17th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I regret to inform honorable members of the death, which occurred in Sydney yesterday, of Mr. Grosvenor Arundell Francis, a former member of this Parliament.
In accordance with the law at that time, the late Mr. Francis was declared to have been elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of Kennedy, Queensland, at the general election in 1925. His election occurred in unusual circumstances, the Honorable C. McDonald, the only other candidate, having died between the date of nomination and polling day. This, I understand, was the only instance in which a candidate had been elected in such circumstances. The Commonwealth Electoral Act was altered in 1928 to provide that in future, in the event of a candidate at an election for the House of Representatives dying between nomination day and polling day, the election should be deemed to have failed, and that a new writ should be issued and fresh nominations be called for. The late gentleman, however, proved a very capable and energetic member, for, at the following general election in 1928, he was re-elected in the usual way, after defeating his opponent at the polls. He was a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts from March, 1927, to September, 1929, and chairman from August, 1929. He was defeated at the general election in 1929.
The late Mr. Francis took a deep interest in government finance, and displayed a keen sense of responsibility in his approach to all matters of national concern. He was well known to me personally, and I was pleased to number him among my close friends. I believe that he was highly respected among his fellow members, as well as in a very wide circle of friends throughout Queensland, in which State he spent many years of his life. He will be esteemed for the public services that he rendered to the nation.
To his sorrowing widow and family, who doubtless will derive some consolation from the tributes paid to his memory, we extend our deep sympathy in their irreparable loss. I move -
That this House expresses its sincere regret at the death of Mr. Grosvenor Arundell Francis, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Kennedy, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
– The Opposition associates itself with what has been said by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde). I shall not attempt to repeat his tribute to the memory of the late honorable member. I had not the privilege personally of knowing him, but I do know from my colleagues who were associated with him in this House that he left behind him here a very high reputation for energy. character, and ability. All that is amply borne out by the summary given to us by the Acting Prime Minister of how he came to enter this Parliament, how he retained his seat, and the work that he did here.
– The news of the passing of Mr. Grosvenor Francis was a severe shock to me personally. I had known him since my boyhood days, and numbered him among my most intimate friends and kindly advisers.
The late Mr. Grosvenor Francis came from that great town, Charters Towers, which has produced many fine men who have rendered yeoman service in the life of Australia. He was loved and trusted by all’ who knew him. I recall distinctly his entry to this Parliament, because I had taken a prominent part in inducing him to stand as a candidate for election. Australia is the worse for his passing. I feel the severance very keenly, and extend my sympathy to those who are left to mourn the loss of a man of outstanding character and sympathetic and kindly qualities.
– I support the motion. I knew the late Grosvenor Francis personally, and regret his passing. He was one of nature’s gentlemen. As has boon said, he came from North Queensland ; and he was a true son of the north. He had a sound knowledge of both the northern and western portions of that State, and was well known by the people in those parts.
In the political arena, Grosvenor Francis was a doughty opponent, who always gave of his best, but always fought cleanly. He was a big Australian, and typified the part of the continent whence he came. Although since his retirement from political life, he had resided in the south, he remained a staunch advocate and supporter of North Queensland, which, by his death, has lost a true friend. I join with other honorable members in tendering deepest sympathy to his bereaved widow and family.
– I associate myself with the motion. .1, too, knew the late Grosvenor Francis well, and liked him very much. He was an opponent of mine on one occasion, and I could ask for no cleaner fighter on the political field.
Off the hustings, as the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has said, he was one of nature’s gentlemen. It had been my privilege to have morning tea with him in Sydney for many months, until recently. That indicates the friendship which existed .between us. I had not seen him for some time, and wondered at the reason for it. I know, now, that he was unwell, and was suffering. All of us have to go as he has gone. In his wife he had a good woman, and in him she had a good husband. His children had a loving father. His family will mourn his passing deeply. Australia has lost a good son, but what he did while he was in the world will not be forgotten by those who knew him best.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Property in Departmental Documents.
– I raise a matter of privilege. During the debate on the Aluminium Industry Bill, I, and other honorable members, requested the production of certain reports, inparticular a report known as the Keast-Hey Report, six copies of which were made available to honorable members very late in the proceedings. We did not have very much opportunity to peruse it. Some honorable members had no opportunity to do bo, because they did not have copies of it. At the conclusion of the debate, the secretary of the Department of Supply and Shipping, Mr. Smith, asked me for my copy of the report, in order that he might give it to a member of the Senate, to which chamber the bill had gone. I handed my copy to him, assuming that it would be returned to me later. In the absence from the chamber of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), I took his copy of the report from Mb desk and handed over that also, because I had been informed that only Bix copies were in existence. I asked Mr. Smith to return both copies to me as soon as possible, because I wanted to make my copy available to the press. The AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), however, intervened, and said that the documents ‘were not to he returned.
– He was quite right.
– The AttorneyGeneral said that they were departmental property and that, in fact, one had no right .to make them available to the press.
– Hear, hear !
– The matter of privilege that I raise is this: Copies of this report were made available to honorable members unconditionally. Many other documents are circulated. They are documents which should be in the possession of honorable members, and should become their property when they have been- made available. Honorable members should be entitled to use as they think fit the information which they contain. As a matter of privilege, I claim that the copies of this report should be returned to the members to whom they were originally given. I move -
That the Keast-Hey report circulated during the debate on the Aluminium Industry Bill is now a public document, and, therefore, should be made freely available to all members.
– I second the motion, and reserve my right to speak.
, undertook that, when the Aluminium Industry Bill had reached the committee stage, he would provide documentation - as he described it - for the information of honorable members. That did not mean that every confidential report in the department was to be made public. As the debate proceeded, I made available to members of the committee from time to time practically everything which, it was suggested, might be relevant to the bill, including the report to which the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has referred. With the addenda it makes a lengthy document of which there were only half a dozen copies in the department. Because it was made available to honorable members, the honorable member for Richmond cannot claim that any copy of it is his personal property. Copies were made available for inspection by all the members of the committee.
– -Roneoed copies.
– Of course they were. When the bill went to the Senate, it was proper that they should be made available to members of that chamber. They are confidential departmental reports.
– They are not confidential.
– They are confidential reports.
– They are not.
– A denial of my statement by the honorable member, even though it be repeated half a dozen times, does not alter the fact that they are confidential reports. I reject and contest the claim that this report and other confidential reports become the property of honorable members to whom they may be made available. Probably, I should have placed the reports in the Library so that they would be available for inspection by all members of the committee. I deny thai the honorable member for Richmond was entitled to claim the document as his, just because it came into his possession. I repeat that this was a confidential document, and the Secretary of the Department of Supply and Shipping bears me out in this. I propose to ask for the return of the copies, and then to consider whether they cannot be made public. There is little or nothing in the Keast-Hey report which the press or the public generally should not know. At the same time, there is a proper way of doing these things, and the way suggested by the honorable member for Richmond is not the proper way. I submit that there is no matter of privilege involved. It is my wish that all the reports should be made available to all honorable members, subject, of course, to the view of the department as to confidence.
– The Attorney-General told me that the document would not be returned to me.
– No, because it was not the honorable member’s property.
– I say that it is my property.
– There were only six copies of the report, and there are 75 members of this House. Because the honorable member happened to be one of those to whom a copy was handed he is not, for that reason, entitled to claim it as his property ; 74 into 70 goes once, hut 74 into six goes far less than once. I 3hall.see that the maximum publicity is given to the report, subject to the condition that I will never break the confidence of the Department of Supply and Shipping without the consent of the Minister for Supply and Shipping.
– In view of the explanation given by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) it is extremely doubtful whether a question of privilege arises. I shall leave it to the House to decide, but I suggest to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) that, having regard to the fact that only a limited number of copies of the report was available, it is doubtful whether the copy which came into his possession became his property. If it did, then undoubtedly a question of privilege arose when it was taken away from him. I suggest that, as he has now ventilated the matter, he might be content to carry it no farther.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) f 10.50]. - I agree with the AttorneyGeneral that no confidential document should be published, hut I point out that there «re well-established methods for the handling of confidential documents. If the Government thinks it wise that confidential information should be placed before members of the Opposition, the time-honoured method 13 to supply the information to a select committee representing all parties. During the debate on the Aluminium Industry Bill, there were repeated requests from honorable members of the Opposition that a committee should be appointed to examine all the facts, confidential or otherwise. After a good deal of argument, and after statements had been made that documents were not available, the committee was suddenly supplied with copies of a certain document. The Attorney-General said that he had only six copies of the Keast-Hey report. I submit that once those six copies were distributed to six honorable members they became available for inspection by every honorable member. No single copy could be regarded as the property of any one member. The placing of those six copies in the hands of six members of the House made it, in fact, a public document.
– Yes, but not the property of any individual member.
– They became the property of every member. When a document is laid on the table of the House it becomes public property. In the same way, if a document is handed to an honorable member in the course of debate, or if it is laid on the table of the Library, it becomes a public document, and every honorable member may inspect it. No Minister is entitled to say that six copies of a document having been supplied to six honorable members, no other honorable member is entitled to a copy. All are entitled to copies. This matter is closely related to something else that happened this session, and I am not sure that a question of privilege does not arise there. I refer to the Jensen report.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to thi, particular motion.
– I was trying to give an instance of how this practice works. If you will bear with me-
– The only question is whether privilege is involved in this particular matter.
– I think the question is whether privilege ia involved in the handling of documents. The honorable member for Richmond raised one point. I desire to raise another.
– The honorable member cannot raise it. That is clear.
– Then I shall raise it as soon as this question is disposed of. It is immaterial to me whether you wish to have two debates or only one. There is all next week untouched yet. Members of this House enjoy certain time-honoured privileges. I agree that members of the Senate are just as much entitled as we are to the reports in question, but the Attorney-General must take steps to ensure that those honorable members who desire the information which was placed before the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the honorable member for
New England (Mr. Abbott) are able to get it. It appears now that neither the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) nor the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) was supplied with copies of the Keast-Hey report.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the report should be roneoed so that every honorable member may have a copy?
– The report should be made available to every honorable member.
– I shall see that every honorable member has access to the report. I do not say that a copy will be supplied to every member.
– I am satisfied with that.
– I suppose I have as much room for complaint as has any one for not having obtained a copy of the Keast-Hey report, because I am particularly interested in the matter. The only opportunity I had to see the document was when I went down to the front bench and looked at the AttorneyGeneral’s copy. It is unfortunate that the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) was prevented from handling the Aluminium Industry Bill, because he had the whole subject at his finger tips. Because of his absence the Attorney-General had to take charge of the bill, and that has been responsible for a good deal of the difficulty that has arisen. There should be no further trouble now that the Attorney-General has promised to make the report available to all honorable members, and to make available for publication those parts which are not regarded as confidential. I recognize that it is not desirable that some honorable members should have copies whilst others have not, but all honorable members may not be interested in the matter. As for the question of privilege, the air of injured innocence of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is beyond comprehension. If he has ground for complaint so have we, but I do not feel aggrieved, and I cannot see why he should.
– I do not see how this document can be treated as the personal property of any individual member. In that respect, I agree with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). Neither do I see how it can be regarded as confidential, since it wa3 disclosed to honorable members without any label of confidence being attached. When six copies were made available to six honorable members it waa not stated that the information was being disclosed in confidence. The document was supplied to them on the understanding that they represented a cross-section of the members of the House who were engaged in a public discussion. Therefore, I contend it became a public document. The proper thing to do now is to lay it on the table of the Library, and let the incident close.
– I undertake to lay the report on the table of the Library.
. - in reply - I did not wish to convey the impression that I regarded the copy of the report which came into my possession as my personal property. Other honorable members also were given copies. I have in mind, particularly, the honorable member for New England. (Mr. Abbott), who asked me to safeguard the copy which ‘had been given to him, and to take it to Sydney with me because he had been unable to remain in Canberra.
– Take it to Sydney for what reason?
– To use as a member is entitled to do when documents are laid on the table of this House. What I object to, and what I regard as a breach of privilege, is that the Attorney-General yesterday insinuated that any one who made available to the press the contents of the report would be guilty of a breach of the rules of the House. I take grave objection to that suggestion. When the document was supplied to honorable members, its contents became available for publication. If the matter had not been raised by me now, the report would have been cloaked again.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I raise a question of privilege in regard to the Jensen report and its distribution.
– In order to save the honorable gentleman’s time and the time of the House, I rule the question out of order. I know the subject-matter.
– But you do not know what I am going to say.
– That does not matter. I know the subject-matter and that is all I want to know. The Jensen report is not a matter suddenly arising, and the honorable gentleman cannot move on privilege in the manner he desires to do.
– Will the Acting Minister for Supply and Shipping inform the House when tyres manufactured from synthetic rubber will be available to essential users in this country? Will he also state whether the use of synthetic rubber will ease the acute tyre position ?
– I shall endeavour to give the honorable gentleman a full answer.
– In a Queensland daily newspaper, the secretary of the United Graziers Association is reported to have said -
I have been informed by one of the highest authorities that there are about 18,000 tons of galvanized iron, wire, casing, piping and other products allocated to Queensland, and they can’t get an allocation of ships or other transport.
As the materials mentioned are vital to Queensland, especially because it is affected by drought, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will place before the Minister for Transport a request that he make transport available immediately in order that all the material described may be delivered.
– The honorable gentleman’s question will he placed before the Minister for Transport, who will furnish a reply as soon as possible.
– I have received communications from primary producers’ organizations throughout Australia asking that they be represented at the conference which the Acting Prime Minister has undertaken to call this month. Will the right honorable gentleman inform me whether any action has yet been taken to communicate with those bodies, as promised, and will he make a statement on the subject before the House rises ?
– I have been so overwhelmed with work associated with my position as Acting Prime Minister and Acting Minister for Defence that I have not yet been able to give attention to the calling of a conference. But I shall confer with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture on the subject, and inform the Leader of the Australian Country party as early as possible regarding the practicability of calling a conference this month.
– In view of the announcement of the Minister for War Organization of Industry that the Portland Uo-operative Society has been granted special permission to build a butcher’s shop at the cost of £850, will the Minister state the facts that led to his decision to permit this unprecedented reorganization of the meat supply of an area? ‘Can the Minister challenge the statement that the obvious corollary to his decision is that the proprietor of the existing business will be further victimized by this Government?
– I have made no announcement whatever on this matter. The question of whether a permit should be granted for the construction of a butcher’s shop at Portland came up in the ordinary way as a matter of administration. The application came to my Sydney office, and, as it was an application about which there might be some controversy, it was naturally referred to me as Minister, and I made the decision. I take full responsibility for that decision.
– There are many more urgent applications.
– Every application for a building permit made to my department is considered from every aspect. In the final analysis, the test I have to apply is whether the war effort of this country will be advanced or hindered by the granting or refusal of a permit. I decided that the war effort would be definitely advanced by the granting of the permit. There has been no victimization whatever of the owner of the existing butcher’s shop in Portland, who has been there for some time. For many months, honorable gentlemen opposite have complained about the restrictions imposed by my department. Now they are asking that those restrictions be sup posed with still greater severity.
