17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills re ported. : -
States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Bill 1 040.
Income Tax (War-time Arrangements) Bill
Entertainments TaxAssessment Bill 1946.
Entertainments Tax Bill 1946.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1040.
War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Bill 1946.
War Service Homes Bill 1946.
Nationality Bill 1946.
Judiciary Bill 1946.
Sugar Agreement Bill 1946.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1946.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No.9) 1946.
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1946.
National Security Bill 1946.
Commonwealth Public Service Bill 1946.
APPOINTMENT to Cabinetor Senator McKenna - Leader and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate - REPRESENTATION of Ministers.
– I inform he House of changes in the Ministry consequent upon the death of Senator Keane. SenatorJ. M. Fraser has been allotted the portfolio of Minister for Trade and Customs and Senator McKenna the portfolio of Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services. With those two exceptions, the Ministry remains unaltered. Senator Ashley is Leader, and Senator Cameron Deputy Leader, of the Government in the Senate. Senate Ministers will be represented in this House as follows: - Mr. Forde will represent the Ministerfor,Trade and Customs; Mr. Holloway will represent the Minister for Health and Minister for Social Ser vices; Mr. Dedman will represent the Minister for Supply and Shipping; and Mr. Calwell will represent, the Postmaster General.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping read in the newspapers an advertisement which reads-
Parachutes containing approximately 50 square yards of material, coupon free, suitable for dresses, curtains, underwear, shirts, sheets; also tents,&c. Send £2 Disposals Trading Co., Box 4656, G.P.O., Sydney, or call at1a, Herbertroad,Edgecliffe, Sydney:
In some instances, the advertisement states that if purchasers are not satisfied with the goods that they receive their money will he refunded. In view of the dissatisfaction of some purchasers because of the shoddy goods that have been forwarded to them, are any means open to the Government to prevent private concerns from using the word “ disposal “, particularly when disposing of exgovernment stores, thus giving the impression that the goods are being offered by a government instrumentality ?
– My attention hasbeen drawn to the advertisement mentioned by the honorable member, and I have discussed the matter with my colleague the Minister for Supply and Shipping. I have been informed that there exists no power under the Constitution to prevent this company from using the word “ disposals “. I shall ask my colleague to consult further with the AttorneyGeneral, but, at, the moment, it would appear that nothing can be done. If any one has bought from this company goods not up to specification his only redress seems to be through the civil courts;
– The Minister for the
Army is no doubt aware that there has been much public discussion regarding the treatment of deserters from the Armed Forces. Will he make a statement setting forth the way in which deserters are treated in the matter of discharges - whether they receive the same form of discharge as that awarded to other serving members, and the position in regard to gratuities, deferred pay and rehabilitation benefits generally.
– by leave - On my return to Canberra on the 14th June, 1 received an explanation of the order issued by the Army authorities on the disposal of illegal absentees from the Army, about which there has been some misrepresentation and criticism. The fact of the matter is that the order was issued by the Adjutant-General as a normal administratis act.
During the war, it was necessary for the Army to maintain in each Military District, an Investigation and Provost Staff for the apprehension of members of the forces who were-absent without leave. With the rapid demobilization of the forces maintained during the war, the Army authorities ‘had given consideration to the action that should be taken in relation to 7,S79 members of the forces who had been declared to be illegal absentees during the years 1939 to 1945.
As a result of a review, the Army authorities have decided that action be taken in respect of those members who have absented themselves without leave, and had been declared to be illegal absentees prior to the 1st January, 1946, and had not surrendered or been apprehended, to discharge them in absentia immediately. There has been some criticism, of this action in one newspaper on the grounds that what has been done by the Army authorities gives those who went absent without leave before the 31st Dec-ember, 1945, an honorable discharge with all rights of war gratuity and other benefits accruing to the ex -soldier. That is absolutely incorrect. As a matter of fact, the records of such members will be indorsed to the effect that their discharges were made on account of misconduct during service.
– Their records, but not their discharge certificates.
– The discharge” certificate when issued will.be endorsed to indicate that the member’s discharge was effected in absentia because of illegal absence. Furthermore, his Army recordwill be endorsed to the effect that such discharge was made on account of misconduct during service. Discharge under these conditions automatically precludes the member from eligibility for war gratuity under the provisions of the War Gratuity Act 1945, which provides that any member who has been discharged for the reason that he has been guilty of misconduct will be disqualified for war gratuity. A discharge of this nature also renders the member ineligible for war medals, and rehabilitation benefits and war service homes. Under the instructions issued by the Army authorities a discharge certificate will not be issued to the member unless V: makes personal application therefor.
The procedure which had been followed by the Army authorities in this, instance is in accordance with the action which had been taken on the termination of hostilities in the last war, when an order was issued by the Gover.nor-Gene.ral in Council discharging from the First Australian Imperial Force all soldiers who had been continuously absent without leave for three calendar months immediately prior to the 31s’; July, 1920. As a. result of the issue of this order, members of the First Australian Imperial. Force concerned, forfeited their right to repatriation, service medals, leave and gratuity money. The Government which was then in office was of a political colour different from that of the pres’.-nt Government, and of course there was no criticism of the action taken then.
– The Minister for the Army has stated that, war gratuity, war medals, and rehabilitation benefits will not be available to those members of the forces who are being granted discharges after desertion. Will the right honorable gentleman state whether suchpersons will be entitled to deferred pay? If so, what justification is there for that payment being made in such cases?
– I shall have the matter carefully examined. Offhand, I should say that every soldier is entitled to deferred pay for the period during which he gave faithful service. A debit and a credit account are kept, and in many instances it will be found that a soldier has no amount to his credit.
– In view of the fact that many commodities which were obtainable (luring the war are now, for some unexplained reasons, in short supply, despite the return of hundreds of thousands of ex-service personnel to industrial occupations, will the Prime Minister consider appointinga committee of inquiry to ascertain the reasons for such shortages and to make recommendations for overcoming them ?
– I do not know that I would be prepared to appoint a special committee for the purpose suggested by the honorable member. Shortages of certain commodities have been brought under the notice of the Government which are not easily explainable. It has been decided that the reasons for these shortages should be investigated by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). I shall be prepared to ask my two colleagues to extend their inquiries’ to cover specific commodities to which the honorable member may direct attention.
Strike in Queensland - Victorian Pig Market.
– In view of the great loss being occasioned to cattle and pig producers in Queensland, due to the continuance of an illegal strike in that State, will the Government take action to ensure that fat stock be treated and made ready lor export, to Britain and other starving countries, thus using available refrigerated shipping space to lift Queensland meat instead of turning this shipping away empty? As this strike is not the responsibility of stockgrowers, who were urged to increase production and today are feeding stock which were ready for killing months ago, and whose difficulties and expenses have been increased by the present drought, will the Government take the immediate remedial action expected of any Government, so that the production of the country may be carried on without such appalling loss to the individual and to the State?
– The honorable gentleman has not made clear just what he wants the Government to do, though he has introduced some propaganda into his question. The industrial dispute in the Queensland meat industry is outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The meat industry in Queensland is working under a State award and the dispute must accordingly be brought before the State Arbitration Court. That fact renders it difficult, if not impracticable, for the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to intervene. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) has kept closely in touch with the position, and I myself and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) have maintained close contact with officers representing the Government of Queensland in the matter. The effect of the strike upon the economy of the State and upon the welfare of producers and others engagedin the industry is regrettable. It would, however, be difficult for this Government to act in the matter, having regard to the fact that the State Government has expressed its desire to continue to handle the dispute under the State arbitration machinery.
– Having regard to the duration of the meat strike in Queensland and to its serious consequences, and to the fact that the Minister for Labour and National Service, when he saw fit to approach the Arbitration Court on the matter recently, raised a hornets’ nest, will the Minister intervene in the strike, as he has power to do under the Constitution, seeing that it is now proposed to extend the dispute to other States?
– The Prime Minister has already answered a similar question, but the honorable member must have been too sleepy to hear him. I can only repeat what the Prime Minister said, namely, that the dispute is in the hands of the Queensland Arbitration Court, which has been handling it all along. It is not true that I intervened before the court, and raised a hornet’s nest. The fact is that I asked the registrar of the court if the time fixed for deregistration of the union could be extended because negotiations were then in progress for the settlement of the dispute. Had the time been extended, the dispute would probably have been settled by now. However, there was no bad feeling between me and the court over the matter, and there never has been. As for the suggestion that the dispute is being extended to other States, the honorable member must have inside information, becauseI know nothing of the matter.
– Is it afact that the Government has only now adopted the suggestion which I made in the House on the 20th March last to send the Commonwealth Meat Controller, Mr. Tonkin, to Queensland with a view to settling the strike? If so, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture explain the reason for this long delay?
– The Commonwealth Meat Controller did visit, Queensland, and made a full investigation of the dispute. However, he was informed by the Queensland Government that it preferred to handle the matter itself.
– Recently, there has been a complete upset in the pig market in Victoria becauseof the threat by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture that persons who paid more than £6 15s. each for baconers would be prosecuted. That threat or instruction apparently has now been withdrawn, and the market has returned to normal. Will the Minister for Commerceand Agriculture say what action he proposes to take to reimburse the producers who were robbed of £2 10s. to £3 a head on thousands of pigs sold during recent weeks, and will he say to whom this money has gone?
-As to the fictitious thousands which the honorable member claims the producers have lost-
– They are not fictitious; I have given the facts.
– A ruling price has been established right throughout the pig industry. We know, however, that buyers have illegally pierced the ceiling, as they ha ve done on a number of other occasions. They are now rightly reaping the reward of their illegal acts. Quite recently, a conference was held inVictoria - -
– Who attended the conference?
– Representatives of the Meat Industry Commission and of the producers. I was informed by the Meat Controller only a few days ago that a definite agreement was reached at the conference and that the prices have now been restored to their former level.
– I understand that late last week discussions took place between representatives of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture,’ the Prices Branch and the Victorian meat industry, regarding ceiling prices operative from the end of June through the month of J uly. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state whether any decisions were reached as a result of that conference, and, if so, is he in a position to make a statement to the House upon the su bject ?
– As a result of the conference a recommendation was made and approved by the Prime Minister fixing prices until the end of July. In addition, the Government has now guaranteed to take all meat off the market at ceiling prices until the 1st October.
LOSS of Air Liner near Hobart - Report of Court of Inquiry.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Civil aircraft accident near Hobart, 10th March. 1946 - Report by Air Court of Inquiry, together with copy of evidence.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that Aladdin lamp parts are practically unobtainable? Consequently there is a big demand for size B lamp glasses, which are in short supply. I am told, that the supply is short because the Prices Commissioner has fixed a price at which, the manufacturers cannot supply the glasses. Will the Minister have inquiries made with a view to ensuring a supply equal to the demand ?
– This matter is related to the administ ration of the Minister for Supply and Shipping, but italso affects prices control under the Minister for Trade and Customs. I shall direct the attention of both Ministers to the matter raised by the honorable gentleman and ask them to confer to see if something can be done to ease the shortage.
Relations with Communist Party - Advertisements - Conferences Abroad: Communist Delegates.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Communist party is closely associated with the Labour movement and whether the Labour party is now seeking to disown the Communist party? If so, will this mean the complete disbandment of the majority of Labour leagues and Labour youth organizations, or will the Government continue to accept electoral donations from the Communistcontrolled unions and leagues and the continued support of the Communists in the distribution of preferences at the coming general elections?
– My answer to the first question is “No”. At no time has the Labour party had any affiliation with the Communist party. In regard to the second question, there is no need to dissociate the Labour party from the Communist party, because they have never been associated.
– I am asking about the money.
– I am not aware of any money having been contributed to the Labour party by any Communist controlled union or organization. In regard to the third question, what people do with their preferences is entirely their own concern. In extreme cases representatives of the conservative party have extended their preferences to the Labour party, which seems a complete contradiction.
M r. HOLT. - Since the last meeting of this Parliament newspapers have contained many advertisements extolling the virtues of the Labour Government. Carrying an attractive portrait of the Prime Minister they appeal for funds for the Labour party’s electoral campaign. I ask the Prime Minister whether those advertisements have been paid for out of Commonwealth revenue? If so,what authority exists for such payment? Whether or not the advertisements have been paid for out of Commonwealth revenue, do they carry the special concessional rates applicable to war loan advertisements inserted by the Commonwealth Government?’
– Payment for the advertisements was certainly not made out of Commonwealth revenue. . I make that point perfectly clear. As to whether the advertisements were published at concessional rates, all I know is that such advertisements are handled through an ordinary agency conducted by private enterprise. If some newspapers and the advertising agency have been sufficiently generous to allow a special concessional rate, their action will not be rejected.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether the recent decision taken at the Australian Labour party conference in New South Wales against the admission of . Communists means that Communistcontrolled unions will be denied affiliation with the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council?
– The Trades and Labour Council has no direct relation to or affiliation with the Australian Labour party. It is an organization of trade unions. It is true, of course, that a great number of those associated with the Trades and Labour Council are also associated in some way with the Australian Labour party.It is also true that some of the unions which make up the Trades and Labour Council are affiliated with the Australian Labour party. However, the Trades and Labour Council is not the governing body of the Australian Labour party.
-I ask the Prime Minister whether various Communists like Mr. Thornton have from time to time been sent abroad to represent Australia at international conferences and whether their expenses have been paid by the Government? In view of the decision of the Labour party conference in Sydney recently, does the Prime Minister propose to continue this practice, or has the Government also decided to declare its “red “ Communists “black”?
– All governments have paid or contributed towards the expenses of representatives of trade unions at conferences abroad. It may be that contributions have been made towards the expenses of Mr. Thornton when he has been overseas in a semiofficial capacity; at the moment I cannot recollect the facts. When he made his last trip to Paris no contribution was made from Commonwealth funds towards his costs. If will be remembered that. J answered’ questions about that in the House. However, I shall ascertain what, the practice has been regarding the payment by the Commonwealth of the expenses of trade union delegates when .they have gone abroad, sometimes on government nomination and sometimes on union nomination.
Statement by Mk. E. Millhouse, K.C. - Land Settlement of exServicemen.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction been directed to a statement in the Adelaide Advertiser on the 6th May last in which the Federal President of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, Mr. Eric Millhouse, K.C, is reported to have said that the Commonwealth Government was handling rehabilitation problems very well, and also, that the present land settlement programme was far in advance of that, in 191S?
– I saw the statement ; in fact, I cut it from the newspaper in order to be able to use the information in this House in reply. to some of the allegations which may be made about the land settlement of ex-service personnel. I have a copy of the statement here, and shall. read it to honorable members for their information. It is as follows: -
Mr. Millhouse, addressing members of the Liberal Women’s Educational Association at the Liberal Club Hall in Adelaide on the 6th May, said that the Commonwealth Government was handling rehabilitation problems, well. Mr. iti 1 1 house went on to say t hat prospects were bright in relation to land settlement and the present programme was far in advance of that in 1018.
I also recall a statement made by Mr. Millhouse’s predecessor, Sir Gilbert Dyett, when on a visit to Adelaide towards the end of 1944. He said -
I do not think that we have ever had a Government more sympathetically disposed to thu interests of px-servicemen than the present Government
– In view of the facts that returned soldier organizations, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen), and other persons have criticized the delay that has occurred in settling ex-servicemen on the land, and that the New South Wales Minister for Lands has predicted that, at the present rate, it will be sixteen years before some ex-servicemen will be settled on farms, 1 ask the Prime Minister to explain the reasons for the hold-up”? Will the right, honorable gentleman institute an inquiry into the lag in the settlement of ex-servicemen with a view to the taking of remedial action? I also ask him to make to the House a detailed statement on the subject. Mr. CHIFLEY.- I have been made aware that the Minister for Lands in New South Wales has stated that delays have occurred. There is an item on the business paper dealing with soldier land settlement. I have consulted the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, and have also discussed the matter with the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. McKell. Some of Mr. Dunn’s charges are completely unwarranted. I hope to afford an opportunity to the Minister later to ‘make a reply at some length.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping inform me whether the Government has any plans for the future of the power alcohol distillery at Warracknabeal in Victoria?
– This is’ not an extremely urgent matter at the moment, because–
– Because the former member for ‘Wimmera, Mr. Wilson, no longer supports the Government.
– The reason, which will be obvious even to the honorable member for Wentworth, is that there is no wheat available for conversion into power alcohol. However,’ the Government is giving, consideration to the matter.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and
Customs order a searching examination of the reasons advanced for the extraordinary shortage of cigarette papers and for the failure of the British Australasian Tobacco Company Limited and W. ID. and H. 0. Wills Limited to supply the Australian people with their cigarette and tobacco requirements? Will he also give consideration to the issue of licences for the importation of cigarette papers? Will he take such other measures as are necessary to overcome the Australia-wide shortages of cigarette papers and tobacco supplies?
– An investigation will be made, and consideration will be given to the honorable member’s suggestions.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a. cablegrain which was published in the press yesterday to the effect that Australia House authorities had stated that no details would be disclosed in London with regard to the Australian 2$ per cent, conversion loan ? Will the right honorable gentleman give full details to the House of the result: of the conversion of this £16,000,000 of Australian stock at 2£ per cent?
– It has not been usual to supply details in connexion with small loan operations of this description. I discussed this subject with the Australian Resident Minister in London (Mr. Beasley) while I was in London. Honorable members will understand that a short-dated loan was falling due; a portion of the loan has been converted to a longer term loan, and certain cash subtho Resident Minister to -proceed sen h scriptions have been received. With the approval of the Government I asked the Resident Minister to proceed along the lines agreed- upon. I shall consider whether it is possible to give the honorable member any additional information.
Profits on Disposal - Research.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture indicate to the House the intention of the Government in regard to the distribution of the profits, if any, under the wool disposal plan? Will the same provisions apply to this plan as applied to the war-time agreement, under which the Government undertook that any profits would be distributed to the growers who supplied the wool ?
– The Government has not, and has never had, any intention to interfere in the distribution of profits from the disposal of wool. Any profits available at the termination of the scheme which will come into operation in July will be distributed among wool producers.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether approximately £7,000,000 has been allocated for research in connexion with the wool industry. If it has, will the honorable gentleman direct that, from the 1st July next, the present levy on wool shall be suspended until a fair proportion of the existing fund has been expended?
M’r. SCULLY. - The use to which the’ £7,000,000 referred to shall be applied has not yet been definitely decided; the matter is one for future discussion by the Government and representatives of the wool industry. When a decision has been reached, the request of the honorable member will he considered.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping able to give me any information as to when petrol rationing is likely to be lifted in Australia? I should also like to know whether, if rationing be not discontinued before the expiration of current ration tickets, provision will be made for such tickets to continue to be negotiable?
– I understand that the Minister far Supply and Shipping made a statement about petro-] rationing to-day. The Government has appreciated the hardships suffered by petrol users throughout the war, and it has kept the situation under close review all the time, with a view to alleviating the difficulties of users. The Minister has indicated that private petrol users will receive a 33-J- per cent, increase of the present ration as from the 1st July. I shall refer the question about the negotiability of petrol tickets to my colleague.
– A constituent of mine has written to me asking whether the ruling weather conditions and barometric readings as they affect Flinders Island may be included in the weather reports that are broadcast from Tasmanian coastal stations. This was the practice before the war. As the dissemination of this information would be of great value to shipping in Bass Strait, will the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Air inquire whether this pre-war facility may now he restored ?
– I shall have pleasure in making the inquiry desired and, if possible, in having the requested information made available to the people of Flinders Island.
Deliveryof Second-class Mail Matter.
– In view of the delays that are occurringin the delivery of second-class mail matter, by reason of existing transport difficulties, will the Prime Minister state whether the Government will consider the possibility of converting suitable service aircraft and of making them the property of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, for the delivery of mails toall outlying parts of the Common wealth, including Tasmania?
– I am doubtful whether such aircraft could be brought under the control of the Postmaster General’s Department, because they would need to be maintained and operated by an organization that is conversant, with that class of work. However, I shall have the matter examined, in order to determine whether such aircraft may bemade available for the carriage of second-class mail matter, even if not under, the control of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
Distribution of Blankets
– In Victoria, as the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Social Services doubtless is aware, blankets that are distributed to needy persons as a relief measure during the winter months are paid for out of subscriptions that are made on the invitation of the’ Melbourne Herald. The Commonwealth Government is not represented on the committee which handles the matter. In view of the fact that many thousands of army blankets have accumulated, and will deteriorate unless used, will the Minister consult the Prime Minister, in order to determine whether a number of them may not be donated to the relief committee in each State, in order that the needs of those who require them may be met during thewinter months?
Shipment from Tasmania - Contract Acreage and Organized Marketing.
– Has it been brought to the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping that, owing to the inadequacy of shipping to and from Tasmania., 600,000 bags of potatoes have been lost to the industry, and that the loss has fallen largely on the growers in Tasmania? In view of the fact that the degree of isolation suffered by Tasmania is governed entirely by the volume of shipping that is available for the transport of such commodities, does not the Minister consider that that State is entitled to some priority in the allocation of the shipping that is available? If so, will he take action accordingly?
– I have heard it alleged that potatoes we’re rotting in Tasmania on account of the lack of shipping. I believe that the loss has been very much exaggerated. The honorable member knows that there is a considerable shortage ofshipping, not only in Australian waters but also throughoutthe world. I am certain that the Minister forSupply and Shipping does his utmost to ensure that a certain priority shall be granted to Tasmania for the shipment of its produce, including potatoes.I shall again draw his attention to the matter. I am confident that, if more can be done to improve the transport of produce from Tasmania it will be done.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture advise me as to when the decision was reached to continue the system of contract,acreage and organized marketing of potatoes for the season 1946-47?
– The Australian Agricultural Council, at its last meeting, decided to recommend to the Commonwealth Government the continuation of the potato control for the ensuing season. I submitted the matter to Cabinet five or six weeks ago, and the recommendation was approved subject to the opinion of the Crown law authorities being favorable to the adoption of such a. course. The Commonwealth law department having given a favorable opinion, it was decided that the control should be continued for at least another season.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Bretton Woods financial agreement has yet, come before Cabinet for consideration? If so, has Cabinet decided whether to adopt or reject it?If a decision has not been reached, what is the reason for the delay in reaching it?
