16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the fifth progress report of the Joint Committee on Rural Industries.
Ordered to be printed.
Postal and Telegraphic Facilities
– Some time ago, I asked the Postmaster-General whether the Government would extend to the members of the various women’s auxiliary services free postal and telegraphic facilities, is the Minister now in a position to make a statement on the matter ?
– That subject has been raised by several honorable senators. Approval has now been given by the Government for the reduced rates for postage and telegrams described in the Post and Telegraph Rates (Defence Forces) Act, and the reduced rates for telephone trunk line calls prescribed by Telephone Regulation 139a, to apply as from the 15th September to members of the following women’s auxiliaries in the same maimer and under the same conditions as they now apply in the case of communications to and from other members of the forces: -
Women’sRoyal Australian Naval Service; Australian Women’s Army Service;
Voluntary Aid Detachments enlisted for fulltime duty;
Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force;
Royal Australian Navy Nursing Service;
Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service.
The concession rates already apply in the case of members of the Australian Army Nursing Service. To be eligible for transmission at the reduced rates, postal articles and telegrams for members of the women’s auxiliaries must be directed to a Naval, Army or Air Force address, and the address must include the addressee’s number, if any, rank, initials and name, together with the name of the force to which the addressee belongs. The conditions which relate to the posting of postal articles, the transmission of telegrams, and the making of telephone trunk line calls by members of the forces, will apply also to such communications originated by members of the women’s auxiliaries.
– I ask the Minis ter for Trade and Customs -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate whether pillaging of cargo on wharfs and ships baa increased considerably since the outbreak of war. If it has, what action, if any, does the Government intend to take to weed out the small element of saboteurs who are not only giving a bad name to the large body of honest men who are working on tin waterfront, but also assisting in maintaining “black” markets?
– There has been some increase of cargo pillaging in Australian ports. I recently convened a conference of the police commissioners of the various States and the Director of Security Services, Mr. Mackay. The conference extended over several days, and resulted in some interesting facts being ascertained. One is that there is no certainty in some instances whether the pillaging occurs in Australian ports. In some cases, it occurs while goods are in transit between other countries and Australia. In some instances, however, the pillaging has occurred between the export wharf and the destination of the cargo. Regulations are in course of preparation which will have the effect of placing the transport loading system on the whole of the waterfront under a body of civil police in each State. The cost of this work will be met for the time being by the Commonwealth Government, asI consider that the safe handling of materials, particularly war materials, is a matter of national importance. At the conference to which I have referred, the trade union concerned was also repre- sented, and it has been giving to the Government every assistance in this matter. In every section of the community, there are a few individuals who will not do the right thing, and therefore, at an early date, a squad of trained civil police, who are experts at crime detection, will be placed on the waterfront in each State.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will the Government bring in a bill this session for the control of performing rights?
– The matter of control of performing right fees is involved, and concerns the laws of copyright. The question of amending the existing legislation will be reviewed by the Government in the light of any recommendation which may be made by the Broadcasting Committee, which is at present engaged in an examination of the fees paid by broadcasting organizations to the Australasian Performing Right Association.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– During the last financial year the total paid by the commission for performing rights was £36,723. Of this amount, £32,811 was paid to the Australasian Performing Right Association, while other performing right payments were £3,912, being mainly payments for the use of plays by various authors, mostly domiciled in England. The commission also paid £12,440 to gramophone companies last financial year for the use of records.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Is it a fact -
If the answer to any of these questions is in the affirmative, what action will the Government take to remedy this serious state of affairs?
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
Recently the Acting Commonwealth Statistician obtained returns from dairyfarmers and butter factory managers regarding production, man-power and fodder in the dairying industry. From the completed returns received ithas been ascertained that -
The Government took action in connexion with this matter some months ago, and appointed a committee of inquiry to investigate conditions within the dairying industry. The report of the committee is at present being considered.
Debate resumed from the 11th September (vide page 250) on motion by Senator Reane -
That the following papersbe printed : -
Estimatesof Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, for the year ending the 30th June, 1943.
The Budget 1942-43 - Papers presented by the Hon. J. B. Chifley, M.P., on the occasion of the Budget of 1942-43.
.- When my speech was interrupted on Friday last, I was about to state that it is the task of the Tariff Board to pierce, if it can, the post-war economic fog and give to the Government the result of its investigations. Before any recommendation is considered by the Government it should be endorsed by a committee of persons entirely divorced from politics; a Cabinet Minister may, or may not, be the chairman. There are plenty of men representative of both employers and employees who would submerge politics in order to set Australia on the highway to economic progress. Professors of economics and all theorists ought to be barred from appointment to the committee ; practical men with a lifelong knowledge of industry and industrial matters should be the advisers of the Government.
A no less difficult task confronts the Commerce Department which is looking into the position of our primary industries. Some of the questions which departmental officers will endeavour to answer are: Can Australia regain its pre-war overseas markets for its surplus primary products? Will the EastofSuez market be retained when the bulk of the Empire’s armed forces are demobilized? What industries must be developed, and what new industries can economically be established? Will the production of flax be abandoned when Russia is again ready to trade with Great Britain? Should the Government approve a big influx of immigrants from not only Great Britain but also other delected European countries, in the belief that many people in those countries will regard Australia, which is so far away from the strife and turmoil in Europe, as their land of promise, how many such immigrants can be admitted annually to this country? One competent authority contends that Australia can maintain not more than 40,000,000 people at the end of another 50 years. We shall need a far greater population than 7,000,000 people to hold Australia against Japan’s ambitions, however humble that nation may be when the Allies have won this war. The authority who gave the above figure as our maximum population added a proviso that it can be reached only by a more intense development of the soil through the medium of large water conservation schemes and the decentralization of secondary industries at suitable inland centres. If that were done, there would be no need for undue concern regarding overseas markets for most of our primary products, as a market would exist at our door.
Closely allied to the future of Australia’s problem of post-war primary industries is the big problem of water supply. In fact, it is the main problem. Has the Government taken any action with the State governments to investigate potential water supply systems?
This will have to be taken in hand, before a policy of land settlement for demobilized members of the fighting services is decided upon. The blunders of settling returned soldiers on the land after the last war must not be repeated. The report of Mr. Justice Pike, who inquired into the matter as a royal commission in 1932, sets out certain recommendations. It should be closely studied. Despite what some critics may say, I believe a very fair proportion of demobilized men will seek an independent openair life at the close of the war. Priority of opportunity must be given to these men to engage in an occupation which will give them and their families a decent and reasonably profitable livelihood. True, many soldier settlers after the last war have prospered, whilst others have failed due partly to their own fault ; but the adverse conditions under which they settled drove most of them off their holdings. On the Commonwealth Parliament’s Ex-service Men’s All-party Committee are several soldier settlers of the last war. A sub-committee of these has prepared a constructive report. It contains a recommendation that, as the Repatriation Commission is already grappling with an ever-increasing mass of repatriation problems, a Commonwealth Government authority be set up to deal with the broad principles of soldier land settlement, leaving the appropriate State authorities to work out and administer the details. The report urges the purchase of suitable land by the Commonwealth Government now. with due regard to the productivity of that land. It also recommends a course of training for prospective land settlers, either at agricultural colleges or attachment to well established primary producers on the same principles as the vocational training system for absorption ‘of trainers into secondary industries.
The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in his budget speech declared -
There are some people who think the war should he financed entirely by Central Bank credit. The Government is convinced that in that way lies grave danger.
I have shown that we have already drawn on practically all our reserves of labour and equipment and that recent expansion of the war effort has been achieved by subtraction from peace-time production. I have made it clear that the further expansion of war activ ity means further reductions in the things that will remain for civil use. Expansion of bank credit, therefore, without a corresponding capacity to expand production would increase purchasing power without increasing the supply of goods and services. Increasing the volume of money without increasing the supply of goods for civil consumption not only creates the danger of inflation but it sets up serious competition between demands for civil goods and demands for war requirements. Clearly then, as further physical resources are provided by the nation for war so must further financial resources be similarly provided from the savings of the people. This can only he done if every individual saves and contributes to the utmost of his capacity.
– “What is wrong with that?
– It is a very clear and candid statement, and an exTreasurer now in opposition would probably put the case in the same manner. But what is the Government going to do about it? Will it appeal to the people, as it did previously, to contribute their savings voluntarily? Thousands will make an effort to do so, but thousands will ignore the appeal. Before another six months have passed the Government will have no alternative but to institute a system of compulsory loans, in other words, postwar credits - a policy on which the Fadden Government was defeated. What is wrong with a system of postwar credits? It is similar to the deferred pay of the members of the fighting services, the only difference being that the citizen receives, at the termination of the war, the amount he subscribed, plus interest, whereas the soldier receives no interest on the accumulated amount of his deferred pay. When will the Government have the courage to face up to the inevitable? It will have to take its courage in both hands if inflation is to be avoided. Why the Government has not indicated in the budget that compulsory loans will be resorted to if the appeal for voluntary loans fail, I do not know. There has been no hesitati on on the part of the Government to impose compulsory unionism by direct and indirect methods. If the reason for this compulsion is to safeguard the industrial welfare of the wageeanier, how much greater is the reason for compulsory contributions to Consolidated Revenue, to safeguard trade unionism and the nation generally against a deadly enemy such as Japan? I venture to say that the majority of wage-earners would accept a post-war credit scheme on a graduated scale according to their family commitments and obligations. They are much better off under the uniform taxation. They will no longer pay State income tax.
I now wish to make a plea on behalf of a number of Commonwealth superannuated officials for an increase of their pensions in order to offset the rising cost of living. A fair percentage of them could not afford to take up more than the minimum number of four units under the Commonwealth Superannnation Act of 1 922. That minimum gives £2 per week. Many of these retired public servants have availed themselves of the old-age pension, others are unable to do so.
During the depression period, July, 1931, to November, 1933, pensions were reduced by 4s. per week, except in the case of State public servants transferred to the Commonwealth service. The latter took their case to the High Court. The decision was that the Commonwealth had no power to reduce their pensions. Had the other public servants an organization strong enough to contest their case in the High Court, they, too, probably would not have had their pensions reduced. All permanent servants under the Crown were obliged to take up the minimum number of four units when the Commonwealth Superannuation Act of 1 922 became law. To do so hundreds on the lower salaries surrendered life assurance policies, as they could not contribute to both. On retirement, the four units entitled them to draw £2 per week, about half of which represented their contributions whilst in the Service. These superannuated officials still hold the opinion that the Commonwealth Government failed to honour its contractual obligations under the Superannuation Act by reducing benefits under that act. Nothing can now be done to remove that grievance, but some consideration might be given to a request from these aged, loyal officials for an increase of their pensions, on account of the much higher cost of living. It has been suggested that an amendment of the act would enable this additional increase to be made from the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, now totalling £8,500,000. The number requiring such an increase would not be very great, each request being dealt with on its merits. I pass on this suggestion to the Minister representing the Treasurer.
I now wish to elaborate on a subject upon which evidence was given recently before the Repatriation Committee. There are nearly as many ex-service men of the last war in State civil mental institutions throughout the Commonwealth as there are in Repatriation mental hospitals. In other words there are as many men, whose mental disability is not recognized as directly due to war service, as there are those whose disability is accepted as due to that cause. Medical experts contend that those not accepted by the Repatriation Commission are hereditary cases, or are clue to some cause other than war service. Although State governments have undertaken the responsibility for the care and treatment of these non-‘accepted cases, the Commonwealth Government has recognized their eligibility for the service pension, just as the accepted cases are eligible, since all are unemployable.
The question is : Why cannot the nonaccepted cases in civil institutions be transferred to repatriation mental hospitals? On making inquiries, I find that the only obstacle is the expense of ‘building extra wards and providing perhaps additional attendants. Subsistence costs are met from their service pensions. Successive governments have evaded this question. It is true, in two States, extra accommodation has been provided, the cost being shared by the Commonwealth and State Governments. In the other States, no progress has been made. The question of where State responsibility begins and ends is the stumbling block. These non-accepted mental patients are citizens of the - Commonwealth, and no artificial barriers or departmental regulations should’ prevent them entering Commonwealth institutions. They are returned soldiers. They fought for their country. Had they not enlisted, they no doubt would .have continued to live quietly amongst - relatives and friends. Having gone overseas, their dormant, hereditary disability, if such it be, was accentuated under active service -conditions. The psychological effect in being associated with confirmed civil patients must be taken into account. These non-accepted soldier patients, like other patients, no doubt have periods of mental sanity. There is not the same comradeship amongst civilians as there is amongst ex-service men. Comradeship raises a man’s morale and improves his outlook on life. Further, the relatives of these unfortunate men feel the position very keenly. Their wish is to see their father, son or brother accommodated in the same mental institution as their “ digger “ comrades. No reflection on the care and attention by the civil mental authorities is suggested. The desire is based on sentimental grounds. In the more populous States there is a mental welfare sub-committee of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s League. The “diggers” on that committee, supported by a ladies’ auxiliary, organize concert parties and monthly country car trips for the more normal cases in repatriation mental hospitals. I went on one or two of these trips before petrol rationing was introduced. The expression on the patients’ faces is enough thanks for the “ digger “ carowners, who give up their Sunday afternoons in order to provide some pleasure to their unfortunate “ cobbers “. But what of the other fellows similarly afflicted, in the civil institution at Mont l.’ark, 3 miles from the repatriation institution at Bundoora? There are no such diversions for them.
In support of this plea to place all accepted and non-accepted soldier mental patients in one institution, I draw attention to the fact that the Commonwealth Government decided three years ago that all ex-service men suffering from tuberculosis should be admitted for treatment to repatriation hospitals. The contention that tuberculosis was hereditary was brushed aside. The disability was accepted whether due to the rigours of active service or not. Why not deal with mental cases in the same way? It may not bt! possible to carry out the suggestion in the less populous States, but it could be done in others. I respectfully ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation to bring this matter before Cabinet for favorable consideration.
Without wishing to be too critical of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Force), who has, even with the help of an Assistant Minister, a stupendous task, I think “ wool is pulled over his eyes ” occasionally. I refer to the Goulburn Valley group of prisoners of war camps. It is true that German prisoners have escaped now and then,- but there is nothing extraordinary about that. It is only natural that fit young men, as these prisoners are, should like a change, even for a few days, from the sight of huts and barbed wire. That desire is increased if there be any signs that sentries are not 100 per cent, alert. Their experience as soldiers tells them when a soldier on duty has been doing mora than a normal week’s work. Boredom on the part of prisoners, and insufficient men to do all the necessary duties are the main causes of criticism of this group of camps. When two or three prisoners escape, there is a hue and cry. The Minister calls for a report. That report is drawn up by a responsible authority not directly connected with the camp. Minute details are given as to how, when and where the Nazis effected their escape. The only thing that happens is that somebody is sacked, and the same routine is carried on again. To stir up personal enemies, exaggerated reports of incidents are sent to a weekly publication. Another report is called for. I say, definitely, that the 800 members comprising the guards over the Goulburn Valley group of camps are “ fed up “ at being constantly blamed. The fault lies higher up, and indeed with the Minister himself. The Government policy is wrong. These fit, strapping young Nazis require hard work. A substantial increase of the strength of the guard would enable more work to be carried out in the vicinity of the camps. I go so far as to suggest a system of parole - the same as is adopted in Nazi camps. Several Australian prisoners of war are engaged on farms; one I know of is the actual manager, on parole, of a farm in Austria. I hope that the Minister will make a few personal inquiries. If he does, he will find that what I have said is true. A few direct questions to the leaders of the war prisoners in each camp would result in a change of policy with regard to putting in time between meals.
