16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 11 a.m.. and read prayers.
Tasmanian Newspaper Comments on Secret Senate Ballots.
– I rise to amatter of privilege. I have to report that, in the Tasmanian newspapers just to hand, a very seriousbreach of what I believe to be the profound privileges of this chamber has, in my opinion, been committed. I ask honorable senators to give serious attention to the statement that I am about, to make, because, if action of this kind is allowed to continue, the honour of this chamber is likely, to be still further menaced. I suggest that we should enter an emphatic protest. It will be remembered that the day before yesterday certain ballots took place, and were conducted in secrecy. Yet two organs of the press in Tasmania publicly profess that they know how and by whom the votes were recorded. I shall read first an extractfrom the Launceston Examiner of the 2nd July. The article is somewhat lengthy, and I shall, therefore, quote only the part of it which impugns the honour of the Senate. The quotation reads -
No place has been found in all enlarged Cabinet for a representative of this State. Colonel (now Sir George) Bell relinquished the Speakership, and that plane of honour passed to a mainland member. And yesterday the process of elimination was completed, when Senator Hayes was voted out of the Presidency of the Senate. The three Tasmanian Labour members of that chamber, Senators Lamp, Aylett, and Darcey, placed party before State and voted against Senator Hayes. Tasmanian electors should not forget this point.
– I rise to a point of order. Does the honorable senator give an assurance that he intends to move a substantive motion in accord ance withthe Standing Orders? Under
Standing Order 427, he must produce copies of the newspapers referred to and place thorn on the table.
– I am sure that Senator A. J. McLachlan is anxious to assist me in this matter; but his suggestion that I am not aware of what the Standing Orders provide rather interests me.
– ThenI ask again, on a point of order, whether the honorable senator produces the newspapers in accordance with the terms of the standing order?
– When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has submitted his motion the point of order could be raised, should he not produce copies of the newspapers referred to.
– I ask for your ruling, Mr. President. Standing Order 427 provides -
Any senator complaining tothe Senate of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
I submit that none of those requirements has been complied with.
– I rule that the. Leader of the Opposition is in order. At the conclusion of his remarks he must submit a motion and produce copies of the newspapers, in accordance with the standing order.
– I have no desire to make difficulties for you, Mr. President, so early in your career in the occupancy of the Chair, but I ask whether the honorable senator, in interrupting my remarks, has the right to assume that I am ignorant of the Standing Orders. If I fall into a trap before I conclude my remarks, he may then gloat over the fact.
– There is a proper and regular way to submit motions relating to privilege. If the newspapers referred to are produced, we may assume that the honorable senator is acting in accordance with the standing order quoted.
– Does the honorable senator question the President’s ruling ?
– I am raising a point of order. I ask for the production of copies of the newspapers.
– I again point out that, when the Leader of the Opposition submits his motion, I shall ask him to comply with the standing order. He is now in order, and may proceed.
-The Hobart Mercury, of the 2nd July, published the following statement by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Beck) : -
Mr. Beck, M.H.R., stated, after the election, “ Here disappears Tasmania’s last official position in the Federal Parliament, and this has been brought about by the action of the three Tasmanian Labour senators, who have placed party before Tasmanian interests, and must be held responsible by the Tasmanian people for their actions “.
Not only is it a distinct and highly discreditable breach of privilege, as far as this Senate is concerned, but it is also another example of the traditional capacity of the Australian press to do everything it can at all times to belittle the Opposition and its policy and actions. I say “ at all times “ advisedly, and I suggest that just as, during recent times, honorable senators on both sides of this chamber have become more or less jealous of the honour of the Senate, as is shown by the fact that we object sometimes to certain procedure, so I think that we definitely have to assert ourselves in connexion with the matter that I am now raising. There is another phase of it, which perhaps does not quite concern the motion, yet is germane to it. Three honorable senators have been mentioned by name. I am not a lawyer, but Senator A. J. McLachlan can probably help me out of this difficulty, as he tried to do a few moments ago in an imaginary difficulty. Not having a legal mind, I should say that the three honorable senators who have been specifically mentioned have a very good claim for defamation damages.
– On the principle that the greater the truth the greater the libel.
– I suggest now that Senator A. J. McLachlan is exceeding; the bounds of decency. I was drawing the attention of the Senate to a state ment made by two different organs of the press which presume to know that a ballot was conducted in secrecy. I say now that the honorable senator is an accessory after the fact, because he says that the greater the truth the greater the libel. He also is careless of the honour of this Senate. He does not know how the three honorable senators voted, and he knows, as a lawyer, that he could not substantiate bis innuendo in a court of law, if he were put on his oath in the witness box. Having taken certified extracts from the two newspapers concerned, I now produce from the Commonwealth National Library the newspapers to which I have referred. I am serious in this matter, and I ask honorable senators to take my remarks seriously. After recent happenings in this chamber, I think that every honorable senator should be serious this morning. I move -
That this Senate expresses its extreme disapproval of the action of the Launceston Examiner and the Hobart Mercury, and of a member of another branch of this legislature in their breach of the privileges of this House.
– I rise to a point of order. That motion is not in accordance with Standing Order 427. It is not couched in the terms of that standing order.
– I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he add to the motion - “and declares the printers and publishers of the newspapers guilty of contempt”.
– I shall do that.
– Is the motion seconded ?
– What is the motion? We are entitled to hear it read. I do not think that it conforms with the terms of Standing Order 427.
– The Leader of Opposition has submitted the following motion : -
That the Senate expresses its extreme disapproval’ of the action of the Launceston Examiner and the Hobart Mercury and of a member of another branch of this legislature
The motion should be written more clearly. I ask the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) to re-write it.
– I was under the impression that a motion merely expressing disapproval of the action of certain newspapers would be sufficient. But I now find that, in order to comply with the Standing Orders, the motion must contain the names of the publishers of each of the newspapers to which it refers, and also the name of the person whom I hare mentioned. I have almost completed the re-writing of the motion, but in order to submit it in a form which will satisfy the legal minds in the chamber I shall have to re-write it again. As I do not wish to hold up the proceedings of the Senate, I suggest that other business be proceeded with in the meantime.
– I shall suspend the sitting for, say, ten minutes.
Sitting suspended from 11.18 to 11.33 a.m.
– I apologise to you, Mr. President, and to other honorable senators for the slight delay. In view of the seriousness of this matter it is proper that the motion shall, be correctly framed. As it was not until the bells were ringing for the Senate to assemble at 11 a.m. that I received advice as to how the motion should be framed, opportunity to prepare it has necessarily been limited. I move -
That this Senate expresses its extreme disapproval of the action of the press and Mr. Arthur James Beck, a member of the House of Representatives, in reflecting upon a secret ballot of this Senate, as reported in the Mercury newspaper of Hobart of 2nd July, 1941, page one, and in the Examiner newspaper of Launceston of 2nd July, 1941, page four, and declares the followingpersons guilty of contempt as provided for in Standing Order 427, namely, Arthur James Beck, member of the House of Representatives for Denison, Tasmania, Davies Brothers Limited, of93 Macquarie-street, Hobart, publishers and proprietors of the Mercury; and W. R. Rolph and Sons Proprietary Limited, publishers and proprietors of the Examiner, of Launceston, Tasmania.
.- I second the motion. The two newspapers referred to in the motion have been guilty of a flagrant breach of privilege. There seems to be some agreement among the proprietors of the Australian press either to ostracize this chamber on every possible occasion or to limit the publicity given to its proceedings to unfortunate incidents such as we witnessed last night. The action of my Leader in raising this matter is amply justified. I am amazed that the articles published in these two newspapers were passed by the censors. Generally speaking, the Australian press does a good job in connexion with our war effort and enjoys the goodwill of the majority of the people; but for a section of the press to suggest that the offices of President of the Senate and Chairman of Committees were competed for, and that, as the result, Tasmania has been unfairly treated, is atrocious. When the ballots were taken certain honorable senators supporting the Government were absent from the Senate and honorable senators on this side of the chamber merely exercised their undoubted right tosubmit themselves as candidates for the vacant positions. The ballots were taken secretly and fairly. No honorable senator in this chamber could possibly know how I cast my votes.
– I think that we all know that.
– I challenge any honorable senator to say how I voted in the secret ballots. How can any honorable senator opposite say that three honorable senators supporting the Government did not “ twist “ ? It was freely rumoured that certain honorable senators opposite favoured the appointment of a chairman from this side of the Senate.
– The outburst to which we were treated by honorable senators opposite last night shows how they love one another.
– I do not regard that incident seriously. One of the parties to the squabble has always “ been with the troops “. He may have voted with them on this occasion. It is a reflection on the three Labour senators from Tasmania to allege that, by their votes in the secret ballots, they inflicted an injury upon the State which they represent. The Commonwealth Constitution provides that Tasmania, which is the smallest State in the Commonwealth, and probably contains only as many people as there are in three big suburbs of Melbourne, shall have six representatives in this Senate. That is as it should be. During the last eight or ten years Tasmanian representatives in this Parliament have had a fair innings. That Tasmanians have been appointed to the high offices of Prime Minister of Australia, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President and Chairman of Committees of this chamber is evidence of the fair way iri which candidates have been selected. The newspaper reports complained of in the motion do not comprise &he only instances in which this Senate lias been unfairly treated by the press. 1 readily admit that when legislation reaches this chamber it is not news. Due to the way in which legislation is introduced into this Parliament, members of the House of Representatives are able to steal most of our thunder. I do not complain of that. I merely point out that in that may lie the reason why the press so persistently ignores the proceedings of this chamber. Honorable senators, however, are at long last realizing that this is the senior house of the Australian Parliament, and that its dignity should be upheld. Tt should be the task of all of us to see that; no member of this chamber is misrepresented, and for that reason this motion should be carried unanimously. It ill becomes the press of Australia to have thrown in this “dead pig “ at a time when the nation is experiencing the greatest difficulty in promoting its all-in war effort. It is also regrettable that at a time when we should present a united front to the world honorable senators should repudiate their leaders and indulge in exhibitions of malice as was done in this chamber last night. I am anxious to see how the unfortunate happenings in the Senate last night have been treated by the Tasmanian press. I commend the motion to honorable senators.
– On a point of order, I draw the attention of the Senate to Standing Order 418, which roads -
No senator should use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and nil personal reflections on members should be considered highly disorderly.
I regard the reference to “ Arthur James Beck, a member of the House of Representatives,” as distinctly offensive, and suggest that as it is out of order it should ho deleted.
– The Standing Orders do not prevent me from impeaching him for contempt.
– In a matter of privilege no one is exempt.
– Standing Order 427 reads -
Any senator complaining to the Senate of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to ha.ve been guilty of contempt.
It appears to me that the only people we are capable of dealing with for contempt are the printer and the publisher. I venture to say that by including in the motion the name of a member of the House of Representatives we shall find ourselves in difficult constitutional waters. If the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) wishes to proceed with his motion he should eliminate the reference to a member of the House of Representatives. That suggestion is in keeping with the point of order raised by Senator Johnston under another standing order. Our right to deal with contempt is limited to those who, as printers or publishers, have been guilty of contempt.
– I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he seek leave to amend his motion by deleting the words “ Arthur James Beck, a member of the House of Representatives “.
– Do I understand you to rule, Mr. President, that the inclusion of the name of a member of the House of Representatives in a motion of privilege is out of order? In my view, the Standing Orders permit me, in such a motion, to impeach any member of either House of the Parliament.
– If the honorable senator desires to impeach a member of the House of Representatives, I suggest that he should do so in a separate motion.
– I nsk leave to amend the motion by deleting the words “ Arthur James Beck, member of the House of Representatives “.
Leave granted; motion amended accordingly.
– I second the motion as amended.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) is asking us to take a very foolish action in respect of the press statements to which he has referred. Apart from what he has said, I am not aware of the nature of those statements. But does any sane being in the community fail to realize that the election of the President on Tuesday was decided on a party vote? Indeed, if any honorable senator opposite were to declare on oath that he did not vote for his party’s nominee, he would not be believed by any one. Yet we are now asked to declare the publishers of two reputable newspapers in Tasmania guilty of contempt of this Parliament. And for what? For telling the truth; because those papers have undoubtedly published the truth in this matter. That is what the Leader of the Opposition now asks us to do. We complain at times of the treatment which the Senate receives at the hands of the press. It has been well known that in the past Tasmanian members have been dissatisfied with their lack of representation in the Government, and in parliamentary posts. Recently, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Beck) expressed such dissatisfaction, but the statement for which the Leader of the Opposition evidently intends later to ask the Senate to censure that honorable member was made before the ballot for the election of President on Tuesday last. No honorable senator opposite would dare to declare that he did not vote in favour of the Opposition’s nominee for the presidency of this chamber. We are now asked to declare that in publishing the truth in this matter the publishers of two newspapers have been guilty of contempt of this Parliament. I admire the dexterity of the Leader of the Opposition in his endeavour to play upon the feelings of some honors) Me senators by saying that they do not receive fair treatment at the hands of the press. However his remark that the censorship should be employed to prevent newspapers from publishing the truth in a master of this kind is very significant.
– ‘Can the honorable senator prove that these reports are true?
– The voting was seventeen all.
– Did the honorable senator see any of the ballot papers?
Senator A. J. McLACHLANFrom what I know of my colleagues, I am convinced that without the support in one solid phalanx of members of the Opposition the voting would not have been even. I suppose, it is “ La guerre ! “ - the political war - as the French would say. In that ballot, the Opposition took advantage of the fact that one supporter of the Government was in hospital, and another Government honorable senator absent with our armed forces overseas. I do not know whether such tactics are really to the advantage of democratic government. I do not blame honorable senators opposite for voting as they did ; but when they ask this chamber as a whole to resent a statement of the truth by any newspaper, they ask us to bring ourselves into contempt and ridicule. Lei us take our gruel without “ squealing “.
