16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Preference to Returned Soldiers
– Will the Leader of the Senate state whether, in view of the fact that the definition of the words “ returned soldier “, in application to the present war, admits of diverse interpretation, the Government will seriously consider the matter as a preliminary to an amendment of the preference sections of the Commonwealth Public Service Act of 1922, so that they will cover discharged members of the fighting services ?
– The Government is considering the matter.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Sugar - International Agreement - Operative clauses of Protocol signed in London, 22nd July, 1942.
This protocol was signed in London on 22nd July, 1942, by representatives of the Governments of the Union of South Africa, Commonwealth of Australia, Brazil, Belgium, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Cuba, Czechoslovakia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the United States of America, including the Philippines. The effect of the protocol is to give full force and effect to the original agreement as on and from the 1st September, 1937, and to extend the provisions of the agreement for a period of two years from the 31st August, 1942. The International Sugar Agreement was of great value to world sugar producers before the war, and, although its operation during the war has been, and will continue to he, rather nominal, the maintenance of the agreement and the adherence thereto of as many contracting governments as possible will probably ensure that Australia shall retain its basic export quota after the war.
Private Banking Services - Note Issue
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for War Organization of Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for War Organization of Industry has supplied the following answer: -
The information is being obtained by the Minister for Trade and Customs, towhom the Director of Rationing is responsible.
Assistance by Private Members.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice - ‘
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
No feesare paid but travelling expenses at the rate of £2 2s. per day are allowed to honorable members employed as above under the following general conditions: - When absent from theirhome on such business except in Canberra on days when Parliament is sitting; on an hourly basis; and when transport provided includes subsistence quarter rates only are paid. In addition car or special travelling facilities as necessary are provided for members and payment is made of any outofpocket expenses unavoidably incurred by members in their home town.
Debate resumed from 18th September (vide page 522), on motion by Senator Keane -
That the following papers be printed: -
Estimates of 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 I obtained leave on Friday last to continue my remarks I was pointing out the controls which the Government is exercising in order to avoid a period of inflation. However, I can visualize a period of inflation in this country which would he a nightmare to any government exercising only the limited powers now possessed by the Commonwealth, and, therefore, I am pleased that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) indicated in his speech that the Government had foreseen such a possibility and had decided to introduce legislation providing for Constitution alterations. Honorable senators would do well to visualize the situation which will confront us whenthe war has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. There will be possibly 500,000 or 600,000 members of the armed and ancillary forces, in addition to large numbers of workers in munitions and other war factories, whose war-time activities will have ceased. It will be necessary to revert to peace-time conditions as quickly as possible and with the least degree of disturbance. Persons in each of those groups will have at their disposal a considerable sum represented by their savings; the men in the fighting forces will have their deferred pay, whilst others who have put their money in the savings bank, or have invested it in war loan3 or in war savings certificates, will have at their command a considerable sum of money in the aggregate. The controls which the Government is now exercising under national security powers will not be exercisable twelve months after tha cessation of hostilities. I visualize a wild scramble to buy whatever goods are then available; and unless adequate checks exist, there will be a period when prices will soar. There is even the possibility of Australia undergoing a similar experience to that of Germany after the war of 1914-18. It is well that the Government, foreseeing such difficulties, proposes to provide the necessary safeguards.
The Government is acting wisely in preparing for the reconstruction period after the war. “While the war is raging desperately, so close to Australia, the dangers of the post-war period are not obvious to most people; but the risks are so great that the problems of that period should be considered now. It is understandable that, with an enemy thundering almost at our door, the thoughts and energies of the people should be directed towards the country’s war effort; but I suggest that it would be fatal to allow all planning for post-war reconstruction to remain in abeyance until after the peace has been signed. We can approach the problems of the post-war peace in either of two ways: We may plan to get back to something like the situation which existed before the war, with people at work and various organizations functioning much as before; or we may plan to make the world a better place for people to live in. If we choose to plan for a better world, we should be thinking about the. matter now. During recent months the Government has given in creased attention to post-war planning. Honorable senators will recall that about twelve or eighteen months ago the Department of Labour and National Service set up an organization which has done some preliminary work in connexion with postwar planning. I suggest, however, that the present set-up of that organization is not the be3t that could be devised. It provides for an inter-departmental committee which is responsible to a subcommittee of Cabinet. The interdepartmental committee will be supplied with data by various other committees.
– Including the Tariff Board.
– Yes; in its own sphere that body is doing an excellent job. I have no complaint against the committees that have been set up, but 1 fear that the inter-departmental committee will be unable to perform the task allotted to it. That committee consists of about fifteen men, most of whom are heads of various departments and are so concerned with departmental matters that they have not the time to do the co-ordinating work that is required. I believe that that committee has met only once since it was established. Moreover, the sub-committee of Cabinet is, in my opinion, not the best organization to control this important work, and therefore I suggest that the Government appoint a Minister for Reconstruction. A new portfolio could be created,, or the work could be attached to an existing portfolio. The important point is that one Minister only should foe given the responsibility of dealing with reconstruction plans. I also suggest that the interdepartmental committee, which is now coordinating the works of numerous subcommittees dealing with post-war reconstruction, should be replaced by a committee composed of three or five experts who should be employed full-time on this work. As the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has mentioned, the Tariff Board is now giving attention to this problem. Its job is to investigate war-time industries in order to devise plans for the adjustment of those industries in our post-war economy. Those plans, however, are only part of a wider plan. Therefore, the need exists for the appointment of a small committee to co-ordinate the works of various bodies like the Tariff Board in a master plan. The Joint Committee on Social Security also recommended that we now prepare a post-war housing plan, as a means not only of absorbing unemployed but also providing the best possible housing for the people. The committee might well select standard house designs, and locations in which such houses should be constructed. It would still remain the job of the co-ordinating committee, however, to sec that such plans fit in with the general plan. The co-ordinating committee, for instance, might be handling plans for the location of different industries and the regulation of supplies of men and material for the building industry. It is only by coordinating all of these activities that we can be sure of avoiding confusion and waste.
– And we should adopt a policy of decentralization of industry.
– Yes. A special body will be required to co-ordinate the plans of the housing committee and those of the committee dealing with rural reconstruction. These matters are so important that we should no longer postpone consideration of them. The Government should take them in hand immediately by appointing committees of the kind I have described. If we do not make preparations now we shall be confronted in the post-war period with disorder and internal strife. To use a hackneyed phrase, we shall be in danger of “ losing the peace “.
– The States will have some say in that matter. All land settlement, for instance, is controlled by the States.
– That is the position at the moment; but if a ministry of reconstruction is set up, and it should find that the Commonwealth requires powers now held by the States in order to deal with these matters effectively, I have no doubt that the Commonwealth would be persuaded to ask the people by way of a referendum to transfer such powers to the Commonwealth.
– And that request would probably be granted.
– That is superoptimism.
– I do not think so. I have not the slightest doubt that when the people realize that, by the independent action of six separate State governments, we will jeopardize the transfer from a war-time to a peace-time economy, and when they realize all the dangers inherent in making that transfer, and, at the same time, that success can be achieved only by one central planning authority, they will grant those requests.
– They would do so to-morrow if they were given the chance.
– That is my view. I again urge the Government to give consideration immediately to this matter, and to set up a committee of experts to co-ordinate the work of various subcommittees so that in the post-war period we shall be prepared to embark upon public works, housing and similar schemes on a co-ordinated basis, and thus ensure that our economy will not be disrupted when the war terminates.
– Most honorable senators welcome the debate on the budget, because it gives to us an opportunity to air pet theories, and to offer criticism which, perhaps, we should not be able to do in the ordinary way. I shall endeavour to offer constructive criticism of the budget. We hear some extraordinary statements in a debate of this kind, and it is interesting to note the various reactions to it. One honorable senator opposite stoutly maintained that there is no such thing as the law of supply and demand. Perhaps, when he is a little older, and is able to discern things more accurately, he will come to the conclusion that that is an erroneous idea. The existence of the law of supply and demand is obvious. One might just as well say that he does not believe in the law of gravitation, In every country one sees instances of the operation of the law of supply and demand. When I was in the Old Country some years ago I paid a visit to Wales, where I saw much unemployment and misery. I visited a small village, which at that time had practically been reduced from prosperity to the brink of ruin through the operation of this law. When I was a youngster, slates were in general use in every school, and practically the whole of the supply of slates for schools in the British Empire was derived from this village, which possessed an excellent deposit of slate, ideally suited for this purpose. However, that demand ceased. Slates went out of fashion in the schools, and were superseded, for hygienic and other reasons, by the lead pencil and note-book. The cessation of that demand brought ruin to that small district in Wales. The same thing applied to the slate industry generally in Bangor. Roofing slates had been in popular use, but the fashion changed to tiles, galvanized iron and other materials. I lived in South Africa for about seven years after taking part in the Boer War. At that time one of the most prosperous avocations any one could follow in the Karoo was ostrich fanning, which was a pleasant and quite easy way of making a competence, and something more. There again the law of supply and demand began to operate, ostrich feathers went out of fashion and became practically worthless, and many people were ruined. One could cite many other instances to prove that the law of supply and demand, in the world as we know it, is inexorable, and goes on working whether one believes in it or not. I am reminded of another honorable senator, whose voice used to sweep across the chamber in the reiterated interjection : “What about a capital levy?” After all, a levy on wealth would not take us very far, because we cannot eat our cake and have it too.
