15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for Repatriation aware of the serious congestion at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick? If so, what steps does he intend to take to meet the situation?
– I am aware of the congestion. At the present time, the hospital is carrying on with a very low margin of safety as regards spare beds. Recently my colleague, Senator MacDonald, and 1 accompanied by some other members of Parliament, visited the hospital to obtain first-hand information of the conditions there. As a result of our visit, I have made certain recommendations to meet the situation.
Statements by Judge Foster.
– My attention had not previously been directed to the newspaper report ofthe comments made by Judge Foster, but I shall examine it most carefully. I feel sure that if the zeal of His Honour Judge Foster in the cause of peace caused him to make the statements attributed to him, it will be sufficient to direct his attention to the matter.
– Having regard to the splendid services rendered by surf life saving clubs throughout Australia, will the Leader of the Senate invite the Government to consider the desirability of paving subsidies to such clubs?
– It is not customary to make statements of policy in reply to questions, but I may tell the honorable gentleman that I doubt that it is within the power of the Commonwealth Government to do as he suggests.
– In. view of the fact that the Government pays grants and subsidies to various industries, can the Minister say why, in his opinion, it is beyond the scope of the Ministry to pay subsidies to surf life saving clubs?
– If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall see that he ia furnished with an answer.
The following papers were presented : -
Postmaster-General’s Department - Twentyseventh Annual Report, 1936-37.
Power Alcohol Industry, possibility of expansion in Australia - Report by Mr. L. J. Rogers, Commonwealth Fuel Adviser, dated 21st July. 1937.
Orange Bounty Act (No. 2) 1936 - Report on the working of the Act, together with return showing the amount of bounty paid.
Senator FOLL laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Pencils of wood, including Pencils with metal or other clamps or attachments.
– Fol lowing on previous questions which I have asked regarding this matter, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether he will take an early opportunity to make a statement indicating what steps have been taken during the last six months to provide gas masks for the people of Australia for use in time of war?
– I understand that a letter, setting out the position, was sent to the honorable senator by the Minister for Defence.
– That was several mouths ago.
– If the honorable gentleman desires further information and will place his question on the noticepaper, I shall see that an answer is supplied.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
With reference to the reported agreement upon the subject of an Empire flying-boat mail service, will the Minister give his confirmation to the press statement that Darwin has been chosen as the distributing point for mails to be sent, amongst other routes, down the western coast to Perth?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer: -
The Government has not completed its consideration of the re-organization of internal air services consequent upon the forthcoming inauguration of the Empire flying-boat service, but it has been decided to maintain land-plane services between Darwin and Perth and Darwin and Adelaide, and these two services will carry overseas air mail.
Permits to Import
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Development, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer : - 1, 2 and 3. The Commonwealth Forestry Bureau has recently obtained supplies of hickory seed from America, and it is proposed to plant it in selected areas. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has, for some time, been carrying out experiments with a view to discovering an Australian timber which might be suitable as a substitute for hickory. These experiments have, up to the present, shown that brown mallet, a Western Australian timber, should prove to be a satisfactory substitute for hickory for all but the most exacting purposes.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
The amount of the loan is required for the following purposes: -
The terms of the loan arc as follows: -
Nominal interest rate - 3¾ per cent, per annum.
Price of issue - £99 per cent.
Currency - Eighteen years with the option of redemption at the end of fourteen years.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon, notice -
Is it a fact that the Government, at an early date, intends to convene a conference of representatives of the Federal and State Governments, to devise a scheme for the purpose of guaranteeing to wheat-growers a price of not less than 3s. 4d. per bushel for wheat delivered at railway sidings?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.The Acting Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer : -
The Government has not considered the convening of a conference for the purpose stated. The question of deciding whether constitutionally sound legislation can be introduced by Commonwealth and State Govern ments to deal with schemes involving the fixing of a homeconsumption price is to be considered at the meeting of the Agricultural Council to be held next week.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
– The Minister for Defence has furnished the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer : -
The recommendations made in the Payne report are of such importance that the Minister for the Interior must give themthe most careful consideration before submitting them to the Government. The Minister for the Interior has already carried out a considerable amount of investigation into the recommendations, but feels that he will not be in a position to make definite recommendations to the Government until he has visited the territory. He will visit the territory at the earliest possible date. The question of bringing down legislation to implement the recommendations made in the report must await consideration by the Government of the Minister’s proposals. It is improbable that any such legislation will be brought down this session.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 4th May (vide page 782), on motion by Senator FOLL-
That the paper be printed.
– in reply - The statement which I submitted to the Senate was so fully discussed yesterday by members on both sides of the chamber that it is not my intention to do more than refer briefly to two or three matters mentioned by honorable senators. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) complained that the Government had not supplied the Senate with information regarding its defence proposals, but the very reason why the statement was submitted to the Senate before the Loan Bill covering some of the proposed expenditure on defence came before this chamber was that honorable senators should have before them the fullest possible information regarding the defence programme. The honorable gentleman went so far as to say that the Government was endeavouring to curtail discussion of this subject. I assure him, and honorable senators generally, that the Government welcomes the fullest discussion of its proposals. As one member of the Opposition said yesterday, the defence of Australia should be entirely removed from party politics. It is in that spirit that the Government has submitted its proposals. It welcomes the fullest co-operation of the Opposition and of all sections of the community in bringing into operation the policy submitted to the country. Last night members of the Opposition became very touchy when honorable senators on this side criticized the outlook of the Labour party in regard to defence. Particularly was that so when it was suggested from this side of the chamber that the Labour party had no defence policy at all. Yet the Leader of the Opposition himself was not particularly careful of the language that he employed in criticism of the Government’s programme. At the very beginning of his speech he referred to the Government and its supporters as the friends of the armament racketeers. He suggested, further, that the defence policy of the Government was, to a great extent, dictated by people who had something to gain from the manufacture of armaments or munitions of war. If Opposition senators hurl such charges across the chamber, it is not for them to be too sensitive when honorable senators on this side retaliate by digging deeply into the policy and the activities of the Labour party in regard to defence.
– We can take it if the Government and its supporters can.
– The Leader of the Opposition also complained that, because of the necessity to find large sums of money for defence purposes, social services would be starved. He would do well to remember that unless Australia can defend its territory, its social services will not be available for the benefit of its people. But the Government has not taken the stand that social servicesmust come to a standstill because of the heavy defence expenditure. The answer to the honorable senator’s charge is that only yesterday, while we in this chamber were discussing the programme for the defence of Australia, the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), in the other branch of the Legislature, introduced one of the most comprehensive pieces of social legislation that has ever come before this Parliament. That legislation is a clear indication that the Government does not intend to sacrifice social services, even in the interests of defence.
– We shall have something to say about that piece of social legislation when it comes before us.
– I do not doubt that, for the honorable senator generally has something to say on every subject. 1 can assure him, however, that the Government is not unmindful of the fact that it is necessary, in addition to making provision for the defence of this country, to continue social services to the community. Yesterday, Senator Sir George Pearce effectively replied to the charge that the money to be expended in accordance with the Government’s programme would be expended on wasting assets. The Leader of the Opposition said that no expenditure at all should be incurred on assets which are likely to become obsolete.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator complained that expenditure was to be incurred on wasting assets. He also said that many of the articles which would be purchased by the Government as part of its defence scheme would soon become obsolete. But can the honorable senator tell us how it is possible for this, or any other government, to pur chase implements for the defence of its territory - aeroplanes, warships, antiaircraft guns, and so on - which will not, sooner or later, become obsolete? The honorable gentleman knows that some of the best brains of the world are engaged in the production of implements of war, each person seeking to produce something better than has been produced hitherto.
– It only shows the madness of the whole business.
– I agree with the honorable senator, but, facts are facts, and we should not close our eyes to them. Almost immediately one kind of implement is invented and manufactured, someone else produces a better one, and, consequently, it is necessary for every country to keep up to date by purchasing the latest implements, so that, if called uponto defend itself, it will be in a position to do so.
The honorable senator also had something to say about the manufacture of munitions of war by private enterprise. The Government has not lost sight of what has taken place in other countries in regard to profiteering out of the manufacture of armaments, and in its negotiations with manufacturers and by public statements it has made it clear that it will not permit the private manufacturers of munitions in this country to make huge profits out of such activities. In my statement I said -
Large additions are under construction at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, and the Government is providing £1,000,000 towards the cost of organizing civil industry to meet any emergency. The plant provided under this scheme will, in the main, remain the property of the Government and subject to our control. This will enable a close check to be maintained on the cost of production, and will facilitate the control of profits. The Government, therefore, will not relinquish control of the manufacture of munitions but will, in effect, enlist the aid of private firms for management and operation.
I suggest that our large manufacturing industries can be regarded as our second line of defence, because if they are trained to manufacture wartime equipment their assistance in that direction will obviously prove most valuable in a time of emergency. I ask honorable senators to take their minds back to the Great War and to recall how, at that time, Mr. Lloyd George, who was later to become Prime
Minister, was appointed to the post of Minister for Munitions, and, as one of his first steps, set about inaugurating a complete stocktaking and organization of Britain’s manufacturing and engineering industries on a wartime basis. He realized, as we must realize, that in a time of national crisis it would not be possible for any government arsenal, or munition works, to supply the nation’s full requirements. It is essential that we should organize industry in this country to enable it to play its part in the general scheme of providing the equipment essential to the defence of the nation. As my former Leader, Senator Pearce, pointed out yesterday afternoon, all that the Government proposes to do is to say to those firms which possess the space that it is prepared to purchase defence equipment from them and, where necessary, assist them to instal new machinery, so that the Government will be enabled in time of emergency to call upon them for supplies and utilize the experience they gain in this direction. What establishments could be more useful to the Government at such a time than the already efficiently organized steel works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited?
– Such a policy would obviate the necessity for the Government to build huge works.
– Yes; Government works would probably be left idle for years. For the information of the Leader of the Opposition, I mention that only yesterday a friend of mine from Brisbane, who is known also to the honorable senator, as the head of one of the largest engineering concerns in Australia, told me that he and his organization were prepared to place themselves unreservedly at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government for the manufacture of essential defence equipment should the occasion arise, and would not expect a penny of profit. I believe that there are many other leaders of industry in this country who are equally ready to assist the Government in a similar way in time of need.
Honorable senators opposite emphasized yesterday that their policy was io provide for the adequate defence of Australia, but that they were opposed to any suggestion that Australia should enter into a war of aggression. I ask those honorable senators whether this Government’s policy differs from their own. The one purpose of the whole of its plan is to provide for the adequate defence of Australia.
– Then the Minister agrees with the Labour party.
– No; the Labour party agrees with the Government on that point. The Government has never made any suggestion other than that we should put our defences in order so that we might be prepared to resist attack. No honorable senator on this side has suggested that we should do anything except enable ourselves, should the need arise, to play our part in a scheme of Empire defence.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the Government’s proposal to purchase cruisers overseas and suggested that these vessels should be constructed in Australia. One reason why the Government must purchase these vessels overseas is that they are already in commission and time is an important factor; it is necessary for us to strengthen our naval defences as quickly as possible. So far as employment in our own dockyards is concerned, I point out that we have already placed orders for the construction of a number of naval sloops at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. These works are now operating at full pressure in the construction of those vessels. By placing those orders locally we not only provide employment for our own workmen, but also enable them to be trained in preparation for the construction of larger vessels, should such be required at a later date.
– Is Davis working without profit in our dockyards?
– The honorable senator’s complaint yesterday was that nothing was being done at those dockyards. He also referred to the fact that certain employees had been dismissed from the Maribyrnong munition works. I ascertained from the Minister for Defence that until recently a section of those works had been engaged in what is known as commercial sheet rolling for private firms in Victoria which did not possess the necessary equipment for that work. Private firms have now acquired that equipment, and, consequently, it is not necessary that the Maribyrnong factory, which is needed for the manufacture of defence equipment, should continue doing that work. As a result a number of men have been put off, but in order to safeguard their interests preference is being given to them as re-employment becomes available in other sections of the works.
– The fact is that a full staff is not engaged at the Maribyrnong works. The Minister is trying to apologize.
– I have explained why these men were put eff, but I realize that no explanation which I might make could possibly be acceptable to the Leader of the Opposition.
Replying to Senator Brand and Senator Duncan-Hughes, I point out that the appointment of an InspectorGeneral of the military forces in Australia is provided for in the Defence Act 1903-1934. Under the Australian Military Regulations and Orders, it is laid down: - 41 (R35). (1) The duties of the InspectorGeneral shall be to review and to report to the Minister on the practical results of the policy of the Government as administered by the Military Board.
– Could not an Australian do that?
– I say quite frankly that I believe the defence force of Australia is going to benefit very greatly by the selection of an Inspector-General from overseas, because of the fact that through his associations in Great Britain and Europe he will be better acquainted with the latest methods of war than is any expert we could find among our own people. A statement made in Melbourne yesterday by three military leaders - General Sir Harry Chauvel, Major-General Sir Julius Bruche, and
Major-General Dodds - merits the widest attention. They suggest that senior officers should be sent abroad for a term of special study.
– Well, send MajorGeneral Lavarack abroad.
– These three military experts stated that it would be of great advantage to Australia if the chief of the genera] staff, Major-General Lavarack, were sent abroad, in order that he might have an opportunity to become acquainted with the latest military methods overseas.
– What has that got to do with it?
– The appointment of an overseas officer would enable the Government to obtain valuable knowledge possessed by those associated with defence schemes on which much larger sums of money are expended than Australia can afford to expend. When cadets from the Duntroon Military College have graduated they serve for a time with British regiments in India and in that way increase their knowledge considerably.” Why is there an exchange of ships between the British and Australian navies - vessels of tile Australian fleet being transferred to the Mediterranean station or China station and vessels of the British fleet serving in Australian waters ? Rear Admirals of the British fleet also assume control of the Royal Australian Navy for specific periods and their service is of benefit to our own officers and also ensures more complete co-ordination in naval matters. These interchanges are made, not because it is thought that Australians are incapable of carrying out responsible work but because the arrangement is of benefit to the services concerned. During the last two years Sir Walter Kinnear and Mr. Ince, who have been closely associated with the control of national insurance in Great Britain have been in Australia formulating a health and unemployment insurance scheme for Australia and their assistance has been of inestimable benefit to the Government. . I understand that when their work here is completed they are to visit another country for the same purpose. The interchange of naval, army and air force officers has been of great value to Australia, and I can assure honorable senators opposite that because of their close liaison with the war office we have obtained confidential information which otherwise we could not have got. The appointment of an Inspector-General from overseas is not a reflection upon our own men. The information which he will be able to impart to the Defence Council, the Minister for Defence and members of the Government will be of immense benefit to Australia.
– Will the Minister say whether the Defence Council was consulted or “informed prior to this decision being made?
– I cannot say at the moment; but I remind the honorable senator that four of the senior members of the Cabinet which made the decision are members of the Defence Council. The Defence Act provides for the appointment of an Inspector-General and the filling of the office was the responsibility of Cabinet. The Cabinet discussed this matter very fully before coming to a decision.
– The Minister’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 4th May (vide page 742) on motion by Senator A. J. McLachlan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– It is fitting that at this juncture we should review briefly the history of this matter. It will be remembered that a bill on the same subject was introduced in the Senate by Sir George Pearce on the 18th June of last year and was eventually passed by this Chamber with amendments of only a minor character. The original Inter-State Commission Act of 1912 purported to set up an Inter-State Commission possessing judicial powers. I stress that point, because the Opposition is opposing this measure for the reasons which I am about to recite. In 1915, the High Court held that the judicial powers of the Inter-State Commission f-re unconstitutional; that meant that the most important part of the 1915 legislation, which had a great deal to recommend it, became inoperative. The commission, however, did not take the verdict of the High Court too literally and functioned for a time purely as an investigating body ; but eventually suffered from heart failure and then collapsed. The glorified and expensive body which it is proposed to reconstitute under this bill will have only powers of investigation. It has been admitted that some States suffer disabilities as the result of federation, but nearly every one of these are disabilities as between a State or States and the Commonwealth.
