18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy SPEAKER (Mr. J. 3. Clark) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Complaints have been made to me by many men that on the death of their parents they hare arranged for an elderly sister to look after their home, and that they have not been able to claim a concessional rebate for income tax purposes in respect of the services of the sister, but that taxpayers are able to claim such concessions in respect of de facto wives. “Will the Treasurer state whether consideration has been given to this matter, and if so, whether it is possible for further consideration to be given to the desirability of allowing concessional rebates to taxpayers in such circumstances 3
– The subject raised by the honorable member has been considered by a number of Treasurers and governments. I do not think that the position of a de facto wife is analogous to that of a sister who is looking after a single man. A de facto wife occupies a somewhat different position in the home from that of a sister. The conditions governing the allowance of concessional rates in respect of de facto wives are fairly strict, and have regard to the character of the union and to children that might result from it. This subject has been considered on a number of occasions because of the continual requests that have been made that the concessional rebate should be extended to cover taxpayers such as those mentioned by the honorable member. Up to the present the Government has not been able to see its way clear to allow a rebate in respect of sisters who occupy such a position in the home because such a practice would be open to very great ‘abuses,
– Some time ago 1 asked the Attorney-General a question in relation to the impounding of some gramophone records which had been brought to Australia by Mr. Dixon, the well-known Communist. I asked the right honorable gentleman whether he would have the records examined in order to ascertain whether or not they contained certain forms of propaganda. Has he yet had an opportunity to institute an inquiry to ascertain the nature pf the records, and, if so, can he give the House any information on the subject?
– The honorable member mentioned this matter on the 30th September last. It relates to the administration by the Department of Trade and Customs of the Customs Act. I referred the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Trade and Customs but I have not yet received a reply. A reply will be furnished to the honorable member by the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and
Customs in this House. Power is contained in the Customs Act for the department to detain certain types of records. As I have already informed the honorable member, I do not know what is contained on the records to which he has drawn attention. However, I am obliged to the honorable member for reminding me of the matter.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen a statement attributed to the honorable member for Warringah, in which the honorable member is reported to have stated that, if Labour is returned to office, the people might expect the High Court to be stacked with Labour supporters? Does the Attorney-General not consider that statement to be inaccurate, misleading and utterly false? Will the right honorable gentleman outline to the House the appointments that have been made to the High Court since Labour assumed office in 1941, and state whether or not the Government has already had ample opportunity -
– I rise to order.I submit, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the honorable member is not asking a question but is inviting the Attorney-General to make a statement on a matter of general policy. In so doing, I contend that the honorable member is out of order.
– The Chair’s impression is that the honorable member for Martin is asking the Attorney-General what appointments have been made to the High Court during a certain period. He is entitled to ask that question.
– Finally, I , ask the Attorney-General whether it is true that the Government has already had an opportunity to stack the High Court had it wished to do so, but so far from doing so, it has actually appointed only one justice since 1941.
– My attention was directed last night to a statement made by the honorable member for Warringah, and, I think, repeated at the week-end by another Opposition member, the Leader of the Australian Country party. I take this opportunity to say that the statement is completely inaccurate. It is a complete untruth from beginning to end. The matter has never been considered by the Government, and such a thought has never occurred to members of the Government. There has been only one vacancy on the High Court bench during the regime of the Curtin and Chifley Administrations. The Government’s appointee to that vacancy was the then Chief Justice of Queensland, Sir William Webb, and not the slightest objection to his appointment was raised by any member of this House, or any political party, or any representative of the legal profession of Australia. The same may be said without exception of other judicial appointments made by this Government. There has not been one breath of criticism of such appointments. Therefore, I say that it is wrong and wicked that statements such as that referred to by the honorable member for Martin should be made, without authority, in an attempt to mislead the people. Clearly, there is no justification for the statement.
– Why not hold a referendum on banking?
– The honorable member for Richmond now talks about a referendum. I pointed out yesterday in answer to another honorable member that, during the whole period of the war, a vast percentage of the High Court’s decisions favoured the Government. The question of additions to the High Court Bench is not being considered, and, to use the words of the honorable member for Martin, the statement to which he has referred is inaccurate, misleading and utterly false, but I prefer to call it a simple, downright untruth.
– Time will tell.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether he has read the report on civic administration made by Mr. H. J. R, Cole, A.I.C.A., Town Clerk of Hobart, which recommends the establishment of a city council for Canberra. If so, will the Minister consider making similar provision for Darwin and Alice
Springs? I draw the Minister’s attention to the following passage which appears on page 9 of Mr. Cole’s report : -
The difference between the maintenance portion of the vote and the revenue derived from the residents in rates, fees, charges and fares, is in effect a Federal subsidy to’ the local government of the city. “Will the Minister bear that statement in mind when he establishes, as I hope that he will establish, councils in Darwin and Alice Springs?
– I have read the report that has been submitted to the Government by Mr. Cole. It is now being considered by an inter-departmental committee that has been established for the purpose of making recommendations regarding the implementation of Mr. Cole’s proposals if they are considered to be appropriate to the Australia]! Capital Territory. It is too early to say what will be the outcome of the very comprehensive report that Mr. Cole has prepared. I have not yet received the recommendations of the inter-departmental committee to which I have referred. The honorable gentleman has asked whether councils will be established in Darwin and Alice Springs if one is established in Canberra. That matter will be considered, if necessary, at a later stage.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs, in the absence of the Minister for External Territories, relates to the criticism of the administration of Australian trusteeship territories that was voiced by the Russian delegate at a recent meeting of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations. The Russian delegate stated that no steps have been taken by the Australian Government to place natives in charge of any aspect of the administration of its trusteeship territories. Is the Minister in a position to inform me whether that statement i9 true? If natives have not yet been appointed to any significant posts in the administration, are any steps being taken to so appoint them? Are any natives being trained for such purposes? If they are, what is the nature of the posts to which they may be appointed and where is the training taking place?
– I am aware of the general nature of the attacks to which the honorable gentleman has referred. They were made not only by Russia but also by other countries. The Australian delegates at Lake Success replied to them. I cannot say offhand the present stage of the plans of the Minister for External Territories to provide for natives hearing some degree of administrative responsibility in the territories. I shall obtain the information for the benefit of the honorable gentleman and inform him accordingly.
– My question relates to a recent transaction in which the Government purchased for £145,000 a property known as Somers Camp and which they sold two years ago for £20,000. Is the Minister for the Interior aware that the shareholders of the company that bought the property two years ago have made a profit of 100 per cent, in the transaction ? Were they enabled to do so as a result of the actions of the Department of the Interior? Does this profit come out of the public funds? “Will the Minister lay on the table the file relative to the transaction?
– I have already explained very fully the whole of the circumstances of the acquisition of the property in Victoria that is known as Somers Camp. The business was carried out under the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act. “When properties are to be acquired by the Commonwealth, sworn valuators are engaged by the Australian Government to value the property that is to be acquired. Those valuations are then checked by the Commissioner of Taxation or by some of his officers. When there is a divergence in valuations, a conference of the valuators is held before any recommendation is made to me by my officers. I shall make the file available to the honorable member for Flinders because the valuations were sound and there is nothing to hide. After a question was asked in the House recently concerning this matter T examined the papers with an officer of the Department of the Interior, and I am convinced that the purchase of the land at the figure quoted by the honorable member for Flinders was quite justified.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether he has received a request from the Federated Association of Australian Housewives in terms of a resolution passed by the members of that body at a recent conference advocating the establishment of a department of housekeeping and the administration of that department by a woman Minister? Can the right honorable gentleman inform the House of the details of similar action taken in Denmark and in other European countries? Does he agree that, in place of concentration on various matters during the war, for the administration of which Commonwealth departments were: established but have now ceased to exist, our domestic problems should receive a high priority?
– I have received representations from one, and maybe two, organizations advocating the appointment of a Minister for housekeeping or the allocation to such a service of a Minister with some similar appropriate title. As head of the Government charged with the duty of allocating portfolios, I have given consideration to the matter, but at the moment I cannot approve of the establishment of such a portfolio. In any event, honorable members would probably refer to the holder of the suggested portfolio by such a term as “ Mother Hubbard “ or by some similar colloquialism. Whilst I understand that in one or two countries, notably Denmark, action has been taken along the lines indicatedby the honorable member, I shall ascertain exactly what has been done in this aspect of social life, and when I have obtained that information I shall give further consideration to the honorable member’s request.
– Announcements are made from time to time that particular works in the works programmes of the States have been approved by the National “Works Council. Will the Prime Minister indicate what local action is necessary for local authorities to have proposed works, such as the construction of shipping ports and the provision of water facilities, included in the national works programme?
– Local authorities submit particulars of projects that they desire to have included in the national works programme to State governments in the first instance. The projects are then referred to the co-ordinator of works in each State. I think that Mr. Kemp is the co-ordinator of works in Queensland and that Mr. Swift is the co-ordinator of works in New South Wales. In the other States various officers have been appointed by the State governments to co-ordinate the works programmes of the States. Consultation then takes place between the State co-ordinator of works and the Commonwealth Co-ordinator-General of Works, and those officials are guided in their deliberations very largely by the availability of materials and labour. They then set out what, in their view, are the most urgent works, and the CoordinatorGeneral of Works makes reports and recommendations to the National Works Council of the order of urgency that should be given to the various projects, always, of course, on the understanding that money is available to carry out the works. Perhaps I should make it clear to the honorable member that the Premiers themselves do not desire the general publication of all the lists of works that have been approved, because from time to time they may wish to alter the order of priority that has been allotted to projects in the respective States. The Commonwealth Co-ordinator-General of Works is guided by the State coordinators of works.If a State body desires to have certain proposals considered, its representations should be made to the State Government and be dealt with by the State co-ordinator before the matter is raised with the Commonwealth CoordinatorGeneral of Works.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is a fact, as reported in the Melbourne press last Saturday, that he has received advices from the Acting High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom, Mr. Norman Mighell, to the effect that the Polish Government has refused to supply petrol to Australia? If that is a fact, has the Tight honorable gentleman any comment to make upon the matter, particularly in view of the many statements that have been made by leaders of the Opposition parties in the tory press that petrol was available from Poland for the asking?
– I made a comment earlier about the matter, and I have no desire to add to it now. The position is that an Australian company submitted a request to the Commonwealth for a licence to import petrol from Poland. Speaking from memory, I believe that the petrol was to be loaded at Stettin. We were not quite sure about the currency position, and, naturally, we consulted the Bank of England and the United King<d©ia Treasury, which are the British authorities responsible for exchange control in regard to dollars, in order to satisfy ourselves about the situation. We intimated to the applicant company that if it could buy petrol for sterling, and pay the freight and insurance charges in sterling, the import licence would be granted. Later, I received from the Acting High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom a cable in which he said that the representatives of the applicant company had approached him on the subject. They had found that a difficulty had arisen in obtaining an export licence from the Polish Government, and they asked whether the Australian Government would make representations to the Polish Government about the matter. I sent to Mr. Mighell a cable in which I asked him to inquire of the Polish representative the reasons, if there were any reasons, for his Government’s decision not to grant the export licence for the petrol which, the company had said, could be bought in Poland. The Polish Government has briefly informed us that it was not able to grant the export licence. We already knew that it had to bring crudes from the Persian Gulf to Stettin, and then take them inland for refining. The petrol would be extremely expensive in such circumstances. I understand that
Poland has not sufficient petrol to meet its own requirements. The Polish Government has made it clear that the only reason for its refusal to grant the export licence is the unavailability of petrol.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is true that the petrol consumption of Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities amounted to 800,000 gallons in June and 942,000 gallons in July, compared with an average monthly consumption of 680,000 gallons. As the coal strike did not affect consumption in June, what was the reason for the big increase in that month? Will th» Government instruct departments that they must keep their consumption within the quota of 800,000 gallons a month which the Prime Minister told the premiers was the Commonwealth’s petrol allocation, just as all other fuel users are compelled to limit their consumption of petrol to quotas? Is it a fact that numerous new inspectorial activities, which were not previously considered to be necessary, are being undertaken by departmental officers with the use of motor cars, thereby increasing the Commonwealth’s use of fuel?
– It is true that the consumption in June was higher than in previous months. I have taken the trouble to make a personal examination of returns which show the use of petrol by Commonwealth departments and by Ministers which have been supplied to me by the Minister for the Interior. I have also asked the Public Service Board to direct its inspectorial staffs in the various States to ensure that petrol is not used for other than what can be reasonably regarded as essential or reasonably essential purposes. I made an inquiry into the reason for the increased petrol consumption in June and learned that practically all of the fuel was used for absolutely essential services, mainly in connexion with the carriage of materials. The honorable gentleman mentioned the coal strike. Before the strike actually commenced coal was being rationed, and the New South Wales Railways Department had reduced the number of goods trains engaged in the carrying of building materials, &c. I examined details of the use of petrol for the month mentioned, and found that at least 90 per cent, was used in the maintenance of essential services, and in the carrying of necessary materials. That being so, there was no justification for taking alr action against departments or departmental officers. I told the Premiers what quantity of petrol was being used by Commonwealth departments, but I cannot remember telling them that that quantity would not be exceeded. It is obvious that if there were a complete cessation of railway traffic to Canberra, where much building is in progress, it would be necessary to use motor lorries to bring cement here from the factories. Indeed, it is even now very difficult to get cement carried by the railways because of the shortage of trucks. I assure the honorable member that I have examined particulars of mileages covered by Commonwealth vehicles, and the quantity of petrol consumed. Upon occasions, I have had to take up cases with the Ministers in charge of departments, when I thought that there had been excessive travelling by administrative officers, and I have asked Ministers to make persona] inquiries. There will be no unavoidable use of petrol by Commonwealth departments.
– The Prime Minister has stated that people who hoard petrol will be dealt with. Since the Commonwealth has no power to ration petrol, can the Prime Minister say whence it will derive power to prevent people from hoarding petrol, or to punish them for doing so?
– The point that the honorable member has put is that if some persons - and the practice has been particularly pronounced among certain wealthy primary producers - have hoarded excessive quantities of petrol, the Government has no power to take action against them.
– I ask whence the Government would obtain power to deal with persons who hoard petrol.
– That question has been closely examined. Certain legal difficulties are associated with the matter, but we believe that they can be overcome not, perhaps, in the way that the honorable member thinks, but in an indirect way, in the distribution of future supplies of petrol. I shall arrange to have that aspect of the matter explained to the honorable member when there is a law on the subject.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen reports to the effect that Melbourne is likely to be bypassed in the international air race, which has been organized by New Zealand to take place in 1953, because there is no international airport in that city? As Essendon is the busiest airport in Australia, and as there is accumulating evidence of disability caused by the lack of international aircraft landing facilities i» Melbourne, will the Minister review thedecision not to make Melbourne an international airport?
– I have not read; the reports to which the honorable member has referred, but I can quite under-* stand the reasons for the decision not to’ make Melbourne a point on the route of the international air race to New Zealand. So far as I am aware, that city would not be on the direct track to that dominion, and competing aircraft would need to make a diversion in order to pass over Melbourne. The honorable member has also suggested that Melbourne should also be made an international airport. The explanation why that has not been done already has been made before, but I repeat it now for the honorable gentleman’s information. The agreement between the United States of America and Australia provides for an international airport at each terminal. Airports have been established in accordance with that agreement, and any proposal for a variation of the agreement would have to be made by either the Government of the United States or the Australian Government. Personally, I see no necessity for such a variation. The net result of making Melbourne an international airport, and of permitting any international service to terminate at Melbourne, would be that the designated airline of the United States of America, Pan-American Airways, which might be more heavily subsidized than Australian airlines, would be able to send their aircraft to Melbourne, and compete with Australian National Airways Proprietary
Limited, Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines causing a total loss in revenue to the Australian airlines of £400 to £500 a week. No doubt it would cause the honorable member for Balaclava and his associates in the Opposition a great deal of satisfaction if Australian airlines were to incur such losses.
– I have received representations from the Tasmanian Farmers Federation and from individual farmers who have made overtures to Titan Nail and Wire Proprietary Limited, of Hobart, in respect of their urgent requirements of feed wire, which is used in the production of barbed wire and staples. The company also manufactures nails, and is a great asset to Tasmania’s expanding economy. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development take action to ascertain whether there is any possibility of increasing Tasmania’s quota of wire feed, which is manufactured at Ryland’s works at Newcastle?
– Until recently, the distribution of supplies of wire for the manufacture of nails was under .the jurisdiction of the Division of Industrial Development of the Department of Postwar Reconstruction. However, because the Government was advised that it no longer had any constitutional authority to decide what allocations should be made to the respective States, it informed the State governments that, as from the 1st July, it could no longer undertake the task of allocating materials to the States. Although the Commonwealth has no power in this matter, the Department of Post-war Reconstruction has referred to the manufacturers various representations that have been made to it from time to time, and the manufacturers have been able to accede to many of those requests. I shall be happy to make representations to the company with a view to securing greater supplies of wire for Tasmania.
– At the beginning of this year, I addressed a question to the Minister for Immigration about Tunica y Casas and his wife. Tunica y Casas was formerly secretary of the Communist party in New Caledonia, and a contact man for the Communist party in South blast Asia. The Minister stated that they had been given until the end of May to leave Australia. He added that if they had not left by then they would be deported. Have they yet left Australia ? If not, has any order been served on them? Were representations made on their behalf and if so, by whom ? Has the Minister stayed Iris hand in this case because Tunica y Casas and his wife are an embarrassment to their landlords, or is he trying to help their landlords? Have reports been received about visits paid to these people by native crews of ships that come from New Caledonia and Indo-China? Did the Australian Security Intelligence Organization recommend the deportation?
– I remember when the honorable member asked me a series of questions about these people, and I remember the answers I gave. On that occasion, I stated that these people occupied a building in Ash-street, Sydney. This particular partnership of sandwich suppliers occupied the cellar and the Liberal party occupied the garret. If members of native crews have been visiting the place, they may have been coming to join the Liberal party. I shall make inquiries, and answer at a later date the various questions asked by the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been drawn to a report that John Brownlee, the well-known tenor, and his wife were barred by French authorities when they attempted to enter France on a new Australian passport, and that they were escorted back to their boat and returned to England the following day? It is a fact that every person who desires to enter Italy on a new Australian passport is obliged to pay 50s. Australian for a vise and extra passport photograph, whereas until the word “ British “ was deleted from the passport, such persons were admitted free to that country ? Is it a fact that whilst British people have no difficulty in entering Spain, Australians cannot obtain Spanish vises in London ? Will the Minister take appropriate action to end this humiliation of Australians?
– I take it that the honorable member can vouch for the accuracy of the statements to which he has referred.
– They have been published in newspaper reports.
– That is the best of evidence that the statements are entirely incorrect. The report to which the honorable member has referred is the sort of stupid report upon which the honorable gentleman would base a question. I heard from somebody a few days ago that there had been some complaint of the sort that the honorable member has voiced. The truth of the matter is that Australians experience no difficulty in entering any country provided they make arrangements to obtain vises. However, Great Britain and a number of European countries have entered into an agreement whereby they mutually agree to discard the use of vises. Australia was asked to become a party to that agreement. Switzerland was one country that asked us to do so. Certainly, Italy was not a party to any agreement, because at that particular time the peace treaty in respect of Italy had not been concluded. Thus, I do not know what Italy’s position would be. I explained this matter when it was raised by the honorable member for Parramatta after he returned from a trip abroad. I then pointed out that for security reasons, it is not desirable that Australia, which is situated 13,000 miles from Europe, should permit persons to enter this country without a proper vise. As we are not prepared to allow other nationals to enter this country without vises, we cannot expectother countries to allow entry to our nationals without vises. However, persons who wish to travel would not have the slightest difficulty in obtaining vises if they make proper application to the authorities of the countries they desire to enter before they leave Australia or at the diplomatic and consular office of such nations in British countries.
– Are our passports still marked “ British passport “ ?
– They are marked “ Australian citizen “.
– They used to he marked “ British passport “.
– That is so; but under the new nationality law we describe ourselves as “ Australian citizens “, and Great Britain has altered its passports similarly so that residents of Great Britain are not described now as “ British subjects “ but are primarily described as “ United Kingdom citizens “. The whole of the alterations are consequent upon the passage of new legislation. The whole of the issues raised were answered when they were first mentioned by the honorable member for Parramatta and they were more fully discussed when the Nationality and Citizenship Bill was under discussion. I shall have particular inquiries made, but I remind the honorable gentleman that a lot of great artists are like members of the Australian Country party: They are rather temperamental.
– Has the Minister for Externa] Affairs seen the statement in which it is reported that the Government of Czechoslovakia is passing legislation to control the church? Has he also seen the statement of the spokesman for that Government that it does not regard religion as a wholly private affair for each individual ? Is this action in accordance with the declarations and decisions of the United Nations? If not, will Australia protest against this infringement of human freedom? If no action is taken by the United Nations, for how long are we expected to perpetuate the farce of Russia using the United Nations for its own ends and yet refusing to accept any decision that makes for the betterment of conditions affecting humanity?
– If the honorable member for Maranoa wishes to criticize the United Nations, he should not found his criticism upon one incident of this kind, to which there is, I think, a complete answer from the point of view of the United Nations. The facts are that in eastern Europe, first in Hungary, then in Bulgaria and now extending to Czechoslovakia and Roumania, the Communist Governments have systematically prevented the exercise of religious freedom. It is equally true that Australia took the initiative in bringing these matters to the attention of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The result was a resolution, in accordance with the treaties of peace made at Paris with those satellites of Germany, that action should be taken under those treaties. The matter is now actually being discussed by the General Assembly. In addition to the matters that I have mentioned, the very matter that the honorable member has referred to is also being discussed. The fact is that the United Nations is the only forum in the world where conduct of that kind may be brought to the attention of the world and criticized. I am certain that this is of great value in carrying through the objectives of the United Nations. I do not know whether the honorable gentleman was personally responsible for the sentence of his question in which he talked about the “ farce “ of the United Nations. I venture to say if that is his opinion–
– I referred to Russia making a farce of it.
– There is no doubt that every member nation uses the United Nations as a forum, including Russia. It is a part of the procedure of open discussion, just as, in this House, every honorable member may bring before other honorable members matters in which they are interested. That is not in fact; inconsistent with the idea of a world forum : it is the very nature of it. If Russia misuses the United Nations, it gets an answer in kind. The public opinion of the rest of the world turns against conduct which prejudices the practice of all religions in the countries in eastern Europe to which I have referred.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Spectacle frames, lenses and cases: Spectacles.
Mercury contact tubes (Interim report).
Mercury contact tubes.
– Has the
Minister for the Army seen the report in the press of the 5th August that in the previous six months 5,000 members of the Citizen Military Forces had resigned ? Can the Minister say whether that is true? If so, to what does he ascribe those resignations? Can the Minister also say whether the number of troops on strength at that time was only 15,798, although the establishment provided for a strength of 50,000 troops ?
– I have seen the press statement to which the honorable member has referred. It is totally inaccurate. The figures were probably computed by someone who was trying to write down the Citizen Military Forces training scheme, which has been in operation for only twelve months. The strength of 50,000 troops is envisaged over a period of five years. I consider that the achievement of a strength of almost 16,000 troops within a period of little more than twelve months is a very fine effort.
Broadcasting of Proceedings
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Wimmera directed a question to me in relation to a breakdown in the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings from all stations at approximately 12.40 p.m. on Friday, the 7th October. The broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings from all stations on that day was interrupted from. 12.42 to 12.441/2 p.m. and from 12.49 to 12.511/4 p.m. The breakdown was due to a fault that developed in a rectifier at Goulburn. The broadcast is transmitted from Canberra, through Goulburn, to the test room, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Sydney, from which it is fed to the Australian Broadcasting Commission studio switchroom, Sydney, for distribution to 2BL, New South Wales, and to other States. Accordingly, any fault that develops between Canberra and Sydney affects the broadcast from all stations.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
Report of PUBLIC Works Committee.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1947, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee lias duly reported to this House the results of its investigations, namely : - Sewerage installation at Alice Springs.
This proposal is for an installation to replace the existing pan system in operation at Alice Springs and is to provide for a complete water-borne sewerage system for Alice Springs and the eastern extension, together with the settlement between the main township and Heavitree Gap, with treatment of the sewage at a point south of the gap. The estimated capital cost as approved by the committee is £153,000, which includes £20,000 towards the cost of house connexions and £18,000 for house fittings. A certain proportion of the last two items will be recoverable from the individual householders. I concur in the committee’s decisions and recommend to the House that approval be given to the project.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1013-1947, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House the results of its investigations, namely: - The erection of a laboratory building at Geelong, Victoria, for wool textile research.
This project has been initiated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to provide special facilities for the study and development of the various processes involved in the conversion of raw wool into finished fabrics. The estimated cost is £68,000. The proposal was fully explained to the House when I moved on the 22nd June, 1949, that it should be referred to the committee. I concur in the committee’s conclusions and recommend to this House that approval be given to put the work in hand.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1947, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, namely: - Extensions to School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Sydney, New South Wales.
The extensions are required to provide adequate accommodation for the school in its investigation into modern hygiene and medical services as well as research over a wide area of the Pacific. It is proposed to erect a new three storey wing to the east, west and north of the existing structure, one additional floor over, the rear two story portion of the existing building and an additional floor and stairs to the animal house. This project was reported on by the Public Works Committee on the 1st August, 1945, following a recommendation made by the Minister representing the Minister for Health that it should be examined by the committee. The approval of the Parliament was not requested following the tabling of the committee’s report, but as it is now desired to proceed with the first section of the work it is considered that in view of the increase in the estimated cost, the project should again be examined by the committee, especially having regard to the fact that in order to conserve housing material a steel frame construction has been substituted for construction in brick, as shown in the proposal examined by the committee. The total estimated cost approved by the committee in 1945 waa £77,881. The present estimate is £145,310, of which the first section is estimated to cost approximately £S1,000. I lay on the table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946-1948, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Defence Act 1903-1948, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first tune.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio- Minister for
Defence and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction) [11.24]. - by leave -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As honorable members are aware, during the war it was necessary to supplement defence legislation with a large body of National Security Regulations. The greater part of these have already been allowed to lapse, or are now no longer required. A few, however, relate to matters of a continuing nature, and have an important bearing on the present and future administration of the services. The main purpose of this bill is to give legislative effect to the substance of such of the remaining National Security Regulations which are administered by the defence and service departments, as it is considered essential to continue in permanent form in the Defence Act. The bill thus forms an important part of the action necessary to be taken to bring to an end war-time legislation continued in the form of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act. Certain “other proposed amendments of an urgent nature, outside the scope of the National Security Regulations, have also been included in the bill.
Some provisions of the measure concern the three services; others concern the administration of the Department of the Army only. A bill to amend the Naval Defence Act to give permanent legislative effect to the substance of certain National Security Regulations which relate only to the administration of the Department of the Navy, will be brought flown during these sittings by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) . The f ollowing National Security Regulations are now administered by the defence ana service departments: - National Security (Internment Camp) Regulations, National Security (Military Forces) Regulations, National Security (Naval Charter Rates) Regulations, National Security (Naval Forces) Regulations, National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations, National Security (Women’s Services) Regulations, certain regulations of the National Security (General) Regulations and National Security (Supplementary) Regulations.
This bill and the measure to amend the Naval Defence Act which is tobe brought down by the Minister for the Navy, incorporate the substance of such of these regulations as are still required, or provide for the making of similar regulations under the Defence Act or Naval Defence Act. From the 1st January, 1950, therefore, the regulations which I have mentioned will cease to operate under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act, except a few provisions of the general and supplementary regulations which are administered by the defence and service departments and which it is considered necessary to continue. The latter will be repealed as soon as possible after that date, and will be replaced by appropriate regulations to be made under the Defence Act as it is now proposed to be amended. This bill and the Naval Defence Bill deal with such National Security Regulations as are the sole concern of the defence and service departments. There are other regulations, however, such as the provisions of the National Security (General) Regulations which relate to the handling and conveyance of explosives, and the provisions of the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations which relate to the administration of the affairs of persons missing as a result of war operations, in which those departments are interested, but which are administered by other departments. Consideration is being given by the responsible departments to the taking of appropriate action in regard to these.
