15th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 11 a.m.,. and read prayers.
– On the 9th May I, as President, received the following telegram : -
Member:! of the First Federal Members Association at anniversary celebration to-day extend greetings and best wishes to all members present Federal Parliament.
Hume Cook, President;
W.G. Higgs, Secretary.
I have sent a reply acknowledging the message and reciprocating the sentiments it contains.
– Will the Leader of the Senate state whether the Government intends to consider an increase of the invalid and old-age pensions, in view of the increased cost of living and the numerous requests honorable senators have received with regard to this matter?
– It is not the practice to give information regarding matters of government policy in reply to questions without notice.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What progress has been made with the appointment of arbitration inspectors in respect of federal awards?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer . -
The examination of the applications has almost been completed, and it is expected that the appointments will be made in the course of the next few days.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Could a tribunal be set up in New South Wales to investigate applications for exemption from compulsory training ?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : -
No power exists under the Defence Act to set up such a tribunal. Sections61a and 139 of the Defence Act and regulations 140c and 454 of the Australian Military Regulations make provision for appeals to courts . of summary jurisdiction with regard to exemptions from service in time of war or exemptions from training. Conscientious objectors have a further right of appeal under section61a to the Supreme Court of a State or the High Court.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice- -
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
SenatorFOLL.- The Minister for
Supply and Development has supplied the following answers: -
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1940.
Debate resumed from the 16th May, (vide page 908), on motion by Senator McBride -
That the bills be now read a second time.
– Although the Opposition does not intend to delay the passage of these bills, I shall offer a few comments upon its attitude to some of the underlying principles of the sales tax. As I remarked during the debate: on the financial proposals, the Opposition considers that the Government should raise less revenue than it proposes to do by means of indirect taxation, and should make up the leeway by direct taxation. During the course of the previous debate, an interjection was made to the effect that I had probably forgotten which government introduced the sales tax, but I had not overlooked the fact that it was originally proposed by the Scullin Administration. In fairness to that Government it should be recalled that this tax was only one of the heroic and essential measures that it was forced to introduce when faced with a set of circumstances similar in intensity, perhaps, to those now confronting the present Government. Those emergency measures were agreed to by all parties, but it was generally recognized that as soon as the financial situation improved they should be repealed. I realize, of course, that this is not an appropriate time to talk about repealing the sales tax.
– I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) mentioned that the sales tax was introduced by a Labour government. It will be recalled that, when Mr. Scullin took over the reins of office from the Bruce-Page Administration, he found an empty treasury and an adverse trade balance of £30,000,000, whilst the London loan market was closed to Australia. This necessitated resort to a new form of taxation, and the sales tax was selected. The revenue raised by this means during the first and second years was not large, but to-day this tax yields about four times the original amount. I have said on many occasions that this heavy impost need not have been levied.
– Then why was it necessary for Mr. Scullin to impose it?
– Because he did not know as much as he should have known. I have told him that to his face. The report of the Royal Commission on the Monetary and Banking Systems enlightened the people as to the power they have under the Constitution with regard to finance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time and reported from committee without requests or debate; reports adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bills read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 909), on motion by Senator McBride -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– In perusing the bill I was pleased to notice that the increase of estate duties has been tempered, I think properly, to the widow, children and grandchildren ofa deceased male; to such consideration they are justly entitled. I am glad to learn that that important factor was not overlooked, because the burden imposed upon beneficiaries in that class should be made as light as possible.
– During the time that I was a member of the Parliament of South Australia and while I have been a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, I have shown determined opposition to the imposition of estate duties. Although I have never previously supported a bill of this description, the circumstances are now so exceptional that I consider it my duty to explain my reasons for not opposing this measure. The finances of the country are such, and the responsibility to the nation so great, that I believe that this measure is justified. That is the only reason which impels me to support this most despicable form of taxation.
– That is very strong language.
– Yes, and I feel strongly on the subject. The Government has a perfect right to tax a man to whatever degree is necessary, while he is alive, but to tax dead men is most unfair.
– We have never had any complaints from them.
An Opposition Senator. - They have no votes.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Probably that is why this unjust impost is persisted in. There may be some justification for imposing this tax on estates of £100,000 or over; but there seems no reason why the tax should be imposed on the estate of the man who leaves a widow and a large family to fend for themselves. A farmer may leave his estate to his wife and a large family. The property is then valued by the authorities, say, during a land boom, at £9 or £10 an acre, and as land values fluctuate, it may happen that by the time his sons are old enough to work the farm, it is not worth one-fourth of the price at which it was valued for estate duty.
– Under the State acts relief is afforded in such cases.
– Yes, but further relief is needed in many directions. I have known of estates being mortgaged in order to pay estate duty, and some have even had to be sold for that purpose. I register my protest against legislation of this character, and repeat that my only reason for supporting this measure is the urgent need for money for national defence.
– I direct the attention of the Government to a serious development in connexion with the means adopted to obtain the revenue to conduct the gigantic struggle which we all realize must be carried to a. successful conclusion. If we should fail in that respect we might as well close the doors of our parliamentary institutions for ever. There appears to be an urgent necessity to coordinate the various means of collecting taxes from taxpayers, whether they be Federal or State taxpayers. I have always held that in normal times estate duty is one of the fairest methods of taxation, if proper exemptions are provided for persons on the lower rungs of the ladder of life. I do not refer only to what we usually term working men, but to all those in receipt of small incomes, who perhaps leave not more than the equivalent of the basic wage for their wives and families. Small estates should, as far as is practicable, be protected. If a man amasses a large fortune the country which afforded him the opportunity to do so has a moral right to expect that on his death the State shall receive something in return. I received during the last day or so from a well-known Sydney gentleman, of long political experience, who is a member of a firm of solicitors, a letter in which he asked me to bring under the notice of the Treasurer certain matters in connexion with the federal land tax. He hints at th, dangers that may arise if an indiscriminate plunge be made into the field of probate taxation, without having regard to other important factors. The letter reads -
We draw attention to the unfair incidence of this impost in the absence of some provision to spread the payment of the tax amongst those who benefit from the property. A client of ours, under his father’s will, in events that happened became the owner of a large city property in Perth. Under the will an annuity of £2,500 was left to his mother and in terms of the will the property was appropriated to provide this annuity. Allowing for non-lets, reduced rents, increased State land tax, increased rates, costs of renovations and the present land tax our client receives less than half the income (a varying amount) from the property. The federal land tax amounts to over £000 per annum and the doubling of same means that more than half his income from the property is taken from him. The foregoing omits all reference to further contributions by our client to the revenue in the form of income tax.
The writer goes on to state that because of the prospect of federal land tax being almost doubled, he fears that the annuity under the will may be completely taken away. I appeal to the Government to consider that even in times such as these, when there is a necessity for almost panic taxation, methods of raising revenue, State and Commonwealth, should, so far as possible, be put on a humane and scientific basis. There should be equality of sacrifice in our effort to achieve the victory which is so vital to all of us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Exemption of persons dying on active service).
.-^Clause 1 of this bill reads-
I am not clear as to which act is referred to. Clause 4 contains the following words : -
I should like to know where I can find the section 18a referred to. I think that something should be inserted there to show which act is meant.
– I point out to the honorable senator that this is a bill, and will not become an act until it is given Royal assent. The act referred to in this bill is the principal act which is already on our statute-book, and which this bill will amend.
– In the circumstances, I am unable to cast an intelligent vote on this measure. I have not before me a copy of the principal act.
– Copies of the principal act may be found in the Library and in the party rooms.
– Apparently a precedent has been created for this wording, but I contend that we are here to break down precedents which tend to hamper the discharge of our duties.
– Clause 5 of this hill will become section 18a of the principal act; so the information the honorable senator wants is in the bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
Title a.greed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 16th May, 1940 (vide page 910), on motion by Senator McBride-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This rates bill is complementary to the assessment bill which we have just passed, and the Opposition has no objection to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without requests or debate; report adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 15th May, 1940 (vide page 789), on motion by Senator Foll -
That the bill be now road a second time.