– The Bretton Woods Agreement has been before Cabinet, and has had some consideration. Certain aspects of it were not regarded as completely satisfactory, and it was decided to make a further examination of it, deferring the final decision as to whether or not it should be ratified by Australia. At a later stage a conference was held to provide for the inauguration of the fund, and Cabinet decided to send Mr. Melville, who is associated with the Commonwealth Bank, to the conference as, an observer. Ithas been decided to extend until the 31st December this year the time for joining the organization as an original member. Mr. Melville has now returned to Australia, and has presented his report to the Government. It has not, yet been considered by Cabinet, and L cannot say that it will be considered in the immediate future, but it certainly will come up for consideration later. .
-Will that report, be available to honorable members?
– No. It is a report by an officer acting on behalfof the
Government, and it may contain observations derogatory to the views of some persons as to how the, fund ought to be conducted. Having regard to the circumstances, I cannot say whether or not the Government is likely to submit the agreement to Parliament for ratification.
– Some of the relatives of soldiers at present serving in Japan have complained to me of delays in receiving letters from that country, the delay, being sometimes as long as three or four weeks. Will the Minister for the Army take steps to ensure thatthe mail service is speeded up?
– Investigations are now being made with a view to having mail delivered more regularly to soldiers in Japan, and also to obtain more regular deliveries of mail from Japan to Australia. I appreciate the importance of more frequent deliveries, and everything possible will be done to expedite them.
Broadcasting of Proceedings
– The lights now visible in the chamber indicate that the proceedings of the House arc being picked up by microphone and recorded for experimental purposes as a preliminary to the eventual broadcasting of proceedings. In view of the fact that no legislation has been passed to confer on honorable members privilege in regard, to matter broadcast f rom Parliament, and in view of the fact that the proceedings are being recorded by a,private company, willyou, Mr. Speaker, issue instructions that the records shall be destroyed?
– I do not know that there is anyserious legal implication in the point raised by the honorable member; but I shall consult the AttorneyGeneral with a view to ensuring that the records shall not, be used for any purpose other than that intended. The proceedings of this House yesterday and today have been recorded merely for the purpose of testing the apparatus, because it is desired that the broadcasts shall be as nearly perfect as possible when they are first made, perhaps next Wednesday. I know of no way in whic hthe tests can be made other than by the method adopted. 1 shall consider the honorable member’s suggestion about , having the records destroyed.
– Has the Government, decided how the surplus funds collected by the War Damage Commission are to be expended?
– It is proposed to bring down” legislation very shortly to deal with the affairs of the War Damage Commission, though not with particular reference to the expenditure of funds. I hope that when the legislation is before the House I shall be able to make a fuller statement on the point which the honorable member has raised.
Address to Workers in Adelaide.
– I refer to a picture which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 24th May depicting the Minister for Information addressing a meeting of the workers at the factory of Richards Brothers Limited. Can the Minister explain why it was necessary to insert between him and his audience a very strong iron fence? Was it “ to prevent him from being pelted with something more lethal than pennies, or Was it because Adelaide people had seen a Sydney newspaper cartoon and could not imagine the “cageminded” Minister addressing any gathering except from a cage?
– It -is ‘a fact that I addressed a very large and enthusiastic meeting of workers at Richards Brothers Limited in South Australia and that the photograph which was reproduced in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 24th May last was a picture- of myself and some of the large audience that assembled there. It is also true that there was a galvanized wire netting fence between me and the workers. That, however, was not due to any lack of desire on my part to make closer contact with my audience, nor to a desire on the part of my audience to keep away from me; it was due to the fact that the very conservative people who manage Richards
Brothers Limited are so antiquated in their ideas that they will not allow anybody but their own employees into their factory during working hours. I am sure that if the honorable member had gone there to address a meeting in the circumstances in which I addressed it, he would have stood where I stood - but with this difference, there would not have been anybody there to listen to him.
– Is it a fact that some hundreds of Germans, many of whom are known to have close Nazi affiliations, are still held in internment pending deportation? Is it a fact that unless these dangerous aliens are deported before the expiration of the National Security’ Regulations at the end of this year, the Government’s only remaining power to get rid of them will be under the Immigration Act, and that it might be difficult to invoke this power? Will the Minister for Information inform the House whether it is proposed to deport these aliens under the powers contained in the National Security- Regulations?
– The honorable member is dependent, as was the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) on a newspaper report for the facts, or supposed facts, upon which he has based his question. The truth of the matter to which he has referred is, briefly, this : Mr. Justice Simpson was appointed by the Government to inquire into the cases of a number of enemy aliens who were still being held in internment. He was asked to report to the Government as to which persons should be released for the purpose of remaining in residence in this country, and as to which persons should be repatriated to their homelands. The Government has decided to carry out Mr. Justice Simpson’s recommendations in their entirety. Some persons are being held in internment pending repatriation; they will be repatriated as soon as shipping is available. If shipping is not available before the expiration of the National Security Act, special legislation will be enacted to enable me, as Minister for Immigration, to give effect to Mr. Justice Simpson’s recommendations.
– Is it the intention of the Government to introduce, during this period of the session, legislation designed to stabilize the wheat industry?
– Notice was given today of the proposed measure.
Transport to, Australia op Wives and Fiancees.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen the report of Captain Wittner, who recently flew a Halifax bomber to Australia with passengers, complaining of delays and discourtesies at Australia House? Can the honorable gentleman state whether the position has since improved, and at the same time inform the House as to how many wives and fiancees of servicemen and ex-servicemen, are still awaiting transport to Australia?
– I have seen the report, to which the honorable gentleman has referred and I have asked my officers in London for their comments on it. In regard to the transport to Australia of wives and fiancees of servicemen and exservicemen, and of stranded Australians, responsibility for those in the first two categories rests with my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, though the officers of my department have charge of the arrangements. Since Mr. Beasley went to London to occupy the position of Resident Minister the position has improved very considerably, and now very few brides who are ready to leave for Australia still remain to be transported to this country. The position in regard to finances is being considered by the Resident Minister and, approximately,750 young women are included in that category. There are also between 3,000 and 4,000 stranded Australians in the United Kingdom. The Resident Minister expects’ the whole position to be cleaned up before the end of this year. As a matter of fact, when the Prime Minister came back from London he summoned me to a conference and told me of the position affecting persons desiring to come to this country, and as the result of these talks I asked the Resident Minister in London to arrange for about 1,000 building tradesmen to be selected and brought to Australia as soon as possible. The fact thatwe were able to do that indicates that the position in regard to persons in the priority classes is very satisfactory indeed.
– This week’s Smith’s Weekly claims that an inquiry into certain operations of the Salvage Commission was made as the direct result of revelations made in that publication some time ago. I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether that inquiry was instituted as the result of representations made by Smith’s Weekly, or whether its claim that that is the case is another irresponsible statement by its publishers?
– The claim by Smith’s Weekly that the inquiry was the result of disclosures made by it is about as accurate as are a lot of other statements made by it from time to time. The inquiry was almost complete before Smith’s Weekly knew anything about it and published the article.
– The inquiry is still going on.
– No inquiry is going on. The inquiry into the matters referred to by Smith’s Weekly has long been disposed of and, as the honorable gentleman knows, the answer to the question is that that inquiry was instituted by me a month or six weeks before anything was said about the matters inquired into, either in this House or elsewhere.
– Duringthe war the housewives of, the. community made the greatest sacrifices, apart from those directly involved in war service. They are continuing to suffer disabilities because goods are not being delivered in many places, as tradesmen either have no vans at their disposal or cannot get parts for vans. Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping prepared to consider the making of special arrangements for the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to make a direct supply at standard prices of cars and vans and parts to all traders making deliveries or prepared to make deliveries?
– I agree that a great many hardships were imposed upon housewives during the war, but when it comes to a matter of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission making special provision of vehicles to tradesmen to deliver groceries, meat and other household’ commodities to homes, I think the honorable member is suggesting something at variance with other suggestions made by Opposition members from time to time. En order to make’ such a provision the Government would have to impose some new control upon the community, and 1 understand that honorable members opposite are among those who say that all controls should be lifted as soon as possible.
– Nonsense !
– I am expressing my own opinion; but I shall be very much surprised if the opinion of my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, whose attention I shall draw to this matter, is any different.
Absence from Australia.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether there is the remotest possibility of the AttorneyGeneral and. Minister for External Affairs pausing from his labours in’ Spain and other distant parts to pay a fleeting visit . to Australia before the forthcoming general elections in order to clear up departmental matters that have been awaiting decision for months?
– The Minister for External Affairs went to London at the same time as- 1 did.
– But he did not come back.
– At that time it was distinctly understood that the Peace Conference would commence at a very early date. I considered, and the Government considered, it absolutely essential that Australia should be adequately represented at the Peace Conference. Charges have been made from time to time that this Government has not provided adequate representation at important conferences. After the meeting of the Foreign Ministers the date of the Peace Conference became to a degree indefinite. It is difficult to foretell just when it is likely to be held until the Foreign Ministers, who are now meeting in Paris, give some indication of the date or the governments themselves decide. We should have some one there to represent us. I do not think it would be right to drag the Minister back here and then, perhaps almost immediately, send him overseas again. He . has done a great deal of travelling and a. lot of hard work for this country. It would be a grave injustice to him to do anything like that. The date of his return cannot be determined until the matters that I have mentioned have been cleared up.
CONFERENCE of Prime Ministers.
– by leave - 1 desire to submit to the Parliament a report on the recent conference of Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth which was held in London. When the conference was- arranged the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom suggested, and it was agreed, that the main subject for discussion should bo matters pertaining to the Pacific, but that the consultations should afford an ‘opportunity for conversations or. other subjects of common concern. The conference opened on the 23rd April, when representatives of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand were present. The Prime Minister of South Africa arrived on the 28th- April. but the Prime Minister of Canada had not reached London before the final meeting attended by me on the 3rd May. However, the matters pertaining to the Pacific which are linked with considerations of British Commonwealth. defence and world security, were fully discussed before my departure, as well as certain other subjects to which I shall refer later, ‘
First I refer to foreign policy. The fundamental basis of the foreign policy of the British Commonwealth is enthusiastic and sustained support of the United Nations. This is in accordance with the declaration of the conference of Prime
Ministers in 1944, which was fully reaffirmed on this occasion. It was equally agreed that co-operation between the major powers is vital to the future of international co-operation and the success of the United Nations. Events since the end of the war have fully borne out the truth and importance of the following statement made after the 1944 conference: -
There is one cardinal aspect of foreign policy. It is the vital importance to the future of the world of collaboration between the British Commonwealth, the United States and Russia.
One of the most remarkable achievements of the war is the high degree of friendship and co-operation which has been created between the British Commonwealth and the United States. It has been of fundamental importance to the successful conduct of the war and, if what has been demonstrated to be possible in war can be maintained in peace, a notable contribution will have been made to international relations of the future. The realization of it should be a cornerstone of our foreign policy.
Of parallel importance is the collaboration achieved with Russia in military operations and in the Moscow Declaration for the building of an international organization at the end of the war. This too, must be maintained and developed in the critical tasks that await the lenders of the United Nations when the victory is won. It must be equally an aim of our policy to develop the friendliest relations with Russia too.
It can truly be said that the pursuit of co-operation between the major powers of the United Nations has been and is a dominant consideration in the foreign policy of the British Commonwealth, for in it lies the hope of the human race, and the only means of averting another world conflict.
I could not but feel disturbed at the burden of armaments resting upon the British Commonwealth and on the United Kingdom in particular, after a war which had resulted in the complete victory of the United Nations. If we are to promote the social progress and better standards of life to which the United Nations are pledged, there must be a reduction of the burden of military expenditure. But this cannot be achieved, nor can the optimum conditions for economic and social welfare be created, except in an atmosphere of confidence, trust and security. Therefore, it is a challenge to all, with disastrous consequences if it is ignored or evaded, to make the United Nations an effective organization, and the principles of its Charter a predominant influence in national policies.
It has frequently been said, and with great truth, that the evolution of the British Commonwealth has exemplified the manner in which autonomous nations can co-operate on matters of mutual interest. The remainder of my statement will be devoted to traversing proposals, discussions and decisions at the London conference, which have as their aim the promotion of greater co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth, and with members of the United Nations, thereby enabling both the British Commonwealth and the United Nations more effectively to play their parts in the preservation of peace and security.
Post- War Basis of British Commonwealth Security
The security of the British Commonwealth as a whole, or of any of its members, rests on the following factors which are blended and inter-related: -
As the conference was convened primarily to discuss matters pertaining to the Pacific, the security of this region was naturally the predominant subject.
The Australian Government accordingly submitted proposals relating to regional security and Empire co-operation which were based on the four factors which I have mentioned. These proposals must also be viewed as a part of the wider concepts of world and British Common- wealth security, the principles being of equal relevance to arrangements for regional defence and Empire co-operation in any other area. Proposals by the United Kingdom Government which were essentially in agreement with those of the Australian Government, emphasized this wider aspect.
Regional Security in the South-West Pacific, Including the use of Bases by the United States.
Embedded in the matter of regional security in the South- West Pacific is the use by the United States of bases on territory controlled by the Australian Government. The policy of the Government was stated to the House by the Minister for External Affairs on the 13th March last. We welcome an arrangement for the joint use of bases on the principle of reciprocity, but the provision of bases is only a part of the whole military plan for the defence of the region, and must be related to an overall plan for the maintenance of security in this area.
On the aspect of policy and principle, Article 52 of the Charter not only permits but also encourages regional arrangements for peace, and security, provided they are consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. In relation to our resources, Australia played a notable and worthy part in the war which proved the importance of Australia, with its man-power and material resources, as a strategic base for the maintenance of security in the South-West Pacific. If an overall plan can be prepared in accordance with the principles of the Charter, it would indicate the nature and strength of the forces, and the facilities and resources to be provided, by each of the parties to the arrangement. This has a vital influence on our future defence organization and the basis of our planning.
As a principal power and a member of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific, Australia must be’ prepared to shoulder greater responsibilities for the defence of that area, including the upkeep of our bases which are essential to the strategic plan.
Earlier I referred to the heavy burden of military commitments being borne by the people of the United Kingdom, who poured out blood and treasure without stint, to save the world. Therefore I told the conference - and I am quite certain that I expressed the sentiment of both sides of this House and of the people of Australia - that it was recognized that Australia must in future make a larger contribution towards the defence of the British Commonwealth, that this could best be done in the Pacific, and that the approach to a common scheme of defence for this area should be by agreement between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter .with the United States of America, and later with other nations with possessions in this area. These views met with the full endorsement of the United Kingdom anc New Zealand.
I shall not develop the matter further, in view of impending discussions between the Minister for External Affairs and the United States authorities, on the subject, of bases.
Responsibilities for Empire Defence
I mentioned earlier that the Australian proposals had been submitted to a conference convened primarily for matters relating to the Pacific, hut the principles had equal relevance to arrangements for regional defence and Empire co-operation in any other area.
This wider view was emphasized in a proposal prepared by the United Kingdom that each member of the British Commonwealth should accept responsibility for the development and defence of its own area and the strategic zone aroundit, and should agree to the principle of joint responsibility for the protection of lines of communication between their a re:is
In view of the great burden of post-war military commitments being borne by the people of the United Kingdom, it will be apparent that only the United Kingdom could originate a. proposal of this nature to all the governments of the ‘.Empire. It is interesting to note, however, that, in principle, it is in broad agreement with the Australian Government’s proposal relating to regional security in the South West Pacific and the assumption of a greater responsibility for British Common wealth defence than before the war. Responsibility for the development and defence of their own areas is in accordance with the principle of responsibility for local defence accepted by the selfgoverning dominions at the Imperial Conference of 1928.
In regard to responsibility for the development and defence of surrounding strategic zones and the protection of lines of communication, I pointed out that, whilst the primary responsibility for the defence of Australia naturally falls on the Commonwealth Government, the proposal to extend this responsibility to include the development and defence of the strategic zone around it requires careful examination. The method of approach should be through a regional arrangement along the lines already suggested, and to the Australian Government machinery, with United Kingdom and New Zealand representation, should be assigned the responsibility of developing the defence aspect of matters relating to regional security in the Pacific, in which the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, are concerned. It was agreed that this matter should be examined by the governments concerned in conjunction with their advisers. machineryfor co-operation in Empire Defence.
During the Prime Ministers conference in 1.944, the Australian Prime Minister put forward certain proposals forimproved machinery for Empire cooperation, and they were referred to the governments concerned for consideration. At the same time, the late Prime Minister said that -
Co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth is a matter of bilateral or multilateral planning, according to the strategical position of the particular part of the Empire concerned, the views of its Government and those of the other governments that may be concerned.
The first practical demonstration of planning on this basis was the organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia for the control of the British Com monwealth Occupation Force in Japan. The membership of this body includes representatives of the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and New Zealand.
In the statement submitted by the Australian Government on this occasion, the following proposals were made: -
The trend of thought, in the United Kingdom and Australia had been moving along the same lines on thequestion of regional responsibility for defence, and it was natural that their proposals relating to machinery for co-operation in Empire defence should broadly coincide. The proposal of the United Kingdom was that each member of the British Commonwealth should maintain service missions in London. These missions would receive their instructions from the appropriate body in their respective governments. The United Kingdom would maintain similar missions in each dominion and these missions would, in their particular case, receive their instructions from the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff after consultation as necessary with the United Kingdom Government. There would he an inter-dominion exchange of missions as required. The system would be based on the national defence organizations to be maintained in the United Kingdom and in each dominion.
It will be noted that the United Kingdom proposal, which states a general principle relating to the whole of the British Commonwealth, is in broad harmony with the views of the Australian Government. These were necessarily limited to co-operation between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, with whom a special defence relationship has been established owing to common commitments which have been accepted.
The conference agreed that the proposals be referred to the governments for consideration in conjunction with their advisers.
Strategic Development AND Distribution of the Resources of the British Commonwealth.
Article 51 of the Charter provides that nothing in the Charter impairs the inherent, right of individual self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member.
In addition to the forces to be provided in accordance with articles 43 and 45 of the, Charter, including regional arrangements under article 52, and the forces to be maintained for Empire co-operation in collective self-defence under article 52, it is imperative that each part of the Empire, should maintain . such additional forces, together with a war production potential of appropriate dimensions for expansion, as are requisite until the security system is developed and firmly established. This precaution is also necessary to -provide against the contingency of the general exercise of the right of veto by a permanent member of the council under article 27 and, in particular, by the vetoing, under article 53, of enforcement action under -region’al arrangements or by regional agencies.
The position in regard to the future organization and armament of the forces was outlined by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in his statement to Parliament last February. Mr. Atlee said -
This is not the time to come to decisions about the eventual shape of our post-war forces. The great strides made in the realm of science and technology, including the production of atomic bombs, cannot fail to affect the make-up of our forces. Time is wanted for the full effects of these startling developments to be assessed. But in the meanwhile, and for the year ]94fi, the question of fundamental reorganization does not arise. The tasks which confront our armed forces, and to which further reference is made below, are the tasks of re-settlement and pacification - tasks which must bo fulfilled to the accompaniment of steady but drastic contraction.
At the Imperial “Conference in 1937, principles concerning the strategic development and distribution of the resources of the British Commonwealth were laid down, relating to the manufacture of munitions and aircraft as well as the supply of raw materials and foodstuffs. During the war, considerable steps were taken by Australia to give effect to these principles for the decentralized development of productive capacity throughout the British Commonwealth. Scientific developments during the war emphasized the paramount importance of tiffs.
Britain’s proximity to Europe has made it more vulnerable than ever, but it cannot contract out of European affairs. The United Kingdom with its population of 45,000,000 and industrial resources is the hard core of Empire defence, and will remain so for a long time. A greater contribution by us to Empire defence will doubly strengthen the security of the British Commonwealth - first, by enabling Britain to provide for its own regional defence and overseas commitments, and secondly, by spreading the aggregate strength and resources of the British Commonwealth over a wider area.
I submitted to the conference a statement on munitions and aircraft production and naval shipbuilding in Australia, and the relation of the post-war potential to the requirements of our own forces and those of the British Commonwealth. I explained that it is the policy of Australia to develop in peace resources for the manufacture of munitions as well as the supply of raw material, in order to make the Commonwealth as self-supporting as possible in armaments and munitions of war, including aircraft, and shipbuilding. I stated that, with the development of government factories and the fostering of commercial industries, Australia is seeking to provide the widest possible base for a supply structure for the needs of the Empire in the Pacific.
The United Kingdom submitted to the conference the following general suggestions regarding the development and distribution of resources: -
I pointed out that this is a policy which Australia has been pursuing, and that it would be prepared to co-operate to the greatest extent possible.
I observed that this was in harmony with the Commonwealth’s immigration policy, and that the transfer of people and production units in. industries had been raised during the war.
I said that the proposal for the accumulation of materials and supplies in the Dominions was in keeping with the general view on the dispersion of resources. Arrangements for the produc tion and storage of stocks was a matter for examination in regard to the details of specific proposals.
I stated that this was a matter for consideration in relation to other defence requirements, and for examination in regard to the basis on which any such arrangements would be made.
I mentioned that we had established a Defence Scientific Advisory Committee, the function of which is to maintain a general survey of the scientific field. We were also creating a New Weapons and Equipment Development Committee, and had sent, to the Defence Science Conference in London a strong delegation of service and scientific advisers.
I stated that the Government is at present considering the establishment of a Joint Intelligence Bureau for the Pacific area in accordance with the principle of Australia accepting a greater responsibility for British Commonwealth defence.
These proposals are being examined by the Government’s advisers, and, after Government consideration, will be taken up through the proposed improved machinery for Empire co-operation.
Economic and Welfare Co-operation in the South-east Asia and South Seas Areas.
The United Kingdom proposed the establishment of a South-east Asia Commission, which would be concerned with matters of economic and social welfare, and Australia and New Zealand were asked to consider representation on this body.