– I. fully realize the big task that confronts the Government in budgeting for war and other expenses during the next twelve months, and the great changes that have taken place during the past year, and are even now occurring day by day. The past twelve months have been very critical and disturbing to the Australian people. Tor the first time in our history our coastal towns have actually been bombed by the enemy, and we have been directly threatened with invasion. These facts must bring home to every one a deep sense of the seriousness of the war position. Ten months ago Japan, a nation of over 105,000,000 people, which had been planning for this war for many years past, and preparing equipment and finance for the day that then arrived, entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. Its soldiers, moreover, had had practical experience of war and war training since the 7th July, 1937, when its war with China began. The entry of Japan into the war hass constituted a great danger, not only to this country, but also to our allies across the Pacific, the United States of America. With Japan coming in on the side of the Axis, the United States of America has come in on the side of the United Nations. With a population of 132,000,000 and probably the greatest productive capacity in the world, the United States of America is a very great asset to the United Nations, and no doubt will prove one of the deciding factors in- the war. We have been told that one of the main reasons for the invasion by the Axis nations, particularly Japan, of small unprepared countries, was the need for living space. However, a glance at population density figures reveals that the cry for living room was merely an excuse for unprovoked attacks. England and Wales, with a population of 41,000,000, have a population density of 703 persons per square mile; with a population of 78,500,000 in 1939, the population density in Germain was 347 per square mile; and at the same time, the population density in Holland was 640 per square mile, and in Belgium 702 per square mile. Therefore, of two of the first countries to fall victim to the German invader, one had population density double that of Germany, and the other almost double. In the Kingdom of Italy, excluding the colonies, the population is 45,000,000, and the population density 343 per square mile. Japan, with a population of 105,000,000, has a population density of 400 per square mile. It is evident, therefore, that there was no justification for the cry for living space which was made by the Axis partners. However, in Australia the position is entirely different. We have a small population and a very large area of territory. Our population density is approximately two persons per square mile, and as this country has a coastline of 13,000 miles, the problem of its defence is an extremely difficult one. One of the greatest problems in time of war is transport, and I should like to deal briefly with this very important subject. If we look at a map of Australia, we find that our main transport system - the railways - runs around our coastline, with branch or tributary lines to the interior. In no part of the country are these interior lines linked up. In war-time, when the danger of invasion or at the least attack from the sea is ever present, such a vulnerable transport system constitutes a grave setback. If the railway line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, roughly 230 miles, were converted to the standard gauge, it would provide an unbroken standard-gauge line from Brisbane ti) Kalgoorlie, or nearly to the coastline in Western Australia. Ako, if Blackall and Charleville, in Queensland, a distance of 150 miles, and Cunnamulla, in Queensland, and Bourke, in New South Wales, a distance of approximately 140 miles, were linked up, there would be an inland rail route practically to the border of the Northern Territory. Again, if the construction of a railway between Mount Isa and Birdum, a distance of approximately 600 miles, were undertaken, there would be an inland rail route practically from Perth in Western Australia right through the other States to Darwin in the Northern Territory. I understand that consideration is being given to projects of this kind, and I should like to point out that a railway from Bourke in New South Wales to Mount Isa or Camooweal in Queensland, would pass through good pastoral country, so that apart from its great value in war-time, such a line would be of immense benefit after the war from a pastoral and commercial point of view.
Another matter which has interested me very greatly is the lease-lend agreements between Australia and other countries in the allied nations group. Proba’bly many provisions of these agreements are not of military importance, although they are of great interest to the people of Australia, and I believe that if a little more publicity were given to these provisions, there would be a greater welding together of the Australian people and the people of the allied nations, particularly the United States of America. If for instance the people of this country knew the terms under which materials were provided by the United States of America for the construction of aerodromes and strategic roads in Australia, they would realize the magnitude of the assistance that is being given to their country. Therefore, I ask the Government to give the public a little more information on these matters, provided, of course, that it will not impair our war strategy.
I should like more information in regard to the Government’s attitude to the meat industry, which is causing .a good deal of unrest amongst the primary producers of this country. One Minister has spoken of the grave shortage of meat and meat products, whilst another has said that the sheep flocks of Australia, will have to be reduced, as they are becoming too large. The3e conflicting statements create a good deal of unrest and uncertainty amongst those engaged in the pastoral industry. Much has been heard about the rationalization of the wool industry, but I find on inquiry that the Central Wool Committee and the Australian Wool Growers Federation have been in no way consulted on this matter. I was informed that some members of those organizations had been asked confidentially for their opinion, but the organizations themselves, which represent the great majority of those employed in the woolgrowing industry, were not consulted nf all. This year the wool industry will bring in to the Commonwealth about £70,000,000. The present flocks of sheep, which are the greatest in the history of Australia, number 125,000,000. The sheep are in flocks ranging from as low as 50 to as many as 50,000 and upwards. There are over 100,000 flock-owners and 56,000 of them have flocks of under SOU sheep.
Much has been heard about the dehydration of meat, and particularly mutton. I have been informed unofficially that Great Britain requires as much as 25,000 tons of dehydrated meat for wai1 purposes. Stock and Land, of the 2nd September, referring to Commonwealth control of meat prices, states -
Mr. Curtin said it was proposed to arrange as soon as possible for fixation of prices of mutton for canning at 2d. per lb. on the hook and for dehydration at 2£d. per lb. The Government ha’d therefore decided to bring meat prices under more rigid control and to obtain supplies for the forces at reasonable prices.
It is quite right that an effort should be made to obtain meat at reasonable prices, but in the same journal of the 1st September I notice that prices at Newmarket yards, Melbourne, Victoria, for wether mutton were given as from 5-Ad. to 6d. per lb. and ewe mutton was quoted at from 5d. to 6Jd. per lb. Wethers were quoted at 24s. 2d. a head, and the average price was given as 22s. lid. a head. The price per lb. was described us “dressed weight, plus skin values “. It seems strange to me that whilst the prices expected for mutton for canning and dehydration are 2 3/4d. and 2Jd. per lb. respectively, in litton was reported to have been sold at Newmarket market at as high as from 5 1/2d. to 6d. per lb. Either there will be a low price for mutton’ for dehydration, or the whole of the mutton industry is to be taken over by the Government. Is the mutton to be taken over at the prices I have indicated, or what is likely to happen? The Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) has attended many conferences with regard to the dehydration of meat and I understand it has been recommended that dehydration plants be built on. the coast or near the works already established for the treatment of meat. I contend that that would not help the industry in any way, nor would it assist in obtaining the meat required. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the following statement published in the American journal, Business Week, of the 7th February, dealing with the subject of dehydration : -
Despite all handicaps, the Government is determined to get the industry geared up. Here is the way things shape up: Money for plants or plant expansion will be supplied either through the Surplus Marketing Administration or thu Reconstruction Finance Corporation (depending on whether the output is intended for lend-lease or the Army). But two points must be borne in mind: (I) New plants should be near the source of supply; and (2) they should not overlap too n i neil with plants already in existence. Canners, who will probably be favoured because they aru familiar with perishable foods, usually do their processing close to the source of supply. . . .
My object in making the quotation is to bring to the attention of the Minister the fact that it is essential to establish dehydration plants near the source of supply. In Australia our great source of supply is the back country, and at present there are some millions of sheep that could be treated practically on the spot, thus assisting greatly to reduce our railway transport problems. The space taken up by the transport of live sheep to the coast for treatment would be perhaps ten times greater than that of transporting dehydrated meat, thus saving nine trucks. At the present time no trucks arc available for the transport of store sheep in Queensland. I strongly advocate building at the earliest moment dehydration plants for treating mutton in the back country of Queensland. Dehydrated meat needs no canning; it can be put in sacks for transport, and it occupies only a small percentage of the space occupied hy meat in other forms. In the United States of America many kinds of food are being treated by the dehydration process as quickly as the necessary plants can be built. Dehydration plants for the treatment of various kinds of food are being established in almost every State of the
Union, as the following extract from Business Week of the 13th June last shows : -
Lend-lease food shipments cause major changes in British diet habits. Dehydrated eggs, milk, vegetables, and even meats open vistas of new post-war markets - at home and abroad . . . Deliveries in the sixteen months since Washington first agreed to include food in lend-lease have soared to more than $1,000,000,000.
It will be seen that in the United States of America those interested in this matter are looking beyond the war and expect that the demand for dehydrated food3 will continue in the post-war period.
I pass on to offer some criticism of the handling of the man-power problem by the authorities. In the early stages of the war, Australian primary industries suffered a substantial reduction of available man-power through voluntary enlistments. Inspired by the spirit of adventure and patriotism many men in country districts took the risks associated with war service. In doing so, they left many primary industries short of the labour necessary to carry on satisfactorily. About the beginning of this year the authorities began to realize the drain on the man-power of the country that had taken place. The result was that, a few months ago, they recognized that the sugar industry could not carry on unless some men who previously were employed in that industry were released for the harvesting of the crop. Unfortunately, there was a lack of co-operation between the military authorities and the man-power authorities, and the result was not entirely satisfactory. I imagine that the difficulty has now been overcome, but it caused a good deal of trouble at the time.
– Did not large numbers of men from country districts engage in the production of munitions and other war work in the more settled districts ?
– Unfortunately, wages and conditions of employment in primary industries are not of the same high standard as in the munitions industry, the reason being that the former have to pay their way and cannot rely on any fairy godmother for assistance. It is true that large numbers of men have migrated to the cities because of the more attractive conditions there. There must be a more evenly balanced arrangement if the best results are to be obtained. In my opinion, the primary industries must come first because men in the fighting services, as well as those engaged in various forms of war work, must fail in the absence of sufficient food. Food is the first essential, and therefore its production must have first consideration.
– A “proper balance is necessary.
– In the past, there has been a lack of balance. I agree that rationing is necessary, and that it would have been better had a system of rationing been introduced earlier than it was. The first application of the system was most unsatisfactory. A ‘premature announcement regarding the introduction of the rationing of clothes caused in the month of May the greatest buying rush that this country has ever known. More recently, when it was decided to ration sugar supplies, the errors associated with the rationing of clothing were largely avoided. An announcement was made on a Saturday night that sugar would be rationed from the following Monday. If the same system had been adopted in connexion with clothing, there would not have been the headlong rush to buy whatever goods were available in the shops.
The budget contemplates a total expenditure of £550,000,000 during the present financial year, compared with £420,000,000 last year. The expenditure for war purposes this year is estimated at £440,000,000. Since the present Government took office ten months ago, actual expenditure has amounted to 320,000,000, or about £98,000,000 in excess of the £221,000,000 budgeted for in respect of that period.
– Does the honorable senator question the wisdom of that expenditure?
– No; it has been necessary. However, it is very likely that, we shall have a similar experience this year, and that our expenditure will exceed the £440,000,000 now budgeted for. [Quorum formed.] In view of these circumstances, we must consider by what means we shall raise the money we require. The Government proposes to obtain £250.000,000 by direct taxation, and to rely upon voluntary loans producing £300,000,000. That is’ the weak point in the budget. No specific provision is made to obtain the huge amount of £300,000,000 as well as, perhaps, an additional £100,000,000 which may be necessary for war purposes. Surely, the Government, cannot rely upon voluntary loans to make good so great a gap. It is in this respect that I see the red light of warning in the budget. It is the warning against inflation. That danger is very real when one considers the budgetary plans in conjunction with the Government’s general financial policy. Notes in circulation on the 30th June, 1939, totalled £47,530,000, and on the 30th June, 1942, they totalled £102,614,000. 1, and other honorable senators on this side of the chamber, admit that a certain increase of the note issue has been unavoidable. To-day, many more people are in employment than was the case on the 30th June, 1939. Consequently, a greater amount of money is in circulation, necessitating an increase of the note issue. However, these facts do not justify the doubling of the note issue over that period. It is clear from the figures I have given that a very big sum in notes is held by the people privately. That money is not to be found in bank deposits; and it is not being circulated through the ordinary commercial channels. It is estimated that at least £30,000,000 in notes is held privately, whereas in normal times that money would bc passing through the banks. That is not a healthy sign, because the sudden circulation of so much money can cause inflation. There is no control over it. The balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank shows that for the year ended the 30th June, 1941, treasury-bills issued amounted to £48,000,000, whereas on the 30th June, 1942, treasury-bills issued increased to £138,500,000, an increase of £90,500,000 in twelve months. Insofar as that amount of £138,500,000 represents purely a credit issue by the Commonwealth Bank, it must cause considerable uneasiness, particularly when considered in conjunction with the huge expenditure now budgeted for, the bulk of which the Government merely proposes to raise by voluntary loan. These facts clearly point to the” danger of credit expansion during the next twelve months. Another very great source of danger is that whilst the spending power of the public has so greatly increased, the value of consumer goods available for purchase has greatly decreased. A considerable purchasing power is left in the hands of the people, and this expenditure is competing with the Government’s war effort, because all purchases of non-essential goods represent competition with the production of goods required for the war effort. In order to make this fact clearer, I point out that whilst in 1939 about 85 per cent of the national income was expended on consumer goods and services, and the other 15 per cent on government and private capital investments, it is now estimated that by the 30th June, 1943, consumer goods and services available to the people will be cut to 45 per cent. In 1943, the public will be able to expend only 45 per cent, of the national income on consumer goods and services, as compared with 85 per cent, in 1939. In terras of money this means the establishment of a reserve pool of approximately £200,000,000 upon which the Government can draw by way of public loans. A danger there, however, arises from the fact that that £200,000,000 is still retained in the hands of the community, enabling them to compete for the purchase of that 45 per cent, of consumer goods and services as compared with pre-war times. This means that the goods are not there to be purchased, although the people have the money, and the tendency will be for them to compete against, each other to secure the limited quantity of goods offered. The figures of the turnover of the stores of the commercial public show a definite increase. The average weekly turnover for the six months pre-war was £39,762,000, and for the six months ended last February was £48,200,000, or an average increase of practically £9,000,000 per week.
– Some of that is accounted for by the increased prices.
– Some of it may be so accounted for, but when we consider that the consumer goods being manufactured now and available to the public are so much less than they were pre-war, the only conclusion possible is that all the goods that have been stored up in warehouses and shops throughout the country are being bought and cleared as fast as they can be. The time will come when that reserve will be no more, and we shall come down to the actual fact that the only goods purchasable are those produced on a much smaller scale than existed pre-war, with the result that the bulk of the money will be still in the hands of the public. Then again the danger will arise of competition to purchase the goods that are left, prices will break, and inflation will follow.
– The danger is the black market.
– That also is a grave danger. That is where the prices will break, because normally they are controlled. In those outside black markets they are not controlled, and goods can be sold there at whatever price they will bring.
It is also interesting to note that the weekly average bank clearances for the six capital cities of Australia in August, 1939, were £38,515,000. In May of this year the weekly bank clearances, again taken over the six capital cities, were £58,269,000, a rise of £19,754,000 per month in nine months. I admit that May was the month in which the rationing of clothes was announced. Those figures only go to show the tremendous amount spent in that month on account of the announcement that clothes would be rationed early in June. People anticipated clothes rationing by buying much more heavily. If those figures were for an average month, the position would be much worse.
– Did not the Minister concerned suggest that it was Mother’s Day that caused the heavy buying ?
– I do not think that that was the real reason. I should say that, during May, “ Dedmanism. “ was to a. large extent the cause of the enormous increase of nearly £20,000,000 in bank clearances, which reflect the spending power of the people.
– It was only the selfish people who bought heavily.
– That was one factor to which I was going to allude in order to show that we cannot expect full subscription of the loans the Government requires. Those selfish people will take up a similar attitude when they are asked to lend the Government their money. Being selfish, they will say, “ No, I am going to keep my money for something else”, instead of lending it to the Government.
There is no more actual new direct taxation on incomes than was proposed in the budget ten months ago.
– That was the Prime Minister’s promise.
