The next day, Colonel House said, in effect, that the chief problem was that of reconciling divergent Allied commercial interests. As Sir Frederick Maurice points out, that was not the real problem. The real problem was to get food as quickly as possible to the starving people. Unfortunately, neither President Wilson, Colonel House, nor Mr. Hoover had knowledge of the work being done by existing organizations. Their action resulted in the scrapping of machinery which was running well, and in setting up a new organization, which naturally needed time, experience and authority to become effective. The first result of Mr. Hoover’s objection was the appointment of a new international committee to examine and report. But it was not until the 11th January, 1919 - two months after the Armistice - that the Allied Supreme Council of Supply and Belief was set up with Mr. Hoover as Director-General of Relief. The tremendous relief work this council had to face was naturally not facilitated by the fact that the experienced body had been pushed aside to enable this supreme council to function. Of this supreme council, Sir Arthur Salter wrote that it had to operate without the assistance of a staff accustomed to work together and without either the uniting force of the war or the tradition of united action which that force had given to the war organizations. Nor had the new council been given powers to provide essential transport to make its plans effective. I cannot see any power over transport in the organization with which this bill deals. The result was that the council did not work effectively. In February, 1919, inefficiency and friction led to its being replaced by the Supreme Economic Council, which was formed along the lines originally suggested by Great Britain, and which took over control of all existing councils of transport, blockade, food and supplies. But disorganization had already set in by that time through this hiatus. That is the gap which apparently we are going to reproduce.
The position of delivering food was further complicated by the Allies’ failure to secure the handing over of the German mercantile fleet under the terms of the Armistice. This unfortunate omission was seized on by the Germans as a strong bargaining point. They spread the propaganda that it was the Allies that were starving the German people, whereas for months the German government provided money for German shipowners before providing food for the starving people under its control. It tried to make independent contracts at handsome rates for carrying American troops back to the United States. It strongly resisted the request , of the Allies for the use of its ships to bring food to feed the starving German people, and only finally gave a qualified acceptance of the Allies’ demands four and a half months after the Armistice was signed on the 11th November, 1918. It was quite obvious that the Germans were going to use the failure of the Allies to deliver food to Germany, which was inevitable in the absence of the German ships, as a propaganda weapon to get better terms at the final peace negotiations, to embitter their own people and to influence world public opinion. The German policy of withholding their own shipping, in effect, continued the Allied war-time blockade. In the same way, we may, by duplicating control of food supplies, continue in effect the German U-boat policy of whittling down the number of our ships available for all purposes. Two organizations, now handling related problems, may easily cause a great waste of shipping tonnage. The Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) can tell us of the delays in America during war-time through two Australian controls over shipping.
The interval of four and a half months after the Armistice was signed before any food war delivered was also used by the Germans for propaganda purposes by manipulating the use of their own internal stores of food, just as they had used food as a weapon during the war to force occupied countries to do their will. During all these months the German government did nothing to alleviate the food situation ; it did nothing to put a stop to the privileged supply of food to those in a position to pay for it in order to counteract the sabotage of supplies carried on by certain German agrarians. On the contrary, it gave 50 per cent, more rations to the German army than to the civilian population. The military caste in power manipulated the food supplies in whole districts as an instrument of political pressure. In this war, the Germans have acquired considerable skill in the exercise of political pressure because of their extensive use of food in occupied countries for these purposes. This policy needs checking now, and consequently the Relief Powers Commission must have great authority, complete controls and be accustomed to take prompt military decisions and immediate action. The suggested international organization has neither the authority nor the experience to’ handle such a situation. During the war and for the period immediately afterwards, I urge that we have at our disposal the strongest single authority that we can provide. Other organizations that will satisfy the sentiment of other countries can be in preparation during this period; but, immediately the armistice is arranged, the starving people will need food - not sentiment. Lord Keynes, in his work The Economic Consequences of the Peace, said in 1920 -
Europe consists of the densest aggregation of population in the history of the world. . . The danger confronting us, therefore, is the rapid depression of the standard of life of the European populations to a point which will mean actual starvation for some. . . . Men will not always die quietly.
No permanent international organization or committee will prove to be satisfactory, unless some readjustment of its organization permits the Empire to speak with a single voice. This organization of the Empire, of course, must be dealt with by Empire action outside the commission. The point of view that I have suggested is strongly supported by a recent speech of the British Minister of Food, Colonel Llewellin. He said in a speech some years ago -
As soon as we retake, which I hope we soon shall, large parts of the occupied countries of Europe, we shall have very large demands for relief purposes in those countries, largely for food. Of course the policy will be to see that some of the first relief that is sent to these countries is in the way of agricultural implements and seeds to enable them to have a good harvest as soon as possible, .and to become self-supporting. We shall thus save the shipping which would be required to carry the cereals and other foodstuffs they otherwise would need. But there will remain a lot to be sent to these countries.
The Combined Food Board plans the supply of food and allocates fertilizers and agricultural implements. It makes recommendations to the Governments concerned. There are nineteen committees of the board, dealing with different food products and such things as agricultural implements. Up to dato the board has made some 60 recommendations, on such things as fats and oils, South American canned meats, fertilizers, dried fruits, tea, rice, salted and dried fish, and tobacco.
There is a London Food Committee, on which the countries of the British Commonwealth other than Canada are represented, and which -makes recommendations to the Combined Food Board in Washington.
The next board is the combined Shipping Adjustment Board, which operates in two sections, one in London and one in the United States. Lord Leathers and Mr. Phillip Reed are the members of the board in London, and Admiral Land and Mr. J. S. Maclay are the members of the board in Washington.
The object of the two adjustment boards is to see that the wasteful loading of ships is cut to the minimum, that they are loaded as economically as possible, and go on the proper voyages, so that we may have the maximum number of ships left for offensive military operations. . . . The war may end at one time all over the world, or it may end at different times, at one time in Europe and another time in the East. … In any event, there will most certainly be a transition period before any permanent machinery which may be set up can come into operation. In this pi: rind some of the hoards, whether as at present constituted, or broadened, will have to continue.
The combined Production and Resources Board may be valuable during the period of transition, not only in dealing with the production of relief supplies, but also in helping to solve some of the problems which will arise in the turnover of industry from war to peace production.
Shipping, for a time at any rate, will have to be under control. At the present time there are only a limited number of buyers of raw materials. When the war ends there will be a scramble by all nations for supplies in order to restore as soon as possible their peace-time economics. The Combined Raw Materials Board may be able to contribute to the solution of the difficult problems which will then arise.
Singleness of purpose in winning the war has caused other of the United Nations to acquiesce in a somewhat restricted representation on the Combined Boards, but at the end of the war, or perhaps before, they may have to broaden. But if the boards are broadened out, if they become too large, if their memberships consist of twenty or thirty instead of two or three, it may not be possible to get such quick decisions or obtain such quick action. “At the end of the war, the thing to avoid will be the making of any .hurried decisions to scrap. Let us keep what is working well until something has .been created which will work equally well. The best chance of solving the problems that arise in the change from war to peace will ibc through such bodies as know what can and cannot bc done, based on their experience in dealing with similar problems in time of war.
I am one of the great believers in keeping together the different parts of the British Commonwealth, and in the greatest possible co-operation with the United States. I do not mean by formal documents or by treaties or anything like that, but by working together for the common advantages of us all.
There is one other aspect to which I shall refer before concluding, and that is the question of the personnel for these boards. The most difficult time to handle the problems confronting those concerned will be immediately hostilities cease. All sorts of unexpected and urgent situations will arise, needing quick decision and immediate action. The best intellects and the most active spirits of our communities have been engaged in the existing war-time organization and machinery. They have been welded together into a working team, and with a common purpose. They are much more likely to deal effectively with these problems by reason of their decisions and the difficulties they have already encountered than any new set of controllers that may be set up. Newly appointed men will not have had the experience and will not have the determined character which will be necesary to deal with some of the emancipated elements that will naturally get out of hand. I therefore urge the greatest caution in changing horses in mid-stream before the war with Japan is concluded, and I believe the best interim organization to operate until a permanent food and agricultural organization is set up is the war-time organization at present functioning. We should make certain that what we do get will be very much better, that it will be able to function in such a way as to ensure that the people of the world can be fed to the greatest possible degree, and that no more enemy propaganda can be used against us because of our alleged failure.