Air-crew Personnel - Air Training Corps.
– by leave - During the present sessional period, some honorable members, including the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), in questions and on motion for the adjournment, have raised matters concerning the disposal of existing surplus air-crew personnel in the Royal Australian Air Force and the future of the Air Training Corps.
The major factors that have contributed to the building up of a substantial number of aircrew personnel surplus to immediate requirements are -
The favorable war situation has reduced the fronts and consequently increased the concentration of air power.
In consequence of (a) and (b), the United Kingdom authorities recently advised that they do not require any more drafts of trained aircrew to be sent from Australia for service with the Royal Air Force, whilst no more aircrew trainees are to be sent to Canada, our commitments being thus limited to Royal Australian Air Force requirements in the South- West Pacific Area.
Apart from the surplus of fully-trained aircrew now available, there are large numbers of aircrew undergoing courses whose training must now be slowed down or temporarily suspended.
Honorable members will appreciate that the sudden discontinuance of despatch overseas of the quotas to which Australia was hitherto committed could not be foreseen here, and it sets a tremendous problem for the Royal Australian Air Force which must take immediate action to meet the new and unexpected situation. The problem confronting the Royal Australian Air Force is that all available aircrew personnel cannot, in present circumstances, be kept gainfully employed on aircrew duties and, in view of the impossibility of forecasting the length of the war against Japan, or of knowing what unexpected happenings may lie in the years ahead, large numbers of those fully or partially trained men must be kept available and certain training schools must be kept functioning on a reduced basis to permit of sudden expansion, should the need arise. A carefully thought out plan is now in process of completion to reorganize training and temporarily to absorb the surplus in a manner which is regarded as fairest, in the special circumstances, to the aircrew personnel concerned, and in the best interests of Australia. The principles in general of the plan as formulated may be briefly stated as follows : -
The remainder of partially-trained aircrew will be temporarily absorbed by one or other of the following methods, all of which would ensure that they would be available to resume aircrew training, when required -
– To put men who have learned to fly on the ground again is a most unimaginative way of dealing with them.
– The honorable member will have his opportunity to say what he thinks.
Although, for the time being, some of these air crew members will not be serving in the role for which they enlisted, it is thought appropriate to point out that, from a national and a service point of view, every mustering in the Royal Australian Air Force is important in Air Force organization - whether in ground staff or air crew. A certain number of new recruits will commence training as soon as they can be accommodated at initial training schools, as in the past, but, until the present surplus is absorbed, only those with exceptional ability will continue through other schools and proceed to operational squadrons.
This new air crew situation does not, in any way, lessen the urgent need for men between 18 and 50 years of age to enlist in ground staff musterings, they being needed in large numbers to replace men who are being compulsorily released for primary and high priority secondary industries, as well as to make up general wastage in the Royal Australian Air Force. Large numbers of girls of eighteen years of age and over are also required to fill vacancies in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, which is playing a vitally important part in the war effort.
It may be of interest to honorable members to know that these problems are not peculiar to the Royal Australian Air Force, but have recently arisen and been dealt with in the air forces of the United Kingdom and of Canada. All these important questions, as well as the consequent reductions involved in the training organization of the Royal Australian Air Force, are to receive close consideration by the Government, in the very near future, when greater detail will be made available.
The Air Training Corps will continue to function for young men between sixteen and eighteen years of age, and enlistments in air crew musterings will still be accepted from the Air Training Corps and other sources on a reduced scale, because a nucleus of the large and complex air crew training organization must be kept running smoothly, ready to resume at full pressure should the need arise at any time, in the event of unexpected war developments.
With regard to the question raised concerning unemployed air crew personnel at personnel depots, I have had full investigations made. The report just received shows that there are 682 air crew held at those depots in the various States, awaiting further training, posting, or disposal otherwise. Actually, of the 682 personnel, 286 have recently returned from service overseas and in nothern areas. They have completed their leave and are awaiting postings which will be arranged in the very near future; 104 are awaiting absorption into the Advanced. Flying Refresher Wing to determine their aptitude for flying duties and their retention as air crew. In view of the limited capacity of the refresher wing, their absorption will be spread over a period of three months; 112 are medical cases, many of which are awaiting medical boards. Of the remaining 180, 73 ‘are awaiting posting within the next fortnight to some useful form of air crew employment, 60 are to proceed to further training courses, the remaining 47 are to be remustered to ground duties or discharged.
From those data, it will be appreciated that a very large number of air crew personnel referred to have recently arrived from overseas and from northern operational areas on leave and are now awaiting posting to other air crew duties. My department is, however, fully conscious of the adverse effects of holding personnel for long periods at personnel depots and is taking immediate steps to absorb those personnel on station and unit strengths where they can be most usefully employed, as well as to expedite remuster and discharge of those personnel in relation to which such action is pending.
– Will the Acting Minister for Air move that the paper be printed ?
– This is not a ministerial statement, but an answer *d questions which were asked some days ago.
– As the enlistments of air-crew personnel are more than the number required for the Royal Australian Air Force establishment, will the Acting Minister for Air consider the release of personnel who have completed a tour of operations or a certain period of service and desire to be discharged and return to their normal civil occupation?
– I rise to order. The Acting Minister for Air informed the honorable member for Balaclava that he was not making a ministerial statement, but was replying to some questions which had been asked earlier this session. I submit that the honorable member for Perth is not in order in basing a question on a reply to another question.
– The question asked by the honorable member for Perth is different from the subject dealt with by the Acting Minister for Air. I rule that the question is in order.
– Full consideration will be given to the honorable member’s representations in the review which is now taking place.
Internees and Soldiers
-Some time ago, I directed the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to a complaint that released internees from Queensland had been given first-class rail tickets with sleeper accommodation, although soldiers travelling to their units in New Guinea were obliged to sit on the floor of secondclass compartments. The Minister undertook to investigate the complaint, and supply a report. Has the right honorable gentleman had an opportunity to accede to my request, and, if so, is he in a position to make a reply?
– I do not control the rolling-stock which is made available for the transport of troops, released internees, or prisoners of war. I have issued instructions for the complaint to be investigated, but I have not yet received a reply. I shall expedite the matter and endeavour to make the information available to the honorable member before he leaves Canberra.
Hostel - Building Permits
– Some months ago, the Public Works Committee recommended the building of. a. hostel adjoin.ing Barton House, in Canberra. The House approved the recommendation. Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior endeavour to have this work expedited on account of the great shortage of accommodation here ? Apparently, the construction of the building has not yet been commenced.
– The erection of buildings in Canberra, ‘as elsewhere, is subject to the granting of a priority for the provision of man-power and materials; but I shall bring the question to the notice of the Minister for the Interior with a view to seeing whether the work can be expedited.
– I ask the Minister for War Organization of Industry whether applications for permits for the erection of buildings or extensions to buildings in Canberra are administered by his department in this city, or by his deputy director in Sydney?
– The administration in respect of building permits in the Australian Capital Territory is conducted by the Sydney office of the department.
– Mr. HOLT.- Will the Acting Prime Minister give the reasons for the policy of the Government in not making available to the Australian Women’s Land Army the same travel privileges as are given to women serving in the Australian Women’s Army Service, the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, and the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service? ‘In view of the valuable service rendered to the Commonwealth by the Land Army girls, does not the Minister consider that they should be given the same travel privileges as the girls in the other services?
– I was not aware that Land Army girls did not get the same privileges as the girls in the other ser vices.. However, the honorable member will understand that the Land Army girls are not members of the Australian fighting, services;’ they are not sworn-in for the duration of the war in the same way as the Australian Women’s Army Service, the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service, and the Australian Army Nursing Service. I shall give consideration to the representations made by the honorable member, because I fully realize the important work done by the members of the Australian Women’s Land Army throughout Australia in this period of shortage of manpower and woman-power in the primary industries.
Producer-gas Units - Marketing of Peas.
– The Department of Supply and Shipping insists on the use of producer-gas units on vehicles in country areas, particularly lorries engaged in the transport of milk and cream. Representations made to the department showed that the continued use of such units is saving petrol, but is causing a substantial loss of rubber, which is in short supply. Has the department considered those representations, and if so, what decision has been made?
– This important subject is still engaging the attention of the Department of Supply and Shipping, but I hope to obtain a decision on this matter of policy as early as possible.
– In the Glen Innes district, many farmers grow peas from December to April for the Brisbane market, and for some years have been accustomed to send their produce there by motor lorry. Since last December, the Department of Transport has imposed a prohibition of the use of those lorries, with the result that the produce arrives in Brisbane by rail, sometimes two or three days later than it would by motor vehicle, and frequently in a rotten condition. Will the Minister for Transport give consideration to the granting of permits to those producers for the purpose of enabling them to resume the carriage of the peas by lorry?
Mr.WARD. - I am not aware of the exact circumstances, but I shall have the matter investigated immediately to see what can be done to assist the producers.
– During the debate on the Aluminium Industry Bill, the Attorney-General disclosed that a previous government had established a forging plant annexe adjoining the Australian Aluminium Company’s pre-‘ raises at Granville, in New South “Wales. Workers in that industry are anxious for that asset to be preserved under government control in the post-war period. A similar position arises at the Government aircraft works at Lidcombe, the annexe at the Clyde EngineeringWorks, and at the Chullora Railway “Workshops. Will the Government ascertain whether these industries can be utilized by the Government in the post-war period? Failing that, will the Government offer these assets to the State Government or to some government instrumentality, such as the Railways Department?
– The Government is aware of the anxiety of workers regarding the disposal of industries which have been created to meet the abnormal demands of war, and the honorable member may rest assured that his representations will be taken into consideration. I shall make a statement on the subject as soon as possible. At the same time, I remind the House that the war is far from being won, and that these industries will have to be carried on for a considerable time. Consequently, the problem of what is to be done with these industries does not arise immediately. The Government looks for maximum war production from these industries for some time. However optimistic we may feel, the war against Japan will probably continue for the next eighteen months or longer, and the Government must plan accordingly in order to ensure an all-in war effort by every Australian.
Mr.WHITE- The transcript of certain evidence taken by the Broadcasting Committee has been published in the press this week. I understand that the transcript runs into 280,000 words, and that 30 copies are being printed. Will the Minister for Information inform me how many copies of the transcript are being supplied to members of the Broadcasting Committee, and what is the length of the report, and the cost of its preparation and printing? What would be the cost of providing a copy for every honorable member? I realize that the Minister may not be able to give this information immediately, but I should like him to obtain it as soon as possible so as to enable honorable members to see whether this great expense is worth while.
Mr.CALWELL.- Generally, I can answer questions concisely and effectively, but I am not able to give to the honorable member to-day all the information that he seeks. However, I shall attempt to obtain the details for him from the Postmaster-General. The document is a particularly valuable one. Ever since the inception of the Broadcasting Committee, the transcript of evidence has been printed and circulated. During the last session, the value of this course was demonstrated, because it enabled the Government to prove that all the talk of corruption in connexion with the sale of broadcasting licences was groundless. The transcript showed that the principal person in these business deals had given evidence in full. I suggest that the honorable member for Balaclava may borrow a copy of the transcript from his colleague, the honorable member for Moreton, for any particular purpose that he may have in mind.
– If the honorable member for Moreton, who is a member of the committee, knows more about the subject than I do, I cannot understand why the honorable member for Balaclava addressed his question to me instead of to his colleague.
– Because the honorable member for Moreton is not yet a Minister.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the ‘Government will give consideration to the Commonwealth Parliament conferring a medal for distinguished service on any member of our armed forces in the same way as the American Congress awards the Congressional Medal to American service personnel, the Australian decoration to be known as the Southern Cross Medal ?
– The suggestion will receive the fullest consideration.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me whether the Government intends to assume control of the Homebush abattoirs ; if so, will the honorable gentleman give me an undertaking that meat will bo supplied from the abattoirs to the people of Sydney without interruption?
– The matter will receive consideration.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether any consideration is being given to the lifting of the wall of the Cotter Dam to ensure that, when the population of Canberra increases, as it will do in the post-war period by the transfer of many public departments to the National Capital, an adequate water supply will be available?
– I shall bring the question to the notice of the Minister for the Interior. I understand that an investigation of the subject is being made at present.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet able to announce a decision by the Government concerning a proposed allocation of 1 1/3d. a bushel to growers of oats and barley in consideration of the additional costs they incur, compared with wheatgrowers, in their harvesting operations? A considerable time has elapsed since this subject was first brought to the notice of the Minister.
– The investigation is continuing, but the honorable gentleman, with his practical knowledge of the industry, will realize that there are difficulties in connexion with the proposal. Departmental officials and members of the Barley Board are dealing with it.
– I direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to a report published in this morning’s press that Mr. Bolton, of the Rehabilitation Committee of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, on his return from a visit to New Zealand, where a Labour Government is in office, stated that the sister dominion was a rehabilitation paradise for returned soldiers. I appreciate that considerable improvements have been made by the administration of the present Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) in our repatriation practices. I ask the Acting Prime Minister, however, whether he will consider a proposal that was rejected by the Senate some time ago to re-appoint the standing committee on repatriation, for the purpose of considering anomalies in the act or in the administration, and also of making proposals for reforms, in order to streamline our repatriation administration?
– I have not read the remarks of Mr. Bolton, but I remind the honorable member that the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act is claimed to be the best and most liberal in the world. Conditions have been considerably liberalized, with Cabinet approval, by the administrative acts of the present Minister for Repatriation. The conditions of repatriation are being continually improved. I shall give consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform, me whether the report of Sir William Webb, the commissioner appointed to inquire into war atrocities by the Japanese, has yet been received by the Government, and whether it will be made available to honorable members?
– I explained the whole matter in the statement which I laid on the table yesterday, and which will be published in Hansard.
– In view of the fact that a. few months will elapse before Parliament reassembles, I ask the Acting Prime Minister to announce the result of the consideration he promised to give to the suggestion that I made for the appointment of an all-party parliamentary committee to submit recommendations to the Government and the Parliament on a long-term migration policy? In view of the Prime Minister’s commendation of my proposal I also ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will confer with the Leader of the Opposition and myself on the subject at an early date?
– I shall examine the promise alleged to have been made by the Prime Minister on this subject. As has been stated already in the House, the Government is giving a. great deal of consideration to the subject of post-war migration, which is also receiving attention from a special migration committee and a sub-committee of Cabinet. I hope that as the result of these investigations it will be possible to make a statement in the next ten days or so. I am confident that when the Government’s policy is announced it will receive the approval of an overwhelming majority of the people.
– As an acute shortage of fly-wire gauze exists, which makes it impossible in certain districts of Western Australia where flies are prevalent for the parents of young children and infants to protect their offspring from flies. I ask the Minister for Munitions whether he will make an investigation to ascertain whether additional supplies of flywire gauze may be released, or production increased, in order to make this material available in country areas for the purpose I have mentioned ?