Among matters now covered by National Security Regulations and for which this bill makes permanent provision are the adjustment of ranks of members of the military forces after war service, which is covered by clause 4, and the unauthorized use, possession, or supply of uniforms and emblems. Clause 15 will strengthen the existing provisions of section S3 of the Defence Act in relation to the latter. In addition, it is proposed to amend section 124 of the Defence Act to enable regulations to- be made under that act to deal with the following matters which are now covered by National Security Regulations : - The suspension, variation, or cancellation of allotments of pay of members of the military forces; the extension of existing powers in the Defence Act to regulate and control buildings, &c, in defence areas; certification of death and the post-mortem examination and disposal of the bodies of members of the defence f forces who die while on service ; prisoners of war ; command and discipline of bodies of the Naval, Military or Air Force or any two of those forces acting together; and provisions relating to the administration of oaths and the execution of powers of attorney by members of the defence forces.
Apart from the provisions of the bill which arise out of National Security Regulations, the most important amendment proposed _ is that which relates to the composition of the Permanent Military Forces. In my statement to the Parliament on the 4th June. J 947, on the Government’s post-war defence policy, I said that the army programme provided for the raising of permanent forces, including a field force, certain fixed establishments, and cadres for instructional, administrative and other duties. These forces, which are known as the Australian Regular Army, have been raised under war-time powers in the Defence Act which will cease as soon as a proclamation is issued terminating the “ Time of War “. Section 31 of the act provides that, except in time of war, no permanent military forces shall be raised or organized except for administrative and instructional staffs, including certain specified corps. It is therefore proposed to repeal the existing section an-‘ to replace it with a section which will give the necessary statutory authority for the Australian Regular Army.
Other provisions to which I invite the attention of honorable members are to be found in clause 14, which gives statutory recognition to the Australian Cadet Corps, and in clause 19 which regulates the appointment of officers to the Australian Regular Army. With the establishment for the first time of an Australian Regular Army, it is considered that the restrictions imposed by the existing section 148 of the act are too rigid, and the bill therefore provides such relaxation thereof as is considered necessary. It is intended that the amending act should commence on the 1st January, 1950, that being the date up to which the continuance of National Security Regulations is authorized by the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1948. Provision is made in clause 20 of the bill for the continuance in force, under the Defence Act, of the National Security Regulations specified in that clause. These will be amended or repealed as soon as it is practicable to prepare and gazette new regulations under the Defence Act as now proposed to be amended. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Riordan) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Naval Defence Act 1910-1948.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
.- by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill for an act to amend the Naval Defence Act 1910-1948, was referred to by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) a few moments ago when he introduced the bill to amend the Defence Act 1903-1948, and, like most of the provisions of that measure, its purpose is to obviate the necessity for a further extension of certain sections of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1948. As a consequence, the National Security (Naval Forces) Regulations and the National Security (Naval Charter
Rates) Regulations,which will cease to be effective after the end of 1949, will not be further extended. It is desired to have the necessary provision to enable the services of certain senior commissioned officers and commissioned officers who received their appointments by virtue of the National Security (Naval Forces) Regulations to be continued. Normally, those officers would not be eligible for employment, being over the prescribed age, or lacking some other qualification. However, owing to the acute shortage of officers in the Royal Australian Navy, it is essential that the services of the temporary officers be retained whilst new appointees are entered and trained. The efficiency of the Navy would be seriously affected should it become necessary to dispense with the services of temporary officers before it became possible to replace them. I point out that they are all volunteers for further service, and that none is being retained against his will.
Under the approved naval programme, many more permanent officers will be required than was the case in pre-war days. Every effort to obtain those officers is being explored, but it is not expected that the existing shortage will be overtaken for a number of years. The bill also gives power to the GovernorGeneral to make regulations for the fixing ofcharter rates and establishment charges in respect of ships requisitioned for naval purposes. This will allow the making of regulations under the Naval Defence Act to replace the National Security (Naval Charter Rates) Regulations. Whilst most vessels requisitioned during the war have since been returned to their owners or have been otherwise disposed of, there are a few still under charter, and it is necessary to continue a charter rates board. The board is the authority for fixing charter rates and establishment charges in respect of requisitioned vessels. Owing to changing conditions, charter rates are altered from time to time, and it is therefore necessary for the Charter Rates Board to be in a position to function while vessels are still under requisition. It is unlikely that the last of the vessels will be derequisitioned before the end of 1950 at the earliest. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Representation Act 1948.
Resolution reported and - by leave - adopted.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 11th October (vide page 1202).
Proposed vote, £78,000.
Proposed vote, £613,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I wish to say a few words about a matter that concerns us very closely. I commend the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) for his immigration policy. As usual, of course, he has not hidden his light under a bushel. From time to time, he has told us exactly what progress he has been making; but let us consider the figures. The Minister would have us believe that he is responsible for a flow of immigrants to this country at a rate which is without parallel in our history. For everything that he has done, and is doing to bring to this country immigrants who can be absorbed into the body politic, he is deserving of commendation, but I point out to him and to the country, that the results achieved so far are not satisfactory. Immigration to Australia throughout our history has ebbed and flowed. At times the stream of migrants has swelled to a rushing torrent, and at other times it has shrunk to a mere trickle. On occasions, the stream has dried up. During the period 1910-14, long before Australia had the advantage of the efforts of the present Minister, immigration attained proportions that have not been equalled since. During that quinquennial period no fewer than 048,512 migrants came to this country. The average rate of entry was 129,702 migrants a year. During the period 1946-48, when the honorable gentleman’s scheme was in operation, 218,381 migrants entered this country. The average was 72,000 migrants a year. When we consider that the population of Australia during the years 1910 to 1914 averaged 4,940,000 and that to-day it is, according to the latest figures that are available, 7,794,000, we see very clearly that the results of the honorable gentleman’s scheme, notwithstanding the advantages that it has derived from his association with it, have proved to be distinctly disappointing. Between 1910 and 1914 Australia gained 648,512 persons, or slightly over one-eighth of the population at that time. One-eighth of the present population is 974,360 persons, but the actual gain that has been made under the Minister’s scheme is approximately 218,000 persons. After the first World War, between 1919 and 1921 there was a net gain of 211,333 persons. Between 1946 and 1948 the net gain was 65,000 persons. If the excess of departures over arrivals in 1946 is deducted, the figure is 50,570. That is an average of 16,000 a year as against an average of 70,000 a year between 1919 and 1921. As I have said, I commend the Minister for his efforts to bring the right kind of people to this country, but I say to him that he ought not to grow weary with well doing.
– I know that the Minister supports the White Australia policy, but I remind him that only yesterday a gentleman was appointed to the Australian National University who has acquired notoriety because of a book that he wrote advocating that the White Australia policy should be whittled down. I am not ‘one of those persons who are opposed to the White Australia policy.
– Some members of the right honorable gentleman’s party are opposed to it.
– Never mind about my party. Let the Minister look at his own party. We all are affected by those with whom we sleep.
– That is right.
– I know what the Minister said against the Communists. I thought that his criticisms were very good. Indeed, I could have said those things myself. But a day or so later, when he is tackled in this chamber, he says that he will not prevent Australian Communists from going to Moscow. He claims that they have the right to be given a passport, and that he will grant them passports. The Communists are emissaries of Satan, and the Minister sends them out to do Satan’s work.
– Why did the right honorable gentleman try to bribe them with government money?
– Oh, go on !
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! The right honorable member for North Sydney is being led away from the subject of immigration.
– Immigration is inexplicably linked with the defence of Australia, and the maintenance of the kind of Australia that we have to-day. I remind the Minister that Australia embodied the principle of White Australia in the
Immigration Restriction Act, which was passed in 1901, and for nearly half a century that legislation worked so effectively and smoothly that when he came upon the scene, he found an Australia as “ white “ in 1945 as it was in 1901.
– What is more, the Minister found that the legislation had worked so smoothly that, during the whole of that period, there had not been one incident with eastern countries and their rulers. Nearly every country in the world protests almost daily against the manner in which this policy is being administered.
– It is the same policy, and the same law.
– All that the honorable gentleman does is to shut out Mrs. Annie O’Keefe, or Mrs. Somebody Else.
– Perhaps Mr. Hughes.
– The Minister may not realize that for many years, I was in control of immigration, and I did not bother about what Mrs. So-and-So did or did not do.
– Of course not !
– After nearly 50 years Australia was as white as it was on the day on which the act was passed. We were not involved in incidents with foreign countries. India, China and Japan made no complaint to us about the manner in which we were administering the law. We got on smoothly with them.
– No country has ever complained to the Commonwealth about the administration of the immigration law.
– What about the Philippines ?
– The Philippines have never complained.
– The proof of the pudding is in the eating. After 45 years, Australia was as “ white “ as it was on the day the act was passed.
– And that is when the right honorable gentleman deserted the policy.
– Oh! For some inscrutable reason, the Minister has been permitted by providence to intrude into this sphere, and somehow, he is like the fly on the wheel. The wheel is turning, and the fly says, “ I am turning it “. But that is not the position. I heard the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) speak about our defences. Taking him all in all, I hope that we shall never see his like again.
– He will be here for a long time yet.
– I do not know whether he will or not, just as I do not know whether or not the Minister will be here for a long time.
– We shall outlive the right honorable gentleman here.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN”. - Order ! There are too many interjections.
– I should miss the honorable gentleman if he were not here. The point that I desire to make is that we are in no position to defend this country. Indeed, we have never been in a position to defend this country from aggression by a major power. Had it not been for the efforts of the United States of America in World War II., we should have been undone; and had Japan been permitted to settle its nationals in New Guinea, we should have been undone anyhow. War may be averted, but there is danger in the congested populations of the eastern countries in particular. For those surplus millions, there is no escape from death by starvation save by migration. They must find a way out, and I ask again where can they go but to Australia? What do we intend to do to prevent them? Without powerful friends we cannot hope to defend the country against them. We must populate and develop this country, and so order ourselves that the world will say, “ The Australians are a people worthy of their freedom and of the right to the unfettered control of this great country, because they are carrying on as civilized people “. Every nation has the right to say who shall come in and who shall not come in, but a wellbred, civilized people do not slam the door in the face of migrants, and let it be seen that they think that they are superior to the nationals of other countries. We are now to play our part under the spotlight on the world stage before the nations of the world. Therefore, we must ensure that we shall be able, first to defend this country to the best of our ability, and, secondly, to develop its resources and absorb assimilable people. The Minister is trying to do that, and I commend him for it.
I now desire to make another point. If we are to hold this country we must populate and defend it. We must look to our defence forces. I’ believe in the principle of a free people governing themselves. We in this country have attained the widest measure of freedom of any people in the world. We enjoy our democratic parliamentary, institutions, although mark you, they are threatened by the Labour party.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is worth listening to on the subject of migration. In fact, I listened to him with bated breath, because I suppose that he is the most spectacular British migrant that we have ever had in this country; but his incursions into the field of migration during this debate were extremely limited. He yielded to his well-known political cunning to traverse such subjects as the birth-rate, the defence of Australia, the United Nations, the White Australia policy and population trends, the development of the inland, the future of New Guinea, the possibility of another invasion, and communism.
– All of those are associated subjects.
– They all are associated subjects. I pay a tribute to the right honorable gentleman for havingmade the hest use of his time, and, if as he said, the sea is dotted with craft which are bringing British migrants to Australia, who knows but that there may beon the bounding ocean other right honorable members for North Sydney who will give us the benefit of their services in time to come. That appears to be the best answer, the unpolitical answer, to any criticism of the immigration scheme. Torefer back to the period from 1910 to 1914 and attempt to prove, by a group of” figures unrelated to any other period, that that was the era of the high tide in the golden age of immigration and that, comparatively speaking, there is only a trickle of immigrants to-day, is of no avail. If we accept the period from 1910 to 1914 for the purposes of comparison with the present, we must also take into consideration factors that were not mentioned by the right honorable member for North Sydney. Immigrants in those days were put on ships at the expense of either the Australian Government or the United Kingdom Government and were tumbled out on the wharfs of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle and other ports and left to fend for themselves. The result of that policy was that, as the swelling tide had poured on to the wharfs and landing stages, so eventually many of the immigrants flooded the social welfare camps during the depression.
Any man who did any social work during the depression will realize that the poor little immigrant, who had been badly selected in the first place without any aptitude tests or anything of that sort, was the first one to go into our “ Happy Valleys “ and other such centres, where he was given the dole, some clothing and the lowest level of comfort. There can be no proper comparison between the two schemes in terms of numbers alone. Humanitarian treatment must be taken into account as well. Otherwise, the comparison is too remote even to be considered. In 1914, immigration was looked upon by the idealists as a means of increasing our population and developing the country for its eventual preservation and progress. It was also looked upon by others calmly and coldly, with the business-like eye of the man looking for cheap labour in order to break down workers’ standards and destroy unionism. That made an ugly story. To-day we accept immigration as a subject above politics. I have always considered that repatriation, immigration, and two or three other subjects should be lifted above the level of politics, though not, of course, exempted from political discussion. Unfortunately, the tributes that are paid to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) by honorable members opposite are of a “yes but - “ character. Every body admits that the honorable gentlen.an has done a splendid job in the face of competition from other countries, notably South Africa, New Zealand, and various ‘South American States. Yet honorable members opposite say, “ Yes, he has done a good job, but he has failed to do this or that “.
They link the arrival of immigrants with the White Australia policy and declare that the Minister has not handled that policy effectively. I consider that his outlook upon both immigration and the White Australia policy has been exceptionally broad and statesmanlike. Despite criticism from various sources, he has proved himself to be a great Australian in these matters. When, our present immigration scheme was commenced in 1945, our chances of obtaining new citizens from a bruised and broken Europe and from an England engrossed in the problems of reconstruction appeared to be almost hopeless. There is no royal road to success with immigration. We cannot wait until we have empty houses and everything else in readiness for immigrants. Nevertheless, the only thing that has been lacking has been adequate accommodation. Courage and statesmanship have enabled us to go ahead and to use the services of new arrivals in providing the things that we lack. Prospective immigrants are frankly told the truth about conditions in Australia. The story of this immigration scheme is one of the post-war epics. The project has been carried out efficiently and magnificently in spite of failures that have occurred elsewhere and in spite of the reluctance of people in Europe to undertake the long trek to Australia. We have overcome indecisions and the doubts of trade unions in Great Britain about mass immigration. Immigrant ships are leaving for Australia in increasing numbers, and the estimated net immigration figure for this year is 148,000. In view of the shortages that were caused by six years of war, that figure represents a magnificent achievement.
The difficulties involved in the immigration scheme are not confined to those of transporting people to Australia, but most of them have been satisfactorily overcome. As the right honorable member for North Sydney has said, we must anticipate certain new .(problems. For instance, the migration of people under the auspices of the International Relief Organization will eventually cease. From what other source will we be able to obtain migrants? Some people suggest Germany, Scandinavia, and Norway. There are many reasons why it will be difficult to persuade people to come to Australia from those countries. Therefore, we shall be obliged to turn to the surplus population of Great Britain. One of the really difficult decisions that must be made relates to the number of British migrants that will come to Australia. I predict that the numbers will grow and that the proportion of British immigrants to other European immigrants will become considerably higher during the next ten years than it is now. That will be all to our advantage.
The Australian attitude towards the nomination of British immigrants poses an administrative problem of which the Minister is well aware. The nomination of an immigrant, imposes a sacred duty. The nominator takes upon himself and bis family the responsibility of providing for the accommodation of an immigrant or a number of immigrants without affecting the housing of native-born Australians. .Should the nomination system break down, as the result of insincerity on the part of nominators or nominees, bad feeling would be created and the scheme would be seriously prejudiced. At present, the nomination system is at the top of the news and is being treated idealistically. Exservicemen’s organizations are sponsoring shiploads of British immigrants. The first sponsored ship to reach our shores was Somersetshire, which I met in Sydney on behalf of the Minister for Immigration. I was particularly impressed by the good type of ex-serviceman that the Returned Sailors Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia is bringing to Australia. At the back of my mind is the fear that Australians will not stand up rigidly to their responsibilities as nominators. It will not be sufficient for a nominator merely to bring an English immigrant into his home, bed him down for a few weeks until he becomes accustomed to his new surroundings and then tell him to try to find accommodation for himself. If we want to make Australia a greater, economically stronger and more progressive part of the Empire than it is now, Great Britain will supply the people that we need. It will be up to us to provide those people with an assurance of security of tenure, and we can do that only if we adhere strictly to the nomination system. It is only fair to insist that the native Australian shall have preference in obtaining housing accommodation, and the Government has done so. If new arrivals seek to break away from the nomination system and obtain houses which should be occupied by Australians, the system will break down. Then the Minister will face further problems. If the nomination system fails, he will have to decide what kind of immigrants he will bring to Australia from Europe and what proportion of new arrivals will be admitted from Great Britain. Those are the only potential flaws in the present scheme.
The right honorable member for North Sydney related the subject of immigration to the population tension in the East, to the United Nations policy in relation to the open door for coloured peoples, and to other subjects that have been discussed in Australia for more than 50 years. Neither the Minister for Immigration nor the Government as a whole has suggested that the immigration scheme provides the answer to our low birth-rate. Immigration is only a supplementary measure. However, it will bring many useful citizens to our shores. Up to date, the department has touched only the fringe of the potential field of recruitment. When the difficulties of transport are lessened, when Europe has settled down, and when we can find out exactly how many men and women are willing to come to Australia, great things can be done. Without being mealymouthed, we can pay a glowing tribute to the Minister for having done great work for our country. At the same time, he has done a great deal to ease the tensions of population and reconstruction difficulties that have caused a great deal of disturbance in Great Britain. Comparisons with the past or speculations about the future are futile. The Government’s migration scheme is based, not on numbers, but on humanity. Immigrants, upon their arrival in Australia, are not left to fend for themselves, so that the weaker will go to the wall and the stronger succeed. That policy might have been accepted in the ‘nineties, but the people of Australia to-day would not stand for it. Our immigration policy is geared to humanitarianism, and it is being applied efficiently.
There is a matter touching the administration of the Department of Immigration to which I, in justice to certain persons outside the Parliament, should refer. Recently, the Minister appointed, with my congratulations and those of many other Australians both inside and outside the , Parliament, a planning committee te. arrange accommodation and employment for immigrants. It was decided to utilize for this purpose some of the best business brains in Australia, and I pay a tribute to those who have co-operated so willingly. However, some newspapers took it for granted that the Immigration Advisory Council, of which I am chairman, had been disbanded. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) writing in the Century, that little journal which he produces for his own amusement - -because it has no circulation and no prestige - announced that the chairman of the Immigration Advisory Council had been sacked. Perhaps he felt that, as the leading figure in one of the greatest sacking incidents in the history of Australia, when he was sacked from his job as Premier of New South Wales one bright, summer morning by the Governor of that State, he was qualified to offer an opinion on the subject of sacking. His comments are immaterial to me except insofar as they affect other members of the council, which includes business men in Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney, and representatives of organizations of ex-servicemen. The council consists of a group of persons with an instinct for planning and organization, who were gathered together to assist our immigration policy when it was first put into operation. It would be callous on my part not to make it clear that they have done a magnificent job. Although ‘ many of them hold political beliefs the opposite of my own, they have been completely loyal and tireless in their efforts to make the immigration policy work. I have in mind particularly Mr. Oberg, who, being president of an organization of employers is not of my political kidney. No one could have received more loyal support or co-operation than I did from him when we were investigating migration problems in the United Kingdom and continental Europe. I also wish to pay a tribute to Mr. P. R. Wilkins, former secretary of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, and Mr. L. Withal], secretary of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia. There are also on the committee members of the armed services who had grave problems to consider in connexion with . the admission of exenemies. Although their feelings had been bruised by their war-time contacts with ex-enemy nationals, they did a magnificent job as members of the Immigration Advisory Council. It ill becomes a member of this Parliament, who happens to conduct a newspaper, to assail any of the members of the council. If only for the reason that the council has no political affiliations, I am glad that the Minister for Immigration has stated publicly that the work of the council will go on. Members of the council have a fine feeling for the future welfare of their country, and an intense willingness to cooperate in furthering the country’s immigration policy. Those qualities are too valuable to be lost, and I take this opportunity to place on record my tribute to the work done by members of the council.
A’ tremendous amount of work remains to be done in the field of immigration. Neither the Opposition in this Parliament, nor any other section of the Australian people, is justified in attacking the Minister for Immigration for his rigid administration of the Immigration Act. It is all very well to make exclusions into spirituality and liberalism - spelt with a small “ 1 “ - but the Minister’s job is to administer the law. If too much publicity has been given to the way in which the law has been administered, it is the fault not of the Minister but of those who have seized on the situation in order to obtain cheap, emotional effects. Clergymen have decorated their sermons with appeals about humanity, when next door are seething slums, the inhabitants of which are much closer to them than are the evacuees who are being sent back to their own countries in accordance with an arrangement into which they themselves entered. It is beside the point for people, who adopt a hypocritical, supersensitive attitude to the White Australia policy to charge the Minister with committing an administrative faux pas. Such attacks may do very well for a press story or to adorn a sermon but deep in the hearts of all Australians is a feeling that we should make no concession on the White Australia policy.
The right honorable member for North Sydney reminded us of his 50 years’ experience in this Parliament, and he repeated what had been said at various times during that period. I claim that we have much to show for our immigration policy, and we have a plan for the future. That policy is our answer to the call of the empty spaces of this continent. The Government, in its application of the White Australia policy, is applying the law, and adhering to tradition. Prom the first days of federation, the settled policy of Australia has been to keep Australia free and white.
– Immigration ought to be a non-party matter in this Parliament, and it has been treated substantially in that way. In general, the policy of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), in taking advantage of the unique opportunity to obtain a large flow of immigrants from Europe, has met with the approval of honorable members of all parties. I am sure that if the forthcoming general election should result in a change of government, the same policy will be continued, because we all recognize the need to populate and develop the country. Having regard to the changed attitude towards population among the white races, it is necessary for us to increase our numbers by bringing here surplus population from Europe.
It is a great pity, however, that the Minister should have thought it necessary, in administering his department, to behave as he has towards the very few Asiatics, or persons of Asiatic extraction, who were resident in Australia. This handful of persons has been the cause of much dissension and international ill feeling. The Minister’s treatment of them has appeared to put us in the wrong, and has earned for us a reputation for being harsh and intransigent on the subject of colour, and has done nothing to strengthen the White Australia policy or obtain acceptance for it. It has highlighted the objection to colour that is inherent in the White Australia policy, and publicized that objection to our disadvantage throughout the world, particularly in Asiatic countries. On more than one occasion the Minister himself has said that the term “ White Australia “ should not be used, yet he has made use of it more than any one else. I regret that his fine record in developing migration from Europe should be marred by these incidents which, in themselves,, are of a minor nature. In one instance a few persons may be involved, or in another instance 27 Chinese, or individual persons as in the case of Mrs. Aug and that of Mrs. O’Keefe. Those incidents do not really amount to anythingin our immigration policy, and the Government should exercise a little discretion in matters of that kind.
Dealing with the proposed vote for the Department of External Territories I wish to discuss what I consider to be the very harsh and unsympathetic treatment that the Government has meted out to widows of civilians who lost their lives when the Japanese captured Rabaul. It is well-known that the lives of practically all civilians who were at Rabaul at the time the Japanese attacked were wilfully thrown away by the Australian Government. I say “wilfully” becausethose civilians had no hope pf defendingRabaul. I am not now talking about the armed forces. At that time there was sufficient shipping in the harbour toevacuate the civilian population, but the Curtin Government ordered that those civilians should remain at Rabaul. TheActing Administrator of New Guinea radioed to Australia to obtain permission to evacuate those civilians, but that request was refused. Consequently, when the J apanese struck, many of the civilians were killed whilst the remainder werecaptured. In the fullness of time their fate was revealed. Ultimately, after a considerable period, it was discovered that a great many of those who survived the Japanese attack lost their lives when Montevideo Maru was sunk. During the period that their fate remained unknown, the Government made liberal payments to widows of male civilians on the basis of the salary that the latter had been receiving. However, when hostilities ended an accounting was made to those widows and in each instance where it was possible, to get back money paid to them in excess of the ordinary pension rate of from £2 10s. a week the Government took action to recover such moneys. In some instances it did so by making deductions from payments that the widows were entitled to draw as superannuation benefits for which their late husbands had contributed. I am in possession of several statements issued by the Department of External Territories that show that some of these widows, instead of receiving a very substantial amount, in some cases hundreds of pounds, in the form of superannuation benefit, received practically nothing at all after these deductions had been made by the Government. I trust that the Government will see that justice is done to these widows, and I propose to show how it can do so.
First, however, I draw attention particularly to the case of Captain H. Edwards, M.C., D.O.M., M.M., whose widow now lives in Sydney. Captain Edwards had a distinguished military record in World War I. I read the following quotation from a letter that he received from General Birdwood : -
I must congratulate you on your excellent record of which you may well be proud in having gained the Military Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal, and Military Medal. lt is indeed a fine achievement .and I trust that you will meet with still further success in the future.
Captain Edwards’s brigade commander wrote to him as follows : -
I trust that you will be long spared to wear those ribbons. They betoken a spendid record of great hardships and dangers and adherence to duty under all circumstances.
I should like to tell honorable members how the Government treated the widow of that gallant officer. He was at Rabaul at the time that the Japanese struck.
He had been residing there for many years previously and was second in command of the New Guinea Volunteer Regiment a few months before the Japanese invasion. He was president of the Rabaul branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. However, because at the time of invasion he was not in military uniform as the result of some dispute that had occurred between himself and others in the military forces at Rabaul, he was not considered to have been a soldier at the time of his death. Consequently, despite the fact that the estate of anybody who died as a soldier was exempt from estate duty, Mrs. Edwards was charged duty amounting to £67 on her husband’s estate which was valued at £700. She had to pay that duty because her husband was not considered to have been a soldier at the time of his death. I am in possession of the documents in the case and I shall be pleased to pass them on to the Minister. I suggest that the following provision, which is set out in a letter which Mrs. Edwards has received from Mr. Olive Evatt, a Minister in the New South Wales Government, should apply in this instance -
No death duty shall be payable in respect of the estate of a member of the naval, military or air forces of the Commonwealth of Australia . . . who during the present war between His Majesty the King and Germany and her allies or within one year after its termination dies on active service or as the result of injury received or disease contracted on active service.
Captain Edwards was at Rabaul when the Japanese struck. He was the most highly decorated soldier at Rabaul and he lost his life because the Government refused permission for civilians to be evacuated. Because he was not considered to have been a soldier at the time of his death, his widow has had to pay the penalty. She has also been denied the rate of pension payable to the widow of an officer, which is considerably more than that payable to widows of civilians. The Government can do justice in this case. Evidence given in the New Guinea timber leases case revealed that the Minister can apply the provisions of an ordinance retrospectively. The particular ordinance cited in that case was Ordinance No. 5 of 1947, being “ an ordinance to amend the Workers’ Compensation
Ordinances 1941 of the Territory of New Guinea That ordinance increased the amount of maximum compensation from £750 to £1,000. It was dated the 14th May, 1947, under the signature of the Governor-General and issued by “ E. J. Ward, Minister of State for External Territories “. In evidence given during the New Guinea timber leases case it was stated that one person who was favorably affected by the back-dating of that ordinance was a friend, or relative, of the Minister for External Territories. A notable feature of the amendment effected by that ordinance was that its commencement was made retrospective to the 1st January, 1947; that is, it was backdated five months in order, so it was alleged in evidence given in the New Guinea timber leases case, to cover the circumstances of a friend, or relative, of the Minister for External Territories. I have no evidence to offer in support of that statement except the evidence that was given in the course of the trial that I have mentioned. However, in view of the facts I have given I shall not believe that it is not possible for the Government to do justice to the widows of civilians who lost their lives when the Japanese captured Rabaul. Those civilians were at Rabaul as the representatives of Australia. I shall not agree that the Government cannot recognize Mrs. Edwards’s, claim and refund the death duty that has been charged to her on account of the estate of her husband, or that she cannot be given the rate of pension payable to the widow of an officer, because her case has been settled. I shall not accept these excuses when I find that remedial action can be taken to benefit somebody who happens to enjoy a favoured position with the Minister. Those are facts.
– They do not get all their pension entitlement.
– They get children’s pensions.
– I am prepared to introduce to the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) a deputation of the widows of New- Guinea civilians. I am prepared to introduce him to Mrs. Edwards and I am prepared to show him the commendations for gallantry of Captain Edwards by the
King, General Birdwood and General Rawlinson. Captain Edwards has not been treated as a soldier under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. This is the first opportunity that I have had of ventilating this matter for a very long time. The consideration of the Estimates was “ guillotined “ last year, and I had no opportunity to ventilate it then. Now that I have ventilated it, I hope that the Government will do something about it.
