17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 am., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service bad an opportunity to consider representations in regard to the shortage of school teachers in Tasmania, on which subject I have had correspondence with the Premier of that State? Is he able to say whether or not additional teachers can be made available to meet very pressing needs?
– Acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, I have had correspondence with the Premier of Tasmania and others in regard to the shortage of school teachers in all States. As the result of negotiations, Cabinet willbe asked at its nest meeting to take steps for the special release of 1,000 school teachers. When they become available, they will be allocated to all States, including Tasmania, according to needs.
– Is the report correct that the Acting Attorney-General has received a telegram from the secretary of the Balmain Municipal Labour Council, asking him to support the request by certain strikers for a ballot to decide the issues involved, and that his reply included an endorsement of the views expressed by these representatives of a political organization in his electorate? If so, will he arrange to have drafted a national security regulation providing that when industrial strikes are held or threatened because members of a union distrust, or lack confidence in, their officials, the Government will intervene and direct that, on the condition that work be resumed in the meantime, a compulsory ballot of members, supervised by the Arbitration Court, shall be taken? Will he also instruct the
Security Service to investigate the activities of Communists, including Mr. E. Thornton, in connexion with this strike?
– I have received from the Balmain Municipal Council a telegram containing a number of requests, and asking particularly that an opportunity be given to these men to hold a branch meeting in order that they may determine who shall represent them, not only as officers of the Balmain Branch of the Federated Ironworkers Union, but also as delegates in the various workshops. In my reply, I endorsed the sentiments that had been expressed. There is a precedent for directing that a ballot of union members shall be taken, in the direction issued a few weeks ago by the Industrial Registrar that a ballot of the members of the Tramways Union be taken to decide whether or not there should be a stop-work meeting. That ballot was conducted by the Industrial Registrar. Inquiries are proceeding continuously in connexion with any subversive activities in which the members of any organization may be concerned, but they do not extend beyond that point. I shall discuss with my colleagues any further point that may be involved.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs ascertain what special qualifications are possessed by Francis Hamilton Stuart, who has been appointed Second Secretary of the Political Secretariat of the Department of External Affairs, which are not possessed by Captain J. S. Cumpston, and what investigations, if any, were made by the Public Service Commissioner, which . enabled him to certify that there is no officer of the Public Service, including those who have been on active service for the last five years who is capable of performing the work with which Mr. Stuart will be entrusted?
– I have already given a full answer to questions on this matter. Nevertheless, I shall examine it afresh with a view to seeing whether any further information may be supplied.
– Ha3 the Minister for Information seen the advertisement published in to-day’s Canberra Times, under the heading, “ Is this how they’re going to pay?” setting out what are alleged to he facts, and saying, “ The Prime Minister has stated there is to be no tax relief. 1S0 you might as well face the facts. Consider these, for instance”. As the residents of the Australian Capital Territory have not a vote for the election of representatives to this Parliament, can ,the honorable gentleman state the reason for the publication of this advertisement in the Canberra Times, and the source of the funds which enable those responsible for it to have it published? Is there power to compel the publication of facts instead of such distortion?
– I saw this advertisement in the Canberra Times this morning. Similar advertisements have been published in many other newspapers in all States recently. It is one of a series of propaganda advertisements, published by persons who provide finance for the Liberal party.
– I wish that the honorable gentleman could put me on to one or two of them.
– Meth inks the right honorable gentleman doth protest overmuch. These propaganda advertisements obviously are designed to mislead the people, and to prepare a political atmosphere that will be favorable to the Liberal party at the elections that are to be held approximately eighteen months hence. I do not know that my department can take any action in the matter. We must trust to the sturdy common sense of the Australian democracy to repeat the victory in 1946 which it recorded in favour of the Labour party in 1943. My faith in the Australian democracy is unshaken.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister read the report that last night a new strike occurred at Lysaghts Limited, when nine employees of that firm refused to work with a shearer whose dismissal from the mill is being sought by the Federated Ironworkers Union? In view of this fact, and in the light of the statement yesterday by Mr. Justice ‘Cantor that the strikers at Lysaghts Limited had violated Commonwealth and State laws and it rested with the authorities concerned with the enforcement of the law to take any action which it was considered the circumstances demanded, will the Acting Prime Minister take immediate steps to invoke the powers possessed by the Commonwealth to end industrial lawlessness in this branch of industry?
– I have no knowledge of a new strike having occurred at Lysaghts Limited, but I shall inquire into the matter.
– Yesterday, the Acting Minister for External Affairs was good enough to say that he would make available to the honorable member for Parramatta the file relating to the application of Mrs. Tenison-Woods for travel priority. Will the honorable gentleman also permit mc to peruse it?
– I shall have much pleasure in making the file available to the right honorable gentleman.
– A recent government advertisement warns manufacturers that they are not to manufacture new lines. As this instruction will restrict, particularly the activities of small manufacturers, will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction state why it has been found necessary thus to harrass business activities at this stage of the war?
– This instruction relates to the matter of new manufactures, which is administered by my department. The purpose of such controls in the first instance was to divert resources to the production of goods and services considered necessary for the prosecution of the war. Although the Government would like to relax the restrictions, it is not possible to do so immediately because of the strain on the man-power of this country. The honorable member for
Balaclava, and all other honorable members, are concerned about the shortage of housing and of many goods that are essential to the civilian economy. The lifting of this control at the present juncture would lead to the dissipation of a large volume of man-power, because it would be engaged in the production of a wide range of non-essential goods and services- at a time when the production of essential goods and services is urgently required. That is the reason for its continuance. It does not operate to the detriment of small manufacturers more than large manufacturers.
– Of course it does !
– The honorable gentleman has killed all small industry.
– That statement is not true. I want to make it quite clear that the Government wishes to relax this control as soon as possible. I repeat that if it were removed to-morrow, the net effect would be the utilization of manpower in the production of a wide range of non-essential goods and services, to the detriment of the more essential goods and services required by the community.
– In the case of many small businesses where there has been a falling off in government orders, it is not always practicable readily to divert the labour from those industries to other purposes. Therefore, in dealing with applications for new manufactures, will the Minister issue an instruction that such industries shall be permitted to maintain the degree of activity prevailing in those enterprises at their previous turnover level ? Will the Minister inform the House whether one of the requirements of government factories is that they, too, should apply to his department when they desire to embark on new manufactures of a civilian character, as distinct from their munitions production? For example, was application made for such authority to manufacture pencil sharpeners at a munition factory in New South Wales?
– I know nothing at all about the manufacture of pencil sharpeners in New South Wales, or anywhere else. I do not need to issue any instructions to my department on the matter to which the honorable member has referred, because, in the consideration of all applications for permits for new manufactures, all of the circumstances of the individual cases are taken into consideration. If a firm has the necessary man-power, and it is of such a nature that it cannot be diverted to the production of more essential goods, then automatically the applicant receives a permit from my department. During war-time, many firms, large and small, have had their total staffs built up to a large degree, sometimes perhaps doubled, in the production of goods for war purposes. As the demand for those goods declines, obviously we do not want all that man-power in those establishments simply to remain there and continue to produce goods for war purposes , we must divert it to other industries producing goods more essential to the civilian community. Every application is examined most carefully. If the honorable member can give to me an example of the refusal of a permit, which, in his opinion, ought to have been granted, I shall have the greatest pleasure in investigating the matter.
– As to the supervision of new manufactures by government instrumentalities, I understand that the Minister has a general supervision over new manufactures throughout the Commonwealth. Is the matter left to the Minister in charge of those instrumentalities, or does it come within the supervisory activity of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction ?
– My control of permits for new manufactures extends only to private industry. I am not aware that other government departments undertake manufactures for the civilian economy. If the honorable member desires any information on that aspect he ought to mention specific cases. I have told him that my control extends only to private enterprise, and not to any other government department.
– Will the Minister take into consideration any of the manufactures carried out by government factories as a potential factor in the absorption of labour in the period of post-war reconstruction? If so, is it not his duty to investigate the kinds of goods which government factories are manufacturing, such as pencil sharpeners and handcuffs?
– It is true that one task that has been allotted to me is that of reviewing the overall use of man-power throughout .the whole field of industry, including the factories controlled by the Government, but it is not for me .to go into details as to how the man-power is used. I rely, and with confidence, on the judgment of my colleagues as to how they use the man-power allocated to them for production which comes under their jurisdiction.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Information been directed to the report in to-day’s Sydney Daily Telegraph that Mr. McBride, Public Relations Officer to the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, has said that the British Ministry of Information had received many requests for articles on the prospects of settlement in Australia, but had been unable to supply them ? Does this indicate lack of effective liaison between the Australian Department of Information and the office of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, or that the Government has no fixed migration policy and consequently cannot supply any information to intending migrants?
– The honorable member has drawn erroneous deductions from the statement of Mr. McBride. Perfect liaison exists between representatives in Australia of the British Ministry of Information and my department. It is natural that some persons should submit to the Australian representative of the British Ministry of Information inquiries in relation to migration, just as many others choose to communicate with the Minister for the Interior or his officers, or myself, or the officers of my department. We have done all that we can to encourage migration, within the limited resources available to the respective departments. We reprinted 75,000 copies of the pamphlet entitled Know Australia, and circulated them among units of the British Fleet at present in Australia.
– For reading while they are waiting for their ships to be repaired.
– If the honorable gentleman’s Government had remained in power, Japanese ships would be under repair in this country to-day. We have circulated in all about 200,000 copies of the pamphlet, and we shall print additional copies as circumstances require. I have never had any complaints from Mr. McBride, or his predecessor, Mr. Martin, or anybody else in the office of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, or from any other representative of the British Government, here or elsewhere, about lack of interest on the part of any member of the Government with regard to migration matters. If they have complaints - and I do not think they are likely to have any worth making - I am certain that they will come direct to the Government, and not use the agents of big business, who sit on the Opposition side of the House, as their mouthpiece.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister read press reports that monacrin, a new synthetic drug, considered more effective in some cases than penicillin, has been discovered in Sydney University laboratories? In view of the claim that the group of drugs to which the new discovery belongs provides the strongest and most effective agent known in cases of malaria and chronic infected wounds, will he obtain a report from the Commonwealth Department of Health on the subject, with a view to its use in battle areas to combat malaria? If the Commonwealth Health authorities have already made tests of this drug, will he secure a report from them and make it available to Parliament next week, or as soon as possible?
– I have not read the statement to which the right honorable gentleman has referred, but I shall have, great pleasure in obtaining a report on the matter as soon as possible, and it will be made available to him.
– Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction take hastening action in his department to ensure that applications for permits to build houses shall be dealt with more expeditiously than at present? I made applications to him over two months ago on behalf of persons desperately in need of houses, and they have not yet been informed whether they will be granted a building permit.
– If the honorable member will bring to my notice the parcular cases which he has in mind, I shall take what I consider to be the necessary action.
Portland Meat Supplies
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs state when I may expect a reply to my question regarding the nature and extent of the meat quota issued to the Portland Co-operative Society and the source from which that quota was obtained? The question was removed from the notice-paper yesterday by the Minister merely giving the reply that the information will be obtained, though it must be readily available to the department.
– I shall try to obtain it as soon as passible.
– Has the Acting Attorney-General read in to-day’s Brisbane Courier-Mail an article headed, “ Black Home Labour Pool”, which contains the following: -
Mr. Conelan (Labour, Queensland) said he had been informed a black market in unskilled labour, particularly in the building industry, existed on a considerable scale.
Has the Minister been furnished by the honorable member for Griffith with evidence in support of his allegation ? If so, has an investigation been made, and with what result? If not, will the Minister order an immediate inquiry into the charges made?
– The honorable member can hardly expect us to have made an investigation already. I have not had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the honorable member for Griffith, but I shall do so to-day, or during the weekend, and all necessary information regarding the matter willbe obtained.
Prisoners in Civil Gaols.
– Will the Minister representing the Acting Minister for the Army informme when I may expect an answer to the question which I have placed on the notice-paper, and which has been there for some time, as to the number of men now in civil gaols in each State who are serving sentences imposed by court-martial ?
– I shall endeavour to have the matter expedited.
– Some months ago I addressed a question to the AttorneyGeneral regarding the nomination of Mr. E. Thornton as the Australian delegate to a Labour conference in Great Britain. I asked whether the Government would pay his travelling expenses, and to what expenditure it was committed. The question was only partly answered. The reply given was that the fare would be paid, but that the cost had not been compiled. Will the Acting Attorney-General inform me whether that information is yet available?
– I have no further information on the matter, but I shall look into it.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 24th May(vide page 2113).
Clause 64- (2.) For the purposes of this Division, whore a person who, although not legally married to another person, is living with that other person as wife or husband., on a permanent and bona fide domestic basis, that other person shall be deemed to be the spouse of the first-mentioned person.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That sub-clause (2.) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following subclause: - “ (2.) For the purposes of this Division, where a person who, although not legally married to another person, was, immediately prior to that other person’s engagement on war service, substantially dependent for his or her support on that other person and was recognized as the wife or husband of that other person, the first-mentioned person shall be deemed to be the spouse of that other person.”.
.- Substantial sums of public money are being wasted in the payment of reemployment allowances, because the department is so dilatory in reestablishing servicemen in civil life. I have here a letter from an ex-serviceman who says that he waited a long time before obtaining employment, and all the time he was waiting the re-employment allowance was being paid to him. He says that he went through certain “ drill “, as he calls it, in order to be rehabilitated. Setting out to look for a job, he applied to an Air Force officer in charge of rehabilitation, and was told to fill in a form and report to m.an-power. At the Man Power office he filled in other forms. In return, he received a card with an instruction to present it for stamping three times a week. After a time, the first card was filled up, and he was supplied with another. The total number of stampings was well over 50. This soldier has an excellent record. He is not the sort of man who never did a decent job in the service, and would not be likely to do a decent one in civil life. He has served in both this war and in the last. His decorations are the Distinguished Conduct Medal with bar; Mons Star, with bar; mentioned in despatches three times; Russian Gross of iSt. Georgie - the Czarist V..C; the French Croix de Guerre; the Territorial Efficiency Medal; and a medal awarded to the champion rifle shot of the Fourth Arm.y in Prance during the last war. He was a regimental sergeant-major in the last war, and rose to the rank of acting captain. One of his commanding officers, Lieutenant-Colonel A. R. O’Flaherty, wrote a testimonial, in which he said- -
He is a capable, intelligent and reliable tuan, quick at his work and with figures. I strongly recommend him for any position of trust.
In this war he enlisted in 1939 and served for 2S0 days in an infantry training battalion. He then volunteered for the Royal Australian Air Force, in which he served for four years. He was discharged from the Air Force as permanently medically unfit. His certificate of discharge bears the words “character VG.” On the back of this document is the printed information -
Exemplary ib the highest character which can be awarded in the Royal Australian Air Force; but is only awarded to an airman with more than five years’ service. For others, VG is the highest award.
This serviceman says, “ I find I am a misfit as far as government rehabilitation plans are concerned”. He was offered a job in the American forces, but was advised that he could not accept it because the department wanted to give him another job. After a long delay, he was placed in a job as cook in a private hospital. He had to leave his home at 5.30 in the morning and start work at 6.30 a.m., and went on working right through the day, cooking all meals. Actually, he had to do the work of two men. His medical certificate said that he’ Should avoid heat, yet he was sent to take a job as a cook. This is a glaring example of maladministration and waste of public funds. The man carried on in the job for five weeks, and then his health broke down. Twice during that period he reported to the department that his health would not allow him to carry on. Then, on the 16th May, the department wrote to him to this effect -
With reference to your application for further unemployment sustenance, I have to advise that, after due consideration of the circumstances in which yon left the last position, your application a declined.
While working as a. cook he was paid £5 a week, and it cost him 7s. a week to travel backwards and forwards to work, so that he and his wife and family were required to live on £4 13s. a week. This serviceman’s name is Edward Dymond, and he is a resident of Queensland. I ask the Minister to look into the case, and to take steps to ensure that such things shall not happen again. I have the highest regard for the executive officers of the Repatriation Department, but this is a rehabilitation matter as well. If this is the best that the Rehabilitation Department can do, it should be closed down altogether.
– Once again I protest against the Minister’s refusal to explain to the committee the meaning and purpose of amendments. Actually, his refusal is characteristic of the attitude of the Government and of his party to this matter. They have no interest in it beyond getting the bill through for their own purposes. At present, there are only five Government supporters in the chamber, and two Ministers. This shows how much interest they take in a measure which was described by one Minister as the serviceman’s charter. This amendment provides that, for the purposes of the bill, a person who, although not legally married, was substantially dependent for his or her support upon another person, and was recognized as the husband or wife of that person, shall be deemed to be the spouse of that person. In another clause it is provided that children under 16 years of age, including stepchildren, illegitimate children and adopted children, shall be entitled to benefit under the bill. It is no wonder that the Minister did not offer any explanation of these provisions. He is an elder of the Presbyterian Church, and no doubt he finds it difficult to approve of provisions by which the Government encourages the birth of illegitimate children. The bill makes no difference, so far as benefits are concerned, between a child born in lawful wedlock and an illegitimate child. The Government goes even further than that. It encourages unlawful liaisons between men and women. It says that a woman living unlawfully with a man is entitled to greater consideration than a lawful wife. You, Mr. Chairman, with your strict church upbringing, must frown on such a provision, as must the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. However, caucus has forced this on the Government, but honorable members opposite, being ashamed of what they have done, run out of the chamber, leaving only five of their number behind. This .indicates the depths to which the Labour party has descended. These provisions in the bill strike at the roots of morality and right living, and for that reason the amendment should not be agreed to. No doubt, the Minister feels ashamed of the proposal, and that is why he has failed to explain it.