– When was any supporter of the Government criticized by these newspapers?
– The honorable senator is apparently very touchy. He asks why the censorship was not used in order to prohibit the publication of these reports. It is a shocking thing to suggest that the censorship should be used to suppress a vote taken in this chamber, and to save the faces of honorable senators opposite, because their action in remaining loyal to their party in that ballot may have undesirable repercussions. If the Senate agrees to this motion, it will bring itself into contempt. Honorable senators opposite cannot take their gruel; the reports complained of have got under their political skins. With all the power at my command, I ask the Senate to reject the motion. Its adoption will be detrimental to, not only this branch of the legislature, but also every individual senator who, no doubt, exercised his vote in that ballot according to his conscience and in loyalty to his party. The original motion has been amended to exclude reference to the honorable member for Denison (Mr.
Beck), but apparently we shall be asked to deal with that aspect of the matter later. I urge honorable senators to preserve the dignity of the Senate, about which the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues declaim so much. They should reject the motion. If it be carried, we shall look ridiculous in the eyes of the people of Australia.
– As a Tasmanian representative in this chamber, I should like to address myself briefly to the motion. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) asks us to treat this matter seriously. He must be a pretty good leg-puller. I cannot treat it seriously. We are asked to declare the publishers of two newspapers guilty of contempt of this Parliament. Although the ballot for the election of the President was secret, we know that every honorable senator voted with his party.
– The honorable senator cannot know that.
– We do know it. I suggest that if my friends from Tasmania, Senators Darcey, Lamp and Aylett are prepared to swear that they voted for the Government nominee they would themselves be found guilty of contempt of the Australian Labour party, and dealt with accordingly by that organization. In considering this motion, we are making a mountain out of a molehill. If we agree to it, we shall make the Senate look ridiculous, and bring this chamber into contempt. God knows that at present this Parliament stands very unfavorably in the eyes of our people and, particularly, in the eyes of our soldiers overseas. We should endeavour to rectify that impression. The motion is too silly to be taken seriously. The Leader of the Opposition must be chuckling inwardly, when he trots out a motion of this kind. The sooner we get rid. of it and proceed to deal with serious matters the better.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat declared that this Parliament was not held in very great respect by our soldiers. I do not subscribe to that view; but if it be justified at all, it is because of such incidents as occurred in this chamber last evening. One Minister said, “ Let us get on with our war effort “. For two hours last evening this chamber witnessed a disgraceful exhibition on the part of a Minister and a supporter of the Government.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the motion.
SenatorFRASER. - This is a democratic Parliament. The ballot for the election of the President on Tuesday last was conducted strictly in compliance with the Standing Orders. We on this side have been attacked by these newspapers because we accomplished what the Labour party has not been able to accomplish for many years.
– Who accomplished it?
SenatorFRASER.- I do not know how the honorable senator voted. I know for which candidate I voted. The newspapers concerned have denounced certain honorable senators on this side because, allegedly, they voted for the Labour party’s nominee.
– Did they not do so?
SenatorFRASER. - I am not prepared to say whether they did or did not. My personal opinion is that the ex-President is a thorough gentleman. I have no hesitation in saying that. The facts are quite plain. Because the result of the election was not what had been expected, these newspapers have endeavoured to discredit certain honorable senators on this side of the chamber. They would destroy these gentlemen politically, because of their alleged action in recording their votes in favour of the Labour candidate for the presidency. That is the type of unwarranted attack which we must scotch on every possible occasion. It is typical of the constant assaults that are being made on our democratic rights, not only in this chamber but also throughout the country.
– Apparently honorable senators opposite object to criticism.
SenatorFRASER. - I do not object to criticism, but Senator Spicer knows as well as I do that the attack was made on a political basis.
– Was not the President elected on a political basis? Honorable senators opposite took advantage of the absence of a sick man.
– I remind Senator A. J. McLachlan that the President was elected in accordance with the Standing Orders of this chamber.
– He could not have been elected in any other way.
– Of course not, yet Senator A. J. McLachlan says that we on this side of the chamber took advantage of the situation. We should have been doing something in contravention of the Standing Orders had we not taken the course which we followed. Senator A. J. McLachlan made an eloquent speech in opposition to the motion, but I suggest that, had he been on this side of the chamber, he would have been just as eloquent in support of it.
– Why make a fuss?
– I am not making a fuss. The point is that because of their political affiliations these newspapers are seeking to destroy the very basis of democracy. They have gone out of their way to denounce three honorable senators on this side of the chamber. The three honorable senators concerned are the only ones who know how they voted. If lives are to be sacrificed overseas for democratic ideals, the press should not be permitted to indulge in a vendetta against individuals in this way. If the capitalist press of this country is to be free to discredit individuals, democracy will gradually be worn away, and those who £ire perpetuating this system will have the most to lose. I support the motion and [ shall have something further to say when a similar motion is moved later.
– I support the motion. Attacks, such as this in the press are nothing new. It is part and parcel of the policy of these newspapers to seize upon every occasion, whether they be right or wrong, to discredit members of the Labour party. We iiic held up to ridicule whenever the opportunity offers. The very sky is painted in letters of red showing what terrible nien we arc, devoid of principles and honour. As a matter of fact, Senator .T. E. Hayes was not voted out. The voting was equal, and he lost the decision in the subsequent draw from the box - a procedure which is apparently favoured by honorable senators opposite. The newspapers concerned represent wealthy private interests, and their policy is the very antithesis of the Labour party’s policy. Their aim is always to discredit Labour representatives if they cannot be bludgeoned into acquiescence. Senator A. J. McLachlan said a lot about truth. Apparently he regards himself as the personification of truth, but I am certain that neither he nor any other honorable senator opposite would be prepared to go into the witness box and swear as to how honorable senators on this side of the chamber voted. The editors of the newspapers concerned would not be prepared to make such a declaration. Obviously they could not do it. They could not satisfy any court, even if it were biased against Labour. The result of the presidential election was seized upon to endeavour to discredit certain Tasmanian senators for party political reasons. I repeat that it is all part and parcel of the policy of the privately owned press. Much has been said about the interests of Tasmania. Apparently honorable senators opposite would have us believe that those newspapers represent the interests of Tasmania, and that those interests have been jeopardized or prejudiced as the result of the voting for the President of this chamber. Nobody in his right senses would give credence to a statement of that kind. The “interests of Tasmania “ is a phrase used to cover up ulterior motives. That is exactly what has happened in this case, as it has in many other cases. Those newspapers do not represent the interests of Tasmania as a whole to a greater degree than do honorable senators opposite.
– What has that to do with the motion?
– The policy of those papers is to stampede or bludgeon Labour members into supporting whatever views they hold. Just because their nominee was defeated, the suggestion is put forward that the interests of Tasmania have been prejudiced. It is not said, as would be the truth, that the interests of the party supporting the
Government have been prejudiced. That is the true position. With honorable senators opposite, party interests are of primary importance.
– The newspapers concerned did not publish either of these things.
– I am merely telling the Senate exactly what the newspapers stand for and my statements cannot be denied. The privatelyowned press is 100 per cent anti-Labour, 100 per cent, against increases of wages and everything else that democracy stands for, and 100 per cent, in favour of the existing dictatorship in this country. It seeks to intimidate every Labour representative who is weak or foolish enough to be influenced by it. That is what is behind this attack. If this attack be allowed to pass unchallenged, more would follow. Those newspapers would continue in the same strain, and claim that, by their silence, Labour representatives had acquiesced in their previous attack. It would be claimed that we had nothing tosay and had no defence to offer.
– We have not heard anything from the Labour senators representing Tasmania.
– Possibly the Tasmanian Labour senators are waiting to see if there is any sense of fairness in honorable senators opposite. Senator Sampson said that action of this kind would bring Parliament into contempt with the men fighting overseas. I do not agree with that, and I shall tell the honorable senator exactly what will bring this legislature into contempt with the men overseas. When the Government does everything possible to prevent these men from receiving pensions to which they will be entitled when they come back, refuses to pay them adequate wages, and does not protect their dependants as they should be protected, Parliament is held in contempt.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator addressing himself to the motion now before the Senate ?
– I ask Senator Cameron to confine his remarks to the motion.
– I have been trying to keep as close to the motion as did Senator Sampson. The honorable senator claimed that the passing of this motion would bring Parliament into contempt, and I am endeavouring to show that the attack is in conformity with the policy of this anti-Labour Government, a policy which these newspapers stand for and which they would like to see followed to a far greater degree than it is at present. Therefore, when Senator Sampson says that a motion of this kind would bring Parliament into contempt, I suggest that it is proper that we should see whether, by a process of mental projection, he is attributing to others the very traits which he himself, and other Government supporters, possess. The Government is doing more than we could ever hope to do to bring this national institution into contempt. I am sorry that that note has been struck. I agree that we should have kept more closely to the subject-matter before the Chair, but since the opportunity was taken by honorable senators opposite to introduce matters which are not entirely relevant, it is very bad taste for any one to object when those arguments are opposed. If they were not opposed, it would be said that, because of our silence, we acquiesced in them. I hope that the motion will be carried. I repeat that there is a great deal more in this matter than appears on the surface. The discredit of every man or woman who represents the Labour movement is a practice that has been resorted to for years. The more capable and determined the Labour representatives are, the more newspapers such as those mentioned attack them, ridicule them, discredit them, and do everything else to outlaw them socially. In spite of that, however, the Labour movement is becoming stronger and stronger. It may be said that we could afford to ignore this attack. Of course we could, but it would not be the proper thing to do. We should take full advantage of the opportunity we have to tell those newspapers exactly what we know them to be, and to tell the people what they are trying to do.
.- The Standing Orders of the Senate provide for secret ballots but we are told by honorable senators opposite and the two newspapers mentioned how the three Labour senators from Tasmania voted. Therefore, we should carry this motion, if only for the purpose of protecting the officers of the Senate. When a senator receives a ballotpaper he writes on it the name of the candidate for whom he desires to vote, and the officers of the Senate are the only persons who see the names on the ballotpaper. The press statements to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has referred show an attempt to intimidate Labour senators, but, even supposing the three honorable senators did vote in the way suggested, this Senate is supposed to be a non-party chamber and to look after the interests of the respective States. That is provided for in the Constitution.
– That is a new interpretation of the Constitution.
– We should bc guided by the Constitution, and, if the Labour senators representing Tasmania voted as has been suggested, they probably took into consideration the position of honorable senators who have occupied high positions in this Parliament for a considerable time. The people of Tasmania have mad;e many complaints regarding the treatment that they have received from the Menzies Government, and the three Labour senators from that State may have thought that a change was desirable.
– Which, way did they vote?
– I cannot tell the Minister that. The Minister reflects on the officers of this Senate, who are the only persons who saw the handwriting on the ballot-papers. The three Labour senators representing Tasmania may have thought, that the present Government had exerted little effort to prevent Tasmania from being robbed of its manhood by reason of the attractions of the mainland States to persons desirous of obtaining employment as munition workers; or was the Government anxious that there should be no change in the occupancy of the positions of President of the Senate and Chairman of Committees, so that plums might be provided to induce certain honorable senators to remain silent about the treatment received by the people of
Tasmania? This Senate should declare that the newspapers concerned have been guilty of contempt. It is questionable how far the Government should accept voluntary censorship of the press, but the statement to which reference has been made is very likely to create a considerable degree of disunity among the working classes of Tasmania who are engaged in the manufacture of munitions and arc helping to provide large profits for the supporters of the Menzies Government. As the Labour party is doing its best to bring about an all-in national war effort the Department of Information should take action with respect to certain newspaper reports which are published from time to time. For the protection of the officers of this chamber, I hope that honorable senators opposite will discontinue saying that they know how the three Tasmanian Labour senators voted.
– I ask the Senate to reject the motion. The officers of the Senate are in no way concerned in this matter, because the ballots referred to are held secretly and the officers do not know By whom the votes are recorded. In view of the fact that urgent business awaits the attention of honorable senators, I suggest that this debate be concluded as quickly as possible.
– I draw attention to the fact that this is the second occasion on which the action of Tasmanian newspapers has been questioned in this Parliament during the last year or so, and that those are the only newspapers whose conduct has warranted the special attention of the Parliament. On a previous occasion the Hobart Mercury published a faked photograph of the chamber of the House of Representatives in an endeavour to discredit this democratic institution. Having failed to do so, and having caused the Menzies Government to threaten to impose a censorship on the press, it now tries to damage the Labour movement. Actions of this kind bring about dictatorships. I can understand the newspapers in Tasmania, and all vested interests throughout Australia, which are represented by the Menzies Government and the political parties which support it, desiring to discredit the Labour movement, but the action to which exception has been taken to-day goes further than that. In my opinion, certain newspapers desire to destroy democracy, and set up in Australia a fascist dictatorship. That is what I fear, and I make the statement in all sincerity. Senator Sampson said that he could not treat this matter seriously, but so serious was the recent action of one of the capitalist newspapers that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) drew attention to a faked photograph taken in this building. That was more than a party political manoeuvre; it was designed to induce the people to lose interest inthe National Parliament. Now Tasmanian newspapers have made a further attempt to belittle the Senate. Is it desired by the Government that those newspapers should be protected? Their owners should he made to realize that the Senate is the upper branch of this legislature. If the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) considers that the Government is bound to support those newspapers, I again remind him that when, a short time ago, because of the action of one of those newspapers, the freedom of the press throughout Australia was threatened, every newspaper which had tried to act decently asked members of the Australian Labour party to do something to prevent press censorship regulations from being implemented. Now the Leader of the Senate asks us to reject this motion because he thinks that it would interfere with cheapjack capitalist newspapers published in Tasmania, which first wanted to damage ordestroy our democratic system and now desire to besmirch the good name of the Australian Labour party.
