17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayer’s. ‘
Motion (by Mr. CHIFLEY) agreed to - That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
– -by .leave - Although >no official advice has been received, it would appear clearly that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) is among a batch of Australian prisoners of war recovered from the Japanese. I am sure the House will join with me in expressing very deep gratification at this news, and will look forward to the early return of the honorable member to his place in this House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– Will the Minister for Munitions state the estimated total value of machine tools and appliances to be disposed of by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission on behalf of the Department of Munitions, and the estimated value of those placed at the disposal of engineering firms under the hire-purchase system, during the war, and since the conclusion of hostilities?
– I shall obtain and supply the information as soon as possible.
Publication of Names
– Can the Minister for the Army state why the names of released prisoners of war due to arrive in Sydney by ship to-day were not made available for publication by Australian newspapers until yesterday? Will he also state why the publication of articles written by newspaper correspondents who are in areas recently occupied by Allied forces, is being delayed? Is Brigadier Rasmussen, Director-General of Army Public Relations, still exercising a rigid censorship of news from these areas? Will the Minister explain why news of Australian prisoners of war, relayed through overseas sources, can be published in Australia days before corresponding items from Australian newspaper correspondents are released for publication?
– Brigadier Rasmussen is not exercising, as Director-General of Army Public Relations, any authority in regard to this matter. About a week ago, the Commanding General imposed a censorship on the publication of the names of prisoners of war. I communicated with the Chief of the General Staff and with Brigadier Rasmussen. The latter, as Director-General of Army Public Relations, conferred with two leading newspaper proprietors in Melbourne, and a procedure of which they approved was put into operation. As far as I am aware, no variation has occurred. I am anxious that the information should be made available to the relatives at the earliest possible date,It was agreed that, in order to enable the next-of-kin to be notified, at least 48 hours should elapse from the time the information came into the possessionof the Army authorities until it was made available for publication. I shall make a further statement on the motion for the adjournment of the House to-day.
Sensational Plays - Parliamentary Debates
Mr.SHEEHAN. - Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General take steps to request the State Broadcasting Advisory Committee in New South Wales to review the programmes of B class stations, with the object of eliminat ing the sensational murder serials which are being broadcast almost nightly?
– I shall bring the matter to the attention ofthe PostmasterGeneral. I agree with the sentiment expressed in the question. Something must be done about these serial stories. They are one long series of alleged dramas, in which murders figure every five minutes. They generally emanate from commercial networks such as the Macquarie Broadcasting Services and the major network. It may well be thatan amendment of the law will be needed in order to smash the networks.
Mr.FADDEN. - By way of preface to a question which I shall direct to you. Mr. Speaker, I draw attention to the announcement that the Chairman and the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission are now in New Zealand investigating the broadcasting of speeches in Parliament I understand that the Broadcasting Committee also is inquiring into this matter. This suggests that it is being taken for granted that the commission will control the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings. Will you give to the House an undertaking that its rights and privileges shall be adequately protected, if the broadcasting of speeches in Parliament is to be taken over by an outside authority; alternatively, will you investigate the possibility of keeping the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings completely within the control of the Parliament itself, even to the extent of controlling the special station that would have to be built, thus retaining the broadcasting in the hands of trusted officers who are directly responsible to Parliament, just as the reporting staff of Hansard is responsible to it? Will you investigate the question as to the degree to which parliamentary privilege would be affected, if at all, by allowing an authority which is not a part of Parliament itself to broadcast direct to the public all statements made in Parliament? In other words, would these broadcasts be privileged? Will you, if necessary, call together the Standing Orders Committee, with a view to considering amendments to Standing Orders in the light of new circumstances which might arise?
– The matters raised by the honorable member are of great importance, and I give the House an assurance that if its rights and privileges are likely to be affected by any broadcasting arrangements honorable members will be informed. It will then be for the House itself to take action to protect its rights. Whether broadcasts from Parliament House will be privileged I am not competent to state. It may be that the matter would ultimately have to be determined by the courts. In the meantime, I assure honorable members that neither the Australian Broadcasting Commission nor any other body of the kind will take charge of the proceedings of this House.
Releases - Demobilization of Students - Occupational Leave
-Can the Minister please say how many soldiers have been discharged from the Army between the 1st October, 1943, and the 30th June, 1945, and what number and percentage of them have been released to rural indutries and to other occupations? How many routine discharges because of normal wastage have taken place in the same period? What is the estimated number of discharges for rural workers out of 54,000 men to be discharged up to the 31st December next, and what other provision has been made for additional discharges on occupational grounds? How many of these will be discharged for rural industries?
-From the 1st October, 1943, to the 30th June, 1945, provision was made for the release of 65,000 men from the armed forces on occupational grounds, and of that number 26,675, or 41 per cent., were released to rural industries. During approximately the same period, routine discharges through normal wastage from the services have included 12,568 rural workers. It is expected that 54,000 men to be released from the services during the current half year on long service and other special grounds will include 5,000 rural workers. It is expected that considerable numbers of rural workers will be included among the large numbers of men who will be demobilized during the next few months. Among 10,000 releases from the services now being recommended on occupational grounds are 3,000 men for rural industries. It will thus be seen that 39,243 have already been discharged for rural industries, and it is estimated that another 5,000 will be discharged out of the 54,000 by the 31st December next, and an additional 3,000 out of the special 10,000 releases on occupational grounds, making a total of 47,243 for rural industries up to the 31st December next. This does not include a considerable number of rural workers who will be included among the large numbers of men to be demobilized during the next few months, commencing from the 1st October, 1945.
– In the Government’s demobilization plans has consideration been given to those university students and members of teachers training colleges whose studies were interrupted by man-power requirements, and will arrangements be made for their immediate release so that they may complete their interrupted studies?
– Persons in the categories mentioned can be included as exceptions under the demobilization plans.
– Has the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction been correctly reported as saying that discharges of service personnel are likely to be retarded because of the shortage of doctors? If so, will the Minister give consideration to the granting of occupational leave to service personnel until final discharges can be effected?
– It is true that I made some reference to the shortage ‘of doctors, which I believe will be a factor limiting the rate at which men will be discharged from the fighting services. The question of whether this difficulty can be overcome by the adoption of a plan for the release of servicemen upon an occupational basis will be considered.
– One of my constituents who is a soldier on leave has sent me a telegram in which he explains that he has been refused further leave by his commanding officer to carry out urgent agricultural work. This man has had four years service, and I believe that he is classified as B class because of defective eyesight. If I supply evidence to the Minister for the Army that some of the military “ brass-hats “ are sabotaging his direction to grant occupational leave will he deal drastically with such gentlemen?
– Discharges from the Army on occupational grounds are made only on the recommendation of the manpower authorities, whilst discharges on compassionate grounds are made without reference to the man-power authorities. If the honorable gentleman will furnish the name and particulars of the person he has in mind, I shall give the matter my immediate personal attention.
– Having regard to the statement just made by the Minister for the Army that, under certain conditions, members of the services are being released to engage in rural activities, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that the Man Power Directorate has stated that it will not recommend the discharge of any serviceman to engage. in rural activities except in cases of extreme hardship? Is not this direction from the Man Power Directorate at variance with the statement just made by the Minister for the Army?
– In the absence of the Minister for Labour and National Service, I inform the honorable member that the instruction to which he refers is out of date. It has been superseded.
– I received notice of it only thi3 morning.
– The honorable gentleman received’ that notice through” the post, but I assure him that the DirectorGeneral of Man Power informed me yesterday that arrangements are being made for the discharge of 10,000 service personnel, 3,000 of whom will be discharged in order to engage in rural industry.
– I desire to ask the Acting Attorney-General a question regarding the operation - of the war-time moratorium regulations insofar as they affect tenancy arrangements. It is said that members .of the forces who ‘return from service outside Australia find that the regulations are operating to prevent them from obtaining possession of their own homes if the tenants themselves happen to be servicemen, although they have not been outside Australia, or even away from their own capital cities. Has the Acting Attorney-General any knowledge of this, and is any action being taken to overhaul the regulations so as to ensure that justice is done to men who have served overseas ?
– I recall some incidents of that nature which happened before the war concluded. Some of them were discussed at that time.
– We discussed amendments of the Landlord and Tenant Regulations but not matters covered by the moratorium provisions.
– The moratorium aspect did arise during the discussions, and the honorable member will recall that the Minister for Trade and Customs was consulted in the matter. The issue now appears to be broader, and therefore I shall ask the Solicitor-General to prepare a memorandum on the subject.
Supplies fob PRIMARY PRODUCERS
– At present, primaryproducers are unable to transport their produce beyond a radius of 25 miles from their holdings. As the position in regard to petrol supplies has improved will the Minister for Transport confer with the Minister for Supply and Shipping with a view to the immediate removal of the ban referred to, so that primary producers may be able to transport their produce ‘to market?
– Supplies of rubber and petrol are involved in giving effect to the honorable member’s request, but I shall confer with my colleague the Minister for Supply and Shipping with a view to relaxing the restrictions.
Repatriation’ from Europe and Middle East.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that in the United Kingdom there are . about 11,300 members of the Royal Australian Air Force, mostly air crew, and in the Middle East about 1,000 personnel of the same category, who since V-Day have been idle and have not done any flying? Further, is he aware that there is serious dissatisfaction that since May few of them have had any training and that many of them are doing menial work in and about London, and object to the expense that they are being put to ? As there is in Canberra to-day a representative of Australia House who is associated with the repatriation of Australians, will the Prime Minister, after consultation with his service Ministers, instruct him to introduce a more effective method of repatriating these men? Does not the right honorable member think that these men, and also the wives of servicemen, some of whom have been trying for two years to secure passages to Australia, should be given better treatment?
– I cannot say whether the figures cited by the honorable member are correct.
– They were given to me in answer to a question.
– Some time ago, the Minister for Air expressed the hope that these men would be brought back to Australia soon; the first advice received was that they would arrive earlier than is now likely. The explanation is that the Commonwealth Government does not control shipping, hut can only press strongly that vessels be made available. The disposition of ships is controlled by other authorities who decide what requirements are most urgent. As has been intimated by the Minister for Air previously, the Government is prepared to do all possible to expedite the repatriation of the men referred to, as well as the wives of Australians abroad.
– Can the Treasurer say whether any steps have been taken to finalize the affairs of the War Damage Insurance Commission, and whether consideration has been given to the ultimate disposal of the obviously heavy surplus which will he left in the fund after all claims have been settled ?
– No steps have yet been taken to terminate the work of the commission. That body is still carrying out valuable work, particularly in Commonwealth territories. Honorable members will recall that on the representations of Opposition members the regulations were widened to cover looting and other losses, apart from actual damage by enemy action. The valuable work of the commission is being continued with a much reduced staff. I express my thanks to the commission for the very efficient manner in which it has done its job. The surplus remaining in the fund after all claims have been met under the provisions of the War Damage Insurance Regulations will be determined. When that has been done, the question of the utilization or disposal of the surpluses will be a matter for discussion by the Parliament.
House Tenancy of Soldier’s Wife
– Since the Minister for Defence replied to my question on the Pedvin eviction case in this House last week, has he received a letter from Mrs. Pedvin taking exception to the innuendoes which she considered were made by the Minister? If so, did the letter contain the following paragraph : -
The terms of your insinuations are capable of any interpretation that anybody cares to place upon them and you therefore cannot leave the matter as it stands. I invite you under cover of privilege to give definite details and to make perfectly clear what your insinuations amount to. Then, and not until then, can T take steps to clear my character.
Will the Minister accept Mrs. Pedvin’s invitation to clarify his implications and make specific charges, or, failing that, make such amends as appear warranted in the circumstances?
– I believe that the honorable member’s letter arrived at my office a couple of days ago.
– Not my letter, but Mrs. Pedvin’s.
– I thought that it was the honorable member’s letter. However, I did not read it but passed it on to the secretary of the committee, which is to meet shortly, and no doubt will deal with- it.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a number of cartoons sketched by :i person named Molnar which appeared in the August, 1945, issue of the War Loans and National Savings Campaigns Bulletin, New South Wales Division? Is it a fact that this cartoonist is a refugee from Bournania? Is the Prime Minister aware that Molnar is employed by the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and since January, 1945, has drawn a number of cartoons dealing with national politics, mostly ridiculing tie policy of the Commonwealth Government and belittling individual Ministers? Is he aware that the Commonwealth Parliament as an institution has also been held up to contempt and ridicule by this refugee in his cartoons? In view of these facts will the Prime Minister ascertain why Molnar was engaged to do this work, by whom he was engaged, and at what fee? Will the Prime Minister also take the necessary steps to ensure that this cartoonist who regards our parliamentary system of government with contempt shall not receive any further engagement from the Commonwealth Government?
– I hardly think that the honorable member would expect me offhand to answer all of his questions in detail. I recall that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) asked me a question about this particular cartoonist, and I gave him a detailed reply, but I cannot recall the particulars. I have seen some of Molnar’s cartoons. Frankly, I could not understand some of them. Perhaps, my sense of humour may be deficient, but I could not see any humour in them at all. If he had to depend on me for his livelihood, he would be out of business as a cartoonist. I am notaware that Molnar has done any work for the War Loans Committee. As a member of the artists’ colony he [ mal have rendered some assistance in that regard, but I shall make inquiries and endeavour to supply a complete answer.
Messages from the Governor-General reported transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c., for the year ending the 30th June, 1946, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed, and referred to Committee of Supply forthwith.
– I move -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “Sala”ries and Allowances, £8,820 “, .be agreed to.
It is my privilege, after six years of war during which the very existence of Australia was threatened, to bring down the present budget covering the transition from war to peace. When hostilities ceased, our first thoughts were for our prisoners of war, and every effort was made in Europe, and is being made in the Pacific, to provide for their speedy repatriation. Our second thoughts were for those on active service. About 450,000 Australians went overseas and more than 240,000 are still there. The responsibility of the Government for the speedy repatriation and rehabilitation of members of the forces will be faithfully met. At home we have the job of converting our economy to peace-time purposes. This will take time. We have to undertake the task of demobilization and reconversion, and war expenditure will only diminish gradually. The present budget is, therefore, a transition budget.