We, therefore, have the spectacle of the Commonwealth Government setting up an expensive commission in order to enquire into disabilities, for the creation and perpetuation of which it is itself responsible. States suffering any disability have (lie right of redress. If disabilities are due to unconstitutional action, a State has the right of appeal to the High Court, and any other disabilities can be ventilated in Parliament. I can see no reason whatever why this farcical body should be re-constituted. Members of the Opposition are not alone in this respect, as I can quote from fairly respectable public authorities, such as newspapers which are not in any way sympathetically disposed towards the Labour party, but have sufficient intelligence and honesty of purpose - a rare virtue in capitalist newspapers - to admit that the Government is wrong in proceeding with this proposal. On the 28th April last, the Melbourne Herald had something to say.
– Nearly every newspaper in Australia has condemned the re-constitution of the commission.
– Yes. The Government proposes to reconstitute a totally unnecessary body and that suggests that there is behind this bill a motive which will not stand the light of day. The paragraph in the Melbourne Herald reads -
Federal Ministers apparently persist in their intention to appoint a standing royal commission of enquiry, under the name of an Inter-State Commission. This commission is mentioned in the Constitution, and twenty years ago, was appointed as a judicial body to administer the provisions of the Constitution relating to trade and commerce.
After :in unproductive career of six years, it was abolished because the High Court held that the action creating it was ultra vires or unconstitutional. The use of its name for a permanent royal commission does not give the proposed new body a recommendation. The only useful work that such a body could do would be to deal with needy State grant.s, work that is already being well and economically done by the Slate Grants Commission, which has laid down the principles of future procedure.
The new permanent royal commission could have no judicial powers. It would merely make recommendation that it might or might not suit political interests to adopt. . The days of royal com miss ions have passed. Instead of employing laymen to spend months or years in enquiry, the approved modern practice is to call in the assistance of experts.
The experts have been called in. “We have heard this afternoon a great deal about the opinions of experts upon national insurance. A royal commission investigated that subject twenty years ago. but nothing came of it, and it now appears that the Government has to send to the Old Country for further experts to report on the recommendations of the royal commission experts who have already investigated the question.
The proposal before the chamber is utterly ridiculous. If it were not so expensive, it would be a farce; it is, instead, a tragedy. This measure does not differ greatly from legislation passed by the Senate last year. There is, however, on? very important alteration, namely that the commission is now to consist of five members as against three under the original proposal. I recognize that the bill does not provide for the payment of salaries on the original basis. The coinmission composed of three members would have cost the country in salaries alone £6,500 per annum, whereas the present proposal will involve a salary bill of £8,000 annually. “Why was there delay in proceeding in the House of Representatives with the measure passed by this chamber? The reason is perfectly obvious. It was decided to delay the passing of this legislation until after the general elections, and the increased membership of the commission arises, I suggest, from the fact that the Government lost more seats at the election than hnd been anticipated. I forecast then that the proposed commission would be made a refuge for discredited ex-politicians, and I submit that the evi dence shows that for an amateur, mv prophecy was not far wrong.
– The Leader of the Opposition is no amateur in forecasting.
– I am not too bad at that. The honorable senator is about to lose several of hi3 colleagues. I told him that that would occur. However, that, to him, is a rather painful subject, and J do not desire to pursue it. The Opposition cannot be persuaded to become a party to the creation of tins useless and powerless commission, the cost of which will be hh unnecessary and unjustifiable burden upon the taxpayers.
There are some features of the bill which require investigation, but I shall deal with them in Committee. The Opposition opposes the bill, because it does not believe that it has been honestly conceived - I mean as far as honesty of purpose is concerned. The Opposition being also of the opinion that the commission will be of no value to i.he country, washes its hands entirely of hie pernicious proposal.
– I did not anticipate that we should be called upon to deal with this measure to-day, and I take the opportunity of pointing out that it is rather difficult for senators ‘ to know exactly what measures are to be dealt with. I attended the chamber yesterday, prepared to sneak upon two of the major issues which appeared on the notice-paper, and found myself confronted with a third matter with which I attempted to deal last night. However, when the House of Representatives does not transmit to th<“Senate the legislation expected, it i3, I suppose, rather difficult for the Government to proceed with the business of this chamber.
– Government supporters are stone-walling the Government’s legislation in the other chamber. Sir Henry Gullett and other supporters of the Government are having an afternoon out.
– I have no comment to make upon that beyond saying that possibly the Government has not made a compact with its supporters there to agree to the passage of I he hill within a certain time. I desire to speak on the measure now before the
Senate, particularly because when similar legislation was submitted last year, I was absent and, therefore, had no opportunity to express my views upon it. I notice that on that occasion, Senator Allan MacDonald said -
Nothing is to be gained by traversing the ancient history contained in the musty tomes of the previous Inter-State Commission.
That may be true, but when I make a remark of that sort, I do so, I fear, because I am not particularly anxious to traverse the “musty tomes”. I have, as a matter of fact, studied certain tomes which are a great deal older than those containing the reports of the proceedings of the former Inter-State Commission, and have found them not musty, but extraordinarily instructive and interesting. I refer to the proceedings of the last Federal Convention which was held in Melbourne in 1898. I have always been impressed with the directness’ of the section of the Constitution relating to the establishment of an Inter-State Commission; it commences with the words, “There shall be”. That, I think, is a rather unique introduction to the relevant provision. It is stated with particular abruptness that there shall be an InterState Commission. I confess that I have never quite understood why the provision was so framed.
When the clause which eventually became the section was submitted to the Federal Convention in 1898, it read: -
The Parliament may make laws constituting an Inter-State Commission to execute and maintain upon railways within the Commonwealth and upon rivers flowing through, in, or between two or more States, the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce. 1 shall not quote at length from the report of the proceedings, but briefly the effect of the discussion was that the president of the convention, Mr. Kingston, moved to omit the words : “ The Parliament may make laws constituting” and insert in lieu thereof the words. “ There shall be “. This amendment of the original clause was agreed to without a division. In other words, the convention was determined that the question of whether or not an Inter-State Commission was to be created should not be left to Parliament, but that it should be obligatory upon Parliament to appoint such a body. After relating briefly the history of what occurred at that time, I shall read a few extracts which show clearly the attitude of the leaders of the convention. Although the section of the Constitution to which I have referred was agreed to by the convention on the 25th February, 189S, the matter apparently still occupied the thoughts of some of the delegates, and on the 11th March of that year the clause was reconsidered. An amendment to omit the words “ There shall be “ and to insert the words “ Parliament may constitute “ was moved by Sir George Turner, a Victorian delegate. After debate, the amendment was negatived, the voting being 23 to 13 against it. Among those who voted with the majority were Sir John Forrest, Mr. Holder, Mr. Kingston, Mr. O’Connor. Mi-. George Reid, and Mr. Edmund Barton, while the minority included Sir Edward Braddon, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Lyne, Sir George Turner, and Mr. Isaac Isaacs. The decision arrived at by the convention was incorporated in the Constitution, and it would appear that “the convention was emphatically of the opinion that an Inter-State Commission was essential.
– That was after reconsideration of the subject, too.
– Yes. In the first place, the provision was agreed to without a division and when the matter was subsequently re-opened it was definitely confirmed that an Inter-State Commission was essential. The Constitution as adopted made it obligatory upon Parliament to create an Inter-State Com mission, just as Parliament was obliged to create the High Court of Australia. In passing, may I say that there was no reference in the Constitution as originally framed to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which has since been established. Although great emphasis was not laid upon the fact that the InterState Commission was designed for the protection of the smaller States, the object of the convention in agreeing to its appointment was to ensure fair dealing between the States, and it was resolved that provision for the commis- sion should form a definite part of the Australian Constitution.
– Apprehension on the part of the States was one of the obstacles in the way of federation at the time.
– Yes. There was a feeling that it would be in the interests of Australia generally to have an Inter-State Commission. This was the subject of an interesting debate at the Melbourne convention, which passed the final draft of the Constitution, and I have culled from the speeches some statements, one of which, I feel sure, will interest the Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Reid, a representative of New South Wales, in the course of the debate, interjected while another member was speaking -
Surely Parliament will have more important work to do than that of acting as an InterState Commission!
I shall allow that statement to stand without comment. When the convention was discussing an amendment, which originated in the South Australian House of Assembly, to omit “may ma.ke laws constituting”, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “shall constitute”, Mr. Barton said -
This amendment involves a difference, and I am not quite prepared to say whether it will be an improvement or not. … If this alteration is adopted the clause, instead of giving the Parliament leave to make laws constituting an Inter-State Commission, will make it compulsory on the Parliament, as far as you can direct a Parliament, to pass such laws. Of course, Parliament may, nevertheless, take its own good time about doing so. I thought it well to draw the committee’s attention to the nature of the proposed amendment.
Although the Constitution contains provision for the appointment of the InterState Commission, that body was not appointed until 1913, and there has been no Inter-State Commission for the last eighteen years, so that out of the 37 years that have elapsed since the inauguration of the Commonwealth, for 30 years we have been without a commission. Mr. Kingston said -
I would suggest to our leader that the better course would be, if we alter this clause, not to put in the bill a direction to the Parliament that it shall legislate to constitute an Inter-State Commission, but rather, in so many words, say that there shall be an
Inter-state Commission, and then without any further interference of Parliament, that body can be created … If we intend to have an Inter-State Commission let us say so in the Constitution in the plainest possible way.
Mr. Barton interjected
As we have done about the court, meaning the High Court, and Mr. Kingston replied “ Yes.” I have cited Mr. Kingston’s opinion, because he was the president of the convention, and the provision relating to the appointment of the Inter-State Commission was inserted at his instigation, was carried with the overwhelming support of a body of probably the most eminent public men who have ever been gathered together in one Australian assembly. Later in the debate, Mr. Kingston said -
It seems to me that when, in one clause, you provide that the decision of the Federal Parliament on the subject of State rates can be reviewed or abrogated by the Inter-State Commission, if you are going to allow the Constitution to remain in this shape that the Federal Parliament can either appoint that commission or hold its hand, you run a very great risk of the Federal Parliament refusing to do anything, or delaying to do anything, to call into existence a body which will, in the slightest degree, review the Parliament’s decisions. … I call the attention of this convention to the necessity of creating, So far as they can, this Inter-State Commission independently of any subsequent legislative act on the part of the Federal Parliament . . . What is the good, I venture to ask, of having a commission to review, to some extent, the decisions of the Federal Parliament as to State rates, if that commission owes its existence to the Federal Parliament, and is subject to the Parliament for the continuance of its existence, and if its constitution may be repealed or altered at any time?
When the final attack on the proposal was made by Sir George Turner, and before the vote was taken, Mr. Kingston said -
I have no other option than to vote for the principle affirmed in the .clause itself, putting within the four corners of the Constitution the express determination that there shall he an Inter-State Commission.
If I have not made it abundantly clear that the Melbourne convention, which approved the final form of the Constitution, was firmly resolved that an Inter-State Commission should be appointed, I do not know what words mean. The convention debates show clearly that a decision with regard to the appointment of the commission was not to be left to Parliament. Doubts having been raised as to whether Parliament might not postpone or decline to appoint the commission, the convention laid it clown, in the most explicit terms, that the Inter-State Commission was to be constituted. This meant that there should have been an Inter-State Commission from the inauguration of federation, whether it was operating, as the framers of the Constitution intended it should, or not. The reluctance on the part of the Parliament to appoint the commission has given rise to criticism in those States which feel that they have suffered certain disabilities under federation. They quite naturally believe that the function of the InterState Commission should be to see that justice is meted out between the States and they contend that the commission should have been appointed.
– Was not the Senate constituted for the purpose of protecting the States?
– I thought I had already made it clear that, in the opinion of the convention, the functions of an. Inter-State Commission differed from the functions of the Senate. Let me repeat what Mr. Reid said -
Surely Parliament will have more important work to do than that of acting as an Inter-State Commission.
By that, I think, he meant that the duties of th’1 commission would be entirely different from the work of the Senate.
– Has not Parliament the responsibility of ratifying or rejecting recommendations of the Interstate Commission?
– That interjection leads me to the consideration of the judicial powers exercised by the Interestate Commission. Most honorable senators will recall the finding of the High Court that the commission had no authority to make a judicial decision or to issue an injunction. But I wish to emphasize first a rather different point, namely, the precise work of the InterState Commission. Any honorable senator who studies the reports presented by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which in recent years ha3 been doing work which could have been entrusted to the Inter-State Commission had it been in existence, will admit that the statistical information contained in them is of great value, and could not very well have been compiled by members of Parliament sitting as a Parliament. Those reports are the results of intensive study in a committee room. It would be impossible for members of Parliament, whose time is fully occupied with the consideration of so many bills and reports bearing on legislative measures, to devote time to detailed examination of statistical information relating to claims by States. Moreover, members oi Parliament have not that detachment of mind which one would expect from members of a properly constituted Inter-State Commission whose deliberations would not he influenced so much by political or party considerations. I hope I have made my point clear to honorable senators.
It will be recalled that a Labour government, desiring to authorize the Interstate Commission to exercise its power to the fullest extent, and not, I imagine with the intention of impairing the usefulness of that body, passed an act conferring on the commission very much wider powers than it had previously possessed. The commission duly exercised those powers, which later were challenged hy the Government of New South Wales. The case was heard in 1915. It was held that section 301 of the Commonwealth Constitution did not authorize the Parliament of the Commonwealth to constitute the Inter-State Commission a court, and therefore the provisions in Part V. of the Inter-State Commission Act 1912 were declared ultra vires the Parliament of the Commonwealth. This view was held by Chief Judge Griffith and Justices Isaacs, Powers and Rich, Justices Barton and Gavan Duffy dissenting.
– Is it not likely that if the Federal Convention had foreseen that the Inter-State Commission would not have judicial power, the provision authorizing its appointment would not have been inserted in the Constitution?
– That point was, to some extent, debated, although not so fully as one would expect. I am not quite clear whether the convention which passed the final draft of the Constitution intended that the inter-State Commission should exercise judicial powers in the ordinary sense. The High Court held that the fact that the Commissioners were appointed for a term of years prevented them from exercising judicial power, the Constitution providing that judges should have life tenure.
– The convention did not express that intention.
– That is so, but I do not think the debate shows clearly whether the convention intended t he commission to have full judicial powers.
– The convention provided for the right of appeal against decisions of the Inter-State Commission on questions of law.
– That is so. The commission was to decide on questions of fact and there was the right of appeal to the High Court on questions of law.
– The convention declared that the Inter-State Commission was to have such powers of adjudication as the Parliament might confer upon it.
– That is not an easy point to decide, but a majority judgment of the High Court delivered by Chief Justice Griffith is, I think, material to the point. It was -
The Inter-State Commission has no power to issue an injunction.
The whole court held that none of the provisions of the Wheat Acquisition Act 1914, of New South Wales, violated the provision in section 92 of the Constitution that trade, commerce and intercourse anions; the States should be absolutely free and that therefore the Wheat Acquisition Act was ultra, vires the Parliament of New South Wales. The decision of the Inter-State Commission was reversed. Chief Justice Griffith, in his judgment, made clear the distinction between judicial powers and powers of adjudication. He said -
It is plain, therefore, that the word “ adjudication “’ is well known to lawyers and regarded as apt to describe the functions of an administrative body entrusted with quasi-judicial powers. On the other hand, no instance has been found in which it has been used by a legislature of the British dominions to create a court … In my judgment, the functions of the Inter-State Commission contemplated by the Constitution are executive or administrative, and the powers of adjudication intended are such powers of determining questions of fact as may be necessary for the performance of its executive or administrative functions, that is, such powers of adjudication as are incidental and ancillary to those functions . . . For these reasons I am of the opinion that the Inter-State Commission was not in any relevant sense of the word a court.