.- I offer general support to the proposal for Australia’s participation in this immense relief scheme. I listened carefully to the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), but I do not share his fears. He is very experienced in world affairs and in politics, but in my view it is the spirit of this movement that will carry it. through. There will be difficulties in the matter of shipping and in co-operation caused by jealousies between nations and individuals. But here is a grand international effort of immense consequence in which if Australia did not play its part we should eternally hang our heads in shame. We have an international obligation. Definitely of course our first responsibilities are to ourselves, but we must keep our loyalties right. We have for a long time had cooperation within the British Empire, and we must not only continue to co-operate with it in every laudable effort in defence and in the economic field, but also recognize our wider obligation in the international field. Here is a great opportunity. Within the nation the first responsibility is to one’s own family, but we do not deny that we have also a responsibility to other nations. Let us therefore put aside any fear of the difficulties that will arise and co-operate heartily in the scheme.
It seems to me that this is in the spirit of the Red Cross movement. There is no finer international effort than the work of the International Red Cross, which is something that functions without the jealousies of nations and communities. It is to-day the one .bright spot which gives us hope of post-war international cooperation. Honorable members may have doubts, but had they participated in an international conference they would have hopes and would co-operate. I was privileged to be the Commonwealth delegate to the Evian Refugee Conference in 193S. At that time Germany had marched into Austria, the Anschluss was an accomplished fact, and the German forces had expelled many Jews in the most brutal way. I was chairman of the international committee which sat to hear the case, and in that capacity heard the revolting story of all the brutalities that Nazi bullies could perpetrate upon inoffensive people, told over and over again from different angles by citizens of the great cities in Austria and Germany. Any man who went there hardened, or nursing any prejudices, could not have failed to become an enthusiastic supporter of the grand scheme which President Roosevelt instituted. He brought together 32 nations, which, under the chairmanship of Mr. Myron Taylor, discussed and laid down a plan for the relief of those unfortunate people. That was, however, a comparatively minor matter. The Jews of Austria and Germany, who were expelled at that time under those dreadful conditions, did not suffer the tragedy which has since overcome Europe. It was a mere rehearsal for the greater drama that was to follow. In this war over 2,000,000 Jews have already been done to death in occupied countries. I quote the following from When Hostilities Cease, a compilation of papers read by various authorities, with an introduction by Leonard Woolf -
It has been estimated that throughout Europe 2,000,000 Jews have been put to death and that in some areas as much as 90 per cent, of the Jewish population has succumbed. From Norway to France Jews have been deported to Poland, ‘where they have been herded into ghettoes in which many spend but little time before being put to death.
This is more than a material matter, more than just rebuilding what the Nazis have destroyed, more than overcoming the scorched earth policy, the destruction of buildings and homes, and all the damage within Europe. Under this scheme there is to be an effort to rebuild the morale of millions of people who have been on the verge of starvation for years, many of them disease-ridden. There are millions of children to whom the hands of friendly people should be stretched out to help. Any one who says that they should not be helped displays a narrow outlook. I do not know whether any other honorable member has lived in a country occupied by an enemy, but I have seen the extermination of the Armenians and the oppression of the Greeks in Asia Minor, where some 2,000,000 people suffered and hundreds of thousands were massacred. After the last war, Dr. Nansen, a great Norwegian, & great individual, and a great international figure, who was set the task of dealing with the problem of refugees, found homes for refugees of all nationalities at a cost to society of approximately £1 a head. To-day there is need for teams of people in every nation to settle international problems and repatriate the homeless. It is easy to criticize the League of Nations. It was sponsored, but abandoned, by the United .States of America and thereby weakened. “We allowed it to be defied by Japan, Italy, and Germany in turn. It had no punitive powers, and, although it had some minor successes, in general it failed. After this war, however, there must be an international body to ensure settlement of international difficulties without recourse to arms.
– Let us hope so.
– Yes. Unrra is a step in that direction. International difficulties must be settled by rule of law and not by the arbitrament of arms. Is it reasonable that the flower of the manhood of nations should be destroyed in successive wars with the consequent survival of the unfit? That is the result of war. According to statistics compiled in 1919, the number of individuals in enemy-occupied countries in Europe who will have to be fed after this war is 330,000,000. It is difficult for Australians, who have never suffered a shortage of food - there has been only minor food rationing - to realize the sufferings of the people virtually in the front line, allies and enemies alike, through lack of food. Australia will be called upon to lend generous aid in that direction. When Europe is disinfected of Hitlerism the people will not only have to be nourished but also restored to health. That will call for medical relief. The ravages of diseases, like typhus, which only thrives in war-time, and tuberculosis are immense. Many thousands in Europe have not known the luxury of having their illnesses medically diagnosed. Children have never known what it is like to be properly fed. There will be tremendous scope for aid on the medical side. I am sorry that the right honorable member for Cowper is not present in order that I might be able to impress that upon him. Medicine is international. We have the greatest co-operation in the international Red Cross, which on the battlefield does not distinguish between friend and foe when attending to the wounded. It is no exaggeration to say that the devastation of Europe in this war puts in the shade the destruction wrought by such barbarians as Tamerlane, Genghis Khan and Attila. If Australia does not become a party to a scheme of international relief we shall never deserve to have a helping hand held, out to us. There is also the problem of displaced people. Do honorable members ever think of the staggering numbers of people whom war has rendered homeless? I have shown how the Jews have been massacred and uprooted from their homes to slave in other countries. No nation has suffered more than have the Poles, on whose behalf we entered this war. They are fine people. I say that advisedly, having had the closest association with them during the war. The book When Hostilities Cease states -
It is estimated that Poland alone, in order to rebuild its national life, will have to deal with no fewer than 12,000,000 persons thus “displaced”, i.e., nearly 4,000,000 Poles who have been removed from Poland, over 5,000,000 foreigners introduced into Poland, and 3,000,000 Poles whom the Nazis displaced in order to create Ghettoes for Jews.
It has been Germany’s policy wherever Hitler has conquered to introduce German settlers in order that, should a plebiscite ever be taken, as in the Saar, the vote of the inhabitants may be to remain under German control. We all know the tragedy of Warsaw which, for the third time, is being battered by Nazi artillery and where the gallant Poles are holding out after thinking their liberation was so near. The Poles are scattered throughout the world. More Poles than any other foreigners are in the Royal Air Force. They operate their own fighter and bomber squadrons. They have an army in Italy and an army in France. The problem of their repatriation is staggering. The Nansens of to-day will have a colossal task. It is estimated that there are 30,000,000 starving and 50,000,000 refugees in China. It is hard to imagine that seven times as many people as there are Australians have fled before the enemy. We cannot imagine the awfulness of their plight or the complexity of the problem they will present. The problem can be considered best by placing its constituents into categories. First, there is also the problem of prisoners of war. By the end of March, 1942, the number of prisoners of war in Germany and Italy was estimated to have reached 5,000,000 of whom many were working in German and Italian industry and agriculture. This figure included 1,200,000 French, 180,000 Jugoslavs, 400,000 Poles, and 50,000 Belgians. Dutch prisoners have been repatriated and some French and Belgian prisoners have been sent back to their countries, but the numbers are so small as to make no appreciable difference. It is difficult to estimate the number of Russian prisoners who will remain to be evacuated, because they have been more than decimated by slaughter and disease. Secondly, there are the members of regular armed forces who have been displaced ; for instance, our own forces. I do not anticipate a great deal of trouble in repatriating them. After the last war, the repatriation of 300,000 troops that we had overseas was carried out without a hitch under the able leadership of that great versatile genius, soldier and organizer, the late General Sir John
Monash. The right honorable member for Cowper fears that there may not be enough shipping to ensure the early repatriation of our troops, but I do not think that that will be so as it will be released from other duties. The problem of Australian prisoners of war is a greater problem. Some are now being exchanged and others have escaped. They are being repatriated. Thirdly, there are extruded persons - those who have been removed from their countries of normal residence by action of an enemy power. It is estimated that in Germany there are 6,000,000 persons who were conscripted by force or necessity to leave their homes to help their conquerors. Germany dismantled whole industries in conquered countries and re-established them within its own borders, giving the workers in those industries the choice of following their job or starvation. The food cards of those who did not report for work in Germany were seized. It will be a stupendous task to return those persons to their homes. The next heading is “ Internal movements of population within invaded territories “. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless and uncared for and the general refugee problem which will result from the upsetting of political regimes will be enormous. On the political side, unanimity in the Balkans and certain other parts of the world is not so general as peace-loving people like to see, and factions are already at war. The Balkans may again become a storm centre, but we must not allow the possibilities of minor conflict to stand in the way of humanitarian effort. We must make our best endeavours to help in every possible way.