For the six years ended the 30th June, L945, total expenditure on all services, war and civil, reached £2,790,000,000. War expenditure alone totalled £2,111,000,000, of which 34 per cent, was provided from taxation. Borrowings devoted to war purposes amounted to £1,387,000,000 of which public war loans contributed £897,000,000; war savings certificates, £53,000,000; interest free loans, &c, £8,000,000; temporary use of Treasury balances, £86,000,000; and treasury-bills, £343,000,000. Estimates of expenditure on direct war services previously confined, for security reasons, to overall totals are set out under the normal classifications in the present budget. I have also set out in Statement No. 4 the figures for the main heads of war expenditure in the past six years, showing aggregate war expenditure of £2,111,000,000. Pay and maintenance of the forces accounted for £856,000,000 and reciprocal lend-lease for £258,000,000. These financial figures indicate the magnitude of the war effort which our people achieved. In physical terms this meant maximum total production and a maximum diversion of that production to war purposes. Maximum production meant long hours of work and using the services of 262,000 men and women previously unemployed and of 117,000 who would normally have retired or not been seeking employment. Including the normal increase in the working population, the total number of Australians at work or in the forces rose from 2,700,000 in 1939 to 3,264,000 in 1945, an increase of 564,000, or 21 per cent. National income rose from £795,000,000 in 1938-39 to £1,256,000,000 in 1944-45. As national income expanded, a growing proportion was devoted to war purposes. Nonessential government works and service.were eliminated, and the proportion of the gross national production absorbed by private consumption and investment fell from 86 per cent, in 1938-39 to 60 per cent, in 1944-45. These changes mean that rapidly increasing private money incomes were available to purchase dwindling supplies of goods and services for private use. Government expenditures had to be financed in a way which would stimulate war production and at the same time help to preserve the stability of the economic and financial system. The excess of private income; over available goods and services was reduced by imposing heavy taxation and by increasing .loans from the public to the maximum. But financial measures alone could not achieve the maximum diversion of resources or ward off the danger of inflationary price increases. The Government, therefore, established direct controls to assist in the orderly diversion of resources, to ensure the equitable distribution of goods and to control the spending of excess incomes. Prices were stabilized, essential consumer goods in short supply were rationed, priorities were established for scarce materials, and certain limitations and conditions were placed on civilian production and the use of man-power. Measures were also taken for the control of share prices, land sales, interest rates, rents, wages, capital issues, and bank advances.
That is a brief picture of our war effort viewed from a financial and economic aspect. A more detailed survey of the relationships between national income and expenditure, and the revenue and expenditure, including war expenditure, of public authorities for the years 1938-39 to 1944-45 is given in the paper entitled “ Estimates of National. Income and Public Authority Income and Expenditure “ which is “being distributed to honorable members. Last financial year, to which I shall now turn, saw the commencement of a gradual scaling down of the war effort from the high peak which was reached in the previous year.
Details of actual revenue and expenditure for 1944-45 compared with the estimates are given in Statement No. 3, mid details of the year’s loan transactions are given in Statement No. 5. Total expenditure was £009,462,000 of which £459,996,000 was for war, compared with £686,532,000 and £544,416,000 respectively in the previous year. War expenditure overseas was £35,600,000.
Excluding taxation collections of £33,432,000 reimbursed to the States, taxation yielded £304,487,000, and other revenue £38,935,000, making a total of £343,422,000. After meeting civil expenditure, revenue available for war was £193,956,000, leaving a balance of £266,040,000 which was financed by £234,040,000 of borrowings from the public and by £32,000,000 of Treasury balances. Last year the treasury-bill issue was not increased. With the satisfactory progress of the war, the strain on the Australian economy during the year showed some easing. The number of men in the forces fell from 660,000 to 600,000 and the value of Australian output used for war purposes also declined. However, this decrease of the war demand on man-power and other resources did no more than establish a firm basis for the prolonged offensive effort which then seemed certain to be required and made no substantial contribution te the problem of excess spending power.
Financial and Economic POLICY in the Transition.
This problem of a high level of private incomes accompanied by a great deficiency of supplies has not disappeared with the cessation of hostilities. At the present time aggregate incomes are running in excess of supplies almost as strongly as at any time during the war, and the existence of excess spending power will be a dominant feature of the whole transition period. Moreover, the current excess of spending power will be reinforced by that which has accumulated during the war. Great quantities of savings awaiting an outlet are now held in very liquid forms - in notes, in bank deposits, in war savings certificates and other securities. It is now possible to utilize more resources for civil production, but re-conversion must be a gradual process. A large proportion of Australia’s resources will still be required to main- tain supplies to Australian forces of occupation and those in process of demobilization. Also it will take considerable time to restore to civil production resources no longer needed for continuing war expenditure. Labour needs retraining and factories require new machines. I need not recite the difficulties, but I should mention particularly one largely outside our control. There may be delay in procuring imports needed for reconstruction, either because they are not available or because of foreign exchange difficulties. There are many things - and in particular houses - which the community badly needs, but it will be impossible in any short period completely to’ satisfy these needs.
All these considerations combine to present a problem of potential inflation. In meeting this danger the Government will be guided , by two principles. On the one hand, everything possible must be done to restore peace-time production as quickly as possible and to raise it to its maximum. Progress in increasing civilian production depends upon the wholehearted efforts of all sections of the community - wage-earners, primary producers and businessmen. As an essential aid the Government has already removed a large number of controls over production and consumption originally designed to divert resources to war purposes. Arrangements for the retraining of service personnel are also in operation. The Secondary Industries Commission is assisting manufacturers to prepare plans for reconversion and special arrangements have been made to link the termination of war contracts with the conversion of plant and equipment.
On the other hand, despite all that can be done to increase civilian production, some time must inevitably elapse before all demands can be met and controls necessary to preserve the stability of the economy removed. Price control must be retained for the present and it is, for example, particularly important to continue the control over the allocation of building materials, not only to ensure that most important needs shall first be met but also to make effective the control of the prices of building materials. Honorable members will recall that the conference of Com mon wealth and State
Ministers held in Canberra recently unanimously agreed that Commonwealth price control should continue for three years, although the authority exercising the control will be varied in some degree.
The transition period will also present a number of difficult problems in relation to our external financial position. During the earlier years of the war the state of our external reserves at times gave rise to acute anxiety. It was necessary to borrow in 1940, £12,000,000 sterling from the United Kingdom Government to assist in financing war costs abroad. At a later stage in the war, it was possible to repay this temporary loan and also to reduce the total overseas indebtedness of the Commonwealth and the States by £62,000,000 sterling.
In particular, I should mention the recent conversion operation in London involving Commonwealth and State loans totalling £94,312,000 sterling and bearing interest at 5 per cent. The Commonwealth Bank provided £34,312,000 sterling for redemption of securities in London, and received in return securities in Australia to the same value bearing interest at 3^ per cent. Of the remaining £60,000,000 sterling, approximately £57,000,000 sterling was converted by 50,859 holders from 5 per cent, to 3$ per cent, securities, the Commonwealth Bank taking up the balance in London. The magnitude of this operation can be appreciated when- 1 mention that the previous largest conversion operation by Australia on the London market totalled £30,000,000. The aggregate result of these transactions was a saving of overseas interest to “the Commonwealth and States of about £5,000,000 a year.
United States lend-lease and Canadian mutual aid have been vital war-time factors in our external financial position. Under these arrangements the flow of military and other essential supplies has proceeded unimpeded by financial considerations. I acknowledge with thanks the generous assistance which Australia has received in this way. In our turn we have provided reciprocal aid to the United States forces to the full extent of our capacity. To the 30th June, 1945, the cost to Australia of reciprocal aid was £258,000,000. As already announced lend-lease and mutual aid have now ceased to operate and we shall in future have to provide dollars for any imports we may require from North America. Accordingly we, along with other members of the sterling area, again face an acute shortage of dollars, and, unless the forthcoming discussions in “Washington can provide a mutually satisfactory solution, our dollar imports will have to be severely restricted.
We shall also have to exercise care in the expenditure of foreign exchange other than dollars. We have outstanding war commitments overseas of about £50,000,000. Australia’s initial capital contribution to the joint organization to be established to dispose of the war-time accumulations of wool must be paid over the next four years. Further, accumulated shortages of civil imports during the war years and the greater rise in import prices as compared with export prices make it likely that the value of our import requirements will be in excess of our current overseas earnings. Hence it may be necessary to maintain the machinery of exchange control and import licensing as a flexible means of keeping the situation in hand. I emphasize that statement very strongly, because of its very great importance to the post-war position of this country.
In 1944-45 war expenditure amounted to £460,000,000, of which £36,000,000 was expended overseas. For the current year it is estimated at £360,000,000, of which £62,000,000 will be required for overseas expenditure. The accounts not received up to the end of the financial year have to be met. That is responsible for the particularly large amount that will be required for overseas expenditure. Immediately after Japan’s surrender, action was taken to eliminate all but the most essential expenditures, and the estimates prepared prior to the surrender have been drastically revised. All heads of war expenditure are being further examined with the object of reducing expenditure as far as practicable. The rate of war expenditure will be greatly reduced by the end of the year but our commitments in the Pacific and the very magnitude of our war effort mean that the reduction can only be gradual. There will be no reduction in the expenditure for pay and allowances during the year despite a rapid reduction in the strength of the forces. On discharge, members will receive deferred pay, all undrawn active pay, war service leave of fifteen days for each, year overseas, and reestablishment leave of 30 days. Deferred pay alone will probably cost £54,000,000 this yeal-, leaving a liability as at the 30th l une, 1946, of approximately £30,000,000. Parliament has also approved the payment of war gratuities for which the accumulated total liability is estimated at approximately £75,000,000. Cash payments this year will be small as, except in special cases, payment of the gratuities will not bc made until five and one-half years after the termination of hostilities. Urgent steps have been. taken to reduce expenditure on supplies for the forces and .to cancel unnecessary orders pending complete demobilization. The Australian Government willingly acceded to the request of the British Government to provide supplies and. undertake constructional works for the Royal Navy, although it was realized that this would- be a severe strain on our economy and would retard the housing programme. The great bulk of this expenditure will be recoverable.
With the sudden termination of .the war the activities of the Disposals Commission, set up some twelve months ago, in arranging the disposal of the large volume of assets no longer required by the services have been intensified. This very difficult and large scale task is made more complicated by the diverse nature of the assets and their wide distribution throughout Australia and the Pacific islands. A target figure for disposals amounting to £40,000,000 has been set for the current year. The proceeds will be applied in reduction of loan expenditure for war purposes.
Interest and sinking fund on loans raised for war purposes continues to rise steadily. In the current year it is estimated that £41,632,000 will be required, as compared with £34,139,000 last year.
The price ceiling has been maintained since its introduction in April, 1943, and the present average retail price index remains at the April, 1943, level which was approximately 22^ per cent, above the figure for the September quarter of 1939. Subsidies required this year are estimated to cost £12,500,000 as compared with £10,809,000 last year. Details are given in Statement No. 7.
The demand for Australia’s primary products was continued during the financial year 1944-45, and there is yet no sign of any easing of the acute world shortages of such products as wheat, meat, dairy produce and other foodstuffs. The recent drought in Australia adversely affected production and special relief was provided by the Commonwealth to the industries concerned. Details of expenditure on subsidies this year in rasped of primary production are included in Statements Nos. 7 and 8.
Estimated Expenditure (OTHER than Wak), 1945-46.
Expenditure for purposes other than war and repatriation and taxation reimbursement grants is estimated at £132,390,000. Details are included in Statement No. 3.
In accordance with the twelfth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission special grants of £1,400,000 will be paid to South Australia, £950,000 to Western Australia, and £646,000 to Tasmania, a total increase of £150,000 as compared with last year. “Appropriate legislation will be introduced shortly.
After allowing for collection of £639,000 arrears of State Income Taxes, £32,850,000 will be paid to the States as Income Tax Reimbursement Grants and £765,787 as Entertainments Tax Reimbursement Grant. In addition, payment of £553,000 has already been made to South Australia as an increase in its Income Tax Reimbursement Grant in respect of the financial year 1944-4.5. I would point out to honorable members that, because they ate self-balancing items in our accounts, I have omitted from the figures of revenue and expenditure which I am citing, the taxation receipts collected on behalf of the States.
The -Government’s policy of expanding social services has been delayed by the demands of the war effort. Nevertheless, a comprehensive scheme of unemployment and sickness benefits, an increase in invalid and old-age pensions to 32s. 6d. a week, and an increase in child endowment to 7s. 6d. a week took effect from the beginning of this financial year. The pharmaceutical benefits scheme is expected to be in operation in January, 1946. During the present session two additional measures will be brought before the House - a Hospital Benefits Bill and a Tuberculosis Bill.
The Government has also decided to increase pensions for class A widows from 32s. 6d. to 37s. 6d. a week, and for class C widows from 27s. to 32s. 6d. a week. The former are widows maintaining a child under sixteen; the latter are widows in necessitous circumstances in respect of whom the maximum period of payment is six months. The cost of these increases will be £260,000 in a full year. These- health and social services impose a new and heavy cost on the budget. In 1938-39, the total outlay wa3 £17,000,000. It is expected to reach £65,000,000 in the current year and £77,000,000 in the following year, as compared with £39,000,000 in the year just ended’.
The Government considers that the increasing outlay on social services, representing as it does nearly one-half of all non-war expenditures, makes essential a new financial approach. Moreover, now that hostilities have ceased and the budget will be concerned more and more with peace-time revenue and expenditure, the time is appropriate to reconsider the problem of social security finance. As honorable ‘ members are aware, a number of social services is financed through the National Welfare Fund, and child endowment is partly financed by the pay-roll tax. Old-age. invalid, and widows’ pensions are charged to Consolidated Revenue.
The Government now proposes . to charge all health and social services expenditure to one fund - the National Welfare Fund. At the same time, the income of the fund will be increased. It is proposed .that, as part of a general revision of taxation, with which I will deal more fully later, a social services contribution should be imposed from the 1st January, 1946. The proceeds of the contribution, together with the collections from pay-roll tax, will be paid into the National Welfare Fund. The income of the fund in 1945-46 is estimated at £46,000,000. Income tax under the present provisions of the Welfare Fund Act will provide £15,000,000 for the first six months, social services contribution £20,000,000 for the second six months, and pay-roll tax £11,000,000 for the whole year, a total of £46,000,000. Expenditure from the fund is estimated at £65,000,000.
In 1946-47, income of the fund is estimated at £61,000,000 and expenditure £77,000,000, leaving a deficiency of £16,000,000. However, the National Welfare Fund had a balance of £53,000,000 on the 1st July last, so thai for this year and next year the fund will be adequate to meet all existing commitments. Even with the new social services contribution, it will eventually be necessary to supplement the income of the fund from Consolidated Revenue. The position is set out in detail in Statement No. 6. 1 believe that the changes I have outlined will give honorable members a clearer picture of the scope, significance and cost of social services in relation to the national finances a3 a whole and make reasonable provision for social service commitments. Necessary legislation will be brought before Parliament within the next few days.
