17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear), took the chair at 3 p.m., and readprayers.
concrete construction- statement by Mr.o. F. Barnett.
Mr.SHEEHY. Can the Minister for Works and Housing give me any information in reply to my earlier inquiry concerning the construction of houses in concrete in South Australia, which type of construction I asked should be given consideration?
-I have arranged, through the Director General of works, for an architect to visit South Australia, and subsequently to report to me as to the suitability of houses constructed in concrete and the advisability of having a larger number of them erected.
Mr.RANKIN. - Can the Minister for Works and Housing say whether it is a fact that the vice-chairman of the Victorian Housing Commission, Mr.O.F. Barnett, accused him of “ flagrant misrepresentation and of attempting to gull the public by stating that the Government’s housing quota of 24,000 would be achieved this year ? If so, in view of the fact that last month it was reported that 80,000 Victorian families were without homes, and as only 1,067 homes werebuilt in Victoria in, the twenty months up to last December, does not the Minister consider that it is about time the Government gave up talking about targets and built a few more houses?
– . The statement attributed to Mr. Barnett was published in yesterday’s Melbourne Argus,but Mr. Barnett told me by telephone last night that it had been “ cooked up” in the Argus office. He denied having said anything about the matter . As for the other part of the honorable member’s question, we are not just talking about houses, we are building them. The honorable member is trying to make this subject a political football for use during the coming election campaign.
Proposed Regional Agreement
– Has the Prime Minis ter received from the United States of America any advice concerning its acquisition or share in the control of Pacific defence bases? Can he make any statement on the matter ?
– As the honorable member knows, this was the subject of some discussion at the conference of Prime Ministers in . London, where a general agreement was reached in regard to the policy that should be adopted by the British Empire. There were other conversations regarding Pacific bases, and some intimation by the United States of America regarding Manas Island. Following my visit to America, the matter has also been discussed by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) with the American Secretary of State, Mr. Byrnes. I am not in the position to report anything conclusive.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is a fact, as reported in last night’s Melbourne Herald, that the United States of America has rejected Australia’s proposal for a six-power Pacific regional defence agreement? . If so, willthe right honorable’ gentleman make a statement to the House on the subject, indicating the nature of the Australian proposal?
– I. have not seen the report in the Melbourne Herald. As I intimated previously, discussions have taken place on a high plane concerning the. part that it might be possible for the United States of America to play in the regional security of the Pacific, having regard to the responsibilitiesof the United Nations. As I stated earlier, I am not able to give any concrete illustrations of the kind of arrangements which may be possible, or indeed, whether any such arrangement acceptable to the United States Government will be possible. At present I have nothing to put before the House, for up to date, only preliminary discussion has taken place.
– In view of the approach of the season for the marketing of export lambs, will the’ Minister for Commerce and Agriculture sta te whether the Government has made a decision regarding the purchase of surplus carcass meat, suitable for export, from themarket by meat control after the1st July next? If such a decision has been made, will the Minister indicate, for the . guidance of producers; the period for which the arrangement will operate, and any other relevant factors?
– The Government has decided, on the recommendation of the Meat Industry Commission, to continue to purchase all surplus carcass meat, which complies with United Kingdom specifications, at prices related to ceilings from the 1st July until the 1st October, when the new export prices are expected to operate. It is desired to assure market stability to producers of lambs for export in those States in which they are marketed for export in August and September. The guaranteed floor price will mean that producers will not have to accept lower export prices than will operate after the 1st October. This will encourage the marketing of lambs as they are ready, and avoid the risk of congestion which so often occurs in October and November.
– Farmers and graziers in Queensland are. sustaining considerable losses as the result of the strike in the Queensland meat industry. Their losses are being aggravated by drought. The people in Queensland generally are suffering. Industrialists are likely to lose their wages. Now that the strike appears to have spread to New South Wales, as the waterside workers yesterday declared black and refused to handle meat products from Queensland, will the Prime Minister assert the authority of the Commonwealth Government in order to bring relief to the people and to show that his Ministery is capable of governing, despite this act of industrial lawlessness?
– I made it clear a few days ago that the strike in the Queensland meat industry is under the jurisdiction of the State arbitration court and the State Government.
– But the strike has spread to New South Wales.
– I have no information that it has. Negotiations for a settlement of this particularly unfortunate dispute have been proceeding for some weeks, and I see no reason why the Commonwealth Government should intervene in an attempt to override the authority of the State court and the State Government.
Mr. Abbott having addressed a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture,
– The Standing Orders relating to the asking of questions clearly provide that debate must not be introduced either into a question or into an answer to a question. The honorable member is obviously infringing this rule and inviting the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to do likewise.
– Has the Minister for the Army read a newspaper report of a clash between Dutch forces and members of the Australian Imperial Force, allegedly begun by the Dutch? Can the Minister ascertain the facts, and find out whether any Australians were killed or wounded ?
– I have not read the report, but I shall do so, and have the matter investigated.
Control of Drugs and Medicines
– Will the Minister for Defence cause an investigation to be made into the methods of control of drugs and medicines in the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force? I have information that large quantities of drugs and medicines, some of which are of a dangerous nature, are finding their way into the hands of civilians, with consequent risk to their health.
– I shall confer with my colleague, the Minister for Air, and see that a reply is furnished to the honorable member.
– by leave- On the 21st June, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) asked the Minister for the Army, in my absence, a question regarding the case of Major Cousens, and requested that he be given a fair deal and a full opportunity to prove that what he said in Japan was said under duress. In reply the Minister promised that I would make an early statement on the matter and that every opportunity would be given to the defendant to call whatever witnesses he desired. I now take the first opportunity available to me to assure the honorable member that Major Cousens will be given a fair deal and that he will be afforded every opportunity to call whatever witnesses he desires.
In civil life Major Cousens was a professional broadcaster. When taken prisoner on the fall of Singapore, he was placed in Changi camp, but was subsequently transferred to Tokyo. It is alleged against him that at first he broadcast one news commentary daily, and subsequently, for approximately a year, wrote news commentaries for the Japanese short-wave station. These commentaries, it is alleged, were calculated to undermine at a critical stage of the war, Australia’s resistance to the Japanese. I do not need to emphasize further the gravity of such a charge. After the cessation of hostilities, Major Cousens was brought back to Australia under close arrest. He was charged, under section 40 of the Army Act, with conduct ‘to the prejudice of good order and discipline. The maximum penalty for this offence, in the case of an officer, is cashiering. In January, 1946, the Army authorities asked the Crown Solicitor to consider whether Major Cousens should be charged with a criminal offence before the ordinary courts of justice. It must bc remembered that the alleged offences by Major Cousens took place in Japan, thousands of miles away from Australia. It was necessary to send special investigators to Japan to obtain statements from prospective witnesses. The results were submitted to eminent counsel. They advised, after full consideration, that if the .prospective witnesses gave evidence along the lines of their preliminary statements there would be sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case of treason against Major Cousens. Such a case has no precedent in the history of Australian law. Indeed, it was never anticipated that an Australian would be open to a charge of adhering to a foreign enemy in a foreign country. Section 24 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act deals only with treasonable offences committed within the Commonwealth. Difficult questions therefore arose both as to the law applicable in the case of alleged treason committed outside the Commonwealth and also as to the competent courts for the trial of such a charge. The advice of eminent counsel was taken also on these points. On their recommendation the matter was referred by me to’ the law officers of New South Wales, with the suggestion. that the State Attorney-General should file an ex-officio indictment, under State law, in. the Supreme Court. The Attorney-General of the State did not consider that he would be justified in taking this course. He did, however, suggest an alternative method of proceeding. In accordance with this suggestion, ‘Cabinet thereupon decided that a Commonwealth officer should lay an information before justices under the provisions of .section 21 n of the State Justices Act which expressly refers to treason committed on land beyond the seas. This will enable a preliminary investigation to be made before a magistrate who, if he considers a. prima facie case has been set out, may commit the defendant for trial in the usual way before the Supreme Court of the State. Meantime, steps have been taken to bring two essential witnesses from Japan and one from the United States of America. If, on their arrival, these witnesses confirm the statements already made by them, proceedings against Major Cousens will” bc commenced immediately. Whether, in, doing what he is alleged to have done, he acted under duress is a matter for a jury to decide.
I regret that it has not been possible to institute formal proceedings earlier in this case. I repeat, however, that the delays have arisen solely from the unprecedented nature of the case, from the legal difficulties involved, and from the necessity for investigations overseas. I .assure honorable members that every effort i.= being and will be made to bring the case on for trial at the earliest possible moment.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether, in the event of the repeal of the National Security (Landlord and Tenant) Regulations in December, legislation will be passed to protect persons deprived of the security afforded by the regulations.
– As the Prime Minister has stated, the Government will consider what parts of the National Security Regulations ought to be provided for in other legislation when the National Security Act is repealed. Full consideration will be given to the matter raised by the honorable member.
– During the war telephone directories wove printed in smaller type and street names were omitted. Now that the war is over, I ask the Minister representing- the PostmasterGeneral whether it would be possible to have the directories printed in a type more easily read and to include more detail as to street names?
– I shall place the honorable member’s suggestion before the Postmaster-General and ask him to furnish a reply as soon as possible. If it is not possible to comply with the honorable gentleman’s requests immediately, I assure him that after we have been returned at the general elections the matter will be attended to.
– In view of the fact that the apples and pears acquisition scheme was, introduced to meet an emergency caused by the cessation of marketing facilities, and as that emergency will not be overcome until export shipping returns to normal, will the Government review its decision not to continue the scheme, and extend it for another season under the same constitutional powers as those other marketing controls upon which the Government has decided?
– The Government has not decided to discontinue the scheme, but the whole matter is under consideration.
Railway Sleepers - Supplies from Mandated Territories.
– Will the Minister for Transport keep in mind the untapped hardwood timber resources, bordering on the proposed Canberra-Tumut Highway, for the supply of railway sleepers which will be required for the standardization of Australia’s railway gauges.
– Will the Minister for External Territories inform the House what investigations have been made by his department of the suitability of timbers from New Guinea and other mandated territories for building purposes in Australia? If such timbers have been found to be suitable to Australian requirements, what steps have been taken or are contemplated to make them available in Australia as quickly as possible?
– A complete survey of the timber resources of the external territories is at present being -made by Mr. McAdam. As early as practicable, a statement will be made as to these resources . and the plans the Government has in mind for putting them to appropriate use.
Invitations to Visit Australia
– In view of Mr. Winston Churchill’s outstanding services to the cause of the Allied Nations during the difficult days of war, will the Prime Minister inform the House whether any developments have taken place in connexion with the invitation to Mr. Churchill to visit Australia, especially as the Government has extended an invitation to the present Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee? If nothing has been done recently, will the Prime Minister take appropriate action to invite Mr. Churchill to visit the Commonwealth?
– My recollection is that when the late Mr. Curtin was Prime Minister, an invitation was extended to Mr. Churchill to visit Australia at a time convenient to himself. That invitation still stands.
– Will the Prime Minister renew the invitation?
– So far as I know, there have been no later developments. An invitation was also extended to Mr. Attlee to visit Australia at a time convenient to himself. I understand that, subject to possible developments in other matters, Mr. Attlee proposes to accept the invitation, but I am not able to indicate when he is likely to come.
– Will the Minister for the Army supply me with the number of persons who applied for exemption from military service during World War II. on conscientious grounds? How many of those applications were granted ?
– I shall inquire whether it is possible to supply the information.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that he has been informed of the exact result of the recent ronversion loan of £16,000,000 in Great
Britain? If so, will lie supply the’ information to the House?
– I know approximately what the figures were about a week ago. Last week, I promised the honorable member for New England that I would examine the matter, and if it were possible or desirable, I would supply the inf ormation in detail. When I am examining it, I shall bear in mind the. request of the honorable member for Warringah.
– Has the Minister for Works and Housing seen the statement attributed to the Leader of the Australian Country party relating to the cost of individual homes built by the War Service Homes Commission? If so, are the figures which the right honorable gentleman gave correct?
– I saw the statement of the right honorable gentleman and prepared a reply to it which the press refused to publish. His statement was clearly intended to convey the impression that the cost of administering war service homes was £7,500 for each home. The fact is that the cost of administering the War Service Homes Department last year was £57,000. which included the cost of administration in respect of all homes already occupied by ex-servicemen. In .1932-33, when the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) was Minister for War Service Homes, the cost of administering the department was £74,177, and no homes were built. I make that statement for the purpose of showing that administration cost has no relation whatever to the number of houses built. I inform the House also that in the three years during which the honorable member for Moreton administered the department ‘ only two homes were built and administration costs were £217,000.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The period for which I had the privilege of administering the War Service Homes Department was that which followed ‘ the term of office of the Scullin Government, the actions of which accentuated the difficulties of. a world-wide depression. At the time when I assumed office hundred* of war service homes were being surrendered by unfortunate ex-servicemen who were out of work and could not continue’ to meet their commitments. Up to that time, 21,000 homes had been built. No homes were built in the period when I administered the department because the actions of the Scullin Government had intensified the effects of the depression and ex-soldiers were surrendering their homes. The committee composed of ex-servicemen which was appointed in response to my suggestion to the then Prime Minister. Mr. Lyons, examined the whole of the circumstances connected with the administration of war service homes. If honorable members read the report of that committee, they will find that my administration was so sympathetic and generous that the committee was unable to recommend that ex-serviceman should receive any assistance beyond that given to them at any instance. The observations just made by the Minister for Works and Housing prove that he cannot draw a distinction between the building of homes and a. depression.
– I, too, wish to make a personal explanation. I did not ‘ intend to criticize in any way the administration of war service homes by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). My sole reason for mentioning the costs of administration was to show how completely misleading had been the statement of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) in regard to the matter.
– Will the Prime Minister consider releasing . for publication the report I presented to the Curtin Government on the treatment of malaria among troops and methods for the prevention of the spread of the disease in Australia? The publication of the report was withheld during the war for security reasons. If it is not possible to publish the whole of the report, will the Prime Minister consider publishing that portion of it which deals with the prevention of the spread of the disease in Australia?
– I remember dis,tinctly that the right honorable gentleman was asked by the Advisory War Council to prepare this report. I shall inquire whether it is possible to comply with his request.
Criticism of Officials
– Has the attention of the Acting Minister for Air been drawn to a series of newspaper articles, written by Air Vice-Marshal Bostock, in which serious charges are made against the present Chief of the Air Staff and the Secretary for Air, as well as other persons ?
– Including the Minister.
– I am asking the question. “Will the Minister say whether an investigation of the allegations is intended? In any event, will an official statement be made in reply to the articles?
– As this matter has such a direct bearing on theadministration of the Department of Air, it should be attended to personally by the Minister for Air, who is due to return to Australia nest Friday.
- Mr. Leon Trout, pre sident of the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland, Brisbane, has stated that motorists cannot be content with the reduction of the price of petrol by only 1d. a gallon. He has also said -
Motorists’ organizations had gone into the figures very carefully and had found that 2½d. would be a reasonable reduction and would not interfere with the petrol tax.
The tax should be reduced later by 8½d. to 3d., which would give the Commonwealth Government sufficient revenue to meet all expenditure needed on roads in the next ten years.
In the ten years to 1937 £30,000,000 had been diverted from the tax collections to Consolidated Revenue and not used for the purpose for which it was collected.
In view of the agitation for a greater reduction of the price of petrol by the Royal Automobile. Club of Queensland and motorists in other parts of Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping take the necessary action to have the tax on petrol reduced by 2½d. a gallon as soon as possible, and thus give to motorists much needed relief?
– I do not know whether this matter comes within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Supply and Shipping or the Minister for Trade and Customs, who is responsible for the prices regulations. However, I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to provide as soon as possible the information that the honorable member seeks.
Property near Tamworth.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether the Peel River Land and Mineral Company Limited offered recently to the Government, either directly or through the Government of New South Wales, 19,000 acres of its Goonoo Goonoo property, near Tamworth, for the land settlement of ex-servicemen. If it did, was the offer accepted? If it was not accepted, for what reason was it rejected?
– I have not any information on the matter. Proposals in relation to land settlement of ex-servicemen are made to the State Governments.
– By whom they are referred to the Commonwealth?
– They are referred to me at a later stage. I shall ask the Government of New South Wales whether the property mentioned has been offered for the land settlement of ex-servicemen.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether the whole of the Australian supplies of zinc dross have been exported because of the higher price that is obtainable overseas? If so, will he consider the placing of an embargo upon exports, in view of the fact that zinc dross is a very important component in the manufacture of paint, which is in very short supply and in big demand in Australia? .
– I am not aware that the honorable member has correctly stated the position. Inquiries will be made, and his suggestion will be considered by the Minister for Trade and Customs.
Representation in Australia - Australian Purchasing Commission.
– Having regard to the great importance of the. reported discussionsbetween the Australian Minister for External Affairs and the representatives of the Department of State and the President of the United States of America in respect of Pacific matterswhich will affect the future of Australia, has the Prime Minister any information indicating whether the American Government intends to take steps to correct its curious omission to appoint a Resident Minister in Australia, that office having been vacant for about twelve months ?
-I. am certain that the two matters mentioned by the honorable gentleman are not related. I have already said that Pacific bases havebeen the subject of discussion in London as well as with the American Department of State. It has to be made clear that the view of the Australian Government in regard to anything that is done in the Pacific should have relation to an overall plan for the security of the Pacific. That applies particularly to the Southwest Pacific. No finality has been reached, and no final expression of opinion has been given officially by the United States Government.
– It has been reported in the press, both here and overseas, that the Government of the United. States has asked that foreign purchasing commissions in America be wound up. Can the Prime Minister say whether the Australian Purchasing Commission is being wound up, and, if so, what arrangements does the Government propose to make to look after trade arrangements formerly controlled by the commission?
– I shall have a statement prepared setting out the exact position . regarding the Australian Purchasing Commission in America, the work which it performed during the war, and particulars of the request made by the Government of the United States.
– Can the Minister for Transport and External Territories say whether there is any truth in the report published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Saturday last that unless fifteen requests submitted to him by the natives of New Guinea were acceded to they would go on strike?
– There is no truth in the report that certain demands were’ submitted to. me by the natives of New Guinea. I have had inquiries made, and have learned that the natives were greatly agitated because they had come to know of a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition to the National . Council of Women recently, in which it was suggested that there was to be a change of government in this country. For that reason the natives had decided to stop work. I assured them that there was no possibility of this Government being disturbed, and they have decided to work on.
Allocation of Supplies - Reserves in New South Wales.
– Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction say what control, if any, is exercised by the Commonwealth Government over the distribution of New South Wales coal once it reaches other States in order to ensure a proper allocation as between gas works and industrial undertakings? Can the Prime Minister report any developments since the House last met that would improve the prospects of obtaining more coal? Has the Government examined the practicability of importing coal ?
– A Committee appointed by the Department of Supply and Shipping, and presided over by the Coal Commissioner, controls the allocation of coal to the various States. . All the factors relating to the consumption of coal are taken into consideration by that committee in making the allocation.
– Do the State governments then decide what shall be done with the coal ?
– The State governments decide how the coal shall he distributed within the State. The Coal Commissioner has an officer in each State who works in close co-operation with the State governments. For the information of the honorable member, I may say that the proportion of coal going to Victoria is a little more than was the case during the ..’. Victoria is certainly not getting any less than it got during the war.
– But is there a balanced distribution for industrial and domestic uses ?
– The advice of ‘ the State governments is obtained before an allocation is made. I believe that the prospects of mo-re .coal being obtained in Victoria are at present fairly good. Ships are on the way with coal, .and rationing would have been unnecessary in Victoria recently but for the fact that colliers were delayed by storms at sea. As for the possibility of importing coal, I have no information; but I -shall ask my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, to look into the matter.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a. statement released by the New South Wales Government Statistician that reserve stocks of coal on the 1st July, 1942, amounted to 1,062,000 tons? Is.it a fact that to-day those reserves Iia ve disappeared, and that, numerous industries in .New South Wales are threatened with closure as a result, and tens of thousands of people are liable to be thrown out. of work? Has the Government clone anything to avert this impending catastrophe, and to build up coal stocks once more to the condition iii which they were when the Curtin Government took office?
– I have not seen the statement by the Government Statistician of New South Wales about coal reserves, but I have no reason to doubt that his figures are- accurate. However. I remind the House that there is an ever-increasing demand for coal for the production of power, light and gas. Even if the miners and owners were to work in the closest co-operation, and if there were no loss of production, it, is apparent, that neither now. nor in the immediate future, could enough coal be obtained from the existing mines, under present methods .of production, to meet this ever-increasing demand. As for what is being done to improve the position, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, in collaboration with the Government of New South Wales has been trying, through the Commonwealth Coal . Commissioner, to develop open-cut mining where equipment can be obtained for the purpose. The provision of equipment for open-cut mining is very difficult. The machinery available in any quantity for the purpose is .only partly efficient, in order to obtain maximum production from open -cut mines it will, therefore, -be necessary to get better machinery. There have been consultations with the Government of New South Wales regarding the control of the coal-mining industry, and legislation dealing with the subject is now being drafted by both State and Commonwealth authorities. If it can bc prepared in time I hope that, the Commonwealth legislation will be brought before this House for the purpose of setting up a new authority which will control coal production and distribution.
– Can the Treasurer say what is the position regarding interest-free loans made to the Government for the duration of the Avar? When is it expected that they will be repaid (
– Whenever those who - made interest-free loans to the Government applied for repayment, the money was, in fact, repaid immediately.
– Not too immediately, according to my experience. I know of two cases in which T have had to write several ttimes.
– Whenever an application was made for repayment, the money was paid to the lender. However. T sha.ll have a statement on the subject prepared, and made available to the honorable member.
– In view o.f cbe high costs associated with primary production, can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether there is any prospect of a reduction of the price of fuel oil?
– I shall have an investigation made.
– Recently, in Parliament, various honorable members -drew attention to the fact that there is a scarcity of woollen cloth in Australia, and they pointed out that ex-servicemen and other civilians were unable to buy suits of clothes. The Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs said that only token quantities of cloth had been exported. I asked a question upon notice on this subject, and from the answer supplied I find that the “ token “ quantity exported to Russia was 886,094 square yards.
– What is the question?
– I asked the names of the countries to which the cloth had been sent. I should not have been surprised to learn that a considerable quantity had been sent to New Zealand, but I was certainly surprised-
– The surprise of the honorable member is very interesting, but he must know that the Standing Orders provide that questions shall be asked for the purpose of eliciting information, and not for the purpose of giving it.
– Russia has received a bigger share of the exports than have Great Britain, New Zealand, or any of the Dominions.
– Order !
– Why is this export permitted to continue when servicemen and male civilians cannot buy clothing? Will the honorable gentleman inform the House whether it is proposed to continue . exports on the present scale during the remainder of this year?
– I assure the honorable member that the great bulk of the exports to which he has referred has been of worsteds of a kind quite unsuitable for use in Australia.
– What nonsense !
– There has been only a token export of worsteds of a kind suitable for use in this country. I shall confer with my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and arrange for the latest information on the subject to be supplied to the honorable member.
– Having regard to the withdrawal of Commonwealth regulations relating to the transport of cream and the zoning of cream-carting, is the
Minister for Transport able to state whether this matter is now entirely within the responsibility of the State governments or is it still in any respect controlled by Commonwealth authorities?
– The restrictions imposed on cream-cartage have been completely removed by the Commonwealth, and the question of whether controls should be instituted is now a matter for the State Governments to determine.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to a statement emanating from Melbourne and published in last Monday’s issues of the Launceston Examiner and the Burnie Advocate to the effect that at a conference between the Minister for Labour and National Service and executives of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions it was announced that a bill had been drafted providing for the abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court as at present constituted and for the retirement and pensioning of the present Arbitration Court judges ? Is it intended that such a bill be presented to this Parliament, and will the honorable gentleman give full information to honorable members generally on the subject ?