The attention of the’ conference was drawn to the provision in the Australian New Zealand Agreement for the establishment of a South Seas Regional Commission for broadly similar purposes.
Provided the United Kingdom Government was willing to participate, the Australian and New Zealand Governments undertook to establish the South Seas Regional Commission immediately. It was considered that if there were to he a regional organization for defence, it would be well that it should be balanced by a similar organization for welfare and development.
The conference agreed to refer to the official level for examination in detail the proposals for the two commissions and their relation to each other.
The proposals of the United Kingdom and Australia relating to defence and security mark a further devolution of responsibility and planning for defence from a centralized to a regional basis. They also provide for bilateral or multilateral planning according to the region and the governments concerned. They should lead to a notable advance in Empire co-operation and in British Commonwealth security.
As was mentioned in the official statement issued at the conclusion of the conference, the discussions were in the nature of an informal exchange of views. It will be appreciated that I can refer publicly only to a limited number of subjects, and deal at any length only with those matters on which Australia submitted proposals. In. addition to the subjects to which I have referred, there was an exchange of views on the following :
Revision of Anglo-Egyptian Treaty
Meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris.
Disposal of Italian colonies.
Policy towards Germany, including the future of the Ruhr and Western Germany.
Disposal of Polish armed forces.
Procedure in the peace settlement.
Draft peace treaties with Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland.
Nationality of married women.
Arrangements for consultations between British Commonwealth Governments.
– On the fifteen or sixteen days during which I was in London we worked practically continuously on those subjects. There were also separate consultations between individual United Kingdom and Dominion Ministers on questions specially affecting one or two countries only. The main subject thatI discussed was that of double taxation.
On my way home, I conferred with President Truman, and arranged with the State Department the final adjustment of the lend-lease and reciprocal lendlease negotiations that had been carried out by the late Senator Keane.
I also had the pleasure of visiting the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. The message which I sent to the CommanderinChief, expressing my admiration of the military bearing and efficiency of all whom I saw, was published at the time. In Tokyo the representatives of other nations spoke in the highest terms of the general conduct and bearing of the 700 or more Australians in the marches that had been held on Anzac , Day and other days.
Before concluding, I should like to express appreciation of the able cooperation that I received throughout the conference from the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and the Resident Minister in London (Mr. Beasley). I must also, acknowledge the good work that was done by the officers who were members of my party the advisers, Sir Frederick Shedden, Secretary for Defence, and Dr. Coombs, DirectorGeneral of Postwar Reconstruction; the press secretary, Mr. Rodgers; and the secretaries, Messrs. Tyrrell and Landau.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
Conference of Prime Ministers, London, 1946 - Ministerial Statement by the Prime Minister, 10th June, 1946. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
– Prior to the Easter adjournment, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs to state the policy of the Government in regard to the stabilization of the cotton industry. Can the Minister now answer the question?
– The Tariff Board conducted an investigation of the cotton industry, and some months ago submitted a report to the Minister for Trade and Customs. Owing to the unavoidable absence of the late Senator Keane overseas, there was some delay in considering the report. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, as Minister for Trade and Customs, gave some consideration to it. Today, I asked the new Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator J. M. Fraser) to consider the matter and make a recommendation to Cabinet as promptly as possible. I. stressed the. importance of an early decision, in view of the imminence of the planting season.
– The Commonwealth Government is today holding large numbers of caterpillar tractors, bulldozers, and other heavy machinery, that had been used during the war. The matter of lend-lease having been satisfactorily settled, can the Prime Minister give any information in regard to the future policy of the Government concerning this equipment? Is it to be disposed of? If so, does the Government intend to conduct the sale of it, or will it be soldthrough trade channels?
– Immediately there was a reasonable prospect of a settlement being reached in connexion with lendlease material and other equipment that had come to Australia., I asked Commonwealth officers to take steps at once to have it removed from store or sorted out in order that we could proceed to deal with it as soon as the final settlement had been made. In addition to the lend-lease equipment that came to Australia, there is a quantity of what, in effect, is American equipment purchased from the United States. The quickest examination possible has been made of all of it. I shall have a short statement prepared, giving full details.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In Committee of Supply:
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That there be grunted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the service of theyear 1946-47 a, sum not exceeding £44,826,000.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means, founded on resolution of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Lazzariui do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to grant supply to carry on the normal services of government for the first two months of the financial year 1946-47. The amount is £44,826,000. The provision may be summarized under the following heads: -
The provision, made in the bill covers only the estimated requirements to carry on the essential services on the basis of the provision in the Appropriation Act passed by Parliament for the current year, 1945-46.The amounts set down for ordinary services represent, with minor exceptions, approximately one sixth of the 1945-46 appropriations.
Excluding special appropriations for debt charges and war pensions, war expenditure in the first two months of 1946-47 will approximate £34,151,000. This is greater than the anticipated average monthly expenditure for the year, and is principally to meet deferred pay and other commitments arising from the discharge of service personnel.
The general set-up of the Estimates for 1945-46 in relation to war expenditure has been followed in this bill, but a re-arrangement of the votes as between war and peacetime sections will be made when the annual estimates are being submitted.
The sum of £32,000,000 provided for war services in this bill represents the estimated amount which will be available from revenue receipts for the first two months of the year to meet war expenditure, after making due allowance for other obligations. The balance of war expenditure will be met from loan appropriations.
As in previous years, provision is made in the bill for” Advance to the Treasurer “, the amount being £5,000,000. This amount is, required mainly to carry on uncompleted civil works which will be in progress at the 30th June, and also to cover unforeseen and. miscellaneous expenditure. No provision has been made for any new expenditure, and there is no departure from existing policy.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That it is expedient thatan appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for war pensions.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. 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) [4.22]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purposeof this measure is to provide £16,000,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the payment of war pensions. Of the appropriation of £13,000,000 granted last August, the balance now remaining is sufficient only to meet war pension payments to the end of August. The amount now requested will cover approximately a year’s expenditure.
Notwithstanding the decline in the amount, required for payment of pensions arising out of the 1914-18 war, the casualties of the recent war have brought about a substantial increase of pension payments. The following table indicates the trend in both cases: -
Parliament is being asked now to approve of the amount of £16,000,000 so as to permit revenue to be withdrawn for payment to the War Pensions Trust Account as required to enable pension payments to be made as they become due. This bill has no bearing on rates of pension. Parliament has already approved the pension rates, and this measure merely appropriates the amount required to effect payment at those rates.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio - Minister for
Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) [4.26]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. _
On the 26th July, 1945, this House, on a motion by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), discussed matters relating to education. On that occasion, I set out in some detail the Government’s plans in this connexion, and mentioned, among many other aspects of the broad general problem, that the Government had decided to proceed with the establishment of an Australian National University at Canberra. In view of the general agreement on both sides of the House at that time, there is no need for me to make a lengthy, explanation in introducing this bill.
The Government is particularly anxious that the national university which this bill seeks to establish shall be established in such manner that it will bring credit to Australia, advance the cause of learning and research in general, and take its rightful place among the great universities of the world. For this reason I shall welcome suggestions from honorable members, and will sympathetically consider any amendments they may wish to make with the object of helping the uni- versity to achieve these ends.
Australia has already gained a justifiably high reputation in university teaching and research, and the Government believes that the establishment of the Australian National University at Canberra” will bring still further credit to our country, not only by the work done within its own walls by its own staff and research students, but also by collaboration and co-operation between its members and the research workers and teachers of the other Australian universities. With the help and encouragement of the other universities, and of all men and women of good will, the national university will so.on be in a position to take its share in solving the many complex problems which are the joint responsibility of all the universities.
The establishment of a university is” a matter of considerable complexity and a very great responsibility. For this reason the Government has not acted hastily. T have taken the opportunity of discussing the problems involved with my colleague, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), with other Ministers concerned, with the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne, and with groups of distinguished scientists who have been called together by the Inter-Departmental Committee on Education to advise on the general and detailed questions associated with this project. In addition, the Government has had the help and advice of the Council of the Canberra University College. I take this opportunity of paying a warm, tribute to the work of that body. The members of the council have for years kept in front of their minds the project for a. university at Canberra. In fact it. is very largely their project, although the suggestion that a university be established in Canberra goes back to the days of the Federal Capital Commission. The members of the council have suffered disappointment after disappointment, but they have never wavered in their belief that Canberra, and Australia -as a whole, would not be properly endowed educationally until such a university was established. Many of their ideas, held steadfastly for many years, are embodied in this bill. It will not be long now before they see their ideas translated into action. I have no doubt that when the university it established they, and other organizations like the University Association, which have been so helpful in the past, will continue to demonstrate the interest which they have always shown in, the past.
The essence of democratic government is that all national issues must ultimately, be decided by the people themselves. To me it is more than ever important at this stage in Australia’s development that, our people should have ‘ available everything they need to permit their decisions to be made wisely and after a full understanding of the issues involved. Both in Australia and in the world at large, innumerable problems await solution if the future is to be made safe and the people placed in a position to enjoy the fruits of the developments in science and in human relationships which have taken place during the last six years. The first thing that must he done, however, is to ensure that these developments are studied in relation particularly to their application in Australia. Progress in physical science has culminated in the harnessing of atomic energy, and this has brought the world to its final crossroads. Mishandled, these discoveries in the physical world can make peace and prosperity impossible. Properly used they may introduce an era df happiness and prosperity unparalleled in world history. It is essential that Australia, in common with the other nations of the world, should do everything possible to foster that careful research which will allow us to become the masters, not the servants, of our physical environment, In medicine, too, the outstanding achievements of the war years await full and proper application to the civil needs of our people. Once again this implies patient research by all the talent at our disposal and demands the establishment of appropriate institutions at which this research may be conducted. The Government believes that the university now proposed for ‘Canberra is one appropriate place in which this research may be carried out. On the side of human relationships, our’ continued development, and a full understanding of our problems, require that we encourage research into the social sciences. Here, perhaps, more , than in any other field of learning, Australia has an outstanding contribution to make to the world at large. In economics, history, law, anthropology, and in all the related social sciences, Australia is in ‘a particularly advantageous position. Our economic and social institutions are growing round us as we ourselves grow to full nationhood. We are still a young and virile people. Our institutions are not yet finally determined, and for that reason, apart from many others, our opportunities for research into the social sciences are unique.
We have also greatly increased responsibility to shoulder in relation to other people, particularly to those with whom we are associated as a’ Pacific power. The whole field of Pacific studies awaits fuller development than it has previously received in Australia. Our relations with the East, with the Americas, with the East Indies, New Zealand, New Guinea and all the Pacific Islands, must be carefully studied in order that they may become friendly and fruitful, as they must be if our future is to be safeguarded and if we are to make our full contribution in the councils of the nations. Here, too, -our opportunities are unique. Our remoteness enables us to consider the fundamental issues involved, free from the day to day fears and turmoil that beset many of the great powers. For that reason we have a duty to the world at large which we must recognize if we are to be accepted as a world power.
I need say no more in this strain. Honorable members, I know, are fully alive to the implications of modern developments as they affect Australia. What I have said will suffice to stress that in introducing this bill, I believe that I am initiating a measure which will confer very great benefits on our people and, at the same time, help us to assume outproper place in world affairs.
The bill itself is very straightforward and needs little amplification. It follows in broad outline the general plan of government which has been found to operate successfully in other universities, both in Australia and overseas. It will be noted that the functions of the university as set out in clause 6, lay particular stress on post-graduate research. Clause 7 sets out the research schools which are of immediate importance to Australia, but nothing in the bill prevents the establishment of other research schools that may appear essential to the governing body of the university. While the university is intended to be primarily a postgraduate research university, it is nevertheless recognized that facilities must be made available in Canberra to meet the increasing needs for undergraduate studies and for special training for officers of government departments. Provision is therefore made ‘ in clause 6 and in clauses 8 and 9 to enable this to be done.
The governing authority of the university as set out in clause 11 is to be a council consisting of not more than 30 members. Here, again, the same general principle has been followed as operates in most of the other Australian universities. -In other words, the council is to be composed partly of elected members and partly of members appointed by the GovernorGeneral and by the Parliament.
The university must be free to administer its own affairs without any pressure from outside; otherwise decisions on highly complex technical matters may be taken which are not in the best interests of the university, and which may prevent it from carrying out its work efficiently. The appropriate safeguards against such outside interference are contained in clause 22 of the bill which specifically refers all matters connected with the government of the university to the council.
Whilst I do not ‘ anticipate that the university will be in full operation for some time, it is essential that as much basic planning as possible be completed at the earliest practicable date, so that the necessary plans can be laid for buildings and other essential work. Naturally, -I realize that the acute shortage of labour and materials for building will prevent an immediate start being made on any accommodation foi- the university. It will in any case be necessary to await the appointment of the key personnel in the various research schools before final plans can be completed for any buildings. At the same time the Government realizes that a very large amount of administrative work in connexion with the establishment of the university will be necessary before it is in full operation. For this, reason I’ propose to ask at the appropriate time that the bill be amended to permit the appointment of an interim council to carry out the work of the council until that body can be properly constituted and appointed, and in particular to undertake the preliminary work relating to the planning of the university.
Another feature of the bill to which I want to refer at this stage, is clause 28 dealing, with finance. The Government is concerned that the university shall be able to plan ahead, particularly on its research side, and for this reason I propose to ask at the appropriate time that this clause be amended to provide the university with a grant which will be reviewed every five years, rather than to leave it dependent on the funds voted annually by Parliament. If this amendment is approved, the Government proposes to make available in the first five years, commencing with the- financial year 1951-52, the sum of £325,000 per annum. The amount will be reviewed every five years thereafter. In the period before July, 1951, such amount will be made available, to a maximum of £325,000 per annum, as is actually needed to meet the running expenses of the university. The Government is also well aware that it must provide sufficient funds to enable the university to start with buildings worthy of the objects for which they are built and in keeping with the. best types of architecture in the Capital Territory. Accordingly the Government has approved an amount of £872,500 for buildings for the university. This amount, of course, will not be required immediately, nor will it be drawn from any one budget.
Finally, I propose to say something about the- staff of the- university. The vice-chancellor, as the administrative head of the university, will be. in many ways, the key member of its staff. In the first instance, as set out in clause 17, it is proposed that the vice-chancellor be appointed by the Governor-General for a period of five years. All subsequent appointments to that office will be. made by the council. It is vital that the vicechancellor be a man of outstanding administrative ability, and, if possible, of high academic standing. I believe, too, that he must at all costs secure men of world reputation to supervise the work of the various research schools. There are very eminent Australians overseas who would be very happy to come back home to an appointment which gave them freedom to carry out their research in an Australian national university. We must leave no stone unturned to secure their services. After all, the reputation of a university depends not on the number of its students or on the splendour of its buildings, but on the quality of its members and the nature of its contribution to learning. With the establishment of an Australian national university liberally endowed, properly housed and staffed with men of world repute, Australia will have taken one more step to aline itself with the great and enlightened nations of the world.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 3.1st August, 1945 (vide page 5096), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the following paper be printed: -
Land Settlement Scheme for ExServicemen - Ministerial Statement, 20th July, 1945.
.- Although the consideration of this important subject has remained in abeyance for almost nine months, I believe that while the present Government remains in office, and continues its policy of neglect and procrastination, the debate could be postponed indefinitely without having much effect upon the prospects of our ex-service- men being satisfactorily placed on the land. Never before have we had flung before us proposals which reeked more of shame and hypocrisy than do those proposed in the Minister’s statement. Honorable members on this side of the House might be prepared to absolve the Government for its long delay in this matter if they believed that it had at heart the real interests of the men who desire to settle on the land, that there was some sincerity in the Government’s promise to expedite the rehabilitation of those who fought for their country in the war just ended, or if, in spite of the delays, it was the real intention of the Government to recognize the claims of ex-servicemen and to enable them to own and work farm properties. But I regret to say that after having perused the trash published by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction I cannot give the Government that credit. I call it. trash advisedly. I refer to Reestablishment Pamphlets Nos. 4, 10 and 11. No. 4 is entitled “ Farms for Fighting Men “ ; No. 10, “Loans for Re-establishmentin Agriculture “ ; and No. 11, “ Rural Training”. There might be a dozen more such pamphlets written by men; who possibly know very little about farming, but know a great deal about means of preventing ex-servicemen from ever becoming owners of farms. I intend to quote from these pamphlets. I come from a district which probably has more small farmers than has any other area in Australia.
– Except Indi.
– That may be so; but in the electorate of Richmond the great majority who get their living from the land are small farmers with areas of from 100 to 200 acres. There are thousands of them throughout my electorate. Thousands of their sons enlisted and went away to the war, but, under the scheme propounded by the Government, not one of them has the opportunity to get a farm of his own. As far as I am aware, not one ex-soldier has been settled on the land in the entire electorate of Richmond.
– Or anywhere else.
– When one studies the conditions imposed on those who would seek to become soldier settlers the reason is quite apparent. The Government says through its Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), through its “brain trust”, and through its pamphlets, that a great opportunity is afforded to the ex-soldier to rehabilitate himself if he desires to become a farmer. That is announced in pamphlet No. 4, written, I dare say, by Dr. Coombs,or one of his bright young men. The pamphlet says -
In the years to come, farming of one kind or another will offer satisfying careers to numbers of men and women who, during the war, have served their country in the armed services, provided they possess the necessary qualifications.
Provided they possess the necessary qualifications ! If we read through the pamphlet, we find so many hedges and barriers around the qualificationsthat only a very limited number of men could qualify. In fact, no young man who went away to war at the age of 18, 19 or 20 has any prospect of qualifying to take advantage of this specious “offer, which is no offer at all. Pamphlet No. 10, which is entitled “ Loans for Reestablishment in Agriculture”, says -
To meet the needs, of ex-service men and women in these circumstances, the Commonwealth Government made provision in the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945, for the grant upon favorable terms of agricultural re-establishment loans to those who satisfy certain reasonable conditions and are in need of such assistance to enable them to re-establish themselves successfully in an agricultural occupation.
Then it goes on with a great deal more “blah”. On page 4, itsays -
The maximum amount which may be granted as an agricultural re-establishment loan is One Thousand Pounds (£1,000).
One thousand pounds is the maximum amount, according to the Minister’s own pamphlet, and this is what that figures £1,000 is supposed to do -
Purposes for which Loansmay be made.
Loans may be made for a variety of purposes. These include -
The purchase or lease of any land, the erection of buildings and effecting of other improvements on land.
The purchase, hire or acquisition of tools of trade, stock, livestock, plant or equipment.
The reduction or discharge of any mortgage, charge, bill of sale, or other encumbrance on property owned by the applicant and used in bis agricultural occupation.
The fulfilling of the applicant’s obligations under a hire purchase agreement - and so forth.. This £1,000 is not a gift from the Government. I do not want any misapprehension on that point. If people think returned soldiers have earned such a debt of gratitude from this Government that they are going to be given £1,000 they err. I do not propose that it should be given, but it is the height of absurdity to suggest that a returned soldier can be settled on the land for £1,000 when you cannot even erect a house for that amount.No, it is a loan, not a gift, and this is what is said about the security for the loan -
Repayment of loans by periodical instalments of principal and interest will be required and any one or more of the following may be taken as security for any such loan: -
Amortagage over land (not necessarily a first mortgage).
A charge over plant and equipment.
A charge over stock.
A crop and/or wool lien.
An assignment of income.
A charge over any other assets.
So to begin with there is not very much charity about this £1,000 loan.
– Is it interestfree?
– No. The first £50 is interest-free, but the interest on the remainder is on a sliding scale. Now, who are eligible for loans? This is one of the points that I take exception to in this land settlement scheme. Men went away from various occupations at different ages, but the great majority of those who were called up from farms in the early stages of the war, that being one of the reasons for the shortage of farm labour until the call up of such people was discontinued in 1942, were grabbed off the farms at eighteen years of age. As soon as the farmer’s son turned eighteen he was put into the military forces. That means that farmers’ sons who were taken at that time of their lives are practically disqualified.
– They are not.
– I shall show that they are by reading the relevant parts of. these pamphlets. This is what pamphlet number 10 says -
Who areEligible for Loans.
All members of the forces who have been honorable discharged after not less than six months’ war service and those honorably discharged after less than six months’ service, who, in the opinion of the lending authority, have been materially prejudiced by war service, are eligible to apply for any agricultural loan. For the purpose of determining the eligibility of an applicant “war service” means -
Service as a member . . .
And so forth. At page8, pamphlet number 10 says -
An applicant, prior to his engagement on war service, must have had experience in an agricultural occupation in one of the following capacities.
Let me see whether an eighteenyearold boy at the time of his enlistment could measure up to those qualifications. It goes on to say -
The experience must have been obtained prior to engagement on war service even though the applicant may have established himself in an agricultural occupation since’ his discharge.
That means that if he did not have experience and qualifications before war service, it does not matter for how many years afterwards he may have proved ability on the land, he is not eligible to come under this re-establishment loan proposal. It robs every boy who, at eighteen or nineteen years of age went off the land into war service, of the possibility of getting a farm.
– It is intended to.
– There is not the slightest doubt about that. Dealing with those who are considered eligible or ineligible, as the case may be, for the loan, page 9 says that ho must have been -
Where does that get the farmers’ sons?
– Do not the sons participate in the proceeds of the farm?
– I intend to show that the conditions that are laid dow’n are being applied by those who are disbursing these loans of £1,000. It goes on in paragraph 2 to say -
Iii other words, he must have had three years in a managerial or executive capacity before his enlistment before being entitled to participate in a loan of up to £1,000. He has to pass all those hurdles and barriers and tuen, by the grace of God and the general manager of the Rural Bank of New South Wales, which’ is the dispensing authority for the loan, he might be permitted to enjoy the bounty of the Commonwealth Government’s re-establishment loan: The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Riordan) comes from a great agricultural and pastoral district of north Queensland. I note the presence of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), who represents a great wheat-growing district. I note, too, the presence on the Government side of the House of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser), the representative of another farming constituency. I ask every one of them how far £1,000 will go to-day in enabling a returned soldier to acquire a farm of his own, and stock it as well.. It is absolutely the height of absurdity to term this scheme soldier settlement. As far as I am aware, it has not provided for one man, certainly not one in my electorate.
