16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator theHon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Fixation of Price
– by leave - Following the acquisition by the Government of field peas in Tasmania, and the establishment of the Field Peat Board, the Department of Commerce requested the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner to fix a price for blue and grey peas for the current season. The Prices Commissioner has now fixed the maximum price for the best quality blue peas at 15s. a bushel and for grey peas at 9s. a bushel. The Prices Commissioner has submitted to me the following statement relative to this determination : -
In arriving at a reasonable maximum price to be paid to growers forand and grey peas consideration has been given to output, yield and price before the war and since the war broke out. In addition account was taken of the increases in costs since the outbreak of war. The average price received by growers in the five years 1933-4 to 1937-8 was 5s.6d a bushel for blue peas and 5s. 8d. a bushel for grey peas. On account of a abort crop and increased demand in 1938-9, prices for blue peas rose to 18s. 3d. a bushel and for grey peas to 9s.6d. a bushel. Later, owing to the British Government’s purchases, the price for blue peas rose further to 21s.a bushel, and even higher prices have prevailed during the war.The objective of price controlis toprovide forincreased costssince the outbreak of warand, if necessary, tore view the basic price at the outbreak of war if that price was regarded as being toolow. The fact that under demand for export a great increase in price had taken placedoes not in any way establish the equity of sucha price for domestic consumption. In certain exportable goods domestic prices have been fixed at prices below export levels. This is true even in primary products such as hides and skins, tin, lead and zinc, and is true for a wide range of manufactured goods, the prices of which would have risensubstantially had they been brought up to thelevel of prices ruling abroad or to theequivalent of import parity.
In the case of blue peas substantial quantities were produced in the years before the war at an average price of 5s.6d. a bushel. The average output in bushels for the years 1933-4 to1937-8 was approximately 150,000 bushels, but the output was declining slightly and this may be regardedas an indication that theaverage price overthese yearswas too low. Consequently, in determining a price consideration was givennot only to the increase in costs since the outbreak of war, but also to the desirability of raising the basic pre-war price. After discussions with the chairman of theFieldPeas Board the most liberal allowancethat could be made for increased costs sincethe outbreak of war was fixed at 5s. 2d. a bushel. This would have given a price based upon the experience of the pre-war years of10s.8d., and I am satisfied that the allowance for increased costs was too great. With the price fixed at 15s. a bushel, the basic pre-war price has been raisedby at least 4s. 4d. a bushel and the new price isa little more than two and a half times the prices prevailing in the five-year period before the war.
An interesting aspect ofthe problem is that the price ofblue peas, on account of the British Government’s offer to purchase certain quantities, rose substantially more than the price of grey peas. The determination now made places the price of blue peas substantially higher than that of grey peas, but the maximum price asked by Tasmanian growers for grey peas was only 9s. a bushel. On prewar experience a price of blue peas at more than double the price of grey peas could not be justified. It was impossible, however, to overlook altogether the effect of the British Government’s price of 21s. a bushel for blue peas, and consequently the price of15s. now fixed places sellers of blue peas ata considerable advantagecompared with the sellers of grey peas. Had a price of 21s. been fixed, the advantagewould have been even greater, despite the fact that on pre-war experience there was no such differentiation in the prices of the twoproducts. The payment of a price of 21s. a bushel for blue peas was entirely due to the British Government offering to pay such a price, and it is quite contrary to the principles of price control to fix prices at the point where purchasers might offer to buy regardless of pre-war prices and increased costs since theoutbreakof war.
The price to the growers of 15s.a bushel is exclusive of handling costs.
– The price of £1 abushel, which was paid prior to the fixation of theprice, was exclusive of handling costs.
– Thecomplaint has alsobeen made thatpayment for the peas has been delayed. That is a matter between the Department ofCommerce and the Department of Supply, and it is receiving attention. I hope that the omission will he rectified almost immediately.
-Does the Minister know the difference between blue peas and grey peas?
– Grey peas are stock food whilstblue peas are food forhum an consumption.
– That distinction is recognized by the difference in the prices of the two varieties. The Derpartment of Supply has arranged with the Government of Tasmania to late 6,000 tons of blue peas next season. On this occasion there will he no argument about the price, as the growers will definitelybe paid 15s. a bushel.
– For the whole of the crop ?
– For 6,000 tons.
– It is most important to know what will happen to the balanceof the crop.
– The growers have evidently been misled by some body. The price of 21s. a bushel was mentioned by some department, but not by the department which I administer.
– The early harvest was sold at that price.
SenatorKEANE. - The growers contend that they have not had a fair deal but I suggest that if blue peas realized an average price of 6s. 6d, a bushel over a period of ten years, leaving out of consideration the British market, it must be conceded that the present price of 15s. a bushel is a fair one. The industry should be stabilized at that price, which should attract many growers to produce peas.
-Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate of the uses to which blue peas and grey peas are usually put, and will he explain the difference between a good crop of grey peas and a good crop of blue peas ?
SenatorKEANE. - Despite the fact that. I am an all-rounder, and have an all-round general knowledge, I have not the knowledge required to answer the honorable senator’s question. I shall have inquiries made and supply him with an answer.
Powers of the Senate.
– by leave - In view of the statement made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) on the 6th March last in connexion with the powers of the Senate to disallow regulations, I propose to read a few observations made by the Minister, and recorded in Hansard at page 235. He said -
It is not necessary to table a regulation at all. Honorable senators can move for its disallowance without the regulation being tabled. This is due to a High Court judgment, which is as follows: -
Held, by Rich, Starke and Dixon JJ. ( Gavan DuffyC.J. and Evatt J. dissenting ) , that it was not a condition essential to the validity or operation of a resolution of disallowance that the regulations should firstbe laid before the House and notice of such resolution given.
I pass that information on to honorable senators opposite. Honorable senators can move for the disallowance of a regulation so long as they do so within fourteen days of the assembling of Parliament.
I bring this matter forward in order to place on record that in my opinion both of the decisions given by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) are wrong. Inowproposetoquotetherelevantsections of the Acts Interpretation Act.
– Does the honorable senator think that the regulations must be laid on the table?
– I shall quote the relevant sections of the act in order that in future it may not truthfully be said that I, as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, approved the decisions given by the Leader of the Senate. I have no desire to embarrass the honorable gentleman, but I wish my attitude to be clear should the matter arise in the future. The Acts Interpretation Act was amended in . 1937 after the High Court had given a decision. Section 48 (1) (c) of that act reads -
Where an act confers power to make regulations then unless the contrary intention appears,all regulations made accordingly.
shall be laid before each House of the Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House after the making of the regulations.
Sub-sections 3 and 4 of section 48 read as follows : - (3)If any regulations are not laid before each House of the Parliament in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1) of this section, they shall be void and of no effect.
It willbe seen that the Leader of the Senate mentioned “ within fourteen days of the assembling of Parliament” whereas the legislation provides “ within fifteen sitting days after any regulations have been laid before that House “. I hope that in future there will be no misunderstanding as to my attitude in this matter.
Motion (by Senator Allan MacDonald) - by leave - agreed to -
That three months’leaveofabsencebe granted to Senator K. C. Wilson on account of his military service with the Australian Imperial Force abroad.
Review ofWar Situation.
– Having regard to the fact that, under section 53 of the Constitution, the Senate has equal powers with the House of Representatives except in relation to the appropriation of money and the imposition of taxes, will the Leader of the Senate say why a most important statement on the progress of the war which was made by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives yesterday was not made in the Senate also?
Question not answered.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Will the Leader of the Senate say why the Senate was overlooked in the matter of the tabling of a White Paper relating to the well-deserved appointment of the Right Honorable R. G. Casey as a Minister of State of the United Kingdom?
Question not answered.
– Can the Assistant Minister for Commerce say whether the Government intends to recommend to the Prices Commissioner that the price of apples be fixed?
– The Prices Commissioner has that matter now in hand.
– As Chairman, I present the second report of the Joint Committee on Profits.
Ordered to be printed.
– In view of the difficulties experienced by many men who are called up for military training in consequence of the military authorities giving only seven days’ notice, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army say whether it would be possible to extend that period in order that men in. essential industries who are called up for training may have sufficient time to submit applications for exemption ?
– I understand that men engaged in essential industries are exempt from military training, and that unless they are informed that they are not in an essential industry they are not liable to render military service. A period of seven days should be sufficient notice to any man who is engaged in an essential industry, particularly when the situation is so critical that men already in the Army are not given leave.
– Is it a fact that men in essential industries, but which are not declared to be essential industries must make application to the Deputy
Director of Man-power in the State in which they reside before they are exempt from military training?
– The honorable senator knows that certain industries have been declared essential industries and that men engaged in them are exempt from military training.Such men are not called up unless the industry is declared to be non-essential and their services are not required in an essential industry.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate why the Government refuses to lay on the table the regulations under Statutory Rules 1942. No. 92, gazetted some weeks ago, which give to the Minister for Aircraft Production power to fix the wages of women?
– The regulations will be laid on the table at the Government’s pleasure.
– I ask you, Mr. President, as custodian of the rights and privileges of members of this chamber, to use your influence to ensure that the Senate is not denied information imparted to the House of Representatives by the tabling of a White Paper.
– My duties as President, are clearly set out in the Standing and Sessional Orders. Although J have occupied my present position for some time, I have yet to learn that I have authority to direct the actions of the Government in any way whatever.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that Mr. Pollard had been discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Rural Industries.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that Mr. Clark had been discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee of Profits.
Western Australian Gold-fields.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
The information is being obtained, and a reply will bo furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and a reply will he furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Radiologists - Cablegrams from Egypt.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice-
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
Inquiries are being made, and a reply willbe furnished as soon as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the Prime Minister’s statement early in January that the Government would be traitorous to Australia if it tolerated stoppages in the production of coal, and the subsequent regulations promulgated to deal with such contingencies, will the Minister inform the Senate -
1 ) Whether any action has been taken against offenders as provided in subregulation (1) of regulation 27b of the National Security (Coal Control) Regulations ?