Senator COLLINGS Queensland Leader of the Opposition) [11.42]. - I listened with great interest last night to the second-reading speech made by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) on this bill. I can discover nothing in the bill which calls for opposition. Apparently it has been found necessary to tighten up certain phases of our immigration laws, and of at least a portion of that tightening up I express my complete approval. Particularly do I approve of the provision of extra powers to prevent certain immigrants from setting up little sections of their own in the community, and proceeding to attempt to implant in Australia undesirable practices, which, apparently, they were permitted to carry on in the countries from which they have come. I allude particularly to what we have come to know in north Queensland- and in other parts of Australia as “black hand” tactics. It is time that a stop was put to such practices. I feel strongly about what has taken place in regard to migration generally, and I do not agree with the Government’s policy, although that policy is not affected by this bill. I urge that we should not be so lax in our methods as to jeopardize the White Australia policy to even the smallest degree. I find that the migration returns for the twelve months ended the 31st March of this year show that 9,971 people were admitted to Australia from other countries. Of the total 9,941 were Europeans, and 30 were nonEuropeans. Of the Europeans 2,02S were of British origin and 7,943 of nonBritish origin. It is useless for honorable senators who support the Government to speak of the large proportion of foreigners employed in the sugar industry in Queensland as if the industry itself were responsible for that state of affairs. The fact is that State authorities have no control whatever over the migration policy. The Commonwealth Government is the only authority controlling migration. Australia should profit by the experience of other countries, particularly America, and the greatest care should be taken to ensure that we do not build up in this country a racial problem similar to that with which the older countries have had to grapple owing to lax migration policies. The Opposition does not harbour any racial animosity, but we must take care that our feelings do not carry us to extremes. I admit the need for a greater population. That is one of our most urgent problems, and that is why we on this side insist on the carrying out of what we call our social service policy. We stress the urgency of improving the lot of the breadwinners in this country, because we believe in the encouragement of the natural tendency of young people to marriage and family life. But, whilst we recognize the necessity for an addition to our population from outside, we insist that those who may be admitted should be, as nearly as is possible, associated with our ideals, and that there should be a satisfactory readjustment of our social conditions. In further explanation of Labour’s attitude to this problem I would say that we would object to the introduction of people from other countries if there were in Australia one individual fit and willing to work but unable to find employment.
– That should not be difficult. I refer the Assistant Minister to our experience in Queensland during the last twelve or eighteen months. In that State we had what was known as the system of relief work under which many thousands of able-bodied men were given jobs of little or no value to the community - such work as chipping weeds and shovelling sand out of gutters, only to be washed back in the first rainstorm. After this system had been in operation for some time, our wise Premier, Mr. Forgan Smith, a man of wide sympathies for all sections of the people and particularly the working classes, said to me one day - “ Either we shall have to end this relief work system or it will mean the end of us “. As Mr. Forgan Smith . is essentially a man of action, he lost no time in giving effect to the Government’s altered policy. Despite criticism which was levelled at him he abolished at short notice the relief work system, and instituted in its stead work of a useful character for the unemployed at award rates of wages. The difficulty anticipated was in respect of the classification of workers as willing or unwilling, so there is some point in the interjection made by the Assistant Minister for Commerce. But that difficulty, if it was a difficulty, was surmounted much to the satisfaction of all- Labour supporters, because the workers, when given the opportunity, sorted themselves out; so it was not long before relief work under the award conditions was withheld from men who, without good reason, refused jobs that had been offered to them. Under the new arrangement all labour was engaged through the Government Labour Bureau ; so i.f a man refused a job or left a joh without good reason, that fact was quickly made known and he was struck off the classification of willing workers. A man might have a very good reason for declining to accept a particular job offered to him. For instance, he might be a married nian with family responsibilities and if the joh offering were, say, 1.00 miles from his place of residence, he might be able to show that it would be impossible for him, out of the wages paid, to make proper provision for his wife and family. Again, a man might be able to show that he was physically incapable of performing the particular work that had been offered to him. In this way the workers sorted themselves out in a very few months, and it was soon discovered that in Queensland the residue of unemployable persons is very small. Such persons are to be found in every community.
– What happens to the unemployable ?
– Under wise Labour legislation in Queensland the unemployables and their dependants are given ration relief.
– No attempt is made to train them to perform useful work? They simply remain idle?
– I am quite sure that, in my second-reading speech on this bill, the Minister does not expect me to deal fully with all of the irrelevant issues which he may raise by way of interjection. I have already digressed somewhat lengthily, but I would emphasize that there are no insuperable difficulties in that problem.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the registered unemployed in Queensland are now classed as unemployable?
– No ; but I do say that in Queensland the percentage of unemployed males’ is lower than in any other State, the percentage of juveniles employed in industry is lower, the working hours in industry are snorter, the wages paid under arbitration awards are higher, and the purchasing power of tie £1 is higher than in any other part of the Commonwealth.
– Oh !
– All these things are true of .Queensland. In order to complete the picture of social conditions in Queensland, and to reply further to these interjections, I remind the Senate that the Government of my State has taken measures to train the workers in useful occupations. The Queensland Government, for instance, has established farm colonies where lads receive training as land workers. They also receive pay during the process. When the lads are trained sufficiently they are sent to approved farmers for employment and further experience. But before these lads are sent out to jobs careful inquiries are made by the government authorities as to the conditions and accommodation to be provided by the farmers, with the result that these lads go into good homes and are sure of decent treatment and fair wages. This is one of the ways in which the State Government is sorting out the employable from the unemployable in the community. The latter are at all times small in number, and I do not think that they constitute such a danger as those wealthy unemployed who render no useful service to the community and exploit the labour of those who do.
– Order! I should be glad to hear something about the bill.
– I appreciate your leniency, Mr. President, in allowing me to digress from the subject-matter of the bill, and I shall not further transgress the Standing Orders.
I turn once more to the bill. Of the 9,971 arrivals in this country to whom I have already referred, 3,421 were German refugees, with whom I have every sympathy. During the last few months I made several attempts to secure the admission to Australia of relatives of some refugees already here, but in most cases I have not been successful, although there was not the slightest likelihood of those relatives becoming a charge upon the community. In order to safeguard the Commonwealth, there should be a far closer scrutiny of the nationality of immigrants. The regulations dealing with naturalization should be radically altered. If care be exercised in the selection of migrants it should not be necessary to require a residence qualification of five years before they can become naturalized. If the authorities are satisfied as to the character of the migrant, naturalization should be encouraged within a shorter time. No wise government would allow the introduction to Australia of a single migrant about whose bona fides or nationality there was the slightest doubt. If the requirements which I have mentioned were met the new arrivals should be required to become naturalized at the expiration of one year or be deported. I emphasize also that an essential condition of naturalization should be a working knowledge of the English language. We ought to insist that every migrant should, within a reasonable time, acquire sufficient knowledge of the English language to meet his everyday needs, and we should discourage the continued use of their native language.
– One of the qualifications for naturalization is a knowledge of the English language.
– But that is not being enforced.
– Yes, it is.
– The Commonwealth Government and also the Government of Queensland - perhaps other State governments are obliged to do likewise - find it necessary to print some of their proclamations or notices in foreign languages, because some of the people to whom they are addressed are not able to read English. In the northern part of Queensland my election addresses have to be translated into two or three different languages in order that the Italians and Maltese may understand what an election means. We should stop that. We should discourage the use in this country, officially or otherwise, of any language other than English in regular intercourse. At the present time, this Government is allowing, not only in northern Queensland, but also in parts of Victoria and New South Wales, foreign migrants to congregate without, taking any steps to ensure that they do not form cells and separate national communities. The Government is allowing them to print their own newspapers in their own language, and that is a disgrace to this country. It is allowing them to practice other rituals in the language of their own country. Then, in time of national emergency, Ministers begin to scurry around in an endeavour to remedy a state of affairs which the Government itself first created, and then allowed to continue. I am not proud of my origin merely because it happens to be my origin, but I am proud of being an Australian, a citizen of the most wonderful country in the world. 1 am jealous of our freedom, and anxious to take precautions to prevent persons with alien ideals, who speak an alien language, from doing anything which might destroy one little bit of the wonderful liberty we enjoy.
We approve of this bill because we think it is necessary in existing circumstances. Many of its provisions have been too long delayed. I hope the bill will pass, and that the Minister will give serious consideration to some of the suggestions I have put forward. It is vitally necessary that we should overhaul our immigration policy, particularly in the light of knowledge recently gained.
– I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that there is a need for overhauling now, and from time to time, our naturalization laws. However, I do not think that he is consistent in advocating the reduction of the residential qualifications to one year, and then insisting that persons seeking naturalization should be required to have a knowledge of our language. I do not think that a foreigner could be expected to obtain a sufficient knowledge of the language in twelve months.
– It takes immigrants no more than three months to acquire a working knowledge of the language.