.- The only serious aspect of this matter is the readiness with which the members of the Opposition would interfere with the liberties of the press. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has propounded this motion upon the basis that certain statements contained in the newspapers referred to were not true, and, in those circumstances, I submit that the onus lies upon him to satisfy me and every other member of the Senate that what appeared in the newspapers was not true. Everything that we have heard in this chamber this morning would convince an unbiased observer that the three Labour senators representing Tasmania who are alleged to have supported the Labour candidate for the presidency did support him. Not a single member of the Opposition is prepared to stand up in his place and say that, he does not believe that those senators voted for the Labour Party nominee. It would be a simple matter for the three Labour members from Tasmania to place the matter beyond doubt.
– Ho w ?
– By telling us that they did not vote as has been alleged.
– We should then break the oath which we took here three years ago.
– No breaking of their oath would be involved in such action. Two Tasmanian newspapers have been charged by the Leader of the Opposition with a serious offence, and, if I understand anything about the principles of British justice, the duty of the prosecutor is to prove his case.
-Which he did.
– He did not. He produced a newspaper which contained a sta tement tha t, every member ofthis chamber believes to be true. The obligation lies on the Leader of the Opposition who, on this occasion, is taking on the task of prosecutor, to convince us that the statements in the newspapers are not true. So far he has done nothing to prove that they are untrue. Moreover, I challenge him to tell us that he believes that the statements are untrue. He is not prepared to do so, and yet we are asked to declare that these newspapers have been guilty of contempt.
There is another important aspect of this subject. In a democracy it is a serious matter to find that a responsible political party would be prepared, if it controlled the censorship, to prevent the publication of the truth. Indeed, the Opposition would go farther, for it would use the censorship to prevent reasonable political criticism by newspapers. This newspaper comment has got under the skin of the Opposition, and that is the real cause of its complaint. The Opposition objects to the electors of Tasmania being told how their representatives in this chamber acted. I am not prepared to support the motion, for I believe that the carrying of it would bring Parliament into contempt.
– in reply - In all sincerity, I say that I am astonished that the motion which I have moved should have created so much excitement. I was honestly of the opinion that the interpretation which I put on the newspaper comment was so obvious that it had only to be stated for the Senate to express, to use the terms of my motion, “ its entire disapproval “. Nevertheless, I am not altogether amazed at the heat which has been displayed by honorable senators on the other side of the chamber. I know the history of the evolution of Parliament. I know the fight that had to be waged through the ages to obtain the right to have parliaments in which men would be free to express what they thought. I know, too, of the fight for the secrecy of the ballot. Unlike those younger men who rush in where angels fear to tread, and thereby expose their folly, I know the penalty that had to be paid by myself, and others, for our efforts to obtain a secret ballot. I can remember the days when there was no secret ballot - when voting was open, and the candidate with the most money to provide free beer in the streets bought and obtained the most votes. It has been suggested that I have moved this motion because we on this side of the chamber - the heirs of the pioneers who engaged in the struggle for the secrecy of the ballot - cannot stand criticism. I ask the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLcay), and those other honorable senators who have spoken from the Government benches, if they believe that the Opposition in this chamber is afraid of criticism, and is unable to bear it? They know that is not so. I arn astonished at the defence that they have put up. As Senator Spicer has said, we on this side arc the prosecutors. He is the self-appointed counsel for the defendants, and that accounts for his heat this morning. Because of their expressed approval of these newspapers honorable senators opposite are on their trial.
– The accuser usually has to prove his case.
– We shall have no trouble in doing that. Senator Spicer began his speech on behalf of the defendants by making a statement which was entirely inaccurate. I do not think that he acted with malice aforethought, but rather that he made a mistake, when he attributed to me a statement which I not only did not make, but also have no intention to make. According to the honorable senator, I said that the statements made in the press were not true. I said nothing of the kind.
– To what does the honorable senator object?
– I said that a secret ballot was taken in this chamber the day before yesterday. The publishers of two newspapers published in Tasmania, and a member of the House of Representatives. have declared that they know how certain votes were recorded. I have not challenged the truth of their statement, but I want to know how they know the way in which the votes were recorded. Counsel for the defence can put me into the witness box, in which event I shall swear that I do not know how any honorable senator on the other side of the chamber voted.
– What is the honorable senator’s belief ?
– In a court of la w, belief is not evidence, and the honorable senator knows it. Belief may mean anything. I have never taken an oath in my life, and I will never do so; but I am prepared to go into the witness box and affirm that i do not know how one nian on the other side of the chamber voted. I do know how one man on this side voted, and I am prepared to go into the witness box and say so. I know how I’ voted. Senator Keane is sitting alongside me, but I do not know how he voted : and I would not be impudent enough to ask him.
– I should resent any such question.
– Some of the remarks made by Government supporters this morning were entirely unworthy, as well as unkind. Outside the chamber, I know that it has been said that the Opposition took advantage of the fact that one’ Government supporter was abroad fighting the nation’s battles with the Australian Imperial Force; that another had been taken suddenly ill, aud had been conveyed to hospital; and also that another honorable senator suffers disabilities ‘because of his heroism on the other side of the world on a former sad occasion. In addition to being unworthy, such statements are untrue. The Opposition has voluntarily given a pair to Senator Wilson for so long as he is away with the Australian Imperial Force. He did not ask for it, although I know that lie desired it. We have honoured that undertaking by giving to him a pair in every division that has occurred since he left this chamber. Moreover, the Opposition has never refused a pair to a sick man. Only last week, a pair was given in such circumstances, but not on the occasion of the taking of a secret ballot:
– It would have been easy for a couple of members of the Opposition to walk out when the ballot was being taken.
– The Minister has fallen into the trap which I set for him. His interjection suits me very well. What does the Government expect from members of the Opposition? Does it expect us always to be magnanimous and self-sacrificing, and unmindful of the fact that Opposition members comprise practically half of the voting strength of this chamber? Does the Minister really think that two members of this party should have walked out of the chamber on an occasion of great importance to the nation, especially when we believe that a change should be made in the official representation of this chamber? Has the Minister himself ever done anything of that kind? Has the Government ever shown any willingness to water down its anti-Labour legislation to meet the wishes of the Opposition? In the days when the Opposition in this chamber consisted of three senators, how waa it treated by the Government majority? Yet, when the Opposition acts in. its own interest, it is told that it has done something that it, ought not to have done. I repeat that we have given sick mcn pairs whenever they have asked for them. Only last week, three of my colleagues were paired with three honorable senators opposite.
I regret that similar action on our part may have to be taken again in the near future. Before honorable senators opposite indulge in gibes, they had better go back to what occurred in their own party meeting. I ask them to reflect on their treatment of one of their number who, while a soldier in the last war, lost a leg. If honorable senators opposite will think seriously of their own conduct, they may be less inclined to lay against the Opposition charges which, in addition to being untrue, are unkind and unworthy of men holding responsible positions. I am not astounded to find honorable senators opposite rushing to defend the publishers of those two newspapers, because it is natural for men to defend their friends. Some honorable senators opposite are where they are because of newspaper tactics, and for that reason they have rushed in this morning to defend the newspapers which support them. I do not propose to lay a second charge of contempt against the Examiner, but I propose to read from another portion of it, in order that honorable senators may understand why I am impeaching it for contempt. I have never read anything more amazing. Sitting suspended from 1246 to 8.15 “p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I was proceeding to show how the publishers of two newspapers which I have indicated are the friends of honorable senators opposite, and that it is natural that honorable senators opposite should rush to defend them. I was still less astonished at the attack made on honorable senators on this side of the chamber when I read the following news item which appeared in the Launceston Examiner, one of the newspapers which I have impugned : -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) lias arranged to visit Launceston on the 18th and 10th July for the annual State conference of the United Australia and Nationalist Organization.
The Prime Minister is to address a public meeting in thu Albert Hall on the 19th July.
I do not wish anybody to think that I object to that. He has a perfect right to go where he pleases, say what he pleases and address whom he pleases. The article continues -
A meeting nf the Bass-Wilmot Divisional Council was held at Launceston last evening.
Representatives were present from the town and. country, the country representation being particularly satisfactory. The chairman was Mr. Gordon B. Rolph.
It is a gentleman named Rolph. whom I am indicting for contempt. There are the links in the chain of evidence which shows that these newspapers are so biased against the party to which I belong that they are prepared to destroy the secrecy of a ballot taken in this chamber, and to defame and politically injure three honorable senators who sit in this chamber.
Question put -
That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
- by leave - In view of the many questions asked in connexion with petrol stocks, I desire to inform honorable senators that the stocks held by the various oil companies are not based on sales, nor on any period for consumption. At the outbreak of war, the companies were asked to increase the stocks to three months’ supply, and the larger companies did so. More than twelve months ago, when the cartel was being formed, the companies agreed to increase their stocks to the limits of storage capacity, and financial assistance has always been available if required. Financial assistance has been declined only in respect of increased seaboard storage. It is the Government’s policy to increase storage inland. The cartel was formed mainly to increase that capacity, and to pool both tankers and tanks. Provision was also made to pool stocks. The cartel is a voluntary arrangement entered into by all importing companies to assist, in increasing storage, and the sales quotas fixed by them are incidental to that objective. Unfortunately, the British controlled companies have had special difficulties in getting tankers. The cartel and the individual companies have been asked to get tankers wherever they may be available. The Government has assisted the smaller companies in particular, and is negotiating for the direct, purchase of large stocks. At every point, however, the world shortage of tankers presents serious obstacles. There is no truth in the statement that tankers serving Australia have been diverted to Japan. The Government will support any endeavour to get tankers from any source. Aviation spirit is supplied under contract and has priority for tanker capacity. The prices paid compare favorably with those paid by any other country. The two larger companies are the contractors because they alone have been able to fulfil the onerous conditions of supply throughout the Commonwealth for Royal Australian Air Force depots not only in the settled areas, but also in many remote places throughout the continent. The price varies according to locality and the landed cost of the product. It is impossible to reveal figures of stocks or other information without disclosing vital facts to the enemy. Stocks are much better than has been alleged, though they are not, as great as we need. On all these questions the Government is in constant communication with the British Government, and is making the strongest possible representations for the release of more tankers for all classes of petroleum products. Three additional tanker voyages have been allotted to Australia within the last few days, two for aviation spirit and one to build up stocks of motor spirit for civil purposes. These tankers will increase stocks by approximately 8,000,000 gallons.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army if the Government will take immediate action to ensure that adequate aircraft protection is allotted to each Australian Imperial Force division overseas when engaged in active operations, such aircraft support to be responsible directly to the divisional commander and not to the Royal Air Force command as is now the case in the operations in Syria? In view of the fact that battles are raging now, I ask the Minister to answer my question this afternoon.
– The Government has al ways made the strongest representations that adequate aircraft be provided for the protection of our troops overseas. I cannot undertake to do something that might result in changing policy of the command on the battlefront, but I shall see that the honorable senator’s question is brought to the notice of the Government. I assure him that the Government is taking appropriate steps to ensure that full equipment is always available where pur units are ‘fighting.
Aviation Spirit - Motor Spirit
– Will the Leader of the Senate state what price is now being paid by the Government for aviation spirit?
– No. I assure the honorable senator that it is being bought on thebest possible terms.
– We do not believe that.
– I assure the honorable senator that that is so. However, as he says he does not believe it,I can say no more.
– Will the Leader of the Senate indicate which Minister is in control of motor spirit?
– The Minister for Supply and Development.
Re-opening of Walsh Island Dockyard.
– Is the Government aware that the New South Wales Government has decided to re-open Walsh Island Dockyard for the urgent and vital purpose of building ships? If so, what financial assistance is it proposed to provide for the purpose of expediting this essential national war effort?
– With the concurrence of the Commonwealth Government the future development of Walsh Island is at present the subject of negotiation between the Government of New South. Wales and the Australian Shipbuilding Board.
-Can the Minister for Munitions say when a commencement will be made with the erection of the munition building and plant at Rutherford? Will the Government treat that project as urgent, in viewof the fact that it will provide work for a large number of the unemployed in northern New South Wales?
-I assure the honorable senator that the Government regards the erection of that factory as urgent, and that work will be commenced as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What assistance is at present rendered by the Federal Government to gold prospectors in Australia?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer : -
The Government has placed a. tax on gold equal to 50 per cent, of the price in excess of £9 a fine ounce. The present tax amounts to 17s. an ounce. To assist the gold prospector the Government refunds to each prospector the amount of gold tax. paid upon the first 25 ounces of gold upon which he directly or indirectly pays tax in any year.
asked the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for Aircraft Production, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
In view of the threatened shortage of superphosphate, will the Government have an investigation made into the extent, grade and value of the deposits of phosphatic rock known to exist in Western Australia?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Inquiries have been made with regard to the honorable senator’s suggestion that the deposits in Western Australia should be investigated. Information is available in the Industrial Chemistry Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research concerning these deposits, which have been reported upon in the annual reports of the Western Australian Department of Mines over a period of many years. However, little commercial production of phosphate materials has been recorded in Western Australia since 1908. Apparently some benefication of Australian phosphates is necessary before the material would be of commercial value. It is understood that Professor W. S. Bayliss of the University of Western Australia is conducting preliminary investigations on these lines.
– On the 25th June, Senator Ashley asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army the following question, upon notice -
What quantities of the following fruits have been supplied by the Apple and Pear Board or other organizations to the military camps during the past twelve months: - (a) Apples; (&) pears; and (c) bananas?