Whether the duly constituted Committee of Management of any organization of employees in the coal-mining industry has at any stage (and, ii so, when) directed any of its members, us provided for in sub-regulation ( 1 ) of regulation 27b of the Coal Control Regulations?
If the answer to (2) is in the affirmative,hos the Union Committee used the power of expulsion from membership as provided in sub-regulation (2) of regulation 27b. If this is answered in the affirmative, how many expulsions have been made?
Has the Government taken any action, or is any action contemplated, as provided by regulation 27c. which gives the Coal Commission power to direct that in the case of offenders, exemption from military training be withdrawn ?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : -
The informationis being obtained, anda reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Aircraft Production, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. I have taken action under the regulations and the rates of pay have been rev ised on the basis of the female basic rate made by agreement with the various unions as part of the original government aircraft agreement, plus war and male marginal loadings.
The basic rate of £215s.6d. a week is now supplemented as follows: -
Junior female rates under sixteen years, at sixteen years, and at seventeen years have been increased to the same rates respectively as junior males. Junior female rates at eighteen years and twenty years have been increased in proportion to the adult female process workers who would receive £3 6s.6d. a week in Victoria.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Answers to the honorable senator’s question are under consideration.
National Security Regulations
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
I take this opportunity to explain why replies to many questions upon notice are not to hand. As the result of enlistments, and in order to comply with blackout regulations, the Government Printer is now unable to arrange for work to be undertaken at night. Consequently, the Senate notice paper cannot be supplied before 11 a.m., and it is impossible between that hour and the hour at which the Senate meets to obtain replies to many questions.
– 1 move -
That Regulations S, !) and 1U of the National Security (Conscientious Objectors) Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules .1042, No. 80, issued under thu National Security Act 1939-1040, be disallowed.
I desire to approach this matter without heat because it is a question which should be dealt with clearly and logically. In doing so, I should like to remind honorable senators of what we are up against to-day in this war. The present international conflict is somewhat different from other wars in which the Empire has been forced to take part. Men and women in many parts of the world have been deprived of ownership of body, soul and mind by the decree of a ruthless dictator whose only creed is brute force. This monstrous thing has spread from frontier to frontier, destroying religion, conscience, freedom and security. I do not believe in violence; I believe in law and order, and justice, but I cannot see any way of stopping this menace except by physical force, just as we should restrain a dangerous lunatic or a wild beast. At the same time, we must not, and I hope that we shall not, forget the principles for which we are fighting. We are fighting for freedom - freedom of conscience, speech, worship and of life itself. That is why I wish to approach this matter in a fair and just spirit. Undoubtedly there are genuine grounds, mainly religious grounds, upon which an objection to military service can be based. I have the greatest respect for the Society of Friends, commonly known in Great Britain as the Quakers, but they did not wait until war broke out to declare their beliefs; they have held strong views on this matter even before the foundation of the organization. What is more, they do not object to undertaking non-combatant service. Some friends of raine in Great Britain are Quakers, and they belong to the Society of Friends’ Field Ambulance, which works in the East End of London during “ blitzes”. There is also a bomb disposal squad, consisting entirely of Quakers. There 13 no more hair-raising job than that. It is a task which I should not care, to undertake. It includes the removal of time bombs and delayed-action bombs which may explode at any moment. Those bombs are carried to such places as Hackney Marsh, where they are exploded or rendered harmless. Quite a number of men have lost their lives in the course of this dangerous work. I concede that genuine conscientious objectors should be granted exemption from combatant duties, but to exempt such people from non-combatant work at a time such as this, when the safety of our country is imperilled, is not right, fair or just to the rest of the community. Yet that is the effect of these regulations which have been designed to effect considerable changes in existing laws relating to the liability of persons to undergo military service if they conscientiously object to so doing. Section 61 of the Defence Act at present exempts such persons from service of a combatant nature. The regulations made under the National Security Act are based, in the main, on the existing law of the United Kingdom, which provides that any person who has conscientious objections to performing any military, naval, or air force service, including combatant and non-combatant service, may apply to be registered as a conscientious objector. I have before me copies of the appropriate British act and our own Defence Act. At a first glance it would appear that Australia had adopted the British act -mi toto, but that is not so.
Paragraph b of sub-section6 of section 5 of the British National Service (Armed Forces) Act, Ch. 81, of 1939, is quite different from sub-paragraph ii of paragraph c of sub-regulaltion 1 of regulation 10 promulgated by the Government in that it provides that a conscientious objector who is conditionally registered must undertake work of a civil nature specified by a tribunal under civilian control. Furthermore, if so directed by the Minister, the objector must undergo training provided by the Minister whereas our regulations require a conscientious objector to do these things only if he is so directed by the Minister for Labour andNational Service at rates of pay and conditions prescribed by him. That is the important difference between the two laws. If the Commonwealth Minister for Labour and National Service does not direct an objector to perform work or undergo training, that person is not obliged to render combatant or noncombatant service. At a time like this it is wrong that any man should bo exempt from non-combatant service. Section 61 of the Defence Act sets out the classes of persons who are exempt from military service. The list is long, and I do not propose to read it in full, but it includes members of Parliament, judges of Federal and State courts, ministers of religion, and members of police forces. Exemption is also extended to the following: (h.) Persons who are not substantially of European origin or descent, of which the medical authorities appointed under the regulations shall be the judges:
However, the section includes the following proviso: -
Provided that, as regards the persons described in paragraphs (h) and (i) of this section, the exemption shall not extend to duties of a non-combatant nature.
This proviso has an important bearing upon my argument. There are certain religious sects whose claims to have conscientious objections should not be considered for one moment. One such sect has been proscribed as an illegal organization. I refer to the body known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have no sympathy for its members. As for other organizations, such as the Society of Friends and the Quakers, who have sincere conscientious objections to the taking of life, I would not allow them to escape service of a non-combatant nature if they wished to do so. If appellants can establish the sincerity of their beliefs, they should certainly be excused from combatant service, but there could be no justification for excusing them from non-combatant duties. So-called conscientious objectors also include persons who arc either actively or passively disloyal - I hope that their numbers are small. Then there are people who have very elastic consciences and who suddenly discovered, upon the outbreak of war, that they had conscientious objections to military service. Claims for exemption made by such persons should he subjected to thorough and exhaustive examinations. Under the regulations which I am discussing a conscientious objector has the right of appeal from the decision of the court of summary jurisdiction by which his case is heard.I do not believe in allowing the right of appeal. The definition of “ conscientious objector “ in the regulation is so wide as to give anybody an opportunity to claim exemption on the grounds of conscientious objection to military service. The definition is as follows : - “ Conscientious objector “ includes any conscientious belief, whether the ground thereof is or is not of a religious character, and whether the belief is or is not part of the doctrine of any religion.
This makes the way easy for men who suddenly decide that they have a conscientious objection to military service. I am willing to excuse conscientious objectors from combatant service - although, at a time like this, I cannot understand the state of mind of men who would refuse to do such duty - but they should certainly be compelled to pull their weight with their fellow citizens by rendering noncombatant service as directed by the Minister. I have before me the New Zealand regulations dealing with conscientious objectors, as amended up to the 14th May, 1941. They provide that a person cannot escape non-combatant service. A man may secure exemption from combatant service, on the ground of conscientious objection, buthe must perform noncombatant duties in the military forces. How could any man bring forward a reasonable or logical excuse for not rendering military service of a non-combatant nature in a time of grave national danger such as the present? The New Zealand regulations contain a further valuable provision to the effect that the financial position of a person who succeeds in securing exemption from combatant service on conscientious grounds should be nobetter as the result of his non-combatant service than it would be if he were serving as a combatant member of the armed forces. The same provision applies to exempted men who are put into camps to perform work of a useful nature to the community. The Commonwealth regulations permit an objector to avoid both combatant and non-combatant service. I do not profess to have much legal knowledge, and I confessthat the jargon in which our numerous regulations are shrouded causes me to have mental indigestion; I have great difficulty in interpreting them. The regulations are based in the main on the existing law, butprovide that any person who has conscientious objections to performing military, naval or air force service, including both combatant and noncombatant duties, may apply to be registered as a conscientious objector. They could therefore escape service of any kind. In the New Zealand House of Representatives, the Acting Prime Minister, Mr. Nash, stated on the 27 th August, 1941, regarding conscientious objectors and the regulations promulgated in that dominion that-
A man may be discharged for the purpose of enabling him to serve in. the armed forces, either as a combatant or non-combatant. This may be pursuant to a voluntary election by theman himself or pursuant to an order given by the Minister of National Service if he considers the man should be in camp. A temporary release can be granted in the case of any man whom the special tribunal has ordered to be employed on work of a civil nature. The release will continue only so long as he is engaged in that work, and, during that time, he willbe subject to the financial directions of the tribunal, to ensure that his financial positron is limited to what he would receive as a member of the armed forces.
– The remarks made by Senator Sampson seem to me to warrant careful investigation, and I desire time to give to them more consideration thanI could at the moment.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
. -I move -
That Statutory Rules 1942, No. 92, under the National Security Act 1939-1940 [National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations], bo disallowed.