– I am entirely sympathetic with the honorable gentleman’s request. Fly-wire gauze has been in short supply for civilian purposes because so much has had to be routed to services areas where it is urgently needed. Supplies have also been made available to assist settlers in Queensland to cope with the buffalo fly. I realize that a special claim may be made in the interests of young children, and I shall make inquiries to see what can be done to relieve the shortage.
– In reference to the statement made some time ago on behalf of the Government that 30,000 additional men would be released from the Army under certain conditions, and that 4,000 men who had previously been recommended for release on the application of war agricultural committees, would be released irrespective of the location of their units, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, in view of the extreme shortage of man-power in essential rural industries, an additional 4.000 men can be released on similar conditions?
– When the Government decided recently to approve of the discharge of 45,000 additional persons from the fighting services - 30,000 from the Army and 15,000 from the Royal Australian Air Force - by the 30th June next in order to step up the production of dairy products which are so urgently required in Australia, it was also decided that 4,000 men who had already been recommended for discharge on the application of war agricultural committees should be released immediately, irrespective of the location of their units. Those men have been released. Cabinet has further decided, in consultation with the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief of the Air Force, to make approximately 4,000 more men available as soon as practicable. It will be realized, however, that the movement of troops and Australia’s commitments in regard to the fighting services, have to be considered. The Government fully appreciates the difficulties that are being encountered in high priority primary industries, and the subject will be kept under review.
– Has the Minister for Information any further particulars that he can give to us concerning the success or failure of the campaign of the Sydney Morning Herald to induce its readers to communicate with Ministers and members of Parliament by letter or telegram with regard to coal production ?
– I am happy to be able to inform the House that the campaign of the Sydney Morning Herald has been a grotesque failure. The total number of letters and telegrams received by members of the Government in both Houses of Parliament during the five days of the campaign has been 70.
– The honorable member for Grey said that he had received 200.
– The population of New South Wales is approximately 2,000,000. I have not the exact details before me at the moment, but I have received only one letter, and no Minister has received more than three or four telegrams. The great majority of senators and members have not received any, which indicates that the people of New South Wales are taking as much notice of the advice of the Sydney Morning Herald in connexion with the coal-mining industry as they took of its advice in connexion with the general elections in August, 1943, which resulted so disastrously for the United Australia party.
– The first question on the notice-paper for to-day, in my name, has remained unanswered for many weeks; it refers to accumulations of scrap aluminium alloys from crashed aircraft, &c. I should like to have had the information before the Aluminium Industry Bill left this House. Will the Minister acting for the Minister for Supply and Shipping furnish a reply to me by mail?
– I am sorry that this question has not been answered. Obviously, it has no connexion with the Aluminium Industry Bill.
– I want to know what stocks are on hand.
– The matter has apparently been overlooked. I shall supply the particulars to-day.
– The intention of the authorities is to raise in the post-war period the level of the Hume Weir, as originally planned. One of the effects of this will be to inundate the town of Tallangatta, and that will necessitate the removal of the township, with the consequent payment of substantial compensation to those affected. Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior suggest to his colleague that he examine reports which, I understand, have been made by certain eminent water engineers, stating that an alternative to this proposal that would achieve better results would be to build two or more subsidiary weirs higher up the river Murray, or in its tributaries, impounding the same quantity of water as would be impounded by raising the level of the Hume Weir? The danger which some people apprehend from the raising of the Hume Weir would thus be obviated, as would the inundation of the township of Tallangatta ?
– I shall bring the representations of the honorable gentleman immediately to the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
– What steps are being taken by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, in conjunction with his colleague, the Minister for Labour and
Rational Service, to obtain the additional man-power required for the processing of phosphatic rock, of which there are large quantities in this country, for the purpose of producing superphosphate? I understand that only about 300 men would be requited. “What prospect is there of having them allotted to this work?
-Conferences are being held continuously between the DirectorGeneral of Agriculture and the Department of National Service. Everything possible is being done to increase supplies of superphosphate.
– I have not yet received a reply to a long question on the wheat industry which, in the first week of this sessional period, I placed on the notice-paper, addressed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Will the honorable gentleman state when I may expect the reply? If it cannot be incorporated in Hansard, will he supply the information to me direct, through the mail?
– I thought that the question had been answered. I shall send the reply direct to the honorable gentleman.
– The Lord Mayor of
Melbourne is making a financial appeal for the supply of sweets to Britain at Christmas time. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture controls some of the commodities that will be bought with the money contributed. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture make available the facilities of the department, and co-operate in every way?
– The department will give whatever assistance is humanly possible, especially in connexion with food control.
– I have received from the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie
Cameron) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The action of the Government in supplying to members of the parliamentary Labour party copies of the Jensen report on the wool industry, and the Government’s refusal to supply copies to Opposition members, and the unfairness of this action and its effect on the wool industry”.
– I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– I raise this matter for several reasons: first, the effect upon the administration of the Government ; secondly, the effect upon the conduct of parliamentary business; thirdly, the unfairness to the Opposition arising out of this action ; and lastly, the possible detrimental effects upon the wool industry. This is not the first occasion on which I have raised the matter since the present sessional period began. I have addressed questions upon it to the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde). In reply to one question asked without notice, the right honorable gentleman stated that the Jensen report had been received by the Government, and that it was not a parliamentary paper, or a report to members of Parliament generally. I agree with that. The right honorable gentleman further said that the report would be the subject of consideration by the Government in due course. Not being exactly satisfied with that reply, I put certain questions on notice to the right honorable gentleman. In one of his replies, he admitted that this document had been given limited circulation among members of the Government party; further, he said that it had not been considered by the Government, and therefore was not available for general circulation. Out of these two answers arises the very important point that a report which the Acting Prime Minister has said was not a public document or a parliamentary paper, but a report solely to the Government, which had not considered it, has received circulation among party supporters of the Government. It goes without saying that the wool districts of this country are mainly represented in this House by members of the United Australia party and the Australian Country party. Those members, by a deliberate act of the Government, have been denied the right to know what recommendations have been made affecting the future of the wool industry. The first consideration that arises, is the unfairness of this action. If the Acting Prime Minister considers that parliamentary business can be conducted on those lines, he is making a great mistake. The Parliament cannot be arbitrarily divided by the right honorable gentleman into those who support the Government and those who happen to be opposed to it. If the Government has information to give, it should be given after due consideration as to its effects, especially when it is founded upon a document of the kind that is now under discussion. The Secondary Industries Commission, of which Mr. Jensen is chairman, has doubtless gone very carefully into certain aspects of the future of the wool industry, and has made reports upon it; yet, on the admission of the Acting Prime Minister, these reports, before having been considered by the Cabinet, had been made available to private members on one side of the Parliament, but have been denied to private members on the other side. It is absolutely new in my experience of administration in this country, that any document of this description should be available to a private member before the Government had considered it. But having made it available to honorable gentlemen on the other side of the House, the Government had no logical reason whatever for refusing to allow it to be perused and studied by honorable members on this side; and it cannot claim to have shown any fairness in that refusal. Let us consider the possible implications of the withholding of the document. On the one side of the House there is a party that a committed to a certain policy in respect of nationalization, socialization, communization, call it what one may; the different “ ations “ are like the colours in the spectrum - they range from deep violet to a very bright red. Some honorable gentlemen opposite who seem to be red, might tura blue at any moment, whereas others seem to have rather a permanent dye in their make-up. “We have the right to know what recommendation has been made in regard to the future of Australia’s greatest export industry. Whatever may be the post-war position of world trade, so far as any reasonable being can foresee at the moment, the most important export from the Commonwealth of Australia still will be the Australian wool clip; and next to that there is another very important business, the Australian meat export industry. Both of those may be tied up with the recommendations that have been made in this report. The commission over which Mr. Jensen presides may have made certain recommendations in regard to the expansion of the wool manufacturing industry within Australia. That, I contend, is a matter of vital importance to every wool-grower in the Commonwealth.
– When was this report made?
– I do not know; quite recently.
– Nor do I know.
– The Acting Prime Minister has admitted that the report has received limited circulation among the members of his own party, and before it was considered by the Cabinet of which the right honorable gentleman is the temporary head. Everything associated with this incident goes to prove that the Government is seeking to conduct the business of Parliament in a manner which cannot be tolerated. Documents should be either available to members of Parliament or they should not. If it is desired that a document should have only a limited circulation, it should be made available to a select committee of this House or of both Houses. The Opposition is part and parcel of the Parliament. We may be only one-third of it, but there is nothing permanent in political life. Those who are heroes to-day may be stoned tomorrow. The only safe method is to treat Opposition and Government supporters alike when it comes to releasing documents or information of ‘any kind. It would be a very good thing to apply a rule - which has, in fact, been followed by previous governments - that no document of this kind is to be circulated among private members until it has been considered by Cabinet.
– To whom was it disclosed ?
– I have the statement of the Acting Prime Minister, given in reply to a question, upon notice, that the report had a limited circulation among supporters of the Government. If the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) was not in the inner circle, I cannot help it. In these matters there are certain canons of procedure which ought to be observed. The Government has been guilty of a gross breach of etiquette in its treatment of the Opposition. Whatever the contents of the report, or its effect upon the future of the wool industry, honorable members of the Opposition ‘are entitled to be informed. The action of the Government will not appeal to the public’s sense of fair play. I hope that this will be the last occasion on which I shall have need to refer to the matter. I should not have referred to it now in this way but for the fact that Mr. Speaker prevented me from mentioning it earlier in the day. Honorable members on this side of the House have some knowledge of the Standing Orders, and if we cannot get over a hurdle, we can get around it, or burrow underneath it.
f 12.5]. - I am surprised that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) should take up the time of the House in moving the adjournment in order to discuss a matter of this kind, when, according to the expressed desire of honorable members opposite, they wish to debate such items on the notice-paper as the review of Australia’s war effort, and the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) on international affairs. Honorable members should apply themselves to the discussion of these important subjects so that there will be no justification for criticism of the kind directed against them after the close of the last session. For instance, in the Sydney Morning Herald, of the 3rd October, 1944, the following appeared: -
While the Opposition made legitimate use of such openings for criticism, the session proved disappointing in certain major respects. Parliament as a whole missed the opportunity to debate Br. Evatt’s most informing speech on foreign policy, a subject to which the National Legislature pays deplorably little attention.
I had hoped that this morning every moment would have been taken up in debating either the statement on international affairs or the review of Australia’s war effort. The honorable member for Barker really has no cause for complaint. As he was rightly informed., the report by Mr. J. K. Jensen had a limited circulation among Government supporters, but the Government had not made a decision regarding the report. As a matter of fact, the report does not deal with the wool industry, though it contains an indirect reference to the woollen textile industry. The report is a voluminous document, and does not deal specifically with any one industry. It is the practice of the Government not to make available reports of this kind. This one was intended for the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. Such reports are considered by the Government, and it is for the Government to decide whether or not they are to be made public. The Jensen report is not a public document, and at this stage cannot be made available to honorable members generally. During the parliamentary recess, there will probably be time to consider the matter in detail, and when Parliament meets again, the Government will decide whether the report can be made available. I hope that no further time will be taken up with the matter now. No discourtesy was intended to honorable members. We hope that, when legislation is brought down in the new year dealing with certain of. the recommendations contained in the report, honorable members can be told more about it. As I said previously, up to the present the report has had only a very limited circulation.
– The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) cannot hope to get away with the statement he has made on this subject. He seems to be assuming that Parliament will go into recess this afternoon. I do not know on what he is basing his assumption, but evidently he has made up his mind. He chides members of the Opposition for doing what they regard as their duty. I protest against the growing custom of ignoring members of this House in dealing with matters which are the proper concern of Parliament. The Cabinet is prepared to discuss’ such matters with a selected band of its own supporters, who are the real government of Australia at the present time - the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. I protest against the growing practice of making available to caucus reports which are the concern of Parliament. If the reports have a bearing upon the economic development of the country, they should be made available to all honorable members, and not to a selected bunch of caucus members. As a matter of fact, a fairly full summary of the report has already been published in the press, and the elected representatives of the people must he content with getting the information second-hand.
– No copy of the report was given to the press.
– The report is of great importance to Australia in that it touches upon post-war rehabilitation. All honorable members should be taken into the confidence of the Government on such matters, and not merely a few. If the Government did not release the report to the press, it is obvious that some members, of caucus, to whom it had been shown, released information piecemeal te the newspapers. In the Sydney Sun, cf the 15th June, the following appeared: -
Mr. Jensen’s report suggests that only sever of the 37 government munitions factories should be retained for defence work.
That is very important, because the policy of the Government is to nationalize all industry.
– It is not the policy of the Government to nationalize all industry.
– Then I take it that the observations of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) at Newcastle to the effect that the Government proposed to nationalize, not only the banks, but other industries as well, represented only his own opinion, and was not a statement of government policy; or was he misreported ? Even the Acting Prime Minister evaded the issue when I asked him whether it was the policy of the Government to nationalize the banks. The report in the Sun continued -
Mr. Jensen suggested that, as the immediate need waa to provide employment for returned soldiers and workers replaced from war industries, the Government could not afford to delay for five or more years while government plants were brought to the stage of competition with private industry.
He recommended that some of the Government properties should be relinquished as soon as possible to ease the burden on the Government.
The rehabilitation of returned soldiers concerns this Parliament, and the nation as a whole. It is not the prerogative of the Labour caucus. Surely caucus is not the body which is ultimately to determine what is to be done for the returned soldiers. The Government is showing a complete disregard for democratic institutions. I put it to the Acting Prime Minister that, since the Prime Minister himself has, unfortunately, been laid aside by sickness, caucus seems to have got completely out of control. The right honorable gentleman is not in a position to control his supporters in any way. They are headstrong, tearing along with the bits between their teeth.
-Order ! The motion moved by the honorable member for Barker refers to the Jensen report and the wool industry. It has no relation 1:o any other industry.
– A Government press release at Canberra about the 14th June last stated -
A list of proposed new or greatly expanded industries for Australia being investigated by the Secondary Industries Commission was circulated to Labour members to-night by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Chifley).
That is the gravamen of the complaint by the honorable member for Barker. The statement continued -
Basic industries put on the highest priority are wool and other textiles, mining, shipping and shipbuilding, fuel and power transport mid timber.
Again, I come back to the statement of the Acting Prime Minister that the report referred to wool.
– No. It was a report on industries generally. It contained a minor reference to wool and woollen textiles.