– I feel that the Department of the Army is involved in the case of Captain Edwards, who, according to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), took an active part in the defence of Rabaul when Japan struck there.
– He was second in command of the New Guinea Volunteer Regiment.
– Yes.. Apparently,, the whole case has been based on the fact that he was not in uniform at the time. That involves my department. This is the first I have heard of the case. I shall discuss it with the honorable member between now and the end of the week. I should he glad if the honorable member would supply me with the relevant documents. I propose to have the case investigated by my own department. I will investigate it myself. If there is any substance in the comments of the honorable gentleman and an injustice has been done to the widow of Captain Edwards, the proper procedure will be followed, and the injustice will be rectified.
.- As 1 have insufficient time to deal with the Department of Immigration and the Department of External Territories, I content myself with saying that I strongly support the remarks of the honorablemember for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) about the treatment of the widows of civilians killed in New Guinea during the war. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard), who was interjecting during the speech of the honorable member for Richmond, knows that a few weeks ago I asked why the widows and dependants of men who had lost their lives in the civil service of New Guinea had not received full repatriation benefits. I asked that he confer with the Minister for External Territories on the subject. I do not know on which Minister the blame lies, but 1 do know that it lies on the Government as a whole. The Minister knows that the widows of those men do not receive medical benefits; although war widows do. They do not have the opportunity to obtain a war service home, although war widows do. Those are just two instances of the disparity between the treatment of those widows and war widows. I hope that there will be no further equivocation.
I applaud what the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has done to bring foreign migrants to Australia, but we must have a greater ratio of British migrants.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke).- -Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of External Territories and the Department of Immigration has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Proposed vote, £1,396,000.
Proposed vote, £149,000.
Proposed vote, £339,000.
Department of Post-war Reconstruction.
Proposed vote, £848,000.
Proposed vote, £1,942,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– Before attempting to approve of the proposed vote for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which includes the provision of £33,000 for investigation of nuclear energy, the committee should pay close attention to circumstances connected with this organization. Although the Government has placed the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization under administrative control of the Public Service Board, quite obviously it is still clouded with a certain amount of suspicion. At the recent conference in Canada in relation to atomic energy research, although representatives of the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom were present, it is significant that Australia was not represented. That highlights certain matters that were revealed in this chamber not long ago when it was shown that there still exists in the minds of people associated with atomic energy research a grave suspicion that if secret developments in the field of nuclear energy were made available to Australia, that information might leak out to Soviet Russia. That was the basis of a lengthy debate during which certain documents were produced that caused an immense amount of public interest. It seems to me that that suspicion still exists in the minds of people overseas. Australia is still excluded from the inner councils of the world powers in relation to atomic research for purposes of defence. That is not to be wondered at. Although, under pressure, the Government removed the aeronautical section of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research from its matrix and placed it under the administration of the Public Service Board, suspicion has not been allayed in the minds of our allies overseas who are closely associated with us in preserving the peace of the world. The reason is not hard to discover. From time to time honorable members have learned of the appointment of Communists to what was the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Although the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) did not select the appointees, he approved of their appointment. He approved of a studentship being granted to Mr. Kaiser, who was sent overseas to further his studies in the field of nuclear physics. After he had attended at Oxford University for about eighteen months, it was revealed that he was a Communist. He distinguished himself by taking part in a demonstration of Communists at Australia House in London while still a student and under the control of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. That was a demonstration by Communists against the action that had been taken by this Government in connexion with the coal strike. By taking part in that demonstration he revealed himself as a militant Communist.
From time to time honorable members on the Government side of the chamber have declared that every care is taken to screen persons before they are appointed to positions in connexion with defence work investigation, about which secrecy must be maintained. It is apparent that either this man was not screened before appointment, or that he was appointed by the Government in the full knowledge that he was a Communist, and was then deliberately sent overseas to take part in nuclear investigation. He was reported to have been a research officer with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for six years in Sydney. Indeed the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction told honorable mem’ bers on another occasion that during the war period Mr. Kaiser had been engaged on very close investigations of these matters, and that there was no reason to believe that he had divulged any secrets about them.
– I said distinctly that no information had ever been divulged.
– Unless the Minister knew what had transpired within Soviet Russia, he could not be so definite in that regard. However, I accept his assurance. Possibly he has some knowledge of matters that have been made available to Soviet Russia and can make that assertion with some degree of accuracy. A person with no knowledge of what matters had been disclosed to the Soviet espionage service would not be in a position to be so emphatic in that regard. I accept the Minister’s assurance that nothing was made available to Soviet Russia. Apparently the Minister forgets that during the war Soviet Russia was an ally of ours and that at that time there was no talk of atomic warfare involving
Russia. At that time, also, secret information was held jointly by the Soviet, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. However, Soviet Russia is now conducting a cold war against its former allies, and, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has said, is seeking by sinister disruptive methods to undermine the democracies, including remote Australia.
Following the demonstration to which i have referred Mr. Kaiser is reported to have said in England -
The C.S.I.E. knew my views before I was sent here.
This, in spite of the fact that he had been sent overseas by the organization to learn about nuclear physics ! According to Mr. Kaiser it knew that he was a Communist. Apparently it sent him overseas to investigate nuclear energy so that he would gain inside knowledge of this subject. That he has no great love of this country is evidenced by the fact that he took part in the Communist raid to which I have referred. Although this man was an avowed Communist he was appointed to the studentship overseas, with resultant waste of public money, and in effect established a fifth column overseas. Mr. Kaiser was also reported to have said -
I would refuse to undertake any secret research on the atom on account of my convictions, but I have not been asked to.
This young Communist forsook his loyalty to this country when he made a protest in London about the manner in which Australia was conducting its affairs. If he had been told that the coal strike was a sinister attempt on the part of agents of a hostile power to undermine our industrial, potential, would Kaiser still have refused to undertake secret research into atomic energy? I believe that if this young man had been given an oppor tunity to pursue his investigations of the most secret matters he would not have refrained from doing so because he has no loyalty to this country. He also said -
Before taking up this research I was in Sydney doing research in the most highly secret division of radar - radar counter measures - and my work was considered satisfactory.
I believe that this statement by Kaiser should be placed on record in support of the Minister’s statement that this young man had been engaged in secret work during the war period, when many secrets were jointly held by Soviet Russia, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. When Russia determined to wage a cold war against the democracies, the position became quite different. Notwithstanding that the Government knew of this young man’s convictions, it sent him overseas to undertake most secret research in the field of nuclear energy. By taking part ill the demonstration he proved that he has no love for his country and that he is prepared to take any action to discredit it in the eyes of the world so as to further the objectives of communism. It is regrettable that the taxpayers’ money should be wasted on studentship benefits to a young man, who, while enjoying their advantages, sought to bring his country into disrepute. It is true that after he had publicly revealed himself as a Communist and a man opposed to the interests of his country, his studentship was determined. If he had not taken part in the demonstration, this avowed Communist, whose convictions were well known to the Government, would still be employed in an overseas laboratory conducting investigations regarding nuclear energy, and would be in a position to obtain secret information which would be of value to a potential enemy. That information might well have been sent to Soviet Russia. Is it any wonder that Australia is denied admittance to discussions held by the great democratic countries of the world, including a country which cannot boast as we do, that its peoples are of 90 per cent. British stock ? Australia is excluded from participation in such discussions because the Australian Government is still suspect. Notwithstanding what may be said to the contrary by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, those whom the Government appoints to positions in which they are given access to secret and vital information are not effectively screened. I have no doubt that the Minister will claim that all those who are associated with secret defence work now have to take the oath of allegiance. That may be true ; but does the honorable gentleman claim that the mere taking of an oath of allegiance will make a man trustworthy? He knows very well that Communists do not regard themselves as being bound by an oath of allegiance. Only recently honorable members opposite have questioned the value of administering an oath of allegiance to a Communist. I draw attention to this matter in order to emphasize the need for the closest scrutiny of the credentials of all those who are employed on work of a secret character. There is something wrong with the administration of a government which permits the taxpayers’ money to be expended on the provision of studentships for known Communists. Kaiser was appointed as a research student in the field of nuclear energy at a time when, as far as we know, Russia did not possess the secret of the atomic bomb. Russia now claims to have probed the secret of the bomb. I wonder how much of the knowledge which the Soviet now claims to possess came from representatives of the democratic countries who were working as a part of Soviet Russia’s fifth column. Honorable members will recall the disclosures that were made at the investigation held recently in the United States of America in regard to Communist activities. They will also remember that quantities of uranium of certain grades were flown from America to Russia. Leakages of vital strategic materials from the democratic countries have taken place with too much frequency. The Government cannot be too exacting in its screening of the persons selected to go overseas to carry out secret research work. We have been told about the Pomeroys, the Rudkins, and other Communists that were employed in the organization formerly known as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. We all recall the revelations that were made by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) concerning statements that . were made at a meeting of Empire Prime Ministers at Downing-street, and we remember also the statements that were made in relation to this subject by the Minister for Defence at a meeting of the executive of the former Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. These revelations lend colour to the remarks that I have just made. Until such time as Australia is again brought into the discussions of the democratic nations in relation to matters of the highest defence significance, the Australian Government will remain suspect. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction and the Government have done nothing whatever to dispel the distrust of Australia which is manifest in high defence circles overseas.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) baa repeated a number of allegations that have been made on several occasions in this chamber notwithstanding that they were refuted whenever they were made. His allegations against the Government are completely without foundation. He has referred to the activities of an individual named Kaiser and to the attitude which, he suggests, has been taken by the United States of America in relation to certain meetings between representatives of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The latter subject was raised by way of question in this chamber some time ago and the position was then fully explained. In spite of that, however, the honorable member persists in repeating assertions which are quite untrue. For the benefit of honorable members, I shall again explain the position in relation to the association of the United States of America with the United Kingdom and Canada in atomic energy research. During the war period, there was an agreement between the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America to share information on the development of the atomic -bomb, and to co-operate in that work. No other country in the world was invited to take part in the joint deliberations, or to assist in the project. The undertaking was completely secret, and all information about it was withheld from every other country. The work was confined to the three countries that I have named because it was so important that no risk of the secrets of the atomic bomb being revealed to the outside world could be taken. The United Kingdom was able to contribute something to the development of the atomic bomb. Canada too was able to make a contribution. Aus tralia could not contribute anything, and therefore was not invited to participate in the work in any way. At the end of the war, the United States of America made it clear that the agreement under which work on the atomic bomb had been carried out co-operatively during the war had ended, and ceased to make available any information on atomic energy to the United Kingdom and Canada. From that time onwards, the United States of America worked on the atomic bomb in isolation. Since then, however, certain developments have occurred both in the United Kingdom and Canada, and the knowledge of how to manufacture the atomic bomb has become more widespread. There is no longer any secret about it. As I have said in this chamber on many occasions, any nation that is prepared to devote the necessary scientific and industrial resources to the manufacture of the atomic bomb could achieve some measure of success in a reasonable period of time. Australia itself, with the knowledge that can be read in pamphlets and books could, if it had the necessary scientific and industrial resources - at present it has not - manufacture the atomic bomb without the assistance of the United States of America or any other country. That is the plain truth as physicists and others who have studied atomic energy know. As I have said, for some time after the war, the United States of America worked on the bomb in isolation, but now that so much is known in other countries about the atomic bomb and atomic energy for industrial purposes, the United States of America has apparently decided that once again it will endeavour to work in cooperation with the United Kingdom and Canada on certain projects. That is why, I imagine, those two countries have been invited to attend a conference. Australia is not interested in the development of the atomic bomb, because, a3 I have said, we have neither the scientific nor the industrial resources to set aside for that purpose, consequently we have no wish to be represented at the conference, even if we were invited to do so. The absence of an invitation does not mean that Australia is mistrusted. The meeting simply represents the reintroduction of the arrangement which operated between the three countries during the war. Australia has not been invited, not because of any distrust, but simply because we cannot make any contribution to the development of the atomic bomb and do not wish to do so.
– Why not ?
– Because, as I have said, we have neither the scientific nor the industrial resources to develop the atomic bomb.
– But the Minister said that Australia did not wish to make a contribution to that work.
– That is so.
– Surely our lack of resources is a logical reason for our not wishing to participate in that work! What is the good of worrying about developing a weapon of that kind when we have not the resources to produce it even if we had the necessary knowledge 1 Surely it is clear that, in the circumstances, the Government of this country would not wish to have any information about the production of the atomic bomb. We are, however, interested in the development of atomic energy for industrial purposes, and we are undertaking certain work in that connexion. We hope with the arrival of Professor Oliphant in Australia to be able to make a valuable contribution to the development of industrial atomic energy, but again, in that sphere we do not require any information from the United Kingdom, Canada or the United States of America. Certain technical problems - I shall not attempt to explain them - in relation to the use of atomic energy for industrial purposes, have to be overcome. Those problems Iia ve not yet been solved in other countries which have a substantial lead over Australia but, with that eminent scientist, Professor Oliphant, in charge of work here, we shall have, perhaps, a better chance than most other countries <of solving those difficulties, because of certain local climatic conditions and the fact that we have isolated areas for experimental purposes. We intend to work on those lines.
The honorable member for Wentworth said that the Kaiser incident was one of a series of incidents which had produced the alleged feeling of mistrust of Aus-
tralia on the part of the United States of America, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The honorable member, when speaking of the Kaiser incident, repeated certain other statements which are quite untrue. First, the honorable gentleman said that I had approved of Kaiser’s appointment. That is quite untrue. I did not do so. Of course, the honorable member does not care what he says, as long as he can get some publicity for the arguments that he puts forward. If he can besmirch the good name of Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, he does not care whether he speaks the truth or not. So, I say to the honorable gentleman that his statement that I had approved of the selection of Kaiser for this scholarship was quite untrue. The honorable member had no excuse for lying about the matter, because I had stated the position clearly in this chamber in answer to a question asked only a short time ago.
– I rise to order. I take exception to the Minister’s statement that I was lying. The words are objectionable to me, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - The honorable member may, if he so desires, make a personal explanation later.
– But the words are offensive to me, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The Minister said that there was no excuse for lying about the matter. If the honorable member for Wentworth claims to have been misrepresented he may make a personal explanation later.
– I repeat that the “honorable member for Wentworth had no excuse for making that lying statement because I had already explained the position in this chamber in answer to a question. I said that Kaiser had been selected for this scholarship not by the Minister, but by the executive. I named the members of the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who selected Mr. Kaiser.
– The members of the executive recommended that he should go to the United Kingdom, but who sent him ?
– The executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research sent him there. The Minister did not do so. I am pointing out the untruth that the honorable member for Wentworth has stated. He does not care what he says.
– The Minister need not have approved of his selection.
– The matter was not put to me for either approval or disapproval. What the honorable gentleman has said is a plain untruth. That is all there is to it. Mr. Kaiser was selected by the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, as the organization was then known.
– When was he selected ?
– Approximately two years ago. In order that honorable gentlemen opposite should not have an opportunity to say that Mr. Don Mountjoy had any responsibility in this matter, I made it clear in this chamber that at the time when the selection was made there were only four members of the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and that Mr. Don Mountjoy was not one of them. Although I went into all that detail about the matter then, the honorable member for Wentworth has stated the position in a completely false manner in this chamber this afternoon. He has done that knowingly and wilfully. The honorable gentleman does not care what he says as long as he is able, by the publicity that the press in this country and overseas gives to his statements, to bring discredit upon an organization that has done a great deal for Australia. I also made it clear in this chamber that during the war Mr. Kaiser was engaged upon very secret work. I made that statement in order to show that the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research had some justification for selecting him for the scholarship. Mr. Kaiser was a very brilliant student at the University of Melbourne. I think that he graduated in 1943, and was one of the most brilliant students of his year. He then undertook work in the radiophysics division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial
Research and made great contributions to the solution of certain problems that confronted that division in its experimental work. Those contributions were of great assistance to Australia and the Allies in the conduct of the war. During the whole of the time that Mr. Kaiser was engaged upon that valuable work there was never any question of his integrity. That is demonstrated by the fact that Sir Henry Tizard and certain security officers from the United Kingdom made it quite clear to the Prime Minister of this country, and, indeed, made public statements to the same effect, that there was no question of any details of the work that had been undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research being divulged to anybody. Mr. Kaiser was a brilliant student who had done very valuable work. The executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research decided that he was the best individual to send overseas for this purpose. It was hoped that when he returned to Australia he would be able to make even greater contributions to scientific research work in this country.
– The Minister could have stopped him from going had he wanted to do so.
– It is obvious that the honorable member for Wentworth does not know the wording of the legislation. The matter was never put to me, and I was quite unaware that Mr. Kaiser was going to London. Until that time his career had been such as to justify the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in selecting him for the scholarship.
The honorable member for Wentworth has stated that Mr. Kaiser himself has said that the members of the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research knew of his convictions before he left Australia. That statement is completely untrue. I have received a letter from Sir David Rivett to the effect that he and the other members of the executive were quite unaware of Mr. Kaiser’s political affiliations when they selected him for the scholarship. Two persons have made statements upon this matter. Apparently Mr. Kaiser had done so, although the honorable gentleman has only read from a newspaper report, and I have received a letter on the subject from Sir David Rivett. I know which of those two individuals I believe, and I know which of them the public will believe. According to Sir David Rivett, the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was not aware of any affiliation that Mr. Kaiser may have had with the Communist party before he left Australia. According to information that I have received from London, Mr. Kaiser does not admit even now that he is a member of the Communist party, and the honorable member for Wentworth has not produced any evidence to show that he was a Communist when he left Australia. The honorable* gentleman has suggested, in effect, that the executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or of any other body that selects people in this country for scholarships or for scientific research work should be gifted with foresight and should be able to foresee whether a young man will, at some time or other, change his political philosophy and become a member of the Communist party.
– What about the effective screening process to which Commonwealth employees are supposed to be subjected ?
– The honorable member for Wentworth has suggested that the security screening that is undertaken by the Government in relation to appointments to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Public Service generally is not efficient. I remind the honorable gentleman that Mr. Kaiser has been overseas for the last two years and that it has not been possible for the security authorities in this country to do the necessary work in connexion with screening him.
– Could not the British Government help us?
– The British Government knew that Kaiser was a Communist. That is why it would not give us the secrets.
– Once again the honorable member for Wentworth has made a wild statement without any evidence to support it. Mr. Kaiser has now been dismissed from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I can assure the committee that there is no individual in Australia who is working upon any project connected with security requirements who is affiliated with the Communist party or even has Communist sympathies. All persons occupying positions with which security matters are involved have been thoroughly screened.
– Who reads their minds to find out where their sympathies lie?
– That is a difficult task. It is a matter for the security organization and not for me. I can assure the committee that there is no danger that any person who has any sympathy for the Communist party or who is connected with the Communist party in any way whatever is employed, in a job where matters of security must be taken into consideration.
– The Government has allotted only 2£ hours for the consideration of the Estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of Transport, the Department of Information, the Department of Post-war Reconstruction and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Some honorable members, and particularly Ministers have monopolized the time that has been available for the dissection of the Estimates of various departments. This afternoon, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) used the same arguments as he employed on another occasion in an endeavour to extricate himself from a shocking situation. A young man, Mr. Kaiser, who was a member of the staff of the Commonwealth ‘Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, participated in a Communist demonstration in London, to the shame of all loyal Australians. Although the Minister made a long statement about the matter, he did not clarify the position, and he obviously became annoyed because the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) ventured to’ raise it. Instead of monopolizing the brief period that has wv. allotted for consideration of the Estimates for these five departments, he should have chosen a more appropriate time to endeavour to clear himself.
Last night, when the Estimates for other departments were being considered, there was a similar occurrence. I keenly desired to speak on the proposed vote for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, and to discuss butter production and cotton growing, but I was prevented from doing so. I notice that the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) is not in the chamber. He is probably hobnobbing with some Liberal Premier-
– Be fair!
Mr. Turnbull interjecting,
– I sincerely regret the unfortunate circumstances that are responsible for the Minister’s absence, but I repeat my view that if the circumstances were normal, he would probably be hobnobbing with some Liberal Premier discussing the standardization of railway gauges. The Minister is determined to pursue that policy. With the devaluation of the Australian pound, the original estimate of the cost of that project has been increased from £200,000,000 to £325,000,000, and higher costs of labour may further increase the ultimate figure to £400,000,000. The advantages of the standardization of railway gauges are questionable, and I consider that the money would be expended more wisely in providing so many of the facilities that are urgently required for the development of many parts of Australia. The project that is envisaged by the Minister will replace State railway assets that have already cost £600,000,000. He plans to replace many of the existing railway lines, locomotives and rolling stock, and he is eager t.o begin the wo’rk at a time when we cannot get sufficient iron and steel for wire netting to prevent vermin and stock from destroying our crops. At present, the States are importing scores of new locomotives, and quantities of spare parts and rolling stock. They are unable to manufacture those requirements in their own workshops because constant strikes in the basic industries have reduced the production of iron and steel. Last week, the Minister was negotiating to make available to the State Premiers of South Australia and Western Australia tens of millions of pounds in connexion with the project for the standardization of railway gauges. I hope that the Government will not proceed with that work but will expend at least some of the money on more advantageous projects.
The limited time does not permit me to deal at greater length with the subject of the standardization of railway gauges, and I now direct my remarks to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I have a high opinion of that body. Having been wellfounded, it is one of the most valuable institutions in the Commonwealth. The staff includes many prominent scientists, and probably a few Communists have worked themselves into its organization. I urge the Government to increase the proposed vote for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization so that it may investigate methods for destroying the pests and vermin that are doing almost incalculable damage in the agricultural and stock-raising industries. The primary producers of Europe, and, in particular, of Canada., receive wonderful assistance from the application of scientific methods to combating pests, diseases and vermin. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should be encouraged to devote more attention to those matters of practical value instead of to the theoretical side, which compiles reports for universities and students about what happens behind the moon, and in the moon. We should keep our feet on the earth in these matters. Whilst the Commonwealth .Scientific and Industrial Research Organization may be justified in investigating the effects of gases around Mars, or some other planet, il would render inestimable service to our primary industries if it were to solve the problems of the man on the land. If science could destroy the pests and vermin, many of the troubles that beset primary producers would dinappear, and young men would have a greater incentive to remain in the agricultural and pastoral industries. Even in Soviet Russia, agricultural research is well advanced, and successful experimentation has enabled special varieties of fruits, wheat and potatoes, to be produced even in the snow-bound regions. Primary producers in Australia do not derive all possible practical advantages from the researches of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. When I raised this matter on a previous occasion, I pointed out that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, as it was then known, had complained that lack of money was restricting such investigations. I hope that the grounds for that complaint have been removed. I could speak at much greater length on these matters, but as I realize that other honorable members desire to express their views on the Estimates for these departments, I shall not prevent them from doing so.
.- 1 emphasize the importance of developing irrigation projects in Australia. The Commonwealth is now providing a substantial sum of money for university and general education, and I stress the importance of establishing an agricultural college to instruct students in irrigation processes. In the past, Australians have wasted their limited resources of water because they did not understand soil conditions. However, we are now waterininded. Next week His Excellency the Governor-General will turn the first sod to mark the beginning of *the work on the greatest hydro-electric scheme that has been undertaken in the history of Australia, and, therefore, the time is opportune for the Government to consider the advantages of training young men in irrigation processes. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has already done a magnificent job with the Commonwealth re-establishment and employment scheme, and it is largely to his credit that ex-service men and women have made such progress in their training to fit themselves for various occupations. In the interests of Australia, some of our young men should be instructed in irrigation work. Water conservation projects in Australia include the Snowy Mountains scheme, and Burdekin Valley scheme in Queensland, and a huge undertaking in Western Australia.
In the irrigation areas on the Murrumbidgee I have seen young orchards, just when they were about to come into production, pulled out because the ground had become waterlogged. That sort of thing will happen again unless our young people are taught the proper use of water. lt does not matter what it costs to teach them ; the expenditure will be well worthwhile. We have been told that the population of Australia, may be 15,000,000 or even 20,000,000 within a comparatively few years, and it has been suggested that it may become necessary to import food. We are now on the verge of a period of great development in water conservation projects, so that it becomes more important than ever that our young men should be taught how to use the water properly. I suggest that a training school should be established at Yanco, in New South Wales, and at suitable places in other States. I agree with everything the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) said about the need to apply the discoveries of scientific men to the. primary producing industries. The scientists have done magnificent work. They have developed varieties of wheat that are drought and frost resistant. There are still many problems confronting the primary producers, and they can be solved only with the help of scientists.
.- I direct attention to the giant propaganda machine that has been established by the Government. It uses large quantities of paper that is badly needed by newspapers and for the publication of books. Many authors find it impossible to have their works published because of the shortage of paper, yet government departments are churning out great quantities of propaganda, or “ blah “ books, as they are called. I have one here entitled Ten Years of War and Peace. issued under the authority of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). The cover carries a picture of the Minister himself, looking very coy. One might be pardoned for thinking that the publication discusses Australia’s development; but it is, in fact, pure propaganda for the Minister. Some time ago, I asked what was the cost of the publication, and who had printed it. In all the States, there is a law which provides that publications shall bear the name of the printer; but this Government is, apparently, above all law. The contents of the booklet are being broadcast over the radio stations by Labour aspirants for political honours. The Minister has used public money to print Labour party propaganda, which should have been paid for by the Labour party. I turned the booklet over to a research organization in order to get an opinion on the facts presented in it.
– A research organization established by the Liberal party?
– There is a statement on the back page of the booklet which I refer to- the loquacious honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who is always prepared to talk on any subject. There is an old adage about “where angels fear to tread “. The honorable member will know what I mean. I quote from the boo-let as follows: -
My study of economics convinces me that employment makes employment, just as unemployment creates unemployment.
It is claimed in the booklet that there is a feeling of security and general prosperity in Australia. The research organization comments on this claim as follows : - . . Just how secure the worker is in his employment was graphically illustrated during the recent general coal strike when the number of unemployed in New South Wales and Queensland exceeded that at the height of the depression. Even before the strike commenced, unemployment in New South Wales exceeded 250.000 because of the rains which occurred in the mining areas and the necessity to introduce some form of rationing of coal supplies so that essential services could be maintained for a short period. There were no reserves of coal.
There are still no reserves of coal, and the Government refuses to do anything to establish a reserve by importing coal lest it might interfere with the miners’ federation. The Government does not admit that as a reason, of course. The comment continues as follows: -
Prosperity, from the viewpoint of the Minister, is apparently synonymous with inflation, as the only prosperity which Australia possesses is a high national income unaccompanied by production of those things which income can purchase. National income in monetary terms has increased from £814,000,000 in 1938-39 to £1,915,000,000 in 1948-49, an increase of 135 per cent. In the same period production has increased overall only from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent.
But taxation has increased by 550 per cent. In his booklet, the Minister discusses the Postmaster-General’s Department. He points out that the department made a profit of £3,500,000 in 193S, and of £5,103,000 in 1947, but he does not say that in 1949, for the first time since federation, it will operate at a loss. This Government does not believe in the profit motive. Apparently, it believes in the loss motive. Certainly it is achieving losses in the running of Government airlines, as the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has pointed out. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) has also issued a booklet. It is called Post-war Aviation, and it carries a picture of the Minister on the cover. One would think that the Labour party had just discovered aviation. The honorable member for Flinders showed how the balance-sheet of the Government’s air service had been falsified.
– That is not true.
– The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) has interjected. Bearing the title he does, he should have a high regard for facts ; but, as .a matter of fact, he should be more properly called the “ Minister for Mis-information “. Trans-Australia Airlines, which had the benefit of £3,500,000 of capital free of interest, showed a loss of over £500,000 on the first year’s operations. I have here another booklet which bears the title Homes- for Australia. It looks as if it had been issued by a prosperous publishing house. But it is sheer propaganda by the Government that should be paid for out of the Labour party’s funds and not by the people of Australia. Another booklet was referred to by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). It deals with immigration. I do not detract from what the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has done. He has done a good job in some respects. He is following the lead set by the previous government. We have a refugee scheme and a nomination scheme. The Minister is doing well in regard to displaced persons, but a new phase has arisen regarding British immigration. Nominators of British migrants are running out. Many who would like to come to Australia from Great Britain cannot come because they cannot get any one to nominate them. I should like to see a chapter in the Minister’s next booklet about what the Government intends to do about the immigration of British subjects.