With the sentiments expressed in much of the budget speech delivered by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in the House of Representatives, I am in entire agreement, but, after reading those pious hopes and platitudes, I find that where I disagree with him is in the implementation of the policy which he so ably and lucidly expressed. I am convinced that the Government’s loan policy to finance war wastage - because most war expenditure is wastage - even to the extent of using bank credit as its main feature, is highly inflationary. Many people say that inflation is a bogy. It is not a bogy, and I have vivid recollections of what happened in Europe, particularly in Germany, in 1923 through inflation. In that we have a sign to warn us of what inflation means when carried to extremes. This Government’s policy leaves more money in the hands of people than they are economically or morally entitled to. I suggest .that inflation is with us here and now, and unless stern measures are taken to control it, we shall be heading for disaster. The stupid and senseless inflation which is now actually taking place in Australia has come about through a refusal to tax fairly the voting masses, and an unwise notion about showering money benefits on the same people. Every honest and intelligent Australian knows only too well that this country is being drained of 8s. in the £1 of national income to provide £400,000,000 for Avar this year. I suggest also that the best way to pay for war is to pay for it as we wage it. We pay for it in life, blood, labour and materials with which it is being fought, and it is only right, and wise that we should immediately pay for most of it, or all that we can, in money. I also suggest that it is all humbug and make believe to talk of the maintenance of living standards at the present day. Any one, be he a politician, a professor or just a plain fool, who says that Australian living standards are being maintained or can be maintained while we are waging alleged total war, is either a humbug, a fool or a liar. It cannot be done. We are being rationed, and rightly so, in clothes, tobacco, travel, sweets, sugar, newsprint, tea, fuel and scores of other things, but not in money, except in the case of higher incomes, which are more severely taxed in Australia than anywhere else in the British Empire. The lower incomes, which represent about three-quarters of the total incomes of the Commonwealth, are taxed directly very lightly. In this direction we are falling down on our war effort. This vast reservoir as yet untapped spending power must be brought in and used for furthering our objective, which is complete victory. This huge sum of money in the hands of people who are not paying their proper share of the war’s cost, and not even lending money to the nation, is a highly inflationary force. Rationing, so far, has not checked it. But the most inflationary of all the Government’s methods of finance is the use of bank credit finance. The Commonwealth Bank establishes credits on which the Government can draw to pay war accounts, simply by drawing cheques and paying a small interest rate, and except insofar as the central bank has drawn on the trading banks for their customers’ deposits to help carry out this programme, no one is visibly out of pocket. I say “ visibly “, but some one must be out of pocket. The money has been spent on the defence of the country, and every earning citizen of Australia should have borne his or her fair share of it.. Instead, we have record private spending and record savings bank deposits. Whilst purchases last year of war savings certificates lagged, and I am sorry to say they continue to lag, deposits in Australian savings banks are mounting at an abnormal rate. Never has the amount of £282,500,000 which represents the savings banks deposits in July last, been reached previously. It is over £8,000,000 in excess of the June total, and nearly £50,000,000 higher than (the 1940 figure. Since then, notes held by the public have increased by ££5,000,000 and there is abundance of evidence of banked-up spending power still accumulating. This I suggest, is evidence of the effect of this Government’s fantastic financial policy. A country spending, as Australia is spending, over 8s. in the £1 of its income on war waste can scarcely be growing richer. It is estimated that over £400,000,000 will be spent in the current year solely on the war. Notwithstanding that, the Government hesitates to tax the people at the source, although they are already taxed severely in terms of travel, some foods, and luxuries such as beer and spirits. By this policy our money is magnified but inevitably our living standards are reduced, whereas there should be a proportionate relationship between the two. This budget is aimed at recovering from the public by means of higher .taxation, a substantial part of the flood of new spending power which is being created week by week. That growing spending power must be checked, but the Treasurer’s proposals fail utterly to suggest a means of doing that. New taxation amounting to £14,000,000 is a puny weapon with which to curb the inflationary effect of a rapidly growing volume of purchasing power. New and direct taxes on luxuries and amusements are quite proper, and in my view such levies cannot be made too high, especially in view of the appeal made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) for austere living, but it is inevitable that they will have to be reinforced by an expansion of direct restriction on civil consumption. Such action, combined with appeals to the people, will help in some small measure to solve the problem, but the root of the whole matter is still left to voluntaryism, a rotten and exploded method, and one which is vague and unpredictable. The Treasurer himself admitted that in his budget speech. Obviously he has not even a vague notion where the money is to come from, but he hopes for the best. He talks of raising £240,000,000 by way of voluntary loans and I hope sincerely that the money will be forthcoming because otherwise we shall be in a very nasty jam. However, the real remedy lies in a more equitably graded levy on incomes, combined with a system of post-war credits. That method would provide the safeguard which is needed against inflation, by reducing the spending power of the public at its source. That is where this flood of spending power must be stopped. A scheme of post-war credit on the lines enunciated by the British economist, Baron Keynes, is a preferable alternative to any further increase of direct taxation. In view of the high level of industrial wages, it is considered that compulsory loans would provide an economically sound method of ensuring that middle and lower income groups would make a proportionate contribution to the cost of the war. This would! achieve two major purposes. First, it would curtail portion of the spending power of the public at a time when a curtailment of expenditure on civilian goods is essential; secondly, it would provide the individual with a nest-egg which would be available to assist him in the most difficult period of post-war reconstruction, which is where one of our main difficulties lie. We are all agreed upon that. The plain fact is, of course, that the great bulk of the nation’s spending power is in the middle and lower income groups. Yet, in spite of bold words and platitudes, the Government hesitates to take such an unpopular step. Any budget that sidesteps this matter cannot be considered to be satisfactory. The higher incomes have been effectively dealt with already; it is time that those in receipt of lower incomes were asked to make their contribution, if the inflationary evils which the Treasurer so plainly fears are to be avoided. It is safe to say that this war-time budget depends almost entirely on a new spirit of national responsibility gripping this nation. The Prime Minister’s austerity campaign is linked with this budget. If that campaign should fail then this budget would become a dismal flop, because it is not framed on sound principles; it is based on wishful thinking. Any one of intelligence who has studied this budget must be convinced of the need for a more disciplined way of life throughout the country. The Prime Minister is well aware of that need, but he reveals a most touching faith in the inclination of the public to discipline itself. He calls upon the people to do voluntarily and freely what the Government lacks courage to make them do, namely, give every spare .shilling to the war effort. I am satisfied that the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet know that the only realistic and fair solution of the problem is a system of compulsory loans. The people and institutions which normally subscribe to loans cannot possibly bridge the tremendous gap between revenue and estimated defence expenditure. The pious hope that the people will stop this orgy of reckless spending simply because the Prime Minister has called upon them to do so is optimism in excelsis. Obviously, the people should stop reckless spending. The Prime Minister’s appeal is in every respect just, but, after all, people are human, and that is why the Labour party opposes compulsory loans and post-war credits. It believes that such a system would be bad politics, so it adheres to its plans to obtain money from the rich. Its motto is, in effect, “ Sock the man who has got the dough “. But even if that were done, and we obtained from the rich people every penny that they possess, I assure honorable senators that their contribution would represent only a small proportion of our national needs. The bulk of our national earnings is in the middle and lower income groups in which wages and salaries have increased by scores of millions of pounds since 1940. If that money is not invested in war loans, the Government’s programme will collapse, and living standards will fall with it. i was sorry to see a statement attributed to the Treasurer in the press to-day to the effect that many members of the Opposition doubt that the loan will be a success. I do not know on what that statement is based, but it is a terrible thing to say. I do not believe that any man - at least no good Australian - hopes that it will fail. On what ground did the Treasurer base the statement attributed to him in the press? If the large sum of money that is accumulating in the savings banks is not invested in war loans, the Government’s financial plans will collapse, and the people’s living standard will collapse with it. The Prime Minister, in appealing for voluntary self-denial, evades the real issue. If he believes that the people are squandering too much money on racing, he should stop racing. He has the necessary power to do so. He was set a fine example by a “ digger “ Premier in one of the States, who stopped racing in South Australia almost a year ago. If the Prime Minister believes that useless dogs are consuming too much good milk and meat, and that their owners and followers are spending too much money, he should stop that senseless waste and gambling. ‘ People of that kind are deaf to any appeal for voluntary sacrifice. Even the Lawn Tennis Association of New South Wales asked that rubber be released in order that tennis balls may be repaired. The association thought that the cessation of tennis playing would be a national calamity. We should concentrate, not on tennis, but on defeating Japan. It would not be a very serious matter if there were less tennis playing in Australia than at present, and it may be necessary for golf to be restricted, because rubber must be conserved. It will not matter to us in the long run whether there is any golf or tennis. Most people can get, all the exercise they require by walking. If the Treasurer thinks that the use of liquor is ‘being abused, and that “ booze “ is likely to make us lose the war if we do not further regulate its consumption, he has the remedy in his own hands. The Government could drastically cut down the supplies of liquor. I am glad that some action has already been taken in that direction. The trouble is that we have been “ passing the buck” to the Premiers of the States.
– The Commonwealth Government imposed the restrictions.
– The Government has a long way to go yet. The objectives of the Prime Minister are praiseworthy, but I must disagree with his way of attempting to gain them. He is too fearful and timid. I hope that the Cabinet will take its courage in both hands and do the things that are vitally necessary. Why plead with the people in a crisis such as that confronting us to-day? This is not a time to plead with the people; the Government should act. Nobody has ever adopted voluntarily the austere way of life. The Government has ample power, and I urge it to impose its will on the people fearlessly. If, in the next few months, the Government fails to inspire the people by its action, this budget must fail dismally.
I stated at the outset that I agreed, in the main, with the views expressed in the budget speech, but Mr. Chifley’s words have no relation to Mr. Chifley’s facts and figures. The kindest thing that can be said about this Government is that it knows nothing about finance. Some of its members were Ministers during the last depression, yet the Government is inviting a bigger and worse depression than the last one, because its budget is based on wishful thinking. The facts have been ignored. Considered in conjunction with the Prime Minister’s austerity campaign, the budget is an affront to the intelligence and conscience of all good Australians. Today the Government is talking hard and living softly. That is the trouble throughout the country. We hear a lot of senseless talk over the air, and read rubbish in the newspapers, including stupid statements by responsible Ministers. Some strange and sorry stories have come to us about how the white people who were living in Singapore behaved. They had lived softly for many years, and were determined to go on living the same way, even when the Jap was hammering at their gates. Many self-righteous fingers of scorn have been pointed from Australia at the conduct which was largely responsible for the downfall of British power and prestige in Malaya. Can we yet be certain that the civilian population of this country would make a better showing in a similar test? There is little evidence of selfdiscipline amongst Australians generally. There is little evidence of it on the coalfields, on the waterfront and in the factories, and there is little evidence of it, 1 regret to say, in the Army to-day. What this country needs is self-discipline.