– The wool industry and the woollen textile industry must bc considered seriously as means of post-war rehabilitation of members of the fighting forces and the development of Australia generally. I have no doubt that many men and women in the fighting services will look to woolgrowing and wool-processing as avenues of employment. A report dealing with such a vital matter is restricted to member.! of the caucus. They have been given preferential treatment. Members of this Parliament have certain rights. They are entitled to be taken fully into the confidence of the Government in regard to investigations in connexion with post-war reconstruction. The Secondary Industries Commission was set. up to advise the Government in regard to secondary industries in the post-war era. It will make several valuable reports to the Government from time to time. Opposition members know something about the preliminary reports, but nothing about this report, and they must resort to subterfuge in order to obtain the information they require from Government supporters who have been privileged to have this report made available to them. The Acting Prime Minister has violated a cardinal principle of democracy in ignoring Parliament and concentrating on a few members of caucus. The Acting Prime Minister should at least observe the ordinary decencies and should not treat with contumely the rights and privileges of honorable gentlemen. I therefore ask him to take the necessary action to ensure that future reports of this kind be made to Parliament, and not to just
.- The action of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) in raising this matter was hasty and ill-considered because, as the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) stated, no report on the wool industry, as such, has been made by Mr. Jensen to the Government, and, therefore, the honorable gentleman’s complaint is baseless. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) concluded his speech with a remark that the basis of parliamentary government had been violated, but I point out to the honorable gentleman that the government of this country is in the hands of the Australian Labour party. The Opposition is merely being frivolous in declaring that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Chifley) should not take his party into his confidence. Though honorable gentlemen in both political camps opposite, who call themselves “ united “, may not have been able to trust each other when they were in power sufficiently to allow supporters access to reports on which their policies were based, the Curtin Government has trustworthy supporters. Efforts by honorable members of the Opposition and the Opposition press to damage the reputation of this party by repeating the charge that members cannot be trusted have no effect on the people or the Government. The Opposition is well astray now, because, far from being a report on the wool industry, the Jensen report is a report on several industries, and upon the recommendations contained therein I hope and believe some of this Government’s legislation will be based. I concede that there is a small reference to the wool industry in the report, but it is only incidental. The Opposition’s complaint that members of the Governmentparty have been taken into the confidence of the Minister for Poet-war Reconstruction is sheer nonsense, because they have the right to the information upon which the Government’s legislation will be based, and I congratulate the Minister on having taken his supporters into his confidence on this occasion. I agree with the honorable member for Barker that the wool industry is our most important export industry and that, if it is to retain its preeminence after the war, close attention must be paid to its problems; but I remind the honorable gentleman that although, for years, his colleagues occupied the treasury bench, they did nothing to ensure the continued stability of the wool industry. It was left to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to make the most important pronouncement of policy in connexion with the industry under which a levy will be imposed on wool for the creation of a fund from which a campaign of research and publicity will be financed in order that wool may hold its place in the world market. The Opposition parties neglected the wool industry.
– We obtained the biggest Tariff Board report on the wool industry.
– We have heard nothing else during the last week or two but “ Tariff Board “ and “ royal commission”. The Opposition seems to have no courage at ail to tackle problems itself. All it wants to do is to refer matters to boards and royal commissions ; but this Government has strength of purpose enough to tackle problems direct. Ithas the confidence of the people. That confidence will grow as time passes.
– I support the motion of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). I remind the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), who expressed surprise that time should he “ wasted “ on this subject, that the wool industry is Australia’s most important industry.
– But the Jensen report i* not a report on the wool industry.
– I am not in the fortunate position of being able to speak authoritatively on what the report contains, because I have not seen it. What I protest against is the unfair, discrimination not only as between the Government and Opposition members, but as between certain Government, members. Although the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) has seen the report, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), by interjection, indicated that he had neither seen nor heard of it.
– He has certainly not heard of or seen a report on wool because one does not exist.
– The Treasurer and the Acting Prime Minister contradict each other. The Acting Prime Minister admitted that passing reference was made to the wool industry, but the Treasurer says that the report has nothing to do with wool. Such conflict of opinion between two honorable gentlemen who have closely studied the report makes it even more necessary that those who have not seen it should be allowed to see it. What I desire to stress is that the importation of rayon and other synthetic materials constitutes a grave menace to the wool industry. We grow the best wool in the world and there is no reason why we should not produce the best cloth. The Government should provide the opportunity for a debate on the advisability of placing the wool industry on such a footing that it can maintain its standards and prevent synthetic materials from displacing it, at least for local consumption. These materials constitute a menace because many of them are almost exact imitations of woollen materials. Many people have bought the imitation material thinking they were buying the better wearing woollen material and have found by bitter experience that they have had something else foisted on them.
If these matters are to be considered on their merits, any reports prepared by investigating committees should be made available to all honorable members, irrespective of their political affiliations. The wool industry is not the exclusive concern of any political party. Members of all parties are deeply interested in it and for that reason, all of them should he given an equal opportunity to see all the information available to Government supporters. It is almost unheard of for a report, called for by the Government, to be submitted to private members before Cabinet has had mi opportunity to consider it. If the Government believes in the wisdom of distributing this report to certain private members, why not grant the same privilege to all honorable members, particularly those representing large rural constituencies where the wool industry operates? “With the honorable member for Barker I register my protest against the manner in which the Government has treated the Opposition.
– It might be as well for me to bring this matter down from the clouds to earth. First, the Government has never called upon the Secondary Industries Commission, or Mr. J. K. Jensen, to report on the wool industry. Secondly, no report has ever been made by Mr. Jensen to me as Minister for Postwar Reconstruction, relating specially to the wool industry. The Secondary Industries Commission comes into my administration, and I have discussed with it various matters relating to post-war reconstruction. Some of those discussions included the wool industry. The Government has announced certain proposals regarding wool publicity and research.
– When will honorable members have an opportunity to debate the Government’s proposals regarding wool publicity and research?
– Although that subject is hardly relevant to the present discussion, I shall answer the honorable member. At present, two organizations represent the wool-growers, and the Government desires to get some unanimity of view among those bodies on such matters as research, organization and production. Those organizations may be able to contribute a part of the money required for carrying out research. Discussions of these matters have been taking place for some time between the parties concerned and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) and myself. Next year, the Government may introduce a bill to increase the levy on wool for the purpose of assisting research.
I now return to the subject of Mr. Jensen’s report. No special report on wool has been made by Mr. Jensen or the Secondary Industries Commission. Recently, a special meeting of the Labour party was called to consider matters relating to post-war reconstruction. As the responsible Minister, I was asked to have available for the information of members of the party all relevant material so that they would be able to give some guidance to the Government in formulating its policy on reconstruction. I asked the chairman of the Secondary Industries Commission to give me a general resume of what had been done. The investigations were made, not into primary industries in general, and wool in particular, but into secondary industries.
– The wool industry is the basis of some secondary industries.
– I want honorable members to understand what was done. Only two or three pages of that very lengthy report deal with certain aspects, not of the wool industry, but of wool processing and textiles. Members of the parliamentary Labour party asked for an opportunity to examine the report. The document covered a large number of subjects, and I accept full responsibility for saying to the party members who were advising the Government : “ This report has not received the approval of the Government. It is an outline of the Secondary Industries Commission’s views. To some degree, it is only a factual statement, but you may examine it and subsequently we shall discuss the formulation of the Government’s views on this subject.”
– In other words, the Treasurer admits it.
– There is no special report on the wool industry. Indeed, the Opposition is pursuing a will-of-the-wisp when it refers to “ Mr. Jensen’s report on the wool industry “.
– What about Mr. Jensen’s report on other industries?
– I am trying to confine my remarks to the subject of the motion.
– That subject is strictly limited.
– Do honorable members opposite expect me to bring into this House reports from departmental officers before the Government has decided what its policy shall be?
– Then why make those reports available to rankandfile supporters of the Government?
– Because they are my advisers. I propose to give to them the fullest information possible so “that they may be able to give their considered views to me, as a Minister responsible for determining government policy. I do not propose to alter that practice. I have not withheld any information when an honorable member has sought it to enable him to prepare a speech for any debate, even when I knew that the material would be used to dispute my views, as Treasurer. I shall continue to do that; but I shall not distribute a report which comes to me as a Minister. If I were to do so, members would be rising in their places every day and trying to ascertain the policy of the Government in regard to particular matters. Let the House be very clear on this point. I shall not bring into the House any reports, except when they are called for by the Parliament, until the Government has reached a decision upon them. When that occurs, the Parliament will be told, and honorable members will then have an opportunity to discuss the report or reports.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has made some extraordinary statements. The honorable gentleman admitted that a report was obtained by the Government from a civil servant, whose salary is paid by the taxpayers, and that the report was made available to some private members of the Labour party. Surely the Opposition is entitled to the same consideration as the rank and file of the Labour party! The Treasurer admitted that Mr. Jensen’s report had been perused by certain private members of the Government party.
– With what subject did the report deal?
– The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) stated definitely that a section of the report dealt with the wool industry. As the Leader of the Australian Country party, I object strongly to this differential treatment by the Government. The Opposition, which represents a section of the taxpayers, is entitled to be informed al the views of the civil servant, if his report is disclosed to private members of the Labour party. On the 22nd November last, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked a series of questions upon the wool industry and the Jensen report. The Hansard report of the questions and the answers is as follows: -
A general report reviewing the work of the commission from its inception to October, 1944, has been received by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction.
Although the report has not yet been considered by the Government, it has been handed to some private members of the Labour party in order that they may advise the Government in formulating its policy. I have obtained the following reference to the matter : -
The report states, in a discussion of the wool industry, that those engaged in the production of synthetic fibres claimed that the establishment of their industry in Australia will be a stimulus to the greater use of wool in the fabrication of textiles. The commission hassponsored several proposals by commercial firms for expansion of wooltop production, and has under consideration the development of export markets for fine woollen cloth. There is every expectation of Australian manufacture of looms and spinning machines being established.
The report emphasizes the important results to employment of the contemplated establishment of the rayon industry in Australia Negotiations, it is stated, are not yet complete but there is every prospect of the establishment of an industry on a scale to meet the whole of the rayon requirements of Australia. Nylon manufacture is also the subject of discussion with the company owning the Australian rights of nylon.
Yet we are asked to believe that the report does not contain anything which will have any effect upon the wool industry, the staple industry of Australia! The information contained in that report, as published, is of such a nature that honorable members of the Opposition are entitled to be given the details before this important subject is discussed in the Parliament. The Opposition has a right to at least the same facilities and consideration as private members of the Labour party enjoy. I take a very poor view of the attitude of the Government in this matter. It has treated His Majesty’s Opposition in the Parliament of the Commonwealth very shabbily.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 17th November (vide page 1921), on motion by Mr. Forde- -
That the following paper be printed:- “ Review of the War and Australia’s War Effort - Ministerial Statement “.
– The Acting Prime Minister’s review of the war embraced a wide variety of subjects and operations in several theatres. With the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), I express deep satisfaction at the progress of the war in the Pacific, and, on behalf of the Australian Country party, I voice our profound admiration of the heroism and devotion to duty of the men of the Royal Australian Navy in the engagement in the Philippines in which the Commonwealth, as the Acting Prime Minister pointed out, paid a grievous price in the loss of gallant members of the ship’s company of H.M.A.S. Australia, and in the damage suffered by the cruiser during an air attack. Only recently, injured survivors who returned to our shores, related graphic stories of the bravery of the crew of Australia. The deeds of these men were in keeping with the traditional gallantry and dogged determination of the men of, the Royal Australian Navy. We honour them, and express our sincere sympathy with the wounded and with the next of kin of those who lost their lives.
Although we have cause for gratification at the turn of events in the Pacific war, we have no justification for any relaxation whatever in our war effort. We must not make the mistake of thinking that the war is nearly over. We must realize that the Japanese are still in. possession of a vast territory and a valuable quantity of war-like supplies. We must also have regard to the fact that General Sir Thomas Blarney has recently stated that it is estimated that about 250,000 Japanese troops still remain, as a disciplined, organized and armed force, between the Philippines’ and Australia. We must keep in mind, too, the statement of the Acting Prime Minister that, in the arc extending from Wewak to the Solomon Islands, through New Britain to New Zealand, there is an estimated total of 90,000 enemy troops. In the third place, we should not overlook Mr. Churchill’s recent statement in the House of Commons that until Japan is defeated the war must have the first call on all our efforts and all our resources. Of, themselves, these declarations should be sufficient to warn every Australian that there cannot be any relaxation of our efforts until the total destruction of the Japanese war machine has been accomplished. Since then, we have been told of happenings which provide even greater reason why Australians should strain every nerve, to provide every shilling that is needed, and be steadfast in their determination to avenge the barbarity of the Japanese. I refer to the Acting Prime Minister’s statement of Japan’s inhuman treatment of Australian prisoners of war. This was followed closely by his further statement that 184 Australian prisoners of war were lost and 72 survivors were reported to have reached a Japanese camp following the sinking of another transport in June this year. The right honorable gentleman’s statement to Parliament could not have failed to affect every honorable member who heard it. The revelations were only in keeping with those of earlier Japanese atrocities. They show quite clearly Japan’s utter disregard for the rules of warfare governing prisoners of war. The Government must lodge the strongest possible protest through the customary channels, and in addition, we, as Australians, must pledge ourselves - every one of us - to play our part in making a ruthless enemy pay the full penalty for his viciousness.
We have heard time and time again in this House, until such statements have become tedious, that this Government has saved Australia, and that we would have been invaded except for the Government’s actions. Such statements are untrue, and, unfortunately, a situation has developed which requires that the Government shall early and seriously take stock of our internal position. To do so at once is its direct responsibility.
Let me make it quite clear that invasion was not prevented by this Government or this Parliament but by the bravery of the men and women of our fighting services acting in the closest co-operation with our Allies on the battle fronts and in the war zones; but whatever we may have been saved from, and to whatever degree government action may have contributed to the prevention of the invasion of Australia, there is need that the Commonwealth shall take immediate action to ensure that constitutional authority and democracy shall be observed.
What is happening on the home front in Australia? To what extent is industrial war being waged in this country? I consider that the position is most alarming. An accurate assessment is needed in order that the nation may know what has to be done to enable it to discharge its duty in relation to the war effort. The industrial situation in Australia is such that the Government must be shaken out of its smugness and complacency, and awakened to the realization that while our men and women are away fighting on battlefronts in order to preserve democracy and constitutional authority in Australia, a serious position hae developed on the homefront. I propose to bring certain facts to the notice of the House, because the dislocation that is occurring indicates that there is in the country a total disregard of constitutional authority. In the middle of September, New South Wales, Sydney in particular, was in the grip of the industrial outlaws. Waitresses went on strike, butchers’ employees maintained their refusal to work on Saturdays, and gas employees stopped work. In the meat industry, more than 4,000 sheep were left unkilled at the Homebush abattoirs on the 23rd September because of absenteeism, and because mutton slaughtermen walked off the job. The, position at the Homebush abattoirs has caused members of the Australian Country party the gravest concern for a long time past.
Some interesting facts in regard to the general situation were published in special articles that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 27th and 28th September. I have abstracted from those articles certain facts which merit the closest consideration of the House. Scarcely a week passes without the employees at Homebush abattoirs being involved in industrial trouble, and, as I shall show when dealing with industrial developments during October and November, the trouble continues. To give to the Parliament and the people an idea of how the industrial situation has continued to deteriorate since Parliament last went into recess, I relate, in chronological order, the following happenings during October and November: -
The 2nd October. - Sydney waterside workers refused to accept new jobs, and work on several vessels was held up. The port committee of the Stevedoring Industry Commission had announced that Six Hour Day would be a working day for all ships at penalty rates of pay, but the local branch of the Waterside Workers Federation stated that as the day was a traditional Labour holiday, its members would not present themselves at the pick-up. Four coal mines were idle in New South Wales.