– There is not a fraction of truth in the statement referred to by the honorable member. I know of no discussions that have taken place on the subject, either with executives of. the Australasian Council of Trade Unions or at party or Cabinet or any other meetings, which would give rise to such a rumour.
– What about the conference that took place between Senator McKenna and the executive of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions?
– The honorable member had better ask him.
Destruction of Trees
– In view of the worldwide reputation which Canberra has achieved as a garden city, will the Prime Minister,’ in the absence of the Minister for the Interior, inform the House why beautiful trees and shrubs are daily being destroyed in Canberra? Will the right honorable gentleman take immediate action to ensure the discontinuance of this unnecessary destruction?
– I shall arrange for my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, to supply full information to the honorable member as to the reasons for the removal of these trees and shrubs. .
Mr. S. MORAN.
– Has the Prime Minister read the statement of the treasurer of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. S. Moran, that union officials were satisfied with the manner in which the Prime Minister had told the Dutch authorities in Australia that they should not interfere with the internal life of the country? Is this the Mr.Stan Moran who has been a prominent member of the Communist party since 1932, and, if so, does the right honorable gentleman intend to take any action to dissociate himself from his Communist supporter ?
– I have not read the statement to which the honorable gentleman has referred. I do not know the gentleman in question, and I do not propose to take any notice of what he says or does.
Message from the Governor-General reported transmitting Additional Estimates of Expenditure for the year ending the 30th June, 1946, and recommending appropriation accordingly.
Ordered to lie on the table and referred to Committee of Supply forthwith.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the following additional sum be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1945-46 for the services hereunder specified, viz.: -
Part I. - Departments and Services - other thanbusiness Undertaking and Territories ofthe Commonwealth.
– Defence and War (1939-45) Services.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means, founded on resolution of Supply, reported and 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.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary appropriation for the expenditure of an additional amount of £20,000,000 of revenue for war purposes. When the budget was presented to the Parliament in September last I estimated that the total revenue would be £374,000,000. The budget was framed to provide an appropriation from revenue for non-war items aggregating £16.6,000,000. The balance of £208,000,000 was appropriated for war purposes. It is now anticipated that some revenue items will exceed the estimate. With the end of the war and the relaxation of controls, there has been a marked buoyancy in customs and excise revenue, and indications are that the estimate will be exceeded by £7,000,000. Increased sales of civilian goods, mainly due to the demobilization of the forces, may result in an increase of sales tax revenue by £5,000,000. Income tax may also yield an extra amount of £5,000,000. Estate duty and some other items of revenue will show small increases. It is anticipated that non-war expenditure will be approximately the same as the budget estimate. An accurate forecast of the total revenue for the financial year is somewhat difficult, but the improvement will be of the order of from £15,000,000 10 £20,000,000. To permit this increase of revenue to be utilized to meet war expenditure, it is necessary to provide an. additional appropriation and therefore parliamentary appropriation for £20,000,000 is sought.
The budget provided for a total war expenditure in 1945-46 of £360,000,000. Owing mainly to the acceleration of demobilization, this estimate will be exceeded. The proposed appropriation of £20,000,000 will enable the actual improvement of revenue to be applied to war expenditure, thus reducing tq this extent the amount chargeable to loan.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 21st June (vide page 1746), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill bo now read a second time.
.- I am compelled to enter this debate by the misleading statements of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), who has made this bill the vehicle for an attack on the Government’s financial policy. He delivered a tirade against the Government’s methods of raising loans and carrying out its financial proposals, but analysis of the methods adopted in raising loans by this Government . and those adopted by the right honorable gentleman when lie was Treasurer and Acting Prime Minister shows very little difference between the two. The only difference in method that I can discover is that the Labour Government refused to accept the assistance of private banking institutions. I n all other respects, anti-Labour governments, in which the Leader of the Australian Country party was Treasurer, adopted practically the same methods in floating loans as the Labour Government lias employed.
The right honorable gentleman made a bitter attack on the Security Loan floated by the present Government, and, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, he boy cotted the loan. At a time when the credit of the nation could be affected by the fate of the loan, he could not put aside party politics, hut sought to gain political advantages. The Leader of the Opposition had the wisdom to recognize that the government of the day, regardless of its political beliefs, was compelled to float a loan for financing the administration of the country. So, while the Leader of the Opposition assisted the Government’* campaign, the right honorable member for Darling Downs refused to take part. After the success of the loan was assured, he seized the opportunity to make misleading statements to the Parliament. He drew a comparison between the percentage of the loan subscribed by individual contributors and that provided by the Commonwealth Savings Bank and other savings banks. Yet when the right honorable gentleman was Commonwealth Treasurer, he adopted the same financial methods in raising three loans as those which this Government employed, and the percentage of individual contributors to his loans was almost the same as the percentage which invested money in the last loan. The right .honorable gentleman also blamed the’ Government for its “ hush-hush ‘* policy. . When he was Commonwealth Treasurer, he also adopted a “ hushhush “ policy. Now, with the approach of the election, . he trenchantly attacked the Government’s loan policy. When a man sabotages a national loan And becomes a political “ knocker “, he become? a fair target for criticism.
All public trustees and municipal authorities insist that ‘Commonwealth bonds are gilt-edged securities. The Leader of the Australian Country party was most disappointed at the success of. the loan, because the Government refused to allow private banking institutions to contribute to it. Much to his chagrin, the loan was over-subscribed by £8,000,000. As the result of that success, the Government will be able to meet its responsibilities to the country and honour its promises to rehabilitate ex-service personnel. An analysis reveals that in the flotation of loans, the achievements of anti-Labour governments, in which he was Treasurer, were worse than those of this Government. The greatest number of individual subscribers that the antiLabour Government obtained for any loan which it raised was 57,217; but for the last Security Loan the Government, despite the protests of the Leader of the Australian Country party, had 179,000 individual subscribers. And the Government did not have the assistance of the private trading banks !
– The private tradingbanks are unable to contribute to loans because their surplus deposits are paid into a special fund.
– That is not correct. I have official figures which substantiate my statement. The Leader of the Australian Country party complained also about the recent conversion loan in London.
– I did not mention it.
– According to the press,- the right honorable gentleman was invited to comment on the loan, and he did not contradict the published statement which was attributed to him. When the right honorable gentleman was Commonwealth Treasurer, the government of the day converted two loans- in London, and both were under-subscribed. At that time, the then Leader of the Labour party, the late Mr. Curtin, did not “knock” the country and proclaim that failure to the world. No Prime Minister or Treasurer has adopted the policy of making public statements- about the results of conversion loans overseas. When Mr. S. M. Bruce was High Commissioner honorable members’ opposite did not protest against this reticence, but immediately the right honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) became High Commissioner and floated a conversion loan, the Opposition and the whole of the tory press of Australia immediately attacked the transaction.
– The Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour government in Great Britain first raised the political issue by stating that the conversion of the loan showed what two Labour governments could do.
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) stated that trading banks were not per mitted to contribute to Commonwealth loans. I have before me the official figures which were made available to me by the same official who .supplied them to the Leader of the Australian Country party. The statement reveals that in the three loans which were floated by the Leader of the Australian Country party, the private trading banks took a prominent part. To the first loan of £28,000,000 in November, 1940, the Commonwealth Savings Bank subscribed £4,000,000, other savings banks £980,000, trading banks £6,389,000, State governments and other government authorities and official bodies £726,000. and all other subscribers £16,404,000. The number of applicants totalled 21,830 and ‘ the amount subscribed was £28,499,000.- That proves conclusively that the statement of the honorable member for Warringah was incorrect.
– No; the honorable member ‘refers to a loan floated in 1940. and the regulations controlling the private trading banks were not introduced until 1942.
– The Leader of tinAustralian Country party will discover, upon investigation, that the percentage of contributions by individual subscribers to that loan does not differ very greatly from, the percentages of individual subscriptions to loans raised by the Labour Government. In April, 1941, the Government of which the Leader of the Australian Country party was Treasurer floated a loan of £35,000,000 and the amount subscribed was £35,872,000. ‘ The number of subscribers totalled 57,219. The Commonwealth Savings Bank subscribed £3,000,000, other savings bank? £1,350,000, trading’ banks £6,640,000. State governments and other government authorities and. official bodies £1,300,000. and all others £23,579,000. We find, therefore, that, in spite of the tirade of the right honorable gentleman against thi’ Government, the subscriptions to’ loans raised while this Government has been in office were very similar to the subscript.’ons to loans raised while he was Treasurer. The results of the third of these three loans were substantially similar to those of the two to which I have referred in detail. Since the last antiLabour government was cast out of office all the loans floated by the Commonwealth have been over-subscribed. The ratio of subscribers and percentages has been equal to those of loans raised while the Leader of the Australian Country party was Treasurer.
– When was there another 52 per cent.?
– I could name the loan but I cannot give specific figures, for they were made available to me in confidence. The Leader of the Australian Country party received the same figures himself and he treated them confidentially.
– I did not use them.
– Neither have I used them, despite the endeavours of- the honorable member for Warringah (MrSpender) to get me to do so. The percentage of subscriptions by individuals and companies to the Third Victory Loan was 52, that in the Fourth Victory Loan was the same, and that in the Security Loan was 62. Had the honorable member for Warringah taken the trouble to obtain the figures to which I have referred he would have known that what I am saying is correct. Labour governments have raised twelve loans since the defeat of the Fadden administration, and all of them have been over-subscribed. In addition various conversion loans have been floated both overseas and in Australia, war savings certificates totalling £4,000,000 have been issued, and certain interest-free loans also have been negotiated. With the consent of honorable members I shall incorporate the detailed figures in Hansard -
The Leader of the Australian Country party also attacked the Government for what he described as its maladministration and wasteful spending. Had he examined the figures made available by the Prime Minister not long ago he would have found that expenditure in the budget for 1946-47. which must be met from that year’s revenue, will be approximately £300,000,000. Defence expenditure alone has increased from £6,000,000 pre- war to an estimate of £60,000,000 for next year, which is ten times greater than any pre-war budget estimate of defence expenditure. When the new budget is presented - and I have no doubt that it will be submitted by the present Treasurer - it will be found that payments in respect of World War I. will require £20,000,000, and those in respect of World War II. £85,000,000. The total of those two figures, £105,000,000, is greater than the grand total of expenditure for any pre-war budget in Australia. To put it in another way, we shall require no less than £105,000,000 to meet our . repatriation expenditure alone, whereas the total expenditure under the 1939-40 budget was given as £84,000,000. It is estimated that the following expenditure will require to be met in the forthcoming year in respect of social services alone: -
Such an expenditure on social services, covering the wide field that I have indicated, is an achievement of which the Government responsible and its supporters may well be proud. The people will no doubt indicate that they realize that they are receiving some return for the taxes they pay. Other payments which will need to be met include -
[t must be remembered that the Government has heavy obligations to meet in regard to rehabilitation of the demobilized men, shipping, and pay of personnel still in the armed forces,, including the occupation forces in Japan. The tapering off of war production and the general winding up of war establishments also has to be carried through into the next financial year. The Government was responsible for the gearing up of the cation for the war effort and now it is necessary to organize the return to normal activities. An effort is being made to “ unwind “ as quickly as possible. The estimates for these additional costs are approximately £100,000,000. The Government is to be warmly congratulated upon the fast rate of demobilization and return of people to civil work. The Leader of the Australian Country party apparently desired the last loan to be a failure so -that the Government would be in difficulties in fulfilling its promises to service and ex-service personnel. The people of Australia however, have shown that they have confidence in this administration, for they. have subscribed -to the loans just as. well as they did previously.
The right honorable . gentleman next attacked the Government on its income tax policy, but an examination of the facts reveals that the rate of tax on the lower income groups is lower in Australia than in either New Zealand or the United Kingdom. When the proposals of the new budget are submitted, it will be found that our position will be better than ever. In respect of social services contributions, for example, a person with an income of £150 pays £9 in Australia., £19 in New Zealand and £16 in the United Kingdom. Comparative figures in relation to an income of £200 are £15, £25, £25. It will be seen, therefore, that, in this regard, taxpayers in Australia are £10 better off than people in corresponding income groups in either New Zealand or the’ United Kingdom. Our taxpayers continue to be better off until the income range of £1,000 is reached. The information at my disposal indicates clearly that Australians on the lower and middle incomes are substantially better off than those of New Zealand or the United Kingdom. Those figures have been taken from the budgets of New Zealand and the United Kingdom, delivered last April.- In the dominion the income year for taxation purposes ends on the 31st March, and in the United Kingdom on the 5th April. Although they have reduced taxation for the ensuing financial year, it will be found that, with the further reduction which the Commonwealth Government will propose in its next budget, the people in this country will still be better off in respect of taxation than are the people of New Zealand and Great Britain. By leave, I incorporate a comparative statement in Hansard -
Taxes PAYABLE for FINANCIAL Year 1946-47 on Personal Exertion or “. Earned “ Income.
The amounts shown in the statement include the following levies: -
Australia - Social services contribution. New Zealand - Social security charge. United Kingdom - National insurance at 4s. lOd. per week.
Note. - AH figures “are expressed in the respective currencies of the countries concerned.
Mr. A. O. Cameron, vice.president and general manager of the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Export Company, who has visited Australia three times during its social and economic readjustment, has declared that this country has done a better job ? .in controlling inflation than has been done , by any other country. He praised the Australian Government for the wisdom of its fiscal policy, which is administered by means of high tax rates, and for its determination to pay its way as it goes instead of financing its operations by means of foreign, loans. This is an independent and unsolicited testimonial, from a very high business executive in America.
Much has been said about employment, unemployment, and the decline of production. The anti-Labour press yesterday and to-day published figures which show that, at the end of the last quarter of this year, 2,026,000 men and women, excluding rural and domestic workers, were employed in Australia. This number was 74,500 above the highest wartime level, recorded in November, 1941. and 296,600-120,500 men and 176,100 women - higher than the pre-war level: Those who protest against a lowering of production should seriously consider those figures.
– Not exactly; thai depends on what is produced. Not longago, the men and women of this country could purchase very little clothing. .1 have received from David Jones Limited, Sydney, a catalogue consisting of 124 pages in which is listed for sale all the clothing likely to be needed by men. women and children. A large proportion of this was not procurable during the war years. The statement that production is not greater to-day than it has b”en previously, is sheer nonsense. Honorable members opposite are keen advocates ot private industry and big business. The figures published to-day in the tory press show that private employers are not able to play the part that they should play in the re-employment of ex-servicemen and women.
– The Government has told us that all discharged ex-service personnel have been absorbed in employment.
– The Governmenhas absorbed 16 per cent., whereas private employers have absorbed only 5 per cent, of the number engaged in production to-day. Attempts are being made to sabotage the Government. Some industries in Victoria have been closed for the last month, in order that the tax payable by the employers may be less. I do not desire to mention the names of the firms.
– The honorable member has my full permission to mention the name of any firm that has done that.
– They want to cause unemployment, and to blame the Government for the scarcity of coal supplies in that State. The quantity of coal going to Victoria to-day is larger than it wapreviously. I admit, that some person? are not producing so much, to-day as they should produce. I refer, not to the worker but to captains of industry, who visit the golf links two or three times a week and attend race meetings whenever they are held. In Queensland, many business executives spend half the week at their homes at the many beautiful seaside resorts in that State. The captains of industry are trying to embarrass the Government by lowering production and by holding goods in reserve until the expiration of this month. I am confident that after the 1st July next some of them will produce anything that is desired, whilst others will hold up production until after the next elections. When the present Government has again been returned to power, they will unload their stocks as quickly as possible.
The Government has been criticized on account of the number of persons it employed during the war period, and the number still engaged to-day. A statement issued by Mr. Pinner, who made a thorough investigation of Commonwealth departments, shows that the total staff employed at the peak period was 214,691, and the total staff at present employed is 67,125, a reduction of 147,566. Those displaced have been absorbed in other employment. The people of this country realize that their means of livelihood in the future will be different from what it was in. pre-war days. The Government has to provide £60,000,000 for defence purposes - ten times as much as was provided pre-war. That money will have to he raised by means of taxation. The -um needed for governmental activities has risen to the colossal figure of £300,000,000, compared with a pre-war budget of £84,000,000. Big interests will have to realize that they will not be allowed to make in the future the exorbitant profits they made in the. past. The Government will ensure that those who are in need of social services and full employment shall have those amenities guaranteed to them in the future. When the people are given the opportunity, they will again return the Labour party to power.
.- To-day, [ came across a document which I believe will provide me with a useful introduction to my discussion of this bill ; it was the White Paper on full employment in Australia presented some time ago by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). I was impressed by two passages in it which in my opinion have a. very interesting bearing on the state of the nation to-day. At the outset, the Minister told us that the White Paper set forth “ boldly arid unequivocally the Government’s intention to secure full employment for the people of Australia after the war “. After a long process of theoretical reasoning, he wound up with this intriguing declaration -
I make for all my colleagues on this side of the House this declaration, paraphrasing Blake - ‘
will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, Till we have built Jerusalem
In “Australia’s” pleasant land.
This, he said, was to be a charter for a new social order. I could not fail to be impressed by the contrast between -the lofty sentiments which he had expressed in this document, and the actual state of the nation, as it appeared to me when I looked round, ten months after victory had been achieved and peace had commenced. What has been the effect of this policy of boldly and unequivocally ensuring full employment in this country? We took Australia from the blacks in the first place, and we havehanded it over to a different set of blacks. Our markets, ships, factories and Dutch allies are “ black “. It is true that we are also having trouble with our “ reds “ ; and most of the citizens of Victoria are “ blue “ -at the present time owing to the lack of fuel and of domestic comforts generally. The only thing that has retained its pristine whiteness and purity is the White Paper of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. But instead of the achievements which it envisaged, we have a new order consisting of go-slow tactics, collective bludgeoning in industry, and the most feeble and futile Ministers who have ever mis-styled themselves a government. To whom do we look > if we wish to criticize this result? We cannot look to those persons who have been giving us service during the war years and have now found it necessary to re-enter civilian occupations. The hundreds of thousands of men and women who were in our Services have, generally speaking, .been demobilized in a most orderly fashion and with commendable expedition, and have re-adjusted themselves to civilian life. I stress that the honorable member for -Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), speaking earlier for the Government, pointed out that a very large percentage of them had already been absorbed in industry. In fact, he said, a remarkably small proportion was unemployed to-day. So we have had on the one hand this commend-ably speedy and orderly absorption of our returned service personnel into productive pursuits. Their absorption suggests that industry is not open to criticism on the ground that it has not provided opportunities for r.hem. According to the Government’s own figures, an overwhelming proportion of them has been ‘ taken back into peace-time occupations. Yet the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) would attempt to attach blame to industry; and his charges have been « repeated by the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan). Both those. gentlemen claimed that some of the shortages were due to the manufacturers deliberately withholding stocks, or refraining from producing. If they know this to be true, they have a public duty to point to the manufacturers responsible. I invite them to do so. If they can prove their charges, we on this side of the House shall join with therm in condemning the manufacturers concerned. I believe, however, that such statements are made in order to cover up the inefficiency and maladministration of their own Government. I invite them to point to establishments which could be producing more to-day but for the disinclination of those responsible to pay more taxes. My experience in Victoria - and it is considerable - is that the manufacturers are in a desperate state, and are carrying on a handtomouth existence. In many important industries it has been necessary to lay off employees because of lack of fuel. I have heard, no responsible member of the Victorian Government make statements of the kind we have heard in this House, f know only too well the difficulties under which industry is labouring in
Victoria. The headline news in thepapers to-day reveals the conditions which exist in Queensland, where the Government has found it necessary to declare a state of emergency. We know that in New South Wales the Bunnerong power house, the central source of electricity supply for the Sydney metropolitan area, has less than one day’s supply, of coal on hand. In Victoria, during the last few days, gas has been rationed, and before that there was rationing of electricity. Almost every day we read in the newspapers of the gallant struggle of some battered and ancient collier around the coast of New South Wales in an endeavour to bring coal in time to prevent darkness from descending upon the residents of Victoria. Only yesterday, I was told of the predicament of an important glassmanufacturing establishment. It cannot obtain any coal at all, and is trying to keep the furnaces going with wood. I was informed that, if the furnaces were allowed to go out, it would take six weeks to get them heated again. In this modern era people in our great capital cities are being forced to live in a state .of almost medieval discomfort (because of the shortage of coal. Office staffs are working under the greatest difficulty, and industrial employees have been laid off, or are struggling to keep factories going with substitute fuel. I believe that the Government, for political reasons, is not making a balanced distribution of the available coal. It is taking the shortsighted view that, in order to avoid immediate criticism from domestic users; it is better to starve industry than to compel the rationing of gas for domestic purposes. That may be one way of staving off political criticism, but it is a foolish method in the long run, because the public will be caused greater inconvenience eventually. These cumulative shortages are beginning to tell their tale. I was astonished to hear the honorable member for Griffith say that the position in regard to the supply of goods generally was better now than during the war. Honorable members must be fully aware from their own experience that there is a greater shortage now of goods for personal use than there ever was during the war. I need only cite food and clothing. These shortages are not entirely due to the effects of strikes, nor to the shortage of fuel. There is a difficulty in relating production to available supplies of materials, when those supplies are scanty and irregular. What are the immediate economic consequences to Australia of this disorganization of production? During the war we had accumulated savings which could have been usefully employed for the purpose of post-war development. However, those who are laid off from factories must now eat into their savings, as also must those who are out of employment because of strikes. The activities of business concerns have been restricted, and as a result their profits are restricted to a corresponding degree. The national income declines, and this is followed by decline of government revenue. This means that we are less able to maintain standards of living and to provide employment. We should note, in passing, that government expenditure is as high now as it was at any time during the war. In fact, as the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) pointed out, war expenditure for the current financial year has been at a rate in excess of that of the previous financial year, which was a full war year. We are paying a very heavy price for this 5o-called full-employment policy. Departmental expenditure continues to be inflated, and there has been no decline of government expenditure. Despite the ending of the war, taxation remains at a high level. It is, indeed, heavier than anywhere in the world. As a result, there is reduced output owing to the lack of incentive. The honorable member for Fremantle, and the honorable member for Griffith, claimed that there was increased production because so many people were employed. That is j;he futile, academic, theoretical kind of reasoning. that we are accustomed to get from the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. I was amazed that so many honorable members opposite should have been deceived by it. The only test to apply is: How much is produced by the people who are in work? Immediately before the war, the employment figures showed that between 8 per cent, and 9 per cent, of trade unionists were out of work. The general’ experience is that production per employee has declined by 33 per cent, compared with what it was before the war. Therefore, even though the volume’ of employment has increased, so that there is now practically no unemployment at all, production per employee has declined so much that aggregate production throughout the country is now very much less than’ it was before the war. Nevertheless, economists such as Dr. Lloyd Ross continue to speak of full employment “ with its concomitant - expanding production “. As I have pointed out, we do not necessarily get more production because more people are employed.
There is another phase of our economic problem which was touched upon by previous speakers when discussing the dispute with the Dutch Government. It is vitally necessary for Australia to increase the volume of its exports. I do not think that most people realize just how important this has become. They have been misled by the fact that we are not importing more goods than before the war, but they ignore the fact that the goods which we import are costing us very much more than we paid for such goods before the war, and our export prices have not risen correspondingly. For the year 1939-40, the export price index was 96, whilst the import price index was 101 . 4. The corresponding figures for 1944-45 were 119 and 19S.5. Thus, whilst the export price index remained relatively stable, the import price index almost doubled. For that reason alone, there is an imperative need to develop export markets. But there are other reasons also. Before the war we could rely upon Great Britain taking most of our exportable products, but to-day the position is very different. Britain itself is a debtor country, fighting desperately to develop its own export markets. We cannot hope during the next few years, to send to. Great Britain the same quantity of goods as before the war. For that reason, it is difficult to understand why the Government has allowed to slip this golden opportunity to increase our export market elsewhere.