– I am saying nothing against that. I am simply commenting on the fact that there has been no direct increase. Many larger incomes were taxed to such an extent on the previous scale before uniform taxation came in that their owners had little or nothing left, and in some cases even had to draw on their capital to meet their previous year’s expenses. The happy catch-phrase of “ sock the rich “ has often been used, and there is no doubt that the rich during the previous twelve months were well and truly “ socked “ by way of taxation, until they had actually nothing left. That again is a factor which must have a great bearing on the prospect of floating loans for the conduct of the war. I shall cite the case of a grazier in western Queensland. The pastoral industry, as many honorable senators know, is very precarious. Perhaps at times quite big money is made, but for many years droughts, low prices, bush fires, and many other calamities, over which the grazier has no control, are encountered. Then there comes a year when he has a good profit, but on an average the business works out at only a very small return or no return at all on the capital invested. The case I have in mind is that of a man who went through ten years of drought from 1926 to 1936, and was just getting reasonably on his feet again. These were his taxation figures; his total income for State taxation was £10,292, and his State tax on that amount was £3,652 12s. 6d. His development tax, computed on an income of £10,039, was £376 9s. 3d. For federal income tax purposes his income was £9,877, and his assessed tax was £7,002 18s. lid. That made a total of £11,032 0s. 8d., which represented a direct loss of £740. As the taxpayer came within the provisions of section 161, which provides for a rebate of the Federal tax in cases where the aggregate taxes exceed 18s. in the £1, he obtained a rebate of £852 2s. Id. from the Commonwealth income tax authorities. However, he received no concession from the State authorities^ so that all he had left after paying taxes was £125. This is a matter which must be faced squarely. There are other men throughout Australia who have incomes of that amount on paper only. The average man in the street is quick to claim that high incomes should be taxed ‘heavily, and for war purposes this is reasonable but, unfortunately, few people realize what inroads are made upon those incomes by taxation. In this, case, out of an income of £10,292, the taxpayer had only £125 left for himself after paying taxes.
– But that was not all the taxpayer had for himself. He did not have to live for a year on £125.
– I admit that; but that is all he had left out of his’ earnings.
– He probably paid more than that for champagne and cigars.
– If I disclosed this man’s name the honorable senator would realize that that is an unkind and unfair remark. The gentleman is well known to the honorable senator.
– .Does he manage his own property?
– Yes, and he rarely leaves it. He is one of the best sheep-farmers in Queensland.
– The point is that he does not have to live at the rate of £i25 a year.
– Very likely not; he has food and clothing, but that is all he had left of an income of £10,292 after paying taxes.
Now, let us look at the other side of the picture. It is estimated that the proportion of our national income earned this year by individuals who are in receipt of income of £400 a year or less will be approximately £650,000,000. Dealing with excess spending in his budget speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) said -
The Government cannot allow this excess spending power to compete against the nation for the additional man-power and materials that arc vital to our defence, or to hid up for the limited goods that are available for civil use, or to operate in “ black “ markets and so menace price stability. The Government is determined on this and will take such measures as may be necessary to impose its will.
That is an excellent statement, but is it being fulfilled? I am sure that every honorable senator on this side of the chamber agrees that such a policy should be pursued by the Government, and that this vast amount of spending power which is left in the hands of the public should be controlled in some way. I have already shown that the spending power left in the hands of the wealthy is very little; but it cannot be denied that the spending power left in the hands of the masses of the people is very great, and has increased to a large degree during the last eighteen months. I am confident that Australia can find all the money necessary for our war effort, and I also believe that if the Government had the courage to explain the position to the people generally there would be no difficulty in obtaining the money. However, it seems that the Government is going the wrong way about it.
SenatorCollings. - Does the honorable senator doubt that the money will be forthcoming?
– I do, on the lines the Government proposes, and I shall tell honorable senators the reason. [Extension of time granted.] Under a system of voluntary loans, an opportunity is given to many people to evade their responsibilities. A sum of £300,000,000 has to be found by means of voluntary loans. Let us review the circumstances of the loans which were floated in March and June of this year. There were 243,388 contributors to the loan floated in March, and it was oversubscribed by £13,000,000. In the June loan, after a. “ whipping-up “ of the people at the last moment, it was found that there were 192,000 contributors, and the loan was over-subscribed by £2,250,000. There, in a few months, is a warning that there will be fewer contributors to the next loan, because the available money in the hands of those patriotic people who are willing to subscribe to loans is being reduced rapidly.
– The bulk of loan money comes from organizations which invest the savings of the people. The money subscribed to loans by insurance companies represents the contributions of the workers to those companies.
– I counter that statement by pointing out that many of those big organizations are regular subscribers. One such organization offered recently to subscribe £500,000 a month. That bears out what I say; the patriotic contributors who have invested money in loans in the past are still investing it. If the Government wishes to raise these vast sums it must seek new money from other sources. It must obtain the money from those members of the community who have it and are withholding it. In the lower income groups, there is more money than there has ever been before, and unless the Government taps that poo! of over £200,000,000 surplus spending power that I mentioned previously, it will have difficulty in obtaining the finance it requires. Many people do not realize how grave is the position of this country, one reason being because they have more money in their hands to spend than previously. I noticed in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 3rd September that 700 workers in South Australia had threatened to stop work unless they obtained a five-day working week. I am afraid that those workers do not realize the gravity of the situation, and unless they are compelled to make sacrifices, they will continue to say : “ We have plenty of money. Why should we not work only five days a week? “ Thisattitude is largely due to the strikes that take place and to the fact that some workers have ideas contrary to those of the majority of the thinking section of the community. Again I appeal for the formation of a national government. If there are unpleasant things to do, let all parties do them. If sacrifices are to be demanded, let us all ask for them, and, if there be any blame - which I do not admit - we shall all share it. The best intellects of the Parliament should be used in the prosecution of the war.
Another way to curb the high spending power of the people would be to introduce h comprehensive national security scheme. Social security, if it means anything, implies security of employment, essential food, clothing, shelter, health and recreation. This principle recognizes the right of every one in the community to a share in the benefits provided, and it also carries a responsibility for contributing to funds from which the benefits would be paid. At present, Australia; lags behind many other countries in ite social services. The United States of America, Great Britain and New Zealand are far ahead of Australia in their social legislation. In each of those countries funds for social security purposes are raised on a contributory basis. If similar provision were made in the Commonwealth a large fund could be built up, and it would not be necessary to pay out large amounts, particularly if unemployment insurance were included in the scheme. Such a scheme would be on a sound financial basis after the war. New Zealand, in order to finance its social security scheme, charges a registration fee of 5s. a year, which is collected from all youths from sixteen to twenty years of age, and from all females over sixteen years of age, plus a charge of fi a year for all males over twenty years and a tax contribution of ls. in the £1 on all salaries, wages and income. It is estimated that the cost of social services in Australia this year will total £36,500,000. Undoubtedly, the cost is increasing by leaps and bounds and there is no doubt whatever that we must soon reach a breaking point, unless some new method of financing these payments on a contributory basis is devised. This heavy and menacing charge is three times as great as it was ten years ago, and we have made no provision for unemployment and other services of a social nature. While the bulk of the community is in employment, the fund would be built up quickly. In addition to such a social measure, I believe that a system of post-war credits would be welcomed by the people. A combination of the two would make a modicum of insurance against post-war depression, not mentioning the advantages to present war finance. A. certain part of the pay of members of the fighting services takes the form of post-war credit. The soldier receives no interest on the money that is withheld from him in the form of deferred pay. Personally, I see no reason why similar provision should not be made under the general scheme of taxation. In Great Britain, a single man receiving £150 a year pays £10, which is treated as a post-war credit, and also contributes £S in. income tax.
– He is leading a great life.
– We have to consider whether we shall have a great life to lead after the next year or two. I believe that, instead of having our eyes glued upon some Utopia after the war, we should consider whether we may be forced to live under the new order that would be imposed by the Axis powers if we lost the war. That is the new order which 1. am anxious to avoid. I am not looking for a Utopia. The position is far too serious for that. We shall be fortunate indeed if we can escape from the new order of the Axis powers. After that, we can build up our own new order, but, without sacrifice on our part, I fail to see how it is to be done. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the following table giving a comparison of the taxes paid by persons in the lower income groups in Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand: -
There are 400,000 persons in Australia with incomes ranging between £100 and £150 a year. If they were taxed at the rates payable in New Zealand or the United Kingdom they would pay to the Treasury about £6,000,000 on a basis of £15 a head. The number of persons in Australia with incomes between £150 and £200 is about 450,000. At the rates of tax payable by persons with similar incomes in New Zealand and the United Kingdom they would pay about £22 each in taxes or a total of about £9,000,000. The income group £200 to £400 comprises 1,480,000 persons. At an average of £60 a year that would represent a total of £88,000.000 in taxes from them. On the basis of the taxes in force in Kew Zealand mid the United Kingdom, those three groups of income earners would contribute £103,000,000 annually to the revenue, but the total tax collected from tl,em is only £23,500,000. In other words, on the basis on which their kinsmen in Great Britain and New Zealand in the same groups are taxed, they would pay £79,500,000 more in taxes annually. We are all in this war together, and therefore I fail to see why one group Qf individuals should be asked to pay a higher rate than is demanded of a similar group elsewhere. There should be greater equality of sacrifice. I agree with the plea of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) that Australians should save more and. live more austerely, but experience has shown that it is not sufficient to ask the people to do these things. The time has come for the Government to put aside its timidity, take its courage in its hands, and tell the people what they must do. In no other way shall we get a maximum war effort.
The actions of some Ministers, particularly the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) have created considerable unrest among members of the community associated with commerce and manufacture, which is not conducive to obtaining the maximum output in industry. In this connexion, i shall read the following extracts from a letter which I. received recently from a person connected with a large organization in Queensland : -
There lias never been a time in the history nl the Commonwealth when there was greater need for a responsible body to raise its voice on behalf of our rights of citizenship, which are being taken from us by stealth at home under tin; guise nf necessary war measures, while we aru fighting for them abroad.
There is ample evidence, which space forbids me to detail here, that a determined effort is being made by certain extremist leaders of Labour to impose their will on the whole nf Australian industry. They obviously aim at socialism in our time, and hope to achieve it under cover of the nation’s peril
Thu task of winning the war must be our prime purpose. Unless we win it, we, and all our institutions, will be swept into oblivion. Hut. it will be a sud awakening to find that we have lost, much of our liberty at home because nf our preoccupation with the war. It will, for instance., be a sorry return to our fighting men to find that, having offered all, they may resume civil work only under the direction of some union ollicia.1.
Let us frankly admit that the danger has arisen through our own neglect. We have been too occupied with other mutters, and too ready to believe that “it couldn’t happen here”.
– The honorable senator cannot point to one instance of an attempt by the Government to socialize industry, nor is the writer of the letter correct in what he says concerning the conditions which men will have to face when the war is over.
– Is it not a fact that every person who is given work under the Allied Works Council must join a union ?
– Does not the honorable senator believe in that policy?
– No; I believe that in peace-rime every nian should be free to work where and for whom he likes. In war-time it is necessary and right that the Government, should regiment the man-power of the nation and send workers wherever it thinks fit. The urgent needs of war. however, do not give to the Government the right to compol a worker to join a trade union before he can get a job. Will the Minister say whether this policy of compulsory unionism is to continue after the war? Are our fighting men then to be denied work unless they join a union? Is that the post-war policy of the Government?
– -Compulsory unionism is the policy of the medical and legal professions.
– The budget makes no reference to higher pensions on account of the increased cost of living to soldiers suffering from war disabilities although increases have already been granted to invalid and old-age and service pensions to the extent of 25 per cent. I understand that a committee has been appointed to deal with this subject, and therefore I shall not refer to it at length now.
With respect to the liquor problem, I still maintain, as I suggested to the Government about ten months ago, that drinking would be greatly curtailed if “ shouting “ were prohibited. In addition, the hours of hotel trading in the afternoon should be altered with a view to eliminating what are generally called the afternoon sessions.
– Can the honorable senator name one State in which the hours of hotel trading have not been altered since this Government came into office? -Why suggest ‘that nothing is being done at all?
– That is not my intention. I merely suggest that the present afternoon hotel trading hours could be altered. We have heard quite a lot about these afternoon sessions. I make my suggestion for what it is worth. I recall that in Great Britain during the last war hotels were closed during the afternoon, and “ shouting “ was prohibited. Those measures greatly curtailed drinking for pleasure.
I am fully aware of the great responsibility which rests upon the Government at this time. I repeat that on several occasions offers have been made by the Opposition to share that responsibility, but they have been rejected. In any criticism I have made of the Government, my only desire has been to help. I have endeavoured to show how other countries in the British Commonwealth of Nations are financing their war effort. I hope that the Government will take measures to obtain the maximum result from the nation’s available funds. The men and women in our fighting services are giving of their best in their endeavour to win the war. The same may be said of those who are day and night engaged in war production, and on the land, building up supplies of equipment and food. But this is not enough. We must also harness the nation’s finances to the war effort. Only the Government can do that effectively. Therefore, I urge it to make adequate provision with a view to securing the maximum amount of revenue from the public in a. way that will spread the burden as fairly and equitably as possible over all sections of the community. Financial sacrifice should not be considered difficult when compared with the sacrifices that are being made by members of our fighting services. Until we secure the whole-hearted co-operation and goodwill of every section of the community, it will be impossible to obtain the maximum war effort, which this country so urgently requires.
.- The first task of this country is to win the war. This is a fight between, not only nations, but also political systems. It must be increasingly evident to every one that the war must be conducted on the basis of economic resources. The country with the greatest economic resources will win the war. Some people tell us that the war will last ten years; others say that it will last only five years, or that it might peter out next year. I believe that it i3 more likely to last ten years. In confirmation of that belief, I invite honorable senators to study the map of India and the Indian Ocean. North of the Indian Ocean there is the great country of India. On the west is the Middle East, consisting of Arabia and Egypt, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, whilst on (the east are Burma, the Malay States and the rich Netherlands East Indies, now in the possession of the Japanese. Farther south is our own great continent of Australia. In addition, India is the gateway to the road to China. I propose to bring forward some startling facts with regard to India. The last census showed the population of that country to be 350,000,000. That means that every sixth person in the world is an Indian. At present, India is being governed by a war dictatorship. Under the Defence of India Act 1939, the Viceroy was given power to govern by decree. We know that India has a Legislative Assembly and a Legislative Council ; but neither of those Houses has any power whatsoever. The fact is that th people of India have no voice whatsoever in the government of their country. I emphasize that India can be made the greatest fortress the world has ever known. It has the natural resources required for that purpose. If the economic resources of India were developed as they should be, the present situation in that country would be improved considerably. However, the British people have not made a success of the government of India. As the welfare of all British possessions, and those of our allies bordering on the Indian Ocean, including South. Africa, the Netherlands East Indies, Australia, and New Zealand, depends upon the effective defence of India, Australians are vitally concerned in the present unsatisfactory position in that country. Therefore, the Government would be wise to suggest to the British Government that an Empire commission be set up to take over the government of India. Such a commission should be representative of every part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, with a representative of the United Kingdom as chairman. It would approach its work in the light of the economic development of the country, and the successes that India could achieve if it were properly organized. I shall give a. series of quotations in support of my suggestion for the appointment of an Empire commission for the purpose of developing the resources of India. The following is taken from a statement by Mr. II. W. Nevinson in a review of the Simon Report in the New Leader of the 27th June, 1930:-
The almost insuperable difficulty of constructing (not criticizing) a constitution or form of government to suit a minor continent including 500 native Indian States (nominally independent), races of about 222 separate languages, people of two main and hostile religions ( 1 08.000,000 Hindus and 00,000,000 Moslems in British India alone), 10,000,000 outcasted or “ depressed “ populations, also called “ untouchables “. . . . Every one who thinks of India ought to know those bare facts to start with. If he does not, he should read volume .1. of the report. If he neither knows nor reads, let him hold his peace.