– There is, however, a still greater objection to the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition to reduce the period of the residential qualification. There is the danger that, in so short a time, it may not be possible to learn whether or not the immigrant is the kind of person who should be granted naturalization. Although all care may be taken to discover the qualifications of persons before giving them permits to enter Australia, it is not possible in that way to judge of their suitability so well as can be done by observing them while they are actually resident in the country. In my opinion, the law ought to be amended to provide for closer supervision of the conduct of immigrants and of their habits of life, so that the authorities might be better able to judge of the qualifications of aliens to become good Australians. This should be done before allowing them to become naturalized. I was interested to hear an expression used by the Minister who introduced this bill. Strangely enough, it was almost a repetition of one which I used in the course of a written controversy recently with a large firm of solicitors in Sydney regarding the behaviour of certain immigrants of German origin. There came into my possession information which forced me to believe that the behaviour of these persons, while not bringing them under the provisions of the criminal law, was such as to make them most undesirable as Australian citizens. I had to write complaining of i heir conduct and I had to choose whether to do it in a legal capacity, or in my capacity as a member in this Senate. I decided to make the demand more in my capacity as a member in the Senate, and 1 wrote expostulating with them, and protesting against their behaviour. In reply, I received a most abusive letter from one of the largest legal firms in Sydney, saying that the writer was amazed to think that I could descend so far as to use my position as a member of this Senate to frighten and intimidate unfortunate people who had come here from’ the other side of the world. Honorable senators know that I have expressed my sympathy with such persons over and over again, but no one, whether a senator or a private citizen, has any need to apologize for demanding that immigrants observe a standard of conduct worthy of their position as residents of Australia. If they cannot rise to that, we do not want them here, and are better without them. I believe that I was justified in making the protest. I mention the matter now because of the coincidence that the words I used in the letter were almost the exact words used by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) when introducing the bill last night, although there had been no discussion between ug on the matter.
I direct the attention of the Minister to clause 7 of the bill, the purpose of which is to repeal a section of the existing act, and to insert another provision in its place giving the Minister certain powers to deal with immigrants found guilty of criminal offences. There is, however, a kind of civil behaviour which runs very close to criminal liability, and which makes of any immigrant who practises it a person undesirable as an Australian citizen. I repeat that, before naturalization is granted, there ought to be a much more rigid examination of the conduct of immigrants during their residence in Australia. I suggest to the Minister that the law might be amended to make provision for this. It ought not to be necessary for immigrants to commit a crime before rendering themselves liable to deportation. The behaviour of which I was complaining when I was attacked so savagely was not technically criminal, hut it was highly undesirable. The existing lack of control over, and supervision of, foreign immigrants is particularly dangerous. This is brought home to us by what happened so recently in Holland, where persons of Dutch origin had their loyalty tampered with because they became slaves to the ideology of nazi-ism. They yielded so far to temptation as to become traitors to their own country. There had been living among the Dutch large numbers of persons who had no right ever to have become citizens of Holland. Is it not possible that we have among us here many persons who have no right to bo citizens of Australia?
– I am sure we have.
– Then I beg the Government to consider my proposal. It may be too late to incorporate in this bill a provision of the kind I have suggested, but I believe we should demand, before an alien is granted naturalization, the strictest proof of his proper behaviour, and hia right, to citizenship, which we regard as one of the highest privileges that can be given to a human being.
– The Government has more than once made itself the laughing stock of the world through the bungling of successive Ministers m charge of immigration. Only a few years ago ii European intellectual named Egon Kisch was deported from Australia because he held political opinions different front those of the Minister for the Interior at that time. Although he could speak eight or nine languages, he was given a language test: in Gaelic, a language which he did not happen to know, in order to prevent him from entering Australia. I have a very strong objection to placing the power of deportation in the hands of any individual who may temporarily be Minister for the Interior. I shall have great pleasure in proving, I hope before this session ends, that one person was practically deported from Australia on evidence which was a “frame-up” by persons who are themselves fugitives from justice.
– The honorable senator has endeavoured to prove that several times without much success.
– Dealing with the case I have mentioned, the responsible Minister told us that he has a secret file which one may look at, but the contents of vhich mo may not disclose. Under the present system any “crook” may write to the Minister making a complaint in confidence against another person, and no public reference may be made to that complaint because it is confidential.
– Does not the honorable senator believe in honouring confidences ?
– Not in this matov. I hope that the Minister for the Interior will keep an eye on the activities of our enemies. His department recently admitted to Australia certain Germans, and I should like him to say bow many of them were males. The admission of refugees under our immigration laws has become a “ ramp “, and graft is attached to it.
– Whom does tho honorable senator charge with graft?
– If I am rightly informed by refugees who have paid money to solicitors to secure their entry into this country, graft has certainly been practised.
– Why does not the honorable senator check up on this matter before he makes a statement like that in 1 :hi: chamber?
– I may have already done so. I am entitled to choose tuy own time to speak on this matter.
– Does the honorable senator make any charge of graft against any officer in my department ?
– No, but I claim that sufficient investigation is not; made with regard to migrants who are admitted. I instance the recent case of a Gorman residing at Rose Bay, near Sydney, who got, behind with his rent and became indebted to trades people. Nine days after the war broke out, he drove up to his quarters in a new Buick car, paid his debts and was in a position to purchase a poultry farm right under tho Pennant Hills broadcasting station. When I reported the matter to the department, the man was interned, and he is in custody to-day.
– The Department of the Interior has nothing to do with internment.
– No, but it admits these persons.
Honorable senators may have read recently of a case in which a motor car was overturned on the Dorrigo hill. The car was driven by a man named Lars
Brunsdahl. The next car behind it was driven by his wife, and an investigation showed that he was : travelling to Coff’s Harbour to receive mail coming into Australia on behalf of the Nazis. On an envelope, under a large stamp, was a message in invisible :ink for friends of the Nazis in Australia. Another message, in in visible, ink, > was written on the gum attached to .the envelope. After the accident, Brunsdahl was taken to hospital, and he was .afterwards interned. - This man had been admitted to Australia by the Department of the Interior. A man named Hagerdorn, who ran a business in Sydney under the name of Peatmoss, is a spy of the worst class. Until recently, meetings were held at the Concordia Club in Sydney for social entertainment, but no male friends of the members were admitted. ‘ On those occasions the German Bund also held meetings. Hagerdorn had been admitted to Australia by the Department of the Interior, and, shortly after the war began, he was picked up in northern Queensland. E also draw attention to the case of a certain hotel-owner in Sydney. Prior to the war, this man happened to be in Berlin with his son. The hotel was falling into the hands of the breweries, those vested interests which this Government is pleased ‘to protect. The hotel required repairs, and the owner sent his son from Berlin to Australia to attend to the matter. It became known that the son was incapable of doing this, so his father came out from Berlin’ and was also admitted into this country. The wife went from Berlin to Los Angeles. After the Wai- had broken out, both of these men were interned. They were very anxious to obtain their liberty, and a certain Sydney lawyer thought that hu could secure their release. I was approached by an agent for the purpose of getting them out. I visited the office of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, and ascertained from the files that the son was born in Spain but had spent much of his time in Berlin, where he made application to join up with the Nazis. Papers were produced showing that he had fallen behind with his payments to the Nazis, and had joined the Storm Troopers. Later, he was actually placed in charge of Storm Troops. Yet he had been admitted by the Department of the
Interior, and was moving about in New South Wales. Less than a fortnight ago I was told that both of these men are ,now at large. The father has joined his wife in Los Angeles. and the son reports at regular intervals to the authorities in Australia. -
I could refer to’ other cases.— A” -man named Conlon is another Nazi. ‘He was running a wine saloon in Sydney, -which was a hotbed- of -nazi-ism, where Nazi sympathizers frequently met. There is another wine saloon opposite the People’s Palace in Sydney. This was left open until about three weeks ago. - Many- of those’ visiting the establishment spoke German, and some of the persons who assembled there had been admitted as refugees. If the Minister looks up the files he will see that a person named Garcia, an international crook and a -Nazi, was recently admitted to -Australia. He came here on a Spanish passport. If the Minister will investigate this matter, he may be able to relate it to another person recently admitted, who may be associated with the white slave traffic in Australia. My information is that both of these men have .been connected with the Nazi organizations. Yet we talk of restricting immigration, and placing power in the hands of the Minister to keep a secret file, and, if necessary, to deport persons from friendly countries. I may ventilate, at a later date, the case of a soldier who served in the last war. As we have . enemies of the worst kind at large in. Australia at the present moment, it. behoves all of us to- make every effort to prevent this country from being. placed in a similar position to that in which Holland found itself only recently, when the presence of the “fifth column” was discovered.
– Honorable senators should welcome this measure, although I think that it should be only the precursor of a more detailed examination of :-our immigration laws. This country will shortly be faced with an inflowing tide of migrants, some of whom will be, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) said, extremely desirable settlers. They will be people of our race and of Nordic descent, and they are likely to come from those countries which have been overrun by our present foes. No more desirable class of people could be brought here than the Norwegians. Thousands of refugees from Norway and Holland are pouring into England to-day. How is England to pro* vide for them, with a strain on its own supplies, one can scarcely understand ; but in Australia, with our adequate supplies of food, and with our so-called empty spaces, we should welcome migrants from these countries. 1 was glad to hear from the Leader of the Opposition his strong advocacy of the introduction of morepopulation to Australia. Unfortunately, many desirable persons who are willing to migrate from Germany because of the rule prevailing in that country, have not been allowed to leave. They have been put into concentration camps and compelled to produce food and other supplies for the German military forces.