The Government realizes that people have had to meet a heavy burden of war taxation and sympathizes with the feeling of taxpayers that, now hostilities have ceased, some immediate relief should be given. However, the Government’s expenditure commitments for war needs in the transitional period and for permanent peace-time requirements are very large. On the arithmetic of finance there appears to be little scope for a reduction in taxation revenues at the present time. After careful consideration of all aspects, however, the Government has decided to make special provision to meet the cost of social services by introducing a social services contribution entirely separate from the ordinary income tax and, at the same time, to reduce the rates of income tax so that the combined charge on individuals, including members of the forces, for income tax and social services contribution will, on the average, be about 12$ per cent, lower in a full year than the present charge for income tax alone. The chance will not come into effect until the 1st January next, but the proportion of 1.2$ per cent, is based on a full year.
– The 12$ per cent, is really an average reduction. In some cases the reduction will be more than that, and sometimes it will be a little less. It would be impossible to make a flat reduction of 12$ per cent, and still maintain the taxation curve. We aim to keep as closely as possible to the proportion of 12$ per cent. I do not say that the percentage reduction might not amount to as much as 20 per cent, on some of the lower incomes.
– In that case, it might drop to as low as 5 per cent, on some incomes.
– No. It will never be so low as that. It is not proposed to alter the incidence of taxation on public companies, but the effect of reducing the rate of tax on individuals will be to reduce the tax on private companies. The new arrangements will be brought into operation on the earliest practicable date, namely, the 1st January next.
The social services contribution will be levied on individuals at a graduated rate rising to a maximum of ls. 6d. in the £1 on taxable incomes as at present defined in the Income Tax Assessment Act. The present exemptions for income tax will apply to the social services contribution. These are as follows :- r
– The present exemptions which apply under the Income Tax Act will also apply to social service contributions. The social services contribution levied on any income will not be greater than 87$ per cent, of the present income tax on that income.
Although exemptions from social services contribution will be those which now apply for income tax purposes, the income tax exemption for taxpayers without dependants will be raised from £104 to £200. The effective income tax exemptions for taxpayers with dependants will be as follows: -
The levels of these exemptions will be raised by the amount of concessional allowances for items such as medical expenses, life assurance and superannuation. The new rates of income tax will commence at 3d. in the £1 and will rise gradually to a maximum of 15s. 2d. in the £1 on that part of the taxpayer’s income which is in excess of £5,000. Including social services contribution, the maximum rate will be 16s. 8d. in the £1.
Schedules showing the amounts of social services contribution and income tax payable on typical incomes in a full year are being distributed to honorable members. The reduction in total charge for all taxpayers for the current year will therefore be half that shown in the schedules. Pay-as-you-earn deductions will be reduced by the full amount from the 1st January next. It is estimated that the social services contribution will yield £51,000,000 in a full year and income tax on individuals £89,000,000, a total of £140,000,000 as compared with the yield at the present rates of income tax of £160,000,000, that is, a reduction of £20,000,000. For the current year it is estimated that the loss of revenue will be about half this amount. Full details of the proposals will be given when the relevant taxation legislation is brought before the House.
It is also proposed to make certain additional sales tax concessions which will involve a loss of revenue of approximately £2,800,000 in a full year and £1,900,000 in the current year. The detailed terms of these concessions which have been worked out will be incorporated in a bill to be introduced into Parliament as soon as possible. I want it to be clearly understood that it will be of no use for people to waste their time sending telegrams and making representations urging the reduction of sales tax on this item and that. The concessions already decided upon will not be altered. I have received representations on every aspect of sales tax, and I do not want to receive any more between now and next Wednesday.
After making allowance for the effect in the current year of these taxation reductions it is estimated that revenue will amount to £340,284,000, a decrease of 3,138,000 compared with the receipts of last year. Details are set out in statement No. 2.
It is expected that customs and excise revenue will, with increasing civil im ports, yield £4,823,000 more than last year. It is also expected that some arrears of income tax will be collected in the current year. During the war years it was not possible for the Taxation Department to keep up with the work associated with assessments and other matters connected with the collection of taxes, but it is hoped that with the return of staff the arrears will be overtaken.
It will be necessary to finance the deficiency of £152,000,000 from public loans if we are to avoid any further addition to the excess spending power in the hands of the public while goods are in short supply.
In conclusion I would say that the Government, and, I believe, members generally, are fully mindful of the splendid service and sacrifice of the members of the fighting forces and are determined to do everything possible speedily to re-establish them in civil life. I would also emphasize that self-discipline is still necessary, for no financial policy or system of controls can achieve an orderly and early change-over to a prosperous peace-time economy without the full co-operation of every citizen. The Government’s policy of full employment and social security will contribute towards a happy and healthy community. If we as a people can maintain, in the difficult years that lie immediately ahead, the courage and resolution which we displayed during the six long years of war, we can look forward to great developments in this country and will be enabled to make our proper contribution towards the maintenance of peace amongst the nations of the world.
In 1944-45 two public loans were raised in Australia for war purposes, the total amount subscribed being £221,216,530. Securities for £47,520,130 matured in October, 1944, and £40,644,120, or 85 per cent. of the amount outstanding, was converted at lower rates of interest. The interest payable on all these loans is 2½ per cent. for short term and3¼ per cent. for long-term securities. Sales of War Savings Certificates during the year amounted to £15,006,000 face value.
Loans amounting to £12,084,228 matured in London during the year. These were debts of the States. The loans were repatriated to Australia, the holders in the United Kingdom having been paid off.
During 1944-45, £23,300,000 was provided by the National Debt Sinking Fund for the redemption of debt. The amount available for this purpose for the current year is estimated at £25,000,000.
The aggregate public debt of the Commonwealth and States at the 30th June, 1945, was £2,629,943,000, of which £1,728,965,000 is Commonwealth and £900,978,000 State debt. The increase of £252,867,000 in Commonwealth debt during 1944-45 was due to the war.
Earlier this year, a delegation was sent to England to confer with representatives of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South African Governments on the problem of disposing of the accumulated stocks of wool and future clips. As a result of this conference an agreement was reached by the representatives of the four governments concerned. The terms of this agreement have been accepted by the Commonwealth Government and by theother governments concerned and legislation to give effect to its terms will be introduced at an early date.
Under the agreement, the war-time system of appraisement and acquisition will continue for the1945-46 season, the acquisition price to the Australian grower remaining at15.45d. per lb. Arrangements are being made for the machinery provided for in the agreement to be brought into operation.
The effect of the agreement will be that the partner governments will underwrite the income of dominion wool producers during the period required for the disposal of the accumulated wool stocks. The United Kingdom Government at present holds about 10,000,000 bales or the equivalent of two years consumption ; and the agreement enables the disposal of these accumulated stocks to be spread, if necessary, over as long a period as fourteen years.
Each year the average reserve price below which wool will not be sold at auction will be determined by the governments concerned in consultation. On the basis of the average reserve price decided by the governments, the reserve price of each lot of wool will be determined by the joint organization set up by the four governments to manage the scheme. All wool from new clips will be offered at auction and, should the price bid by commercial buyers at auction exceed the reserve price, the benefit will go to the grower. If, however, the price offered at auction by commercial buyers falls short of the reserve price, the joint organization will itself purchase at the reserve price the quantities involved. Thus, from the grower’s point of view, the sale of each new clip will be assured during the currency of the plan. Further, the grower will be guaranteed a minimum price at the beginning of each season, and will be free, if he so chooses, to set his own reserve price on the wool he sends to auction.
At a cost of approximately £40,000,000 sterling spread over four years, the Commonwealth Government will assume half-ownership of the Australian-grown wool at present owned by the United Kingdom Government; and these two governments will share equally the cost of all further purchases of Australian wool by the joint organization during the operation of the plan. Also equally shared by the two governments will be the profits or losses on realization of Australian-grown wool.
Joint organization’s expenses in regard to Australian wool will be met half by the industry and half by the Commonwealth and United Kingdom Governments as equal partners. The machinery by which the industry’s share of the expenses is to be met will be set up by legislation providing for a contributory charge on new clip wool.
With sound administration, the scheme will introduce a most important element of stability into the national economy.
During the past financial year, arrangements were made with the United Kingdom for the purchase of Australia’s surplus meat until the 30th September, 1948, dairy products until the 30th June, 1948, and eggs until the 30th June, 1947. These contracts will have an important stabilizing influence on these major primary industries.
For a period of two years from the 1st April, 1944, the Commonwealth Government guaranteed the dairying industry a rate of subsidy on commercial butter estimated to return to the producer1s. 7.3d. per lb. During the last financial year, £5,153,000 was expended in assistance on processed dairy products and for the financial year 1945-46 it is estimated that assistance will amount to £5,250,000. These figures make allowance for amounts in respect of butter and cheese exported to the United Kingdom which are recoverable in each financial year mentioned. They also include the following special subsidies which were recently granted on processed dairy products to meet difficulties arising out of drought conditions : - 1st May to 31st August, 1945 - 2d. per lb. on commercial butter basis. 1st September to 3 1st October, 1945 -1d. per lb. on butterfat basis.
The special subsidies are estimated to cost £750,000,
In addition to these subsidies on processed dairy products, the Commonwealth is paying substantial subsidies on wholemilk production. Because of severe drought conditions, these payments are greater than would normally have been expected. For the 1945-46 financial year it is expected that whole-milk subsidies will absorb £2,600,000.
Further, an amount of £250,000 has been provided for drought relief assistance to dairy farmers in special cases not covered by the production subsidies referred to above. This assistance will be granted through the State Government; but before it is granted in any particular State, the State Government concerned must establish the need for the assistance and contribute £l for £1 with the Commonwealth Government.
The worst drought for a generation very severely reduced the 1944-45 cereal crops, the total quantity of wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board being only 38,000,000 bushels as against previous acquisitions of 94,000,000 bushels in 1943-44 and 142,000,000 bushels in 1942-43. Assistance to wheat and other cereal growers under the States Grants (Drought Relief) Act involved the Commonwealth in an appropriation of £1,855.000 for the year ended the 30th June, 1945, the assistance being on a £l-for-£l basis with the States.
Because of the effect of the drought on supplies of other grains, assistance to stock feeders in the last financial year has been concentrated mainly on wheat. The cost of subsidies under this heading amounted to £4,624,000. In addition, the Commonwealth has met considerable charges in freighting hay and chaff to the States in which supplies were short.
With prices to growers guaranteed and a good season in prospect, it is expected that the next crop will yield increased supplies of oats, barley and grain sorghum and so reduce the use of heavily subsidized wheat for feed purposes.
Assistance to stock-feeders, mostly in the form of payments to the Australian Wheat Board, is estimated to cost £3,000,000 during the current financial year.
Provision has been made for the continuance of the subsidies on cornsacks, wool packs and branbags which are estimated for the current year to require £1,000,000.
The 1944-45 crop of potatoes is a record, being estimated at 800,000 tons valued at over £10,000,000. The price stabilization subsidy on potato sales is estimated at £2,500,000 for the financial year 1945-46.
Generally dry and unfavorable conditions reduced fruit crops in all States during the 1944-45 season. Apple and pear production acquired by the Commonwealth in Western Australia and Tasmania aggregated about 7,500,000 bushels.
The sum of £150,000 is provided largely to meet the balance of the loss of about £830,000 on the 1944 crop.
The continuance of the policy of stabilizing at 1942-43 levels the price of superphosphate for primary producers will require in the current financial year a subsidy estimated at £3,250,000 as compared with £2,214,000 last year. It is expected that the quantity of rock imported will be almost back to its pre-war level.
The following is a summary of the subsidies paid in the last financial year in respect of primary production as compared with the estimatedexpenditure under the same headings for the current financial year: -
The following papers were pre sented : -
The Budget 1945-46 - Papers presented by theRt.Hon. J. B. Chifley, M.P., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of the Budget of 1945-46.
Ordered to be printed.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the National Welfare Fund Act 1943, and for other purposes.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
ThatMr. Chifley and Mr. Lazzarini do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
Mr. CHIFLEY (Macquarie- Prime
Minister and Treasurer) [11.53]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will be aware that the National Welfare Fund was established in 1943 as a means of financing the Government’s comprehensive plans of social and health services. AsI mentioned in my budget speech, with the termination of hostilities the Government proposes to establish the financial provisions for social security on a new basis. It is proposed to finance the whole of social and health services expenditure through the National Welfare Fund in this and future years. The bill now before the House amends the National Welfare Fund Act to provide for both the new items of income for the fund, and the additional channels of expenditure from it. From the 1st July, 1945, the whole of social services outlay is to be met from the fund, and clauses 6, 7 and
S of the bill amend the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Act, the Widows’ Pensions Act and the Child Endowment Act so that expenditure under them becomes a charge on the fund. Payments into the fund will continue until the 31st December, 1945, on the existing basis. I have calculated that the maximum contribution of £30,000,000 under the existing provisions of the act would have been paid out of Consolidated Revenue into the fund for the year 1945-46 if these provisions had continued throughout the year. Accordingly, proposed new section 5 (1) of this bill provides for the appropriation of one-half of that sum, i.e., £15,000,000, for the first six months of the year 1945-46. In addition, in this and following years, there will be paid into the fund the equivalent of the collections of the pay-roll tax and of the new social services contribution. The social services contribution and income tax will be assessed separately, but to avoid inconvenience to employers by requiring separate instalment deductions and returns, and elaborate accounting in the Taxation Office, it has been decided that the two taxes will be received in one payment. Accordingly, it is necessary to find « practicable means of determining the amount to be paid into the National Welfare Fund in respect of the new social services contribution. The formula which has been devised is based upon the relative value of assessments of the social service contribution and income tax. It is set out in proposed new section 5 (2) (?)) of the bill and will be applicable to years subsequent to 1945-46.
In the last six months of the present year, however, this formula obviously cannot be applied as assessments of the social services contribution will not be made until after the 1st July, 1946. I estimate that £20,000,000 will cover the amount which will be collected from instalments in respect of the social services contribution for this six months, and proposed new section 5 (2) (a) provides for that amount to be paid into the fund.