I have previously referred to Statutory Rule No. 92,. which contains only three regulations. I again enter an emphatic protest against the attitude of the Government in introducing, by means of regulations, important laws which become operative from the date on which they are gazetted, or from the dates specified, in the regulations. This particular statutory rule was gazetted on the 2nd March last. Sub- regulation. 1 of regulation 3 states -
I have no objection to that subregulation, but it is not possible to disallow a portion of a regulation. I particularly direct the attention of the Senate to sub-regulation 2 of regulation 3, which states -
After the coming into operation of Regulations to be made under the National Security Act 1939-1940 governing the employment during the present war, of females on work reserved to males, whether by force of law or because of widely acceptedcustom, the employer of any female employed under this regulation si lull be liable lo pay to that female, as from the commencement of the employment, the rates of pay prescribed by or under those Regulations, and, pending thu prescription by or under those Regulations of rates of pay and conditions of employment in respect of that female, the rates of pay and conditions of her employment shall be as determined by the Minister of State for Munitions or the Minister of State for Aircraft Production.
Political interference with the functions of the Commonwealth or State Arbitration Courts, under the powers given to Ministers under the National Security Act, is deplorable. A large section of the people was amazed at the action of the Government during a sitting of the full bench of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court on the 23rd February last, when an application for the fixation of the rates of wages to be paid to females in a certain industry was being heard. A representative of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), the liaison officer to the Minister for “War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) and secretary of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions attended the court and requested it not to deal with the application as the Commonwealth Government intended to review the matter. With dramatic suddenness, according to the press report, the court adjourned. 1 have never previously heard of such an action. I remind the Senate that the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has made approximately 100 awards for women engaged in industry, and the State courts of New South Wales about 149 of such awards.
The introduction by the Government of Statutory Rule No. 2 of 1942 provides further evidence of political interference. These regulations relate to the wages of men engaged in the maritime industry. We find the Government compelled to take the matter out of the hands of the Arbitration. Court and set up a special tribunal in order to comply with the request of prominent members of the Labour party and of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. This was done after conferences at Canberra between the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and other members of the Government, in order to satisfy members of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions who pass votes of confidence in the Minister for Labour and National
Service (Mr. Ward) and the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) but votes of censure on the Prime Minister. I object to the Minister for Aircraft Production or the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin), who are old and prominent members of the Labour party, under the guise of war-time needs, taking this ma tter out of the hands of “the Arbitration Court and having wages and other conditions fixed to suit their own political supporters- This is intolerable, and I ask the Senate to vote for the disallowance of the statutory rule.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) has been brief in his remarks on tins motion, and I hope that that fact may bc taken as a sign of somewhat belated repentance. I should like to think that it is the result of the remarks I made yesterday concerning a waste of the time of the Senate. The statutory rule under consideration is very short and no legal phraseology has been employed to cloud the issue. The Leader of the Opposition has been most definite in his statements, but has not submitted adequate reasons for the disallowance of the statutory rule. I do not desire to be unfair to the honorable senator. I took notes of his remarks and listened carefully to all that he had to say, and I do not think that I am misrepresenting him when I claim that apparently his only objection to these regulations is that he does not like certain people and certain institutions which those people represent. He did not. say that the regulations were at fault except in one particular. He did not examine them word by word in order to demonstrate that they were defective or dangerous, or that they would be inoperative. He merely used the motion for their disallowance as an opportunity to say in this chamber what he frequently says as proof of his objection to certain people, and to the principles for which they stand. The only constructive element in the honorable senator’s speech was his suggestion that this matter should be dealt with by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Whether this question should be decided in the manner provided by these regulations or by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is a matter concerning which there is room for a fair difference of opinion. The Leader of the Opposition represents in this chamber certain political interests as he has a perfect right to do, hut I have never known him, or those interests, to reveal any desire to preserve the functions and decisions of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and therefore this new enthusiasm on the part of the honorable gentleman leaves me almost speechless. I have lived through the struggle from the bad old days when there was not one vestige of industrial regulation in this country. I have taken a personal and active part in the campaign for regulating industry, and although I have not paid for that activity in blood and tears, I have paid for it in economic isolation and victimization. I have done my part to build up the conciliation and arbitration system which is now incorporated in the law of this land.
– When did honorable senators on this side ever attempt to destroy the arbitration system ?
– I am not a chronological genius, and, without reference to the pages of Hansard from 1901 to1942, I cannot tell the honorable senator of any particular time when he or his colleagues did anything to destroy arbitration; but I can tell him that neither honorable senators opposite nor the interests that they represent ever went out of their way to do anything to support the principle of arbitration, to encourage its operation, or to secure for the people whom it is supposed to help the smallest advantage.
– That statement is inaccurate.
– Apparently, I am unable to satisfy Senator McBride who is a most persistent interjector, and therefore I shall not attempt any longer to accomplish the impossible.
We are asked to make these regulations null and void by disallowing them. The only reasons which have been advanced in support of that action is that the Leader of the Opposition does not like the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. That organization is not some Frankenstein monster which some one has created, nor is it something which, like Topsy, “ just growed “ ; it is an organiza tion which has resulted from half a century of struggle to build up in this country a protective organization in the interests of its workers.
-The Australasian Council of Trade Unions now controls the Government of this country.
– That is not so; but even if the statement of the Leader of the Opposition were correct, the workers of this country would indeed be fortunate - much more fortunate than if the party which the honorable gentleman leads in this chamber had remained in office in the Commonwealth.
– The Leader of the Senate will have to be careful that he does not lose any votes.
– I assure the honorable gentleman that very few of the regulations which are being promulgated in order to meet situations which arise from time to time will win votes for any member of the Labour party. The natural inclination of the workers of Australia is to resent government by regulation, because by such means they are compelled to do things which in normal times’ they would not dream of doing. If there is one thing more than another of which we on this side are proud it is the fact that, without coercion or pressure, the great industrial organizations of Australia have said in effect to the Prime Minister of Australia, “ Go ahead, we will give you all you want. We do not like some of the things that are done, but we shall do what is required of us because of the critical situation which is facing this country. We : will give you a 100 per cent, war effort.”
Not only the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, but more particularly some of its officers, upset the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that I could name themembers of that organization who disturbed the bile of the honorable gentleman. I shall not do so because he would probably say that I had picked out the wrong names, and that would lead to a process of elimination which, while a satisfactory method of obtaining results, is a long job. The honorable gentleman went farther, for he said that these regulations were promulgatedbecause certain individuals connected with the Australasian Council of Trade Unions had visited Canberra and said nicethings about several Ministers, and had used flattering words about the Prime Minister. Does any one really believe thatregulations like these would be issued, particularly in distressing times like the present, merely because a few individuals said that the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) or the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) is a good fellow? Least of all do 1 imagine that the Loader of the Opposition believes that that great statesman who is leading this nation in its hour of greatest trial would be instrumental in issuing a regulation merely because some one said flattering things about him.
– Unflattering things.
– The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition were not worthy of his status in this chamber or of himself personally. The honorable gentleman’s speech contained nothing whatever in the way of a reasoned argument as to why the regulations should be disallowed. I say with respect and with no desire to act the part of the schoolmaster - I have to be very careful what I say because of the extreme touchiness of members of the Opposition - that the Government will not brook any alteration of these regulations.
– The honorable gentleman should not be too cocksure about that.
– The Government will not accept any whittling down of the terms of these regulations. I ask the Senate to refuse to disallow them, because they are essential at the present time. They arc part of the chain of regulations which the Government has found necessary to promulgate in the interests of the maximum war effort in the hope that eventually we shall come out of this struggle victorious.
– I support the motion of my leader (Senator McLeay) for the disallowance of these regulations. In doing so, 1 wish to make it clear that, as a member of the late Government, I fully appreciate the difficulties of government at this time and the need for prompt action on many occasions. I realize, too, that some of the things that normally are done in times of peace have had to be overridden because of pressure of circumstances, when speed is of the essence of the contract. I do think, however, that these regulations cut across one of the fundamental principles of the industrial life of this country. I waited for the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) to inform us of some reason why ordinary channels of industrial conciliation and arbitration could not be used in this instance, instead of issuing the regulations that we have before us. I was entirely disappointed with the honorable gentleman’s reply to the case presented by the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Senate indulged in generalizations, many of whichwere inaccurate, but he did not state any reasons for the promulgation of these regulations.
– The reasons are self-evident.
– The least that the Opposition had a right to expect from the Leader of the Senate was a reason, or reasons, for the issue of regulations which override the normal peace-time practice to which I have always subscribed.
– The method prescribed by the regulations is quicker.
– The honorable gentleman did not give to us one good reason why the normal channels - the Arbitration Court and other industrial tribunals - could not be used in fixing the rates which under these regulations are to be fixed by either the Minister for Munitions or the Minister for Aircraft Production.
– The existing machinery is too slow in operation for present needs.
-What rates of pay would be applied while a decision of the court was being awaited?
– Some awards would naturally be applicable; and any adjustment in respect of different classes of work could be referred to the court, and a decision given quickly. During the last six months, we have had numerous instances of this Government blatantly overriding decisions of the Commonwealth ArbitrationCourt. In practically all of those cases the Government’s action has been dictated by unions which have refused to abide by the court’s awards. An instance of this kind was provided only recently in the coal-mining industry. Some time ago-, following a series of disturbances and stoppages in the industry, the Prime Minister (Mr. Cur tin) himself stated bluntly to the coal-miners that they must either produce coal or go into the army. That statement was received with approbation by the people as a whole. However, since the Prime Minister had made that very strong pronouncement, no action has been taken. The Government party claims credit for the establishment of our industrial arbitration system; but it does not itself attempt to ensure that the awards of the court are enforced. More recently still, a judge of the court, dealing with an application affecting the coal-mining industry, gave a decision allowing certain machines to be used for the development of coal seams, but the Prime Minister himself caused the postponement of the operation of that award. So far as I am aware it has not yet been put into operation. Honorable senators on this side naturally entertain grave doubts when a government which has done things such as I have described, confers on Ministers power to decide wages and conditions of labour.
– The matter re- quired immediate decision.