Honorable members who devote a good deal of attention to agriculture will appreciate the immensity of the problem in Europe, as the result of the toll that the Nazis have taken of crops and livestock by their “scorched earth” policy and general demands. We shall have to consider the merits of each case and afford relief according to the urgency. When the troops of the United Nations landed in Normandy, they found that the shortage of food was not so great as they had expected. The people of Normandy were an independent type, who were shrewd enough to conceal from the Germans a lot of their supplies. But other parts of Prance had been stripped of food. We read with pride that when Rome was liberated, Great Britain was able to supply food for 2,000,000 people, Although the British were severely rationed, they were able to set aside, and obtain from other sources, quantities of food for the Italians. But the responsibility for giving relief to the liberated people must not be allowed to rest upon the British Empire and the United States of America. It must be a co-operative effort and we should, as individuals, and as citizens of the world, use our best endeavours to ensure that these schemes bear fruit. I have no doubt that the people who are giving their services to-day in the relief and rehabilitation of areas formerly overrun by the Nazis’, are the right type. Many Australians have already come forward from the ranks of the Red Cross and other organizations to assist in the scheme. They will take great risks and bear many hardships, and their material recompense will be extremely small. But it will be work of the heart, and every one should appreciate it. Some most estimable organizations will engage in- the work, and certain latitude should be given to them. I make the following suggestions : -
The creation and organization of information and advice centres.
The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) should welcome the assistance of any honorable members who have had experience of these matters, to collaborate with any committee that is appointed and smooth out any difficulties arising from Australia’s participation in this scheme. In the words of President Roosevelt, who gave this plan his blessing when it was inaugurated in the United States of America -
We are all children of the Earth; grant us this simple knowledge.
President Roosevelt has asked for the co-operation of all nations capable of making Unrra the success that every honorable member hopes that it will be.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1944.
Loan Bill (No. 2) 1944.
Tractor Bounty Bill 1944.
Sulphur Bounty Bill 1944.
Wire Netting Bounty Bill 1944.
Secret Information from Taxation: Department - Drought Relief - Importation of Bicycle Saddles - Manufacture of Motor Vehicles - Aircraft Production - Interstate Travel by School-boys - Petrol and Rubber - Motor Tyres and Machinery Parts - Civil Aviation Policy - Royal Australian Airforce: Re le ases - T a sm ani an La mbs - Fertilizers - Loan Displays - Australian Imperial Force: 1939 Operational Activities - War Gratuitles Committee.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- During the last few days, I have asked a series of questions about the leakage of secret and confidential information from the files of the Commissioner of Taxation to various Commonwealth departments. To those questions, I have had some very curious replies. Yesterday, I received from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) a. letter dated the 27th September, and the contents prompted me to ask certain questions about the dissemination of this information. The letter showed clearly that the information was being made available to officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry, although that disclosure was illegal under the income tax law.
Accordingly, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin)-
Does the information contained in the letter of the Minister for Trade and Customs dated the 27th September, 1944, addressed to the honorable member for New England, regarding secret information derived from the taxation files supplied by the Prices Commissioner and his officers to officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry, confirm the statement made by the honorable member in the House that such information is being conveyed by the Department of War Organization of Industry?
The Prime Minister replied -
There are a few cases where information obtained from the Taxation Department comes to the knowledge of certain officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry who for the purpose of liaison work are sworn in as officers of the Prices Branch.
An extraordinary position has arisen. In order to evade the law, certain officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry have been sworn in as officers of the Prices Branch. They are “ planted “ in the Prices Branch for the purpose of obtaining secret and confidential information to which the department of War Organization of Industry is not legally entitled. The second question which I addressed to the Prime Minister was -
Is there any authority under the taxation acts for the disclosure by the Prices Commissioner or his officers of such information to the officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry or other persons?
The reply was even more curious than the answer to the first question. It read -
There is no authority for officers of the Prices Branch to divulge any confidential information obtained from the Taxation Department to any person except in the course of their duty.
What on earth is the meaning of the words “in the course of their duty”? The Income Tax Act contains a schedule with the names of the departments and persons entitled to receive secret and confidential information from the Commissioner of Taxation. Even Ministers of the Crown may not have the information divulged to them. Yet particulars are being made available to officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry. Probably some of them are temporary public servants. The Commissioner of Taxation referred to that type of gentleman when he gave evidence before the Censorship Committee recently. He said that he refused to make his files available to officers of the Prices Branch. Further, he considered that officers of the Taxation Department should divulge only as much information as they considered that the other department should receive. He would not allow the officers of the Prices Branch to browse through his secret and confidential files. Now, public servants who are not legally entitled to obtain this information, have been sworn in as temporary officers of the Prices Branch for the sole purpose of “ getting around “ the law. It is admitted that there is no authority for officers of the Prices Branch to divulge any confidential information to any person “ except in the course of their duty “. I suppose that a burglar might be justified in thinking that it would be legal for him to carry an unregistered revolver, because it was necessary for him to do so in the course of his “duty” or “profession.” If new departments are allowed to interpret the law to suit themselves, I do not know whore the practice will end.
– It is rather unfortunate that public servants, in the performance of their duty, should be suspect.
– Exactly. The Commissioner of Taxation said that he would not entrust his private and confidential files to officers of the Prices Branch.
– If certain interests in’ the country did not apply for bounties, there would be no necessity for these investigations.
– That has nothing to do with the case. My complaint is that the law is not being obeyed. If the Government desires to make this secret information available to other departments, it should amend the Income Tax Act accordingly. It should not permit the departments to “ get around “ the law, and the’ Prime Minister should not give evasive answers when he is questioned about the matter. The third question which I addressed to the right honorable gentleman was -
Will he state what action he intends to take to compel the Minister for Trade and Customs and his officers to obey the statute law of the Commonwealth?
The Prime Minister, in reply, invited me to see the answers to my first two questions. I remind the House that those answers admit an attempt to evade the taxation law, and the absence of authority for officers of the Prices Branch to divulge confidential information to other persons, except in the course of their duty. I ask the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) whether there is any legal authority for this practice of handing out information from the secret files of the Taxation Department to officers of the Department of “War Organization of Industry. I also ask the Prime Minister whether he will instruct Ministers that, this practice must cease.
.- I desire to take this final opportunity during this sessional period to direct attention again to the serious position of farmers in a large area of the Commonwealth affected, by drought. There has been considerable delay in coming to the aid of these unfortunate people, and without going into details of their sufferings, I should like to impress upon the Government the urgency of this matter. There has been a lot of what may be called “passing the buck” between the States and the Commonwealth, for political purposes. On the one hand the .State Governments are saying that drought relief is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, and, on the other, the Commonwealth Government is saying that it is the responsibility of the States. The result has been that so far nothing has been done to relieve the situation. The position of farmers in the drought-stricken areas is desperate. Many thousands of them have been left without means of support and sustenance. Their farms are no longer self-supporting, and all the necessaries of life including milk, butter, and meat which normally were obtainable on the farms have to be purchased. I have referred to this matter on several occasions, and have emphasized the fact that oyer a large area of this continent, the rural community is experiencing its second successive year of serious drought. Many farmers have been two years without any return from the soil which is their sole means of support, and country business people are not able to continue to make credit available for the purchase of farm requirements. The immediate necessity is a Commonwealth grant, payable on an acreage or any other basis agreed upon, to enable these people to carry on until more fortuitous seasonal conditions enable them to obtain a return for their work. The making of such a grant is an obligation upon this Government. Drought-stricken farmers are virtually in the same condition as the people whose properties were burnt out by bush fires a few months ago. “With commendable promptness and generosity the Commonwealth Government came to the aid of those who suffered loss in those fires, but because the effects of drought, although equally serious, are not so spectacular as the ravages of bush fires, public attention is not drawn to them. I trust that the Government will recognize the urgency of this matter and will not delay longer either by holding conferences or seeking agreements, but will take immediate action as it did in providing bush-fire relief, and make £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 available to alleviate distress in drought-stricken areas. I remind the Government that the rural community has been carrying on during the war under enormous difficulties, due mainly to the shortage of man-power resulting from family enlistments in the armed forces. In the strongest terms of which I am capable I stress upon the Government the need for urgent action. I understand that certain decisions may be reached at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers to be held in Canberra next week, and I admit that that is not a long time to wait in view of the fact that many of these people already have waited for a year or eighteen months for assistance. I hope that the matter will not be ignored any longer, and that some measure of justice will be meted out to these unfortunate people who make such an important contribution’ to the economic stability of this country.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for
Trade and Customs, a matter which may be regarded as an echo of a phrase familiar during the referendum campaign : “ Trusts, combines and monopolies “. This matter relates to a “ federation “ which I consider may be regarded as being included in that group. The facts of the case are set out clearly in two letters which I shall read. The first is from Mr. R. W. Davis, of Flinders-lane, Melbourne, to the Director of the Division of Import Procurement of the Department of Trade and Customs, dated the 4th September. It states -
On the 17th August I received a cable from my London buying agents to the effect that Messrs. A. E. Wilby Ltd. had allocated to me 300 gentlemen’s or ladies’ bicycle saddles, 3 coil, at6s. 3d. 150 gentlemen’s loop front bicycle saddles, 3 coil, at 5s. 2d.