– To what other places does the honorable member refer?
– We are unable to satisfy the demand for our goods from Singa-,pore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Rhodesia, and India. This opportunity, which now presents itself, will not come again. It could not come at a better time than when the demand for our goods from some of our old customers has been so greatly reduced. We cannot expect Europe to take from us so much as before the war, but in compensation, markets are opening up in the Southwest Pacific and elsewhere. Before the war, the Dutch East Indies provided a most important market- for Australian goods. Honorable members will recall that a ship was chartered to take goods to the Netherlands East Indies, and, as a. result of the mission, a most valuable trade connexion was established. We were expanding our exports at the time when war broke out in’ the Netherlands East Indies. The spineless attitude of the Government towards the action of the waterside workers in holding up Dutch ships which would otherwise be taking goods to the Netherlands East Indies is most difficult to understand. It is fantastic that responsible bodies representing the trade unionists of this country are prepared to stand by and see these markets destroyed, when they must realize that only through these markets can we hope to maintain our pre-war standards of imports and, as a consequence, our pre-war standard of living. Only through them are we able to get the raw materials we need so much for our own manufactures. Both before and during the war, despite the efforts made to establish self-sufficiency, we had to import such a wide range of articles as petrol, oil, jute, rayon, kapok, timber, tea, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, heavy machinery, tinned plate, electrical goods and equipment, drugs, chemicals and paper. These commodities were necessary to enable us to establish and build up our own manufactures and to maintain our standard of comfort. We know that we shall have to import them for many years to come, just as we shall have to continue to import motor vehicles, machine tools, and a host of other things for our industries or for the comfort of our people. What respect can the Parliament and the people have for a government which per mits opportunities of this kind to be destroyed? What faith can we repose in the leaders of the trade union movement who want full employment, and dread the threat of another depression, when they stand by and see these prospects of developing our post-war markets sabotaged in this way? What suicidal folly to permit them to destroy our opportunities as they are doing! If we look back over the history of the last few years we shall see that these things do not represent a new development. Even the shortage of coal itself was foreseen. Thu Government knew there was likely to be an expanded demand for coal. The Government did not expect that industries built up during the war would collapse after the cessation of hostilities. In fact, the Government knew that in order to place the hundreds of thousands of exservice men and women in civilian employment all our industries would have to be maintained at their pre-war, if noi their war-time, level. Yet the drift was allowed to continue. No attempt was made to control supplies of coal during the summer months to meet the expected shortages during the winter months, and no attempt was made to ensure a proper balance as between the needs of domestic users and the needs of industry. The Government has stood idly by while the most pronounced drift- in industrial matters has taken place since 1929. If honorable members examine the figures of working days lost through- industrial disputes in 1945 they will find that they reach the alarming total of 2,119,000. a higher figure than in any /year since 1929. Last year there were 945 industrial ‘ disputes, an all-time record since the statistics have been compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician. It is obvious that the trend so starkly revealed in 1945 has been continued in 1946 when even higher figures may be expected. I believe that we have come to a pass which might be described as the new anarchy. We are not a revolutionary or violent people, but because of the trends I have outlined I believe that we may easily slide into a condition of anarchy. And all the symptoms of anarchy are present with us ‘to-day. A condition of anarchy exists not merely when there is such a state of disorder that the community cannot carry on. but. also when the Government finds itself utterly powerless to. govern, when those who have political responsibility are unable to exercise it whilst those who are lacking in political responsibility are able to- wield unfettered political power. That is the condition of affairs that exists in Australia to-day. The trade union movement in this country has grown up by leaps and bounds to a position of outstanding dominance. Labour governments dominate five of the six State Parliaments, and in numbers the representatives of Labour dominate this Parliament. The Labour party itself is based on the trade union movement and would not exist to-day in its present form without the support of the movement. It looks to the trade union movement for its organization and for its fighting funds, and not one honorable member opposite could hope to hold his seat iri this Parliament if he incurred the displeasure of the movement which stands behind his . party. Over the last few years events have proved that Labour governments, whether State or Commonwealth, are powerless to withstand the pressure of the trade union movement.
– Members of the party to which the honorable member belongs have been saying that for many years.
– I point out to the honorable gentleman that great changes have occurred in the political arena. Until comparatively recently there were no Labour governments in office in the Commonwealth sphere. In fact, until its present term, Labour was in office in this Parliament for only two out of . 25 years. Whatever influence the trade union movement may have had on the Labour party during those earlier years, with the exception I have mentioned, it has been unable to exert pressure on the governments of the past. There has been a very rapid growth in the movement. It has now grown to a point where members of unions constitute 54 per cent, of our total working population and a very large percentage of our total adult population. N”o honorable member supporting the Government will deny the influence of the unions, or challenge my statement that he would not bold his seat in this
Parliament if he incurred the displeasure of the trade union movement. Thus it has become the most powerful political force in Australia to-day. Even within the movement itself there are divisions that accentuate the trend towards anarchy. Instances of this are to be found in the recent antagonisms that have arisen between its Communist party members and those who claim to be moderates, and between the adherents of the Roman Catholic church and those who claim to be supporters of .the Communist party. This anarchic, chaotic state of affairs has brought about a total of 941 disputes in 1945 and an even greater number in the present year. The trade union movement must accept a great deal of the blame for the situation that has developed. As an illustration of this I propose to quote the words of one of its most respected members, a man I know to have great ability and to be in. very high standing’ in the Labour party. Mr. Monk, secretary of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, made a statement recently, which was quoted by the Leader of the Liberal party (Mr. Menzies) earlier in the debate, with respect to the dispute over the Dutch merchant, ships, dissociating the Australasian Council of Trade Unions from the tactics, employed by the Waterside Workers Federation. Mr. Monk saidThere has been more chicanery in this dispute .than T have experienced in any other dispute.
There you have, a. situation in which the official spokesman of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions condemns a dispute; but he is as powerless as the Government to do anything about it. But Mr. Monk cannot, escape blame for the lawless state of mind which has been permitted to manifest itself in the Waterside workers Federation. More recently we find him saying in regard to the 40- hours case -
This is not intended as a threat to the court but if the 40-hour week is not granted by the Arbitration Court, the trade union movement will take up the struggle - and it will be a long and a bitter struggle - until we attain our objective.
That statement by the official spokesman of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, an organization which I have claimed to be the most influential political power in Australia to-day, reeks of lawlessness and incites those who desire to disobey the industrial law of the Commonwealth and encourages them to the sort of lawless actions which are. dislocating so many of the industries of this country to-day. We are not a violent people; we are an easy-going people, not easily stirred; but unless we raise ourselves from the quagmire in which we are floundering our hopes of a secure and prosperous peace will be utterly submerged. Labour has shown itself powerless in office and unfit to govern. It has surrendered its authority to forces’ which have no responsibility to the Australian electorate and which defy the industrial laws of the country with impunity. Labour is fast squandering the peace. This go-slow Government must be swept aside for a production government which would so reduce government expenditure and taxes as to provide .incentives to the nation to give of its best. ‘ A production government would uphold against the force of anarchy the laws enacted by democratically elected governments and declared by impartial tribunals.
.- I propose to make some observations regarding the coal situation. Although I do not set myself up as an authority upon this very black question there are one or two matters relating to the coal position in South Australia which I believe should be brought before honorable members. I have noticed that the Premier of South Australia has claimed that the ‘industries of his State have been able to keep going because supplies could be augmented by the output of the Leigh Creek mine. I give him full credit, but if he were fair to Himself, and the people, he would give to the State Labour Opposition credit for its assistance in the development of that field and the Commonwealth Government credit for having contributed about £150,000 towards the cost. But for the support of the Labour party in South Australia, there ‘would have been no development of the Leigh Creek coal-field, because the Legislative Council was unsympathetic and would otherwise have thrown the bill out. That should be known by members of this Parliament and the people generally. Other so-called socialistic measures put through the South Australian legislature, such as the act relating to the control of the supply of electric lighting, would not be law to-day but for the Labour party. I give the Premier full credit for having forced those measures through the State Parliament, but he should be honest and tell the people that he could not have done so without the help of the Opposition. It is a pity, too, that the Adelaide Advertiser does not give the Labour party due credit. As far as useless and unnecessary lighting is concerned, I think South Australia could reduce the use of electricity more than it has done. Neon signs, which remain in full blaze, ought not to be allowed while the position is desperate. Every one was delighted to be able to celebrate Victory Day, but I see no reason why the authorities kept the electric illuminations on for a week after the day had been celebrated. That wasted more coal. 1 congratulate the Rural Reconstruc– tion Commission on its seventh report, headed “Rural Amenities”. The commission went to great pains to hear evidence and make its decisions, which have a vital bearing not only on primary production but also on how the amenities of those engaged in primary production can be immeasurably improved. This report goes further than other reports on rural problems; in that it recommends that country life be made more attractive. That is necessary if we are to use this wonderful country to the best advantage. As I have said many times and as the reports bear out, the bulk of our population is concentrated in the city areas. It will not be otherwise unless country life is made more attractive. The commission clearly shows how it can be. I agree with the recommendations because, for one thing, any one who has made even a casual examination of the dwellings in which the country people have to live will agree with the commission that those dwellings must be brought into conformity with city standards. I quote from the report, page 17 -
State rural credit authorities should be asked to co-operate by adopting as principles of loan policy -
The maintenance of satisfactory standards of housing on properties on which loans are secured; and
where necessary, the extension of existing loans to enable existing houses to be replaced or improved to the requisite standard.
Where farm-owners desirous of bringing the farm dwellings up to the requisite standard are unable to obtain the necessary accommodation because of existing mortgages and the reluctance of their mortgagees to extend accommodation, they should be encouraged to seek accommodation, and, if necessary, financial reconstruction from the State rural credit authorities.
I have always contended that the Commonwealth Bank should take over the mortgages of primary producers, particularly settlers. It could then advance them sufficient money to make the needed alterations. As the commission states, in quite a number of cases the extra expenditure would not be more than £300 or £400. The owners should be allowed to transfer the mortgages to the Commonwealth. Bank at the lowest possible interest rate, not more, I should say, than 3 per cent. Then the expenditure of £300 or £400 on the improvement of a primary producer’s dwelling would add only about £10 or £15 to his annual commitments. The expenditure would be well worth while, because the- settlers would be contented, and contentment would mean that production would increase. The commission also recommends on page 17 -
Mass production of efficient refrigerators, to be available to farm dwellers at a reasonable cost, should be considered by the appropriate authorities. If such utilities were available the incidence of gastric troubles, especially among children during the summer months, would be reduced.
That contention is right, for I know that in the northern part of South Australia, where the climate is tropical, refrigeration has been the means, not only of improving children’s health, but also of preserving food, which is of great importance owing to the world shortage of food. For that reason alone refrigeration is needed, but equally important it helps to make life more enjoyable. I was pleased to be told by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) that he hoped that refrigeration soon would be available for men working on the north-south line. If anybody needs that amenity the men outback certainly do.
Another matter of importance on which the commission has made recommenda tions is water conservation, which, as I think all honorable members will agree, is essential to development. Since I have been the representative of Wakefield in this Parliament I have spoken on the subject of water conservation in and out of season, so I was pleased to read the commission’s recommendations thereon. There are many rivers in Australia, possibly small, the water of which could be stored and made use of if weirs, similar to that built on the Molonglo River at Canberra, which serves also as a bridge, replaced bridges of the old type, whose only purpose is to provide a crossing. Between Adelaide and the Northern Territory there are many rivers that flow, I admit, only spasmodically, but millions of tons of water could be conserved by such weirs. Without water there cannot be production.
Another matter of great concern to the people in the outlying districts is the provision of telephonic communication. On that matter the commission has made a recommendation with which I thoroughly agree, because I know the difficulties that the peopleoutback have to contend with through not having telephone facilities. The use of the pedal wireless in the sparsely settled parts of Australia was established as an ancilliary of the flying doctor service inaugurated by the Bight Reverend John Flynn. The flying doctor service has conferred great benefit on the settlers. Irrespective of whether a man is white, black, brown or brindle, or whether he has means or whether he is impoverished, the flying doctor service is always at his disposal whenhe requires it. From my own knowledge, people who did not have the wherewithal received the same excellent attention as did those who could afford to pay for it. I refer again to the recommendations in the report -
That the Postmaster-General be asked to review the system of payment for installing telephone lines to now country subscribers so as to reduce the first cost of a new installation and make it possible for more farmers to afford the benefits of the telephone service.
That consideration he given to a scheme whereby an intending farm subscriber can lodge with the appropriate authority a capital sum to cover the whole or part of the cost of a new line, such sum being given taxation concession and also giving the applicant a right to preferential consideration for an installation when materials are again available for such work.
The latest method of wireless telephone communication should be developed as quickly as possible. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department makes a profit of several million pounds a year, and a portion of that money should be used to finance the extension of this service to the people of the out-back. At present, the profits made by the Postmaster-‘ General’s Department are paid into Consolidated Revenue. I cannot emphasize too strongly that if we are to develop and populate this country successfully, the people of the out-back must be granted the same facilities and amenities as are enjoyed by those who live in the more densely populated areas.
– Before that can be done, the Constitution must be altered.
– In such a cause, I am perfectly willing to advocate an alteration of the Constitution. I am confident that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) would support any attempt tq. improve the conditions of the people of the out-back. Every honorable member would willingly assist them to obtain those necessary facilities. The Constitution is not so rigid that it cannot be altered, and an appeal to the people to equip this Parliament with authority to provide those amenities for the residents of the sparsely populated areas would have the unanimous support of all political parties. The recommendations which I have read are within the range of possibility. All that is required is, not talk, hut action. This problem demands a practical approach. Members of Parliament talk a great deal in the course of a year. They also read voluminous reports presented to the Parliament, but, ultimately, those reports are pigeonholed, and might well be burned, for all the use that is’ made of them.
– Would the honorable member support the granting of additional financial assistance to the flying doctor service? The present grant is £5,000 per annum, and the balance of the money required for the service is provided by private subscription.
– If additional money is required to make the service more efficient, I am quite willing to support any move to provide it. During the war, we found the money required to safeguard this country against the onslaughts of the aggressor, and I emphasize that in peace-time, we must apply all the resources and services available’ to the Government and. the people for the purpose of developing the Commonwealth, and making it worthy of the sacrifices that were made for, its preservation.
Although petrol rationing is a very contentious subject, I consider that I should refer to it at this juncture. . In my .opinion the Government, and particularly the Minister . for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) should review petrol rationing immediately. I am aware that the. Minister has issued a statement on the subject, but I know also that the oil companies are among the biggest monopolies in the world, and are concerned, not so much about the welfare of the people of Australia, as about defeating this Government and making profits. Admittedly, their cartel was established during the war years for the purpose of reducing the normal manpower requirements of the industry; but this combination of companies is being continued. According to my information, the cartel’ was to have been dissolved by the end of this month. Now, ‘ the oil companies have agreed to continue the present arrangement until the end of September. If the election has not been held by that time, the existence of the cartel will probably be further prolonged. Consequently, I am somewhat in agreement with the statement of the president of the Automobile Services in South Australia that the extra issue of petrol ration tickets for private motorists will exceed their requirements, and that the need for the rationing of petrol no longer exists. I give to the Government and to the Minister for Supply and Shipping every credit for their endeavour to do what i? best for all. motorists, and I realize that the rationing of petrol and other materials was the best and fairest method, during and since the war, of securing equality of treatment; but I have very grave suspicions of the oil companies, and believe that they will do everything possible to obstruct the removal of petrol rationing. The Minister ‘should examine the matter very closely and abolish petro] rationing at the earliest possible moment. From my own experience of the position in South Australia, petrol rationing is farcical. I do not cast any aspersions on the Government and the Minister, but I know how cunning these oil monopolists are. Some years ago an inquiry was held into their activities. Some of us, who had a knowledge of the business, remember the arguments that were then advanced. Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited could have supplied all the information required without the necessity to hold an investigation, because it was supposed to be an importing company, but it was in reality only a subsidiary of the major oil companies. Another advantage of the removal of petrol rationing would be the release of man-power for other avenues of production. When examining this subject the Minister must exercise great care because of the subtle influence of the oil monopolists.
While on the subject of petrol, I point out that the oil companies, when clearing their petrol from bond, pay duty to the Department of Trade and Customs on a temperature basis, namely 60 degrees. But when this petrol is sold to the reseller, it is purchased by the “ dip “ or bulk method. For years, the garage proprietor has been worried by the losses on motor spirit. With the advent of petrolrationing, the position took a more serious turn. Various suggestions te overcome the difficulty have been put forward from time to time, and evaporation has borne the brunt of the blame. However, checks made on tanks do not disclose losses from this cause. I do not intend to discuss the various causes, but for the information of honorable members, I do desire to show how losses occur during summer months. The position disclosed is serious, and the matter should be adjusted at the earliest possible moment. With this object in view, the Chamber of Automobile Associations throughout Australia has protested from time to time.
It is the practice of the oil companies to draw stocks from bond, pay duty on the spirit calculated back to 60 degrees temperature, and then sell it in volume to the .reseller. The reseller works under a great disadvantage, apart from the fact that he is not obtaining the delivery of the spirit paid for, especially where atmo spheric conditions show a marked variation between the temperature of the oil companies’ tankers, and the underground installations on service stations provided by the oil companies. As an illustration, let us assume that the temperature of an underground tank at a service station is 60 degrees, and the oil company’s tanker comes to deliver 10,000 gallons of spirit at a temperature of 80 degrees. It would be found, that 10,000 gallons was received in volume within a given period, but it would contract to 9,876 gallons in the underground tank, thereby showing a loss of 124 gallons, representing 1¼ per cent. The oil companies would pay duty on only 9,876 gallons.
This vexed question arises particularly during the long summer months, especially in South Australia, where excessive temperatures are experienced. The. temperature of the underground tanks installed at service stations, owing to the insulation of the earth, does not vary a great deal, whereas the tanker temperature is governed by sun temperature which varies to a marked degree during summer- time. The reseller views the position with alarm, particularly when the amount of money paid for nothing is taken into consideration. The companies obtain the advantage from the Department of Trade and. Customs, of the expansion of the motor spirit. Why should the trade be called upon to purchase, and pay tax on, spirit by any other method than that approved by the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Customs ? I am aware that under.its wartime powers the Commonwealth Government could have introduced a regulation to overcome this difficulty, and it could have fixed the price to the re-seller on a temperature basis, but it did not do so. I do’ not blame it on that account, for during the war it had a great deal to’ occupy -its attention. However, the war has now ended, and we should be turning our attention to such subjects as this in order that remedies may be applied where anomalies exist. From my investigations I. have learned that the weights and measures acts are administered by State departments, but I believe that the Commonwealth Parliament has constitutional power to enact uniform legislation, in respect of weights and measures. If the State authorities are not prepared to force the companies to apply the correct method of sale to re-sellers of motor spirit, which, I contend, is the temperature method, the Commonwealth should exercise its authority and introduce uniform legislation to insure that the companies shall sell motor spirit according to the formula on which they receive it from the Customs Department.
I also urge the Government to review the prices of motor spirit and other petroleum products. Questions have been asked in the House to-day on this subject. I am quite satisfied that a case exists for a thorough investigation of this whole subject. During the war the oil companies gave the primary producers a raw deal. In some country towns all depots were closed, whilst in others two or three were allowed to operate. No consideration whatever was given to the convenience of producers. The oil companies undoubtedly applied the cartel method to suit themselves. This system of trading in Australia should be thoroughly investigated.
Before -the war two grades of petrol were being sold throughout the Commonwealth, first grade being ls. 6id., and the second grade ls. 7£d. a gallon wholesale. Now only one grade, and a very poor grade, is available, and the wholesale price in capital . cities is 2s. 2d. Before the war motor oil was 4s. 6d. a gallon in bulk; to-day it is 6s. 9d. a gallon. The increase of 2s. 3d. a gallon is, in my opinion, not justified. Because farmers and users of motor vehicles generally do not regard lubricating oil as among their major costs, not a great deal of notice has been taken of the increase, but attention undoubtedly should be given to it. Kerosene was 11½d. a gallon before the war; to-day it is ls. 3Ad. a gallon. Fuel’ oils, including diesel oils, also have increased substantially in price. . I trust that the Government will appreciate that it is high time that methods of distribution and prices of petroleum products were reviewed. The general public is undoubtedly being misled by the oil companies in regard to the whole situation. The operations of these monopolistic concerns should be very closely investigated.
.- The introduction of a Supply Bill gives to honorable members the opportunity to examine Government expenditure, to suggest activities not ‘provided for by the Government, and to indicate where, in their opinion, economies could be effected. I take this opportunity to direct attention to the unsatisfactory state of affairs that exists in regard to the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen. Some little time ago the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) stated that very few men were left unemployed for any period after their discharge. In support of his contention he compared the number of men who applied for unemployment relief with the number known to be entering industries. That procedure was also followed by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) when he discussed this subject last week. That is not by any means a reliable- approach. If there is one thing we need more than any other in Australia to-day it is an increase of production. The argument advanced by the honorable’ member for Fremantle in support of his contention that men were being rehabilitated satisfactorily will not bear examination. I have had brought to my notice many instances of men who have been out of work on their discharge, but it must be remembered also that many demobilized men have accumulated leave which would carry them along for a considerable period. In fact, although I have been a member of this House for some time, I still have not exhausted my leave. Many men throughout the country have not applied for unemployment relief, the reason being, of course, that they are still receiving navy, army or air force pay. Very shortly these men will be on the labour market. Some men of independent spirit have also made up their minds that they will seek a job for themselves and not take advantage of provisions that would be. applicable to them. Considerable ‘ numbers of the men who have been re-employed’ have accepted jobs in government departments administering restrictive regulations of one kind or another which are . retarding industrial development in Australia. Other men who are still in the Army will shortly be seeking civil employment. Last week a young man told me that he had been given notice by a government department that he would have to seek other employment before the end of August. He was informed that it would be a case of “ first to come, last to go “. That does not indicate that preference to service men and women will be satisfactorily applied. When cases of this kind are brought to the notice of the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction, he invariably says, “ Give me specific instances “. I bring to the notice of the honorable gentleman now the case of a young man of Swan Hill who, on his demobilization, desired to become a plumber, a calling for which he seems to have a natural aptitude. A master plumber in Swan Hill is prepared to employ him on the basis of a government subsidy of £2 10s. a week. I submitted this case to the Department of Post-war Reconstruction and received the following reply: -
Reference to your representation on behalf of the Swan Hill Sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League regarding the above exserviceman I have to. advise you that we have retained his application for training.
This, application will be considered and acceptance will be subject to .the following conditions: -
Absorptive capacity in the trade as a whole.
Vacancy in a school.
Must attend our school for .at least six months, otherwise no consideration can be given. After this training he will he placed in subsidized employment.
Trainees with previous experience will be given preference.
It appears, therefore, that this young man will have to run the gauntlet of .the trade unions, wait for a vacancy in a school, attend the school for at least six months, and then take his turn with other trainees who have had previous experience and to whom preference will be given. Although a master plumber is prepared to train him, the Government is obliging the man to wait for probably six or eight months to get into a School, for I understand that the schools arc full. Then, after training, he has to wait in a roster, although at this moment an employer is ready to give work to him. The local repatriation committee of Swan Hill, the Dads Association, and the local branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s
Imperial League of Australia have recommended that the offer to employ this man be accepted, but the Government, through the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, has declined to agree. How can the re-establishment of service men and women be successful if many instances of this kind occur, and I understand that they do? Why should this man be kept waiting when he could go to work at once? What is to happen to him while ha is waiting?