– I do not know why the Deputy Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has worked himself up into such a frenzy over this matter.
– Does the Minister support it?
– I do. Exactly the same provision appears in the Repatriation Act, which allows a pension to be paid in certain circumstances to a woman who has been living with a man though not married to him. The country has accepted the service of these men in its defence, and the country, in this provision, merely acknowledges its obligation to their dependants.
– Does the Minister believe in illegitimacy?
– I do not believe in it any more than does the honorable member himself. The honorable member for Wentworth referred to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) as a pillar of the Presbyterian Church.
– Is not the Minister for Repatriation a pillar of the Methodist Church?
– I am a warden of the Church of England.
– And the Minister supports this kind of thing! That is even worse.
– I have discussed this matter with bishops and many ministers of religion, and although they do their utmost to discourage loose .behaviour, they do not say that a woman who has had an illegitimate child should be damned for the rest of her life. The honorable member for Wentworth poses as a saint; he stands up and condemns the Government for treating these people humanely. If a soldier, who before his enlistment was living with a woman to whom he was not married, made the supreme sacrifice, the honorable member would condemn that woman for all time. By so doing he would probably drive her to desperation, and force her to do things that she would prefer not to do. The honorable gentleman has made a cheap gibe at the churches; but they do not condemn people who have fallen from the paths of rectitude. The Government will not deprive the de facto wife of a serviceman of’ sustenance and so drive her further along the road to destruction. I regret that the honorable member should have referred to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction as he did.
– Is he not an elder of the Presbyterian Church?
– Yes, and he is proud of it. It was the honorable member who raised the sectarian issue.
The case to which the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) referred will be investigated. The honorable member will realize that I cannot reply to his statements until I have studied the file. I remind him that there are two sides to every case, and that officers of my department are earnest in their endeavours to do all possible for the re-establishment of ex-service men and women. Every case that honorable members have brought before me has been investigated, and I shall continue to carry out that policy.
– If there is to be a dispute between Presbyterians and members of the Church of England, the committee may count me on the side of the Presbyterians. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) said that the principle underlying this clause and the amendment is already embodied in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. My colleague, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), has put the case against the recognition of persons euphoniously called de facto wives. The Minister referred to the man with a de facto wife giving his life for his country, but I remind him that we are dealing with provisions for the re-employment of returned servicemen. The provisions of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act are worth examining. For instance, section 42 provides for a woman “who was recognized as the wife of that member though not legally married to him “, but in sub-section 2 there is a provision that “ any such pension may be allowed to any such person under this provision as well as to the widow of any member of the forces “. When that act recognizes a de facto wife, it does not substitute her for the legitimate wife; it recognizes both.
– And a pension may be paid to both.
– I opposed that provision, but probably the honorable member for Wentworth supported it.
– The amendment moved by the Minister at the table - an amendment which he has not read, probably because he is a little bit coy concerning it - is as follows: -
For the purposes of this division, where a person who, although not legally married to another person, was, immediately prior to that other person’s engagement on war service, substantially dependent for his or her support on that other person and was recognized as the wife or husband of that other person the first-mentioned person shall he deemed to be the spouse of that other .person.
Converting that amendment into ordinary English, it means that it provides not only for de facto wives, but also for da facto husbands. The point is that the person who enjoys the description of de facto husband or wife shall be deemed to be the spouse of the other person. An earlier provision defines “ adult dependant “ in relation to any person as “ a person who is the spouse … of the first-mentioned person”. I do not know how two persons can occupy that position, because I always thought that the word “ spouse “ had a singular connotation. The effect of this amendment is to recognize the de facto wife and to exclude the legal wife altogether. That problem was recognized in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, and to overcome it both women were recognized. As this amendment is a considered redraft of the bill, it must be regarded as the considered opinion of the Government that de facto wives shall have the benefit of the re-employment allowance, whereas the legitimate wife can be left in sackcloth and ashes.
.- There is a simple explanation of this amendment; the person must be recognized under the Defence Act as the recipient of a dependant’s allowance. A person who is not in receipt of a dependant’s allowance is not entitled to receive it when the serviceman returns.
– Where is that provided for in the amendment?
– If a person has been recognized during the war as being entitled to receive a dependant’s allowance from the Army, that person is still entitled to continue that dependancy when the serviceman returns.
– I wish to introduce a new note into the discussion by taking as a basis the definition of “ Citizen Forces “ as amended. The only people excluded from that definition are enemy aliens who served during the war as members of an Army labour corps. Under this clause, a refugee enemy alien, who is living with a person as either husband or wife, is entitled to a re-employment allowance, if such enemy alien i3 a member of an employment company. I have definite information that enemy aliens are in employment companies in Victoria, namely, the 4th, 6th and. Sth Employment Companies. .Because of the minimum exclusion agreed to a few days ago, those people are entitled to the advantages conferred by this clause.
– Did they enlist in the Defence Forces?
– I do not think so.
– I regret that the religion of any honorable member should be referred to in discussion. I remind honorable members that, in an essay on liberty, John Mills pointed out that the great Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, although a heathen by religion, led a life more in conformity with the teachings of the founder of Christianity than did any other man of his time. I do not think that it is wise to engender heat in our deliberations by referring to, a man’s religion.
– All the references were quite good natured.
– I was astounded to hear the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) say that the amendment was an attempt to bring the clause into line with the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. As has been pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), the amendment confines the benefits of this division to one person; the de -facto wife may be given, all the benefits, to the exclusion of the legal wife. Such extraordinary drafting shows the slip-shod manner in which many of the clauses of this bill have been prepared, and the lack of knowledge on the part of responsible Ministers as to the meaning of various provisions. I believe that the Minister for Repatriation spoke in good faith, but he completely misconstrued the meaning of the clause. Whether he spoke impromptu, or after receiving advice, I do not know, but without wishing to trespass in a field of which I know little, I should say that the Leader of the Opposition is a better exponent of the legal aspects of; various clauses than is the Minister for Repatriation. A provision to protect the legal wife against the adulteress is required. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), speaking on the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill’ on the night of the 18th-19th March, 1943, said -
I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). There is a growing tendency in this Parliament of males to derogate dangerously from the status of the married woman. I believe that if there were a woman member of this Parliament, u voice would have been raised which would have impressed honorable members and the public outside with the importance of the status of married women.
The Minister for Repatriation said -
I cannot agree to pay the pension to two women. I cannot see why the country should be saddled with the responsibility to provide for two widows, one de jure and the other de facto. … I think that this would make too wide an opening. It is enough that the country should be required to pay £2 10s. to one woman in respect of the death .of her breadwinner. It should not he saddled with £5 a week to be divided between two women in respect of the death of the same man.
He was completely hostile, and his attitude to-day indicates that he still is. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) made the most ingenious suggestion that, because the Army was paying dependants’ allowances to certain women, those women must be legally entitled to benefit under this bill. That was the proposition made in the Repatriation Bill. The Minister said that because in his pay-book a soldier had nominated a certain woman to receive his allotment she was entitled, in the event of his death intestate, to the pension paid to the widow of a soldier. The committee very clearly expressed its opposition. I can still see the Minister calling back unfaithful followers from the Opposition side. My amendment to protect wives split the Labour party, because some of its members realized its inherent justice and knew that the people of Australia would not stand for an adulteress being put before a legal wife. The same position arises in this bill. We have known of men with two or three women described as “ wives “. The proposal is that a woman who perhaps only two or three months before a man’s death has deposed in his affections the lawfully-wedded wife, who reared his family and helped him to build his home, shall be entitled to all the privileges and benefits provided by this legislation, to the exclusion of the widow. 1 now give notice of an amendment which I hope the Minister will accept, in order to ensure justice to legal wives. It would bring this legislation into line with the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. That is what the Minister for Repatriation said he was desirous of doing. I intend to move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (H.) The provisions of sub-section (2.) hereof sh:,11 not bc construed as taking away the rights of any person mentioned in subsection (i.) of this section.
If that were inserted, the de facto wife would not be given a position preferential to that of the legal wife or any of the other adult dependants mentioned in the clause. I ask the Minister to accept it. Otherwise, I will divide the committee on it, because I shall want the people to know that the Minister is so stubborn that he will not bring this legislation into line with the Repatriation Act and other social service legislation of this country merely because the move was made from this side. I stand the Government right, up to this. Either it. accepts the amendment or admits to the people of Australia that it, is extending the principle of preference contained in this measure to the extent of giving priority to the adulteress over the legal wife.
– I point to a strange anomaly. The Government intends to extend the benefits of this bill to de facto wives and, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has shown, even de facto husbands of members of the forces and, as the
Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) has shown, of persons who have not served in the forces. Yet, under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, the wife of a service pensioner married after 1931 is not entitled to a pension at all. It is tragic that this bill, called “the serviceman’s charter “, should be in the hands of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) and the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost). If only an all-party committee had been formed it could have evolved a measure which would have given justice and equity instead of this bill, which is a betrayal of the members of the forces. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has been obtuse, obstinate and selfsatisfied, and has sneered or laughed at or ignored anything put forward by the Opposition. I am glad to see behind him honorable members who have risen in their places and voiced their opinions, however mildly, in support, of our views. I refer to the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke), who supported me on vocational training last night, and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who said a word on another matter. The Minister is so impervious that he will not listen to those who know something about the matter. I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether it is not a fact that the wife of a service pensioner married after 1931 does not get a pension, even if he is a V.C. winner.
– That is so.
– The Minister admits it, but here we have a Government providing a pension for loose-living men and women, even including enemy aliens, regardless of whether they are member*, of the forces. One would think that we were living in a Mormon or Mohammedan community. I say in favour of the Mohammedan that he may have as many wives as he can afford to keep; but here the Government is going to keep women for men regardless of their marital status and yet deny a pension to the legally married wife of a service pensioner, perhaps even decorated for bravery in the service of his country, if the marriage occurred after 1931. I point out that a service pensioner is not one who may have served in an administrative capacity or in some sheltered position, because it is specified that he must have served in a theatre of war. Could there be any more scandalous anomaly? The Minister for Repatriation is silent and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction is in hurried consultation with his advisors.
– That is something that the honorable member’s party put in the act.
– It was cut down during the administration of the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and has never been restored. If I can move an amendment which will restore it, will the Minister for Repatriation accept it?
– I will not. The honorable member knows that it cannot be done on this bill.
– Therefore, there is a premium on immorality, a reward for loose living.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr.Riordan).Order! I ask the honorable gentleman to return to the clause and the amendment.
– I am dealing with the amendment. I am talking about de facto wives as compared with legal wives. Here we have the Minister for Repatriation who told us what church he belonged to and who says that anybody who brings complaints to him will be listened to patiently, or some other humbug. Will he agree to put wives of service pensioners married after 1931 on the same basis as that which will be occupied by de facto wives under this amendment? If he does not, he will deserve the disgust of all.
– The amendment I have moved makes provision for the payment of a reemployment allowance to females living with, but not married to, discharged male members of the services. It was considered that sub-clause 2, as originally drafted, was not in line with the provisions of the Repatriation Act and we wanted to bring it into line. That is why this amendment was moved. I am advised that the interpretation put on the amendment by the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is not necessarily correct. It was not the intention of the Government that under this bill persons termed de facto wives should obtain an allowance to the exclusion of the legal wives, and I propose to move a further amendment in order to make the meaning more explicit. I am advised, however, that the clause as it stands would not be interpreted in the way in which the right honorable gentleman has interpreted it.
– I am glad that I drew attention to this matter because it has given rise to a discussion from which have emerged an amendment and. an admission by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that the points I made were correct. He is not prepared, however, to accept the amendment to be moved by the honorable memberfor New England (Mr. Abbott), and proposes himself to move a further amendment. That is characteristic of the Minister. Whenever we have drawn attention to defects, the Minister has capitalized on our perspicacity and moved amendments to correct them in order to try to create the impression that the Government itself had discovered them. But the Minister has not dealt with the point that this does not apply only to members of the forces. The reemployment allowance as such will cover all people who are out of employment. Therefore, if the prescribed person be a worker in a munitions factory, or an employee of the Allied Works Council or the Civil Constructional Corps, or any other prescribed organization, or any other person who applies to the Reestablishment Committee-
– Or an enemy alien in an employment company.
– Yes. Honorable members will agree that that is avery wide provision. If any of these people are living in sin, having taken unto themselves a de facto spouse, that person is placed at an advantage over a lawful spouse. Now, when the Minister’s attention has been drawn to that fact, he says that it is not the intention of the Government so to provide. The amendment now before us is one of the 34 amendments circulated in the name of the
Minister, and, therefore, we must assume that it was given what the Minister has claimed to be the maximum consideration. But the Minister now says that it was not the intention of the Government to do this. For Heaven’s sake, what is the intention of the Government? Does it know its own mind, or is it prepared to be led gently by the Opposition in respect of all major provisions under this measure? Apparently, the Opposition cannot be content any longer to lead the Government by the hand, but must take more drastic action, and make the Government stand up to its responsibilities under the measure. The Minister has not clearly explained this provision. Therefore, we pan only come to the conclusion that it will embrace any section of the community prescribed, or any person who applies to the Rehabilitation Committee, or the Preference Committee. That may embrace all civilians, including civilians living in adultery and who have begotten illegitimate children. They will be placed at an advantage over those who are lawfully wedded. Therefore, the Opposition hasdone a good job in drawing attention to this injustice. The Government should accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for New England.
. -I ask leave to amend my amendment by the addition of the following words : - but nothing in this sub-section shall be deemed to deprive the wife or husband of that other person of any right to receive a reemployment allowance to which the wife or husband would have been entitled if this subsection had not been enacted.
This makes it clear that the payment of an allowance to a de facto spouse will not be to the exclusion of a legal spouse.
– Does the amendment preserve the rights of the widowed mother, or the unmarried woman?
– Yes. I am advised by my officers that the original amendment was drafted in order to bring the provision into line with the relevant section of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) pointed out that in his opinion the original amendment meant that the legal spouse was excluded from benefiting under this provision. I have now provided that the legal spouse will not be deprived of the benefits of the provision because of the fact that benefits have actually accrued to a de facto wife or husband. Whilst I believe that this will meet the situation fully, I shall have another look at the matter, and should a further amendment be required, it can be made in the Senate.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
– I am advised that the Minister’s altered amendment achieves what I was determined should be provided. Therefore, I shall not move the amendment I foreshadowed in respect of the clause.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 65 to 69 agreed to.
Subject to this Division, a discharged member of the Forces -
has been honorably discharged after not less than six months’ war service; or
having, in the opinion of the prescribed authority, been materially prejudiced by reason of his war service, has been honorably discharged after less than six months’ war service ;
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That paragraph (a) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph : - “ (a) who, in the opinion of the prescribed authority -
has been honorably discharged after not less than six months’ war service ; or
has been materially prejudiced by reason of his war service and has has been honorably discharged after less than six months’ war service;”.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 71 -
A discharged member of the Forces shall not be qualified to receive a re-employment allowance if, since his discharge or the cessation of hostilities in the war, whichever is the later, he has been employed for a period or periods exceeding six months in the aggregate.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That the words “ in the war “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “in all the wars in which His Majesty was engaged at the date of commencement of this Division “.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 72 and 73 agreed to.
Clause 74 - (1.) Subject to this Division, the rate of a re-employment allowance shall be -
.- On behalf of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), the words “(a) in the case of a man - “be left out.
The purpose of the amendment is to place ex-service men and women on exactly the same footing with respect to the payment of these allowances. I am sorry that the honorable member for Darwin, who attaches very great importance to this matter, is not present to move this amendment which has been circulated in her name. I believe that her charm and eloquence would convince the committee of the need for the amendment, and would have some effect on the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who up to now has steadfastly refused to accept any amendment moved by a mem ber of the Opposition parties. I make it clear that the amendment has nothing to do with equal pay for the sexes. No doubt, like myself, honorable members on both sides of the chamber have very definite views on that subject. The clause deals only with the payment of reemployment allowances, that is, sustenance. It has nothing at all to do with the larger subject of equal pay for the sexes. There can be only two reasons why in the original measure the sexes were not placed on an equal footing with respect to reemployment allowances. The first is the contention that a female is in a lower order of creation than a male. That idea has been discarded in the modern world. Every enlightened country has adopted , a contrary view in practice as well as in theory. Only in Japan, India, the Arab world, and certain Balkan countries are women still treated as inferior beings to the male of the species. In Australia, some people, including certain supporters of the Government, might have doubts as to whether females should be accorded equality of treatment with males; but they are a minority. Therefore, the committee must accept my reasoning on the first point.