I interviewed your Melbourne office on this matter, and on receiving the advice that the prohibition imposed early this year was still operating, I cabled London on the 18th - “ Saddles importation prohibited “.
To-day I have received a further cable from London, reading, “ Saddles War Export Group confirm your Government now allow importation “, and have submitted this message to your Melbourne office. I am now informed that importation will be permitted of 20,000 saddles of the types stated above, and that these have been allocated by your division to members of the Federation of Wholesale Cycle Traders.
I am not a member of this association, but have been importing cycle parts and accessories for some years. I would not like to think my claim has been overlooked, as it does not seem equitable that membership of the Cycle Traders Association is necessary to make me eligible to continue my established business.
I shall be glad to hear that you will grant me the necessary facility to take up the allotment made to me by Messrs. Wilby.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) R. W. Davis, 335 Flinders-lane.
On the 18th September, Mr. Davis received the following reply -
I refer to your letter dated 4th September, 1944, in which you advise that Messrs. A. E. Wilby Ltd. had allocated to you a number of bicycle saddles and your request for a licence to import same.
In reply I have to advise that a limited number of bicycle saddles were offered to the Commonwealth and arrangements were made subsequently for the grant of licences to cycle manufacturers and traders only. As the full quantity available has been allocated and the names of the licence-holders advised to the United Kingdom Government, it is not possible to comply with your request.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Thos. V. Maher, Deputy Director.
Here we have a business man who for many years has been importing cycle parts. He obtained from his London agent an allocation of a certain number of bicycle saddles. I admit that the amount of money involved is not great, but it is the principle with which I am concerned and with which Mr. Davis is concerned. Because Mr. Davis did not belong to the Federation of Wholesale Cycle Traders, the saddles were withheld from him by the Division of Import Procurement and allocated to that federation. It is manifestly unfair that this man, who has been importing cycle parts for many years, should be denied the right of receiving goods which he has been able to purchase overseas, just because he does not belong to a federation, and that the goods should be allocated to a federation, the members of which are his business rivals. If that is the policy of this Government, it is a remarkable state of affairs.
I understand that the Government has appointed a special committee to investigate the manufacture of motor cars in Australia, and has called upon any persons interested to submit proposals to that committee or to the Government. Failing a satisfactory response in this invitation, it is the intention of the Government, according to a statement made some time ago by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) that certain manufacturing plants which have been established by the Government for war purposes should be converted to the peace-time production of motor cars, and operated by a concern constituted on the lines of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited or Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. I understand further that the motor industry bounty legislation passed some years ago is to be repealed. That seems to indicate that whether the manufacturee of motor cars in this country is to be undertaken by a private organization or by a semi-public organization of the kind I have mentioned, the enterprise will be protected by a high tariff. I trust that the Government will not rush into this matter without giving it the fullest consideration. The question is not whether we can manufacture motor cars in this country, but whether we can produce them at a reasonable price. The cost of manufacturing motor cars depends almost entirely upon the volume of sales. Although even experts who have examined this matter have not been able to determine accurately just what volume of sales is required to establish motor car manufacture on an economic basis, there seems to be some agreement that sales should be not less than 25,000 annually. In the past, Australia’s imports of motorcar chassis have totalled from 4,000 to 80,000 a year. In fact, I understand that in one year importations actually were fewer than 4,000. As these figures relate to chassis from all types of motor vehicles, it can be seen that the Australian market is quite small, and that it will be very difficult to achieve the volume of production required to make the proposed undertaking economic. We have had the example in the past of the manufacture of motor-car bodies in this country. I believe that I am correct in saying that figures quoted when the motor industry bounty legislation was under consideration showed that, whereas the manufacturing cost in Australia of a body for a popular make of car was £95, in America it was only £25. Our experience in constructing aircraft during the war years shows that it is most difficult for Australia to approach the cost at which similar aircraft can be built in other countries. We have manufactured Wirraway aircraft, and the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) will not deny that the cost was substantially twice as great as that of manufacturing Spitfires in Great Britain. The cost of making Wackett trainers in this country was about £8,000 and that, I believe, is £2,000 or £3,000 more than that of Spitfires in Great Britain. Figures have been supplied to me by the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) showing that the cost of manufacturing a Beaufort in Australia is thousands of pounds greater than that of making a similar aircraft in Great Britain.
– I do not know, but the cost would be double, or even more than, that of manufacturing a similar type of bomber in Great Britain. The war has proved that Australia is too small to carry out the necessary experiments for the production of new types of aircraft. After a few years of experience in the industry we have got down to the sound basis of obtaining blue-prints from overseas of types of aircraft which have proved suitable for mass production. We are now only attempting to manufacture types which have been proved overseas to he suitable for war purposes. That experience seems to show that it would he unwise to rush headlong into the manufacture of motor cars, when we know that it requires, not only volume sales, but also much experimental work. I believe that two or three years after the war revolutionary alterations will be made in motor-car design. Australia should have the benefit of those changes, and it should keep itself reasonably up to date, by means of advanced thought regarding motor-car design throughout the world.
– Had we waited for every other country we should never have had the Sunshine harvester.
– That is quite true, but we can hardly compare a Sunshine harvester with a motor car.
– Why not?
– -They are entirely different.
– A government supported ‘by the honorable member decided several years ago that motor-car construction in this country was a sound policy.
– I disagreed with that.
– Everybody is out of step but my Johnny.
– I was not the only one out of step. Will the Prime Minister deny that Wirraways were made in Australia at a cost greatly in excess of that at which Spitfires are made in Great Britain? [Extension of time granted.]
In Australia cheap transport is vital. We have a territory of vast extent and a dry climate. In order to ensure the development of the interior of this continent we shall have to depend on, not only the provision of the ordinary amenities of civilization, but also cheap transport. If we set out on a policy of motor-car manufacture, without being sure that it can be done economically,, we shall keep transportation costly, and shall not be moving in -the right direction. It is desirable that motor cars should ‘be manufactured, not by monopolies, hut by independent companies. The United States of America followed the right procedure when it sought to make motor transport in the country areas as cheap as possible. By that means volume sales were stimulated. In Australia we should aim at securing volume sales. If we can sell an increasing number of cars yearly, the cost of them must fall, and by building up volume sales we shall make possible, in future, the manufacture of cars in this country on an economic basis. If we move in the reverse direction, we shall throw the sales into the hands of a monopoly, and I do not believe that the people of Australia want that. The right way to approach the problem is to increase volume sales, cheapen transport and progressively work towards the manufacture in Australia of a complete motor car.
– We are going about the matter in that way now, because many motor-car parts are made here.
– For many years motor cars and their parts have been subject to a revenue tariff, and by the actions of various governments motor cars have been made costly, because our policy has kept down volume sales. Cheap transport means improved volume sales, and that enhances the prospects of manufacturing a complete car in Australia. I do not agree that in the past this country has adopted the right course in regard to motor cars and petrol and I hope that the present Government will not continue the unsound policy that has been followed. The position is different with regard to tractors; it may be possible to manufacture in Australia tractors of a certain type, or types. Such a policy would be more economically sound than the building of complete motor cars, because changes of design would not be so frequent. I hope that, before it makes any pronouncement as to policy, the Government will give to this subject a great deal of consideration. This is a vital matter to Australia, particularly to people living in country districts, to whom cheap transport is of considerable importance.
– The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) accused the Government of acting illegally in that certain information in the possession of the Taxation Department is passed on to officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry. From the honorable member’s remarks, one could have gathered the impression that the information was passed on indiscriminately and that it was used for ulterior purposes.
– No. Do not put into my mouth words that I did not say.
– I shall explain the circumstances in which the information is made available to a few officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry, who, for this purpose, have been sworn in as officers of the Prices Branch.
– When were they sworn in?
– They have been sworn, in. Does the honorable member expect me to say, at a moment’s notice, precisely when the swearing-in took place?
– The Minister is evasive.
– The officers concerned have been sworn in as officers of the Prices Branch. The circumstances under which that was done are as follows: Under the Government’s prices stabilization plan - a plan which has been highly successful in that we have kept control of prices in this country more efficiently than in most other countries - a ceiling was fixed, with prices as they were on a certain date. It was recognized that certain costs in industry would rise, as, for instance, the costs of landed materials, and that in order to maintain ceiling prices it would be necessary in some instances to pay subsidies to firms to enable them to meet the increased costs. Accordingly, the Government has paid considerable sums as subsidies to firms in order to enable them to manufacture within the price ceiling. The Government did not propose, and does not intend, to pay subsidies to firms which are making high profits. Nor does it propose to pay subsidies to firms which, by a rearrangement of their production, can meet increased costs without having to charge increased prices. So a committee was set up, consisting of a representative of the Department of War Organization of Industry, which, because of its knowledge of all industries, can determine whether a firm is in a position to bear the increased costs; a representative of the Prices Branch, and a representative of the Treasury. All applications for subsidies are dealt with by that committee. The purpose of obtaining information from the Taxation Department is to ensure that the committee will have before it all the information available as to the ability of the firm concerned to bear the increased costs, or whether it needs a subsidy to carry on.