– That will come next year.
– Next year? The honorable gentleman will not be responsible for immigration matters then. The succeeding government will have that responsibility. The Minister has lost great opportunities to bring British migrants to Australia. Another government publication is issued by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. It tells merchants where they can sell their goods. I am confident that merchants are more aware of markets for their goods than any officials in Canberra could be. Another publication comes from the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, which is administered by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). In that publication he does not tell about the thousands of ex-servicemen who did not receive the vocational training that they were promised, because a Communist union boss named Bulmer decided that the industry in which they were to have been trained had reached saturation point and that no more ex-servicemen were needed for training in it. So those ex-servicemen remained unskilled. Honorable gentlemen opposite know how true that is, because the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has given the facts and the figures. Members of the Government are claiming that they have clone well by Australia, whereas they know that Australia’s prosperity to-day results from the fortuitous circumstances of high prices for our exports. Should those prices collapse, as they well may, the succeeding government will have fo adjust the difficulties. I object to the unethical way in which the Government is pouring out propaganda at the expense of the taxpayers. The Minister for Immigration blandly smiles. He thinks it is all in the game. Looking after the people’s money is not a game, but a trusteeship that should be taken seriously. Another instance of the unethical attitude of the Government was provided in the admission of the Minister for Informa tion that the cost of the Government’s propaganda in connexion with a recent referendum were met from the vote for Post-war Education. The Government is soft-pedalling on socialism these days. It is concentrating on issuing booklets designed to tell the people what splendid men the Commonwealth Ministers are. If those gentlemen get by in the general election, they will be petty despots again. The Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that no honorable members shall make certain payments within three months of the general election with a purpose of ensuring their re-election. Yet every Cabinet Minister is shooting out sheaves of booklets that have that very purpose. I refer also to the booklet dealing with social services. Last week, I asked how many copies of the booklet had been ordered, what they had cost, and why they were finding their way into the offices of trade unions. I also asked whether any more copies were to be ordered. I was told that 500,000 had been ordered and that their cost was £8,000 and that another 500,000, which would also cost £8,000, had been ordered. The gist of the reply to a question about the booklets having found their way into the hands of Labour organizations was : “ We did not deliberately send them to Labour organizations. If they stamp ‘ Vote Labour ‘ all over them, that is their business “. It is more than their business ; it is the business of the Parliament to ensure that this sort of thing should be stopped. Government propaganda has poured from the printing presses for the eight years in which Labour has been in office. Now, we are experiencing a spate of similar propaganda before the general election. It should be stopped and it certainly should not be paid for by the people.
.- The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has referred to certain publications. His references were most unfair and unsound.
– In what way?
– I am going to discuss that. The honorable gentleman made a specific reference to a recent publication issued under the authority of the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) entitled Homes for Australia. That publication makes it perfectly clear that housing i is tho joint responsibility of the Aus.tralian Government and the State governments. The reference in it to housing in Western Australia makes it clear that housing in that State is under the direct administration of the State Government. No claim is made about the part played by the Australian Government in that State, other than that it makes a financial contribution, which is a perfectly truthful statement. Actually, that material could be regarded as propaganda for the State Government. It is factual information and has no regard for political complexions. The honorable member said that the booklet on social services was Labour party propaganda. Let us look at this alleged propaganda. On page 7 of the booklet it states -
In that year the Seullin Government reduced the allowance to £4. and introduced a means test as to income.
Is it “ good propaganda “ for the Labour party to talk about reducing social services ? The booklet gives a truly objective picture of the age pension. Then it says -
Child endowment was introduced by the Menzies Government. Payments commenced in July, 1941, at the rate of 5s. a week.
It traces the whole history of child endowment in a factual manner. That is also true of unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, widows’ pensions and so on. There are certain sections in the booklet that show that widows’ pensions and certain other social services came into being under the Labour Government. That is fact. As honorable members opposite know, a great many social services have been introduced in the eight years of the existence of the Labour Government. To say that is simply to speak the truth. The booklet cannot be regarded as propaganda in favour of any political party. It gives the historical background of social services. It explains the means tost. No one could regard an explanation of the means test as good propaganda for the Labour party.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) was again happy in his role of cloak-and-dagger expert for the
Opposition when he found out that a gentleman named Kaiser had been systematically betraying secrets. He implied that the secrets’ of the Australian Government had been betrayed hy Kaiser to a foreign country. I have to agree with the honorable gentleman that one must infer from Kaiser’s demonstration in front of Australia House over the coal strike that he is a Communist. There is no sense in quibbling about that. Whether or not it can be proved that he is a Communist, I do not know. All I know is that no section of the community other than the Communists disapproved of the Government’s actions in connexion with the coal strike. My point, however, is that while in the United Kingdom, Kaiser worked in British institutions. No evidence has been produced by the honorable member for Wentworth that those institutions were dealing with anything secret. But, if they were, and he was betraying the secret details, he should have come under the surveillance of the British Intelligence Service. We know certain people who, in Australia during the war, were not prosecuted but who, immediately they reached the United Kingdom, were arrested. One of them was a gentleman on whose behalf honorable members opposite were vocal recently. He would be well advised to keep away from the United Kingdom. The fact is that if there were any real evidence concerning subversive activities by Kaiser he would be arrested in Britain and charged in that country with the offences alleged, because such activities would have taken place in British scientific institutions. It is fantastic to suggest that while Kaiser is resident in Britain he is under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman). I do not wish to deal with that subject at any great length.
I desire to ask the Minister for some information concerning several aspects of the proposed vote for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) criticized the proposed expenditure for scientific and industrial research.
– I ‘ wanted a greater expenditure.
– The honorable member criticized the allocation of the expenditure. He complained that not enough was to be expended on scientific research connected with primary industries. The present Minister for Defence has so far eclipsed the record of governments that the honorable member for Wide Bay supported, and supported apparently uncritically, that the honorable member made no reference to his achievements. Under the present Minister, expenditure on scientific research has risen from £339,000 a year to more than £2,000,000 a year. The honorable member for Wide Bay made absurd claims about expenditure on astronomy and made fantastic statements about other research work which is not actually carried out. He will find that the heaviest items of expenditure under this division concern plant industry, soils and irrigation, forest products and other activities connected with agriculture. Plant industry, animal health and production account for proposed expenditures of more than £200,000 each. Proposed expenditure under item 6 of Division 113, relating to forest products, is given as £142,600.
In presenting these Estimates the Minister has not explained at any great length the expenditure proposed under item 16, section C, of Division 113, “ Biochemistry and general nutrition “. That item apparently refers to an activity distinct from animal nutrition. I ask the Minister if his department is taking over research into human nutrition and biochemistry. There have been references in scientific journals for some time to a new line of research in connexion with the growth of food crops in their relation to human nutrition. In the past, emphasis has been placed on wheat and plant breeding and upon prolificity and milling qualities of grain. In the United States of America, which leads the world in such research, the emphasis is now upon vitamins and the nutritional content of plants. Some rather remarkable results have been announced by various universities in the United States. I should like to know to what degree, if any, these lines of research are being pursued by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Item 8 of section C of Division 113 concerns radio research. I should like the Minister to explain whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is engaging in any research in relation to television, or whether the radio research mentioned refers only to research in connexion with Australian present radio facilities.
The Estimates indicate some analysis of research into food preservation and transport. Can the Minister say whether any research is taking place into the claims made on behalf of patent medicines, also into the claims that are advanced by the sellers of certain foodstuffs and certain tonics ? We very badly need an objective analysis to be made of many such claims. Many of the industries upon the products of which the public spends many hundreds of thousands of pounds annually are regarded by doctors as being engaged in lines of manufacture that amount to absolute quackery. It seems to me that some research should he made regarding such claims, and also that consideration should be given to the advisability of requesting the States, under whose jurisdiction this matter comes, to enact legislation to prohibit advertisements based on falsehoods, in cases where it has been established by research that the claims made in such advertisements are bogus.
Item 24 concerns fuel research. No doubt, during the recent coal strike, many honorable members received a brochure from a gentleman who claimed to have a process whereby coal could be burned with much greater efficiency and with much greater utilization of its heating qualities than is the case at present. He called it the “Anderson Process for Smokeless Fuel “. I should like to know whether that claim was investigated. The gentleman concerned asked for an analysis of his claims. There are many countries of the world where such a claim would, I am sure, receive some kind of public attention. I should like to know whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which carries out tests for the manufacturers of tractors and other machinery, would also carry out tests into this man’s claims which are either outrageous, or, if true, mean that he has discovered a process the value of which is important enough to be investigated.
Items 1 and 2 of section D of Division 113 refer to the provision of a total of £31,120 for research associations and research studentships. I should like to know how much of this amount is to be directed towards the tenure of scholarships in Britain. “We have a British fixation regarding many of our overseas scholarships, regardless of the fact that the initiative in many lines of scientific research has gone from Britain, which undoubtedly led in that respect during the nineteenth century, to the United States. I should like the Minister to give the committee some information on how much is to be made available notwithstanding dollar differences for the tenure of scholarships in the United States. An extremely open attitude is displayed by the United States in respect of all lines of scientific research, despite the fact that we are always hearing from honorable members opposite about how that country is keeping scientific developments secret as far as Australia is concerned.
Item 20, section C, shows that it is proposed to spend £33,000 on research into nuclear energy, the very field in which, according to the Opposition, the United States is most concerned with secrecy. The Commonwealth could well send students to the United States. It is suggested by honorable members opposite that such students would be denied access to information concerning American research on nuclear energy. I draw the attention of honorable members opposite to the activities of General Eisenhower, the former CommanderinChief of the United States Army during the last war, who is now president of Columbia University in the United States of America. The United States Government offered that university a grant of millions of dollars for research in atomic energy. Because of the urging of its president, Columbia University refused to accept any money from the United States Government for that purpose. General Eisenhower urged that the offer be rejected on the ground that if the university accepted money from the United States Government for atomic energy research it would be obliged to impose secrecy upon the men engaged at that university in such research. Columbia University has the use of many millions of dollars from private funds and also has an unrivalled laboratory which, in fact, carried out much of the research that resulted in the production of the atomic bomb. SoI stress that atomic research at the Columbia University, the president of which was Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army during the last war, is carried out under conditions of a complete absence of secrecy.
– Nonsense !
– I repeat that General Eisenhower urged Columbia University to refuse to accept the offer of that money from the United States Government because he was determined that there should be no secrecy regarding atomic research conducted at the university. I am glad to hear the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) say “ nonsense “. I shall be very pleased to present him with a copy of a speech by General Eisenhower in which he refused to accept government money so that there should be no ties imposed on research in the university of which he is president.
Opposition members interjecting,
– I do not have to defend General Eisenhower. I neither apologize for him nor do I condemn him. I merely state the facts. Honorable members opposite may criticize his attitude later if they desire to do so.
– The honorable member is implying–
– I am not implying anything. I am merely stating that General Eisenhower refused to accept money from the Government of the United States of America if the acceptance of such money involved a promise that secrecy would be preserved in relation to any research work undertaken asthe result of its provision. Honorable members opposite may condemn that attitude if they wish to do so. I am not responsible for General Eisenhower’s actions.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is conducting research work into the building industry in Sydney. In the course of that research work a number of tests have been made. I should like the Minister to inform me what has been the result of this work and how far the results of it have been applied to the building industry. When I first visited the research establishment in 1945 I observed that the officers there were engaged on problems relating to insulation, including the building of houses with flimsy materials which would keep them cool under very hot climatic conditions. Have any conclusions been reached as the result of this research work, and if so, how have they been applied to the building industry ?
– I think that it is best for Ministers to answer various points as they are raised during the debate.
– And thus take up a great deal of the time available to the committee.
– Unless the course I indicate is followed, there might be such an accumulation of matters that, towards the end of the period devoted to the consideration of these Estimates, it may be impossible for Ministers to give the information sought. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has asked whether anything is being done in relation to investigations into the manufacture of tractors and the testing of tractor equipment. Under Division 183, item 5, an amount of £7,600 has been provided, some of which will be used to subsidize research on standards of equipment generally. Tractors will be included under that item.
The honorable member has also asked whether the. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is undertaking any investigations in relation to human nutrition. The Commonwealth ‘Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research before it, have not undertaken any medical research work.
– I had in mind research into the nutritional value of plants.
– The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is doing a very great deal of work in that connexion. It has introduced a number of plants into Australia from other countries and it is undertaking experimental work to ascertain the nutritional value of certain plant constituents. A great deal of valuable work along those lines has been undertaken at the experimental research station near Rockhampton, in Queensland.
– Will the Minister ask the research officers to ascertain whether the product known as Bovril is a useless article because vitamins A and B cannot be dissolved 1
– That is a problem for examination not by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, but by medical research officers. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has not undertaken any medical research work. It does, however, undertake investigations of the chemical composition of foods and of any alterations that may take place in the chemical constituents of foods as the result of processing and marketing. Research work along those lines is, of course, undertaken principally for the benefit of primary producers.
The honorable member for Fremantle has also asked whether anything is being done to investigate the contents of patent medicines. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is not doing anything in that regard, principally because the Commonwealth has no constitutional power in relation to patent medicines generally.
– I suggested that the Commonwealth authorities might submit their findings to the States for examination with a view to the submission of appropriate legislation in the State parliaments.
– The Commonwealth would need to be assured that the State governments would be prepared to take some action before it authorized any such investigations. There is quite a history behind this subject. At one period during the war a regulation was promulgated which compelled the manufacturers of patent medicines to submit to the Commonwealth authorities an analysis of the contents of all such medicines. Some very interesting facts emerged as the result of the promulgation of that regulation. I agree that it would be of benefit to the community if some authority undertook such investigational work. The regulation to which I have referred was disallowed by the Parliament after it had operated for only a short period, and the Commonwealth did nothing further about the matter. If representations were made by the State governments that they were interested in this subject and that they believed that in the public interests investigations should be made into the contents of patent medicines, with a view to ascertaining whether they were really efficacious for the purposes for which they are advertised, the Commonwealth would gladly co-operate through the instrumentality of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. However, until such time as the governments that have constitutional power over this matter show some interest in it, I do not think that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should be asked to undertake such investigations.
The honorable member for Fremantle has also asked whether any allocations of money have been made for scholarships in the United States of America, and, if so, what amounts had been made available for that purpose. No specific funds have been allocated for that purpose. From time to time the executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization makes recommendations to me that particular individuals should be sent to the United States of America to investigate certain problems. The executive also makes recommendations that individuals in the United States of America who have particular knowledge of specified subjects should be asked to visit Australia to assist us in the solution of our problems. Each of these recommendations is investigated on its merits. If it is thought that a scholarship in a particular subject would benefit this country only if the student went to the United States, the recommendation is approved subject to a very thorough examination being made to ascertain whether the student concerned could not obtain the desired knowledge and training in some soft currency country. The same principle applies to recommendations made to me by the executive of the organization in relation to proposals to invite American specialists to this country. Not long ago a recommendation was made to me that an American expert in the science of genetics, Professor Lush, should be invited to visit this country. I asked whether it would not be possible to obtain the services of an expert from the United Kingdom who would be equally as reliable as Professor Lush. I was informed that the only individual in the United Kingdom who had the specialized knowledge which the organization wanted to impart to our own people who are interested in this matter was not available to pay a visit to Australia. In those circumstances, I approved of the recommendation that Professor Lush should be brought from America. Professor Lush subsequently visited Australia and I understand that the information which he imparted to our people who were engaged in the study of both animal and plant genetics has been of very great value to the organization. I believe that I have dealt with all the matters that were raised by the honorable member for Fremantle. If I have overlooked any matter I shall be glad to furnish what information I have about it at a later stage.
.- I was very interested in the speech made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). When the honorable gentleman first came into this Parliament we gave him credit for inexperience, but we also gave him credit for intellectual honesty. However, during the brief period, of his membership of the Parliament he has shown-
– Order ! The honorable member must deal with the Estimates now under consideration.
– To show how the honorable member’s intellectual honesty has deteriorated, I mention the fact that he referred to a booklet which, he said, had been issued by the Department of Labour and National Service. He went on to say that the booklet was so impartial that any government should be prepared to authorize its publication. However, he neglected to mention that in the foreword to the booklet, which was written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), the following statement appears: -
Even when Australia was in the grip of war, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, agreed with me that social security in the post-war era demanded a comprehensive social services programme. We felt that the misery and hardship of past years were things which Australia should never have to endure again.
– “What is wrong with that?
– Every line of it is Labour propaganda. Notwithstanding that fact, the honorable member for Fremantle endeavoured to persuade himself mid those who may have been listening to his speech that this booklet is a straightforward document and that thousands of copies of it should be printed at the expense, not of the Australian Labour party, but of the public. I understand that 1,000,000 copies of the booklet are on order with the printers. Apart from that, I want to show how the Australian Labour party has debased this booklet. A copy of the booklet which has been handed to me by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) who, like the honorable member for Fremantle, comes from. Western Australia, has plastered all over it the words, “ Vote Labour. Webb for Swan “. We have been told that this booklet is not a propaganda document, that its printing involves a reasonable expenditure of government money, and that its contents would be endorsed by every right-thinking and fair individual in the community. Apparently the honorable member for Fremantle has slipped very greatly in the three short years of his membership of this Parliament.
The honorable member invoked the name of General Eisenhower, saying that, as president of the Columbia University, that distinguished gentleman had refused to accept funds from the United States Government for use by the university if such acceptance involved n. promise of secrecy in relation to any research work undertaken by the university. Those are not the facts. The honorable member for Fremantle deliberately clouded the issue. In ‘ the Melbourne Herald of the 6th June, 1949. the following paragraph appeared : -
Washington Wednesday. - Twenty lead ins educationists, including General Eisenhower,
President of the Columbia University, and Mr. James B. Conant, President of Harvard, said to-day that Communists should be barred from thi: teaching profession … It is because members of the Communist party are required to surrender the right to think for themselves as a consequence of becoming part of a movement characterized by conspiracy and calculated deceit that they _ should be excluded from employment as teachers.
Although the honorable member for Fremantle invoked the name of General Eisenhower, he omitted to mention those facts, of which I presume ho was aware.
The honorable gentleman spoke of young Kaiser. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has frequently assured the Parliament and the country that there is no need for us to worry about Communists in Australia having access to information about secret projects, and in his speech to-day he has given the committee assurance after assurance to that effect. He has said that we need not worry, because the screening authorities in Australia are so perfect and efficient that a Communist could not possibly get through the net. It required Mr. Kaiser himself, at a demonstration in London, to indicate that he had Communist sympathies. The assurances that the Minister gave us months ago, long before that demonstration occurred, have proved to be of no more value than other assurances that he has given us from time to time. The Minister’s reputation in the Parliament is such that we on this side of the chamber cannot accept any assurance that he gives unless it is accompanied by documents that place the matter beyond any doubt. Although we have been told from time to time that there are no Communists in the employment of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as it was known at one time, they have come to light. I shall name one Communist, of whom the Minister has some knowledge, who was employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I refer to the notorious Mr. Rudkin, who was convicted during the war of treason. He endeavoured to impart military information to a foreign power. He served a term of six months imprisonment in a West Australian prison during the war, and after his release he was appointed, under the authority of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, to an important position in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Minister defended that appointment on every occasion when the matter was raised in the Parliament. He argued that Mr. Rudkin was employed in the forestry division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and that he could not in such employment possibly obtain ‘ information . about secret work. The Minister may not be aware that Mr. Rudkin has been endeavouring to secure employment in the physics laboratory of the University of Melbourne. In his application for employment he has doubtless referred to the fact that he was approved by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I shall say no more upon that subject. Although the Minister told us that he has not approved of the appointment of Communists, we have found Communists popping up in the departments for which he is responsible. The honorable gentleman told us that the noted Dr. Atcherley was not a Communist, but the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) produced evidence which showed that he was the secretary of the Canberra branch of the Communist party.
– Does the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) suggest that Dr. Atcherley was employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research?
– I do not say that he was employed by that organization. I say that the Minister repudiated the suggestion of the honorable member for Reid that Dr. Atcherley was a Communist and endeavoured to prove that the honorable gentleman had made a false assertion, but finally evidence was produced which showed that Dr. Atcherley was acting, under the very nose of the Government, as the secretary of the Canberra branch of the Communist party. In those circumstances, what confidence can we repose in statements by honorable gentlemen opposite that the Government is protecting the community against the infiltration of Communists into government departments?
The committee is considering the proposed vote for the Department of Trans port. That department is supposed to be engaged upon the standardization of railway gauges in Australia. I think that a sum of £200,000,000 was appropriated for that purpose four or five years ago. Not long ago, I asked the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) how many miles of railway line had been unified since the glorious plan of the Government was unfolded to the Parliament, and I was told that not one mile of railway line had then been unified. 1 sincerely hope that there is a much better fate in store for the Snowy Mountains scheme, which, on the eve of a general election, is being greatly publicized. It seems that man proposes, but that God, in His wisdom, disposes.
– Sometimes it is the High Court.
– I thank God that there is a High Court. I hope that the justices of the High Court will live to be very healthy old men. I am sure that the members of the Labour party are wishing them a very short period of life, so that the Government can pack the High Court Bench.
The criticisms that have been directed by honorable members on this side of the chamber against the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have not been concerned with the work of the organization but with Communist infiltration into it. I have never criticized the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in respect of the work that it is doing or the work that it is not doing. The criticism that I now propose to offer relates to the failure of the Government to provide sufficient money for the extension and development of the organization.
– Is the honorable gentleman complaining that there is not enough socialization ?
– We do not want socialization. We require scientific research work to be undertaken so that private industry may take advantage of it and use it for the development of Australia in a proper manner. Canada is one of the strongholds of private enterprise in the British Commonwealth
According to a document that was presented to the Canadian Parliament with the Canadian budget papers, in 1948-49 the Canadian Government expended 4S,000,000 dollars upon national scientific research. That sum is probably the equivalent of approximately £20,000,000 Australian. Although the Canadian Government has expended £20,000,000 in a year upon scientific and industrial research, the Australian Government is prepared to make only £2,000,000 available this year for that purpose. There are many jobs that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization could do that it is not doing.
– What was done by the Government of which the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was a supporter?
– It founded the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) apparently belongs to the school of thought that expects to finish where it should begin. There would be no development if theories of that kind were adopted throughout the world. The Government of which I. was a member established the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and laid the foundations of most of the work for which this Government is now claiming the credit. On the north coast of New South Wales there are many noxious weeds that the landholders themselves cannot possibly control or eradicate, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization could do some experimental work in that connexion, but, po far as I know, it has not done so. Nothing has been done in connexion with hemp, which is fast invading some of our best land there. Very little has been done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in relation to the deficiencies of the soil along the coastal areas of New South Wales. The organization has one man at the experimental farm at Wallambah, but he has not yet submitted a report.
I believe that in many instances the Government is not paying adequate salaries to its scientific and industrial research workers. The Commonwealth and the States are losing some of their host scientists to other countries because of the low salaries that they offer. The honorable member for Brisbane knows that Dr. Young, who is well known to many members of the committee, is now employed by the Government of Ceylon.
– He was employed by a State authority.
– That is so, but the salaries that are paid by Commonwealth and State departments have a certain relationship. If the Commonwealth were to increase the salaries of its scientific workers, the State governments would be forced to follow suit. Mr. Lewcock, one of the most noted scientists in Queensland, is now employed in South Africa to advise upon agricultural problems there. Many of our scientists have been badly treated. Recently, I spoke to a man who has spent eighteen years of his life in a Government department. He is a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Master of Agricultural Science. After eighteen years of service his salary is less than £500 a year. That man is employed by a State authority, but the salaries that are paid by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization are similar to those that are paid by State authorities, although they may be a little higher. I suggest to the Government and to those who are responsible for the administration of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization that the time has come to review the salaries of our scientists, especially those of the top-grade men who are now being attracted elsewhere. We must expend more money upon research and the development of scientific techniques. At the present time almost every branch of trade and industry in Australia is confronted with problems that can only hesolved with the assistance of scientific investigations. What can we hope to achieve on a budget of £2.000,000 ? The reports that are issued by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization reveal that the work of the organization covers many fields, but there is still much to be done.
I am a practical farmer. I study the reports that are issued by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other scientific bodies and try to make sense of them. I consider that the Commonwealth Scientific; and Industrial Research Organization should publish its findings in such a manner as will enable them to be understood by the ordinary man on the land, who has to give effect to them. As far as I am able to judge, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research adopted the view that once it completed an investigation, its responsibility in the matter ended, and that State Departments of Agriculture should distribute the information among interested sections of primary producers. I did not ‘agree with that view. I have always believed that, from beginning to end, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, now the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, should conduct investigations and give the widest possible publicity to its findings and recommendations. The problem of hemp which is most serious in the coastal areas of New South Wales and Queensland, must be solved. This plant pest is rapidly enveloping thousands of acres, and farmers, with their present knowledge and facilities, are unable to control it. They urgently require financial and scientific assistance from the Commonwealth to enable them to maintain production in those areas. If the Government adopts a passive attitude towards that problem, our production of food, especially in the dairying districts, will further decline.
The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has defended the screening methods that are employed to exclude Communists from the staff’ of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I wonder whether the honorable gentleman’s attention has been drawn to the report of a meeting of the Sydney University Labour Club some time ago, at which some 200 students protested against the dismissal from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of Mr. Kaiser, who had participated in a Communist demonstration in London. The report states that a Dr. Makinson, lecturer in physics, said -
America is endeavouring to dictate our internal policy.
– What has that to db> with the Commonwealth ?
– It certainly is not related to the Estimates of the departments under consideration.
– Is the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction defending the Communists?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN The honorable member for Richmond had better leave the matter there, and deal with a subject that is relevant to these Estimates.
– I shall not pursue the matter further than to say that an amount of £115,000 has been voted this year for security measures.
– Order ! That is too thin.
– If we have to rely upon the assurances of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is completely screened against infiltration by Communists, the vote should be considerably increased.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. In the early part of his speech, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) referred to some remarks that I had made and endeavoured to refute my suggestion that the booklet on social services was not partisan. He said that I knew that that booklet contained the words, “ Vote for Labour, Webb for Swan”. I have examined the 32 pages of the booklet, and I find that that statement does not occur on any of the pages. The honorable member held up a copy of the booklet, and it was obvious that those words had been inserted with a rubber stamp. Having made that statement, the honorable member proceeded to wave the booklet about his head, and claim that it contained statements that were Labour propaganda. It was obvious that those words had not been printed by the Commonwealth, or the Government Printer, and that it would be competent for any person, using a rubber stamp, to imprint any statement in the booklet. The honorable gentleman, in suggesting that I had misled the committee, was himself misleading it.
– I shall endeavour to be brief, because I realize that other honorable members desire to speak on the Estimates for the five departments which are now under discussion. I am obliged to make an observation on the remarks of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), who waved various publications in the air and made disparaging comments upon them. He claimed that all of them were sheer Labour party propaganda, and that the Government waa misusing public funds in publishing them. The honorable member said that the paper could have been used to better purpose in publishing the novels or poems of deserving Australian writers. I inform the honorable gentleman that the quantity of newsprint, and even the superfine and calendar paper used in all Commonwealth and State government departments in one year, would not equal the quantity of paper that is used in a newspaper office in one day. The honorable member was very wide of the mark if he thought that savings of newsprint by governments would provide a great reservoir of materia] for the publication of the works of deserving novelists and poets. The honorable member for Balaclava also referred to an excellent publication by the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon), in which the operation of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is described. As the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has pointed out, that scheme is functioning under an agreement between the Commonwealth and every State government, irrespective of the political views of the several parties to it.
– South Australia is not a party to that agreement.
– That is so. South Australia is the only exception. I regard all those publications as conveying excellent lessons in civics, and I think that they deal with matters of great public interest. The Labour Government has always experienced great difficulty in securing the publication of facts about our communitylife and economy, and in order to ensure that that story shall reach people of all political views, it lias to secure publication of documents that are well and objectively written. For such there is a great public demand. I think that the honorable member for Balaclava indulged in rather small-minded criticism of the Government when he said that those publications were not good. He adopted the wrong attitude in saying that governments should not publicize their achievements. All previous Commonwealth governments have publicized their actions, and all State governments do so.
– Some Commonwealth governments in the past had no achievements to publicize.