The second contention is that a woman has fewer obligations to herself and consequently less claim to the rate of sustenance than the male receives. In other words, some people believe that the cost of her subsistence is? less, and her requirements are fewer than those of the male. I do not profess to have an intimate knowledge of what I suppose, in Marxian terras, might be called the “ economic woman “ but I know perfectly well that a woman’s clothing costs at least as much as that of a man.
-A woman’s wardrobe costs twice as much as that of a man.
– Therefore, on that score, I cannot see any possible reason for assuming that a woman should be paid a lower rate. I turn now to food. Does any one contend that a woman requires less food to maintain her in health than a man does? Perhaps a woman drinks less beer and more tea, and if she eats less meat, she certainly consumes more cereals than does a man.
– Women smoke cigarettes.
– Smoking is not a necessary of life. It is a pleasure of life. According to medical opinion, the cost of maintaining satisfactory bodily health is the same for a woman as for a man. On that ground then, women are entitled to the same rate of sustenance as the male receives.
Housing is the third category to which [ desire to refer. A woman requires as good a roof over her head, as good a bed in which to sleep, and as comfortable conveniences and appurtenances in the house, as a man does. Her requirements in that respect are not less than those of the male, and no case can be made for differentiating between them. In the Unemployment and .Sickness Benefits Act, we have already established the principle that sustenance rates for men and women 3hall be the same. On reference to that legislation, honorable members will find that men and women will receive the same allowance, namely 25s. a week, when they are unemployed. As that principle has already been established, I find it quite impossible to understand why differentiation in the rate of reemployment allowance should be made in this clause. In Great Britain, this matter has been the subject of a good deal of discussion during the last three years, but finally, the decision was taken to place men and women in the same category regarding the payment of sustenance. For the various reasons which I have adduced, the committee should unhesitatingly accept the principle of the amendment.
I make a further appeal to the Minister. In the course of this discussion, honorable members on this side of the chamber have submitted many amendments. I did not expect the Government to accept some of them which affected the principle of the bill, because I appreciate that the Government desired to maintain the principle intact; but other amendments have been submitted affecting various details of the bill, and if adopted, would definitely have improved it. Not one such amendment li :-.s the Minister accepted.. Certainly, he has given us assurances, but the committee knows that assurances do not mean anything. What really matter are the words contained in the bill. As the case which I have advanced on behalf of the honorable member for Darwin is unanswerable, I ask the Minister to give to this matter his full attention, and for once to approach the matter in a reasonable manner, and accept the amendment.
.- I support the amendment which the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) so eloquently moved on behalf of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). I also ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to consider the advisability of increasing the amounts of re-employment allowances proposed to be paid in clause 74.
-. - Has the honorable member the support of his party in making this request?
– The Liberal party has been unanimous regarding every motion that it has submitted in this chamber. For months, the party has examined this bill with a view to improving its provisions on behalf of exservicemen. Night and day this party has fought the inane proposals of the Government, and all its supporters have been constantly in attendance. That cannot be said for supporters of the Government. This party knows the contents of the bill thoroughly, and to date, the Minister has shown clearly that he does not understand it. I desire to help him with this problem.
The honorable member for Flinders, who explained his case so clearly, indicated that the purpose of the amendment is to provide a uniform rate of reemploy.went allowance for male and female members of the fighting forces. I cannot see any objection to it, and should like to know why the Minister desires to have this differentiation. The position is curious, because the Government has already accepted in the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act the principle, of uniform payments. In Great Britain and other dominions to-day, sustenance allowances paid to male and female members of the fighting forces are equal. The Government’s proposal has been examined by ex-servicemen’s organizations in Australia, and so far as I am able to ascertain, they are unanimously in favour of a uniform allowance. This payment will not be in return for services rendered ; the question whether the female has the ability to produce the same output as the male in a given time does not arise. The re-employment allowance will be paid for a limited period until ex-service men and women have resumed their normal civil life. I appeal to the Minister to make the rate of re-employment allowance uniform, and reserve until a later stage any further comment on the advisability of increasing the amount.
– The committee should see this clause in its proper perspective, because it presents some extraordinary features.
Sub-clause 1 reads -
Subject to this Division, the rate of a re-employment allowance shall be -
in the case of a man - Two pounds ten shillings per week;
in the case of a woman who is, in the opinion of the prescribed authority, capable of wholly or substantially maintaining herself by her own efforts - Two pounds per week; and
in the case of a woman who is, in the opinion of the prescribed authority, capable of partially maintaining herself by her own efforts - such proportion of the amount specified in the last preceding paragraph as the prescribed authority determines.
That provision immediately differentiates between male and female when they are maintaining themselves during the period in which they are waiting for employment. But let us examine the anomaly. Sub-clause 2 provides -
The rate of a re-employment allowance payable under the last preceding sub-section shall be increased, or further increased, as the case may be -
in the case of a person with one or more adult dependants - by One pound two shillings per week; and
in the case of a person with one or more dependent children - by Nine shillings per week in respect of each dependent child, but not exceeding in the aggregate One pound seven shillings per week in the case of a person (not being a widower or widow) with an adult dependant or Two pounds five shillings in any other case.
Although the Government differentiates between the rate of re-employment allowance payable to an ex-service man and woman, . it pays a uniform rate to their dependants. In other words, the Government says : “ A dependant, male or female, of an ex-servicewoman is entitled to the same allowance as the dependant, male or female, of an ex-serviceman. But the ex-serviceman himself shall be paid a higher allowance than the exservicewoman.” That does not make sense. In one instance, the Government differentiates between the sexes, but in the other instance, it does not. The Minister might be able to tell the committee the reason for this differentiation. I have no doubt that he will say that the reason is partly the differing rates of pay to servicemen and servicewomen respectively, and that the re-employment allowance has been determined on the basis of remuneration of male and female workers in industry. He will have a yard-stick with which to measure these rates. But the yard-stick of common sense and logic should be applied in this matter. The woman will require for her maintenance the same amount of money as will a man. She must maintain a similar standard of living. She does not eat less, and the cost of her wardrobe is more than that of a man. She does not require fewer amenities than he does. All these arguments support the contention that she requires the same treatment as does the man. Great Britain and other dominions make no differentiation between the sexes. In this clause an extraordinary anomaly has arisen, and I hope that the Minister will correct it.
– I, and I am sure all honorable members of this committee, would like to be generous in this regard ; but I am afraid that there is a good deal of humbug on the part of Opposition speakers. What is the purpose of these allowances? They are unemployment allowances, and will be paid to ex-service men and women so that they shall not starve while they are awaiting employment. Our desire is to make these allowances sufficiently generous to provide proper care for unfortunate individuals who may have a short period of unemployment. If the allowances were too high, there would not be very much incentive for an unemployed person to find a job. Consequently the allowances must be somewhat below the wage to which a man or woman would be entitled if he or she were in employment.
– “We are complaining about the discrimination.
– I could use a stronger word than “humbug” when speaking of honorable members opposite. Perhaps “hypocrisy” would be more appropriate.
– The word “ hypocrisy “ is distinctly unparliamentary, and I ask the Minister to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. 1 am endeavouring to deal with this matter logically. As I have said, these allowances must be related to existing wage rates. If wage rates throughout industry generally were equal for males and females, there would’ be a clear-cut case for equality in these unemployment allowances; but when the representatives of the workers apply to the Arbitration Court for increases of the wage rates of females, the applications are opposed by the interests which honorable members opposite represent in this -chamber. It is from those interests that honorable members opposite obtain funds to continue their political activities. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) is not being consistent when he proposes an increase of the unemployment allowance for women, whilst at the same time, out- side interests which support him and his party are continually opposing any increase of the female wage rates in industry. It should be clear to every honorable member that the unemployment allowances must be related to existing wage rates. J should like to be more generous in. this matter if that were possible.
– We are asking for fair treatment, not generosity.
– If the honorable member will promise to prevail upon those individuals outside Parliament who assisted his election to this chamber not to oppose wage increases for females in industry, I shall do my best to have these unemployment allowances made equal. The only reason for the differentiation in these rates is that there is a difference between wage rates paid to females in industry and those paid to males. I assure the committee that should female wage rates bc raised to the level of male rates the unemployment allowances paid to females will be made equal to those paid to males. However, I shall have a further investigation made to see if any amendment can be made.
– During the last couple of days the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has cut a sorry figure in his handling of this measure, and I am sure that all honorable members will agree - I am sorry that there are only eight honorable members on the Government side - that to-day the honorable gentleman has cut a sorrier figure than ever. He ha3 reached a record low. The Minister attempted to justify this provision in two ways: First, he argued that the object of these allowances was to prevent men and women from starving while awaiting employment. Surely if £2 10s. a week is necessary to prevent a man from starving, £2 a week is not sufficient to prevent a woman from starving. The Minister said also that the allowances must have some relation to wages rates payable to men and women in industry. To be logical he should also differentiate between the allowances payable to a former private, sergeant, or officer of the armed forces, because all these men received different rates of pay in the services. The Minister has made a pretence of being in favour of equal pay for the sexes. I confess that I am an unrelenting advocate of that principle ; and whilst I regret that so far I have been unable to have it brought into being, if I can do anything to achieve it in the realm in which I have some influence, I shall be happy to do so. The Minister said that he could not control the Arbitration Court; but he has some control over this measure. If he believes that men and women in employment should be paid equally, surely the same principle should apply when they are out of work and are in receipt of unemployment allowances. I know the old arguments that are advanced against equal treatment for men and women in employment. It is claimed for instance that a man has to prepare to undertake marital obligations; but none of these arguments, fallacious though they may -be, can possibly be applied to the situation which this bill contemplates. As the Minister truly said, the purpose of this provision is to provide sustenance, and to prevent an unemployed ex-service man or woman from starving while work is being found for him or her. I cannot understand why a lesser amount is required to prevent a woman from starving than is required to prevent a man from starving. That is not the only differentiation between men and women in this measure. Clause 73 also discriminates distinctly against women, and so does clause 75, inasmuch as it enables them to receive only a part of the unemployment allowance if it can be proved that they are receiving sustenance from any other source. No doubt many men who will benefit by this provision will also be in receipt of income from another source. Why not apply the same principle in each case? I do not suggest, however, that equality should be established simply by doing that; my view is that it should be reached by providing equal unemployment allowances.
Mr. GUY (Wilmot) [12.27 J. -I am glad that the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has moved this amendment, and I support it wholeheartedly. I regret that the Minister will not accept it. There is an important principle involved in this clause, namely equal treatment for the sexes. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), on whose behalf the honorable member for Flinders . has moved this amendment, dealt with the matter fully in ‘her secondreading speech. The bill proposes, and the Minister supports, a differentiation. The clause provides that an unemployment allowance of £2 10s. a week shall be payable to an. ex-serviceman while he is awaiting employment, but that an exservicewoman shall receive only £2, or even less if the prescribed authority so decides.
– Or none at all.
– In certain circumstances, none at all. Why this differentiation? What becomes of the Labour party’s declaration that it believes in equal treatment for the sexes? Provision is also made in this clause for the payment of additional allowances for dependants. In view of that fact also, the prescribing of a lower unemployment allowance for females than for males cannot be justified. As the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) pointed out this provision postulates that the cost of living is cheaper for women than for men. It presupposes that board and lodging, and clothing for women are 20 per cent, cheaper than for men. I say definitely that these costs do not vary with the sexes. Mention hae been made of humbug. I say that the utterances of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) this morning are pure humbug. Surely the Labour Government, Labour Ministers, and Labour supporters, are not going to eat their words. How often have they declared their belief in equality of the sexes? I believe that the principle is a part of the Labour party’s platform.
– The honorable member should know.
– Does the honorable member deny it? Apparently the Minister and all his supporters are prepared to vote against the Labour party’s platform; yet the Minister talks of humbug. No greater hypocrisy has been heard in this chamber than the statement by the Minister that he is prepared to vote against the plank of the Labour party’s platform relating to sex equality. Honorable members opposite are betraying their own party. If the Government proceeds with its proposal, it will be guilty of mere pretence and will be known in future as the “ make-believe “ Labour Government.
.- Honorable members opposite who have spoken on this clause have shown great mental agility. Some of them have worked themselves into a frenzy about the payment of benefits to the sexes on an equal scale. The Minister has explained to the committee why the rates set out in the hill have been prescribed.
– Is that satisfactory to. the honorable member?
– Stop the clap-trap and let somebody else talk. The principle of differentiating between the sexes in rates of pay is accepted throughout the world. We have not yet reached the stage where equality of the sexes is generally recognized. I had the privilege and pleasure last year of attending a conference of the International Labour Office at which this and allied subjects were discussed at considerable length. We talked about equality of the sexes, equality of opportunity for the sexes, and equality of rates of pay for the sexes. Finally, it was agreed, unanimously that we should aim at equality for all without regard to sex. Whilst the principle was accepted by the whole conference, it was agreed that at the present time it could only be an objective at which to aim.
Six Frederick Stewart. - Ha, ha !
– The honorable member has attended International Labour Office conferences and should know something about this subject. He must know perfectly well that complete equality of the sexes has not yet been achieved. The conference which I attended was realistic enough to admit that. Honorable members opposite are not prepared to accept the Minister’s pronouncement that women should not receive equal benefits with men for the period of. transition from one occupation to another. When I said that the Opposition had shown great mental agility, I had in mind the provisions of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act, which was guided through Parliament by the parties now represented in Opposition when they held office some years ago. The bill received assent on the 5th July, 1938, but was never put into operation. The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) sponsored the measure with a great deal of enthusiasm. Is that right?
– Yes, but 1 was not completely satisfied with it.
– The honorable member said that it was a mighty good start. Let us consider the rates of benefit provided in that act. This will answer the arguments of honorable members opposite, who have worked themselves into a frenzy about equality of allowances for the sexes. The following rates of sickness benefit were provided : -
So we see that honorable members opposite expected a woman to manage on 5s. a week less than a man.
– Now read the rates of contribution.
– I shall develop my argument in my own way, despite interjections from honorable members opposite. I know that women had to contribute to a fund in order to qualify for these benefits, but we are now talking about benefits only. The National Health and Pensions Insurance Act provided that the sickness benefit for unmarried minors should bo 15s. a week for males and 12s. 6d. a. week for females. The disablement benefit and old-age pension rates were as follows: -
– Read out. the rates of contribution.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to cease interjecting.
– He is only telling one half of the story.
– I am entitled to tell the story in my own way. It may not please honorable members opposite, but at least I am telling the truth. Honorable members opposite have been arguing on a matter of principle. They say that the principle involved in this clause is equality of the sexes, and that it costs as much to keep a female as a male. I shall not argue that point, but I am pointing out that, when honorable members opposite had a chance to provide equality of treatment of the sexes, they decided that there should be differentiation.
– Benefits under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act were distinctly related to rates of contribution.
– Whatever they were related to, the facts remain as I have stated. The Government of the day and its supporters decided that females should receive less than males. Of course, we have advanced considerably since that time, one reason being the change over to a Labour government. Whatever may be said on the principle of equality of the sexes, the fact is that the rates stipulated in this clause are commensurate with the responsibilities and obligations of the people to whom they will apply.
– But women are still to receive less than men.
– Although the honorable member was not here when the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act was passed, he supports the party which embodied in that measure differential benefits for males and females. Honorable members opposite seem to think that this Government should be able, within a very short time, to reform the world and to do things which they, when they were in office, never attempted to do. The International Labour Office Conference to which I referred earlier considered the subject of remuneration of the sexes very carefully and agreed that the world had not yet reached a stage at which complete equality of the sexes could be recognized. I agree that there ought to bo equal opportunity for the sexes; we can balance up the benefits paid under thi3 bill when equality of opportunity is finally achieved. Whatever members of the Opposition may say about this measure, they cannot honestly deny that they approved of differentiation between the sexes when they agreed to the benefits prescribed in the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act.
– I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), which provides for equal allowances for men and women. I listened with amusement to the arguments of the
Minister and the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). They said to us in effect, “Because same other Government did not grant equality, we shall take advantage of the fact and will do nothing to equalize the positions of the sexes “. Surely there would be no injustice in paying to ,a woman under this provision the same rate as will -be paid to a man. In connexion with the basic wage, consideration must be given to a man’s imaginary wife and child but that factor does not arise on this clause. Dependants will be provided for in another part of the bill. It is sham and hypocrisy for the Minister and his supporters to pretend that women have no right to receive equality of treatment with men under this bill. I do not see why a woman should be penalized. Surely as much food is needed to nourish a woman as is required to nourish a man.
Sitting suspended from 1245 to 2.15 p.m.
– I hope that the committee will adopt my proposal to give to women equal treatment with men under this legislation.
– I resent very deeply the Minister’s imputations on my earlier remarks. He accused me and other Opposition members of insincerity and hypocrisy.
– I withdrew the charge of hypocrisy.