I bring to the notice of the- Minister also the case of a young man at Kerang who was employed in a garage before the war and whose former employer is ready to re-engage him. He was in the Royal Australian Air Force for three years during the war, and he now wishes to work as a mechanic. He could get work at a leading garage in Kerang., It would only be necessary, for the Government to subsidize his employer during his period of training, but, although the would-be employer is a man of outstanding character, he will not be permitted to engage this young fellow. I know of cases of the same kind at Warracknabeal and elsewhere. The rejection of applications for the employment of these young men means that they are practically left at a loose end waiting for rehabilitation.
I wish now to discuss certain Government decisions in regard to the wheat subsidy. A letter, which I wrote to the Honorable John Cain, Premier of Victoria, in this connexion, on the 7th June, 1946, is self-explanatory -
As there are five State representatives within the electorate of Wimmera I thought it hest to communicate with you rather than write to each member re the above.
Many farmers have brought to my notice what they regard as an anomaly in the distribution of drought relief to wheat-growers.
At a meeting at Manangatang a resolution was carried strongly protesting against the measure preventing farmers who had not sown wheat for two consecutive seasons from receiving drought relief; this they say debars returned servicemen who have only put in one crop since their discharge, and other farmers’ sons who last season put in their first crop.
I would be pleased to have your comments on the possibility of this difficulty being overcome and assure you that those who have sown for first time in many cases just having enough capital to start in the industry will be greatly aided if allowed to partake in the drought relief distribution.
– The reply that I received from Mr. Cam, was in these terms -
Adverting to your letter of the 7th instant, 1 desire to .inform you that when the matter of making further drought relief grants was raised by me at the last Premiers conference it was referred to Commonwealth and State officers to determine the basis of assistance. It was made clear at the officers conference that if the Commonwealth Government decided to meet half the cost of the scheme it would only be on condition that the proposed relief payments would be restricted to those farmers who had suffered losses from the drought of 1944 and who wore again seriously affected by the drought conditions prevailing in certain districts. This condition was accepted, and the necessary legislation to authorize the payment so far as Victoria was concerned ‘was drafted on this basis and passed by Parliament accordingly.
You will therefore appreciate the difficulty of meeting the claim of any grower who had noi sown crop in 1944. (Sgd.) John Cain.
Many ex-servicemen with some money, who had just been discharged from the Awny and sowed wheat on their own account, cannot secure any relief although (he devastating drought robbed them of their crops in the 1945-46 harvest. It is unjust that the Commonwealth Government -should impose the condition that only’ those farmers who had suffered losses from the drought of 1944 should receive relief payments. The matter should be further investigated, and drought relief should be paid to those men who had losses in the 1945-46 season. These men, perhaps, had from their deferred pay and other sources only enough money to go into the industry, and if they are not reimbursed their losses they will not be able to continue in it. It is most important that as many as possible of the men who have a knowledge of this great food-producing industry should be encouraged to continue in it. I have referred to what I regard as wasteful expenditure by the Government. Drought relief would be only’ an investment, because it would enable these men to continue to produce crops.
I pass ,on to a serious matter, to which I referred in my maiden speech in this Parliament, namely, the payment of a subsistence allowance of 3s. a day to those members of the Australian Imperial Force who were prisoners of war in the band-.j of the Japanese. Only the honor able member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) and I in this Parliament have personal knowledge of this matter. It’ is fallacious to assume that the Australian prisoners taken at Singapore were robbed of all their personal possessions. If one had a watch worth £40 one could take it on the march from Singapore to Selerang -camp. On one or two occasions watches were taken from prisoners, but when Japanese officers discovered what had been dome they ordered the return of the property to the soldier from whom it had been taken. The men had watches and other valuables in the camp. As time went on and they began to starve, they sold these personal possessions to Chinese, or to any one else who would purchase them, in order that they might huy a few coco-nuts,, and perhaps a little palm oil and blatchemin order to obtain the vitamins which they needed to keep them alive. Many men who to-day are alive in this country owe their survival to the fact that they had a few valuables which they were able to sell. When a man. enlisted in the Australian [imperial Force he agreed to accept a certain amount as pay, to be clothed and fed, and to obey orders. The prisoners at Singapore who fell into the hands of the Japanese were in quite a different category from those taken in Germany and other parts of Europe. The men at Singapore were ordered to surrender as an Army, and they obeyed. They believe that they are now justly entitled to the subsistence allowance pf 3s. a day, to repay them in some degree for the valuables which they were obliged to sell in order that they might live. The proposition is a reasonable one, and the Government should give earnest consideration to it. The District. Finance Officer in Melbourne has stated that officers of the Australian Imperial Force were credited with their field allowance, which I believe amounted to 3s. a day, during the whole period of their imprisonment. This Government has always claimed that it fights for the “ under dog” who has no. one else to fight for him. The privates and other ranks in the Australian Imperial Force who were prisoners are justified in claiming a subsistence allowance of 3s. a day. Prisoners of war in Germany and other places periodically received Red Cross parcels, and perhaps were given once a month foods containing necessary vitamins. The first International Red Cross consignment to Selerang was a very small one; it arrived about eight months after the Australians had been made prisoners. Some of the supplies were in bulk, and across some of the boxes was written “Britain delivers the goods”. The cigarette packets had impressed on them the “Y” sign for victory as well as the “ dot-dot-dot-dash “ signifying “ V “ in the morse code. At the Japanese were anxious to have some excuse for not giving the prisoners more food, they said that if any later consignments entering the camp had propaganda on the boxes they would not deliver them. Subsequently, they told the prisoners that further supplies of cigarettes had arrived, but they were not to be delivered because they were covered with propaganda. Therefore, the Australians cannot be blamed for having been short of food. The health of many of those men is impaired because they were not properly fed. If they were now given a subsistence allowance of 3s. a day they would be able tq improve their physical fitness and do a better job in civil life.
– How many thousands are involved?
Mr. -TURNBULL. - Probably from 12,000 to .15,000 men. But if there were 100,000, that would be all the more reason for the payment of the subsistence allowance. So I urge the Government to make the payment. Any government which will not protect its protectors and defend its defenders, is a blot on the face of the earth. Some one had tq hold the Japanese back so that Australia might have a breathing space, and steps might be taken to prevent them from entering this country. An American song says, “ Somebody had to be content with any old thing “. That was the experience of Australian prisoners of war in Japanese hands for three and a half years. Now, a Labour government, which should stand by the ranks, has the opportunity to do what is only just. After all, these men are entitled to this subsistence allowance, because they were not fed and clothed during their incarceration, and no doubt the Government budgeted for these amenities. Any man who went on leave in Melbourne was paid 3s. a day with which to buy food. As the Army, did not feed those who were in a prisoner-of-war camp, why should they also not receive it? The Minister should give the matter favorable consideration. Public opinion is behind this proposal, and every right-thinking Australian would applaud the payment.
– Were they paid for the work that they did as prisoners of war, in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention?
– Certainly not. If I offered to the honorable member for 3s. food for which I paid £127, he would not buy it, because he would not eat any of it; yet probably it kept me alive. Prisoners of war were paid only a mere pittance, from memory, I believe about $9 a month, and at one stage the price of coco-nuts was $25 each.
Much has been said in this Parliament in regard to the standardization of railway gauges. In common with many other members, I believe that before this work is undertaken the housing shortage should he overcome, and there should be an investigation of our- great waterways in order to ensure a larger production, because most of the land in this country, if given water, will grow anything. I am not opposed to the standardization of the railway gauges; but I consider that first things should come first. I drawattention to the. proposal for the construction of a link-line from Hay to Ouyen and thence to Adelaide which would establish the shortest possible rail route from Sydney to Adelaide. The route that it would traverse is much shorter than any other route between those two capital cities. A booklet published by the Ouyen Decentralization Committee states that the distance from Sydney to Adelaide is 1,073 miles via Melbourne, 1,035 miles via Broken Hill, and 872 miles via Hay and Ouyen. Construction would be easy if the last-mentioned route were chosen. Only a short length of line would need to be laid to link Hay with Ouyen. Such a line would be 150 miles shorter than a line via Broken Hill, and 200 miles shorter than the line via Melbourne. Furthermore, it would not pass over mountainous country, and thus much heavier loads could be carried on it. This is not merely a local ambition . of the citizens of Ouyen. A straight line drawn from Adelaide to Sydney would pass 20 miles to the north of Ouyen. A straight line drawn from Tailem Bend to Sydney would pass through the town of Ouyen. It happens that Ouyen is in the path of the shortest line from Sydney to Adelaide. The booklet of the Ouyen Decentralization Committee is most comprehensive, and by leave of the House I shall incorporate in” *Hansard these passages from it-
Successful railway operation depends upon the economic conveyance of freight. To achieve this the routes should be plotted to avoid sharp curves and severe grades, and the tracks should be laid with heavy rails to enable the conveyance of high tonnage at fast speed. A line, which to an outstanding degree would conform to such specifications and prove a boon both to Australia and to the States it would traverse, is the proposed link from Patchewollock, in Victoria, via Ouyen, to Hay, New South Wales, covering a total distance of approximately 188 miles, of which some 160 miles would represent the span between Ouyen and Hay. More than half of such journey would bo across open plains. The balance is through. undulating country requiring neither costly cuttings nor imposing any expensive earthworks.
This route would branch from the main Sydney-Melbourne line at Junee Junction, continue along the existing connexion thence to Hay; link up with Ouyen by a new line to be constructed crossing the Mumimbidgee at Hay and, continuing on the south side of that river, fairly directly to Balranald until the Balranald-Echuca railway is crossed. It is suggested that the Murray should be spanned between its junction with the Mumimbidgee and the Wakool, and that the shortest route to Ouyen, via Kooloonong, Koimbo, and Kulwin, be adopted. From Ouyen the existing line through to Adelaide would be followed.
From Junee Junction to Tailem Bend, a distance of 499 miles, the grades generally are slight, and the nature of the terrain places little difficulty in the way of improving the few banks whose inclines require easing and which are to be found in those portions of this section already in operation. . Between Junee Junction and Tailem Bend the highest station is Rockview, 1,136 feet, and from there,’ going westerly, the elevation drops to 576 feet at Narrandera in a distance of 50 miles. In » further 107 miles to Hay, the height sinks to 307 feet, and to 165 feet at Ouyen. Thence, in a distance of 84 miles to Pinnaroo, the line ascends to 350 feet at Walpeup, encountering several grades of 1 in 60. The first is through a hard hill on leaving Ouyen and easily can be cut down. The longest, at Walpeup, may be eliminated entirely by a
Ifr. 7Vn.&«W. southerly deviation. The banks out of Torrita and Boinka respectively may, without difficulty, be lowered. This entire section may be converted to fast traffic at relatively little cost. In a further 86 miles from Pinnaroo the line drops by easy stages to an altitude of 68 feet at Tailem Bend.
Because there is an almost continuous fall from Junee Junction south-westerly, the matter of grades should be considered rather for eastbound traffic. Between Tailem Bend and Pinnaroo the most sustained ascent is 198 feet from Peake to Jabuk in seven miles; an easy climb and made the more so because of the length of the incline. Between Pinnaroo and. Ouyen the maximum grade is 1 in 60. Such banks are few and easily may be much improved. Between Ouyen and Hay the ascent would be 142 feet in 160 miles. More than half the distance is through open and almost level plain country, and the slight rises which exist are concentrated almost entirely in the 40 miles east from Ouyen. A maximum gradient of 1 in 1.00 should not be difficult to survey. From Hay to Narrandera, through open country, there is a further lift of 269 feet in 107 miles. That is a negligible obstacle to haulage. In the 61 miles from Narrandera to Junee Junction, the most sustained station-to-station pull is an overall climb of 480 fei,t in the 18* miles from Brushwood to Rockview (with several banks which lend, themselves to regrading) which is the most pronounced change in elevation throughout the entire 499 miles from Tailem Bend. This means that linking Hay with Ouyen will provide a new freight route between Adelaide and Sydney, 57 per cent, of which in one continuous section will traverse plain oi slightly undulating country with not one mountain range intervening. Obvious are the economies in fuel consumption.
The existing rail route from Sydney to Adelaide, via Melbourne, entails a journey of 1,073 miles. The section of it between Tailem Bend and Junee Junction passe? through very difficult railway country from Ballarat to Melbourne (73f miles), in which portion the through goods load for an A2 engine is 385 tons, and in which at Wallace the altitude is 1,940, and the rise from Bacchus Marsh to Ingliston is 1,170 feet in 13) miles! Such grades discourage goods haulage and, in practice, cause freight to be diverted to the longer route via Geelong. From Melbourne towards Sydney there is a climb of 1,145 feet to Heathcote Junction, only 33 miles out. Dropping to 534 feet at Albury, the rails reach 2,395 feet at Cullerin 157 miles from Sydney. This also would be the highest station on the route from Sydney to Adelaide via Hay and Ouyen, but the grades on the latter way are incomparably better.
Because of the difficult country encountered on the journey from Sydney to Adelaide, via Melbourne, goods traffic is being diverted via Broken Hill, which route is shown in green on the map. Although this line of 1,034^ miles effects a saving of merely 38 miles over the Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney route (shown on the map in heavy black), it involves two breaks of gauge. That disability will vanish with standardization, hut although there is now but one break on the journey through Melbourne, many business men prefer said disability of the Broken Hill route on account of the “ bottle-neck “ delays in Melbourne. How much more may they be expected to prefer the northern (green) route to the southern (black) when there is no break of journey 1
The Hay-Ouyen connexion offers to both Sydney and Adelaide business men the immediate advantage of only one change of gauge plus a substantial curtailment of mileage. In addition, there need be no “bottleneck “ anywhere between Junee Junction and Tailem Bend. At the former place considerable yard improvements have been effected recently with provision for modern methods for the rapid servicing of engines. Such aids to clipping of schedules will increase the value of the Hay-Ouyen-Adelaide line as a fast interstate freight route. It so happens that good marshalling yards already exist at Tailem Bend, and that in the flat open country there, ample space is available to cater for a very large expansion of rail freighting.
The Darling-Murrumbidgee-Murray basin offers to a Government anxious to repatriate nien on the land the logical choice of country suitable for intensive irrigation settlement. When that area is in full production it will have an enormous quantity of goods for export. The Murray parallels the line between Murray Bridge and Tailem Bend, and comes close to the station at the latter place. Thoughtfully Nature has provided that river substantially below the level of the track, yet invitingly easy for the discharge of merchandise from railway to steamer. When the tonnage from those irrigation areas exceeds the capacity of the line from Tailem Bend to Adelaide, a Murray port should despatch the surplus to overseas customers.
The Sydney-Broken Hill-Adelaide route compares unfavorably with the Hay-Ouyen line in the matter of handicaps to cheap haulage. 147 miles forward to Sydney the line attains I,fi70 feet at Gumbowie ; drops to 204 feet at Menindee; climbs only to 1,035 feet at Parkes 349 miles further on; but ascends to 999 feet higher in only 24 miles; drops to 633 feet lower in the next 14 miles; rises 1,577 feet higher to reach 2,978 elevation at Canobolas in only 30 miles; falls 823 feet lower in 54 miles to Bathurst, only to rise 1,348 feet in (il miles to attain the height of 3,503 feet at Newnes Junction, the loftiest platform between Adelaide and Sydney, and 1,108 feet higher than Cullerin, the peak station on the Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney run.
It is not intended to disparage the Blue Mountains line which is, in fact, a very necessary and desirable link with Broken Hill, and also a, magnificent replacement of the cumbersome and costly zig-zag railway operating in the early year’s of this century, but which, nevertheless, is not the best rail link between Sydney and Adelaide. Apart from the saving in .time, fuel, and distance by the Hay-Ouyen route, the journey through the Blue Mountains involves a haul of 3,406 feet (increase in elevation) in 39$ miles during which 3,142 feet difference in level has to be surmounted in only 31 miles 11 chains between Emu Plains and Leura! On the run from Sydney to Junee Junction, during the climb to Cullerin the most continuous ascent is from North Menangle to Bowral, a difference in elevation of 1,957 feet in 45 miles, and an average gradient of approximately 44 feet per mile. Contrast this with the average gradient of 101 feet per mile between Emu Plains and Leura.
If honorable members read this book they will agree that the route therein proposed is much’ better than any other for a line directly connecting Sydney with Adelaide. On such a line tropical fruits could be carried from Queensland to Adelaide, without going through Melbourne with the consequent risk, of deterioration. Finally, I believe that such evidences of prosperity as are to be seen in the capital cities’ at the present time are due chiefly to the spending of their deferred pay by servicemen, and. to the expenditure of money by government instrumentalities. Such prosperity is not soundly based. Primary production is the true basis of national prosperity, and only when that fact is generally realized and acted upon will the economy of the country be placed on a proper footing,
.-I have often listened to honorable members opposite demanding that the Government should remove war-time restrictions so that private enterprise might have a free hand. They assured us that if this were done most of our production problems would be solved. I now draw their attention to the fact that since the war ended most of the restrictions on’ industry, including those on the employment of labour, have been relaxed. Employers are now free to engage labour how and where they like, and they may engage in any form of production they like. Nevertheless, honorable members opposite, who were always telling us that once those restrictions were lifted private enterprise would deliver the goods, are now admitting the utter failure of private enterprise to do anything of the kind. Honorable members have criticized the Government because of the shortage of houses, and they blame the Government for it. Most of us know quite well why there is a scarcity of houses, and that it is because private enterprise always demanded its pound of flesh. Private speculators required the person who took over the house to pay the full cost, plus something more, plus a substantial interest bill, and the country is still suffering the results of that policy. For months past, private enterprise has had an. opportunity to show what it could do in the way of building houses. The timber merchant is free to hire his labour where he likes, and there are no restrictions on the production of timber; yet, when a building is actually commenced, its construction is held up because there is a shortage of weather boards or floor boards. The brick manufacturers of Melbourne have admitted that 50 per cent, of their kilns are idle because, they sa-vthey cannot get labour, although there is nothing to prevent them from hiring labour. The tile manufacturers say that their plants are producing only 50 per cent, of their capacity, and they, too> say that they cannot get labour. Buildings in course of construction remain unfinished because it is impossible to get baths and sinks and materials necessary for plumbing. The provision of all these commodities is in the hands of private enterprise, but private enterprise is failing lamentably. Now members of the Opposition, who claimed that private enterprise, if given the opportunity, could do the job, are demanding that the Government shall do something to hasten the construction of houses. If they were honest they would ask frankly that the Government should take charge so that the job may be done. So bad has the position become in Victoria that the State Government is considering setting up a government-owned saw-mill, and operating its own brick kilns so as to overtake the shortage of building materials. This afternoon, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) painted a gloomy picture of conditions in Victoria. I agree with- him that conditions are bad, but I do not agree that the present situation is wholly due to the shortage of coal. We know that there is a shortage of coal in Victoria as well as in every other State. We know that there are not so many miners working in industry now as there were before the war, but in spite of this more coal is being produced now than ever before. I remind honorable members opposite that a vast majority of the coal mines in Australia are owned and controlled by private enterprise, and here, again, private enterprise has failed. The demand for coal exists, but the owners of the mines, are not delivering the coal. Members of the Opposition say that the miners will not work; but the coal-miners are not running the show. They are simply cogs on the wheel, and they are, in fact, producing as much coal as ever before. But the owners will not make provision to supply the f,ul needs of industry. In short, the miners are doing their job, but the owners are not.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said that, because of high taxation, many of the big manuf acturers are, in effect, deliberately going slow. They will not work their plants to capacity because they do not want to pay the taxes which would be levied upon the profits they would make by doing so. This amounts to restriction of production, yet the honorable member . for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) tells us that we must increase production. The employees are working as hard as they are allowed to work, but the employers, on the admission of the Leader of the Opposition himself, are deliberately going slow. In spite nf thi?, honorable members opposite claim that the workers are going slow, and they talk about bricklayers who lay only 250 or 300 bricks a day. When we investigate the matter, however, we find that, once more, the employers, this time the builders themselves, are responsible. For instance, if eight bricklayers are employed on a. job they are supplied each day with- only enough bricks to enable each one of them to lay 250 or 300 bricks. If they lay all the bricks by noon they are sent home with half a days’ pay. If they take until 5 o’clock to lay them they go home with a full day’s pay. Thus, once more, tin.’ employers, and not the employees, arc responsible for going slow. We. have been told that there is a shortage of -labour .in all sections of the building industry, yet 450,000 persons have been demobilized since the end of the war, and they have either gone back to work or are available to go back. During the same period, an equal number of men and women have been released from war industries. Yet, the employers who were able to carry on and supply our requirements during the war years now tell us that these shortages of various kinds arise because of lack of man-power. As a necessary measure during the war a rationing system was applied in respect of the manufacture and sale to distributors of tobacco and cigarettes. Now, however, all restrictions on the manufacture and sale of tobacco and cigarettes have been lifted, yet the shortage of these commodities is greater than it was at any time during the war period. The manufacturers claim that this shortage is due, not to insufficient quantities of the raw material, but to man-power shortages. It is difficult to understand this claim, as man-power must have become available to the industry in increasing strength since last October. A great deal of dissatisfaction exists amongst smokers to-day because of the shortage of cigarette papers. The cigarette paper manufacturers in Melbourne have told us through the press that there is no. shortage of paper suitable for processing and that the whole problem has arisen through inadequate man-power. Yet. during the war years, when every able-bodied- man was drafted into the services or essential industries, cigarette papers were in abundant supply. ‘These tall stories will not be accepted by the people without question. We are forced to look for other reasons to explain these unaccountable shortages, and I have no doubt that the Leader of the Opposition (Mi-. Menzies) in his speech during this debate has pin-pointed one of the principal reasons, namely, that some unscrupulous employers will not produce to capacity because of the high taxes imposed on the community and on industrial enterprise generally. This, allegation demands the strictest investigation by the Government. If private enterprise is falling down, on ite job and is retarding .production for that purpose the Government will have to consider utilizing such powers as it possesses under our out-dated Constitution to control such industries and- conduct them for the benefit of the people. Ministers will have to heed the cry voiced by some honorable members opposite that the Government should extricate private enterprise from the mess into which it has got itself during the last few months. That cry on the part of honorable members opposite constitutes a. very refreshing reversal of form and, though the admission may be unpalatable, is tantamount to an advocacy of the nationalization of the means of production.
During this debate honorable members opposite have devoted a lot of time to the vilification of the organized industrial movement in this country.
As soon a:s workers band together and commence to agitate for reasonable wages and conditions the organization is vilified by honorable members opposite, who believe that the workers should be content to accept whatever the “boss” is willing to give them, that they should be grateful for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table. When coal is in short supply the coal-miners are blamed; when some trouble arises on the waterfront the waterside workers are vilified as enemies of the country. .Honorable members opposite look no further than to the workers when they seek the cause of all the ills that beset the community, particularly those that affect the people whose interest they represent in this Parliament. During this debate one honorable member opposite, referring to the doubledumping of wool, stated that there wa-s no reason why the waterside workers should raise objection to handling doubledump wool bales as such bales had been handled by waterside workers for the last 40 years. Is there any reason why the bad labour conditions of the past should be continued? Over 100 years ago certain workers in England who organized to obtain better working conditions were convicted on a charge of being members of an unlawful organization and transported as convicts to Australia. The same uncompromising attitude is adopted to-day by those who sit in opposition to the Government. One’ has only to go to the waterfront to see the great number of men whose Hvp.5 have been jeopardized and whose health has been .broken down through labouring under bad conditions for many years. Many of them have been disabled through handling not only double-dump wool bales but also other cargo beyond the limits of their strength. The maximum number of men -who can handle a doubledump wool bale is four, and even if three extra men are put in the gang they are of no use. The workers of Australia may proudly boast that their achievements during the six years of war were not bettered by any other section of the community in Australia or in the world at large. They accepted excessive hours and bad conditions as necessary concomitants of a state of war; but the superhuman efforts then required of them are no longer necessary to-day and they rightfully demand some share of the new order that has been so much talked about by honorable members opposite. The workers of Australia rightly demand two of the freedoms included hi the Atlantic Charter - freedom from fear and freedom from want - and they are prepared to fight for them despite the attempts of employers to disrupt the industries in which they are engaged.