– If some governments did not publicize what they did, the reason might well have been that they had no achievements to publicize. .
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has made a series of bitter attacks upon the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who is a very honest man who tells his story to the chamber in a forthright fashion. For a honorable member to say that the Opposition does not accept any assurance that he gives is contemptible. I have never known any Minister of any government at any time who has deliberately attempted to mislead the Parliament, and certainly the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has never” attempted to do so. The criticism that the Minister is not fulfilling his responsibilities as the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is just too laughable. As a matter of fact, the honorable gentleman is expending six times as much money as was expended when the honora.ble member for Richmond ceased to be a Minister, and he would expend more if he could see a profitable way of doing so, such as obtaining the services of more scientists, securing more equipment and generally doing the things which he believes are in the interests of the Australian people and particularly the primary producers. In that respect, as in all other respects, the Minister has done his work very well and painstakingly, and at great sacrifice of time and energy.
The honorable member for Balaclava referred to certain provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. If he desires to raise that point, I inform him, in passing, that the provisions of the act have been violated for many years in respect of the amount of money that has been expended, not by candidates, but by big organizations such as the Australian Constitutional League, which have tried to influence public opinion.
– Did the Minister approve of that expenditure?
– No, and I should be glad to have the support of the honorable member in the matter. I do not think that the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act have been violated by what has been done to inform the public mind factually and objectively. The whole story of social services benefits, the period of the Premiers plan, the introduction of child endowment by the Menzies Government and other similar matters are dealt with, and, therefore, the publication cannot be described as Labour party propaganda. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) is, unfortunately, not here because his father died yesterday, and the Minister is attending the funeral to-day. It ill behoved the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) to make his sneering, nasty remark about the Minister even when he was told the facts. To use the vernacular, it was a rotten remark to make.
– Be honest! He did not know about it.
– The Minister should be ashamed to make such a lying statement. He is just a liar.
– Order ! The honorable member for Wide Bay must withdraw that remark.
– I shall not withdraw it. He is a liar.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I name the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– I did not insult the Minister for Transport or any other honorable member. The Minister for Information has said a terrible thing about me, and I will not stand for it. He is a liar.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) put -
That the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) be suspended from the service of the committee.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Ma. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Majority . . . .11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In the House:
– No question of privilege can arise at this stage.
Question put -
That the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mb. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for Wide Bay thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed.
– The honorable member may not speak on a matter of privilege in committee.
– I refer you, sir, to Standing Order 2S0, from which I quote as follows : -
No Member shall interrupt another Member whilst speaking, unless (1) to request that his words be taken down ; . . .
I now request that my words be taken down. The Standing Order continues - . . (2) to call attention to a point of Order or Privilege suddenly arising; or (3) to call attention to the want of a Quorum.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ask the honorable member to resume his seat. The Chair will not argue with him any further. He may not raise a matter of privilege in committee. He may do that only in the House.
– I accept your ruling, sir, and rise to a point of order affecting the consistent conduct of debates in this chamber. During the present debate in committee the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), when addressing the Chair, said to the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) that he had made a lying statement.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order !
– Surely there is not one set of rules for one side of the chamber and another set for the other.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The incident referred to by the honorable member has passed and he may not refer to it at this stage. If he had wanted to make any comment upon it he should have done so at the time.
– I am raising it now, because it is relevant to the incident that has just occurred.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must resume his seat.
– I rise to a point of order.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of Transport, the Department of Information, the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has expired.
Question put -
That the proposed votes be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member is trying to raise something on which I have already ruled.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member has asked a hypothetical question, and it is not within the province of the Chair to advise honorable members about what should he done in a hypothetical case. The honorable member, by underhand means, is seeking to mislead the committee. He is raising a matter on which the Chair has already given a ruling.
Question put -
That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Majority . . . . 14
Customs Tariff Amendment (No.3).
– I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 3).]
The tariff proposal which I have just introduced covers spectacle lenses, spectacles, spectacle frames, magnifying and reading glasses. The proposal follows a Tariff Board report on these goods and the duties now proposed are in accordance with the board’s recommendations and Australia’s international trade treaty commitments. The board’s report was tabled in the Parliament by me earlier to-day. Before the recent war the only items of ophthalmic goods in regular commercial production in Australia were those on which protective duties had been in operation for many years, namely, fused bifocal blanks and spectacle cases. The war created local shortages which prompted considerable expansion of manufacture to other items. Single vision lenses, which had been imported before the war, commenced to be ground in quantities from glass blanks imported or made locally. An acute shortage of spectacle frames was met by local production by an injection moulding process. The manufacture of gold-filled mountings was started and various types of sunglasses and goggles were made. The board has carefully examined this industry and the rates it has recommended are those which it considers necessary to protect the industry. A summary of alterations showing the variations of the existing duties has been circulated for the information of honorable members. In view of the change of status and designation of certain countries shown in the Customs Tariff as British nonselfgoverning colonies, the opportunity has been taken, on legal advice, to vary the Customs Tariff so that it shall conform to the present position of these countries. This amendment is contained in paragraphI of the preliminary matter to this proposal. I move -
That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
– I protest.
The question is -
That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
– The Minister had no right to move that progress be reported before other honorable members had had an opportunity to speak on the motion relating to the amendment of the Customs Tariff.
– The question that progress be reported may not be debated.
– I rise to order. The whole of these proceedings is completely out of order.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member may not debate the motion that progress be reported.
– I am not trying to do so.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member will resume his seat.
– Thank you!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly,
Motion (by Mr. Pollard) proposed -
That the House will, at a later hour this day, again resolve itself into the said committee.
.- I desire to speak on the motion. I want the Minister to bring down other tariff schedules. I want him to bring down a tariff schedule relating to the protection of the cotton industry.
– Order! The Chair has no knowledge of. what happens in committee.
– I rise to order. Yesterday the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said -
I declare (a) that the Estimates of Expenditure are of an urgent nature; (b) that the resolutions preliminary to the introduction of the Appropriation Bill are urgent resolutions; and (c) that the Appropriation Bill is an urgent bill.
When that declaration had been confirmed by the House, on a division, the following motion made by the Prime Minister was agreed to, also on a division of the House -
That the time allotted for the consideration of the remainder of the Estimates, the resolutions and the stages of the Appropriation Bill, be as follows: -
I contend that once a bill has been declared an urgent bill and timehas been allotted for its consideration, no other business may intrude. The House allotted time for the consideration of the Estimates, certain resolutions and the Appropriation Bill. The action of the Minister for Agriculture and Commerce (Mr. Pollard) in introducing a tariff schedule was entirely out of order and in conflict with the decision of the House yesterday.
– I am afraid that I must accept some responsibility in this matter. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) asked me this morning whether it would be possible for him to table a tariff schedule at 4.30 p.m. to-day. Knowing that that is the normal time at which to table tariff schedules, I said that I was agreeable. I am afraid that I failed to convey that agreement to some of my colleagues. Therefore, I am responsible for any difficulty that has arisen in this matter.
– I desire to refer to a matter of privilege.
– Order ! The point of order raised by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) relates to urgency. It is that no other business may intrude after the Estimates have been declared urgent and time has been allotted for their consideration. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said that what the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) did had been done by arrangement. I understand that there is a precedent for urgent and important matters, such as tariff schedules, to bo introduced in Committee of Ways and Means in circumstances like those existing to-day. The House is master of its own destiny. I think the proceedings havebeen quite in order.
– I raise a matter of privilege. I desire to raise the question of permissible language. The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Lazzarini) ruled earlier that a Minister was in order in saying that the honorable member for Wentworth had made a lying statement.
– Order ! If the honorable member for Indi is not speaking to the motion before the House he is not in order. The House must dispose of the question first. The question is -
That the House will, at a later hour this day, again resolve itself into the said committee.
– I am prepared to address my remarks to that motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if that course is in order.
– The honorable member is not entitled to make such remarks on the motion before the House.
– Is not this a matter that can be spoken of ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The matter of privilege that I have already indicated I desire to raise relates to discrimination in respect of the permitted use of language, according to whether an honorable member sits on the right or the left side of the Chair.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the matter of privilege that he desires to raise. He must not reflect on the conduct of the House by the Chairman of Committees.
– The point I am raising refers to the conduct of this House and the discrimination against honorable members-
-Order! The honorable member is referring to a matter that took place in committee. He is aware that the Chair has no knowledge of what takes place in committee and he is not entitled to deal in the House with a ruling that was given in committee. He may not raise in the House a question relating to a ruling given in committee.
– I do not wish to enter into any controversy. That is the last thing I desire to do. But I wish to raise a matter of privilege which affects honorable members of the House. If your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is that I am not permitted to raise the matter of permissible language at this stage, I must point out that the Temporary Chairman of Committees did not permit me to raise it while we were in committee, and therefore I am debarred both in the House and in committee from referring to an urgent matter which concerns the privilege of honorable members.
– Order ! The honorable member is getting several matters mixed. His point, as I understand it, relates to a ruling given in committee. If he had any view to express on that matter he should have raised it at the time that it occurred. He was entitled to go even further for he could have taken steps to disagree with the ruling of the Temporary Chairman. But he is not entitled to canvass in the House a ruling given in committee, because the Chair has no knowledge of what takes place in committee.
– I rise to order. This matter is really very disturbing, because,, although Mr. Deputy Speaker may not pay any attention officially to happenings in committee, the fact is that it has been ruled that no question of privilege may be raised in committee. If no question of privilege may be raised in committee,, although Standing Order 280 expressly, provides that no member shall interrupt another member whilst speaking, unless to call attention to a point of order or privilege suddenly arising, then it must be that a point of order or privilegecannot be raised at all, or it can be raised in the House. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have just ruled-
– I have not ruled on a point of privilege.
– The honorable member for Indi is raising a point of privilege. What I have in mind is that such a point must be capable of being raised either in the House or in the committee.
-Order! A matter of privilege may be raised by an honorable member in the House. The point, as I see it, is that the honorable member for Indi is attempting to canvass a ruling given in committee. Such a matter should have been raised at the time in committee and the decision of the Temporary Chairman given thereon. It is not for the Chair now to accept any canvassing of a ruling of the Temporary Chairman of Committees.
– Then I desire, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to give notice of a substantive motion of dissent from the Temporary Chairman’s ruling on the ground that it exercises bias, and discriminates against members of the Opposition in the discharge of their public duties.
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to address himself to such a motion at this stage. He may give notice of such a motion in “writing in the normal way.
– Then I shall give such notice and will hand it in in writing. Does such a motion require a seconder?
– I would second the motion.
– I understand that Mr. Deputy Speaker has ruled that the honorable member for Indi may continue with his point of privilege at this stage on a matter that occurred in committee.
– I have not prevented the honorable member from raising a point of privilege. He is entitled to raise a point of privilege; but the interpretation that I have put upon his remarks is that the matter that he is endeavouring to discuss amounts to the canvassing of a ruling of the Temporary Chairman. Therefore he is not raising a legitimate matter of privilege. As I have said, the matter of the actual ruling of the Temporary Chairman should have been dealt with in the committee. It is not one for the House.
– I was addressing myself to a question of privilege.
– Order ! If the honorable member proposes to continue to address himself to the ruling that was given by the Temporary Chairman in committee, he is not entitled to do so. If he desires to raise a matter of privilege, he is entitled to do so.
– I rise to order.
– There is no point of order.
– Since I commenced to speak of this matter a few minutes ago, I have not, as reference to the Hansard report will verify, referred to the ruling of the Temporary Chairman. You, yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have presumed that I was referring to the
Tilling of the Temporary Chairman. My remarks have been directed to the subject of discrimination in the permissible employment of language, according to whether it is used by members on the right or on the left of the Chair. As I have said, I desire-
– Order ! The Chair is required to determine whether a matter of privilege suddenly arising is a matter of urgency, and I know of no urgency in the present instance that would warrant the honorable member pursuing the matter at this stage.
– If that is your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you compel me to take the course provided by the ‘Standing Orders of giving notice of dissent in the terms that I have indicated. I understand that the honorable member for Richmond will second the motion. I give notice of motion and hand it in in writing, in accordance with Standing Order 407. I now desire to move that the Standing Orders be suspended for the purpose of enabling me to discuss immediately the motion of which I have given notice. I invoke the support of Standing Order 407, which states that in cases of urgency-
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to get away with that, either. The Chair has ruled on the question whether there is urgent necessity in this case. The Standing Order provides that -
In case of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders of the House may be suspended for the day’s sitting, on Motion, duly made and seconded, without notice: Provided that such motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of Members of the House.
I rule that such urgent necessity does not arise in this case and that the motion of which the honorable member has given notice cannot be discussed at this stage. The Clerk will call on the next business.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1293.)
Department of Defence
Proposed vote, £315,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed vote, £13,077,000.
Department of the Army.
Proposed vote, £14,104,000.
Department of Air
Proposed vote, £11,166,000.
Department of Supply and Development
Proposed vote, £5,575,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- I desire to make several observations on the Estimates as they affect the Department of the Army. I do not propose to offer any general criticism of the Government’s defence policy, particularly as it affects the Army, because, on a number of previous occasions I have said exactly what I think of the whole basis of defence as it is advanced by this Government. Briefly, I have always considered the Government’s defence policy inadequate and an evasion of its responsibility to defend the country adequately. Its policy is lacking in courage, and is indeed a cowardly policy. That has been said time and time again and on this occasion I do not intend to attack the basis of this country’s military defence which relies on a minute and understaffed permanent army. “We have a very much smaller volunteer army than we had before the last war. I wish to comment, however, on several aspects of the militia scheme in which the Government has put its faith. The great body of the troops who are supposed to defend this country in time of emergency is what we loosely call the militia. We were told that we were to have a part-time army of 50,000 men, but at the end of nearly two years after the scheme was first introduced, only 13,000 men have been enlisted. In effect we have to-day an army that is somewhat smaller than the country’s police forces, and is of a contemptible strength.
The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) earlier to-day raised the question of how even that very small force is being managed, and she expressed the opinion that even although its strength is so small, numbers of men have recently resigned. I think that she cited the figure of 4,000 men who have ceased to engage in part-time training. But the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), as he always does when such criticisms are levelled, said that there was no truth in her statement and that it was no doubt some sort of newspaper gossip. He dismissed it as nonsense. As a matter of fact, there is a great deal of truth in the statements that the honorable member for Darwin advanced. The Minister knows very well that recruiting for the militia forces came to a standstill some months ago, and that a large number of men have resigned or have simply ceased to attend parades; and thus have ceased to be effective. In some cases their commanding officers have had to ask such men to resign because it is of no benefit to the country to have men on the books when they are performing absolutely no service.
In order, to discover how poor recruiting now is we do not require to look any further than the battalion raised in the Australian Capital Territory, which has an establishment of about 800 men, but the strength of which is actually, I suggest, below 200 men. That is a position which exists- right throughout the Commonwealth. Unit after unit goes into camp with only a handful of men to be trained. Yet the Minister expresses great satisfaction over that state of affairs. He says, in effect, that it is wonderful that after two years we have 13,000 men ready to do part-time training. The militia scheme is so badly administered at the present time that the military authorities are unable to employ properly the men they have. They cannot attract more men and they cannot even hold those that they already have. One of the reasons for that is that the small amount that those soldiers receive in payment as a result of their willingness to undertake voluntary military training, is subject to taxation. A man who volunteers for service in the militia finds at the end of the financial year that he has earned perhaps £50 for his military service. That amount must be shown with his other income for the purposes of tax assessment, which frequently means that his voluntary service in the militia actually costs him money, because the amount that he earns thereby brings him into a higher taxation field. I raised this matter about two years ago when the scheme was first introduced and the Minister said that he would give some consideration to an adjustment of it. I daresay that he did so, but the decision was unfavorable. I cannot see the least reason for taxing the amounts paid to soldiers who have undertaken part-time training, and I ask the Minister once more if he will reconsider this matter, which constitutes a gross injustice. A great many men who undertake part-time military duties find themselves out of pocket as a result of so doing. Many of them have to travel great distances by car to engage in training and, as the Minister knows, the travelling expenses allowed to them are quite inadequate. In addition, as the Minister knows, or ought to know, any officer or non-commissioned officer who takes his duty seriously has to spend far more time on the training of men than he is actually credited with. I again ask the Government to give favorable consideration to the exemption of military pay from income tax. The need for inducing more young men to join our armed forces is great enough to justify such a course. Let the Minister take this step to show that the Government has some appreciation of what it is asking these men to do.
I wish to refer now to the manner in which the figures relating to the strength of the armed forces have been presented in this chamber. The Minister has said that we have a permanent army of 19,000 men. I point out that at least 5,000 members of the so-called permanent army are really members of the interim army. It is most misleading for the Minister to say that we have a permanent army of record numbers when, in fact, a great number of the men could resign at any moment they desired to do so, and another very large number of them perform duties of a purely administrative character. In order to ascertain the strength of the regular army we have only to consider the strength of the permanent brigade. This much vaunted permanent brigade has not even the strength of a battalion. Under present conditions it is very unlikely that it will attain the strength of a battalion for a considerable time. If that statement is not correct, let the Minister state specifically how far below strength our permanent army units really are. At about this time last year I had occasion to cite the figures relating to one of the battalions of our permanent army. At that time, it was less than onequarter of the target strength. My statement was not then contradicted, and no facts or figures have since been forthcoming from the Minister to prove that it was inaccurate. I know that the figures which I have cited are correct. This Government is indulging in great deception in painting such a false picture of the defence forces of this country. As the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) said in his speech during the general debate on the budget, never before in such troublous times have we had less with which to defend ourselves. I do not intend to deal at length with the subject of compulsory military training. I merely point out that even New Zealand, which has a socialist Government, has determined that all the citizens of that dominion shall- be in a position to defend their country.
I propose now to say a few words about the decision of the Government to use army personnel on the northern coal-fields during the recent coal strike. That was the most cowardly action which this Government has taken. It destroyed whatever confidence in the Army the great Labour movement may have held, and gave rise to a great deal of resentment. It was well known that the requisite labour could have been obtained from among the members of the Australian Workers Union. Indeed, the members of that union volunteered to work the mines. The Government did not use their services because it feared to split its party political affiliations. Its decision to use members of the armed forces on this work destroyed the confidence of the unions in the armed forces of this country. That was one of the worst actions that has ever been taken by any government in this country, and the honorable gentleman who calls himself the Minister for the Army, having permitted that to be done, is unworthy to occupy his present position.
– I usually have a great deal of respect for the contributions to our debates by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett); but to-day it was obvious that he was determined to indulge in party political propaganda on the eve of the general election. He made a personal attack on me and said that the Government had committed an act of deception in misrepresenting the strength of the Permanent Military Forces, and the position in relation to warlike equipment.
I emphatically deny the charge that the Government has been guilty of deception in this matter. I have never said that there are 19,000 members of the Permanent Military Forces. What I have said is that the strength of the Permanent Military Forces is now 15,500. That figure is authentic. I am able to give details relating to the placement of those forces.
– I placed a question on the notice-paper relating to that very matter more than a month ago, but I have not yet received a reply.
– I informed the honorable member yesterday that I had received a reply which had been prepared by the department, but that, as it contained some inaccuracies, I had sent it back for further examination. The reply which was furnished by the department did not contain all the figures for which the honorable member had asked. I did not want to answer his question only in part, and for that reason there has been a further delay. The members of the Permanent Military Forces have been distributed over the following arms of the services : -
Since those figures were prepared, the numbers have been slightly increased. It is rather amazing that honorable members opposite should condemn the defence policy of this Government when the record of the governments which they formed in past years is such a sorry one. In 1938 when everybody in Australia except the Government then in power knew that this country would soon be at war-
– The Minister should read Hansard.
– These are the facts.
– The Minister’s own Leader said that there was no need for a defence vote.
– We were then in Opposition. It is of no use for the right honorable gentleman to quote what the then Leader of the Opposition may have said on the matter. The right honorable gentleman was then himself responsible for the defence of this country as we are responsible for it now. We have accepted our responsibility in the fullest sense.
– The Minister then opposed the defence vote.
– I was not a member of the Parliament at that time.
– It is true that we did not have the pleasure of the honorable gentleman’s acquaintance then. His colleagues in the Australian Labour party opposed the defence vote.
– In 1938-39 Germany had developed a great war potential. The 1914-18 war left Germany’s war potential practically -untouched. Within a short, space of time after the conclusion of World War I. Germany was able to train another huge fighting force, and to equip it with all the implements of war. The world knew that Germany was preparing for another war. Italy still had the capacity to place a large fighting force in the field, and Japan had emerged from World War I. virtually untouched. Although it was common knowledge throughout the world that Germany, Italy and Japan were preparing for war, the strength of the permanent military forces of Australia in 1938-39 was less than 5,000 men.
– We then had five divisions of citizen forces.
– That is not so. At that time General Squires protested against the inflated figures that had been given to him relating to our defence forces. He complained that the personnel available to him were not in accordance with the stated figures.
– Is the Minister able to table a report containing such a statement?
– He cannot do so. Such a report would of course be characterized as confidential.
Mr. CHAMBERS.^! can authenticate every statement that I have made. When the strength of the Commonwealth military forces was supposed to be 50,000, it was actually only about 25,000. The present strength of the Citizen Military Forces, which were established only a little more than twelve months ago, is 15,000. Thus the total strength of the Citizen Military Forces and the Permanent Military Forces is approximately 30,500. The 1914-18 war left virtually untouched the countries which subsequently attacked the British Empire and its Allies in 1939. Their capacity to engage in another great war was unimpaired.
– What about Russia?
– When the Chief of the General Staff recently returned from Japan he said that to a very great extent Russia’s industrial capacity had been destroyed during World War TI. and that Russia had lost 7,000,000 of its most virile population. We cannot overlook the fact that when honorable members opposite formed the Government of this country, and the world was on the verge of another great conflict, their plane for the defence of this country were in no way comparable with the defence plans to which this Government has given effect at a time when the prospects of war are somewhat remote.
– The Lyons Government was described by the Labour Opposition of the day as a government of warmongers.
– This Government’s defence plans are far more comprehensive than were those of the antiLabour Government which was in office at the outbreak of World War II. These facts cannot be denied.
– But they are denied. This, from a Labour man, sounds like nothing on earth to me.
– Let us compare the position that, existed then with the present position in relation to the supply of equipment. Adequate stocks of war-like stores, including guns and ammunition, are now held both for the protection of the troops and to enable our troops to engage an enemy until such time as Australia’s manufacturing capacity can be brought into full operation. At the outbreak of the war in 1939 the equipment position was scandalous. All that was available was the residue of the 1914-1S war. Equipment not only was inadequate but also had been out-moded .by more modern equipment in the hands of our potential enemies, who, unlike ourselves, had long before commenced to re-arm and had concentrated the national effort on extensive war preparations.
– Whose report is this?
– I have been comparing our capacity to-day with that in 1939. If one travels round Australia to-day one will see our tremendous ordnance stores. They are stocked with guns, signal equipment, radar and other devices that we did not possess in 1939.
– Some of them had not then been invented.
– I realize that the attitude that is being adopted by the Opposition at the present time is dictated by party political propaganda purposes.
The honorable member for Henty condemned the Government because it made use of the armed forces during the recent coal’ strike. The honorable gentleman said, in his knowing way, that the Australian Workers Union volunteered to dothe work that was done by the Army and that it would have done it had it beenasked to do so. The Australian Workers Union could not do that work, because its constitution does not make the necessary provision. It is wrong to say that the people of Australia, have condemned the Government and the Australian fighting forces for their actions during the strike. Noone is in a better position than I am. to know that the action that was taken, by the Government then was highly commended by the people. I remind honorable gentlemen opposite that never beforein the history of Australia has an Australian army been able to undertake in: peace-time an operation such as that which it undertook during the coal strike.
– Is that what the Army is for?
– That is not what the Army is for. No one regretted more than I did that it was necessary to use the Army for that purpose on that occasion ; but the events of the coal strike have proved at least that we now have an Army that is capable of meeting a national emergency. The Australian people do not despise the Government or the fighting forces for their actions during that emergency. No members of the forces objected to doing the work that was done.
The Government has every reason to be proud of its defence programme. In 1-939 our potential enemies were powerful nations. They had a tremendous industrial capacity and could produce the armaments and equipment that are necessary to fight a war. To-day they are no longer in that position.
– “What about Russia?
– I do not believe that Russia is so powerful that it could destroy all the democratic nations.
– Facts and figures do not support that belief.
– Honorable gentle men opposite were paying great tributes to the Russians not very long ago. The position has changed.
– Has not the position changed ?
– It has. High military authorities have said that Russia is not the powerful military nation that members of the Opposition say it is. Field-Marshal Montgomery has said that during the last war approximately 7,000,000 of the most virile members of the Russian population wert. destroyed. Italy and Germany have been totally destroyed as fighting forces, and those countries no longer have the capacity to manufacture the equipment that is necessary to fight a war. Those are facts that cannot be denied. The Government has every reason to be pleased with the progress that has been made during the last twelve months in the implementation of its defence policy. “We have made no attempt to deceive members of the Opposition or the Australian people. The figures that I have given are accurate. The number of members of the Citizen Military Forces is gradually increasing, although the rate of increase is a little less than I should like it to be. The number of enlistments into the Citizen Military Forces during the last four weeks has been greater than the number of enlistments during any of the last six months.
– There were five enlistments in South Australia last week.
– I do not know the figure for last week, but I know that in the week Before that there were 60 enlistments. In 1939 there were approximately 27,000 members of the Citizen Military Forces and the Permanent Military Forces in Australia. At the present time there are over 30,000 men in those two forces.
– I had not intended to make a speech upon this matter, but the remarkable utterances of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) have brought me to my feet. One thing that I can say in favour of the honorable gentleman is that most of the matters that he has discussed are matters of which he has no first-hand knowledge. Hs may, therefore, be pardoned for having fallen into error about them. I shall not repeat what was said very effectively by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) about the present state of affairs; but I shall say something about the Minister’s estimate of our present danger and his remarkable travesty of the events that occurred before the last war. The Australian Labour party has been lying its way along on this matter for much too long, and something ought to be said about it.
First, I shall say something about the present danger. The Minister has said that Italy, Germany and Japan are disarmed. If one accepted the statements of the Minister at face value, one would be led to believe that the danger in the world to-day is very small. Let me say frankly and at once that as a military force Italy has been non-existent for many years. This country can afford to look back with some satisfaction on the fact that one Australian division, the 6th Division, cleaned up a quarter of a million Italians in Cyrenaica. “Whatever may be said about the Italians, who are in many respects most civilized people, they cannot be regarded very seriously as a fighting force. Is Russia quite so innocent as the Minister would have us believe ?
– I did not say that.
– On the contrary, the Minister was at great pains to tell us. on the authority of Field Marshal Montgomery, that 7,000,000 Russians were destroyed during the last war and that, presumably, Russia is no longer quite the menace that honorable members on this side of the chamber may think it is. The fact is that during the last three years the world has been almost standing to arms. Why? Is it because of Italy, Japan or Germany? Or is it because of Russia? The whole world has been in a stats of grievous uncertainty and danger during the last three years because of the power and aggressive capacity of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, we have lived long enough to hear a Minister for the Army tell us in this Parliament that the dangers are not to be overestimated and that in reality they were much greater in 1938 and 1939 than they are now. That is the honorable gentleman’s case. I always like to meet a man on his own ground. Let us assume that the dangers were much greater in 1938 and 1939 than they are now. Under those circumstances, will the Minister undertake to explain to the people of this country why his respected colleague, who is now the Minister for Labour and National Service, said in this chamber, on the 3rd November, 1938, ten months before war broke out -
The Government is expending much too rapidly on defence. It is making plans for more than the adequate defence of Australia.
– I am not responsible for what the honorable gentleman said.
– If the Minister for the Army will wash his hands of all that the members of his party have said and will acquit honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber of everything that any body has ever said, from Sir William Angliss downwards, we shall once more meet on common ground. The Minister has taken the responsibility of saying that before the last war honorable gentlemen who are now in Opposition were unaware of the danger and per formed inadequately. He has said that they did not do anything like as well as this Government is now doing. I say to him that his colleague, who is now his colleague in the present Cabinet, said exactly what I have just quoted. A little of modern history will do the Minister no harm. If he will look back upon the speeches that were made in 1938 in this chamber, he will discover that a greatly respected leader of the Labour party at that time, the late John Curtin - a man about whom I always speak with respect - said after Munich that the events of Munich did not justify the increase of defence preparations that the Lyons Government was putting in hand, but a reduced preparation, because the danger had been lessened.