– Admittedly; but it was not the first occasion on which the charge had been made during the debate on this bill. On this clause and, indeed, on the whole bill, Opposition members have been most sincere in their statements and proposals. I have urged that, in the matter of allowances, men and women should be on an equality. I believe that they should be, and the facts that I have stated support my contention. The Minister endeavoured to bolster his charge of insincerity by saying that honorable members on this side do not believe in equal pay for the sexes. As I said earlier, that principle has no application to the matter we are now discussing. But I am a believer in equal pay for the sexes, and in that respect I am in agreement with all those with whom. I come in contact, including my constituents. Therefore, the charge of insincerity cannot lie.
During the debate, I have maintained that the Minister is not quite so bad as he appears to be. Nevertheless, he has been discourteous, dishonest-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw the expression “ dishonest “.
– I withdraw it. The Minister has also been obstinate and supremely unintelligent. Up to date, this attitude has been due largely to a bad liver, and to the fact that he has been handling a matter of which he has no knowledge. The stand that he has taken to-day convinces me that this is not a temporary, but a permanent manifestation of his character. He advanced certain specious arguments in an attempt to refute those put from this side of the chamber in favour of equal treatment to males and females under this clause, and said that, because there is discrimination to-day in the wages of nien and women in industrial life, it should apply also to the allowances for sustenance. Not long ago, we passed the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Bill, which provided for equal benefits for men and women, irrespective of what wages they received in civil occupations. The benefit we are now discussing is almost identical with that; consequently, the principle of equality should be ^applied in this instance. In defence of the Government, the honorable member “for Bass (Mr. Barnard) referred to the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill of 1938. That is history, and “what was then said does not . necessarily apply now. In any event, the circumstances then were entirely different from those of to-day. The Minister should review his decision, and show himself in a slightly better light than that in. which he appears at the present time.
.- I am particularly concerned in this matter, because for years I have been an ardent advocate of equal rights for men and women. I am satisfied, that throughout the ages the efforts to achieve that end by those who were similarly minded were nullified by ‘big industrial exploiters for their own profit. Women have always been slaves in industry, and men were, too, many years ago. During a time of war, women are drawn into branches of industry to do work of a character which they have not previously undertaken. In the present conflict, they were educated very quickly to do the work of welders, mechanics, fitters and turners, and no one can deny that they have done a magnificent job. Probably, as the Minister has said, the present proposal is merely political propaganda. The arguments advanced by honorable members opposite savour of political hypocrisy.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw the expression “ hypocrisy “.
– I withdraw it, and say that they are political arguments. I have yet to learn that a woman can live more cheaply than a man. If she enters a milk-bar for a glass of malted milk she must pay the same price for it as a man would have to pay. She cannot purchase a pound of steak from a butcher at a cheaper rate than that paid by a man. She receives no reduction of the charge for board and lodging because she is a woman. In recognition of the services which women have rendered during the war, the Minister should at least ensure that they shall not be paid a lower reemployment allowance than is paid to men. This allowance will be given only during the comparatively brief period of rehabilitation, and the Government would not lose a great deal by equalizing the payments.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) on behalf of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), because the cost of board and lodging is as great for an adult female as for an adult male. Acceptance of the amendment would not establish a precedent likely to prove embarrassing in future. The extraneous matter imported into the debate will not excuse the Government for failure to allow the same rale for women as for men. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), in an attempt to defend thu indefensible, sought refuge in a provision inserted in legislation years ago, which he probably voted against, hut he quoted only such portions of it as supported his own apologia for this clause. The allowance will be provided only as a subsistence payment during the period of waiting for work or re-establishment, and I cannot understand why in the name of common justice the Minister wishes to defend the clause. I consider that the cost of living of a woman is considerably more than that of a man. Her clothing at least costs more than that of a member of the opposite sex. I urge the Government to do what is obviously fair and accept the amendment.
.- The Minister seems to have no sound reason for refusing to grant an equal payment for the sustenance of adults, whether they be .males or females. The allowance will cover only food and lodging and will operate for only a short period. It is wrong to contend that the principle involved is whether there should be equal pay for the sexes. Many honorable members are in favour of that principle, although up to the present it has not been advocated in the policy speeches of the leaders of the various political parties. That is a matter for the Arbitration Court. Personally I favour equal pay for equal work, but. we are now considering whether the sustenance allowance to be granted for a period of about three months should be the same for women as for men. The bill contains plenty of safeguards to ensure that an unworthy person shall not impose on the community. Clause 79, which provides for postponement and cancellation of the allowance in certain cases, will prevent people from doing the things of which the Minister seems to be afraid. The Minister fears that if women receive £2 10s. a week, plus 9s. a week for a child, they may decide not to go to work at all ; but clause 79 gives to the prescribed authority all necessary power to refuse payment of the allowance, if a particular person becomes unemployed by reason of misconduct or refuses or fails without good and sufficient reason to accept an offer of employment which the prescribed authority considered to be suitable. There are sufficient safeguards to justify the committee in accepting the* principle that the allowance necessary for food and lodging should be the samefor women as for men.
– I am unwilling to allow the specious argument of the honorablemember for Bass (Mr. Barnard) to go on record without challenge. He attempted to draw an analogy between the provisions of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act 1938 with the bill before us, but the analogy is not complete. We are now dealing with a proposal for an allowance for complete sustenance. The other measure provided for an actuarial scheme for the granting of various benefits after the payment of certain contributions. The disparity in the benefits under that measure were correctly related to the contributions. It was never claimed that that act provided for complete sustenance, because provision is; made in the ordinary social services to supplement those benefits. I am opposed to the clause before the committee, not only because it does injustice to women, but also because it perpetuates that peculiar philosophy which denies to women the same industrial privileges as men. Only a few minutes ago I inspected a file in the office of the External Affairs Department, and at revealed that a woman had been invited to attend a conference at the International Labour Office, not because she was a woman, but because she was the best qualified person in Australia-
– The honorable member must connect his remarks with the clause.
– I am decrying the perpetuation of a distinction between the sexes to the prejudice of women. If Mrs. Tenison- Woods had been a man, she would have gone overseas in a Lancaster bomber.
– If she had been Mr. Thornton.
– I again ask the honorable mem, ber to return to the clause.
– I am complaining about discrimination against women, and this clause illustrates one phase of it. I have drawn attention to an instance of that discrimination by saying that if the person selected to voice the opinion of Australia at a conference of the International Labour Organization in connexion with child welfare and child delinquency-
– I request the honorable member not to proceed further on the present lines of his argument.
– I refuse.
– Then I ask the honorable member to resume his seat.
.- The committee has been treated by honorable members opposite to a most remarkable exhibition. To-day, they appear in an entirely new role as advocates of equal pay for the sexes. I know that they are not sincere in their advocacy, but are merely continuing their sham-fight against the bill. It is hypocrisy.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).The honorable member must withdraw the word “ hypocrisy “.
– In deference to you, sir, I withdraw it, and I hope that when other honorable members use similar expressions they, too, will be called upon to withdraw them. Honorable members opposite have used specious arguments in favour of the amendment, yet the Government of which they were either members or supporters established the principle of differential rates of pay for males and females.
– That is what the present Government is doing now.
– But we are not hypocrites. If we were to introduce a measure providing for equal pay for the sexes every honorable member opposite would oppose it. It is necessary to draw attention to the hypocritical statements of honorable members opposite, and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) is the most hypocritical of the lot.
– That statement is offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Since the honorable member for Wentworth finds the statement offensive, I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– I do not like withdrawing truthful statements,but in deference to you, Mr. Chairman, I do so. During the regime of the previous Government differential rates of pay for the sexes in the services was introduced, the female rate being approximately three-fifths of the male rate - and the female rate was not £2 a week, either, but varied from 28s. to 35s. a week. Every time an application for equal rates for women comes before the Women’s Employment Board it is opposed by the employers’ representatives, even in the case of women who have taken over men’s jobs. Honorable members opposite have never been prepared to place women on the same basis as men. They have done everything possible to keep women down, and when the Labour party has tried to improve their conditions, they have been met with the hostility of honorable members opposite and those whom they represent. Now honorable members opposite set themselves up as the champions of women’s rights. If I could think of another word for hypocrisy, I would use it.
– The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) said that we on this side of the House have never previously advocated equal pay for the sexes, and that in advocating it now we are playing the part of hypocrites. Well, honorable members on this side of the chamber are prepared to vote for it, as will be seen when the division is taken. The honorable member for Bourke claims that the Labour party has consistently advocated improved conditions for women, but now, when the opportunity occurs, for the first time in his political life, he is not prepared to vote for an amendment which would have the effect of improving their conditions. It is perfectly clear who is sincere. We are now supporting a principle which is embodied in the Labour platform, but the honorable member for Bourke will not support us. When he was appealing for the support of women at the last election, he made them all sorts of promises. We made no attempt to buy their votes with promises; yet it is we who are sponsoring a proposal for equal pay for the sexes.
,. - The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) discussed this matter with me earlier in the day, and I said that he could give an undertaking to the committee that this provision would be re-examined by Cabinet and, if necessary, by the Labour party - whose decision it is - before the bill is considered in the Senate. No amount of talk here thi3 afternoon would alter that decision. Honorable members opposite have expressed great solicitude for women, but the conditions under which women had to work, as shown in evidence in the Arbitration Court, are such that no Parliament could be proud of them.
– Nor any political party, either.
– I wonder how much sincerity there is in this sudden interest displayed by honorable members opposite in women’s conditions. It occurs to me that it may be due to the fact that this provision affects servicewomen, and honorable members hope to obtain some support from them. I do not think that members of the services will allow themselves to be gulled by this sudden solicitude. The matter requires some investigation. It is true that women serving with the forces are paid rates which differ from those paid to men. That has been the accepted principle in the services as it has been in industry, although the present Government has improved the conditions of women who are taking the place of men in industry. I rose chiefly to repeat the assurance given by the Minister in charge of the bill that the matter will be examined further. I do not say that lightly in order to dispose of the matter now. Before the bill goes to the Senate this matter will be earnestly considered by the Government.
.-The speech of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) would have given much more satisfaction to the committee had it contained only the first few sentences. He gave an assurance that this matter would be examined by the Government, and I take it that he meant that it would be given sympathetic consideration. But he then went on to make an entirely unnecessary reflection on the Opposition and our arbitration system. He said that the part played by political parties in connexion with the fixing of rates of pay for women was something of which this country had no reason to be proud. That is not only an unnecessary interpolation in the discussion of this measure, but also a reflection on a body of men who have given much thought to the problem of rates of pay to females. I suggest to him, and to the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson), that that question does not arise in connexion with this clause. The courts have fixed rates of pay for women on a number of grounds; their task has not been the same as fixing a sustenance rate. The courts in setting out to fix rates of pay for women would take into account not only sustenance, but also the need for recreation, and other matters which are additional to the bare bones of subsistence. It is, therefore, confusing to point to what has been done in connexion with wage rates in industry, and to say that that is a guide to what should be done in connexion with sustenance under this measure. When the Government has decided whether or not there shall be equality between the sexes in this connexion, it should place before- the committee details of what it considers is necessary for sustenance. iSo far, we have not had from the Government any details to show on what basis the allowance was decided. The Ministersaid that if the rate were too high, it would discourage people from seeking regular employment because they would get sufficient sustenance to keep them going. A final point made by the Acting Prime Minister was that Opposition parties were trying to gull members of the services into giving to them their support. That statement was’ unworthy of the generous spirit shown by him in his opening sentence. My colleagues will bear me out that this matter was raised in the party room by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), who saw what an unsatisfactory situation was being created for women membersof the services. For any one to suggestthat the honorable member for Darwin was out to gain cheap popularity among: women members of the services is to say somethingthat is entirely unwarranted. The party has adopted the arguments which she so cogently presented. The Government should not require the breathing-space which the Acting Prime Minister indicated was necessary. This matter has been canvassed sufficiently for the Government to say now whether or not it is prepared to accept the proposal of the Opposition.
– I should not have risen again but for the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart), who referred to the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill, which, as a member of a previous government, he introduced, but was not sufficiently courageous to put into operation. He said that the rates prescribed by that legislation were not intended as sustenance, but were to be supplemented by grants from the States, and that, in any case, they were being paid for by contributions to a fund. I suggest that the payments which are made are being provided by the masses of the people, who contribute to the National Welfare Fund.
– In this case the contribution is service; and women have given the same service as men.
– That may be, but they have given that service on. the understanding that there would be different rates of pay, including junior rates. The National Health and Pensions Insurance Act provides for differential rates.
– And friendly society benefits.
– The honorable member for Parramatta refers to benefits provided by friendly societies. I have been a member of a friendly society for most of my life, and I have never known the benefit to be less than £1 a week for females. My point is that the amount proposed as sustenance is approximately four times the amounts provided under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act for both males and females. It is misleading to say that that act did not provide for sustenance, and that the amount was to be supplemented by the States. The principle of differential rates was accepted in the first place, and the provision was the best that the Government could make. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has effectively answered complaints that the proposed allowances will be inadequate by pointing out that it is not intended that they shall do mare than tide people over periods of difficulty in transition from one job to another. Officers from New Zealand in evidence before theSocial Security Committee said that unemployment allowances could not be high because that would deter people from seeking work.
– SirWilliam Beveridge said that months ago.
– And every one knows it. This is stone-walling.
– Yes. Every one knows it. Opposition supporters have the right to express their views without being accused of stone-walling.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).I ask the honorable member to discuss the clause.
– The Opposition is seeking to use this clause as a political stalking horse to. influence the electors. They will not be tricked. I agree with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that differential ratesof payment to men and women are not an innovation. They apply under the Superannuation Act and another legislation. I shall agree that differential rates should not be paid when there is absolute equality of the sexes and women receive the same wages as men. I have no apology for my support of this clause. I do not believe that it is the last word, because I believe that, if circumstances alter, it will be amended in consonance. I regard the clause as an excellent start. We shall see how it works. If it needs to be altered it will be altered in the light of experience.
– During the second-reading debate, . I referred to the rates for men and women that are now being discussed and expressed1 the hope that the Government would be prepared sympathetically to reconsider them, as it appeared to me that there was good reason for reconsideration. Having heard the assurances of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr.
Chifley) and the Minister for. Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that the matter will be fully and sympathetically reconsidered by the Cabinet, and that was my wish-
– Now tell us your opinion.
– This is stone-walling.
– I am expressing my position quite clearly. During the second-reading debate, I said that this matter should be sympathetically reconsidered. .Ministers have given an assurance that it will be. The Acting Prime Minister has said that that reexamination will be thorough and sincere. [ am entirely satisfied with the assurance given by the Acting Prime Minister and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction.
– That is the second time the honorable member has told us that. Now, he will tell us the third time.
– The interjections indicate that there still seems to be doubt as to my position. I wish to make it perfectly clear that the assurance given by Ministers entirely meets the position as far as I am concerned.
– Now tell us what you think.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to discuss the clause.
– And avoid tedious repetition.
– Yes, and avoid tedious repetition.
– I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, but there were interjections asking me to clarify my attitude. I thought I was correctly interpreting my position in this committee by making my position perfectly clear to those who appeared to be in doubt. It is very difficult to continue with the interjections to which I am subjected. There appears to be no necessity in view of the assurances given by Ministers.
– I rise to order. There is a standing order ‘ against tedious repetition. It is perfectly clear that the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Fraser) has said exactly the same thing four times for the sole purpose of preventing the committee -from discussing the remaining clauses up to and including clause 101. It is scandalous that this frivolous waste of time should be continuing when the committee has only eleven minutes in which to discuss a variety of matters including land settlement for soldiers.
– It is true that the Standing Orders provide that honorable members shall not indulge in tedious repetition. The Chair pointed out to the honorable member that he was very close to committing a breach of that Standing Order. I hope that he will not offend again in that respect.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has stated that I am speaking for the sole purpose of preventing other honorable members from dealing with this matter. He has also stated that I am engaging in a frivolous waste of time. Those statements are offensive to me and I ask that they be withdrawal.
– The Chairman has just upheld them.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has said that the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition are offensive to him, and he asks that they be withdrawn.
– What the honorable gentleman is complaining about is an objection which I took under the Standing Orders. You, Mr. Chairman, upheld my objection, and the last thing I propose to do is to reflect upon your decision by withdrawing my objection.
– I have not spoken at length on any of the clauses yet considered by the committee and I have not spoken on many occasions. I have not previously spoken to-day, but since we went into committee at 11 o’clock this morning, only ten clauses have been dealt with.
– I ask the honorable member to address himself to the question before the Chair.
– This provision is of great importance. I trust that the Minister will re-examine the clause as soon as possible. I have no doubt that as the result of such re-examination the point which I and other honorable members raised on the second reading will be adequately met. In view of that fact I see no reason why the amendment should be persevered with.