One of the matters now engaging the attention of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court is the claim for a universal 40-hour week. The workers have been demanding this improvement of their working conditions for many years. As far back as 1937 Commonwealth public servants through their respective unions applied to the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator for a uniform 40-hour week in the Commonwealth Service. In his determination the Arbitrator said that whilst, as an individual, he believed that there should be a 40-hour maximum working week in the Commonwealth Public Service, he believed that the matter was one for the Parliament itself, rather than an arbitration tribunal to determine. A copy of that determination remained on the table of this House for 30 days without challenge; but the Government of the day did nothing about it. There was no question as to its authority to bring about such a change, but unfortunately for the public servants the Government of the day was of a political complexion different from that of the present government and was opposed to any improvement of the conditions of the workers. By the time a Labour government had assumed office the war was already upon us and the public servants waived, for the duration of the war, their claim for a 40-hour week. Now they expect the Government to give effect to the advice tendered to it by the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator in 1937. The workers of this country are obliged under the industrial laws to approach the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court when they desire to obtain any amelioration of their working conditions. They have filed a claim with the court asking for the fixation of a 40-hour week. Unfortunately, however, there is too much delay in the hearing of cases brought before the court. The only qualification required of a judge of the Arbitration Court is legal experience, not experience in the industrial matters that he is called upon to decide. So, instead of having a court’ of men who understand industrial conditions sitting around a table to arrive at a decision in the 40-hour week ease, we have five legal men on the bench and another dozen or so in the body of the court raising all sorts of legal points. The method is hopelessly out of date. The case has been dragging on for months and at the present rate of progressit will drag on for months to come. Meanwhile, the Australian workers are becoming discontented, for a very good reason.. They have been ‘demanding this reform for many years. They held their hand for the six years of the war. Now, when< they attempt, under the laws of the Commonwealth, to achieve a 40-hour week,. months and months of legal argument will elapse before a decision can be given.. The 40-hour week must be instituted inAustralia. Industry can carry it. In theimmediate future we must improve theconciliation and arbitration system sothat we shall have men experienced in industry deciding industrial matters. We should not depend on members of thelegal profession to decide them. They are brilliant in their own field, no doubt, but generally they have no knowledge of industry and are incapable of decidingconditions of employment in industry. 1 hope the day is not far distant when thisParliament will amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act- in order to simplify the procedure by removing the legal forms and formalities that clutter it up. I look for a system that will allow quick decisions on industrial matters by experts in the industries concerned. Until that is brought about we shall have recurring disputes. The majority of disputes occur, not because the organized workers are opposed to confiliation, and arbitration, but because, when they file claims with the court, they sometimes have to wait for years before getting a decision. The court must be modernized and freed, from the formalities that hamper it. The Commonwealth Public Service Arbitration Act, which was passed by an administration opposed to Labour, provides, not that the arbitrator shall be legally qualified, but that he shall understand public service conditions and that cases shall be argued without legal assistance. I have found from experience that that system is quicker and more effective than is the Arbitration Court.
.- T.t was interesting to hear the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) enumerate the disadvantages under which the Labour Government is supposed to be working. It has had five years in which to remove those disadvantages. He said that the workers were out to obtain more freedom; but I remind him that the workers have forfeited freedom by surrendering the democratic right to a ballot on whether they should strike work or not, and have let themselves be led by the nose by hot-heads. Democratic rule has given way to mob rule. In Queensland, we are witnessing one of the most disastrous strikes in the history of the State. Because four men were dismissed from a bacon factory the bacon-workers went on strike. Eventually all meatworkers, who were enjoying all the conditions that they desired, as they admitted, struck in sympathy. The State arbitration court ruled that they were outside the law and finally deregistered the union. Then the men went back to work. Now we have the farcical position of all the bacon-workers and meatworkers back at work in order to support their wives and families, and the coalminers and waterside workers on strike in sympathy with- them. Nothing could be more farcical in unionism. The bacon- workers and meat-workers got no sympathy from the arbitration court, and the coal-miners and railway men were warned not to allow themselves to be made the political footballs of their leaders. The position has become desperate, and to-night the Queensland government will declare a state of emergency. If after five years of federal Labour rule and a long and almost unbroken sequence of years of Labour rule in Queensland, the conditions complained about by the honorable member for Bourke exist, it is only because the unionists have sacrificed their democratic rights. It is high time that they took charge, of the men who pretend to lead them but are unworthy of their responsibility. I hope that the bona fide workers will rise and overthrow the men who, while claiming to represent them, are really the agents of a foreign power whose political ideology is not that which any sane Australian would like to have implanted in this country.
All party leaders agree on the need for production if we are to solve our problems. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has publicly appealed for greater production, and his statements have been echoed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). During and since the war the primary producers have nobly responded to the call for increased output. They will do more if this Government co-operates with them.
– It does.
– Few primary producers would admit that. A conference of Queensland dairymen from an area embracing three State electorates has written to me saying that they would unanimously and readily respond to the appeal for increased output if the Government would only co-operate by providing them with such needs as tractors, wire, and galvanized iron. The Commonwealth Disposals Commission has replied to applications for tractors that it will distribute them as soon as the army declares them surplus. At any army dump in Queensland, one can see 70 or 80 tractors unused and deteriorating, and I suppose that could be duplicated in any other .State. The Government says that they cannot be released because they are lend-lease equipment, but apparently the Army will not declare them surplus, r blame the Army for delaying their distribution. Now that the lend-lease arrangement has been settled, the Government should expedite their distribution in order that they may bring about a greater flow of production from the land. Many farmers, including returned soldiers, cannot work their land because of their inability to get the tractors and other equipment that they need.
There is an aspect of wheat production that the Government ought to correct. Ex-servicemen who apply for licences to grow wheat are given temporary licences that can be withdrawn at any time. We do not expect that they will be withdrawn, but the licences are for only twelve months.
– How could a licence be granted for a longer period than that, when the whole stabilization plan and the National Security Act under which it was set up will expire at the end of the year ?
– I am quite aware that the National Security Regulations will terminate at the end of this year. Nevertheless, the Government has announced its intention to incorporate some of the existing regulations in legislation .which will be permanent. The Government of Queensland has control of production, at the behest of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), and there is no sense of .permanency. Consequently, ex-servicemen have asked me to raise this matter in this House.
An unlimited market exists in Australia for cotton and tobacco, but the Government has not effected stability in cither of those industries. Cotton has an unlimited market, perhaps more so than any other industry in Australia, and although the Tariff Board began to investigate the cotton industry thirteen months ago, the Government has not yet announced its policy regarding it. Most of the cotton is grown in the electorate of Capricornia, and last week I received two telegrams from residents asking me. to press the Government to make a definite announcement of policy. Growers should now be preparing their land for planting. We have no seed in Australia that we can crush for oil or fodder purposes, and the cotton industry is capable of not only remedying that deficiency, but also supplying the almost unlimited market for cotton. But how can we expect any cotton to be grown in Queensland if the Government refuses to declare, even at this late stage, its policy towards industry ? ‘ I urge the Government not to delay its announcement a moment longer.
On many previous occasions in this House, I have referred to the position of the tobacco industry. Indeed, I have something in common with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture regarding it. The culprit is the tobacco combine which is dominating the whole “ show “. The Government has granted at least three increases which would have met the needs regarding price, but I consider that the Government can do even more than that. When a conference was held in Sydney recently to discuss the conditions of the industry, the growers demanded a guaranteed price of 3s. for the average grade. The. Government did not concede it, but agreed to revise the table of limits which, it hoped, would mean an increase’ of payment to the growers. But the growers have had an unfortunate experience of revised tables of limits. Whenever the table of limits was applied the grading was decreased. The representative of the tobacco combine grades or appraises the tobacco leaf, and in at least one instance the growers were threatened that the representative would not buy the loaf if he was not permitted to do the grading. The obvious retort should have been that the growers would not sell their leaf unless they appointed the grader. However, the solution is for the Government to appoint ,an independent appraiser to determine the grade. On the last occasion when I raised the matter in this House, I appealed to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who occupied the chair, to appoint an independent appraiser.
– In other matters the honorable member supports private enterprise, but on. this occasion he appeals to the Government to intervene in order to save the growers from private enterprise.
– I am appealing not for funds, but for fair play, so that the industry shall get the correct grading and the guaranteed price will result if paid for on a correct basis. If the Minister desires the tobacco industry to prosper, he will not achieve that condition by allowing the combine to run the “show”. If he is a shareholder in the combine and -looks for a share of its profit, of £1,000,000, we shall know where he stands; but I stand always for the interests of the growers. I demand again that the Government appoint an independent appraiser. Old history is now repeating itself. As the result of appraisals held in the north, the first prices paid for leaf were satisfactory, but-later prices declined. In fact, the growers told me that the combine purchases leaf for all the smaller tobacco companies, and the higher prices which it paid earlier were for the quantity of tobacco which it acquired for its competitors. Having fulfilled their orders, the combine gradually decreased prices for the tobacco for its own requirements. If we are prepared to accept, that position, the tobacco industry will not prosper in Australia. I shall be surprised if the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr. Lazzarini) defends such an iniquity.
– No; if. is a thieves’’ kitchen.
– If those conditions continue, the increase of production which the Prime Minister urged will not be achieved.
The rehabilitation of ex-servicemen is not proceeding satisfactorily. The Agricultural Bani? in Queensland is making advances for the purchase of farm machinery, I assume, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. I hold in my hand particulars of an application from an ex-serviceman for an advance to purchase a Horwood Bagshaw fourteendisc Sundercut costing £106, and a ten-leaf McKay harrow costing £46 and to pay the balance owing on a twenty-run Shearer combine, namely, £80. On the fourteen-disc Sundercut, the bank advanced £71; on the ten-leaf McKay harrow, £31; and it agreed to pay the balance owing on the twenty-run Shearer combine, £80; making a total of £182. That advance, which represented 66$ per cent, of the total purchase price of the three implements, is most conservative. No one would describe it as liberal. But even granting that advancing money for the purchase of machinery may entail a greater risk than there is in lending money for the purchase of land, and that an advance of 66$ per cent, is satisfactory, we still find- that the conservative agricultural bank requires very solid security. Not satisfied with the security of the machinery that was purchased, the bank required security documents covering a bill of sale over the man’s utility truck, which was not included in the purchase, and a lien over his crop of 400 acres of wheat. Surely the Government does not insist upon such iniquitous conditions, although I have no doubt that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) would support them. He is an automaton - a voting machine which always supports the Government. Can he justify that iniquity? Every honorable member must agree that when the bank advances only two-thirds of the purchase price of the machinery, the implements alone are ample security.
Nearly two-thirds of Queensland has been, stricken by drought. In the southwest portion of the State covering onehalf of my electorate, the people are beginning their fourth, successive year of drought. Although the Governments of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales have co-operated with the Commonwealth in advancing money on a, £1 for £1 basis in order to meet the needs of drought-stricken producers, no assistance has been given to the sufferers in Queensland by either the Commonwealth or the State. Queensland is the “ Cinderella “. Some time a.go, I submitted an amendment to legislation providing relief for drought-stricken producers in States other than Queensland. My object was to include Queensland in the scheme; but the Government rejected my proposal. What the drought has not taken from primary producers, the Taxation Department grabs. I shall cite an instance which I hope the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) will examine.
– How can taxation worsen the plight of primary producers if they have no income?
– If they are compelled to sell all their stock because of a drought, the Commissioner of Taxation has ruled that profits from live-stock sold in drought conditions are assessable income in the year of sale. The Minister will be interested to learn that a taxation specialist had to advise a client in a drought-stricken area that if he sold all his cattle and later re-stocked at a similar price, he would be much worse off, owing to the incidence of income tax, than if he had sold half of his stock, retained 25 per cent, and allowed the remaining 25 per cent, to die. One man owned 1,000 head of cattle, and in his previous years’ returns, had valued them at 25s. a. head. His expenses for the year were £1,000, . He sold the cattle at £S a head making a total of £8,000. The drought compelled him to sell the stock. After expenses had been deducted, he had a so-called profit, according to the ruling of the Commissioner of Taxation, of £5,750. His profits were set down at that figure, and his average reduced the tax somewhat, but his taxation still was at the rate of 9s. 4kl. in the £1. Consequently, the tax payable amounted to £2,698, That left a balance of £3,052. If he later replaced the cattle at £8 a head, he could buy only 3S1 beasts.
– What made him include the capital value of his stock?
– That was his usual figure.
– The cattle were sold for £S a head.
– The figure was accepted by the Taxation Department over a period of years, and he cannot alter it.
M.t. Pollard. - That arrangement catches up with primary producers eventually. He had the option.
– This man was advised that if he had sold half of his stock at £S a head, held 250 and allowed the remaining 250 to die, his profit would have been £2,652, and his tax £780, so that he would have been better off by £234. The facts are set out in detail in the following table: -
In the case of a cattle-breeder with a fiveyear average net income of £1,000 per annum -
As there would be no live-stock increase for sale during the next two years his tax would be nil, but his crown rents and working expenses would be estimated roughly at £600 per annum which would be losses to carry forward, but then only if he had sufficient capital or loans from financial houses to keep him going. But if he follows my advice the position is - ,
Honorable members can imagine how a larger breeder .would be affected. Let us suppose that his average income wa3 £4,000. He has 5,000 cattle valued in his tax returns at 25s. a head. He sells them at £8 a head, receiving £40,000. His expenses are £3,000, so that his profit is £30,750. His tax amounts to £28,199, so that he has left an amount of £2,551. That will enable him to re-purchase only 319 cattle at £8 a head. Obviously, this matter should be reviewed. In the first instance that I cited, the man did repurchase some cattle at £8 a head, but because they were bought in August, or six weeks after the 30th June,- the Commissioner of Taxation refused to allow him to offset it against the previous year’s income. If that concession alone had been granted, his position would have been somewhat ameliorated.
The services in country post offices in Queensland appear to be getting worse than ever before. This is not the fault of those who administer the services, but is due to the conditions under which they work and the policy determined by the Government. The war being over, men are now available for telephone line construction and other, services supplied by the department. New construction does not require a large proportion of expert workmen. After the last war, a liberal constructional policy was implemented for a period, and the people in many country districts derived benefit from it. The condition laid down that would-be telephone subscribers must pay practically the whole of the cost of connexion before a new telephone service can be provided is unduly harsh. I cite the case of a person living 5 miles from an exchange in my electorate. Although the trunk line telephone poles pass his house, he had to pay £100 for the’ erection of a telephone wire to his premises. I supported the protest made by this subscriber that the charge was iniquitous. In addition to the £100, he had to give a guarantee that he would remain a subscriber for seven years. Whilst I agree that a guarantee should be insisted upon, the charge of £100 is ridiculous. I was able to get a reduction in this case but why were these better terms offered in the first instance?
In many country centres the revenue is sufficient to entitle the inhabitants to a continuous telephone service, but frequently the provision of this service is refused because the officials decline to employ the necessary staff. I do not know exactly what extra payment a local postmaster would be allowed for giving a continuous service, but it would be only £50 or £60 a year. If a local post-office now closes at .1 p.m. on Saturdays, the postmaster would be disinclined to provide staff to give a continuous telephone service covering every night and on Saturdays and Sundays for the trifling sum of- £60 a year, even if he could obtain the services of a junior employee for that purpose. Even if the employee took charge of the exchange every night, the postmaster would have to be willing to work on Saturday afternoons and Sundays and accept the added responsibility without extra remuneration. If I were a postmaster I would not agree to provide a continuous service under those conditions. The PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) should grant a satisfactory allowance to enable postmasters to employ the staff necessary to provide continuous services. When there is likely to be. a deficiency in the revenue from a telephone service, and the department asks that the balance be supplied by the citizens, the latter should be able to get the service required, provided a guarantee is forthcoming. The postal department is the most profitable business undertaking of the Government, and the employees of the department look forward to an increase of their salaries in the immediate future to which they are entitled.
Post offices are not being constructed at present in country districts. . When the present Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) was PostmasterGeneral, he visited Kingaroy and saw 32 persons at work at the local post-office, in a room measuring about 25 feet by 30 feet. The revenue derived there would surprise honorable members. Kingaroy has a population of from 4,500 to 5,000, and the surrounding districts are closely settled. On the occasion of the Minister’s visit- he said that obviously the provision of additional accommodation at. Kingaroy could not be delayed until the conclusion of the war. Dalby is in a similar position with regard to postal facilities, and its population is about the same as that of Kingaroy. The erection of a new post-office there was commenced during the war, but the work has been left unfinished. Some of the £4,100,000 set aside for the Postmaster-General’s Department in the last budget should be made available in the new budget for the construction of post-offices in country districts. Throughout Queensland there is an urgent demand for additional post-office accommodation. The necessary labour is available, as most, of the ex-servicemen have returned to their home districts and would be pleased to have their services utilized.
Recently I asked the Acting Minister for Air (Mr. Makin) a question regarding the Government’s policy in respect of country aerodromes. Some of the Government-owned aerodromes purchased during the war are suitable for practically all types of ‘planes: There are also those aerodromes which were constructed or partly constructed by local authorities. Does the Government intend to retain all of those which it has purchased? As most of them are in use, what is intended regarding their maintenance? Some of the aerodromes are of an excellent type, but they will not always be useful if they are not regularly maintained. At my home town, Kingaroy, there is an excellent aerodrome, but nobody seems responsible for its upkeep. The local council provided a motor truck and assisted the officer in charge to plant hundreds of trees on the property; these grew well and beautified the aerodrome, but recently an irresponsible person set fire to the grass, and half the trees were destroyed. These costly aerodromes should have responsible persons in charge of them until the Government has framed a. policy with regard to their permanent upkeep.
Country towns such as Nanango, Dalby, Chincilla, Roma, St. George and Goondiwindi have populations of from 1,000 to 5,000 and also have aerodromes. A policy should be laid down by the Government under which subsidies will be paid to assist the local authorities to make the aerodromes capable of use by up-to-date aeroplanes, so that country services may be initiated and continued. There is no better way of inducing people to remain in country districts than by providing them with good postal services, air transport and similar amenities. Unfortunately, the drift of country folk to the cities continues. The chairman of the Shire of Murweh, which surrounds Charleville, recently informed me that LS per cent, of the population has left the district and gone to the coast. When E asked him what proportion of those people was likely to return, he replied, “If 1 per cent, return we shall be fortunate “. They were sick and tired of being without adequate water supplies and postal facilities, and remaining where the living conditions generally were not worthwhile. If Australia is to progress and experience the increased production that is appealed for by the member.? of. all political parties, a national policy under which such pro- duction can be achieved must be implemented. Obviously country people must have facilities that will encourage them to remain in the rural areas.
.- I draw attention to some of the immediate postwar problems that seem to confront the people. “We have reached a stage in our social evolution when we must give consideration to problems that are of greater magnitude than those which confronted us at any other period in our history. I refer first to migration. On many occasions I have debated in this Parliament the problem of population, mostly in relation to the protection, development and good government of this country. Perhaps the repetition - of some figures I have previously given, showing the background of the problem, may be helpful to our understanding of it. As all features of the national structure are interdependent, and perhaps of equal interest in the social set-up, the problem of population has some relation to an adequate migration policy. I know that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has devoted a good deal of time to the problem, with a. view to repairing some of our social deficiencies, and I congratulate him on the part that he has played. I believe that quite recently the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) returned from abroad with some suggestions that will prove helpful to an expansive migration, policy. It is well to remind the Australian people that this is not the first occasion on which we have considered the problem. As early as the ‘fifties of last century, and subsequently at regular intervals, groups of people came to Australia, settled themselves in agriculture and production generally, assumed the characteristics of Australians, and ultimately played a full part in the social development of this country, indistinguishable from the part played by any one else. Such a time has again arrived. I have already told the House that in 1890 the average Australian family was about 6.2. To-day, it is about 2. We cannot maintain our population, and particularly our social services, with a family group of 2. All of our statistical trends go to show that in each year more and more people are moving into the old-age groups, and in consequence are imposing a greater burden on the rest of the community. The figures are really astounding. Our migration policy is related to that problem; because, if the tendency be to have great shifts of population more and more into the old-age group, and less and less into the producer groups between the ages of 20 and 60 years, the burden upon the producer groups will become beyond their capacity. I believe that to be the stage which we are fast approaching in our social economy. If we cannot spread the burden over more and more people, the point will be reached at which it will become intolerable for the age groups which are producing to bear the extra burden of social taxation. It is of no use to try to run away from the problem. Social services have come to stay, and we have to make the best possible use of them. My friend the Minister for Immigration will do a good job towards strengthening the taxable capacity of this country if he can bring into it from Europe a considerable number of young people in the producer group -who will share the burden of increasing social services, in respect of which, even if we are in advance of the rest of the world at the present time, the rest of the world must of necessity catch up with us.
There is another point that we have reached in our social evolution. Under our present economy; the basic wage is totally inadequate to meet the situation. Nothing that we can do in a capitalist economy can make the basic wage sufficient to meet the ever-increasing needs of our people. Let us view the problem in perspective. On the one hand, we have concentrated on vastly improving our educational facilities. Education-, means greater appreciation, and, in consequence, greater needs. On the other hand, we have relied on the method which has been used for the last 35 years, of assessing the basic wage on almost fixed entities. The time has arrived when the basic wage is totally inadequate to meet the situation. An economic and financial senilis has said, “ “We shall meet the situation by assisting the man with a family”. That, indeed, is a very worthy object. But what has been done? The man responsible for the payment of the ever-recurring taxes has been further taxed in order that child endowment may be paid, and prices have not been pegged, with the result that the lag was overtaken in a very short space of time. The cost of living has increased and in consequence the benefits of child endowment have been depreciated in an equal degree. I cannot see how that peculiar set-up can be changed under a capitalist economy.
-The honorable member knows that the basic wage has been adjusted by more than 20 per cent, in that period.
– It has been doubled. But the cost of living has risen by at least 150 per cent.
– The Government which the honorable member supports claims that it has risen by only 20 per cent.