The Minister for the Army has now supplied the following answer: -
The following quantities of fresh fruit have been supplied to military camps during the last twelve months: - (a) Apples 206,857 cases; (b) pears 1,373 cases; and (c) bananas 28,355 cases.
Report No. 3 of the Printing Com mittee brought up by Senator Aylett, and - by leave - adopted.
Tasmanian “ Mercury “ : Comments on Secret Ballot for Election of President of the Senate.
– I rise to a question of privilege. I have no intention of adding to what I said on the motion involving privilege which I moved this morning. I move -
That this Senate expresses its extreme disapproval of the action of Mr. Arthur James Beck, member of the House of Representatives, in reflecting upon a secret ballot of this Senate, in a statement to the Tasmanian Mercury of the 2nd July, 1941, page 1, and declares that the said Arthur James Beck, member of the House of Representatives for Denison, Tasmania, is guilty of contempt.
– I second the motion. In doing so, I wish, briefly, to supplement the statement i made when speaking to the motion of privilege dealt with this morning, that such newspaper reports should have been censored. That statement evoked a tirade of opposition from honorable senators opposite. My contention is supported by the fact that pressmen’s reports of speeches by two honorable members in the House of Representatives last evening in criticism of the Government were censored. If censorship of criticism of the Government by two members of the House of Representatives is justified, my contention that newspaper criticism of the Senate of the kind now under consideration should be censored is not unsound.
– I trust that this motion will not be carried. All the remarks made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) in opposition toa motion of a similar character moved this morning apply equally in this case. My only reason for rising at this stage is to refer to a statement made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Keane) in regard to the application of censorship. Quite frankly, I admit that this would be one of the worst possible matters to which censorship could be applied. Censorship should be applied only to statements of a subversive character or to information relating to troop movements, the movements of ships, the production of munition factories and so on, which would endanger the nation should such information reach the enemy. It is strange that the application of censorship should beurged in this chamber, whereas in the House of Representatives to-day a strong protest was made because censorship had been applied to statements which, had they been transmitted overseas, would be of definite value to the enemy. In regard to what occurred last night I assure honorable senators that it was not a question of speeches as such being censored. The instructions given were of a specific nature, and referred only to certain statements.
– A whole speech was censored.
– If that be so, it was done in error. No instructions were issued thatthe whole of any speech should he censored. Following discussions with my colleagues, and with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I issued instructions that no censorship was to be applied to the debate that took place this morning. I believe that censorship should be used only in regard to statements which if published would be of value to the enemy. I remind honorable senators that a number of statements made by individuals, and published in the press, have been quickly seized upon by the Axis Powers and used for propaganda purposes in an endeavour to disintegrate the Empire and impair our war effort. My view is that censorship should be used very carefully indeed because one privilege which we should jealously guard in this country should be freedom of speech, thought, and publicity. I should also point out that the censorship is not confined to the speeches of private members of this Parliament or to the utterances of members of any particular party. Statements by Ministers are subject to censorship. Some of my own statements have been censored, because information contained in them, such as the location of a particular factory, or the position of an important roadway, might have been of value to the enemy. That is the only basis upon which censorship should operate, and I should be strongly opposed to allowing such a matter as this to become the subject of any form of censorship.
– I support the motion, and, in doing so, I again wish to refer to a remark made by Senator Spicer this morning. The honorable senator said that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Callings) has failed dismally - I think that is the expression he used. Apparently Senator Spicer was prepared to support the Leader of the Opposition’s previous motion, had it been justified by the truth. He has an opportunity to give that support now.
– There is not very much logic in that argument.
– I repeat that Senator Spicer will have an opportunity to take a stand in this matter. I understood the honorable senator to say this morning that had there been a tittle of truth in the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition, he would have supported the motion.
– I did not say that.
– Although the numbers against us prevents us from carrying this motion, I believe it to be the duty of honorable senators on this side of the chamber to bring such matters before the Senate and the public. I agree that the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Beck) should be disciplined. The following paragraph appeared in the Hobart Mercury -
” Curse “, Says Mr.beck. “ My federal political experience, short though it may be, bus convinced me that the greatest curse in Australia is the professional politician “, said Mr. A. J. Beck, M.H.R., in an address to the Australian Women’s National League at Hobart yesterday. The president (Mrs. F. Mary Parker) was in the chair.
Mr. Beck said the professional party politician was not pulling his weight.”You have seen photographs of an empty House “, said Mr. Beck, “ and it is not surprising. To hear these men prating at length in endless repetition is both a waste of valuable time and very boring “. The professional party politician was actuated in all he did by considerations of his own political skin only. They should forget party today and work for the nation. That was one of their major troubles - talking all the time and getting nowhere.
He hud come to the conclusion that Hansard was one of the curses of Parliament. He had seen professional politicians begin to speak, notice that the Hansard reporter was absent, and wait for him to arrive before continuing.
In the first place, that is a reflection upon members of the Hansard staff, who are officers of this Parliament. That is the first untrue statement that Mr. Beck made in his address to that body.
– I know of no occasion since I have been a member of this chamber on which a Hansard reporter has not been in the chamber when a speech was being delivered. Neither have I heard of such a state of affairs in the House of Representatives. Had the honorable member for Denison made such a statement in Parliament, an explanation would have been demanded.
Any one who supports such statements is not protecting the honour of this Parliament. The paragraph continues -
There was too much speaking for the time limit of three-quarters of an hour-
This is the portion to which I wish to draw attention. It is a reflection on the speaker himself, and I ask that action be taken against the honorable member for Denison along the lines suggested by the Leader of the Opposition - mid too frequent granting of an additional quarter of an hour on the motion of a friend pf the speaker.
That is a reflection on the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
– It is not.
– It definitely is, despite what the Minister may say in an endeavour to camouflage it. The honorable member for Denison says in effect that unless a member is a friend of the Speaker he is not able to secure an extension of a quarter an hour. That is a gross misrepresentation of the true position. The honorable member for Denison is charging the Speaker with being unfair. When he made that statement the honorable member was addressing a meeting of the Australian Women’s National League at Hobart.
– The bosses of honorable senators opposite.
– Exactly. One would not expect them to accept a dose of poison. I have not yet come to the conclusion whether the honorable member for Denison is a Nazi or a Fascist, or is endeavouring by means of his “utterances in. the press to break down the very principle for which this country is fighting, namely the freedom of speech and the freedom of thought. He is deliberately endeavouring to discredit the National Parliamen t.
– And so much abused.
Sena tor FRASER. - Yes, by men like the honorable member for Denison. I hope that his term will be very short, but even if it is he will gain great experience. Since payment of members has been introduced, the masses have enjoyed parliamentary representation and there was therefore no need for the gibe about professional politicians.
– What has that to do with the motion?
– The honorable senator does not like my criticism. History has shown, time after time, the influence exerted by “ big business “ under our democratic form of government, but the working classes have had a fairer deal since the introduction of payment of members, which has made it possible for them to have adequate representation.
.- I have been in politics for twenty years, and only once during that .period have I known of a censure motion relating to an individual member of Parliament being introduced. On that occasion, the motion was not seconded. If we are to censure members of this Parliament for the remarks they make, where would the matter end ? I thought that the Labour party stands for freedom of speech, hui it is now trying to gag and censure those who freely express their opinions.
– He would not have been allowed to make the statement in the House of Representatives.
– If the honorable member for Denison were censured for making the remarks referred to, the party that happened to be in a majority could censure every speaker opposing it. I hope that the Senate will reject this ridiculous motion.
– I rise to order and appeal to you, Mr. President, to have regard for the Standing Orders. In my opinion, it would be a flagrant breach of all the courtesies that have ever existed .between the two branches of the legislature to censure members of the other chamber, either individually or collectively. I regret that you have been somewhat embarrassed, by the raising of this matter, po early in your career as President, but there is more in this than whether the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Beck) did or did not make a certain statement. He represnts a division in the House of Representatives, and is entitled r,o all of the privileges attached to membership of that chamber. Standing Order 41S, to which Senator Johnston referred this morning, states -
Sci senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House, or of any House of a State parliament, or against any statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.
The Leader of the Opposition (.Senator Collings) disapproves of a statement of a more or less political character made by the honorable member for Denison because it affects certain senators from a particular State. I ask first of all that the motion should be ruled out of order-
– I rise to a point of order. I draw your attention, Mr. President, to the ruling that you have already given, and to Standing Order 429, which states -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must bc taken at once, and in writing. . . .
– The honorable senator is endeavouring to get over a stile which has not yet been reached. I am asking you, sir, to rule in a certain way. I could take the action to which the honorable senator has just referred, but it would please me better not no have to do so. I now refer you to Standing Order 427. You, Mr. President, have already observed that under the standing order there is no power to deal with anybody except the person named as the printer or publisher of the newspaper concerned. Standing Order 427 provides that any senator complaining of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege must submit a substantive motion declaring that the person in question has been guilty of contempt. Therefore, I suggest that you should rule that the present motion is out of order. If the Senate rejects it, as it probably will, its action will serve as a precedent in years to come. Senator Fraser once referred to the dark days of Magna Charta, but I point out that it would be contrary to the spirit of the Constitution and of the Standing Orders to carry this motion. I do not know what power the Leader of the Opposition has to submit a motion of this kind.
– Is it proposed to transmit the motion, if carried, to the other branch of the legislature?
– It is such a fatuous motion that I do not know what would happen to it, but, if we passed it, an unhappy position would arise because the House of Representatives would probably retaliate and take similar action because of some statement by an honorable senator that might cause offence. Supposing that I were to say that, on occasions, inkwells had been thrown about in the other chamber and that bad language had hean used. I could go on with that kind of recrimination indefinitely, but it ie important for us to preserve the dignity of both chambers. Honorable members in the other branch of the legislature have to answer in the long run to their masters, the electors, if they comport themselves in any way derogatory to the dignity of the Parliament. If the Leader of the Opposition has any authority at all for submitting this motion, I have not been able to discover it in the Standing Orders. As I do not believe that this Senate should be set up as a judge of the conduct of members of the House of Representatives, I ask that the motion be ruled out of order. I ask yo.u, Mr. President, to do this in the interests of good relations between the two branches of the legislature, and in the spirit of Standing Orders 418 and 427. Some matters irrelevant to the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition have been mentioned, since his motion is based on the grounds advanced this morning regarding the two Tasmanian newspapers to which reference has been made. The Senate would be ill-advised in taking the action proposed by the Leader of the Opposition, and I ask for a ruling whether the Senate has power to censure a member of the House of Representatives.
– The motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) expresses the extreme disapproval of the Senate of the action of a member of the other branch of the legislature in reflecting upon a secret ballot of the Senate in a statement published in the Hobart Mercury. The statement made by the member of another place was made, not on the floor of the House of Representatives, but in the
State in which the newspaper is published, and therefore I rule that the motion is in order.
– in reply - There is very little to which I desire to reply, because little has been said in opposition to the motion. One good result of the discussion will be that honorable senators opposite will have a more intimate acquaintance with the Standing Orders of theSenate than they have previously possessed.
– I wish to take exception to your ruling, Mr. President, and will hand in my objection in writing.
The’ PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator is too late. He did not take exception to my ruling when it was given.
– The longer this discussion continues, the more evident it becomes that there is a definite conspiracy on the other side of the chamber to prevent the Opposition from obtaining justice, when it draws attention to a distinct breach of privilege on the part of members of Parliament and other individuals.
SenatorFoll. - I rise to a point of order. The Government takes the strongest exception to the statement that there is a definite conspiracy to prevent the Opposition from obtaining justice. I ask that the statement be withdrawn.
– I regret that the Minister should suddenly have become so touchy. However, I withdraw the word “ conspiracy “ with pleasure, and say that there seems to be a definite honorable understanding among honorable senators on the other side of the chamber to allow an injustice to be done to the Senate in regard to the secrecy of the ballot. The official who conducted the ballot went to elaborate lengths to show how open and above-board everything connected with it was. He is the only man in this chamber who knows how members voted.
– He does not know that.
– I agree that he could not know how members voted unless he were unfaithful to his trust; but he could know how the votes were oast, because each honorable senator had to write on the ballot-paper, in his own handwriting, the name of the candidate for whom he voted.
– The official could do as the Minister for the Interior did, and refer the writing to a handwriting expert.
– When the great legal luminaries on the other side who know so much about everything that they know little about anything come to interpret the Standing Orders, they do not help us a great deal. Had your ruling, Mr. President, not been what it was, I should have taken refuge in Standing Order No. 447, which reads - 447. Except so far as is expressly provided, these Standing Orders shall in no way restrict the mode in which the Senate may exercise and uphold its powers, privileges, and immunities.
There is nothing in the Standing Orders which expressly provides that I shall not impeach a member of another place for saying what he has said. If I had done nothing else, I have at least drawn attention to something which, in the opinion of the Opposition, is serious, namely, that although this is supposed to be & States House, and although we on this side belong to one party and stand to that party and its policy at all times, it is now obvious that at no stage of its proceedings is the Senate other than a party House. Every member on the Government side has declared that he is prepared to see the Senate done a supreme injustice, in that he is willing to allow one of the most sacred privileges which we so far have enjoyed, to be impinged upon by the press of this country, even when the Opposition has the courage to expose what the press has done. Before crossing the floor, honorable senators opposite should give to this matter a few moments earnest consideration. I know that in ordinary circumstances the Government has the numbers to defeat the Opposition, but surely there are times when we should put party considerations on one side and decide matters on their merits alone. The preservation of the rights and privileges of the Senate is not a party matter. Honorable senators should remember that they can bring democracy into disrepute by doing the very things to which we are supposed to he opposed. In subtle ways, democracy is being undermined by those who submit without protest to the whittling away of their democratic rights, and seek to destroy the faith of the people in their elected representatives. If we allow these things to be done often enough, we shall have in this country, as in others, fifth-columnists and Quislings who, when the time comes, will be ready to support a dictatorship, and act contrary to those tilings which we hold so dear that, we are engaged in a life and death struggle for their preservation. In bringing this motion forward 1 have given to honorable senators no light opportunity; it is one of the most serious things that I have undertaken since I have been a member of this chamber. While trying to prevent me from accomplishing my purpose, Sena- tor Gibson admitted that he had seen what I am now doing done only once in twenty years. I know the occasion to which he referred. At that time there was no attack upon the institution of Parliament. Action was taken because a member of the other branch of the legislature had made statements which, at the time, were considered to be subversive. It is our privilege to conduct the affairs of the Senate in the way that we desire, and therefore I ask honorable senators not to vote on this motion, lightly but with a real sense of responsibility.