– The honorable member knows nothing about it. . He says that not one man has obtained a loan. That is utterly ridiculous.
– I say that not one man has acquired a farm as the result of the generosity of this Government. There may be some men throughout the country who have obtained loans on their stock, plant and other assets, but not one man in my district has obtained a farm as the result of Commonwealth assistance. I challenge the Minister successfully to contradict that statement. In very closely settled districts, such as is a vast portion of New South Wales and Victoria, no large estates are available for subdivision into properties for the settlement of ex-servicemen. The day when such areas existed has long passed. Most of the land available for that purpose was acquired after World War 1. The only places that have been made available, and I shall withdraw s!ightly-
– Ah !
– I qualify my earlier statement to this extent, that a few properties have been made available in New South Wales, not as the result of Commonwealth assistance, but because leases in the Western Lands Division of that State expired and the Government of New South Wales took over and subdivided those properties for the land settlement of ex-servicemen.
– Those properties also come into this scheme.
– Those are the- only properties, and I emphasize that only a very limited number of such properties is likely to be available. The reason is that New South Wales - indeed, the whole Commonwealth - has advanced its land settlement over a period of years, and a big percentage of the fertile land in New South Wales and Victoria has already been subdivided and settled.
– A big percentage of the most suitable land is held in large estates.
– I say positively that in the dairying districts on the north coa.=t and south coast of New South Wales, fewer than half a dozen properties are suitable for subdivision. Therefore, if the Government is genuine in its professed desire to settle ex-servicemen on the land, only one way remains of providing that opportunity, and that is by the acquisition of individual farms. In other words, the Government must purchase properties on terms and conditions which will enable the settler to make a success of his venture in the district with which he is familiar. Unfortunately, under the Government’s scheme, not one ex-serviceman has the remotest possibility of acquiring his own farm in the dairying districts of New South Wales. First, be is not able to surmount the barrier of qualification. If he is the son of a farmer and is aged eighteen or nineteen years, he lacks the necessary managerial experience. If he were not an executive, farmer or share-farmer, he is disqualified completely under the regulations. I invite the Minister to attempt to prove that my statement is not accurate. Dozens of ex-servicemen in my electorate will listen with great interest for such a contradiction. Throughout the length and breadth of New South Wales, and particularly on the north coast, people have agitated for a scheme which will enable ex-servicemen, with financial assistance from the Commonwealth, to acquire their own farms. I put this proposal to the Minister on behalf of numerous organizations along the north coast of New South Wales, and this week I received his reply. Dated the 15th June, 1946, it is his last word on the subject -
I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 8th May, 1946, enclosing a letter which you have received from Mr. W. G. Pullen, Honorary Secretary, Tenterfield Repatriation Local Committee, Post Office Box 22, Tenterfield, .in which further representations are made regarding the question of the acquisition of single farms for ex-servicemen.
The. further representations by the committee have been carefully considered, but the Government is not prepared to alter its policy in the matter.
The Government policy is influenced by experience quoted in the Rural Reconstruction Commission’s Second Report, which deals with the settlement and employment of returned men on. the land. In dealing specifically with this matter the report states- -
And these are the reasons which influenced the Government in rejecting all these suggestions for the purchase of individual farms- ” Purchase of Privately Held Farms. - Experience under the Last soldiers’ land-settle ment scheme stresses the need for extreme caution with this type of purchase …”
We all agree that there is need for caution, but I shall suggest in a few minutes means of overcoming such difficulties - “. . . and also for preparedness to combat a great deal of the pressure likely to be exerted by those desiring favorable decision to such a purchase. Highly responsible officers have given it as their experience that a great proportion of failures occurred among settlers who obtained their farms in this way.”
My personal experience is that a very big proportion of such failures occurred in group settlement schemes.
– The honorable member disputes the report of the Rural Reconstruction Commission on the matter.
– I do not accept the commission’s report as gospel. Having been a soldier-settler, I have some personal knowledge of this particular matter. I proceed to read the Minister’s reasons for refusal - “ In the words of one such authority - Generally the father was to blame; he kidded us to buy for his son, thinking he could make a living off it, but most of these areas were the non-living areas, nearly every one of them ‘.”
The farms were too small in nearly every case - “ And again, ‘ I am totally opposed to purchasing, as was done after the last war, individual farm units at the instigation of the owner (usually a successful farmer) for a prospective settler (probably a relative). In addition to replacing experienced men with mostly unsuccessful ones, the State suffered heavy financial loss in almost all those transactions.’ “
– Is the honorable member aware that the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia is opposed to the policy which he advocates?
– No; I contradict it, so far as the New South Wales branch of the league is concerned.
– I refer to the attitude of the federal executive of the league.
– I am not speaking of Mr. Millhouse. I showed earlier that the . statement of Mr. Millhouse, which the Minister read to-day with such pride and gusto, even if made with sincerity, was not made with a knowledge of ‘.hi- subject in respect of New South Wales. The Minister in his letter to me proceeded -
The Commission agrees with, this view and considers that, as a general principle, provision should not be made to finance a returned soldier in the purchase of a farm for which he has privately negotiated.
I remind the Minister that in the sister Dominion of New Zealand, where there are no large subdivisions to be made, the Government is making available money for the purchase of single farms. I am not sure of the exact amount of the loan, but the Minister can obtain the information. Speaking from memory, I believe that the amount of the loan is between £3,000 and £5,000. The Minister’s letter continues -
Any purchase of a single farm should be made by the State Soldier Settlement Authority at a fair value; whereupon the farm should be dealt with under the provisions of the scheme. If a man is not prepared to come into a general scheme and take his chance for land with other applicants, he should not have the financial benefits of the scheme, but should be required to arrange his own finance.
So far in my speech, I have pointed out, first, the qualification barriers which hedge these proposals, ruling out the majority of applicants, including farmers’ sons, and, secondly, the inadequacy of the loan of £1,000. Now the Minister puts forward this impudent proposal -
– Will the honorable member read the last two paragraphs of my letter?
– Yes. They are-
I desire to stress the point that the War Service Land Settlement agreements between the Commonwealth and the States, do not prevent the acquisition of single farm properties, provided that the Commonwealth and the State concerned agree that they a.re suitable for settlements and that the costs of acquisition are reasonable.
However, the position under the War Service Land Settlement Agreement Scheme is that the initiation of all settlement proposals lies with the States and the Commonwealth can only consider those proposals brought forward by the States. Whether a State is prepared to submit “ single farm “ propositions to the Commonwealth depends upon the policy of the State concerned.
Obviously, the Minister engaged in the old game of. “ passing the buck “ to the State governments, but in order that no honorable member shall mistake what I am saying, I repeat the Minister’s exact words in his letter to me -
Any purchase of a single farm should be made by the State Soldier Settlement Authority at a fair value; whereupon the farm should be dealt with under the provisions of thescheme. If a man is not prepared to come into a general scheme and take his chance for land with other applicants, he should not have the financial benefits of the scheme but should be required to arrange his own finance.
What is the effect of these words? A soldier, who resides in the north coast district of New South Wales, may begin to search for a suitable property there with a view to purchasing it. It is not easy to find a ‘satisfactory farm. He may be sufficiently fortunate to locate an owner who desires to sell his farm, and he may consider that the property will provide an adequate livelihood.- Accordingly, he approaches the laud settlement authority. If he is a plausible and persuasive fellow, the land settlement authority will purchase the farm, and then invite 8,000 or 10,000 applicants to ballot for it. That is the Minister’s proposal. Is that the way in which to settle ex-servicemen on the land? Who will submit to such terms and conditions? Who will go to the trouble of finding a suitable property when he knows that 10,000 or 8,000 persons may ballot for it? Approximately S,000 ex-servicemen hold qualification certificates in New South Wales alone. Yet the Minister declared that the Government is settling exservicemen on the land ‘. That is the kind of propaganda which is conveyed by the pamphlets which were distributed to the troops in New Guinea and which influenced many of them, in the belief that the Government w.as sincere, to vote for the Labour party at the last election. One ex-serviceman wrote to me in these terms -
During the last year of my service in New Guinea, I had from time to time attended lectures on the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen and from them gathered that we would be given any needed assistance to help us rehabilitate ourselves back to civilian life, but so far I have found it very difficult to obtain.’
Any one who has encountered the hedging with which the Government has surrounded its ex-servicemen land-settlement policy will understand the difficulties in which .the would-be settlers find themselves. The men are not permitted to apply for land unless they have had experience, they cannot obtain an advance of more than £1,000, and they are not permitted to select singleunit farms, unless they are also willing to permit the farms to be balloted for by other exservicemen. It is not necessary for me to do more, at this stage, than to refer honorable gentlemen opposite to the pamphlets that have been issued by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, for they expose the ineptitude of the Government. The departmental publications state that the mistakes that were made in land settlement after the last war will not be repeated. The department does not intend to make any mistakes, because it does not intend to put any soldiers on the land. In such circumstances there can be no risk of mistakes. I recommend honorable gentlemen opposite to study the departmental pamphlets very carefully. They will then learn for themselves whether the returned men in their own electorates will be able to acquire singleunit farms of any description. An advance of . £1,000 for this purpose will go absolutely nowhere today, yet the department requires in return for even such an advance the security of the land, stock and other assets. If there is any sincerity behind its landsettlement policy the Government will accept the amendment which I now move -
That all the words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “a Select Committee be appointed forthwith for the purpose of reporting upon -
The adequacy of the cash loan at present enacted to establish exservicemen on the land;
The necessity for immediately making provision for a scheme for acquisition of singleunit farms chosen by ex-servicemen after appropriate approval; and
The qualifications at present stipulated in respect to ex-servicemen who desire to become soldier settlers.”.
What I propose, in short, is that a committee representative of all parties in both this House and the Senate shall thoroughly investigate the whole subject, and suggest ways and means by which ex-servicemen shall be able to acquire farms under reasonable conditions. I make it clear that I do not suggest that every ex-soldier applicant shall be given the farm of his own choosing and that the Government shall pay for it. During the last six years committees of public minded citizens have acted in all sorts of capacities in order to help the Government in the war effort. We had war agricultural committees, tyre and rubber control committees, war loan committees and many others, all of which assisted the Government in administrative work. I believe that the persons who served on these committees and on repatriation committees in country districts would be able to give good advice in regard to the purchase of land suitable for settlement by exservicemen. Such committees could make recommendations on the suitability of properties which ex-servicemen desire to acquire. It must be remembered that applicants must pass certain qualification tests. The committees could also report on types of farms and on values. Useful work could be done in these respects. [Extension of time granted.]
I hope the Minister will accept this amendment, because it will ensure that adequate consideration will be given by qualified men to the problems associated with the land settlement of ex-servicemen. The commission of which Mr. Wise was chairman endeavoured to do a good job, and I do not desire to be over critical of it or Mr. Wise. But Australia is a large continent in which all varieties of conditions in relation to land settlement are to be found. Every district has its own peculiar local circumstances and local problems. Mr. Wise’s commission could do nothing other than report in a broad and general way. It could not deal with specific and individual needs in different areas of Australia.
– The commission travelled all over Australia.
– That is true, but by its very nature it could not make recommendations in regard to local areas. I believe that if justice is to be done to the men who desire to go on the land the problems they will encounter will have to be. considered in respect of particular localities and particular individuals. If the Commonwealth Government were to advance up to £4,000 or £5,000 to individual ex-servicemen who desire to acquire farms, and if it had as the basis for such advances the favorable recommendations of repatriation committees or other local committees, it would go some distance to making its land-settlement policy successful. Mistakes would undoubtedly occur under such a -scheme, but I believe that they would be relatively few and that the general results would be wholly satisfactory. In the long run, such a policy would be effective, for the Government would have the land, stock and plant as security and there would only be a modicum of risk. A select committee such as T have proposed could make recommendations in regard to the provision of singleunit farms chosen by ex-servicemen, and it could also suggest reasonable conditions under which the authorities could give assistance.
.- The case presented by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is based on completely wrong assumptions. He has assumed that because a young man from a rural area enlisted at the age of eighteen years he is ineligible for assistance under the joint Commonwealth and State land settlement scheme. I admit that anomalies may be revealed in ‘the administration of the joint scheme, but I remind the honorable member that many of these anomalies and many difficulties will arise from time to time because of differing .interpretations by the various authorities representing the Commonwealth and the States which will have to administer the scheme. The honorable gentleman has said that exservicemen will not be permitted to purchase single-unit farms. If his vision had been broad enough and his knowledge extensive enough he would have known that the Parliament of Victoria, . in the session just completed, inserted a provision in a bill to the effect that no farm owner could sell his farm to any would-be purchaser in Victoria unless a certificate had been obtained that the property was not suitable for ex-soldier settlement. The insertion of such a provision in the Victorian legislation made it obvious that the State authorities contemplated that single-unit farms would be made available to exservicemen.
– That is a State law.
– Of course, because the control of land settlement and land acquisition resides very largely with State governments. The defeat of the recent referendum clinched that position. Under existing circumstances the administration of land settlement is almost entirely a State matter. I know that a strong agitation is afoot to-day with the object of urging the Commonwealth Government to sponsor the settlement of exservicemen on single-unit farms under certain conditions. But the honorable member for Richmond has admitted that our experience in that connexion after the last war was not a good one. He must realize also that nearly 28 years have elapsed since the cessation of hostilities in. World War I. During that period many farms throughout Australia have become highly developed. Families have been in occupation of some farms for more than one hundred years, and many farms have been occupied by the same families for 20 or 30 years. Notwithstanding that for a time a Country party government oppressed primary producers and provided only low prices for farm products, many properties which were undeveloped at the beginning of that period have become highly developed.
The young men who have returned from war service and who desire to settle on the land have strongly developed creative instincts. I believe that the men who left the farms of their parents and also many young rural workers who, during the last six years, have been engaged in destructive activities, now desire to do some constructive work. They will wish to occupy new blocks which have been provided with reasonable amenities and have been fenced and provided with dams or other means of water conservation. They will have the laudable desire to create, during, say, the next. 25 years, a well improved farm on which to rear their, happy families. The average .young man of Australia wishes to be creative. He does not desire to take over the banana farm of the honorable member for Richmond or the well developed subterranean clover pastures on the farm of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). He wishes to secure an area which he himself may develop and in which he can take pride. He desires to exhibit his skill in primary production, that lie can say at the expiration of, say, 20 or 25 years “ This is what I have done by virtue of my own skill and my own physical and mental labours “. We must remember that highly developed single-unit farms are not scarce. The honorable member for Richmond has admitted that this is so. Such farms carry a high capital value, and we must bear in mind that if ex-servicemen take over such farms the Commonwealth Government will have to carry the burden of the difference between the values of such properties and the values of less developed areas. For that reason I suggest that the honorable member for Richmond has not faced the realities of the situation.
– He has done ‘the House a service.
– After the last war, the honorable member for Indi obtained the benefit of soldier settlement conditions, even though he had not “ smelt powder “, and he has since been very busily engaged in the purchase of other properties, some of which, I have no doubt, he will be only too willing to unload on soldier settlers as single-unit farms. 1 concede the right of the -honorable gentleman to practise land aggregation. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth Parliament and the Parliaments of the States are equally entitled to ensure that he and those who think as he does shall not be permitted to encourage men to believe that the ideal soldier settlement is in single-unit farms, when probably they desire to obtain better country from which, during the remainder of their lifetime, they will be able to obtain something for their labours. The honorable member for Richmond probably expresses the views of the squatters in New South Wales. During the last twelve months, the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria have been actively engaged in the purchase of large estates. Along the Murrumbidgee River, the Government of New South Wales has resumed a large estate, the property of Sir Keith Murdoch. Many other large estates also have been resumed along the Murrumbid gee. The Government of Victoria,- through the Soldier Settlement Commission, has resumed land in the western district of that State, and has assumed control of 60,000 acres in the Murray. Valley. This has provoked a squeal by the large squatter. Yet the honorable member for Richmond claims that land for soldier settlement is not available. He wishes to divert attention from the ‘ purchase of large estates, on which ex-servicemen could engage in developmental work and make an adequate income, to the purchase of single-unit farms. I agree that, in some instances, and under very stringent conditions, the purchase of single-unit farms should be allowed. I believe that there is ample provision, which could be extended if necessary, that would enable the young man who has never been a propertyowner or a share farmer and has not taken any part in actual land management,’ to become qualified to take up either single-unit farms or big areas. I have always believed, and said, that men who have never farmed, provided they have sufficient intelligence and the requisite physique, as well as the capacity to apply whatever knowledge they possess, should have the right to’ participate in soldier settlement schemes if the State is satisfied that they are likely to make a success of the venture. It is all very well to argue that a rural worker who can pitch sheaves to the top of a stack for 48 or 56 hours a week is qualified to take up land. I claim that a man who, before the war, had been engaged in other occupations or was too young to have embarked on a career, provided he is sufficiently developed physically and mentally, would probably obtain better results from farming than one who had merely pitched sheaves for an employer and had not the necessary capacity for the management of a farm. The case presented by the honorable member for Richmond is pure political propaganda, of which little notice need be taken. As these schemes develop, and co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States increases, the anomalies which undoubtedly will occur in the early stages will be ironed out to the satisfaction of the soldier settlers and the people of the Commonwealth.
.- I support whole-heartedly the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony).
– There are a lot of soldier settlers in Flinders !
– A large number of soldiers wish to settle in that electorate. It seems to be the general opinion on the Ministerial benches, and particularly among government officials, that this is a good scheme, and that the people are completely satisfied with it. The honorable member for Ballarat (Air. Pollard) accused honorable members on this side of the House of indulging in political propaganda. In my electorate, there is widespread indignation against the Government, not only among exservicemen, but also among their connexions and farmers in the district. Flinders, like Richmond, has in it a very large number of small farms of from SO to 200 acres. The men who are working them are aware of the conditions that are to be applied to soldier settlers, and want to help them. They believe that, in existing circumstance’s, the Government is nothelping them, and they do not see any prospect of help being forthcoming from that quarter. Although the war has been over for almost a year, not one soldier has been settled on the land anywhere in Australia, and there does not seem to be any prospect of one being settled for another three or four years.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– It is correct. If the Minister can cite figures disproving my statement, I shall be glad to hear them. According to my information and experience, not one man has been given a farm or has any hope of obtaining one. The indignation in Flinders has led to meetings being held throughout the electorate, organized not by ex-servicemen but by councils, local repatriation committees, and others who are vitally interested in the matter. It is time the Government took notice of what is happening. Two problems are involved : First, is the present legislation in regard to land settlement satisfactory; and secondly, is it being satisfactorily administered? I shall deal first with the second question. Not one ma:h, within my knowledge, has been given a farm. Every one is asking when the scheme is to begin to operate.
I have received numerous letters from” individuals, shire councils, branches of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, and local repatriation committees, asking me to take action to have settlement expedited.
– Some of the land which the honorable gentleman holds might be taken from him.
– Not much could be taken, because I do not own a great deal. All of what I owned in New South Wales has been taken already.
– For the settlement of exservicemen, I hope.
– But the honorable gentleman just alleged that ex-servicemen are not being given land !
– Some land has been resumed and, as the honorable member for Richmond has stated, some ex-servicemen have been settled on it, in the western district of New South Wales. But nowhere else in the Commonwealth ‘has any resumed land been handed over for settlement.
– It has been handed over, and is being prepared for settlement. An estate of more than” 40,000 acres in my electorate has been made available for subdivision into twenty farms.
– The Minister misunderstands me. I have said that the land has not been handed over for settlement by ex-servicemen. A long time will elapse before it will be ready for settlement.
– The’ honorable gentleman is merely “ splitting straws “. Being a practical man, he knows that an estate of 50,000 or 60,000 acres could not be subdivided into blocks for settlers in “ 24 hours “.
– I am well aware, of that. But too much time is being lost in putting the scheme into proper shape. The reason is the division of responsibility between the States and the Commonwealth.
– How could the Commonwealth overcome that? It cannot itself undertake land settlement.
– Of course it can. It has complete power under the Constitution to acquire property.
– It has not.
– It can acquire property on just terms.
– The Commonwealth cannot acquire property on any terms, except for specific purposes.
– At present, the’ “ball” is being passed back and forth between the States and the Commonwealth. The States complain of inability to obtain Commonwealth approval of land that has been resumed. A large area of land in Victoria has not been inspected by the Commonwealth ; therefore, it has not been possible to subdivide it and make it ready for settlement. In addition, there is the matter of single-unit farm’s. In my district, farms are being sold at the fixed ceiling prices, which are reasonable. Why should they not be taken up by the State and handed over to suitable settlers? For as long as the present state of. affairs continues, those who wish to settle on the land will be unable to do so. 1 shall deal now with the matter of loans. As the honorable member for Richmond lias pointed out, and as we all know, loans up to £1,000 are supposed to be available to settlers. I have had brought to my notice the case of a. man who enlisted at the age of eighteen years, yet has been unable to obtain a loan of only £2r>0; he is the son of a farmer in the western district of Victoria, and spent the whole of his early life on the land. His service in the Army extended over a period of three or four years. When discharged, lie purchased a block of twenty or 25 acres for the purpose of engaging in vegetable growing. He cleared the land, and thus obtained a quantity of good timber. All that he needs is a truck to transport the timber to clients. With the money thus obtained, he could erect a house and fence his property. I wrote to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, inquiring whether he could obtain a loan of £250:-. The reply referred me to the Land Settlement Commission in Melbourne, by which I -was referred to the Repatriation Commission. What has the matter to do with the Repatriation Commission? It ought to lie the concern of those who are administering the land settlement acts. For six weeks or two months, this unfortunate man has been going from one office to another trying to get a loan, but all his efforts have been fruitless. It is time that a wider view was taken in the administration of the act. Assistance should be given quickly. These men want to be settled on the land now, not five or ten years hence. The delays that are occurring offend everybody affected by them. What is to prevent Australia from doing what New Zealand has done? There are several thousand people waiting to be settled on the land in this country.