It was really the excessive zeal of the then Labour party in trying to give to the commission powers that it should not have tried to give to it that caused the trouble. In other words, it was the mistake of Parliament rather than of the commissioners themselves, although they also were at fault, which resulted in the commission crashing completely, and going out of existence. Mr. Justice Barton did not agree with Chief Justice Griffith, but I do not think it necessary to my argument to read his judgment. The judgment of Chief Justice Griffith makes it clear that, in his opinion, the intention was that the commission should have administrative and only quasi-judicial powers. It is interesting to read also what Sir William Harrison Moore, had to say on this subject. His views are interesting to lawyers, because the second edition of his work - The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia - was issued before the Inter-State Commission was created. His book was published in 1910, whereas the commission was not created until 1912. He said in his book -
O’Connor and Higgins J J. regarded the section as mandatory so far as the establishment of the commission was concerned, but as to its powers, they were such merely as Parliament conferred upon it . . . leaving the Parliament its general power of disposing according to its discretion for the administration of the laws of trade and commerce . . The commission was suggested by the Inter-State Commerce Commission in the United States and the Railway and Canal Commission in the United Kingdom, and may be expected to exercise the powers of each of those bodies.
I think that the following is particularly to the point: -
The commission is a special tribunal whose duties, though largely administrative, are sometimes semi- judicial, but it is not.a court empowered to render judgments and enter decree?.
That waa written before this question arose. It is an accurate statement of the position as subsequently laid down by the High Court. If the Parliament and the commission had taken those words to heart before the commission entered on its labours, the lawyers who were concerned in the case would have been worse off than they were eventually. That clears up the judicial side of the question; obviously, we cannot create a commission with full judicial powers.
– We cannot create a commission that can function as a court of it3 own motion, but we can create a body from which we may get judgments which will enable us to move some other body.
– The commission becomes, in effect, an administrative and advisory body on whose advice Parliament can act. Parliament has nothing to do hut to appoint the InterState Commission, and decide what powers shall be delegated to it.
The judicial power does not exist, and we can take the original intention of the Constitution to be that there shall be this advisory body. For what purpose is it to be created? Its purpose is to advise the Parliament, particularly in connexion with the trade and commerce of the different States in their relations with each other.
– At that time, I think, the idea was to bring about federation._
– This is one of the terms of the federation. Does the honorable senator mean that, unless this provision had been inserted in the Constitution, there would have been no federation? If so, surely that makes it all the more clear that this is one of the essential factors which enabled the federation to be consummated, and, therefore, it is most important that that part of the agreement shall he carried out.
– Australia is a nation now, and does not need the commission.
– We cannot wipe out the Constitution in that way. It is because this Parliament has so frequently regarded itself as having full powers, and the States as having no powers, that it has so frequently passed acts which have been upset by either the High Court or the Privy Council.
– We- must be careful of the powers of this Parliament.
– This Parliament has no powers except those given to it by the Constitution. I point out to Senator Courtice, who is zealous for power in the Commonwealth Parliament, that most of the proposals for the alteration of the Constitution which have been submitted to the people have been rejected. In practically every case these proposals have been submitted to the people with the object of getting extended powers for the Federal Parliament. They have seldom been agreed to, except when both sides have been in agreement, and such occasions have been rare.
– Is it not a fact that the words “ There shall be “ have no significance? Does the honorable senator know of any legal theory or machinery which can make them binding on this Parliament ?
– Of course they have significance. Apparently the honorable Leader of the Opposition did not hear the long quotations which I read.
– I listened to every word that the honorable senator uttered, but I still ask what machinery exists to enforce the words “There shall be “.
– The Leader of the Opposition says that the words are not mandatory. They are mandatory, but they have not been carried out.
– I think that the honorable senator means that if Parliament does not choose to give effect to certain sections of the Constitution, there is no power to compel it to do so.
– Then why waste time in building up something which we can ignore?
– We have no right arbitrarily to decide which portions of the Constitution we shall endorse. Moreover, one of the objects of this body, if created, is to do just such work as is now done by another body in connection with the tariff. The InterState Commission was the body which was intended to consider questions affecting interstate trade and commerce. It is perfectly clear from the report of the Commission on the Constitution of Australia that it was anticipated that the tariff and the sugar agreement, as well as grants to States, ought properly to come under the jurisdiction of the Inter-State Commission. What right has any honorable senator to say “ I think that a certain body, which the founders of the federation considered so essential that they said ‘ There shall be ‘ such a body, should be ignored because I do not agree with it “ ?
– Parliament need not take any notice of anything they said or did. It has the same right to either accept or reject a proposal to constitute an Inter-State Commission as it has to accept or reject a proposal to constitute a tariff board.
– The honorable senator’s contention reminds me of the story of a man who was illegally put in a lock-up. He saw his lawyer and told him what had happened. When the lawyer heard the story, he said “But they can’t do that “. The man replied “’ They have done it “. That is very much the honorable senator’s argument, hut it is not a sound legal one.
– Nor is it really an honest argument.
– I regard it as a case of accepting the provisions of the Constitution when it suits one to do so. If the honorable senator thinks that we should not have this body why should not the burglar say “ I do not believe in courts; let us do away with them “ ?
– This Parliament need not give effect to anything that the commission recommends. It has the power to ignore the commission’s decisions.
– But there is another body which can direct that effect be given to them. The Constitution itself was a matter of agreement between the various colonies. There was difficulty in obtaining agreement in regard to a number of points., New South Wales and Western Australia were not, at first, willing to join the federation. The document which they all, in effect, eventually signed set out the terms on which they would come in. One of those terms was that an InterState Commission should be created.
– That is not quite accurate. The Constitution, as drawn by the commissioners, had to be submitted to the people.
– That is the point.
– That is simply the form of the decision, but the Constitution as drawn was put to the people, and was accepted by them. Therefore the Constitution was the contract made between the colonies. Let us suppose that after the Constitution had been in force for some time, Victoria had said “ We disapprove of the provision that the Parliament shall have its headquarters in New South Wales, but not within 100 miles of Sydney. It would he more convenient for us if Parliament continued to sit in Melbourne instead of in Canberra “. That would be an analagous case. If the suggestion had been put forward, it would have amounted to an attempt to override one of the bases of the agreement upon which the federation was founded.
– Why did not the framers of the Constitution take steps to create an Inter-State Commission, seeing that the provision is mandatory?
– -For 28 years out of the 37 there has been no Inter-State Commission.
– If my memory is correct, an Inter-State Commission Bill was passed by the Senate somewhere about 1907, hut did not go through the House of Representatives.
– Nearly every one of the early governments included in its policy speech the establishment of an Inter-State Commission.
– They could not otherwise have survived in the smaller States without it, and if Kingston had lived beyond 1908, the commission would have been set up earlier than it was.
– I point out further, in reply to Senator Courtice, that for the first four or five years after federation, the work that Parliament had to do was colossal. It had to attend to the inauguration of the whole of the Commonwealth, and had to deal with, such immense measures as the first tariff schedule.
– But Parliament did the job. itself; it did not appoint a commission to do it.
– In any case there may have, been delays. I have frequently advocated that, as the Constitution makes mandatory provision for the Inter-State Commission, that body should be re-constituted as quickly as possible. Thus, on a broad basis, I am glad to see that that is about to be done. However, it is proposed to reconstitute it on much narrower lines thai those of the original commission. I think the lines are too narrow. It may be difficult, indeed, it is practically impossible, to transfer the work of the Tariff Board to this commission. Lt will probably find plenty to do, however, without having to concern itself with tariff matters which, in themselves, are a full-time job for specially qualified men.
I wish now to refer to the guidance that we have been given with regard to the Inter-State Commission by the Royal Commission on the Constitution, which said -
It was suggested in evidence before this Commission that the position of three States dependent on grants from the .Commonwealth Government, and the position of the State of Queensland, of which a large section of the population is dependent on the price of sugar fixed from time to time by agreement between the Commonwealth and State governments, and of other States claiming bounties and concessions, point to the advisability of appointing some independent body which will advise on such applications, and will - to repeat the nhra.se used by Mr. Deakin, of the Inter-State Commission - be “ the eyes of Parliament “. Tn the absence of such a body there must be a danger lest, in addition to the competition between rival parties for the votes of hlic electors by offers of economic benefit’, there should be added the possibility of com petition for the votes of the States by offers of grants ot of special legislation.
The royal commission’s report also said -
Section 101 of the Constitution provides that there shall be an Inter-State Commission. and we recommend that the Inter-State Commission he re-constituted. . . .
We t’,ink that important duties may be carried nut by an Inter-State Commission in addition to those mentioned in the Constitution and in the Act of 1012. In the section of thi” report dealing with the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the State* (section xix 1 . reference is made to the sums of money granted from time to time to the
Status of Western Australia and to Tasmaniaand to the grant to South Australia recently recommended by a royal commission. Those grants were recommended partly on the ground that thu finances of a State hail been adversely affected by Federation and partly on the ground that the State was in financial difficulties. We think that a permanent body should lie established which should continuously watch the effect of Federal laws and administrative machinery on the various States, and should be in a position to advise, either with or without a special inquiry, whenever applications for grants are made to the Commonwealth.
The same permanent body should, we think, inquire into and report on such transactions as the agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and of she State of Queenslaud relating to the purchase and disposal of the sugar crop and the embargo on imported raw sugar, and inquire into and report on proponed bounties, and the effect of the Navigation Act on the various States.
The advantage of the establishment of such a body foi- these purposes would, we think, be twofold. There would be a tribunal in existonce equipped with a knowledge of Australian conditions and of the working of the Federation, and the claims of necessitous States would no longer afford an opening to the benevolence or the opportunism of political parties. An analogy may be found in the position of the Public Works Committee in the Common wealth and in some of the States. Public works costing more than a prescribed a.mount will not in normal circumstances be sanctioned by Parliament unless favorably reported on liv the Public Works Committee, and in our opinion it would be to the advantage of the Federation if it were provided by law that grants under section !)(! wore not to be made unless first recommended by such a body as the Inter-State Commission.
The point I stress is that it is permissible, and would be quite proper, for the Governor-General to delegate powers to the Inter-State Commission to inquire into the sugar question. In this respect, I am following the guidance given by that excellent Constitution Commission of which Sir John Peden was chairman and the present ?<fr. Justice Nicholas the lawyer advising it. I emphasize that, if we intend to extend, as it is intended we .”hall extend, the operations which at present are carried out by the Commonwealth Grants Commission and h.md over to the Inter-State Commission. the investigation of grants to the three smaller States, it is obvious, as indicated not once, but twice, in the royal commission’s report, that the Inter-State Commission should be also the adviser of the Government in regard to the sugar industry as it affects the State of Queensland and, indeed, all of the States. At intervals since the war, an agreement between the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland Government and the Queensland sugar interests has been submitted for our ratification, and we have been compelled either to reject or accept it. It would be rather high-handed procedure to reject an agreement of such importance after three different groups had approved of it. The sugar agreement legislation, I believe, is a matter of arrangement between the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland Government and the sugar interests, and no report is submitted for the guidance of Parliament. So far as I know, this Government has no impartial officials, or official body, to inquire into the whole of the facts in order to advise it whether the sugar agreement should be renewed, and if renewed, whether the terms should be more favorable or less favorable. So far as the tariff is concerned, we require and receive a report by an impartial official body - the Tariff Board - before any manufacturing industry can get assistance from the Commonwealth. Surely, it is fair and logical that, in respect of the Queensland sugar industry also, we should similarly have antecedent advice as to what is the actual position and on what terms, in the view of impartial inquirers, this Government should renew the sugar agreement.
– I think that more investigations have been made into the sugar industry than into any other industry.
– That may be, but is there any impartial body advising the Ministry in respect of the sugar industry?
– An official of the Customs Department.
– Does he make any report on the subject that is available to Parliament?
– That is the point; no report by an impartial official body is made available to Parliament.
– Several select committees have inquired into the sugar industry.
– However that may be, I emphasize that a direct lead is given to us by the Royal Commission on the Constitution, that the proper body to deal with such a matter is theInter-State Commission, and 1 suggest that, if we are about to reconstitute that commission, we should now provide that it should advise the Government in respect of the State of Queensland, particularly so far as the sugar industry is concerned. That contention is simply in defence of the whole policy of government assistance to industry. I believe that the payment of all bounties should be inquired into by this body.
– The honorable senator apparently believes that Parliament should be closed, and that we should have a dictatorship.
-HU GHES. - The honorable senator should remember that the commission will act only in an advisory capacity. It can only recommend.
– And Parliament will not be able to decide anything until the commission has first had a “go.”
Sena tor DUNCAN-H UGHES. - Why should the honorable senator object to the same scrutiny being given to the sugar industry as is given by the Tariff Board to the activities of manufacturers, and to the financial standing of individual States in respect of income and expenditure ?
– Those engaged in the sugar industry will always welcome any investigation.
– Then a provision should be embodied in the bill giving the commission power to do that. There is no such provision in this measure.
– - No.
– The Governor-General can give the commission power to inquire into that industry.
– If the honorable senator would visit Queensland those engaged in the industry would have another advocate in this chamber.
– I have visited Queensland on several occasions, and I have some small knowledge of the conditions under which the sugar industry is conducted. I do not think there would be any harm in having an inquiry into that industry by an impartial body such as it is proposed to appoint under this bill, and I am sure that its report would give a good deal of satisfaction to a large number of persons in other States. Possibly the honorable senator may not have visited Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia, and therefore does not know the volume of constant criticism which is levelled against the sugar industry by the people in those States. I urge that the commission should have delegated power to advise the Government, when any alteration or extension to the sugar agreement is contemplated, of what is the just course to follow. The Government should have a clear indication from that body as to the proper course to follow.
– Would the honorable senator refer the proposed defence expenditure to such a body?
– No. The commission has not yet been appointed ; in any case, the raising of money for defence purposes is urgent. I trust that I shall have the support of honorable senators in committee when I move that the Inter-State Commission shall report in advance on any proposed sugar agreement and shall have authority to act as recommended at page 250 of the report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution -
The same permanent body should, we think, inquire into and report on such transactions us the agreement between the governments of the Commonwealth and of the State of Queensland relating to the purchase and disposal of the sugar crop and the embargo on imported sugar, and inquire into and report on proposed bounties, and the effect of the Navigation Act on the various States.
If such inquiries will not give the commission sufficient work to occupy it for some time I shall be surprised.
– Make the joh comprehensive. Why not give the commission power to say whether Parliament should be abolished and then name a dictator?
– The honorable senator does not seem to realize that the Inter-State Commission has exactly the same right to exist as has this Parliament. It has as much right to take power from Parliament as Parliament has to take power from it, but, of course, not so much power to do it.
I now propose to deal with the salaries proposed to be paid to the members of the commission. I notice that under the bill which the Senate passed last year the chairman was to receive £2,500 per annum and each of the other members of the commission £2,000. Under this bill the chairman is to receive £2,000 and each of the other commissioners £1,500. It is to be a full-time job. I do not believe in under-paying able men who are rendering a valuable service to the community, but if there are to be five commissioners^ - I am in favor of the appointment of five, so that the representation may be more widely spread - I have some doubt as to whether the salaries proposed are not rather too high, particularly when we recall that the members of the Commonwealth Grants Commission have carried out their work most efficiently for a relatively small amount.
– They receive fees.
– It is only a part time job and some of them are wealthy men.
– I have already said that the work of the InterState Commission will be a full-time job. The members of the Commonwealth Grants Commission have been able to produce elaborate, comprehensive and carefully-prepared reports from year to year, and I would have thought until I looked the matter up that they were receiving about £750 a year. I find now that the chairman receives only £300 and the other members of the commission £200 per annum. They also receive a fee of £5 5s. for each meeting, and travelling expenses.
– Is there any limit to tlie amount which they shall receive?
– No. Probably that commission does not meet frequently; I doubt whether it meets more than twenty times a year, which would mean, roughly, an extra £100 for each member, or a total expenditure in respect of fees of £1,000 a year for all the members of the commission. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to ascertain the amount actually paid annually.
– I shall do so.