Question put -
That the motionbe agreed to.
The Senate, divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. j .cunningham . )
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have received from Mrs. J. L. Price a letter ofthanks and appreciation for the resolution of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of Mr. John Lloyd Price.
Debate resumed from the 2nd July (vide page 667), on motion by Senator Leckie -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– At the outset, I say definitely that, we on this side of the chamber approve this bill and intend to support it. There are, however, some things in connexion with it which ought, to be said, and I shall proceed to say them. First, it is well that honorable senators should have a proper conception of the power and functions of the department which deals with the matters covered by this and cognate legislation. I confess that until recently I was not aware of the widespread ramifications of the Common weal th Department of Health. If these debates do nothing else than give to us a clearer conception of the various institutions connected with our work here they certainly serve a good purpose. The Department of Health is entrusted with the administration of any subsidies paid by the Commonwealth for the assistance of efforts by State governments or public authorities for the eradication, prevention or control of disease; the administration of the Nuffield Trust for crippled children; the Australian Institute of Anatomy at Canberra; the collection of sanitary data; the investigation of factors affecting health in industry; the Commonwealth serum laboratories and the commercial distribution of the products manufactured therein; the conduct of campaigns for the prevention of disease in which more than one State is interested; the discharge of refuse into the sea; the education of the public in matters of health; international hygiene iu matters affecting the Commonwealth : the investigation of the causes of disease and death, and the establishment and control of laboratories for this purpose; medical examinations of seamen and inspection of vessels under the Navigation Act and Seamen’s Compensation Act; medical examinations under the Invalid ii nd Old-age Pensions and Commonwealth Public Service Acts ; medical research and National Health and Medical Research Council; methods of prevention of disease; public health administration in the Australian Capital Territory; public health and medical services in the Northern Territory; quarantine, including quarantine of animals and plants; and the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Sydney. The acts administered by gne Minister for Health are : the Australian Institute of Anatomy Agreement Acts 1924-1933; the Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sca Routes Protection Act 1932 (section 3) ; the Medical Research Endowment Act 1937; the Quarantine Act 1908-1924; and the Therapeutic Substances Act 1937-1938. The allied Deportment of Social Services is responsible for invalid and old-age pensions, maternity allowances and national health and pensions insurance. The acts administered by that department are the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908- 1937; the Maternity Act 1912-1937; the National Health and Pensions Insurance Acts 1938, 1939 ; the National Health and Pensions Insurance (Employees’ Contributions) Act 1938; and the National Health and Pensions Insurance (Employers’ Contributions) Act 1938. The trust funds administered by the Department of Health are the Medical Research Endowment Trust Fund; the National Health Campaign Trust Fund (Preschool Child Centres) ; the King George
I come now to a consideration of the bill itself. I say at once that I am strongly opposed to the Government handing over any of the activities of this department, particularly activities which will be operative under this bill, to any outside body, unless adequate steps are taken to see that the Commonwealth’s power over them is retained. I want to be quite sure that no part of the power of a Commonwealth department, or the funds to bc provided under this bill, are delegated to any organization in respect of which there is not a complete measure of government control. By that I do not mean that, if such a body is composed of several representatives, the Government representatives should /be in the majority, but that power should be delegated in such a way as to retain a full measure of government control. In his secondreading speech, the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) said last night that control would be exercised by the Auditor-General in the supervision of the accounts. I am not speaking of that kind of control. I know perfectly well what the Auditor-General does. When I speak of control, I mean control of the functions and funds of the organization to which .power is delegated or to which money provided under this bill is granted. In Queensland, powers have been delegated by the department which will have control of this measure to bodies the members of which were entirely incompetent to do the wort entrusted to them. I wish it to be understood by honorable senators that I have no ulterior motives when I say that in many cases members of those organizations have no other qualification than their desire to climb the social ladder. I have no doubt that that is also true of a number of similar organisations in other States of the Commonwealth, I do not object to that, provided that the activities of these bodies are confined to the successful prosecution of the task entrusted to them. I object to handing over any powers to religious interests. It is entirely wrong to utilize public money for the subsidizing of the activities of any religious body, not because these people may not be sympathetic or have nefarious designs, but because once we begin to subsidize a particular institution, it becomes impossible to hold the balance fairly between the different denominations.
I am unable to understand the reason for making practically one-half the grant of £20,000 to universities. I am the last to say one word against our universities. I regard them as valuable institutions, performing a very useful function in the education of our people; but I want to know why Commonwealth money is to go to universities in order to enable them to engage in activities which can never reach those people who will never be able to send their children to the universities. I realize, of course, that in our universities there are hundreds of students who come from the ranks of the working classes, but they still have to be financed by their parents, and it therefore must be assumed that their parents are in a better position financially than are other people. Generally speaking, however, universities are mostly availed of by students who are anxious to enter the learned professions. “Wealthy people can afford to pay for national fitness facilities out of their own pockets.
– That is very . doubtful.
– I am opposed to patronage in any circumstances, and I do not like the idea that the wealthy classes should be specially pandered to rather than the masses. I believe that none of this money to be provided under this measure should be made available to any university unless it is already actually undertaking work of this kind. If that were done, a good deal of my objection to the granting of money to universities for the purposes set out in this bill would disappear. At the University of Queensland special training is being given to a staff of physical training instructors. The Queensland University Senate was able during 1940 to see its way to establish both certificate and diploma courses in physical education in that State, as from the commencement of the academic year 1941. Those courses are now in operation, the enrolments for the current year being twelve for the certificate course - four men and eight women - and twenty for the diploma course - ten men and ten women. The subjects of both courses include hygiene, first aid, appropriate elementary anatomy ‘ and physiology, callisthenics, theory, and organization of games, gymnastics, swimming and life saving, boxing and fencing for men. and dancing for women. The diploma course includes also psychology, voice culture and speech training, and elementary chemistry and physics. There is nothing in this bill to provide that the universities shall provide courses of that kind if they get the money.
In all these matters we should be careful to distinguish between cause and effect. I am so continually making this remark on various subjects that I fear sometimes that I may become wearisome. I believe that every piece of legislation having for its object the improvement of social services that has been brought before us has always failed to distinguish between causes and effects. Social welfare work in this country or in any other country can never be successful unless both causes and effects are tackled. Unless equal attention be given to causes, as the years pass and the order of society under which we live develops to greater intensity, the effects will become more and more prevalent. It would be much wiser to erect an unclimbable fence at the top of a cliff to prevent accidents than to provide an ambulance at the bottom to deal with the effects. This is an economic question. I have read with a great deal of interest the investigations of the National Nutrition Council, a body of men and women who, in the best spirit, do something which in this age of plenty is absolutely astounding, if not worse. They bend all their energies to discover how little a man, woman and child can live on, how cheaply we can live, and how little leisure and little recreation we need. Just imagine such a task in this age of plenty when Nature is bounteous on every hand, and modern machinery has increased the productivity of man a thousandfold! Having found the minimum of the decencies of life upon which people can exist, this benign Government makes £20,000 available for a national fitness campaign. We in Australia are very backward in this matter. The Minister in charge of the bill will probably say that is the very reason why this measure has been brought down. But I emphasize that in order to tackle this problem as it must be tackled the Government must start at the right end and with vision, and provide adequate finance. This proposal is not new. Germany, probably, has done more to make its people physically fit than any other country. We know, unfortunately, the evil use to which it has put the results of such education. Russia, Sweden and Denmark also have done wonderful things in improving the physical fitness of their peoples. Even Great Britain, which some people are unfair and unwise enough to say is a decadent nation, spends on physical fitness, on a population basis, ten times as much as we propose to provide under this measure. Great Britain devotes that huge expenditure to that purpose in spite of its many other pressing social problems, such as slums. All honorable senators have heard of the international sports gatherings, known as the Olympic Games, at which every kind of physical sport is provided for. All of the countries I have mentioned, and many others, provide swimming pools and play ing fields on a large scale in the interests of the health of their peoples. I was hopeful that in the definition clause of this measure I should find a definition of physical fitness. However, that clause defines only terms used in the measure. I want to ask one question. Has this scheme been designed solely to provide sufficient physically fit men and women for war, or for life? There is only one solution, to this problem of national unfitness. We must proceed to fit ourselves for life, not for war.I should be glad to see in the measure some stipulation that none of the activities which will be encouraged will be of a military character,but will be purely of a physical character, designed to develop and ensure the physical and mental health of our people.
– The honorable senator can take it for granted that that is the purpose of the bill.
– In that connexion I was very delighted to read the following remarks which were made recently by the Minister for Health (Sir Frederick Stewart) : -
We are expending a tremendous amount of money and thought in ensuring the fitness of our mechanical elements of defence, but I am old-fashioned enough to believe that, however efficient our mechanical aids may be, unless we also have a fit personnel in Australia, they will not avail us very much. This is an age of machines and mechanized warfare, but behind the machines, in the shops, or on the battlefield, there must be fit men and women to man the machines, and, above all, provision to ensure the continued fitness of the children and young folk to whom we will hand on the heritage for which we are now fighting. Whilst we are now preoccupied with national fitness in order to survive, we must not forget the ultimate goal of fitness in order to enjoy life.
The Minister for Health began by saying that he was old-fashioned enough to believe what I have just read. To that statement I reply “Hear! Hear!”; and assure the honorable gentleman, and honorable senators generally, that I, too, am old-fashioned enough to believe that while we are now concerned with national fitness in order to survive, we must not forget the ultimate goal of physical fitness for the enjoyment of life. I am very glad that the measure has been introduced. It will not be opposed by honorable members on this side. However, I say to the Government that, just as we cannot solve post-war problems if we wait until the war ends, we cannot improve physical fitness of our manpower for war if we delay undertaking the work until war is upon us. But, that is what is being done now. Or, is it possible, perhaps, that we are already getting ready for the next war? I hope not. This measure is belated.
– This scheme was inaugurated in 1938, that is, before the war.
– It was inaugurated before the war, but not before every one knew that war was imminent. I repeat that unless we tackle post-war problems now we shall not be able to cope with them when the war is over. All creation has known for years that many of our people are living in slums, and that they and their children are undernourished. The list of administrative organizations which I have just read out indicates that the problem is being tackled in some sort of fashion. But for a long time we have known that our birthrate has been declining, and that wo are becoming a nation of old men, whilst a section of our people are becoming increasingly unfit physically. Yet, all the persuasive eloquence of honorable senators on this side over those many years has been exercised in vain in our attempts to awaken the Government to its responsibilities in this matter.
I repeat that the Opposition welcomes the measure. We regret that the Government did not awaken to its responsibilities long ago, and that even now it is not prepared to undertake the expenditure necessary to do this job properly. Anticipating the reply of the Minister in charge of the bill, I say that it will be useless to tell us that sufficient, money cannot be found for this work. If the Government is really prepared to do it, we can find millions in order to ensure a high physical standard among our people as we are now forced to do for war. Unfortunately, the struggle in which we are now engaged has been forced upon us; it was not of our seeking. But we have accepted the challenge, and we must see the struggle through, because it is a fight for survival, and the pre servation of the ideals in which we believe. However, the provision of so small a sum as £20,000 a year for five years for this purpose is ridiculous. I see no reason why a sum of £100,000 could not be provided for this purpose for this year, and greater sums in subsequent years. The Government should set up its own machinery to handle this scheme rather than hand’ over any of its powers, administrative or financial, to State authorities. It should establish a special department to undertake this work, the results of which will be not only of value to Australia but also a beacon light to other nations. I hope that the bill will hp. passed.
– I agree with many of the views expressed by the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) in his second-reading speech. My main criticism of the measure is that it does not go far enough. The Minister said that Commonwealth money was allotted for two main purposes, (a) organizing expenses; (fc) subsidies to the universities for the establishment of diploma courses. This measure mentions none of the things which must be done in order to make our people physically fit, namely, the provision of adequate food, clothing and shelter for our people, particularly our children. No provision is made in the bill for that purpose. I am very surprised at that omission, and I hope that the Minister, when he is replying to the debate, will give reasons for it, particularly as the attention of the Government was directed to the necessity existing in this regard by the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness. I take the following from the minutes of the fourth session of that body held at the Institute of Anatomy, Canberra, on the 9th and 10th May, 1940 :-
On the 8th May the six organizers who had been appointed by the States met in conference willi the Director-General of Health as Chairman, and, having considered all phases of thu work, passed a series of resolutions. These resolutions were later considered by the Commonwealth Council. On the 9th May, the council met the organizers for an informal discussion of the points raised on the previous day and for a general discussion of the administrative problems met during the campaign.
The six organizers present were: Victoria. Dr. A. G. Scholes; Now South Wales, Mr. G. Vining: South Australia, Mr. B. F. G. Apps:
Queensland, Mr.E. V. Harris; Western Australia, Mr. J. O’Donoghue; and Tasmania, Mr. R. VonBertouch.