.- I have followed closely the whole of the debate in committee. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has also given very careful consideration to each clause so far debated. I resent his statement that honorable members on this side are only stone-walling. At the moment, eleven Opposition members have spoken compared with eight honorable members on this side. From that fact it should be clear as to who is responsible for any delay in the consideration of this clause. This provision is of the utmost importance. From my experience in industry I am not surprised at the sham-fight which honorable members opposite are putting up on behalf of females covered by the clause. The interests represented by honorable members opposite have always been opposed to the treatment of males and females on an equal footing in respect of wages or sustenance payments. I remind the committee that under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill passed by the Lyons Government, which honorable members opposite supported, notably the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart), a similar discrimination between the sexes was made in respect of pensions. Under that measure the rate of pension for a single man was 20s. a. week, whilst for a. female it was only 15s. a week, and the sustenance payment was fixed at 20s. a week for a male and only 15s. a week for a female. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) have given an assurance to the committee that the Government will review the points raised on this clause. That assurance is genuine if only for the reason that this Government was elected by a record majority and, therefore, has the interests of the masses of the people at heart. I am certain, that when the measure is returned from the Senate, the points raised will be covered in a manner which will be acceptable to all parties.
– Order ! The time allotted to the committee stage up to and including clause 101 has expired.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Ryan’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided: (The Chairman - Mr. W. J. F. Riordan.)
Ayes . . . . . . 16
Noes . . . . . . 29
Majority . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 74, and the circulated amendment, of the Government, and clauses 75 to 101,and the circulated amendments of the Government, agreed to.
Circulated amendments : -
Clause 74 (vide page 2130).
Amendment. - Sub-clause (2.), paragraph (b), leave out “ (not beinga widower or widow) “.
Clause 76- (2.) A re-employment allowance shall not bo payable to any person in respect of any period after the expiration of twelve months from -
Amendment. - Sub-clause (2.), leave out “in the war “ ; insert “ in all the wars in which His Majesty was engaged at the date of commencement of this Division “.
Clause 89- (1.) in this Division - “ eligible person “ means -
Amendment. - Sub-clause (1.), leave out subparagraph (i) ; insert the following subparagraph : - “ (i) in the opinion of the prescribed authority, has been honorably discharged after not less than six months’ war service orhas been materially prejudiced by reason of his war service andhas been honorably discharged after less than six months’ war service; and”.
Clause 94 - (1.) Subject to this section, a loan shall not he made or guarantee given under this Division unless -
an application for the loan or guarantee is made -
Amendm ent. - Sub-clause ( 1 . ) , sub- paragraph (i), leave out “in the war”; insert “ in all the wars in which His Majesty was engaged at the date of commencement of this Division “.
Amendment. - Sub-clause (1.), subparagraph (ii), leave out “in the war”; insert “in all the wars in which His Majesty was engaged at the date of commencement of this Division “.
The Commonwealth may, in accordance with any agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and any State, make advances to a State -
Amendment. - After “ advances “, insert “ or payments “.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time. ,
. - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to regulate life insurance business conducted in Australia, and to protect the interests of persons who have effected life insurance policies. Life insurance business has been developed extensively and there are now about 4,500,000 policies in force in Australia. It has long been recognized that some form of public control is necessary over a business which affects such a large proportion of the people, and in fact various enactments with this object in view have been passed by the Commonwealth and State Parliaments. It is generally admitted, however, that the control exercised by existing legislation is not completely satisfactory, and the object of this bill is to consolidate and extend the provisions of those acts.
To explain the type of control proposed by this bill it is necessary to refer briefly to the historical development of life insurance business. The business was largely developed in Great Britain during the last century, and after the failure of one or two companies had attracted public attention, a system of legislative control was instituted in 1870. Under this system, the principles of which have been described as “Freedom with publicity”, a company is required to lodge a relatively small deposit with the Government as security for policy-holders, but otherwise it is allowed considerable freedom in the management of its business, provided that it publishes its accounts and statistics in a standard form. The publicity given to a company’s results, . and the competition between various companies has, in the past, been relied upon to ensure a minimum standard of protection for policy-holders.
Life insurance in Australia is carried on mainly by local mutual companies on lines very similar to those adopted by British companies, and the British system of legislative control, i.e., “ Freedom with publicity “, was adopted by all the States, with the important exception of New South Wales, before the Commonwealth was founded in 1901.
As these State enactments differed in details, though not in principle, the need for uniform life insurance legislation was foreseen when the Commonwealth Constitution was drafted, and power was taken accordingly. As a step to implement this power, a royal commission was appointed in 1908. The commission reported in 1910, and since that date there have been several attempts to draft life insurance bills, but none of them, for various reasons, was proceeded with. On two special subjects only has the Commonwealth passed life insurance legislation. In 1905 it extended to life policies the limitation imposed upon friendly societies, regarding the amount that may be paid on the death of a child. In 1932 it assumed control over the deposits previously lodged by companies with some of the States, and imposed a uniform scale of deposits for the whole of Australia. It may be mentioned that this act effecttively checked the formation of “ mushroom” companies, many of which had previously commenced business in New South Wales, where no deposit was required.
The first purpose of this bill is thus to consolidate these existing State and Commonwealth acts.
It has become apparent, however, that the principles of “ Freedom with pub licity” embodied in these acts require some modification in view of modern conditions. This fact was recognized in Great Britain in 1923, when, following an inquiry into the methods of transacting industrial insurance, an Industrial Insurance Commissioner was appointed, with wide powers of supervision of the companies. In the present bill it is proposed that a commissioner be appointed to supervise the administration of the proposed act, both as regards ordinary and industrial insurance.
A further point is that whereas the bulk of life insurance business in Australia is transacted by companies which have acquired a world-wide reputation for their soundness, there are a few companies that are not yet so firmly established. In the case of the strong companies it is anticipated that the duties of the commissioner will be largely of a supervisory nature. In the case of those companies which are not so well established, it is anticipated that he will have to take more active steps to procure the maximum possible protection for the policy-holders. British legislation, in such circumstances, provides only that the commissioner can make application for the winding-up of the company by the court. It is thought, however, that in the case of a life insurance company, it will frequently be possible to make arrangements which are more satisfac tory to the policy-owners than a complete winding-up of the company, and the bill provides the machinery whereby each case can be closely examined and, subject to directions of the High Court, the procedure most favorable to the policyholders can be adopted. The procedure Adopted has been modelled upon an enactment of the South African legislature.
It is appropriate at this stage to summarize the main objects of this bill, which have arisen from the foregoing historical discussion. These are: -
In addition, it is proposed to provide for the establishment of a Commonwealth Government Insurance Office, if and when the establishment of such an office is thought to be in the public interest.
I now propose to outline briefly some of the more important provisions of the bill.
Before doing life insurance business in Australia, a company must lodge a deposit, on the same scale as is provided by the present Commonwealth act, and register with the commissioner. The commissioner may, subject to the Treasurer’s approval, refuse to register any company not already transacting life insurance business in Australia. Companies already doing life insurance business in Australia are entitled to registration on application within three months, but such registration is merely to ensure the continuity of their business, and will not imply that the commissioner is satisfied with the methods under which their business is conducted. Should the commissioner have any doubt as to whether an existing company should be allowed to continue transacting life insurance business, the bill gives him power, after registering the company, to make an immediate investigation and then, if he thinks fit, to compel the company either to improve its methods or to cease doing business in Australia.
It has long been recognized that the funds of life insurance companies are in the nature of trust funds, and that they should, subject to any proper allocation of profits, as decided by the members of the company, be applied solely for the benefit of the policy-owners. This principle is enforced in the bill by the establishment of statutory funds. All moneys received in respect of life insurance business must be carried to a statutory fund, the assets of which must be kept entirely separate from all other assets of the company, and no part of a statutory fund may be applied towards any purpose other than life insurance business. Thus, if a company transacts, say, fire insurance business as well as life insurance, and suffers losses on its fire business, the life statutory funds cannot be charged with those losses.
The bill provides that accounts and balance-sheets in respect of each statutory fund shall be prepared annually in a prescribed manner . and that such accounts and balance-sheets shall be audited by competent persons. A person must, in the first instance, secure the approval of the commissioner before he undertakes the duties of auditor of a life insurance company.
At least once in each five years the affairs of each company must be thoroughly investigated by an actuary. These provisions follow those set out in British legislation with one or two further safeguards. For instance, it is provided that the basis of valuation adopted by the actuary shall be not less stringent than a prescribed “ minimum basis “. This minimum basis cannot be called a severe one in present conditions, and no solvent company should have any difficulty in complying with it. For those companies whose position is not entirely satisfactory, however, the adoption of a uniform minimum basis of valuation will assist the commissioner to determine the course of action he should take.
Besides being entrusted with the general administration of the proposed act, the commissioner is to be given very full powers to make confidential inquiries into the business of any life insurance company. He can demand any relevant information from a company, and can, if he thinks fit, investigate any part of a company’s business. In the case of such an investigation, the legitimate interests of the company are preserved by the fact that the commissioner must inform the company of the grounds on which the investigation is to be made, and of the results of an investigation. Also the investigation must be conducted in secret, and no information divulged except in pursuance of a duty under the act.
As a result of his investigations, the commissioner may give such directions to the company as he thinks necessary, but, in view of the fact that such directions might seriously affect the business of the company, it i3 provided that the company may appeal to the High Court against those directions. It is anticipated, however, that the commissioner would normally only give directions himself on matters of minor importance. If his investigations show that there is anything seriously wrong with the management of a company, his remedy would be to apply to the High. Court for the appointment of a judicial manager to the company. If appointed, the judicial manager will, subject to directions from the court, take over all the powers and functions 0 fi the management of the company. The judicial management is intended to be only a temporary phase to protect the interests of the policy-owners, and, as soon as practicable, the judicial manager will report to the court, indicating whether he considers the company should be wound up or its business transferred to another company, or whether any better arrangement can be made in the interests of policy-owners.
These then are the powers whereby the commissioner will be able to ensure that all life insurance companies remain solvent, not only as regards their immediate liabilities, but also as regards the actuarial reserves that must he built up to pay future claims. It will be noted that there is nothing arbitrary about his powers - on any question of vital importance, if the company is not satisfied with the commissioner’s decision, it can take the matter to the High Court for decision.
A considerable part of the bill sets out certain minimum rights that a policyowner shall have in relation to his policy contract. These provisions for the most part follow similar provisions in the various State acts, and in any event are merely privileges that the better companies have freely allowed to their policyholders1 for many years. The object of the bill is to require all companies to maintain these minimum standards in all States. In recent years- the Victorian Government has taken an active interest in life insurance legislation of this nature. Members will remember that a Royal Commission on Industrial Insurance was appointed in Victoria in 1938, and the recommendations of that royal commission were subsequently embodied in the legislation of that State. The present bill has included all the provisions of recent Victorian legislation with minor amendments, and thus extends to policyowners in all States’ the benefits of the findings of that royal commission. The most important of these provisions is perhaps the institution of a minimum scale ott surrender values and paid-up policy values which, as in Victoria, are extended to both ordinary and industrial insurance policies.
I do not propose at this stage to enter into details regarding the other provisions of the .bill, some of which are of a technical nature, since they are described in the memorandum which I am circulating for the information of honorable members. However, I once more emphasize the need for uniform and comprehensive legislative control of this business which so closely affects the lives of the Australian people. Before this bill was drafted an extensive study was made of comparable legislation in Great Britain and in most of the British Dominions, and I believe that the form of control suggested by the bill is the most suitable to Australian conditions. The provisions of the bill are not unduly harsh on the managements of life insurance companies; indeed, I think it may be said that the better companies have already voluntarily given their policy-holders substantially all the rights conferred by the measure. However, the measure will introduce improvements into the practices of some other companies that have not been so liberal in the past, and will also have the undoubted advantage of rendering the minimum rights of policyowners uniform in all companies and in all States.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister indicate whether this debate will be resumed’ after the banking legislation has been considered? These are all heavy bills and they require a great deal of study.
– I give that assurance readily.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is designed to provide for payment of a war gratuity to mark in a special way the nation’s gratitude to its men and women in the fighting forces. The gratuity provided under the terms of the bill is a free gift to members for honorable service in the war and is to be regarded as quite distinct from the steps being taken to meet the obligations of the nation to members of the forces by means of other legislation covering repatriation, employment, preference, vocational training, land settlement and associated matters. In the course ©f my remarks introducing the budget in September last, I said; -
I am sure that the Government interprets the wishes of the people of Australia as a whole, as well as the members of this Parliament, when it expresses gratitude for the valor and devotion which has been displayed in all manners and ways by the members of our fighting services. It is the Government’3 conviction that the nation owes them some signal recognition outside the ordinary plans for repatriation and reinstatement in employment, which in a variety of legislative and administrative ways, will be provided for those who return from the war. Methods which the Government will consider include a straight out gratuity based on the principle of place and length of service, or alternatively, payment for extended leave based on the same, principle. There are, of course, various other ways in which the nation might indicate its admiration for the services they have given. I suggest it may meet the wishes of the House if this matter were referred to a parliamentary committee.
After consultation with the leaders of the parties, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) subsequently announced that it had been agreed to constitute a committee to consider the question of a gratuity based on the principle of place and length of service,, or payment for extended, leave based on the same principle, and/or other methods of indicating the nation’s recognition of the services given by the fighting forces. A committee, representative of all parties, was appointed. It consisted of the following members: - Mr. J. B. Chifley, Treasurer (Chairman) ; Mr. C. W. Frost, Minister for Repatriation and Minister in Charge of War Service Homes; Senator H. B. Collett; Senator W. J. Cooper; Senator A. Finlay, Mr. A. G. Cameron, M.P. ; Mr. A. McK McDonald, M.P. ; and Mr. R. T. Pollard, M.P. The report of this committee was presented to the House on the 7th March last and ordered to be printed. As chairman of the committee, I wish to pay a tribute to the members who served with me in- evolving the war gratuity scheme which is now embodied in the bill before the House. The objective - the recognition of the services of the fighting forces - was, of course, beyond any question of controversy or difference of opinion. Its attainment in a workable form, however, was full of complexities. The committee painstakingly devoted itself to the task of producing a scheme which would give expression in a practical way to the nation’s gratitude to those who have served the country in the fighting services in these years of war. I am glad to be able to record that the unanimity which was achieved by members of the committee on all recommendations was a real agreement, reached after careful consideration of difficult phases and the examination of various alternatives. I shall now outline briefly the main provisions of the bill.
The measure provides for two rates of payment of gratuity. One relates to service overseas and for specified periods after return to Australia, and the other, the lower rate, is in recognition of service in Australia after the outbreak of war with Japan. The committee gave careful consideration to the line of demarcation for the purpose of the gratuity rates and finally reached the conclusion that the only practicable working rule would be one based on existing taxation legislation affecting all members of the forces, whereunder a broad distinction- has been drawn between service .outside Australia and service within Australia. The rates of gratuity in both cases are flat rates without distinction as to rank and they are applicable to both men and women members of the services -without any discrimination as to basis of eligibility or rate of payment. The overseas gratuity rate is designed to accord some recognition of the arduous and hazardous conditions which are generally associated with service overseas. It would be an impossible task to devise a scheme which would select for special recognition periods of time spent in actual battle and no attempt is made in the bill to do this. The application of one rate to all overseas service will in the aggregate provide at least as substantial recognition as a much higher rate of gratuity related only to periods of actual fighting, even if such a scheme were practicable. The rate of gratuity recommended for overseas service is £3 15s. per month. It covers the full term of service overseas, subject to a qualifying period, and 90 days after the return of the member to Australia. In the case of a member invalided back to Australia, the period in hospital and until fit to return to his unit will be additional to the 90 days. The minimum payment at the overseas rate to a member who has completed the qualifying period is twelve months’ gratuity. To qualify for overseas gratuity, a member must have served as a member of a body, contingent or detachment of the defence force overseas for a continuous period of 90 days or for an aggregate period of 180 days in twelve months. There are adaptations of this brief description to cover the members of theRoyal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy, but the qualifying periods are the same in each case. Service in New Guinea, Papua and Norfolk Island after the 6th December, 1941, qualifies for gratuity at the overseas rate.
The gratuity for Australian service is 15s. a month. It relates to the period following the outbreak of war with Japan, the 7th December, 1941, when the general conditions of service in Australia were subject to material change, and deferred pay was extended to all members serving in Australia. There is for Australian gratuity a qualifying period of six months’ service. A member with six months’ service as at the 7th December, 1941, would thus be eligible for gratuity as from that date.
The bill provides that the period of entitlement to gratuity shall terminate at the date of discharge of the member, or a date twelve months after the cessation of hostilities, whichever is the earlier.
The committee, in its report, gave some examples of the amounts of gratuity which will accrue to members under these qualifying conditions : -
The payment for five years at the overseas rate is £225.
For four years at the overseas rate and one year at the Australian rate - £189.
For three years at the overseas rate and two years at the Australian rate - £153.
For two years at the overseas rate and three years at the Australian rate - £117.
For one year at the overseas rate and four years at the Australian rate - £81.
In the bill, the terms “general qualifying service “ and “ overseas qualifying service “ are used. “ General qualifying service” covers all service which will count for gratuity purposes, irrespective of the rate of gratuity. “ Overseas qualifying service covers those periods of service for which payment at the overseas rate, namely, £3 15s. a month, will be made.
The period of service for which gratuity is payable at the Australian rate, namely, 15s. a month, is ascertained by deducting the “ overseas qualifying service” from the total “general qualifying service” of the member.
A number of special clauses deal with the administrative rules governing gratuity, and make provision for such matters as forfeiture during periods of absence without leave, and total disqualification where offences of a serious nature have been committed.