My final remarks will be in relation to the policy that has been generally applied under the act. I believe that the appointment of a body such as a select committee would be a very good step. It should inquire as to what amendments are needed. The act certainly is not working smoothly, or giving the results that everybody wants. The local repatriation committees, quite a number of which are established in my electorate, are doing excellent work’. They are fully acquainted with all the local farming conditions, and are thus able to give the best advice to those who wish to engage in farming operations. Why should not the New Zealand example be followed, by giving to them responsibility, power and money to settle these people on the land ? They should be given power to make an advance of up to £6,000, as is the case in New Zealand. Those committees are empowered to inspect the farms and, if they are worth the money asked, to buy them for returned servicemen. The system has operated with great success in New Zealand, and what has been done there can be done here.
– There are no State parliaments in New Zealand.
– The responsibility for repatriation rests with the Commonwealth Parliament.
– There are constitutional limitations.
– There are no constitutional limitations. I believe that it could be done if the Government had the will to do it.
.- It is a pity that the subject of soldier land settlement, which is one phase of repatriation, has been made a political football. Perhaps as a consequence of this criticism, the scheme will be put into operation and’ the difficulties ironed out more quickly than would otherwise have been the case. The difficulties associated with soldier settlement have been aggravated by the number of controls in operation. The State governments in the “principal “ States are determined to retain their own methods of closer settlement, and they have merely changed their closer settlement schemes to soldier settlement schemes. In the “ agent “ States, I understand, the settlement schemes are working much more smoothly. In New South Wales difficulties have arisen because so many inspections are ma.de, and so many conferences held before an estate can be taken over for sub-division. I am aware that there is strong opposition in both State and Federal circles, to single-block settlements, and the argument of the economist who opposes the system is logical. However, there are certain aspects of settlement in New South Wales which deserve to be taken into consideration. I understand that the act in Victoria has recently been amended to make provision for single-block settlements.
– There is no Victorian act dealing with the matter at all.
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) has specially cited a recent amendment of the act, and I prefer to accept him as an authority on that point. I am aware that under the system of single-block settlement no more people will be put on the land than are there now. In New South Wales there has always- existed a provision by which the Government will finance the purchase of freehold land for soldiers or other persons who can put up a deposit of 20 per cent, of the purchase price, and the system has proved very successful in the case of soldier settlers. I do not believe that purely economic considerations should be permitted to determine policy in the matter of singleblock settlement. It should be remembered that in New South Wales neitherthe Crown nor private persons hold great areas of land suitable for sub-division. Moreover, the development of’ mechanized farming has introduced a new factor. Tractors and other farm machinery have . taken the place of the cheap farm labour formerly employed. Many of the young men who used to work as farm labourers . for low wages are not prepared to return to those conditions. They have been in the cities or overseas. They have seen other men working as trade unionists under conditions superior to those with which they were familiar. Some of them have married, and they are justified inrefusing to go back and become slaves on the land. They naturally wish to give their wives and families something better than they themselves previously knew. There are very few opportunities in country towns for the employment of such men in industry, so that the tendency will be for them to drift to the city, and to add to the congestion already existing there. ! suggest that land settlement schemes would work more smoothly if theCommonwealth were to hand over full control to the governments of the “principal ‘”’ States for a period if, say, five years. More soldiers would be settled on the land, and the drift of former farm labourers to the city would be stopped. Very few of these men will have enough capital to put up 20 per cent, of the purchase price of a farm. Let the Commonwealth Government hand over to the States the .amount which it is estimated will be expended by the Commonwealth on land settlement during the next five years, and let the States administer the scheme entirely. This principle has been followed by the Commonwealth in its hospitals scheme. The Commonwealth does not require the States to submit estimates of the cost of maintaining hospital beds, noi- to supply particulars of the diseases from which, patients are suffering and the treatment they are to he given. In my opinion, there is no need for the *’ principal “ States to have to submit to the federal authorities estimates of what the land will cost, or of the prospects of financial returns over a period of five or ten years. The States have land departments and departments of agriculture staffed by officers fully experienced in matters relating to land settlement. Indeed, they have had much more experience than have the federal authorities that have been set up to supervise them. If the system which I have suggested were adopted, soldier -land settlement would proceed much more satisfactorily than under the present system of dual control.
Criticism has been directed against the Government’s proposal to -make loans up to £1,000 to certain classes of soldier settlers. It must be remembered that if a person already holds a block of land he cannot participate in a ballot under any subdivision scheme in order to acquire another block. The £1,000 loan provision was evolved to afford financial assistance to soldiers who already possess land. That the scheme has been of .real assistance is proved by the number of applications which have been received from soldier settlers for. loans. The money is being advanced at rates of interest not generally available to other classes of soldier settlers. It is evident, therefore, that those who have criticized this scheme have done so without full knowledge of the facts.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m..
.- The whole test of successful soldier land settlement is. not in the planning that may take place before the establishment of the scheme, but in the actual results achieved under it. And this test is proved by the number of ex-servicemen placed on the land, not only in the months since the end of the war, but also during the war when there was a continuous stream of men. being discharged from the forces. In examining the position under the Government’s scheme foi1 the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land, I propose, first to refer to what has happened in New South “Wales, because that is the State about which I know most and with which, naturally, I am most concerned. In 1941 the New South Wales Parliament passed the War Service Land Settlement Act, under which provision was made for the settlement of exservicemen. In 1945 the Commonwealth Parliament passed a complementary measure and an arrangement was entered into by the Commonwealth and the State for the purpose of settling ex-servicemen on the land, I propose first to little or. nothing has been done. It is disgraceful that months after the end of the war only twenty ex-servicemen had been settled and those on western land leases in New South Wales, and that possibly twenty more will he settled on such leases during the present month. In the whole of New South Wales not one estate has been cut up for land settle- . ment, and in fact, not one farm has been made available in the 20- inch rainfall area in that State which Mr. Tully, the late Minister for Lands in the New South Wales Government, described as the only land suitable for settlement by ex-service personnel. Only one estate in New South Wales has been resumed by the Government. That estate, which is situated in the electorate of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), has not yet been sub-divided and months may pass before soldiers are settled upon it. In New South Wales alone 15,000 men v have applied for qualification certificates and 7.000 certificates have been issued ; but little or nothing has been clone. There has been an appalling lack of co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth in regard to these proposals. It is useless for honorable members opposite to claim that it would have been better had sole responsibility for the -settlement of exservicemen on the land devolved upon the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member does not want that to happen. .
– No, particularly after the bitter experience we have had of past Commonwealth centralization. Let us consider for a moment what might have happened in such a case. The Commonwealth has no lands department, it has ‘ no agricultural authorities as have the States, and few if any of its officers have had practical experience on the land. It is obvious, then, that this task of settling ex-servicemen on the land should be left to the State governments which have facilities .to carry it out successfully and with expedition. Had that been done the bungling which lias taken place would have been obviated. Under the present set-up the States oan take no action without Commonwealth approval. Every estate approved by a State government for settlement must be referred to the Commonwealth and approved or disapproved by officials of the Commonwealth service who have had no experience on the land and whose sole knowledge of the problems of the man oil the.land has been gleaned from text books.
On the 7th June, 1945, the New South Wales Government submitted proposals for the acquisition and sub-division of
JJ estates with a total area of 360,000 acres estimated as being sufficient to settle -tOO ex-servicemen. But what has haphened to those proposals? Only one estate has yet been taken up and that has not yet. been sub-divided, and the rest have been left, in the hands of their owners. So bad is- the position that the New South Wales Minister for Lands,. Mr. Dunn, stated in an address to the Shires Association Conference in Sydney recently that it might be sixteen years before some’ of the soldiers were settled on the land. Mr. Dunn advocated the creation of a single authority, stating that dual control by Commonwealth and State authorities was the retarding factor. Under present conditions it does not seem likely that more than 400 soldiers will be placed on farms during the next year. Stagnation in government departments is so bad, and unwillingness of the Commonwealth Government to put soldier settlement on a prosper basis, is causing intolerable delays which are arousing the ire of ex-servicemen.
T propose now to deal with the matter of the acquisition ‘ of single farms for soldiers or the enabling of a soldier to acquire a portion of an estate for himself for development, a matter which was dealt with so admirably by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). Dealing with this subject the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture stated that the Commonwealth Government had placed an embargo on single-unit settlement.
– That is quite untrue.
– It is indeed strange then that the Minister should wait until now to contradict a statement made some time ago by a responsible Minister of the New South Wales Government; one who has served for 35 years in the Parliament of that State as a Labour representative and himself a farmer and one of the most trusted men in the State political sphere. Irrespective of how the Minister regards the statement, it cannot be denied that not a single ex-serviceman in New South Wales has been able to arrange, either through this Government or the State government of New South Wales, a single farm purchase.
– Because none has been submitted.
– The real reason is because / the Rural Reconstruction Commission reported against single-unit purchase. That commission consisted, no doubt, of very worthy gentlemen; but they .did not know everything and obviously they could not make provision for every type of case that might arise. It is a curious thing that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) and his colleague the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), who both sit in the same Cabinet, seem to be diametrically opposed on the question of single-farm purchases.
– Not at all!
– They are like Siamese twins in some respects, but they do not speak with one voice on this, important” question. In order to demonstrate their divergent views, I shall read an extract from the Northern Daily Leader of the Sth May last relative to an interview which took place between representatives , of the land settlement subcommittee of the Inverell branch of the Returned Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Imperial League and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. The representatives of the league brought to the notice of the Minister the following resolution of a meeting of the subcommittee : -
That the Federal Government be strongly urged to approve of the purchase of single farms through the War Service Land Settlement Scheme.
Mi-. McLennan, a member of the deputation, remarked that this system of soldier land settlement had not been approved by the Commonwealth Government because the Government considered it was not true closer settlement. He added that if an owner had, say, 5,000 acres, and the soldier son of - a small farmer could obtain 1,000 acres off this property, it was certainly closer settlement, as the country gained another farmer. The Minister for Commerce is reported to have replied -
That angle was never discussed when we considered the closer settlement scheme. I. must confess how bona fide it appears to be, and how reasonable it is.
Mr. McLennan said that what was wanted was the SO per cent, advance for singlefarm purchase. The Minister was reported to have said that when they re-assembled in Canberra, possibly in a fortnight’s time, he would discuss that point with his colleagues and support it. He admitted that it was likely to be the most successful method of establishing servicemen on the land. Yet his blood brother, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, denied my allegation that they do not speak with one voice on this important matter. He has characterized the statement of the Minister for Lands in New South Wales as untrue, but without waiting to hear what his colleague in the Federal Parliament had to say, he unhesitatingly states in this House that both he and his colleague have identical views on the subject and that they are both opposed to singlefarm purchases. To say the least of it, this conflict of opinion on the part of Ministers sitting in the same Cabinet is extraordinary.
I propose now to deal with the subject of group settlement schemes of three soldiers. As far as I am able to gather, no group settlement schemes of this kind have yet been instituted in New South Wales. One proposal of which I have personal knowledge was with regard to a property known as Dim by Plains, which is situated in the electorate of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), 28 miles from Qui rind i and five miles from the Werris Creek-Binnaway railway line. The Dimby Plains estate consists of 6,000 acres of very fine Liverpool Plains land. It is heavy fattening country, which has possibly been overstocked in recent years. The fencing is out of repair but could be very easily rectified by energetic soldier settlers. Three soldiers applied for settlement on this property, all of them with western lands experience. All were very hard workers and men of the best type for land settlement. The property was offered for £3 10s. an acre on a freehold basis. It was submitted to the local committee and approved by it. Highly improved properties in the surrounding district had been selling from £5 10s. to £6 an acre. Yet this Dimby Plains property is refused by the technical advisers of the Minister.
– Commonwealth or State
– As far as I know, the proposal was sent to Sydney, but whether it was refused in Sydney, or by the Commonwealth at Canberra, I do not know. The Minister must be acquainted with the property.
– Does the honorable member mean me?
– No; I realize that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction knows nothing about the land. But the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture must know the full particulars of this property, because the State member for Liverpool Plains took up the matter, and great publicity has been given to it in northern New South Wales. It is an admirable property for soldier settlement.It affords a chance for men to take over at a comparatively low price a valuable piece of country. There is no house on the block, but within half a mile there is a good house which could be rented on long terms andlived in while the property is developed. Yet the proposal has been turned down. The Government will do nothing. That is characteristic of what is happening all over Australia in regard to soldier settlement. As far back as October, 1945. the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction made a statement on the CommonwealthState scheme of war service land settlement in paragraph 7 of which he said -
On the 7th June, the State of New South Wales submitted proposals for acquisition and sub-division of 21 estates involving a total area of about 360,000 acres. It is estimated that these areas will provide for the settlement of about 400 servicemen. On 17th of this month, the State, at the Commonwealth’s request, supplied further information about its proposals and they will be considered by Commonwealth officers and a recommendation made to the Government.
Delay continues month after month without any returned soldiers being put on the land. They are desperately anxious to know whether the Government is sincere in its desire to settle them on the land or whether the statements in these admirably printed pamphlets issued by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, like “ Farms for Fighting Men “ are shallow promises that the Government has no intention of carrying out. This shilly-shallying must end.
Of greatest importance in the matter of land settlement of ex-servicemen is the granting of wheat licences to these soldier settlers. Some weeks ago, at a conference in Sydney, I declared that they could not obtain licences in perpetuity to grow wheat, either on farms acquired by them since the war or on farms that they owned before the war, if they had not been wheatgrowers in the* basic year through their having been sufficiently patriotic to enlist in the armed forces. A member of the Wheat Stabilization Committee, Mr. Tilston, took me to task, in the local paper, about that statement, saying that not one returned soldier had been refused a licence. Yet, at that meeting at Inverell, which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture attended, the first resolution was -
That permanent wheat farm registrations be given to all ex-servicemen wheat-growers.
Mr. McLennan said that, with the prospect of- the re-drafting of the wheat stabilization scheme, they brought this resolution under the notice of the Minister hoping that he could do something to rectify what were considered injustices. He said that one case that had come under notice was that of a man who had land at North Star, in the Inverell district. He had killed the timber, cleared the land, and was about to plant wheat, but enlisted and went overseas. He was now back, but the only permission he, could get was to grow wheat for one year; a permanent registration was refused. If he had stayed at home the property would have been a registered wheat farm. There were more than 25 similar cases in New South Wales, and the deputation at Inverell urged that something be done very promptly to overcome such injustice. The Minister, in replying, said that he was very glad that ‘the servicemen had come along to bring these points under notice. He would give authority to issue licences for at least the duration of the act. That is the National Security Act, which is supposed to expire on the 31st December this year. It is cold comfort to returned soldiers to know that their right to grow wheat is to last only to the end of this year. The Minister said that he had’ no power to go beyond the end of the year but later he must have forgotten what he had said, because, he added that another point he particularly, wanted to emphasize was that returned soldiers would definitely be given permanent wheat licences. What can the returned men believe when in the one- speech he expresses two divergent views as to the rights to a licence to grow wheat. Returned men cannot be successfully settled on the land in agricultural areas if they are denied the right to grow the staple product of Australia.. The Government is not sincere in its profession of a desire to settle returned men on the land or to assist the States to do so. If it were genuine it would be prepared to advance money for soldier settlement to the States and allow them to go ahead. It could place an officer in each of the State departments to ensure that valuations were right. It should depend on the States to carry out the conditions laid down and put the whole land-settlement scheme through.
An important matter that has been raised on many occasions by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and other Commonwealth Ministers and . the Government of New South Wales, is the delay in reaching agreement with landowners on land values. There is ample power under the Land Acquisition Acts of New South Wales for the State to resume land out of hand. If the State authorities and the land-owners cannot agree on land values, let the Land Valuation Court fix the value, and let the owner be paid interest on the money owed to him from the time of his dispossession. ,
– And how long does it take to do that?
– Very little time; no time compared with the time lost under the present method. The powers of the Land Valuation Court are ample.
– It is said that that procedure takes nine months.
– Nine months! Why, the Minister for Agriculture .in New South Wales, Mr. Dunn, says that the present method will take sixteen years. Is it not better to spend nine months than sixteen years on Carrying out a proposition? The objection’ raised by the honorable member for” Hume (Mr. Puller) is utterly ridiculous. Doubtless, the procedure could i;be speeded up ;?o that only four or five months might be occupied in bringing the matter to completion. I genuinely believe that this Government has no intention ‘of settling ex-soldiers on the land. It will not face the question of wheat licences because it consists of craven .curs and cowards, frightened of offending some of the wheatgrowers of Australia.
– Order 1 The honorable member’s language is unparliamentary.
– I regret that I became a little heated; but I feel bitter that men who risked their all in fighting for this country are denied even the fulfilment of promises made to them in these booklets. In New Zealand, up to £6,000 is expended to enable a returned man to go on the land, but, as the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has shown, the limit to which this Government will go in that direction is a loan of £1,000. One honorable member opposite said that that was only for the purpose of purchasing plant or the erection of a .house or other buildings on the property, but the department’s booklet says that’ among the purposes for which the money is to be advanced is the purchase of land, and to talk about purchasing for £1,000 a farm from which a man may expect to earn a living is too silly for words. The only farm of that value from which he might get a living would perhaps be a poultry run. The Government stands condemned in the eyes of the people for its failure to carry out the land settlement scheme. All this delay results from the Government’s desperate clinging to centralized control at Canberra, where everything must be approved by the theorists that advise this Government in such a way that men who served this country in its time of need are denied their rights.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) [8.26 . - I am afraid there is little satisfaction with the administration of soldier settlement except in the ranks of the Ministry and its supporters, who must, of course, declare that everything in the garden is lovely, particularly in the next three months. In South Australia, practically the whole soldier settlement will take place in Barker. There will be practically none outside that electorate. The
Loxton irrigation scheme, to which the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) was bitterly opposed, bin to which he finally consented-
– That is also untrue.
– I invite the Minister to go there. He will find a warm welcome awaiting him.
– I have been.
– I know. lt is a political courtesy that is observed between a government and an opposition that when a Minister is discussing something concerning the electorate of another honorable member he lets that honorable member know about it; but the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction went to South Australia last year and attended a meeting across the border from my electorate, the object of which was to discuss the Loxton, irrigation scheme, and the first I knew of it: was what I read in the press afterwards. That is shabby treatment of an honorable member of this House.
– I did not arrange the meeting. I went there by invitation.
– Seeing that affairs in my electorate were being discussed with people living outside it, I think the Minister should have seen that. I had the chance of being there.
– I had no control over the invitations to the conference.
– It .waa not for the people of “Wakefield to invite me. The Minister went there for a specific purpose. I say to him, man to man, that that Loxton irrigation scheme to which he would not agree that night was subsequently . agreed to. I was in Loxton last week, and I assure the honorable gentleman that a warm and enthusiastic welcome awaits him there from 100 per cent, of the people. The irrigation scheme is going ahead, not because of anything the Minister did, but in spite of every obstacle that he put in its way. He can argue that out with the Premier of South Australia.
It is said that after the 1914-18 war mistakes were made in soldier settlement schemes. On that we all agree. It is also a well-known saying that the man who never made a mistake never made anything. The policy .. adopted by the present Government is designed to enable the Labour party to claim a quarter of a century hence that, at any rate, on soldier settlement, ‘ it never made & mistake, because at the present rate of progress the Government will never settle any ex-servicemen on the land.
What is the position in South Australia? The State Government purchased lands on trust before this Parliament considered the Re-establishment and Employment Bill more than a year ago, and, according to the latest information which I received from a Minister with whom I travelled in my electorate a few days ago, some -of those Und: have not yet been approved by the Commonwealth Government for soldier settlement. The Government of South Australia is in a different position from that of the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. In common with the governments of Western Australia and Tasmania. it is acting as an agent for the Commonwealth. When we .study soldier settlement from the stand-point of the soldier, the first line of barricades which we discover is constituted by the qualifications that he must possess before he may- go on the land. I invite honorable members to examine the agreement which the Parliament validated by legislation last year, and some of the pamphlets, issued by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, which I saw for the first time to-day through the courtesy of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). After having read those pamphlets, any one would he justified in believing that no man who enlisted in the Navy, Army or Air Force had any previous experience on the land. One would think that every serviceman enlisted from the metropolitan area, and all that he knew about farming was what he had seen at. motion picture theatres on Saturday nights. But any number of those men were engaged in rural pursuits before they joined the services. They do not require education by the Government in agricultural and pastoral matters.
Many of them would be quite, willing to return to the farms on which they had lived before their enlistment, but the policy of this Government is that no man shall purchase the land on which he was reared. In other words, no transactions shall be conducted which will permit a man) who does not possess enough finance to ‘ settle his own son, to sell his land through the soldiersettlement authority to his son on his discharge from .the services. When the Parliament was considering theagreement last year, I said that that principle was wrong. I now repeat that it is wrong in. every way. The Minister must have some knowledge of rural’ conditions in the United Kingdom. It is one of the proudest, things in the history of British agriculture that the land has remained in the possession of one family generation after generation. But the policy of this Government is todeclare that people shall not remain in possession of the land generation aftergeneration if that can be achieved only through the good graces of the soldiersettlement authorities. The policy of theGovernment is that the vendor of the land - in this case the father or some, relative - must put his land into the pool, and’ the son or some relative must take hischances in the ballot. That is wrong.
– That is exactly what the Government, declares.’
– It is one of the wickedest’ propositions which has ever been put forward in the history of this Parliament. A man will be denied; the right to carry on the property in which he has a personal and sentimental interest. He will be forced to go on to someother property, perhaps in a district in. which he would not like to live so much, as the one in ‘which he was born and reared. I can cite examples, although possibly it will not interest theGovernment, of men who have already become, tired of waiting for an opportunity to take up .land. Last January, in my electorate, a meeting was held of repatriation committees and the chairmen, of district councils. A senior officer of the Commonwealth attended, and informed’ the gathering, which, after all, consistedof men of some responsibility and integrity, who possessed some knowledge of land conditions, that it would be at least two years, and probably five years, beforethe Commonwealth would be prepared togo ahead seriously with land settlement” in South Australia.