Those gentlemen apparently had met and discussed the position of national fitness. Among other things they recommended -
It is recognized asa basic principle that any campaign Tor national fitnessmust have continual regard to the medical condition of the people.Such provision should be made for the partially disabled and the partially unfit as will assist their return to physical efficiency. The very large section of the population which, while suffering no recognizable specific defect, are yet of a physical standard lower than normal, must be provided with activities ona less strenuous level than the normal standard of physical exercises. There is also a large class of subnormal physical standard whose condition is to be remedied rather by economic or nutritional means than by physical culture - to which they are unable readily to respond. This implies that, if this campaign is to he successful in terms of “national fitness”, medical services should be available to the apparently healthy but physically subnormal population on a very much more extended scale than at present. Particularly is it necessary that instructors or leaders of physical culture classes or courses should have readily available the services of medical men. To some, but not nearly an adequate, extent the State medical services provide this for schools. There is. however, still much to be done in this direction, and the Council recommends that the State Councils review this matter as one of immediate practical importance in this campaign. The National Health and Medical Research Council is also invited to consider this matter.
That report emphasizes convincingly the point made by the Leader of the Opposition (‘Senator Collings) and myself, namely, that before national fitness can be achieved to the degree mentioned by the Minister in his second-reading speech, the people must be provided with food, clothing, housing, and all other things necessary to build up their physical structure so that they may undergo physical training. I am astounded that the Government has not given consideration to this matter. That is not the only suggestion that has been put forward. In the report of the fifth session of the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness, held on the 4th and 5th November, 1940, attention is drawn to the same, matter. Paragraph e of resolution 4 of that council states -
That council has boon in existence since 1939but it appears that little notice is taken of its recommendations. Paragraphf of resolution 4 states -
It can be seen, therefore, that there is more in the problem of national fitness than the mere allocation of money for organizing expenses, subsidies to universities, &c. According to a report which appeared in the Melbourne Age on the 18th June, Dr. Dale, the Health Officer for the City of Melbourne expressed the following opinion: -
Children livinginthe inner areas of the metropolis are of inferior physique compared with those living in the outer suburbs.
Charts showing heights and weights of children disclose that although there has been a noticeable improvement on the . 191 2-1921 standard, those in the inner industrial areas are definitely inferior in physique. There is evidence of widespread malnutrition and deficiency disease. The average condition of boys now living in a boys’ home in Victoria, is deplorably below the standard that could be attained.
Therefore, in the view of the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness itself, and of Dr. Dale, the City Health Officer of Melbourne, these children who are expected to become physically fit arc not even properly fed. I should like to know whether the Government; has considered that matter. Has the Government made any provision to ensure that that deficiency of food, clothing and shelter is made up? If not, national fitness is an impossibility. I do not know whether itis the intention of the Government that the Social Security Committee should go into that matter and make recommendations, but I consider that it is necessary to draw attention to that phase of the position, and in doing so I should like to elaborate what the Leader of the Opposition has said in regard to the relationship between cause and. effect. The subnormal and under-fed children mentioned in Dr. Dale’s report and in the report of the National Fitness Council, are the result of inadequate wages, unemployment, poverty and slum conditions generally, and unless the Government attacks this problem first the £20,000 will be practically wasted. Unless the Government is prepared to do something to remove the underlying causes of starved physiques, and the conditions which have made children incapable of responding to training, the money can do little good. I do not think that argument can be refuted. Therefore, while I support the bill I think that we are entitled to expect a great deal more than it provides. Just to give an idea of what can be done by proper feeding I direct attention to the position of the unemployed in Melbourne before the war started, when thousands of people were suffering from the effects of insufficient food, clothing and housing. Some of the unemployed joined the various services, and after a few months of good food, clothing and housing, medical and dental attention, most of them improved almost beyond recognition. I know that to be true from my own personal knowledge, having known the men before they enlisted and having come into contact with them frequently since. It seems therefore, that national fitness requires first of all as a suitable foundation and basis, a guarantee by the Government that the children will be provided with adequate food, clothing and shelter and, as the report of the Council for National Fitness suggests, medical and dental attention. ‘ I do not wish to go beyond that point. I doubt whether it is necessary to emphasize it any further. If the Minister will tell us what the Government intends to do in the direction I have indicated, we shall be in a position to assess what the result of the campaign will be. If nothing is to be done, the £20,000 will merely provide a few people with fees for writing reports. From a national point of view it will do no practical good, and we shall continue on a catch-as-catch-can basis until the position becomes so acute that drastic action will bc necessary. When war broke out, it was found not only in thi3 country but also in. almost every other country, that the men who were to be called upon to fight had first to be fed. If we are wise we shall benefit from that experience, and while the opportunity offers take the . children in hand and see that they are properly looked after. If that be done national fitness will be possible, but if it be not done there will be no hope of achieving national fitness.
– I support the bill because I think that physical fitness should be the first concern of every nation. I have been associated with athletics for more than 50 years, and, in fact, I am a life member of the Tasmanian Amateur Athletic Association. I admire a good physique both in a man and in a woman. I agree with Senator Cameron that physical fitness should.start in the cradle. When Cecil Rhodes made his great bequest to the universities of the Empire, he stipulated that Rhodes scholars should be physically fit, because he believed that sometimes a great intellect was wasted through lack of physical fitness. I notice that a great deal of the money to be voted will go to the various universities. I was once a timekeeper in connexion with university sports, and 1 noticed on one occasion that more undergraduates were sitting down smoking cigarettes than were participating in the sports that were in progress. Ten or a dozen competitors seemed to provide the whole of the afternoon’s entertainment. The largest entries were received for the egg-and-spoon race. The students seemed more interested in carrying an egg on a spoon for 50 yards without dropping it than running a quarter of a mile. 1 remarked to the chancellor on that occasion that I would favour the endowment of a chair of athletics, and compel all students to take a course in’ that subject. I should like to know how the money proposed to he made available to universities is to be expended, and whether the universities will train men as physical instructors. The expenditure should be £200,000 a year rather than £20,000 a year. Social security is a prerequisite to an athletic race, and there can be no economic security without a change of the monetary system. The economic conditions of the working classes have brought ‘ about adverse medical reports regarding the physical condition of many of the young people of to-day. I am aware that school teachers in Hobart work hard to improve the physical condition of the pupils, and I believe that they are obtaining good results1, but I am doubtful whether the Government proposes to use the money to be made available by this measure to the best advantage. The Police Club in North Sydney is doing exceedingly useful work, and, in my opinion, the £20,000 to be voted would be better expended in endowing existing athletic clubs so that they might employ qualified instructors. The universities are attended chiefly by the children of the well-to-do classes.
– It is not necessary to speak at great length on this motion, because every member of the Senate must agree that organization of the kind proposed by the Government is required. It is regrettable that we did not launch a campaign to bring about physical fitness in the community many years ago. I 3peak with feeling on this matter, because I have had years of experience among the workers in the land that gave me birth. When I was in the Old Country, which is now fighting for its existence, millions of workers suffered severely because no attention was directed to the subject of physical fitness; indeed, such were the conditions of the working class that it was practically impossible for men and women to become mentally and physically fit. I remember taking an active part in the municipal and political campaigns of that period. I mixed with the submerged tenth, and with those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. I can remember calling at the homes of men and women and meeting them in the evenings on their return from work. On seeing the food they ate, I often wondered how it was possible for them to exist. In one home, in which there were eight children, jam tins were used instead of cups, and the only food, the family had was dried bread. This was supplemented with weak tea. I do not believe that any Australian can appreciate the fearful conditions under which many of those people lived. Members of the Labour movement in England at that time worked hard on bodies such as municipal councils in an effort to see that families of the workers were properly fed. In Bradford, to mention one instance, I remember the benefit derived by the children when they were provided with food and milk. The physical and mental development that followed as a result of improvement of their food supply was indeed, remarkable.
It is a blot on the history of Great Britain that many millions have suffered through under-feeding and disgraceful housing conditions. As a result of the lack of the ordinary amenities of life, many men and women are undersized, and it is not surprising that their physical and mental development is not equal to that of the workers in Australia. If we are to develop a race of men and women who will be sound in mind and body, they must first be properly fed. It must be said of Germany, despite the degradation to which it has sunk, that in the old days of Bismarck and the Kaiser, the military authorities insisted, that the workers should be fed, clothed and housed properly. As a result of this attention the workers reached a higher standard, physically and mentally, than many of those in Great Britain. Deplorable conditions in industrial areas have come under our notice, even in Australia. A nian whom F have known for 30 years was out of work, and his wife and children, through lack of food, contracted sores on their bodies which did not disappear until a. doctor made provision for them to be properly fed with milk and vegetables. Six months after they had recovered from the sores, the improved diet was discontinued, with the result that the disability was again experienced. The doctor said that there were hundreds of workers in the industrial districts of Sydney who were suffering similarly. I agree with honorable senators that in this physical fitness campaign, the first essential is to see that all boys and girls are properly fed.
I was glad to hear the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) say that those behind the machines in workshops and on the battlefields must be healthy men, and that we must ensure the continued physical fitness of our young people. He said that we must not forget our ultimate goal - fitness to enjoy life. Of course, people cannot enjoy life unless they are fit and well fed. If they are well developed mentally and physically they can get the best out of life, which is the ideal of the great Labour and Socialist movements throughout the world.
It was stated by the Minister, in referring to the national fitness campaign, that this movement has found expression in such directions as the formation of police boys’ clubs, municipal physical fitness centres, permanent country camps, summer schools for the training of group leaders, and a Youth Hostel Association. These varied movements are better than a single movement such as the Ballila in Italy. I urn pleased that they are widespread, because 1 should hate to see regimentation of the people. In countries such as Italy and Germany, we have witnessed the development of a mass mind, and the crushing of individual initiative. In. Australia, initiative is well developed, but in Italy, the children of working men and. women are given toy guns and are formed into organizations of little soldiers. In this way, the children are regimented and their initiative is suppressed. In Australia the danger of regimentation is avoided. We do not want to be like Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany where the mind of the youth of the country is destroyed in order to build up a. strong military machine. Physical exercise has a beneficial influence on the mind. I sometimes think that when we sit here hour after hour there is a. tendency for our minds to become so muddled that we cannot deal properly with the legislation that comes before us. Carrel in his work Man, the Unknown tells us that -
Certain exercises appear to stimulate thought. For this raison perhaps, Aristotle and his disciples were in the habit of walking while discussing the fundamental problems of philosophy and science.
Had the Senate been a peripatetic chamber the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) and ‘Senator Crawford, instead of glaring at each other yesterday and giving an exhibition of that innate antagonism that dwells in all men, could have gone for a. walk, in which event the debate might have been lifted to a higher plane. When men are crowded into confined areas they are inclined to say things that they would not say in a healthier atmosphere. If in the summer months some of our proceedings were conducted in God’s sunshine the unfortunate happenings of yesterday could not have taken place. I hope that the two honorable senators who figured so prominently in yesterday’s proceedings have got over their mental indisposition and will soon shake hands and be friends. It is regrettable that men who have belonged to the same political party for a number of years should descend to attack each other in public.
– Yesterday’s exhibition showed that they were physically fit.
– It is splendid to see an exhibition of militancy in corpulent and grey-headed senators, because it shows that the race is not decadent, and that the fighting spirit still exists, but a more appropriate place for such an exhibition would be on the battlefields of Syria. Perhaps it would be a good thing to send word to the new commander of our forces in the Middle East that in this Senate there ure men in whom the fighting spirit is strongly developed.
– The Leader of the Opposition should be included in the list.
– I admire the fighting qualities of my leader. I prefer to see those qualities expressed as he expresses them rather than in as it were disembowelling some other human being. I believe that within the next few years great changes will come over the world. The fighting spirit, which is now exemplified in the heroic deeds of our men on the field of battle, will be sublimated, and instead of men sticking bayonets into the bowels of their fellow-men they will direct their activities towards improving the lot of mankind generally; instead of destroying our cities with bombs let loose from mechanical birds, men will set about building the city beautiful. I disagree with those who say that wars will never cease. I firmly believe that the destruction of human life and materials in this war will be so terrible that mankind will be forced to learn the lesson that their strength should be used for the betterment of all mankind rather than in the destruction of their fellows. I commend, to honorable senators who desire to understand human beings and the human body Carrel’s Man. the Unknown.
On page 53 of that book the following appears : -
One cannot understand the living being by studying a dead body, for the tissues of a corpse have been deprived of their circulating blood and of their functions. In reality, an organ separated from its nutritive medium no longer exists.
That is true. The world contains numbers of specialists who concentrate on different parts of the body; but in order to be successful as a specialist a man must understand the functions of each part of the body. Some of the most ignorant men in the world are specialists. They are ignorant because they have spent a lifetime in studying one phase of a big subject, whether it be one part of a body, one section of humanity, or one page in the Book of Time. There is a growing realization that we must have regard to things as a whole. In considering so important a matter as national fitness, we must have regard, not merely to the expenditure of, say, £20,000 a year for the training in our universities of a few teachers who, in turu, will train our children. One of the most hateful things associated with my schooldays was the inarching which we had to do each day. I do not believe in that sort of thing. Just as Carrel looks on the human body as a whole, so we must regard, the economic body as a whole. We must do our duty to the boys and girls who are brought into the world by seeing that they have the food, clothing and shelter necessary to lay the foundations of physical fitness. This bill provides something in that direction, and to the degree that it does so it is acceptable to the Opposition; but we hope that the Government will go further and deal with this matter in a bigger way, by providing not only for the physical fitness of the people, but also for the development of their minds so that they will be, in fact, images of the living God.