There are special provisions covering death cases. In all death cases overseas, andin death cases in Australia attributable to service, gratuity at the rate accruing to the member at date of notification of his death will be continued for a period terminating seven months after the date of notification of death. As the minimum payment in respect of overseas service is the sum due in respect of twelve months’ overseas service, the minimum payment in overseas death cases will be for twelve months plus seven months. There are, as honorable members know, many cases in which a member of the forces remains missing for a lengthy period before death is notified. The view has been taken that in such cases the gratuity period should continue to run until death is actually notified, and for seven months thereafter. This is in line with the rules governing continuation of dependants’ allowances and rates of war pension in the case of missing and deceased members. For Australian service only, the minimum payment in death cases will be for the period of qualifying service, plus seven months.
Special consideration has been given to death cases overseas, and attributable death cases in Australia, in which members of the family were totally dependent on the deceased member at the date of his death. It is provided that the minimum payment in these cases should be the equivalent of three years’ gratuity, calculated at the overseas gratuity rate. This provision is to cover not only death cases during service as defined for gratuity purposes, but also deaths of members eligible for gratuity which occurred between the date of their discharge, at which date their eligibility would normally cease, and a date twelve months after the cessation of hostilities. It also covers the deaths of members who had had no overseas service, and whose Australian service had not qualified them for gratuity - that is, members who died in Australia before completion of sis months’ service on or after the 7th December, 1941. In these cases, if death occurs at any time between the date of commencement of continuous full-time duty and a date twelve months after the cessation of hostilities, and the death is due to war service, persons who were totally dependent on the deceased member at the date of his death will be eligible for the payment of three years’ gratuity at the overseas rate.
In the “War Gratuity Act which dealt with war gratuities for the 1914-18 war, discretion was left to the prescribed authority to determine claims, for gratuity presenting exceptional features, and the disposal of the gratuity in special circumstances. The manner in which this discretionary power was exercised proved conducive to the harmonious administration of the act, and similar provisions have been included in the present bill.
The estimated cost of gratuity up to the 30th June, 1945, is f 63,000,000, of which sum £51,000,000 will be in respect of overseas service gratuity and £12,000,000 in respect of Australian service gratuity. For each additional six months the cost, so far as it can be estimated, will be £7,000,000. Members may recall that the total cost of the war gratuity in the 1914-1S war was £27,000,000. The present conflict has already lasted longer, and the numbers engaged are greater. The higher gratuity rate proposed is 2s. 6d. a day, as against ls. 6d. a day in the last war, and the rate for Australian service only is £9 per annum to members who qualify, as against a maximum of £9 in the last war.
I need not remind honorable members that the economic situation in the years immediately after the war will be one in which the demand for goods in short supply will be heavy, and competition for available goods will be strong. As has been pointed out in the report of the committee, the release at this stage for immediate spending of the large sum of at least £63,000,000, involved in war gratuity, in addition to £60,000,000 or more of deferred pay which will, in any case, be paid in cash, would not be in the interest of the discharged members, or in the national interest. It is the Government’s view that the comprehensive repatriation, re-establishment and associated plans will take care of the immediate needs of the members of the forces, and that . their interests will be best served by the preservation of their war gratuity for future use, except in the special classes of cases in which earlier cash payment is being provided. Profiting by the experience gained in connexion with war gratuity bonds after the last war. it is considered desirable that, in the interests of the members of the forces, no bonds should be issued. It is proposed to establish a register of war gratuities in which, six months after the cessation of hostilities, members or their beneficiaries will be entitled to have their entitlement to war gratuity credited. The member’s interest in the gratuity will be inalienable. His credit in the register will bear interest at the current rate for long-term Commonwealth bonds - 3-£ per cent. - and the gratuity will be payable five years later. The gratuity and interest will be tax_free, and are not to be regarded as property or income for the purposes of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act or the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act.
Special provision is made for earlier cash payment in certain cases. These cases include the widow of a member, the widowed mother of an unmarried deceased member, the mother of a deceased member, if she was dependent on him prior to his death, or is in necessitous circumstances, and the blind and the totally and permanently incapacitated member. Cash may also be made available in approved cases to provide for the cost of erection or purchase of a home for the member. The Government considers that the committee has, after exhaustive examination of the problems involved, produced an effective scheme which, within the limits of our capacity, gives expression to the gratitude of the nation to members of the fighting forces. The Government accordingly submits the bill for the approval of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison; adjourned.
Repatriation : Case of Sergeant Lowerson, V.C. - Arbitration Court: Alleged Ministerial Interference with Judiciary - Petrol and Kerosene : Distribution - Reestablishment and Employment Bill 1945 : Discussion - Migration - D.D.T. Supplies.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr.FROST (Franklin- Minister for Repatriation and Minister in charge of War Service Homes) [3.57].- On the 8th May, the honorable member for Gippsland asked the following question -
Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement in the Melbourne Truth that Sergeant Lowerson, V.C., of the last war, and who had service in this war, was removed from the Caulfield Repatriation Hospital on Anzac Day and placed in a public hospital because his ailment was diagnosed as not being due to war service?
Is the Minister aware that in the same article it is stated that unnaturalized aliens, unable even to speak our language, are in the same repatriation hospital and receiving full benefits,such as pensions and free treat ment, because of their compulsory service in some Labour Corps ?
If these statements are true, will the Minister takesteps to have these aliens treated under some other regulation or act, and so save the Australian people undue distress and humiliation?
In reply I desire to make the following statement : -
The soldier referred to in the article in the Melbourne Truth was admitted to the Repatriation General Hospital, Caulfield, for the sole purpose of diagnosis and report, in consequence of a report from Dr. C. E. Beaumont, of Myrtleford, Victoria. After numerous examinations had been carried out the condition was finally diagnosed as a malignant blood disease, and it was deemed essential by the visiting specialist in charge of the case that deep therapy treatment be given urgently. This special treatment was not obtainable at the Caulfield Repatriation Hospital and, pending availability of a bed in a public hospital where such treatment could be given, some X-ray therapy was carried out at the Repatriation General Hospital for diagnostic purposes. The first bed available at a suitable hospital was at the Royal Melbourne Hospital on the 25th April. 1945, and as the necessity for treatment was urgent the ex-member was sent there on that date.
During the period when he was an inmate of the repatriation hospital for investigation sustenance was payable under the regulations which have been in existence for many years at the equivalent of full pension rates. No authority existed for continuance of sustenance after the investigation was completed. The whole of the medical reports have now been submitted to a board of independent medical specialists for an opinion as to whether there is any relationship between the soldier’s disease and his war service. The Repatriation Commission has since considered the report of the specialists, but in view of the nature of the report and also the whole of the evidence on the files, the commission has been unable to accept the case under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. I am assured by thecommission that this case has received full consideration, but I desire to make it quite clear that the department deals with each caseon its merits, and ex-members who have received decorations because of their service cannot be treated differently from many thousands of others who have had honorable service but have not actually been awarded decorations. Mr. Lowerson will now have the right of appeal to the “War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal which, as honorable members know, is an independent body created at the express wish of returned soldiers’ organizations for the purpose of hearing appeal* against decisions of the Repatriation Commission.
With regard to the treatment received in repatriation hospitals by certain unnaturalized aliens, it is explained thai the Repatriation Commission has no option but to provide such treatment, where necessary, in respect of war disabilities or in consequence of pulmonary tuberculosis, for all persons who are members of the forces within the meaning of tho Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. The fact that certain persons who are enlisted for service in the defence forces are unnaturalized aliens was not overlooked by the Repatriation Commission, and the matter was taken up with tho authorities concerned some time ago, but no solution of the difficulty has been arrived at. As a result of this situation it is admitted that at least two unnaturalized alien members of the forces have received treatment in the Repatriation General Hospital, Caulfield, but it is not intended to take any steps in the direction indicated by the honorable member, as it is not considered that his suggestion has any bearing on the treatment for war disabilities of Australian-born members of the forces.
.- Earlier this month I referred to certain issues which I believe to have been created by press accounts of what transpired at tho recent trade union congress in Melbourne, which was attended by members of the Government. The House will be familiar with the facts which I submitted at that time, including allegations of a bitter attack by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) upon certain judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Since then, proceedings have taken place in that court against the proprietors of two newspapers, in which statements of a substantially identical nature were published with regard to these matters. 1 do not intend to discuss the merits of these cases, but there has been a further extraordinary development, which in one sense clears up the mystery, at least in my own mind, and of which I think the House should be fully acquainted. I have before me the issue for Saturday, the 19th May, of Common Cause, which styles itself the official organ of the miners’ federation of Australia. I note that the editor of this newspaper is Mr.
The role of the Arbitration Court in the present period was trenchantly criticized at the conference of Federal Ministers and representatives of federal trade unions held in Melbourne last week-end. Convened by the Government at the request of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, the conference was the fourth all-Australia discussion during the war between Government and union leaders. The conference was attended by eleven Cabinet Ministers, members of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, representatives of the metropolitan Labour councils and delegates from more than 80 federal trade unions. The federation was represented by the general president, H. Wells, and the general secretary, G. W. S. Grant. Ministers agreed with trade union representatives that the recent Arbitration Court decision refusing increased rates for certain women workers was incorrect and indicated that action would be taken- to give them higher wages. It was indicated that higher rates would be brought about by National Security Regulations.
Minister for Labour Holloway bitterly attacked Chief Judge Piper of the Arbitration Court. He described Judge Piper as spineless and weak-kneed. Mr. Holloway revealed that the Government had got Judge Piper to practically draw Up regulations to put into effect the policy of higher rates for women in “referred” industries. When the case came before the court, four of the judges were evenly divided on the issue, and Judge Piper had cast ‘his decision against the higher rates. Mr. Holloway said that many wartime industries were suffering a severe manpower shortage because women could not be persuaded, or forced, to leave well-paid positions in some industries where they had between 75 and 90 per cent, of the male rate to work in others at about £1 a week. The Go,vernment was urged to speed up the proposals for amending the Arbitration Act and changing the arbitration system, particularly with a view to increasing the aspect of conciliation, reducing the powers of the judges, who are more and more seeking to exercise a tyrannical control of trade union activities and to dictate trade union policy.
I draw the attention of the House to these important circumstances associated with the publication of the article. Here we have delegates who were present at the conference purporting to give in the journal which they own and edit an accurate account of what took place. The account is in almost identical terms with that published, first of all in the Sydney Morning Herald, and later in the Communistcontrolled paper, the Tribune. The Sydney Morning Herald article appeared early in the week. My questions were submitted to the Minister in this House on Tuesday, the 15th May, and he gave an emphatic denial to the allegations. Honorable members will be familiar with the manner and terms of the denial, which was given wide publicity in the press of New South Wales. The House debated the matter on the motion for the adjournment on Wednesday, the 16th May, and very full reports of the debate appeared in the Sydney press the following morning, Thursday, the 17th May. On Friday, the 18th May, it was reported in the press, and also in the evening news session of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, that the Sydney Morning Herald had been cited for contempt of court because of what it had published. Yet, on the following Saturday, after all the publicity, this particular journal comes out with an almost identical report. Honorable members might be inclined to draw the conclusion that the publication of the report in so many newspapers in almost identical terms of what took place at this private gathering confirms the suggestion that the Minister was not telling the truth when he made his denial. I hasten to state that that is not my interpretation of the situation. I have reached the conclusion - and my belief is fortified by this new evidence - that the Minister was, in fact, telling the truth, although there might, of course, have been some reference at the conference to arbitration. Indeed, it was probable that there was. I believe, however, that he was truthfully presenting his own position to the House when he denied having used the language attributed to him, and when he denied having called the judges of the Arbitration Court into conclave - when, in fact, he denied having got them to negotiate with him. I am, therefore, forced to this conclusion: I believe that the account given to the Sydney Morning Herald reporter who was not present, but claimed to have got it from three delegates, was given either by Mr. Grant or Mr. Wells, or by some other Communist delegate to the conference. It is my belief that the Communist party has set out to make a deliberate attack upon the Arbitration Court.
– But Mr. Grant is not a Communist.
– Anyway, Mr. Wells is a Communist, and he controls this newspaper. He is a self-acknowledged Communist. I do not wish to make any unjustified charge against Mr. Grant, and I am prepared to accept the correction of the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). He is probably in a position to know more about it than I do. As I have said, there is no doubt about Mr. Wells being a Communist, nor is there any doubt about the attitude- of Mr. Thornton to the Arbitration Court. Both before he went to America, and since his return, he has said that the Arbitration Court system ought to be scrapped in favour of a system of conferences and conciliation committees.
In my opinion, this report was issued to the newspapers as part of a deliberate attack upon the arbitration system, and it was done in the belief that the Sydney Morning Herald would play it up as, in fact, it did. It was then reproduced in almost identical language in the Communistcontrolled newspaper, the Tribune. Then, after the Minister had made his denials, it was published once more in the Communist-controlled newspaper Common Cause. I wonder whether the hundreds of thousands of industrial workers in Australia, who are benefiting from one of the finest systems of industrial administration in the world, are aware of this attempt to smash, something which stands for the protection of their rights. I wonder whether the employers are aware of it - and they, too, benefit from the authority of the court. We have heard much of the need to reform, the arbitration system. As a matter of fact, reforms were instituted as the result of action taken by the Government of which I was a member early in the war - action endorsed by honorable members who were then in opposition, but who now support the Government. At that time, we removed many of the technical obstacles which prevented the giving of a speedy decision by the court, or which delayed access to it. Under the Industrial Peace Regulations, and by the creation of additional conciliation commissioners, we provided means for immediate access to the court if any trouble suddenly flared up. If the court is not functioning to-day to the satisfaction of the people of Australia, it is because this Government, instead of enforcing the decisions of the court, and backing up its authority, allows ite decisions to be ignored. The Government has adopted a spineless attitude in the face of industrial lawlessness.
Attempts have been made in the past to reform the arbitration system by substituting for it conciliation tribunals. During the Lang regime in New South Wales, ten conciliation committees were appointed, I understand, presided over by persons who had been trade union officials, and lacked the proper training for their responsible judicial task. This ushered in one of the worst periods of industrial chaos in the history of New South Wales. When the Stevens Government came into power it scrapped the committees and reconstructed the Arbitration Court, giving the arbitration judges the status of Supreme Court judges. It also had to pay thousands of pounds in lieu of five years’ salary to the officials of the conciliation committees who had failed to discharge the responsibilities entrusted to them. More recently there has been an attempt to get this conciliatory atmosphere into the courts in connexion with the happenings in the coal-mining industry. The central control system under Judge DrakeBrockman, with the assistance of dis- trict boards, has been wiped out, and in its place Mr. Willis, a former official of the coal miners’ federation, was appointed as a commissioner. I am in favour of conciliation in industrial affairs. I know how effectively the present court can work if backed with the authority of the Government, and if approached sincerely by persons who desire a decision which they can take back to their members; but the trouble is that not only is the Government not willing to enforce the decisions of the Court, but also that there is a white-anting process in the Communist-controlled unions which has for its purpose the discrediting of the court and the arbitration system. That that is so is shown clearly by various references in their publications. This is a tendency which no section of this Parliament can ignore. I raise this matter to-day, not for party political purposes, but because it threatens the stability of the industrial and commercial structure of the Commonwealth. We have built up in this country a splendid code, which covers practically every industry. There is hardly any body of men and women who have not a detailed code to which they can turn to ascertain the conditions appertaining to their employment. There is ready access to various tribunals. The American proposal which “ comrade “ Thornton advocates has shown that it is open to the gravest abuses - corruption, pressure tactics, and coercion. When a conference is to be held, one employer is approached and told that if he will make a minor concession to his employees he will be given protection for a considerable period. In his weakness and stupidity he may make the concession. It is then used as a lever against every other employer. We have heard of the enormous salaries of the so-called representatives of the working classes in the United States of America, and of the abuses associated with the conference proposal. So long as we have a body of men who are removed from the hurly burly of politics - men who can stand above the storm and survey what is going on below them - there will be some protection for the working men and women of Australia and for their employers. ‘ If, however, we abandon the system which provides that protection, we shall destroy every basis of security which -we have built up so painfully through the years.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Prior to Pool Petroleum Proprietary Limited taking over the control of motor spirit and kerosene in Australia, there were numbers of B class depots throughout the country in addition to the A class depots which the various companies had established. There were also smaller depots and agencies. But when that company took over the distribution of motor spirit and kerosene it closed a number of depots which had proved convenient to primary producers and other users of petroleum products. In some sections of my electorate, the primary producers protested against the closing of certain depots and asked that they be re-opened. The company replied’ that because of man-power difficulties and shortages of material that could not be done. The primary producers were not satisfied, and their protests were supported by local transport committees which were set up to advise the Government transport authorities. The replies which they received to their protests were not considered satisfactory, and so they approached me as their representative in the Parliament for assistance. On the 2Gi;h February, 1943, 1 took up the matter with the appropriate Minister. It has taken nearly two years to get any satisfaction at all. The reply that I received from the Minister was exactly the game as #hat which Pool Petroleum Proprietary Limited had previously sent to the primary producers. When I told them of the reply of the Minister they were still not satisfied’ that the circumstances justified the closing of the depots, and they then gave me facts and figures in support of their contention. I again took up the matter with the Minister. I believe that he did his best in the matter, but several months ela,pied before he again communicated with me; and when he did do so, his letter appeared to have been dictated by Pool Petroleum Proprietary Limited. The information which I submitted to the Minister must have been convincing, because the reply which I received on the 22nd December, 1944, from the secretary of the Department of Supply and Shipping, after I had discussed the matter personally with the Minister, contained the following paragraph :-
It was decided to request the Prices Commissioner to make an independent survey oi the position. This was done, and my officers have since made further inquiries through the Deputy Prices Commissioner, Adelaide, and Pool Petroleum Proprietary Limited.