The next matter to which I desire to refer is the purchase of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen. Obviously, the Government is committed to the group settlement system. In my opinion, that is one of the worst features about the administration. If these ex-servicemen are, as the Minister presumes they are, persons who have had no previous experience on the land, and whose only knowledge of agriculture when they are put on the land will be that which has been imparted to them by some government school, it will be in their own interests that they should not be congregated in one group settlement scheme. It will be far better, in’ the interests of the ex-serviceman, that he should settle among experienced men who will be only too happy to impart their knowledge to him. In the Naracoorte district of South Australia, certain landholders wrote to me through a well-known barrister and solicitor, and I forwarded the letter to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). They offered to give to the Commonwealth land for soldier settlement, on condition that the transaction should be exempt from gift duty. The decision of the Treasurer was that those citizens should give the land, and, in addition, pay gift duty. That decision was reinforced later in the case of a landholder in the Narracoorte district, who desired to settle his son on a part of his own property. This correspondence is on the Treasurer’s file, and I can give the name of the gentle-‘ man concerned. He wanted to transfer to his son, who had been discharged from the services, 800 acres of his estate, but the Treasurer ruled, that he must pay gift duty on the transfer. Shylock and others of that ilk could have learnt a few things from the Chifley Government on these matters.
I come now to the clearing and fencing of the land. As one who went through the mill of soldier settlement after World War I., I .am sure that if I had to undergo that experience again at this stage, I should prefer to take up land which was unimproved and uncleared, and do the clearing and fencing and erect the buildings. I am firmly of the opinion that I could do that work more efficiently and cheaply than any government department, Commonwealth or State, could do it for me. Honorable members opposite, who have a knowledge of agriculture, will agree with my view. Some might argue that for the clearing and preparation of the land, settlers now have big tractors, and disc and shearer ploughs. Those implements have been tried in my electorate, but government enterprise, in that kind of work, will never be as economical as is private enterprise. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) knows that. If a settler is erecting his own buildings and fences and is undertaking his own water conservation, he will do the work more efficiently than a government department will do it for him. The underlying purpose of this Government’s policy for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land is not so much to settle soldiers on the land as to force every ex-serviceman to become an unwilling worshipper of one of its greatest fetishes, namely, that a man shall never become a property owner. Every one of those blocks will be leasehold. In the implementation of the Government’s housing policy, the Minister had to execute one of his customary speedy somersaults. He is becoming very proficient in that feat. One of the underlying principles of the Government’s policy is that there shall not be any private ownership of anything. The Labour party believes that any man who aspires to own anything must ipso facto have something wrong with him, and any man who has acquired ‘anything must have got it by wrong means. The sooner that spirit .is eradicated in the Labour party, the better it will be for the Commonwealth of Australia, particularly if it should so happen’ that at the next election honorable gentlemen opposite are not removed from the Treasury bench.
The final point which I make on soldier settlement is that in the interests of the servicemen themselves, the Commonwealth of Australia and the world as a whole, the sooner those men begin to produce food, the better it will be for every one. I am one of those who do not believe that, under present conditions, the production of any commodity, least of all wheat, should be restricted. Only yesterday, I received from a colleague of the Minister a letter from which I was astounded to learn, although a man should not, be astonished at anything these days, that the Government has placed an embargo upon the export of oats. Probably the oats are being kept here to feed some of the Scotsmen to whom the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) referred last year.
-The honorable member’s remarks on oats are irrelevant.
– My remarks are related to the subject under discussion because the sooner we increase production, and the sooner . we settle ‘ ex-servicemen on the land, the easier it will be for them to take advantage of the prices which are ruling today and which are likely to rule for the next few years. What will happen after that, we do not know. I have a firm and abiding faith in the peasantry of Europe _ and in their capacity to recover fairly quickly their lost ground once the opportunity is afforded them to do so. Everything points to the necessity for a great speeding up by the Government of land settlement of ex-servicemen. But instead of this acceleration, we witness such a condition of affairs that if a snail and a tortoise were to enter into competition with this Government, they would be accused and fined for speeding on the highway.
To-morrow, I shall place on the noticepaper a question asking the Minister how many soldiers have been settled on the land in each of the six States. I shall desire particularly to know how many have been settled in the territories of the Commonwealth where there are no State governments to impede progress. Further, I shall desire to know how many nien who have land of their own have received advances up to £1,000 as provided in the act. To date I have heard of only one such instance in my electorate. Frankly, I shall tell exservicemen, who are able to carry oh’ without Commonwealth assistance, not to get tangled up with the advance of £1,000, because it will take them so long tq get the money, and the advance will have so many strings to it that it will be of doubtful value to them. The time has arrived when this House should consider the proposal put forward by the honorable member for Rich mond this afternoon. I trust that, before long, more than a departmental interest will be taken by the Parliament of the Commonwealth in the settlement, of ex-servicemen on the land.
.- The lag which has occurred in the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land has caused grave concern throughout the country. The soldiers were promised a great deal. As soon as the prisoners were released from Changi camp in Singapore, Commonwealth officials visited thom and promised them nil kinds of favoured treatment. The troops believed that they would retur.ii to a paradise in Australia, and that the people would realize and appreciate the part that they had played, and rehabilitate them in a very satisfactory manner. But many months have passed since those men returned to Australia and their hopes so far as land settlement is concerned have not been realized. The fault does not lie wholly with the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). I do not criticise him personally for the delay ; undoubtedly many unexpected factors arose. Although’ nothing substantial has yet been done, the time is still opportune for positive action. Ex-servicemen have whittled away their deferred pay and allowances and to-day they are not in the same financial position to go on the land as they were some months ago. The men who desire to settle on the land, are anxious that action shall be taken without delay. It has been said that in the western district of Victoria, large areas have been acquired for settlement. But I have in mind the need to make singleunit farms available. This must be done if the wishes of the returned men themselves are to be considered. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) must be aware of this fact, for recently he addressed meetings in the Wimmera, particularly at Warracknabeal and elsewhere.
– Very successful meetings, too.
I Mr. TURNBULL.- That is what I understand, for I am told that quite. 30 people attended the meeting at Warracknabeal! According to the, Warracknabeal Herald, the ‘Minister promised that he would inquire into the position of the power alcohol distillery there, I. hope that lie will do so. I hope that he will also inquire into the matter of single-unit farms. It has been stated that the Victorian authority dealing with land settlement plans for ex-servicemen is not anxious to buy large areas of land in the Wimmera electorate. I am not now referring to the country along the Murray which can be irrigated and where large areas must be settled, but to the vast wheat-growing belt which is famous all over Australia. It is highly desirable that legislation should be introduced, or other appropriate steps taken to enable singleunit farms to be made available. I have received letters from ex-servicemen’s organizations, shire councils, and other bodies stressing the need for such action. I understand that the authorities in Melbourne are favorable to this policy, but that they contend that the Commonwealth Government must take some action before such a policy can be applied. It would be of great advantage to exservicemen if they could acquire singleunit farms. In the area to which I am referring, wheat-growing and fat lamb raising are the main industries, and the single-unit farm is suitable for such operations. Men could be settled on single-unit farms with a very bright prospect of success. Surely it is desirable that nien should be assisted to settle in areas where they have a good knowledge of local conditions and values. That is a far better proposition than forcing men to move from, say, nothern to western district areas. It is also desirable that a man should be enabled to settle on property adjacent to that occupied by his father, or a brother or close friends. If a man settles in a neighbourhood where he has friends he will undoubtedly receive a great deal more assistance on the basis of f riendship and goodwill than he is likely to receive if he goes into an area in which ho is a complete stranger. This relates particularly to the use of farming machinery. In Wimmera the people are willing and ready to assist one another, especially in times of ill fortune. This reason, and many others should cause us to do everything possible to encourage settlement on single-unit farms. My constituents and also the ex-servicemen’s organizations in Wimmera very strongly favour the policy that I am advocating. In .the circumstances obtaining in Australia and, in fact, the whole world to-day, it is urgent that everything possible be done to stimulate production and satisfactorily settle ex-servicemen. For the reasons that 1 have given, I strongly support the amendment. I believe that every one who has any faith in the resources of this country, and any knowledge of the ability of our ex-servicemen, would favour their establishment on single-unit farms as a part of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. I, therefore, urge the Government to review its attitude on this subject.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) has already spoken to the motion. On thisoccasion, therefore, he will have to confine his remarks strictly to the amendment.
– I understand that the purpose of the amendment is to secure the appointment of a select committee to investigate certain details of the Government’s land settlement scheme for ex-servicemen. It has been said by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) that disgraceful delays have occurred. I wish to remind honorable gentlemen opposite of the circumstances which faced many returned men who settled on the land after the last war. According to some honorable gentlemen opposite, the Government does not intend to settle any men on the land now. That is not true. In my opinion, the Government, is doing a very good job. In particular, it has laid down definite conditions under which ex-servicemen may be settled on the land.
– Order ! The honorable member for Wannon is now discussing the general subject. I remind him that the phases that he may discuss in speaking to the amendment are limited to the adequacy of the cash loan at present bein’g provided, the necessity for immediately making provision for a scheme for the acquisition of single-unit farms, and the qualifications at present. stipulated in respect of ex-servicemen who desire to become soldier settlers.
– I point out that the lack of man-power ,and materials has caused delay. Land settlement of exservicemen is a combined Commonwealth and States matter. Honorable gentlemen opposite are in error in thinking that the Government is opposed to the singleunit farm settlement of ex-servicemen. Such a view is entirely incorrect.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has said the opposite.
M.r. McLEOD.- That is not how I understood the Minister’s remarks. It is obvious to me that the Victorian authority administering the landsettlement policy in respect of exservicemen contemplates settlement on single-unit farms, for- legislation was passed recently by the State Parliament to the effect that all projected land sales involving more than £2,000 must be submitted to the appropriate authority in order to ascertain whether the property proposed to be sold is suitable for exsoldier settlement. That shows that single-unit farms are being considered.
– The Minister for
Post-war Reconstruction denied in the House this evening that that was so.
– I do not accept the honorable member’s word On the point.
– Honorable gentlemen opposite are trying to confuse the issue as it, relates to single-unit farms and individual farms. There is no objection to settlement on individual farms, but there is strong objection to single-unit farms.
– I do not understand the difference.
– That has been explained.
– The basis for the. acquisition of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen has been fixed, and that has never been done previously in the history of such land-settlement schemes. After the last war the land owners rather than the soldiers were repatriated because inflated prices were paid for land acquired for settlement. In Victoria one property that has been purchased for approximately £21 an acre would have cost the Government at least ‘£40 an acre after the last war. When I and other returned men went on the land after World War I. we were given a. cross-cut saw, a longhandled shovel, an axe, and a kit of wedges. In my case I had even to hunt for the survey pegs. That was not an isolated experience. The Government is doing far better this time from both, the practical and the financial points of view. It has been said during this debate that an individual in New South Wales has declared that it would be sixteen years before all ex-servicemen who desire land will obtain it.
– Order ! I again remind the honorable gentleman of my ruling, and ask him to confine his remarks strictly to the amendment.
– The conditions laid down by this Government are generous. No provision was made after the last war for advancing returned soldiers up to £1,000. I would have been glad to receive a sustenance payment of 5s. a week from the anti-Labour government that was then in power, but even that meagre amount was not available. This Government is providing £5 a week, or at least a living allowance, for the first twelve months that ex-servicemen are on their land. In al! the circumstances I regard a great many of the statements that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite in this debate as rank hypocrisy. The Government is providing valuable financial assistance for ex-servicemen who wish to settle on the land. I shall warn the ex-servicemen in my electorate to’ beware of the statements of honorable gentlemen opposite, whose sole desire seems to be to secure a reduction of taxation, whereas the Government is anxious to provide money to enable ex-servicemen to settle on the land under reasonable conditions and with a good prospect of success. The financial provisions that have been laid down in this connexion are far more favorable than those arranged by any anti-Labour government. Returned, servicemen should therefore be careful before paying much heed to the hypocritical statements that are being made on this subject by honorable gentlemen opposite.
– I remind the Minister (Mr. Dedman) that the test that must be applied in connexion with soldier land settlement is, not what schemes’ have been drawn up on paper in the department by bureaucrats, but the number of ex-servicemen who have been effectively settled on the land and are now earning a living from it. A scheme should have been in operation during the six years of war, so that servicemen as they became discharged could have applied to the proper, authority, acquired a farm, and settled on it. Unfortunately, not one ex-serviceman has yet been settled on the land in Australia under the Commonwealth scheme. The Government ought to hang its head in shame. On the 14th March last, I asked a series of questions in respect of soldier land settlement. The facts that I am now about to recite were supplied to me by the Minister. He replied that no land had been allotted to any ex-serviceman under the scheme at that date. He .advised me that 28,492 applications had been received from soldiers for permission to settle on the land. Had there been a ready response to the applications that had been made, that number would have been doubled. Exservicemen knew that it was not worth while applying when not one of the 2S;492 who had applied had been settled on the. land. I asked how many men had received certificates of suitability, and was informed that only .7,347 certificates had been granted up to that date. I asked how many certificates of suitability had been issued in Queensland, and all that the Minister could say was that no reply could bie obtained from the State authorities. Before any man can settle on the land, he has to be certified as suitable and has to be trained. Of the 2S,492 who had applied, only 133 were in training, and of that number only 26 came from Queensland. What a gloomy picture this is for our ex-servicemen who waited for so long to be brought back to Australia! While they were overseas, they visualized what they would do when they were discharged. Many of them expected to settle on the land, quickly build a home, and make themselves comfortable for the remainder of their lives. They were induced to believe that this was possible, by the promises ‘that had been made to them by honorable gentlemen opposite. Yet not one ex-serviceman has been settled on the land. Contrast that with the progress that has been made in connexion with soldier land settlement in the small dominion of New Zealand.
– Tell us what was done by the government which the honorable gentleman supported.
– I shall show how dismally the honorable gentleman and his colleagues have failed, and how they have thereby destroyed the prospects of exservicemen who had hoped to settle on the land after having fought for their country.
– The honorable gentleman and his colleagues “ settled “ them after World War I.
– During that war, I had not an opportunity to discuss these problems in this House, because I w.as fighting for my country. The record of the present Government ought to make everyone associated with it hang his head in shame. Ex-servicemen want to know, not what was done after World War I., but what is the position to-day. In New Zealand, the number of ex-servicemen approved for soldier land settlement is 10,093, of whom 7,175 have been graded for immediate settlement; 2,005 have already been settled permanently on the land, and 5,170 are awaiting settlement. The population of New Zealand is only about one-fifth of that of Australia. The advances made to settlers are £6,500 to those who take up grazing properties and £5,000 to those who become dairy farmers. The expenditure so far incurred amounts to £7,302,067. Those undergoing training number 1,763, compared with 113 in Australia. The serious delay that has occurred in the settlement of ex-servicemen is blighting the hopes, prospects and outlook of these men, .and it .cannot be allowed . to continue. They have been awaiting a decision, and their deferred pay has been dwindling. They are becoming financially needy while the Government is doing nothing. No satisfaction can be obtained in respect of even the land that is being acquired for soldier land settlement by the States as agents for the Commonwealth. When proposals are submitted to the Commonwealth, there is further inordinate delay. Despite the bungling which characterizes the handling of the matter, the Minister appears to be completely satisfied. Every conceivable delay occurs under the present administration. Discussing housing recently, the Minister said that he was opposed to men owning their homes, because that would make them “ little capitalists “. The same principle is being applied in connexion with soldier land settlement. In each district, agricultural committees have been established, composed of many ex-servicemen of World War I. who became land settlers, and other prominent settlers. In New Zealand, such committees select men with the necessary qualifications, and the Government accepts them. That practice must be followed in Australia; otherwise, success cannot be achieved. If ex-servicemen, were given the opportunity to select farms, the properties could beacquired at the valuation placed on them by the Government. Ex-servicemen of World War I. and other local farmers desire to help these men to become successful. If they were short of farming implements, these could be loaned to them. Every encouragement and assistance could be given to enable them to settle effectively. Yet, the Government will not allow an exserviceman to go. into the country and, by his own initiative and industry, find for himself a suitable farm. If he does find one, he is not allowed to have it but must wait until the Government permits him to draw one in a ballot. In a letter written by the Minister on this point, he said -
The Commission agrees with that view and considers that, as a general principle, provision should not be mode to finance a returned soldier in the purchase of a farm for which he has privately negotiated.
– That is quite correct.
– The Minister cannot question its accuracy, because it appears over his own signature. He went on to say-
Any purchase of a single farm should be made by the State soldier settlement authority at a fair value, whereupon the farm should be dealt with under the provisions of the scheme, which are that it must be balloted for by every soldier who wants to get a farm. If a man is not prepared to come into a general scheme and take his chance for land with other applicants, he should not have the financial benefits of the scheme; he should be required to arrange his own finance.
That is the attitude of this Government to a man who has served his country, No matter whateffort he may make, or how highly , the local people may appreciate the services he has rendered to his country or how much they may wish to help him by finding a suitable farm for him, the Government says that he cannot have it. He may be the holder of the Victoria Cross, or may be suffering from wounds, There will never be effective soldier land settlement ifthe Government persists in imposing such conditions. The only successful means of soldier land settlement is by all getting behind the ex-serviceman, encouraging him, and giving him all the assistance they can. If he is short of farming equipment or. machinery, they should make theirs available to him. The Government does not want that. The goodwill of the local farmers is imperative, if the success of the scheme is to be assured. While the Government is toying with the proposals, it is breaking the hearts of ex-servicemen who are waiting to be settled on the land. The owners of the Jondaryan estate in Queensland, some of whom are exservicemen, have divided it into living areas, settled 50 ex-servicemen on it, and helped them to obtain finance. It is clear that the Government does not know where it stands in connexion with this matter.’ The Minister’ is not acquainted with the terms of the agreement. In the interests of ex-servicemen, the matter must be straightened out. The only way in which ex-servicemen can hope to obtain the assistance that was so glibly promised tothem, is by acceptance of the amendment of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), for the appointment of a select committee, which I have much pleasure in supporting.
.-I realize that, having spoken previously on thismatter, my remarks must now be confined to the amendment. I point out, however, that it has been on the notice paper for almost a year. That fact precludes, honorable members who spoke earlier from dealing with circumstances that have arisenduring the last year but were covered in the general substance of the original statement of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr.
Redman).. if appeal to the Govern.ment to .give Parliament a ‘fresh opportunity to discuss Oil a. broader plane this matter which .is of such tremendous consequence to so many young Australians. ‘One of t?he points m’ade by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) related to the provision for single-unit farms. The Minister interjected that there was nothing in ‘the Commonwealth legislation which pre>ven”ted Settling servicemen on singleunit fawns. The fact remains, however, it hat tobe policies -of the State Govern.ments which .aire acting as -principals in the settlement of servicemen are such as to preclude settlement oil single-unit farms. iff, as the ‘Government has so often claimed, every aspect of repatriation is a Commonwealth responsibility, the Govern,ment should not be content to acquiesce in a policy which -renders impossible a course of action deemed to be desirable. I strongly urge upon the Government the desirability of providing for the settlement of servicemen on singleunit farms. Most of the settlers will undoubtedly be the sons of farmers who went, from their fathers’ farms to the war, a-nd who, upon their return, choose farming as a way of .life. The Government should recognize that the chances of a serviceman being successful are tremendously enhanced if he is -allowed to settle down beside his father or his brothers, or perhaps near his wife’s relatives. A. farmer uses a wide range of equipment, but some of it he needs for only a few weeks in the year.. The young farmer who is settled close to his father can share with him the use of a reaper and binder, a ‘tractor a-nd other farm machinery.. I deprecate the present tendency to regard no scheme for land settlement as satisfactory unless it -can be described -as a part of -a big plan involving the acquisition of many thousands of acres, and the settlement of many hundreds -of farmers on areas which- can be ruled off neatly in draught-board pattern’s. Such schemes look very Well, on- paper., but they involve removing the settlers geographically from their parents and relatives whose help and advice would be invaluable to them.. Many of us have had proof -of this at ‘first hand. We know that those mein who after the last war, we’re able to settle- down near their parents and friends and receive the benefit of their ‘advice in the purchase of stockthe loan of - machinery, and financial Management - which is a-n essential part of farming- were, in general, much, -more successfu’l than those who went on to the big Subdivisions. The only way in which servicemen calx be settled near their friends and relatives- is -through a system of single-unit ‘farms.
Australia is underdeveloped agriculturally. Many present holdings are bigger tha;n a Irving aTea, and can be sub.divided. Scientific developments ‘are making it possible to increase production by .the introduction of better farming methods, pasture improvement, the ‘application’ o’f more suitable fertilizers and by improving the -quality of stock. It may be said that practically the entire agricultural area of Australia is ripe for subdivision. There ‘ are many thousands of farms to-day, each of which supports’ Only one family from which one son or more Went to the war. Those farms lend themselves to sub-division so that a son could settle on what Was formerly a part of his father’s farm, and thus be in a position to share With his father the use of farm, implements, and benefit from paternal assistance and advice. The Government ought to step in and say that the policy of settling servicemen on singleunit farms- should be put into effect.
– The honorable member knows that the Commonwealth has no power under the Constitution to do that.
– The Commonwealth has the power of the purse.
-What the Minister says is true. I know that the Commonwealth has mot the power under the Constitution, and I may have been guilty of an exaggeration when I said that the Government ought to step “in ; but I also know that what the honora.ble member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) said is true - the Commonwealth bars the power of the purse.
-The honorable member means that we should -bribe the States?
-No. I mean that the Commonwealth ‘should make “it financially possible for the S’ta’tes to’ inaugurate a policy of single-unit farms. The Commonwealth has made it financially attractive to three of the States to become mere agents for it in the matter of soldier settlement, and in those three States the Commonwealth has full power to apply’ what policy it chooses.