– I have no desire to whittle away the salary of full-time members of this commission, who will undoubtedly be men of wide knowledge and ability, but the amount proposed to be paid to them is much higher than that paid to members of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. It seems rather a big jump from the total payment of £1,000 to a payment by which each of four commissioners will receive half as much again and the chairman twice as much as the total annual payment to the present commission. I shall be glad to hear other honorable senators on the subject ; but the work that has been done by the Commonwealth Grants Commission at the rates mentioned suggests that the salaries to be paid to the members of an Inter-State Commission are rather on the high side.
Debate (on motion by Senator Brennan) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator A. J. McLachlan) read a first time.
– I move -
That the hill be now read a second time.
The special three years’ defence programme contemplated by the Government has already been outlined in this chamber by the Minister for Repatriation (SenatorFoll). In doing so, he stated that approximately £45,000,000, or about £15,000,000 a year, will have to be found for the completion of the programme.
The defence expenditure programme for the current year totalled £11,500,000, This amount was found as follows: -
Practically the whole of this £11,500,000 will be expended or committed by the 30th June next, thus leaving no balances in the Defence TrustFunds uncommitted.
As I have mentioned, £6,000,000 only is being found from the budget of 1937-38, and as the Government is to provide for a programme of £15,000,000 in the coming year 1938-39, £9,000,000 must be found from either revenue account or loan account over and above that found from the budget in 1937-38. Obviously, the Government is not yet in a position to give final consideration to this matter until the results of the current financial year are apparent, and until it is possible to make reasonably accurate forecasts of the accounts for 1938-39. Some months must elapse before this can be done.
In the meantime, it is necessary that steps be taken to launch the programme without delay. Certain orders for additional defence equipment should he placed immediately. Expenditure at an increased rate must be authorized and the authority of Parliament obtained for certain items of expenditure which have not yet come before it. The Government is, therefore, asking Parliament for authority to raise loan moneys to the amount of £10,000,000, and will regard this appropriation as authority for the capital works set out in the schedule to the bill. It is, of course, not necessary that all of the £10,000,000 should be raised at once, or even in the near future. On this authorizing measure being passed, £4,000,000 out of the £10,000,000 will be raised at an early date. As an indication of urgency, I may say that it is desired to place orders before the 30th June next for capital works of a total value of £5,250,000. During 1938-39, a further £7,750,000 will be authorized. Very little of the expenditure of the £5.250,000 to which I have just referred will he expended during the current financial year. The loan programme of £10,000,000 will be allocated in the following manner : -
These particulars are set out in the schedule to the bill.
During the remainder of the current year, it will be necessary to go ahead with certain proposals which will involve an increase of ordinary maintenance votes as apart from capital authorizations. The additional expenditure for the year is comparatively small - about £70,000 - and it is proposed to find this sum from Treasurer’s Advance.
The financial agreement exempts the Commonwealth from placing its defence loan requirements before the Australian Loan Council, and generally exempts them from the provisions of the financial agreement. In view, however, of the fact that the present £10,000,000 required for defence will be taken out of the same market as that which supplies the requirements for State loan programmes, the position was explained to the recent meeting of the Loan Council in Melbourne. The Loan Council, as the result of its deliberations, decided to raise a loan of £10,250,000 in the near future. Of this, £4,000,000 will he for defence, and the balance, £6,250,000, for public works, and the like, for the various governments. The reason for combining the requirements of the Commonwealth and States in one loan was to minimize the number of appeals’ to investors for loan moneys. The Commonwealth pro- portion of £4,000,000 will cover defence requirements during the early part of 1938-39.
As far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the new loan cannot be placed on the market until Parliament has passed the bill under consideration, and has thereby authorized the schedule of expenditure. Honorable senators will, therefore, realize that it is very desirable for the measure* to he finalized as soon as practicable, and I accordingly ask them to co-operate with the Government in securing its early passage. As the subject-matter of the bill has been discussed from all aspects during the debate on the statement made by the Minister for Repatriation, there is, I think, no necessity to discuss in detail its principles, but if any information is desired by honorable senators I shall be happy to supply it in committee.
– “We are now called upon to deal in concrete form with the Government’s proposed loan expenditure for defence purposes, which has been the subject of debate following upon statements made by representatives of the Government in this chamber.
It is quite unnecessary, I am sure, to repeat at this stage that the Opposition is definitely opposed to the authorization of vastly increased expenditure upon defence, particularly as it has not been taken into the confidence of the Government. It has not been informed, except in very indefinite terms, just how the money is to he spent. “While the Opposition is of the opinion that the defence of Australia is exceedingly important, it also holds the view that no defence expenditure should be permitted without the most careful scrutiny, because the history of every country, including Australia, is that nothing offers such inducement to profiteering and nepotism a3 money spent upon military operations.
In response to comments by various members of my party and, perhaps, myself in particular, with respect to the farming out of defence undertakings to private enterprise, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) stated that no profits will be made by any industrial concerns, but the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) told honorable senators very clearly that action is to be taken to enable a close check to be made of the cost of production of munitions, and to facilitate the control of profits made by the manufacturers. I assume that a responsible Minister of the Crown would not suggest that profits are to be controlled if he were convinced that there would be no profits. Members of the Opposition continually protest against being treated like school children when they ask for information.
There is a great difference between the amount indicated in the schedule as required for defence works and that for which authority is sought to be raised by loan, and the whole of the money is to be paid to people who have no right or title to it. I repeat what I said yesterday that all y government that proposes to finance preparations for war by raising a loan commits an unmoral act. The nation receives no return upon money spent in preparation for defence or upon the conduct of a war. A war, whether of aggression or defence, causes the destruction, not the production, of assets. When I referred yesterday to wasting assets it was suggested that I was so foolish as to think that money could be spent only on war materials that could not be classed as wasting assets; but every penny spent upon the production of war material is spent upon the creation of wasting assets, and in a few years many of the works detailed in the schedule of the bill will not be merely wasting assets, but will have disappeared entirely. 1 know the reply I shall receive to the comment that in order to pay for defence, social services will be starved, and I perceive the sophistry of it. I shall be told that if we are not properly prepared for defence our social services will be of no value whatever because they will become non-existent. Sophistry of that kind does not cut any ice with the Opposition. Every country that engages in war declares that it, is a war of defence, not aggression. Australia is in no different position in that connexion from any other country. Members of the Labour party agree that Australia must be defended. Our opponents in this chamber and in the other chamber assert that we have no defence policy, but T have in my hands a document from which I have quoted on previous occasions. I do not propose to read at length from it now, but I would point out that the party’s defence policy occupies two pages of the document and explains exactly what we propose for the defence of this country. I shall read some passages in an endeavour to make it clear that those who charge the party with having no defence policy are untruthful and arc guilty of falsehood.
– Order ! I do not think the Leader of the Opposition should use that expression in referring to members of this chamber.
– I have no desire, Mr. President, to run counter to your ruling, .and I <hall say thai they are guilty of inaccuracy. 1 draw the attention of honorable senators to this statement in the Labour party’s defence policy : -
The institution of a scientific search for additional oil storage, natural or artificial, throughout the Commonwealth.
Nothing upon these lines appears in the bill. Honorable senators can realize what will happen if the country is faced with a state of emergency. But what has the Government done, during the last six years, to remedy the oil situation, apart from submitting during the closing hours of last session a bill authorizing payment of £500,000 to certain financial interests to which the Government has already handed over control of the Cockatoo Dockyard? In other words, instead of safeguarding the rights of the people in respect of the defence of the country, tin* Government is deliberately bartering those rights to private enterprise. Then the Government and its supporters have the impudence to tell the Opposition, as Senator Leckie did yesterday, that the manufacturers do not desire one penny of profit from the work to be carried out under this bill. Such a statement is an insult to the intelligence of the little band of senators who constitute the Opposition. I do not say that it is an insult to the intelligence of other senators, because the Government apparently has their measure and can do what it likes with them. But it ‘cannot make such statements without a protest on the part of the Opposition.
Why should a loan be floated to raise the money required by the Government?
There are in. this country wealthy interests which have far more to defend than is possessed by the mass of the people, is it not a splendid thing to have the sinews of war in order to defend the miserable basic wage of the worker and the apology for a home that he is able to wrest from the capitalistic order of society? Is it not also a fine idea to ask the worker to sacrifice his life for those things? He cannot be asked to sacrifice his wealth, because he does not possess any. But there are powerful interests in this country that possess more than a fair share of the public and private wealth of the nation.
– The worker has his liberty to defend.
– We know all about that, hut I am not speaking now of such intangible assets. Defence cannot be paid for with liberty. The Government’s proposal to raise loan money for defence purposes is immoral. The honest way to finance defence works is to take the money from the wealthy persons who have most to defend, who alone have anything worth while defending.
– The workers also have their lives to preserve.
– And whose lives will be sacrificed if war comes ? Not those of the old men who sit here and make wars. The old men who made the last war did not lose their lives; the youths of the nations paid the penalty.
– It is to prevent war that we are borrowing this money now.
– If that means anything, it means that when nations are prepared for war, war never happens. In answer to that theory I remind honorable senators that never before in the history of the world were the nations so well prepared for war as in 1914, but war came all the same, and with its aftermath of misery we are still contending. While the Labour party is always prepared to agree to a reasonable appropriation for defence purposes, we can see no reason for this sudden determination to increase the appropriation by £43,000,000 during the next three years, over and above the provision already made. We have been told that the international situation, far from having become worse, has actually improved.
– Does the honorable senator himself think that?
– I was saying what we were told.
– And I should like to know what the honorable senator thinks.
– I think, as I said before, that the only danger in which Australia stands is that some of the old people here may’ talk the country into war. There is no danger if we mind our own business. Thi3 Government is not prepared to declare to the world that it believes in free co-operation with all other nations. The Government should declare, also, that* it will not allow one penny rake-off by any private bank or private firm from defence preparations. It is idle to pretend that the great armament firms do not make profits out of war and the preparation for war. The following figures prove that they do -
– What do those figures prove?
– They prove that enormous profits are being made by the armament firms which, between them, have driven the world into a state of hysteria in order to further their nefarious designs. What has happened to the metal market recently as the result of this war hysteria? The advance in the price of metal per ton ranges from 5s. to. 20s., and shares are going up every day in those companies which are likely to get a rake-off from the country’s defence preparations. When I asked whether social services were to be starved because of the alleged need for increased defence expenditure, I was assured by the Minister for Repatriation that there was no such intention. Professor Brigden, in 1935, when he was Director of the Bureau of Industry in Queensland, pointed out that the ItaloAbyssinian war must necessarily have an adverse effect upon Australian loan funds and employment. He said that the trouble would certainly influence London funds, and, through them, bank credit in Australia. The amount of loan money available would be reduced, and State programmes for employment would be affected. That was not the statement of a Labour supporter, but of a man whom this Commonwealth Government has now secured to advise it on its insurance scheme. He declared that it was impossible for wars and preparation for wars to be carried on without Australian conditions being affected. Thus, while social services are becoming increasingly necessary, the capacity of the country to satisfy the financial needs of those services will become less and less.
– Expenditure on the defence programme will increase employment.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator thinks that I am so trusting as to accept his statement. Can he tell me how much of the money that it is proposed to raise is to be spent in Australia, and how much is to be spent overseas? He knows that the bulk of the money will be spent outside Australia.
– The honorable senator has evidently not studied the schedule.
– We were told during the debate on the defence statement that it would be childish to suppose that Australia could manufacture aeroplanes ; that they must necessarily be manufactured outside Australia.
– We are building them here now.
– I know we are, and I probably knew it before the honorable senator did, because I was aware of what the Qantas Company was doing in Queensland; but even that company had to send abroad for essential equipment. The Minister said that it was idle to speak of spending the defence appropriation in Australia.
– I was referring to the building of the two cruisers.
– Does the Minister now assert that the aeroplanes that will be needed will be built in Australia ?
– Many of them will.
– Senator Ashley gave some facts regarding employment at the Government munition factories at Lithgow and Maribyrnong. The Minister stated that the Maribyrnong factory had been rolling metal sheets for private firms which lacked the necessary equipment, and he went on to say that, as the supply of these sheets in future had been undertaken by private enterprise, employment in the Government factory had suffered in consequence. I believe that honest attempts were made to provide employment for those who had been dismissed, but the fact remains that many previous employees are still walking about with nothing to do, and this notwithstanding the fact that the Government is making a survey of private factories to see how they can assist in carrying out the defence programme. If there was any real Australian spirit animating the Government, these displaced workmen would be the first to be put back into jobs. It was not until the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) suggested that we had in Australia splendidly-equipped engineering shops belonging to the State railway authorities, that the Government undertook even to inquire regarding the extent to which they would be able to participate in the manufacture of munitions.
– I have no doubt the Government knew before.
– It had not even thought about the matter. If it had, it would have given the railway workshops some of the orders which have been placed or promised elsewhere.
We absolutely disagree with the Government’s policy in regard to defence. We say that the Government is incapable of doing first things first. It is putting the cart before the horse.
– Presumably, the Labour, party told the electors that.
– Yes, and the electors increased Labour’s representation in this chamber from a miserable three to a respectable sixteen. The first defence step which should be undertaken J repeat, is to put our internal affairs in order so that we may have a country worth defending, and in order that every able-bodied man and woman, having remunerative employment, will be anxious to defend it. The Labour party, -in recent years at all events, has stood firmly for the voluntary system of training and against compulsory military service. We believe that the health of the youth of this country is an important factor in a defence scheme. On this point it is interesting to recall that on Tuesday night last, Mr. Holt, a member of the United Australia party in the House of Representatives, was informed by the Prime Minister that in the last year of the compulsory system of military training 32 per cent, of the young men called up were rejected on the ground of physical unfitness, while under the voluntary system the number of rejects was 4 per cent., showing that the authorities are now obliged to accept a lower standard for the forces. We on this side believe that the Government is not going the right way about the business of defending this country. Six years ago the Prime Minister (“Mr. Lyons) stressed the urgent need for the standardization of our railway gauges. This, he said, would provide a great amount of employment, and prove of very valuable assistance in the defence of the country. Yet he has done little or nothing in this connexion. We contend that the health of the people should have first consideration, and that the conditions under which they are living need urgent revision. Since the Government intends to make a survey of the capacity of our manufacturing establishments to furnish materials in time of war, we say it should also give consideration to the wages and working conditions of the Australian men and women with a view to improving their capacity to protect this country in time of need. There is nothing unreasonable in this suggestion. We say further that the allocation, of the proposed expenditure on the various arms of the service is not the best that could have been made. I dissociate myself from any suggestion that I am posing as an expert in this matter. I merely suggest that the revolutionary changes in the methods of warfare, as disclosed in conflicts in other countries, indicates the wisdom of giving, much greater attention to the development of our air defences. This opinion, I believe, will be borne out by the experience of every country that is ravaged by war, and it will have our endorsement if, unfortunately, war comes tothese shores.
– The honorable senator’s view is not supported by experience in present wars elsewhere.
– The Leader of the Senate is ever ready to make positive assertions. I recall what happened a year or two ago when this Parliament was considering the Government’s proposal to impose sanctions against Italy in connexion with theI talo-Abyssinian war. We on this side, declared that sanctions, to be effective, must be imposed on oil.
– But the honorable senator’s party declined to fight for sanctions.
– We also said that oil sanctions would not be imposed, and we were right. We believe that, if this country is to be made secure in time of war, our reserves of essential requirements, such as oil, should be adequate. Great Britain is taking precautions by acquiring reserve stocks of all food supplies, including wheat, in order to ensure supplies for the people in the event of communications being interfered with if war should occur. We do not need to do that because Australia is a primary producing country; but we do need reserves of oil and so far as we have been able to ascertain, the Government has done nothing in the matter.
– Yes, it has.
– It is true that the Government has its- representatives on Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, but up to date our association with that concern has not been of much advantage to us because whenever the major oil companies decide to increase the price of petrol, the Government’s representatives on Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited are in agreement.
– Mr.Findley, a former Labour senator, is one of the representatives of the Commonwealth Government on that board.