– The position on the waterfront has never been better than it is to-day.
– I am talking about discipline, and I could tell the Minister many things that would open hia eyes. What proof have we of people being prepared to experience hard conditions when they “ moan “ about the rationing scheme ? Some people complain about overwork, although their hours of labour leave them leisure far exceeding that of workers in Great Britain, not to mention the workers behind the Russian front. Ministers and others, particularly the Prime Minister, reiterate the urgent need for more war equipment, but discipline which will take all the slouching, slackness and softness out of our national life, and straighten backs everywhere, is still our greatest need. That discipline we must apply ourselves; we cannot get it on lease-lend terms. We must discipline ourselves; no one else can do it for us. [t is easy to discover shortcomings in others; easy to sit in easy chairs and criticize generalship and tactics on distant battlefronts, and it is easy to agitate for a second front thousands of miles away. But it requires much courage to look into our own faults and correct them. Many things have been “ funked “ in Australia since the war began. We “ funked “ conscription, and have got into the most appalling muddle by having two armies. Politicians have “ funked “ risking party careers for the cause of Australian unity. We “ funked “ compulsory savings, and we “ funked “ taking effective action against gambling and the use of liquor in this country.
– What did the Government which the honorable senator supported do?
-I was not here; I. was in the “ wilderness “. But I was doing a war job. The popular policy has been to put off hard things, in the hope that some turn in the war would spare us the necessity for doing them. We leaned, first, on Great Britain, then on Russia, and now there is a strong tendency to lean on the United States of America.
– That is unfair.
– We are stressing our weakness at a time when we are a long way short of exerting our strength to the full. We have strength, but we must exert it.
– The speech of the honorable senator will not help the war effort.
– The easy way of life, the voluntary way, which has shielded the shirker and the slacker and the waster, must be ended at once. We have clung to it far too long; and we are still clinging to it, hoping that the sacrifice of others will obviate any sacrifice on our part. If we are not to go the way of Malaya and Singapore, we must be a match for the enemy in more than equipment; we must be as hard as he is, as disciplined as he is, not only on the fighting fronts, but right through our national life. The Government has “funked” its duty; this poor wishfulthinking, sickly budget is proof positive of that “funking”. There has been a lot of talk for some time about the wonderful world we are going to have in the post-war era. I say, “ one thing at a time”. The job that we must do first, before we talk about the wonderful world of the future, is to win the war. Voices are raised here and there - not many, I agree - against the deadly danger of the promises now being made by the foolish to the thoughtless about the new, wonderful world that is to be, in which people will not have to work much, and where every one will have plenty of everything. Each week I receive from the Old Country a copy of the Manchester Guardian. In the issue of that publication, dated the 11th May, 1942, I read a letter which was printed as a protest against folly and false hopes. It was from the Reverend E. W. Burnell, and it so impressed me that I shall read it to the Senate -
What some people realize who are not afraid to be called reactionaries or any other term of abuse which may be applied to them, isthat so much of what is suggested by the reconstructionists will fail. We shall be a desperately poor nation after this war. Our resources are being devoured at an alarming rate. We shall have to live very austerely. I think it is a shame to raise false hopes in people’s minds. We had enough of that after the last war, when we were told that we were going to have a land fit for heroes to live in. Many of the people who are now so prominent in talking about reconstruction are precisely the people who are largely responsible for the fact that we were unprepared when this war was forced upon us. They were in favour of disarmament; they did all in their power to prevent, young men from enlisting. Even when we were on the brink of war they opposed conscription. Such people’s judgment is therefore to be distrusted. Though potentially we maybe on the road to victory, actually the position of the Allies is very serious. Japan is knocking at the gates of India. The whole of Europe is living under the Nazi terror, and as yet we have had no really great success. “ One thing at a time “ is not a bad motto, and our aim, certainly at the moment, should be to win the war.
Every word of that letter is common sense. We shall be desperately poor after we have continued the struggle to the point of complete victory - not a stalemate. We must face the hard facts; we cannot “ shy off “ them and pretend that they are not there. We must grapple with the problems confronting us. To say that we are going to have such a wonderful world by and by, when, today, we are faced with the greatest peril this country has every known, is foolish. Let us concentrate on the job in hand. I hold in my hand a poem which was written in 1919. It is really a prophecy. It is worth reading over and over again in order to get its contents firmly into one’s mind. The poem was discovered only quite recently. It was written by that great seer, singer, novelist and writer, the late Rudyard Kipling, and was published recently in the National Review. Because it is apropos of this budget, and the position in which we find ourselves to-day, I propose to read it. Its title is The Gods of the Copybook Heading’s -
As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor windborne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the world was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, they promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed they sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said “ Stick to the Devil you know “.
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his Wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death”.
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you Die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That all is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four -
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man -
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins,
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wot us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.
The poem contains a tremendous lot of meat. “We have seen many of the things it describes. For instance, “ selected Peter “ is robbed to pay for “ collective Paul “ ; and we are developing the new world when all men shallbe paid for merely existing and not for what they do. That poem is well worth reading - two and two do make four; water is wet and fire will burn; and all the platitudes and ranting will not alter those facts one iota. All the talk in the world will not alter the fact that this budget is running away from grim realities. But the wheels are turning; and before the end of this financial year, this problem must be faced sanely and compulsorily, not voluntarily.
– I wish to make some comments on the remarks of honorable senators opposite. Let me say, first, that it is wonderful how tastes differ. For instance, my choice of poets is certainly not in line with that of Senator Sampson. I listened with a great deal of anguish to the poem he just read. I. once heard the late Rudyard Kipling described as “ Mudyard. “ Stripling. I cannot help thinking of his Barrack Room. Ballads-
– He was a great Englishman.
– I once heard some one say, “God help England ifRudyard Kipling should ever become Poet Laureate “. I recall the following lines in The Road to Mandalay: -
Ship me somewhere east of Suez,
Where the best is like the worst,
Where there ain’t no Ten Commandments,
And a man can raise a thirst.
That is more typical of the late Rudyard Kipling than the poem just read by Senator Sampson. Barrack Room Ballads helps to disperse the sympathetic thoughts with which, the honorable senator wished to inspire us.
– What does the the honorable senator think of The Recessional ?
– I think that Kipling (borrowed it. Senator Sampson was most unfair in his criticism of Senator Aylett’s remarks concerning the law of supply and demand. What Senator Aylett said was that that law is controlled. I shall, show that he is correct.
– Does the honorable senator believe that such a law operates?
– Yes, but it is very much under control. If I saw in a Sydney shop a pair of boots marked at 25s., and had only 24s. in my pocket, the shopkeeper would refuse to supply me and I would walk away disappointed. That incident might be multiplied a dozen times during the day and by the evening the owner of the shop would say that there was no demand and no business. But the reason why I am ls. short in the price of those boots is that the firm I work for pays me a little less that it should. The people from whom I earn my money therefore control my demand. The supply is controlled by the man who owns the workshop. When he finds that (here has been no demand he puts off a number of employees at the end of the week, and because of this inequitable law of supply and demand hundreds of people are walking about without employment. The fact that little children have to go without boots in cold weather is enough to convince me that there is a demand, but the only demand that is recognized is a controlled one. Perhaps that little lesson will sink into the honorable senator’s mind. I shall deal later with his references to depressions and reconstruction in a more general way, when I am answering the bulk of the arguments adduced by honorable senators opposite. After all, their main arguments, generally speaking, can be expressed in the words “ compulsory loans “. That is the burden of their song, and they seem to have con centrated on it. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) was unfortunate when at the outset he referred to what he called party persuasions practised by the Labour party. Obviously he was referring to the disciplining of our members by our party. A moment’s reflection on recent history should, I think, have induced the honorable senator to leave those words unsaid. I need say no more on that subject. The honorable senator and all his colleagues appear to fear inflation. I shall deal with that aspect also in my general comments. Like the rest of his party, the honorable senator is against socialism, whilst Senator Sampson has definitely stated that he does not believe in the pious hopes of a millenium, or a better world to come.
– Let us win the war first. One job at a time.