The 6th October. - Central officers of the miners federation decided not to proceed further with claims for a new award before the central coal authority, Mr. A. C. Willis, because of the High Court’s decision to set aside increases of wages granted by Mr. J. Connell as an industrial authority under the Coal Production (War-time) Act.
The 0th October. - Executive of northern miners federation to-day notified the northern coal authority, Mr. J. Connell, that because of the High Court’s decision, the federation would not appear before him. Six mines idle in New South Wales.
The 7th October. - Coal production lost through strikes and breakdowns in New South Wales mines this week was 41,750 tons, the worst figures since the week ending the 18th August, when the loss was 02,000 tons. In the previous week 22,676 tons were lost in five working days. Newspaper dispute began in Sydney.
The 9th October. - Five mines idle.
The 10th October. - Nine mines idle.
The 12th October. - The board of management of the Northern District of the miners federation decided to instruct a miners lodge to cease work immediately following the suspension of colliery employees. The general secretary of the miners’ federation, Mr. Grant, warned the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Forde, that unless the Government was prepared to clarify the High Court’s decision on Local Reference Boards and also to discuss anomalies in the industry so far as the central and district officials of the federation were concerned, the possibility of continued coal production would be difficult. Six mines idle.
The 16th October. - Threat by Meat Industry Employees Union to declare “ black” all retail butchers’ shops at which union members were working on Saturday mornings in defiance of the union’s instructions.
The 17th October. - Central council of the miners’ federation decided to ask the Federal Government to abolish immediately the automatic application of penalties to mine worker* at the Government-controlled Coalcliff colliery involved in authorized stoppages. Employees at Homebush abattoirs ceased working in support of the boycott imposed by the Meat Industry Employees Union and Transport Workers Unions on master butchers who had kept their shops open with union labour on the previous- Saturday.
The 18th October. - Mr. Justice Cantor, of the New South Wales Industrial Commission, said sections of members of the Meat Employees Union at Homebush and the New South Wales Fresh Food and Ice Company were adopting a “ stand and deliver “ attitude instead of submitting claims to the proper authority.
The 19th October. - Mr. Tonge, a Labour New South Wales M.L.A., said hundreds of head of stock were dying in Sydney stockyards because of the meat industry strike. Nine mines idle.
The 20th October. - Newspaper dispute ended. Meat industry employees decided to resume work on the 23rd October, but not to handle meat for civilian consumption. Five mines idle.
The 22nd October. - Twenty-four hour transport stoppage organized by the Road Transport Workers Union to enable about 2,500 members to attend a mass meeting in Sydney on the 23rd October, to consider alleged delays by the State Industrial Commission in hearing claims.
The 23rd October. - Judge O’Mara in the Federal Arbitration Court criticized the Master Butchers Federation and the Australian Meal Industry Employees Union. The union, be said, would be called upon to show cause why it should not be de-registered, and unless tin federation rescinded its decision to close shops in Sydney it also would be called upon t” show cause why it should not be deregistered. He said the immediate problem was to secure discipline in the meat industry. Central council of miners’ federation carried a motion that “ despite provocation by the coal-owners and inaction on the part of the Federal Government” it would do its utmost to reach a six months’ coal production target of 7,000,000 tons. Eight mines were idle in New South Wales because of strikes, involving a production loss of 5,875 tons.
The 24th October. - Judge O’Mara ordered master butchers and their employees to resume work on the following day. Central council of the miners’ federation endorsed an executive recommendation that miners’ representative? should not appear at further sittings of local authorities until their powers, under the recent High Court decision, had been qualified.
The 25th October. - Local coal industry authority for the Newcastle and Maitland coalfields. Mr. J. Connell, and Mr. T. O’Toole and Mr. J. Jackson, industrial officers for the Coal Commission, to investigate coal disputes on the northern fields, resigned. These resignations followed the decision of the northern miners hoard of management and the central council of the miners’ federation to boycott the arbitration machinery as a protest against the High Court’s decision. Newcastle reported that about nine times more coal had been lost on the northern field because of mine stoppages in October than was lost in the first three weeks of September. Slaughtermen at Homehush resumed killing for civilian consumption, but stopped work at 2.30 p.m. after killing 0,840 sheep, whereas the tally for the day should have’ been 12,000 sheep.
The 20th October. - Licences of fourteen wharf labourers alleged to have been the ring leaders in a dispute which threw idle nearly 2,000 men and many ships, were cancelled by the Waterside Employment Committee.
The 27th October. - Miners’ federation president, Mr. H. Wells, in the union’s official organ Common Cause declared, “ unless the attitude of the Government changed, the federation would have -to take the necessary measures to protect its members “. The Coal Commissioner, Mr. Mighell, said the resignations of three industrial officers on the northern coalfield, Messrs. Connell, O’Toole and Jackson, were the direct result of the decision of the miners’ federation to boycott the local industrial authority and its industrial officers. Dispute at the Newcastle chemical works. Several ships idle because 1,200 men refused jobs. Twelve mines idle.
The 27th October. - Estimated that more than 5,400 workers in New South Wales in coal industry, rubber works, shipbuilding yards and on the wharves were ou strike. General secretary of the miners’ federation, Mr. Grant, declared that the time for shadow sparring had passed, and unless miners got an understanding of how coal boards would operate they would revert to jungle conditions. Mr. Justice Cantor, in the New South Wales industrial Commission, in criticizing the position at Homebush abattoirs, said : “ Men who decline to work in accordance with the law are coming into collision with the law, and - what is more important - with that branch of the law which is associated with national security “.
The 28th October. - One thousand glass workers hold stop-work meeting. Five hundred employees idle at the works of Richard Hughes Pty. Ltd., Sydney.
The 29th October. - Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) ordered a national security regulation to be drafted to validate decisions of the central and local coal reference hoards, stating that decisions of the board and of local authorities established under the Coal Production (War-time) Act, would have the force of national security regulations, and thus could not be challenged on the grounds which had caused the High Court to disallow a decision of the northern coal authority.
The 30th October.- Judge O’Mara in the Federal Arbitration Court, in condemning the strike by members of the Federated Storemen and Packers Union at Richard Hughes Pty. Ltd., and at Cockatoo Dock, said they could expect nothing from the court until they resumed work. Judge O’Mara in the Federal Arbitration Court described as “ frivolous and irresponsible “ a strike by some employees at the Electrolytic Zinc Company’s works in Tasmania, and directed that the papers be sent to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), so that the action of the Hobart Trades Hall Committee “ in counselling the casting employees to commit a breach of the law might be considered “. Waterside workers, after a meeting at the Sydney Town Hall resumed work. Cold Storage and Meat Preserving Employees Union members while deciding Lo obey an order by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) to return to work decided not to work overtime. General secretary of the miners’ federation, Mr. Grant, said the federation would not appear before coal tribunals until it had received an assurance that the tribunal decisions would be final, and not subject to appeal to the High Court or alteration by any other jurisdiction.
The 31st October. - Five mines idle.
The 1st November. - Employees in Homebush abattoirs cold storage department notified the Meat Commissioner that from Tuesday next they would cease to act as leading hands. Milk and ice carters decided that employers should be given until the 22nd November to grant members employed in the cold milk section one full day off each week instead of each fortnight, and that unless the demands were conceded a stop-work meeting of all sections, of the industry would be held. Thirty carpenters employed by A.C.I, stopped work. Storemen and packers, rubber workers and busemployees resumed work.
The 2nd November. - A national security regulation was issued’ validating decisions by the central and local coal reference boards. Thu Minister (Mr. Holloway) said: “These decisions would in future have the force of national security regulations and thus could not be challenged on the grounds which had caused the High Court to disallow a decision recently given by the local industrial authority in Newcastle.
The 3rd November. - The New South WalesIndustrial Commission, on ite own initiative,, called on officers of the Meat Employees Unionto show cause why that organization should not be deregistered for repeated award breaches. Homebush slaughtermen left 3,850- sheep unkilled. most of the men going home after receiving their wages at lunch-time. Four mines idle.
The6th November. - Six mines idle. - Reported in Sydney that Chief Judge Piper bad resigned his position as chairman of theStevedoring Industry Commission; also the Deputy Chairman, Mr. R. W. Nicholl. It was stated that Mr. Nicholl had resigned because he considered that a disciplinary decision of the commission had been made ineffective by action taken after the Waterside Workers Federation had threatened a strike. This action was a direction by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) that fourteen wharf labourers who had been deregistered, shouldbe reinstated.
The 7th November. - Painters and dockers went on strike, delaying work on the waterfront.
The 8th November. - Four merchant snips were held up because of the refusal of seamen and cooks to sign on until the war risk bonus rates had been restored to their former level. Newcastle reported that, if any attempt were made to collect fines from certain mine employees due to appear at the Newcastle -court on charges of absenteeism, the miners’ federation would take “ industrial action “.
The 9th November. - Pig slaughtermen at Homebush went on strike,and 1,600 sheep were left unkilled by mutton slaughtermen.
The 10th November. - Because a desk was considered to be too high, about 700 workers went on strike at the Auburn works of Australian General Electric. Pig slaughtermen at Homebush abattoirs continued their strike, and 1,000 pigs were left unkilled. The pork was required for the services. Mutton slaughtermen left 2,800 sheep unkilled. Five mines were idle. Five interstate ships were involved in a dispute over the reduction of the war risk bonuses. More than 2,000 employees at PortKembla steel works ceased work.
The 13th November. - Sevenhund red strikers at Australian General Electric works. Auburn, returned to work. Four thousand eight hundred and fifty tons of coal lost in New South Wales strikes. Two ships held up in Sydney.
The 14th November. - Three thousand pigs, valued at £20,000 are awaiting slaughter at Homebush abattoirs because pig slaughtermen continued their strike. Mutton slaughtermen left 1,720 sheep unkilled. Eight coal mines idle.
Those are the latest figures I have been able to obtain. They reveal an appalling and alarming industrial position on the home front of a nation at war.
Regarding industrial dislocation generally, the Sydney Morning Herald stated on the 31st October that in New South Wales in the twenty months to the 31st August last, 1,432 industrial disputes had involved 588,951 workers, and had resulted in a loss of 1,461,671 man working days. These figures, the newspaper stated, had been compiled by the Department of Labour and Industry, and others from the same source showed the rapid increase of industrial unrest. In1943 there were 812 industrial disputes,compared with 667 in 1942. They had involved 355,597 workers, compared with 193,390 in 1942, and the man-working days lost had increased from 417,729 to 903,536.
The Sydney Morning Herald writer went on to say -
At times in and since the twenty months to the 31st August, industrial disputes wholly or partially deprived the neutral citizen of meat, bread, laundry, newspapers, car tyres, theatrical entertainment, hospital attention, buses and trams, cigarettes, coke for stoves, potatoes, restaurants, hot baths, country and interstate travel, and other amenities too numerous to mention.
Could any one imagine a more tragic diary of industrial upheavals in wartime? Clearly, a large number of, Australian trade unionists have no sense of responsibility. They think nothing of letting down their country, their fellow countrymen in the fighting services, and the Allied Nations. Parliament must consider what are the root causes of this industrial anarchy. The great majority of the strikes and disputes have no relation to the fair and reasonable claims of employees. Those who consider that they have a just grievance have access to conciliation and arbitration tribunals, but such tribunals are out of favour with the irresponsibles in industry who prefer direct action, regardless of how adversely it might affect the prosecution of the war. There can be no doubt that some of our industrial trouble is attributable to the activities of Communist agitators. They have been given an “ open go “ by this Government, and are losing no opportunity to disrupt industry, and to undermine constitutional authority. Therefore, it is imperative that the Government should immediately investigate the activities of Communists in relation to industrial disturbances. Such an investigation is long overdue, and I ask the Attorney-General for an assurance that the ranks of the Communists will be thoroughly combed in order to root out those who are responsible for creating disruption.
It is an appalling thing that industrial disturbances should have caused the loss of nearly 1,500,000 man-working hours at a time when the nation is straining all its , resources in the prosecution of the war. This loss has occurred at the very time when the rural industries are suffering from an acute shortage of man-power, and when dairying production is declining although it ought to be expanding. The shortage of manpower is resulting in a loss of food production so necessary to meet the demands of our own people, our Allies, and the people of the United Kingdom, ft is time the Government stopped praising itself for what it has done to save Australia. It is now confronted with the task of saving the reputation of. Australia by putting an end to industrial anarchy. The sooner it performs that task the better it will be for itself and for the nation.
– The Government is gratified at the achievements of our armed forces, and pays tribute to the valour of the men themselves, and to the ability with which they are being led. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), when discussing the war effort, said that he was particularly concerned over statements by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) and the CommanderinChief of the Australian Forces indicating, in his opinion, that Australian participation in the remainder of the conflict in the Pacific would be .of a secondary character. Naturally, we are just a little anxious to know what the Leader of the Opposition believes should be the role of the Australian forces during the rest of the war. Surely he does not criticize the great part played by this country and its people in the war up to the present. He said that the decision as to where the Australian forces were to be used, and for what purposes, rested with the Australian Government and with that I agree. It is entirely for the Australian Government to say where Australian forces shall be used.
– And the Higher Command.
– It is the duty of theHigher Command to conduct military operations, but it is for the Australian Government to decide in what theatre of war Australian forces shall be used. When the present Opposition parties were in. office they, as the Government, decided where Australian troops should be used, and the result was tragic for the people of Australia. Contrary to high military opinion, Australian troops were used in Greece, and in the subsequent campaign in Crete. Then we had the debacle at Singapore. When the Australians entered this war to defeat Nazi-ism, and to defend our way of life, they believed that they were fighting for something worth while, but apparently what they thought they were fighting for, and what the Leader of, the Opposition thinks they ought to be fighting for, are two different things. For instance, the Leader of the Opposition, in a recent speech, said -
Australia is entitled and bound to consider the nature of its contribution to the rest of the Pacific campaign because, on the nature and extent of that contribution, will depend, in very large measure, the significance which we will assume when the final settlement comes to be made.