– I am pleaded to support the bill; it reveals a recognition by the Government of the importance to the nation of the physical fitness of its people. I am not convinced, however, that the measure before us will do a great deal to meet the wishes of the people. It provides chiefly for physical training education at, schools and universities. Although I approve the bill, and congratulate theMinister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) on having the honour to introduce it, I feel that the education should begin much earlier than is proposed. We must commence with antenatal treatment, and continue with natal treatment, post-natal treatment, public clinics, dental service and all that is necessary to ensure a generally strong physique among the people of this country. It is not satisfactory to me to know that £20,000 is to be expended annually for five years in the manner indicated in this bill. I believe that this measure is the beginning of legislation which will have a beneficial effect on the health of the community. The question of health and of hospital service is associated with this measure. A great deal more education of mothers in the proper way to feed their children is necessary. It is the duty of the nation to see that its children have the food, clothing and shelter necessary for their proper development. The nation should also undertake the responsibility of instructing mothers in matters affecting diet. The Queensland Government has instituted a splendid hospital system. I was associated with one hospital in that State for several years, and it grieved me greatly to see children who, because of the straitened financial circumstances of their parents, were obviously in need of medical and dental treatment. This National Parliament should endeavour to enlighten the people in these matters, particularly in respect of the value of proper diet. I am pleased that I have lived to see a bill of this kind introduced, but I am not satisfied, that the Government has got to the root of the matter. It should begin at the beginning. I am not convinced that the proper place to start is at our schools and universities. I ann more concerned with those who dwell in the dark corners of our cities, and with children who have no proper playgrounds where they can develop happy and healthy bodies. The press of Australia should co-operate with the Government in a big educational campaign setting out the value of proper food and care of the body. If the Commonwealth Government were to tackle this problem seriously, and seek the co-operation of the States, a great deal more could he done. I admit that the policy of the Government will be reflected in a more healthy people, but I repeat that we must begin earlier, deal with- every child from the day that it is born. In cooperation with the States, a sound health policy should be evolved, so that every child in the community, regardless of the financial position of its parents, may be ensured of proper care. I congratulate the Minister upon the introduction of this measure, and I express the hope that its scope will soon be enlarged so that every man, woman and child in the community may be sure of proper medical attention whenever Lt is needed. That is not the position to-day. In Queensland we have perhaps a better hospital system than exists in any other State. The Queensland Government accepts responsibility to a very great degree for the health of every man, woman and child in the community. Adequate arrangements have been made to see that proper medical, dental and hospital care is provided.’ In the inauguration of this national fitness scheme the Commonwealth should co-operate with those States which are already doing excellent work in this regard. The Commonwealth should encourage the States in every way to provide uniform health services throughout the length and breadth of Australia - confined not only to children and adults, but also to young babies. Every attempt should be made to improve pre-natal services. If that were done, the improvement of the physical and mental standard of the community would quickly follow. One of the greatest needs of the less fortunate members of the community to-day is an improved free hospital and dental service. I remember only too well when a working man had to be almost on his last legs before he could gain admission to a hospital. If he were unable to pay for treatment, his chart was marked “ pauper “. I am pleased to have lived to see an alteration of the views of those governing the people of Australia in regard to these matters. Nevertheless, I believe that we could go very much further in providing medical and health services. To neglect the health and welfare of the people of this country is to incur an inevitable national loss.
A great deal of ignorance prevails to-day in regard to diet. Every honorable senator has been appalled at the number of young men rejected for military service on the ground of ill health. The reason for the large number of rejections can be attributed more to the fact that the parents of these young men were ignorant of food values than that they were unable to procure good wholesome food for them. It is the duty of this National Parliament to co-operate with the States in the education of the people in dietetics as a means to prevent disease. It is proposed’ by this bill to make grants to State universities and schools for the training of physical culture instructors. I believe that money expended in that direction will not touch the fringe of the problem. I am satisfied more with the speech of the Minister than with the bill itself. I believe that the Minister is imbued with the right ideas on this subject and I am hopeful that, as experience is gained in the operation of this legislation, the Government will realize the imperative necessity for the enlargement of the States’ schemes for pre-natal care. It is gratifying to know that we have reached the stage to-day when all parties realize the need for a campaign of the kind envisaged in this bill, and are aware of their responsibilities to see that every person in the community is able to secure the necessaries of life. If the Government keeps these objectives constantly before it we can look forward confidently to a great improvement of the conditions of the people generally. I support the bill and trust that it is but the forerunner of another measure designed to make provision’ for improving the health standards of pre-school children.
– I support the bill, although I find myself in much the same position in regard to it as I was placed when the measure dealing with youth employment was introduced into the Senate some time ago. I regard the provision of £20,000 as absolutely inadequate to do more than touch the fringe of the problem, especially in view of the fact that so many of our people of all age3, from young babies to adults, are suffering from the effects of malnutrition. Every honorable senator realizes what an enormous task confronts those responsible for a campaign of national fitness. As the bill is drafted, it appears that it will benefit only certain sections of the community. In his secondreading speech the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) said that the measure had a twofold purpose; first, to provide organizing expenses and, second, to grant subsidies to universities for the establishment of diploma courses. If the Commonwealth acted in complete co-operation with the States, organizing expenses in connexion with a scheme of this kind could be considerably lessened. As the Minister is no doubt aware, many of the States, including Tasmania, have their own national fitness organizations and are already doing much more than the Commonwealth Government proposes to do when this measure is placed on the statutebook. What is the purpose of these diploma courses? Are they to be provided for the education of doctors to specialize in nutrition and diet, and in the proper care of children, for the education of dentists to provide a free clinical service to the community, or are these courses to be provided for the training of instructors in physical training?
– In physical jerks.
– That is a better description. The Minister has not enlightened us in regard to these points. For any physical fitness campaign to bc successful it must make provision for safeguarding the health of expectant mothers.
– That is a most important point.
– Unfortunately we can do but little to improve the physical fitness of the great number of people who are suffering from the effects of malnutrition at an earlier period of their lives, hut by educating the people in regard to diet and nutrition we can save future generations from the curse of malnutrition. I agree with Senator Courtice that every effort should be made to cooperate with the State Governments. The
Tasmanian Government has already instituted a free medical scheme for all children in certain areas, and, in addition, it has established dental clinics in many centres. If these facilities were extended throughout the length and breadth of Australia there would be a great improvement of the physical standard of the people generally. All the physical jerks in the world cannot do much to improve the physical standard of those who are suffering from the effects of malnutrition. Dealing with malnutrition and diet recently, Sir John Boyd said -
The Committee of Scientists appointed by the League of Nations to investigate nutritional needs reccommended for each child 2 pints of milk a day, I egg, or its yoke, a certain amount of fruit and vegetables, together with few commonly used foods. The committee stated that if such a diet were made available to every person it would ensure the disappearance of’ all disease, ill-health and poor physique clue to faulty diet.
Instead of bringing in this scheme it seems that the Government would have done more good by taking steps to ensure that every child in the community is adequately fed. The foundations of the scheme should be laid in the cradle. To-day we are spending tens of millions of pounds on the training of soldiers for war purposes. To our dismay we have found that one-half of those called up for military service have been rejected because of the effects of malnutrition in their earlier years. In this measure we are hut putting the cart before the horse. If we are genuinely desirous of making this a nation of physically fit men and women we must first of all wipe out the slum areas that exist in every city and country town of any size in the Commonwealth. In addition, we must take steps to improve the conditions of those tens of thousands of workers who are endeavouring to bring up their families on less than the basic wage. With prices soaring as the result of the war, what hope has a man on the basic wage of buying the necessaries of life for himself and his family in sufficient quantities to enable them to develop healthy and sturdy bodies? The Government should tackle this problem in a national way. It should first explore all the possibilities of the extension of existing State schemes.
Unless that be done there must be inevitable overlapping. Already some of the States have financed fitness campaigns without any assistance from the Commonwealth. During the depression years and right up to 1935 we heard nothing about physical fitness campaigns in this country, although at that time thousands of our children were practically starving. The Government should now awake to a realization of the fact that the physical unfitness of many of our people to-day is due in a large degree to the treatment meted out to them in their years of adolescence. The Government must go right to the bottom of this problem. Reforms of this kind must start with the infant, because only by providing proper housing and food, and medical and dental clinics for the care of our children can wc give them a chance to develop into healthy men and women. If this war should continue for many years, or should it be followed by another war, just as this conflict litis followed upon the war of 1914-lS, we shall, undoubtedly, have brought home to us the necessity for providing millions of pounds, in order to ensure a high standard of physical fitness among our people. Only by that means shall we be enabled to make full use of our available manpower in our fight for freedom. In such circumstances neither this nor any other Government would bc so negligent as to tolerate conditions similar to those existing in the past, and which really explain the rejection, to-day of so great a percentage of young men who are presenting themselves for enlistment in our armed forces. Had a proper national fitness campaign been inaugurated even twenty years ago, we should not now be paying the penalty in that way for our neglect of this duty in the past. The physical standard of these rejects is due solely to malnutrition in their adolescent years, and the responsibility for that evil must be attributed to bad government.
– I welcome the bill. It is evidence of the Government’s realization of its duty to ensure that the next generation shall have a far greater chance of becoming mentally and physically fit than was enjoyed by the generation on which we are now obliged to depend largely for our soldiers. The Government has started this work on the right lines. Perhaps it might be better if national fitness, and all activities associated with it, were controlled directly by the National Parliament. However, during recent years, the Commonwealth and the State Governments have inaugurated their own systems of health administration, each of which includes a degree of physical education along with the provision of hospital and dental treatment, and clinics for the care of infants. It is noteworthy, however, that no co-ordinated basis has yet, been evolved for the supervision of ibis most important work throughout the Commonwealth as a. whole. I believe that, we should achieve far greater results if national fitness were the direct responsibility of the national Parliament. I emphasize that the value of such a campaign would be greatly increased if it. provided for the welfare of the antenatal child, because a strong, robust baby has far greater opportunities than a puny child to develop into a healthy adult. The former has everything in its favour right from its birth.
Campaigns of physical fitness are not new to Australia. The great majority of Australians are naturally physicalfitness minded. I was interested to hear Senator Brown’s remarks concerning the difficulties of developing physical fitness in the Old Country when he was a boy. However, in this country, with its glorious sunshine and long, sweeping ocean benches, it is not surprising that the Australian shows a. natural inclination for sport and, consequently, in the majority of cases, grows into healthy manhood and womanhood without experiencing the need for any special education or assistance from a governmental institution. Nevertheless, the assistance which such a body can render in this direction will no doubt effect an improvement in the liealr.li of our community as n whole. We cannot emphasize too often that a healthy body creates a healthy mind, and that a mentally healthy community is to be preferred to n purely physically healthy community. This measure represents only a beginning in this work, but it should give a pronounced impetus to national fitness education in this country. 1 say without hesitation that the more we can do to induce our youth, without distinction of class, to engage in sport or in any activity which will improve their physique, the more we shall do to break down sectional barriers which have been the cause of so much distress, and, indeed, uprisings in many countries of the world. The encouragement which this activity will give to our youth to meet and mix in games, sport and physical culture, will inculcate among our younger generation a better feeling and understanding than exists between them at present. I sincerely hope that thi? scheme is only the beginning of an undertaking which will prove to be of the greatest assistance in bringing every section of our community together in the atmosphere of healthy recreation and sport. I support the measure.
.-! support the bill. With honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, I hope that it represents an instalment of the promised new order. To me nothing appears to be more essential to the welfare of our people than legislation of this kind. As I have been blessed with physical fitness all my life, and have never known hunger, I am, perhaps, more observant in these matters than the man who has not been so fortunate. Senator Cooper struck a very pertinent note when he emphasized the importance of a healthy-minded, as well as a physically healthy, community. Small as is the effort being made by the Government on this occasion, I believe that this work will be increased as the years go on. The fact that we are engaged in a war is not a sufficient excuse for neglecting this duty towards our people. Recently, when I visited Sydney I was greatly impressed with the work being performed by the Police Boys’ Club among the children in the slums in that city. I then saw many of the boys who are deriving benefit from the organization, through which they are being enabled to develop to healthy manhood, and to realize that the police are not their enemies but their friends in the maintenance of law and order. Thai club has already produced many outstanding athletes. I share the hope that this scheme will be extended to embrace boys and girls at as early an age as possible. The community generally is; becoming educated to such schemes. More money should be provided for this purpose. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) pointed out, we should now, on a basis of population, be providing not £20,000, but £200,000, if we approached this work as enthusiastically as Great Britain, which is generally regarded as being a long way behind us in social reform. In view of the colossal sums being expended on war, we should have no difficulty in raising sufficient money to undertake this work properly, particularly as any scheme that will enable our children to develop into healthy manhood and womanhood is an investment of incalculable benefit to the nation. Anything that the Government does along these lines will, I believe, be supported by every member of this Parliament. Of course, I could speak at length on the fact that this effort is belated, but I do not intend to criticize the Government on that point. I believe that, despite the necessity for colossal war expenditure, the outstanding realization to-day is that this conflict can be pressed .to a successful conclusion only by a united, healthy and determined people. For that reason, I welcome this instalment of a necessary reform.
– - in reply - At the outset I should like to disabuse the minds of honorable senators on one point. In this bill there is no mention of money.
– But there was in the Minister’s second-reading speech.