– The honorable senator should realize that it is by socialism that we are winning this war, and only by socialism can we win it. All the world’s wars of comparatively recent years reveal the same story. When capitalism is placed on trial it invariably fails. We must get rid of private control, and revert to common ownership and. control of all essential commodities. Foodstuffs, transport and all else necessary to implement a 100 per cent, effort must be controlled by the Government. If that is not socialism, I must have a very wrong conception of what it is. Senator Foll criticized Senator Lamp’s speech, but I thought that Senator Lamp gave us a very fine exposition of conditions obtaining in India. He shed, if I may say so, a wonderful illumination on a number of very dark spots. I mean that not figuratively but literally, because he did throw a great deal of light on events that have been transpiring in that country. He was taken to task by Senator Foll, because he quoted authorities who did not come within the category of the conservatives whom Senator Foll thought he should quote, although in many cases his quotations were from government statistics. Senator Foll took up a wrong attitude in that matter,, as did several other honorable senators opposite. He emulated the ostrich by refusing to recognize the inevitable, and trying to delude himself that because he cannot see he cannot be seen. I would rather take the advice of Marcus Aurelius, one of the greatest philosophers of all time, who said, “ Turn thine eyes inward “. lt would do the people of this country good, and improve our war effort and our understanding of one another, giving us a better conception of the brotherhood of man, if we did turn our eyes inwards when examining the misdeeds of our predecessors, and also those that are taking place around us to-day. E believe it does no harm sometimes to criticize those who are wrong. I should say that Senator Foll has not got past the Munich stage. Although I was not in the Senate at the time, I venture to think that he was one of the loudest in his ‘ commendation and defence of the attitude of the Chamberlain Government. All the world has condemned that attitude since, and the English-speaking people in particular have applauded the change from Chamberlain to Churchill. I. was not one of those who threw their hats in the air at the time, because to me it was just a transfer from Tweedledum to Tweedledee. I do not say that in any derogatory sense. I love Britain, because it is my home and the home of all my relations, with the exception of my wife and family, who are in Australia. I therefore do not wish to cast aspersions on the British people when I say that I do not see eye to eye with those who applauded the advent of the present Prime Minister of Britain as the answer to their prayers. I do not approve of the policy that has been followed in Great Britain right clown the ages. In the words of Richard Cobden, British policy has been to “ divide and conquer “. For more than 100 years, Britain has relied upon the maintainance of what is called the “ balance of power “, and Cobden claims that that has been more fruitful of wars than any other single factor in the history of the world. That cannot be denied. I support what Senator Lamp had to say in regard to India. Great Britain’s attitude towards India is responsible for the present lack of enthusiasm among the Indians for the cause of the United Nations. Right down the ages, British policy in India has been dictated by commercial interests. I say that without fear of contradiction. We all know the history of the British. India Company. I knew that Sir Stafford Cripps’ mission to India was doomed to failure before he left, because of the words uttered by the British Prime Minister who said quite definitely in answer to a question regarding the granting of home rule to India, “ There will be no drastic change in our policy towards India while I am occupying my present position “. If those are Mr. Churchill’s views, it is a pity that he occupies his present position. But I am not the only critic. One of the most energetic, vital and potent forces in Great Britain to-day is Mr. Aneurin Bevin, who has stated bluntly that until there is a reconstruction or a political purge of those who are at the top in Great Britain, the policy of muddle and fuddle will continue. It is no use doing the ostrich act. We must not be blind to things as they really are. We must get to the root of the troubles which are responsible for the position in which we find ourselves to-day.
– Should we not set our own house in order first?
– I am coming close? to home. My remarks are quite relevant in view of the fact that for many years the policy of this country has been dictated from Great Britain. To remedy tb, trouble, we must start at the source of that dictation.
– That is not so.
– Surely the honorable senator has not forgotten the “ Tune in to Loudon” slogan. It cannot be. denied that to a large degree our policy is determined in London. Why is it that when Japan invaded Malaya, little or no support was forthcoming from the Malayans, whereas the Javanese in the Netherlands East Indies stood by the Dutch? Was it because the Javanese received better treatment at the hands of the .Dutch, than thi! Malayans received from the British people? I am reminded of an incident which occurred many years ago at Tilbury, the port of London. A large steamer was berthed at the dock and apparently there had been an accident. Down the gangway of the vessel caine two Malayans - Lascars - carrying a stretcher upon which another Lascar lay injured. A young lad was walking beside the stretcher holding the hand of the injured person. When I saw the expression on the boy’s face I could read the whole story. Obviously, the injured person was a friend or relative, and the boy realized he would have to return to his country and tell his people of the death or serious injury of the unfortunate man. The expression on his face was awful to behold. I was appalled at the sight, but alongside me were two Trinity House pilots - probably there is no more conservative section of the British people - and one of them stepped aside and looked over the heads of the people who had gathered round the gangway. He came back and in a tone which could be heard by probably 30 people in the vicinity, said, “ it is only a so and so Lascar”. I saw the unfortunate Malayan on the stretcher turn his head and look at the person who had spoken. The boy standing at the side of the stretcher did the same, and I shall never forget his expression. It was because they had been treated in that manner for years that the Malayans bolted, leaving the Britishers to face the Japanese alone. Delving once more into history, let us find out just why Japan has become the uplifted, virile fighting nation that it is to-day. Many years ago, I was employed at the Vickers armament works in Great Britain. At those works notices appeared frequently offering lucrative employment for two or three years for artisans in Japan or India. The object was to induce skilled workers to go to the East and build arsenals, manufacture munitions, to teach the local people various trades associated with war industry. Obviously, the substantial remuneration paid to workers accepting these jobs was of no consequence. The armament manufacturers were interested only in having munitions made in Japan and India where labour was cheap. I recall also that Great Britain entered into an offensive and defensive alliance for fifteen years with Japan. Upon the expiration of that alliance, another similar agreement for fifteen years was entered into. It was British capital and workmen that built the Japanese dockyards and taught the Japanese how to build ships. Great Britain taught Japan how to arm, and allowed Germany to give it military instruction. In 1904, when the RussoJapanese war started, there were at Gravesend, opposite Tilbury Docks, two battleships which had allegedly been built for the Government of Brazil, and two days after that war had broken out the announcement was made that the vessels had been purchased from Brazil by the Japanese Government. By a strange coincidence, two or three days after the announcement had been made two Japanese crews came to Gravesend in order to man those ships. While the vessels were being prepared, the Japanese strolled about the town, and when they met the local inhabitants they slunk into the side walks, in much the same way as Lascars do to-day, apologizing by their attitude for their use of the footpaths. When the war between Russia and Japan was over, those two ships returned to Gravesend, but the pavement which the Japanese had previously apologized for using was not wide enough for them after the war. The reason was that they had entered into conflict with, and defeated, a white race. We have been teaching the Japanese to behave as they do, and it would be a good plan to turn our eyes inwards and see where the fault lies. We might then indulge in a political or even a military purge. The two countries which have done so in recent times seem to have been most successful in the present world war.
Senator Spicer seems to be the chief protagonist of the Opposition. He condemned the budget soundly, and predicted that the Government would fail in its financial proposals. If his prediction proves no more reliable than the forecast which he made with regard to uniform taxation, we can dismiss his opinions on the budget. He certainly slipped badly, as a legal man, when he said that the members of trade unions were compelled to contribute to their party political funds. I interjected and asked whether he had ever heard of the Osborne judgment, or the Taff Yale dispute. Apparently, he had not read the judgment. He pointed out that membership of the Law Institute was voluntary, they are also free to starve if they do not become members, but I know no more conservative or highly disciplined organization than that. The members of that body condemn compulsory unionism, whilst at the same time they favour compulsory loans.
The honorable senator said that, if the Treasurer’s expectations were not realized - and he set out to show that they could not be realized - we were to have a spot of inflation. There is nothing wrong with inflation, so long as it is controlled. Although Senator Spicer and the Leader of the Opposition said that we were not taking enough out of the pay envelope of the vast number of people in receipt of incomes between £150 and £400 a year, the former showed the weakness of his argument, and supported the contention of Government supporters by saying that the poorer people must pay the greater part of the indirect taxes because of the increase of the prices of the commodities which they must purchase. I do not know whether Senator Spicer and others are aware of what occurred in 1916. Senator McBride even asked what the gold standard was, and Senator Spicer asked “What is inflation?” During the last depression I witnessed the effect of inflation. People who had money on fixed deposits found that the value of the £.1 was depreciating because prices and wages had risen 40 or 50 per cent. They went to the banks, and said, “ We want money inflated and goods deflated “. That is what Sir Otto Niemeyer was sent to Australia to do. -
– He was not sent - he was invited to come.
– He was sent here by the banking interests to cause deflation in respect of commodities, which consequently brought about monetary inflation.
The speeches of honorable senators opposite have been, in the main, an advocacy of compulsory loans. The word “ compulsion “ is so much a part of their vocabulary that I sometimes visualize them standing over a gang of coolies with a whip. I do not think that any supporter of the Government would object to compulsory loans which took all money in excess of a specified sum from every body who had it. The reason why members of the Labour party opposed conscription during the” last war was that we did not think that the conscription advocated by its protagonists was sufficiently comprehensive. If we are to have conscription, we should conscript everything and every body, regardless of age or sex. That is the form of compulsion that I favour. Accepting present standards as a basis, there are many dear old ladies who, through their bank accounts, could do far more towards the war effort than I, at my age, can do.” I do not agree entirely with Senator Darcey’s advocacy of national credit, but I go a long way along the road with him ; I believe that we should use the nation’s credit more than we are doing. Honorable senators opposite have expressed concern about the financial gap between what the country needs and what it will obtain from taxes and other sources. I suggest that that gap be bridged by using the nation’s credit. When I am asked what is meant by the nation’s credit, I reply that it is determined by the country’s productive capacity. All wealth is the result of labour applied to land ; our credit is determined by our capacity to produce. Honorable senators opposite talk of colossal debts, but I remind them that there is a word which, although not popular at the moment will, 1 believe, come more and more into the vocabulary of the nations. The word “ repudiation “ is unpopular, and there are some who prefer “ international adjustment “. Those terms, or their equivalent will,I believe, come into much more common use in the near future. So long as we are able to produce, our credit is sound.
– Our present production does not contribute anything to the wealth of the nation.
– That is so; and that is why I said that I was not 100 per cent, with Senator Darcey in his advocacy of the use of national credit. I realize that we are now producing for waste. I realize, too, that the orthodox system of finance is deeply embedded in the international mind, and that it might be too much of a shock to people already war-shocked to abolish the existing financial system and substitute another system forthwith. Reforms must come more gradually than that. But in the transition period we should use the national credit n .re than it is now used.. That is what the Treasurer proposes ; and he is right. X believe that honorable senators- opposite think much as we do on this subject; but they have to report to their masters. As I have said in this chamber on other occasions, they have to fill in their time-sheets; and, unless the sheets are filled in properly, the funds for their election campaign will not be forthcoming. I do not charge honorable senators opposite with insincerity, but their actions leave them open to that construction. As Senator Spicer exhibited an inquiring mind in the course of his speech, I regret that he has not been here to hear the answers to some of his questions. With a safe man in charge of the Treasury, and a safe Cabinet under the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) directing the affairs of the country, the general public can rest in their beds at night knowing that all that can be done for their protection is being done.