– If the Minister had devoted part of his speech to that aspect of the matter which he now raises simply by interjection, honorable senators would be in a position to judge for themselves whether the matter required immediate attention. Had ho given a reasonable explanation I have no doubt that honorable senators on this side would have accepted it; but he devoted the whole of his speech to misrepresenting the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay). I, personally, have no hostility towards organized labour in this country as such; but my hostility is aroused when I find organized labour refusing to abide by awards of a properly constituted tribunal. Unfortunately, since the outbreak of war, we have had too many instances of organized labour using the present emergencyto bludgeon further concessions and benefits for itself. At the same time every body, we are told, should be willing to make some sacrifice in the common interest. I make no apology for my distrust of the Government’s action in conferring this power upon any Minister under these regulations. I urge the Government to reconsider the regulations, and to realize the dangers inherent in them. It should realize that a large body of opinion in this country is fearful that organized labour is taking advantage of war conditions to extractfrom the Government concessions which it could not hope to obtain from a properly constituted tribunal. We should oppose the granting of this power to any Minister by any government regardless of its political colour. Decisions of this nature should be left to properly constituted tribunals. No government should resort to a regulation of this kind except in a case of extreme emergency, and only then in respect of that period for which an industry is obliged to await the decision of a properly constituted tribunal. Such a body will not be influenced by the hurlyburly of war emergency, but will calmly examine every application and arrive at a fair and considered decision. I hope that, the motion for the disallowance of this regulation will be carried.
– I should like to move an amendment to this regulation, but on the ground that in its present form it does not go far enough. I should like to make it applicable to all females employed in any industry. I have had the pleasure of visiting many factories now engaged in war production in various States. I have seen women at work in those factories. In South Australia, I saw women working turret lathes just as competently as men. They were doing the same work as men. but they received only £3 5s. a week, whereas men simply performing labouring work around their machines were receiving £5 a week. Does the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) think that that is fair? Female doctors and lawyers charge the same fees as males in the same professions.
– There is a proper tribunal to assess the rates of pay for women.
– We have not the time to refer this matter to tribunals. Our immediate difficulty is to obtain, sufficient skilled employees for war factories. If we cannot obtain males, we must obtain females for that work. In the last war, many women were employed in war factories at a lower rate than males engaged on similar work. Those women were exploited. Many employers to-day are only too ready to exclude men, and increase the number of -female employees, in order to lower their costs of production and to increase their profits. For this reason, I should like to see these regulations applied to females in all industry with the object of prescribing equal pay for the sexes in respect of similar work. I should he happy to leave the responsibility for the administration of such regulations to the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron), lie is doing an excellent job. He has shown himself to be more competent in his department than any of his predecessors. I have no doubt that he is just as anxious as any one else for the success of our war effort. He knows exactly the labour requirements of the aircraft industry at the present juncture. He may be obliged to introduce a number of women into other industries associated with the production of aircraft. I f women capable of doing this work are available, whether it be skilled or ordinary labouring work, and they are put to these tasks, they are entitled to receive the same remuneration as males. Honorable senators who declare that the Ministor is not a fit person to administer these regulations lack sincerity. Those who have visited our war factories realize that women employed in those factories are doing their work as efficiently as men. I have been informed by managers of various factories that the women are doing a better job than males. Consequently, I should like to see the principle of equal pay to the sexes for equal work adhered to in all of our war industries. We pride ourselves upon our democratic fair play. If that be so, it is difficult to understand why honorable senators opposite quibble over these regulations. I deplore the venomous attack made upon the Minister for Aircraft Production by the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable senator dislikes the Minister personally. He has said so .repeatedly in this chamber, and at every opportunity he endeavours to discredit the Minister. Indeed, he has gone so far as to say that the Minister is disloyal. I am confident that the Minister for Aircraft Production has carried out his duties in the best interests of this country, and has done a job at least equal to that done by any other person, and probably better than that done hy his predecessor. .
– I regret that I was called out of the chamber to answer an urgent telephone call and was not privileged to hear just what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) did say in regard to this matter, but I can well imagine some of the objections which h© would raise, and I shall endeavour to answer them. First, however, I should like to deal with what has been said by Senator McBride. Obviously, the honorable senator spoke in ignorance, which is nothing new for him. When I was appointed Minister for Aircraft Production, not one woman was employed hy the Government in the aircraft industry, although negotiations for the employment of women were in progress with the various trade unions. These ‘negotiations were not finalized when Japan declared war on the British Empire and opened hostilities. I was in Sydney on the day after war with Japan broke out. Members of the then Aircraft Production Commission were there also and we held a meeting. The question of employing women in the aircraft industry was submitted to me, and it was explained that negotiations were pending, but that no finality had been reached. I said that I did not propose to wait for these negotiations to be finalized. Time was of the essence of the contract, and I gave my immediate approval to engage as many women as were required under conditions similar to those operating in munitions industries in which women were already employed. Senator McBride said that I should have waited and adopted the normal procedure. Just what is meant by that? Presumably, he means that I should not have authorized the employment of women until a decision had been given by the Arbitration Court.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– That is the implication of the honorable senator’s words.
– I said that we were waiting to hear some reason why the normal procedure could not have been adopted.
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do that the times through which we are now passing are abnormal and we cannot be expected to act in the same way as we would act in normal times. However, I take it that there could have been no objection to what I have done up to that point. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator COLLINGS (QueenslandMinister for the Interior). - by leave - I have been informed that on the 25th March, Statutory Rules 1942, No. 92, containing the regulations which were the subject of the debate which has just been adjourned, were repealed and new Statutory Rules 1942. No. 146 substituted in their place. Therefore, a continuation of the debate is quite unnecessary. Copies of the new regulations are not yet available. Information regarding the repeal of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 92, came to me only a few moments ago, and as I do not believe in wasting time, I thought, it advisable to interrupt the debate. I thank the Senate for affording me an opportunity to make this explanation.
.- - I move -
That Regulation No. 25 of the National Security (Landlord and Tenant) Regulations issued under the National Security Act 1939- 1940, and included in Statutory Rules 1941, No. 275, be disallowed.
Under this motion I desire to secure the disallowance of one of the regulations contained in Statutory Rules 1941, No. 275, which relates to the setting up of fair rents boards and, generally speaking, provides for action through these boards for the fixation of fair rents for premises and for control over the eviction of tenants. I am concerned onlywith regulation 25, which provides that parties to the proceedings may be represented by an agent. If the regulation stopped there, I should have no objection to it, but sub-regulation 3 provides that “ The agent shall not, without the consent of all parties or persons affected, or, unless the Attorney-General has intervened by counsel, be a barrister or solicitor, or a clerk of a barrister or solicitor”. In other words, the regulation expressly excludes from the right of appearance before these bodies a section of professional men who have been trained for the purpose of performing duties of this kind. I have endeavoured to determine for my own satisfaction ; what possible justification there can be for such a regulation, but I confess that I have not been able to find any justification “whatsoever. After all, the regulations deal with matters which are the everyday concern of lawyers - matters upon which it would be most natural for those concerned with applications before these tribunals to consult lawyers. Suppose, for example, a woman in occupation of certain premises received a notice from her landlord intimating that he proposed to apply to the Fair Rents Court for the fixation of a fair rent, probably in excess of that which the woman was paying. What would such a tenant be likely to do? Her husband might he overseas in the Australian ImperialForce, and immediately she would look around for some one of competence to help her to deal with the matter. I suggest that the first, and most natural thing for the woman to do would be to go to a lawyer in order to obtain competent advice as towhat action she should take and what were her rights under these regulations.It would be difficult to find any other person in the community who could competently advise such a tenant. Having consulted a lawyer, no doubt he would tell the woman that she had to appear before a fair rents court. In these circumstances, it wouldbe very natural for her to say, “ Well, of course, you will appear for me “. But lo and behold, the lawyer has to say, “I am sorry, but I cannot appear for you; you must get some other agent “. If the woman were unable to get a competent agent, then presumably she would have to accept the services of an incompetent one, -because she is forbidden by this regulation to obtain the assistance of a man -who is trained to understand these very matters. There is another curious thing about this regulation. fi it happened that the woman to whom I referred knew of a person who had been a solicitor, but who, owing to his misappropriation of clients-5 money, had been struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors, she could employ that person to appear before the tribunal. He would be permitted to appear, but a barrister and solicitor, practising his profession honestly and competently, and abiding by the rules of ethics which bind the profession, would be forbidden to plead the woman’s case. That is a ridiculous position. I know that it is popular in some quarters to assume that whenever a lawyer enters into proceedings his clients will have to bear heavy costs. This is due to the fact that we hear very occasionally of legal proceedings of a protracted nature which have committed people to substantial expenditure. The persons who hold this idea overlook the fact that every day hundreds of solicitors appear in the courts of this country on behalf of poor people for very small fees. These solicitors protect the people against injustice. Is there any basis of justice in a regulation which provides that a landlord, who probably employs a competent estate agent, may be represented before the tribunal by that agent, whilst the complainant may not employ a solicitor? The landlord may pay the agent whatever fee he wishes, and the agent may be a man of considerable business capacity, and, if the landlord is wealthy, he will see that the agent is completely instructed by a barrister or solicitor as to the course that he shall pursue. In my experience, very few tenants are likely to consult estate agents in order to secure assistance in an undertaking of this kind. Therefore, unless they are prepared to go before the tribunal themselves and endeavour to compete with trained agents of the landlord, they are at a complete disadvantage.
– Is the honorable senator aware of the actual procedure in these courts in Melbourne at present?