– I shall not fall for that cheap talk. Honorable members opposite, and those whom they represent, are the cause of all the trouble in this country, because they have tiny minds. Their views are governed entirely at all times by their tiny political outlook. I am surprised that the honorable member should talk like that. He is a classic example of the utter failure of higher education. He has not the most elementary appreciation of the social changes that are taking place before his eyes. Although realization of it does not penetrate the thick heads of honorable members opposite, the responsibility for devoting attention to the problem of social economy is as much theirs as it is ours. I have stated that the basic wage is entirely inadequate. It would still be inadequate if to it were added the whole of the 100 per cent, profit which industry is making to-day; because, in consequence of higher education and greater needs, it, is impossible, with the production set-up that we now have - and some production was outmoded long since - to provide sufficient to meet adequately the requirements of the workers. Let us consider the problem statistically. In 1890, when the basic wage was about £2 2s. a week, the average Australian family was 6.2. In 1940, when, the basic wage had been more than doubled, the average Australian family was about two. I challenge any honorable member on either side of the House to prove that a man can raise 6.2 children, with their modern demands, on the basic wage of to-day. If that is not possible, the basic wage has depreciated vastly. The majority of people - including, I regret to say, many honorable members on this side of the House - confuse the basic wage with better living conditions. “We have to devote our attention to means whereby we can increase the effectiveness of the basic wage. Some radical changes are overdue. We have just listened to a speech by a . conservative member who sits opposite. For half of his time he devoted himself to giving reasons for the imposition of- more and more controls on the economy of this country. Before long, he will “ bash “ the Government, on the ground- that it is interfering with legitimate avenues of commerce. On the one hand, we hear every reason why controls should be imposed, and on the other hand every reason why they should be removed. Honorable members opposite argue according to the effect on them personally, or on their constituency, or on some activity with which their party is associated. I return to my original submission - that the time has arrived when a deteriorating capitalist economy must be reviewed in the light of modern events if we are to save anything or confer any benefits on the people whom we are sent here to represent. 1 say emphatically that the basic wage is the least which our economy can provide for our people. The present burden is beyond the capacity of seven million people. This country can carry many more people; yet, because of some extraordinary happening - I am not going to charge any responsible authority with it - the required population is not coming in. Let us consider the events of the last five or six years, and view the matter in perspective. A few years ago - 25 years, I suppose, or a little more - we described the Japanese as “ a grand little fighter”. He was then fighting on our side. Long before that, our fathers had warned us of the “yellow peril”. We markedly degenerated sons did not realize the force of their argument until 1941 or 1942, when the Japanese struck at us. We have completely removed’ the Japanese menace. But closely adjacent to our northern frontier there are 100,00.0,000 people, and behind them 1,000,000,000 people who, in the years to come, will be able to move in no way other than southward. We have to view the position in this country in a realistic way, and not spend all our time in developing it where it does not need much development.’ I understand that the Government is contemplating an expenditure of £60,000,000 a year on the defence of Australia. That’ is a very laudable proposal indeed. But I suggest that during the next few years it might be a very good thing, whether I am here or not - and I should imagine that some of my friends opposite will pray that I shall not be here - were the Government to halve that expenditure on defence and spend’ £30,000,000 on developing the Northern Territory and in providing for it good services of one kind and another. The Government should concentrate on developing a migration policy. It should spread the burden of our economy over many more new, young and productive people, and also fill our empty spaces, which otherwise may one day become a considerable danger to the security of this country. I say that advisedly. I hope that the day will come very soon when we shall consider seriously all these problems.
As this will be the last occasion on which we will have the opportunity to speak on Supply before the election, I wish to say a few words on housing. Somebody, standing in this chamber in the next 20 years, will talk about the “great hysterical age “ in Australia. About 25 years ago the Chief Health Officer of the city of Hobart condemned about 500 houses. From the point of view of the working man there has always been a housing problem in this country. From time to time people are carried away on waves of hysteria. At present there is hysteria on the subject of housing. In saying that, I do not -wish to be understood as saying that there is no necessity for a bousing scheme. The need for houses, especially homes for workers, is urgent. That has always been so. We are living in an atomic age in which forces previously undreamed of by man are being harnessed. What are we doing about it? All our thoughts seem to be reeking with politics. We are so occupied with political considerations that we have not the time to give .to real problems the attention that they deserve. Nearly half of the total population of this continent is congregated in the two cities of Melbourne and Sydney. Each of those cities would have been large enough with a population of 750,000. We have never been big enough to approach our housing problems properly. In the two cities mentioned there are approximately 2,750,000 people. Each of those cities should have been limited to a population of 1,000,000; the balance should have been diverted to seven other cities each with a population of 100,000. We should spread our population by developing new industrial areas in country districts. By so doing we would not only decentralize our industries and population; we should also add to our security as a nation. But let any honorable member go back to his electorate and advocate that, instead of expanding our cities we should develop our country districts, and he would not long be a member of this Parliament. Nevertheless, an increase of the population of our rural areas is essential to our security from a defence point of view and also for economic stability. We know these things, but we are not doing anything about them. Twenty years hence probably some one will say that in 1946 there was a great housing fiasco in this country. The present set-up is unreal ; we are carried away on waves of hysteria. I repeat that houses in great numbers are urgently necessary, but we must also consider where they shall be built.
I shall pass on to deal with another aspect of our social and economic life. Our fathers planned the Commonwealth in the arduous times between the late eighties and the beginning of this century. At that time there were no sWift means of communication such as we have to-day, but the men of that day were “ big “ men, and they decided that there should be a federation. Examples have been placed before us to prove how out-moded our Constitution is. Many honorable members opposite do not know where the functions of the States-and the Commonwealth respectively begin and end. They do not want to know these things. The States are constantly attempting to “ pass the buck “ of the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth is trying to “ pass the buck “ to the States. A review of the Constitution is long overdue. In the Parliamentary Library recently, I came across a bill, prepared in 1910, for the establishment of provincial parliaments. Such a measure is far too modern for members of this House to-day. A review of the Constitution from time to time has always been the policy of the Labour party; it should be the policy of all parties. The relations of the Commonwealth and the States ought to be reviewed immediately, and further examined from time to time. When the present Government is returned at the next elections I hope that one of its. first acts will be to set in motion machinery to determine the lines of demarkation between the provinces of the two authorities, so that once and for all the .battle between the States and between them and the Commonwealth will come to an end.
– Is the honorable member a regionalist?
– In some degree I am. 1 believe that there should be a proper determination of the authorities to be exercised by the Commonwealth, the States, and the municipalities respectively. The functions of each should be embodied in the Constitution. I am not, at all convinced that all government should be centralized in Canberra. I agree with the person who said that Canberra is a good sheep station spoilt.
– How did the honorable member vote at the last referendum?
– I voted for the proposals, but the honorable member for Fawkner would not have sufficient understanding to do that. As I have said, the time is overdue for a review of the Constitution.. In my opinion, this is not a matter to-be decided between the States and the Commonwealth, or by politicians; it should be undertaken by an independent body . of capable Australians. Such a body should be better able to view matters in their proper perspective, and then to bring definite proposals before those whose duty it would be to make the final decision. I suggest that among the things which should be clearly set out would be the number of States and their functions, the number of representatives in the central Parliament, and the functions of municipalities.
– That is included in the policy of the Liberal party.
– That has been a plank of the Labour platform for 40 years. The Liberal party is 140 years behind the times. Although little is likely to be done in regard to this matter until after the referendum, I hope that the Government will not overlook it. I suggest that when the people are consulted on the several matters that we have agreed shall be submitted to them, they, should also be asked to express their views regarding Canberra. In my opinion, Canberra does not represent anything that is truly Australian. I hope that the press will publish that remark under prominent headlines. The ‘ greatest political tragedy that ever happened in this country was when the Parliament was transferred to Canberra from Melbourne. I’n saying that, I am not pitting State against State, or city against city; but 1 believe that in a democratic country the Parliament should be situated where it can feel the pulse of public opinion. F sometimes wonder why the Government does not convey members to this place in cattle-trucks, although when I reflect on the means adopted to convey, honorable members to and from Parliament House [ am tempted to believe that it has done the next worst thing. I suppose that we should be thankful for- even small mercies. The time is not far distant when a man who wishes to -be elected to Parliament will have to walk around in a stooping position with his head bent, and his posterior protruding, so that when asked what it all means he will be able to say, “ I want you to kick me to make it plain that I am your slave “. Members of Parliament are worth only the price that they set upon themselves. Our acceptance of Canberra as the seat of government is a clear indication of the value that we set upon ourselves and on our contribution to the welfare of Australia. I shall riot be a slave of any one. I repeat that the people should be asked what should be done with Canberra. The Government proposes to set aside money to be expended in Canberra in various fields of research. It has in mind, also, the establishment of a national university here. Existing buildings and others which may be erected, could, with advantage, be handed over to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Parliament should be removed to some place where members could feel the pulse of Australian public opinion. I do not propose to indicate ‘where that place should be. I know, something of the history of Canberra, and I know that this place was chosen as the seat of government only after New South Wales had decided against federation. A bad compromise was arrived at. The decision to establish a capital away from the centres of population wa3 a great mistake; it was a dream’ of mad nien.
– Does the honorable member suggest that Canberra should be a testing ground for atomic research ?
– There is not much hereto be blown to pieces. In my opinion, the most vital problem confronting Australia is the formation of an intelligent and complete immigration policy. There should be no delay in coming to a decision in this matter, and in making adequate money available for the development of the continent. Those in charge of our immigration policy should concentrate on bringing to Australia people who will assist to develop this country and its industries, so that Australia will become a strong nation.
– The troubles which afflict Australia are mostly of our own making. If muck of the time that has been devoted to discussing strikes and strikers were directed towards the development of Australia, this country would be in a better position than it is in to-day. We should clear the industrial outlook so that the consideration of the Government may be directed to such matters as the reduction of taxes, the control of illegal strikers and the prevention of illegal and petty strikes, ‘ the review of soldier settlements, the rehabilitation of ex-service men and women, water conservation, the development of hydroelectric power, a progressive immigration policy, the stabilizing of primary production, the building up of overseas markets, and, generally wise planning for the future. Especially should we consider providing water for country towns, and more amenities in country districts. We should engage more in scientific research, and should provide better transport facilities than now exist. Our telephone services should be extended and made .available to every country home at reduced rates. Instead of planning in these directions, the Government contemplates the expenditure of £220,000,000 on the standardization of railway gauges. If our experience of other projects is a reliable guide, the estimate . of £220,000,000 is likely to be doubled. ‘ I am disappointed that after nearly twelve months of a so-called “ peace “, huge sums of money are still being expended for war purposes. Although Australia is not at war, and has not been at war for nearly twelve months, its defence expenditure this year will be about £34S,000,000. This includes £40,000,000 credited to the Treasury for the disposal of war plant. The Government continues to raise Avar loans, but only 55 per cent, of the amount raised has been contributed by the public. A large proportion has been taken from the savings bank accounts of the people. That is not sound policy, and it must be disquieting to the public to realize that their savings are being expended so wastefully. During the last twelve months, £1,000,000 has been expended on man-power controls, whilst £400,000 has been expended on the Rationing Commission, the Food Control and the Prices Commission. During the discussion on the last budget, I said that the Government had probably underestimated its revenue for the year, and it now appears that it did so by about £18,000,000. If its estimate for next year is as faulty, it should be possible, from this source alone, to reduce taxation by £36,000.000, that being the amount to credit, plus an equal amount deducted. The Government has made a gift of £6,000,000 to the States in order to enable them to accept, more ,graciously the uni form taxation scheme. That money could also have been applied to the reduction of taxation and proposed expenditure to the amount of many millions of pounds.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has said that the policy of the Government is arbitration. If that be so, it should not put up with strikers who refuse to abide by arbitration. In Queensland, an illegal strike has been in progress for some months, and recently the State Arbitration Court set up by virtue of legislation introduced by a Labour government, deregistered the striking union. The dispute extended because ex-servicemen and others were trying to run a co-operative bacon factory to prevent a total loss to farmers. From there it spread to all the meat works in the State and affected the pastoral, industry. Now the coalminers have been called out, with the result that no coal is being produced for the railways, the power houses, or by industry generally. Great hardship and loss are being sustained by industrialists and householders alike. Greater hardship, however, is being suffered as a result of the strike by stock-owners whose stock were ready for killing. In some instances, fat stock has been held on owners’* properties for as long as three months, and now, because of drought and lack of transport, they are deteriorating in value. Farmers cannot shift stock off drought areas, because others in more favoured areas will not buy stores, seeing that they cannot sell their fats. In the circumstances, the National Government should take a hand in order to ensure that the strikers shall not be allowed to hold the country to ransom. To-day, I asked the Prime Minister whether he would intervene in the strike as it had now spread beyond the borders of Queensland. Exports from Queensland to New South Wales have been declared black, and the waterside workers in Sydney refuse to handle such products. Therefore, the Commonwealth has grounds for intervening, and it should insist that the unionists abide by the awards of the Arbitrating Court. During the war. the miners held up industry over and over ag::in. and went unpunished.
Special authorities were set up to control the coal-mining industry, and to encourage production; but the miners refused to co-operate. Since the end of the war, conditions have been even worse. Industrialists who are trying to restore peace-time production are hampered by strikes. The Commonwealth Government should take heed of the situation, and ensure that industrialists, farmers and graziers shall be given an opportunity to live and pay their way. Housewives and children in many parts of Australia are to-day suffering because of the inactivity of the Government, which is too spineless to insist upon obedience to the law. The present wave of industrial lawlessness is due, not to a desire on the part of the workers to improve their conditions, but to the determination of those in control of the unions to break down our institutions, and create the impression that democracy has failed. In view of the fact that there are so many millions of people starving in the world to-day, and particularly in view of the need to get food to Britain, the Government should insist that the production of food shall not be hampered, and that food ships shall be worked and despatched promptly. Those who want to work should be allowed to work, instead of being held up by a few irresponsibles who have gained control of the unions. The Government should govern, and not allow a little coterie to impose its will on the rest of the community. We must insist on obedience to the law. If the law is wrong, let it be amended, but whatever is the law must be obeyed.
I am sorry that the settlement of exservicemen on the land is not proceeding in the way it should. When we listened to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) introducing the land settlement bill, we expected that more would be achieved. At a conference of State and Commonwealth Ministers an agreement was reached, and subsequently ratified by the Commonwealth Parliament and State Parliaments, providing that the Commonwealth should advance money for settling ex-servicemen on the land, the Commonwealth to exercise a measure of supervision, and to satisfy itself that the land selected was suitable for settlement. Tn Queensland, no action was taken to settle ex-servicemen on- the land until after the war was over.
– Why did not the authorities plan two years ahead ?
– Because they pronounced that they wanted to wait until the war was over. Then, when the war ended, nothing was ready. The State Government brought down legislation of its own which created a favorable impression, and wa3 much applauded. Under it the State Government was to .provide up to £5,000 to enable a soldier to buy an existing farm. Upon examination, however, it was found that this was merely the old Agricultural Bank Act which had been in operation for years, the only difference being that, in the case of the exservicemen, no interest would be payable on the advance for three years. I know of one ex-serviceman who. asked for a loan of £2,000, and was offered £1,000. He was an experienced cane-farmer, but because he had not been either a land-owner, a manager, an overseer, or a share-farmer before the war, his application for assistance was refused.’ He was advised that it was the responsibility of the Government to get an ex-soldier back to the job in which he was before the war. Soldiers who applied to join a ballot for Western lands in Queensland recently are complaining that they cannot because they have not the necessary finance, and the State Bank cannot finance them under the Commonwealth’s scheme until they get the land. When an exserviceman applies for land he must say how he proposes to finance the transaction. His application must be accompanied by a letter from a bank or a private person stating that the money will be available. Without such a letter he cannot even go to ballot for the land, and the State Agricultural Bank will not finance him until he has the land, even if he is experienced. I maintain that the exserviceman should be given an opportunity to get finance and ballot for the land. Afterwards he could get .his training from the authorities which it is proposed to set up for this purpose. There is so much delay in securing Commonwealth approval of estates to cut up for settlement that much discontent has been > created. In New
South Wales, the Minister for Lands, Mr. W. F. Dunn, has stated that 7,000 qualifying certificates have been issued to ex-servicemen out of 15,000 applications received from those who desire to go on the land in that State. Mr. Dunn stated that ten or perhaps fifteen -years would elapse before all applicants were placed. He added -
The State authorities are eating out their hearts to obtain blocks and make them available for soldiers, but there are depressing delays for approvals, purchase prices and subdivisions from the Commonwealth Government. When the State authorities find the land we must obtain Federal approval for that, and when we sub-divide we must again obtain approval.
From what I have been able to gather of the activities of the New South Wales Department of Land, all that Mr. Dunn has said is true; the State authorities are really eating out their hearts in an endeavour to place men on the land. They have secured some of the best estates in New South Wales, excellent land in respect of soil and irrigation, and though much of it was available before the war ended they have not been able to obtain the approval of the Commonwealth supervising authorities in respect of either its subdivision or the price. I urge the Government to appoint practical men to review the propositions put up by the respective States and to make available without delay all such good land as is awaiting settlement. In Queensland much of the land available for soldier settlement is leasehold which, has reverted to the Crown. In New South Wales, however, large areas of good freehold land are available for purchase by the State. Queensland could provide a greater area of land for soldier settlement than any. other State, principally because of the large areas of Crown land becoming available for that purpose. In that State only 7 per cent, of the total land has been alienated or is in the process of alienation. All such land as reverts to the Crown can be thrown open for the settlement of exservicemen at no cost to the Crown except for survey charges. Some of it may be described as the best land in the Commonwealth for cattle and sheepraising, and on the coast there is dairying land. I trust that many of the hide bound regulations which are preventing the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land will be repealed and that the Government will implement its much vaunted policy of settling ex-servicemen on the land without delay.
Another matter to which attention might be given by the Government is the provision in country districts of feeder air-fields capable of providing aerodrome facilities for aircraft of the smaller type to act as feeders to the larger aircraft operating from the principal aerodromes. If such feeder aerodromes were established the development of air transport of many of our products to the western portion of Australia and across the seas to India, Ceylon, Singapore, Hong Kong and other valuable markets, would be greatly expedited. To-day no private firms are engaged in that class of airborne trade. Yet we have air-fields stretched right across the continent, and around our coasts which could be put to much better use if our rural products could be transported to them from feeder air-fields established in country districts. These feeder air-fields should be provided without cost to the local authorities; their construction could be financed from the revenue raised by the petrol tax. I trust that the petrol tax will be cut considerably, and that a much greater portion of its proceeds will in future be made available for the improvement of roads in country districts. Some portion of the revenue raised in that way might also be applied to the construction of boat harbours along our coast for the benefit of the fishing industry, and for the improvement of our tourist attractions.
It is rather staggering to find that the Government is proposing to expend no less than £200,000,000 on the standardization of our railway gauges. Whilst I do not oppose such a work in its right perspective, I “question whether the time is ripe to essay such an undertaking. In my opinion, it would be very much better to utilize such a large amount of money on water conservation schemes and other measures which would ensure a much quicker national and personal return for the investment. Queensland to-day it suffering one of its severe droughts, and its impact is all the greater because of our failure in the past to conserve water in good seasons. ‘ “Water conservation and the production of hydro-electric power should be given first place in our post-war plans. A sound policy of water conservation, allied with hydro-electric projects which will make cheap power available to country dwellers, would do more to attract migrants and money in this country than any other measure the Commonwealth could undertake. Schemes for the conservation of water should be planned on a Commonwealthwide basis, with provision for the linking up of hydro-electric power in all areas in which dams and weirs have been constructed.
One of the disabilities that confronts country dwellers to-day is the absence of adequate telephonic communications, partly caused through the lack of receivers. I trust the shortage of telephones will be rapidly overcome. Another factor operating to the disadvantage of the country dweller is the excessive charge by the Postmaster-General’s Department for the transfer of private telephone exchanges from one place to another. Tn some instances this change ranges from £100 to £200. In this respect the country dweller is at a distinct disadvantage compared with the city dweller, and something should be done to bring about a more equitable assessment of costs. Only by providing improved amenities for country residents, and better roads, both main and subsidiary, will people be attracted to rural occupations. The provision of better feeder roads will facilitate the transport of a farmer’s products to the market, lessen his transport costs, and enable better mail services to be provided. Provision should be made in the Federal Aid Roads Agreement to relieve local authorities of much of the burden of constructing subsidiary roads.
I trust that the Government will reconsider its decision to allow the foreign policy of this country to be fashioned by one man. No matter how astute the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) may be in the legal sphere, he has certainly not distinguished himself in the sphere of foreign relations. One has only to . recall the regrettable incidents associated with the hold-up in Australia of Dutch ships which could have taken £7,000,000 worth of our products to Java and the East. This cavalier treatment of a former ally and a nation which is perhaps closest to us in sentiment and ideals, has amazed the world. It is indeed unfortunate that 99 per cent, of the people of Australia should have foisted upon them by a few outlaws a policy which has brought nothing but discredit upon this country. The Government has not taken any action to enable the Dutch ships to sail. Yet it claims that it cannot import sufficient tea into Australia because it has not the ships in which to transport it here. The Dutch people are willing and anxious to trade with us and to bring to these shores supplies of tea, rubber and petrol and many other valuable commodities the shortage of which has prevented our industries from expanding and our people from enjoying the comforts to which they are entitled.
– We are debating “ A bill for an act to grant and apply a sum out of the Consolidated ‘ Revenue Fund for the service of the year ending the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and forty-seven ?’. Never before in my experience in this House have I considered it so necessary to stress the need to place the method of the expenditure of money on a par with the method of allocating it. That was impressed on me by my recent visit to my vast electorate. My experience during this period of the session is one of the most interesting and extraordinary of my life. I have been away from Australia and this House so long that renewed observations of its proceedings have a freshness for me which probably they have not for other honorable members who have had the misfortune to be here all the time. I am particularly interested in and dismayed by the remarkable, change that has occurred since my departure in December, 1941, in the standard? and thoughts of the people of this country. The change is one that we who went away in 1941 could not have conceived. T would not have believed then that the country would have become so craven and abject under the influence of repression and government by regulation that it would have submitted to the conditions of black-out and scarcity which at present rule in this country. [ could not have believed that in the four years, when . tens of thousands of young men were fighting, without leave, in the trenches, that this place would become so sport-minded that horse and dog racing and league football would become the main obsessions of the population of the cities and the major industry, to which some newspapers are compelled, by public opinion to devote, sometimes, as much space as they do to the whole of the world’s affairs, to the exclusion of the effective reporting of Parliament. Obviously, a journalist has no right of personal expression. He must practise his profession directly as a means of livelihood.
I could not have believed that, a speech like that made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) on the Indonesian question last week would not have rocked the Government on its feet, and made its position precarious. Yet it rolled off this Government like water from a duck’s back. I could riot have believed that such a duel as that between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) and the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) on the question of disposals, would not have . been regarded as the baring of a gross public scandal. Those charges were countered by a shockingly inadequate defence by the Minister. The speech of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) on finance a few days ago would have destroyed any other government against which it was directed, if’ an effective answer had not been made to it.. No effective reply has yet been made from the treasury bench.
Accusations against the Government of the grossest extravagance and deception have become such common daily incidents that are scarcely even news. Quite recently, for instance, the Government appointed one of its henchmen in Tasmania as High Commissioner for Australia in New Zealand. It1 was a someWhat hurried appointment. When it was made, the very dogs in Tasmania must have been barking the exploits of the gentleman involved, and he must have heaved .a great sigh, of relief when, by his appointment, hewas transported beyond the 3-mile limit.. With equal suddenness that gentleman, was replaced recently by a young Victoria Cross winner. For that ‘ gentleman I have the greatest personal admiration, and for his gallantry somethingapproaching awe. But he was merely a young university student beforethe war. He has neither the training nor the qualifications m to servethe country as a high commissioner. The reason for his appointment was only apparent, when it was discovered thar this political henchman, whom the Government had aided, I am sure unwittingly, in getting beyond the 3-mile limit,, had been convicted by a royal commission of bribe-taking in the most flagrant manner. It then must have been apparent to everybody that the appointment of a Victoria Cross winner,, otherwise unqualified for his position,, was merely designed by the Government to enable it to take coverbehind his well-earned decoration. I do not: blame him for accepting the position. I have a very high opinion of him. in every way. But I am sure that had he known when he was offered the position that the Government was paying him the doubtful compliment of askingfa im to succeed a bribe-taking scoundrel! who was afraid to go into the witness box to defend himself lest he become incriminated and find the police waiting for him outside the inquiry room, he would have punched the Minister who made theoffer to him. It. is time the Government made a statement on this d’ Alton case. I should like to know what steps it is takingto ensure that, that corrupt scoundrel who represented this country in New Zealand at the expense of the Commonwealth is brought to justice. In view of some of the evidence given before the royal commission on the scandals in the Tasmania^ timber industry I should like to know whether the Commonwealth knows whether its recently employed officer is tobe prosecuted by the Tasmanian Government or whether, in the light of some of the evidence, the Tasmanian Government is reluctant to take action for fear of what may be disclosed concerning some of his Labour colleagues in Tasmania, if Mr. d’Alton is compelled to go into a witness box. This is one incident which shows how deadened public opinion is in this country - how craven is this Government in not making an honest statement.