– The Prices Commissioner said that it went farther than that.
– The information obtained from the- Taxation Department is passed, first to the Prices Branch, and then through that branch to the committee which, without it, would be unable to arrive at. a correct conclusion regarding the need for a subsidy. Nothing illegal is being done, because the officers of my department who are doing this work are sworn in as members of the Prices Branch for this particular purpose.
– When were they sworn in?
– We shall find that out.
– The story that the Minister for War Organization of Industry is telling is different from what the Prices Commissioner told his deputy commissioners.
– The position is set out in a statement which the honorable member for New England quoted in this House.
– It goes much farther.
– The honorable member read from the document the following extract : -
The information available in the Prices Branch will normally cover most of the material required by the Department of War Organization of Industry to make a rough judgment as to whether economies are possible through rationalization; if not, also through increased efficiency. . . . The advantage of this procedure us regards information and the establishment of liaison officers would be that the Department of War Organization of Industry could be kept informed from the very beginning us to the nature of the applications from any industry for a subsidy.
– ‘Can the Minister say whether, under the taxation laws of the Commonwealth, it is legal to supply information from the secret files of the department to officers of the Department of War Organization of Industry?
– It is not legal to do so, but it is legal to give that information to officers of the Prices Branch; and certain members of the Department of War Organization of Industry are, for the time being, sworn in as officers of the Prices Branch in order to do this job.
– They are sworn in in order to do a job which is a part of the obligation of the Prices Branch.
– When were they sworn, in? We do not know that they were sworn in.
– I rise to order. I have said, and the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) has said, that certain officers have been sworn in as officers of the Prices Branch. The honorable .member for New England (Mr. Abbott) has asked for the date on which that swearing-in took place, and he is entitled to that information. My point is that his continued questioning as to whether they have, in fact, been sworn in, is offensive.
– If my interjection was offensive, I withdraw it; but there is so much doubt about this matter that I had some doubt’ as to the swearing-in of these officers. I should not have spoken as I did.
– I repeat that nothing illegal is being done. Information is being passed on by the Taxation Department to certain officers of my department, who have been sworn in as officers of the Prices Branch for this particular purpose.
– Can that procedure be extended to other departments?
– The action taken is in the best interests of the community, because, without this information, the committee would not know the facts, and the Government would probably be paying subsidies to firms which could well afford to pay the increased costs themselves.
.- A matter which already has been discussed in this House at question-time has not been adequately canvassed. I refer to a statement last Tuesday by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) in regard to the transport of certain schoolboys by air from Melbourne to Sydney. The Minister then made certain charges, one of which was that some of the boys had attempted illegally to cross the border between New South Wales and Victoria in order to return to school, and added that prosecutions would be instituted.. He included in the names of citizens of repute whom he mentioned as having applied for and been refused a permit to return from Sydney to Melbourne the son of the managing director of the airways company in question, Captain Holyman. I do not know, and have never met, Captain Holyman, nor do I know any of the other individuals concerned in this affair, but I take an interest in the proper withdrawal of unfounded charges that are made publicly in this Parliament in an attack on private individuals. Since Wednesday, T have asked the Minister to investigate the Holyman case, in view of the fact that the father of the boy had declared that his son had not been in New South Wales this year; but on each occasion the honorable gentleman refused to withdraw his accusation, and stated that he was satisfied with reports which hi? officers had based on information they had obtained from a newspaper reporter named Adams, on the staff of the Sydney Sun.
I have gone to some trouble to ascertain the facts. An attempt has been made to associate Captain Holyman with a discreditable matter - there would be no reason for mentioning his name had that not been the intention - and I desire to do justice to him by proving what the Minister could have proved without trouble, namely, that Master Holyman was not on the aeroplane or in New South Wales during the period in question. I have obtained by air this afternoon the airways list of every passenger who travelled on the 23rd August by the aeroplane which carried the school-boys. The Minister could have obtained it in less than a quarter of the time that I took. The names are these: Masters Moore, Allen, Parker, Burns, Dixon, Grose, Cobden, Wilson, Pronk, Paul, Turner, White, Griffiths, Grummer, Drysdale, Carlyon, Armstrong, and Robertson, and Miss Carlyon. The captain of the aeroplane was Captain Way, the flying officer was named Childs, and the air hostess was Miss Manton. The aeroplane left Melbourne at 1 p.m. on the 23rd August, 1944. The name of Captain Holyman’s son is not in the list, and he was not in New South Wales during the period referred to.
I have made doubly sure by a telegram which I received to-day from Dr. G. C. Scantlebury, of 14 Parliament-place, Melbourne, in these terms -
Ian Holyman ordered into hospital on Friday, 18th August, and did not come out of hospital until Friday, 25th August.
He was in Vimy House Private Hospital, 25 Queen’s-road, Melbourne.
I have said sufficient to require the Minister for Transport to make a proper and an adequate retraction for having used the name of a citizen in such a way as to bring discredit on him.
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), no doubt, has gone to a good deal of trouble to ascertain what he has described as the facts. He has produced a list of the names of those who, he claims, travelled on the aeroplane. As to whether or not any particular individual in question was on the aeroplane, is quite immaterial; I do not regard it as of so much importance as does the honorable member. If his list is official - I believe that he would not expect me to accept his word uncorroborated - and it does not include the name of Captain Holyman’s son, and the evidence, as the honorable member now produces it, is that the boy was in hospital at the time, it would appear that he was not on the aeroplane. It is quite possible that officers of my department, acting on the information furnished to them, made a wrong report to me in this minor respect. Therefore, any injury, if if it can be so regarded, occasioned to Captain Holyman, is to be regretted. The mistake, if such did occur, may have been due to the fact that the boy intended to travel but was unable to do so because of his admission to hospital.
Attention has not been concentrated upon what I regard as the most serious aspect, namely, that, whilst all classes of people m the community have been unable to take advantage of the limited transport facilities available, a special aeroplane can be provided to carry holidaying school-boys from one State to another. The difficulties confronting those who wish to send their children to what are regarded as fashionable schools in- States other than those in which they reside, are well known to the parents. The transport difficulties are so severe that the transport authorities have been able to consent to children travelling interstate by rail to their homes only once in each year, at the Christmas vacation. Numerous applications for permission to travel have necessarily had to be rejected because of the shortage of the requisite facilities. The important point to bear in mind is that special aeroplanes can be provided to carry a few privileged holidaying school-boys round the country, whilst citizens engaged on essential business are denied the opportunity to travel. Too much attention has been paid to the individual aspect. It is possible that honorable members became rather heated because certain names were mentioned, including the name of a member of a particularly influential family. I am not responsible for air travel, or the provision of special facilities in that regard. Companies carrying passengers interstate by air without making provision for their return, accentuate the difficulties of the railways and shipping authorities. On one occasion, a vessel brought 250 passengers from Western. Australia to Melbourne without making any provision for their return. The restrictions on rail travel will have to be examined afresh if it can be established that air travel facilities can be provided for holidaying school-boys who have no right to travel by rail. We have to consider whether, in the circumstances, it may not be necessary to relax travelling restrictions in favour of employees of the Allied Works Council, who have to spend long periods away from home, and relatives of servicemen who return to this country and are, perhaps, placed in hospital in another State. I have no apologies to make for anything that I have done. I acted upon the report of my officers, and if they erred in any respect, it is to be regretted. If any unjustifiable injury has been caused to any one, that, too, is to be regretted, but I am satisfied that the officers of the Transport Department acted in good faith, and in the belief that the information which they supplied to me was reliable. It is to be deplored that some honorable members are willing to take up the time of Parliament in defence of privilege - for that is what it amounts to - for a very small section of the community, when they know that the willing acceptance of restrictions by the public is ! based upon the belief that the application of those restrictions is general.
.- The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) has treated us to a sermon upon the subject of privilege. I wish to refer to a question which I asked this morning-
– The honorable member may not refer to that.
– Well, the Minister for Transport is aware that his department has issued a circular telling motorists that they must save petrol and rubber. The Minister ought to apply this injunction to himself, and refrain from travelling interstate by motor car when trains are available. This may seem to be a small thing, but the fact is that the Minister could save some rubber and petrol by using the railways instead of using cars.