On the amended basis, payments into the fund this year will be £15,000,000 for the first six months, £20,000,000 from the social services contribution for the second six months, and £11,000,000 from pay-roll tax for the whole year, giving the fund an income of £46,000,000 in all for the year. Expenditure from the fund, covering the total social and health services programmes for the present year, is estimated at £65,000,000. Details of this expenditure are given in Table 6 attached to the budget speech. For the full year 1946-47 the social services contribution is expected to yield £5.1,000,000. Thus, including pay-roll tax, the total payments into the fund will reach £62,000,000 in that year. On existing commitments, expenditure from the fund is estimated at approximately £77,000,000. These figures show that it will be necessary eventually to supplement the income of the fund. However, as the fund had a balance of £53,000,000 on the 1st July, 1945, it will be adequate to meet expenditure on existing commitments for this and next year. I commend the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 6 th September (vide page 5200), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
, - In moving the second reading of this bill to approve the Charter of the United Nations, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) stated that “ the Charter does not, or at least, should not, raise any questions of party politics and it should be approved “. I am glad to say that during this debate the House has followed the example of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the Congress of the United States of America and discussed the Charter on its merits, with very little suggestion of “ party politics “. I think we all can agree that this debate, with the exception of one or two speeches, has been a good one, and has demonstrated a great interest in the new organization.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made certain criticisms, most -of which were on the theme that, in his own words, “ a document cannot keep the peace “. With many of his criticisms we are in full agreement, and it is clear that he did not offer any of them as an argument that the Charter should not be ratified. They were his own expressions of opinion, given to this House as an indication of the dangers which are ahead and which must be met. With some of his criticisms I cannot agree. For example, the undertaking in the Charter to make a further, contract regarding the contribution each member must make in terms of armed forces is not the weak and vague obligation which he would suggest. It would not have been appropriate for a constitutional convention of the kind held at San Francisco to discuss terms of military agreements to be made between each member and the Security Council. This was obviously a matter for subsequent bilateral discussion between the Security Council and each member government. Nevertheless, it was thought appropriate to include a specific and binding obligation to make these agreements. It is true that no enforcement .measures can be used to ensure that agreements shall be made, but it is equally true that the making of an agreement with the Security Council is one of the obligations of membership, and one which must be observed before a member can take an effective part in the world’ organization or any of its organs.
Another criticism offered by the right honorable gentleman was to the effect that the Charter was attempting too much. In this respect, he criticized the Australian delegation, and the Minister for External Affairs in particular, for believing that careful drafting and observance of detail would contribute to successful world organization and peace. He asserted that the spirit that motivated governments was the important thing, and that the “ perfectionist “ attitude was misplaced. Similarly, the right honorable member suggested that though the Minister was right in theory in attempting to . remove the power of veto in respect of peaceful settlement of disputes, in practice he was not being realistic.
These criticisms were made objectively and were an expression of opinion. Nevertheless, it would be wrong for me to ignore them, and to allow it to be thought that they were opinions which the Australian delegation or the Australian Government shared. The opposite of “ perfectionism “ is “ imperfectionism “. Detail in drafting, the specification of obligations, and clear statements of the principles, purposes, and functions of each organ are vital to the success of any institution. A glance at the amendments made to the Dumbarton Oaks text, will demonstrate how greatly that text was improved. Similarly, with respect to the veto issue, it was most important to point out to all what was in fact ideal or “ right in theory and what, was in fact pure expediency or “ realism “. The great value of the Australian criticism at San Francisco of the veto on peaceful settlement was that the issue is now clearly understood by all member governments, and that the Great Powers have given an undertaking that their special privileges will be used sparingly and in the interests of all the United Nations.
The Leader of the Opposition also criticized the allegedly negative character of the references of the Minister for External Affairs in his second-reading speech to the use of atomic energy. What the Minister actually said was that “ the destructive potential of atomic energy is too great to be entrusted- to one Great Power “ and that for this reason the atomic bomb should be placed under the control of the Security Council. He was concerned, in his speech, only with the security aspects of atomic energy, illustrated by the recent use of the atomic bomb. The Security Council has the duty to arrange for its military preparedness to deal with any would-be aggressor. Obviously, it will be unable to defend the United Nations against possible aggression if certain nations are able to withhold from the council a weapon of such shattering power as the atomic bomb. It follows that unless the- bomb, and any other similar weapons, are brought under the control of the Security Council there cannot be full confidence and understanding between the Great Powers upon whose close cooperation and leadership the peace of the world depends.
The Leader of the Opposition asserted that there is no advantage in having secured the insertion in the Charter of “full employment”, in the form of an obligation resting upon each member: .His point was, in effect, that the pledge is a mere form of words, which could have no real effect on policies that governments will adopt. ‘What actually happened at San Francisco contradicts that view altogether. Many governments- some governments of great powers - felt at first extreme reluctance to commit themselves to “ full employment “ as an objective of domestic policy. The measure of their reluctance is the measure also of the importance of the commitment. Both the British and the Soviet delegations joined with the delegations of Australia and New Zealand in pressing for the adoption of the pledge in what is known as Article 56 of the Charter. They, at any rate had no doubt that the pledge was more than a mere form of words.
The right honorable member seemed to argue that the development of the Economic and Social Council which the Australian delegation obtained was in some way incompatible with the development of relations with the United Kingdom in the economic field. I:Ec referred to lend-lease problems and the assistance Great Britain must have in order that it may make up for the great losses which it sustained during the war in the Allied cause. There is no incompatibility. On the contrary, Britain, like Australia, is a dependent economy, and, like Australia, is vitally interested in the domestic economies of other countries, and in particular, the United States of America. The British delegation, and in particular, Mr. Tomlinson, supported every amendment that the Australian delegation suggested in relation to the Economic and Social Council. Perhaps one of the greatest contributions that Australia could make to the welfare oi the people of Britain was to obtain the undertaking by each nation regarding “living standards and full employment. The standards of living of the people of the United Kingdom will depend, once they have full employment in their own country, very greatly upon the levels of employment and the standards of living of peoples throughout the rest of the world.
The right honorable’ member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) said that the Charter was, in the end, better than many governments attending San Francisco could have hoped for. I believe that this is so. The emphasis which he placed on public opinion and on frequent meetings of the Assembly is fully shared by the Australian Government. Indeed, it was an Australian amendment which assured frequent meetings of the Assembly as required ; it was an Australian amendment which assured that, the Economic and Social Council could be convened at any time; and it was very largely due to Australian support that a resolution was adopted providing that, as a general rule, the General Assembly should be open to the press of the world. It will be recalled that the Minister for External Affairs, in hi< assessment of the value of the ‘Charter and its possibilities, made special mention of the importance of public opinion.
The House listened with great interest and warm appreciation to the wellinformed and clear statements of th, member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). His emphasis on our obligations in respect to our own. territories is relevant and important. As has already been stated, the Australian Government has taken two steps in fulfilment of the obligations implied in the Charter. It has set up a Civil Affairs School for the training of administrators, and the development of this school is something which is being watched with interest by many governments overseas. It has’ also decided to sot up a research council, through which agency it will be possible to obtain the statistical and other material which the Charter obliges the Government to furnish in respect of its dependent territories.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) raised certain difficulties as to the interpretation and contents of the’ Charter which I should like to elucidate briefly. He first suggested that the Charter did not make effective provisions for the inclusion of collective defence arrangements, such as the SouthWest Pacific regional defence pact suggested in the Australian-New Zealand Agreement of 1944. He understood the regional arrangements referred to in the Charter itself as being concerned primarily with pacific settlement of disputes among the parties themselves. This, however, is only a part of the provision that the Charter makes. Articles 52 and 53 contemplate the use of regional arrange.ments or agencies for any matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security which are appropriate for regional action. This certainly includes the pacific settlement of local disputes. As Article 53 shows, it also includes enforcement action under the authority of the Security Council. But [ think that the provision which meets the difficulty that the honorable member had in mind is to be found in Article 51. This Article declares that nothing in the Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations. I emphasize the words “ collective self-defence “. If the world security system breaks down, either because of the voting procedure in the Security Council or for any other reason, this Article 51 makes clear that every member is fully entitled to fall back on any independent . defensive arrangements it may have made, or may make. This is the provision which the Deputy Prime Minister referred to in his second-reading speech. It makes possible exactly the kind of comprehensive defence plan for the South- Western Pacific that the honorable member for Warringah mentioned as desirable. I may, perhaps, add that Article 51 was not placed under the heading of “ regional arrangements “ because the arrangements provided for in Article 51 need not necessarily be of a regional or local character. Reciprocal arrangements among members of the British Commonwealth, for example, might very well not fall under a purely regional heading.
The honorable member for Warringah also suggested that the Charter had a fundamental defect because it lacked provision for the control of international patents and scientific inventions. However, the plain intention of the Charter is to prevent the possible use of aggressive means in whatever form for the settlement of disputes between nations. The Charter gives the General Assembly power both to consider any matter such as this which clearly affects the maintenance of international peace and security and to make recommendationsconcerning it. The Charter also enablesthe Assembly to consider and make recommendations concerning disarmament’, and the regulation of armaments. If such precautionary measures should fail and a threat to the peace occurred, then the Security Council may take all necessary steps, including the application of economic and military measures, to maintain peace and security.
The Minister for External Affairs, in. his second-reading speech, drew attention to the fact that partly because the chemical industry after the last war was under private control, and arrangements mad* for tie-ups between private chemical monopolies throughout the world, international peace was undermined long before 1939. He emphasized that the whole question would have to be considered and proper action taken to prevent any recurrence of such international monopoly control as soon as the Charter comes into force.
The honorable member for Warringah complained that the pledge to promote “ full employment “ is undefined. Therewas no need for definition. The phrase is in general use, and its meaning is generally understood. More precisely stated, it means “ high and stable levels of employment “ ; that phrase has a rather stiff and academic ring, and the conference decided emphatically to use the popular equivalent. The methods by which nations achieve full employment are, of course, for them to .determine. Their policies, however, will clearly bo subject to discussion, not only in the Economic and Social Council but also in the General Assembly.
– Has it not always been the objective of governments to provide full employment for their people?
– I am afraid that it has not been, and very grievous conditions have been inflicted upon people throughout the world because their government? have not sought to provide, as they should have done, full employment.
I deprecate strongly the suggestion made by the honorable member for Warringah that some legislative safeguard is necessary or proper in approving “the Charter, with regard to the “ economic pledge “. The ultimate question is simply one of constitutional power. On the legal question, I do not desire to add -anything to what the Minister for External Affairs said in opening this debate. Nothing that, this Parliament can do by legislative act can either increase or diminish the power that the Constitution confers upon it. or. for that matter, bind any future Parliament. Talk of legislative “safeguards” is misconceived. If the Constitution, operating on th<; Charter a? it stands, gives to this Parliament the legislative authority in employment matters that the honorable member asserts, nothing that the Parliament can do can alter that fact. The question that remains is whether, and how, the power is to be exercised. In any exercise of such a power, the Parliament would be accountable to the Australian people. To repeat, the ultimate question is one of constitutional interpretation, which is a matter not for this Parliament but for the High Court of Australia.
The honorable member for Warringah asked for clarification of the relation between the two paragraphs of Article 80. This Article i*= a part of Chapter XII. dealing with the international trusteeship system. The system applies only to certain types of dependent territories; and even to territories in those categories, it applies only by virtue of individual trusteeship agreements. Until an agreement is made in respect of any territory, paragraph 1 of Article 80 expressly preserves unaltered the existing rights of any state under any existing international instruments. The intention of the second paragraph is to make additionally clear that this preservation of existing rights is not to be interpreted as itself requiring, or even employing, their indefinite continuance. The future of the territories concerned, should, in effect, be decided on the merits in each case.
The honorable member also asked whether Article 83 of the Charter gives to the Security Council the power to define strategic areas, without the consent of Australia, in any Australian territories, and whether it gives to the Security Council authority over any portion of those territories without Australia’s consent. The answer is that the Charter does not do so. Strategic areas are to be designated in the trusteeship agreements. The consent of the trustee state is, therefore, required in every case. This is made clear by Article 82 of the Charter. The point is simply that the functions of the United Nations with regard to trust territories in general are to be exercised by the Trusteeship Council, operating under the authority of the General Assembly. With regard to strategic areas, however, the functions of receiving and considering reports and so forth are to lie exercised by the Security Council, which, however, may avail itself of the assistance of the Trusteeship Council on the political and economic side.
I yield to no honorable member in mv desire for close and constant co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth. But the claim of the honorable member for Warringah that it is wrong and even deplorable for a dominion government to express publicly any difference of opinion which it has with the British Government, goes much too far. It is inconsistent with the basic principle on which the British Commonwealth is organized. Not a single dominion hat observed any such rule. The common purposes that members of the British Commonwealth share, and the ties that bind them, are not impaired by the sincere expression of divergent points of view on matters of principle. Nowhere is that more true than in the working out of a general constitution as at the San Francisco conference.
On this matter, I remind the House of the point made by the Minister for External Affairs in opening this debate, and again by the Deputy Prime Minister in the course of it. The special relation in which Great Britain now stands to the rest of the “ Big Five “ may often make it impossible for Great Britain itself to pursue the policies which its own Government would desire. This throws a special responsibility on the other members of the British Commonwealth for advocating policies based on sound democratic principles. It can fairly be said that as a result of this kind of action at San Francisco the Charter of the United Nations, in its finished form, is closer than it was before to what the British Government and people would themselves, if voting arrangements had made it possible, have desired to advocate. What I have just said is applicable also, in part, to the remarks of the right honorable member for Cowper, who spoke of the importance of Empire consultation and the need to speak with a “- single voice “. On the need for close and constant consultation, then: is no room for difference of opinion. Empire consultation played a large part in the framing of the Charter. It took place before the conference at a special meeting in London, and during the conference also, as circumstances required. But the Government of the United Kingdom itself emphasized that the purpose of these talks was not to lay down an agreed binding common policy, and that each government must reserve its full right to pursue in the conference the policy for which it waa responsible to it? own parliament and people. As I reflected on what has been said during this debate, the thought occurred to me that we must continually remind ourselves of the new position in the world in which the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations find themselves to-day. Our experience in World War II. has shown clearly that neither for purposes of defence nor for purposes of prosperity can the members of the British Commonwealth regard that body as a selfsufficient unit. For them, both singly and as a group, collective security and collective prosperity must be organized on a wider basis than the British Commonwealth alone. An effectively functioning United Nations should be realized as a necessary object of policy for every member nation of the British Commonwealth. At the same time, there is no disagreement with the view that co-operation with the United Nations should be based on the closest co-operation in the British Commonwealth.
We come now to the remarks made by the honorable member .for Indi (Mr. McEwen). He commented that he would have expected evidence of a greater degree of detail in the plans of those who had been considering matters of post-war reconstruction during the past years. It should be pointed out that the purpose of San Francisco was to draft a constitution and that detailed post-war planning was not a subject for discussion. The specialized organizations to be brought into relationship with the United Nations will be responsible for actual planning, and much of this work is already being carried out. There are, for example, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the monetary plans, and various other commercial proposals not yet made public. The second criticism was that the Trusteeship Council is of little value as it is representative very largely of small power? with no trusteeship responsibilities. Absence of responsibility does not mean ignorance, but, in any case, the future administration of mandates in certain colonies is of great international interest and as much the concern of powers without responsibilities as of those who have administrative responsibility.