The Leader of the Opposition, suggests : that the period of five years is too long for a man to wait before he can be naturalized under our laws. I do not agree with him. If we protect British subjects, whether natural-born or natu”ralized, from deportation, it behoves us to be careful, before we issue letters of naturalization. We should have the individual under observation and know how he is conducting himself and whether he is here for any sinister purpose. Senator Arthur suggested that a number of migrants have come to Australia for improper purposes. Why we allow any naturalized person to remain here, who is acting in a subversive way, I do not know. Increased power should be given to cancel letters of naturalization, or we should eliminate from the proposed new section 8 of the act, after the words “ any person “, the words “ not being a British subject either natural-born or naturalized “. The bill has been drafted to meet the circumstances of the moment, but I trust that the Government will take into consideration the whole of its immigration policy, with a view to doing some of the things that have been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, in order to enable the flow of desirable migrants to continue. Whatever may be said of the unemployment problem, we must realize that in the interests of national security the population of Australia should be increased. As the crisis in world affairs may be ‘only commencing, we must encourage an influx of people whose ideals, ambitions and standard of living are similar to those of our own race. I agree with those honorable senators who have suggested that a language test should be applied to persons who wish to become naturalized. It is thought by many that the present standard is not sufficiently high. It is remarkable that in this British country proclamations are issued in other than our own language. It appears that the way is being left open for the intrusion of a medley of nationals, such as there is in the United States of America, whose ideals do not harmonize with our own. I congratulate the Government upon introducing this necessary reform, and 1 trust that it is merely the precursor of a wider amending bill.
, - I bring under the notice of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) the fact that a roads board in Western Australia has informed the authorities that it has had- considerable trouble with an Italian in that State who has refused to comply with the health regulations framed under State laws. Although he has been found guilty of offences under the regulations and has paid the fine imposed, he still refuses to obey the regulations. We have been asked whether he can be deported, and have ascertained that the Commonwealth has no power to deport such a person, unless he has committed a criminal offence. On two or three occasions the Italian Consul in Western Australia was requested to use his influence to get the man out of the country; but I have been informed that unless he wishes to leave of his own volition he cannot be deported because he has resided in Australia for over five years.
– Is he naturalized ?
– I do not think so.
– He cannot be deported unless he commits a criminal offence.
– The offence which he committed was not of a criminal nature. Can this measure be amended to meet the case of a person who refuses to carry out the laws of the country? If the mau is not naturalized the Government’ should’ have the power to deport him.
– in reply - I thank honorable senators for the favorable manner in which they have received this bill, and I can assure those who have directed attention to certain aspects of our immigration legislation, that their remarks will be brought under the notice of the department. I agree with the opinions expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) concerning the future of this country. One of our gravest and most pressing problems is the need for a larger population, and the Immigration Branch is at present considering means by which migration can he developed after the war.
– Is the Commonwealth Immigration Office in London still functioning ?
– Assisted migration from Great Britain - which is the most desirable form of migration - is at present in abeyance, because the British Government has said that owing ‘to the war attention cannot he given to migration.
– Are the officials still being retained in London?
– The organization is still functioning, because there is a certain amount of work still to do. As soon as practicable, the Commonwealth and State Governments should formulate a scheme of development and migration to he put into operation at the conclusion of the war. I trust that it will soon be possible for Commonwealth and State officers to lay down the foundation of a sound policy of development and migration which subsequently can be submitted to the various governments concerned. At the termination of hostilities public expenditure must not be reduced to an unreasonable degree. National security demands that our natural resources should be fully developed and that we should provide for a much larger population than we have to-day. When a development and migration scheme has been formulated I trust that it will receive the support not only of this Parliament but also of the State parliaments, because without the cooperation of the States it could not succeed.
Some honorable senators have said that the residential period of five years to qualify for naturalization should be reduced. That is the period adopted in all parts of the British Empire, and if a shorter period were provided it could operate only in Australia and persons who had become naturalized in Australia under a shorter period would not be recognized as naturalized British subjects in other parts of the Empire. Five years has been accepted throughout the Empire as a reasonable period in which to enable the authorities to judge the character and general suitability of the person who wishes to become naturalized. I cannot agree with the Leader of the Opposition, who suggested a residential period of one year, because such a period would be insufficient in which to determine whether a migrant is likely to become a desirable citizen.
– Migrants are not forced to become naturalized even after five years.
– Naturalization is optional; but I remind the Leader of the Opposition that it would be impracticable to compel a person to become naturalized.
– They should not be brought here if they are not fit to become citizens.
– They come of their own accord. Those who become naturalized derive benefits, which are not enjoyed by unnaturalized aliens. In many parts of Australia it is impossible for unnaturalized persons to own land.
– The fact that they endure disabilities rather than become naturalized shows that they should be returned to the countries from which they came.
– That is an aspect of the matter which the Government may consider. During the twelve months in which I have been Minister for the Interior, I have approved several thousand applications for naturalization. The average alien who comes to Australia realizes the advantages of being a British subject. I am reminded by Senator A. J. McLachlan that a large number of persons come from European countries to avoid the tyranny in the lands of their birth. In the early days of migration ,to this country many Germans came to Australia to evade the military system in their own country. It is only fair to say that an overwhelming number of the German settlers who came to Australia many years ago have proved admirable settlers, have stuck to their farms through good and bacl seasons, and have reared families who have proved to be good citizens. Some of their sons served with the Australian Imperial Force during the last war. There’ are” no complaints in Queensland concerning the Germans who took up land in that State, many of whom have performed splendid work’ in the districts in which they live.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The Leader of the Opposition and other ^honorable senators referred to the manner in which naturalization is granted to alien migrants by the Department of the Interior. When an application for naturalization is lodged, it has to be advertised in the press for a specified period. Officers of the Department of the Interior then communicate with the Investigation Branch of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and also the police ‘of the various States in order to ascertain the record of the applicant during the previous five years. It is a rule of the department that naturalization should not be granted unless the applicant has a good knowledge of English, and applications are frequently rejected because of failure to comply with this requirement. I quite agree that everything possible should be done to ensure that the English language, and the English language only, shall be spoken in this country. It has been the experience of my department that elderly immigrants often find considerable difficulty in learning our language, whereas younger people, and particularly children entering this country at an early age and attending the State schools, learn the language very easily; many of .them soon become more fluent in English than in their native tongue. Although the matter does not come within the direct jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, I assure honorable senators that we are very strict in requiring an adequate .knowledge of English before naturalization certificates are granted.
The Leader of the Opposition mentioned certain statistics with regard to the admission of non-British migrants. ] point out the Commonwealth Statistician includes as Germans, people who were citizens of countries now controlled by Germany. Most of “those classified as Germans are from Austria or other countries which have been occupied by Germany.
– I was aware that the figures included Austrians.
– Most of them have come to Australia under the agreement with regard to the admission of refugees. But all immigration of aliens has virtually ceased. Exceptions are made only in the case of family re-unions and a few other special cases. People who came to this country years ago and have established themselves as good citizens, are permitted to bring parents and other relatives to Australia, provided they can satisfy the department that they are in a position to maintain the new immigrants in decent conditions. But under no circumstances are enemy subjects of military age permitted to land in Australia.
– These figures include Czechs and Slovaks from German occupied territories?
– No; the ;.people classed as Germans include Austrians because their country has now become part of Germany. This classification does not include Czechs and Slovaks who have come to Australia in possession of Chechoslovakian passports.
– Are any males being permitted to land in Australia?
– Only in exceptional cases. If an application were received from a migrant whose special knowledge or skill would bc of some real value to Australian industry it might be granted. Recently a few such applications were received from Hungary and neighbouring countries, but the number admitted could almost be counted on the fingers of one band. As I have said, with. the exception of family re-unions, foreign migration has virtually ceased. 1 should like to deal now with the individual cases referred to by Senator Arthur. I can understand the honorable senator’s feelings and anxieties in regard to these cases. I do not doubt that during the last 20 or 25 years, during which we have had peace with Germany, we have admitted to this country people who have strong German sympathies. That is borne out by the fact that immediately on the outbreak of war there was a general round-up of enemy aliens, many of whom were interned. I suggest to Sena. tor Arthur that he would be rendering a valuable service to this country if he would advise the defence authorities of any cases of that kind which come under his notice.
– I have reported all the cases to which I referred.
– The Government is grateful to the honorable senator for having brought these cases under its notice. In passing, I shall deal with one case in connexion with which Senator Arthur is apparently smarting under a grievance, namely, the case of the alien who was referred” to in the course of another debate recently. I point out to Senator’ Arthur that the gentleman concerned cannot possibly have a grievance against me because, in order to give him an opportunity to carry out his job, I gave him two extensions of six months each. .Senator Arthur will remember that when he first -became interested in a certain project, I approached him in a perfectly friendly way and asked him whether or not he knew all the circumstances surrounding it. In an endeavour to assist Senator Arthur in his duties as a member of this chamber, I offered to allow him to read the file concerning the person referred to.