Mr. Chambers interjecting,
– The Minister may squirm as much as he likes.
Mr. Lemmon interjecting,
– I do not care if he calls to his assistance “ The Man from Snowy River “.
– I shall be there, too.
– I shall not need to call out reinforcements to deal with the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller). Let the Minister call up all his reinforcements. The fact is that, if the Labour party had been responsible for the affairs of this country in 1938 and 1939, we should have made no preparations for war. Now honorable gentlemen opposite say, “ Do not criticize us “. The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) says, “Do not blame me. I was not here “.
– I did not say that.
– Apparently the Minister for Works and Housing accepts responsibility for what was then done by members of his party. He cannot have it both ways. He either shuffles out of the responsibility for it or stands up to what his own leaders said at that time. If members of the Labour party are to stand up to what their leaders said at that time, I say that those leaders were anti the possibility of war and anti the preparations for war. To be told, in this year of grace, by these people that we failed to understand what the obligations were then is the most ironical -.thing that I have ever heard. Indeed, 1 shall pursue that line for a few minutes, because it is time that the people of Australia were reminded of a few of these :matters. When war broke out in 1939, did the Labour party support the formation of the second Australian Imperial Force ?
– Certainly not!
– The Labour party was opposed to the constitution of the second Australian Imperial Force.
– The Labour party was also opposed to the Empire air training scheme.
– I shall come to that. In the twelve months preceding the outbreak of war, there had been a great “testing of national recruitment in this country - a testing upon which the then Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, had decided. He had a feeling, and one can fully appreciate it, that we should test out the -voluntary system to the full, and so he said, “ We shall raise a large force of volunteer troops in this country”. A ;great recruiting campaign was put in hand. My distinguished colleague, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) will remember it vividly. Did that campaign have the approval of our present masters? Not at all! Did it succeed? It did. The largest volunteer force that this country has had in time of peace was formed.
– In what year?
– I am speaking of 193S-39.
– War was imminent.
– I am delighted to have the Minister’s view on that, because I should like him to know that most of the members of the Labour party at that time did not consider that war was imminent. On the contrary, they thought that the whole danger had been disposed of. Then war broke out. What you may do if war is imminent is one thing. But what are you to do when war occurs ? Af ter all, that is something which speaks eloquently to the dullest intelligence. War broke out, and all sorts of problems emerged. The first was, “ Shall we reintroduce compulsory military training ? “ Where did the Labour party stand on that? Honorable members opposite were opposed to the reintroduction of compulsory military training. It is quite true that, when the system was re-introduced, members of the Labour party discovered that the people of Australia thought well of it, and thereafter they went very quietly on that point. But I say that they were opposed to the re-introduction of compulsory military training. Had they been in office at the time, it would not have been reintroduced. The next development was the formation of the second Australian Imperial Force. Honorable members will permit me a few reflections of my own on this matter. I recall that there was a time in 1942 when the Labour Government assumed great credit for bringing back to Australia the magnificent divisions of the second Australian Imperial Force. What the people perhaps have forgotten is that, if members of the Australian Labour party had had their way, not one unit or troop of the Australian Imperial Force would have been in existence. The second Australian Imperial Force was formed in the teeth of their opposition.
– And members of the Labour party opposed the despatch of the second Australian Imperial Force overseas.
– I shall come to that. I remind the committee, if the committee needs the reminder, that the 6th Division, the 7th Division, the 8th Division, the 9th Division and the Armoured Division were constituted by non-Labour administrations.
– It should be emphasized that the Labour party opposed the despatch of the second Australian Imperial Force overseas.
– I myself am rather familiar with that story.
– So am I.
– One fine day, I, as Prime Minister, announced that the first formations of the second Australian Imperial Force would go abroad. What did the Labour party do then? It submitted a motion in this Parliament protesting against the despatch of the second Australian Imperial Force overseas, and pushed it to a division on party lines. In other words, had the matter been left to the Labour party, there would have been no compulsory military training, no second Australian Imperial Force, and no despatch of the second Australian Imperial Force abroad. “We have become familiar in these days with the allegation that we dispersed the strength cif this country in foreign fields.
The next reference that I make is to the introduction of the Empire air training scheme. I have lived long enough to hear Ministers claim great credit for that achievement. It was initiated in Great Britain in 1939, and the first representative of Australia to discuss, on the spot, the details of that great scheme was the late J. V. Fairbairn. The Empire air training scheme was adopted, and Australia set about doing its share. It was the greatest single co-operative movement between the units of the British Empire in the course of a war. Although the scheme began in October, 1939, it, was not until July, 1940, that a conference of the Australian Labour party decided that it would permit members of the Labour party in this Parliament to support the scheme. The Minister for the Army has told us that the Government’s defence programme is much better than the defence programme before the outbreak of war.
– That is right.
– I do not blame the Minister for expressing that view, because he has had this story pedalled up to him year after year for a long time. The whole of the socialist story in Australia may be expressed, thus, “ Of course the Opposition parties did nothing to prepare Australia for war, and the Labour party had to save the country “. I do not need to be told by Johnnies-Come-Lately who did this job in Australia. I say categorically that the greatest munitions organization that this country has ever had, was given into the hands of the Labour party at the end of 1941. The incoming Government kept all the plans and all the men. It did not sack them. Labour Ministers had enough wit to say, “ We shall keep the plans, the men and the organization, and allow them to work”. They were given the second Australian. Imperial Force, to which they did not add one ounce. They were given the system of com- pulsory military training, which they developed later. They were given the Empire air training scheme and the whole nucleus - a very big nucleus, too - of the most marvellous co-operative effort that involved the most desperate struggles to secure training aircraft and all sorts of plant from other parts of the world. I I have lived long enough now to assess at its true value all this chatter - this boasting chatter - of the last four or five years by people who did not create anything but who took what had been created for them. They now have the gall to say, “ We are doing a marvellous job. During the war you members of the present Opposition parties failed. You were not ready for war. You had no army, navy or air force. It is quite true that if we had had’ our way, Australia would have had nothing-minus, but that does not prevent us from saying that the Opposition parties have been tried and have failed “. That is the greatest piece of imposture that has ever been pit over the people of Australia.
– The Opposition parties put their case to the people in 1943.
– The truth is not always promptly received.
– The people were not convinced by the Opposition parties in 1943.
– It is one of my great comforts that, in the long run, the truth becomes known, and the truth wins.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has related his remarks to the measure of the danger of war to-day, and to a comparison of our present position with our position prior to the outbreak of war in 1339. The right honorable gentleman has endeavoured to confuse the minds of honorable members by making a comparison of the responsibilities of a government and the responsibilities of an opposition, particularly in relation to defence matters. The right honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that the government of the day always has possession of far more information than is at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition and the
Opposition party generally. Of course, there is a distinction between the Opposition on this occasion in relation to our preparedness of war, if there is a danger of war now, and the attitude of the Labour party in relation to our preparedness before the outbreak of World War II. The Opposition to-day is alleging that this -Government’s preparations for war are insufficient and that the Labour party, when in opposition in the years before the outbreak of World War II., maintained that our preparations for war then were rather greater than the occasion warranted, with this exception, that the late Mr. John Curtin, during the whole of the time that he was Leader of the Opposition, insisted that a much larger air force should be established in this ‘country than that which the Government had planned.
– That was in 1936.
– All honorable members know that that is a fact.
– They do not.
– Bat it is a fact. The Leader of the Opposition had a good deal to say about -truth. What he says is really a statement of his own opinion, and there can be quite a distinction between a statement of his opinion and what eventually proves to be the truth.
– The Labour party opposed the Estimates for the Department of Air before the outbreak of World War II.
– Every honorable member, in his heart, knows, and the Australian public certainly know, that the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Curtin, always made out a strong case for increasing the strength of the Royal Australian Air Force. There can be no comparison of the danger of war to-day, and the danger of war in 1938-39. As I have said, the government of the day is always in possession of information that is not available to the Leader of the Opposition and to members of the Opposition parties generally; but I think that it is common knowledge that there is no responsible authority anywhere in the world that expects that there will be a war within the next five years, and a ““«at many authorities-
– Is not war raging in China, or are those campaigns only manoeuvres?
– Does the honorable gentleman consider that Australia should intervene in the struggle in China?
– I thought that the Minister said that there is no sign of war.
– I say that responsible opinion generally throughout the world to-day is along the lines that there will not he another major war for at least five years, and it is quite improbable that for a much longer period than that there will be a war that will involve Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
– Then we have not long to go.
– There was a shorter time to go in 1938.
– The Minister opposed defence preparations in 193S.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. I was not in this Parliament in 1938.
– The Minister was not in the Labour party, either.
– At any rate, I have been in the Labour party longer than the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has been in the Liberal party. As I have said, the international situation in .1938 was fraught with danger. Everybody knew that war was inevitable within a very short time.
– Members of the Labour party at that time said that war was not imminent.
– I have already said that members of the Opposition are never in possession of all the information that is available to the Government. At that time, every government had access -to information which supported the view that war was inevitable. Much of that information has since become common property, yet defence preparations in Australia at that time were not nearly so efficient as are those in Australia now, when the danger of war is not nearly so great.
– Russia has 5,000,000 troops under arms.
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) is always talking about the number of troops that various governments have at their disposal. He is still living in the dark ages when wars were fought with man-power alone. Wars are now fought with manpower, plus industrial capacity. Every well-informed person knows to-day that the United States of America is so powerful industrially that no other nation, nor any combination of nations, could successfully wage war against it. The United States of America would inevitably win any war that might be begun within the next 5, 10 or even 25 years. Russia is so far behind, in industrial potential that it willi take at least ten years for that country to reach the position which the United States of America occupies to-day. By that time, the United States of America will be still as far ahead’ as it is now.
The Leader of the Opposition said that his government re-introduced compulsory military service, and organized divisions of the Australian Imperial Force to go overseas. It is true that the Labour party opposed) the sending of so many troops overseas, because it was believed that they were needed at home, a fact which was admitted by some of the members of the present Opposition at that time, or very soon afterwards. For example; the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender)-, when he was Minister for the Army, said in this House that if one Japanese armoured division bad landed in Australia it could have overrun- the whole country.
– That was said at a secret meeting of members of the Parliament.
– Perhaps, but I am not disclosing information given at a secret meeting. It is public property that the honorable member for Warringah said that if one Japanese armoured division had landed in Australia it could have overrun the country. I do not think that anything is to be gained by raking over old controversies. The Leader of the Opposition spoke in a derogatory fashion of my colleague, the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon). He accused the Minister of shuffling on a particular issue. The Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) deserted their posts during the most critical period in Australia’s history. Their parties had a- majority in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, but they both deserted their posts when the country was in danger. The Minister for Works and Housing cannot justly be accused of shuffling on any issue. He was not a member of the Parliament when the events to which reference has been made took place. It does not lie with the Leader of the Opposition or the Leader of the Australian Country party to make accusations against one of my colleagues when they themselves have been convicted at the bar of public opinion of the crime of desertion. That is a crime which, ordinarily, a mam never gets w second chance to commit. If the Leader of the Opposition and the- Leader of the Australian’ Country party had been members of the armed! forces - which they neves were - and had deserted, they would have been immediately shot. Therefore, it is incomprehensible that they should accuse any one on this side of the committee of shuffling over defence issues.
The Leader of the Opposition also said that the Labour Government had inherited’ an organization for the manufacture of munitions. That is- true, but it can also be said that the government, which was led by the present Leader of the Opposition, had as its slogan “Business as usual”. The right honorable gentleman’s government organized the manufacture of munitions, and was responsible for Australia’s adherence to the Empire air training scheme; but side by side with that somewhat puny achievement, it evolved the slogan “ Business as usual “ during a critical period in the history of the country. At that time 250,000 persons, who could have been doing something for the defence of Australia, were unemployed. That is the record of the Opposition parties as a government when the danger to Australia was much greater than it is to-day.
The present Government is expending more money on defence, and expending it to better advantage, than did any previous government in peace-time. The money is not being expended merely upon enlisting persons in the armed forces. It is being expended c a the development of new weapons, and on research, whilst the strength of the armed services is being maintained at a level higher than that of 1938. This Government has a very good record in regard to defence preparations, and I repeat that the threat of war is much less imminent now than it was at the time during which a previous government did less to prepare for the defence of the country.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– After the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) had trenchantly criticized Australia’s defence training policy this afternoon, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) accused him of having indulged in party political propaganda and of having made a personal attack upon himself. Neither charge can rightly be levelled against the honorable member, because, for the last couple of years, ever since the Government enunciated its defence policy, we have criticized it, not for the sake of indulging in party political propaganda, but because we have a deep concern about what we consider to be the inadequacy of the training programme, livery honorable gentleman on this side who, by virtue of his own military service, is, in some way, qualified to speak, has completely condemned the policy. Surely the Minister will realize that the criticism is directed as something far transcending political propaganda, and therefore that it be heeded. But the Minister and his Cabinet colleagues refuse to listen to the criticism. The Minister buries his head ostrich-like in the sands of complacency, and refuses to face facts that ought to be obvious to any one with knowledge of the subject of defence. In reply to criticism of Australia’s defence policy, we hear, from time to time, from honorable members opposite, the statement that Australia, has never been better prepared to defend itself than it is at present. Ministers are particularly adept at making that claim. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) is very fond of booming it forth, but it will take more than, that to convince the people of Australia, especially those with knowledge of the situation, that the Government’s defence policy provides for the adequate defence of Australia. Another justification for its attitude that is advanced by the Government is that Australia, in conjunction with Great Britain, is doing a big job in developing the guided weapons testing range. That is essential and the development cannot be decried, but it cannot take the place of a complete defence policy. It is only a part of the whole picture, many aspects of which are missing. The Government’s attitude is based on the belief that the development of the atomic bomb and guided weapons has, in some way, changed the basic character of warfare and Tendered unnecessary trained soldiers, sailors and airmen.
We often hear remarks about “push “button warfare” and other similar fatuities. Throughout history, every time a revolutionary weapon has been introduced, the same opinion has been voiced. It was voiced when the blunderbus replaced bows and arrows, when cannons were developed and when aircraft and tanks were developed. Now that science has developed the atomic bomb and guided weapons, we hear the same contention. Time has proved such an attitude to be fallacious, and it will continue to be fallacious. Every one with a knowledge of warfare knows that once ground has been taken highly-trained men are needed to hold it. No nation has been defeated without being overrun by enemy troops. Therefore, regardless of the development of new weapons, we must have men trained to throw out an invader should one attempt to conquer us. The present system is entirely inadequate, not only to defend Australia properly, but also to enable it to meet its obligations as a major nation in the efforts to preserve world peace. I propose to refer only to the Army and to leave references to the Navy and the Air Force, which I believe are similarly placed, to other honorable members, with experience in those arms, who are more competent than I am to talk about them. It is not my intention to offer much criticism of the broad defence plan as distinct from the defence policy. It is the policy that I regard as erroneous. The broad plan is that there shall be established in Australia a regular army consisting of a small highly trained force, which, in peace-time will carry out all the functions necessarily carried out by a regular army in peace-time, but which, in war-time, will be the nucleus of an army capable of adequately defending Australia. In addition, a citizen force is to be established. It will consist of men who will remain citizens, but will be sufficiently trained to enable them efficiently to take their place in the army at short notice to defend Australia. It must be remembered that, in an emergency, the fate of ‘ Australia would depend, not on the small regular army, but on the citizen army, of which theregular army would be the nucleus. In order to determine the success of our defence policy, we must assess the success that we have had in recruiting and training the citizen army. First, I point out that we are still operating on the voluntary system. I have condemned the system before, and I condemn it again. Under it, the cream of our youth, those who love Australia and have a sense of responsibility, are the ones who answer the call. That means that we are training them to take the first blow.
– “Will compulsory military training be advocated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) in hi= policy speech?
– The Minister for Defence will know what is in the policy speech when it has been delivered. I need all the time that I have available to me to deal with the Government’s defence policy. That policy has had a fair trial in the last eighteen months or so. Every one with any knowledge must admit that it has been found wanting. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) said to-day, in reply to a question, that of the 50,000 men whom it was hoped to enlist in the Militia, only 15,000 had been enlisted.
– It is a five-year plan.
M.v. DAVIDSON.- Yes, the Government hopes to develop a militia force of 50.000 men in five years. On that basis, the Minister for the Army contended that the enlistment of 15,000 in the first year or so was a good effort. I challenge that. We cannot afford to sit back complacently for five years hoping that we shall then have reached the stage at which we might be able to defend ourselves. Every one realizes that a force of 50,000 men is too small for the defence of the country. We must have a reasonable force trained as quickly as possible. We cannot sit back and wait for four or five years. The Minister for Defence said that he was satisfied that there would be no war within five years. I hope that he is right, but we must face the fact that the Russian bear may attack at any time. Moreover, the Government cannot expect the enlistment rate of 15,000 a year to continue. It is obvious that no progress is being made with enlistments and that the force has reached its maximum under present conditions. My inquiries have revealed that infantry battalions, which have an establishment of 700 or 800 men, have a maximum strength of about 200. In other words, the battalions are at about 25 per cent. strength. Amazingly, the support units, such as the artillery, are not attracting the enlistment that infantry battalions are attracting. Incoming troops barely balance the outgoing. Troops cannot be trained on imagination. It is practically impossible to train a skeleton force. We must have reasonable numbers of men to enable training to be carried on, particularly in the higher branches. In an under-manned unit, elementary training, such as rifle drill, can proceed, but there is a definite line, not much higher than that, beyond which instructors cannot go. As a result of a question that was asked this morning the fact was elicited that about 5,000 men had left the Militia Forces. I have found that that decrease is going on steadily all the time, and that the first flush of enthusiasm that existed when the recruiting programme started has gone. Men are beginning to drop out and unit commanders can do nothing about it. Apparently the only source left from which to make up the gap between 15,000 men and 50,000 men will be the young men who are now reaching military age. But I fear very much that the majority of those young men are not likely to offer themselves for voluntary military service because of the fact that, as the present system is staggering to a stop, the comment made to any one proposing to join up will be, “Don’t be a fool! Why offer? It is not necessary”. Another reason that will operate against further enlistments is, as the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) rightly said earlier to-day, the fact that the Government used troops as strike breakers in the recent coal strike. I join with the honorable member for Henty in saying that no other action could have been taken that would have had such calamitous effects on our defence policy as the use of those troops had. That action should never have been taken except as a last resort to prevent the country from being thrown into chaos, and I cannot accept any assertion that that was the position. The serious effects of that action on the recruiting programme are obvious to probably all honorable members. When a young man informs his mother that he intends to join the Militia she will say, “What for? To be used as a strike breaker?” The Government’s action in using soldiers as strike breakers must, I repeat, have a serious effect on an already unsuccessful scheme.
In his reply to the honorable member for Henty the Minister, in an attempt to justify as far as possible the present defence policy claimed that there was plenty of equipment available. He had started out to say how splendidly the present position compared with the position before the last war, but I noticed that he stopped at the subject of equipment. I am quite prepared to concede that the equipment now available for the training of both the Regular Army and the Militia Forces has never been better. But it is not the slightest use having a lot of splendid equipment if it is only to lie in drill halls and ordnance stores. If we have not the men to train in the use of that equipment we might as well not have it. I consider therefore that although it is a matter of congratulation that we at last have some decent equipment, it cannot be claimed that it is something for which the Government should receive credit.
– Some of that equipment is surplus war material.
– Some of it is. I have seen a great deal of valuable equipment, and if men were trained in its use a great step forward would have been taken. In addition to equipment, we have plenty of fine instructors available at the present time to train the Militia. They are men who served in the last war and whose outlook is such that they are prepared to offer themselves as instructors for the Citizen Forces, and many of them are indeed at present acting as instructors. They command the great respect of the young men whom they are training. The experience of these men should be used to the utmost while it is available, but their enthusiasm is waning. There is a spirit of frustration growing among them because they are becoming’ weary of the round of night parades and week-end bivouacs without sufficient men to train. We shall find that unless we do something about getting men for those instructors to train we shall lose their services. If the Government’s present policy continues I consider that we shall be lucky if we have even the present 15,000 militiamen at the end of the five-year period.
I cannot accept the Minister’s complacent assurance that because of the fact that in the first year we got 15,000 recruits we shall obtain the required 50,000 by the end of another four years. All the evidence points to the fact that the momentum that was developed at the start of the scheme has now been lost, and recruiting is actually now working in reverse because so many men are leaving the Citizen Forces. I said at the beginning of my remarks that my criticism does not arise from any desire to make political propaganda. This is far too serious a matter to be used as a basis for political propaganda, because I believe that Australia is facing a steadily increasing menace. We were told by the Minister for the Army this afternoon that there was no particular menace facing us. He told us that Italy was “ out “ as a nation and that J apan was completely destroyed as a fighting force. He made various other statements of a like nature which suggested that there was no particular threat facing Australia. I need not deal with that matter at great length because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has dealt with it very successfully and conclusively, but I draw the attention of the committee to the fact that a red tide is steadily surging down through China at this very moment and there is no knowing when it will stop moving. Already Great Britain has been forced to reinforce the defences of Hong Kong because of that threat. The position in the Netherlands East Indies is, at the moment, indeterminate, and we do not know what will develop there. The statement that Japan has been completely destroyed as a military power is a most dangerous one to be made by a man who holds the position of Minister for the Army.
– It is true nevertheless.
– I do not know how any one who knows how Japan emerged 50 years ago from the dark ages and was able to develop itself to a position where it could do what it did in the last war can say that that nation has been completely destroyed as a fighting force. From what I have seen, Japan, if given a free leg, could become in ten years a serious menace to Australia. It is obvious that it will not be long before a peace treaty with Japan will be signed. The feelers are out already and it is obviously the desire of the United States to finalize such a peace treaty so that it may develop Japan into something in the nature of an ally. There have already been suggestions that Japan may be permitted a certain degree of rearmament. That is the thin end of the wedge. Let us remember that greedy eyes in Japan are turned towards New Guinea. Those honorable members who have been to Japan will bear me out in that statement. There are Americans in Japan who consider that one of the outlets for surplus Japanese population lies in the direction of Australia. In view of these facts - and they are facts - the statement that Japan has been completely destroyed as a possible threat to Australia cannot be sustained.
In addition to the menace facing Australia which I have briefly outlined it must also be remembered that Australia has certain obligations under the North Atlantic Pact, and lately there have been suggestions that a Pacific pact should be brought into being. According to recent statements that have been published it appears as if the United .States, which previously was not very favorable to the suggestion for a Pacific pact, is now turning its thoughts to the development of such a pact somewhat along the lines of the North Atlantic Pact. Australia would have to play a major part in such a pact. Having regard to Australia’s present capacity for defence I ask whether we could expect America to place any great reliance upon this country as a partner in the Pacific. We should certainly not be in a position to do anything of a major nature in respect of taking any great share of the obligations which we might incur under such a pact. Yet the development of such a pact is vastly important. If we could show that we were moving towards a realization of our obligations, as New Zealand has done, the likelihood of such a pact coming into existence would be increased.
I conclude by placing a plea before the Minister for the Army to pay some attention to the opinions expressed by honorable members on this side of the committee. I assure him that those opinions are not voiced for purely political purposes. They are based on sound knowledge. If the Minister would care to appoint a select committee of the House of Representatives to investigate charges that the training of the militia forces is not proceeding as it should be doing, and call in service chiefs who would not otherwise be in a position to speak their minds, he would discover that there is a substantial basis for our charges. Improvements in the scheme which would result from such an inquiry would lead to a development of Australia’s defence policy so that this country could claim eventually that it was in a position to defend itself. That is not the position at present.
.- It is necessary to take a thorough overall view of the whole defence position and not only one small aspect of it because after all we speak here as the representatives of a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Honorable members opposite have displayed recently a really anti-British attitude on every occasion on which we, on this side of the chamber, have mentioned the British Empire. We must study this matter in a large sense. The British Empire is founded on a strong fighting navy and a strong merchant navy. It would be futile to say that defence of such a scattered Empire as ours could be maintained without the existence of a strong British Navy. The Government has been criticized because of its attitude towards defence. An examination of the relevant figures will show that there is no basis for such criticism. The Royal Australian Navy now has a strength of 10,000 effective personnel compared with a strength of 5,000 effective personnel in 1939.
– Five thousand of them are non-combatants.
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has been at sea all his life, and so I can put a true value on his remarks. If any one who has never been in the Navy can be said to ‘be always at sea, it is the honorable member for Balaclava. The figure of 10,000 members in the Royal Australian Navy is exactly double the number of men in the Navy when the defence magnates on the opposite side of the committee controlled the government prior to and for the first two years of the last war, when they told us that the Pacific area was safe. Now those gentlemen say that this Government is not applying itself to the defence problem.
– I thought from the honorable gentleman’s remarks that he did not intend to adopt a party political attitude to this matter.
– I am not adopting a party political attitude. I am merely stating facts. The point is that as soon as we on this side advance concrete facts honorable members opposite start to squeal or laugh like hyenas. Let us consider what has been done by the present Government in respect of naval defence. The Menzies Government spent £9,000,000 or £10,000,000 on naval construction, but since 1947 the present Government has expended £60,000,000 on naval defence. Honorable members opposite would have the people believe that this Government has not played its part in taking measures for the defence of this country. In the Anzac Pact we have agreed with our sister dominion, New Zealand, to take joint measures for our protection and security. I understand that the fleets of the two dominions are now engaged on joint manoeuvres, off the Australian coast, in which they will gain experience in joint operations which would be of inestimable value should our countries again be plunged into war. That is merely another step that has been taken by the Labour Government in discharging its responsibilities for the defence of Australia. We have also reached an understanding with our great ally, the United States of America, with regard to the defence of the Pacific area.
Honorable members opposite have indulged in a good deal of criticism regarding the aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. Sydney, which is the latest addition to the Royal Australian Navy. They have said that the vessel is already obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is well known to most honorable members that after the laying of the keel of a vessel alterations are frequently made in design and construction before the vessel is completed. I had an opportunity to inspect a number of large aircraft carriers in Great Britain the construction of which had been deferred because of alterations in the original design. That is occurring continually in the Mother Country, which is the home of the British Navy and which has taught the peoples of other nations how- to man and use ships to the best advantage. It ill becomes honorable members opposite to criticize the efforts that have been made by this Government to honour its obligations to safeguard the defence of the Commonwealth. During World War II., when our fighting forces returned from the Middle East, they had to be re-trained in order that they would be able to acquit themselves adequately in jungle warfare, for which they had not previously been trained. Similarly, in the building of warships, frequent changes of design are made, either to meet the requirements of service in certain waters or to provide for variations in the design of armaments. Honorable members opposite would have the people believe that because a Labour government is in office in this country it can not be trusted with the secrets of scientific warfare. I have never before listened to such claptrap as that. The simple fact is that Australia is to play an important part in the construction and development of secret war weapons. I had the privilege of listening to the British Defence Minister outline his views on the future of secret weapons in the defence of the British Commonwealth. No suggestion was made by him that Australia was mistrusted in this matter. On the contrary, he said that we must all work with those with whom we knew we can work amicably. The truth of that statement is borne out by the fact that Australia was subsequently selected as the proving ground for long-range weapons which are on the secret list. Honorable members opposite cloud and misconstrue the facts to suit their own purposes. They would ha ve the Government reveal all its defence plans. If that were done our potential enemies would be jubilant. If the British Commonwealth is to survive every member of it must develop a virile naval force. The British Navy has always played an important part, not only in the winning of wars, but also in the maintenance of peace. No one can say that the British Navy did not play a very important part in maintaining peace in the world in the period between the two world wars. It is useless for honorable members opposite to indulge in destructive criticism of the kind that has marked their contribution to the debate on these Estimates. For the preservation of our scattered Empire, it is essential that all its component parts shall play their part in developing naval strength to the utmost of their ability. At least the Australian Labour Government can claim that it has played its part in that direction.