I greatly regret that at this stage thihonorable member for Indi introduced m note which was, up to this stage, absent from the debate - a note of “ party politics “. He complained that the consultants and advisers of the Australian delegation were not made use of as much as were those of other delegations. He cited as an example the United ‘States delegation. If the honorable member had been in close touch with the proceedings of the conference he would be aware that those whom he named were appointed by President Roosevelt as full delegates and acted in that capacity. There were only two Australian delegates, and each of those acted in the same way as the delegates of other delegations. In point of fact Australian consultants frequently acted as delegate? - this never happened in the United States delegation. He went on to suggest that there were not frequent opportunities for discussion and advice, and his remarks about meetings at 10.30 p.m. may have left the impression that this hour showed disregard for the consultants. The House should know that the Minister for the Army and the Minister for External
Affairs devoted each Monday night to a delegation meeting in spite of the fact that they were attending three sessions a day, including an evening session which usually lasted pa3t 11 p.m. This was a grossly unfair suggestion to make. At those meetings every opportunity was given for comment and advice, and, in rac-t, advice was sought as the honorable member well knows. Admittedly the time when advice and consultation were most needed was during the last two weeks of i lie conference, but the honorable member had already left San Francisco.
Another implication which I cannot nl low to pass is that there was an entourage” and “numerous officials” while the consultants numbered twelve. The officials or advisers who took part in i he’ conference numbered five, one of whom was drawn from the Washington Legation. One other officer of the Department of External Affairs, who acted is secretary to the delegation, spent the greater part of his time looking after the <:.tra-conference needs of several of the consultants,.
– Providing amenities for the ‘honorable member for Indi.
– Exactly. 1 am advised !>y those taking part that whilst a few of the consultants complained that they were not being used, they were frequently absent on so many occasions that it was not possible. for them to follow the proceedings and be asked to take an active part. There were exceptions, and I mention one in particular, the honorable member for Ballarat, who conscientiously throughout the whole conference attended meetings of all the four committees to which he had been assigned.
The honorable member for Indi complained that the amendments were decided before he had an opportunity to make suggestions. That is largely so. Principles of the policy of the Australian Government were decided in 1944 and were given to this House on the 30f,h September. 1944, and on the 30t!:i November, U)44. They were laid down early in November. 1944 at an Australian-New Zealand conference at Wellington. They were fully discussed by the Government, :ind the suggestion that they represented ihe views of the Minister for External Affair* alone are, on the facts, wholly unfounded. It must be quite clear to all members of this House that the greatest burden would fall on the delegates and the departmental officei’3 who had been studying the proposals since early 1944 in the greatest of detail and who had ais? attended the valuable discussions held in London prior to the conference. Thequestion is whether the honorable member regards the organization of the Australian delegation from the point of view” of efficiency in pursuing Australian’ interests, or from the point of view of building up and preserving the prestige of each member of the delegation. The Australian delegation, under the direction of the two delegates, was more concerned with pursuing Australian interest.
I do not wish to answer the honorable member further, as the honorable member for .Ballarat has already done that very effectively. j wish to make one comment only and that is that it does not follow thai differences of opinion, which may have arisen between the Australian and the United Kingdom delegations reflect an anti-British attitude. Subsequent events gave good grounds for believing that in certain respects the United- Kingdom delegation may not have been representing the British people. In fact, there was the closest co-operation between members of the British delegation, who are now members of the United Kingdom Government, and members of the Australian delegation. Nor do I wish to reply to the honorable member for Richmond, who obviously does not grasp the significance of .great power unity and the significance of the development of the independence of small powers. One of the. great hopes of the. United Nations rests in the progressive and independent line followed by the many small nations, a line which tha United Kingdom would probably follow in many instances if free to do so. As to the challenge which the honorable member issued to the Deputy Prime Minister regarding the calling of a conference of British press representatives, 3 have only to say that whether this did or did not happen, it is a fact that the Tiri ti sh press includes the Australian press, and in any case I see no harm whatsover in keeping the British press informed, as, in fact, Lord
Cran borne kept the Australian press informed by providing interviews with one or perhaps more of its representatives: lt seems to me that the very great achievements of the Australian delegation at San Francisco have provoked an outburst from several honorable members, particularly those honorable members who were not particularly interested in speaking to the merits or demerits of the Charter itself. 1 would refer such member.* to the special editions of the New York Tvm.es. which can bp seen in the Library; they will give a more balanced view of the work of the Australian delegation than even the Australian press.
The New York Times and The Times of London were unstinting of their praise for the Minister for External Affairs, and both papers were following a policy of support of their own national delegations. 1 am glad that the honorable member for Henty and the honorable member for Flinders brought the debate back to the high level at which it started, and 1 would like to congratulate both these honorable members for the sane and wellbalanced estimate they made of the Charter and the possibilities of its success
With respect to the suggestion of the honorable member for Flinders that a senior Minister of each government should bc appointed to the centre of the new World Organization, that is what is intended. Already the former Secretary of State. Mr. Stettinius has been appointed as the United States representative to the United Nations. No doubt as soon as the centre of the world organization is determined other governments will appoint their representatives.
In conclusion I wish to thank all the representatives of Australia at the conference. I expressly congratulate and thank the right honorable the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), who was the leader of the delegation, for the capable and distinguished way in which he handled his duties. Australia’s part was greatly enhanced by the clear and logical way in which its views were expressed, and te Mr. Forde great credit is due. Also, we must have a great admiration for the brilliant part taken by the Minister for External Affairs in helping to influence and determine the course of that conference in many of its deliberations. With all the criticisms which have been levelled against him - and I should say for reasons which are not reasons of national interest - he still remains supreme in the field of foreign affairs, not only as the greatest Minister for External Affairs that this country has possessed, but also as one of the greatest figures in international affairs in the history of the British Commonwealth of Nations. All men in the field of international affairs in the British Commonwealth, and a great, number in foreign countries, listened with respect to his counsel. His hard, tenacious struggle to obtain reinforcements and supplies during Australia’s most critical days by means of obtaining an effective voice in the War Councils of the United Nations will be regarded in the future as a remarkable achievement. Australia obtained a hearing and obtained the necessary attention to Pacific affairs. His success at San Francisco was the logical outcome, as already Australia’s place in world affairs was coming to be recognized, and a leading part was not only expected of it but. also hoped for by the many middle and small powers having interests similar to those of Australia. In carrying out this work, the Minister has made a very great contribution to the British Commonwealth as a whole. For example, the purposes for which he fought - the liberalization of the world organization, the recognition of welfare as an ultimate basis of security, and the recognition of the dominions as strong and self-reliant units within the British Commonwealth - are the purposes of each member of the British Commonwealth. Australia had distinctive and urgent national interests in what was done at San Francisco. The Charter safeguards all of these. This could not have been achieved without the standing and authority which the M’inister had won for himself and for Australia by his energy and ability in the work of the conference as a whole. What he did built up the prestige-, not only of Australia, but also of the British Commonwealth as a whole. This was the view of t In- Prime Minister of New Zealand and nl all others who observed objectively the great achievements of the Australian delegation at San Francisco. ‘
The Prime Minister and his colleagues have complete confidence that, during his present mission, the Minister for External Affairs will further the interests of the British Commonwealth by assisting in British and Allied councils and by lending his support to the fundamental ideals for which the British Commonwealth stands.
Miling suspended from 12.89 to 2.15 p.m.
.- Undoubtedly, the debate during this week on this all-important matter will be of tremendous value not only to Australia but also to all the other nations of the world. I deprecate very strongly the tactics of certain members of the Opposition -not all of them - who have taken advantage of the debate to indulge in personalities. In doing so, they have been most unjust and have not maintained the previous high tone of the debate. At the outset, I pay tribute to the leader of the Australian delegation (Mr. Forde), who undoubtedly made a great name for himself in that capacity. Apparently, certain members of the Opposition have taken part in the debate for no other purpose than to heap insults on the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who, perhaps, in the framing of the Charter, played as great a part as any delegate who attended the conference at San Francisco. Government supporters realize and appreciate exactly what he achieved, lt is remarkable that whilst certain honorable members see fit: to indulge in unfair personalities, world leaders such as Winston Churchill, the late President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin, whom with every reason those members have praised for the great part that they played during the desperate years of the war, have paid a high tribute to the value of the work of the Minister. T also take exception to the attitude of the honorable member for Now England (Mr. Abbott), who accused the Government party of being anti-British. That party represents 90 per cent, of the men who left Australia, went overseas, and fought in order that we might retain all that is near and dear to us. It represents the rank and file of the people. In the recent Fremantle by-election, the servicemen who had the right to exercise the franchise demonstrated unmistakably their complete confidence in this party and Government, which the honorable member for New . England was mean enough to describe as anti-British. That was an insult to men who have fought, bled and died for Australia. The honorable member did a great disservice to the fighting forces of Australia, who, in the last three and a half years, have proved that they stand shoulder to shoulder in their political aspirations with the party that now sits on this side of tho House. It is remarkable that, until the Minister had left Australia, not one Opposition member attacked him as he was attacked after his departure.
– Doe3 the honorable member consider that he should be immune from criticism?
– No. I do not object to criticism ; but it should not be unjust. The practice of indulging in unjust criticism is not new to certain honorable members opposite.
Lot us consider the Charter that we have been asked to ratify. The purposes of it are well worth repeating. They ‘are these -
What more laudable objectives could the nations of the world seek to achieve? Could their aim and aspiration be placed on a higher plane? The success of the Charter will depend on the goodwill of the nations. There has been some criticism of the Charter in this chamber, but not one of its critics has suggested how it could be improved. Until something better can be evolved the nations of the world would do well to support the Charter presented to them. For the inclusion in the Charter of Article 55 relating to full employment the world is greatly indebted to the Australian representatives. I believe that world security depends in large measure on the provision of full employment. There cannot be peace otherwise. One of the causes of the war which has just ended was the existence of large numbers of unemployed workers in most of the leading countries of the world. I disagree with the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) that the aims and ambitions of the Great Powers should be thrust upon the smaller nations. Honorable members are only too aware of the existence of millions of unemployed workers in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and other countries between the end of the war of 1914-18 and the beginning of hostilities in 1939. The period between the two wars was a period of peace in name only. The. unsatisfactory conditions which existed created a spirit of resentment. Some of the smaller nations could teach the Great Powers much concerning the things which make for peace. Our representatives at San Francisco are to be congratulated on the success of their efforts to include in the Charter provision for full employment, and I hope that every signatory to the document will use its best endeavours to provide full employment for its people, because in that way they will make a great contribution to the cause of peace. I agree with those who say that the white race has been given one more opportunity to justify its supremacy in the world. The United Nations have the power to give to the peoples of the world all that is necessary for a contented life. Contented people are not likely to make wars, but if the peoples of the world be denied their un- doubted rights the maintenance of peacewill become impossible. The atomic bomb has given rise to fear, distrust and great hopes. Its use certainly hastened the end of the war, but there are many who believe that what has already been achieved will fade into insignificance in the light of future developments. Today, we stand in awe at the destruction of life and property caused by one atomic bomb, but other and more terrible instruments of destruction will be invented. The Lord has been merciful to the world : He has given to mankind one more opportunity. The Charter may not of itself prevent wars in the future, but I am confident that if the representatives of the people in the parliaments of the nations adhere to its spirit they will do much to ensure peace and prosperity in the years that lie ahead.
Mi-. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) [2.34]. - I have listened with patience to many of the speeches on this bill. It was inevitable that there should have been some criticism of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). When a Minister attends a world conference and reveals that he is something in the nature of an international atomic bomb it is only natural that the people of his own country should be concerned, and should endeavour to devise means for exercising some control over him.
– The honorable member himself is uncontrollable.
– The greatest power that a man can exercise is the power of self-control, but that is a quality which appears to be absent from the make-up of the Minister for External Affairs. Now that the Minister is again in the United Kingdom, where he may remain for an indefinite period, it is only right that the world should know that some of the things that he has said regarding imperial relations and international affairs do not represent the views of the majority of the people of Australia. I do not think they even represent the opinion of a good many members of the party which supports the Government. I should have more to say on this point if the right honorable gentleman were here. On one of . the few occasions when he graces this House with his presence we may have something to ?a.y to him in person on these topics, and we shall ask for replies.
We come now to the consideration of the United Nations Charter itself. I am one of those who never believed in the League of Nations, and I have said so more than once from my place in this House. The League of Nations Covenant was not worth the paper it was written on. It represented no more than a pious hope. The United Nations Charter is practically the Covenant over again with fi few frills on it.
– And a bit more expense involved.
– That is true. One of the things I should like to ii.’e cleared up is whether Australia ic -till contributing £65,000 a year towards the upkeep of the League of Nations -Secretariat.
– It is.
– Yes, I believe we are still paying that amount, i should be interested to know on. what grounds the Government can justify t.hi3 expenditure seeing that, for all practical purposes, the League of Nations has ceased to be an effective instrument. As f have said, there is very little different:*: between the League of Nations set-up and The world organization which was established at San Francisco. In place of the Council of the League of Nations there is to be a Security Council consisting of Allied and associated powers. The membership is to be different, also. In the old league Italy and Japan were both represented, while Russia and the United States of America were not. In the new council Russia and The United States of America are represented, but Italy and Japan are off the i ist. The General Assembly in both cases i? very much the same. Under both Charters, provision is made for the setting up of an International Court of Justice. Tn this connexion. Article 9 of the Statute «f the International Court of Justice is very interesting. It is as follows : -
At every election, the electors shall bear in mind not only that the persons to Ik? elected should individually possess the qualifications require, 1. hut also that in tho body s« n whole the representation of the main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world should be assured.
How in the name of common sense can any international court of justice function if it has to consider more than one legal system? In the event of a dispute between ourselves and, say, a South American, republic, is the cause to be tried according to the law of China or Persia, or is it to be tried by our law, or the law of the other fellow in the dispute? To be effective, tho court must operate under a system of law that is known in advance, not according to some system to. which it may take a fancy for the time being.
As for the trusteeships, there is nothing essentially different between the proposed system and the mandate system set up under the League of Nations. However, the Minister for External Affairs seemed to think that he had some special authority, derived from I know not what source, to care for backward peoples, and to do so without any regard to the military and economic needs of the countries on which those peoples are dependent.
The regional agreements may b»regarded as something new in form, although they are not new in principle. The most illuminating comment on thi? part of the Charter fell from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), who said that in any conflict Australia and NewZealand, under the Anzac Pact, would stand on their own regional feet. For all practical purposes, he might as well ha ve said that they would .stand on their own regional heads. One of the prime jokes in international circles must be the Anzac Pact. It was described by an honorable senator some time ago as a very amateurish effort, something that might be forgiven by those who have an interest in us, and forgotten by those who have not. That is (he kindest thing that could have been said about it.