Is there a people of India? Can the diversified assembly of races and religions, with the barriers and divisions of caste, of language and other differences, and with the widely varying range of social and cultural levels, inhabiting the vast sub-continental expanse of India, be considered a “ nation “ or ever become a “nation”? Is not this a false transposition of western conceptions to entirely different conditions? Is not the only unity in India the unity imposed by British rule? British rule in India has done nothing to bring about unity. On the contrary, it has been responsible for those factors which have .brought about the present grave unrest. During the last war the same thing happened in India. There can be no unity among people who are starving. With a proper economic system, and all the people working under good economic conditions, unity is certain. People with some ideal to work for, and a proper economic system, and no trade depressions, will have unity in the economic field, and once that is attained it is not hard to get unity in the political sphere. Depressions are the only factors that bring about the rise of communism. Communism flourished during the last depression, and flourishes in India only because the people have no decent living conditions.
Take the case of South Africa, which has a great diversity of peoples. British rule in that country is less than 40 years old, but we know the magnificent effort South Africa is putting forward in this war. In that country a number of different peoples, with varying religions, races and interests, have been welded into a unified whole. They have made a very good job of it, and are an integral part of the British Empire.
I wish to direct attention also to what happened in the United States of America. In the days of unrestricted immigration great bodies of Dutch, Germans, Italians, French, Swedes, Jews, Spaniards, Scotch and Irish were scattered amongst the descendants of the English in that country, thus contributing to the present heterogeneous character of the American people. Otis, the well-known American patriot, wrote in 1765 as follows : -
God forbid these should ever prove undutif til to their mother country. Whenever such a day should come, it will be the beginning of a terrible scene. Were these colonics left to themselves to-morrow, America would bc a mere shambles of blood and confusion.
America has given all its inhabitants reasonable economic conditions, and, therefore, has built up economic unity. The marvellous war effort of the Americans to-day is possible only because of their economic superiority, which has been built upon the good economic conditions of their working classes. If the same conditions were brought about in India, India could do equally well.
I refer honorable senators to what has been done in Russia. About 90 per cent, of the people in Russia were uneducated at the time of the Revolution. When the first five-year plan was put into operation they made great strides in industry. They recognized that the defence of the country depended on their economic resources, and they set out to develop them, and are now in a position to put up the wonderful fight they are making to-day. If the same thing were done to exploit the resources of India, the British Empire would not be in the parlous position of to-day. The unfortunate fact is that we have missed the opportunity of exploiting the wonderful resources of the Indian Empire. The Indian Industrial Commission of 1916-l8 opened its report with the following statement: -
At a time when the west ofEurope, the birthplace of the modern industrial system, was inhabited by uncivilized tribes. India was famous for the wealth ofher rulers and for the high artistic skill of her craftsmen. And even at a muchlater period, when merchant adventurers from the west made their first appearance in India, the industrial development of this country was at any rate not inferior to that of the more advanced European nations.
Sir Thomas Holland, the chairman of the commission, and a leading authority on Indian mineral resources, reported in 1908 that-
The high quality of the native-made iron, the early anticipation of the p rocesses now employed in Europe for the manufacture of high-class steels, and the. artistic products in copper and brassgave India at one time a. prominent position in the metallurgical world.
It will be observed that even at that early date the iron and steel production of India had already reached a high degree of development, to the extent that the material conditions for the advance to modern industry were even then present. Sir Edwin Pascoe, late director of the geological survey ofIndia, reported in 1931 as follows : -
India possessed large reserves of coal estimated at 36,000,000.000 tons . . . India also had potentialities as a first-rate producer of iron and steel, but the industry was still in its infancy. Of manganese, one of the hardening constituents of steel, India produced a third of the world’s supply.
Cecil Jones, of theGeological Survey of India, wrote in 1929 -
Especially important are the iron ore deposits, which amount, according to a con- servative estimate, to 3,000,000,000 tons, as against 2,254,000,000 tons for Great Britain and 1,374.000,000 tons for Germany, and art only exceeded by the United States with 9,885,000,000 tons, and France with 4,369,000,000 tons.
According to that report the continent of India could, if necessary, produce more iron than any other country in the world, with the exception of the United States of America. Mr. R. K. Das, in The Industrial Efficiency of India, published in 1930, wrote- ‘
India’s iron ores are so immense in volume and so rich in iron content that they might be said to be wasted if not utilized at present, for her production might be the same as the average production of other countries such as the United States of America, Great Britain. Germany, Sweden, Spain and Russia, in which the average production was 16,200,000 tons as compared with 1,800,000 in India. In other words, the production in India was only a little over 11 per cent, of what it should have been and 89 per cent, might be regarded as wastage.
To quote the warning words of Sir Alfred Watson, editor of the leading English journal in India, the Calcutta Statesman, and Calcutta correspondent of The Times of London, uttered by him at a meeting of the Royal Empire Society in London in 1933-‘
Industrially India was a land of missed opportunities and the main blame for this rested heavily on the British. . . . Though India possessed in abundance all the conditions for a great industrial country, she was, to-day, one of the backward nations of the world economically, and was very backward in industry….. We had never tackled seriously the problem of developing India’s undoubted capacity for industry. . Unless India could provide in the coining years a wholly unprecedented industrial development based on growth of demand by her vast population, the level of subsistence of the country, which was now appallingly low. would fall below the starvation point.
Can we expect any people to take an in terest in a. war effort when they are living under conditions such as exist, according to that statement, at the present time? As regards agriculture, according to the 1931 census figures 73 per cent, of the population of India were dependent upon agriculture and only 2.3 per cent, upon industry. In Australia, 20 per cent, of our population are dependent upon agriculture, and 32 per cent, upon industry. I have made these quotations to show that the resources are there, and that the initiative is all that is necessary to make India one of the greatest fortresses of modern times.
– The honorable senator has overlooked the question of population.
– I have by no means overlooked it. I have shown that it takes 73 per cent, of the population of India to feed the remaining 27 per cent., which provesthat there must be something radically wrong with the conditions under which the people live, especially as we in Australia can produce all that we require by the exertion of 20 per cent, of the population. All that is necessary is proper organization. A recent American observer, Professor D. H. Buchanan, after a monumental survey of economic and industrial development in India up to 1934, reaches the melancholy conclusion that -
Here wasa country with all the crude elements upon which manufacturing depends, yet during more than a century it has imported factory-made goods in large quantities and has developed only a few of the simplest industries for which machinery and organization hadbeen highly perfected in other countries. With abundant supplies of raw cotton, raw jute, easily mined coal, easily mined and exceptionally high-grade iron ore; with a redundant population often starving because of lack of profitable employment; with a hoard of gold and silver second, perhaps, to that of no other country in the world; . with an excellent market within her own borders and near at hand in which others were selling great quantities of manufactures, with all these advantages, India, after a century was supporting only about 2 per cent, of her population by factory industry.
In respect of agriculture, the judgment of Sir George Watt, Reporter on Economic Products to the Government of India, may be quoted. He said -
It seems safe to afirm that with the extension of irrigation, more thorough and complete facilities of transport, improvements in methods and materials of agriculture, and the expansion of the area of cultivation . . . the productiveness of India might easily be increased by at least 50 per cent. Indeed” few countries in the world can be said to possess so brilliant an agricultural prospect, if judged of purely by intrinsic value and extent of undeveloped resources.
It may be noted, also, that in . 1931 the Indian Central Banking Inquiry Committee reported as follows: -
The proportion of the population of India living on agriculture is very large, and it has been steadily on the increase. The proportion was 61 per cent, in the year 1891. It rose to 08 per cent, in 1901 andto 73 per cent, in 1921. The census figures for 1931 are not available to us, but it may fairly be presumed that the figure has risen still higher in 1931.
A century ago, in 1840, Sir Charles Trevelyan reported to the House of Commons Select Committee in the following terms: -
We have swept away their manufactures; they have nothing to depend on but the produce of their land.
A century later the Royal Commission on Agriculture repeated the same melancholy tale, stating -
The overcrowding of the people on the land, the lack of alternative means of securing a living, the difficulty of finding any avenue of escape and the early age with which a man is burdened with dependants, combine to force the cultivator to grow food wherever he can and on whatever terms he can.
In India to-day the people have no voice in their own government. My suggestion is that there should be an Empire commission to govern India and develop it economically.
– That would not be giving the people of India a voice in their government.
– I admit that sweeping changes cannot be brought about immediately, but I suggest that the reformation would be accomplished more rapidly if an economic commission drawn from the best intellects of the Empire were set up to plan the development of India. At present India is under the thumb of one individual, the Viceroy, who has supreme control, and governs by decree. If India were developed economically, and the people were given better working conditions, the incentive to revolution would disappear, and improved economic conditions would pave the way for a new political system which would suit every body. The only outlet which the Indian people have at present for their grievances is the Indian Congress, which meets once a year. W. C. Bonnerjee, in his book Introduction to Indian Politics, states -
It will probably be news to many that the Indian National Congress, as it was originally started, and as it has since been carried on, is in reality the work of the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava, when that nobleman was the Governor-General of India. Mr. A. O. Hume, C.B., had in 1884 conceived the idea that it would be of great advantage to the country if leading politicians could be brought together once a year to discuss social matters and be upon friendly footing with one another. He did not desire that politics should form part of their discussion . . Lord Dufferin took great interest in the matter, and after considering it for some time he sent for Mr. Hume and told him that in his opinion Mr. Hume’s project would not be of much use. He said there was no body of persons in this country who performed the functions which Her Majesty’s Opposition did in England … It would be very desirable in their interests, as well as the interests of the ruled, that Indian politicians should meet yearly and point out to the Government in what respects the administration was defective and how it could be improved, and he added that an assembly such as he proposed should not be presided over by the Local Governor, for in his presence the people might not like to speak out their minds. Mr. Hume was convinced by Lord Dufferin’s arguments, and when he placed the two schemes, his own and Lord Dufferin’s before leading politicians in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras and other parts of the country, the latter unanimously accepted Lord Dufferin’s scheme and proceeded to give effect to it. Lord Dufferin had made it a condition with Mr. Hume that his name should not be divulged so long as he remained in the country.
In Rise and Growth of the Congress of India, by Andrews find Mookerjee, appears the following passage -
The years just before the Congress were among the most dangerous since 1857. It was Hume, among English officials, who saw the impending disaster and tried to prevent it . . . He went to Simla in order to make clear to the authorities how almost desperate the situation had become. It is probable that, his visit made the new Viceroy, who was a brilliant man of affairs, realize the gravity of the situation and encourage Hume to go on with the formation of the Congress. The time was fully ripe for this all-India movement. In place of an agrarian revolt, which would have had the sympathy and support of the educated classes, it gave the rising classes a. national platform from which to create a New India. It was all to the good in the long-run that a revolutionary situation, based on violence, was not allowed to bc created once again.
If it was desirable to set up a congress to prevent disruption and revolution in those days, surely it is equally desirable to set up a commission to prevent revolution and chaos at the present time.
Reviewing 300 years of British rule in India, Dr. Ambedkar, a leading Indian, states as follows, in regard to the “ untouchable “ problem -
Before the British you were in the loathsome condition due to your untouchability Has the British Government done anything to remove your untouchability ? Before the British you could not draw water from the village well. Has the British Government secured you the right to the well? Before the “British you could not enter the temple. Can you enter now? Before the British you were denied entry into the police force. Does the British Government admit you in the force? Before the British you were not allowed to serve in the military, ls that career now open to you? Gentlemen, to none of these questions you can give an affirmative answer. Those who have held so much power over the country for such a long time must have done some good. But there is certainly no fundamental improvement in your position. So far as you arc concerned, the British Government has accepted the arrangements as it found them, and has .preserved them faithfully in the manner of the Chinese tailor who, when given an old coat as a pattern, produced” with pride an exact replica, rents, patches and all. Your wrongs have remained as open sores and they have not been righted . . .
Nobody can remove your grievances as well as you can, and you cannot remove them unless you get political power in your hands. No share of this political power can come to you so long as the British Government remains as it is. It is only in a Swaraj constitution that you stand any chance of getting the political power into your own hands, without which you cannot bring salvation to your people.
These facts are an indictment of the existing social and economic organization, which fails to utilize and develop the abundant natural resources of India to supply the needs of the population. But they are not a proof of overpopulation. On the contrary, it is universally admitted by the experts that a correct utilization of Indian resources could support, on an abundant standard, a considerably larger population than exists or is in prospect in the near future in India. More than one-third of the present cultivable area in India has not yet been brought into cultivation, whilst the present cultivated area is tilled under such primitive conditions as to result in a yield of about one-third of that obtained for a similar crop, comparing wheat yields, with less man-power in the United Kingdom. The surmounting of the obstacles which stand in the way of a full utilization of Indian resources is the real way to overcome Indian poverty. The position in India should not be allowed to deteriorate. That great country has all the resources necessary to make it one of the most powerful fortresses in the world. “We should endeavour to convince the people of Britain that there is a great opportunity for the Allies to dominate the southern hemisphere by converting India into a fortress.
In company with the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) I recently made a tour of Tasmania and visited the units of the Volunteer Defence Corps in that State. I gladly acknowledge the excellence of the work the members of that corps are doing. Their enthusiasm is unbounded, although they are working under most difficult conditions. Out of scraps of metal they have constructed articles such as lamps and bombs, and they have provided their own telephones, built their own huts, and supplied their own transport vehicles and petrol. They are entitled to the thanks of the Parliament and the people for the valuable work that they are doing. We are proud of the men of the Australian Imperial Force and of the Australian Military Forces, but we should also be proud of the members of the Volunteer Defence Corps. Regulations should be passed compelling all persons of military age who have been exempted from military service, whether engaged in farm work or in the making of munitions, to train for a certain number of hours weekly in the ranks of the Volunteer Defence Corps.
I draw attention to the position of young men who are called up at the end of December at the conclusion of their school training. If they fail in English, or do not pass in five subjects out of seven, they are required to submit to a further examination before they can obtain their leaving certificate. They should not he called upon to take the supplementary examination while in camp, but should be granted leave for that purpose.
Recently, I asked the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) a question regarding the canteens on His Majesty’s Australian ships. The canteen rights on certain vessels are let by tender, and I enter an emphatic protest against the action of the Department of the Navy in regard to the conduct of the canteens. It is unreasonable to suppose that because a ship’s commander can conduct the ship’s complement, be can successfully conduct the canteen. The widow of a man who was employed for private profit on H.M.A.S. Sydney was granted a pension of £4 a fortnight by the Commonwealth Government. Had the man been employed by the Young Men’s Christian Association or the Salvation Army, or one of the other servicesthat are not operating for profit, but are assisting to supply the members of the fighting services with comforts, I should not complain, but in this case, a pension was received by the widow of a non-combatant who was working on the ship solely for his own profit. The granting of a pension to the widow of such an employee was a grave misuse of public funds. I hope that the Government will reconsider the position with regard to the canteens on His Majesty’s Australian ships. On the small vessels, where the canteens are conducted on a co-operative basis, better results are obtained than on the large vessels, where the right to conduct the canteens is secured by tender. I am opposed to the letting of the canteens by tender.
Some time ago, I referred to the free distribution of apples in Tasmania. They have been distributed free of charge to schools, hospitals and charities. Now, however, the free distribution has been extended to the Army, and I contend that the Apple and Pear Board should be allowed to show in its balance-sheet that it has supplied members of the fighting services with free fruit. Too many apples are being wasted in Tasmania at present, and I desire to prevent that waste. If the Government has been good enough to supply members of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force with free apples, the board should be credited with the cost of that service. I hope that the Government will introduce the necessary reform in that regard.
– At present, the cost is debited to the board.
– That is what I wish to avoid. The cost should be shown in the balance-sheet of the board, as though the fruit had been supplied to a private person. It would be merely a book entry.
I am not satisfied with the uniforms issued to members of the Australian fighting services. In this respect the Australian troops compares most unfavorably with their American Allies. Each American soldier is issued with the following kit : -
There is room for a great improvement of the Australian fighting man’s uniform in regard to appearance, quality and variety.