– I know that the procedure is very informal, but circumstances arise daily in which it is desirable that people who wish to have legal assistance should be allowed to secure it. I do not ask that the right of audience of lawyers before these tribunals should be exclusive. All that I ask is that a person who desires to employ a trained advocate should be entitled to do so. I have seen other tribunals in operation before which not only barristers and solicitors, hut also lay advocates have been permitted to appear. I assure honorable senators that people do not save money or time by employing lay advocates. In my experience the effect of employing such persons has often been that clients have paid good money for the services of bad advocates. I do not propose to occupy much time in dealing with this subject. The only part of this regulation to which I object is that which deliberately prevents the right of audience before these tribunals of barristers and solicitors. There is no justification whatever for such a provision. If the Minister were prepared to indicate to me that he would have sub-regulation 3 of regulation 25 repealed, I should bc willing to withdraw my motion. The provision creates an injustice which affects not only the profession to which I happen to belong - I am not particularly concerned with that aspect, of the matter - but also the people who have not at their command competent agents to undertake the work of representing them before these tribunals. I sincerely hope that the Minister will take steps to have this sub-regulation removed from the statutory rule.
– I had a hand in drafting the regulation under discussion, and I know that the subregulation to which particular reference has been made by Senator Spicer has been the subject of a great deal of controversy amongst various sections of the community. Representations have been made to the Government, through the Attorney-General, by the law institutes of nearly every State in which the regulation is operative. It is obvious that the Government had some purpose in inserting the provision which has been criticized so strongly by Senator Spicer. Sub-regulation 8 of the regulation states -
The agent shall not, without the consent of all parties or persons affected, or, unless the Attorney-General has intervened by counsel, be a barrister or solicitor, or a clerk of a barrister or solicitor.
That shows that the barrier to employing legal aid can be overcome by obtaining the consent of all parties. I remind the honorable senator that the procedure in the Fair Rents Court in Victoria, with which he is an fait, is businesslike and offers the litigant a practical method of dealing with his claim. I still fail to see why legal advice should be needed either by the landlord or the applicant. A working man renting a house in Melbourne may complain because his rent has been raised by 6s. a week. He can go to the nearest clerk of courts and lay a complaint, which will be listed with others and heard by a magistrate in the Fair Rents Court. The complainant will be able to explain his financial position to the magistrate and state for what period he has rented the house, what rental he has been paying, the amount of his weekly earnings, and the extent of the repairs that have been effected to the property. The owner will then be able to state his case. He need not employ an agent to do so. Surely any man can do a simple thing like that? The magistrate, having heard the arguments, may then proceed to the house and inspect it. He may give his decision in the backyard of the property, or in his own chambers. There is no doubt that, by this costless procedure, poor people who arc afflicted by high rentals are able to obtain certain and quick justice.
– It is not as easy as all that. What have the tenant’s earnings to do with the rent of the house?
– They have a considerable bearing on the rental. The rent is based on the capital cost of the building, plus the ordinary rate charges and the cost of any renovations carried out by the owner. If the honorable gentleman had been a member of the Joint Committee on Social Security, as I was for a period, he would have learned that many grave injustices are being perpetrated in every State. Many of these injustices have been curtailed by these regulations. The National Security (Fair Rent) Regulations, which operated in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania prior to the promulgation of this regulation, permitted parties to proceedings taken under it to be represented by barristers or solicitors. There is no evidence that this opportunity was availed of to any great degree. In fact, a feature of the operation of the regulations in Victoria was that parties usually conducted their own cases. The proceedings were very informal. Parties who could not afford legal representation were made to feel that their cases were not prejudiced by their inability to pay for assistance. Tenants engaged legal assistance more often than landlords. I consider that a person’s economic position should not be a barrier to fair treatment, and wealthy members of the community should not have an advantage over others. Whilst there has been a certain amount of agitation for the granting of the right to secure legal representation before these tribunals, no cases have been brought to the notice of the Government in which either a landlord or a tenant has suffered as the result of not having legal assistance. Many poor and uneducated personsrun the risk of not doing their cases justice when they are opposed by trained advocates. The existing regulation is not a barrier to legal representation, provided that all parties are in agreement on the subject. I took an active part in the drafting of this part of regulation 25. 3 was a member of the Social Security Committee when it took evidence in Melbourne, on the 4th August, 1941, from Mr. W. O. Burt, a barrister and solicitor, who is a member of the Housing Commission of Victoria. Mr. Burt said in evidence that the then existing Fair Rents Court procedure was not operating fairly to applicants for relief. He stated -
The main objections to existing legislation are -
The tenant is obliged to absent himself from his work on at least two days - one day to instruct his lawyer or the person to represent him and one day to attend court. This means in some cases a total loss of £2.
The tenant is obliged (if he is able to procure one) to employ a valuer whose fee amounts to about £3 3s.
The tennant is further obliged to pay the valuer £11s. for his attendance at court and a further £2 2s. to £3 3s. for a solicitor to represent him. As the landlord always employs a lawyer, the tenant cannot safely dispense with one.
It willbe seen, therefore, that the tenant may face a total outlay of about £10 with the further risk of losing his case and having to pay a great deal more. In other words, a tenant must risk a total of up to £20 to obtain the doubtful saving of a few shillings per week.
An unfortunate tenant in a poor financial position could not undertake a liability of that nature, for the doubtful chance of obtaining a reduction of his rent. This provision has worked well in Victoria, and I have received no complaints as to its operation in other States. It applies only in cases where the rentals do not exceed £4 a week. In the case of higher rentals there might be some justification for the engagement of lawyers in the event of disputes. I am somewhat biased against the employment of legal men in the hearing of these disputes. My experience of them in arbitration court proceedings leads me to say that, whilst they are sometimes helpful in the marshalling of evidence, a practical layman is quite capable of conducting a case. I appreciate the clear manner in which Senator Spicer has presented his arguments, and I shall look into them. I shall obtain the report from the officers whose duty it is to administer the law in this matter, and I shall communicate with the honorable senator later. My present view is that the regulation should not be altered.
– In view of the statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), I hope that he will agree to the adjournment of the debate. Senator Spicer mentioned the possibility of a barrister or solicitor who had been struck off the roll, but who had subsequently become a land agent, acting for a tenant. I ask the Minister to protect the interests of elderly people whose family solicitors have been looking after their affairs for many years. The Minister told us that he had taken an active part in the framing of regulation 25 which provides for the representation ofthe parties by agents. He admitted that he was biased against the employment of legal men.
– I had been wondering whether the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) was responsible for the inclusion of this regulation, but it now appears that the points usually advanced by prominent trade union organizers or secretaries for the benefit of the unthinking section of the people are not lost sight of by them when they attain ministerial office. They seize every opportunity to embody their individual ideas in the laws of the land.
– Practice before theory.
– The Minister has been an honest gold-digger and a zealous trade union secretary, but he now puts himself forward as better qualified to conduct an arbitration case than men specially trained in a university for that work. The barring of counsel from appearing in such cases is on a par with the appointment of politicians to fix wages and the selection of laymen to perform major surgical operations.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN (South Australia) 5.12]. - I understood the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to say that regulation 25 does not apply in respect of premises the rent of which exceeds £200 per annum, but I can find no such limitation in the regulations. I suggest that the attention of the appropriate officials should be directed to the fact that in all of the capital cities there are huge flats which represent, the investments of wealthy persons and all kinds of people, and that those buildings are managed by persons in combating whom there would be some advantage in employing a lawyer; but the unfortunate tenant who may require to seek relief is to be debarred from obtaining competent representation by regulation 25. Under regulation 24 no costs are to be allowed in any proceedings under these regulations, but we are placing the tenant, at a great disadvantage. I welcome the spirit in which the Minister has received this motion. If he wishes to help the big landlord, let him exclude counsel ‘by all means; but if he wishes to enable tenants occupying small properties such as the occupants of flats to obtain relief, they should be allowed to engage counsel to represent them. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave not granted.
– Although the honorable senator has been refused leave to continue his remarks at a later date, he may proceed with his speech if he so desires.
– I had hoped to have an opportunity later to resume the discussion. I accept the promise of the Minister to look into the matter, but I understood that he would make a further statement regarding it on the resumption of the debate.
.- in reply - A provision similar to that contained in regulation 25 appeared in the regulations which the Senate was discussing last night. Presumably, it was originally put into those regulations for a reason similar to that which the Minister has suggested as his justification for these regulations. After that provision had been in operation for a month or so, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) saw fit to delete it from the regulations. I suggest that exactly the same reasons as caused that step to be taken in connexion with regulations dealing with adjustment of contracts should now induce the Minister to take similar action in connexion with these regulations.
Question put -
That, regulation No. 25 of the National Security (Landlord and Tenant) Regulations issued under the National Security Act 1939- 1940, and included in Statutory Rules 1941, No. 275, he disallowed.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
. -I move -
That Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77, under the National Security Act 1939-1940 [National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations] he disallowed.
At the outset, I wish to make it clear that the Opposition agrees that in time of war the Government should have some of the powers contained in these regulations. Indeed, the Opposition is prepared to withdraw this motion altogether if the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) will indicate that the Government is prepared to consider amendments which we suggest should be made to this farreaching statutory rule. It is perhaps unnecessary for me to state that the reason for moving that this statutory rule be disallowedis that the Senate may have an opportunity to debate the regulations which it contains.
Before I deal with the regulations now under review, I point out that there is danger of considerable confusion arising from the number of statutory rules that have been issued and the exercise of powers conferred by them. In this connexion I hope that the Government will give careful consideration to the suggestion of Senator A. J. McLachlan and that the Parliament will be given an opportunity to consider the far-reaching effects of the numerous regulations that are now being issued. For instance, I hope that, some member of the Government will enlighten me as to the position now existing in Papua, as it is almost impossible for honorable senators to keep abreast of the regulations that are being promulgated weekly. It isno reflection on the Leader of the Senate that he should not be aware of the details of every statutory rule that is issued, because it is almost physically impossible for any man to keep abreast of them all. I should also like a responsible Minister to indicate what the position is in areas like Darwin and other areas which have been declared military areas. I understand that such areas are partly under military control and partly under civil control, and that, in consequence, there has been considerable confusion as to which authority deals with certain matters. Knowing that the military authorities take charge of an area under certain conditions, I do not want to confuse the powers conferred by these regulations with anything that has already been delegated, or is likely to be delegated, to such authorities in the event of an imminent attack on any portion of Australia. But I should like some enlightenment on this subject.