If peace is to be preserved after thi? war certain essential conditions must be observed. At all times in the world’s? history peace has been desired by certain peoples, and war has baan desired by certain peoples. T use the word “ peoples “ in order to distinguish between the leader? and the people whom they lead. Then’ have been times when the will to war was found, not only in the leaders, but also and predominantly, in the people themselves. It often happens that the people are the masters of their own rulers. It is not true that, the members of the Upper Ten - the silver-tails or the tall poppies - ari- always the warmongers. Some of the worst acts of aggression have represented the. deliberate will of a whole people. Those who set. out to preserve the peace of the world must regard three things as necessary - two of thom military, one economic. In the first place, there must he an absolute prohibition on traffic in arms, and this means that there shall be an absolute prohibition on the construction of weapons of war, warships, aircraft, &c, by every signatory nation for supply to any other nation.’ even another signatory nation.
– There is nothing to that effect in the Charter.
– I know there is not. , In each of the two recent world wars it has been the fate of our soldiers to capture in the hands of our enemies weapons which have been manufactured in British arsenals, and sold overseas. From a short-sighted economic point of view that may be all right, but from the point of view of preserving the peace of the world it is entirely wrong. This war has shown that there are only two navies in the world that, count, those of the United States of America and Great Britain. I can see no justification whatever for the possession of a naval force by any other power than the United States of America and Great Britain. lt would be a good thing if one of the conditions of the adoption of the Uncio agreement were the complete disarmament, in the naval sense, of all the seagoing powers except the United States of America and Great Britain, which have shown, not only in this war, but alao in the first world war, that they hare no wish to control the territories of other nations. The American bases in the Pacific are designed merely for the protection of the sea-going trade of the world at large, and for the protection nf the biggest commercial interests in the Pacific, namely, those of the United States of America, with which I hope we -hall not find ourselves in conflict.
The third essential if we are to have international peace, is that envisaged in Article 8 of the Atlantic Charter, which deals with the loosening-up of the bar riers to international trade. A good deal has been written about full employment, practising tolerance and living together as good neighbours. It almost remind? one of the wedding ceremony. If these ideals are to be attained, there must, be a considerable alteration of the attitude of the Australian Labour party toward.international trade. What attitude, for instance, will r he Australian Government, and the Australian Labour party in particular, adopt towards the policy of immigration, which is necessary if we are te populate the empty parts of this country < These matter.-; will have to be pondered over by the Australian Labour party in the not far distant future, provided it sincerely desires the electors to renew itsterm of office.
– There will be no difficulty about that.
– We shall be better informed on that matter twelve months hence. 1 do not believe one word that is heard about full employment. I do not believe that the Australian La hour party would be a party to any instrument which would give an international authority the right to say what industrial conditions shall be imposed in this country in order to secure full employment. These matters will be entirely foi local consideration and decision.
So the Charter, when we get down t«> bedrock, is only a pious resolution Everything will depend upon the will of Australia to get down to work. In tinlast six years there has been an increasing tendency on the part of the people to believe that we shall be able to gel on very well with much less work and much more leisure, and a good old jubilee of strikes and stop-work meetings. Thi capacity of a country to ensure a rising standard of living depends entirely on the capacity and will of its people to work. We cannot pay high wages and have a good standard of living in am country, unless there be first a high standard of production. Tn the state of civilization in which we live, depending mainly on mechanical means of production, the power available to the community is one of the first considerations In a country where hydro-electric pOW,. has not been developed to a large extent the people must turn either to coal oi oil as a source of power. The history of coal-mining in this country throughout the war is one of the chapters of which the Australian public, and the coal-miners in particular, need not be very proud. There has been a deliberate policy, 1 believe, on the part of the coal-miners that there shall not be any reserves of coal for the Government or private industry or anybody else. Having exercised that privilege in time of war, it is only reasonable to expect that they will attempt to exercise it even more vigorously in time of peace. So there can be no guarantee that we shall be able to maintain the present standard of existence. The more we study the Charter the more necessary it becomes to realize that all the talk about reaffirming our faith in fundamental human rights depends, in the first analysis, on the willingness of the people who have chosen a particular occupation as their own to carry on with that occupation and produce the goods, or else make way for those who will.
In considering international relationships, and what we would do in the event of other international disputes occurring, we have to bear in mind the fact that circumstances change. I recall that in my boyhood Britain depended entirely on the two-power naval standard, under which it set out to maintain a naval force at least equal to that of the next two greatest naval powers. But that is now a thing of the past. Do what tho United Kingdom may, it cannot be any more than the second naval power in the world, because the industrial capacity and resources of the United States of America are so great that it has attained, and will maintain, naval superiority. The saving grace of the position is that we believe it to be unthinkable that there could be armed conflict between, the United States of America and Great Britain. But coupled with that we have to recognize that, for the last 30 years or so we have seen tremendous changes in the military set-up throughout the world. I can recall the time when Germany was regarded as unchallengeable, but two world wars have completely altered that.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire has gone. Italy has been defeated. From one kind of rule under the Czar, Russia has passed to another type of dictatorship, and with its huge population and almost unlimited resources it is the great question mark in international policy. When we consider the future chances of peace, we cannot be oblivious to the fate of certain countries which have come into conflict with Russia. 1 refer to Finland, Esthonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Roumania. So I have some misgivings as to the prospects of peace and harmony between nations in future. Things have been done in this war, the Atlantic Charter notwithstanding, under which whole peoples have been completely obliterated from the map of Europe, under which whole territories have reverted to Russian rule, under which other territories have found themselves under Russian rule for the first time in history.
– And others are threatened.
– Yes, and others are threatened. Threats have been delivered to Turkey and Persia. The fate of Sin-kiang is anybody’s guess. In Manchuria and Korea we see an extension of Russian sovereignty agreed to by the United Nations. Russia has occupied the Kuriles and the southern half of Saghalien, at one time Russian territory. How far it will go, no one can say; but no man can look into the arena of inter.national politics to-day without the gravest misgivings as to what is to he the future of certain countries if this insane desire for the extension of the boundaries of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is to continue unabated. So, with all our talk about the United Nations, let us face certain facts and let us recognize that certain things are being done, Charter of the United Nations or not, Atlantic Charter or not, that are utterly in conflict with the letter and spirit of the two documents. Those facts have to be faced, and no amount of persiflage, no amount of putting political heads into the sands of ignorance, will get us away from that unavoidable fact. We, perhaps fortunately, by great stretches of sea, are separated from the areas threatened, but how far that threat may go no one can tell. The only thing that stands out clearly in my mind in the present-day situation is the one that the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) referred to, that is. that there must be, if Australia, New Zealand, and certain other British countries are to survive in any future conflict, the very greatest possible degree of cohesion, understanding, and co-operation, political, economic, and military, between ourselves and every other English-speaking unit of the British Empire. Unless we are prepared to come to those conclusions, Anzac pacts, regional pacts, Uncio or “ nuncio “ or anything else you like, will not make very much difference to the results. No ma’ter whether the Minister for Externa! Affairs or any other person or authority in this country is responsible, anything said or done that is likely to make itappear that we and the other Englishspeaking countries of the British Empire arc drifting apart is a great disservice to the true interests and, I think, the true future of the people of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– I did not intend to take part in this debate, but, in view of the statement? and insinuations of various Opposition members against certain members of the Australian delegation, notably the Minister for- External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), I consider that, in common with a number of other honorable members on this side, I should place before this Parliament what I think of the deliberations and the attitude adopted by the. right honorable gentleman.
J believe, that this Charter, which was drawn up by the representatives of about 50 nations, is one that, though we may all doubt to some degree whether it can be carried into effect, sets out the objective of ensuring a better world in which friendly relations between nations would be encouraged, developed, and cemented, and peace would reign. Tt is at least a noble ideal, and whether we disagree or not that it will have practical results, it is possibly the best approach that we can make to ensuring world peace. The Charter possesses “many notable features, particularly that referred to by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr.
Chambers) pledging the United Nations to a policy of lull employment for the peoples of the world. Undeniably, if we are to have contented nations with wars a thing of the past, it is essential to ensure, in the first place, that the peoples of the nations shall have full employment and the necessaries of life so that they shall be content with the state of affairs within their own boundaries. The Australian delegation did a fine job in ensuring the inclusion in the Charter of the provision relating to full employment. 1 say, honestly, that the delegation was a fairly “ mixed grill “. Had I had the choosing of it a number of members would not have been included, notably the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). Several other members of the delegation, not representative of this party, it was not much use sending, but, as they were sent to take a part in the deliberations, they were at. least under the obligation to present on their return, impartially and nationally, their views of the issues raised at the conference. 1 believe that we should have been letter represented at the conference had we sent a delegation representing the Government, because, if any body of men represents the great mass of the Australian people, it is the 4P members on our side of the House. What is more, as the principal members of the delegation showed at San Francisco, we have an Australian outlook and are not prepared to sit in the background and let other nations trample our point of view and efforts underfoot. We are prepared to stand up for the things we think Australia is entitled to.
T pay tribute to the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), who led the Australian delegation, and to the members of the delegation that added to its deliberations in no small measure, notably the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), who, gave us the benefit of his views yesterday, and Senator Nash. It has always been my view that Opposition members, when they go to international conferences, do not take a national stand. Confirmation of that is provided by the vicious attempts by the honorable member for Indi to undermine the delegation and the results it achieved. lt is more than a coincidence that one of the members of the Australian delegation, the Minister for External Affairs, should have been viciously attacked yesterday in this chamber. It is significant that just as he was arriving in London on one of the most important missions that this Government could send him on, press cables were sent from this country reporting the statements of the honorable member for Indi, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) and other honorable members that the Minister for External Affairs is anti-British. That was a deliberate attempt to undermine his mission. The attack was made for political purposes. I strongly disagree with their point of view. Indeed, I think they did a disservice to the nation in making their statements at a time like this, particularly when they are untrue. Honorable members opposite suein to think that to be an Australian and to put this nation’s point of view before the peoples of other countries is to be anti-British. [ thank heaven that this Government has produced men who are capable of putting Australia’s viewpoint effectively in any company. “We are fortunate that the Minister for the Army and the Minister for External Affairs placed very frankly before the San Francisco conference what we as a nation think. Surely, as a nation which has suffered 90,000 casualties, including 22.000 fatal casualties, in this war, which has over 900,000 of its people in the fighting services, including many women, and which has played its part during the war in a manner second to none of the United Nations - surely, with our records of achievements in this war and the war of 1014-1S, revealing our national growth and advancement, we are entitled to an Australian point of view, and our representatives abroad should be allowed to press that point of view when they consider that it is not receiving proper attention. Just because our viewpoint in respect of a few fundamentals may differ from that, of the British delegation it does not mean that we are anti-British. We can be certain that the British delegation put Great Britain’s views frankly and forcibly before the conference. In doing so. they teach us to do likewise. The British delegates believe that they should protect Great Britain at home and abroad. They put the British viewpoint at San Francisco, and they are to be admired for doing so. Similarly, our delegation abroad should put our case: and we are not to blame should it happen to offend some nations. AH the talk by honorable members opposite about the Labour party being anti-British is designed to pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian people. If any political party in this country is anti-British it is lbc .Opposition party.
The whole policy of the Labour party has been designed to enable Australia to play an important part in. the advancement and preservation of the Empire. If any government failed in its duty to the people of this country, and the people of the Empire, by neglect to defend Australia ‘ against aggression it was the government formed by the Opposition parties. To that degree they can be said to be anti-British. 1 support other honorable members who have defended the work of our delegation at San Francisco. It is significant that until the Curtin Government assumed office we heard very little about our foreign policy. Governments up to that time generally followed the lea( given by other countries which coincided with their party politics. The Minister for External Affairs, with the cooperation of his colleagues in this Government, has developed an Australian foreign policy, and has achieved for us a high standing in the international sphere. He has won an outstanding reputation in foreign affairs to-day. Dr. Evatt has won the admiration of the leaders of other nations for his perseverance, and the manner in which he has put Australia’s case, as well as for his sound knowledge of international affairs generally.
The honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) quoted from an article published in the magazine Life dealing with the efforts of the Minister for External Affairs at the San Francisco conference. It ill becomes honorable members of the Opposition to introduce party politics into a debate of this kind, with the result, that the Minister for External Affairs, after winning the fame, admiration and acclaim of the peoples and leaders of other countries, returns to his homeland to find that he is attacked in this Parliament and alleged to be anti-British just because he advocated a point of view which does not coincide with the party politics of honorable members opposite. I commend to honorable members opposite the special editions of the New York Times dealing with the San Francisco conference. These editions are available in the library and honorable members generally would find it instructive to read them. For instance, the second last edition reports that the final meeting of the Steering Committee stood for the honour of the medium-sized and smaller countries, and showed special appreciation of the work of “the great champion of the smaller nations, the Australian Foreign Minister, Dr. Herbert Vere Evatt”. That journal gives credit to the Minister for many improvements in the Dumbarton Oaks proposals.
In reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) who said that the spirit and not the words of the Charter was the important thing, and criticized the Minister for paying too much attention to drafting, I quote from the New York Timesa report of what the Minister said atan open session -
Every one must thrill at the thought of the opportunity that this Charter will provide for men of good will if they are sufficiently daring and courageous. If we really mean tocarry into effect the great objectives of the Atlantic Charter, ifwe really mean to do that we shall succeed. These words will not matter: the spirit will give life.
They are very commendable words from the Minister for External Affairs. It is also interesting to note the acclaim that he has won in various countries by his efforts on behalf of this nation and the smaller nations, and because of his stand generally on foreign affairs. This Parliament is indebted to all members of the Australian delegation for the manner in which they put forward Australia’s views at San Francisco.Whilst I disagree with some of the provisions of the Charter and doubt whether some of them will actually be carried into effect, the Charter represents a very practical attempt to establish lasting peace. Our delegates and their advisers did a notable job for this country in placing our views so forcibly and fearlessly before the nations represented at the conference, as well as points of view which they sincerely believed would benefit the peoples of the world in the years to come. Provided the Minister for the Army and the Minister forExternal Affairs adhere strongly to the points of view they expressed at San Francisco they will retain the admiration of the people of this country.