– Tn order fo silence nic.
– No; in order to allow the honorable senator to satisfy himself as to whether or not it was wise to continue with his project. I assure the honorable senator that the offer I made to him when I discussed this matter with him in the Commonwealth Bank was perfectly sincere, and was made in an endeavour to acquaint him fully with the circumstances of the case. The alien concerned subsequently left this country of his own accord a. month before his permit expired.
– At the request of the New Zealand Government-
– I am not aware of that. The fact remains that he left earlier than he had to, and is now outside this country. I assure the honorable senator that I have no personal animosity in this matter. I offered to let him see the papers, not with a desire to injure him or the person concerned, but in order to give him an opportunity to examine the case for himself, and decide whether he should continue his association with the person in question.
I am glad that the bill has been so well received by the Senate, and I assure honorable senators that it is the desire of the Government, as I am sure it is of members of all parties, that our immigration laws should bc tightened up, not with the object of closing the doors of this country to desirable immigrants, but merely in order that we may be better able to ensure that immigrants, who are not likely to become good citizens of Australia, shall not be allowed to enter the country. The tightening up will also make it easier to deal with people already admitted, who are not proving worthy citizens of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Certain persons may bo deported).
. Are there any other provisions under which undesirable migrants may be deported from this country, apart from those contained in this bill ? I have in view the people who are now entering the country, anc! those who have been here for a considerable time and. have made no attempt to learn the English language. I suggest that a provision be inserted, by which aliens, after having been resident in Australia for a specified time, say six. months, shall be called upon, if necessary, fo pass a dictation test in the English language in order to ascertain whether or not they have acquired a. sufficient knowledge of the language to entitle thom to remain in the country. It should not lie difficult: for any migrant to acquire at least a working knowledge of the language, but there are certain immigrants who have no desire to speak any but their own tongue. Are there in the act itself provisions covering the points which I have raised?
– This clause amends the relevant section of the principal act, which also contains a number of other sections under which, undesirable persons, who enter Australia illegally, and deserters from ships, may be deported although it is not the practice to deport every deserter. In the early days considerable numbers of men deserted from their ships, went to jobs in country districts, and turned out to be useful citizens. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure the deportation of persons who have become a nuisance in the community.
– Could the dictation test be applied to them?
– People who have lived for a number of years in Australia cannot be deported merely because of a failure to pass a dictation test. Whilst it is desirable that all foreign migrants should, as quickly as possible, learn the English language, it would be unfair to order their deportation on the ground merely that they could not pass a dictation test in English.
– The Minister would be able to use his discretion.
– Some elderly foreigners living in Australia find it extremely difficult to learn the English language. Others again have no trouble whatever. I can assure the honorable senator that it is the policy of the Government to encourage all foreign migrants to learn the English language, and as their children must attend our schools, they quickly acquire it, so in time any objection to foreign migrants on this score will disappear.
– There is no provision “to meet the case which I mentioned earlier.
– I am aware of that. Before such a person could be deported he must be proved guilty of a criminal offence. The only suggestion I can make is that the law could be amended to impose a more severe penalty on persistent offenders against the civil law. In that way they would be deterred from further misbehaviour.
– ‘Under the State law in Western Australia penalties for the offences of the class mentioned are imposed in the civil court; but an offender can be fined only a nominal amount, he may repeat the offence as often as he pleases, and flout the law. It has been pointed out by the local government authority concerned that the man of whom I spoke earlier has done that, and under the law it is not possible to order his deportation because the offence is of a civil character. Deportation is only possible following conviction for a criminal offence.
– I am afraid that deportation for a civil offence would be a breach of international understandings, although they do not count for much nowadays.
– I am informed that the Italian Consul was approached to see whether he could get this man to leave the country.
– Is he naturalized?
– No; but he has been a resident of Australia for more than five years and by virtue of his residential qualification his consent is necessary before he can be deported.
– The honorable senator has correctly stated the position. Lt is unfortunate that foreigners who abuse the privileges which they enjoy in this country should be able to flout the law relating to civil offences merely because they have resided here for more than five years.
– Perhaps the Minister will consider a suggestion to broaden the scope of the law so as to make all such offences punishable’ by deportation ‘?
– The suggestion is timely. I shall give it consideration. Perhaps it is possible to widen the provision in the direction indicated.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Regulations).
– Under this clause the Minister is adding to his powers in connexion with the enforcement of guarantees given in respect of migrants from overseas. It would appear, from the wider authority which the Minister is seeking, that there have been Cases in which the guarantors, who usually are relatives of migrants or persons of substance, have not fully observed their obligations. I should also like the Minister to tell us what stage has been reached in the proposals made by Dr. Steinberg for the settlement of a certain area in the Kimberleys, in the northwest of Western Australia, with agricultural refugees from Poland and other parts of Europe either under domination by the Nazis, or likely to be in the near future.
– In- my secondreading speech I mentioned that in only a few instances had the guarantors failed to observe their obligations. As honorable senators are aware, they are obliged to give an undertaking that the person guaranteed will not become a charge upon the State. In some cases they give a guarantee of employment. It is considered desirable that, if the necessity arises, the guarantee shall be enforced, otherwise the system may be abused.
– Have the guarantors honoured their pledges?
– Yes, except in a few instances. It is only fair to say also, that the great majority of the refugees have justified their admission. Many of them have started new industries and have become employers of Australian citizens. When a complete review of the position is made, it will he found that Australia has not suffered to any appreciable extent from the generosity which it displayed at the conference in Europe, when it consented to the admission of a considerable number of refugee migrants. With regard to Dr. Steinberg’s proposal for the settlement of Jewish refugees in the Kimberleys, I understand that he represents the Freeland League in Australia. I met him. some months ago in Melbourne and discussed the matter with him. So far he has not submitted a definite proposal to the Commonwealth for the settlement of Jewish refugees in the Kimberleys.
– Did the Minister receive a request from the Government of Western Australia?
– I do not know. H that State made a request, it would be directed to the Prime Minister’s Department. But the State Government, can scarcely take any action until it knows what is proposed by Dr. Steinberg. Without knowing much of the country which, it is suggested, might be occupied by Jewish refugees, I would say that any such scheme would have to be considered carefully before either the Commonwealth or the Government of Western Australia could accept it. Many safeguards must he included. The Commonwealth Government has set its face against encouraging the group settlement of foreign migrants in any particular area. Since we do not want a minority problem in Australia, we should do all that is possible to discourage the settlement of large numbers of foreigners in particular areas. The Government, desires all foreign migrants to be distributed amongst our own people as far as is possible, in order that they may absorb our ideas and accustom themselves to our mode of living and our institutions.
– I interviewed Dr. Steinberg at a meeting of the Refugee Committee of the League of Nations branch at Hobart, and I also met bini in Canberra in January last. The Russian Government has provided, on the Pacific coast of Siberia, a very large territory, much greater in extent than the area in Palestine, for the settlement of refugees. I think that if the Jews want to go anywhere they could go there and get a fair deal. The group settlement plan, mentioned by the Minister, was tried in America, with disastrous results. We should be very careful before adopting it here.
– 1 should like to know from the Minister whether it is a fact that the same money is used over and over again as landing money for different immigrants entering the country.
– It has been suggested that this practice is followed upon occasions, but I do not think that it is done to any great degree. In any case, it would be very hard to check. It is, of course, possible that the same money may be transferred from one person to another in order to provide each of them with the necessary amount of landing money, but our investigations have not disclosed chat it is done extensively. We do everything we can to ensure that it is new money in each instance.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the loth May, 1940 (vide page 789), on motion by Senatorfoll -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– On the face of it, this is a quite simple and reasonable measure, but I should like to know from the Minister just how the arrangement proposed in the bill is intended to work out. I understand from his second-reading speech that it was considered wasteful to load the Commonwealth Gazette with the publication in full of ordinances affecting only the Northern Territory. I can see the wisdom of effecting economies in that direction, but I want to make sure that the inhabitants of the Northern Territory will have opportunities of becoming acquainted with the details of the ordinances which affect them. Presumably, the idea is that there shall be published in the Commonwealth Gazette an intimation that an ordinance dealing with cer- tain matters has been promulgated, but the details of the ordinance will not be published. Then, persons resident in the Northern Territory who are interested may take steps to obtain the full text of the ordinance. How are they to set the full text?
– Persons who are directly interested will receive copies of ordinances by post.
– But is not every intelligent citizen entitled to know what legislation has been passed affecting him ?
Senatorfoll. - He cannot get that information now unless he gets the Gazette. In future, when he reads the Gazette, he will see that such and such an ordinance which concerns him has been promulgated, and he may take steps to obtain the full text.
– I presume it will not be necessary for him to satisfy some official before he may obtain a copy.
Senatorfoll. - A copy of the ordinance will be sent to any one who applies for it.