Australia is suffering from a serious lack of rubber, and we must do our best to make up the deficiency. Japan’s entry into the war has robbed us of 90 per cent, of the supplies of rubber which we formerly enjoyed. In the United States of America the authorities are aiming at a production of 215,000,000 tons of synthetic rubber annually. They claim that they will be able to produce800,000 tons per annum by 1943. We in Australia have not. yet commenced to manufacture synthetic rubber. In this connexion the following extract, from an article by Mr. A. R. Penfold, of the Sydney Technological Museum, in the Daily Telegraph of the 20th August, is interesting -
At Electrona, in Tasmania, the Australian Commonwealth Carbide Co. Ltd., has been making carbide for 25 years. Near the works is a huge high-grade limestone deposit mined by the company.
Two years ago this company was producing 8,000 tons of carbide a year. This output has been stepped up since, and could be increased probably four times.
From carbide you get acetylene, and from acetylene you get neoprene - which is synthetic rubber.
Neoprene was introduced in . 1931 by the big American company of Du Pont, and highly developed since then. It is far superior to natural rubber in many qualities, particularly in resistance to oil and chemicals.
Here is what neoprene is, as least involved chemically as I can put it:
Neoprene starts with the formation of calcium carbide from coal and limestone. Calcium carbide is converted into acetylene gas on the addition of water. By treatment this gas becomes chloroprene, a limpid, clear, colorless liquid when first prepared. But When it is allowed to stand for a few days it becomes viscous, and with the addition of alcohol synthetic rubber is obtained.
In the estimation of many impartial technical men, neoprene is the best and most thoroughly developed of all synthetic rubbers so far - with the exception of the German Buna.
From carbide can also be made the Buna type of synthetic rubber, but neoprene is probably the easiest to make, because production is less involved technically.
Most of the technical information about neoprene has already been published in scientific journals, but the liner details could almost certainly be obtained from Du Pont if we wanted to make rubber in Australia.
We can make rubber in Australia, and I know that the Australian Commonwealth Carbide Co. is doing preliminary work to that end.
Our need for rubber is great and now is the time to start the manufacture of synthetic rubber to meet that need.
– Is thehonorable senator aware that synthetic rubber is now being made from linseed oil?
– That may be so, but the manufacture of rubber from the deposits in Tasmania from which carbide is produced, offers a great opportunity to make up our deficiency of this essential commodity.
At the last conference of the Australian Labour party in Tasmania the following resolution was carried : -
Recognizing the great practical importance of a reform in the present financial system, this Conference is of the opinion that the time has arrived for the Federal Government to utilize National Credit, operated through the Commonwealth Bank only, in accordance with the National Credit planks of the Federal Labour Party, both for a considerable portion of the Federal revenue requirements of the nation at war and also in connexion with a large proportion of the capital expenditure on public works, authorized by the Loan Council, and which is now met by the issue of burdensome interest-bearing bonds, and that the Commonwealth Government be requested to instruct the Commonwealth Bank Board to enter into competition with the Trading Banks.
In some directions the Government has instituted a system by which some goods are rationed and prices pegged, but it has not gone far enough. The extension of the system to other commodities would prevent the purchasing power of the people, which is greater because of war activities, being used unwisely. On this subject the Treasurer, in his budget speech, said -
Expansion of bank credit, therefore, without a corresponding capacity to expand production would increase purchasing power without increasing the supply of goods and services. Increasing the volume of money without increasing the supply of goods for civil consumption not only creates the danger of inflation, but it sets up serious competition between demands for civil goods and demands for war requirements.
That can be prevented by a proper system of rationing. With such a system in operation in respect of practically every commodity, each person in the community would get a fair share of what the country produces. With prices and wages pegged, all that would be necessary would be to introduce a ticket system for transfers. If the system is operated scientifically, there will be no need for a policy of borrowing.
The budget contains evidence that since it assumed office the Labour Government has done an excellent job. Ministers are to be congratulated on their achievements. In a recent issue the Sydney Morning Herald paid a tribute to the Government in the following terms: -
The Federal Labour Ministry can justly look back on its first parliamentary session with a good deal of satisfaction. Though the sitting was short, it has undoubtedly enhanced the political stature of the Prime Minister, who has displayed since his assumption of office a firmness of purpose and capacity for parliamentary leadership with which few would have accredited him two months ago. He has been fortunate, too, in most of his senior Ministers, and, particularly, in the Treasurer.
I repeat that our. thanks are due to the Treasurer for bringing down such an excellent budget.
I take the following quotation which speaks for itself, from the Launceston Examiner. “Complete disappointment” with the performance of the United Australia party and Country party in Federal politics was expressed yesterday by the State Opposition Leader (Mr. H. S. Baker).
Mr. Baker was addressing the annual Australian Women’s National League conference at Hobart, which he opened.
Mr. Baker said he had endeavoured to be loyal to the federal party to a reasonable extent, although he was not bound to that party in any way. That partywas entirely distinct from the party he led. He had no responsibility for its policy but, working in a spirit of co-operation in the past, he had refrained from criticism when it seemed to him that criticism was called for.
He had hoped that the United Australia party and the Country party would join together for the maintenance of the Government which they had formed, but it was not so. This applied also to the Labour party. So far from endeavouring to work in cooperation with the Government, it had missed no opportunity whatever of making party capital out of every political mistake the Government parties made. A change had been brought about which had put Labour in power, but it did not have complete power. “ We must be prepared to give this Government a fair trial and see what it is prepared to do “,he said. “ We must see if it can bring unity to the Australian people and knit all classes together”.
All I wish to add to that statement is that if the Government pursues the course it is now following it will bring together all sections of the community, and succeed in overcoming the difficulties which now confront it.
.- It is not my intention to deal at length with the speech just delivered by Senator Lamp. However, I shall refer briefly to his opening remarks on India. Not only were those remarks quite unnecessary: they were also ill-advised, particularly at this time. To say the least, the present is most inopportune for a member of Parliament in any British country to make a speech of the kind just delivered by the honorable senator on the situation in India.
– We must face facts.
– An honorable senator can hardly be said to be facing facts when on this subject he quotes extracts only from writings which are detrimental to British rule in India, Apparently, Senator Lamp was not endeavouring to analyze the present situation in India; he merely sought to secure from somebody’s scrap-book all of the evidence he could obtain in order to show the alleged failure of British rule in that country. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber, of course, had no idea that Senator Lamp intended to speak on this subject and, therefore, we are not prepared at this juncture to reply to his remarks. However, given the time, we could present just as many quotations from much more reputable people and journals than those quoted hy the honorable senator to show that British rule has not brought about the results in India which he suggested. The amazing feature of his remarks was his suggestion that instead of a measure of freedom and self-government being, granted to India - for which India has been struggling, and which the British Government has been gradually extending to the country, and will further extend when the war situation improves - India should be placed under the control of an international tribunal. The purpose of such a tribunal would be, to use the honorable senator’s own words - and they are surprising words from a Labour senator - “ to exploit the riches of India “. He used the word “ exploitation “ over and over again. He said that India’s iron ore resources had not been fully developed ; and he quoted statements to show that India could become one of the greatest iron ore producing countries in the world.
– What is wrong with that?
– Nothing; but I venture to say that the people of India are just as desirous of exploiting and developing their own iron ore resources as are the people of any other country. They would not thank the honorable senator for suggesting that their country should be placed under an international tribunal whose members would include representatives of- countries which are not part of the British Empire. I should think that Indians would be as resentful of such a suggestion as we ourselves would resent any suggestion that Australia be placed under the control of an international tribunal. We have many things to answer for in relation to the development of our own resources. One of them - and it is proving one of our greatest drawbacks at present - is the fact that we have a population of only 7,000,000. Honorable senators on this side, when they were members of the Government, realized how great a handicap our small population is. I have no doubt that members of the present Government know how much easier the defence of this country would be if we had many more millions of people. I repeat that, in handling this matter, Senator Lamp was most unfair in selecting only statements opposed to British interests. Apparently, they were taken from some Leftist magazine. Let any one who wants to know the real feelings of Indians towards the rest of the Empire analyse the part that India is playing in this war. Hundreds of thousands of gallant Indian soldiers are fighting side by side with soldiers from other parts of the Empire. Thousands of Indians are working in munitions factories and industries which supply goods to this country which are essential to our war effort and which we cannot now obtain from any other source. We know that India has now established its own navy. Many of us have had the privilege of seeing members of that navy, who are now loyally playing their part in this war as Britain’s allies. Therefore, I say, let India get, as I hope it does very soon, that home rule and status for which it has been struggling, which has been promised, and which we know will be given to it by the British Government.
– Years too late.
– Anything to disparage the British Government.
– That is exactly the position taken up by honorable senators opposite. Senator Lamp knows that there are in India internal problems which do not exist in any other part of the British Empire. He made reference to the limits of what he called the untouchables of India; but we know that the conditions of those people have not been brought about by anything that the British Government or the British Empire have done. They are the result of certain caste restrictions which operate and have operated in India for centuries. British rule has always endeavoured to break down the distinctions of caste and class existing in thatgreat country. If there is One section in the community that has done more to break it down than any other, and to give the untouchable section of the Indian population some hope for the future, it has been the Christian missionaries. If anything has had a level- ling effect there, it has been the teaching of Christianity. Senator Lamp’s speech was untimely and unwise, and he showed a great lack of real knowledge of the internal conditions of India. Every one of us hopes that, just as we go ahead with our own development as part of the British Empire, we shall see India, too, develop its resources, and not have to hand them over to some international commission for exploitation, as the honorable senator suggested.
I wish particularly to emphasize a point made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), when speaking on the budget, in regard to the dangerous condition into which our finances are drifting, owing to the fact that the Government will not stand up to its obligations in its method of financing the war. Senator McLeay made reference to the dangers of inflation, and I think at least one honorable senator opposite suggested that inflation was some old bogy that was always being raised on this side, although there was no real danger of inflation here.
– It was the Government of which the honorable senator was a member that launched a policy of inflation.
– Since the budget debate began, we have heard a number of appeals by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) emphasizing the real danger of inflation unless certain types of easy spending are either stopped or considerably curtailed. There is no need to suggest that the danger of inflation is a bogy being raised on this side of the chamber, seeing that the Prime Minister on numerous occasions in the last fortnight has emphasized the existence of a very real danger in that direction. No worse tragedy can overtake a country than the inflation of its currency.
– The budget is framed to help overcome the danger.
– This budget is not framed for the purpose of overcoming the difficulty at all. The Government is shirking its responsibility by its unlimited use of bank credit in the endeavour to bridge the big gap of something like £300,000,000 in this year’s finances.
– How does the honorable senator arrive at a gap of £300,000,000?
– If the PostmasterGeneral will read the budget he will see that there is a gap of £300,000,000 which has to be raised partly by loan and partly by bank credit. I .tell the Government quite frankly that either it is ignoring the advice of its economic advisers, or those economic advisers are not giving it the same sound advice as they gave t.n the previous Government, because, in connexion with the last budget brought down by the Fadden Government - the budget on which the Government ultimately crashed - we were distinctly told by our economic advisers what was considered to be the safety margin so far as the use of bank credit was concerned. We abided by the economic advice then given to us, but now a change has come over the scene and this Government has increased by over 100 per cent, the amount of bank credit being pumped into our financial structure, over and above what we were told twelve months ago was the safety margin. This Government is ignoring sound economics. That is what is wrong with it. It will not stand up to its obligation in bridging the gap, but Senator Lamp showed the way in which the difficulty could be partly overcome by the Government.
– Do not economists ever change their opinions ?
– They may change them with a change of government, but the bulk of the men who acted as economic advisers to the Government of which I was a member would not, I am certain, be swayed by the political colour of the government, and I believe they would give the same honest advice to any government regarding the financial structure of the country irrespective of what political faith it professed. Senator Lamp made reference to the question of rationing. I believe a great deal of the danger of inflation can be overcome by rationing, but not the type of rationing the Government is indulging in at present, because what the Government is really doing in relation to direct rationing at the present time is to ration the necessaries of life and leave a greater margin of unnecessary spending available in the pockets of the people. If the Government is to carry on rationing to avoid unnecessary expenditure, there is no sense in telling a man, “ You shall have only one suit of clothes, two shirts, a couple of ties and handkerchiefs, and two pairs of socks, but all the rest of thi money you have you can spend in any sort of delightful orgy you may like to indulge in “. That is what is going on at the present time. If the Government really wants to save the community from the perils of inflation by means of rationing, then ration every thing from top to bottom. If it i3 necessary to have ration tickets for beer, have them. If it is necessary to ration the pleasures of life, do not be afraid to stand up to your obligations but do not pretend that you are taking away the spending power of the people and avoiding inflation, merely because Mr. Dedman takes away your waistcoat, and the cuffs from the bottom of your trousers, or a couple of buttons off your coat sleeve.
– Or even a couple ‘*t inches off the tail of your shirt.
– Yes, even a couple of inches taken off in that direction will not be sufficient. That is only rationing the necessaries of life and leaving a still greater proportion of expenditure in lb”. hands of the public. Surplus expenditure can be made to revert to war loans only by instituting a system of post-war credits or compulsory loans, such as that brought forward by the Government of which I was a member a year ago, and by taxing incomes in the lower ranges as was advocated by the Leader of the Opposition in his budget speech.
– What about a wealth levy?
– We have one now, and if the honorable senator asks me whether I believe in compulsory loans, or any other proposal which would make every section of the community contribute a fair proportion to war funds, I say that I do. No one should escape his obligations. A large number of men who have money are not facing up to their obligations in connexion with war loans. That is one reason why I believe in compulsory loans. When I advocate compulsory loans and the taxing of low incomes, I do not suggest for one minute that anything should be done to throw an unfair burden upon the shoulders of one particular section of the community. I contend that that would not be the case. ‘ I know for a fact that because the return from war loans ait present is comparatively low, some individuals are not subscribing to them although they are quite able to do so. I would like to see every one compelled to invest money in war loans. A large percentage of the people of Australia are loyal and are prepared to do the fair thing. In fairness to that overwhelming majority, compulsion should be used ito obtain money from other people who are not so patriotic. Until the Government is prepared to stand up to its obligations and see that every one in the community, from the top 10 the bottom, faces up to his responsibilities in connexion with our war effort, we shall not avoid the dangers of inflation which are facing us at present. There could be nothing more pitiful than the plea made by the Prime Minister to the State Premiers a few weeks ago in connexion with the curtailment of horse-racing. It is ridiculous that the Prime Minister of this nation, who is faced with” the heavy responsibilities of government, should have to say to the Premiers of the States, “ Sirs, would you be good enough to curtail racing in your State “. If racing is harming the national war effort, the Commonwealth Government should take action into its own hands; if money is going into racing or other pleasures, when it should be going into the national exchequer to save this country from the Japane.se who, after all, are only a few miles away from our northern coast, it should not be necessary for the Prime Minister to plead with the State Premiers.
Silting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– The Government has started at the wrong end by rationing the necessaries of life and leaving luxuries more or less unrationed. The far more commonsense method would be to ration luxuries first. Many people, owing to the occupations in which they are engaged, are greatly inconvenienced by the rationing of necessities. Certain proposals have, of course, been submitted to the Government, which has agreed to the granting of extra coupons to persons whose work is particularly severe on their clothing. I am entirely in sympathy with the principle of rationing, but the budget does not make adequate provision for the raising of the money needed to meet the contemplated expenditure.