.- I realize the difficult task that confronts the (government in its effort, to finance the war and bring the struggle’ to a successful conclusion. From the outbreak of war until the present time the parties now in Opposition have been willing to unite with the Labour party in forming a national government, and to co-operate in the interests of the nation’.
– Honorable senators did not show much co-operation last night.
– Notwithstanding what occurred last night, the Opposition is prepared to co-operate with the Government in these difficult days. Whatever difficulty confronts the Government as a result of last night’s votes is of its own making; because the Government has decided to carry on as a party. In the circumstances, the Opposition has a duty to the people. The scene in this chamber last night demonstrated clearly that the Government is not fully representative of the people, and has not the political strength to put its own policy into operation. The Opposition has a most important duty to perform in that respect. When honorable senators opposite were on this side of the chamber, they claimed a similar right. Our criticism is justified, particularly when it is obvious that, under the National Security Act, the Government is endeavouring to implement its policy of socialism. This is the fourth budget to be presented to this Parliament since the war began. Rightly, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has had no hesitation in appropriating the sums needed for war purposes. But he has failed to put forward any concrete, proposal for bridging the gap between expenditure and revenue for this year. That gap is greater than ever before. War expenditure for this year is estimated to amount to £440,000,000, compared with £319,000,000 for last year, whilst the total estimated expenditure for this year is estimated at £549,000,000 compared with £421,000,000 for last year. In view of the uncertainty arising from war conditions, the Treasurer must be very guarded in his estimates, particularly in respect of the primary industries, which, to-day, are confronted with a serious problem due to the shortage of man-power. It is estimated that revenue by way of taxes and loans will amount to £363,000,000, which leaves a gap of £186,000,000. The only attempt made by the Treasurer to bridge that gap is to impose extra taxes which will bring in a mere additional £14,000,000. That means that a sum of £172,000,000 must still be raised. In order to provide that amount, the public must, double its previous contributions to war loans, and increase by eight times its purchases of war savings certificates. I sincerely hope that it will do so. However, I am very doubtful on that point. To the degree that the public fails to justify the Treasurer’s hopes, the Government must resort to bank credit. Last year, £80,000;000 was obtained in that way for war expenditure. The effect resulting from the stimulation of public spending is already felt. The Treasurer makes that admission in his budget, when he refers to the grave danger of further expanding hank credit. All of us are glad that he is paying some regard to the dangers of raising money by that method. Whilst the release of bank credit increases the purchasing power of the people, it is not accompanied, under present conditions, by an increase of the supply of goods and services. The Government has failed to face this problem squarely. The £34,000,000 to be raised by additional taxes will do little to curb the inflationary effect of our growing excess purchasing power. Possibly, tie austerity appeal made by the Prime Minister may help to balance up matters. It is unfair and dangerous to rely upon voluntary loans for so great a sum. I say definitely that the only safe way of meeting our war liabilities is by a graduated levy on incomes, and by the institution of a system of post-war credits. The voluntary system is unfair. For instance, one family on a comparatively small income may be contributing to all sorts of patriotic funds, and investing its available cash in government loans, whereas another family, living a few doors away, may be receiving a very much greater income, but is not investing anything in government funds, and, perhaps, is doing very little war work. Apparently, the Government, has decided, for political reasons, to refuse to call for greater contributions from those in receipt of lower incomes. The fact remains however, that the bulk of our spending power lies in that field. If the Government confiscated all incomes over £400 a year, it. would not obtain sufficient to meet the budget requirements. In the very near future, it will be compelled to make an equitable levy on the earnings of all people in the community. There is nothing wrong with that. Every one should make some contribution, according to their income, towards the cost of the war. If this system were adopted, much of the aggravation resulting from the rationing of goods would be obviated. It would also help to relieve our manpower difficulties, because the administrative work involved in such a scheme would be comparatively simple. Wrapped up in the Government’s financial problems is the problem of excessive consumption of liquor. As Senator Sampson has pointed out, the Government is notfacing this problem. It is a very difficult social and economic problem. The Government must realize that excessive consumption of liquor not only saps the health of our young men and women, but also breeds immorality. It refuses to go to the root of the difficulty. In a report published in to-day’s *Sydney Morning Herald, the Acting Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. S. Carver, disclosed that during last year the expenditure on liquor in New South Wales alone totalled £20,970,000, or £7 Ils. 5d. per head of population in that State. That is the highest figure on record. It is an increase of £2,900,000 on the State’s liquor bill for 1.940, and twice as much as the amount expended on liquor in 1932. The average expenditure on liquor increased by 19s. lid. per head of the population within the last twelve months. Mr. Carver also stated that the consumption of beer in 1941 averaged 13$ gallons per head of the population. Those facts disclose a very serious situation. The Government should approach this problem by reducing the excess spending-power of the community. The Government will not improve matters by placing a further £150,000,000 worth of spending power in the hands of the people, rationing tea, sugar and other articles, putting out of the reach of the people a quantity of non-essential goods, and at the same time doing little or nothing towards the curtailment of liquor supplies and licences. If almost everything in that regard is allowed to proceed on the usual lines, and the people are allowed their usual spending power, then more drunkenness must take place. The Government is only encouraging the difficulty by allowing the present position to remain. It should take matters in hand and control the spending power of the people, which should be used for war purposes. That policy would do much to curtail the whole difficulty. Senator J. B. Hayes dealt with the advisability of altering the alcoholic strength of beer. There may be something in that suggestion.
– That is not possible. It would not keep.
– Let them do the same as was done to the digger’s soup- when there was not sufficient to go around the cook put another bucket of water in it. The Government has refrained from approaching the subject fairly and squarely.
– Does the honorable senator think we ought to reduce wine consumption?
– I am not speaking about wine. The Government ought to take hold of the whole subject and remove these difficulties out of the way of the people by means of shorter hours of trading and other methods, but up to date it has not done anything. I am pleased to note that the Government proposes to pay one penny and one-third on wheat in the No. 2 pool. I do not know what proportion that will represent of Nos. 2, 3 and 4 pools, but approximately £2,000,000 is still left in them, and I appeal to the Government to pay it as soon as possible. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and Senator James McLachlan have already made that request. I can assure the Government that the money, if it can be made available, will be very beneficial. With regard to the excess quantity of 13,000,000 bushels of wheat, Senator McLeay last week asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce whether the Government had made a decision. The attitude of the Government, I understand, all along has been that it proposes to honour the promise of the previous Government. That was the reply to Senator McLeay’s question.
– If it does that, it should pay for it.
– I do not know what the Minister meant by that undertaking. It is a question whether he reserves the right to put his own interpretation on the proposals of the previous Government.
– We intend to honour the promise of the previous Government.
– That seems to be rather a broad expression. Various suggestions have been made, one of which is that the money should be spread over the whole crop; but I do not know exactly what that means. The Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) is reported to have said that if the realization price is less than £26,800,000, the Government, will meet the deficiency. It is possible that the receipts will be more than £26.800,000, in which case the extra money will go to the grower. That statement leaves the whole business just where it was before. It was a promise to pay something over the amount realized ; but, seeing that Japan has since come into the war, that is not likely to eventuate, and the promise is not worth anything. In a debate in the House of Representatives last week, the Minister for Commerce, as Hansard shows, again stated that he would honour the promise made by the previous Government. He read from Hansard the first part of the statement made by the right honorable member for Cowper, Sir Earle Page, when introducing the bill, but it seems to me that he rather wilfully left out the principal part in which the promise was made. He read from Hansard to show that Sir Earle Page had said -
It must be realized that any wheat grown in excess of the 140,000,000-bushel basis will not participate in the guarantee. The same must, of course, apply to surplus hay.
Sir Earle Page read the same statement but went farther, and read the words “… but facilities for its disposal will be provided “. That is the most important part of the statement. I do not know what Mr. Scully meant, but it certainly seems to me that he evaded that portion of the statement. That is a very serious thing. Sir Earle Page further stated, when introducing the bill as Minister for Commerce -
The average production figure will be maintained by certain safeguards, of which the first is the system of acreage control through the registration of wheat farms and the licensing of wheat-farmers. . . . An additional safeguard is the provision for the cutting of the crops for hay as directed by the Government. Directions to cut hay will be given in years when a heavy crop isin prospect, and arrangements will be made for some finance to be made available against such hay.
That statement is most definite, and I hope that whatever is done the Government will honour its obligations and not place its own interpretation upon the matter.