– I am not taking any exception to the personnel of the board, but I do object to the acquiescence nf that company whenever its competitors talk of increasing the price of petrol to Australian users. However, I know that it is useless for me to say any of these things because the Government has its majority and will push its measures through. We shall assist to pass this bill because we believe in measures being taken to defend Australia. “We shall, however, exercise our right of criticism of its proposals. We say that every penny of the amount required for defence should be financed by the Commonwealth Bank. There should be no approach to the overseas market for loans to finance war expenditure; wo object to all underwriting and exchange charges. The Government should follow the historic precedent of 1914, and raise any money required for defence through the Commonwealth Bank, so that private trading banks will not get a “rake-off”. We say, further, that the Government should prevent any private enterprise concern from making a profit from defence expenditure. Yesterday, we were told that Australian manufacturers have no desire whatever to make profits from their business. That statement is not true. I am convinced that private manufacturers will not undertake anything except under compulsion unless they ‘see a profit in it.
If a Labour government had the spending of these extra millions for defence, it would see that the money was devoted to the betterment of the conditions of the people in order that they could more effectively defend this country. I should like to be informed exactly where and amongst whom the Government intends to spend all this money. I do not intend to move any amendment to the bill, but I suggest that -it would be helpful if the Government declared its resolve not to repeat in Australia the mistakes that have been made in other countries in connexion with defence contracts. It could avoid these mistakes if it appointed a committee of members representing all parties in this Parliament whose duty would be to scrutinize carefully every item of expenditure, thus ensuring that the Government got 20s. worth of value for every £l expended. Our belief is that the course adopted’ by the Government will lead tothe establishment of private armament manufacturing concerns which will makehuge profits by exploiting the people of this country.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) 1.5.57]. - I well remember the feeling of glorious irresponsibility which 1 enjoyed in debate some years ago, when I was for a time Leader of’ the Opposition in this chamber. I could say what I liked, well knowing that the responsibility for giving effect to any proposals then under discussion did not rest with me. But in my wildest moments I never attained to the heights achieved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) this afternoon. The honorable gentleman made a number of extraordinary statements without any attempt to buttress them with facts, and he kept mixing two tilings that are entirely different - defence and war.
– War is the natural corollary of defence expenditure..
– Not at all. If Australia were properly defended, it would probably never know war. The honorable senator also spoke of profiteering arising out of defence expenditure and made a number of extravagant statements under this heading. Let me tell him that he is quite wrong. During the Great War, we spent many millions of pounds in Australia on equipment and munitions for our troops,, and in every contract placed with Australian manufacturers every care was taken to prevent undue profits from being made. The bulk of the expenditure was for uniforms and other equipment for the troops. In every instance the Defence Department made a careful estimate of the cost of the various articles required and fixed the contracts on that basis. Let me take boots as an illustration. It ascertained the lowest cost price for the making of a pair of boots and then said to individual contractors: “If yon like to supply military boots at the figure which wc have fixed, you can have a contract for 10,000> or 12,000 pairs.” The same procedure was followed with regard to other requirements. My point is that the cost was determined by the department after careful investigations had been made by responsible officers, and contracts were given to private manufacturers at prices fixed by the department. Throughout the war no profiteering on war equipment was allowed in Australia. That may be news to the honorable senator, but he talks glibly as if all defence expenditure were associated with profiteering.
– - There was a war-time profits tax.
– Yes. That reminds me that there was profiteering in Australia during the war, but it was not in the supply of war materials. There were people who said that one of the profiteers was the Labour Government of Queensland. It is a horrible thing to believe, but at the time it was said that the Labour Government commandeered cattle on the pretext that it had a contract with the British Government and sold the beef to the unfortunate Queensland consumers at prices which showed an exorbitant profit.
– That is quite wrong.
– It was said at the time. The honorable senator indulged in loose talk about profiteering, and I daresay that the allegation that I have repeated is just as accurate as were the statements he made. What I have just said was printed in the newspapers, and I could produce the extracts.
– It is still not correct.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Probably the honorable senator’s allegations are not correct. I heard from someone else the allegation which I have repeated here to-day, but the other things of which I have spoken were facts within my own knowledge.
The honorable senator referred to the number of youths rejected for universal training on the ground of unfitness. I hope that neither he nor any other honorable senator will make any wrong deductions from that. I was the Minister for Defence at that time, and I know that the position was that we had more youths available than we had money, equipment or establishment to train, and we had, therefore, to cut down the numbers of trainees. This was done in two ways: first, by limiting the number of areas to which we applied universal training, and, secondly, by raising the standard of medical fitness. Later on, when we had to recruit for war the standard was lowered.
– What is the present standard?
– Low !
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Another loose, irresponsible, and haphazard statement made by the Leader of the Opposition was that this Government was doing nothing to ensure for Australia oil supplies and reserves. If there is anything on which the Commonwealth Government has expended money, it is the endeavour to find local supplies of oil. The expenditure by the Commonwealth Government on that objective runs into millions of pounds. In New Guinea, alone, the previous Government, a Labour Government, spent no less than £300,000 in boring and searching for oil. Last year the Commonwealth Government spent many thousands of pounds in subsidizing companies engaged in the search for oil on the mainland, and to-day it is not only subsidizing companies but also providing them with boring plants. The Newnes shale project also has been mentioned, and Commonwealth Oil Refineries is another phase of the continuous attempt of the Commonwealth Government to ensure local supplies of oil.
The honorable senator said that loans are not justified for defence purposes. I agree with him to this extent : Loans are unjustifiable for annual expenditure on defence maintenance; such cost3 should be borne out of revenue. Expenditure on defence should be looked at in the same light as premiums for fire or life assurance. A business man would be a fool to try to pay fire or life insurance premiums out of capital; he would of course try to pay them from current revenue. If I were running a business I should pay premiums out of profits, but if I were acquiring an appliance to prevent or fight fires, it would be justifiable to charge the cost to capital account. The expenditure provided for in this bill is mainly of a capital character; very little of it relates to maintenance.
The honorable senator made another rash and irresponsible statement - he is a very rash person, although one would expect that at his age he would have acquired discretion - when he said that the greater part of this money would be expended outside Australia. He had before him at the time the schedule which the Minister has circulated.
– Does the right honorable senator suggest that I have had time to read it?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable senator should have read it before he made his rash statement. If he had done so, he would have seen that the only considerable item of expenditure overseas is the £1,000,000 for two cruisers. The greater part - I should say 85 per cent.- of the total of £10,000,000 is to be expended in Australia. When dealing with a subject so important as this bill, the honorable senator should show more sense of his responsibility.
.- In speaking of this bill, I do not wish to pose as an expert on military matters, although I have always endeavoured to study them, and I take a deep interest in them. I wish first of all to congratulate the Government on the steps it is at last taking to endeavour to prepare this country for its proper defence. Personally, I am sorry that these moneys were not borrowed at an earlier date, and that the defence programme was not put forward some years ago, because now, with world conditions as they unfortunately are, it will be necessary to hurry on that expenditure, with the result perhaps that we shall not be able to get as much value for £1 spent as we would have got had we started some years ago. Unfortunately, this Government has to revive and develop the defences of the country after the Scullin Labour Government had scrapped practically the whole of them, including those national assets, the Duntroon Military College, and the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay. In fact, under that Government, the defence of Australia was scrapped almost entirely, and that is one of the reasons why such a large sum of money as that provided for in this bill has to be raised; we have to build on foundations which, if they were not ruined, were at least, seriously weakened by the neglect of the Labour Government. The closing of the colleges at Duntroon and Jervis Bay was tragic. Both of those institutions were a great credit to Australia,, and they turned out some fine young officers who subsequently distinguished themselves in India, Great Britain and Australia. I am very glad that the military college has been returned to Duntroon, and that the number of cadets to be trained there - and very efficiently trained too - are to be increased as are the number of naval cadets at Flinders.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Collings), in his tirade this afternoon, gave me the impression that he was not so very sincere about the defence of Australia as he pretended. He said, that Labour sincerely believes in the adequate defence of Australia, but he went on to say that the money to be raised under this bill would largely go to profiteers, and be spent outside Australia. * The implication was . that unless every penny was expended in Australia, n)o money should be spent on defence at all. With reference to the proposed purchase of cruisers from Great Britain - thank goodness that we have the Mother Country willing and able to provide us with the vessels and not at profiteering prices - the honorable senator said that if they could not be built in Australia, they should not be acquired at all. Senator Pearce who had a long and distinguished experience in the Defence Department has just said that of this loan of £10,300,000, fully £8,500,000 will be expended in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition also spoke about employment. If he is sincere, he must know that the expenditure in Australia of more than £8,000,000 on the building of aerodromes, aeroplanes, sloops, munitions and everything else connected with defence, will give a vast amount of employment to our people.
I have already referred to the calibre of the officers that have graduated from the Royal Military College, and this brings me to one point at which I am in disagreement with the Government. It intends to import an InspectorGeneral of the Australian Military Forces from England. I think, that our Australian generals conclusively proved in the last awful world war that they were equal to any. I believe, and I have a great deal of support, that there was no better general in the field than the late Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash. He was only one of many able Australian generals who distinguished themselves. Some of them are alive and fit to-day, and 1 think their services would be available to the Government for the work for which a man is to be imported. It would be invidious to mention names, but if honorable senators read books of military history, whether British, French or Gernian, they will see that the Australian generals were very good indeed, and as they have proved their worth, I think it is a pity that the Government did not decide to appoint an inspector-general from within Australia.
Sitting suspended from 6.15to 8 p.m.
– In his speech this afternoon the Leader of the Opposition said that we could not build aeroplanes in Australia.
– I did not say that; I said that they will not be built here.
– The honorable gentleman also complained that most of the money to be expended under this bill would be sent out of Australia, but Senator Pearce made it clear that about £8,500,000 of it. would be expended in this country. At Fishermen’s Bend, near Melbourne, the Commonwealth Government is having aeroplanes built at the rate of two a week. In my opinion the work of aeroplane manufacture there should be speeded up. By working three shifts, instead of two, the factory could turn out three machines a week. That, would be 150 in a year, which, although not a great number, would be- a step in the right direction. The air force would play an important part in the defence of Australia should this country be attacked. In defending a sparsely populated island continent, with a coast line of 12,000 miles, it would, in fact, be our most important arm of defence.
– The honorable senator obtained that idea from us on this side.
– There are not many things on which I agree with honorable senators opposite, but I do agree with them in the emphasis that they place on the importance of the air force. When the Leader of the Opposition lamented the fact that some of this money would be expended in Great Britain I thought how favored Australia is, and always has been, in having Great Britain to mother it. We are indeed fortunate in that we can obtain from Great Britain those things, such as cruisers, which we cannot produce economically in Australia. Some years ago when a cruiser was built in Australia it was almost obsolete before it was launched. The Mother Country has gone out of its way to supply us with vessels at reasonable prices.
The honorable senator also became greatly agitated at the very suggestion of universal military training, and stated that the Labour party was definitely opposed to it. He appeared to have forgotten that it was the Labour party that introduced the system.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that subject.
– I. do not see in this bill any provision for a topographical survey of Australia, although the information which would be obtained thereby is absolutely necessary for military purposes.
– There should be a financial survey, too.
– I agree with the honorable senator. I understand that many of the present survey maps of Australia are not only incomplete, but also faulty. Hitherto there has been no proper co-ordination of the survey departments of the Commonwealth and the States.
– Oh, yes there is.
– I am glad to hear that. There is, however, a good deal of overlapping; and when there is overlapping there is waste. The topographical staff of the Defence Department is altogether inadequate for the task. According to some authorities, a compre- hensive survey of Australia would take 150 years to complete at the present rate of progress. As this is a national question, the Commonwealth should expedite the work as much as possible and seek the co-operation of the States. No one, either in the Defence Department or elsewhere, knows the northern part of Australia thoroughly, yet that is the part of the continent which would most likely be attacked in the event of war. A thorough survey of the northern part of the continent should be undertaken without delay, and if the Commonwealth has not a sufficient staff to do the job, it should seek the assistance of the States, even if it has to pay for the services rendered.
An important factor in the defence of Australia which is sometimes overlooked is the necessity for maintaining friendly relations with those nations which own islands immediately north of Australia. One nation possesses a chain of islands stretching right down to the equator, and from what we can learn, those islands are equipped with bases for destroyers, submarines and aircraft. Not many people realize how close those islands are to New Guinea, over portion of which Australia has a mandate. As one of the islands to which I have referred is only 50 miles from the equator, it is of the utmost importance that we should be on friendly terms, and work in the closest co-operation with, a nation which controls the other islands in the vicinity. I regard that aspect of the defence of Australia, as of almost paramount importance.
Australia’s air force, although not large is of excellent quality. I attended the air pageant held recently at Flemington, Victoria, and was proud of the exhibition. It was a magnificent display in every detail. As all the world knows, Australia has airmen equal to the best that any country can produce. Many Australians, like the late Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and others, have made world-wide reputations as airmen. Within three weeks of the pageant, in which I have referred, 4,000 young men in Victoria alone offered themselves for service in the Royal Australian Air Force. There is no dearth of men who are willing to be trained as pilots, but there is a shortage of machines. I am glad, therefore, that much of the money to be raised under this bill will be expended on the air force.
Senator Collings and others of my friends opposite - I am glad to call them friends, for alt-hough we differ politically, 1 realize that we are all trying to do the job that we are sent here to do - urge that the railway gauges should be standardized. I am opposed to spending millions of pounds on the standardization of the railway gauges, not only because of the huge cost of the undertaking but, more particularly, because railways are becoming obsolete. The transport of the future will be along roads and in the air. Motor transport is more mobile than is transport by rail, but, of course, air transport is the most mobile of all- In a large country like Australia, air transport is essential for defence purposes. I am giving away no secret when I say that when Earl Kitchener was in Australia in 3909, I was sent for to consult with him, because at that time I was the managing director of a pastoral property on the Barkly Tableland, where good horses were bred. The British Government contemplated buying that and other properties as horse-breeding depots for the Indian army. One of the last things that Earl Kitchener said to me was that it would be most unwise to build the north-south railway. He explained that its construction would play into the hands of any aggressor who might attack Australia. He went on to say that one of the greatest factors in the defence of Australia was the barrenness of the coastal strip in the north. He said that in the event of invasion, the driving of the herds before the invading army, as was done in Africa, would seriously hamper the enemy’s progress.
Having emphasized the importance of motor and air transport, 1 now exhort the Government to provide large supplies of oil fuel in Australia. The present supplies are inadequate, and, moreover, they are neither well spaced nor sufficiently concealed. Whilst 1 agree that the production of oil from shale and other products for peace use is not sound economically, I regard it as absolutely necessary to press on with the Newnes oil scheme and the distillation of fuel oils. I also urge that large stocks of oil fuel be provided in different parts of Australia where they will not be too conspicuous. Recently I asked a question about oil supplies and was informed that the Government had the matter in hand. I commend the Government for its general defence policy, but I am not convinced that it has made adequate provision for supplies of oil fuel in case of emergency.
In an excellent speech, Senator Courtice mentioned yesterday that the British Empire had made great efforts to preserve the peace of the world. I was glad to hear that statement from the honorable senator, and also his approbation of the scheme of re-armament that had been undertaken by Great Britain. Not many people in Australia realize that the Mother Country is expending more than £300,000,000 a year on defence. Not onethird of that expenditure would be necessary to protect Great Britain itself - a comparatively small country with a population of about 47,000,000 people. It is spending the bulk of the money for the defence of the dominions, of which Australia is one, and also for the protection of the trade routes. Its huge navy is not necessary to defend the British Isles, but it is required, and is maintained,- in order to protect the interests of the Mother Country’s children, who are scattered to the four corners of the world. I disagree with the suggestion of the Labour party that we should defend only Australia. Where is it proposed that we should defend Australia? Surely it is not suggested that we should allow an enemy to come here, and take no action until we are attacked? It is quite probable that in time of trouble our base will be at Singapore. With our Navy, our Air Force, and any other means that we have, we must work in the closest co-operation with Great Britain and the sister dominions of New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, and we must not wait until an enemy attacks us. The Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Curtin), in his famous blue book, said that Australia should not send its Navy or its man power outside the 3-mile limit. My friends of the Labour party have never explained to my satisfaction what they would do in the event of the sister dominion of New Zealand being attacked. Should we remain within the 3-mile limit, or go to its assistance? Great Britain’s efforts have been marvellous. It is still policing the seven seas of the world, not in an aggressive manner, but with a view to ensuring freedom of trade to every nation. One of the greatest bulwarks for the safety of Australia is, undoubtedly, Singapore.