At the risk of repetition I shall refer again to post-war credits. I consider that the Government has been unwise in not adopting a system of deferred pay in respect of those engaged in private occupations in the same way as in the case of members of the fighting forces. Sailors, soldiers and airmen will receive a certain proportion of their pay on their discharge from the forces, and this will prove of great value to them at the end of their service. If the war proves lengthy men with long periods of service will become unaccustomed to their usual methods of earning a livelihood, and their accumulated pay will no doubt prove of inestimable value to them during the process of their re-absorption in civil life. Opportunities are presented to people in almost every walk of life to earn higher wages and salaries than they have been in the habit of receiving. I do not begrudge them that money, if they are giving fair value for the remuneration received; but a day of reckoning will come when excessive overtime in many industries and the carrying out by women of work normally done by men will cease. At the end of the war. many persons will be looking for employment, or will give up work altogether, and if they had deferred pay to draw they would have every reason to be grateful. More important still, the building up of post-war credits would result in a steady flow of money into the Treasury for the financing of the war effort. Honorable senators opposite challenged my statement that there is a gap of £300.000,000 in the budget. Portion of this amount is to be provided by loan, and the other part by bank credit, but the money to come from loan is not yet in the hands of the Government. Although approximately one half of the gap is proposed to be bridged by loan money, the Government cannot say that it has the necessary money in hand until the loans have been subscribed. Honorable senators on the Opposition side have never done anything to hinder the financing of the measures necessary for the carrying on of the war; their desire is merely to indicate to the Government their opinion that sound methods of finance should be adopted. lt is of the utmost importance that the Government should look to persons in some of the lower-income groups for greater revenue in the form of income tax than has been gathered from them in the past. If members of the Opposition were viewing this subject from a party political angle, they would imitate honorable senators opposite and say that they would not touch by direct taxation the huge group of income-earners who constitute about 80 per cent, of the people; but the Opposition contends that the war effort cannot be financed unless income tax is imposed on persons in the lower-income groups. Before the war is won it will be necessary for even greater burdens to be borne by all sections of the community than have been carried in the past.
– Does the honorable senator know that, or does he merely hope it will be so?
– .Nobody likes to see taxes increased, but, in view of tho serious position in which the nation finds itself, we should endeavour to finance the war effort on sound lines.
I shall now refer to the way in which the Department of Labour and National Service is discharging its functions in the matter of the supply of labour to vital industries. The regulations providing that it was not competent for people to leave their employment without receiving permission to do so, or to go from place to place, imposed a restriction on the liberty of the individual; but there are many restrictions at present on the liberty of all individuals in Australia. The Government is not carrying out its own regulations in this regard. The Captain’s Flat mine is producing some of the most vital requirements of thu country in the shape of metals. Lead, copper, zinc and other metals are vitally necessary to out war effort, but owing to the shortage of labour - no action is being taken by the Government to prevent men from leaving their jobs - production will be severely restricted in some branches of the metal industry. - Since it is essential that raw materials be produced to the utmost capacity, the Government should not fail to stand up to its responsibilities in this matter.
On many occasions Senator Collett has asked the Government what its policy is with regard to preference to returned soldiers.
– How did he handle that matter when a mem’ber of the last Government ?
– He acted in accordance with the policy of the Government, which provided for preference to returned soldiers.
– There is no alteration.
– Does the Minister assure me that this Ministry intends to maintain the policy of preference to returned soldiers in the matter of employment that was observed when it took over the reins of government?
– There has been no alteration.
– Does the Minister assure me that no alteration will be made ?
– I say nothing of to–morrow
– But the returned soldiers and the men now serving in the fighting forces want to know something about the policy of the Government in that regard for the future. They are asking whether the policy of preference to returned men will be retained. Thi> is a live subject in the ranks of the returned men.
– The honorable senator wants to make it one.
– I propose to make it a live subject at every opportunity.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate not to interrupt the honorable senator in his speech.
– I am not interrupting him. He is addressing questions to me.
Th» PRESIDENT. - I request the honorable senator not to interrupt.
– You tell him not to ask questions of me.
– The Minister is not entitled to give directions to the Chair.
– Honorable senators on this side desire to know the policy of the Government in regard to such important matters. Recently, in answer to a question relating to one of the most vital defence works which is being carried out in .this country, the urgency and importance of- which cannot ‘be over-stated, I was informed that about 100 men had been taken from that job to work in another part of the Commonwealth where the need for them was urgent. I believe that sufficient men could have been found for that other work without interfering with this vital undertaking. I have not heard that -the men so taken were required because of their special ability. Particularly since the fall of Singapore, the undertaking from which they were taken has become the most vital defence work in this part of the world.
I come now to another controversial subject which, some honorable senators are inclined to brush aside. I refer to the liquor question. Unfortunately, many who refer to abuses caused by the excessive use of alcohol associate those abuses only with members of the various fighting services. That is unfair.” During the last five or six weeks I have spent a good deal of time in various camps. In one camp there was no provision for a wet canteen during the first five days that we were there, but not one com- plaint was made to the commanding officer, nor did any member of the service leave camp without authority, notwithstanding that a pay-day occurred during that period. The reason was that the men were anxious to push ahead with the work in hand. In my opinion, one of the principal causes of abuses in connexion with alcohol is that hotels close at 6 p.m. In referring to this matter I know that I am treading on what some people regard as dangerous ground. Although we are all opposed to excessive drinking by any section of the community, I have no objection to a soldier, or a munitions worker, or indeed any worker, having a glass or two of beer at the end of his day’s work. Owing to the greater number of hours which are now being worked in many factories it is not so easy as previously for men to have their glass of beer before 6 o’clock.
– Some workers do not leave their employment until 3 o’clock in the morning.
– The hours at which hotels must close should be staggered. There is no more reason why a man coming off a strenuous shift at 8 p.m. should not be able to obtain a drink than if he knocks off work at 5 p.nu The reason for the 6 o’clock “ guzzle “ which now takes place is that men are, as it were, fighting against time, and sometimes they consume more liquor than, they require. Particularly in districts where munitions works are situated, the hotel closing hours should be adapted to the needs of the district. I should not object to the establishment of wet canteens, under proper authority, in certain establishments. In addition to staggering the closing hours by extending them beyond 6 o’clock in some instances, I should close hotels for some hours during the day - for some period between breakfast time and luncheon time - and completely close them between the time of the midday meal and the evening meal. The reduced production of beer is causing numbers of men to drink “plonk,” gin or “pinkie” when beer is no longer available. The alcoholic strength of beer is a matter to which consideration should be given. In stating these opinions I emphasize that they are entirely my own; I do not know whether they are held by any other honorable senator on this side.
Considering the large number of men in dic various fighting forces, the provision for their entertainment when on leave is totally inadequate. Very little of the estimated expenditure of about £600.000,000 this year is to be used in providing amenities for soldiers when on leave. No government - I do not exclude the Government in which I was a Minister - has clone anything effective in this direction. Soldiers on leave in a strange town or city can find very little to do, and consequently many of them fall victims to people who exploit them, and place temptations in their way. In saying these things, I have no wish to detract from the excellent work being done by the churches and other organizations in providing comforts for soldiers; but there are so many men in the various fighting forces, and in addition there are so many thousands of men from allied countries in Australia that these organizations, with their limited funds and workers, cannot do all that is necessary. A sufficient sum should be placed on the Estimates to provide reasonable amenities for soldiers when on leave.
A soldier who overstays his leave is paraded before his commanding officer, and unless he can give a sound reason for his absence from duty he is punished, either by way of a fine or confinement to barracks. But what action is taken when a key man in an industrial undertaking absents himself from work? In such an event the country loses not only his production, but also that of those associated with him. There is a good deal of lost time in some factories from this cause, and therefore I suggest that workers who deliberately absent themselves from duty without good reason should be. subject to some penalty.
The Treasurer has intimated that the Government proposes to submit to the electors, by means of a referendum, certain proposals designed- to increase the powers of the Commonwealth to deal with post-war problems. Although, in my opinion, the Government is wise in seeking extended powers from the people, I hope that it will not approach this matter lightly, but will give serious thought to the proposals to be submitted to the electors. On many occasions the limitations imposed by the Constitution have seriously handicapped the government of the day. It is only reasonable to suppose that 42 years of federation should reveal some weaknesses in the Constitution, particularly when we reflect ‘ that it was drafted by mcn who were jealous to preserve the sovereign rights of the States. The framers of the Constitution did not foresee the spheres of activity in which the Commonwealth is now operating.- At the inception of federation it was said that the cost of a Commonwealth Government would not amount to more per head of the population than the price of a dog licence, and that the Commonwealth Government would merely take over four or five of the larger departments. In addition, it was never anticipated thatthe Commonwealth Government would intrude in the life of the individual as is the case to-day. I hope therefore, that when the time comes to submit proposals to the people by way of referendum the Government will not act on party lines, or set itself up as the sole arbiter of what questions shall be submitted to the people. The proposed referendum offers a unique opportunity to the Government to consult with all parties in the Parliament with a view to framing the vital questions involved in the extension of Common wealth powers.
– What greater powers are required by the Commonwealth than it now enjoys under the National Security Act?
– The honorable senator knows that the National Security Act will lapse twelve months after the war is over. However, that will be the time, when we are confronted with the great post-war problem of reconstruction, and the Commonwealth will need to be entirely free of constitutional handicaps which have restricted it in the past when it has attempted to deal with national matters on a Commonwealth-wide basis. I also request the Government to give an opportunity at the forthcoming referendum to the people to express their views on the abolition of State Parliaments, with a view to basing the future government of this country on the principle of unification.
– Does the honorable senator want to get rid of the Queensland Parliament?
– I am requesting that an opportunity be given to the people to say whether or not they desire the abolition of State parliaments, and the establishment of a more centralized form of government in this country. Any questions dealing with constitutional reform should not be relatedmerely to this Parliament, or to any particular government, but, on the contrary, full opportunity should be taken at the forthcoming referendum to carry constitutional reforms so that future national governments will be enabled to proceed with the development of this country, unhampered by the limitations imposed by the present Constitution. Therefore, I urge the Government to establish at the earliest opportunity a constitutional committee, consisting of representatives of all parties in the Parliament, to draw up the questionsto be submitted by way of referendum. In that way, we shall ensure that the proposals will not be put to the people on party political lines. Many questions which have been submitted by way of referendum in -the past should have been, and would have been, carried, had it not been for the fact that one party exclusively frames those questions, and thereby arouses the antagonism of other parties, which naturally felt bound for party political reasons to oppose them. Therefore, when the people are approached by way of referendum, let it be on a basis that will not give scope to what are known as State righters. On many occasions during the last two or three years, the impotency of State parliaments ina time of national emergency has been fully demonstrated. In such circumstances State governments particularly become employees of the national government, because it is necessary to have power more centralized. I make no apology for my belief in the policy of unification, or for the fact that I do not see eye to eye with some of my colleagues on the subject. The Commonwealth Government is seriously handicapped by the limitations imposed upon it by the Constitution as it now stands.
The dissatisfaction so caused is further aggravated by the fact that members of allied forces in this country are able to purchase Australian cigarettes and alcoholic liquors free of excise duty, and at the same time to purchase similar goods imported from their own country at a price much below that charged to the members of our own fighting services. Some men with whom I have come in contact recently are annoyed by the fact that the authorities controlling canteens increased charges on stocks which r-hey had on hand before the increased prices became operative.
– That is bad management on the part of those controlling the canteen.
– It is bad management on the part of the canteen’s board. Managers of camp canteens, in increasing charges on old stocks, acted on instructions. I urge the Government to place canteen charges on a reasonable basis. As honorable senators are aware, many of our camps are comparatively isolated. Consequently the little comforts which a soldier purchases at a canteen mean a great deal to him. However, the benefits of the increase of 6d. a day in the soldier’s pay has been, more than offset by the increased charges at canteens.
I now wish to comment upon the manner in which the Government is handling the production of oil at the Lakes Entrance field. Honorable senators may wonder why I should take up this matter, inasmuch as it hardly concerns an honorable senator from Queensland. However, when I was Minister for the Interior, “ I was instrumental in taking some action, with government approval, which gave to the people associated with this field the belief that at last they would be given an opportunity to produce a commodity which we so vitally need at present. Probably, honorable senators are aware that for 30 or 40 years many attempts have been made to interest the Government and the major oil companies in the production of oil on this field. The Oil Advisory Committee, which was established by the Commonwealth, furnished varied reports on the productivity of the field. At first, it led us to believe that the field was very valuable, indeed. Later, for reasons best known to members of the committee; it furnished a report expressing an opposite view. With the object of obtaining a really sound opinion as to whether oil exists in that area in payable quantities, the Government of which I was Minister for the Interior took further action. It came to our notice that in the United States of America a new process, known as horizontal boring, had been evolved. The Government invited two experts who had considerable experience in the production of oil by the new method to investigate the Lakes Entrance field. They were Mr. Ranney, an American expert, and Mr. Fairbank, a Canadian expert, who was also a member of a provincial parliament in the Dominion of Canada. It was at considerable expense that the services of those mcn were secured. They were supplied with all the available data concerning the field, with a view to enabling them to study this information on their way to Australia. As the result of their investigation, they reported that they were of opinion that oil existed in payable quantities at Lakes Entrance. Just about the time that that Government relinquished office, an agreement had been drawn up by my colleague, Senator McLeay, who was then Minister for Supply and Development. In that work, he had the assistance of the Government’s Chief Geological Adviser, Dr. Raggatt. The object of that agreement was to enable the field to be developed without further delay. Under it, the Government was to provide a certain sum of money, and also give certain guarantees which would enable the company to obtain more funds. There was no chance of the venture being used as a get-rich-quick scheme. That agreement provided safeguards adequately protecting the interests of the Government and the community. There was a handful of men in Victoria, particularly in the Lakes Entrance area, who had given years of their life to the search for oil.
– The syndicate itself, not the experts who came out here, suggested horizontal boring.
– The syndicate submitted to the Government certain suggestions as to obtaining experts in order to develop the field, and, as the result of discussion by Cabinet, it was decided to communicate with Mr. Casey, Australian Minister at Washington, to ascertain if it were possible to send experts here to #ive us an opinion as to whether or not the field was worth developing. On the report we received there appears to be no doubt whatsoever that this was a field in which valuable oil was present in large quantities. We, therefore, proposed to develop the system of boring £ have described, and to enter into a partnership with the syndicate on lines somewhat similar to those operating in connexion with other institutions in which the Government is interested, or else to advance money to the syndicate under suitable guarantees. Although this was practically a year ago, I am now advised that little or no progress has been made with the project. There has been apparently a complete breakdown in negotiations between the Government and the syndicate, because the Government desires to insert in the agreement a clause whereby it can take over the small equity which it was prepared to leave to the syndicate, to socialize the whole industry, and to swallow up the undertaking, and give the syndicate no say in the matter at all.
– The Government has to find the money, and naturally wants security for it.
– We made ample provision to protect the Government.
– The honorable senator and his colleagues may have thought so, but we do not think so.
– The trouble with the members of the present Government is that they do not think enough. It is because they do not think before they act that it has been necessary on at least a dozen occasions for the Opposition to put them right. During the last twelve months they have frequently had to change their policy because they do not think enough before they start. Examples of that are the 4 per cent, limitation of profits, and the taxation of the joint incomes of husband and wife. Probably without thinking what they were going to do, they set out to do things, and it was only because members of the Opposition, both here and in the House of Representatives, showed them the practical impossibility of doing them that they mended their ways. One of our objects in speaking here this evening is to assist the Government to think on sounder and better lines, so that the war effort may be advantaged by our suggestions. I urge that this matter be delayed no longer. I need not emphasize the value of oil to this country, and the tremendous help that its production in Australia would be to our war effort. I therefore say to the Government, “ Be fair and get on with this undertaking; but do not attempt to give effect to your policy of socialization, on which one or two Minister are continually harping, by trying it out first on the oil industry “.