In my own electorate things are happening which nobody could believe if they did not know them to be true. I was in Darwin on Victory Day and I can assure honorable members that the whole atmosphere would shock the public of the South if it knew the position. While a thanksgiving service was being held at Darwin on Victory Day the Commonwealth Disposals ‘ Commission was so unmindful of its duty and the fitness of things as to hold a sale, which was attended by a collection of buyers from the south, who, no doubt, thought that the residents had gone to the service in order that they should have “ an open go “ at the sale. I am disappointed to think that such a disgraceful thing could happen. And what is happening at such sales up there? I flew to Darwin in the company of an old “ geyser “ and, by a stroke of misfortune, I found myself sharing an hotel room with him. He bored me by his boasting about how he and hiscronies do things at the sales. Yes, it was a. lovely war for the “ gum tree soldiers “ and the holders of the home front. “ Oh no “, he exclaimed, “ we do not bid against each other. We arrange beforehand that one buys the lot and we split it up later “. Why are Ministers failing to stop that sort of thing. I am not the only honorable member of this House who has directed attention to these matters. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), in her vigorous speech, ako directed the attention of the Ministry to the system under which small buyers are excluded from the possibility of buying goods disposed of by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission because not only trucks but everything else handled by it are put up for auction in bulk lots. They are purchased on behalf of groups by their nominees without competition. Three Ministers are now interested in the Northern Territory - the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini), and the Minister’ for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), _ who directs the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Surely they could ensure the apportionment of the equipment that is being disposed of at auction in such a way that equipment needed by the small men for developmental purposes should be available to them! I pay the Minister for Supply and Shipping the compliment that, when I directed his attention to the manner in which compressors were being disposed, of by the commission, he did everything he could to rectify the position, but it was then too late. I have also been informed that when Postmaster-General, he was the only Minister who would do anything for the Territory. Compressors are needed by miners at the Tennant Creek gold-field, where we have a prospector field, not big mines. When those miners sought to buy compressors they found that someone else had scooped the pool. There are compressors at. Darwin now which ought- to be made available for the development of mining, but the Army is using them, to pump up the tires of motor vehicles. Let the three Ministers confer on this matter. Let them publish a list of the goods to be disposed of by the commission that might be of service in developing the Territory. If they will not do that themselves, let them tell me, because I would willingly distribute the particulars amongst the people who I know would be interested. It is a pity that there is so little coordination between Ministers. At Adelaide River, 75 miles from Darwin, a pastoralist cannot water his horses and cattle because a 1^-mile .section of -a creek has had dumped into it all kinds of unused parts of motor vehicles. I saw what has happened, and, had I a camera with me, I would have taken photographs to back up what I am saying. A pastoralist said to me, “ Come over here and I’ll show you a theodolite, one of the things that you use “. I said, “ Don’t be ridiculous “, but he assured me that he was speaking the truth. Unfortunately a freshet had occurred in the creek, and we could not find it, but I do not doubt bis word. Fancy a theodolite being dumped like that ! That man told me that he intended to sue the Commonwealth ‘Government for compensation because it has destroyed his waterhole. I invito Ministers to go to Adelaide River to verify the truth of what I have said.
Aa I pointed out during the last sitting, “somewhat briefly, the whole of Darwin has been seized, without affording any safeguards to the owners of the property which has been acquired. Church property has been grabbed as ruthlessly as the rest. Church doors have been barred against worshippers. Residents’ have been swept from the positions which they have been occupying for years and are to be dumped into a miasmic, mosquito ridden area at the back of the town so that the commissars may live on the high and breezy peninsula which has been reserved, ostensibly, for ‘ defence purposes. I wish the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) were present to hear ray views on how the future of Darwin is being affected by the ill-advised -departure from the ideal Mclnnis plan for its development. I suspect dirty work at the cross-roads in that respect. A fine hotel that must have cost about £80,000 to build is on the sea front. The syndicate of Adelaide people that owns it does not bother about renewing the liquor licence. Of course, it made a great fuss about it, and the Minister for the Interior had a special ordinance enacted in great haste about two months a’go. The residents inform me that the syndicate is not interested in renewing the licence. The syndicate made substantial profits as the result of renting the hotel to the services. Now, the building has been taken over by the department. To make this new plan effective, those interests had to convince some person in the Department of the Navy regarding the necessity for resuming a substantial area of land - indeed, the choicest part of Darwin - and use the frontage for the civic centre. That is the sine qua non, and the hotel is the crux of the matter. The Government now “holds the baby”, because it has acquired the whole building, and these interests will be able to scotch the Mclnnis plan, provided the Department of the Navy will take all the best land. But it is common talk that the Navy does not require the land. A few days ago, I heard that the Royal Australian Air Force will maintain’ only a moderately sized establishment there, and’ that the Navy had never asked for the land and does not know what to do with it. To make their alley good, these interests took the Anglican church and established a naval sick bay in the rectory next door/ They “ pegged their claim “. All this is a sinister synchronization of facts. The plan was altered at a time when the hotel-keepers desired to get rid of their building, and were not anxious to obtain the licence again. They even did not . put up the notices for the other two hotels they had leased, as they were requiredby law to do, but the old residents of Darwin - the owners - hurriedly complied with the regulations to protect their interests. The Department of the Interior had to prepare a special ordinance in the interests of certain hotelkeepers of Adelaide who have a grip on Darwin. This is most sinister, and i shall not allow the Mclnnis plan to be scotched before demanding the appointment of a royal commission to ascertain who first recommended the abandonment of the plan.
– Who is Mclnnis?
– He is the most outstanding town-planner in Australia. He is one of three men who hold the highest town-planning certificate in the world. He is a member of the Town Planning Institute of London, a licensed surveyor, and a Fellow of the Queensland Institute of Surveyors. He planned Greater Brisbane. I recommended him to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to be placed in charge df the Greater Sydney scheme, which is now coming to fruition. Because of his outstanding ability,- the Government of Tasmania . appointed him Planning Commissioner - the highesthonour that any planner can be given in Australia. Yet the architects in the Department of Works and Housing pretend that they have greater qualifications than has Mr. Mclnnis and the SurveyorGeneral in Darwin, Mr. Miller, both of whom have 30 years’ experience. For nine months, they gave close attention to the planning of Darwin, and made an exact survey of every detail. Now, their plan is to be scotched because of the opposision of some architect in the Department of Works and Housing. The substitute plan violates every principle of town pfenning, the basis of which is that the people should be consulted in the planning of their city. The residents of Darwin were not. If the Mclnnis plan is abandoned, I shall demand the appointment of a royal commission. The Minister informed me that I could read the evidence of the departmental committee taken on 2nd February, 1943, but he instructed the department not to deliver the Mclnnis plan to me unless I promised that I would not use it. What audacity ! However, I flew to Tasmania to obtain the plan from Mr. Mclnnis himself, and I have >a copy of it in my office. As I stated, I shaM demand the appointment of a royal commission before I shall allow the Mclnnis plan to be scotched in the interests of certain hotelkeepers of Adelaide. I shall not allow the Minister for the Navy to throw dust in the ‘eyes of the people. If he were here, I would tell him that he was a liar, and ask him to defend himself. In his reply to me of a few days ago, he said that the Department of the Navy required this land for defen.ee pur- ‘ poses. I know that the department does not require the land, and I heard that, it never asked for the site. A,ny defence works in that part of Darwin would be a bull’s eye for any attacker.
After the bombing of Darwin in 1942, many of the residents of the town were driven to the south and were enslaved like cattle by the- Allied Works Council. No one was immune unless he was a favoured constituent of the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) or some hill-billy who could pull strings in order to evade service. Those residents of Darwin, who were evacuated, have not yet been permitted to return even, to search for their stolen property, unless they can pay their own fare, or unless they are prepared to do what no proud Australian would do, namely, declare himself a pauper. Only by those two means can my constituents return to Darwin at present. It is a disgrace to the Anglo-Saxon race that the residents of Darwin, who after the bombing arrived in the south like stray cows, .shall be permitted to return only under those conditions. Would the Government gr the United States of America impose such conditions upon its people in similar circumstances? It would not. It would transport them ito their homes. The attitude of the Commonwealth Government in this matter is a positive disgrace to Australia.
Industrially and politically, this vast area which forms my electorate is no longer subservient to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. It is governed by the secretary of the North Australian Workers Union - the organization which gives the Minister for the Interior h’is orders. Recently, I submitted a proposition for the planning of Darwin, and presented a petition to this House. Previously the Minister had declared at Alice Springs that he would not, meet the people there because they constituted a Communist cell. It was nothing of the kind. Their views represented Central Australian opinion. But the Minister declined to meet them. To use a Central Australian expression, he’ “ dingoed :” on them. He declared that he would not, be trapped by a Communist cell. Yet when T presented in this House a petition signed by all the land-owners of Darwin and warned the Minister that another would be forthcoming, the honorable gentleman deliberately used a petition from the “Commos” of Darwin to rebut my petition. He knew that it was signed by the “ Commos “. What can we do with a Minister so ignoble as that? Three months hence, many Australians will declare in no uncertain manner that they are “ fed up “ . with all this nonsense.
The secretary of the North Australian Workers Union is one of a long line of Communists who has been sent from -the south to occupy that office. He understands the job of bullying Ministers and workers. Mick Ryan was the champion sprinter of the Darwin raid, and McPhillips was secretary of the organization when the Minister for Transport discovered him and recommended him to his friend Thornton, a member of the Communist Central Committee. He brought McPhillips south to become assistant secretary to that other Russian agency, the Ironworkers Union. This little runt of a man, this Communist McPhillips, came to Darwin in 1940 as secretary of the North Australian Workers Union. That happens whenever an election is in the offing. The official is secretary for three months, and then becomes organizer. He travels vast distances in the union’s motor car, and the good honest unionists - the salt of the earth - have to foot the bill and pay for any damage to the vehicle. Darwin has become a sovietized section of Australia in which the only people who are immune from interference are the commissars and the great corporations, some of which have been able to tie up for 30 or 42 years areas as large as Belgium on which to graze cattle, while exservicemen who are eager to settle on the land are unable to obtain holdings in the Northern Territory.
– What Government; tied up those areas? .
– This Government has not done anything to loosen the ties. I refer to the great organization of Vesteys and all its subsidiaries throughout Queensland.
– Who gave those big corporations their leases?
– I ask which government confiscated the land in Darwin and did not have the intestinal fortitude to take the land held by Vesteys in Darwin or one square mile of it outside the city. Of course, the people of Darwin are defenceless and Vesteys are not. That is the explanation. The Government must combat the great corporations,’ instead of exerting its authority against the weak; namely, the residents of Darwin. The great corporations have all the money and, of course,- money talks. I am anxious to know when the Government proposes to produce a plan to break this monopoly. As my word regarding these matters seems to be doubted, I shall refer to. some of the evidence which was forwarded to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) before I was able to resume my parliamentary duties. The honorable member asked the Minister for the Interior about the pastoral areas. In reply, the Minister stated that it was proposed to make a number of blocks available for pastoral leasing before the 30th June, 1946. Full particulars, he. wrote, would be published in the Commonwealth Gazette. He mentioned that certain lessees had appealed against the resumptions in 1945 and proposed resumptions in 1947 and stated that the cases had not been finalized. Exservicemen will not be heartened by the news that appeals- will be- made against resumptions of land for them. I have a map of the Barkly Tableland district and on it is shown Alexandria Station, with an area of. 10,600 square miles or more than 6,000,000 acres. The area is greater than that of Belgium. It is the largest station in the world. When I was about to embark- for Malaya, a resident of Orange, New South Wales, wrote to me stating his disgust at his inability to obtain one of the resumptions from Rocklands Station, which I, as Land Commissioner in 1932, resumed, in preparation for resumptions in 1945. He had £10,000 in cash, .but the Administrator said that that was not enough for 400 square miles of country. He wrote again and offered £16,000, but still it was not regarded as sufficient. When he wrote to me about the matter 1 replied, “ We shall fix that up when 1 get back from the war “. Now I find from the map before me that the same area of 400 square miles has been allocated to Alexandria Station, although exservicemen are waiting for land! The former Administrator, Mr. Abbott, has seen fit to rush into print in Queensland Country Life. He says that he has had a report , and that he is satisfied that £15,000 is needed to develop 1,000 square miles; yet, in 1941, he said that £16,000 was not enough to develop 400 square miles. He further declares that all the talk about the cutting up of leases in the Northern Territory is so much hot air. I do not know whether he is referring to me. I thought that he would have had enough sense to remain quiet after he left the Territory. I want to know who gave that land to Alexandria Station’. The lease will continue for 42 years, that is, until 1984. This Government must rescind that lease and give it to exservicemen, or there will be another royal commission. This happened in 1942, when I was away from Australia. I suppose it was thought that the watchdog of the Northern Territory would never come back to Australia, but my voice is just as vibrant to-day as it was iri 1940. Who is responsible for this action, the Minister for the Interior or the former Administrator? These matters cannot be regarded lightly by the Government.
At the northern end of the Northern Territory we have almost a sovietized State. The life of Darwin has been sovietized, and, if comrade Stalin decided to take it over to-morrow, all he. would need to do would be to issue a commission of appointment to Mr. “ Yorkie “ Walker, the local union secretary, and send down a. little ammunition for the first batch of executions of alleged Fascists like myself, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Darwin and the Anglican Bishop of Carpentaria, whose church property has been grabbed with all the ferocity of the Kremlin at its worst. That is all I have to say about the internal position, except that I understand that the Government, has carried its communization of the territory so far that the central’ Australian Labour party executive, sitting in Melbourne, 3,000 miles from Darwin’s misery has even had the impudence to issue orders that I shall be opposed and beaten at the next elections at any cost by somebody chosen in Adelaide. The candidate appeared promptly, and being a Labour candidate, he is naturally a well-known leftist, one who had intended some time ago to cross swords politically with the honorable member for Barker, but he was so far to the left that even the Labour party in Adelaide could not “ stomach “ him.
Now I come to the external position, and I -shall refer to the Government’s treatment of our gallant- Dutch ally. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made a most apt speech last week on that subject, which appeals more vividly to us of the north than to residents of the southern portions of Australia. I remind honorable members that the heavy bombing of Darwin was done from Ambon, which is loyal to the Dutch, as all the islands of the East Indies are, except for parts of Java and Sumatra where Japanese influence has made itself felt. I would remind the “ democrats “, too, who are holding up Dutch ships in Australia, that some of the chief supporters of the Indonesian cause against the Dutch are those horrid fellows whom democrats and Communists profess to hate so much, the medieval sultans who have maintained their rights and their harems in those islands. Without the support and encouragement of these hereditary Fascist-minded tyrants, the cause which the democrats of the Wharf Labourers Union and the Seamen’s Union support would be dead, despite all the money and arms made available to propagate it by the Japanese. It is essential to our defence to have a stable Europeanised government immediately north of Australia. We must realize that we are now dealing with an awakened Asia, but the present government does not seem to realize it. We in the north know what the Dutch did. They wanted tq fight to the last, and in the end they agreed to the Allied evacuation only at the specific request of the Commonwealth Government. I have been reliably informed that the Dutch agreed to the evacuation only on the condition that they be allowed to stay in Java and fight to the death. The admiral stated that they were going out to fight. They did, and they went down with their guns blazing. He considered that they would be doing a good job if they lost ship for ship with the Japanese,, because they would thus shorten the duration of the war because of the superior industrial potential of Great Britain and the United States of America to replace the Dutch ships, as compared with the ability of the Japanese to replace theirs. That was heroism to the limit!
The honorable member for. Henty (Mr. Gullett), in his maiden speech last week, gave some interesting up-stage information with regard to the Dutch and his association with them. He fought with them in Holland and travelled with other Dutch soldiers to fight in the’ islands. He said that out of 140 ships that the Dutch used to’ fight the Japanese, thereby helping themselves and helping Australia, only 30 vessels now remain. Still our Indonesian democrats in Australia, that is the “ commos “ who support the present government, prefer to support these murderers who beheaded our unfortunate Australian sailors from the Perth who swam ashore to Java after their ship had been sunk in the Sunda Straits. If the “ commos “ in the Government want further evidence let them read a book I hold in my hand written by Rohan D. Rivett, son of Sir David Rivett. It is an. epic story which should be read by every Australian, and is entitled BehindBamboo. I can vouch for the truth of its contents, because I have had similar experiences and worse. It is the story of an Australian who escaped from Singapore and travelled in a cockle-shell of a boat with six companions to Java. He touched at the island where Australian nurses were murdered. He was away in the jungle for seven days, and then he stole a boat from the Japanese. He and his companions then went to the Sumatra coast, passing 40 Japanese vessels in the Sunda Straits. These men were at one time within 60 yards of a Japanese crew. Desperate and beleagured, they landed on the Java coast, where they were met by the Javanese and were bound and handed over to the Japanese. This what Rivett says in chapter eight, at page 76 -
Within ten minutes, my arms from wrist to shoulder were bound with about thirty yards nf rope, so tightly that my shoulders began to ache immediately with the pressure, and within half an hour my bare arms were galled as with fire. Everyone having been secured, they started to drive us forward. Many shouts of “ Nippon “ and’ gestures of shooting and throat-cutting indicated quite clearly the particular picnic that lay ahead.
On page 77, he says -
Then the native who appeared to be the leading spirit in the round-up came alongside us with his bicycle. Ho had not been on the beach when we were seized, but was apparently the chief fifth columnist and Japanese agent along this section of the coast. We soon learned that he had served for some years with the Shanghai police and knew a good deal of English.
Rivett says that the monologue of this Indonesian went somewhat like this -
Now Nippon come, Dutchmen all finish. Soon Nippon take all Asia. Hitler take Britain. Soon all British become coolies. We are masters. We have many hundred Europeans working coolie for us. Very good, no? . . .
Hong Kong finish, Singapore finish, Batavia finish. Many white men already dead bangbang. Maybe tomorrow morning you get shot, too. You no like to be shot? Nippon shoot all white men verree quick, verree quick . . .” And so on ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
This is a great joke to honorable members opposite, who did not have to go through that sort of thing. This is. what Rivett has said in regard to members of H.M.A.S. Perth,, who, covered with oil, swam ashore -
Another large party who got ashore on the beach after burying some of their comrades, struck inland in an attempt to contact Allied forces. Most of them had lost all their clothing or had it ruined by the oil fuel, and were clad only in sarongs, loin cloths and other odd garments obtained from the natives. This party, footsore and hungry, finally reached a village near Pandeglang, where they were seized by the natives and handed over to the Japanese, who looted them and allowed a clamouring mob of natives to beat them with sticks and bamboo rods before taking them on trucks to Serang.
At least two of the men washed up on the west coast of Java are known to have been beheaded by the Sundanese with their Parangs, and this may have been the fate of others.
I urge every honorable member and, indeed, every Australian, to read this hook. In view of what it contains, will this Government treat the Javanese with the respect with which it has been treating them? Do honorable members opposite propose to allow themselves to be regarded as a joke by the “ wharfies who also despise them ?
– Honorable members opposite supported them a little while ago.
Mi-. BLAIN”. - We have been demanding the observance of decent humanitarian principles. Our aim has been to prove that we are superior to the mongrel Japanese. Are not honorable members opposite proud of the fact that they are superior to these wretched Japanese and Indonesians? Are they ashamed of their English, Scottish and’ Irish, blood? Do they regret that they are Anglo-Saxons?
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Turnbull) put-
That the honorable member for the
Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I regret that the Government and its supporters should have refused an extension of time to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain).
– Order ! The honor able member is not in order in reflecting on a vote of the House.
– I shall not transgress your ruling, Mr. Speaker; but I should like to have heard what the honorable member for the Northern Territory had to say, because he is closely in contact with numbers of people who have received great help from the Dutch. Moreover, we have not had the opportunity to hear him on many occasions during recent years. I propose to continue to the best of my ability where the honorable member for the Northern Territory left off. Our relations with the Dutch authorities are not. at all satisfactory, as. other honorable members on this side of the chamber have pointed out. The Leader of ‘the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) spoke effectively on this subject at some length. If’ honorable members opposite had the courage to express their own opinions many of then, would, I believe, agree with the views which have been placed before the House by honorable members on this side. It is rather surprising that not one voice has been raised by Government supporters during the debate for or against the Dutch authorities or the wharf labourers. The existing state of affairs is most unsatisfactory and dishonorable; it is a blot on the fair name of Australia. This country has manygrave problems to face. Most of them relate to internal matters, but some of them affect our relations with other nations. These matters are of great importance to us. Perhaps the most important of the foreign countries with which Australia has to do are those geographically near to Australia, and of these the Dutch notion is, perhaps, the most important, because it is our nearest neighbour. Honorable members know that Dutch ships, both naval and merchant vessels, have been laid up in Australian ports for months, not because of any action by the Government, but because a small section of the population refused to have anything to do with them. Indonesians and other nationals as well as Dutch people have suffered from what has- occurred. When the Netherlands Government first ordered supplies from Australia, those goods included medicines and machines and plant to enable goods to be distributed in the Netherlands East Indies. Among them were trucks and tractors and watercarts. These things were necessary to replace equipment -that had been destroyed by the enemy if the population of the Netherlands East Indies was not to suffer great hardships and be subject to the ravages of disease. No question of military supplies now arises. At first, military supplies did enter into the matter, but later the ships which were being held up were cleared of any goods of a military nature. We have heard an excellent speech by the. honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who has first-hand knowledge of the help given to the Allies by the Dutch. Other speakers also have recounted what the
Dutch nation did for the cause of freedom in the South- West Pacific operations, often at the cost of great sacrifice by its people. I shall not repeat what others have said, but I say that, quite apart from the humanitarian issues involved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Dutch people. In the circumstances, it is difficult to believe that any nation would act towards the Dutch nation as some Australians have done. The Dutch were loyal allies and gave great assistance to us in the war in which both nations were engaged until about a year ago. What would Australians generally think if a small section of the people of the United States of America took strong exception to our treatment of Australian aborigines? There is nothing startling or impossible about that, because there are societies even in Australia which believe that our aborigines have not been treated as well as they ought to have been. Suppose such a group in the United States of America was powerful enough to insist that ‘Australia should get no more supplies from that country, and that no Australian ships should be worked in- the ports of the United States of America until we in Australia righted the wrongs which have been done to the aborigines. The situation thereby created would be analogous to that which now exists in regard to ourselves and the Dutch.
There are many people in Australia who regard our treatment of the Dutch over this matter as a great dishonour to Australia and they would like to see it remedied, but nothing is being done. Last week, I. put a question to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) for the purpose of finding out what the Government intended to do. I asked him whether he had abandoned the matter of - Australia’s relations with the Dutch to the tender mercies of the wharf labourers, and he replied “No”. I also asked what he intended to do to remedy the present state of affairs, and to ensure that Dutch ships should be worked in’ Australian ports and repairs made to Dutch ships in Australian dockyards To this question the reply was unsatisfactory. He said that he was arranging for the holding of further conferences and the making of further inquiries, but he gave no indication that positive action was intended. Then, to my astonishment and, I think, to the astonishment of the House, he entered upon a long animadversion on the attitude of the head of the Dutch legation in Canberra. He said in so many words that he regarded the action of the Dutch Minister, as improper. He said that it was unusual, and, indeed, improper, for the head of a foreign mission in Australia to publicize his views on the state of affairs which existed in regard to Dutch ships in Australian ports, and he added that there was quite a deal more that he could say. I cannot imagine what more there was to say. The facts are well known to members of this House and to the public generally, and I do not know what more the Prime Minister could have said to clarify the matter. In fact, I do not, think that the Prime Minister knew very much about it himself. When I questioned him about Piet Hein he did not know whether it was a warship or a merchant ship, and he did not even know where the ship had sustained - damage. He said .that it had been damaged in the English Channel. The fact is that the ship sustained some very slight damage in the English Channel, but the damage which now needs to be repaired was sustained near Sumatra, not very far from Australia. Seeing that he was so unsure of the facts, he was not justified in making the statements he did. This is the statement made by’ the Dutch Minister to Australia on 11th June -
Dutchmen will fail to understand this treatment which they will feel inclined to consider, an insult to the comradeship in arms and detrimental to the future relations between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Commonwealth of Australia.