I have said that I agree with the Labour party in stressing the importance of the Air Force. I have been told by military authorities in this country, and I was told in Europe during my visit there last year, that Australia would be reasonably safe if it had a sufficient number of bombing planes stationed along the north coast of Australia. Although it has not been shown that a bomber can sink a battleship, it can certainly sink transports. Any country that proposed to attack Australia would need a tremendous number of transports. A fleet of transports can travel only as fast as the slowest vessel in it, and they are most vulnerable to attack from the air.
Senator Cunningham yesterday made an excellent speech, in which he stressed the poor physical standard of the trainees in the militia. I am very sorry that that is so. It shows that there is something deplorably wrong, and indicates the desirability of establishing some form of universal physical training throughout Australia. In a country with such a wonderful climate, which produces the best food in the world, and which turns out athletes who can hold their own anywhere, there is no excuse for such a large proportion of our young people who offer themselves for service in the militia being discarded on account of physical unfitness. That condition of affairs should be remedied. A little drill would not do any harm. Senator Collings has stated that a certain degree of hardship is associated with the training. I maintain that there is none. While undergoing training as cadets at school we had a lot of fun and sport, and were taught to be manly. That training did us good both physically and morally. It gave us self-respect. Surely the young men of Australia would not object to being made physically fit and to being taught something about the rudiments of defence. I refer, not to compulsory military training for the purpose of sending men overseas, but to some form of physical military training which would fit them as good citizens to defend their country in case of emergency.
Honorable senators opposite have also referred to the subject of employment. Senator Collings has said that the most important thing in this country is not to spend this money on defence, but to make the lot of the people as nearly ideal as possible. I agree with the latter suggestion. Any human being who has any feeling for his fellow men surely must always wish to help the under-dog, and to raise the standard of living. That is only ordinary decency and humanity, and, in my opinion, common sense. I would point out, however, that during the regime of the Scullin Government the unemployment figures in Australia reached the high level of 30 per cent. Since the present Government came into power, employment has increased to such an extent that to-day the figures are down to as low as 8 per cent., which is below normal. Unfortunately, there will always be a few persons who are more or less unemployable. I consider that, in addition to a stocktaking of the health of the youth of Australia, there should be a national stocktaking, because in time of emergency everybody should be able to do something. We should collect information with respect to the man power of Australia between the ages of 18 and 65 years, or even older than that. After a man has passed the military age, he should be an expert in some branch of work or industry. We should all be ticketed, so that in time of national emergency we may be allocated to the particular jobs for which we are best fitted. I am very keen on such a proposal, and believe that steps should be taken to implement it.
In regard to finance, some honorable senators opposite have said that the Commonwealth is more or less crippling the States. What do we find? Out of the money raised by the Loan Council the Commonwealth Government has made available to the States for public works, roads and farmers’ debt adjustment many millions of pounds. [ consider that it has been liberal to the States. It is entitled to 20 per cent, of the total amount borrowed by the Loan Council, yet at the end of the year, after making a very liberal allocation to the States for farmers’ debt adjustment and roads, it will take only 4 per cent., instead of the amount to which it is entitled.
I support the Government in the raising and spending of this money, with the proviso that I should like provision to be made for a much stronger air force in the north of Australia, and immediate steps to be taken for the distillation of oil supplies for emergency purposes.
– I have listened with a good deal of interest to the remarks that have been made on this important measure, especially those made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). The honorable senator evidently thought it was advisable to arm himself yesterday with a double-barrelled blunderbuss, one barrel to be discharged yesterday, and another to-day. Fortunately, both barrels were filled with blank cartridges, with the result that, when they were discharged, there was only a lot of smoke and noise. That has been the only effect on honorable senators. In this chamber Senator Collings has gained the reputation of being a past-master in the art of using what I know as soap-box oratory. This oratory may go down with an audience on Yarra Bank, in Melbourne, the Domain, in Sydney, or the place where people of the same type congregate in Brisbane. To use it here is to insult the intelligence of the people in Australia, of whom we are the representatives. Time after time the honorable senator has stood up in this chamber., and, in unmeasured terms, denounced the Government which controls the destinies of Australia to-day with respect to practically every matter it has brought forward for discussion. As a political acrobat I know of no one who is the equal of the honorable senator. He can always trim his sails to meet what he thinks is public opinion.
The important matter that we are now considering deserves rauch more serious attention than has evidently been given to it by Senator Collings, who is the leader of a very important party in this chamber. Personally, I must view the matter from an Australian viewpoint. I have first to consider whether any government is justified in retaining its position unless it is prepared to take adequate measures for the defence of Australia. At the outset I ask myself if Australia is worth defending. The only answer that 1 can make is that there is no country on the face of the earth which offers as many advantages to the square yard as Australia offers to the square foot. Every one who has travelled knows that, and, if fair, is prepared to admit it. If that be so, surely we arc justified in considering favorably any measure which may have for its object the more adequate defence of this beloved country !
– Wc arc all agreed on that; why labour it?
– The honorable senator professes to believe in the defence of Australia. He demonstrates that belief by denouncing an honest effort to grapple with the problem with which we are confronted.
– I object to borrowing money to do it.
– The honorable senator says he is prepared to do anything he can to help to defend this country, provided that a defence policy can be put in operation without borrowing the money necessary for the purpose. He argues that the wealthy capitalists of Australia should be called upon to pay out of their pockets for the cost of the defence of this country. He professes to be a champion of the rights of the under-dog - the working man - and is always denouncing the government of the day for not using every means possible to reduce the volume of unemployment in this country; yet he advocates a course of action which, if followed, must necessarily increase unemployment immediately. If he is earnest in what he says, he would withdraw for all time from the capitalist - I do not know whether he has in mind the individual or the financial institution - the amount requisite to carry out those measures of defence which are needed in Australia. He does not realize, apparently, that that money is to-day being utilized in every direction in the best interests of the mass of the people, that it cannot be of any use to the holder of it unless it is in circulation earning something, and that it cannot earn anything unless it is enabling people to produce. The honorable senator ignores that fact, and suggests that we should “be very much better off if WE imposed enormously heavy taxation, or even went so far as to confiscate the capital of those who have always had to pay heavy taxation in time of war, or when any costly measure of defence has had to be put in operation. The great bulk of the receipts from taxation come from those to whom Senator Collings refers as the capitalists. He knows that, but is not prepared to admit it, because he does not think it would find favour with individuals of the type he is so apt at addressing in the capital cities of the Commonwealth. f heartily support this measure, but, at the same time. 1. regret very much the necessity for it. I had hoped that long before this, signs of peace would have appeared upon the horizon. Honorable senators must admit, however, that until the. last week or two no such signs were in evidence. Certainly, there has been a change for the better in the international situation, hut no such change was apparent when this Government determined to do its duty with regard to the defence of Australia. I remind honorable senators i that, although Great Britain, for many years now, has been the greatest factor in preventing another world war, it has been a much greater factor in that respect since it decided upon a policy of re-armament. Honorable senators opposite should not forget that fact. Although Britain has by its influence prevented, time after time, the outbreak of war during the last eight or ten years, its influence for peace has been much greater recently because it has embarked upon a policy of active defence and re-armament.
Australia can help to avoid further expenditure in this direction if, as public men, and as individuals, in the street and in the homes of the people, we endeavour to the best of our ability to inculcate a desire to help in the work of international goodwill. I believe that that is the only solution of this problem. Possibly, because we have lived for so long in so blessed a country, and have been protected for so many years by Great Britain, we regard ourselves as a superior people; but the people of Australia should recognize that the people of every other nation have as much pride in their nationhood as we have, and that we cannot hope for world peace if we fail to cultivate a spirit which recognises that those other peoples have as much right as we have to exist. We should, therefore, inculcate a spirit of brotherhood and kindliness especially by refraining on the floors of our legislatures from making provocative utterances which may sow the seed of hatred between nations. If we apply ourselves to that task, I. am hopeful of seeing a spirit of international friendship so firmly established that we shall not be called upon to supplement our expenditure on defence. J. make those remarks in the hope that some good may be effected in that direction. I shall not be a member of this chamber for much longer, but if it is my last utterance here, I feel it worth while to say that nothing would give me greater pleasure than to spend the rest of my days in an endeavour to render further expenditure on defence unnecessary, or in helping to create international goodwill.
SenatorBRENNAN (Victoria) [8.35]. - I express my concurrence with the proposals contained in this measure, and as 1 did not speak on the statement made by the Minister for Repatriation ( Senator Foll), I hope, while keeping within the ambit of the bill, by some reference to affairs abroad, to justify what has been done, and is being done, by the Government in respect of defence. In particular, Ishould like to address some remarks to the general tone of the speech delivered yesterday by Senator Courtice. A note of complaint - indeed, one might say, a note ofbitter complaint - ran throughhis speech, that honorable senators on this side were accusing honorable senators opposite of being unwilling to defend their native land,first of all, 1 concede that members of every party in Australia would desire to defend the country to which they owe first allegiance. But, none the less, the honorable senator should bear in mind that for all the criticisms of his party’s policy he has to thank, more’ than any one else, his own leader, Senator Collings. It is the honorable senator’s unbridled and offensive criticism of every proposal put forward by those who take a different view from his own of the best means of defending Australia, which has provoked, possibly, some misrepresentation from this side of the chamber.
– The honorable senator is pouring oil on troubled waters.
– I have not yet succeeded in pouring any oil that will soothe the honorable senator. Only as late as yesterday he described the policy of the Government as being of fixed design and “ anti- Australian “.
– If the honorable senator can find that statement attributed to me in Hansard, I shall admit having said it; but it is not there, and the honorable senator’s statement is untrue. I am not usually perturbed about the criticism voiced by my opponents, but at least I have the right, Mr. President, to ask you to protect me from what I believe to be a misstatement of something I said. I did not use that term, or anything like it, which could be honestly construed as meaning what the honorable senator suggests.
– The honorable senator must first of all himself withdraw the word “ untrue.”
– I used the word “ untrue,” and the honorable senator’s statement is untrue.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw it.
– In deference to you, Mr. President, I withdraw it. However, I am not asking the honorable senator to withdraw his statement about me.
– If the honorable senator says he did not use the expression I have attributed to him, I can only accept his assurance and express regret that words, which as a fairly experienced reporter, I took in shorthand, are beyond my powers of interpretation.
– I did not say it.
– The incident is closed.
– Only to-day, I think, the Leader of the Opposition referred to the expert heads of the Defence Department as “ brass hats,” and to those engaged in association with the Government in its industrial activities, as “ armament racketeers.” And he accused those racketeers of working up a war hysteria in order to make money out of it.”
– I stand by all that.
– The honorable senator accused the banks, although banks were not under discussion, of working in with the steel industry in order to secure a rake-off from the Government’s defence expenditure. He preached the doctrine of isolation, and accused the Government of having no policy but one of slavishly following Great Britain.
– The first part of that statement is entirely false.
– The honorable senator seemed to imply that even if Britain were right, we still should not follow its example.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. President. I take very definite exception to the honorable senator’s statements. No honorable senator has the right to continue deliberately putting words into my mouth which, I not only did not use, but also did not even think of. I did not use the term “ isolation “ ; that is a term which was invented by government supporters at the last general elections in order to defeat the Labour party. Instead it reacted against them, and the honorable senator’s difficulty is that he is now singing his swan song.
– I ask Senator Brennan to accept the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that he did not use the phrases attributed to him.
– I said that the honorable senator pleached the doctrine of isolation. It would astound me if I were not entitled to draw such an inference from the general trend of the honorable senator’s speech.
– I am not responsible for what the honorable senator imagines.
– If my remarks pierce the honorable senator’s extraordinarily thin skin, and it seems they have, I shall withdraw them.
– I shall let it stand.
– Whenever the honorable senator receives a thrust in the joints of his armour, he appeals to you, Mr. President, for protection. I should have thought that he was able to protect himself. I repeat, that I am voicing the deduction which I draw from his speeches, namely, that he represented the position as being that Great Britain desired our aid. But he refuses to recognize that in a time of trouble we might require Great Britain’s aid far more urgently than Britain would require aid from us. Because of his zeal for his policy, which I have summarized as a policy of isolation, the honorable senator overlooked the fact that if Britain were at war, Australia would ipso facto be at war also.
– I deny that.
– The honorable senator cannot ask me to withdraw that.
– Has the honorable senator ever heard of the Statute of Westminster ?
– It is not in force in Australia.
– Yes, my first comment on the question to the Leader of the Opposition is that the Statute of Westminster is not in force in Australia. But even if it were it is not in force in Austria, Germany or Japan, and when the Commonwealth becomes involved in war the powers seeking to attack us will not look at our statute-book to see what laws we have or have not adopted. That is not the way in which modern warfare is conducted. I am addressing these remarks particularly to Senator Courtice and suggest that he should endeavour to check his leader. Again and again his leader has expressed his concurrence with the defence policy of his party including that egregious paragraph concerning which we heard so much at the last general elections that -
There shall be no raising of forces for service outside the Commonwealth or participation or promise of participation in any future overseas war except by a decision of the people.
– We will stand to that.
– The Leader of the Opposition threatened to tell us yesterday about Singapore, which is our greatest bulwark; but I am certain from the general tone of his criticism that he is not going to say anything favorable concerning that important base. Only last week he summed up the policy of his party in these nebulous words -
We say our first line of defence is to make this country worth defending for the people who live in it.
Apparently he forgets that if it be worth defending by the people in it, it may be worth attacking by people outside. Not long ago he told us of another first line of defence which included, I think, some method of improving the physical standard of the young. Senator Courtice should not be surprised, as the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) reminded him, if this violent language of his leader provokes some violent language against his party. He should remember that “ those who take the sword shall perish by the sword “, and that those who resort to violent language and misrepresentation of a policy of a party must not be surprised if the party against which it is directed is prepared to defend itself by the same weapon which he himself has employed. He should remember that misrepresentation may beget misrepresentation. Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition said that the British Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain) had stated that the situation had eased, but that according to Mr. Lyons it was ten times worse. Mr. Lyons said no such thing.
– I did not say that Mr. Lyons said that it was ten times worse. What I did say was that Mr. Lyons said that the position had worsened.
– What Mr. Lyons said was that although a decrease of tension was noticeable, there was still cause for anxiety. Senator Pearce asked Senator Collings if the situation was not such as to cause anxiety, but he declined to answer the question. Yet, if he knows anything of world affairs he must know that that is so. He knows what happened in Austria a few weeks ago, and he also knows what happened in the demilitarized zone on the Rhine a year or two ago. He should realize that we live in an age when the rules of international law no longer operate and that in international affairs we have got back to the law of the Scottish Borderers “ He may take who has the power, and he may keep who can”. Are we not wise in taking every precaution against these things ? But, as Senator Pearce said, the Leader of the Opposition draws no distinction between defence and war. As has already been pointed out, to be prepared for waT is the best way to avoid it. There is an old Latin saying “ If you want peace be prepared for war “. Those who have read Gilbert Chesterton’s autobiography will recall that he said that if he were asked what caused the war he was not going to say that it was the Kaiser, but he would say it was the pacifist. If it had been made clear, he said, before the war and at its outset, what England’s position would he, the war would not have taken place, but, owing to the cry of pacifism, it was believed that Great Britain would not intervene and Germany was tempted to go on. There are old sayings about “jumping our hurdles before we get to them,” or “ meeting trouble half way “ and “nodding to the devil before you meet him,” hut that does not apply to defence. Defence is necessarily a slow process, and there is no virtue in a peace which consists in sitting still until our enemies are strong enough to destroy us. So far as I can understand, and having regard to the criticism which every measure of defence receives from honorable senators opposite, that, apparently, is their policy. As Lord Halifax said a few days ago -
The world faces the ugly truth that, in the sphere of power politics force alone decides. It is the ruthless application of power politics which so profoundly shocked the world and which is responsible for the grave apprehension which exists in so many quarters to-day.