– I should also like to know at what points in that large area the necessary information will be made available. Also, I should like an undertaking that the full text of all ordinances will be published in the Darwin newspaper, which is the only one that circulates in the Northern Territory. My only anxiety is to ensure that the residents of the Northern Territory arc not penalized by this provision. Otherwise there is nothing objectionable in the bill. I wish, however, that the same anxiety for economy could he apparent in other phases of the Government’s administration. If the Minister can assure me that adequate facilities will be available for persons to obtain the information they desire about ordinances, I shall not oppose the bill.
. - This very matter was considered by a committee appointed by the Senate to inquire into the subject of regulations and ordinances. We considered that it was a. waste of public funds to publish in the Commonwealth Gazette lengthy ordinances, more particularly as they appear in the Gazette in a form which is not, convenient to the average person interested in them. Regulations affecting the Northern Territory are similar to acts of Parliament, which are not published inthe Gazette. Any one may obtain a copy of an act from the proper place.
– Yes, but a good deal of publicity is given to acts of Parliament when they are before Parliament.
– We considered that the publication of ordinances in the Gazette was of little value to the general public, and that it would be sufficient to publish an intimation of the fact that such and such an ordinance had been promulgated. Ordinances for the Northern Territory are, in all respects, similar to regulations issued under an act of Parlia-ment, and such regulations are not published in the Gazette. They are, however, tabled in’ Parliament, and so are ordinances for the Northern Territory. Why should we go to’ more expense in regard to ordinances for the Northern Territory than in regard to regulations issued under an act of Parliament? The Opposition was represented on the committee which considered this matter. We did not actually recommend to the Government that action be taken, but it was our intention to do so, and the Government wisely acted on its own initiative.
– We are prepared to support the measure if the Government will give ‘the assurances I have asked for. - Senator WILSON.- The whole purpose of the measure would be defeated if the Government were required to publish the ordinances in the Darwin newspaper, because “ that would cost more than publishing them in the Gazette.
– The Government docs not hesitate to feed the metropolitan newspapers- with advertisements containing details of tenders, &c.
– I agree that much money is wasted by the publication of unnecessary matters in the newspapers, as well as in the Gazette. Having regard to the present shortage of newsprint, we should be scrupulously careful to avoid all waste of paper. Wherever we can make an economy we should do so. Most of the newsprint used in Australia comes from non-sterling countries, and sterling exchange is extremely important at the present time. I ask honorable senators to support the hill on the ground of economy,, seeing that it will not inconvenience the public in any way.
– m reply - Senator Wilson has explained why it is considered wise to economize by not publishing the full text of ordinances in the Commonwealth Gazette. I cannot give the undertaking asked for by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that. the ordinances will he printed in full in the Darwin newspaper, because that would cost more than to publish them in the Gazette. Some of these ordinances are very lengthy, and the size of the Darwin paper would have to be doubled in order to publish them.
– How many copies of the Commonwealth Gazette are ordinarily issued ?
– I cannot say offhand. At the present time, ordinances are not published in any newspaper, so I cannot see why they should be published in the Darwin newspaper. Residents of the Northern Territory, who get the Commonwealth Gazette now, will be able to see that such and such an ordinance has been issued, and, if they are interested, they will be able to obtain a copy of it. I am prepared to give an undertaking that any one who wishes to obtain a copy of an ordinance will be able to do so.
– Would it not be possible to insert a small notice in the Darwin newspaper to the effect that an ordinance dealing with certain matters’ has been issued?
– We put a notice to that effect, in the Gazette now.
– But ‘does the Gazette, reach all the people concerned?
– I cannot undertake to do what Senator Ashley has asked. I must first see what the general principle is iri regard to the advertising of ordinances. The idea behind this measure is not to make the ordinances more readily available to the public; it is to save the cost of printing them in the Gazette. All I can do is to give an undertaking that in every case the headings of the ‘ ordinance, setting forth what it is about”, will bo published in the Gazette, and that copies of ordinances will be made available to those who want them. In addition, we send copies of ordinances relating to the Northern Territory to people who, we know, are particularly interested in them, without waiting for applications, and that practice will be continued.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
Debateresumed from the 15th May (vide page 811) on motion by Senator McBride -
That the paper be printed.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has dealt exhaustively and trenchantly with the proposals of the present Government to raise the necessary credits for the prosecution of the war. I asked certain questions in this chamber recently regarding the method of finance to be adopted, and I received answers to some of them, but to others no answer was given. I assume that, whilst some of my questions were pertinent, others were regarded as impertinent. Honorable senators will recall that on thelast occasion when I addressed the Senate I told them about the racket that went on in England in connexion with treasury-bills. I find that treasury-bills held by the Australian banks total £48,000,000, and that the rate of interest is1¾ per cent., which works out at , 6840,000 per annum. I also referred to a statement made by the manager of the Bank of New South Wales, who regretted that his bank was able to get only 10s. per cent. on treasurybills in the London market. In Australia 35s. per cent. is paid for similar accommodation. I remember when the charge made by the private banks was as high as 6 per cent. Treasury-bills are undated promissory notes and we are borrowing money to-day at 3 per cent., with the usual charge of 5s. per cent., I presume, for the raising of the loans. I have asked a question for the purpose of ascertaining whether the banks are getting their usual 5s.per cent. on the money that they raise.
The Allies won the last war, but they did not win the peace. Dreadful conditions were imposed on the German people, who were not to be blamed for the war which was then waged by theirrulers.
After four years of blockade, they were driven to desperation and despair. One of the most eminent German writers, Hermann Burgmann, said that, if it had not been for the men of high finance, it would not have been necessary for a man like Hitler to come in. When I have attacked the banking institutions and the high financiers, I have caused some little amusement and inquiry, but I have not told the people anything new. I have said more than once that governments do not govern. There is a subtle and unscrupulous power above all governments that is able to enforce its will on the people. Benjamin Disraeli, who rose to be the Prime Minister of England, once remarked that the world is governed by very different personages from those imagined by people who are not behind the scenes. The great Abraham Lincoln said that he had two enemies to fight in the American Civil War -the South, to which he was advancing, and the power behind him - and that, of the two enemies, the greater was the banks which were trying to crush him. He also said -
Money is the creature of the law, and the creation-.of the original issue of. money should bo maintained as an exclusive monopoly of the national government. The monetary needs of increasing numbers of people advancing towards higher standards of living can and should be met by the government. Such needs can be served by issuing national currency and credit’ through the operation of a national banking system. The circulation of a medium of exchange issued and backed by the government can be properly regulated and redundancy of issue avoided by withdrawing from circulation such amounts as may be necessary, by taxation and otherwise.
Government, possessing the power to create and issue currency and credit as money and enjoying the right to withdraw both currency and credit from circulation by taxation and otherwise, need not and should not borrow capital at interest as the means of financing government work and public enterprises. The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is government’s greatest creative opportunity.
By the adoption of these principles the financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power.
If honorable senators opposite were familiar with the history of money during the last 100 years, my remarks on this subject would not be received with derision.
Last session I referred to the racket experienced in Tasmania with regard to theflotation and conversion of Commonwealth loans. I have before me a statement by Mr. Dwyer-Gray, who finds that the conversion of a loan of £4,500,000 in London has increased taxation in Tasmania by £40,000 annually. We are now told that we are getting money at 3 per cent., but I am wondering what the rate of interest will be when the loans mature and have to be converted.
I have said that governments do not govern. Some weeks ago an American visited Europe, and many of us thought that he was on a peace mission. We read in the press that he had visitedRome, and had conversed with Mussolini. Then he went to Berlin and talked with Hitler. He also waited on members of the British andFrench governments. He was pestered by pressmen who desired to find out the object of his visit. He was not the accredited representative of the Government of the United States of America,but described himself as the emissary of President Roosevelt. The following quotation from an article in a London newspaper of the 27th April last will show what I mean when I say that governments do not govern:-
Although it may still be premature to draw final conclusions, the result of Sumner Welles’s visit to Europe is beginning to become plainer. The very fact that he came to this country as an alleged representative of F. D. Roosevelt personally and not as a representative of the United States of America Government, indicated that his mission was of such a shady character that in no circumstances could it be allowed to be represented as a United States of America Government responsibility. The whole of the theatrical background attached to Sumner Welles’s mission, and progress through Europe also made it clear that whatever he was engaged on, would not stand the light of day.