I shall refer now to the proposal to make certain drastic changes in the existing wheat plan. It has been decided that the principle of control of acreage by means of the existing machinery should be maintained. The plan for the 1942-43 crop provides that wheat-growers will receive 4s. net a bushel, bagged basis, at sidings on wheat up to 3,000 bushels. Wheat produced by growers in excess of 3,000 bushels nr-ill be placed in a pool and the farmer will receive a just price upon realization. As the marketing, of this wheat ma./ be delayed, the ‘Government propose* +o make an advance upon it at the rat*> of 2s. a bushel, net, at growers’ sidings. It is expected’ that about £27,000,000 will be required to meet the guaranteed price for the quota wheat and the 2s. advance on the balance. The propose J basis for the distribution of this mon’.y is not only unjust, but also is wrong in principle, because it discriminates between individual farmers. If the industry requires assistance,, then it should be helped as an industry, and not on an individual basis. It has also been claimed, that the scheme is a wartime measure which could be likened to our wool purchase scheme, but that is not the case. Our wool is purchased on a flat-rate basis so far as the individual growers are concerned, and there is no discrimination as regards the quantity that each farmer may grow. Also, provision is made for a variation of price according to the value and the cost of the wool. Therefore, there can be no comparison between the two schemes, because they are on entirely different bases. It seems to me that this proposal savours more of a political scheme. The Treasurer said in his budget speech that the return to the small farmer would be substantially increased, which is a sure indication that the scheme is political. He is also reported to have said that in South Australia, figures last year showed that only 094 growers out of’ 13,405 produced mort; than 3,000 bushels. I point out, however, that what applies in one year may not necessarily apply in other years. Seasonal conditions might easily reverse the Minister’s figures. Under the proposed scheme, the inefficient farmer will be treated on the same basis as the efficient farmer. The Government speaks of the difficulties of small farmers, but there are many big f aimers who are wheat-growers in a small way. In South Australia at least, many farmers whose properties are near a good hey market cut a large percentage of their crops for hay. They may also engage in dairying, lamb raising, &c, and do exceedingly well. Then there are men on poor low-rainfall country where good craps cannot be depended upon. In good seasons, the yield might be 3,000 or 4!,000 bushels, whereas in bad years it might be reduced to 500 bushels. Usually, growers in these areas can expect one good season in three, and they depend upon that good season to carry them through. Such a scheme would be grossly unfair to these men. Consideration must be given also to the fact that many farmers who hold goodquality lands have heavy commitments to meet, and at present their difficulties are accentuated by labour troubles. They may have valuable plant lying idle, and I am afraid that this scheme will, in some instances, put these farmers off the land altogether. It is a most unfair proposal. It will mean that the return to the farmer will be 4s. for 3,000 bushels, 3s. 6d. for 4,000 bushels, 3s. for 6,000 bushels, 2s. 10£d. for 7,000 bushels and 2s. Sd. for 9.000 bushels. In some cases a farmer’s liabilities may -be much greater than the return from 3,000 bushels. That would mean that his work would be upon a non-paying basis. I hope that the Government will review the scheme. A few days ago a farmer who has four children informed me by letter that his farm is registered in his father’s name, and that he will get only 2s.. >a bushel for the whole of his wheat crop. Scores of similar cases have come to my notice. I am definitely opposed to the new scheme.
– Eighty per cent, of the wheat-growers are in favour of it.
– That may be so, but they are expecting 4s. a bushel. The Government has its political ears to the ground,, but I suggest that in future it should distribute whatever money is available from the crop to the whole of the farming community on the basis of a flat rate. The Opposition is prepared to give all possible assistance to the Government, so long as it meets its obligations fairly and. squarely.
– I congratulate the Government on having done a good job since its advent to office, particularly in view of its narrow majority in the House of
Representatives and the strong opposition which it has experienced in the Senate. Members of the Opposition in this chamber have accused the Government of having acted in a manner characteristic of a Fascist administration. When the Opposition parties were in power, they adopted a Hitler-like policy in many matters, and would have introduced Fascism in Australia had they been powerful enough to put it into effect. Their criticism of the Curtin Government, and of its budget proposals, disgusts me, in view of what was done by the Opposition when in office. For the first two years of the war, the Opposition was in power, and Australia was then unable to provide one mechanized division. When the present Government took office it found that our fighting forces were ill-equippedthat there were no tanks and that there was a definite shortage of aircraft and munitions. The last Government had sent the munitions manufactured in this country overseas. When the Japanese entered the war, Australia had been denuded of munitions, and the present Government is be thanked for the fact that the position has now been corrected. The Royal Australian Air Force and the Army have been well supplied with the materials of war. Since the present Government has been in office, most of the members of the Australian Imperial Force have been brought back to Australia to help in defending our shores. Many people thought that they should be recalled to their own country when Japan came into the war. Some of the members of that force are still in the Middle East, and I trust that the Government will see that they are brought back to their own country, because otherwise I fear that it will be impossible adequately to reinforce the members of the fighting forces who have returned. The troops now overseas are required for the defence of Australia, so that we may force the Japanese back to Tokyo. The Government must not overlook the importance of maintaining the flow of munitions and other war-like material to our troops.
The people generally have the utmost confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and in the Labour Government. I trust that the austerity loan which will be opened on the 3rd November next will receive the wholehearted support of the people. I shall be sadly disappointed if it is not fully subscribed. “If the people do not rally to the assistance of the Government and help it to build up our forces so that we may beat back the enemy, it will be a sorry day for this country. We recall that a waa- loan which was floated during the regime of the Menzies Government was undersubscribed, and that the shortage had to be made up by the Commonwealth Bank and the private banks. On that occasion, the people showed no faith in the Menzies Government. The loans floated last financial year by the present Government were over-subscribed, and I feel confident that the £100,000,000 loan will be over-subscribed before the end of this year. I support the loan because I know that it is better for the workers of Australia to subscribe voluntarily to a loan for the defence of their country than for them to have to accept the proposals submitted by the Fadden Government, or the demand made by the Opposition during this debate that a certain sum should be taken from their pay envelopes each week not to be repaid until after the war. The idea underlying that proposal is that the Opposition expects that the world will be in a state of chaos when the war ends, and that it would be convenient if workers who had subscribed money compulsorily had it returned to them in small sums each week as sustenance payments through the State Governments - if the State Governments then exist - or by the Commonwealth. The workers will not agree to such proposals; they prefer to purchase bonds which they can negotiate when they need money. The present Government has protected the workers in industry by safeguarding the awards under which they work, and by not imposing further taxation on them. The Government knows that on the workers falls most of the responsibility for defending the nation. Without the efforts of the great body of workers in Australia our defences would not be so strong as they are to-day. I am confident that the workers of this country, realizing the position, will subscribe to the loan, provided that, supporters of the Opposition do not go about the country telling the people that the Government will ruin the country by causing inflation. Those honorable senators who say that a change of the monetary system would ruin Australia should reflect that Germany, Russia and Japan, which are among the strongest nations in the world to-day, have departed from orthodox financial methods. The Government proposes to use a measure of national credit in the interests of the nation, but honorable senators opposite claim that in so doing it will bring ruin. I remind them that some years ago, when £20,000,000 was wanted to assist the unemployed during the depression, it was urged that the raising of that amount would mean inflation, and cause the price of bread to rise to £1 a loaf. During this debate one honorable senator said that £80,000,000 of national credit was already in existence; yet bread is only 5-Jd. a loaf. Before the war ends we shall probably have to resort to a much greater use of national credit; but as the Government is determined to control prices, wages and interest, there is no danger that the country will be ruined merely because national credit may be used to bridge the gan between receipts and expenditure. The Opposition professes to be anxious to assist the Government in its war effort, but its action yesterday in throwing a spanner into the works demonstrated clearly its insincerity. Honorable senators opposite were successful yesterday in disallowing certain regulation!!. They would like to reject the budget proposals of the Government and much of the legislation which it brings before the Parliament, but they have not the courage to do so. They have the numbers to do so, but they know what the result would be when they faced the people.
– We had the number? last night, and we used them.
– That is so; but honorable senators opposite have not the courage to reject every piece of legislation introduced by the present Government. Last night’s action showed the insincerity of the Opposition when it professes to be willing to assist the Government.
I dissociate myself from the remarks of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) in relation to Mr. Thomas, the secretary of the Builders Labourers Union. I know the good work which the trade union movement has done. Australia should be proud of the men associated with such bodies. I do not approve of Messrs. Theodore and Packer being associated with the Allied Works Council. There will be no peace in the works controlled by that body until such time as those men are removed from their present positions. The Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), who controls the council, is doing an excellent job. I have no doubt that, when the story of the council’s work is told, greattribute will be due to him. However, I believe greater results would be achieved if the two gentlemen to whom I have referred were removed from the council. No government can expect to obtain even 60 per cent, efficiency under the present system. Men are now taken from behind shop counters, and businesses, and, along with clerks, are put to pick-and-sh’ovel work alongside road-making machines and graders. In such jobs they are obliged to eat dust. How can any one expect 100 per cent, efficiency from such men in these jobs? By putting these men to work which is more suited to their capacity, we could expect at least 75 per cent, efficient performance from them.
Senator Brand, to whom I pay a tribute for the service he has rendered to this country as a military leader, stated, “ In the Federal Parliament there are half-a-dozen members who should be in uniform doing real war work”. I point out to the honorable senator that all members of this Parliament have been sent here to do a real war job. The people expect them to ensure that sufficient supplies of arms, munitions, food, and all other essential requirements, shall be kept up to the armed forces. That is their real job in this war, and, if they are attending to it properly, no one can reasonably say that they should be in uniform. They cannot be in uniform and attend to their parliamentary and military duties at the same time. If they attend sittings of Parliament in uniform they must be neglecting their military work. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) was relieved ofhis military duties by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), when he was Prime Minister, in order, apparently, to do important work. The work was so important that, despite the fact that the honorable member for Fawkner is not now a member of the Government, he has not seen fit to return to the Army. Perhaps the Army would give him a job, as it has given jobs to Senator Foll and the honorable members for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), and Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), who sport uniforms from the rank of general to captain. While those gentlemen are attending sessions of Parliament they must be neglecting their military duties.