About the same time, the United States of America Secretary for State, Mr. Cordell Hull, said -
The momentous question is whether the doctrine of force shall become enthroned again and bring in its wake international anarchy and a relapse into barbarism or whether we shall work singly in co-operation for peace.
The Leader of the Opposition further said that there was no fear of war in Australia unless old men talking in the Senate produced it. I can only say that if old men talking in this chamber should bring on war, it is a wonder we are not in Armageddon. Mr. Cordell Hull further said -
The interest and concern of the United States of America, whether in the Far East, other parts of the Pacific, or in Europe or elsewhere, are not measured alone by the number of American citizens there or the volume of investments or trade. We have a much broader and more fundamental interest., namely, the orderly process of international relationship. What is most at stake throughout the world to-day is the future of order. We want to live in a world in which the forces of militarism, territorial aggression, and international anarchy in general, will become utterly odious, revolting and intolerable to the conscience of mankind, and in which there will be no longer one code of morality, honour, justice and fair play for the individual, and an entirely different co.de f«r government and nations.
The Leader of the Opposition say3 that his methods of securing peace are friendly co-operation with other countries. Have we ever heard the honorable senator speak of friendly relations with other nations ?
– The honorable senator has never heard me say anything else.
– I have heard him say on more than one occasion that he would not buy a single article made in any. other country that could be manufactured here. In answer to a question whether he meant that to apply even if the article could not be economically made, he replied in the affirmative. Is that a way in which to co-operate on a friendly basis with other nations?
– Our first duty is Australia and not to other nations.
– That may the opinion of the honorable senator, but it is not the way to co-operate on a friendly basis. In conclusion, I ask Senator Courtice to think carefully over what 1 have said. He will find that Senator Collings criticizes every concrete proposal for defence which this Government brings before this chamber, while his own policy is put forward in such nebulous terms that it would not commit him as Leader of the Government to anything at all. Senator Courtice must not be surprised if we are not by any means convinced that the sentiments which his Leader expressed in the passage quoted by Senator Duncan-Hughes yesterday are his real sentiments. I hope I have not transgressed the Standing Orders in making the few comments I have, but, ha ving said them, express my concurrence with the measure.
– One of the reasons which prompts the Opposition to oppose this bill is the fact that the Government as reverting to the bad old policy of borrowing overseas. I desire to take the minds of honorable senators back to December, 1929, when we were told by the then Treasurer at a meeting of the Australian Loan Council that borrowing in London had been denied to Australia. Respective governments since that time have been unable to induce London investors to lend money to Australia other than by means of conversion loans. Under this bill, the Government is seeking a loan of at least £2,000,000 in London.
– No money is to be borrowed in London under this bill.
– The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has already made that pronouncement, but it has filtered through the press that a portion of the amount to bc borrowed for defence purposes is to be raised overseas. That statement has not been denied. We shall also oppose the bill because the Government has not taken honorable senators into its confidence as to the reason why moneys additional to those asked for in December are sought. Apparently, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) thinks that the people of Australia believe that there are reasons why this loan should be raised, but Parliament has not been told what those reasons are. lt is unfair not only to Parliament but also to the people. We say that if there are reasons we should know them. We know that pronouncements have been made by responsible Ministers of the British Government that the international situation ha3 eased considerably within the last few weeks. Therefore, we may take it that the danger is not as evident to-day as it was four or five weeks ago; yet we are asked to agree to this bill without being furnished with the information necessary to enable us to cast an intelligent vote upon it. During this debate Senator Pearce said that during the regime of the Labour Government which preceded the first Lyons Government, the defence system of Australia had been allowed to go into recess, or words to that effect. No honorable senator in this chamber knows better than Senator Pearce that the Labour Government was refused money from London at a time when Australia was facing a financial crisis. As one who took part in the negotiations with the then Prime Minister, prior to the inception of the Premiers’ plan, the honorable senator knows very well that he and his colleagues agreed to the restriction of all adjustable government expenditure. That, of necessity, would bring about a reduction of the expenditure of the Defence Department. Another aspect which must also be taken into account when considering the actions of the Labour Government, is that it must be realized that although the Scullin Government was in office, it was not in power; a hostile majority in this chamber declined to pass what the Government believed to be important legislation. The result, as honorable senators know, is old history; the Scullin Goverrnment went out of office and was followed by the first Lyons Government, and a government led by Mr. Lyons has been in office ever since. But what effort has been made by the present Government in the past to put the defence system of Australia on a proper basis? The Government has been in office for over five years, during the whole of which it has had a huge majority in this chamber; at any time during those yearsit could have passed such legislation as it desired to put the defence system of Australia on a proper footing; but it neglected to do so. Now it asks the Parliament to pass this bill without supplying the necessary information to honorable senators to enable them to cast an intelligent vote upon it. It is proposed that we shall embark upon an expenditure of over £43,000,000 over the next three years, but no provision has been made to rehabilitate the workers who will be engaged on works in connexion with the defence policy, but who will lose their employment upon the expiration of that time. It would appear that the Government is desirous of following the lead of the British Government, but we are informed in the press to-day that a responsible British Minister lias made a pronouncement that plans are in preparation for the rehabilitation of workers who will be’ thrown out of industry as the result of the completion of the defence plan in Great Britain. No less a sum than £500,000,000 has been provided for this purpose. Australia has a population equal to approximately oneseventh of that of Great Britain. What does the Australian Government propose to do for the purpose of subsequently providing employment for those people who we have been told to-day will secure employment as the result of the expenditure outlined in the programme before the Senate? No pronouncement of the Government’s intentions in this respect has been made. Provision for the employment of those people should be portion of the defence plan of Australia. We cannot allow our people to go right up to the expiration of the three-years period without making a definite plan for their employment, and it takes time to make preparations necessary for the rehabilitation of those who will be thrown out of employment. It seems to me that it is fortunate, indeed, that there is to be a change in the personnel of this chamber shortly. We have heard senator after senator f’ on the opposite side rise in his .’< ‘e and make a bitter attack on the Leader of the Opposition. In the near future the Leader of the Opposition will be amply supported in repelling those attacks.
– I should not have spoken on this measure to-night were it not that I felt it desirable to refer again to some statements which I made last night as to the amount of money to be spent in Victoria, which were challenged by honorable senators opposite. Verification of my statements are to be found in the schedule now before the Senate. Included in the works to be undertaken for defence purposes in Victoria are the following: -
– I remind the honorable senator that on the second reading of the bill it is not permissible to discuss items appearing in a schedule. Ample opportunity will be afforded at the committee stage to discuss details of proposed works. During the second reading debate only the principle of the bill may be discussed.
– Senator Pearce, who has had a very long experience in this chamber, informed my leader that he should have read the bill before discussing it. In following his advice I have unwittingly contravened the standing orders.
– On the broad question of the differentiation between States the honorable senator is at liberty to speak in general terms, but he must not deal with the items of the schedule at this stage.
– I anticipated that those works would be provided for in the schedule now before the Senate, and I am glad to find that my forecast was correct, although the total amount which I stated last night would be spent in Victoria will be slightly exceeded. I remind honorable senators that later on they may be questioned as to why this Government desires the centralization of all defence factories in Victoria. No statement of its reasons has been made by the Government and, in view of the fact that the position of those factories renders them particularly vulnerable to attack, a statement should be forthcoming. Defence factories should be established in the various States, not only for the sake of efficiency, but also to ensure that each State shall get its fair share of the work that will be available for the construction and staffing of those factories. If that were done much of the unemployment in the States would be relieved, and the Government would honour its undertaking that the extra taxation imposed for defence purposes would be expended in such a way as to relieve unemployment in the States. Honorable senators representing States other than Victoria will probably be questioned in regard to this matter, because, as I have said, England has set us an example by adopting a policy of decentralization of defence factories. That policy should be followed in Australia. Senator Guthrie to-night, when discussing Labour’s defence policy, made some references to the three-mile limit, and said that he obtained his information from Mr. Curtin’s blue book. On examination of the blue book, I have failed to find any statement contained in the defence platform of the Australian Labour party with regard to the threemile limit.
– The blue book says “ Outside Australia “.
– For the information of the honorable senator I make the following quotation from the blue book -
That preparation to counter any possible foreign aggression be made by the establishment of a defence scheme commensurate with Australia’s ability to maintain it and adequate for our needs, and that this be done by concentration on the following essentials:
– The honorable senator has not cited that part of the platform which providesthat no armed force shall be sent overseas except as the result of a referendum.
– That paragraph in Labour’s platform reads -
No raising of forces for service outside the Commonwealth or participation or promise of participation in any future overseas wars except by decision of the people.
– I read that word for word. Although nothing is said about the 3-mile limit, that is what is meant.
– I agree with what has been said to-night by some Government supporters concerning the standardization of our railway gauges. The modern trend is towards motor and aerial transport. [ believe that the Government would act wisely if it spent a substantially larger sum of money on road works, and substantially less on some of these socalled defence projects. If the Commonwealth Government would act in coordination with the State governments, a great deal could be done to develop country districts which to-day do not enjoy good roads. The provision of uptodate highways would give our producers better access to markets.
As Australia will not be able in the future to look to the British Navy for assistance as has hitherto been the case, we ought to do as much as we can to improve our own position. The purpose of Labour senators in participating in this debate is to make constructive suggestions to that end. I regret that a good deal of the debate on this measure has consisted of personal remarks. While I am a member of the Senate, I hope to devote myself to constructive criticism. I commend that attitude to honorable senators opposite. They should be more tolerant, of the views of those who differ from them. At present only four or five Labour senators occupy seats in this chamber and the Government ought to act reasonably towards them. I am sure that after the 30th June, when the Opposition strength in the chamber will be greatly increased, we shall act in a reasonable spirit towards the Government.
I observed in the speech which I delivered last night, that one of the most effective steps which the Government could take towards the fulfilment of any defence programme would be to expedite all efforts to ensure an independent oil supply for Australia. In New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, and other States which have shale deposits, intensive action should be taken to produce oil. States which have no shale deposits, but which have coal-fields, could also be ncluded in a plan with this object. It can never be said that Australia is selfcontained until independent oil supplies are assured within this country. If, as part of its defence policy, the Government would take some effective acton in this regard, it would simultaneously be doing a great service to commercial interests. During the inquiry in 1933 into the possibility of producing oil from shale at Newnes, the price of petrol in Sydney dropped very remarkably. This is shown by the following extract from the report of the Newnes Investigation Committee presented to Senator A. J. McLachlan, as the then Minister in Charge of Development for the Commonwealth, and to the
Honorable R. S. Vincent, Minister of Mines for New South Wales : -
Since the committee’s appointment in February, 1933, the oil companies have reduced the retail price of petrol from 2s. and 1$. lOd. per gallon, to ls. 7d., and ls. 6d., the present ruling rates for first and second grade spirits respectively in Sydney. Vor a time, the prices were as low as ls. 5d., and ls. 4d. per gallon.
In my opinion that fall in price indicated very clearly that the major oil companies wished to show that it would not be a payable proposition to attempt to produce petrol in this country. This view is substantiated by the next paragraph of the report which, reads as follows : -
This reduction has had a profound effect on the economic aspect of the shale oil industry. Twelve months ago, a company producing shale petrol at Newnes and selling through its own distributing organization, would have received 4d. more for each gallon of petrol than it could hope to realize to-day. On an output of 0,000,000 gallons of petrol per annum this difference represents a loss in revenue of approximately £100,000 each year.
I urge the Government to do its utmost to expedite the development of the Newnes field. Many months have passed since this Parliament passed the act that authorized the expenditure of £500,000 on this project, but apparently no effective efforts have been made to get on with that job.
– I assure the honorable senator that tremendous efforts have been made to give effect to the provisions of that act.
– I know that the honorable senator has made many statements to that effect. Twelve months ago the Minister and the honorable member for Macquarie (“Mr. John Lawson) attended a conference at Lithgow in relation to this project, and the Minister said that work on the railway would be commenced within a few weeks; but so far as I know, not a pick has yet been put to the ground and not one man has yet been employed on the Newnes field. It is true that advertisements have been inserted in some newspapers inviting applications for managerial and certain other positions. It is also true that Mr. Davis has had a trip to England, and that some additional investigations have been made. The trouble is that these investigations go on year after year and no effective action is taken. It is noticeable, however, that on the eve of every election or by-election, the Government becomes busy with proposals for the development of the Newnes field. It was at the time of the Gwydir by-election that the conference to which I have referred was held.
– The honorable senator is now discussing a matter which . is somewhat wide of the provisions of the bill.
– My object, sir, is to emphasize the need for the production of oil in Australia for defence purposes.
– The honorable senator will be in order in doing so, but it could hardly be said that the remark* which he has just made have much bearing on that subject.
– Probably, I was drawn off the track by the Leader of the Senate. I am of the opinion, however, that the Government should take very definite action to develop the oil resources of this country.
I think also that the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow should have been developed to a greater extent than has been the case. In a recent issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the following report, appeared - tn peace time Lithgow Small Arms Factory was not intended to work at full capacity, the Minister for Defence said yesterday.
He was referring to a report that the factory was now employing 400 men, only onefifth of its capacity.
Although the factory would become progressively busier in the next few months, it would fall well short of its capacity.
I do not wish to challenge the accuracy of the figure given in that report, but I know that only 370 men are employed in the Small Arms Factory at present. In this connexion, I direct attention to the following items in the detailed schedule of expenditure which the Government has made available in connexion with this bill:
Contribution towards the amount required for building and the provision of plant and equipment for armament annexes. These will be established as extensions to selected factories at present engaged in commercial manufacture, so that the experience of their technical managerial staffs and the skill of their employees may be available for the manufactureof munitions in an emergency. The loca tion of these annexes has not yet been finally decided upon.
It has been stated in this chamber by the Minister and by Government supporters that it is proposed merely to place a few machines in factories already in existence. Now, however, we find that £60,000 is to be provided for buildings, and this notwithstaziding that the pioneer munitions factory, that at Lithgow, is working to only one-fifth of its capacity. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are to be expended upon exploring the possibilities of manufacturing munitions by private enterprise while the Government’s own munitions factories are almost idle. The Minister for Defence, who represents a New South Wales constituency, will surely have to answer to his electors for this, just as the members of this Senate will have to answer to the electors in the various States for the unfair allocation of defence expenditure throughout the Commonwealth. I believe that economy should be subordinated to efficiency in defence matters, and that every effort should be made to promote employment among our own people. I am far from satisfied with the position in regard to the Lithgow factory. Hundreds of men in the district who have been trained in the use of the various machines are now out of work. During the hearing of an application recently for increased wages and improved conditions by workers in the factory, the manager stated that he could take men from the gate, and put them to work on any of the machines in the factory within 24 hours. It is clear, therefore, that it is not necessary to have skilled labour to tend these machines. They are fool-proof, and can be worked by men almost entirely unskilled. I admit that there is a shortage of skilled labour in the engineering trade, but that does not affect the Lithgow factory. I have been informed that there has been machinery in that, factory for years that has never been opened up.
I suggest to the Government that it should give consideration to the claims of States other than Victoria for a share in the defence expenditure, so that the carry ing out of the Government’s defence programme may help to reduce unemployment in all the States.
.During the last weekI have become more than ever convinced that the expenditure of this money is necessary. I understand from the remarks of honorable senators opposite that the recipe for avoiding war is to cultivate friendly relations with other countries. I remind them, however, that a certain section of their supporters is actively engaged at the present moment in antagonizing a friendly nation by refusing to load that country’s ships with commodities necessary for its industrial life. The worst feature of the affair is that the country thus being antagonized is the very one from which we have reason to apprehend the greatest danger in the future.It may be’ true ‘that; at the moment, that country is not having things all its own way in the little “ scrap “ in which it is engaged, but it will not forget what some of our workers of Australia are doing at the present time. Things of that kind stickin the memory in after years. It is for the Government of Australia to say what goods shall go out of the country or come into it. The Government should exercise its authority in this matter, and see that the laws are obeyed.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that the Labour party is in sympathy with the action of which he complains?