Of all the regulations that have been promulgated, none are more far-reaching in theireffects than those contained in Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77. One of the regulations goes too far and should be amended, not in the direction of restricting the powers conferred on the Government, but in order to prevent misunderstanding and chaos in a time of great emergency.Under regulation 4 a Minister, or any other person authorized by a Minister, may direct any person resident in Australia to do certain things. That means that any one of nineteen Ministers of State may authorize any person to direct other persons to do certain things. It is not difficult to visualize the confusion that is likely to take place should those powers be exercised to any considerable degree. That power may be given to any person, and that person can issue instructions to anybody to do anything. Regulation 4 reads -
A Minister,or any person authorized by a Minister to give directions under these Regulations, may direct any person resident in Australia -
Any such direction may be given so as to apply -
Every person to whom any such direction is applicable shall comply with the direction.
First, I suggest that this power of delegation should not be given to nineteen Ministers. It is so far-reaching that it should be given only to the Prime Minister. Secondly, if the delegation of authority is to be retained as set out in the regulation, the class of person to whom these powers may be delegated should be defined. It is unthinkable that these powers may be exercised by anybody. The Government should draw up a list of the persons to whom they may be delegated. I shall not object if that list be exceptionally wide; but some such list is preferable to leaving the matter in its present form. Thirdly, I suggest that directions issued under regulation 4 should be given in writing and not orally. I admit that in some cases of urgency it may be impracticable to issue directions in writing, but all instructions given orally should be confirmed in writing within a reasonable period.
– They would be.
– The regulation does not say so. I can quite imagine that directions may be given by one person to numerous authorities, sayby telephone, to do certain things. Under such conditions, it is not difficult to imagine the confusion which may arise. Many disputes would he avoided if it were prescribed that any person who issues directions under this regulation should confirm them in writing within a specified time. It will be impossible in many cases to check instructions which are given orally.
– Has not the Prime Minister promised to do as the honorable senator suggests.
– According to press reports the Prime Minister has made such a promise. I remind the honorable senator that the Senate is master of its own business, but we have not been officially advised of any change of intention on the part of the Government in this matter. Perhaps the Leader of the Senate will clarify that point. My fourth suggestion is that there should be a right of appeal to a tribunal, in order to prevent personal vindictiveness and injustice. Earlier to-day we discussed regulations which gave to conscientious objectors, or persons with cold feet, the right of appeal. I t is not difficult to imagine that many persons, including even Ministers, to whom this power may be delegated, will take the opportunity to damage people against whom they have a grievance.
– How does the honorable senator suggest that that can be done?
– It is not easy to give concrete instances. Nevertheless, we know that the possession of such power gives an opportunity to vindictive people to do injustice to others against whom they have a grievance. Evidence that this is likely to happen, even in respect of Ministers, is not wanting when we review recent events. For instance, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) took the opportunity under one regulation to “ put the boot “ into the members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union, and at the same time to do all he could for his friends, the members of the Waterside Workers Federation. The effect of that particular regulation was that no new members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union could be guaranteed employment, despite the fact that that organization has done a great service to Australia, and includes among its membersmany returned soldiers from the last war and this war. That is evidence of the possibility that Ministers and persons to whom power is delegated under regulation 4 to give certain directions will use it in a. vindictive manner.
When it was first suggested that a move would be made for the disallowance of Statutory Rules 1942. No. 77, reports appeared in the press that a Government spokesman said that those regulations were necessary in order to enable the Government to compel strikers to return to work, or to enlist them in labour battalions. Perhaps, also, the Government required power to enable it to tell members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourer.Union that they must go into the Army. If the Leader of the Senate says that the powers already possessed by the Govern ment are not sufficient to enable it to deal with agitators and strikers, the Opposition is prepared to give to it any power it deems necessary to discipline people who disobey arbitration court awards. However, the explanation offered by the Government spokesman in the press reports to which I have referred is merely a subterfuge. It is a smokescreen to cover the Government’s real intentions. The Government has certainly fallen down on its job in adopting its policy of appeasement to strikers and the few people who by interrupting production menace our war effort. I shall not be deceived by any smokescreen put out by aGovernment spokesman. I remind the Senate that as far back as January the PrimeMinister (Mr.Curtin) told a conference of coal-miners who were on strike that they must work or fight. Subsequently, under regulation 27 c of the Coal Control Regulations power was given to the Coal Commission to withdraw exemption from military service from any coal-miner who went on strike. However, strikes have been continually occurring ever since that time. In to-day’s press we read that two mines were idle yesterday. Up to date I have seen no evidence that the Government has exercised its power under regulation 27 c. It is useless to say that it requires the power set out in Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77. because it does not already possess such power. What the Government needs to do is to abandon its policy of appeasement towards agitators. Under the economic mobilization regulations the Government took further power to provide that any employee who absented himself from work in specified industries became liable to a fine of £100 or imprisonment for six months. At that stage the Government realized that its courage had failed it. It has not yet exercised that power, despite the fact that numerous strikers have refused to work on certain holidays. Now we are told that the Government requires Statutory Rules 1942, No. T7, in order to enable it to overcome these problems. Should that be the argument advanced by the Leader of the Senate on this matter, I repeat that the Opposition is prepared to give to the Government all the power it requires to deal with strikers and industrial agitators as effectively as they should be dealt with in this time of crisis. I have been horrified for the last two or three mouths. I realize the task that lie3 ahead of the Government. Day after day we read of the gigantic effort that is necessary for the defence of this country, but in my opinion the Government is falling down on its job. There has been too much talk and not enough action. Apparently, before anything can be done in the direction of mobilizing certain industries, the trade unionists have to be called to Canberra in order to find out how they will react to the Government’s proposals. Wo are told that wo have to do this and we have to do that, but there is little sign of definite action. One of the most vital mistakes that this Government is making is the setting up of various advisory committees. Such bodies serve only to delay matters.’ The South Australian Government has requested that action bc taken to deal with the man-power problem on the River Murray, where thousands of internees ure dependent on the Murray for their water supply. I am informed that there is an acute shortage of wood for fuel, and that unless the wood is forthcoming there will be no water supply. Apparently the State authorities have been endeavouring for months to get a decision on this matter. Tn one of his famous- war-time speeches, the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Churchill) said that if the Government were to wait for its advisers to give advice on all matters, the war would be lost before any action could be taken. Referring to the incessant clamour for the setting up of committees and other advisory bodies, Mr. Churchill said that if the Government were to accede to all the requests, there would be too much harness and not enough horse. I say in all sincerity that, by promulgating regulations of this kind, thi? Government is saddling itself with too much harness, while it lacks sufficient horse to produce the necessary action.
– We have just listened to another one of those interminable speeches from the Opposition regarding the disallowance of regulations. The climax in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) was exceedingly interesting. I am not sure whether or not he was correct in attributing to the British Prime Minister the neat saying about the horse and the harness, but whoever was responsible for it is to be commended for his wit. 1 suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that in matters such as the disallowance of regulations what is required is neither harness nor horse, but rather horse-sense. These are very important regulations. In fact, they are so important that I cannot understand any honorable senator opposite seeking their disallowance. It is the first honest attempt that any Government has made to bring about a true all-in war effort. That is why I stress the fact that it is a vitally important matter. The Leader of the Opposition said in effect that he and his colleagues were prepared to give to the Government all the assistance and all the power that it wanted ; but then he put a string to that offer by adding the stipulation that things must he done not in the Government’s way but in the Opposition’s way.
– That is only the Minister’s interpretation of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition.
– I do not suggest that the Leader of the Opposition used those words. He said that he would give the Government all the assistance and power that it required, but, when moving for the disallowance of these regulations, he said that he did not like them. Apparently if we amend some of these regulations to suit the honorable senator the promised assistance will be forthcoming. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that it is the Government’s intention to obtain all the power and assistance that it requires without asking the honorable senator if ho proposes to back it up. This is -the first honest attempt that has been made to say to honorable senators opposite, “Now your friends haveto make their contribution to an all-in war effort, because we are determined that our friends shall do so also “.
– The Government has not been able to make its own friends do soup till now.
– I am exceedingly pleased that the honorable senator has made that interjection. In a few minutes the Senate will suspend its sitting for a function which I am sure that all honorable senators wish to attend, but I shall have an opportunity to continue my remarks when the Senate resumes its sitting at a later hour. I point out to honorable senators that these regulations give the Government power to control man-power. Without that power our activities would not amount to even a reasonable war effort, quite apart from an all-in war effort. The regulations also give to the Government power to control property, whether it be of bricks and mortar or any other material.
– Nobody objects to that.
– We are all for it.
– I remind honorable senators that this is a serious matter. Surely they are not serious when they make interjections such as some we have just heard. In the words of “ Ginger “, of radio fame, I say to honorable senators who have just interjected, “ Don’t give me that stuff “, because I am too old to be trapped in that way. It is obvious that, honorable senators do not like the power that is conferred upon the Government by these regulations, despite the fact that their leader has stated that the Opposition would give the Government all the assistance and power that it requires. These regulations give the Government control over man-power, property, material and equipment.
– The Government has that power already.
– It has nothing of the kind. It is true that under military control we could impress whatever material we required, butwe had to get it piece-meal. With all respect to honorable senators opposite and without attempting to be dictatorial, I say that we intend to have these regulations.