I think I can say, with safety, that during the twelve months that this Government has been in office, it has had fair support and assistance from honorable senators on this side. So far as I am concerned, I have given it every possible support to ensure the carrying on of the war effort. That support will be continued by those on this side so long as the Government acts on sound lines. But if it is going to make Australia run the risk of inflation, as it is doing by its proposals in the budget, it is time that we in opposition made our position clear, and forced the Government to stand up to its responsibilities. Furthermore, if the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), a Minister with responsibilities and immense power entrusted to him, makes statements, such as he has been making lately, about carrying out the socialization policy of Labour, honorable senators on this side will not put up with it. His recent suggestion that employers generally in industry were not pulling their weight, and that only the employees were doing their job, was a sneer there was no need for him to make. I know many men engaged in industry whose whole life has been changed, and many of whom have lost their businesses, because of the policy of the Government. Others have had their businesses reduced to practically nothing, but they do not complain, because they say it is part of their contribution to the war effort. It ill becomes the Minister for Labour and National Service to make such a gratuitous sneer against employers as a whole. Many of them work up to sixteen hours a day i-n their factories, supervising the output of material which is valuable to Australia, and they do it uncomplainingly. There may he a few black sheep on both sides; but, generally speaking, the employers of industry have responded Wonderfully to the appeal of the Government for help in the production of essential materials. In conclusion, I urge the Government not to go on with some of their budget proposals, but to reinforce the means of finding the necessary money by adopting what was suggested by the Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses, that is, to provide for a fuller scheme of rationing, to ensure that a lot of the easy money nl present being wasted is turned into channels of Government activity, to introduce a scheme of compulsory loans as advocated by the ex-Treasurer, and to encourage the discovery and production of oil in Australia.
– After listening to several speeches on rationing and inflation, I propose to deal with something more concrete. To start where Senator Foll concluded a few moments ago,. I contend that man-power is one of the problems confronting Australia. Not only is the Captain’s Flat mine, in. which the honorable senator has told us he is personally interested, short of man-power, but every line of industry is affected, and every body is calling for extra man-power. I wish to deal first of all with the way in which the shortage of man-power is affecting the rural production of Australia generally, and is likely to affect the rural outlook throughout the Commonwealth more and more seriously as time goes on. The majority of farms throughout Australia are being seriously affected by many causes, one of which is the shortage of man-power mentioned by Senator Foll, another is the shortage of fertilizers, which neither this nor any other Government has the power to rectify, and a third is the shortage of materials such as wire, wire netting, galvanized iron, timber, machinery and facilities for machinery repairs. The absence of facilities to keep a farm in operation tends to depreciate the value of its productive capacity. In spite of all that, and in spite of the crisis with which we are faced, in order to save the nation from a shortage of food supplies we have had to follow the policy supported by the Opposition when in power, by a system of fixing prices, controlling production,’ and getting away from the old orthodox system of supply and demand. In starting to control prices and production, the Labour party is not bringing something new into operation.
– Does the honorable senator believe in the law of supply an I demand ?
– Definitely not. As I said. Labour to-day is in that regard carrying out the policy that was supported by its predecessors, and that has proved most successful in the greatest crisis with which Australia has been confronted. In spite of this, properties throughout Australia are still deteriorating, and, no matter what government was in power to-day, it could not rectify the position, for the reasons I have previously stated. Seeing that we have to control production and .prices to ensure the supplies that the country needs, it is evident that we have adopted a policy that is here to stay if this country is to progress. This war is teaching us something at least, and that is that the old orthodox system of supply and demand is of no use at a time of national crisis. ‘Going back a little further, I can point to two instances where the orthodox system was ineffective at a. time of financial crisis. Let me go back to 192:9, and study the position at that time and several years later. We were then working under the system of supply and demand and we were flooded with low prices. Low prices for farm products result in farmers losing tha: capital, buildings and fences are not maintained, and soil fertility is lost; the farm decreases in value, and farmers and the nation’s capital is destroyed. The destruction of capital, when it ha.” reached a certain point, means social revolution. Countries without capital invariably become totalitarian, because that is the only way they can keep going. J.n 1929 we were on the very verge of entering into a state of totalitarianism. The only thing that helped us out was the possibility of war. We had low prices, and many farmers from one end of Australia to the other were ruined. Some walked off their farms because of low prices, their farms went to ruin, and the country’s capital was being destroyed.
– What about the workers ?
– Is there any greater worker than the farmer? I am surprised that the honorable senator who is himself a farmer draws a distinction between farmers and workers. Does he not profess to be a worker as well? As I have said, low prices brought about the ruin of thousands of farmers, and then as the war clouds rolled up, pros-, perity started to return, workers went back into production, and once more capital went into circulation. With an increased amount of capital in circulation, more people were able to buy the goods that were produced, and once again prices rose because of the restricted production brought about by the depression. Then, as soon as prices increased, there was a glut of production. To illustrate my argument, I point out that were it not for the control of prices to-day the price of certain farm products would be absolutely beyond the reach of working-class people. Immediately the price of commodities gets beyond the purchasing capacity of the people, there is a decreased demand, with a consequent drop in prices. ‘So, we have the spectacle of prices rising and falling in cycles. On the one hand the farmers are driven from their farms, and on the other, consumers are short of essential foodstuffs because of the lack of balance in supply and demand. That balance can be brought about only by controlling the price, production and distribution of all farm products. As an illustration of how such control can benefit an industry, I draw the attention of honorable senators to conditions in the sugar industry in Queensland. That industry is controlled both as regards production and price. Every grower knows how much sugar he is permitted to produce, and what remuneration he will receive for his product when it is put on the market. The Queensland sugargrowers would not countenance a return of the old system on any account. When the war started the Commonwealth Government found it necessary to apply price control to many other primary products including wheat, barley, wool, butter, cheese, meats, potatoes and other vegetables. Only a few primary products are not now subject to price control. Had control of farm products not been exercised we would be short of some lines to-day whilst there would be an over-abundance of other foodstuffs which would be of no use to us. If such control can operate successfully during the greatest crisis in our history, surely it can operate with equal or more success in time of peace and so provide some measure of stabilization for rural industries throughout the Commonwealth. I agree that prices must be stabilized at a figure that will give to the farmers an adequate remuneration for their labour, and enable them to pay at least the basic wage to their employees, with margins for skill where necessary. Our secondary industries provide a striking example of how industrial development can be bolstered up against the law of supply and demand. If it were not for excise duties, customs duties, and protective tariff.* generally, how many secondary industries would we have in Australia to-day? These secondary industries are one of the greatest blessings ever conferred upon this country. Without them we would hr> in a serious position, and the organization of our war production would have taken much longer than it has. In addition, our expanding secondary industries have been a valuable source of employment. To-day almost every industry in this country has been stabilized with th, exception of rural industries.
– But the honorable senator wishes to socialize them does he not?
– There is no need to socialize them immediately in order to put them on a stabilized basis. I point out, however, that had there been some restriction of monopolies in past, years it would not have be-m possible for two or three huge concerns to obtain control of almost all our secondary industries as they have done, and we would be in a much sounder position industrially than we arc to-day. Our rural industries can be stabilized by controlling production and prices so that the farmer, his wife and family, and his employees, will be on an equal footing so far as wages are concerned, with the factory manager and industrial workers. I see no reason why a factory manager should be in a better position so far as income, privileges, and social standards are concerned, than the manager of a station, or the farmer who manages his own property and produces food for the nation. After all, without the rural industries, no other industry could exist in this country. The rural industries could exist without the secondary industries and without the towns and cities if need be, but the secondary industries could not continue without rural production. Nobody can deny that the primary producer is at the back of every industry in this country. “When this war has been brought to a successful conclusion - I do not say “ if “, because I am confident of the outcome - our farms will be by no means in the same condition as they were when the war started. Their productive capacity will have deteriorated considerably, because of the lack of fertilizer and such capital assets as fences, buildings, &c., will be in a state of disrepair. Therefore, when the war is over, whatever government is in power will be faced with the difficult problem of restoring farm properties to their pre-war standard of production and efficiency. That will be one avenue of employment for the surplus labour which will be offering. However, the restoration of the farms must not be accomplished under a loan system, which would place a heavy burden of interest upon the farmers. A plan must be devised whereby any primary producer whose farm has deteriorated due to war conditions will be able to place his case before a special committee or board which will assess the deterioration. In some cases, where farmers have been hard hit, it may be necessary to make straightout grants to have the reconstruction work done under supervision. Farms which are in production to-day are playing a most vital part in our war economy, and it is not the fault of the farmers that plant is deteriorating. I have no doubt that in the case of the secondary industries plant will be restored to its pre-war efficiency without delay, and every effort must be made to see that the same treatment is applied to the farms, whether it be done by means of special grants, interest-free loans, or straight-out gifts.
– What about post-war credits? They would make provision for reconstruction.
– Honorable senators opposite are raising a hue and cry about the danger of inflation through too much credit, but now they seem to favour issuing more credits for the reconstruction of farm properties. Would that also not lead to inflation? In my opinion, inflation is impossible so long as production, profits and prices are controlled.
– That cannot be done if inflation occurs.
– ‘Our aim is to prevent inflation by adopting the system which I have just outlined to the Senate. One does not have to consult a medical adviser to know that prevention is better than cure. Therefore, to honorable senators opposite who ask how the Government intends to bridge the gap in our war finance, I say that that problem does not trouble us because so long as we can control prices we have no fear of inflation. The Opposition’s proposal for bridging the gap is the taxing of lower incomes and the introduction of a system of compulsory loans. The more loans we raise during this war the greater will be the financial difficulties not only during the progress of the war but also after it. Those who are now fighting for us, and those engaged in the production of food and munitions, will be called upon to pay interest on the money to be borrowed. Such a. policy would spell ruin to Australia for centuries. If the Government adopts a borrowing policy, whether it raises compulsory loans with interest or voluntary loans-
– That is the policy of the present Government..
– I cannot help it if my views are in conflict with those of the Government, but I point out that this Ministry will not borrow so extensively as the Opposition would like it to do. Members of the Opposition claim that the Government should collect increased income tax from persons in the lowerincome groups and that the balance should be raised by loans, even if compulsion be necessary. There is only one way in which to bridge the gap when taxation and loans fail, unless we are to tie a stone around the necks of future generations, and that is by the issue of bank credit, but it must be properly controlled. How much of the £300,000,000 required could be obtained by taxing more heavily people on the lower-income groups? It would be only a drop in the ocean. During the depression, persons on the lower incomes had little or nothing. Now they are receiving a little by way of reward for their labour, but the Opposition wishes to screw them down again and make them pay for the war effort. I ask honorable senators opposite whether the “ underdog “ is ever to receive fair treatment. They cannot get a “ go “ when wages are at a reasonable level, and they cannot do any good for themselves when wages are low. Are they to be crushed all the time? I do not favour taxing more heavily than at present the people on the lower incomes even by means of indirect taxation, because I think that we have already gone to the limit, if not a little too far. There are otherways in which we can save the nation from some of the financial burdens with which it is confronted.
We have established new industries in Australia that are essential to the war effort, and one of them is the flax industry. I have dealt with this subject previously, but I now propose to furnish information to the Senate which will open the eyes of members of the Opposition who were in power when I took up the matter of the racket in this industry. For the first season the industry showed a loss of £146,761, with the price of topline fibre at £220 or £240 a ton. In order to balance the ledger it would have been necessary for the Commonwealth Government to have obtained in the vicinity of over £400 a ton for its line fibre. That is a matter that the present Government will have to rectify. The figures that I have given do not take into account the capital outlay and the cost of plant, but only the costs paid out for raw material and wages, plus interest on capital. The Flax Production Committee submitted the following items for the 1940-41 season: Line fibre, £118,630; tow, £41,180; seed, chaff and miscellaneous items, £107,499; and straw on hand, partly processed, £7,412.
– - When did the season end?
– On the 30th November, 1941. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development obtain for me more details as to the miscellaneous item totalling £107,499 ? I asked a question previously regarding flax tow or partly processed straw, which was stacked throughout Victoria and Tasmania. There were thousands ofbales in paddocks and sheds. According to evidence given before the Joint Committee on Rural Industries by the chairman of the Flax Production Committee, by putting that straw through a rolling plant or decorticating machine, a tow could be produced which would sell at from £40 to £60 a ton; but he sold that tow at 50s. a ton, which, he said, when previously giving evidence before the joint committee, was all that it was worth. I should also like to know what the amount of £7,412 actually represents.
According to an answer I received to a question, straw under 21 inches in length was to be put through a threshing machine and afterwards put out to ret, for the purpose of producing tow, but that is all “hooey”. At Strathkellar, 180 tons of straw was taken from a threshing machine; but afterwards the Flax Production Committee could not ret it or get tow out of it, and consequently it was burnt. When flax below 21 inches in length is put through a threshing machine, I want to know what is to be done with it. If it is put out to ret it willin patches rot to pieces. In view of the evidence given before the joint committee by the chairman of the Flax Production Committee and his mill managers, I wish to know whether we want the flax industry to succeed or whether any efforts are being made to cause it to fail. I wish to know why the decorticating plant is not being used, and why such a plant was not sent to Tasmania and some parts of Victoria in order to treat straw, of which there are thousands of bales, if a commodity worth ?60 a ton could be produced from it, as the joint committee was assured by the Flax Production Committee. It has been proved that there are machines that can treat straw below 22 inches in length and produce a commodity worth up to ?100 a ton. I shall have more to say on the subject of flax later if I do not hear a ministerial explanation that will throw more light on this matter.
Referring to the supply of carrots to the Department of Supply and Development, Melbourne, at ?12 10s. a ton f.o.b. Tasmania, I desire to know whether the department requires carrots for processing purposes. Shipping space is scarce and valuable, yet a factory in Hobart that is not fully supplied with carrots for processing purposes is doing its best to get them, but the department will offer only ?9 a ton for them. In the question that I submitted to the Government on this matter I did not ask anything about the guaranteed prices for next year. I merely asked why the department, which .was purchasing carrots to be processed by Henry Jones and Company Proprietary Limited for the department, was not prepared to pay ?12 10s. a ton, the price it was paying for a similar article in Melbourne. It is not correct to say that the factory in Hobart is working on carrots that have been frozen in order to keep it in operation. That factory is idle for the want of carrots, which are being sent to Melbourne. Processed carrots would not occupy the shipping space that would be required in conveying carrots from Tasmania to Melbourne in the raw state. Moreover, 40 tons of carrots to the acre were left to rot in the ground, notwithstanding that there was a shortage.
The man-power of Australia has to be organized with a view to supplying all phases of industry. That, means that, in addition to maintaining the fighting strength of our forces, wc must have mcn to manufacture munitions, and provide food. Australia’s total population is fewer than 8,000,000 people, and one of the nations we are fighting has a population of over 90,000,000 people.
Senator Foll said that the manpower authorities had fallen down on their job because mcn could not be obtained for such an essential industry as the mine at Captain’s Flat. That, however, is the position throughout Australia. The difficulty is to maintain an even balance. Every man in Australia should serve where he can be of most use, but I would not leave the decision to an old, worn-out general who is in his second childhood and cannot make a speech in this chamber, but has to have it written out for him. lie does not know where men can render the best service. I admit that the honorable senator was a great general in his day, but he seems to have overlooked the fact that he i* getting old. He has cast a slur on honorable senators on this side of the chamber, some of whom are working up to twelve hours a day or more in the interests of the nation. The honorable senator, who is not in u position to judge of the value of their services, said that there were at least half a dozen men on the Government side of the chamber who could serve their country better in uniform in some phase of war work than in Parliament. I am the second youngest man in this chamber, but perhaps the honorable senator does not know that I offered my services to the Army authorities for the defence of Australia and they were refused. My only child is a pilot officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, and is prepared to go anywhere in the world in the service of his country.. When Parliament is not sitting, I am working up to twelve hours a day. The old gentleman who ha3 cast this slur on other honorable senators could not follow me for one week in what I am doing, and therefore it ill becomes him to criticize others just ‘because they are not in uniform. I could be in uniform, drawing military pay, in addition to my parliamentary allowance, and no doubt I, like some other members of this Parliament, could obtain leave to attend Parliament without causing much inconvenience. Although I am not in uniform, I consider that I am rendering greater service to my country than if I were in uniform and could walk out of my military job whenever I desired in order to attend Parliament because of the unimportant nature of my so-called military duties. No man who is doing his job properly as a representative of the electors in this Parliament can also serve in the Army and do that job properly. That is my reply to the remarks of an honorable senator who has forgotten that age is creeping on him.