Senator Foll has repeatedly referred to the need for preference to returned soldiers. If I understand the term “ total war “, which has been so glibly canvassed, it means a war that embraces every body. My observation of this war so far suggests that it is a total war. While not depreciating for one moment the part being played by the gallant men who are bearing the immediate brunt of the battle, I remind the honorable senator that, in total war, sacrifices differ not in degree but in kind. Would the honorable senator suggest that, because the skilled tradesman’s part in this warchains him to a lathe, his willingness to make a sacrifice is any less than that of a soldier in the field? Why, therefore, should he be told at this stage that in the post-war reconstruction his contribution to the war effort will be stigmatized as being of a lower order than that made by others? I remind the honorable senator that thousands of munitions workers who have endeavoured to enlist have been prevented, under manpower regulations, from doing so. Would the honorable senator object to including in our list of defenders soldiers, sailors, airmen, men in protected industries, manufacturing munitions, tanks, antiaircraft guns, filling factories, men working for the Allied Works Council and other workers in essential industry? Instead of talking airily about preference for returned soldiers alone, Senator Foll should be thinking more broadly in terms of post-war work for all. He talks about security for returned soldiers, but he knows that they did not receive any preference after the last war. All they received were pious promises. If the honorable senator had taken an active interest in their fortunes and misfortunes, he would know that they were most severely hit by the depression of 1920, and the disastrous depression of 1932. During that time the honorable senator was a Minister in this Parliament. What action did his Government take to show preference to the men who fought in the war of 1914-18? He may remember, also, the stark injustice that was done to the war babies of the last war. Those little children, whose fathers died in the mud of France and Flanders, because of the Stevens Government’s manipulation of the Returned Soldiers’ Preference Act, were, in their youth and manhood, handed by a National government a legacy of starvation and unemployment. Denied the assistance of a father at the most crucial stage of their life, they were set the almost impossible task of making a living in the country for which their fathers had died. I wonder whether Senator Foll has ever stopped to consider the fate of this legion of lost young Australians, while he has been mouthing his rosy promises to the soldiers of to-day. As after the last war, the dinkum digger wants no preference on this occasion. He wants only the right of himself and his family to live according to the standards that this country has set. The Nationalist government which the honorable senator so slavishly followed neglected to show preference for the first principle of this democracy, the right to a happy livelihood. He stood by and mutely supported a system which brought starvation and. want to the mothers and wives of soldiers to whom his Nationalist government had promised preference. After this war, we do not want preference for any section. This is an all-in fight for our very existence. If we preserve this Commonwealth for posterity, all the people, and not just a section, must have future security. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and members of the mercantile marine are engaged in active combat in the field and are acquitting themselves worthily as Australians and staunch fighters. But there is an army in overalls in our munitions factories which must not be forgotten. There is no link too small in our present chain of national effort which, in the future peace, shall not have a just claim to participation in the expanded nationhood that will come with victory.
Since this war began, we have heard much of new orders, new charters, and similar dope that is expected now to soothe our anxiety about the social future of the world at large. What we as an Australian Parliament must be most concerned ah out is the specific future of this country. We must concede, even at this distance, that our national future is wrapped up with that of our allies, but there is even now a duty we owe ourselves and our children. The social evils that followed the last war must not be perpetuated when peace is declared. We must plan now to obviate the misery, poverty and hunger that struck such a body-blow at our nationhood during the so-called depression of 1932. That catastrophe, which in many respects had more lasting and damning effects on Australia’s family life than the war itself, must not happen again.
While Australians must put every atom of physical and financial resource into this conflict, they must not be blind to the needs of our future nationhood. Australia will emerge from this war with a national character that has been tested end proven in the greatest crucible of all (rime if we pay necessary heed to what will oe required of us in the peace that is to come. This Labour Government professes a faith which is embodied in platform and objectives, which have stood the test of time, and which, developed to the utmost, can encompass every social need of this country in the future. In its hour of greatest peril, Australia is “being guided by a Government standing upon an unchallengeable foundation. Its concepts are those which have emerged from years of experience of industrial and social conditions in this country, and of years of sturdy trade unionism, which is the rock upon which this edifice has been built. The socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange, nationalization of banking, credit, sickaccident and life insurance and unemployment - that is the policy that will ensure for the people of Australia all that is necessary to their physical and social needs now and after the war. This Government has no need to cast about in the manner of its predecessors for a formula to meet post-war planning. The Australian Labour party’s platform was designed and is being executed with a knowledge of human relationships that time has not altered and that time will mot alter. It is sufficiently flexible to meet the broader post-war problems - and of these we must be prepared to meet many in the years ahead. War does not materially alter the needs of the human race. All that happens is that .problems recur and on that account I confidently submit that -the Australian Labour party’s platform and objectives supply all the answers. While the Government pursues the immediate issues of this war with great and praiseworthy vigour, it must also look deeper to the issues of the future of this country. No problem is of more tremendous importance than that of population. Half the military difficulties facing Australia at present arise from the fact that we are trying to get from a population of 7,000,000 the military contribution of a population of 20,000,000. With 20,000,000 people on this continent, Australia would be safe. Practical statesmanship in the past would have given us such a population. We are in dire peril to-day because we neglected the one fundamental thing that would have given us security. It is all very well to talk of ships, planes and guns. We need them all. But we also need the people to handle them. From every possible standpoint either of moral integrity or practical statesmanship the handling of our population problem has been a disgrace to our public life. We have permitted wide open lands to remain unpeopled. Migration, which, laid the basis for the immense power of the United States of America to-day, has been a .pitiable failure in Australia because our leaders preferred to leave our lands and our resources as exploiting .grounds for British capitalists rather than build a real Australia. Our own population has been debauched by birth control and the use of contraceptives to a point where our natural increase has become almost stationary. Scientists tell us that by 1970 the population of Australia, at its present rate of increase, will begin to decline. That means that at present we are fighting to maintain a continent from which the Australian race will disappear. I do not say that any move we make to-day to grapple with this problem of population will help us very much in this war. But statesmanship demands that we make a start; and it is because I believe the Labour party has faith in the future of this nation that I say that this Government should lead the way in starting to grapple with it. All questions of migration must be left until after the war. But the problem of raising the birth-rate in Australia can be tackled now. Every child born into this land is a priceless asset to the greater Australia that we all hope to see arise after this war. The birth-rate is tied up with many questions - some moral, some economic, some social. These problems cannot be solved overnight ; the causes lie deep in the material factors of our civilization, and their remedy must go just as deep. I do not expect the Government to solve them. But I do ask the Government to lead the way in facing up to them. We are demanding austerity in our way of life; let us also ask of Australian womanhood the sacrifice that child-bearing means. Let us see that the mother can bear her children in peace and comfort; letus sec that the child, once born, can get a fair deal out of life. We are spending many millions of pounds on the means of death ; let us spend a few millions on the means of life. I congratulate the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway) on the step he recently took in prohibiting the advertising of contraceptives. That was a wise and courageous action. But I want him to go further. I want him to prohibit the manufacture or sale of contraceptives. I know quite well that that involves difficult moral and social problems. I would rather have any number of moral or economic problems arising from the birth of many more children, than no moral or economic problems because the children we so badly need are not being born. I believe that the Minister for Social Services is trying to face this issue; but
I do not think his ministerial charter goes far enough. I believe the Government should set up a Ministry of Population so that all the social, moral and economic factors bound up with the future of the Australian people can be studied as one complete problem. This matter needs a new vision; it needs an inspirational call to. the Australian people. It needs the courage to do new things and to spend money in the direction I have indicated. The Prime Minister has already shown that he can lead the Australian people on new paths of sacrifice ; and I commend this idea to him. That is my contribution to this debate, and I ask speakers who may follow me to reply to some of the suggestions which I have made in regard to post-war reconstruction.
– Honorable senators have listened to an interesting debate upon the motion which is now before the Senate. Some informative speeches have been made, which, if they were published in detail in the press of this country, would convey to the public some idea of dangers other than those that exist as a result of possible contact with the enemy. As one goes through life one gains experience. Experience begets knowledge, and from knowledge sometimes blossoms wisdom. Listening to Senator Sampson recite The Gods of the Copybook Headings, one received a jolt or two when reminded of one’s possible experiences, and the known experiences of others. That applies especially to the portion of the poem which referred to a dog returning to its vomit. I do not propose to traverse the budget in detail’; I shall confine myself to one or two matters which are of particular concern to Western Australia. The financial side of the budget is one which will not be understood thoroughly for some time, and, whilst I have no doubt that the Government, with its large number of Ministers, and assistants now revealed as numbering 32, will be able to make a creditable show in regard to implementing the budget, a certain amount of alarm will continue to exist amongst the people for some time to come.
The first matter to which I wish to refer is the construction of wooden ships in Western Australia. In answer to a question asked a few days ago by Senator Clothier, the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce mentioned that the Government had in mind the building of wooden ships of small tonnage in Western Australia. I congratulate the Government upon that proposal, which was the subject of a recommendation made about eighteen months ago by the Western Australian Industries Committee. You and I, Mr. President, were associated with that committee, and you will recall that what we had in mind was a revival and expansion of the building of wooden ships of from 500 tons to 1,000 tons, dead weight capacity.
– Would Tasmanian timbers be used?
– We use our own Western Australian timbers, and excellent vessels of up to several hundreds of tons have been built. There is a great demand for this type of vessel all around the Australian coast at present, and if early steps be taken to establish this industry m Western Australia, not only will the interests of Australia as a whole be served, but Western Australia itself will derive great benefit.
I come now to the question of wheat. On the 3rd of this month I asked the Minister assisting, the Minister for Commerce the following question: -
Is the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) satisfied that the price of wheat, as recently fixed by him, is appropriate and equitable when applied to farmers in Western Australia, who grow the greater part of the annual crops in that State?
The answer was “ yes “, and it was initialled by both the Minister for Commerce and his representative in this chamber, clearly indicating that the Minister intended that his assistant, who is from Western Australia, should bear his share of the responsibility for the introduction of the scheme, which I am sure he is quite prepared to do. It is suggested that the Minister has not the slightest idea of how he will implement this scheme; that it is a very dubious scheme, and that, in an attempt to save himself, he has called a conference of interested persons, as a result of which I am sure he will still be a long way from complete enlightenment. Every one who understands thu hardships of the small farmer will welcome the prospects of his securing a fair price for his wheat, but in Western Australia small farmers produce only 16.5 per cent, of the total crop of that State. Therefore, how can the Minister claim, as he has done, that this scheme will benefit 90 per cent, of the wheat-growers, or that 70 per cent, of the wheat-growers normally harvest less than 3,000 bushels. I contend that the scheme disregards entirely the existence of, and is unfair to, the economic farmer who is a wellestablished man, and whose industry is a stabilizing influence in any community. The following report of a statement ky the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia appeared in the West Australian on the 2nd September.
There was a good deal of confusion about the Scully wheat plan. The State Government had not been able to get replies to a series of questions that it had put before the Australian Wheat Board recently. He would not go into the merits or demerits of the Scully plan as he did not know much move about it than what had appeared in the newspapers. Last week, at the request of the Commonwealth Government, there was a conference of State officers and the Australian Wheat Board to discuss difficulties in implementing the plan. At the conference some significant figures from this State were presented. They related to last year’s Western Australian wheat crop. They showed that 50.5 per cent, of the State’s wheat-growers had produced 16.5 per cent, of the crop, and the balance, 49.5 per cent., had produced 83.5 per cent, of the crop of 33,308,000 bushels.