Up to that time the Prices Commissioner had not made a survey. I did not want a reply from Pool Petroleum Proprietary Limited; I asked for an independent investigation. On the 22nd March, I received a reply which showed that the primary producers were justified in claiming that the depots were closed regardless of the convenience or the interests of the users of petroleum products. This is the reply I received after that report had been handed to the Prices Commissioner -
The reports received from the Price* Commissioner’s investigating officer indicate that there is a justification for the establishment of petroleum distribution facilities at Nuriootpa and Yongala and I have therefore asked the Pool Company to provide such service. The reactions of the Pool Company to this request have not yet been received, but I expect to have them at an early date when I will send you an official memorandum.
I have a copy of the report made by the independent inquiry, but I will not read it. It does not admit that all the depots that were closed should be re-opened. That was not sought, but there are certain depots which, in my opinion and in the opinion of the investigator, should be re-opened. I took my place in this Parliament for the first time after the last general elections nearly two years ago, and one of my first action* aa a Member of Parliament was to take up this matter. I raise it this afternoon in order to impress upon the Government the necessity to keep an eye on international cartels which have established themselves in this country. I realize that for the sake of the prosecution of the war, certain restrictions had to be imposed, but the reply made by Pool Petroleum Proprietary Limited that they could not spare the men or the material entailed in re-opening those depots did not hold water, because its trucks passed through towns, where depots had been closed, to adjacent towns and could easily have dropped off the supplies that the people in and around those towns needed. When the petrol companies were in supposed competition, they provided conveniences for the public generally, and the primary producer in particular, but, as soon-as they had banded themselves into a monopoly, they found a readymade excuse to curtail those conveniences in the general shortage of man-power and materials. At the same time, as my colleagues from South Australia could, affirm, in some towns in South Australia, despite their claim that they had closed depots in other parts in order to conserve labour and materials - it was really to conserve profits - they maintained as many as three depots. I suppose they did so in order to preserve their identity, and one cannot blame them. But one can blame them for unnecessarily closing depots in other places. I hope that the Government will do all it can to ensure the re-opening of those depots so that primary producers, the greatest sufferers from lack of labour and materials, shall be able to get their requirements with the least possible inconvenience. For years, the oil cartel has been a troublesome factor in the United States of America. I warn the Government to be on the alert lest it should become similarly troublesome here. We must control these monopolies, of which the oil octopus is probably the greatest, to prevent them from getting a stranglehold, on .this country.
.- I take the opportunity which the motion for the adjournment gives to refer to a matter which we had no opportunity to debate. A whole division of a very important bill passed without discussion.
– Order! The honorable member may not refer to legislation which is before Parliament.
– The measure has been passed.
– It has not.
– There will be no further opportunity to debate it. I am referring to a particular division.
– Consideration of that measure will be resumed on Tuesday.
– There is a misunderstanding. Certain clauses cannot be debated because they have been passed.
-Order ! The honorable member knows that he may not discuss what occurred in committee..
– It is an extraordinary position. Because of the guillotine, a certain part of the bill was not discussed
– Ohe honorable member opposite, through tedious repetition, took up a lot of the time. A portion of the bill refers to land settlement.
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss the bill.
– Then there is no means whereby matters of great magnitude can be discussed. I thought that, on the motion, for the adjournment, any matter at all could be discussed.
-The honorable member knows that that is not so.
– May I, then, without reference to the bill, say that it was proposed to put into force measures for the assistance of returned service men and women. In the opinion of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, and the Opposition, the advances proposed are inadequate.
– Order ! I have heard that matter discussed in the last couple of days. The honorable member is trying to evade my ruling. If he continues to do so I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– I should like to refer to the rates payable in New Zealand, as compared with those proposed here. May I discuss that?
– The honorable member may not.
– I shall take some other opportunity to do so. It is time that the Government made a declaration of policy on migration. I have asked questions of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), hoping to elicit such a declaration, and he has expressed some sympathy with those wanting to come to Australia. I have received correspondence from Great Britain and India which shows that large numbers of servicemen in those countries want to come to Australia. I have seen reports of long list of names at Australia House of most worthy British citizens who want to come here, as well’ as the names of many children who could he brought here under various schemes. Although the Government says that it wants to encourage migration, it takes no action in the matter. I shall not he unfair and say that no difficulties exist. They do, the principal difficulty being the shortage of shipping, in respect of which first priority must be given for the return of our servicemen in Great Britain, including large numbers of the Royal Australian Air Force. Nobody has brought up this matter since hostilities ceased in Europe. I do so now because the subject is of great importance to the Com- mon wealth. The prospects ‘ are that millions may die of starvation in Europe during the next winter. Great Britain, battered but victorious, has been a rationed nation, its people living very sparingly during the last six years. The British people ,are likely to receive still less food because Britain has accepted the responsibility of succouring some of the liberated countries. Is the Government blind to these facts, or is it merely concerned with domestic problems? “We must have regard to the long-range development of this country. We are in a hazardous position because of lack of man-power. Ex-servicemen on their return to this country from Great Britain invariably tell of British comrades who want to settle in Australia. But the Government is doing nothing in the matter. Recently, I received a letter from an Englishman in India who has lived in Australia. ‘The colonel of his regiment made a special trip to New Delhi on his behalf and others to find out what Australia was doing to encourage British servicemen of all ranks ito come to this country; but he could not o’btain any information on that point at our office in New Delhi for lack of any policy. What applies to India in this respect applies also to Great Britain. Therefore, it is high time that the Government made a statement concerning its intentions. We have been told that an “interdepartmental committee has been considering the subject of migration.
That committee has .been in existence for some years, and by this time it should have evolved some definite plan. Australians in Great Britain who have served with the British forces have been told at Australia House to renew their inquiries in two or three years. I realize that the shipping position is acute, but, surely, we are capable of organizing things more efficiently. If we fail to do so, we shall lose many thousands of worthy migrants to Canada, New Zealand and other countries.
– In reply to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Smith) I point out that the situation with respect to petrol supplies in this country was very difficult when the present Government assumed office. The circumstances then existing are fairly well known, but of all the things which the Government has had to do in connexion with the war, the handling of the petrol supply problem has been very satisfactory. We were obliged to establish the system to which the honorable member referred, namely, to set up a company known as Pool Petroleum Proprietary Limited, under which all grades of petrol were pooled. By that means we were enabled to conserve very substantially the man-power and material which would have been required had the petrol companies been allowed to continue to function separately. That work was done very well, but, as has been the case in many other instances during the war, it is true that inconveniences have been caused to a large number of people. Controls of various kinds had to be introduced, and, in this instance, many depots from which both country and city residents obtained their supplies had to be closed. I am well aware of the difficulties’ which have arisen under that system. The honorable member is justified in voicing his opinions on the subject, because, admittedly, residents in country districts were very greatly inconvenienced under that arrangement. I am sure that he will agree that I did my hest to make the best arrangement possible. It was at my suggestion that the independent representative of the Prices Branch made the investigation referred to, as the result of which a report was made, and it is now proposed to reopen a number of these depots. I am mindful of the power and influence throughout the world of the interests connected with oil. All of us are aware of that situation, and it is true that all governments must watch those interests very closely and prevent them from imposing their will upon the community. I appreciate the points raised by the honorable member, and I shall do everything possible to ensure that the adjustments he suggests are made.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. “White) has a tendency to make exaggerated statements, ‘fie says that large numbers of servicemen from Great Britain want to come to Australia. Surely, he knows that the war in. Europe is hardly over, and therefore these men have not yet been demobilized. The honorable member’s statement is extravagant.
– That is unfair.
– Does the honorable member expect that those men could be brought here at present when they are wanted, in their own country? I think that the honorable member knows that the United Kingdom Government is not particularly keen on sending any of its people to other countries at this stage.
– Our representative at Australia House, Major Wheeler, has stated publicly that he has hundreds of names of persons desiring to come to Australia, but is unable to take action because the Government has no policy on the matter.
– Even if numbers of people have handed in their names at Australia House for this purpose, the honorable member knows that at present it would be physically impossible to transport them to Australia. There is no doubt about that. The honorable member admitted that the shipping shortage is acute. That difficulty is real, and it is not merely a passing difficulty.
– But it is not everlasting.
– No, but we are dealing with circumstances as they exist at the moment, and the present shipping shortage is causing grave concern to the United Kingdom Government as well as to other Allied governments. Although the war in Europe is over, shipping is urgently needed for the transport of supplies to liberated countries. This Government cannot overcome that difficulty. The honorable member hinted that this Government was, perhaps, more concerned with domestic matters, and, therefore, had failed to give due consideration to this problem. I remind him that for Australia the war is not over yet.
– There is no need to tell me that. It is an old. story.
– We are now confronted with the problem of provisioning not only our own fighting service* but also British naval personnel and American personnel in this country; and that problem impinges very severely upon the economic life of this country.
– Many members of the Royal Navy want to settle here on their discharge.”
– The mere fact that’ they want to settle here does not release them from their obligations with the services to which they are attached. There is another point to be considered. I do not desire to discuss migration policy until I am satisfied that migrants, on their arrival here, will have opportunities and jobs. Apparently, the honorable member is not concerned with that aspect. His view? is that an official should go to another country, collect as many people as possible, bring them to Australia and then forget about them. That is not my view of how migration should be conducted. Before men and women come to this country, a plan should be evolved so that when they walk down the gangway on to the wharf, they will know where they are to go and that opportunities are awaiting them here.
– I agree with that.
– Apparently, the honorable member does not realize that Australia is still engaged in the war with Japan. Migration is not to be treated as some people would treat a football. The problem is very serious not only to Australia but also to the people who are likely to settle here. The Government does not propose to rush blindly into this matter. It is doing its best to evolve plans for bringing migrants here, but until it is satisfied that the necessary preparations have been made to receive them, it will not be justified in Talking about a migration scheme.
– My tenacious friend, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), has again asked questions about what occurred at the trade union convention recently. His inquiries have been, extended another stage, and. he expressed certain fears because two newspapers, one of which has always opposed
Arbitration and has some influence in Ais country, and the other, which is the organ of the miners’ federation, appear to be opposed to the continuance of the arbitration system. Then the honorable member has attempted to associate the Australian Labour party ami this Governmnent with those who desire to destroy arbitration.
– I said that the Communist party was endeavouring to destroy the arbitration system.
– I do not desire to be unfair to the honorable member, out he has exaggerated the situation. As I stated, some influences have always opposed the arbitration system, but the honorable member has claimed that they ure undermining this Government, and that the Labour party will abolish the Arbitration Court. The first mistake made by the honorable member was to say that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions had convened the convention.
– I do not think I said that.
– The honorable member did.
– It did not have any great significance, one way or the other.
– Let me make the position clear.
– I know that the Government paid the expenses associated with the convention.
– I shall state the facts. Four years ago, the Japanese were attempting to invade Australia, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) required, as the basis for our defence *,heme, a complete war effort. To achieve that objective, he had to obtain unity among the Australian people. Therefore, he conceived the idea of invit ing the leaders of the trade union movement to meet him in conference. As the result of the success of that conference, the Government has been urged to meet the leaders of the trade union movement in conference once a year. The recent meeting was convened on that basis, and was called by the Department of Labour and National Service, at the wish of the Prime Minister. The conference was not the conception of the trade union movement. Every one will agree that the results accruing from these meetings make them worth while.
I have been charged with having made certain statements at the last conference. It was alleged that I, individually, and in conjunction with other Ministers, had called a conference of judges at which we told them what to do. That was a charge not only against the common sense of Ministers but also against the character of the judges. It would have been an impossible situation.
– Whom does the Minister suggest made the charge?
– No judge of the Arbitration Court would dream of accepting an. invitation on those terms.
– Then who made the charge?
– The charge was. made, and was repeated in this House.
– I did not make the charge,, 1101 did the newspapers.
– One question, addressed to me was whether I had discussed with the judges the remuneration of female employees in industry. I did: not say that the honorable member for Fawkner made the charge, but he certainly took it up.
– I sought information on the matter.
– That was the honorable member’s torch for this great campaign. However, there was no truth in the statement. The next charge was that I made an attack upon the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court. I deny it: I know Chief Judge Piper very well. He is one of the finest Australiancitizens. But that does not mean that I was not greatly disappointed when the Commonwealth Arbitration Court left a maze of conflicting minimum rates in awards applicable to female workers in industry.
– Was that all that the Minister said, then?
– I was gravely disappointed that the court had not straightened out the maze of conflicting rates. The next charge was that because the two newspapers stated that they did not believe in the arbitration system, this Government is likely to abolish the Arbitration Court.
– No; I do not want the Minister to be unfair to himself or to me. I pointed out that these identical statements had appeared in three newspapers, and I claim that they suggest a concerted attempt on the part of members of the Australian Communist party to “ white-ant “ the arbitration system.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Sydney Morning Herald entered into a conspiracy with another newspaper?
– No; but I say that the Sydney Morning Herald obtained a report of the meeting from certain delegates and published the facts as it had received them.
– The Sydney Morning Herald stated publicly that it despatched a special representative from Sydney to Melbourne for the purpose of attending the convention; that he was not admitted to the proceedings because the press was excluded; and that the newspaper got from three separate delegates the information which it published. Who those delegates were, I have not the slightest idea. They might be the men to whom the honorable member referred.
– Grant and Wells.
– The suggestion that this Government desires to abolish the Arbitration Court is incorrect. No organizations in Australia have stood so firmly for arbitration as the Australian Labour party and the Commonwealth Labour Government.
– When it suits them to do so.
– They have never shifted their ground. As proof of that statement, I point out that I became a member of this Parliament as the result of the attempt by an anti-Labour government, led by Mr. S. M. Bruce, to destroy the arbitration system. The sole issue at the election in 1929 was whether the Commonwealth should continue the arbitration system or scrap it.
– That is not correct. The issue was whether arbitration should be a Commonwealth or State responsibility.
– On that major issue, I was returned to this Parliament fifteen years ago. The honorable member for Fawkner might claim that the position has altered considerably since 1929. Let us examine the present circumstances. The honorable member knows a good deal about arbitration procedure and industrial statistics. I do not underestimate that. But I claim that never in the history of arbitration in Australia were so many men registered in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court as there are to-day.
– Trade union membership ?
– There are 1,250,000 trade unionists in Australia, and. of that number 1,020,000, through their organizations, are registered with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. That proves that the trade union movement is still nearly 100 per cent. in favour of the arbitration system. That docs not mean that we are satisfied with the court. Nothing is perfect. The court will have to be made more efficient. Governments formed by all political parties have altered the Arbitration Court legislation, by adding to it, and eliminating its undesirable features. An endeavour has been made also to provide more conciliation. These things have been going on ever since I have been a member of this House. I remember going to the former Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) when he was AttorneyGeneral, and asking him to experiment more with conciliation by appointing more conciliation commissioners. I pointed out that although conciliation was the basis of the first part of the act, it had been used very seldom in recent years. He agreed, and made the first appointment of a conciliation commissioner. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act should be recast in many respects. There should be a greater number of conciliation commissioners, who should be given separate industries to deal with so that they couldbecome expert in the crafts involved in those industries. They could meet disputing parties around a table in the judge’s chambers or elsewhere. In that way they could settle 90 per cent. of industrial disputes’. Matters involving judicial issues, of course, would still go before a judge. That was advocated by Judge Beeby.
– One judge?
– The work might be too great for one judge. There need not be any more Arbitration Court judges. We could retain two or three of them, whether they were required or not, so long as we made the arbitration system more nearly perfect by encouraging conciliation. This Government, when the opportunity arises, will endeavour to make; the Arbitration Court more attractive to industry in this, country. We do not wish to drive people away from the court. If honorable members opposite and the judges themselves are sincere hi what they say, they can make the act more attractive, and so encourage industries to retain their affiliation with the Arbitration Court. One of the most recent pieces of legislation introduced by the Labour Government of New South Wales provides for fourteen days’ annual leave for all employees in that State. That is a commonsense provision. Australian representatives at Geneva ten years ago voted in favour of such an improvement of industrial conditions. Honorable members opposite are always protesting that they believe in granting greater leisure to the workers. It is by incidents such as this that the Arbitration Court will be undermined. We must meet changed circumstances with new and better methods. The action of the New South Wales Government in granting fourteen days’ annual leave to all employees in that State has created a great anomaly throughout the rest of the Commonwealth. It is to be hoped that the example of New South Wales will be followed now in other States. There are more people working under federal awards in New South Wales than under States awards, but workers who are governed by federal awards are debarred from sharing in this new annual leave provision enjoyed by their colleagues who work under State awards.