– When did I use a car?
– Did not the Minister travel by car from Mildura to Adelaide recently ?
– That is not interstate.
– It is news to me to learn that one can travel from Mildura to Adelaide without crossing the State border. The Minister, even though he is Minister for Transport, evidently does not know his Australian geography. A considerable saving could be effected by refraining from motor journeys even between Sydney and Canberra. Private members have to sit up in the train on that and other trips, and there is no reason why Ministers should not be prepared to do the same. That would be more edifying on the part of the Minister for Transport than attempting to prosecute school-boys simply because they attend a certain school. The Minister ought to be consistent and less classconscious.
.- About four months ago, I wrote the following letter to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) :-
Strong representations have ‘been made to me from business people stating that it has been brought to their notice that an area covering 6 acres at Alice Springs is literally covered with tyres, stacked up fifteen-high and a total of some 40,000 tons.
It has been suggested that if this rumour has any substance in fact and the tyres are left there to deteriorate, some corrective measure should be taken. If it is incorrect, a definite statement should bc made to stop the rumours being spread around the country.
It has also been stated that these tyres have been there for over two years and obviously are deteriorating badly.
There are also serious complaints that there is great waste of mechanical equipment in Queensland where it is standing out in parklands with no covering over it and that the tropical grass is growing up around it 3 feet and 4 feet high.
Those were serious statements to make, and I should like to know whether the allegation was true. If there was no substance in them the Minister should have made a statement in order to prevent the circulation of rumours. When I received no reply after two months had elapsed I sent the Minister a reminder, but again no reply was forthcoming. Then, two or three weeks ago, I placed a question on the notice-paper asking the
Minister to reply to the allegation, and only a few moments ago I received trie following letter from the Minister: -
With further reference to your representations in regard to the alleged waste of rubber tyres at Alice Springs and the deterioration of mechanical equipment in Queensland and your recent question in the House relating to this matter, I desire to inform you that the matters raised by you have now been investigated by the Army authorities.
With regard) to the quantity of tyres stored at Alice Springs, I am informed that they are not Army stores, but belong to the Civil Constructional Corps, which functions under the Minister for the Interior.
The complaints in regard to the waste of mechanical equipment in Queensland have also been investigated and inquiries indicate that they did not apply to Army equipment.
This is another instance of “ passing the buck “. It took the Army authorities four months to discover that the tyres were there, but that they had nothing to do with them. It was also admitted inferentially that the mechanical equipment in Queensland was deteriorating. I now ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior to have inquiries made. Since the Department of the Army has fallen down on the job, will the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) look into the matter without taking four months over it? Otherwise, the tyres will have perished, and the mechanical equipment will be ruined, before remedial action is taken.
.- The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), in replying to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), did small credit to his position by casting insults at that honorable member when he said that he could not be expected to accept the honorable member’s word without corroboration. -Such statements drag down the discussion to a very low level. It is not right that gratuitous insults should be hurled at honorable members for doing what they conceive to he their duty by raising, matters of public interest. What the Minister put forward as a reply was not, in fact, a reply at all. He devoted most of his time to what was really a criticism of another department in that authority had been issued for the employment of a civil aircraft for the transport of passengers interstate for reasons which he thought to be wrong. It is a sorry state of affairs when a Minister uses his time and opportunities in this House to criticize the activities of another Minister. Only recently the Minister for Transport, in a press interview, said that another Minister’s decision had been taken prematurely because the latter had not been informed of the facts; yet it is now disclosed that he himself made a decision in this matter without being informed of the reasons that had actuated the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) to authorize this particular journey. The Minister for Air indicated that the flight was authorized.
– I did not do any such thing.
– I do not suggest that the Minister, personally, authorized the flight. We know that, in a very large department, by far the majority of decisions must be made by officers to whom the Minister delegates his authority. This decision must have been made by his department, because no civil aircraft can depart on a flight without such authority. The Minister for Transport completely evaded the point raised by the honorable member for Richmond, when the latter produced the actual passenger-list of the particular flight, and showed that the passenger-list did not contain the name of the lad to whom the Minister himself had referred. The Minister did not refer lightly to the lad Holyman. He made it quite clear that he was selecting that lad’s name because he was the son of the managing-director of Australian National Airways; and the Minister clearly intended to imply that the managing-director of that great Australian company had, in a manner which the Minister also implied was improper, secured the use of one of the company’s aeroplanes for a flight, one of the purposes of which was to transport his own son interstate. But when that reputable Australian citizen denied publicly that his son was on the aeroplane, the Minister did not have the decency to say that he had been misinformed, and would withdraw whatever slur his remarks had cast upon Captain Holyman. The Minister now says that he did not have the list of passengers beforehand. Of course, he did not. What he said when he made the allegation against Captain Holyman was that the officers of his department had informed him that an application had been made to the Railways Department, in Sydney, for the return journey of this lad to Victoria. If the lad had never left Victoria, that statement, obviously, could not have been founded on fact. The name of the son of another well-known person in this country, who was referred to toy the Minister for Transport when he made his slurring remarks, is also not among the names of passengers on that flight; but the Minister made no effort whatever to withdraw the allegation that that man’s son had travelled on that journey. The Minister said that it was a pity that the honorable member for Richmond should occupy his time in this chamber by raising such a matter. It is a great pity that a Minister should occupy his time in this chamber to insult citizens of this country, and, after having done so, discovers, as in this case he must have discovered, that his charges were ill-founded, but lacked the grace to withdraw them. I hope that in the privacy of the Cabinet room the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) will indicate to his colleagues that the conduct of the Minister for Transport can scarcely be accepted as the standard of conduct for Ministers of the Crown.
I now wish to refer to what has been described as a statement of policy with respect to civil aviation.
– ‘Order ! As that statement was made to-day, the honorable member will not be in .order in referring to it at this juncture.
– It is a very great pity that no statement with respect to the policy of the Government on civil aviation has yet been made. Honorable members have been led to believe that the Government has a policy with respect to this subject; but the truth of the matter is that the Government has made it clear that its policy, so-called, is a policy of government-owned and governmentoperated civil aviation services. It has also been made clear that while the Government is convinced that its policy is the best, it admits, at the same time, that not the slightest hope exists that such a policy will be accepted internationally.
All that the Government can hold out to the country is a pronouncement which it acknowledges to be unworkable. Consequently, it is only chasing a rainbow in this matter,
– Order ! The honorable member is now dealing -with the statement which was made this morning, and, therefore, is out of order.
– I think, Mr. Speaker, that you will permit me to say that if private enterprise wishes to conduct civil aviation services overseas it is necessary that Australian companies concerned in the matter should be permitted to know whether they will be given the opportunity to do so. That summarizes the remarks which I should have made at some length, had I been permitted to do so under the Standing Orders.
– I have an excellent reply to the remarks made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), but, under the ‘Standing Orders, I am unable to make it at this juncture. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) made some remarks about aircraft production. He appears to hold . the view that Australia should never do anything at all for itself. That view is entirely anti-Australian, but is in conformity with that held by his colleagues over a long period of years. Had this Government ‘pursued such a policy we should have been unable to deal with the problems which have arisen during the war.
– The Minister is completely misconstruing my statement.
– If I am doing so, I am sorry, hut that is the impression which the honorable member left on my mind. If I have done him an injustice, I am prepared to withdraw what I said, but the honorable member will find that that is the impression left by his remarks on a number of other honorable members on this side of the chamber.
– “ Anti- Australian “ is an offensive remark.
– It may not have been intended to be offensive, but people can be anti- Australian and yet not disloyal. They are merely misinformed, and have not studied the subject properly. I include the honorable member for Deakin in that category. He also said something about the manufacture of “Wirraways in Australia. The manufacture of Wirraways was a very valuable contribution to Australia’s war effort. The Wirraway is the equivalent of an advanced trainer, such as the Harvard, which is used overseas. Considerable numbers were required for the training of pilots here, but could not be obtained from overseas, and it was essential to use that type of trainer in order to train our - air crews properly. We therefore entered into the manufacture of the Wirraway, one of the finest produced for that purpose.
– I was speaking of the cost.
– The Wirraway made in Australia is cheaper than a similar type of aircraft, the Harvard, made for training purposes in Canada.
– What is the cost of the British Spitfire?