It is unfortunate that honorable members of the Opposition have introduced party political issues into this debate. This is purely an international matter, and should be considered strictly as such. We in this Parliament must show a greater appreciation of that fact, and forget petty party isms, if we are to have effective discussion on these important issues.I support the ratification of the Charter, and hope that all of us will live to see it fulfilled - the achievement of lasting peace and security throughout the world.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Makin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I anticipated during the week that honorable members would desire some information regarding the developments that have occurred in the South-West Pacific Area since the conclusion of the war, so I have prepareda statement on the subject. As honorable members are aware, when the South- West Pacific Area was createdin April,1942, and General MacArthur was appointed Commander-in-Chief, he received a directive, not from his own government alone, but also from the Governments of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. The Commonwealth Government assigned to him the operational control of the combat sections of Australian defence forces and, . in inform ing him of this assignment, the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, said -
Von have come to Australia to lead a crusade, the result of which means everything tu the future of the world and mankind. At the ret] nest of a sovereign State, you are being placed in supreme command of its navy, army and air force, so that, with those of your r own great nation, they may be welded into a homogeneous force and given that unified direction which is so vital for the achievement of victory.
That was over three years ago. How well General Mac Arthur discharged the duties and responsibility entrusted to him is now history, and the House has already expressed to him its congratulations and deep gratitude for his outstanding contribution to the victory in the Pacific.
The South- West Pacific Command has now come to an end. As from the 2nd -September, 1945, the portion of the area, roughly south of the Philippines, has been assigned to British Commonwealth control. The South- West Pacific commands of Allied land forces. Allied naval forces and Allied air forces have been ; abolished and operational control of the ustralian forces has now passed back to the Australian Government. The Govern ment has approved that it should revert to the service authorities, in whom it was vested prior to the assignment of the forces to General MacArthur in pril. 1942. Those ‘authorities are - 1(val Australian Navy - Naval Board.
Australian Military Forces - CommanderinChief, Australian Military Forces.
Joint service matters will be dealt with through the .joint service machinery of i he Defence Department. With the demobilization of the services and the ultimate reversion to a peace-time basis, the arrangements for the higher direction >f the services will be subject to review bv The Government in the light of future developments.
The division of the South- West Pacific Area between the Australian command i nd the South-East Asia Command has been the subject of discussions on a ser.vice level between representatives of the Australian services and the mission from South-East Asia Command under Major-
General Harrison. The results of those discussions have been reported to the Commonwealth and British Governments, and, as has already been announced, the Commonwealth Government has agreed to an arrangement for the acceptance by Australia of initial responsibility for Borneo and the islands to the east thereof. The details are still the subject of negotiation on a governmental level, and, as yet, I am not in a position to make a final statement on this matter.
However, I am able to state that the assumption by Australia of this initial responsibility does not connote action by the Australian command to occupy all the enemy-occupied islands east: of Borneo. We have not the resources to do this. It is the intention that these areas shall be covered, in the first instance, by the general surrender at Singapore of Field-Marshal Terauchi or by the local surrender of subordinate controlling headquarters in enemy-occupied territories. The present arrangements provide for South-East Asia Command to take over from Australia in progressive stages. The target date for the assumption, by SouthEast Asia Command, of responsibility for the greater part of the area is the end of October, 1945. In the final phase, the date of which is indefinite, Australia’s responsibility will, in general, be limited to Papua and the Australian Mandated Territories. The progressive assumption of responsibility by South-East Asia Command will be determined by the resources available. The detailed phasing is a matter of planning between the staffs of the Australian and South-East Asia Commands. In principle, SouthEast Asia Command will make every endeavour to take over the areas as rapidly as possible.
I indicate briefly the main areas in which the Australian command will accept the surrender of the Japanese forces. In doing so, the Australian command will act on behalf of South-East Asia Command. As Australian troops are already located in Borneo, they will accept the surrender of the Japanese forces in that. area. The general intention is not to extend the present area of responsibility in Borneo, except for special reasons, such as the relief of prisoners of war. The Government desires that the relief of Australian troops in that area shall be completed by the end of October, 1945, in view of the programme it has laid down for the demobilization of the services. It also desires that responsibility for civil affairs shall be taken over by British and Dutch authorities with the least avoidable delay, ii nd not later than the end of October, 1945.
Tn Dutch New Guinea, Australia has a. special interest in Hollandia and Biak us air force staging areas, and we are prepared to maintain initial control in Dutch New Guinea although it will, for all practical purposes, be confined to these staging areas. This is on the understanding that the Dutch shall remain responsible for civil affairs administration; that the acceptance of the surrender of Japanese troops in Dutch New Guinea shall have a low priority; and that the general occupation of the territory shall be left until British or Dutch troops are available.
As the head-quarters of the Second Japanese Army are at Pinrang, in the Celebes, the Government has agreed that Australian troops shall accept the surrender of the head-quarters and that, for this purpose, a limited force shall
I)-? placed m Pinrang. Some Allied prisoners of war are believed to be in the “Macassar area, and only a minor operation will be necessary for their recovery. If practicable, Australian forces will assist in this operation. Australia has accepted initial responsibility for Morotai, in the Halmaheras group, as a large Australian staging base is located on this island, and the surrender of the Japanese forces there will be taken by Australian troops. Arrangements have been made for the acceptance by Australian forces of the surrender in Dutch Timor. Arrangements for the acceptance, by Australian forces, of the surrender in Portuguese Timor will be undertaken in concert with the Portuguese Government. The surrender in Ambon and adjacent Islands will be taken by Australian forces.
As announced by the Prime Minister on the 29th August, the Government offered to provide an Australian force to accept the surrender of the Japanese in Nauru and Ocean Island. Negotiations with the British and United States governments have been completed, and an Australian force has been despatched to those islands to take the surrender. Nauru and Ocean Islands are within the United States sphere of responsibility, and the Australian commander will accept the surrender as the representative of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, Admiral Nimitz, and as the representative of Australia, for Nauru, and as the representative of Britain, for Ocean Island.
Australia will continue to retain full responsibility for Papua and the Australian Mandated Territories and, as honorable members are doubtless aware, the surrender of the Japanese forces in the Australian Mandated Territories has been accepted by the general officer commanding the First Army, LieutenantGeneral Sturdee. Local surrenders in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands will be taken by Australian forces located in those areas.
As the Prime Minister stated on the 29th August, the general principle adopted by the Government in regard to civil affairs is that, except in Papua and Australian Mandated Territories, Australia shall refrain from any extension of its present responsibilities for civil affairs in re-occupied territories. Such responsibility as is accepted initially during the military phase will pass to the SouthEast Asia Command simultaneously with the relief of the Australian command in the respective areas. “We look to governments having sovereign rights in those areas to assume full responsibility for them after the initial period.
On the basis that, during the initial period of military administration, military responsibility for the restoration of the economic life in the re-occupied territories is broadly restricted to action necessary to prevent disease and unrest; the Government will accept responsibility for civil affairs administration to this limited extent. The Government understands that, it is the intention that civil governments shall assume responsibility for economic restoration as soon as it is possible, and with that end in view, close co-operation is being maintained between military and civil authorities. A further statement will he made to the House when finality has been reached on the matters which are at present under discussion.
– Java is included in the South Eastern Asia Command under Admiral Mountbatten. “We are accepting responsibility only for the territories which I have mentioned.
– When are Australian prisoners of war in Java likely to bp released i
– In the discussions with Major-General Harrison, representing Admiral Mountbatten, the question of the release of prisoners has been given the highest priority.
– Why should the withdrawal of Australian forces take until the end of October?
– If the withdrawal can he accomplished by the end of October, we shall be doing very well indeed. Before the Australian forces can leave they must hand over lo the British and the Dutch. According to my advice, the Dutch forces are not yet well enough organized in these places to undertake this responsibility, and. it seems that the British forces will have to carry the major burden for a little while longer.
I have been asked by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) to reply to allegations made by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Eadden) on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night, regarding the activities of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. As there is no foundation for the charges which were given, wide publicity in the metropolitan press this morning, in fairness to the commission Ihe facts should be stated, In his opening remarks, the Leader of the Australian Country party confused the Commonwealth Disposals Commission with tho Salvage Commission, which are separate bodies, under the control of separate Ministers. I shall confine my reply to the charges against the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. first, the right honorable gentleman dealt with the disposal of electric household refrigerators . in Queensland. The only refrigerator sold, to date, by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission in Queensland, was one- contained in a building at the Stuartholme Convent. The Convent was taken over by the United States forces in the early days of the war, for use as a hospital, and was later returned to the Conventauthorities. The refrigerator was sold as part of the general adjustment with the Convent authorities for £78, which is the maximum price allowed by the Prices Commissioner for a second-hand refrigerator of the particular model and size concerned. The only other surplus government-owned refrigerators that have been sold of late in Queensland were some out of repair machines which were sold by public auction by the Allied Works Council to the highest bidder. The details are as follows: - The auction was held at Enoggera and five refrigerators were sold at £52 10s. each’, which is the ceiling price. ‘ Two machines were sold at £47 10s. and £32 10s. respectively, but both were in need of repairs. At an auction at Virginia, Queensland, five refrigerators were sold at £52 10s. each, which again is the ceiling price, and two in need of repair were sold at £47 10s. and £32 10s. respectively. Two were sold in North Queensland at £67 to the agents for the refrigerators. There have been no sales of refrigerators, as alleged by the Leader of the Australian Country party, to friends or officers of the Common wealth Disposals Commission. All transactions conducted by the commission are open to public inquiry, and I challenge the right honorable gentleman to furnish any definite information in substantiation of his charge. I agree with him. that the allegations are most serious, and, in fairness to the officials of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, I agree also that they should be thoroughly proven or disproven. I now call upon the right honorable gentleman to furnish’ to me, or to this House, the information on which he based his allegations.
The second ‘.allegation refers to the disposal of motor cycles in the Cairns area. AH motor cycles sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to the trade are examined by the commission’s technical officers, and the prices at which they are sold to the trade are determined, first, on the maximum ceiling price approved by the Prices Commissioner and, secondly, on the basis of the repairs necessary to put the machines in good condition. Up to date, the vast, majority of motor cycles released by. the Army to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission have either been wrecked machines or cycles in need of major repairs. Hundreds of motor cycles have been without wheels and. tyres, which were removed during the difficult days of the New Guinea campaign for use on jungle carts to transport wounded from forward areas. Many of the machines have had no engines in them, and the prices at which they have been sold, on many occasions, have had direct relationship to their condition. In the resale of motor cycles, the agents and distributors arc restricted to the margins of profits and the ceiling prices determined by the Prices Commissioner. Up to date, 7,779 motor cycles have been released to the commission for sale throughout the Commonwealth. Of these, 5,478 have been sold. Of the remaining 2,301 cycles, no fewer than 438 are beyond repair. It is interesting to note that the commission in the fortnight ended the 4th September sold no fewer than 866 motor cycles, which would disprove any charge that the commission is not repeatedly liquidating its surplus stock. I should like to make it perfectly clear that under the conditions laid down by the commission for the liquidation of stocks of motor cycles, it is impossible for a sale to take place in the manner indicated by the Leader of the Australian Country party.
The right honorable member’s next charge, in regard to the disposal of motor vehicles, is equally unfounded. Let me make it quite clear that, whilst it is the policy of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to market motor vehicles through the original vendor company, the commission’s plan covers the utilization -of every representative of every- make of vehicle marketed in Australia. This includes not only the major motor companies, but also all metropolitan and country dealers, and agents for every make of motor vehicle. In this way, the commission links up with its distribution every garage in every town which has held any agency for any make of vehicle. As at the 18th August, 11,047 motor vehicles, not including motor cycles, had been declared to the Commonwealth Disposal? Commission. Of these, 7,117 had been sold. Of the remaining 3,930, no fewer than 1,130 were wrecked vehicles, or portions of vehicles, lying in isolated area? throughout Australia, including the Northern Territory and other almost inaccessible spots. The commission is endeavouring to salvage any parts of value from these wrecked vehicles, and the balance will be written off as being of no commercial value. As at the 18tb August, therefore, the commission had only 2,S00 vehicles to sell in the whole of the Commonwealth, and during the month of August it sold no fewer than 1,798. This entirely disproves the right honorable member’s statement that the commission is not handling the vehicles as quickly as they become available. The commission plans during September to market no fewer than 3,000 vehicles, provided that these are made available, and there is every indication that they will he made available, and it plans to increase this total, if possible, to 4,000 vehicles to be marketed during the month of October. The commission will continue to liquidate surplus vehicles at the maximum rate until the absorptive capacity of the Australian market has been reached. Whilst the commission’s plan provides for the reconditioning of vehicles before they are sold to the public, the private buyers, if they so desire, purchase the vehicles in an unrepaired condition from the trade at a corresponding reduction of the purchase price. The prices at which motor vehicles are sold and the margins allowed to the trade have been determined by the Prices Commissioner, and, where repairs are effected, the Commonwealth Disposals Commission ensures that they are faithfully carried out.
The right honorable member’s next. charge relates to the disposal of 13,600 motor tyres. Every tyre made available to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission is marketed as quickly as it is received, but, unfortunately, the vast majority of releases at the moment, including the 13,600 referred to by the right honorable gentleman, consist of non-commercial types of tyres, suitable only for use on service vehicles. The only avenues for the use of these tyres are on such vehicles which are now being sold by the commission, and every opportunity is being given to purchasers of these vehicles to buy additional tyres. In view of the right honorable member’s concern in regard to country distribution, I wish to announce that, up to date, no less than TO per cent, of the motor vehicles sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission have gone to country areas. This is a result of special instructions issued by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to the trade, and by arrangement with the Department of Land Transport.
The right honorable member was equally incorrect in the charges which he made against the Commonwealth Disposals Commission with regard to food, and T should like him to bring forward any concrete evidence in substantiation of his charges. lt is entirely incorrect to say that any private individual in Queensland has bought stocks of Army surplus food from the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. The only service foodstuffs which have been marketed in Queensland have been cereals returned to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission from the United States Army. Such stocks of these cereals as were fit for human consumption were sold back to the original vendors of the food, i.e., Kellogg (Australia) Proprietary Limited and the Sanitarium Health Food Company, and these two companies have re-marketed the cereals through normal trade distribution channels. The prices at which the food was sold back to these two manufacturing companies was based upon actual original purchase cost. En addition, the United States Army handed back certain quantities of food unfit for human consumption. This food has been sold to the Poultry Farmers Cooperative Society in Queensland for poultry users, under conditions which would not permit of it being marketed for human consumption. I ask the right honorable member to substantiate his statement that any person in Queensland has purchased foodstuffs from the commission in the circumstances indicated by him. He referred to foodstuffs in other States. Apart from certain cereals in New South Wales and Victoria, which were sold in the same manner as those in Queensland, the only other stocks sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission were in Western Australia, where they were, in the main, sold in hulk to Unrra for immediate shipment overseas for relief purposes. The small quantity marketed in Perth for local consumption has been sold through the ordinary trade channels at standard trade prices. The commission is at the moment dealing with certain goods returned by the ‘ United States base exchanges, and it might be of interest to honorable members to know that 1,000,000 lb. of sweets returned by the United States authorities are being released to Unrra. Additional items from these American stocks are being handled by Food Control, as agent for the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, hut they will be sold only through trade channels in consultation with industry, or, if of a non-commercial type, by public auction.