Up to the time of Sumner Welles arriving, there was in many quarters a distinct spirit of optimism as far as the outcome of this war was concerned. Spain, for instance, was definitely friendly to the Allies and Italy was clearly preparing itself for a break with Berlin, and an approach to the Allies. Judging by recent events, it would appear that Sumner Welles’s mission was approximately as follows: -
Unless he came to deliver some sort of threat, it is very unlikely that his visits to Paris and London were more than a smoke screen to hide the real objectives of his visit toRome and Berlin. As far as Germany is concerned, it appears that Hitler has called back Dr. Schacht. As Hitler and the Nazi Government have very few illusions about the gold standard, the present financial system, or the reliability from their point of view of Dr. Schacht, the German Government would not have agreed to such a course without receiving a valuable quid pro quo. What this was still remains to be seen. It may have been financial assistance to Germany, it may have been an offer to arrange for better communications through Russia, and the delivery of vital supplies from America via Russia, or it may simply have been an offer to buy Mussolini. Time will show. Whatever it was. it cannot have been anything to help the Allies or democracy.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - I hope that the honorable senator intends to connect his remarks with the financial statement.
– Yes, I can prove that the banks are the real enemies within the gates.
– From what newspaper is the honorable senator quoting?
– The Minister should set an example to the Senate instead of interjecting, but he represents a mentality which can be rightly described as that of the enemies inside the gates -
As far as Italy is concerned, this country has suddenly shown renewed hostility to Britain and France. It would never do to allow this change in attitude to be attributable to an emissary of Jewish high finance. To divert attention and to make it appeal’ as if the present hostility was due to something other than Sumner Welles’s mission, the meeting between Hitler and Mussolini at the Brenner Pass was stage-managed. The chances are that all major lines of policy had been laid down before that meeting and that they merely discussed details which could just as well have been settled another way. To the world, however, it looks as if Italy’s changed political direction was due to that meeting. If from a military point of view the Allies were gradually getting into a more andmore favorable position, and there was a possibility of the Allies actually breaking the power of Nazi Germany without themselves becoming exhausted, then the Jewish international plot would have failed.
The enemy in New York would have two alternatives. Either they would call off the war completely and prepare for another war in ten or twenty years time. By that time the constellation of powers could have been changed, Russia could have been re-organized and the United States of America people been educated up to a definite hostility towards
France and Britain. The other alternative is to strengthen the military position of Germany. This could be brought about in a number of ways, in view of the fact that Germany enjoys internal lines of communication, and by additions to the military power of Germany by italy and Spain. If these two countries are involved, Russia might also be brought in. It waa recently shown that it was a grave diplomatic error to try and involve Russia against the Allies first as this was antagonizing Italy and Spain.
The second alternative would therefore involve buying Mussolini and his government. For Jewish high finance this -is quite easy, by promising finance with a view to exploiting the Balkans jointly with Italy,. Mussolini was hound to rise to this bait. There is, of course, no. doubt that Jewish international finance intends to double-cross Mussolini and Hitler as soon as it suits them, but not before they have dealt Britain a fatal blow. ‘ If Jewish high finance has come to such an arrangement, then we shall also fmd that our internal difficulties are increasing, because that arch-enemy of Britain and of democracy has a foothold in this country. It is to he hoped that true lovers of England and of democracy will more and more realize how it is part of the enemy’s tactics to rely on treachery. This treachery, in the military sense, was amply shown in the recent Gorman occupation of Norway. Such treachery is showing itself in this country in a. financial sense and an economic ‘sense. It behoves all those who arc aware of the real enemy, to do their utmost to spread this knowledge. [n the same issue the following statement appears : -
On 16th April, 1040, Mr. Stokes asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the House of Commons whether he would introduce legislation to alter the charter of the Bank of England so as to enable the name of the hank proprietors together with the capital holding of each of such proprietors, to he published.
Sir John Simon. No, sir.
Mr. Stokes. In view of the disastrous policy followed by the bank after the last war. and the part they are believed to have played iii the rearmament of Germany, does the right honorable gentleman not consider it time that the people knew a bit more about the proprietors of this unique concern V
On 16th April. .Mr. Arthur Henderson asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Bank of International Settlements is still operating: and whether Germany remains a. member of the hoard of control ?
Sir John Simon. The Bank of International Settlements is still operating, but on a reduced scale.’ Germany is still, I believe, represented upon the board of the bank, but 1111 meetings of the hoard have been held since the outbreak of war.
Mr. Wilmot. Then who is directing the policy of this institution?
Sir John Simon. I do npt know.
The Bank of International Settlements was instituted to provide the means to equalize and pay debts, but the power of finance is so strong that it was found that at its headquarters at Basle no nation or international law could interfere with its power. It would appear that the possession of money, which is controlled by that crowd who have no conscience and no scruples, gives the right to govern. I have already informed the Senate how the last war loans were financed and -the trickery that was adopted by financiers. In England, a former Lord Privy Seal, Mr. … J. Johnson, said that . what occurred during the last war will occur again, If it does it will be due to the fact that governments will continue to borrow, money from the banks. When I was asked by Senator Wilson this morning why the Labour government did not use the Commonwealth Bank in the way that was intended, I told him that that Government did- not then know the power which it possessed under the Constitution. Paragraph 504 of the- report of the Royal Commission on -Banking and Monetary Systems, as I have said on numerous occasions, shows the way in which the Commonwealth Government can obtain money. I have been asked what that paragraph really means. A friend of mine in Victoria wrote to Mr. Justice Napier, who was the chairman of the commission, asking what it really meant. His secretary, Mr. W. T. Harris, wrote in reply -
The statement in tho paragraph mentioned - is to the effect that, as a matter of power, tho Commonwealth Bank can make money available to Governments or to others on such terms as it chooses, even by wal’ of a “ loan without interest, or even without requiring cither interest or repayment of principal.
That opinion is similar to that expressed by Mr. Graham Towers, the manager of the Central Bank of Canada.
– Does not the honorable senator notice what Mr. Justice Napier said? It is a matter of power. The Government has the power, but is it right to exercise it? He does not say that it is.
– If a government has the power to do the right thing is it not its fault if it does not exercise the power? The Commonwealth Bank has certain constitutional powers which it is expected to use in the interests of the people. The commission has said that if at any time there is a difference of opinion between the Commonwealth Bank Board and the Comonwealth Government as to the bank’s policy, a free and frank discussion can then take place, and if the views expressed are irreconcilable the Government may tell the Bank Board that it can and will take full responsibility for instructing the bank as to how it is to act. That is the opinion of a judge of the Supreme Court who, surely, should understand constitutional law.
– He only says that the Government has the power, but he does not say whether that power ought to be exercised.
– He also said that the Government is the executive of Parliament.
– Again it is a matter of power.
– If the Government has the power to do the right thing, the doing of it becomes a duty. Does the honorable senator suggest that it is within the financial capacity of this country to pay interest at the rate of 3 per cent. on its loans? Is that a wise policy when money can be obtained free of interest? We know that the Commonwealth Bank has made profits amounting to £30,000,000, all of which would have gone into the private banks if the people at present in power in this Parliament had. had their way.
– The honorable senator is talking nonsense.
– I am stating facts.
– It was an impudent remark.
– So is that of the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator said that if the Government had its way the £30,000,000 profit made by the Commonwealth Bank would have gone to private banks. Surely that is an impudent remark.
– It is the truth. Up to the present no honorable senator opposite has had the temerity to endeavour to controvert what I have said on the subject of finance. The figure which I have just cited was not. imaginary, but is taken from the balance-sheet of the
Commonwealth Bank. It is people of your sort-
– Order! The honorable senator must address the Chair.
– I always endeavour to do so, but I am interrupted and jeered at by the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) so frequently that I am likely to become personal. A rule in my life from which I shall never depart is never to express an opinion on any subject before making myself thoroughly conversant with it. Although my statements on finance have never been controverted, every time I speak in this chamber I have to submit to numerous irrelevant interjections and grins and jeers. I do not like being interrupted by comparatively young and inexperienced men such as the Assistant Minister, particularly when I realize that I was conversant with politics and international finance when he was in knickerbockers. Although the nation is at war some honorable senators opposite, particularly Ministers, sit and jeer at my statements, all of which can be supported by reliable evidence. If the present monetary policy be continued it will bring financial bankruptcy to Australia; I defy any honororable senator to controvert that statement. During the war, according to the’ statement of Mr. Johnson, whom I have just cited, £2,000,000,000 in credit was created in Great Britain. The late Mr. Gladstone, who was a contemporary of Disraeli, said that until he took office he did not know how little the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew of the financial affairs of the nation. He further said that he found himself opposed by the Bank of England from start to finish. Surely statements such as that should have some effect upon the Government. No body of men can disregard the true functions of this chamber. Under the Constitution the Senate has to review the legislation passed by the House of Representatives, and if such measures are in the interests of the people of Australia, they are passed and become the law of the land. Since I have been a member of the Senate I have noticed that every bill which comes before this chamber is considered on a party basis. The functions of this chamber are not exercised as they should be. Is that in the interests of the taxpayers? Lincoln denned democracy in these few words, “ Government of .the people by the people for the people “. The people who govern are those who get what they want. I remind the Assistant Minister, who again smiles, that we are at war. During three hours which I spent in the House of Representatives, and during a similar period in this chamber, I have noticed nothing but levity. Formidable burdens are being imposed and will remain in perpetuity because the loans which have been raised will never he paid. How the money lenders smile when they see the taxes which are being imposed to provide their interest! Do honorable senators realize that internationally the position is desperate, and that there is no room for pretence, particularly in the matter of financing of the war? We all know the rackets that are going on in connexion with conversion of loans. For how long shall we be able to continue to pay 3 per cent, on borrowed money? Why was the Commonwealth Bank established ? A monetary inquiry was set up in Tasmania. Many witnesses were examined, the object being to ascertain whether or not there was any reason why the people of Australia should not enjoy a full measure of prosperity under our present economic system. The committee found -
The people of Australia are being prevented by removable financial causes and obstacles from enjoying the standard of living and security that the industrial progress of the last thirty years has made possible.