Many reasons could be advanced why soldier settlement has been delayed. Allegations could be made of culpability and negligence, but I do not propose to go into those matters now. I want to see servicemen settled .on the land. If it were possible by waving a wand to acquire and sub-divide vast estates, and if the servicemen were ready to go on to them immediately, it would still he impossible to provide them with houses, fencing wire and other materials necessary to establish themselves as farmers. That objection, however, does not apply in the case of sons wishing to establish themselves on a part of their father’s land, or on land nearby. Indeed, the present difficulty in the way of providing houses and farm improvement is an additional reason why the Government should turn its attention, even at this late stage, to the introduction of a scheme for settling servicemen on single-unit farms. I have nothing to say against the acquisition of big estates. So far as I am concerned, the Government can acquire every big estate in Australia which is suitable for sub-division. If a man who has fought for this country wishes to make his Hying by owning and farming a bit of it he ought to be allowed to do so. If that involves taking land from somebody who holds more than a living area I am a 11 for doing it. ‘
The honorable member for Richmond also referred to the eligibility of young servicemen to become farmers. The’ various pamphlets from which he quoted seem to make it clear that young men who had no farming experience before they went to the war will be ineligible to receive assistance under the Government’s, scheme. As the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) said, the right to benefit under the settlement scheme should not be limited to those fortunate enough to be the sons of farmers, or unfortunate enough to have been merely farm . labourers. Surely thousands of men with no previous ex- perience of farming have in them what is required to become successful farmers. In no other field of repatriation except, perhaps, in regard to university courses, is it required that a serviceman shall have had previous experience in the calling to which he aspires. For instance, if a man wishes to be trained as a carpenter or a bootmaker or a bricklayer it is not stipulated that he should have had previous experience in the trade of his choice. Why, then, should such a condition be laid down in the case of prospective farmers ? I am sure that there is a strong sentiment in this Parliament and outside of it in favour of allowing any nian to benefit under the land settlement scheme who can satisfy the appropriate tribunal that he is likely to become a successful farmer.
I agree that the amount of £1,000, which it is proposed shall be the maximum that servicemen already settled on the land may borrow under the scheme is altogether inadequate. What is the purpose of this £1,000 advance? It is to aid a man who may be, say, a share dairyman. One has only to look -at the daily newspapers to see that the ordinary price’ for dairy cattle to-day is £25. Then there are other items which he needs. For instance, he would have to pay. between £500 and £600 for a tractor. The same position exists in any branch of farming. To-day, for instance, it is impossible to buy a young breeding ewe for £2. How far, then, does this £1,000 go in establishing a’man on a rented farm or on a share farm or to assist an .exserviceman to purchase adequate’ plant to enable him to operate a farm under contract? It is much too little. If the Government is sincerely desirous of settling ex-servicemen on the land it should increase the amount. I have read in the press recently a. statement which indicates that the Government intends to raise the amount to £3,000. I trust that before this debate is concluded the Minister will be able to confirm that statement. A further matter that should be considered .is that this question of soldier land settlement is very intimately concerned with wider matters of policy, because many’ of our ex-servicemen will become producers of dried and canned fruits, sugar, rice and other commodities upon the export of which there are certain limitations.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the amendment.
– I desire to do no more than to direct the Government’s attention to that fact, and to say that soldier settlement cannot proceed until these problems associated with our overseas trade have been grappled with and resolved. I emphasize the need for a definite policy of single-unit farms, and [ trust that the Minister will tell us what the Government proposes to do to make it possible for an ex-serviceman to establish himself on the land in the Northern Territory, an area in respect of which not one word has been said during this debate.
.- 1 propose to deal briefly with the qualification ‘ of ex-servicemen to participate in a. ballot for land made available under’ the land settlement scheme. A letter has been forwarded to me which deals with the case of two exservicemen who have the necessary qualifications to take up land under the scheme, but who have been precluded from doing so as the result of an unfair and iniquitous ruling on the part of some government, officials. The qualifications laid down by the New South Wales Government are as follows : -
The two ex-servicemen concerned were, eligible to participate in a ballot, having been issued qualification certificates by the New South Wales Government, but when they desired to ballot for land made available for selection they were told they were not eligible as they lacked experience in districts comparable, with the land which was subject of the ballot. The land involved was located in New South Wales close to the Queensland border, and the two applicants .have spent the whole of their lives, other than the period during which they were in the forces, in the St. George district, just over the Queensland border and close to the land for which the ballot had been arranged. It appears that State barriers are being created and that servicemen who hold the requisite qualification certificates are not eligible to ballot in respect of land beyond the confines of the State in which they reside. That is completely out of step with the principle and the spirit of the re-establishment legislation which was intended to give to all ex-servicemen the same rights, irrespective of where they live. I bring the matter before the Minister in the hope that he will look into it with a view to the rectification of this anomaly.
The amount of the loan is entirely inadequate to meet the needs of an exserviceman about to commence a farming career. It is regrettable that the gag was applied to the re-establishment measure.
– Order! The honorable member may not reflect on a vote of the House.
– But for the application of the gag an amendment would have been moved to increase the amount of the loan. It must be perfectly obvious that no one can buy a block of land for £1,000, and that that money can only he utilized by those who already possess land.
The amendment proposes the appointment of a select committee. I am a member of the Queensland Council of Agriculture, and when discussing soldier land settlement problems’ at a meeting of the council I moved to ensure that when land is being selected for subdivision and allocation to ex-servicemen the State Minister for Lands should seek the advice of practical farmers from the district in which the land is situated, men who would know from practical experience what area was needed to ensure that the ex-servicemen would be able to secure a. livelihood from it. In some, areas selected for land settle”ment in Queensland large holdings are needed to secure a livelihood. Only by consulting practical farmers in the area’s thrown open for selection can the mistakes of the past be avoided.
– in reply - I have heard more untruths, missstatements and distortions during the course of the debate to-day than I have, heard for a long time. I do not propose to waste, my time in dealing with most of them. I shall content myself with putting the facts before the House and, in doing so, I shall, touch briefly on a few of the most glaring of the misleading and distorted statements made by honorable members opposite. There are two methods of assisting ex-servicemen to establish themselves on the land. First, there is the method of making a loan under certain conditions, and, secondly, there is the method of acquiring individual farms or of resuming large estates, subdividing them into farms and apportioning them to ex-servicemen. The second method has to my knowledge been adopted in three countries, and three only, namely, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. And from the information available to me very, few farms have yet been made available under that scheme in any of the three countries. The reason is perfectly obvious. To acquire large estates, to subdivide them, fence them and erect houses on them, takes quite a long time.. In this kind of assistance to soldiers, however, let it be understood that Australia is as far ahead as any of the other countries that have adopted that method of soldier land settlement.
– Does the ‘Minister say that they, too, -have done nothing? Mr. DEDMAN. - The honorable member is again indulging in distortion. If I were permitted to do so I would use much stronger language to describe his interjection. After the last war land was acquired for the purpose of settling ex- servi.cen.ien. Again it can be said - -and this statement is backed by the opinion of Mr. Eric Millhouse which I quoted earlier to-day - that land settlement of this kind has gone ahead far more quickly under the Labour Government after the* war just concluded than did land settlement, under governments of a different political complexion following the end of the 1914-1S war.
– That statement is incorrect.
– That is Mr. Millhouse’s statement. If I am not believed, perhaps he will be.
– It is not correct.
– I am in a. very fortunate position in dealing with these matters, because only last week at Canberra I discussed with a body of returned soldiers specially deputed by the federal committee of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia on land settlement many of the matters debated here to-day, and, with1 the exception of one point, which I shall mention later, they were perfectly satisfied. Those men came from every State. They included Mr. George Holland from Victoria, and, at least, he cannot be charged with being a supporter of the Australian Labour Party. Yet he and the others went away perfectlysatisfied that, with the exception of the one aspect that I intend to deal with later, the Commonwealth Government is dealing as expeditiously with soldier settlement as is possible. I have no doubt that it was because’ of that discussion that Mr. Millhouse was able to make the statement that was published in the Adelaide Advertiser.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has raised the matter of eligibility. It is perfectly true that the terms of eligibility laid down in the regulations are pretty strict, hut the plain fact is that, even under those terms, applicants for settlement on the land in Australia are far greater than we shall be able to settle. The net result of widening the scope of eligibility would be that ‘we should have far more applicants for settlement than we now have. If honorable members opposite look at the numbers, they will agree, I think, that it will be quite impossible within the next ten or fifteen years to settle on the land all those who have applied for settlement. So .what is the good of widening the scope of eligibility? 1 think it will be admitted by honorable gentlemen opposite that those entitled under the regulations’ to apply for land settlement are those most likely to succeed as soldier settlers and are most likely to contribute to the wealth of this country by increased production in the primary field.
– Does the Minister mean that we cannot settle 2S,000 on the land in twenty years?
– The honorable member is giving his own figure.
– That is the Minister’s figure.
– I have not yet mentioned a. figure. The honorable member is once again making a lying statement.
– Order! I ask the Minister to address the Chair.
– I take exception to the Minister’s remark, and ask that it be immediately withdrawn and apologized for.
– What was the remark?
– The Minister said, “’ The honorable member is once again making a lying statement”, and I ask that he withdraw and. apologize.
– The honorable member for Richmond having said that the remark gives him personal offence, I ask the Minister to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the statement, but honorable gentlemen on both sides know perfectly well that I have not yet hi my speech made any reference to any specific number. The honorable member for Richmond said that I had made the statement that 2S,000 would be settled in Australia.
– The Minister made that statement.
– Shut up, and give some one who knows something about this matter a chance to be informative. With regard to the matter of individual farms, I earlier used the phrase, “ singlefarm units “ in reference to the type of settlement advocated today by practically every Australian Country party member here. Some of them, at any rate, are returned soldiers. The policy that they have advocated with regard to single-unit farms chosen by ex-servicemen - I think that is perhaps the most satisfactory description of this type of settlement - is emphatically opposed by the committee of returned men with whom I discussed soldier settlement last week.
– That is not true of returned soldiers’ organizations.
– I have the verbatim minutes of the discussions between myself, Mr. Holland and the other repre?sentatives of the returned men. What Mr. Holland said by way of interjection makes the point perfectly clear, because the significance of that kind of settlement is contained in those words “ chosen by ex-servicemen “. The Government and I oppose an individual returned soldier being able to choose a particular farm. The Government will not accede to it. But honorable gentlemen opposite advocate that the individual ex-serviceman should be able to choose his own farm arid say, “ I shall have that farm. All the Government is concerned with is to make finance available to me “.
– That is the position.
-. T put it to the House that the policy advocated by honorable gentlemen opposite is opposed to the policy of the returned soldiers’ organization. I quote the interjection by Mr. Holland when I was speaking on the matter last week.
– Table the document.
– The honorable member may look at it if he wishes to.
– Order ! The Minister has the floor.
– This is the interjection made by Mr. Holland -
Wo aru not asking that the individual be allowed to choose li is own particular property.
– I ask that the document from which that interjection has been quoted be tabled as public property, because an interjection taken from, its context might be taken to bear a meaning entirely different from the meaning intended by the interjector.
– If it is a public document it will be tabled, but, if it is private, it is for the Minister to decide whether he will table it.
– This document is confidential.
– The Minister said he would let us have a look at it.
– I have no objection to that.
– Order! I ask the Minister to address the Chair and honorable members to cease interjecting.
– Though I am not prepared to table the document, I am prepared to allow any member of the Opposition to come to my room to peruse it. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) must think I am as low in my habits in dealing with documents as he is. T am riot in the habit of taking statements out of a document and using them for ulterior motives, but the honorable member for Barker is in the habit of doing that.
– Order ! Address the Chair !
– The honorable members made mention of this in the House, and I am entitled to do so, too. Why the Commonwealth Government and the State governments, all of them as far as T know, are opposed to that kind of soldier settlement is perfectly obvious. I think a document was quoted earlier in the day wherein it was shown that, a large part of the failures among soldier settlers after the 1914-18 war occurred among settlers of that kind. Not only that, but obviously it would be totally unfair that an ex-soldier who was perhaps last on the list so far as experience and suitability were concerned should be able, just because he had wealthy parents or relatives, to nominate his own farm and settle on it while others with far better qualifications for settlement would have no chance at all. It is also obvious if any farms are to be made available under a . scheme of acquisition of large estates or individual farms, all those farms have to go into the pool so that the men most entitled to get farms shall be the first to get them.
– Why does the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say that he disagrees with that?
– I am not. dealing with what the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture said, and I do not believe he made such a statement.
– He made it at Inverell.-
– Although the Commonwealth Government objects to single units chosen by ex-servicemen, it does not object to individual farm propositions being submitted to it by the State governments for acquis ti on and eventual disposal to returned soldiers. The Commonwealth Government has, in fact, approved of a number of individual farms that have been submitted to it by the State governments, particularly the Government of Western Australia, for acquisition for that purpose. So it is obvious that the Commonwealth Government has no objection to the acquisition of individual farms. What we do object to is a scheme for the acquisition of single-unit farms chosen by individual ex-servicemen.
– The Government has already approved of that by agreeing to lend up to £1,000 to ex-servicemen for agricultural purposes.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Richmond to cease interjecting.
– So far as the amendment moved by the honorable member for Richmond is- concerned I regard paragraph h as futile, because, whether the Commonwealth wanted to do this or not, it does not possess the constitutional power to do it. The initiation of soldier settlement proposals rests with the States under the agreement and that, of course, leads to another line of argument. The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia was one of the organizations that supported the request of the Commonwealth Government at the last referendum that it be given complete power over production. If we bad won the last referendum, the Commonwealth Government could have initiated proposals relating to land settlement. Honorable gentlemen opposite were in the forefront of those who opposed the transfer of more power to the Federal authority. It is because of divided*, control of soldier settlement that some of the delays are occurring today.
– The Commonwealth did not ask for power over production.
– It did.
– Not in respect of primary production. It excluded that.
– I agree that it was “ except with the consent of the Governor in Council “.
– I am afraid, that the Minister has forgotten his own referendum. “Mr. DEDMAN.- We will not argue about ‘ that. Whether that power was asked for or not, honorable gentlemen opposite would’ have opposed it, anyway. It is undoubtedly true that soldier settlement has been beset with difficulties hecause of the two sets of authorities dealing with it. However, as the matter stands, there ar,e three particular aspects of soldier settlement that have to be dealt with by agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. Those three matters are, first, the general suitability of an estate for acquisition; secondly, the price to be paid ; and, thirdly, the number of farms into which the estate will be subdivided. The newspapers of New South Wales have published criticisms of delays allegedly resulting from Commonwealth control of these matters, or lack of ability on the part of the Commonwealth to deal expeditiously with them. The honorable member for Richmond, by intersection, asked me why I had failed to deny a statement by the Minister for Lands in New South Wales. ‘
– I did not ask the question.
– Then it was the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott).
– Is the Minister sure that [ asked the question?
– Yes. The point is that agreement is not easy to reach on many of the problems associated with the land settlement of ex-servicemen. I have always taken the view that when a Commonwealth Minister and a State Minister have to work in agreement, it serves no useful purpose for one of them publicly to criticize the other. For that reason, up to the present time, I have not publicly criticized the Minister for Lands in New South Wales. But when statements are made in this House which are either untrue, or only half true, I owe it to honorable members to make clear exactly what the position is. The record shows that New South Wales has submitted 55 estates for approval as to their general suitability for the land settlement of exservicemen. Of those 55 estates, 45 have been approved by the Commonwealth authority. On the ten proposals in respect of which agreement has not yet been reached, further information is awaited from the State concerning four of them; the State is not likely to proceed with one, and the Commonwealth is reconsidering the remainder. Of the 45 proposals which have been approved by the Commonwealth authority, seven have been approved for a period of eight and onehalf months, three for eight months, six for three months and one for two months. The remaining two were approved a few weeks ago. The next step, after the Commonwealth has given its general approval, is for the State to endeavour to reach an agreement with the owners regarding the prices of the estates, and the whole point is that, since the Commonwealth gave its general approval, the State has not taken any further steps towards acquiring them
– Why is that ?
– Again, I am not criticizing the Government of New South Wales for what appears to be an inordinate delay, but I am told that one of the very great difficulties confronting the Government of New South Wales is in respect of its power compulsorily to acquire these estates. I understand that any attempt by the Government of New South Wales compulsorily to acquire these estates will probably take up to fifteen months, and, consequently, the State is doing its utmost to arrive at a price by .agreement with the owners. Actually, those who are ultimately responsible for the delay are not the Commonwealth and State Governments, but the owners of those estates who are demanding exorbitant prices for them. Because I believe that that is the real reason for these delays, I have not publicly criticized the Minister for Lands in New South Wales for seeming delays in these matters.
I desire now to submit to the House a statement showing the area submitted, the total acreage approved as suitable by the Commonwealth for the land settlement of ex-servicemen in all States, the acreage’ referred back for further investigation, the acreage under consideration by the Commonwealth, and submissions withdrawn.
– What is the date of the statement ?
– The figures relate to the period up to the beginning of June.
I ask for permission to incorporate the table of figures in Hansard.
– I object. I should like the Minister to read the figures so that I may compare them with the figures in my possession.
-As objection has been taken, the figures may not be , incorporated in Hansard.
– In what figures is the honorable member for New England particularly interested ?
– In the area approved as suitable.
– That information is as follows: New South “Wales western land leases, 829,799 acres; New South Wales, 302,167 acres; and New South Wales group settlement - that is what is termed a “ promotion scheme “ under the New South Wales act - S30 acres. This is the only promotion scheme which has been submitted by New South Wales and it has been approved by the Commonwealth Government. A promotion scheme is one in which a small number of ex-servicemen, in this instance, three, combine and decide to buy an estate. The price must he suitable, and must be agreed to by the Commonwealth and State authorities. Areas approved as suitable in other States are as follows: Victoria, 63,940 acres; Queensland, 414,991 acres,’ South Australia, 64,189 acres; Western Australia, 90,072 acres; Tasmania, 134,516 acres. The total area approved as suitable throughout the whole Commonwealth is 1,400,477 acres. Having read the figures required by the honorable member for New England, I now ask the permission of the House to incorporate the complete table in Hansard.
– I object.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), is not prepared to allow this valuable information to be incorporated in Ilansard; but I shall make available to any honorable member who is interested a copy of the table.
On the Estimates for the financial year 1945-46 the Department of Postwar Reconstruction provided an amount of £3,000,000 for war service land settlement. Of that sum nearly £2,000,000 has already been expended.
– How many exservicemen have been settled on the land?
– As I explained, there are two methods by which exservicemen may be assisted to settle on the land. I have explained the difficulties regarding one type of scheme, namely, the acquisition of estates, their subdivision, and making them available as individual farms. I shall now deal with the other method.
– How many exservicemen have been settled on land?
– Only a very small number.
– But how many?
– I cannot give the honorable member an accurate figure, but I have already informed him that in both New Zealand and Canada the numbers of ex-servicemen that have been settled is also very small. So far as my information goes, in neither New Zealand or Canada has any one been settled on theland as the result of this type of land settlement policy.
– We have similar information about the position in Australia.
– I think that a few have been settled, but -I am quite prepared to admit that they are very few. However, this is not the only method of assisting ex-servicemen to settle on the land. Provision is made for advancing loans to them. Honorable members opposite contended that the amount of the loan should he greater than the Government is providing. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) suggested a maximum of £3,000. The Government is at present considering the matter, but I point out that the amount of the loan, £1,000, was contained in the Reestablishment and Employment Act, and while that legislation was being considered in this chamber, honorable members opposite did not criticize that provision. And well might that be, because when an antiLabour government was in office after World War I., the maximum, that exservicemen could extract from it by way of a loan was an amount of £250. This’ Government has provided an amount of £1,000, which if four times greater than the loan that the anti-Labour Government was prepared to advance.
– That is a misstatement. The amount was £625.
– This matter is now receiving consideration.
– The Minister has made a. deliberate misstatement.
– Order ! If the honorable member for Richmond interjects again, I will name him.
– I rise to order. The Minister said that the maximum amount that the anti-Labour government provided by way of loan for ex-servicemen after World War I. .was £250, whereas it was £625.
– That is not a point of order. My advice to the honorable gentleman now is that he subside.
– It is very simple for honorable members opposite, or for any one else, to advocate that the loan to ex-servicemen should be greater than the amount proposed, but we must remember that a certain relationship must be preserved between the amount which the Government is prepared to lend to an ex-serviceman who settles on the land, and the amount which it is prepared to advance to an ex-serviceman who engages in another occupation. It is quite obvious that a disparity of any magnitude cannot be allowed in advances as between different classes of returned men. There must be some relationship between the amount to be advanced to a man who desires to open a grocery business and a man who desires to take up land. That is one of the matters which the Government will have to consider when it is reviewing the total amount of advance that is to be made available to ex-servicemen for rehabilitation purposes. The one point on which the representatives of the returned soldiers organizations who met me in Canberra last week for discussions on land settlement disagreed with me was as to the amount, of money to be advanced. Whilst it is true that land settlement under the acquisition scheme has not proceeded as speedily as we would have liked, the other scheme of assisting returned men has gone ahead. As the honorable member for Barker refused me permission a little earlier to incorporate certain figures in Hansard and obliged me to read them L suppose I shall have to read another set of figures. The table is as follows : - ‘
The reason why fewer applications have been approved in Victoria- is that the Country party Government which was in power in that State until the end of last year failed to take any steps to establish an authority to deal with the matter. Nevertheless an amount, of nearly £.1,000,000 has been approved for expenditure on rural loans.
–Is the small number of applicants from Tasmania due to the fact that a Labour Government is in power there?
– From now on, I shall take no notice of interjections by the honorable member for Barker. I have dealt with two aspects of ex-sold lei land settlement. The honorable member for. Indi (Mr. McEwen) referred to ‘condition.1; in the Northern Territory. I have examined this subject in collaboration with the Minister for the Interior (Mr.- Johnson), and it is apparent to us that because of the policy applied by previous government’; of granting long-term leases in the Northern Territory practically no land suitable for the settlement of exservicemen is available there. However, as these long-term leases expire, the position will be reviewed to ascertain whether suitable land has thereby become avails able.