Debate (on motion by Senator James McLachlan) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator KEANE) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
Freedom of the Press - Soldiers Dependants’” Appeal Organization - Free Legal Advice for Soldiers. Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed’ -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Honorable senators may have seen in the press recently evidence of an agitation by journalists and newspaper proprietors on the subject of the freedom of the press. Some people do not realize the difference between liberty and license. When I was in Sydney a few days ago, I saw an advertisement that the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald would give an address in St. Stephens Hall on Sunday afternoon. I went along because I knew that Mr. McClure Smith is a man of culture. He spoke for about 40 minutes on the subject advertised. He spoke of Plato, Socrates and Euripides, and of the value which the ancients placed on the freedom of speech. He told his audience that through the centuries the fight for that freedom had been carried on with a considerable measure of success. As the advertisement referred to a forum, I thought that somebody in the audience would ask some questions. As no one else did so, 1 approached the chairman and having said that I had listened with pleasure to the cultured address I asked permission to say a few words. The chairman said that the meeting would end at 4 o’clock, and asked if I could say what I wanted to say in two or three minutes. I spoke truthfully when I said I could not do so. He then said that he would try to provide me with an opportunity to speak at a later date. Subsequently at Tattersalls Club, I met Mr. Brian Penton, whom I know well. He gave me a cordial shake of the hand, and asked whether I was in the Senate when representatives of the newspaper with which he is associated were excluded from its precincts. I explained that, for the first time in my parliamentary experience, I had missed a meeting of the Senate because the aeroplane by which I was to travel from Tasmania did not keep to schedule on account of rough weather. When he asked me if I believed in the freedom of the press, I answered “ Yes “. He then asked me to write a letter to his newspaper to that effect, but I replied, “Not on your life. I have spoken in front of your representatives for four years on the subject of finance, which I believe is the most important subject that the Senate could discuss, but your newspaper has not published a line of what I had said “. He left me, saying that he would see me again. Next morning, I sent to him a letter somewhat as follows: “Dear Mr. Penton: Referring to our conversation last night about the freedom of the press; I believe in the freedom of the press to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the political situation, the war situation and everything of national interest and concern. But what do I find? Politically, the press is strictly partisan. It will never report me. The press sticks only to the party which it represents in politics. Any one else will not get a hearing. That is the freedom of the press.” I told him that when the Argus newspaper was formed into a company a few years ago, its overdraft was shown at £224,000. Consequently, one can easily understand the financial policy of the Argus. I asked whether this man’s newspaper was in the same category. I told him that the overdraft is a potent weapon in the hands of the banks. It enables the banks ho tell the newspapers what they shall say. The press never has been, and never will be, free so long as the overdraft can be dangled over their head. As honorable senators know, I live in Hobart. For some years, I have been trying to get a few lines published in the Mercury, but without success. I give the following facts in order to show the prejudice and unreasonable attitude which the Mercury adopts towards me. Some weeks ago the Hobart Repertory Theatre, an amateur body, staged a play entitled “ The Man Who Came to Dinner “. Later, when I went to Melbourne I met some friends who took me along to this play, which was being staged by a professional company. My friends enjoyed the production, but I have no hesitation in saying that the performance of the principal man in that play, an English comedian, was not to. be compared with, the acting of the principal man in the Hobart amateur production. He spoke too quickly, with the result, that the smart dialogue, which is the most enjoyable feature of the production, was hardly audible. When I returned to Hobart I told a member of the repertory society of this experience. He suggested that it would be very nice if I sent a few lines about the local production to the Mercury. This little body really represents the culture of Hobart. It now owns a little theatre, and is very active. Acting on my friend’s suggestion, I wrote a report consisting of about a dozen lines, and submitted it to the Mercury ; but owing to the prejudice of that paper against me. the report was never published. This repertory society has been in existence for about twelve years, and in that period it has raised hundreds of pounds for charitable purposes, and, in recent times, for war purposes.
Right through the centuries people have fought for freedom of speech. Such names as Hampden and Pym come to the mind. In this fight many men lost their liberty, others’ their estates, and others their heads. The newspapers exercise a strong influence in the moulding of public opinion. How often have we heard a person who makes a strange statement and is contradicted, say, in order to clench an argument, “ it must be right. I saw it in the paper”. Such people never seem to realize the motive behind press statements. In every country the press is strictly partisan and backs one political party, misrepresenting, or ignoring, other parties. There is no such thing as freedom of the press. The big armament firms own their own press and radio. By these means they can sway public opinion, and make and unmake governments. Of course, we know that the press should tell the truth and nothing but the truth; but it is hard to get the truth from a prejudiced press. I know of a case of a man in Melbourne who used to write for a diocesan paper. His church was advocating “ social justice now “. After he had published several articles a note came from the banks to the particular paper that the articles must StOP. As the head of the church was absent at the time, this gentleman reluctantly stopped writing the articles. When the former returned he told the gentleman to continue with the articles. That church leader, whom I thought to be so fearless that he could not be bluffed by the banks, was Dr. Mannix. Later, he got a note from the banks, and as the result he informed the editor that he would have to stop the articles. So disgusted was the gentleman concerned that, he gave up his position. When I was in Brisbane some time ago the Catholic Church was observing what was known as Social Justice Sunday. I was shown a pamphlet dealing with the matter, and I was asked for my comments on it. I replied, “ There ia no chance of social justice now, or at any time, so long as the present monetary system endures, because, that is the cause of all social injustice “. The churchman to whom I was speaking replied, “ Since I came to this diocese I have expended £2,000 000, mostly by overdrafts from the banks “. Honorable senators will thus see that the banks can silence even the church. On another occasion, I visited a parish in which a church and a school valued at £30,000 had been built. The school was only half completed. I said to the Archbishop, “Your Grace, you are spending a lot of” money here. Where do you get if from?” His Grace replied that it wa.= a rich district. However, the school is only half completed, and the parish authorities know that if they dare to criticize the monetary system the banks will stop their overdraft. Again I say that even the church can be muzzled by the banks.
The press can lower the dignity of Parliament. It can point the finger of scorn at either branch of the legislature. By doing so it really helps to establish a dictatorship, because by such criticism it says, in effect, “ Well, there is democracy for you “. Such criticism saps the foundation of democratic government. I was indeed glad to learn that the Senate bad dealt appropriately with the offending newspaper, and I hope that representatives of that journal will be excluded from the precincts of Parliament until the paper apologizes to the Senate.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army if the Minister would give instructions that the Soldiers Dependants’ Appeal Organization- in Western Australia be supplied with the names and addresses of dependants of men killed on service in order, that it may continue to do the work it has been doing. Sue]] information was made available in the early days of the war, when General Durrant was in command in that State. To my question the Assistant Minister replied -
The work of the Soldiers Dependants’ Appeal Organization (Western Australian War Patriotic Fund) lias no official connexion with the Department of the Army and records of its work are not maintained.
The request of this organization to be furnished with the names and addresses of next-of-kin of members of the forces who become casualties has received consideration at intervals over the last two years, but although it is desired to render philanthropic bodies all possible help, it is regretted that the decision already given, that this information cannot be divulged to such organizations, cannot be varied.
I submit that full consideration has not been given to this matter. I quote the following letter which I received recently from the secretary of this organization : -
As you no doubt are aware, the public of Western Australia very generously responded to our appeal for funds to enable us to grant assistance to all dependants of our fighting forces who from time to time might find themselves in necessitous circumstances. With the increase in the military allotments the average dependant is now reasonably well off, but the plight of widows and dependent children is still acute. A large number of widows have had very little business experience, and as a result find themselves in difficulties when they have to face up to their altered conditions. On my committees we have honorary solicitors who can attend to all legal matters Which confront such people, estate agents and accountants who arc able to advise on real estate and financial matters, and numerous other gentlemen who are only too anxious to assist in any problems which might face such widows.
When this fund was first inaugurated, the State Government accepted responsibility for the payment of the clerical staff necessary to carry out the executive work of the organization, as it was realized that the organization would have to play a very important part in advising and caring for dependants of men who left home with the fighting forces. At the start of operations we interviewed General Durrant, and explained to him the aims and objects of the fund, and requested that he authorize the Records Office to keep us supplied with the names and addresses of dependants of mcn who were killed on service. This information was provided for a time, and in a number of cases we were able to provide much needed advice and assistance.
At a later date word was received that the supplying of this information was to be discontinued, and although we have made repeated representations to the various Ministers at Canberra, we have not yet been successful in having the information again provided.
Another phase of this subject” relates to the provision of free legal advice to soldiers. Recently the following paragraph appeared in the West Australian : -
Considerable misunderstanding is said to have arisen about the offer of solicitors who aTe members of the Law Society to help soldiers and their dependants. An officer of the Australian Military Forces said on Saturday that members of the Law Society had undertaken to prepare wills and simple powers of attorney for soldiers free of charge, lint could not undertake to advise them generally on such matters as their marital relations and the management of their properties. The Soldiers Dependants’ Appeal Committee at the C’.T.A. Building, Perth, was willing to assist deserving dependants of soldiers in distress. In matters of difficulty the secretary referred to members of the legal profession, who assisted him free of charge.
The Law Society “ passes the buck “in this matter. When one solicitor to whom a case is referred cannot handle it, he returns it, and it is referred to another solicitor. Thus considerable delay is caused. At the same time, the firm of Kott and Lalor has attended free of charge to over 250 eases referred to them. The principal of that firm served in the last war, and his partner is now a prisoner in Malaya. On the 9th September I received the following letter from the secretary of the organization: -
It would appear that the Law Society of Western Australia is now only prepared to do a very limited amount of work for soldiers and their dependants, with a result that quite a number have gone back to the military authorities for advice.
A few days ago one of the legal men at Francis-street communicated with me and explained that it was almost an impossibility for their legal staff to cope with the inquiries that were being received. I therefore, on behalf of my committee, agreed to handle as far as possible all cases of soldiers and their dependants. You will recollect that the legal firm of Messrs. Kott and Lalor do all our work and are agreeable to co-operate in this latest arrangement. Probably this latest announcement may carry weight when you submit your case to the Minister about legal advice being provided by Messrs. Kott and Lalor.
ReNames and Addresses of Widows. - A typical case was brought to my notice during the week of a widow, whose husband was killed bverseas. Prior to enlistment the husband was selling a small property on terms and buying another residence for his family. When he died it was found that he had left a small insurance policy which his wife had no difficulty in collecting, but complications arose whenthe final instalment had been paid on the property that was being sold. The widow was not aware that probate had to be obtained and as a result matters have been left in abeyance for threeor four months. Only during the last three days did the woman become aware that my fund could assist her, so she called in. We are taking steps to obtain probate of the will so that the widow will be able to transfer the property, which was sold to the rightful owner. Had we been supplied with the name and address of this widow no doubt we would have finalized her case months ago and thus saved her a considerable amount of worry.
As you know we are endeavouring to get as much publicity from the papers as possible to let soldiers’ dependants and widows know of our activities, but unfortunately those who are most in need never seem to see the paragraphs.
I think this case may also help you in persuading the Minister to provide the information about widows and children of men killed onservice.
I have been down there often, as has Senator Allan MacDonald, and we both know the wonderful work these people do for the soldiers’ wives and relatives. I have been supplied with the following information from the report, by the chairman of the Soldiers Dependants’ Appeal Organization on the activities of the relief and associated committees from the 1st July. 1941, to the 30th June, 1942 : -
The constitution provided that assistance should be limited to members of the Naval Board, the Australian Imperial Force, the Air Board, and nurses, but in November last it was widened to include the dependants of merchant seamen, who came within the scope of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowance Act. Subsequently, on the 7th April last, it was still further widened to include the dependants of all members of the fighting forces on full-time duty, provided they are not eligible to receive assistance from other funds.
For the period under review, 1,117 applications , were received, of which 865 covered requests for assistance under one or other of the headings which will be subsequently referred to, and 252 requested legal assistance or advice. Of this total, 948 were from residents in the metropolitan area and 169 from the country:884 claims were approved, 193 rejected, and 40 are still pending finalization. Since the inception of the fund, approximately two years ago, 1,792 families submitted 2,255 requests for assistance - of which 1,873 were granted, 342 rejected, and 40 are in abeyance pending finalization.
Dependants’ Allowances: Since the outbreak of war, dependants’ allowances have been increased on two occasions. At the commencement, a wife and two children received a minimum allowance of £2 16s. per week, which rate operated up to the end of 1940. Then a domestic allowance of1s. a day was granted to wives with children, and an extra 6d. for each child, thus making the income of the wife and two children, £3 10s. against £2 10s. Those figures operated until the 7th November. 1941, when a further increase was granted to both the soldier and dependants. As from this date, the minimum allowance for a wife and two children was increased to £4 0s. 6d. a week. This sum, together with the grant of 5s. child endowment (which is paid to mothers with more than one child under sixteen years of age) increased the family income for the wife and two children to £46s. 6d. a week as against the original amount of £2 16s. payable at the outbreak of war.
I mention these facts in detail as they have a direct hearing on the type of expenditure which the relief committees have authorized during the period under review, as is shown by the following figures. The number of orders issued for the twelve months is as under: - Clothing, footwear, layettes. &c. -
The amount expended under the various relief headings for the period from the commencement of the fund to the 30th June, 1941, and the twelve months ended 30th June, 1942, is as under : -
Clothing, footwear, layettes, &c. -
A special mention should be made in connexion with the hospital assistance. This represents relief to 176 families - and whilst £620 8s. was expended, owing to the special concessions granted to this fund by the Government subsidized institutions, the total relief to dependants amounts to £1,430 12s. 6d. In other words, further relief amounting to £804 4s. 6d. over and above the actual amount expended.
– The answer supplied to the honorable senator was compiled because of the request to allow certain Army information to he conveyed to legal practitioners who are not members of the forces, but in view of the honorable senator’s further representations and the fact that, according to him, there was a delay in arriving at decisions owing to the lack of legal assistance to relatives of deceased soldiers,I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) and see whether or not we can add to the number of officers required in Western Australia to facilitate this work or, on the other hand, allow these people to do the work in an honorary capacity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Customs Act - Proclamations prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of -
Calves’ veils; Rennet (dated 25th June, 1942).
Coffee; Rice; Phenol formaldehyde moulding powders and goods wholly or partly manufactured therefrom; Goods manufactured wholly or in part of synthetic resin (dated 2nd September, 1942).
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 363.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Point Cook, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Williamtown, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Nationality Act - Regulations - Statutory
Rules 1942, No. 382.
National Security Act -
National Security (Fertilizer Control) Regulations - Order - Fertilizer (Restriction of Sales).
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Bread Control (South Australia), and (Victoria).
Bread Industry (New South Wales), (Queensland), (Tasmania), (Victoria), and (Western Australia).
Control of -
Clothing (Feminine outerwear), (Knitted outerwear), (Knitted underwear ) , ( Male outerwear ) , (Men’s half hose), and (Women’s, Maids’ and Children’s hosiery ) .
Essential articles (Materials) (3).
Materials (Clothing and other goods ) ( 5 ) .
Retail delivery of commodities (2).
Sale of meat (2). “
Woven woollen materials (Civil needs) .
Dry cleaning industry.
Employment of outdoor selling agents (South Australia).
Milk vendors (Geelong), (South Australia), and (Tasmania).
Prohibited Places (3).
Prohibiting work on bind (18).
Prohibition of non-essential production (10).
Taking possession of land,&c., (346). Use of land (76).
Wholesale butter trade control (South Australia).
National Security (Land Transport) Regulations - Order Nos. 5, 8.
National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders - Protected undertakings (70).
National Security (Potatoes) Regulations - Order No. 7.
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Order - Prisoners of War Camp (No. 4).
National Security (Vegetable Seeds) Regulations - Notice - Returns of Vegetable Seeds.
Senate Adjourned at 10. 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 September 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1942/19420916_senate_16_172/>.