– In their present form?
– What does the Prime Minister say about it? Who is the Government spokesman now?
– I am, as Minister for the Interior and Leader of the Government in the Senate. There is no mystery on this occasion. I admit that 1 was “caught out” earlier in the day in regard to a certain debate which was subsequently adjourned, but I have discovered since that the trouble arose not because of any action by the Prime Minister, but because of action taken by some body whose authority is still being inquired into.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was prepared to discuss this motion for the disallowance of Statutory Rules 1942. No. 77 very thoroughly. However, in view of what I have heard since then, I consider that we need not debate it any further. I was surprised to learn that certain action which was taken in the House of Representatives was so satisfactory to all parties thatagreement was reached and no further discussion took place on the subject in that chamber. In reading the statutory rule, I understood that regulation 2 meant exactly what it states. It reads as follows: -
These regulations shallbe administered by the Minister ofState for Defence Coordination.
Apparently, it was considered by some honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives that regulation 4 contained a generalization which had dangerous possibilities. The Leader of the Opposition referred to that in his speech. However, the Prime Minister has given a definite assurance that no action has been taken under this statutory rule except at his instigation, as Minister for Defence Co-ordination, and that, in every case, direction has been given by him in writing. Nothing has been done orally. The Prime Minister assured the House of Representatives last night that nothing would be done in future except at his instigation. That statement is accepted by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, and if honorable senators opposite are prepared to accept it, I suggest that the matter be allowed to drop. I assume that the Leader of the Opposition, if he is satisfied with this assurance, will withdraw his motion.
– That suggestion is acceptable to me.
Motion - by leave - wi thd ra wn.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I have not previously been guilty of speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, but to-night I wish to raise a matter of very great importance. I refer to the action that is being taken by the Government to override the Government of Victoria in regard to beef produced at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works sewage farm at, Werribee. Before proceeding, I. wish to make it clear that I am not a cattle-grower to any extent, and do not represent cattle-growers, so that the matter does not affect me personally. I know the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works farm at Werribee, where many thousands of cattle are raised. The conditions under which these cattle are raised are absolutely filthy, and it is disgraceful that the Government intends to supply meat so produced to our troops.
– Does the honorable senator pit his opinion against the opinions of experts?
– I live not far from the farm, and I have frequently travelled over it, so that I know what I am talking about. The men in our armed forces must take the meat that is supplied to them. They have no option, as the civilian has. I ask the Government to recall the cause of the Indian Mutiny. Indian troops were ordered to bite cartridges which were coated with grease. We all know of the bloodshed caused. No man who knows anything about cattle and the conditions at the Werribee farm will eat Werribee beef. The farm covers an area of 20,000 acres; half of it is dry and half of it is wet. The disease of beef measles with which these cattle are infected is caused by the tape-worm which infests humans. Every day, people in 500,000 houses in the city of Melbourne flush their closets, and the sewage is emptied on about 16 acres of ground at Werribee without being submitted to treatment of any sort. Consequently, that small area becomes covered with a putrid mass of human excrement. About 2,000,000 gallons of sewage is emptied on to a 16-acre plot daily. At the end of a period of about fourteen days, the cattle are turned out to graze on the grass on to which this waste matter is deposited. The tape-worm from the sewage creeps up the grass and is eaten by the cattle, which then contract beef measles. Some of the medical men, on whose opinion Senator Cameron seems to rely, say that when these worms are cooked they are harmless. I do not want to eat them, cooked or raw. The only way to eradicate beef measles in Werribee sewage farm cattle would be to remove the cause - the tape-worm. That could be done only by drenching every person in the city of Melbourne as a farmer would drench his sheep. I ask honorable senators to imagine the condition of an area of 16 acres covered with a mass of untreated sewage. The solid substances in the material are held by the roots of the grass, whilst the surplus water percolates to it lower level and then runs out, to the sea. Corio Bay is as black as ink for about half a mile from the shore as the result of this seepage, and the streams which run on that lower level would make a fair substitute for ink. Nevertheless, the Government expects men in our armed forces to eat, the meat produced on that farm. I hope that they will not touch it. At one time, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works sold the milk from cattle which were raised on its farm, but the health authorities soon stopped the practice. Vegetables which were grown there were sold to the people of Melbourne, but that has also been prevented. The farm produces a great growth of vegetable matter, because the quantity of excrement that is deposited on 1 acre of that ground in one night is equivalent to 1 ton of sulphate of ammonia or about 2 tons of superphosphate. In fourteen days, the grass grows about 3 inches. After this growing period, the bullocks are turned out to graze on it. Subsequently, they will go to Melbourne and the beef will be sold, calen, and returned to “Werribee through the sewer. I ask Ministers whether they would eat that meat. The late Mr. Charles Hawker and I went over that farm on one occasion. The day was not very warm, but when Mr. Hawker turned over a sod with a foot, it was fly-blown.
– How many degrees of heat are required to kill a worm?
– If the honorable senator is prepared to eat cooked worms, he may do so; I will not. The cattle produced on the sewage farm are magnificent. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of “Works has stud herds of Herefords, Polled Angus, Shorthorns and other breeds, but it is not permitted to market them at present. I venture to say that, if the board established a shop in Melbourne and offered its beef for sale, it would not get a solitary customer. T should like to see the Ministers who are overriding the Victorian Governmentpurchase that meat for their own wives. I guarantee that their wives would not cook it. There is a remedy for this position, however. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of “Works could rear stud stock on this farm to the weaning age of six months, and could then sell it to cattle-raisers in dry country where it could remain for at least two years before being marketed as clean.
– Where do the measles appear on an animal?
– Little cysts form in the flesh of the cattle, and it is possible to cut the meat without cutting a tape-worm. I recall the time when the Board of Works marketed 200 bullocks a week in Melbourne, and I remember an auctioneer saying that he could go round the sale-yard with his eyes shut and pick out the Werribee bullocks by the smell of their pens. It was easy to do that, because the odour was abominable. I do not suppose that any member of the present Government, with the possible exception of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Seam;), has inspected that sewage farm. If
Ministers did so, I am sure that they would not force the Victorian Government to market the cattle from the farm for beef. I hope that the Government will reconsider its decision from a common-sense point of view. The Housewives Association of Melbourne has been pressing for the marketing of this beef, but its members know nothing at all about the matter. I invite them and the members of this Government to come with, me on some warm day and have afternoon tea under the willow trees beside one of these turgid drains. I undertake that, if they do so, they will change their tune about Werribee beef.
Senator LAMP (Tasmania) [S.29J. - On several occasions I have referred in this chamber to the broadcasting of news services in Tasmania. I now appeal to the Postmaster-General and Minister for Information (Senator Ashley) to impres.3 upon the Australian Broadcasting Commission the stupidity of broadcasting market reports before the news sessions. Many listeners tune in their radio sets a few minutes before the news is broadcast at 12.30 p.m., 1 p.m., and 1.30 p.m., and sometimes market reports are broadcast for 10 or 15 minutes prior to the 12.30 p.m. news session. I suggest, therefore, that the* Australian Broadcasting Commission should endeavour to make the national programme as attractive as possible at that period of the day. It should not, bc difficult to arrange for the market reports to be broadcast after the news has been announced.
In the northern portion of Tasmania there are two commercial broadcasting stations, TEX and TLA, but they are off the air after 9 a.m. on Saturdays, whilst the national station, TNT, closes down from S.30 a.m. to 10 a.m. for essential maintenance work on the transmitter. The people residing in that portion of Tasmania require the services of a broadcasting station between those hours, and at least one station should remain on the air, because an occasion might arise when it would be necessary to make an important announcement to the public. The Victorian stations, 3GI Sale and 3AB Melbourne, can be heard satisfactorily in Tasmania at certain times, but not at others, and the people of Tasmania would not be required to listen to Victorian stations if the services of a local station could be made available to them. I suggest that maintenance work in connexion with the national station in northern Tasmania should be done at times other than Saturday mornings.
Motion - byleave - temporarily withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday, the 29th April next, at 3 p.m., unless the President shall, prior to that date, by telegram or letter addressed to each senator, fix an earlier date of meeting.
Defence: Military Call-up; Batmen -
Non-essential Businesses - Repatriation Committees - Answers to Questions - Wheat Payments.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I bring to the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army the necessity for an extension of the seven days’notice now given to persons who are called up for military service. Very few of those who are working in essential war industries in Tasmania are aware of the exact nature of the regulations on this matter, despite the notices that have been issued through the daily press. Persons called up. in the State never receive more than seven days’ notice. Some of them live in remote parts of the State and even those residing in country towns are not familiar with the procedure that has to bo adopted in order to obtain exemption from military training on the ground that they are engaged in essential industries. By the time they make application to the Deputy Director of Man-power in Tasmania, or to me, who happen to be the representative in that State of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), and necessary inquiries are made to ascertain whether their statements are correct, it is often too late for them to obtain exemption. They are called into camp and the matter is then out of the hands of the Deputy Director of Man-power.