– I have not paid that it is, but the action is being taken by supporters of the honorable senator’s party.
– The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) successfully used his influence with one section of the people to whom the honorable senator has referred, and caused them to change their attitude.
– I do not believe that the responsible leaders of the Labour party support the boycott, but the fact remains that a section oflabour is refusing to obey the Government and its own leaders. I appeal to honorable senators opposite to use their best endeavours to prevent their supporters from thus antagonizing a friendly nation. I have recently received information that these boycotts are to be extended, ‘but I hope the information is untrue. Two years ago,when the Government invited the Parliament to impose sanctions against Italy, there was a tremendous outcry from honorable senators opposite, but now a section of their party is doing the very same thing in circumstances much more dangerous. I appeal to honorable senators opposite, for the sake, not only of Australia, but also of their own party, to exercise what disci pline they can among their supporters. If they are not able to do so, the Government should step in to ensure that the laws are obeyed.
– I support Senator Ashley in regard to the two points he raised in his speech. The first one is in connexion with the provision of armament annexes, plant, &c, for which the amount provided in the bill is not very large. It is only £60,000 for buildings, and I should not have been disposed to cavil at it, if it is really necessary for defence purposes, had it not been that we were definitely assured by the Minister only yesterday that plant and equipment only were to be found by the Government, the firms concerned being responsible for the buildings.
– Perhaps the money is to be used for the extension of existing buildings.
– That cannot be intended, because it has been stated that the location of the annexes has not yet been decided.
The other point is very much more important, and we should have a statement from the Minister regarding it. 1 refer to the division of defence works among the various States. All the States have been claiming that it is only fair that the actual defence construction work should be divided as far as possible among them. We have had an assurance from Ministers, including the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), that, so far as is possible, this would be done. I have glanced through the schedule dealing with the allocation of items of expenditure, and I have discovered only one or two which can definitely be said to concern my own
State. One is a proportion of the expenditure in Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart, of £80,000 for the modernizing of fixed coast defences that existed before the development programmes were started. As Adelaide is only one of the three capitals mentioned, the probability is that the expenditure there will not exceed £15,000.
– Under the heading “ Laboratories and inspection “ there is provision for expenditure on the extension of proof facilities at Wakefield.
– I should have been better pleased if Senator Leckie, when speaking this evening, had told us that Victoria appeared to be getting a rather disproportionate amount of the total defence expenditure. He might also have suggested that some of the smaller States should get a little more. The item to which he has directed my attention is an expenditure of £50,000 for additions for metallurgical laboratories, chemical defence purposes and other scientific equipment, but it is impossible for one to . say what amount of this is to be expended in any particular State. I raise these points now because Senator Ashley mentioned the matter, and I thought that the Leader of the Senate might, in his reply, deal with them, and so save time when the bill is in committee. An examination of the schedule would suggest that New South Wales and Victoria are not doing so badly, for ‘I notice that £320,000 is to be expended in connexion with the explosives factory at Maribyrnong, £200,000 at the ammunition factory at Footscray, £300,000 at the ordnance factory, Maribyrnong, and £150,000 at the small arms factory, Lithgow, also £’275,000 is set down for construction work at Cockatoo Island. Having in mind the importance of those establishments, I do not suggest that a disproportionate amount of the money available is to be expended in the States in which they are situated ; but I rose to point out - I think the matter should be raised now - that if all the States expect to have to pay for the defence of this country, they equally expect to participate in the work created by that expenditure.
, - in reply - I am obliged to honorable senators for having expedited the second reading of the hill. It is necessary that the measure should be made law within the next few days, in order that Treasury officials may prepare the prospectus to be issued in connexion with the loan to be raised.
One thing that struck me in the debate was that some honorable senators did not view the Government’s defence programme in its true perspective. The scheme emanated from the Imperial Conference last year; it has since been under constant examination and has had the most earnest consideration of Cabinet. It is not an isolated defence proposal, but is part of a great effort that is being made by Great Britain and other self-governing dominions for the purpose of assuring world peace. Senator Payne this evening almost touched on this important underlying principle. Its adoption does not mean that the Commonwealth has any desire to encroach upon any other nation’s preserves. Failing the effective working of that great instrument for peace - the League of Nations - the only course available to British democratic countries is to cooperate in defence measures in the earnest hope that, in the international sphere, the rule of force shall be replaced by the rule of law. Under existing world conditions democracies, as single units, could not hope to defend themselves. Great as our effort may appear to be to secure the defence of Australia, it would be unavailing without the strength of other British dominions, and particularly the strength of Great Britain.
I do not intend to debate with honorable senators opposite whether or not they have a defence policy. The tornado of words with which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) assaulted us earlier in the afternoon left me quite cold. I endeavoured unsuccessfully to extract from it some idea of what he and his supporters would do to ensure the defence of Australia if the responsibility rested with them. It is true that the honorable gentleman declared that he believed in the defence of Aus tralia, but his statement contained no concrete proposal.
– We supported the Government’s policy in December last.
– The speech by Senator Courtice yesterday inspired me with the hope that he would be a staunch supporter of our programme. I felt that he breathed the spirit of co-operation. I gathered from an observation made by the Leader of the Opposition this evening, when Senator Brennan was speaking, that his first line of defence had something to do with the Statute of Westminster. What kind of a weapon that would be against some of the projectiles that might be hurled at Australian defences by enemy war vessels I do not know. He also told us that Labour attaches great importance to the strengthening of the Air Force. I do not wish to detain the Senate, but it is advisable that I should place before those honorable senators who honestly believe that an air force may prove to be a determining factor in modern warfare that events in Spain and elsewhere, as well as some experiments carried out by British authorities, do not support their view. Experience in the use of the la.test anti-aircraft weapons proves that it is practically impossible for bombing planes to come below a height of 20,000 feet with safety to themselves. Not long ago I met a very distinguished man engaged in flying overseas, and discussed with him the future of aerial warfare, for I was much concerned about the possibility, in future wars, of aircraft being used as a terrible weapon for the destruction of the civil population. It was then within my knowledge that a few months previously experiments had been carried out in the North Sea by the British naval and air authorities to ascertain whether it would be possible for hostile aircraft from a height of 15,000 feet, to discern and bomb battleships moving within a circumscribed area. I think the aircraft were instructed not to fly below 9,000 or 10,000 feet and I was told that so efficient is the system of laying down smoke screens that not only were the bombing planes unable to hit their objectives, but they actually could not see them. We also know that Japanese war vessels at Shanghai have not suffered material damage from Chinese bombing planes. As there are many excellent pilots in the Chinese air force, one would have thought that it would be extremely dangerous for Japanese warships to anchor in the river off Shanghai; but so far as we have been able to ascertain, they have not suffered a great deal of damage from aircraft. I am informed that the latest type of anti-aircraft gun is fitted with an extraordinary attachment, which renders it so effective that it is unsafe for hostile planes to descend below 20,000 feet, four miles in the air. Honorable senators will also have read in the newspapers that when Nanking was bombed by the Japanese airmen they had to maintain a height of 15,000 feet. Any honorable senators who have flown will realize what that means. 1. myself have flown at only a few thousand feet, but, even at 6,000 feet, the MurrayRiver at Goolwa, where it is a wide expanse of water, appears as a mere trickle. That being so, can any honorable senator imagine that from the height of 20,000 feet aircraft would be able to inflict damage on a moving object which would certainly be no more, and probably less, than a mere, speck? Men with war experience could tell the Senate better than I of these things, but I do say that to rely upon aircraft as a means of defence is to rely upon a weapon which is not effective. There is only one weapon on which we can rely for our defence and that is the Navy.
– There are military authorities who oppose that theory.
– Authorities must face the facts. They must look at what is happening in China and in Spain. During the Spanish war only one vessel, the Deutschlander, if 1 remember correctly, has been sunk from the air and I regard that vessel as the most unlucky vessel that has ever sailed the seas; its destruction was an accident.
The young aviator to whom I referred a few moments ago, who is a great exponent of the aerial weapon, when asked by me why he was so strongly in favour of air defence, made the pathetic reply which showed great gallantry - “We must travel as death squads “. I under stand that the machines dive one after another until the target is hit, the pilots knowing full well that not one of them will ever return to his base or his home. What a spectacle for mankind! An attachment to modern anti-aircraft guns, whose projectiles now reach a height of 20,000 feet, sprays the discharge over a tremendous area. Senator. DuncanHughes, who was associated with the artillery during the Great War, knows that in recent years the trajectory and spread of the shells are such that no aircraft coming within their range can possibly escape. I heard Senator Guthrie laud air defence, but I counsel him to bear in mind what I have said. 1 put that to the Senate, not in any party spirit, but because I believe that the hearts and minds of men should be laid bare on this question in order that we may do the best in the difficult circumstances of the world to-day to save ourselves and our kinsfolk in the sister dominions and in the Mother Country itself, because with the British Commonwealth of Nations lies the ultimate salvation of civilization. .
– Our objection is to the borrowing of money to defend Australia.
– I do not know how my friends opposite propose that the money necessary for defence should be raised. I think that., lurking at the buck of the mind of that Houdinilike mind of my friend, Senator Brown, there is a suspicion that money can be extracted from the air - that something can be done by the creation of credits. It is about time that that sort of nonsense ceased. Another honorable senator opposite said last night that the Com- monwealth Bank could provide all the money needed by the issue of notes. I concede the wonderful work that has been done by the Commonwealth Bank; but there are still debits; out of nothing can come nothing. I do not intend to embark on a speech as to the failure of the many “ isms “ tried throughout the history of civilization, and, though failures, still used by certain people to “ tickle the ears of the groundlings.”
– The honorable senator is opposed to the conscription of wealth.
– If it came to the worst, I would conscript anything in the interests of the nation.
– The honorable senator should be careful lest other members of the Government hear him.
– What does it matter? If we are going down, we are going down under a different kind of civilization and under a different kind of” government to that which we have to-day. I should sooner sacrifice my money and my life than my freedom. It has been suggested by an honorable senator opposite that either the statement that I made on behalf of the Prime Minister the other day, or one made by my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, was calculated to lead to the belief that we are in imminent danger of hostilities. That is not the case, but do my friends opposite suggest that we ought not to do all within our means to ensure the Safety of not only this fine country, but also the Dominion of New Zealand, with a population of 1,500,000 and practically defenceless? It is time that we were up and doing. The charge may be made against us that we have waited too long, or that, as Senator Duncan-Hughes said yesterday, we have gambled with the future. If we have gambled with the future, we have done it in the very good company of our sister dominions and the Motherland. It was a gamble in the interests of a higher civilization, and in the interests of peace.
The Leader of the Opposition declared that there was an increase of £43,000,000 in our expenditure on defence, but that is not so. The whole of the expenditure ever the next three years will amount to £43,000,000.
– On top of what we have voted already?
– No; it covers the whole.
– It does not include what was spent last year.
– The Leader of the Opposition also declared that, a3 the result of this expenditure, there would be an increase of the price of metals, and that the people associated with their production and sale would reap huge profits. My friend does not watch the reports of metal prices. Unfortunately for me, I am the head of a department which has to keep in close touch with metal prices, particularly with the price of copper. For the information of the honorable senator, I submit the following table of comparative prices, showing the fluctuations in the last twelve months : -
There has been a steady decline of the prices of those metals. The Leader of the Opposition speaks with a recklessness which ought not to characterize a man of his age and wide reading. At times, he almost appears to defy the lightning when hu is speaking. He suspects every one, and he is particularly critical of war profiteers, but I assure him that there will be no profiteering in this business, if the Government can prevent it.
Objection has also been raised to bori owing money abroad. Senator Cunningham, that genial gentleman who recently reached us from Western Australia, stated that this bill provides for borrowing £2,000,000 abroad. That is not so. When the time comes to justify the borrowing of £2,000,000, the position will be explained.
– The £2,000,000 is part of the £43,000,000 to be expended over three years.
– It is not provided for in this bill. That is my point. When the proper time arrives, the proposal to borrow that money can be discussed. The honorable senator said that the only policy of the Government was “follow Britain’s lead”.
– I did not make any such remark.
– I accept the honorable senator’s statement. The honorable senator then went on to deal with unemployment. I remind him that a sensible rider jumps the fence immediately in front of him, and considers the next jump while his horse is moving towards it.
Both Senator Duncan-Hughes and Senator Ashley were critical of the provision for the erection of additions to private factory buildings. At this stage it is not proposed to disclose where some of these buildings and certain fittings will be situated. It is sufficient to say that they will remain the property of the Government, to be used as and when required.
Another point raised was the allocation of expenditure between the States. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby), who has grappled manfully with an herculean task, has supplied me with the following information: - Works and buildings in Queensland will aggregate £88,000, while maintenance and services in that State will represent another £396,000. The total expenditure in Queensland will be about £484,000. Works and buildings in New South Wales will aggregate £507,000, compared with £438,000 in Victoria, the reason for the smaller sum in the latter State being that more buildings are necessary in New South Wales than in Victoria. For other capital items £954,000 will be expended in New South Wales compared with £1,617,000 in Victoria. Maintenance and services will represent about £3,000,000, and £2,898,000 in New South Wales and Victoria respectively. However, 1 do not propose to discuss the nation’s defence programme in terms of States. I am afraid that another honorable senator, to whose speech I listened with interest, is suffering from “ Lithgowitis “, and although I have a great respect for Lithgow, I have a greater regard for the necessities of the situation and the interests of the nation. In South Australia, under £250,000 will be expended, the reason being that that State is the least vulnerable portion of Australia. Western Australia is apparently not so happily situated, for about £500,000 is to be expended in that State. The expenditure in Tasmania is estimated at £183,000. A large amount is provided for the Northern Territory, for reasons which honorable senators will understand. I think that I have answered most of the points raised during the debate.
Another opportunity will be afforded me to deal with the subject of oil supplies. At this stage, I can assure honorable senators that every effort is being made to produce oil locally, and also to provide adequate supplies of imported oil. Any further information which honorable senators may desire in committee, I shall be happy to supply. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4. (Purpose for which money may be expended.)
– The bill authorizes the raising of £10,300,000, but the items in the schedule total only £10,000,000. What is the reason for the difference?
– That represents the rake-off for obtaining the money.
– The difference represents the expense of flotation and discounts, which are always added in the way shown in this bill.
Clause agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLachlan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next at 3 p.m.
I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Some time ago Senator Leckie raised certain questions in relation to the arrangements for the travelling of members of this Parliament. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) had the matters looked into and has since supplied me with the following information: -
The Federal Government pays the sum of £160 per annum in respect of each member of Parliament for travel over the State railways of Australia, and this sum is distributed among the State Commissioners in the fixed proportions agreed to by them.
The £160 per annum is a special concession rate, and includes the provision of sleeping berths. It is a lower rate than is charged for an all-lines annual ticket over the New South Wales railways alone, the charge there being £170 per annum, not including sleeping berth fees. It is very much lower than any rate that would be quoted for an annual ticket over all the State railways.
The interstate railway journeys are faster than they were, and very large sums of money are being expended on rolling-stock, &c., to ensure more comfortable travelling. In the near future, more time will be cut off the journeys between certain of the capitals.
Any adjustment in regard to the amount charged for railway travel would need to be considered by the Railway Commissioners of Australia as a whole, but it is not considered that there is any justification for any change in the present arrangement.
Since this afternoon, I have had an opportunity to peruse the report of the remarks of Judge Foster, to which Senator Pearce referred earlier in this sitting. In my view, attacks by the judiciary on the legislative or executive organs of government are as much to be deprecated as are attacks by the legislative or executive organs on the judiciary. This matter, however, appears to be one of taste rather than one calling for action such as that suggested by the right honorable senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 May 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19380505_senate_15_155/>.