Thus, he is not concerned with the success of the operation, but merely that Australian troops shall be employed in certain theatres of war so that we shall be able to take a more significant part in the final settlement. Actually, so long as the Nazi forces are defeated -it does not matter who does it. The important thing is to defeat them, but the Leader of the Opposition seems to think that the important thing is what say Australia will have in the final settlement. I was under the impression, and so were the people of Australia, that the war was being fought in defence of democracy and for the overthrow of Nazi-ism. It neve occurred to us that Australia was in the war for the sake of territorial expansion or to gain material advantage. Evidently, the Leader of the Opposition thinks these things important. The people of Australia will be shocked to learn that there are public men who believe that our soldiers should be used as pawns in a game, and placed in this theatre or that, not for the purpose of overthrowing the enemy, hut in order to give Australia’s representatives at the peace conference a talking point when they seek concessions in regard to territory and markets. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the growth of apathy among the people. I am amazed that the people have not become more war-weary than they are. The real cause of industrial unrest is that the people are beginning to wonder, in view of statements by members of, the Opposition, whether they are not once more to be cheated of the fruits of the victory won by their sacrifice. The Leader’ of the Opposition complained that there was an impression abroad that we might now relax our efforts. I make this prediction : Early next year, there will arrive in Australia a member of the Royal Family to assume the office of GovernorGeneral of Australia. Then we shall see the greatest orgy of, spending and extravagance that has taken place for a long time, and there will be gathered together in Canberra the greatest collection of snobs that this country can produce. Already, housing accommodation in Canberra is overtaxed. We shall not hear so .much then about the danger of relaxing the war effort. It would be far better if the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country party, instead of lecturing the workers, and drawing attention to their alleged shortcomings, were to commend them for the great effort that they have made, because, without their assistance, there could have been no war effort at all. No word of praise is ever offered to the many thousands of Australian workers who put up with all kinds of provocation without ever ceasing work.
Honorable members opposite complain that they are denied the opportunity to discuss ministerial statements. Let us see what happened at the end of the last session in regard to the ministerial statement on the Australian-New Zealand Agreement. I know very well what took place then, because I was waiting to take part in the debate. The Leader of the Opposition was, so he said, also anxious to speak, but he finally ran away from Canberra after having agreed to the adjournment of the debate. Recently, the right honorable gentleman said that a statement by a member of the Government on proposed banking legislation had disturbed the public mind, but that no clear statement had been made of the Government’s intention. The right honorable gentleman is concerned not with the war effort, or the progress made by our forces, but with what is going to happen to the wealthy sections of the community whom the Opposition parties represent. The Government will make its policy on banking very clear to the Opposition at the appropriate moment, and it will not be intimidated by campaigns inspired by newspapers which have earned a reputation for opposing every progressive movement in the community. (Some time ago, I was obliged by the action of the Opposition to face an inquiry by a royal commission. After the commissioner had given his verdict, the Opposition demanded that Parliament should he given an opportunity to debate the charges that I had made, and they further demanded that I be suspended from the Cabinet until Parliament met,, and the debate took place. To this I agreed. When the very report of what was known as the “ Brisbane line “ Royal Commission came before Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition, who had asked that I be kept out of the Cabinet, and that Parliament be given the opportunity to discuss the report, was not present when the debate took place. I washere ready to answer the charges and criticism levelled against me, but he had run away. The right honorable gentleman said that the stoppages on the coalfields were undermining the morale of the nation. A few weeks ago in this Parliament he suggested that the overcoming of difficulties in the coal-mining industry lay in a three-months strike. “ Let us have a three months’ strike, and we will show who is the boss “, he said. He wanted the Government to show that it was a strong government prepared’ to stand up against industrial upheavals,, even at the cost of a three-months’ strike-
What would have happened to the war effort in the meantime? This criticism of the Government in respect of industrial disturbances is not new. The right honorable gentleman has recently cited 1942 as the peak year of coal production, but I remind him that in that year he attacked me, as Minister for Labour and National Service, on account of the industrial unrest which he declared we were not doing anything to end. There is no need to impress upon . honorable members that one lesson we have all learned is that Australian workers cannot be coerced, and that if their problems are sympathetically considered they will co-operate to the utmost. The right honorable gentleman went on to attack the Government on the ground that by standing by the decisions of the reference boards in the coal-mining industry, the Government was undermining the Arbitration Court. The right honorable gentleman criticized the fact that former miners were chairmen of the reference boards. That is so. But we did not set up that industrial machinery. It was set up by the right honorable gentleman’s government. The present Government has continued that policy, and now it is charged with undermining the authority of the Arbitration Court ! While dealing with the question of morale and efforts to maintain industrial peace I am reminded that the anti-Labour Government established the infamous “ secret fund “ from which public moneys were proposed to be used to bribe union officials. What could harm morale more than that? First, it is wrong and improper for a government to have a secret fund for any purpose; and, secondly, it is well known that the workers strenuously resent interference in what they regard as the domestic affairs of their unions. If morale has been at all undermined, it has been undermined by certain statements made by honorable gentlemen opposite. On the very day on which atrocities committed against Australian prisoners of war by the Japanese were announced, the Leader of the Opposition made a statement at the Summer School of the Australian Institute of Political Science in
Canberra appealing for a prosperous Japan, and a prosperous Germany, after the war. That statement was more damaging to the morale of the people of this country than anything emanating from the Government benches. The workers of this country have not forgotten either the coercion of waterside workers on the south coast of New South Wales by the Menzies Government into loading scrap iron for Japan’s munitions factories. In the last few weeks we have heard a good deal about censorship, but if ever there was a man who attempted to become the dictator of Australia it was the Leader of the Opposition. It was he who issued Statutory Rule No. 42a of 1940, under which it was an offence to criticize war profits, to draw attention to anomalies in employment administration, to protest against the lack of support for the Chinese in their fight against Japan, to criticize the measures taken by the Commonwealth in financing the war - all that was forbidden under penalty. But, fortunately, the then Opposition was sufficiently alive to the situation to force the Government to amend the regulations, as public opinion was strongly opposed to the terms of regulation 42a. If the “ jingoists “ in this Parliament think they will have their way, and use Australian forces just where they determine so that later they may use this fact as a point of argument for material advantage, they will be disillusioned. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) made reference to an all-in war effort. The only way for an individual, without responsibility, to ensure that is to get as close as possible to the war, not by staying at home barking. Senator Foll described as fifth columnists people who held a “ beer strike “ because the price was too high. He said that this was undermining the war effort. His way to win the war was to have everybody drink more beer. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) declared against governmental interference with trade marks. He said it was a terrible thing for a government to interfere with private enterprise. We all know that the
Menzies Government’s policy was “business as usual “. Once the Leader of the Opposition said -
When this war is over I am not looking for a restoration of old privileges and of old possessions. There must be no looking back on what was in many ways an unjust state of society.
But what are the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues doing to-day? They have not made one constructive suggestion as to what should be done after the war to remove the injustices that were evident in our social system in pre-war days. Their attitude is “ let us get back to the days of struggles for markets “. If we do return to that state of affairs, we shall have to prepare for the third world war. Our only hope for the future is to effect radical changes in society. We must have home construction programmes, development of our industries and adequate provision for the people. But we must not continue the policy of building up perpetual debt, because it is not necessary. During the war we have used millions of pounds of national credit. What is wrong with using national credit when the war ends to provide homes for the people, and to undertake water conservation to arrest soil erosion, reafforestation and other national purposes? Whenever the Labour party talks about national credit, honorable members opposite immediately set up the cry “ inflation ! “, but the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), speaking on the Financial Agreement Bill, said that Australian bonds were negotiable instruments, and were just as much a part of the currency as were pound notes. He does not object to inflating the currency by the use of interest-bearing bonds, but he has strong objection to inflating it through the Commonwealth Bank by the use of national credit on which no interest is paid. His objection to national credit is that no interest is paid on it to private investors. There is no need for the people to be afraid of the Government’s banking legislation which will be introduced next year. Honorable gentlemen opposite are claiming that that legislation will destroy people’s investments, savings bank accounts, and insurance policies. That sort of propaganda may have an effect on ignorant people, but when the people learn the truth they will know that they have nothing to fear and everything to gain from the Labour party’s financial policy.
The Leader of the Australian Country party went through a whole list of industrial disturbances among meat workers, waterside workers and coal-miners, but not one word did he say in praise of the hundreds of thousands of workers who have made our war effort possible. The Labour Government regrets that there have been stoppages. The right honorable gentleman cited the number of working days lost, but he did not say how many working days were lost during the depression when hundreds of thousands of Australians were unemployed. Hearing the right honorable gentleman speak one would think that this was the first time that the people of this country had not been able to get enough to eat; but there have been other occasions. On this occasion, it is because there is a shortage of the things they need, but, in the depression were not able to buy the abundant accessaries of life because they had no money. The right honorable gentleman ascribed a number of the industrial troubles to the activities of the Communist party. The people are tired of the “ red bogy “. Look for fifth columnists not at the bottom but at the top. That has been the experience of every country. General de Gaulle and his Government in France had to nationalize the great industries of that country without compensation because, when the Germans occupied France, those in control of the great industries willingly turned their hands to assisting the enemy. They sold their country. That is what capitalism does wherever it exists. The industrial magnates are concerned only with profits. No matter what national flag flies over them profit is their only aim. This has been the experience in France. It is significant that honorable gentlemen opposite have not cared to debate the policy being pursued in France of nationalizing the great industries. France found the need for it, and we shall find the need to do it in this country. I propose to read an expression of opinion by a gentleman whom one naturally would assume to be a supporter of the Opposition parties. But even in their ranks, there are some who though misguided in the past, are now liberal in their outlook and are prepared to make a fair comment. In the Sydney Morning Herald on the 9th July, 1940, the following report appeared: -
In urging more serious action against defeatists and fifth columnists in Australia, Sir Samuel Cohen said yesterday that the Federal Government should not be content with dealing with the lower strata of society, but should look at those higher up. He added that “ he was speaking from knowledge “.
There is a gentleman who is prepared to deal fairly with the situation. He said that we must look higher up if we want to find the fifth columnists. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who parades himself as a great defender of democracy, belonged to an organization which believed in the use of force to overthrow the properly constituted government of this country - a government which had been elected by popular franchise. Because they disagreed with the policy of that Government, he and his associates were prepared to whip up their indignation and use force to overthrow a democratically elected govern.ment. The same thing may occur in the future, because the very campaign which is now being whipped up by the Sydney Morning Herald is similar to the commencement of the campaign by the New Guard movement, in which the honorable member was an officer. On many occasions, he has availed himself of opportunities to claim that I was not keeping strictly to the truth. Before the honorable member accuses any one else of being dishonest, let him read the Parliamentary Handbook, in which he claims to have been a member of some Australian Imperial Force rowing crew which won some race or other.
– Australian Imperial Force team.
– Why was not the honorable member honest enough to state that, instead of being a member of the crew, he was an emergency for the second eight!
– That is a deliberate lie, and I cast it back in the Minister’s teeth.
– It is not the first time that the honorable member has put his oar in at the wrong time. Therefore, I tell my colleagues not to be stampeded by the attacks of our direct political opponents in this Parliament and by those whom they attempt to whip up outside this chamber. The Labour party has nothing to fear. The greatest danger to the Labour party is timidity, that is, if the members elected to this Parliament hesitate or are influenced by this inspired campaign. But the Labour Government is composed of courageous men determined to give effect to the policy approved by the people. We shall restore the faith of the people in democracy. What undermines faith in democracy is the fact that people say, “ it does noi matter whom we elect to Parliament because they all are the same. They do not fulfil their promises”. We shall fulfil our promises. We shall apply the policy approved by the people at the last general election, and if we do that, we shall have nothing to fear. This war will be brought to a successful conclusion by the organization of the whole of the resources of the nation ‘behind the Labour Government - the only government that can ensure an all-in war effort. When the war is concluded, the people who have entrusted us with the conduct of the war, after having taken it out of the hands of our opponents, will continue that confidence into the post-war period. Honorable members opposite would do well to realize that this Government will not be intimidated, but will effect great radical changes in this country, and the people will get the benefits’ of the victory which they have won.
– We have just listened to a characteristic speech by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) - a speech which was a tissue of half truths and concocted stories. But it was in keeping with the speeches that he usually makes in this House. Indeed, we on this side of the chamber have become so accustomed to speeches of this nature that if we could descend to the depths of muck-raking that the Minister reaches, we could write them in advance. If we attempted to do so, the nib would corrode, the ink would become mud, and the pen handle would rot away with the filth in which the Minister indulges. On a previous occasion, this cold-footed Minister, who was not “ game “ to go to the last war or to this war, cast a reflection on my war service. Later, he had to apologize to me because he had uttered a deliberate untruth. That fact is on record. Now he has made another false statement. The facts with regard to the matter mentioned by him can be established by any honorable member who cares to peruse the Parliamentary Handbook. I cast the lie in the Minister’s teeth.
However, I do not propose to be sidetracked from my prepared speech on the defence statement by any vile untruth which the Minister uttered. Characteristically, he endeavoured to stir up class hatred. Immediately he rose in his place, he attacked the GovernorGeneral, a member of the Royal Family. His statements were as irresponsible as his accusations known as the “Brisbane lie “. When a royal commission was appointed to investigate his allegations, he ran away from it.
– I did not.
– The Minister was not prepared to give evidence before that royal commission. He was branded as a coward for having evaded his obligations in the last war, and in this war, and as a coward in public affairs for his refusal to give evidence before the royal commission. He preferred to take advantage of parliamentary privilege. Knowing that he cannot be held responsible elsewhere for his statements, he empties into this House the filth gathered from the sewer. Honorable members on this side of the chamber will regard his statements for what they are worth.
The Minister said that the Opposition gives no praise to the workers’ contribution tq the war effort. We are fighting for self-preservation, and for personal liberty. Does the soldier who fights in the mud and the jungle of New Guinea, and who sacrifices his life for a few shillings a day, want to shed his blood f He does not. But the workers at home are receiving more money than ever before. Some earn as much as £14 or £15 a week, and they continue to live under peace-time conditions. They cannot be mentioned in the same breath as the soldiers who are sacrificing their lives in order to preserve those conditions for Australian civilians - conditions which are much too good for some of them. So far from going out of our way to praise the workers, those who are sabotaging our war effort should be treated as they are likely to be treated in every democratic country. They should be arraigned before committees of. the people and dealt with as saboteurs.
The Minister declared that the Government had the right to determine where Australian troops shall be sent to fight, and he criticized the views of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) on this matter. The Opposition has always expressed that opinion. We believe that high policy involving the disposition of troops is a matter for the Government. But does the Minister consider that our wonderful front-line troops are carrying out their full duty to Australia when they are being used as second-line troops for mopping up operations? Will that get us anywhere among the nations at the peace conference, when Australia will seek bases in the perimeter islands to protect our security? Will Australia be able to claim equality with those countries which used their soldiers as front-line troops? It is not likely that we shall have fewer casualties than we would if our men were used as front-line troops, because mopping up operations take a heavy toll of life. But those operations are not a part of initial military moves in the reconquest of territories. Our “ storm troops “ are being used as second-line troops by a craven government, which is not prepared to accept its full share of responsibility by issuing directions to the High Command to employ our soldiers as frontline troops. This disposition of troops does not depend on strategy; it is a matter of policy. The Government must accept responsibility for its attitude. As I stated, I agree with the Minister that the Government must determine where our troops are to be used. But whenever I find myself in agreement with him, I look around cautiously to see whether I am wrong.