From the outset, the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) and ‘the Commonwealth Disposals Commission have determined that The liquidation of surplus war stocks in Australia shall follow what the Americans describe as the “ Goldfish Bowl policy “, i.e., that every sale and every method of sale will always be open to the fullest public scrutiny. The commission has gathered behind it, in its liquidation problem, the full forces of the Australian trading community. In addition, it is utilizing to the maximum the assistance of Commonwealth agencies which originally devoted their time to the procurement of the goods which they are now assisting the commission to sell. At the moment, thecommission has in course of publication a booklet covering every aspect of the liquidation of certain surplus stocks, which lays down in black and white for the information of all the procedure adopted in the sale of surplus goods.
I shall be happy to arrange for the commission to furnish honorable members at the earliest moment with copies of this publication, and I am sure that they will then be better informed regarding the policy and practice of the commission than some appear to be at present. The business community ‘ of Australia, through the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Manufactures has, on many occasions, expressed the utmost admiration for the way in which the Commonwealth Disposals Commission is handling this most difficult task of liquidation of surplus war stocks, and the Government also has complete confidence in the integrity of its officers and in the commission’s activities up to date. If the right honorable member will, in the light of my reply, furnish any concrete evidence of any misdemeanour on the part of any officer of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, investigations will be immediately made, but I believe that my reply will clearly indicate that he has apparently been listening to whispers illich have no basis.
I hope that the right honorable member will have an opportunity to read over the statement prepared by the commission which I have just read to the House, and a copy of which I shall give to him. If he can help mc in any way by showing that there has been any departure from the practices which I have outlined or that any persons have been involved in questionable practices, I shall be grateful. He may rest assured that such action as may be necessary will be taken.
– I thank the Minister for his expeditious investigation of the matter which I raised in this House last night, and his prompt reply. I am sure that he arid other honorable members will appreciate that, in raising this matter, I did not make any allegations but merely referred to representations which had been made to me. I said that the allegations which had been made to mp warranted an investigation. As the Minister has said, people sometimes make charges which they are not able to substantiate, but, when, such charges ar° brought to the notice of any honorable member of this House, it is his duty, as a responsible representative of the people, to ventilate them. I have not been able to substantiate the charges that have been made in correspondence to me and I have not. suggested, by inference or otherwise, that they are correct. I have asked those persons who have made personal representations to mc on the subject to be prepared to substantiate charges that they have made, and with regard to such correspondence as I have received, I can only communicate with the writers and ask them to provide me with corroborative evidence. I consider that my duty begins and ends with the ventilation of the matter in this House and with conveying to my correspondents the reply which has been supplied so expeditiously by the Minister. In connexion with the. disposal of motor vehicles and tyres, honorable members will recollect that I made no allegations that misdemeanours- had been committed. I merely referred- to the widespread discontent amongst country residents regarding the method of disposing of tyres and second-hand motor vehicles. I was informed that country garage proprietors were not being given an opportunity to recondition secondhand vehicles, which were being made available to city interests. I should like to have a conference with the Minister in that regard, because I am sure that he will recognize that it is a very bad thing to centralize even the repair of motor vehicles when that service can be performed in country garages.
Mi-. ANTHONY (Richmond) [3.46]- - Last Friday, I asked the Minister for Defence (Mr. Beasley) when it was proposed to (finalize the inquiry into the eviction proceedings launched against Mrs. Bed vin, the wife of a. prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese. In the course of his reply, the Minister made what was considered by all who heard him, and particularly by Mrs. Ped vin, a very grave reflection upon the character of this woman.
– What right has the honorable member to say that all who heard the Minister considered that he had cast a reflection upon the character of Mrs. Pedvin? I did not think anything of the sort.
– Statements were made which were published in the press of Australia, and conveyed the impression to those who read them, particularly to Mrs. Pedvin, that grave reflections had been cast upon the character of this woman. So moved was she by what she had read in the newspapers of the statements that had been made by the Minister under the cover of the privilege of this House, that she wrote to him a letter, a copy of which she has forwarded to every member of this House. This morning, I asked the Minister whether he had received that letter, and to substantiate his statements in order that Mrs. Pedvin might have an opportunity to clear any reflection that might have been made upon her. The Minister not only treated my question with contempt, but also, and again by the inference and innuendo which have characterized his handling of the case, implied that I was the author of the letter, and pretended to be confused as to whether it had come from me or from Mrs. Pedvin. Eventually, he took refuge in the statement that he would pass the letter on to the Committee of Inquiry that was appointed by the late Mr. Curtin as Prime Minister. The question that I asked this morning dealt with a matter with which that committee is not in the slightest degree concerned. It was directed to a statement, made in this House only a few days ago, for which the Minister was personally responsible. I had nothing whatever to do with the letter sent to the Minister by Mrs. Pedvin. I have not been in correspondence with her, nor have I had any meeting with her since I questioned the Minister last Friday, and had no knowledge of what action she proposed to take. Although I have been vilified whenever I have raised the matter, I have met the woman only once, and throughout have acted entirely at the request of exservicemen in Canberra, who consider that the woman has been treated very harshly, particularly in view of the fact that her husband is a prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese. It is not yet known whether Pedvin is still alive, or will return. In view of all the circumstances, the handling of the matter by the Government constitutes nothing but a disgrace to the Parliament. This is the letter which Mrs. Pedvin sent to the Minister -
You are reported by various newspapers as having made the following statement on the 31st August in the House of Representatives : -
It might be a good thing if Corporal Pedvin were back in Australia. I am particularly anxious that he should return at an early date. Another prisoner of war involved in similar circumstances has already returned, and his comments when invited to discuss domestic matters which had arisen during his absence were very interesting to the department, which gladly dealt with his case . . . The interests of some persons might not be well served if certain matters of a strictly domestic character were ventilated.
– I ask the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) who interjected earlier, whether he would not regard that as a reflection if it were said in relation to anybody who was near and dear to him?
– There was no reflection upon anybody.
– The letter continued -
This statement appears to have been made in reply to a question as to when the report by a committee appointed by the late Prime Minister on the 6th March last would be made.
You have gone out of your way to reflect by insinuation upon my conduct and character the inference from your statement being that if and when my husband returns I will have so much trouble on my hands from certain matters of a strictly domestic character that an issue such as eviction will be of minor importance. Coming from a senior Minister of State, who is also the Chairman of the Committee appointed to investigate and report on my case, the members of the House and the people who read the press reports must believe that you are in possession of information of some disgraceful conduct on my part, for only such information could be claimed to justify an attack, under cover of parliamentary privileges, on the character of a woman whose husband, because of his absence in the defence of his country, is unable to defend his wife from calumny.
I notice from your statement that you desire the early return of my husband in order that you can invite him to “discuss these domestic matters”. I too am anxious for his early return from over three years of mental and physical torture and from slow starvation. While I am anxious to nurse his mind and body back to health you apparently are anxious to try to show him that his wife has “ let him down “. It would not be the first time that the crucified has been offered a crown of thorns.
My first reaction, apart from indignation, to your unwarranted insinuations against me was that even if there existed the slightest evidence of domestic troubles due to any mis- conduct of mine, such matters would be the concern neither of your committee nor of the Department of the Interior. There is only one issue, and I quote it from the announcement of the late Prime Minister: - The circumstances surrounding the issue of a notice to Mrs. M. E. Pedvin to quit premises.
I have assumed that the committee appointed by the late Mr. Curtin was judicial in its character, and I will, therefore, while the matter remains sub judice, refrain from comment on the issue beyond drawing attention to it. I would point out, however, that from your remarks it would appear that it is your intention to avoid that issue by placing me on trial, and if this your intention succeeds you have already constituted yourself as the judge and also the prosecutor.
The terms of your insinuation are capable of any interpretation that anybody cares to place upon them, and you therefore cannot leave the matter as it stands. I invite you, under cover of privilege, to give definite details and to make perfectly clear .what your insinuations amount to. Then,1 and not till then, can I take steps to clear my character.
It is my intention to post a copy of this letter to-morrow to each member of the House of Representatives.
Yours very truly,
MARY E. Pedvin.
This morning I asked the Minister whether he had received the letter, whether he would substantiate the charges made by him, and, if he was unable to do so, whether he would clear the character of this woman ; but he airily waved my questions aside. Certain honorable members on the back benches endeavoured to laugh the matter off, and that is where it stands. A cloud is left over the name of Mrs. Pedvin and her fifteen-year-old son. I have derived no pleasure from having brought the matter to the notice of the House from time to time. Indeed, this duty has been extremely distasteful to me; but, despite the personal attacks which may be levelled at me, and which have been made against me since I have taken up the case, I intend to pursue it until I have the report of the committee and until the name of Mrs. Pedvin is cleared, or until the Government substantiates the charges which it has made. It i* a poor reflection on this Parliament that as soon as a citizen seeks to assert her rights, and in doing so embarrasses .» Minister because of administrative acts by a government, they should be subject te calumny under parliamentary privilege, supported frequently by some member* of the back benches. I have only met Mrs. Pedvin on one occasion, but I have been informed of her by Canberra returned soldiers of high standing. I am told that she is a woman of high character, has outstanding qualities, and has conducted her home in a way that sets an example to every wife whose husband is absent on service. She has clothed, cared for, and educated her son on the small pittance which she has received from the Army, and has endeavoured to maintain a home for her husband just as it was when he left Australia three or four years ago. This is the woman who, because she has stood up for what she regards as her rights, has been subjected to reflections of the vilest character.
I mentioned this case as far back as March last. I believe that the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, was deeply touched by it, and immediately I raised it in the House he undertook to appoint a committee to investigate it. He said that, if he could, he would serve on the committee as chairman, or he would appoint a senior Minister to do so. I believe that he was sympathetic and sincere in the matter, and desired to see justice done. He left nothing undone to ensure that the matter would he properly investigated. The committee was appointed on the 6th March and it met two or three times. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) wm a member of the committee. , Six month, have elapsed since the committee wai appointed, but it has not yet presented a report. When I raised the matter in this House on the 8th January, the excuse offered for the delay in presenting the report was that the honorable member for Ballarat was in San Francisco and the committee did not wish to decide the matter until he had returned to
Australia. The honorable member has now been back for some time, and my courteous question last Friday, asking when the committee would meet and complete its report, was answered by the most scathing insinuations against the character of the woman concerned. It is now high time that this case was settled. Irrespective of any abuse which may be levelled at me from the opposite side of the House, I shall not be silenced on the matter until the report is presented.
, - This morning the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked me certain questions with regard to the reason why the names of prisoners of war who returned to Australia yesterday were not made available to the next of kin, and also whether the Director-General of Public Relations was still exercising censorship over press releases. I now inform the honorable member that next of kin of prisoners of war in process of repatriation were advised that the men were returning shortly after the ship on which they were travelling left the port of embarkation. Next of kin were also “notified that they would receive advice a short time before the ship was due to arrive, and that advice would include the time and place at which they could meet the repatriated men. In accordance with that undertaking, next of kin were notified approximately 48 hours before the arrival of the ship of the time and place where they could meet the soldiers concerned. This procedure was adopted for security reasons, including preservation of the safety of the ship in which the soldiers were travelling. Advice has been received from the Navy that a number of Japanese submarines have not yet surrendered.
With regard to the censorship of press correspondents’ messages, it is advised that if articles written by any correspondents in areas occupied by Allied forces are being held up, the responsibility does not rest with any Australian military authority, but with the head-quarters commanding the area concerned. There has been a regular flow of correspondents’ stories from the area which is an exclusive Australian responsibility, and to facilitate the receipt of these stories Army signals channels are made available for their transmission. No rigid censorship has been exercised by the Director-General of Public Relations over news emanating from any areas of Allied occupation. Insofar as stories concerning prisoners of war are concerned, the following are the censorship directions issued with the approval of the Commander-in-Chief, Australian Military Forces, already announced in general terms by myself in the House on the 30th August last: -
It will he noted that the first of these instructions is made subject to the observance of whatever procedure may be prescribed by the commander of the theatre concerned. In the United States theatre, for instance, a procedure has been prescribed that names of recovered prisoners shall be withheld from publication for 24 hours subsequent to the despatch of the official communication of the essential casualty data to the adjutant-general. It would appear probable, therefore, that in the areas under the United States command this procedure has been made uniform in its application to all national forces in these areas. On the other hand, the South-East Asia Command, apparently, is following the Australian procedure set out above, because lists of names of Australian prisoners have already been telegraphed from Singapore, and published in Australian newspapers. In the area of the Australian command the only correspondents, with the exception of a few Dutch representatives, are Australians, and their despatches are transmitted direct from the point of origin to the employing newspapers, Ajc., subject to no greater delay than that caused by atmospheric interference with radio transmission. Similarly, there does not appear to have been any delay in the transmission of the stories of Australian correspondents at Singapore, and other areas of the South-East Asia Command.
Transmission from Japan is entirely beyond the control of any Australian authority, but it is believed that general head-quarters does not differentiate, in the provision of transmission facilities, as between Australian and other correspondents.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Grants Commission Act - Commonwealth Grants Commission - Twelfth Report, 1945.
National Security Act -
National Security (Land Transport) Regulations - Order - Control of transport of racehorses by rail (No. 2) - Revocation.
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Rules - Camp (6).
House adjourned at 4.7 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Food for Britain : Press Statement.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
August, 1945, and what was the total sum of the advancesso applied for?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Coal-mining Industry: Supplies; Dismissal of Glass Workers.
n asked the Treasurer, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Acting Attorney-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e. - Recently the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked whether the correspondence of soldiers was still subject to censorship in areas outside Australia.
I now advise the honorable member that such censorship was abolished as from the 7th September, 1945. The censorship of soldiers’ mail has been abolished. The censorship of letters written by soldiers on the mainland was discontinued some time ago, following the conclusion of hostilities. Censorship of letters written by soldiers in operational areas was continued until recently, because, in the opinion of the Commander in Chief, it was necessary to exercise supervision of mail while Australian prisoners of war were in the hands of the Japanese, but this week censorship of mail in operational areas was discontinued. However, until such time as other arrangements can be made, the Army censorship stamp appearing on letters from soldiers overseas is not an indication that the mail has been censored but is merely put on the letters to indicate that they have been approved by the unit for the Army concessional rate of postage. Censorship of parcels from forward areas will be continued in those areas to prevent despatch of arms, explosives and other dangerous equipment, the entry of which contravenes State laws.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 September 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450907_reps_17_184/>.