Any man who fully explores this matter can see that the cause of our present economic conditions is our financial system. Poverty exists in a land of plenty. On the subject of depressions and their causes, I have quoted to honorable senators Gustav Cassel, one of the highest authorities in Europe. It is generally recognized by people who have studied this matter that depressions are only brought about in one way - the calling up of overdrafts and the restriction of credits. We live in a money economy, in which 99 per cent, of business is carried on by means of credit; yet, we continue to borrow money externally. Oan the Government give any reason to justify borrowing money for war purposes at 3 per cent., when the only cost to this country should he in men and material? I do not think that there is a man on the Government side of the chamber who is not convinced that that is so. If honorable senators do not believe that to be the case after all I have said, it is because they do not want to be convinced. We have no national Parliament in the real sense of the word ; it is merely a conglomeration ‘ of vested interests. The first duty of all members of Parliament should be to that Parliament, and through it, the nation. Under our present parliamentary system there oan only be party strife, because all legislation is supported or opposed according to party views, and not according to what is in the best interests of Australia.
– ils the honorable senator making any impression at all on members of his own party?
– Since I became a member of this chamber, the Parliaments of three States - South Australia, u non-Labour State; Tasmania, a Labour State; and Western Australia, a Labour State - have passed resolutions backing up everything that I have said to honorable senators. A few weeks ago the Victorian Country party met at Geelong and passed a resolution urging that the Commonwealth Bank he used to finance all the nation’s requirements, not only in connexion with the war, but also in connexion with primary production. Is there any reason why that should not be done? Despite the fact that the Commonwealth Bank was practically strangled by the amending legislation passed by the Bruce-Page Government in. 1924 at the instance of private banks, it has shown a profit on its operations. Figures relating to these operations have been compiled by a former Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Mr. W. G. Higgs, who, incidentally, was one nf the signatories to the congratulatory telegram received from members of the First Federal Members Association today. Mr. Higgs, who was Treasurer in 1916, is familiar with the work of the bank, and the figures which he compiled in relation to the profits made by the Commonwealth Bank were published in the Melbourne press. When I met Mr. Higgs recently I discussed the matter with him, and drew his attention to the manner in which Australia was being robbed by the excessive rates of interest charged by overseas money lenders. Before the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank the private banks were charging the Government 6 per cent, on treasury bills; to-day the Commonwealth is paying 35s. per cent, on these bills, and the private hanks have graciously allowed a reduction to 30s. per cent, from the 1st of this month. The private banks are able to do just as they please, and finance can be carried on under our present system only if the terms imposed by them are accepted. The Commonwealth is under the thumb of the private banks. I have made a thorough study of high finance, and on many occasions have endeavoured to show the people of Australia just what is being done. Everything is going according to plan. When England, France, Germany and Italy are driven to bankruptcy by this war, there will be two great countries left under the thumb of Jewish high finance - America and Russia. These countries will be able to bring about peace on their own terms. We hear much talk of the rule of the proletariat in Russia, but the fact is that Russia is financed by the New York bankers. When the depression started in America, the President, Mr. Roosevelt, attempted to get his country out of it by borrowing £1,000,000,000, but he borrowed that money from the very people who had brought about the depression. As Gustav Cassel says, depressions are started by the banks at the instigation of high finance. It was this action which, in the black years of 1931 and 1932, brought about the disastrous drop in prices and the consequent ruin of primary producers in all parts of the world. Gustav Cassel also said that having deliberately started the depression in America, the banks could lift it whenever they pleased ; and they did lift it. I challenge honorable senators opposite to contradict these statements. Whether or not my opponents are conversant with the matters to which I refer, I do not know, but if they are to discharge their duties as the people’s representatives in a democratic parliament, they should know these things. George Bernard Shaw defined political economy as the art of spending the national income in such a way as to bring happiness and prosperity to the greatest number of the people. Can honorable senates opposite rightly claim that the principle defined in that statement is being observed by the Commonwealth or any of the States, in view of the fact that poverty, bad housing, and malnutrition are rife? It cannot be denied that only a very small proportion of our population is able to enjoy the good things of life. Apparently the Government is working to keep the present financial system in operation in the interests of the banks.
– We do not know of a better system.
– I have pointed to a better system; the royal commission has recommended a better system. I have been speaking of these matters now for eighteen months. On one occasion Senator Dein came to rae and asked me to explain my system to him.
– I asked the honorable senator to explain national credit and at the end of 1^ hours, I knew just about as much as I did when I started.
– That is a reflection on the honorable senator’s intelligence.
– Tell us now what social credit is?
– I have never mentioned social credit or Douglas credit in this chamber. I am dealing with the first plank of the Labour party’s platform, which is community control of credit.
– The Deputy Leader of the honorable senator’s own party disowned him.
– I am not responsible for what anybody says about me.
– The honorable senator claimed to be speaking on behalf of his party, and I am merely pointing out that his deputy leader disowned him.
– These interjections are quite wide of the mark. As I have informed Senator Dein before, his interjections contribute nothing to the debate, but merely hinder discussion. I ask leave to continue any remarks at the next sitting.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Senator McBRIDE (South Australia-
Assistant Minister for Commerce) [3.40]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short measure designed to implement the decision of the Government that war savings certificates should be free of Commonwealth income tax. -As the Senate is aware, the Government, as part of its plan of war finance, has authorized the issue ofwar savings certificates in denominations of £1, £5, and £10 at the purchase price of 16s., £4, and £8 respectively. The object of the certificates is to provide a means whereby people with small incomes may assist the Government in financing the present war. It was evident, soon after the war commenced, that there were very many people who would be unable to subscribe to war loans, but would be willing to place the small amounts that they could save at the disposal of the Government. It was considered that this was a very desirable source of funds to tap. During the last war similar certificates were issued, and they formed a valuable adjunct to the other means of raising funds to prosecute the war, an amount of approximately £6,000,000 being subscribed through this means. It is expected that the present scheme will become so popular that the amount contributed will exceed what was raised in the years of the last war.
It is quite possible that in many cases it will be difficult for people to find in one amount the purchase price of a certificate. To meet the requirements of these cases, it has been decided to inaugurate a scheme of savings by groups and war savings groups will be formed throughout the ‘Commonwealth as rapidly as possible. This scheme will enable people to come together in their home towns, or in their factories, offices, shops, and other places of employment and form
Avar savings groups. Members of a group will undertake to contribute a small amount regularly, say 6d. a week, or whatever other amount the contributor considers that he or she can afford, until sufficient has been accumulated to enable the contributor to purchase a certificate. Payments by members of a group will be safeguarded by being placed under the control of trustees appointed by the contributors themselves, and these trustees will see that contributions are collected regularly and that Avar savings certificates are issued when a member’s contribution reaches an amount sufficient to purchase a certificate.
War savings certificates issued during the last war were not subject to taxation, and it was considered that a similar concession should be granted at the present time. The certificates are primarily for the wage-earner, and the Government is of opinion that the money earned by the savings of these people, as represented by the increase in value of the certificates from year to year until the maturity date, ought not to be taxed. After the last war, however, an act was passed - Taxation of Loans Act 1923 - which made the interest on all loans raised in Australia after the 31st December, 1923, subject to Commonwealth income tax. It is, therefore, necessary to provide by legislation for freedom from income tax in respect of war savings certificates, and the most convenient way of doing this is by an amendment of the Inscribed Stock Act. The amending bill is now before the Senate.
Although the last Commonwealth loan of £18,000,000 was made subject to full Commonwealth taxation and it is intended that future loans be likewise subject to full Commonwealth income tax, the circumstances under which war savings certificates are issued make it desirable to exempt them from the decision to tax fully the income from Commonwealth securities. I am sure the Senate will agree with this view.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Thursday next at 2.30 p.m.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Civil Aviation - F. J. Howard.
National Security Act - National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations - Delegation of Powers of Treasurer (2).
National Security Act - National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations - Order of Exemption.
Supply and Development Acts - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 70.
Senate adjourned at 3.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 May 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1940/19400517_senate_15_163/>.