The statement on defence matters which the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) made some time ago, was debated, and then the Government placed it, at the bottom of the business paper. To begin with, I object to that, because a statement of that nature should be of sufficient importance to rank first on the business paper. Too little attention is paid by this Parliament to the progress of the war. We are too much concerned with minor and local matters, and the fact that the war has been relegated to the bottom of the business paper is a reflection upon the Government. But from the standpoint of value, the Acting Prime Minister’s statement has been placed in its proper position. I cannot find in it anything of value. It took the Leader of the Opposition to give to the people of Australia a statement that was of real value. His speech gave them some heart, and an indication of the progress of the Allies in this war. I was impressed with *his observations. When he spoke about the war in the Pacific and paid a glowing tribute to the Royal Australian Navy, he immediately wrung from the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) a statement on its performances. We have heard too little of the exploits and gallant deeds of our navy. From the statement of the Leader of the Opposition emerged one very important fact which should be heeded by this Government. The statement by the Minister for the Navy showed that the efficient Royal Australian Navy has participated in many actions at sea and has covered many landings in the Pacific. When troops are being landed on hostile shores by the British and American navies, a strong air cover is provided to protect the men. Unfortunately, the Royal Australian Navy has practically no air cover.
We have no aircraft carriers, and only a small naval air arm. Attention was drawn to this deficiency by the Leader of the Opposition. Our navy should be supplied with aircraft carriers. The aircraft carrier is no longer a long-range fighting force at. sea, but is essential to any landing operations. From the navy can be launched attacks upon land bases which must be captured before the Allies can make any territorial gains. The Government should take notice of the suggestion of the Opposition that aircraft carriers should be provided in order to give our navy proper air cover.
I have already referred to the remarks of the Acting Prime Minister concerning projected troop movements. It is a sad commentary on our affairs that the movement of our troops should be subject only to military strategy. I do not often find myself in agreement with the Minister for Transport, but I am glad that he indicated in his speech that he realized the necessity for the Government to take some active interest in the disposition of our troops. We are entitled to something more from the Acting Prime Minister than a passing reference to this subject. I direct attention to the following passages from the statement of the right honorable gentleman: -
Having outlined the present position of the war, and traversed the measures taken to re-balance the war effort, I speak frankly to the Australian people through the Parliament, on the subject of public morale. I have no reason to believe that the Australian people are dissatisfied with the war effort of the Commonwealth.
I pause at this point to say to the Acting Prime Minister that if he could read the numerous communications which I have received from constituents of some honorable members opposite concerning the failure of the Government to act effectively to overcome industrial anarchy in this country, he would not say that our people are not dissatisfied with the war effort. Of course, the constituents of Government supporters write to honorable members on this side of the chamber because they realize that honorable members opposite are controlled by the trade union movement, whereas we are free and fearlessly express our views in this House. The Acting Prime Minister also said -
There are signs of complacency and reaction to war strain throughout the community.
Complacency is mainly due to the opinion that victory is not far off. Many persons, no doubt, hold the belief that victory is just round the corner.
Those who heard the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) must realize only too well that there is reason to fear complacency in Australia. I consider that our troubles are clue in the main to the complete failure of the Government to take the steps necessary to bring the warring industrial factions into line with an all-in war effort.
The debates in this House in the last fortnight or so have shown that New South Wales, in particular, is in a desperate -position. If. the Commonwealth Government does not take a firm grip of the situation the whole country will slide into industrial anarchy. Not only has the Government lost control of the industrial position, but it also contains within its ranks certain elements which are using the Communist plan to destroy the confidence of the people in institutions that are essential to democracy. The Communist practice is to endeavour to destroy confidence in trade unionism, the Government and the judiciary. That procedure has been followed in every country where communism has become established. I believe that an element on the benches opposite panders to the Communist tactics. It appears to me that the Government is endeavouring to establish two forms of law in this country. The first form is designed to operate leniently in respect of Government supporters, and those who are able to wring concessions from it; and the second is to apply to citizens who attempt to carry out their duties honestly and well, and have no force behind them to enable them to wring concessions from the Government.
It will be exceedingly unfortunate if two legal standards should be established in Australia.
A definite attempt is being made by some honorable members opposite to pervert justice for political purposes. That is a most sinister development in a democratic community. I deeply regret that some members of the Ministry have acted in. a way that tends to destroy the confidence of the people in the law. I shall refer to certain incidents which in my opinion prove the truth of my allegations. Hitherto in Australia it has been the practice for Ministers, when making public statements, to express government policy. In fact in every democratic government it is the recognized practice for Ministers to observe this rule. The traditional practice is that when a Minister finds that on a particular subject he is unable to conform to the policy of the Ministry he retires from the Government. That, of course, is the basis of democratic government. Ministers who fail to observe that rule are heading towards totalitarianism. During the period of office of the Lyons Government, a certain Minister wrote a book on the subject of sanctions which was not in accordance with government policy on the subject and he was promptly disciplined. Ministers who do not see eye to eye with their colleagues should take the honorable course of retiring from the Cabinet, or the Cabinet should oblige them to do so. But what do we find in regard to the spineless crew now sitting on the treasury bench? Not only every Minister, but also almost every bureaucratic appointee of this Government, apparently considers he is at liberty to give expression to any socialistic policy to which he may be attracted. When these individuals have been challenged in respect of certain utterances we have heard a mealymouthed apology for them and they have been allowed to go blithely on their way.
I direct the attention of honorable members once more to the recent action of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) in attacking members of the High Court Bench. Such conduct surely tends to destroy the confidence of the people in the law courts and to bring members of the judiciary into disrepute. The Minister for Information, it should be remembered, is a highly placed official” of the Australian Labour movement. It was he who challenged the Prime Minister some time ago when that right honorable gentleman went, cap in hand, to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions to discuss with them the Defence (Citizen- Military Forces) Bill The Minister held his leader up to ridicule throughout the country. This disrupter in the Cabinet is interested mainly in his own personal ends and not in the country’s needs. The same honorable gentleman, recently attempted to stifle the free press of Australia. If he had had his way, there would have been no freedom of expression in the press. He would have prevented the press from publishing anything in opposition to government policy. If the freedom of the press’ were destroyed, even though it might be a poor press, democracy would be on the way to destruction.
When certain members of the High Court Bench were being criticized in this House by the Minister for Information a few days ago, the Attorney-General, who was some time ago a brother judge, had not a word to say. He allowed his former colleagues to be traduced, although he knew that they could not defend themselves. Why did not the right honorable gentleman defend his former colleagues? The reason is that he is under the control of the militant trade unionists, who, in some instances, are known to be Communists; and Communists are out to destroy the confidence of the people in the law courts. I consider that the Attorney-General showed himself the other day to be a willing tool of these individuals, otherwise he would not have remained silent whilst his former colleagues were being traduced. The actions of the Minister for Information have awakened the gravest suspicion in the minds of some people that all is not well. The Minister, who has sworn allegiance to the Crown, has been attacking instruments of the Crown; and, in doing so, he has, in my opinion, been false to his oath. His ministerial colleagues should deal with him, or they must accept their share of the opprobrium that his actions will cause.
Another member of this Government lias attempted, to intimidate a public officer who has served this nation faithfully as the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. This officer was virtually told that if he dared to give evidence in a court of law on a certain matter, he was likely to have his job taken from him. That is, perhaps, the worst form of intimidation that could be applied.
Many business men’ in this country are . also being subjected to a form of intimidation by the bureaucrats appointed by this Government. Because of the manpower situation, they feel that they cannot freely express their opinions. If they did so the repercussions might be too severe.
I pass now to a consideration of the affairs of the coal-mining industry. Instead of exerting themselves to maintain our coal reserves in order to meet the war-time needs of the country, the coalminers have been doing a great deal to exhaust reserves. The consequence is that many of our essential industries are in a perilous position. The gas companies in New South Wales have only two weeks’ supply of coal, the railways have only two or three weeks’ supply, and the electricity undertakings have almost exhausted their reserves. It may happen that our blast furnaces and our open hearth furnaces may have to close down because fuel is not available. Foundry coke is almost non-existent, and it is the basis of operations for castings in our munitions industries. We ‘are drawing on our reserves of munitions to supply our war effort overseas. The Government cannot claim that it is engaging in an all-in war effort so long as it allows these conditions to continue. The coal-miners are challenging the courts, and are being upheld in that action by the Government. The Arbitration Court has been directed not to take any further interest in certain matters affecting them. Regulations have been drafted to remove from the court some of its rightful duties in connexion with industrial conditions. This has been clone under pressure. The secretary of the miners’ federation issued the statement -
If you fine us, we will not nay. If you impose these conditions Upon us, we will revert to jungle warfare. If you want a general strike, wc will give it to you.
The coal-miners ‘are grasping full control, and this spineless Government is prepared to forfeit it and to allow the administration of the affairs of this country to pass into the hands of militant trade unions. “We have heard so much about the record coal production of 12,2S0,770 tons in 1942, that it is necessary that I should give other figures. The production in 1941 was 11,765,(198 tons, and in 1943 it was 11,473,499 tons. The estimated production for this year is 10,750,000 tons. The Government can expect scant praise for a record production in 19412, in the light of the fact that in the two succeeding years the production was considerably less than in 1943, when we were not engaged in war with Japan and were not fighting for our very existence. I commend the Sydney Morning Herald for its endeavours to interest public opinion and to arouse public feeling in the matter. It is high time the people were aroused to the need for action against the ineptitude of the Government. I have received >a.t different times many letters and telegrams from almost every electorate represented by honorable members opposite. A characteristic letter from a constituent of mine, enclosing a copy of one written to the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), reads -
As one of your supporters in the electorate I am enclosing for your information a copy of a letter I have written to the Acting Prime Minister-. There is no need to elaborate on the present state of affairs. My wool which was shorn in the beginning of September is still in the shed - no coal for transport. Stock are left to waste at the abattoirs - rabbits have nearly eaten me out because the man-power people took my rabbitors away after I had paid them “ scalp money “ all through ‘ the summer to hold them for the winter. My wheat crop is not going to be any good through past limitations of acreage and while my financial loss was fairly great over the. past year I am not one bit concerned with that part of it, but as we do not seem to be represented in the present fighting areas I am sorry at not being able to supply our Allies with foodstuffs.
The letter to the Acting Prime Minister reads -
It is a sense of growing alarm that is prompting me to write this letter to you. The whole countryside is in a state of anarchy - men attend their places of employment - demand more - but fail to work. They are evidently influenced by revolutionary doctrines which are turning them into moral and social cowards. Australia to-day reminds me of France just before her fall when “ the people mistook politics for war “. I have seen Ireland ravished and torn by internal strife and 1 make this appeal to you as head of the Government to stop the trend of affairs, which if not soon arrested must surely lead to civil war. Can you please tell me what I can do to personally help this country in the severe crisis through which it is now passing?
That letter is signed “ ‘Cecil Matthews “. The Acting Prime Minister has not replied to it. The public can exert much stronger pressure than can the militant trade unions. Until the people are prepared to take the matter in hand, the Government will continue to be subservient to the trade unions; but immediately they begin to “wield the big stick” not only the trade unions but also the Government will come cowardly to heel, and honorable members opposite will perform the functions imposed on them by their election to this Parliament. The Acting Prime Minister must do his duty on behalf of the country. Other Ministers on the front bench should not forget for a moment that the Communist doctrine aims at the destruction of the instrumentalities of democracy. The people of Australia demand that the Government shall stand up to its responsibilities, and it must do so.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Sheehy) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 19th September (vide page 957), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the following paper be printed: - “ National Debt Commission - Twenty-first annual report for year 1 943-44 “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendment) :
Clause 9 -
The sale or disposition of the whole or any part of the undertaking of the Commission shall not be effected unless approved by resolution passed by both Houses of the Parliament.
Senate’s amendment -
After “Parliament”, add “of the Commonwealth and by resolution passed by both Houses of the Parliament of the State of Tasmania “.
– I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) moved this amendment during the committee stage of the bill in this chamber. It provides that, before any part of the undertaking of the industry can be disposed of, the consent must be obtained of not only both Houses of this Parliament but also both Houses of the Parliament of Tasmania. When I promised to have this provision inserted in the Senate, the honorable member withdrew her amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported report adopted.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Wine Export Bounty Bill 1944.
Financial Agreement Bill 1944.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) 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.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
As this will be the last sitting of the House prior to Christmas, I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and the Chairman of Committees, for the splendid services you have rendered. Your impartiality and ability have done credit to this House and the Parliament. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the rest that you have well earned. On behalf of the Government, I also thank the Clerk of the House, the Assistant Clerk, and all the parliamentary staffs, for their services.
A Parliament cannot function successfully without the co-operation of not only ministerial members but also members of the Opposition. I am grateful to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), and all other honorable members on both sides of the House, for their co-operation in the despatch of business. I also thank the members of the various parliamentary committees for the capable way in which they have functioned. A special word of praise is due to the members of the Hansard staff.
– They are the men who make the speeches.
– I have no doubt that they improve the speeches of most honorable members. We are deeply indebted to the Parliamentary Librarian and the members of his staff, as well as to our friends in the press gallery. “We may not always agree with the press reports of the proceedings of the Parliament, and particularly with the leading articles that are published in some journals, but 1 believe that the pressmen in the parliamentary gallery do an efficient job, and strive to give faithful service in providing accurate reports.
There are other officers of whom we do not see much, including the attendants, the permanent heads of departments, the staffs of Ministers, and all the clerical assistants who make for the smooth and successful functioning of this democratic institution. We owe a debt of gratitude to the engineers for the capable manner hi which they have maintained the machinery associated with the electricity supply, the air conditioning, and the other conveniences in the building. At different times, all honorable members patronise the parliamentary refreshment rooms. I thank the head steward and his capable staff for their services. We are also indebted to the gardeners attached to the staff of Parliament for the work they have done in keeping the grounds in good condition, despite the fact that, they, too, have their manpower difficulties. The head gardener has, in the circumstances, done a creditable job.
I regret that this session should close in the absence of the Prime Minister. He holds a special place in the esteem of every honorable member of this Parliament. I am pleased to be able to say, from reports which have come to hand to-day, that he is making satisfactory progress -towards recovery. With a continuance of the well-earned rest which he is now enjoying, it will not be long before he is able to return and take his place as head of the Government, and leader of this Parliament. I know that I voice the sentiments of all honorable members when I say that we extend to him seasonal greetings, and best wishes for a speedy recovery.
– I do not propose to follow the Acting Prime Min ister (Mr. Forde) through his enumeration of those whose services we acknowledge at this time. Opposition members will join with me in offering our very warmest wishes to our fellow-members for the Christmas season, and for the coming New Year. We also acknowledge the efforts of those whose activity makes possible the work of this Parliament. I join with the Acting Prime Minister in the wishes he has expressed for the recovery of the Prime Minister. A Prime Minister, in time of war, carries a special burden, the full weight of which is not known to most people. There is no doubt that the effect of incessant work has had much to do with bringing him to a hospital bed. I trust that he will stay there sufficiently long to make a complete recovery, but not so long as to deprive Parliament and the Government of his services for an undue time.