.- I propose to reply briefly to some of the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy). Nobody can be satisfied that any branch of our armed services is satisfactory to-day. Everybody realizes that the future is fraught with great difficulties and that the possession of one aircraft carrier and a limited number of naval craft does not give us any cause for satisfaction. If the honorable member for Boothby is satisfied with that state of affairs he has po cognizance of the problems that beset us. The Government is much too complacent in this matter. In the very limited time at my disposal I propose to deal briefly with the failure of the Government to adopt an adequate and sound defence policy. The mere fact that a guided weapons range has been established at Woomera, in South Australia, does not satisfy me that the Government is doing everything possible to take advantage of the latest developments in scientific warfare. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) has said that the permanent forces now number 15,500 personnel. In answer to a question which I asked on the subject the honorable gentleman admitted that more than one-third of that number are non-combatants. That means that we have only approximately 10,500 combatant personnel. The honorable gentleman also admitted that 5,000 men had recently left the forces. That is a very sad story which does not justify the complacency that has been exhibited by the Government in relation to defence matters. On every occasion on which the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) has answered questions relating to defence or has dealt with matters relating to defence, he has boasted that Australia now has a larger defence force than it has ever had in its history during a time of peace. Such statements can be characterized as irresponsible and dangerous nonsense. In 1938, just prior to the outbreak of World War II., the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was requested by the Lyons Government to increase our militia forces from a total strength of 30,000 to 75,000. At the right honorable gentleman’s request I was given the task of assisting him in Queensland. As the result of his efforts the militia forces of this country were increased beyond the target strength to a total of 85,000. After three months’ training those 85,000 young men became the nucleus of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force which played such a prominent part in World War II. 1 invite honorable members to compare the strength of the militia forces in those days with the pitifully small permanent army that we have to-day. Surely the Minister for Defence cannot be satisfied with his efforts. How oan he claim that he is perfectly satisfied with the manner in which the Government’s five-year defence programme is being implemented? During the eighteen months in which that programme has been in operation he has succeeded in enlisting a permanent army of a total strength of only 15,000 of whom one-third are non-combatants. Honorable members on this side of the chamber and the people of Australia generally are dissatisfied with the Government’s defence policy.
A great deal of time has been wasted by honorable members opposite in trying to convince the people that they should derive a great deal- of satisfaction from the fact that, in conjunction with the British Government, the Commonwealth has established a guided weapons range in South Australia. That project will make little or no contribution to the defence of Australia for some time to come. It is merely experimental, and if it is successful a long time will elapse before practical advantage can be taken of it. What this country wants more than anything else at the moment is an army of skilled specialists to use the mechanized equipment with which modern wars are fought. Large numbers of trained personnel who served in World War II. are willing and anxious to help to train young men in the use of modern equipment. The Minister should do everything possible to secure their services by making the conditions of service in the armed forces attractive. I have a great regard for Lieutenant-General Savige, who is well known to every member of this Parliament. Lieutenant-General Savige has been most forthright in his condemnation of the state of our military forces, He does not bandy words. According to the press, this great soldier, who served with distinction in the two world wars, is unequivocally dissatisfied with our militia forces as they exist to-day. He is reported to have said recently -
The Federal Government’s failure to train an adequate number of men to use modern weapons of war was a menace to the safety of Australia.
How can Ministers remain complacent in the face of such a statement by a distinguished Australian soldier? LieutenantGeneral Savige has spent a lifetime in the service of his country. He was a member of the militia forces prior to World War I. and in the period between the two world wars. He rendered brilliant service to his country in both world wars. The report to which I have referred continues -
Since the second world war there had been some big changes in the science of war. Only by universal training would it be possible to keep enough men abreast of these developments.
Lieutenant-General Savige was commenting on a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that the Government had considered universal training and was of opinion that the present defence policy provided the maximum of security within the resources available.
He said the present voluntary system of training was most obviously a failure - not enough men were being trained.
Those who were in charge of -Australia’s forces early in the last war knew how dangerous it was to try to properly train men for battle after the enemy was on the march.
In the future it would be more dangerous. There would be less time for men to learn how to use weapons of more intricate and scientific design.
In the last war the infantryman had dropped his old role as a foot-slogger, and had become a highly -trained specialist, using a great variety of scientific weapons.
It took a long time to train these specialists. Australia was desperately short of them. Universal military training was the only answer.
I ask the Minister, in the interests of the defence of Australia, to take note of the observations that have been made from time to time by a number of senior Australian officers who served in World War II. I appeal to the honorable gentleman to ensure that we have forces that are adequate for the defence of this country.
On the 17 th September, the American combined Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees stated that Russia had more than 5,000,000 men in its armed forces. In a joint report on President Truman’s arms programme, the committees said that Soviet ground forces were in a better condition now than at any time since the war. Other points in the committees’ report were that Russia had increased its military budget by 19 per cent, since last year, that the number of Soviet troops in Germany had increased from 70,000 to 100,000, and that the Soviet had intensified security measures along its borders and those of its satellites. The Minister must be aware of the Russian advance in Asia. Russia was thwarted in Europe and has now turned to the east. Communist forces are advancing in China, and are present in considerable numbers in the
Netherlands East Indies and South-East Asia generally. This country cannot remain complacent while Russia is expanding its military forces and bringing the Iron Curtain closer to our coasts. Russia is trying to ensure that nobody shall learn of what is being done behind the Iron Curtain. “We must strengthen our defence forces. We owe a duty to our young men to ensure that they are given an opportunity to receive military training. We cannot expect that in the future other countries will keep the enemy away from us while we are establishing our own defence forces.
– Did the honorable gentleman say that we cannot get behind the Iron Curtain?
– I say that it is diffiCUt to learn what is being done there.
– If we cannot get behind the Iron Curtain, how does the honorable gentleman know that the information that he has given to the committee is correct?
– I have confidence in the efficiency of the American military organization. We saw it in operation in Australia. We are indebted to it for the part that it played in the defence of this country and for the lessons that we have been able to learn from it. I believe that the American combined Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees are very alarmed about the possibility of the maintenance of the future peace of the world. I believe that the report that they made to President Truman was made with the object of ensuring that steps will be taken to maintain the forces of the United States of America at tho highest possible degree of efficiency.
According to the Minister for tho Army, we have a regular army of 19,000 men. I regard that force as a nucleus upon which to build. We must increase the size of the militia forces, which will, in my opinion, be required to shoulder the greatest burden if war occurs. If we approach this problem properly, we shall be able to establish a militia force that will be worthy of Australia. In 1938 we increased the size of the militia to 85,000 men, and I believe that we could do so again if the necessary effort were made. Nobody who has the interests of this country at heart can be satisfied with the present position. I appeal to the Minister to accept the advice of senior military officers, especially LieutenantGeneral Savige, who has stated that the lack of men in Australia who have been trained in the use of modern weapons is a menace to the safety of this country.
– If the speeches that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite upon the proposed votes for the defence services mean anything at all, they mean that it is the intention of the Opposition, if it is successful at the forthcoming general election, to reintroduce compulsory military training in Australia. However, honorable gentlemen opposite have not. stated specifically that that is their intention. I ask them whether they are prepared to make that statement and let the; people know where they stand.
– Of course they are.
– I want the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) to make that statement officially.
– Give us a chance.
– There has been ample opportunity for honorable gentlemen opposite to state plainly their intentions in connexion with compulsory military training, but they have not done so.
Before the sitting was suspended the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made a good speech. The right honorable gentleman was forced into the position of having to do his utmost to justify the actions before the war of the Government of which he was a member and to attempt to explain its failure in the early years of the war. The right honorable gentleman tried to blame the Labour party for the condition of the defence forces of this country at the outbreak of war in 1939. He quoted the words that were used by some members of the Labour party when they were opposing proposals of the Government that was in office at that time. Neither the right honorable gentleman nor his predecessor as Prime Minister was game enough then to do what he thought should be done. The Australian people will surely be puzzled by the attempt of the right honorable gentleman to blame a party that was in a minority in both houses of the Parliament for the failure of the Government prior to the outbreak of war to establish adequate and efficient defence forces in this country. The right honorable gentleman referred to the late John Curtin and his opposition to certain proposed defence measures. In 1936 I served with Mr. Curtin on a committee that drew up the defence policy of the Labour party for presentation to the people at the 1937 general election. What Mr. Curtin desired was an efficient air force. I ask honorable gentlemen opposite how efficient our air force was in 1939.
– We had five Wirraways.
– At outbreak of war in 1939 the air defences of this country were practically non-existent. I remember the night when it was announced that Prince of Wales and Repulse had. been sunk. Those ships were lost because we had no aircraft available to protect them from the attacks of Japanese aircraft.
Honorable gentleman opposite are now claiming that there are not enough men in the defence forces. On other occasions, as we know, they have said that there are not sufficient men employed in industry and that we are not constructing enough houses and ships. They blame the Government because thereare not sufficient men to do the work that’ is needed for the development of this country. I believe in an efficient defence force-
– Of course the honorable member does not.
– The honorable gentleman may make statements of that kind if he desires to do so. I repeat that I believe in an efficient defence force–
– That is utter humbug.
– It was humbug for the honorable member for Henty to attack the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) in the way in which he did, and for the Leader of the Opposition .to claim that the government of which he was a member was not responsible for the condition qf our defence forces in 1939,- and to attempt to lay the blame for it on the Labour party, which was then in Opposition. In the debate on these Esti mates honorable gentlemen opposite have been indulging in the tactics in which they have indulged for the last three years. On every occasion when a member of the Opposition makes a speech in this chamber he endeavours to sow in the minds of the people the seeds of distrust and suspicion of the Government. He suggests that the Government will not protect the country by doing what is necessary for our defence and that it will ruin us. Honorable gentlemen opposite must have a very poor opinion of the intelligence of the people if they think that they will be misled by statements of that kind.
Why was there a change of minis ry in 1941? Honorable gentlemen opposite talk of unity, but when the present Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister, the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. . Fedden) also wanted to occupy the post and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that he was the man for it. The people of Australia were wondering who would be the man who would lead them in the war. Eventually two of the supporters of that Government said, in effect, “ If you are going to make such a poor showing by arguing amongst yourselves, and if you are going to jeopardize the defence of Australia, we shall turn you out of office “. They did so, and a minority party, the Labour party, formed the Government. That minority party did such a wonderful job that it was returned to office with a record majority at the 1943 general election. At that time [ remember talking to men in trains and in the streets. They said to me, “We want John Curtin “. They gave the party that was led by John Curtin a majority in this House that it had never had before. There were no fights in the ranks of the Labour party. Our fight was with the enemy. The members of the Menzies Government did not have the guts to say to the people of Australia, “ We are going to make this an all-in war. Every man in the country must play his part “. We did that in spite of the opposition of some members of our own party. We were prepared to do what was necessary for the defence of Australia, and to take risks. Honorable gentlemen opposite often talk about taking risks, but when the parties to which they belong were in power they were not prepared to take the risk of saying to everybody in Australia, whether they were serving in the forces or engaged in industry or business, that they would have to play their part in the war. On the contrary they adopted the attitude, “ Business as usual for the business man and let the volunteers carry on with the fight “. The people of Australia are quite satisfied that the Labour Government has shown, by deeds and not by words, that it is prepared to do the job.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of Defence, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army, the Department of Air and the Department of Supply and Development has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed vote, £12,573,000.
Refunds of Revenue
Proposed vote, £12,000,000.
Advance to the Treasurer.
Proposed vote, £10,000,000.
War (1914-18) Services
Proposed vote, £1,691,000.
War (1939-45) Services
Proposed vote, £5,951,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- I do not propose at this juncture to refer to the administration of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) in relation to the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal and the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal. I pointed out on a previous occasion that the Minister decided to dismiss a tribunal for having questioned his administration, and that he refused to accept a report from a tribunal, under threat of dismissal, unless it was prepared to alter the document to conform to his own opinions. I mention those matters only to show that the remarks whichI shall make about war pensions generally are completely consistent with the Minis ter’s failure to administer the Department of Repatriation in a proper manner.
The Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, in my opinion and in the opinion of quite a number of those who have some knowledge of this matter, should be completely overhauled. The original act has been amended piece-meal since its introduction in 1920 by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). However, the act and the regulations promulgated thereunder have not been completely overhauled, and as the result of two world wars, a considerable number of anomalies have arisen, the general effect of which has been to penalize ex-service men and women. It appears to me that ex-service men and women constitute one class which should receive sympathetic consideration from the Government. Unfortunately, they receive scant consideration from this Government, and possibly less consideration than other sections of the community receive. That impression is held so widely among exservicemen that the joint organization of ex-servicemen’s associations has prepared what it describes as a 33-point plan for submission to the Government.
– A 36-point plan.
– I accept the correction, because it shows that the exservicemen’s organizations are dissatisfied about three other points in addition to the 33 that are known to me. If the representatives of ex-servicemen can indicate 36 points of the act which bear harshly upon them and worsen their position compared with that of other sections of the community my contention that the act should be completely overhauled must stand unchallenged. The Minister stated that he informed the representatives of the joint organization of ex-servicemen’s associations that the Government would not increase the rates of repatriation pensions. According to reports, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) later confirmed the Minister’s statement. The Government is more concerned with providing social services benefits than with rendering simple justice to exservice men and women by increasing the rates of the various categories of war pensions. It seems that the Government prefers that war pensions should be abolished and that repatriation benefits and social services generally should be paid from the National Welfare Fund. That impression seems to be borne out by the fact that the Government is keeping the rate of the war pensions static. While the Government succeeds in doing so, it will be diverting to the National Welfare Fund money that should rightly be allocated to increasing war pensions.
I shall cite some examples. The percentage of the national income which was expended in 1939 on pensions for those who had fought in the Boer War and World War I. is almost equal to the percentage of the national income that is now being expended on the payment of pensions to those who served in the Boer War, World War I. and World War II. It is a misnomer to refer to “ war pensions “. A war pension should be regarded as compensation to men who lost limbs or were broken in health as the result of serving their country in wars. The payment is an obligation that the Government and the people should assume. Of course, the Government does not recognize that fact and, in my opinion, it regards war pensions merely as an obligation to be met by the payment, in many instances, of the minimum rate. Since the end of World War II., the increase of war pensions has lagged far behind the soaring cost of living, and the steady decline of the purchasing power of the war pension is quite evident. However, the basic wage and the age and invalid pension have frequently been adjusted to meet the increasing cost of living. I mention those points, because later I shall compare the increase of age and invalid pensions in relation to the basic wage, with the increase of war pensions in relation to the basic wage.
One of the anomalies which inflicts the greatest degree of hardship is that war pension rates are not sufficient to enable the recipients to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Obviously, if wages and costs rise, but war pensions remain static, the recipients are penalized. Let us consider how the purchasing power of the 100 per cent, war pension has been allowed to fall, notwithstanding the fact that the national income per capita has increased since 1939 by approximately 86 per cent.
Age and invalid .pensions have increased by approximately the same percentage, but the 100 per cent, war pension and the special war pension have been increased by only 30 per cent, in 10 years. The 10.0 per cent, war pension in 1939 was £2 2s. ,a week, and at present it is £2 15s. a week, an increase of 31 per cent. The rate of the special war pension in 1939 was £4 a week and to-day it is £5 6s. a week, an increase of 32.5 per cent. Honorable members will see that my statements about the decline of the purchasing power of war pensions are borne out by those figures. I shall now examine war pensions in relation to the basic wage in 1939 and in August of this year. The 100 per cent, war pension was £2 2s. a week, and the basic wage was £3 19s. a week in 1939. In other words, the 100 per cent war pension was 53 per cent, of the basic wage at that time. In August, 1949, the basic wage was £6 7s. a week and the 100 per cent, war pension was £2 15s., or only 43 per cent, of the basic wage. Those of us who watch economic trends know that the basic wage will continue to be further increased. I have no doubt that, before the general election on the 10th December next, the basic wage will be increased to £6 10s. a week. The 100 per cent, war pension will have to be increased to 70s. a week if it is to bear the same relation to the basic wage now as it bore to the basic wage in 1939. The case for the increase is unanswerable.
All civilian pensions and the basic wage have been adjusted in accordance with the increased cost of living, but ex-servicemen, who have lost a limb or who have been broken in health through helping to preserve our democratic way of life and our standard of living, are not being treated so sympathetically as civilian pensioners are. I do not desire to suggest that war pensions should rise or fall according to fluctuations in the cost of living. I do not suggest that the 100 per cent, pension rate should be adjusted automatically in accordance with variations in cost of living figures. Perhaps the Minister, calling upon his imagination, could evolve some other method of dealing with the problem. At any rate, it is clearly our duty to honour our obligations to the ex-servicemen who answered the call to defend their country. They should- not be placed in a worse position than other sections of the community. In 1939, the full war pension represented 53 per cent, of the basic wage; now it represents only 43 per cent., and if an adjustment is not made soon the disparity will be still greater. If the Treasurer, whose coffers are overflowing, can grant concessions to other sections of the community, he can well afford to do justice to ex-servicemen.
Before the war, the Australian Soldiers’’ Repatriation Act was amended to provide that wives of exservicemen, who married ‘ after the 30th June, 1938, should be excluded from benefits under the act. The “Minister, no doubt, will remind me that the amendment was made while a government which I supported was in power. That is so, but the amendment has led to some anomalies, and I have here particulars of a case in point. An ex-serviceman has written to me in these terms - 1 will try to point out the injustice by stating my own case.
I married in December 1941 and refrained from doing so earlier because I felt, in justice to any woman I should not add further responsibilities, either from a health or financial point of view, until the doctors told me it was safe to marry.
The writer was suffering from tuberculosis. The letter continues -
For taking the commonsense point of view I am now ineligible for any assistance for my wife.
My action thus prevented the spreading of infection, and also saved the Government financial liability for a wife for all those years from 1919 to my marriage in 1941.
It seems hard that privileges should be granted to those men who, often very unwisely married quite early in their T.B. life, and that penalties be imposed on those who, in the wisdom of their doctors, felt their health prevented them from taking on the responsibilities of a married life earlier than they did.
Returned men feel that this section of the Act should be amended by deleting that section, after which date, 30th June, 1938, a man may not receive help for his wife if he marries.
I shall give this letter to the Minister, but I do not know whether he has power to do anything about it. The writer was suffering from tuberculosis, which was at an infectious stage. He was a man of some standing, and his doctor advised him that if he married he would be doing a disservice to the community.
He would be likely to infect his wife, and if there were children they might be infected too. His doctor advised him not to marry until he was given a clean bill of health. He could have refused to accept his doctor’s advice. He could have married, and possibly spread the infection, thereby imposing, upon the Government additional liabilities. However, he refrained from marrying until he was given a clean bill of health. He is now married, and complains that, because he faced his responsibilities as a citizen, he has been penalized. That is an anomaly which ought to be corrected. The Minister should be given discretionary power to, deal with cases of the kind. There cannot be many of them, and no great demand would be made on the Treasury by giving favorable consideration to applications of ex-servicemen in such a position. I appreciate the fact that the act was amended to cover cases in which women married ex-servicemen for the sole purpose of deriving benefits under the act. I am not quarreling with the general provision. The principle of the amendment was sound, but the anomalies created by it have become apparent only since the provision has been in operation, and something should be done to correct those anomalies. I make no apology for my general remarks on war pensions. I believe that, compared with other persons in the community, the position of ex-servicemen is worse than it- used to be. The Minister should have pressed for increased rates in order to maintain the same relation between war pensions and the basic wage as obtained in 1939. Because he failed to do so, he has fallen down on his job.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) on the temperate way in which he stated his case. Such behaviour is most unusual for him. On this occasion, he tiptoed through the tulips because he knew very well that there would be little justification for his remarks if he were carrying the responsibility that now rests upon me as Minister. He kept very carefully away from one aspect of repatriation that has been Qf special interest to him in recent years. He mentioned it in only a casual way, because he does not wish to have much to say about it. seeing that the election is so close. I refer to the question of the onus of proof in cases that come up for hearing before the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. I remind the honorable member for Wentworth that he was one of those who voted against the proposal to place the onus of proof on the Repatriation Commission, the ‘State repatriation boards, and on the entitlement tribunal, tie poses as the champion of exservicemen, but when the Labour party, which was then in opposition, wished to place the onus of proof upon the various bodies that deal with applications for war pensions, he voted against the proposal.
– And we subsequently put that provision in the act.
– Yes, but with what reluctance! The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) was one of those who voted for the proposal, ‘but the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) voted with the honorable member for Wentworth against it. I can read the division list to the honorable member if he wants me to. The Labour Government has put the amending provision into operation with great pleasure, so that hundreds of men, who had been denied pensions when the honorable member for Wentworth was Minister for Repatriation, have received them since I have been Minister. However, I do not propose to pursue that point further, nor to place on record once more the relevant division list. That was done as recently as June last. The honorable member for Wentworth put his case very temperately, but some of his statements need to be appropriately replied to. First, he said that the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act should be completely overhauled, and that it had not been overhauled since its introduction by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). The honorable member knows that that is untrue, because an almost completely new act was introduced by my predecessor, Mr. Frost, who then represented Franklin.
– Practically no alterations were made.
– It was almost a completely new act.
– It was not.
– If the honorable member reads it, he will find it almost a completely new act. Between- 1920 and 1943, so many anomalies came to light that it was decided to redraft the legislation in order to remove them. All the amendments of the principal act were consolidated as recently as 1943. So the honorable member draws a very long bow when he talks about the need for a complete overhaul of the act. I remind him that the amendments that were made in the 1943 act were based on the report and recommendations of a committee composed of returned soldiers from all sections of the Parliament. The committee was presided over by my honorable friend, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard). The new legislation provided for an increase of pensions by 20 per cent. The honorable member went on to talk about a 33-point plan. Actually, the plan presented to the Prime Minister (Mr Chifley) and myself is a 36-point plan. A good deal of time has been spent on examining the document. I presume that the honorable gentleman wanted to reduce it to a 33-point plan, because several of the requests made in it were adopted and passed into law about 12 months ago. I do not propose to take up the time of the committee in enumerating them, but half a dozen sections of the plan have already been given legislative force in compliance with a request made by ex-service organizations at least a year ago. So much for the plan. We are still examining other proposals which it contains. We hope to be able to reach a decision on some of the other requests contained in it as soon as the Cabinet, is able to have a look at it. The honorable gentleman went on to say that returned soldiers’ pensions had been kept static. For the benefit of honorable members, I am getting out a document that gives a complete picture of pensions.
– Will it have the Minister’s photograph on it?
– No, I am not so proud of my photograph as all that.
There may be photographs of some repatriation institutions that we are proud of. Between 1914 and 1916, when soldiers were paid 6s. a day, the rate of pension was £2 a week. It was not until the 6th May, 1943, that the rate was increased to £2 10s. The honorable member criticizes the Government for not having done anything for ex-servicemen. In effect, he has said that since 1939 we have not done this or ought to have done that. But he ignores the fact that, between 1914 and 1943, the pension of returned soldiers was not increased. I could quote the figures to show the increase granted by this Government. A good deal has been said about the 100 per cent, pension, that is the pension paid to an ex-serviceman whose disability is assessed at 100 per cent, incapacity. Whereas he formerly received a pension of £2, he now receives £2 15s. a week, and he can earn whatever pay he is able to earn. In other words, there is no means test.
– Surely a person in receipt of a 100 per cent, pension could not earn anything.
– The 100 per cent, man should not be confused with the ex-serviceman who receives a special pension.
– The “ T.P.I. “? .
– Yes, and the “ T.T.I.”. The totally and permanently incapacitated and totally temporarily incapacitated men are in an entirely different category from the 100 per cent, men. The man on the 100 per cent, pension may earn whatever he is physically or mentally capable of earning without interference to his pension. He is not subjected to the means test. The honorable member for Wentworth makes the astounding claim that ex-servicemen who work in industry, and have had the benefit of increases of the basic wage, should have their pensions fixed at a higher rate to accord with the increase of the cost of living. The pension has no relation whatever to the basic wage. Ex-service organizations - at least, the Returned Sailors. Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, which is the parent organization and which has looked after the welfare of ex-servicemen ever since World
War I. - have always argued against the adjustment of pensions on a sliding scale in accordance with rises or falls of the basic wage.
– Explain why!
– The reason is that they do not desire the basic wage and the pension to be related as far as increases or decreases of the cost of living are concerned. They are prepared to rely on the generosity or lack of generosity of the Government in determining the rate of the pension. We have never applied falls or rises of the cost of living to any ex-service pensioner, from the “ 100 per cent-er” to the “10 per cent-er”. The increase of the pension was decided on by the Government, that is the Labour Government, because no other government gave an increase at all. NonLabour governments applied the means test to war widows. Until 1943, a widow who had a little property and let a couple of rooms to supplement her pension by a small amount, received the handsome pension of £1 3s. 6d. a week. The means test was always applied to widows until Labour came to the treasury bench in 1941.
– The Minister is talking about the widows of soldiers?
– Yes. Ordinary widows did not receive a pension at all until we took office. We entirely removed the means test from war widows. No means test is applied to the 100 per cent, pensioner who, without suffering a reduction of his pension, may earn whatever his physical or mental condition allows him to earn. In earning that money, he reaps the benefit of increases of the basic wage in accordance with the increase of the cost of living.
– The means test is still applied to the parents of deceased soldiers.
– I shall come to that in a moment. It seems fallacious that the pension should be increased because the basic wage has been increased.
– Why did the Government not maintain the pension that operated in 1939?
– The honorable gentleman should ask himself that question. Why did his Government not. apply it?
– We did.
– Returned soldiers did not receive an increase of their pension until we gave it to them.
– They were better off in 1934.
– A lot of people say, “ Take us back to the good old days “, but I notice that every one has more money in his pocket to-day than he had then.
– The golden age?
– We have got nearer the golden age.
– The pension is like a wage; it is worth only what it will purchase.
– It is a pity that honorable members opposite cannot make up their minds. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) argues along one line and the honorable member for Wentworth along another line.
– We are arguing along the same line.
– The arguments run counter to each other. The honorable member for Wentworth said that the pension should be regarded as compensation.
– That is right.
– The honorable member agrees. The right honorable member for North Sydney said that the pension should increase according to the basic wage.
– He did not.
– Honorable gentlemen opposite have never been able to make uo their minds to agree on anything.
– Can the Minister not understand that we use the basic wage as an illustration?
– The honorable member for Wentworth describes the pension as compensation for services rendered. He talked about pensions being revised periodically. Pension rates were revised in 1943 and they have been revised at least twice since I have been Minister. Increases of pensions during my term of office have meant that an additional amount of £2,000,000 is now circulating among ex-servicemen.
-. - The increases have been offset by the increase of the cost of living.
– That applies to everybody. Surely the honorable member would not argue that a man who is in receipt of the basic wage and who receives a 100 per cent, war pension, should have it both ways. As far as special rate pensioners are concerned I agree that there is some validity in the argument that a man who is in receipt of a pension of £5 6s. a week for himself and £1 4s. a week for his wife, and who has to pay rent, must be having a struggle to live.
– Age pensioners can earn more.
– I agree with that. Some of these special rate pensioners earn some proportion of the basic wage, but what about the man who gets £3 or £4 a week from a superannuation fund? That amount is not taken into account because it is not produced by personal exertion. What about the man who is a director of a firm and who has an income that is not produced by personal exertion? We cannot measure all cases by the same yardstick. If a concession is given to one person it must be given all down the line.
– The Minister insists upon calling it a pension. It is really a. compensation.
– It is described in the relevant act as a pension. Everybody refers to it as a pension and it has been referred to by that name right down through the years. The honorable member has raised an objection to the term used only because he wants to be critical about this whole subject. It is not of much use for the honorable member to shake his head about it, because that will not alter the position. The honorable gentleman referred to the special case of a tuberculous ex-serviceman. I deal with special cases every day. Special cases are always with us. The yardstick used in respect of other cases is not suitable for tubercular cases. Only recently the president of the Tubercular Sailors and Soldiers Association came to me and offered me his congratulations upon what the Government had done in the readjustment of pension rates for tuberculous ex-servicemen. The honorable gentleman mentioned a case of a man who married after a certain date, but he anticipated my answer because that was a matter that was decided long before a Labour government came into office. When returned servicemen’s organizations made a recommendation to this Government regarding what they considered should be provided in the new act of 1943 they did not recommend the abolition of that particular section. They recommended that the maximum period in respect of soldiers from World War I. should be twenty years and that for soldiers of World War II. it should be fifteen years. That recommendation was made by returned soldiers, some of whom are still members of this Parliament. The Government accepted the recommendation and that provision remains in the act.