– They are not debarred. They may establish a case for annual
Mi. HOLLOWAY.- They are debarred because they work under federal awards instead of State awards.
– They can apply for a variation of their awards.
– Apparently the honorable member would like to see these people leave the Federal Arbitration Court and register with the State Court.
– No . It is always open to employees working under Commonwealth awards to apply to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for a fortnight’s annual leave.
– I know that. The point I wish to make is that unless the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and the Governments of this country endeavour, by public declarations, to encourage a desire for increased annual leave, these benefits will never be granted. The anomalous position existing to-day can serve only to create turmoil and discontent. Under existing conditions, two men may be working in the same factory, one under a State award obtaining fourteen days’ annual leave, and the other under a federal award, obtaining only seven days’ annual leave. These men may even be living next door to one another, or in the same street. We have always boasted that this country has been in the van of social progress throughout the world, and it is up to the Commonwealth Government to set the example. If one State is able to improve the working conditions of employees by granting fourteen days’ annual leave, and other benefits, surely the Commonwealth Government can do the same all over Australia. Advances such as this will make the Arbitration Court more attractive and build up the goodwill of the people towards it. We do not want any organization to leave the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Rather do we want new organizations to be attracted to it, so that there may be a common rule in regard to wages, annual leave, holidays, overtime, &c. Anomalies in these conditions cause much of the industrial trouble which occurs to-day. If we want the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to remain supreme in this country - I have fought for that all my life - it must have the assistance of all sections of the community, including the organizations to which honorable members opposite belong. The judges also should be in sympathy with this objective, and should do all in their power to ensure that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court shall not be left behind by State authorities in the march of social reform.
– The Minister has just stated that he would not be in this Parliament but for the fact that the Bruce-Page Government intended to scrap the arbitration system in this country. The Minister knows that to be incorrect. It is true that that was the election cry on which the Minister was returned to this Parliament, but the answer to that cry was given at the next elections, when Mr. Bruce regained the electorate of Flinders. For a time the people believed the allegation of the Labour party that the Bruce-Page Government was attempting to scrap the Federal Arbitration Court, but three years later they showed that they bad learned the truth. The facts of the case are these : Mr. Bruce, as Prime Minister, endeavoured to unify the Commonwealth and State Arbitration systems. Eventually, he informed the States that, if they did not agree to his proposals to vacate the field of arbitration, the Commonwealth Government would do all it could by vacating the federal arbitration field. The States refused to make possible a uniform arbitration system, and it was on the proposal that the Commonwealth should vacate the arbitration field that the Bruce-Page Government went to the country.
The Minister has just stated that it was unjust that a man who was covered by a Commonwealth award should have to work alongside a colleague who worked under a State award, the conditions of which were much more favorable. It was to correct that very anomaly that Mr. Bruce endeavoured to bring about an all-Australian Arbitration system.
Having been refused the co-operation of the States in that matter, he decided that the next best thing was for the Commonwealth to vacate the arbitration field. That was all that he proposed. When the electors of this country found out some years later that the Labour party’s allegations were unfounded, they rectified their error in the electorate of Flinders at least by returning Mr. Bruce to Parliament. It is noticeable that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) did not again contest Flinders.
Yesterday, the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to release a supply of D.D.T. which is urgently required to deal with insect pests throughout Australia and particularly in Queensland. The Minister said that there was not sufficient available to enable him to release a supply. To-day, I received the following telegram : -
News broadcast last evening states you suggested release of D.D.T. stop as Queensland agent for Xterminall brand of this commodity can supply all your requirements. - E. S. Pilcher, 329 Adelaide-street, Brisbane.
I refer this information to the Minister in the hope that he will secure the supplies that are urgently needed in the cattle industry of Queensland to combat the ravages of the buffalo-fly in its steady march to the south.
– Does the honorable member now say that supplies are available?
– I have not said so. I have merely read a telegram from a man who states that supplies are available and who offers to supply D.D.T.
– What is the honorable member’s complaint then?
– I have a plainly worded communication which states that this agent has D.D.T. in stock and can supply the Government’s requirements whereas the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction informed me that supplies were not available.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.7 p.m.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and. Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
Re-establishment and Employment Bill 1945 : Departmental Assistance.
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice - 1. (a) How many departmental officers were employed in the drafting of the Reestablishment and Employment Bill; (b) what departments do they belong to; (c) what are their ages; (d) how many of them have seen active service in (i) this” war, and (ii) the last war; (c) what salaries are they paid? 2. (a) How many officers have been called during the committee stage this week to advise the Minister in charge of thebill when amendments by Opposition members are moved; (b) what departments do they belong to; (c) what are their ages; (d) how many of them have seen active service (i) in this war, and (ii) in the last war; (e) what salaries are they paid ?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.
Re-employment Allowances : Liability to Tax.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
I am not aware of the case of any exservicewoman trainee, in which a tax instalment deduction of Gel. is made from an allowance of £2 per week. The Income Tax Assessment Act provides that tax instalment deductions shall be made only where the salary or wages exceed £2 per week. If the honorable member is prepared to furnish me with particulars of the cases he has in mind, I shall ask the Commissioner of Taxation to inquire into these cases and make any adjustments which may be necessary.
y. - On the 22nd May, 1945, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) asked a question regarding the disposal of surplus moneys held by patriotic and other similar bodies.
In reply I refer the honorable member to the answer which I furnished yesterday to a similar question asked by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly). In the course of that reply I stated that provision already exists in the National Security (Patriotic Funds) Regulations for the appropriate winding up of patriotic funds and for the utilization of the assets so acquired for the benefit of members of the forces and their dependants. Regulation 12 of those regulations reads -
If, at any time, it appears to the commission (Repatriation Commission) that it is desirable to wind up the affairs of any fund, the commission may, by order published in the Gore tfe, -direct that the affairs of the fund be wound up, and that any moneys remaining unexpended in tha fund shall be” pa id by the person in whose hands they are to the commission or a Patriotic Funds Board, and hall be disposed of by the commission or board in such manner “as he directs for the benefit of persons who have served as members of the defence force during the present war or the dependants of deceased members of the defence force who served during the present war.
– On the 16th May the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked a question regarding a press report that lendlease by the United States of America to Great Britain and other countries was to be reduced, and sought information concerning Australia’s position.
I have conferred with the Minister for Trade and Customs on the points raised by the honorable member and am now able to give the following further information : -
The question of lend-lease in stage two (i.e., the period between the defeat of Germany and the defeat of Japan) was one of the principal matters discussed by the Minister for Trade and Customs during his visit to Washington at the end of last year. The outcome of the discussions was that the United States administration agreed to continue to supply under lend-lease the essential war supplies required by Australia from the United States and, on its part, the Australian Government undertook to continue reciprocal aid to the United States forces.
Estimates of Australia’s requirements under lend-lease for the first twelve months of stage two were presented to the United States authorities and a supporting case was personally presented by the Minister for Trade and Customs. The case was based on the fact that the Australian effort is related primarily to the Japanese war and will be maintained on a full scale until Japan is defeated. The Australian programme of requirements was accepted by the United States authorities subject to availability of supplies and the appropriation of the necessary funds by the United States Congress.
For practical purposes the calendar year 1945 has been adopted as representing the first year of stage two and requisitioning of the programme items has continued in the usual way. Each requisition is supported with detailed information showing the purposes for which the goods are required and a justification of the quantities requested. The United States authorities reserve the right to reject any requisition in whole or in part if the demand cannot be fully met or if the use to which the goods are to be put is not considered eligible for lend-lease supply.
There has not been any general decision by the American authorities to curtail lendlease aid to Australia and the arrangements made by the Minister for Trade and Customs remain operative.
The United States Lend-lease Act was recently extended to the 30th June, 1940, and since he assumed office, President Truman has reaffirmed the policy of the Roosevelt administration to continue lend-lease until Japan is defeated.
The end of the war against Germany will obviously mean a substantial reduction in lend-lease shipments to Europe and this development was presumably the basis of the press report referred to by the honorable member.
t asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
r asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Naturalization is granted only to aliens who are permanently domiciled in Australia and who can comply with all the requirements of the Nationality Act, such as five years’ residence in British territory, adequate knowledge of English, intention to remain here permanently and satisfactory record.
Before any application for a certificate of naturalization is granted, exhaustive inquiries are made to ensure not only that the applicant can comply with the prescribed requirements, but also that there is no ground whatever for suspecting disloyalty on his part. If in any instance, the Security Service has any reason for offering a security objection to the grant of an application, the application would be refused. “Sheepskins for Russia” Appeal.
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. No. The Repatriation Commission, the authority responsible for the administration of the National Security; (Patriotic Funds) Regulations, after due inquiry authorized the operation in all States except Victoria of an interstate body known as the “ Russian
Medical Aid and Comforts Committee “. The objects of this fund are to send medical aid, supplies and comforts to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (Sheepskins form a considerable part of the equipment which is sent.) The methods adopted for the raising of moneys are: Public appeals (by letter), button days, carnivals, public meetings, subscription lists, money boxes, social functions and sports meetings.
In each State, except Victoria, a branch of the fund has been registered with the appropriate State government authority, which is responsible for the actual oversight of the fund in the Sta.te concerned; that is, the authority referred to ensures that State laws are not infringed and that financial statements, duly audited, are submitted at regular intervals.
In addition, the Repatriation Commission requires of the parent body of the fund, which is situated in Sydney, a progressive, composite statement reflecting the financial position of the fund throughout the Commonwealth. Such statement is obtained at six-monthly intervals. The following is a copy of the statement furnished as at the 31st December, 1944: -
The total value of assets was £11,0(10 7s. 3d., which included an amount of £10,244 9s. 7d., being stock of raw and tanned sheepskins. The total liabilities amounted to £4,81.7 4s.
In connexion with the despatch of sheepskins from Australia, the Repatriation Commission arranged that the auditors of the fund should sight all bills of lading and check them with the fund’s record of expenditure.
With regard to Victoria, a fund has been registered with .the Patriotic Funds Council of that State under the title of the “ Russian War Relief Fund “, but being purely an intrastate fund the authority for registration and control rests with the State government authority.
Wak Service Awards.
y. - The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), and other honorable members have asked questions in regard to the award of campaign stars, a statement on which I made to the House on the 18th May, 1945.
The reservations, which I said on the 8th May had been made by the Commonwealth Government to its acceptance of the scheme announced by His Majesty the King for the institution of campaign stars and a defence medal will, if accepted, ensure that all members of the defence forces who have served outside Australia shall receive recognition under the scheme. Those whose service has been confined to the mainland of Australia will not, in general, be eligible for a campaign star or the defence medal. However, aircrew personnel operating from Australia, who have fulfilled the qualification of two months’ operational service, are eligible for the 1939-45 Star, the Pacific Star and also the Defence Medal under its conditions of issue, and one of the Government’s reservations is directed to ensuring that all members of the forces which served in Darwin when that area was subject to aerial attack will receive the Defence Medal. What I have just said, taken in conjunction with my statement in the House on the 18th May, covers in general terms all the questions which have been asked about the eligibility of members of the Australian forces for campaign stars and the Defence Medal. However, as inquiry has been made in relation to a number of particular aspects, I shall deal specifically with the most important of them.
Malaya. - Malaya is an operational area for the purpose of the 1939-45 Star, and participation in the operations there between the Sth December, 1941, and the 15th February, 1942, is of itself a qualification for the star. Members of the &th Division who served in Malaya are therefore entitled to the 1939-45 Star. Under the United Kingdom scheme, as it stands, personnel who served in Malaya will be eligible for the Pacific Star only if they have completed six months’, or in the case of air crew two months’ operational service. The Government is not in agreement with this condition, and if its reservations are accepted, all who served in Malaya will also receive the Pacific Star.
South-West Pacific Star. - In the operations in the South-West Pacific Area, including the campaigns in Papua,
New Guinea, New Britain, and the Solomons, as well as the present operations in Borneo, the qualification for both the 1939-45 Star and the Pacific Star under the present scheme is six months’, or in the case of air crow two months’, operational service. In tho case of the 1939-45 Star, there is an exception to this general requirement of six months’ or two months’ service. This applies only to certain specified operations which took place in the earlier stages of the Pacific war. The list is not yet complete, but it. covers, amongst other operations, the Japanese invasion of Timor, Ambon, Java, Rabaul , and the Solomon Islands. Participation in these operalions is of itself a qualification for the 1939-45 Star, and six months’ service for Army personnel is not required. This exception does not apply, however, to the Pacific Star, eligibility for which depends upon the completion of six months’ service. The Government’s reservations arc directed to obtaining the Pacific Star for all who served in the Pacific theatre, independently of length of service. Similarly it also desires that additional provision should, bo made for discretionary power which will admit ofthe award of the 1939-45 Star for operational service of less than six months’ duration to cover, for example, phases of the New Guinea campaigns such as Kokoda, Buna, Milne Bay, Wau, Salamaua, Lae, Finschhafen, and Ramu Valley.
The United Kingdom, Palestine and Sinai. - In regard to the United Kingdom, Palestine and Sinai, the Commonwealth’s reservation is directed to the inclusion of these countries as operational areas, so far as Australian forces are concerned, for the 1939-45 Star. Under the United Kingdom proposals, service on land of one year’s duration in these areas would entitle Australian personnel to the Defence Medal only. This is not regarded by the Government as a satisfactory alternative to ite proposal. Its view is that tho service of Australian “Army and ‘Air Force personnel, including ground staffs, in these countries should bp recognized by the grant of the 1939-45 Star in addition to the Defence Medal.
Casualties. - Operational service brought to an end by death, wounds or any other disability due to service is a qualification for the 1939-45 Star and the Pacific Star independently of the period of service.
Prisoners of War. - Time spent as a prisoner of war in consequence of capture in operations counts towards the qualifying period for the 1939-45 Star, but not towards any period of operational service which must ibo completed before the grant of the Pacific Star. If the Commonwealth’s reservations are accepted, it will not be necessary for any period of service to be completed before the ‘grant of the Pacific Star and mem of the 8th Division, who are now prisoners of war, would be entitled to both the 1939-45 Star and the Pacific Star.
Issue of Ribbons. - The issue of the ribbons of the 1939-45 Star to members of tho Australian Military Forces who served in the Pacific and Malaya was deferred pending the outcome of the negotiations with the United _ Kingdom Government for the institution of a Pacific Star. These negotiations were initiated with the United Kingdom Government in July, 1943. During the Prime Minister’s visit to London in May, 1944, they were discussed with the United . Kingdom authorities, and, following these discussions, the proposal for a Pacific Star was accepted in principle by the United Kingdom authorities. Detailed conditions were subsequently formulated by the Australian service authorities ‘ and- communicated to the United Kingdom Government. Definite advice of the proposals for the institution of new campaign stars, including, a Pacific Star, waa not received by the Commonwealth Government until February, 1945. Prior to the institution of the present scheme, the only recognition for service in the Pacific was the 1939-45 Star. Because of the great historical significance to Australia of the campaigns in Papua and New Guinea and because the result of these campaigns was to prevent the direct invasion of the Australian mainland, the Government did not consider that the 1939-43 Star was in itself appropriate recognition of the service of Australian Army personnel in these vital campaigns. It considered that a Pacific Star would alone’ meet the case -and in view of the negotiations which I have outlined, the issue of the ribbon of the 1939-43 Star to personnel of Australian Military Forces was held in abeyance by the Commander-in-Chief Australian Military Forces. Now that a Pacific Star has been instituted, those who are entitled to the 1939-45 Star under the conditions already promulgated, will receive it without waiting for a decision upon the reservations which the Government has made to its general acceptance of the new scheme.
United States Asiatic-Pacific Cam paign Medal. - Inquiry was made by the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition in . regard to the issue of awards by General MacArthur to Australian war correspondents. I assume that he referred to the United States Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, which was awarded by command of General MacArthur to a number of war correspondents, including33 Australians, for long and meritorious service in the South- West Pacific Area with the forces of his command. The interchange of Allied campaign medals was raised with the United Kingdom authorities some time ago in relation to the question of the award of the United States Asiatic-Pacific Medal to members of the Australian forces. I quote the following summary of the reply which was received: -
While honours, decorations and medals granted as individual awards may be exchanged, campaign medals, generally speaking, are issued to all members of the forces engaged. Moreover, such medals could not be accepted from all allies. The exchangee would thus run into millions. It is felt that it would be impossible to make individual exceptions without compromising the whole practice.
I understand that the policy and practice of the whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations is not to interchange campaign medals and ribbons with Allied forces, and pursuant to this policy it was not possible to give permission to Australian war correspondents to accept this award. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr.Conelan) asked when the ribbons for the new Pacific Star would be issued to men entitled to wear them. The White Paper issued by the United Kingdom Government on the 8th May, 1945, stated, “ the ribbons which have been decided by His Majesty are being made now on the highest priority and will be issued as soon as supplies are ready “.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 May 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450525_reps_17_182/>.