Dutchmen all over the world will be bewildered by the “ condemnable ban” on Dutch merchant ships and relief goods, which has resulted in the refusal to render any assistnce to the Dutch steamer, Tasman, and the hold-up of a Dutch man-of-war.
The Piet Hein has vainly attempted in port after port in Australia to have essential repairs executed, because unions would not allow work to be done on the ship. A statement by a union official has explicitly confinned this state of affairs.
I invite honorable members to note the words “because unions would not allow work to be done on the ship “. No complaint was made by him against the Australian Government. He did, however, put his finger on the trouble, and he said that Dutchmen would be inclined to consider such action as an insult to the comradeship in arms between Dutch and Australians. Probably he is quite well aware how supine the Government has been, and how difficult it is for the Government to take action in the circumstances. The statement of the Dutch Minister is very much on the same lines as that of the Prime Minister himself when replying in the House in March last on a motion of want of confidence. This is what he said -
I repeat that there was no justification for the refusal to load ships with foodstuffs and hospital supplies when it was certain that nothing was being loaded that could be used for military purposes.
In other words, the Prime Minister himself said that the action of the waterside workers was unjustifiable and wrong. Again, Mr. Monk, of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, described the action of the wharf labourers as the greatest bit of chicanery he had ever seen in his life. It is evident that, on the facts as known, there was no justification for the outburst of the Prime Minister. In all my diplomatic experience, which nas been fairly considerable, I have never known any government representative - except in the United States of America - from his place in parliament to charge the head of a foreign mission accredited to his country with improper conduct. Far from helping the situation, I regret that the statement of the Prime Minister has made matters worse. I have no desire to embarrass the Government. Indeed, I do not think the Government could possibly be more embarrassed than it is now. However, this matter goes far beyond the reputation of the Government. It- concerns the reputation of Australia as a whole - something which means much more to me than the reputation of any government. I entertain the earnest hope that this question will be taken up seriously by the Government, and that action will be taken to restore good relations between Australia and the Netherlands.
.- It is with a good deal of reluctance that I take part in this debate, because so much prominence has been given to the matter of our relations with the Dutch over Indonesia. Anything I may say and any repercussions it may have will be due to the insistence on the part of members of the Opposition to use the Dutch-Indonesian-Australian problem for petty party political purposes. About three months ago a very gallant Australian, an Air Force officer, now unfortunately no longer alive, in an interview with me told me a number of most interesting facts relative to the Dutch people in the Netherlands East Indies. I ‘ have no means of verifying those facts ; I content myself with saying that he was an officer who I believe had the confidence and respect of honorable members opposite. Speaking of his experiences after many months of responsible service in a highly important position in Java he said that the colonial Dutch were a lot of rotters and that many of them who had been transported to Australia as refugees, both men and women, were nothing more or less than a lot .of Fascists enjoying our hospitality.
– Can the . honorable member vouch for the accuracy of that statement?
– I am repeating what was told to me by an honorable and gallant gentleman. In dealing with this subject honorable members opposite have based a good deal of their speeches on hearsay which certainly did not emanate from such a reliable source. However, I am not concerned by the interjections of one who whilst Minister for the Army had the audacity to promote himself to lieutenant-colonel.
– The honorable member should be ashamed for making such an accusation.
– Order! - I ask the honorable member for Warringah to cease interjecting.
– Members of the Opposition have had a good deal to say about the Dutch-Indonesian situation, a matter of the most delicate international complexity. I do not pretend to have a knowledge of this problem; I am- .merely telling the story as it was told to me. This officer went on to say that whilst the Dutchman from Holland were gentlemen and far superior to the colonial Dutch, the Australian Government, even at that stage when things were most unsettled in Java, should send trade commissioners there to capitalize the goodwill of the Indonesians towards the Australian people. That goodwill was, in his opinion, engendered by the stand taken by the Australian workers towards the , Indonesians in their battle for freedom against the ‘ people they regarded as their oppressors.
– They were incited by fi ti 6 Japanese
– The honorabe gentleman obviously finds my remarks unpalatable. This gallant officer said that, due to the refusal of the Australian Government to become an active participant in the dispute, either for or against the Dutch or the Indonesians, Australians were “ tops “ with the Indonesians and the Javanese. I am impelled to tell this story to-night - and I do so with grave reluctance - only because honorable members opposite are so mean and despicable as to drag this matter of the Dutch ship= into. this sphere of international politics. Unfortunately, this gallant officer later met his death, probably at the hands of the Indonesians or the satellites of the Japanese. I believe that certain honorable members opposite can verify every word I have attributed to him, because be also told them the same story. All I can do is to express the hope that eventually, this unfortunate quarrel between the Dutch and the Indonesians will straighten itself out to the satisfaction of all concerned, and that the harmonious relations that have existed between Australians and the Indonesians and the colonial Dutch, whatever my friend thought of them, will eventually be renewed.
– The honorable member’s speech, will contribute nothing towards the renewal of those harmonious relations.
– The gallant colonel from Bardia, a nian who promoted himself to that rank whilst he “ was Minister for the Army, and who never smelt powder on the battlefield, is obviously annoyed. Let me tell the honor- able and gallant gentleman that responsible citizens of Ballarat who had sons fighting in Borneo and New Guinea expressed their extreme dissatisfaction at the suggestion of the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that the Australian Government should . become a participant in the unfortunate quarrel between the Dutch and the Indonesians and send a contingent to Java for the purpose of subduing the natives. They pointed out their sons enlisted, not to fight the Javanese, but the Japanese. They wanted me to know that they disagreed with the policy of the Leader of the Opposition in this regard. And I inform the colonel ‘from Bardia that they were not supporters of the Labour party. They dissociated themselves from any suggestion that a contingent should be sent to Java to fight against people, who were endeavouring to secure self-government. I regret the partisan spirit and the lack of understanding shown by honorable members opposite in respect of this matter. Every word that I have uttered can be verified, and, if necessary, I shall supply privately to honorable members the names of the persons whose conversation. I have recounted. I do not necessarily support the attitude of the wharf labourers, who have refused to load the Dutch ships. I frankly admit that it may have been better had these ships been loaded ; but we must not forget that, over a century ago, the Dorchester labourers were transported from England to this country for forming a labour union. Today, those self-same people are worshipped by honorable members opposite. Years hence, those men, who refused to load the Dutch ships may be in the same category as the Dorchester labourers.
.- > I- was interested to hear the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) state1 that he entered this debate with reluctance. My only regret is that he was not a little more reluctant, because he has endeavoured to justify what I consider one of the vilest blots that ever besmirched the fair name of Australia. The honor-‘ able gentleman did not mention the name of the Australian officer who, he said, is no longer with us; but he did say that, this officer met his death at the hands of the very people whom the honorable member is supporting. . ,
– Does the honorable member deny the accuracy of what I have said?
– The honorable member for Ballarat has not said anything.
He has made an insinuation. But the fact is- -‘this is something apart from what I intended to talk about - that this gentleman met his death at the hands of the people the honorable gentleman is supporting. Another matter is that the Dutch transformed the palatial ship Oranje into a hospital ship, presented it to the Australian Government for the duration of the war, manned it and paid the whole cost of running it. There had never been a gesture like that between nations in history. It was one of the finest things that one nation could do for another. That beautiful ship ran for years between the Middle East and. Australia and then between the islands and Australia carrying back the sick and wounded Australians, all of them friends of ours, who probably would have died had it not been for the magnificent gesture of the Dutch nation. Yet this Government is condoning the blackest treachery ever practised against an ally. Apart from its generosity over Oranje, the Dutch sailed their warships and merchant vessels side by side with ours. The Dutch mercantile marine helped to bring back our soldiers from the battlefields, and we were glad to get thom back. Now the Government is condoning an offence, not by a duly elected government, but by a few irresponsibles who have never been elected and are never likely to be elected to this Parliament. The Government’s fault in this matter is that it has condoned an egregious offence against an ally that morally cannot be condoned. The sooner’ the Government wakes up to its responsi- .bilities in this matter the better for all concerned.
My main purpose in rising is to refer to some phases of the re-establishment programme, which, in ‘spite of all explanations, assurances and excuses, is progressing very much more slowly than can he reasonably expected in a country that emerged from the war practically unscathed. Our potential for production is unimpaired,- and the demand for production is greater than ever before’ in history. The delay is due to many factors. The first is the red-tape administration of unimaginative theorists who are slaves to the Tetter of the He-establishment and Employment Act and the reflations’ made thereunder, and a lack of initiative to deal with re-establishment as waiintended by this Parliament. Things art’ happening in relation to re-establishment that were never mentioned when the bill was being debated and were never intended: Many honorable gentlemen on both sides of this House are dissatisfied with what is happening as the result of the interpretation placed upon the reestablishment legislation by those who are charged with its administration.
The second barrier to rapid progress is the high scale of taxation. It stultifies initiative, kills ambition and induces a sense of frustration, and, indeed, depression among the more energetic section.of the community. The ever-growing reluctance to work in this country, which cannot be denied by anybody, can bc attributed largely to this, what I term, very unscientific method of exacting taxes. There is a possibility if the incentive were present, to double production in Australia. That would double our national income. The Government should encourage that most desirable objective by some drastic revision of taxes. That would not cause any loss of revenue, because tax remission would be “recouped from the doubled production that would result in the sense that the Government would collect from two units instead of one.
I join with other honorable members in expressing the dissatisfaction felt, by many prospective soldier settlers at the apparently hopeless prospect, of their ever being settled on the land. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman)- can derive whatever comfort he can out of the alleged statements of the Federal President of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League ‘ of Australia, but if Mr. Millhouse did make the statements attributed to him, namely, that -the programme of land settlement is. much further advanced after World War- II. than after World War I. during a similar, period, he is not only out of touch with the branches of his organization in rural districts but also hopelessly out of touch with reality, because during World War I. returned soldiers were reaping harvests off. their properties before the. war ended. .Yet. . the Minister, who must know that, sheltered behind the alleged statement of some one in one of the States.
– The honorable member will admit that conditions now are a bit different from what they were then.
– The conditions are no different, as far as buying land arid settling men on it are concerned.
– I concede that this is a wider scheme of re-establishment than we had after the war of 1914-1918”, but my remarks now are directed to the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. One mistake was made in the last scheme, and it is continually harped upon by honorable gentlemen opposite, who attribute the failure of the scheme to the high prices paid for land, whereas the failure was caused by a slump of prices, not the high prices paid. If it had not been for red tape rigidly applied the men originally settled on the land then would have had their properties paid for about the time the war of 1914-1918 ended.
– Land which had previously been hawked around the’ country at £2 an acre was sold to ex-servicemen foi: £6 or £7 an acre.
– I admit that; but this Government is not under the obligation to do that, too.
– And will not.
– That does not excuse the Government for failing to buy land at all.. I have received many pro- tests from ex-servicemen in my electorate, which I have sent on to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. He knows perfectly well that there is general dissatisfaction over the land settlement scheme. Yet, when the dissatisfaction is referred to in this House, he hides behind something Mr. Millhouse had to say instead of facing his own responsibilities. The Minister’s attitude to single-unit farms is tantamount in sporting parlance to having an eachwaybet. He is agreeable to allow these properties to be purchased, but he is not agreeable to allow them to be purchased for an individual ex-serviceman. That is entirely negative. In other words, he is pretending that he allows the purchase of single-unit farms, but he denies the right of the persons who apply for them to be settled on them. So he might as well do nothing.
– The land must go into the ballot.
– To say that that would confer an advantage on one settler over another is not correct. The desire for individual farms is inspired for the purpose of settling ex-servicemen in their own district where they are well known. They know also the peculiarities’ of the land, and, whenever necessary, their families can come to their assistance. Those settlers have a greater prospect of success than any ex-servicemen settled under the general scheme. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the percentage of failures among ex-servicemen settled under such a system after World War I. was lower than the number of failures under the general scheme. Yet the Minister will not allow those men to proceed ! There would be no inquiry for single-unit farms if it were npt for the desire of people in a particular district to live near their relatives in the district, where they can receive assistance. As the Government of Victoria has appointed a commission to. manage the affairs of exservicemen on the land, the Commonwealth Government may reasonably leave it to that authority to determine who shall be granted these farms and who shall not. To appoint a commission to manage the business and inform it that it. shall not have certain powers is to stultify its activities. Under such conditions, years will pass before exservicemen will be settled on the land. I urge the Minister to consider that’ aspect. A request for a single-unit farm is made only in order to keep men in the district in which they are known. The successful contestant of a ballot may have experience only of wheat-growing, and the farm that he is granted may be situated in a dairying district. That is a danger to which the Government should not expose ex-servicemen.
I support the plea of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) that ex-prisoners of war are entitled to the subsistence allowance of 3s. a. day. It is perfectly true that servicemen who were not catered for directly by the Army were given subsistence of 3s. a day. They qualified for the allowance if they lived at home, and every man who went on leave from a military unit was given an advance of 3s. a day for that period.
– For the period of his leave in excess of three days.
– That is correct. As the prisoners of war to whom the honorable member for Wimmera referred were in captivity for three and a half years, they should qualify for the payment. By granting this request, the Government will only be doing justice to these men. Officers who were prisoners of war received their field allowance. I realize that a field allowance and subsistence are not identical, because officers also received subsistence when they were on leave. However, the principle is the same. . If, as prisoners of war, officers were entitled to a field allowance of 3s. a day, the private soldier is entitled to subsistence. This is not a political issue. The honorable member for Wimmera has given the Government an opportunity to do justice to former prisoners of war, and its prompt adoption of his proposal will redound to its credit. The honorable gentleman is” only trying to obtain justice for the men who suffered in order to preserve Australia from enslavement.
Thursday, 27 June 1946
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
The following papers were presen ted : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946. No. 100.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Order - Control of cotton materials - Revocation. National Security (Internment Camps) Regulations - Order - Internment camp (No. 12).
National Security (Prices) Regulations -Orders- Nos. 251 7-2542.
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Order - Prisoners of war camp (No. 16).
National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Orders - 1946, Nos. 15, 16. . .
Regulations-Statutory Rules 1946, No. 98.
Patents Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 91.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, Nos. 57, 85.
House adjourned at 12.6 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s askedthe Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The Secondary Industries Division was set up in February, 1945, and was allotted no specific wartime functions. In March, 1945, the Department of War Organization of Industry became the Directorate . of War Organization of Industry within the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. The directorate was absorbed by the Secondary Industries Division in July. 1945. Of the controls taken over by the Secondary Industries Division at that time, none remains excepting the Manufacture of Domestic Furniture Order issued under National Security (General) Regulation No: 59. It prohibits the manufacture of inferior quality furniture.
s asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the -following answers : -
s asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be made a vailable to the honorable member as early’ as practicable.
n asked the Minis- ter for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) Wheat; 930,271 bushels; (b) barley, 719,903 bushels; (c) oats, 1,204,840 bushels; (d) sorghum, 322,000 bushels.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
By what percentage have the prices of machinery used in the wheat-growing industry increased since the 4th October, 1941?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
On the16th February, 1942, 4½ per cent. on . 1941 selling prices. On the 15th February, 1943, 5 per cent. on current prices.
Housing : Pre-fabicated Structures.
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and the information will be furnished as soon as possible.
t asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Statistics covering the whole of the Commonwealth are only prepared quarterly by the bank. The latest date to which figures are available is the 20th March, 1946, that is eleven weeks after the inception of the Industrial Finance- Department. For this period the answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
- 4 £1781,738
Re-establishment : Land Settlement ofex-servicemen;loans.
s asked the Minister- for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice-
-The information sought by the honorable member is being obtained from the State authorities administering the war service land settlement scheme and will be supplied to him when assembled.
s asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– Under theCommonweal th-State war service land settlement agreements the reception and consideration of applications for settlement, the allotment of holdings and the making of advances to individual settlers are handled by State authorities. However, a request will bo made to State authorities for the information sought by the honorable member.
n asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:-
n asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
Is the small number of applications tor loans under the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945, in the Stateof Tasmania, due to the long existence of a Labour government in that State?
– The number of applications for rural loans under this act in Tasmania was 216 at the 31st May. This compares with 325 in South Australia. Whether the higher rate of application in proportion to population in Tasmania reflects the greater confidence due to the existence of a Labour Government in that State ornot I cannot be sure, but I should regard it asa reasonable assumption.
n 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 Treasurer, upon notice -
What are the average net earnings, as shown by the taxation returns, for the years 1943-44 and 1944-45 of poultry-farmers owning (a) up to. 500 hens, (6) 500 to 1,000 hens, (c) 1,000 to 2,000 hens, and (d) over 2,000 hens on bird farms?
– The Commissioner of Taxation has advised me that statistics are not available to enable the particulars required by the honorable member to be furnished.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
How many tons of merchandise are held up at New South Wales ports pending despatch to interstate and overseas ports?
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answer : -
As at the week ending 22nd June, cargo awaiting shipment to interstate ports from New South Wales was as follows: - Newcastle, 25,000 tons; Sydney, 43,000 tons; Port Kembla, 5,000 tons. These accumulations include the following Queensland .cargoes for which vessels are not being fixed at present owing to the industrial dispute in that State - Newcastle, 8,000 tons; Sydney, 13,000 tons; Port Kembla, 5,000 tons. Vessels have been fixed for approximately 50 per cent. of the cargo for destinations other than Queensland and others will be fixed to load the balance of the accumulated cargo as they become available. The Overseas Shipping Representatives Association is responsible for providing tonnage for overseas destinations and the Director of Shipping has been advised by the Association that the overall tonnage position is satisfactory and vessels have been allocated to lift all cargo available for shipment to main destinations. There are certain destinations, however, such as Singapore and the Far East where full services have not yet been restored and a limited quantity of cargo has accumulated for these ports. There is also a small quantity of cargo awaiting shipment’ to other ports where the quantity is insufficient to warrant a ship being fixed at present. coal-mining Industry : Company Shakes;victorian Supplies; Davidson Report,
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I am unable to furnish particulars of an authoritative nature of the capital structure of the chief coalmining companies inNew South Wales, hut 1 would refer the honorable member to page 102 of the May, 1946, issue of the Sydney Stock Exchange Official Gazette from which he may obtain some of the information he requires.
On the 21st June, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked the following question : -
Is the State of Victoria receiving greater supplies of coal than during the war years?
Victoria is not receiving greater gup- . plies than during war years, but is receiving, a much greater percentage of the New South Wales production of coal. In 1938, Victoria received 1,152,800 tons, representing 12. per cent. of New South Wales production ; in 1942, 1,723,697 tons or 14 per cent. ; in 1943, 1,582,835 tons or 13’.8 per cent. ; in 1944, 1,615,111 tons or 14.6 per cent.; and. in 1945 , 1,487,096 tons or 14.6 per cent. In the first quarter of 1946, Victoria received 15.9 per cent. of New South Wales production and in the period between 1st January and 1st June,. 1946, a total of 647,316 tons representing 15.08 per cent.
On the 21st May the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) addressed the following question to the PrimeMinister : -
Can the Prime Minister say when copies of Mr. Justice Davidson’s report on the coalmining industry will be available?
Owing to the magnitude of the report and technical difficulties associated with its printing, the Government Printer advises that the printing of the report will not be completed within three months.
MailServices from Japan.
e. - On the 19th June, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) asked the following question: -
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 that the mail service is speeded up?
Owing to the disbandment of the Army Postal Service, the Army has now little to do with the movement of mails to the forces in Japan, except at the Morotai mail junction and at the stage of receipt and distribution in Japan itself. Since the 26th May the civil PostmasterGeneral’s authorities have undertaken the assembly, sorting and despatch of -all mails to the Australian forces. The letter mails are despatched by a thrice-weekly air service operated by the Royal Australian Air Force from Melbourne to Morotai; this connects in turn with a further Royal Australian Air Force service scheduled to operate thrice weekly between Morotai and Japan. Theminimum time for the movement of mails from Australia to Japan would be five days ; allowing a day at the despatch end for the make up of the mail, and a day at the receiving end for the receipt and distribution of its contents, the minimum time for movement of mail between Australia and Japan should be approximately seven days. Much longer transmission times are frequently experienced in practice. These are due to the following factors : -
Assembly of mail matter for despatch at Melbourne. -The conveying service leaves Melbourne thrice weekly, and Melbourne postings may therefore have to waitfrom one to three days for connexion with an outgoing aircraft. Postings made in other States have to be routed to Melbourne over ordinary civil postal channels for the same connexion and this adds materially to the time taken by the letters. For distant States it may well happen that provincial postings take as long or longer to reach Melbourne than they do to cover the journey between Melbourne and Japan.
Passage of mails by air to Japan.- The scheduled passage time of five days for the journey from Melbourne to Japan is frequently exceeded substantially. Weatherdelays are frequent over particular sections of the 7,000-mile route. In addition, serious delays occur through aircraft grounding because of unserviceability en route. These interruptions may occur at any stage of the journey and grounded mails have in certain cases had to wait -for periods up to a we(,k for further onward lift. - A combination of interruptions of this type occurred last week. The. only Army postal station on the line is the small team at Morotai which oversees the trans-shipment of mails from one leg of the Royal Australian Air Force service to the other and signals loading and departure advices in both directions. Where planes are grounded or delayed at other points en route the Army is often unaware of the reason and can only’ accept the forwarding arrangements made by the Royal Australian Air Force authorities operating the. conveying service.
Prospective improvements.- The essen.tial condition of a; satisfactory . letter service to Japan is that the Royal Australian Air Force “service shall be maintained reasonably . to schedule, and that mails shall be given priority of passage when interruptions do occur: The present thrice-weekly service, if maintained to schedule, would be satisfactory, but the difficulty appears to be in its operation, and the Department of A’ir could perhaps be consulted on the’ prospects in this connexion.
Complaints. - Advice from’ Japan indicates that mail conditions on the AustraliaJapan and the United KingdomJapan routes are- similar. Delays through weather and unserviceability of aircraft have led .in .each ease to mail passages of twelve days or more.
TOBACCO and Cigarettes.
– On the 19th June the honorable member for Hume (Mr. “Fuller) asked a question concerning the supply of tobacco and cigarettes. The honorable member asked that inquiry, he made into the reasons for the shortage of cigarette papers in particular, and that the’ granting pf import licences for cigarette papers he considered.
The Minister for Trade and Customs has now’ informed me that inquiries have disclosed that the shortage of manufactured tobacco and cigarettes is entirely due to a shortage of female labour. In an effort to overcome this difficulty, the two largest tobacco manufacturers are taking steps to establish factories in the country- at Forbes in New South Wales and at Healesville and Shepparton in Victoria. The Department of Trade and Customs has already undertaken an investigation to ascertain the. reasons for the shortage of cigarette papers, and, if this investigation discloses that the shortage cannot he overcame, without imports, the granting of import licences will bc given consideration.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice-
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answer: -
A complete survey of possible source* nl supply of uranium is being made by the Department of Supply and Shipping in cooperation with the States. Research into methods of recovery of uranium from its ores is being conducted by the Council for Scientific unci Industrial Research. The’ honorable member, can be assured that all aspects of the problem are. being given due Attention, but it is considered inadvisable, to furnish detail? at this stage.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 June 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460626_reps_17_187/>.