– I do not know whetherthe Minister is speaking without his book, but the fact is that nearly 25 per ‘cent.- of the leases there are due for resumption, as the Minister for the Interior should know.
– I shall not take any more notice of the interjections of the honorable member for Indi than I intend to take of those of the honorable member for Barker. The honorable gentleman is only in this House as the result of a political accident and he may shortly . cease to be a member of it by another such accident. The Commonwealth Government is doing its utmost to settle ex-servicemen on the land. Even the honorable member for Indi admitted that difficulties were bound to occur in regard to the acquisition of land for subdivision into suitable areas for farms for exservicemen. In spite of all the difficulties, the Government is going ahead with its plans to settle ex-servicemen on the land as speedily as possible, and our progress is as rapid as that of any other country in the world. Honorable members opposite cannot have it both ways. Like honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber, I have no doubt that they take pride in the fact that no other country in the world made a more supreme war effort than did Australia, to cite the testimony of General MacArthur. If we had not concentrated all the resources of this country on the war effort right to the end of the war,we could have done more preparatory work in connexion with the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land, but we were not prepared to withdraw engineers, surveyors and other skilled personnel from the services in order to do such preparatory work on a grand scale. The Government makes no apology for that. Since fighting ceased, everything that could be done to expedite land settlement of exservicemen has been done by the Commonwealth Government and, in spite of certain difficulties, I believe that the State Governments also have made very good progress in that connexion. I cannot do better than read the following paragraph from the report of the Rural Reconstruction Commission, which refers to the danger of dealing too hastily with these matters, and thus has relation to some honorable gentlemen opposite: -
One of the greatest problems governments will have to face in implementing any rural scheme for re-establishment of ex-members of the services will be the pressure of ill-informed public opinion influenced by public statements. Such statements too often emanate from the job-seeker, the land-seller seeking a profit, the badly-informed self-styled patriot, or local interests thinking selfishly in terms of the number of men settled and the amount of money spent in the district, instead of in terms of the number of men who can be successfully settled in the district. It is not patriotism, nor is it political wisdom, to urge governments to embark upon projects which cannot stand the test of expert analysis, and can only result in hardship and disillusionment for the individual, as well as an immense waste of public money, and a setback to agricultural progress in Australia. Governments and their administrations must approach the task with a’ firm resolve to resist this type of pressure, and are entitled to look to soldiers’ organizations and . the press for support in doing so.
The statement that I read earlier shows that the Government has the support of ex-servicemen’s organizations in this regard. The Government is determined that, as far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the interests of ex-servicemen will remain the first consideration of the administrators of our land settlement schemes. We shall refuse to be stampeded into ill-advised plans and projects which have been advanced by honorable gentlemen opposite.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Anthony’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Constitution Alteration (Social Services) Bill1946.
Constitution Alteration (Organized Marketing of Primary Products) Bill . 1946.
Constitution Alteration (Industrial Employment) Bill 1946.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I raise a question in regard to the clothing of troops returning from the northern part of Australia. Within the last few days, the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) - acting, I believe, on behalf of, the Department of Air - wrote me a letter on the subject. I had had a letter from Mr. R. A. de Garis, protesting against the failure of the Royal Australian Air Force to provide his son with proper winter clothing on the way south. This is not the first occasion on which I have been obliged to raise this matter with different Ministers - not with the Minister for the Navy, because the men on board ship are looked after fairly well - but with both the Minister for the Army and, the Minister for Air. The person concerned in the present instance has written to me in these terms -
I thank you for forwarding me the letter from Mr. Makin. If this satisfies you - well all I can say is that you are a lot easier satis- fied than I am.
The whole text of my original letter was to the effect that men were coming south in tropical uniform without coat or blankets. The natural result is that the health of these men (one unfortunately is my son) is impaired and results in agony to despairing parents and endless expense to the Government.
You know that what I have said has occurred on very many occasions - the answer is not whether it is possible for the troops to avoid it, but the answer is that there is something wrong that it does occur. Are the relative departments policing the return of these men better now than they were before? From the Minister’s reply the answer is “ No “. In effect he says, “ If the men wish to ruin their health we don’t care, it’s their own fault anyway “.
I reinforce that by reading a sub-leader on the same subject that was published yesterday in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Apparently, the conditions in South Australia about which I have complained are rampant also in New South Wales. The sub-leader is headed “ Cold Welcome “, and reads -
Men arrive home from the Islands shivering in jungle shirts and trousers and complaining that no winter uniform was issued.
Out of its great stockpile surely the Army could organize an issue of seasonable kit.
If the men were going into action, the uniforms would be available.
That they are coming home to leave the Army in no way lessens official responsibility for their health and comfort.
The case that I brought under notice on the last occasion concerned the Royal Australian Air Force. As long as eighteen months ago, I raised a similar matter that concerned the Army. Notwithstanding official assurances that the. clothing needed is. available and that everything is proceeding satisfactorily, complaints continue to be made by parents of servicemen in respect of both the Department of the Army and the Department of Air. Apparently, they are also submitted to the press, because there must be some reason for the sub-leader that was published yesterday. The matter is one that ought to be investigated urgently by the two Ministers concerned. Somebody ought to “ take the rap “ f or the negligence which obviously is occurring. In some instances, i t would not be unfair to state that the negligence has been criminal in character. If I were in the position of either of the Ministers mentioned, I would not be satisfied with the assurance of Some official that everything is all right. The whole of the evidence is to the contrary. It is continuing evidence, and it is high time that the Ministers concerned took a grip of the two departments and shook them into submission to a direction which I believe must have been given, namely that men coming south are to be provided with clothing suitable to the climate to which they are returning.
. -I bring up a matter concerning naval punishment. I am not an advocate of leniencyto defaulters, to whatever service they may belong. I make that statement, having had a long experience of two of the services. Nevertheless, what has happened inthe Royal Australian Navy in connexion with the cancellation of the deferred pay of men who ha ve been guilty of the offence of what is technically desertion but really would be only absence without leave in the Army or the Air Force, isso harsh that I am quite sure that all servicemen, as well as the members of this Parliament, will be surprised when they 1earn the facts. I have submitted to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) a case whichhas had some publicity. Other honorable members also have written to him in regard to similar cases. It concerns Stoker B. M. Solomon, The letter that I wrote to the Minister was in these terms -
The AustralianLegion of Ex-servicemen have taken up with me the case of ex-Stoker B. M, Solomon, which no doubt you are acquainted with.
That a regulation should exist deducting years of deferred pay from a serviceman in addition to the penalties awarded for his crime will be a surprise to both servicemen and Parliament.
Branding a man as a deserter who would be considered absent without leave in the Army, and in this case discharging him a few weeks before the brand would be erased, so that he is mulcted for such a heavy sum, seems to me quite beyond the bounds of fairness, especially in view of the unusual considerations in thiscase, in that his absence was short, he gave himself up, and his subsequent and previous service appears to have been all that could be desired.
I received to-day from the Minister a reply which stated -
I have investigated this matter and’ find that. Mr. Solomon joined the Royal Australian Navy on 4th September, 1939, and deserted from H.M.A.S.Bungaree on 2nd July, 1942.
Desertion is considered a very serious offence in the Royal Australian Navy, and having regard to the grave consequences which may arise if personnel are absent on sailing of a ship, every possible deterrent to such an act is necessary..
Personnel are aware of the conditions under which they enter the Navy; and must accept the consequences of their own acts.
Naval FinancialRegulations provide that no payment of deferred pay shall be made to any person -
who is discharged “Run”.
The letter went on to say -
The discretionary power of the Naval Board to restore the whole or any portion of deferred pay to persons marked “Run” is exercised under the conditions laid downby K.R. & A.I. 589 (4). Removal of “ Run “ is dependent upon -
three years’ service with continuous “V.G.” character within five years of service after recovery;
The three years’ service are to be complete calendar years from 1st January.
Here are the facts: This man considered that he was not receiving, proper medical attention on the small ship on which he was serving. He consulted a shore doctor, Immediately he had received treatment, he gave himself up. He was fined a considerable amount of pay, and six months of his leave was stopped. One does not quarrel with that. But the punishment should fit the crime. In addition, the whole of his deferred pay from September, 1939, to July, 1942,. was deducted from what was owing to hint. That is extremely harsh. I do’ not know what is the amount of a stoker’s deferred pay, but I assume it to be something like 3s. a day. This additional fine would thus amount to hundreds of pounds. This man then gave very good service for nearly three years. Although the blot on his conduct sheet could not be erased, had he served for a few more weeks he would have avoided this additional penalty. But the Navy discharged him before that time had expired, although it has held on to many other persons for unduly long periods. It “shot this man out” a few weeks before his time was up, with the result that he was mulct of his deferred pay;. I point out that deferred pay is not a gratuity, but, as the name implies, is a deduction from the daily rate of- pay of a member, of the services.
-Not in the Navy.
– I do not care what interpretation the Minister chooses to put forward, it is what I have said. The Navy does not need any praise from any of us. It is an excellent service. But its administration is extremely harsh and illogical on many occasions. It has made its own rules in regard to the points system of demobilization. I brought a case under the notice of the Minister only recently. It was that of a man who had been called up before the war began. He served throughout the war, and was at sea . for practically the whole of the time; yet long after the termination of the war he was told that he had not sufficient points to entitle him. to be discharged. That could not happen in the Army or the Air Force. The official explanation stated that the matter had been referred to the man-power authorities, who had refused to recommend his discharge. This week, I have received another letter dealing’ with a similar case. Honorable members have seen correspondence in the press about naval surgeons who: are being held in the Navy because other men haVe not been called np to take their places, or for some other reason. After this man’s organization and his. solicitor had taken the matter np with the department,- and had stated the case fairly, this is the curt reply that was received -
The regulations governing payment provide that deferred pay shall not. be payable to a member who deserts from the Royal Australian Navy.
The act- of -desertion in any circumstances is a most serious offence,, and assumes even more gravity if committed while the Empire is at war.
We know that ; but it does not justify the withholding of deferred pay for two years. Other honorable” members have had similar cases submitted to them. There is the case of P. W. Jackson, of Railway-avenue,- Eastwood, New South Wales. I do know the rights or’ wrongs of his Case, but it seems to” be much in line with that of this man, who had a good record’ from the beginning of the war, with the exception’ of the one lapse of absence for three weeks, for which he should pay the full penalty. Very few of those who serve with the Navy would know of the regulation cited. Although it is only a regulation, it has statutory effect. As we all know, regulations are constantly being “ churned out “ and placed’ on the table- in this House, sometimes with retrospective application. This matter should be taken up. Every honorable member who believes’ in justice for. the individual will agree that the” fining of a man hundreds of pound’s) in addition to imposing the ordinary punishment for his offence, does not make sense and is particularly unfair. The Minister should not be satisfied with the answer that he gave to. me to-day. It would appear to have been drafted by the same hand that drafted the letter to the man himself. It is a stereotyped reply, which infers that a heinous crime had been committed and that this man had deserted, in the face of the. enemy - w’hich he had not. I have tried! and punished many men in the services, but I have always believed that the punishment should fit the crime ; and I think that the Minister- will agree that the imposition of a fine of £100 on a man who brought medical evidence to show that he had not received, proper treatment on his’ ship and absented himself for that reason is shabby treatment. I do not deny that the man erred. I suggest that the Minister should reconsider this matter.
– I shall have inquiries made into the- matter raised by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). I. shall go fully into the eases’ mentioned, by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr-. White). There is; of course’^ another” side’ to these cases which, the honorable member has not mentioned,- and possibly it would not show the- claims of these men so favorably as the honorable” member has represented them-.- I deny the honorable member’s statement that very few iii the Navy know of the penalty in respect of deferred pay. The regulations are known throughout the Navy for any misdemeanour. The rule governing such cases is not a recent one. It operated when the honorable ‘ member was a Minister. Seeing that he was a Minister for many years it is remarkable that he did not have any knowledge of this rule.
– When did the Minister become acquainted with it.
– I knew of it as soon as I became a Minister; but, evidently, the honorable member when he was a Minister failed to acquaint himself with matters of this kind. The honorable member does no credit to himself by indicating that when he was a Minister he knew , so little about these matters. I shall not deal with the cases in detail to-night. However, I have always been of the opinion that deferred pay is not a proper description to be applied to these payments ; in the Navy this is good conduct pay rather than deferred pay as the term is generally understood in the other services. Whilst I am prepared to confer with the Naval Board regarding the cases raised by the honorable member, I have in justice to the House indicated the facts with respect to this class of payment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Air Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946. No.65.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1946 -
No. 7- Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 8 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 9 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
Nos. 10 and 11 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.
Nos. 12-14 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No.15 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association andFourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 16 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
Australian Soldiers’’ Repatriation Act - Repatriation Commission - Report for year 1944-45.
Bankruptcy Act - Seventeenth Annual Report by Attorney-General, for year ended 3 1st July, 1945.
Commonwealth Bank Act -
Appointments - J. Beckett, L. M. Birch, J. D. Kelly, J. R. Kitto, G. R. Lambert, C. H. Macphillamy, R. Taylor.
Regulations - StatutoryRules 1946, No. 80.
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1946, No. 75.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
External Affairs - A. L. Douglas.
Interior - G. F. H. Gee.
Post-war Reconstruction - A. S.
Treasury - S. W. Caffin.
Works and Housing - W. C. Alex ander.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 08.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, Nos. 77,90.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946; Nos. 72, 73.
Distil lation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 76.
Excise Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 89.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for-
Commonwealth purposes -
Batchelor, Northern Territory.
Belair, South Australia.
Charters Towers, Queensland.
Cowra, New South Wales.
Currie, King Island, Tasmania.
Gawler, South Australia.
Geraldton, Western Australia.
Herne Bay. New South Wales.
Hillman, Western Australia.
Kelso. New South Wales.
Koombal (Cairns), Queensland.
Mascot, New South Wales.
Mount Isa, Queensland.
Mulwala. New South Wales.
North Fremantle, Western Australia.
Oodnadatta, South Australia.
Rathmines, New South Wales.
Robertson, New South Wales.
Rockhampton, Queensland (2).
South Deniliquin, New South Wales.
Wag in, Western Australia.
Yass, New South Wales. Customs purposes - Burnie, Tasmania.
Postal purposes -
Bunbury, Western Australia.
Farrell’s Flat, South Australia.
Largs Bay, South Australia.
Maddington, Western Australia..
Mena Creek, Queensland.
Pallamallawa, New South Wales.
Peterborough, South Australia.
Pleasant Hills, New South Wales.
Salisbury, South Australia.
Temora, New South Wales.
Nationality Act - Return for1945
National Security Act -
National Security (Agricultural Aids’) Regulations - Order-Bran and pollard (Restriction of sales) - Revocation.
National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations - Order - Exemption.
National. Security (Exchange Control) Reg ul at i on s -O rder - Excha nge control (Exemptions) (No. 2).
National Security (General) Regulations -
Bread Industry (Australian Capital Territory), (Victoria), (Western Australia ) - Revocations.
Control of -
Elastic materials (No. 4).
Liquor (Interstate supplies of beer) - Revocation.
Pa r a ffi n wa x - R evocation.
Radio broadcast receivers - Revocation.
Regulation of transport - Revocation. Rubber (Relaxations) (Nos. 3, 4).
Order by. State Premier- New South Wales “(No. 62).
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (282).
National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 55-57.
National Security (Meat Industry Control ) Regulations - Orders - Acquisition of meat- Revocations (2).
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 2493-2516.
National Security (Rabbit Skins) Regulations - Order - Returns.
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Order - No.123.
National Security (Shipping Coordination ) Regulations - Orders - 1 946, Nos. 5-14.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Orders by State Premiers -
New South Wales (No.61).
Queensland (4- dated 30th April, 2nd May. 23rd May, and 29th May, 1946).
Tasmania (No. 11).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, Nos.
69, 70, 71, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 86, 87, 93, 94, 95, 96.
Nauru - Ordinance - 1946 - No. 1 - War
Deaths (Civilians) Certificates.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Adminstration) Act - Ordinance - 1946 - No. 4 - Dudley Point Mess (Winding-up):
Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinances - 1946 -
No. 2 - Ordinances Interpretation.
No. 3 - Liquor (No. 2).
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1946 -
No. 1 - Co-operative Trading Societies.
No. 2 - Workmen’s Compensation.
No. 3 - Racecourses.
No. 4 - Police Superannuation.
No. 5 - Industrial Board.
Regulations - 1946 - No. 1 (Canberra
University College Ordinance).
War Gratuity Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 92.
War Service Homes Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 74.
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The following figures have been supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician : -
n asked the Acting Attorney-General, upon notice -
Were applications called for the position of Solicitor-General; if not, why not?
– Applications were not called for the position of SolicitorGeneral as the Government did not consider it necessary to do so.
Re-establishment : Ex-Members of British Forces.
e asked the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
In view of his recent statement that Australia was a belligerent in the European war, can he still defend- ,the ruling of the Central Preference Board’ which found that a participant in the European war, who served in the British Forces, was not entitled to preference?
-.^ - As the Central Preference Board is, by section 32 of the Reestablishment and’ Employment’ Act 1945,’ for the time being entrusted with the function of deciding whether a person is entitled to preference, it would not be proper for me, as Acting AttorneyGeneral, to express any view as to whether the decision of the board regarding members of the British forces was correct or not.
Taxation: Interest on War Loan Bonds; Deductions; -Gift Duty.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to- the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is the latest ruling of the Commissioner of Taxation regarding- the’ cost for income tax purposes of sinking a “ dry “ or unsuccessful bore?
– The Commissioner of Taxation has informed’ me that depreciation at the rate of 71 per cent, per annumon water bores is an allowable deduction for income tax purposes. The allowance of a- deduction is conditional on the asset being used for- the purpose of: producing assessable income. In practically al! cases, the value upon which depreciation. is based is the total expenditure on successful and unsuccessful water bores. In those isolated cases where expenditure on boring for water is completely unsuccessful, that is, where there is not brought into existence any asset which is owned and .used by the taxpayer for the purpose of his business, depreciation is not allowable.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Mr. O-HiFi-ey.- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice - =
-^ The Minister for Supply and Shipping’ has” supplied- the following answers: -
Motor Vehicle Tyres.
Mr.Fadden asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
Have stocks of “D” class tyres stored at Bulimba, Queensland, yet been released for civilian use?
If so, what was the number released and when was such action taken?
Is it a fact that last month or earlier a list was compiled by the Department of Supply and Shipping in Brisbane for the release of these tyres and that Central Remoulds and Motor Garage of Rockhampton, to mention only one retreading firm, was not included?
Who is responsible for the compilation of such a list and on what principle is it compiled?
Is it a fact that during the war some metropolitan retreading firms in. Queensland would not handle. “ D “ class tyres and that it was the country retreading firms which handled them?
If the release has not yet been made will the Minister ensure that retreading firms in country districts receive a fair share of the available tyres ?
n. - The Minister for Sup ply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
What is the present weekly cost of maintenance of each ?
n. - The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers: - ].. Yes.
The distilleries have never been operated because wheat has not been available for use as raw material for power alcohol owing to drought conditions. Details of maintenance costs are not immediately available, and will be furnished to the right honorable member on completion of investigations being undertaken by my department.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answer : - 1 and- 2. A representative of the Department of the Army surveyed stocks at various isolated points in the North-West and Kimberley districts of Western Australia, including Broome. Noonkanbah, Port Hedland and Onslow. During this survey the presence of the cool room at Onslow was noted and it was subsequently included in the list of surplus stocks declared to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. In view of the isolation of the’ areas in question and with the’ object of quitting the stocks as quickly as possible and also to the best’ advantage of the local people, the Disposals Commission arranged a series of local auctions throughout the area in question and the sale of the i cool room at Onslow was included in this series of auctions. The Disposals Commission’s officer, together with a licensed auctioneer, travelled by plane from place -to place conducting the auctions as they went. On arrival at Onslow they ascertained that the . cool room had been removed. It appears that, although the Army representative declared the cool room surplus, the cool room actually was the property of the Department of Air. which, not knowing that the Army had declared it surplus, removed it in the. interim to Perth In this particular case the Commonwealth Disposals Commission conducted a series of unique auction sales under particularly difficult circumstances owing to the isolation due to distances and the methods of sale necessary for the disposal of the surplus stocks.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : -
e asked the Minister for Post War Reconstruction, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table of the House a copy of the agreement under the Seat of Government Acceptance Act1909, entered into by the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments relative to the right to use the waters from the catchments of the Snowy River?
– The agreement under which the State of New South Wales granted the Commonwealth use of the waters of the Snowy River and such other rivers as might be agreed upon is attached tothe Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909 as the first schedule. I refer the honorable member to Volume III. of the Consolidated Acts (1936), where he will findthrelevant section of the agreement (section 10) on page 2292;
r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– -The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
War Damage in Malaya : Compens A’1’10N .
y. - On the 10th April, the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) .asked the Minister for Externa] Affairs -
What is the position with regard to compensation to Australian shareholders of companies in the Federated Malay States : and/or Straits Settlements - (a) whose property was destroyed or immobilized (i) by employees on the orders of the British or other Allied Army and/or Government or (ii) by any British or other Allied Army; (6) whose stores, mine spares. &c, were requisitioned by such Army and/or Government, and (c) whose assets have been lost or damaged directly or indirectly as the result of the war either by reason of war-like action or abandonment?
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - ].. For some time discussions have been taking place between Australia, the United Kingdom and the Malayan authorities with the object of determining, inter alia, the proper procedure to be followed by Australian citizens and companies desirous of making claims for war loss or damage to properties and interests in Malaya. In these discussions no finality has yet been reached; but it is apparent that, according to the location of the property damaged, the civil governments’ either of the Malayan Union or of the Colony of Singapore will deal with Malayan claims.
Common wealth Bank: Relations with Commonwealth Instrumentalities.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
y. - The answers to the. honorable member’s questions arc as follows: -
The Commonwealth Disposals Commission refers customers to the Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank only in those instances where the customers are asking that the Commonwealth Disposals. Commission or the Commonwealth Government’ undertake financial arrangements. & No.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 June 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460619_reps_17_187/>.