– I said that two years ago the Government had decided to make available £20,000 a year for five years, but no specific amount is mentioned in this bill. It refers only to the creation of a fund into which the money shall be placed. If the Government wants to pla.ee more money into that fund, it can do so because no limitation is imposed by this measure. As I have said, already that £20,000 ha3 been increased to £22,500. Having listened to speeches by honorable senators, I do not know whether I have been patted on the back or hit on the head. There seems to have been a misunderstanding of the purpose of this bill. Obviously what several honorable senators had in mind was a regimentation of the young people of Australia doing physical jerks. That is entirely wrong. This is an educational bill to provide the proper knowledge, not to individuals of the community, but to those who will instruct individuals. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) objected to the money being made available to institutions such as universities and suggested that it would be expended in teaching university students and school pupils various physical exercises. That is a wrong conception. The money is to enable the universities to set up faculties and lectureships of physical fitness, similar to, say, medical schools. Those faculties will train selected instructors who will make a study and a career of various aspects of physical training including diet and so on. Senator Cameron quoted from the report of the fifth session of the Australian Council of National Fitness. The recommendation which he quoted read -
Apparently the honorable senator forgot to look at the beginning of the resolution, the opening words of which state : -
The council considers that the following aspects of the development of national fitness are important and should be further encouraged and assisted by State Governments -
– I was dealing only with the subject-matter of the resolution, and not with that which the State governments should or should not do.
– The honorable senator was blaming the Commonwealth Government for not doing something in that direction.
– I suggest that it could do something.
– I agree with other honorable senators, particularly with Senator Cooper, who made a thoughtful speech, that the health of a people cannot be built up merely by doing exercises. There are wider aspects such as pre-natal, post-natal, and maternal care, and many others, but there are in existence now special bodies which deal with such matters.I do not want honorable senators to think that, although there is no specific mention of them in this bill, that they are being neglected. As a matter of fact, the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness passed the following resolution last year : -
In respect of ante-natal, post-natal, maternal care, infant welfare and pre-school activities, it is known that much is being done through existing State and voluntary organizations. As the state of national fitness depends so fundamentally upon the success of this work, it is important that the State and voluntary machinery should be encouraged and extended us much as is possible. While this council might, in association with the National Health and Medical Research Council, make a survey of the situation with the object of defining the directions in which improvements might be made, it is not considered that the Commonwealth should, as part of the activities of the council, provide any financial subsidy.
The object of this bill is to provide the subsidiary bodies with properly educated and trained instructors. A man who does not know his job and is ignorant of uptodate methods can do more harm than good. For instance, there is one treatment for a fully developed person, and a whole range of other treatment for pupils in various stages of development and in various degrees of health. This bill aims at educating and training instructors so that they can go out and guide the people of Australia on the right lines. The Leader of the Opposition objected to giving money to bodies over which the Commonwealth Government has no control. Obviously, it would be impossible to have a representative of the Commonwealth Government on all bodies that may participate in this grant. I ask honorable senators to consider what that would mean. There are dozens of these organizations all over Australia, and it would be impossible for the Commonwealth Government to be directly represented on each one of them.
– There would not be as many as are dealt with by the Pensions Department, and that is controlled by the Government.
– Our Pensions Department is responsible for a good deal more money than is involved under this legislation. Honorable senators need not fear that the object of this bill is to make people fit for fighting purposes. Its object is to give health and happiness to every man, woman and child in Australia. That can be done only if their physical training is guided along the right lines.
– It cannot be done by handing over the administrative work to people whoso only object is to climb the social ladder.
– That remark is unworthy of the honorable senator. It is hardly fair to suggest that the citizens controlling various health organizations throughout the country are actuated only by a desire to increase their social status. I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition would be prepared to brand the majority of such people as ambitious citizens who are using the frailties of mankind for self glorification. I do not wish the impression to be created that this legislation deals only with the actual physical side of education. There are many other aspects directly related to physical training. The prevalence of malnutrition has been stressed by several speakers, but, malnutrition results not only from scarcity of food but in 70 per cent, of cases from a faulty selection of foods. That can be corrected only by education. It will be part of the functions of the physical training instructors, to guide the people in the choice of foods.
I thank honorable senators generally for the sympathetic consideration which they have given to the measure, and I trust that it will receive a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Commonwealth Council for National Fitness).
– “Will the proposed council, the personnel of which is limited to nine, be appointed by the Government, and will its composition he such that all .States will be represented? “Will the advice of State governments be sought and will members of the council act in an honorary capacity? No doubt all of them arc in permanent employment in other spheres of activity.
– Seven members of the council have already been appointed, and the full number of members must not exceed . nine. The only remuneration that they will receive is £2 2s. a day for each meeting attended. The method by which the council is to be elected may be changed at any time, but at present there is to be one representative from each State and a Commonwealth representative will act as chairman.
– Sub-clause 3 of clause 3 provides that the council may make inquiries into the causes of physical unfitness in the community, and may for that purpose cooperate with the National Health and Medical Research Council. Does the Government intend that that council shall use its discretion as to whether inquiries shall be made into the causes of physical unfitness?
– Yes. The council may inquire into any phase of the causes of national unfitness.
– Should not the clause be made mandatory?
– If the council does its work thoroughly it will consult every available authority, and I cannot imagine that such a body would fail to consult the proper authorities.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Application of fund).
– Does this clause give to the Minister power to apply money standing to the credit of the fund to the promotion of physical education in all schools?
– Including denominational schools?
– The council may consider it wise to grant money to any of the institutions referred to in the bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of a joint committee to inquire into and report upon war expenditure, and requesting the concurrence of the Senate therein and the appointment of three members of the Seriate to the committee, one to be named as chairman.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) - by leave - proposed -
That the Senate agrees to the appointment of a joint committee to examine current expenditure defrayed out of moneys voted by the Parliament for the defence services and other services directly connected with the war and to report what, if any, economies consistent with the execution of the policy decided on by the Government may be effected therein.
That Senators Ashley. Clothier, and A. J. McLachlan be appointed to serve on such committee with members of the House of Representatives.
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders -
Senator A. J. McLachlan be the chairman of the committee;
the committee have power to appoint sub-cominittees consisting of four or more of its members ; and to refer to any such sub-committees any of the matters which the committee is empowered toexamine:
the committee or any sub-coimnittee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to adjourn from place to place, and to sit during any adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament; and have leave to report from time to time, the evidence taken :
the committee have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, and any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report: (e)five members of the committee constitutea quorum of the committee and three members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of that subcommittee:
in matters of procedure, the chairman of the committee havea deliberative vote and. in the event ofan equality of voting, have a casting vote, and in othermatters, a deliberative vote only: and
the committee have power, in cases where considerations of national security preclude the publication of any recommendations and of the arguments on which they are based, or both, to address a memorandum to the Prime Minister for the considera tion of the War Cabinet, but, on every occasion when the committee exercises this power, the committee shall report to the Parliament accordingly.
That these resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
– A series of proposals will, I understand, be submitted to the Senate for the appointment of parliamentary committees, and it is not necessary for me to speak at length regarding them. We all know that the appointment of these committees has been the subject of previous negotiations, and that the representation on them of the Government and of the Opposition has already been decided. A point on which I bad some doubt has been satisfactorily cleared up in the House of Representatives. Slight doubt arose as to the position of chairman of each of these committees, and the Government agreed in the House of Representatives that the chairman of each committee should have a casting vote, not on matters of policy but only on matters of procedure. My remarks on this message apply to each of the others that will be considered. I suggest that, as far as possible, secretaries or other necessary assistants, such as typists, whom the committees may require in connexion with their work, should be selected from persons already employed in the parliamentary service. It would not be fair if those who have already qualified for service here should be displaced by persons from outside the service, unless there is a. shortage of qualified persons. In all other ways the Opposition is in complete agreement with the proposal contained in the message. It hopes that the work of the various committees will prove valuable, and will be put in hand promptly, so that the war effort may be improved.
– I have already recommended to the Treasurer (Mr.Fadden) that members of the staff who are qualified to do this work be considered by the chairmen of the various committees when appointments are being made. That matter will be the subject of negotiations between the several chairmen of the committees and the. Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) or officers of his department. . I hope that, wherever possible, chairmen of committees will avail themselves of the services of qualified men who are available in the departments.
– I understand that the appointment of secretaries rests with the President and Mr. Speaker, because the expenditure will be incurred by the Parliament.
– I do not think that that is the position, but I shall look into the matter. The recommendation of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) will be brought before the appropriate authorities.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of a joint committee to inquire into and report upon social and living conditions in Australia, and requesting the concurrence of the Senate therein, and the appointment of two members of the Senate to the committee.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) - by leave - proposed -
That the Senate agrees to the appointment of a jointcommittee to inquire into and. from time to time, report upon ways and means of improving social and living conditions in Australia and of rectifying any anomalies in existing legislation.
That Senators Cooper and Keane he appointed to serve on such committee with members of the House of Representatives. 3.That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders -
the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records,to adjourn from place to place, and to sit during any adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament; and have leave to report from time to time the evidence taken : (b.) the committee have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, and any member of the committee may add a protest or dissent to any report;
three members of the committee con- stitute a quorum;
the member of the House of Repre sentatives appointed by that House to be the chairman of the committee be the chairman of the committee; and
in matters of procedure, the chairman of the committee have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and, in other matters, a deliberative vote only.
That these resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
– Of all the committees to be appointed, this one is the least likely to meet with success. Existing economic and social conditions are due entirely to the monetary system which controls them. It is impossible to improve the social conditions of the people under the system which is primary responsible for their existence. I hope that the committee will take into consideration the causes of the existing insecurity and will endeavour to find a remedy. Had I been appointed to the committee, I believe that I could have indicated the causes of the present unsatisfactory state of affairs.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Message received from the House of Representatives, intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of a joint committee to inquire into and report on the methods of restricting or controlling profits or prices, and requesting the concurrence of the Senate therein, and the appointment of two members of the Senate to the committee, one to be named as chairman.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) - by leave - proposed -
That the Senate agrees to the appointment of a joint committee to inquire into - (a.) methods of restricting or controlling profits or prices; and
the question whether any and what alterations should be made in the existing methods of taxing profits.
That Senators Armstrong and Spicer be appointed to serve on such committee with mouthers of the House of Representatives.
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders -
Senator Spicer be the chairman of the committee:
thecommittee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to adjourn from place to place, and to sit during any adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament; and have leave to report from time to time the evidence taken;
the committee have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, and any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report;
three members of the committee constitute a quorum ; and
in matters of procedure, the chairman of the committee have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and. in other matters a deliberative vote only.
That these resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
.- I notice that the chairman has been selected by the Government. I think that you will agree, Mr. President, that better results would be obtained if lots were drawn for the selection of chairman.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Message received from the Blouse of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of a joint committee to inquire into and report on wireless broadcasting, and requesting the concurrence of the Senate therein, and the appointment of two members of the Senate, one to be named as chairman.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) - by leave - agreed to.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of a joint committee to inquire into and report upon the effects of the war on the marketing of primary produce, and on the economic condition of Australian rural industries, and requesting the concurrence of the Senate therein, and the appointment of four members to the committee.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) - by leave - proposed -
That the Senate agrees to the appointment of a joint committee to inquire into the effects of the war on the marketing of Australian primary produce, and on the economic condition of the Australian rural industries.
That Senators Aylett, Herbert Hays, Johnston andUppill be appointed to serve on such committee with members of the House of Representatives.
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders -
the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to adjourn from place to place, and to sit during any adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament, and have leave to report from time to time the evidence taken;
the committee have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, and any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report:
five members of the committee constitute a quorum;
the member of the House of Representatives appointed by that House to be the chairman of the committee be the chairman of the committee; and
in matters of procedure,the chairman of the committee have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, havea casting vote, and, in other matters,a deliberative vote only.
That these resolutions becommunicated to the House of Representatives by message.
. - I oppose the motion for the appointment of a joint committee on rural industries. However, when practically every member of this Senate and of the House of Representatives, apart from the members of the Ministry, is being appointed to one of the numerous committees that the Government is setting up, it would be useless for me to vote against it. In their leisure hours school children are usually to be found either at the wood heap or at the lolly box, and it seems to me that that practice is also being adopted by members of this Parliament. When the Government cannot woo the Opposition into submission by any other means it resorts to the appointment of a committee which is nothing more or less than the lolly box under a different guise.I register my protest against the proposed appointment of this committee.
.- I shall support the motion because it gives practical effect to a proposal that f. have so often advanced in this chamber. Time and again I have complained that many members of all parties in both Houses of the Parliament are given little or no opportunity to assist the Government. When a dispute arises in an industry which affects every section of the community Ministers have not sufficient time to attend to all the details that must be given consideration. In these circumstances it would he far better if the matter were referred to a committee composed of members of both Houses for inquiry and report. When the people complain that an industry, whether primary or secondary, is not functioning in the best interests of the the country, a committee should be appointed to investigate the allegation. It would be far better for a committee of members of Parliament to inquire into it than to have the investigation conducted by some official who obtained his appointment merely because he wore the old school tie. I am rather surprised at the attitude taken by Senator James McLachlan in regard to the appointment of joint committees. I speak for all honorablesenators on this side of the chamber when I say that, as members of these committees, we will do our job to the best of our ability, and that we shall base our decisions on the evidence we have heard, regardless of whether they are popular or unpopular, or whether they favour or oppose Government policy. I assure the honorable senator that we shall not be tempted into a spirit of acquiescence by what he has referred to as the. “ lolly box “. I am sorry that the honorable senator is so deluded in his advanced years as to suggest that any member of this chamber would do otherwise.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 6.5 to10.30 p.m.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising,adjourn till to-morrow, Friday, at 12.5 a.m.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, Ac-
No. 13 of 1941 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association and others; Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia; Commonwealth Naval Storehousemen’s Association; Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; and Commonwealth Foremen’s Association. No. 14 of 1941 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 15 of 1941 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union ; Commonwealth Publio Service Artisans’ Association; and Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 141.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 127.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Crown Lands Ordinance -Reasons for resumption of reservation of certain lands near the Town of Katherine, Northern Territory, formerly reserved for cemetery purposes.
Senate adjourned nt 10.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 July 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1941/19410703_senate_16_167/>.