I ask that the period of notice be slightly increased to enable those who are engaged in industries essential to the successful prosecution of the war to have sufficient time to make their applications and to enable them to be cheeked. This request is made, particularly, in the interests of farmers. I have known cases in which the only man on the farm hasbeen called up in the middle of harvesting operations. Australia will be short of its requirements of potatoes this year by many thousands of acres, yet one farmer who had planted 15 or 20 acres of potatoes andturnips has been called into camp because the notice given to him was insufficient. It is necessary practically to go on one’s knees to the commanding officers to get such men out of camp to enable them to attend to the production of essential commodities. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army to reconsider the reply given to me to-day regarding this matter. I suggest that, except in very urgent circumstances, the seven days’ notice should be somewhat increased.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) to a matter relating to the appointment of local repatriation committees under section 49 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act1920-1935. These committees may be appointed in various localities by the Repatriation Commission itself. There are various provisions in the act for the guidance of the committees, including some relating to the collection and expenditure of money. Usually seven persons are appointed to each committee, and the commission has followed the procedure adopted during the last war, when no returned soldiers were appointed to the committees. At a meeting of the Kalgoorlie and Boulder sub-branches of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmens Imperial League of Australia I was informed that only one member of that body had been appointed to the local Repatriation Committees. There is no more active or experienced body of returned soldiers than the members of the gold-fields sub-branches of the league at Kalgoorlie and Boulder, and, in my opinion, it would be to the advantage of the Repatriation Commission to have more returned soldiers on the local committees. Those men have had 24 years’ experience in repatriation matters, and in many cases have initiated proposals which have led to amendments of the Repatriation Act that have resulted in benefit to returned soldiers generally.
I should like to know if answers to questions on the notice-paper which have not yet been furnished will be forwarded t.o honorable senators.
– Answers to such questions will be sent to the honorable senators concerned.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the leader of the Senate.
.- Recently, a Cabinet Minister expressed the opinion that batmen to military officers should be transferred to a unit and take their places as fighting men.
I should like to draw honorable senators’ attention to an article in a London publication, Left News, dated the 1st February, 1941. It recalled that, in the early months of the recent Spanish revolution, the two International Brigades assembled, after the first engagement, to discuss the question of leaders appointed by a men’s committee. At that period, the officers so appointed did not Iia ve batmen. The personnel of those brigades were the most deeply political of all of the units in Spain and held reactionary views. They decided that their officers must have a distinguishing uniform, live in separate messes, and each have a batman. For their own personal safety and comfort, the men demanded the utmost professional efficiency from their platoon commanders upwards to brigade commanders. They knew that in a battle a commander must have absolute authority to get things done his way. They realized that an officer who should be arranging for supplies to be brought up, reporting casualties and advising his superior officers on the condition of his men and the tactical possibilities before his unit, should not waste his time in a queue for half an hour, waiting for his issue of mule stew and red-ink wine. The article stated that “ sheer self-preservation induced the troops to demand that their respective commanders should not be scrounging around feeding themselves, looking after their equipment, or wasting time endlessly by arguing the reasons for every order given “.
The article went on to say that these tough soldiers of fortune from many foreign countries secured for their officers, before the end of the revolution, a degree of privilege only a little less than that found in the armies of the great powers.
In advocating a distinguishing and recognizable uniform, spokesmen from the ranks pointed out that, in the indescribable muddle of a modern battle, all sorts of commanders of different kinds of units appear and move on again. They said that it was impossible to know by sight all the individuals who, in any given battle, may have to give important orders and that therefore it was essential that officers should have some badge of rank, so that their authority could be seen and understood at a glance. They pointed out that distinguishing uniforms for officers are a practical necessity in battle and not simply a means of bolstering the personal vanity of an individual officer.
In the Australian Army, a batman is on the strength of a unit, and in an emergency takes his place in the battle-line, for lie is a trained soldier. I recall the 18th and the 19th May, 1915, on Gallipoli, when the Turks made a desperate effort to drive the Australian Imperial Force into the sea. Many batmen manned the front-line trenches on that memorable occasion.
A batman helps to prepare and serve his officer’s food, looks after his equipment, and generally helps the officer to keep his mind off domestic details, so that he may be free to concentrate on the important matters which the international brigades for their comfort and safety demand that he shall do.
Let there be no more loose talk about batmen not being necessary. Only in respect of captains and higher officers has each officer his own batman. During recent years, I do not think there has been any change in the rule that three junior officers have one batman between them.
– To-day, I asked a question to which an answer could not then be given, and I was requested to place it on the noticepaper. I therefore refer to the matter now as I should like some information on the subject before the Senate adjourns. In Brisbane, numbers of men have called upon me lately and have stated that, owing to the closing down of nonessential industries, they have been forced out of business. I now call the attention of the Government to this matter, because I believe that, just as there are casualties on the field of battle, so there are casualties in the industrial sphere, and that just as in the military arena we try to save the lives of our soldiers, so in industry we should try to save the lives of those who are injured economically. One man who interviewed me said that he had practically been forced into bankruptcy because two of Ms employees had been taken away from his business by the military authorities. He agreed that, in a time of war, every one should do his bit, but that did not lessen the effect on himself. I tried to save him from financial disaster, hut without avail. Some consideration should be given by theGovernment to men conducting small businesses who are forced on to the bread-line as the result of war measures.
– I shall look into the matter and furnish a reply to the honorable senator.
– I thank the Minister for that promise. Unlike myself, most of these men have not been used to hard work, as they have been employed in sheltered occupations.
– During the last two or three months, I have had an opportunity as a member of the Joint Committee on Rural Industries to hear a good deal of evidence concerning the conditions ofwheat-farmers throughout Australia. I do not wish to anticipate the report of the committee in any way, although that body has thought that certain aspects of our rural industries are so important that it has written to the Prime Minister bringing them to his notice, with a view to immediate action being taken. I wish to bring before the Senate a matter upon which the Joint Committee on Rural Industries heard a good deal of evidence, namely, the urgent necessity to give to wheatfarmers a further advance on last season’s crop, and also any moneys that may be due to them from earlier pools which have operated since the beginning of the war. For last season’s crop the Government guaranteed, under legislation, a price of 3s. l0d. a bushel at ports for a crop of 140,000,000 bushels for the whole of Australia. I am informed on good authority that the crop exceeds 140,000,000 bushels, so that it is doubtful whether 3s. l0d. a bushel will be paid for it under that guarantee. The amount paid so far is 3s. a bushel for bagged wheat, and 2s. l0d. a bushel for wheat in bulk, less freight in each instance. In Western Australia and New South Wales the greater part of the wheat is handled in hulk. The average freight is about 6d. a bushel, the actual charge varying according to the distance of the farm from a port. That means that farmers have received from 2s. 4d. to 2s. 6d. a bushel advance on last year’s crop, according to whether the wheat was delivered in bags or in bulk. Farmers’ costs have risen in every direction. According to reliable estimates placed before the committee the cost of producing wheat varies from 4s. to 4s. 6d. a bushel. That being so, a wheat-farmer cannot carry on with an advance of only 2s. 4d. or 2s. 6d. a bushel. The cost of superphosphate has increased considerably, and even if it were available in greater quantities, it would be difficult for any farmer to obtain it unless he paid cash. The farmer has no choice in the disposal of his crop as the wheat is compulsorily acquired by the Government. Under the Constitution wheat or any other product may only he acquired on just terms. I submit that that means at least the cost of production. I have always advocated that farmers should be paid the cost of producting wheat, with a reasonable wage, as a minimum price. If theGovernment wants wheat-growing in Australia to continue, it will have to pay to farmers the cost of producing wheat, plus the basic wage at least, otherwise it will be impossible for the Government to give effect to its desire that all sections of the community shall enjoy a reasonable standard of living. Since the guaranteed price of 3s. l0d. a bushel was agreed to, war conditions have necessitated the storage of larger quantities of wheat than were expected to be held in Australia. Uncertainty as to the duration of the war make it impossible for any one to say what the storage charges will be, but I submit that the amount should be a charge on the whole community, and should not be a burden to be borne by the wheat-farmers alone. I hope that the Government will look into this matter immediately, and sec whether or not a better price cannot be assured to farmers for their wheat in the future. The minimum payment to them should be the cost of production, plus the basic wage.I urge the Government to pay immediately another 6d. a bushel on last season’s crop, and also to wind up the earlier pools by giving to the producers the small amounts that arc still due to them. In these times primary producers cannot carry on without cash, but they have little or no cash. An advance of 2s. 4d. or 2s. 6d. a bushel for their wheal is a paltry payment which is altogether insufficient to cover their expenses.I know that the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) is sympathetic to the claims of the farmers. The granting of my request may involve a considerable sum of money, but it is a payment which should be made immediately.
– I have noted the remarks of Senator Gibson with regard to Werribee beef, and I shall discuss the matter with t he Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully).
Senator Aylett will agree that it would be impossible to make a hard and fast rule in connexion with the calling up of men for military service. When the last call-up was made the men concerned received only two or three days’ notice. The only people who are competent to judge whether or not a longer period is possible are the responsible officers of the department. In some instances as long as three months elapsed between the time when the men were advised that they were liable to be called up and the date of their going into camp. I have noted the honorable senator’s remarks, and will see what can be done in connexion with his request.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Busselton, Western Australia - For Defence purposes. National Security Act -
National Security (Coal Control) Regulations - Order - Coal Control.
National Security (General) Regulations. - Orders -
Control of Aluminium.
Control of Bitumen.
Control of Boot Nails and Boot Nailing Machines.
Control of Bristles.
Control of Cleaning Materials.
Control of Cordage Cotton.
Control of Cotton Materials.
Control of Fibres and Jute Goods (2)..
Control of Hand Tools.
Control of Leather.
Control of Motor Cycle SpareParts.
Control of Motor Vehicle Spare Parts.
Control of Raw Silk.
Control of Rubber (3).
Control of Timber (2).
Control of Tinplate (2).
Control of Tomatoes.
Control of Toothbrush Handles.
Control of Woollens.
Inventions and Designs (144).
Requisitioning of Binoculars (2).
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations - Orders -
Liquid Fuel (Prohibited Fuels).
Liquid Fuel (Return of Heavy and
Light Drums ) .
Supply and Development Acts - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1942, No. 115.
Senate adjourned at 9 p.m. to Wednesday the 29th April next, at 3 p.m., or an earlier date and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 March 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1942/19420326_senate_16_170/>.