Let us return for a moment to the question of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. It is true that a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman with no children must be finding it hard to live on his rate of pension. But that is not all we do for him. We have a very excellent system of education for the children of such people. As soon as a child living at home starts to go to school he is enabled to get tram fares, books and so on until he reaches the age of thirteen years. The rate of educational allowance paid in respect of a child was formerly 6s. a week, but it has been increased by this Government to 9s. a week for children between the ages of thirteen and fourteen. We also provide school books and sporting requisites for such children. The educational allowance in respect of children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen is 12s. a week and at sixteen years of age, when the pension ceases to be payable, educational assistance goes up to 33s. a week if the child is living at home, and 50s. a week if living away from home. While children are at school we pay for books and provide sporting requisites. We even make an allowance to them if they go to a university. The allowance for a boy learning a trade is 45s. a week in his first year of appren ticeship, and for a girl it is 40s. a week. If the young people are living, away from home the rates are 60s. and 55s. respectively. The pension rate is not a maximum rate but it is a minimum rate, in effect, because of additional benefits available. The Government regards itself as not being ungenerous .to ex-servicemen. I agree that some sections of ex-servicemen have some difficulty in making ends meet, but I hope that a little later on we shall be able to review the matter and make some provision for those who find themselves in great difficulty because of rising prices. As far as the 36-poi.nt plan of the Returned Servicemen’s League is concerned I hope that we shall be able to do something more about that matter in the very near future. The Government has a record of achievement of service to ex-servicemen since it has been in office of which it can be justly proud.
– Members of the Government would be the only ones who would be proud of it.
– The honorable gentleman may say that, but returned servicemen, especially those who have had some responsibility as officials of ex-servicemen’s organizations, would tell the honorable member that they approve of what the Government has done for them in removing anomalies in the act and in providing more generous pensions, allowances, educational benefits and medical attention. I think that in many cases ex-servicemen recognize that while they may desire to have more, the Government has not been ungenerous to them.
Last week we heard some criticism of repatriation hospitals and of the Heidelberg Military Hospital in particular. Some general reference was made to repatriation hospitals by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). The honorable gentleman is usually fairly generous in his comments on those matters. If he desires to level criticisms at repatriation hospitals I consider that he should cite specific instances. Almost daily I receive letters of commendation, not only from people high up in the social world who visit repatriation hospitals, but also from people lower down in the social scale. They commend the Government for the services rendered by the staffs of repatriation hospitals. I confess that in a big institution where there are perhaps 1,600 patients and a very big staff, there may be from time to time some matters that require tightening up. If such cases were brought to the notice of the department it would have an opportunity to deal with them. I say in conclusion that as far as repatriation hospitals are concerned the Government has real grounds for pride, and so have the returned soldiers.
– The group of Estimates that we are debating covers the expenditure that is to be incurred by this Goverment for benefits of exservicemen. I wish to examine what this Government is doing, and to compare it with what a previous non-Labour Government did after World War I. I shall also compare the measure of prosperity now being enjoyed by ex-servicemen with their plight four years after World War 1. ended. The total expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth on all forms of benefits to ex-servicemen of World War II., up to the present time, amounts to £88,’000,000. That amount is accounted for under various headings. First of all the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme provides university-type training covering many thousands of ex-servicemen who take professional courses to become doctors, dentists, scientists, engineers and so on, and has involved an expenditure, up to the 31st July last, of approximately £11,000,000. That amount includes almost £7,000,000 for living allowances and £1,600,000 for tuition fees. [Quorum formed.] The amount also includes more than £1,000,000 for additional courses and more than £1,000,000 for accommodation and equipment. An amount has been provided for technical and vocational-type training under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme which includes training for all types of trades. A sum total of £24,000,000 has been expended on that activity up to the 31st July last. That sum included £8,000,000 for living allowances, £5,000,000 for tuition fees, and more than £9,000,000 for subsidies to employers. As honorable members know how this scheme is operated, I shall not go into details with regard to it. It is a magnificent scheme for the rehabilitation and reestablishment of ex-servicemen, and it far excels any scheme that was put into operation by anti-Labour governments after World War I. In connexion with rural type training an amount of approximately £1,000,000 has already been expended. There are certain liabilities in relation to pensions but as that matter has been dealt with by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard), I shall not deal with it now. On the supplementation of apprentices’ wages an amount of £3,500,000 has been expended. Grants have also been made of furniture loans. Small business loans and agricultural loans of less than £250 have accounted for approximately £5,000,000. There are many other items such as medical treatment for war-caused disabilities, free passages to and from the Commonwealth, re-employment allowances and removal expenses, on which heavy expenditure has been incurred. A total of £88,000,000 has been expended on the rehabilitation and re-establishment of exservicemen. The Labour Government realized, in drawing up all these plans for re-establishment and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, that they could be implemented only if the community as a whole was prosperous. Consequently, the whole plan was envisaged in an economy enjoying full employment. It can be truthfully said that there are no ex-servicemen in the community who have not already been re-established or rehabilitated or who are not now in the course of being successfully re-established or rehabilitated. I ask honorable members to contrast that position with the position that existed four years after the termination of World War I. I have taken the trouble to examine the Estimates for 1921-22 in order to make such a comparison. [Quorum formed,”]
– As two Ministers are endeavouring to take up the remainder of the time allotted for the consideration of the Estimates now before the Chair, thus preventing Opposition members from participating in the debate, I move -
That the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) be not further heard.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. T. N. Sheehy.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
With the approach of winter their outlook is not a happy one. They want work, not charity. … It is necesary for the Government to take a serious view of the unemployed “ Digger “ and assist the municipalities in their efforts to find him work.
The Melbourne Argus of the 6th April, 1922 contained a statement relating to the activities of the employment bureau established by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. In the Melbourne Age on the 26th May, 1922, the report of the Repatriation Department is quoted as having stated that at the 30th April, 1922, there were 1,086 unemployed returned soldiers on its register, an increase of 265 on the number awaiting employment at the 31st March. In the Melbourne Age of the. 13th June, 1922, when the Nationalist Government led by the right honorable member for North Sydney was in office, there appeared an article under the prominent headline, “ The burden of taxation. Huge army in government employ.” I now turn to some extracts from the Sydney press. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 17th March, 1922, there appeared this statement -
There are indications of a. revolt among soldier settlers to whom liens have been issued by the Repatriation Department. The soldiers at ToolesCreek Settlement have called an urgent meeting to deal with the proposal . . The lien is similar to that served upon the settlors of the Walbundry Soldiers’ Settlement … A general conference of all soldier settlers in this part of the State is being summoned to bo held in Wagga on Holiday next to consider what action is to be taken.
In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 12th May, 1922, the following passage appeared : -
A conference of Mayors was convened by the Lord Mayor to consider measures for providing employment for returned soldiers. The Lord Mayor said the League and associations interested in returned soldiers had agreed to form a confederacy. The idea was that there should be only one central organization dealing with unemployed soldiers.
The New South Wales Government will meet to-morrow to decide the steps to be taken to overcome trade depression and unemployment. There is a difference of opinion amongst Ministers as to the best way in which the problem should be dealt with.
On the 23rd May, 1922, the Sydney Morning Herald stated -
The number of unemployed in the State of New South Wales is shown by the Labour Department to be 14,500.
On the 27th May of that year this extract appeared -
A deputation of soldier settlers on dairying lands in the Bellingen Shire waited-
– There is no point of order involved.
– On the 27th May, 1922, this report appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald -
A deputation of soldier settlers on dairying lands in the Bellingen shire waited on the Assistant Minister for Lands to-day … a further deputation from soldier settlers engaged in poultry farming at Bankstown and Campbelltown was received by Mr. Chaffey. The Campbelltown soldiers asked for a revaluation of their land, stock and plant. The Bankstown settlers asked for a tribunal to inquire into their grievances.
On the 31st May of that year this statement appeared -
Mr. Thomas Buckland presided at the half yearly meeting at the Bank of New South Wales yesterday. Two facts too evident to ignore he said were that industries were languishing and unemployment abounded.
On the 15th June, 1922, it was reported -
Dissatisfaction is expressed by officials of the Returned Soldiers League at the poor response to appeals for employment.
On the 27th June, 1922, the following statement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald -
The serious aspect of the industrial situation in Newcastle has been increased by the closing down of the works of Rylands Bro6. The works have been devoted mainly to the manufacture of wire netting.
We have heard a number of complaints from honorable gentlemen opposite that soldier settlers cannot get sufficient wire netting to meet their requirements. The reason is that, because of the prosperity of primary producers generally, there is such a great demand for wire netting now that supplies are insufficient. That is in marked contrast with the situation in 1922 when farmers bad not sufficient money to buy enough wire netting to keep the wire netting works in production. The present situation is entirely different from that which existed in 1922. I have given the committee a description of the plight of returned servicemen in 1922. When the federal president of the Returned Servicemen’s League visited me in Canberra not very long ago he said that he had not one criticism to make of what the Department of Post-war Reconstruction was doing for returned servicemen. The only matters that he had to raise in relation to the welfare of returned servicemen were matters that were taken up with the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard). It can be said that this Government has looked after the interests of the returned servicemen of this country on this occasion very much better than they were looked after by anti-Labour governments after World War I.
– Do not some of the reconstruction trainees complain about their living allowances?
– Some trainees havecomplained about their living allowances,, but the vast majority of them know that they are being very generously treated. I repeat for the information of thehonorable member for Swan (MrHamilton) that the amount that has been expended upon living allowances for university trainees is £7,000,000. Approximately £8,000,000- has been expended upon living allowances for trainees undergoing technical and vocational training.
It is true that some trainees have complained of the scale of the allowances, but the vast majority of them are satisfied that they are being treated very generously by the Government.
I propose to make one or two remarks about land settlement. After World War I. land settlement was undertaken by the State governments. It was so badly managed that it cost the Commonwealth approximately £30,000,000 to write off debts that were incurred. The main reason for that situation was that land was bought at prices that were far too high. Returned servicemen who were settled on the land after World War I. were left with a millstone of debt hanging round their necks. [Quorum formed?]
– I rise to order. Is there any special reason why the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) should rush from the chamber immediately a quorum is called?
– Order! There is no point of order involved.
– After World War I., many returned servicemen spent many years of their lives in trying to make a success of the properties that ha*d been allotted to them under the war service land settlement schemes of that time. They incurred huge debts. Eventually they found that it was quite impossible to make a living, and they had to leave their blocks and start life afresh. After a period of years, debts to the value of over £30,000,000 were written off by the Commonwealth. On this occasion we have taken steps to ensure that returned servicemen who go on the land will get a fair deal. We have also taken steps to ensure that the valuations of their properties will be such as to enable them to earn a reasonable personal income, to pay all their expenses and eventually to make a great success of the blocks on which they have been established.
– When will they know what they have to pay?
– That is a matter for discussion between the State governments and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has arrived at an agreement with Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania in relation to valuations. The same remark applies to Queensland. The New South Wales Government has indicated that it does not wish to fix the valuations for another five years. Victoria is the only State with which I have had any difficulty in relation to land valuations.
I shall give to the committee some details of the war service land settlement scheme. Up to the 30th June this year, the proposals submitted by State governments related to an area of 9,235,000 acres. The area approved by the Commonwealth as suitable for war service land settlement was over 7,000,000 acres. The number of properties approved for acquisition was over 1,000, involving an area of almost 7,000,000 acres. The number of properties acquired by State governments for war service land settlement was S37, covering an area of 6,000,000 acres. The number of properties approved for subdivision was 551, covering 3,000,000 acres. The number of single farm units approved by the Commonwealth, the great majority of which are in New South Wales, was 468, covering an area of 3,000,000 acres.
– The Minister was opposed to single farm units.
– That is not true. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) does not know what he is talking about. I have always been prepared to accept single farm propositions provided they are submitted to me within the terms of the War Service Land Settlement Agreements. If the honorable gentleman knew anything about the agreements he would know that I have no power to refuse to consider single farm unit propositions provided they are within the terms of the agreements. I did object to considering propositions that were not put forward within the terms of the agreements. I refused to have anything to do with propositions of that kind. None of them has been accepted by me. That is not because of my objection to them, but because they did not come within the terms of the relevant legislation. Some single farm propositions have been dealt with by the Victorian Government outside the War Service Land Settlement Agreement altogether. The fact that they are being dealt with by the Victorian Government does not mean that if that Government had put them up to me within the terms of its agreement, I should not have accepted them. State governments are bound to comply with the terms of the agreements in the same way as I am bound to comply with them. The total sum of money that has been expended upon war service land settlement to date is approximately £16,000,000. Approximately one-half of that sum of money has been expended upon the acquisition and development of estates generally and upon rural training for the settlers who will occupy the blocks. The remainder of the money has been expended upon re-establishment loans for returned servicemen who are on the land. That is the £1,000 loan proposition. That is entirely a Commonwealth scheme and the State governments are not called upon to bear any of that expenditure. I express my gratitude to the State governments for making available to me facilities such as the Rural Bank of New South Wales and the Soldier Settlement Commission in Victoria for the purpose of organizing in connexion with the scheme, doing the necessary inspections of the properties and generally assisting the Commonwealth in allocating the money. Administrative expenses of that kind are borne by the Commonwealth, but I express my thanks to the State governments for having made those facilities available to us. Soldier settlers and in fact all ex-servicemen of World War II. have been given very generous treatment by this Government and there it not any section of the community which does not recognize that to be so.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for Miscellaneous Services, Refunds of Revenue, Advance to the Treasurer, War (1914-18) Services and War (1939-45) Services, has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-I direct attention to a matter affecting a former naval officer in the hope that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) will ensure that justice shall be done to him. I did not consider that this matter should be raised when the Estimates for the Department of the Navy were under consideration, even if I had been given an opportunity to speak on that occasion. I propose to relate the experience of a former Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Australian Navy who was courtmartialled on five charges, found not guilty on the two most serious ones and reprimanded on the other three. As the result of that reprimand he has forfeited the whole of his deferred pay amounting to some hundreds of pounds. Although the naval regulations provide for forfeiture in such circumstances, the punishment in this instance does not fit the crime. That is an unwritten law which is older than all the naval regulations and the regulations that have been promulgated under the defence Act. I shall cite the details of the case. This man is the son of a retired bank manager and is himself a senior bank officer. Every member of his family, including himself, had an excellent war record. He volunteered and served in the Royal Australian Navy on the lower deck, was promoted to sub-lieutenant in fourteen months, to lieutenant three months later, and to acting lieutenant-commander after a further four years. Whilst serving as an officer he carried out naval secretarial duties ashore and afloat in Arunta, Shropshire and Bataan. He joined Bataan in April, 1946, as secretary to the commanding officer, who was in charge in the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla. His duties were of a secretarial nature and were concerned with the flotilla of six destroyers. He was officer in charge of public moneys on Bataan, but he had nothing whatever to do with victualling. I shall describe what happened.
In December, 1946, Bataan, paid an official visit to Shanghai for four days. Upon arrival he drew local currency from the Australian legation. Prior to sailing twelve days later, he returned the balance of unexpended Chinese currency. At this eleventh-hour visit to the legation on the day of sailing, he was confronted with three accounts for victualling stores presumed to have been purchased from Chinese providors during the stay of the vessel in Shanghai. He was requested to sign them, because of the short time that would elapse before Bataan sailed. The supply petty officer in charge of victualling claimed that it would not be possible for him to return on board in order to obtain the signature of the requisite authority. He hae written to me as follows : -
These facts are hazy to me now and it is possible I signed the three documents in the ship immediately before being asked to bring the documents ashore to the legation office, such fact of my visit being known to the supply petty officer. The difference in times of signing would be only half or one hour. The supply petty officer was a recommended and trusted rating and my banking experience would make me believe the word of a senior rating.
Eventually the legation copies of the victualling accounts were received in the Department of the Navy, and they disagreed with the amount of provisions that were actually taken on charge in the ship’s account. Earlier, the ship’s account was “ missing “ and when the supply petty officer was asked to make out a duplicate copy, the account which he handed in was the “ missing “ original. I understand that the supply petty officer was prosecuted on other charges at a court of inquiry, and it became evident to the former commander whose case I am voicing that a circumstantial case had been woven around him. The senior rating was later discharged from the service and deprived of his good conduct badges. The officer claims that he was the unfortunate victim of circumstances. I do not know the facts of the matter other than as they have been given to me, but I am informed that the cost of the trial of the officer amounted to approximately £10,000. I think that this officer, having spent many years of his life in the service, should have received more sympathetic consideration from the Department of the Navy. I am not one of those who believe in breaking down discipline, and I agree that a man who commits a crime must take his punishment. However, the punishment should always fit the crime. The officer has written as follows : -
After the Sydney Board of Inquiry in July, my previously approved demobilization was deferred. I was kept inactive in Sydney until the end of August and then allowed to proceed home to Melbourne. In mid September I was flown to Japan to rejoin Bataan. One of the two officers referred to above was trained to Melbourne from Cairns and accompanied me to Japan. From here Bataan sailed to Shanghai where a second Board of Inquiry was held in a British cruiser which had come up from Hong Kong. The Chinese providors were witnesses.
From Shanghai, Bataan spent fourteen days in Hong Kong before returning to Japan. In mid November I was informed I was to be court-martialled and so Bataan returned to Shanghai and Australia arrived from Hong Kong. I was charged on two alternate charges of defrauding the Commonwealth Government and three charges of signing documents when I had no authority to do so. I was found not guilty of the two serious charges and as my signature was on the accounts my solicitor instructed me to admit the other three charges.
The other three charges were laid under the all-embracing provision of “ conduct to the prejudice of naval discipline “, which is a kind of drag-net section that is employed when charges under other sections fail. I do not question the fairness of the trial, but I know that the officer incurred considerable expense in defending himself. The letter continues -
For several months at the end of 1!)47 Bataan was almost entirely engaged in this case, going or coming from Shanghai. She was sent thence, ostensibly on a courtesy visit, a request being sent to the Australian Minister in Nanking on both occasions for the visits to be approved by the Chinese Government. The following further expenses were incur.red to bring me to trial: - (1) An officer travelled by train from Cairns to Melbourne and thence was flown to Japan. (2) I was flown to Japan. (3) A shorthand writer and another officer were flown from Sydney to Japan to assist at the court-martial.
An officer was flown from Hong Kong to Japan to assist the prosecutor at the trial.
the prosecutor (the captain of Bataan) took himself from Southern Japan to Yokohama to receive advice in conducting his case. (6) Fuel for consumption in taking Bataan to Shanghai twice for inquiries. The foregoing expenses amount to almost £10,000 yet a request by me to have a retired naval officer flown from Sydney to Japan to assist me was turned down unless I held myself responsible for his fare. Arriving in Shanghai 3fl hours before ray trial I had to go ashore in a city of almost 7,000,000 people and find a solicitor. There were four British solicitors in the city and I eventually obtained an U.N.R.R.A. man. After my trial he charged me £150. To comply with naval procedure I was offered one of the junior officers in Bataan.
It should not he necessary for me to place any additional facts before the Minister for the Navy. As I have stated, I do not know this man personally, other than through this case. After five years’ service in the Royal Australian Navy he attained the rank of acting lieutenantcommander. As an accountant he signed certain documents and he realizes that he must accept the responsibility for the sins of another. Bie signed documents that had been placed before him without being able to check them. As the result of the findings of the courtmartial, he has forfeited between £500 and £600 in deferred pay. That penalty is too harsh. This could not happen in the Army or in the Air Force. The deferred pay of a soldier or an airman would not be touched. It is contended, I know, that deferred naval pay is good conduct pay, but I am sure that no member of this Parliament would agree that a man who suffers a reprimand in any of the armed services should lose payments that have accumulated during many years of service. As I have said, I have already taken this matter up with the Minister. I know that he is merely a cipher. He is the servant of the Naval Board. He sends matters such as this to the Naval Board, and the board provides the answers. But this is a special case. The serious charges were not proved. T am diffident about mentioning the matter at all because I rather lean the other way, and believe that a man must take what is coming to him. I have sat on many courts-martial in the Army and in the Air Force, but I believe that human considerations must be taken into account. I repeat that the punishment must fit the crime. That principle is older than any military, air force, or naval law. I remind the Minister that there was a celebrated case in England in which a midshipman, Archer Shee, was accused of a dishonest act while attending a naval college. He was expelled from the Navy. Sir Edward Carson, later Lord Carson, took up his case years afterwards. The incident was dramatized in a recent very fine British film called The Winslow Boy. The film showed how that boy was disgraced, but, through the persistency of his father and other relatives and with the. able advocacy of Sir Edward Carson, he was finally cleared, although he never returned to the Navy. The demand made by Sir Edward Carson in that case was “ Let right be done “. It took a hide-bound Admiralty a long time to recognize the claim, but finally right was done. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully) to take this matter up with the Minister for the Navy, who is absent from the chamber at present. I am not pleading for theman. Probably I do not know him any better than any other honorable members do, but he has come to me with his case, and I feel that the punishment imposed upon him was harsh. The matter should be reviewed to ensure that right is done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
House adjourned at 10.43 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Statistics relating to working days lost as a result of industrial disputes are set out in the following tables: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows”: - 1 and 2. An amount of 384,000 dollars is provided in the dollar budget for the current licensing year for the following agricultural machinery: - 127 pick-up hay balers, 60 combined harvesters, 50 corn pickers, 9 forage harvesters, 20 corn planters, 17 hammer mills, 1 cotton picker, 2potato harvesters, 2 side delivery rakes. A further 140,000 dollars is provided for replacement parts for agricultural machinery. In addition, approximately 9,000,000 dollars is allocated for the importation of about 1,000 crawler tractors and 2,000 wheel tractors, also 5,000,000 dollars for tractor replacement parts, some of which will be used for agricultural purposes.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The honorable member will appreciate that the information required may take some time to collate. It will be obtained, however, and furnished as soon as practicable.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Over a month ago a request through diplomatic channels was made to the Dutch authorities for permission for a Royal Australian Air Force Catalina carrying police officers and a Crown Law representative, to land at Soumalaki, and a reply is now awaited from the authorities at Batavia, who have been asked to expedite their decision.
As soon as permission to land is obtained, the Catalina will proceed to Soumalaki without delay and immediately all necessary evidence has been collected the extradition proceedings will be instituted.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - .
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The honorable member will appreciate that the information required may take some time to collate. It will be obtained, however, and furnished as soon as practicable.
g asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -
Will he have prepared a statement showing: (a) the countries of origin, quantities and value of petrol supplies imported into Australia; (b) the quantities of petrol sold by Great Britainto other countries; (c) whether petrol is rationed in countries supplied by Great Britain; (d) for what purposes, and to what extent, dollars are expended on petrol by Great Britain, and the nature of incidental expenditure thereon ; ( e ) the total amount of petrol consumed by Commonwealth and State governments in Australia; (f) the amount used by Government transport pools for ministerial car use; (g) the amount of aviation petrol used by TransAustralia Airlines, and the countries of origin ; and(h) the amount of petrol allocated to government departments ?
– The Minister for Supply and Fuel has supplied the following information: -
(b), (c) and (d). Full information concerning the reasons why it is necessary to continue to limit imports of petrol was given in the Prime Minister’s statement made by leave in the House on the 25th May, 1949, and in the documents furnished to the Premiers for their conference on the 17th June, 1949, which were tabled in the House on the 21st June. In the Prime Minister’s statement and these documents it was ex plained that the operations of British-controlled companies are largely carried on in countries outside the sterling area, where some 85 per cent. of their total output is produced. The quantity of petrol sold by oil companies in the United Kingdom for export to other countries is negligible. According to the United Kingdom trade and navigation accounts this amounted to only 5,692,000 gallons during 1948. In fact the United Kingdom is a substantial importer of petrol and other petroleum products and, like Australia, draws her supplies of these products from both British and American controlled companies. The nature and extent of the dollar cost of oil to the sterling area was also explained in the foregoing documents. At present the total net dollar cost is running at an annual rate well over 400,000,000 dollars. As well as purchases from American companies this figure includes the cost of dollar freight and tankerage, and dollar expenses of British controlled companies operating outside the sterling area. The net figure takes into account the dollar income of British controlled companies. Rationing is in force in the United Kingdom, India and New Zealand. According to press reports the South African Government has announced that petrol rationing will be introduced shortly.
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party a telephone subscriber; if so, what is its telephone number and under what name is the number listed in the Australian Capital Territory telephone directory?
l. - The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information ; -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Does the Government intend to table another tariff schedule before the House of Representatives is dissolved to deal with recommendations of the Tariff Board and any matters arising out of or from the Trade Conference at Annecy, France, conducted by the Interim Commission of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
It is neither customary nor desirable for advance information to be made available as to whether the Government intends to introduce Tariff changes. I am therefore unable to answer the honorable member’s question.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
GuidedWeapons Testing Range.
s asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Mr.Calwell. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2 and 3. The press statement to which the honorable member refers is based on a misunderstanding of the conditions under which Maltese settlers were brought to Australia. The standards of skill within the trades associated with building in Australia have always been jealously guarded, not only in the interests of the workers themselves, but also in the interests of the public generally. Since other countriesuse differenttechniques in building and work largely in different materials, it follows that a skilled tradesman from another country does not necessarily immediately measure up to Australian standards of skill. It is realized, therefore, that it is unlikely to be possible to carry out trade teste abroad which will be acceptable to all unions and employers in Australia. Nevertheless, it is still necessaryto guard againstmen with no skill or experience posing as tradesmen in order to be granted passages to this country, andthe Maltese Government, in consultation with the Commonwealth Government, instituted a system of trade testing of men who have applied for emigration from Malta as tradesmen. The trade tests are conducted by the Maltese trade training authority and, while they do not permit absolute definition of skill by Australian standards, they doserve as a guide to the skill of applicants. All the Maltese settlers employed at Woomera who were formerly employed us tradesmen in Malta were warned prior to embarkation for Australia, that irrespective of their previous experience, their recognition as tradesmen here would depend upon their ability to establish the requisite degree of skill under Australian conditions. After their arrival at Woomera the men were given several months to settle down and were then trade tested by a board consisting of a senior works supervisor of the Department of Works and Housing, a union representative, and a leading hand carpenter. Only a proportion of the men so tested were successful in satisfying the board that their skill was up to Australian standards. Those who did not pass the test areemployed as unskilled workers on the job, and were not advised to seek employment elsewhere. In view of these circumstances, I do not feel that any further investigation is necessary, for the situation in regard to employment of the Maltese settlers at Woomera is similar to that in Canberra and elsewhere, and is well known not only to me and my officers but also to the Maltese Government.I may say that while the difficulties ofthis situation have been known for some time, I have not been complacent concerning them, and as a result of a suggestion made by me, through my representative in Malta in May of this year,a technical expert from Malta isat presentonhis way toAustralia to survey standards of Australian trade training in each State with a view to ensuring that future arrivals from Malta do measure up to out standards of skill.
d. - On the4th October, the honorable member forMoreton(Mr. Francis) asked the following question : -
Will the Minister for Trade and Customs make anurgent inquiry as to when it is proposed to lay on the table of the House the report of the Tariff Board dealing with the cotton industry?
The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
I have made inquiries and expect that the Tariff Board will submit its report at an early date.
– On the 20th Septem ber, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asked me questions concerning earth-moving machinery required by the Victorian StateRivers and Water Supply Commission for the Eildon Weir and other water conservation projects in Victoria. Representations were made to me earlier this year on behalf of the Victorian authorities to obtain additional dollars to enable the importation of tractors from the ‘United States of
America for the Eildon Weir project and other similar undertakings. The matter is still under consideration.
CURRENCY: Imports from Dollar Areas.
y. - On the 22nd September, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked me questions concerning the position of importers who obtained licences for the importation of goods from dollar areas before devaluation occurred. In reply I desire to inform him that importers would not be required to pay for the goods at the higher rate if the relative dollar funds were purchased in full (spot or forward) prior to the 19th September; otherwise payment at the higher rate would have to be made. Any importer in doubt on this question should consult his ‘banker. Where holders of import licences issued before the 19th September had not completed purchase of dollars against their licences and now have to purchase them at the new rate of exchange, an adjustment of the Australian currency values shown on their licences will be necessary. As announced by the Minister for Trade and Customs on the 23rd September, this adjustment will he made. by issuing supplementary licences, where required, to allow the importation of the same quantity of goods as would have been imported prior to devaluation. Importers when applying for supplementary licences should support their applications with certificates from their bankers indicating that no exchange has been purchased against the original licence, or, in the case of licences requiring partial adjustment, the actual amount of exchange which had already been purchased against each licence.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 October 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1949/19491012_reps_18_205/>.