– Members of the Australian Country party join with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) in extending thanks to the various staffs associated with Parliament, and in extending to them our good wishes for the Christmas season and the New Year. We hope that the health of the Prime Minister will be rapidly restored, so that he will once more be able to discharge the onerous duties which fall to the lot of the leader of the nation in time of war. I was very sorry to learn that he was ill. Good health is one of the essential ingredients of a happy life. Good health and good fellowship are two things which, in my opinion, make life worthwhile.
– I join with other honorable members in hoping that the. Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) will be rapidly restored to health. Once more, I urge the Government to direct its attention to the need for increasing primary production. When the Pacific war becomes more intense, Australia will be required to supply more and more food to the Allied forces.
But for a variety of reasons, our actual production is steadily dwindling. It is essential that more labour should be released for the primary industries. The situation has been complicated by the drought, which has had this effect: For less production, it is necessary to do much more work. Fodder has to be carted for stock, and the stock must be driven considerable distances to water. All the authorities, from the District Agricultural Committees to the highest man-power officials, agree that the only way to meet the labour shortage in rural industries is to relase men from the Army. All restrictions on their release must be removed. Something has been done in this direction, but not enough. I know of one man who is trying to run six dairies. He is 70 years of age and has had two boys in the forces; one of them, who has been on active service for five years, has been recommended for release so that he may , help his father, but the application has been refused by the military authorities because it was not received prior to October of last year. That seems to be an extraordinarily stupid stand to take. The Government should give its immediate attention to this matter, and direct that another 4,000 or 5,000 men be released on the same conditions as applied to the 4,000 released recently.
Primary production is also being retarded by the shortage of coal. Because of transport restrictions, farmers cannot get their produce to market, and people are unable to travel, whilst the coal shortage is also restricting the production of electric power. I have just received a letter written by a soldier who is at present a patient in the Prince Alfred Hospital. He served four years with the forces during this war, and I was able to get a man released from the forces to take his place on the farm while he is in hospital. The letter, which is dated the 28th November, is as follows: -
I have to thank you for your interest in having Muldoon released for me, and the two memorandums relating thereto that you have recently sent along from L.H.Q.
There appeared on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald of the 27th November an article advising serious-thinking people to contact their federal members and express their disgust and concern regarding the coal position in Australia. I would go further and suggest a drastic but effective remedy. It is quite apparent that the rot cannot be stopped by the means the Government in office permits itself to use in controlling privileged lawbreakers. Cajolery, fawning purposeless threats and appeals have had no effective result in producing adequate coal supplies for Australia at war. The press goes so far as to state that the lives of men in our forward areas are being needlessly sacrificed as a direct result of curtailed industry and transport due to coal shortages.
Military authority in time of war has, very rightly, tremendous powers. Let the Australian Imperial Force take over every coalmining district in Australia, and administer these centres under martial law. Among the fighting divisions there are pitifully few original members remaining. My own unit contains about 30 originals of the initial strength of 570 men. These men, veterans of so many campaigns, could bc trusted to obtain results at any price, knowing as they do the vital necessity for continuity of supply.
Coal, in adequate supply, would thus be assured for every industry and business working in any way for the war effort. Civilian amenities and conveniences could be left as a very secondary consideration - a bone of contention to be picked bare at the next federal elections.
There would be those who would recoil in horror at what they would term a military Putsch. We are facing up to a much uglier thing to-day ! How many of our 8th Division will see the end of a war unnecessarily prolonged? How many of our best men, fighting, desperately short of supplies by reason of that vital commodity, coal, will return to us to help Australia when she will need men in the troublous times of peace? The matter is urgent.
.- The shouting and the tumult having largely ceased, and the captains and the kings having sped off in their high-powered cars to Sydney, honorable members who remain have an opportunity to discuss in a quieter atmosphere matters of interest to them and to the country. It sounds somewhat hollow to hear Christmas greetings being exchanged at a time like this. There are many thousands of people for whom there can be no happy Christmas this year. There is a sense of unreality about these effusions. Probably we cannot affect the course of the great offensive now taking place in Europe, hut it is somewhat nauseating to have to listen to speeches of the kind made to-day by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward).
– The honorable member may not, in speaking to the motion for the adjournment of the House, revive a debate which took place earlier to-day.
– Very well, I leave it at that. It is not sufficiently appreciated what an important part the bombing of Germany has played in destroying the enemy’s war potential. Now that Germany is a besieged fortress, and its cities are more or less funeral pyres for the Nazi hopes, the offensive being mounted in Europe may get through, and peace, may come quickly. There are 20,000 Australians in Europe as members of air crews, serving either in our own squadrons or in Fighter, Bomber, Transport, Coastal, or Training Command. Recently the Minister for Air in Great Britain said that the Empire Air Training Scheme would cease to operate in March of next year. Under that scheme, many thousands of young men from all parts of the Empire were partly trained in their own country, and then went to Great Britain for the completion of their training. They paid a high price in casualties, particularly on the European front, where action was always intensive. They also played an important part in the South-West Pacific. To-day, the Acting Minister for Air (Mr. Lazzarini) made a statement, the full purport of which was not understood by more than half a dozen members of this House. I had hoped to hear some plan that would be helpful in the reorganization of our excellent air force, because naturally, with the ending of the training scheme, air crews became surplus. But a most depressing statement was made by the Acting Minister. In effect it amounts to “this : Air crew in operational training units will go on. That is to say that men in the last stage of their training, men who have gone through the initial training schools, the elementary flying schools and the service flying training schools on to operational training units will be retained. Only a proportion of the men who qualify at service flying training schools will be chosen. What a state of uncertainty exists for men who have spent eighteen months in training, on each of whom about £2,000 has been expended. Some of these men surrendered commissions in the Australian Imperial Force in order to start again from the bottom and train as air crew - just to be jettisoned.
– Is the honorable member not glad that we shall not need them ?
– Of course I am glad, but the Minister for War Organization of Industry does not understand what I am driving at. What I object to is the diversion of men who have spent their own valuable time, and on whose training thousands of pounds has been expended, to jobs like wharf labouring.
– The right honorable member for Cowper is continually asking for men for primary industries.
– But the Government is using these men to replace lazy men who will not work on the wharfs. Six sergeant pilots with experience overseas, who have done no flying since their return, were called upon to unload a ship. They will not shirk any work, hazardous in the air or arduous on the ground, but is that what they are trained for? Only a sufficient number of those who qualify at service flying training schools will be retained to meet operational training unit requirements and squadron replacements. What a state of uncertainty exists for the men in every service flying training school in Australia ! Then with regard to men in the elementary flying training schools, where young men learn to fly in Wackett and Moth trainers, and give some indication of whether they should be commissioned officers or non-commissioned pilots, if I read the acting Minister’s statement correctly, not a single one will go on with training. They will be discharged. Here is the story -
A number of those who have not completed training may, if they so desire and subject to endorsement by the man-power authorities, be discharged to permit of them engaging in civil employment. The remainder of partially trained air crew will be temporarily absorbed by one or other of the following methods, all of which would ensure that they would be available to resume air crew training when they are required.
Those who so wish may be released for short periods to the man-power authorities for seasonal or temporary employment.
Wharf-labouring or other work which will not be done by the highly paid men who should be doing it !
These personnel would he granted leave without pay.
Youths who have spent two years in the Air Training Corps waiting to enlist in the Royal Australian Air Force as air crew, who have reached the leaving certificate standard of education and have at last passed into the initial training schools to learn to fly, are told that they must get out or apply for remustering as ground staff.
– What would the honorable member do?
– I shall tell the honorable gentleman. The lack of imagination shown by those responsible for this statement of policy is shameful. Many of the young men who do remuster will find themselves junior to other young men who have not their educational qualifications. In spite of those qualifications, many of them will be used as guards and in other musterings in which the high qualifications that gained them entry into air crew training schools will be wasted. Some will undergo technical training -
Then we have this amazing paragraph -
It will be difficult to remuster some of these men who may hold the rank of sergeant, but may not be qualified to hold that rank in suitable ground staff musterings.
That presages a wholesale demoting of sergeants who have earned their rank by merit. Are the Government and its advisers so sterile of imagination that they cannot think of anything better than that?
These are my recommendations -
Too many men have been reduced in rank on their return. They may have earned their rank in the air, and on their return they have found themselves junior to men who have not had operational service. If men have earned their rank in the air, they should retain it, even as supernumeraries. That was the policy in the Army in the last war, and it should be the policy of the Air Force in this war. Too many men, like Truscott,. Brennan and Bungey, have been deprived of their rank on their return to. Australia on the ground that their overseas rank was only acting. Protests did result in a partial rectification of that state of affairs. Now, if a man earns his promotion in the air, he retains it. But a man, having completed a tour of’ operations, which means 30 raids - and the average expectation is 20 raids - may receive promotion in a school of instruction and lose his rank on his return to Australia. Any man who earns his rank overseas should keep it.
It is better that surplus administrative men be released rather than air crews.
In Great Britain I saw hundreds of Australian,, New Zealand and Canadian air-crew members collected in personnel depots.Realizing that boredom is the greatest deteriorator of morale, and in order that those men might be kept so active as to keep them confident, the Royal Air Force provides advanced study courses, and educational tours to war factories, and attaches temporarily unattached air crew to the Army and Navy. [Extension of time granted.]
The initial training schools will have no work to do now, although the Government says that in order to keep the Air Training Corps in operation, limited numbers of air-crew trainees will be taken. It seems that the Government is pulling out the plug to get rid of trained pilots and turning on the tap from the Air Training Corps end. It is telling these boys that they are likely to be pilots. That is a hopeless way of tackling the problem. The Minister for the Navy should follow the example set in the Royal Navy and attach to the Royal Australian Navy some of the unattached air-crew personnel.
– The honorable member would not advise that when so many industries are crying out for labour?
Mr.WHITE. - It keeps them on their toes instead of having them sitting down doing nothing.
– I would not have them sitting down and doing nothing. I would let them go out and work.
– In Britain they went out and helped in the harvest voluntarily. Many members of the British services did that. But the plan that has been described to-day is going to shatter this splendid organization and disperse trained men. That will break down their morale. They are to be told to go into seasonal work. Never was there a statement so full of the possibility of affecting the morale of the Air Force than this statement. The Government should reconsider this matter, and prepare a progressive programme.
My other recommendations are -
The Royal Air Force is already doing this and offering opportunity to dominion officers, so that our best may be lost if action is not taken soon.
That the growth, training and record of the Royal Australian Air Force from small beginnings is an inspiring story goes without saying, but Australia’s postwar obligations will necessitate a strong air force, and efficiency must be the first consideration.
– I call attention to the state of the House.
– I protest against the manner in which the debates are being conducted in this chamber. Many supporters of the Government have already gone home, and now this “ stooge “ directs attention to the state of the House.
– Order! The honorable member for Balaclava is not in order in calling the honorable member for Lilley a “ stooge “.
The bells having been rung and a quorum not being present,
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 4.32 p.m., to a date and hour to toe fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Railways Act - By-law No. 84.
Land Acquisition Act - Land acquired. - For Postal purposes - Glen Davis, New South Wales.
National Security Act - National Security (Aliens Control) Regu lations - Order - Aliens (Queensland curfew).
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of -
Essential materials (No. 10).
Footwear (Styles and quality) (No.5).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister repre senting the Acting Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
On the 23rd November last, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked whether repatriated prisoners of war from Crete and other theatres in the Middle East would be granted the same treatment as those from Malaya who, on completion of their leave, will be given the option of remaining in the forces or being discharged.
Upon return to Australia, repatriated prisoners of war will be granted disembarkation leave of 60 days, plus travelling time up to a further fourteen days. If, however, the members concerned apply for special leave to be granted to them in other countries prior to their return to Australia, this leave will be deducted from the two months’ disembarkation leave in Australia, provided that in every case a minimum of at least 21 days’ , disembarkation leave will be granted in Australia.
In respect of the prisoners recently recovered from the torpedoed Japanese transport, on the grounds of the exceptional harrowing experiences that they had suffered, special approval was given by War Cabinet that they be given the option of continuing to serve or being discharged.
The general practice at present in force for other repatriated and escaped prisoners of war on their return from leave is that they are submitted to a searching examination by a medical board to determine whether they are medically fit for continued service. Those found to be unfit are discharged subject, to any hospital treatment which they may . require, and those found fit, Class “ A “ or “ B “, ‘ are posted to suitable military duties. “ B “ class men are capable of performing valuable work in many types of units, and thereby making fitter men available as much needed reinforcements for operational units.
Repatriated prisoners of war (i.e., prisoners sent back by the enemy on the decision of a mixed medical commission because of serious illness or serious wounds) will not be employed in any expeditionary force or in any operational zone, and will not, under any circumstances, be posted to or proceed to the Northern Territory, New Guinea, or any operational areas outside Australia. For the reasons for which they were repatriated it will be appreciated that the great majority of this class are discharged from the Army when they return to Australia.
The Prisoner-of-war Convention of 1929 places no restriction, however, on the further military employment of the following classes of personnel: -
At the present time these personnel, if they are medically fit for further service, may be posted to duties and in areas in accordance with their medical classification.
The general question of the treatment of repatriated and other prisoners of war on return to Australia is, at the present time, under review by the Government.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follows : - 1. («) The Commonwealth does not accept the principle that it has any liability for the repair and maintenance of State roads; (6) if, however, it is substantiated that excessive damage has been caused hy special type defence vehicles or by heavy defence traffic concentrated in isolated or sparsely settled areas, claims by local authorities for financial assistance towards the cost of repairs and maintenance of such roads are investigated and dealt with bv the service department concerned and the Treasury on their merits.
Supplies of DDT.
n asked the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Australia First Movement: Inquiry by Mr. Justice Clyne. ,
e. - On the 29 th November, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked a question, upon notice, relating to evidence given by Captain Blood on the 9th November, 1944, in the Australia First Inquiry before Mr. Justice Clyne. The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The extracts from the transcript of the proceedings quoted by the honorable member are substantially correct.
Broadcasting: REVENUE of Commercial Stations.
– Yesterday the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) asked me a question regarding an inquiry made of commercial broadcasting stations regarding details of revenue.
I have discussed the right honorable member’s question with the PostmasterGeneral, and I understand that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Broadcasting forwarded a communication to commercial broadcasting stations asking for information with respect to the Amount of revenue derived from network, agencies, and other sources. This action was not taken at the direction of the Postmaster-General or any other member of the Government. I am unaware whether the non-Government members of the committee were consulted before the communication was sent. The information is being sought in regard to broadcasting matters under reference to the committee, which do not include nationalization of commercial broadcasting stations.
Civil Aviation: Government Ownership or Interstate Airlines.
e. - On the 28th November, the right honorable the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Menzies) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Will the Acting Prime Minister prepare and lay on the table of the House a statement showing how much of the amounts mentioned by him last week as payments to the air line companies was, in fact, payment for services, including the carriage of mails?
The information requested by the right honorable member is set out as follows : -
Commonwealth of Australia to wit.
By His Royal Highness the Governor-General in and over the Commonwealth of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 December 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1944/19441201_reps_17_180/>.