– As purchased in Australia, somewhere in the region of £10,000 in Australian currency. The honorable member should know that the Spitfire cannot be used for training purposes. The men who are to fly it at a later stage have to be trained on a machine of lower speed. That is where the Wirraway has proved so valuable. The Spitfire is a service type aircraft, not intended for training purposes at all. The establishment of Wirraway manufacture in Australia has proved of inestimable value to the Commonwealth in establishing the aircraft industry here. The potential manufacturing skill and technique gained as the result, being now available for making service types of aircraft, are, therefore, an asset of tremendous value to this country. The Lancaster has been the subject of criticism by honorable members opposite, but the Government has no apologies to make for its policy in developing that type of aircraft in Australia. All the arguments against it which have been advanced by the Opposition have been answered very effectively by the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron), and also by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) in this chamber.
With regard to the recent announcement that 15,000 men are to be released from the Royal Australian Air Force to return to industry, I think it necessary to make clear a few points so that the true position will be understood. For recruiting and other purposes, the Royal Australian Air Force is divided into three sections, namely, air crew, ground staff, and Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, and appeals for recruits are made for each section according to requirements, which vary from time to time. At present the greatest need is for men for ground staff and young women for the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force. For more than four years, under the Empire Air Training Scheme, Australia has been training air crews for service at home and abroad, aiming at a certain quota each year. Recently, London advised that no further drafts were required from Australia for the European war, because casualties had been much lighter than expected - an announcement which every one must be happy to hear - resulting in the building up of a reserve of air crews in the United Kingdom and Canada; but Australia would continue to train for requirements in the South-West Pacific Area, as the period of the war with Japan cannot be forecast. This advice from London has meant that despatch of the normal drafts for Europe has been suddenly and substantially reduced, resulting in a banking-up of certain numbers of air crews in Australia. It has been stated by some that this bank-up should have been foreseen and avoided, but it takes over twelve months to train a man from enlistment to operational standard as a member of an air crew, so, to avoid the present healthy and really very satisfactory position, it would have been necessary for London to tell Australia twelve months earlier that it was intended to invade Europe in June, 1944, that the casualties would be very light, and, consequently, no more drafts would be required from Australia after a certain month in 1944. Such advice would have enabled Australia to start tapering-off its training programme, so that the right number would now be completing training - but, of course, it was obviously impossible for any one to foresee the position as it has developed. The present air crew position in Australia is, therefore -
Men with previous experience in certain high-priority industries are urgently required to return to those industries. Sufficient cannot be obtained from civilian life, so 15,000 are to be released from the Royal Australian Air Force or a corresponding reduction made in new enlistments by June, 19415. The Royal Australian Air Force does not wish to lose these men, and is obliged to enlist new recruits to replace them, as well as to cover requirements of Air Force expansion. Even if these men were not being released to industry, recruitment of ground staff would still be necessary for-
Many thousands of girls have joined the splendid organization of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force since it was formed in March, 1941. Large numbers are still needed for exactly the same reasons that male ground staff is needed. Every girl when she has been trained by the Air Force, does a job that was previously done by a man. There are over 60 different “ musterings “ for girls, but again, the vacancies existing at any particular moment are now largely influenced by the “‘musterings” of the men who are released to industry. Girls of eighteen and over should apply at the Royal Australian Air Force recruiting centres for up-to-date information. The recruiting of the ground staff and the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force is not influenced by the war in, Europe. The ground staff and the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force are being enlisted and trained because of the war against Japan, and as long as that war continues and the Royal Australian Air Force continues to play its full part in the Pacific fighting, more recruits will be required.
– Will the Minister see that .men trained as air crew shall not be sent to ground crew “ musterings “ in view of the large sums of money that have been expended hy the Commonwealth on their training?
– I cannot give any undertaking about that. Men who have volunteered for air crew training are being given the opportunity to accept ground crew “ musterings “. I understand that if they are not willing they may leave the service. However, on leaving the service, they become eligible for call-up for the Militia, and I believe that most of them are accepting ground crew training,
– I referred to men on whom about £2,000 has been expended in order to enable them to qualify as pilots. It would not be economical to use them on such work as guard duties. They should be held as a reserve if not needed for flying duties now.
– I know of no instance of that happening. I shall be glad if the honorable member can point to one case. Men partly trained and just beginning training as air crew have been asked to accept ground duties. It is impossible to avoid that because the war is going so well for us and we already have sufficient in reserve.
– I have a mild request to make to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully). Last year, in Tasmania, a good deal of loss was occasioned to lamb-breeders by an order freezing all lamb on the local market for export trade. A great many growers were left with lamb on their hands which could be sold only on the local market as mutton and they thereby lost a considerable sum of money. There is some indication that that system will apply Again this year. I ask that considerable notice .be given to the farmers in order that they may so arrange their business as to avoid a similar loss. I also urge that consideration be given to a reduction of the price of fertilizers. I understand that shipping is more plentiful, that insurance rates are down and that other factors operate which make it possible to reduce the price. If the price can be reduced, great benefit will result to primary producers, particularly in Tasmania, and I earnestly commend the matter to the Government for consideration.
, - It is opportune to impress on all honorable members the need for them to give whole-hearted support to the current Victory Loan. It is also opportune, however, to bring to the notice of the Government the need to campaign for the raising of the loan in a more dignified manner. Some of the methods that have been adopted in loan-raising have brought ridicule on the Government and people who have associated themselves with the campaign. One piece of buffoonery associated with the current campaign is nauseating. I refer to the farcical procedure outlined in the following extract from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of last Wednesday : -
LIVING PIECES PLANNED FOE LOAN CHESS GAME.
“Living” chess, with members of the services as “ pieces “ will 15e played on giant squares in Martin-place soon, in aid of the Second Victory Loan.
One move will be made for each £10 bond bought by the audience, Mr. Eric Howell said last night.
Mr. Howell, loan organizer, who is arranging the game, said that Hi pieces would be male members of the forces, and Ki servicewomen.
Banks would bc represented us near us possible to chess pieces.
Mr. Howell said that ti. CO. would bc a king and a sergeant a rook.
On the men’s side a bishop would bc > apdre “ But I’m a bit worried about the women’s side.” Mr. Howell said. “ There isn’t anything in a women’s service to fit in with a padre.”
Mr. Howell said he did not know what he was going to do about queens yet.
A real game would- be played on the dais by a mim and woman champion, and a herald would lead the living players into corresponding moves. “ You couldn’t lift some of the women,” Mr. Howell said. “ They’re too heavy.”
The raising of war loans is a serious matter and their importance should not be lessened in the eyes of citizens in that way. On the 7th September, I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) the following question to which he has not yet replied : -
Will the Treasurer state in whose fertile bruin was conceived the scheme under which school children are accorded rank from “ private “ to “ colonel “ in accordance with the ii mount of money subscribed by them for war savings stamps and certificates? Has the Treasurer’s attention been drawn to a statement by Mr. Edwards, Director-General of Education in Queensland, published in the Brisbane Telegraph, that some parents had complained that the “ privates “ were forced tn salute the “colonels”, and that, in his opinion, the whole thing was immoral? As the scheme is based’ on ability to pay, and consequently the children of wealthy parents have a decidedly unfair advantage- over the children of poor parents, will the Treasurer order the immediate abolition of this system, which is a farcical method’ of raising war fi nance ?
I direct the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to the views and opinions of Mr. Fallon, a prominent official of the Australian Workers Union and the Labour movement in Queensland -
Mr. Fallon said he knew from personal experience in the country that the child of the parent who was not so well off was already handicapped by circumstances which tended to create an inferiority complex because of a childish respect for the person who lived in a better home and wore better clothing than he did.
The scheme, which had for its intention the extraction from school -pupils of sufficient money to place Cuthbert on a higher social, or worse still, military plane than his schoolmate, could only have the effect of creating snobbery with consequences that were outrageous. “ I entirely agree with Mr. Edwards’ statement which is completely in accord with democratic thought and will, I am sure, be approved by the great majority of parents in this State,” said Mr. Fallon. ‘
I raised that matter on the 7th September, but apparently nothing has been done to cease this farcical method of arousing a sense of responsibility in people whose duty to support war loans whole-heartedly should ‘be obvious to them. I take this opportunity to assure the Government that 1 shall continue to do everything in my power to assist it to raise the money required, but I ask the Treasurer to examine the methods that are being adopted to advertise loans, because I believe conscientiously that some of them do more harm than good. I refer, particularly, to vaudeville turns, farcical human chess games, and appeals to school children to subscribe to war savings certificates.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. Last week, the Minister for Information (Mr: Calwell) declared that in 1939 I had made some comments about the number of unemployed who had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and I replied that my remarks had referred to the Militia. Upon referring to the Mansard report of my speech I found that the Minister had stated the position correctly, and I desire to place that fact on record ; but I should explain that my reference was made for a reason entirely different from that suggested by the Minister. I urged the then Government to see that the Australian Imperial Force was given a destination, and I pointed out that, while the troops remained in Australia, and until their destination was known, men in employment would not enlist.
– About a fortnight ago the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden)’ protested against theatrical displays in Victory Loan campaigns, and I do not wish the right honorable gentleman to assume that his complaints were unheeded. He declared that an organization had been formed within the schools to encourage contributions to loans. That scheme, I am informed following an investigation, has been in operation for two years, and the loan organizer in Queensland has stated that it has been a great success and has created interest, not only among pupils, but also among parents. I understand that the suggestion came originally from Army personnel, who considered that its adoption would create considerable interest among school-children. The first report which I received regarding the statement that children were saluting one another was denied. I admit that certain ranks were given to pupils, hut it was plain that those ranks were made according to the amount of contribution by each pupil. Thus, by making a substantial contribution, a child of fairly well-to-do parents might have a higher rank than a child of poorer parents who had not been able to make such a substantial contribution. The loan organizer asked me to make a closer investigation before any instructions were given for its discontinuance, because he regarded it as a great success. I shall not neglect to examine every aspect of this matter, but I shall not abolish the scheme which has been in operation for two years and which the organizers declare to have been a great success, merely because of a statement that has appeared in the press. Regarding theatrical displays in support of loans, I said a few nights ago that although I am not personally interested in social activities, there is something in human nature which does respond to a little brightness in any appeal. On that occasion, I reminded the right honorable gentleman that I had seen, in Martinplace, a show in which the Tivoli ballet performed, and it seemed to me to make 1 lie appeal a good deal brighter. I facetiously remarked that the .figures in the ballet were much more exhilarating than the figures in the budget. I have studied the methods employed by loan organizations in other countries; and, in Great Britain and the United States of America, they have a great deal more theatrical entertainment than we do in Australia. In the “ Wings for Victory “ campaign in Great Britain, some magnificent theatrical displays were given. Of course, the United States of America has brought the art of entertainment to a high plane and the displays in that country have been most entertaining. Even the radio shows feature war loans.
– I referred specifically to the proposed game of chess with human figures in Martin-place, and I complained about vaudeville shows.
– I am not disposed to prevent people from making the campaign a little brighter, because sometimes it seems very dull.
– Is there any need to send to every adult in the Commonwealth a personal letter asking for subscriptions to the loan?
– The organization has to reach every person in every city, village, and hamlet. Whatever the defects of the organization, the floating of loans during this war has been a great success. Some objection has been taken to the methods employed in the campaigns, but we should not think that other people dislike the things that do not appeal to us. I shall not discourage people who have done valuable work in support of Victory Loans. This week,
I received applications from people who desire to put on theatrical shows, entirely at; their own. expense, for the purpose of assisting the loan organization. I do not feel disposed to discourage them. As politicians themselves have discovered at their meetings, talk without a little music and brightness is not popular. However, I do not want the right honorable gentleman to think that his complaints have been’ ignored. I am having the matter thoroughly examined, and I shall try to rectify any defects without dampening the enthusiasm of people who desire to assist in loan campaigns.
– in reply - The observations of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson), which are based upon his own knowledge and which have been supported by remarks of other honorable members, will receive early consideration.
Although the subject upon which I propose to speak briefly was not raised by earlier speakers, I ask the indulgence of the House to refer to one important matter. Honorable members will recall that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in his budget speech stated that the Government was confident that the nation would wish to indicate its signal recognition of what is owed to the fighting services, and considered that a committee of members of Parliament might review the matter. After consultation with the leaders of the political parties, it has been agreed to constitute a committee to consider the question of a gratuity based upon the principle of place and length of service, or payment for extended leave based on the same principle and/or other methods of indicating the nation’s recognition of the services given by the fighting men. The members of the committee are: The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost), the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald), the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), Senator Finlay, Senator Cooper, and Senator Collett.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Twentieth AnnualReport of the Dried Fruits Control Board for year 1943-44. together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
International Labour Organization - Twenty-sixth Session (Philadelphia, AprilMay, 1944) -
Declaration concerning Aims and Purposes of the Organization.
Recomm en dati on s adopted .
Report by the Australian Government Delegates.
National Security Act - National Security (General) Regulations - Orders by State Premier - Queensland (dated 21st September, 1944 (5), and 22nd September, 1944).
House adjourned at 4.50 p.m. to the 15th November next, or an earlier date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice - .
If so, what action does the Government intend to take -
e. - Information in reply to the honorable member’s questions has not yet reached me. I shall forward it to him immediately it is available.
y asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
When may the honorable member for Wilmot expect a reply to his letters of the 2nd June and the 23rd August in reference to statements concerning the storage of some thousands of tons of rubber tyres at Alice Springs. and the alleged wastage of mechanical equipment in Queensland?
– Reply has been sent to the honorable member for Wilmot by letter to-day.
Secret Information from Taxation Files.
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Payments for Legal Services.
t. - On the 19th September, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked what amounts have been paid by or on behalf of the Commonwealth to Messrs. Barry, Eraser, Sugerman and Alderman; counsel for legal and for other services and for expenses, as a separate item, during the financial years 1942-43 and 1943-44 and since 1st July, 1944.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the amounts so paid during the periods respectively specified are set out hereunder. In the subjoined list expenses are shown separately from fees wherever possible. In some cases fees were earned in a financial year prior to that in which they were paid. There are, in addition to the amounts shown hereunder, a few accounts for work performed recently which have not yet been paid.
. Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C.-
Mr. A. M. Fraser -
Mr. B. Sugerman, K.C.-
Mr. H. G. Alderman, K.C.-
I think the honorable member is entitled to some explanation as to how the amounts paid to Mr. Alderman by the Department of the Army were arrived at.
Immediately after Darwin was bombed, a commissioner was appointed to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the bombing of Darwin and Mr. Alderman’s fees as counsel were fixed as follows : -
At these rates, Mr. Alderman was entitled to the following fees : -
Mr. Alderman reduced his claim against the Department of the Army from £6,460 Jos. to £6,000. This amount covers two years almost continuous work on “ evacuated areas “ claims against the Department of thu Army, which necessitated Mr. Alderman living for long periods away from his home in Adelaide, and travelling thousands of miles by air to the Territories. Much of the work was done in Darwin during 1942 and in Fort Moresby and Wau in the early part of 1943 when those places were subject to bombing raids.
I may mention that over the same total period, four other counsel were paid £5,106, £3,97S, £3,052 and £2,965 respectively for work performed almost exclusively in their home cities.
While the aggregate fees are large, the work performed by all counsel engaged by the Commonwealth has often been of importance to the war effort, and extensive in scope and character. Moreover, all the counsel retained by the Commonwealth are of good standing at the Bar; some of them being among the recognized leaders in their respective States.
Interstate Rail Transport.
d. - On the 20th September, Mr. Archie Cameron asked the Minister for Transport the following question, without notice -
Has the Minister for Transport observed the effect of an unfortunate congestion at Mount Gambier of rail traffic between South Australia and Victoria, in consequence of which 240 persons in the cellulose mills stand a fair chance of being put out of work? Will the honorable gentleman abstain from the consideration of theoretical questions such as the nationalization of coal-mines and deal with a few practical matters relating to transport, thus enabling the wheels of industry to be kept revolving?
The inquiries made in this matter disclose that there has been considerable congestion of rail transport at Mount Gambier as a result of the action of the South Australian railways in moving large consignments to the border which could not be hauled by the Victorian railways owing to shortage of coal. The matter was the subject of discussion at the conference of the Commonwealth Transport Priorities Committee in Melbourne on the 26th September, which agreed that a recommendation be made to provide additional coal to the Victorian railways, and this will be considered by the Cabinet sub-committee.
t. - On the 20th September the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked me the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the litigation in question was settled on the basis of each party paying its own costs, and therefore no payment has been or will be made by the Commonwealth on behalf of the newspapers and others concerned. The total amount of the costs of the Commonwealth has not yet been ascertained, but when it is ascertained the honorable member will bc informed.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the fact that His Majesty the King recently issued a special South African Star specifically in honour of soldiers who served in the Middle East, will he make the necessary representations through the appropriate channels for the issue by His Majesty of a medal to the forces who served in New Guinea, having regard to the strenuous nature of the campaign, especially jungle warfare?
– The question of the award of a special medal for service in New Guinea and other areas in the Pacific theatre is under active consideration by the Government, in consultation with the United Kingdom authorities.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
I, 2 and 3. I am informed that this laud is required by the Department of Labour and National Service for the development of housing for war purposes. An order which was issued by the Army hirings service under the provisions of the National Security Regulations for the immediate possession of the land has been cancelled, and matters of this kind will bc dealt with by the Property Branch of the Department of the Interior in future. I understand that my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, is considering whether the proposed acquisition of this land may now be abandoned.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1944/19440929_reps_17_180/>.