Some of the questions asked on behalf of this State were as follows: -
A farmer with a 000-acre licence crops 300 acres himself, share-farms 300 acres and rents the balance of 300 acres. Will each be paid 4s. a bushel on the first 3,000 bushels?
A farmer and his wife each have a property. The husband works both properties and has, at his request, been issued a joint licence. Can he now obtain a separate licence in order to qualify for 3,000 bushels on each property? If so, from what date will the transfer bc accepted?
A farmer has his own property and leases two other farms. Is he entitled to 3,000 bushels at 4s. on each property leased?
A land-owner has his property leased to two separate farmers; as rental he gets, say, 800 bushels. Does the land-owner get 4s. a bushel for his 800 bushels, and in addition is each share-farmer entitled to 4s. for the first 3,000 bushels? If not, what is the apportionment?
Where a fao-mer has separated blocks of land in the names of several of his family, but has in the past worked the property in his own name as one farm covered by a joint licence, will he be permitted to cancel the joint licence and take out separate licences to permit each member of the family to obtain the 3,000 bushels 1 Does the first 3,000 bushels at 4s. apply to a registered farm or to eeach of the several licence-holders? If the answer is Yes, assuming the father produces 6,000 bushels and the other two licensed members of the family produce 2,000 bushels each only, how is it proposed to prevent the father from delivering his surplus wheat over 3,000 bushels in his son’s name? The same will apply to every wheat-grower who leases and crops farms in addition to his own holding. The excess over 3,000 bushels on one farm can be delivered to build up the quotas of his other farms. This will be extremely difficult to police.
Farmers delivering wheat for the season 1941-42 were not requested to present their licence by the acquiring agent, with the result that compensation waa paid for wheat grown without a licence. It is suggested that for the season 1042-43 growers’ licences must be inspected by the receiving agent and the number of his licence endorsed on each cartnote to be recorded by the Australian Wheat Board for the purpose of making payment up to the 3,000 bushels quota.
Mr. Wise said that no answer to the questions had been received.
Why have not answers been received ?
Recently the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) proposed to take over the Co-operative Bulk-handling Company of Western Australia. This is an efficiently managed scheme for dealing with the wheat crop in that State and costs less than other schemes in Australia. Any interference with its operations would have increased the farmers’ costs. Fortunately, the Minister abandoned his ideas, as the prosecution of them promised very little in the way of votes. The ill effects of half-baked schemes such as that are keenly felt by the people of Western Australia. An inquiry was held recently in Western Australia regarding the weevil pest, and a Commonwealth committee visited that State. One member of that committee has been described as “ a very decent chap “ and “ a man who did not know the difference between a weevil and a grasshopper “. One resentful farmer stated, “ We have rabbits, locusts and Scully “.
I join issue with Senator Amour on the subject of preference in employment to returned soldiers. For a considerable time I have been endeavouring to ascertain the views of the Government on this matter. I have had in mind, particularly, the Commonwealth Public Service as an avenue for the absorption of those returned soldiers who are qualified to serve in it. I shall quote some of the answers which have been given to my questions. On the 12th November, 1941, I raised this subject, and the answer given to me was as follows : -
My Government has the matter prominently under notice.
On the 6th March, 1942, five months later, I received this reply -
The subject of preference in employment to returned soldiers is receiving the consideration of the Commonwealth Government.
On the 3rd September, when I definitely related the question to the Commonwealth Public Service, the following answer was supplied to me : -
All matters associated with returned soldiers and their repatriation to private life are being considered, and the Government’s policy will be announced at as early a date as practicable.
I wonder whether Senator Amour has announced the policy of the Government in this matter in the course of his speech. On the 17-th September the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), interjecting while Senator Foll was speaking, remarked “ The position is the same as bef ore “, but later, in reply to a question by Senator Cooper, he said -
The principle of preference to returned soldiers forms part of Commonwealth legislation, and is being observed to the greatest possible extent. Consideration is being given to the problem, which must be met under the circumstances arising out of the present war.
In his budget speech, the Treasurer stated in clear language -
The Government is very conscious of the obligations of the country to members of the fighting forces.
Then he proceeded to demonstrate those obligations by imposing a tax upon their meagre pay, which during the last war was exempt from tax, and by raising the prices of canteen goods. Then his government introduced an entertainments tax, which will heavily hit the service men when on leave.
– Does that tax hit the service man harder than the employee in a munitions factory?
– Yes, because members of the fighting forces receive only one-half of the pay of the munitions workers. There are other obligations of this nature to which I could refer. The members of the fighting forces do a 24- ho.ur term of duty, for which they receive no overtime pay, nor do they receive “ risk “ money in f ollowing up a service voluntarily undertaken on behalf of the country. Further, they are subjected to a system of compulsory loans in the form of deferred pay. The Government’s attitude on the subject of preference to returned soldiers is vague, if not evasive, but there is no doubt as to its policy with regard to preference to the trade unionists. Under a recent instruction issued to the Public Service Board, it was decreed that in temporary appointments only trade unionists and returned soldiers - they were mentioned in that order - were to benefit. Let me refer to the law on the matter. Sub-section 1 of section 83 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act provides -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, a returned soldier whose name is enrolled in the prescribed register for temporary employment shall, if competent for the work, require to be considered for .temporary employment in priority to any person who is not a returned .soldier.
– Some men who are not returned soldiers have to be employed in particular jobs. The honorable senator .started out to make a good case, hut he has spoiled it by his later remarks.
– I adhere to my former statement .that the Government’s attitude towards this subject .is both vague and evasive.
– It is not true, nevertheless.
– I suppose that we shall have to differ as to the degree of veracity. When I read another seclion of the act I .am -.reluctantly forcedto think that there was some sophistry in the reply of the Leader of the Senate to Senator ‘Cooper’s questions. I do not think that the Minister- would intentionally mislead the Senate, but it must be clearly understood that for the “returned soldier” of this war no protection of the nature sought is conferred by the existing legislation .governing the public servant. Section 7 provides, inter alia - “ Returned soldier “ means any person who enlisted prior to the 11th day of November, one .thousand nine .hundred and eighteen and served in the war with satisfactory record
That means that any person who did not enlist before the date mentioned is not entitled to the benefit of any act granting preference to returned soldiers.
– If the honorable senator will write to the appropriate Minister, he will, no doubt, look into that matter.
– In the circumstances, honorable senators will understand my anxiety to have some announcement from the Government on this subject. I first raised this subject ten months ago. An early announcement may obviate a great deal of trouble. I am not advocating complete preference for an undefined period, but only such a share of priority as will facilitate a rapid re-absorption of soldiers in civil occupations, in order to do that only a minor amendment of the Commonwealth Public Service Act is needed.
– The whole subject is under consideration by the Government. I cannot say more than .that at this stage. There is nothing evasive about the answer.
– As the Minister knows, even the longest river reaches the sea sooner or later. I am wondering how long the consideration will take.
– There will be no injustice to any returned soldier of this war.
– History contains many useful examples, and I think that we may do well to recall one .such example which occurred at the end of the Punic War in B.C. 241. The people of Carthage, who were for the most part wealthy, enrolled many men in war service, and promised them that, when they returned, they would be well rewarded. Those nien served under Hamilcar, and served their country faithfully. The time came when they did return. I shall tell the story in colloquial language. Approaching the elders of the city, they said, “What about it?” The’ elders, sitting again in safety, replied, “ What about what? “ The soldiers said, “ About paying us what you promised “. To that the elders replied, “But the war is over. You can now go back to your jobs.” Those soldiers then became somewhat noisy. They had no votes, but they were armed. “When trouble appeared immin ent the elders approached Hamilcar and said to him, “ Can’t you hold your men?” The general inquired what the trouble was, and the elders said, “ Can’t you hold your men ? They are making a row. They want things.” The general asked quietly, “ Are they, by any chance, asking for what you promised them?” The elders reluctantly answered ‘“‘Yes”. After further discussion, the elders, realizing that Hamilcar had some influence over the men, advised him to take them outside the city and they would then be paid. This he did’. Thereupon the elders closed the gates of the city and no payments were made. Then began a disturbance which lasted for three years. The people of Carthage called it, “ The war of expiation ‘”. The lesson to be learned from that happening is that it is wise to meet our obligations. “We shall not take a risk when preventive measures can easily be taken.
– -Does the honorable senator suggest that a similar risk is imminent?
– I do not suggest anything of the sort; but I do urge that measures be taken to obviate any cause for grave discontent.
– The Government will announce its policy on this subject in its own time;, but that will not be until consideration has been given to every aspect.
– lt may be well if I were to repeat the Treasurer’s statement, that “ the Government is very conscious of the obligation of the country to members of the fighting forces “.
I was interested in the remarks of Senator Arnold and Senator Sampson about post-war reconstruction. I have no detailed ideas on the subject; but, in my opinion, this is a matter which needs to be considered at the earliest possible moment. I am not in favour of a ministry of reconstruction at this stage, but I do favour the setting up of an authority the sole responsibility of which will be to plan for the day when peace again comes to the world. Honorable senators are aware that, before the present war began, details of the action considered necessary in the event of an outbreak of war were set out in the War Book. The reverse of that book, a Peace Book-, should be compiled now, and on the day that the war ceases, the plans should become operative. For every day that has passed since the pact at Munich was signed, and will pass until the day that peace arrives, I estimate that two day3 will be required before we get back to something like normal peace conditions. For that period we will need’ legislation comparable with the existing National Security Act.
– The approach by the Opposition to the budget debate has been characterized by carping criticism such as we expect from honorable senators opposite. Of that 1 have no complaint to make,, because when members of the present Government sat in opposition they adopted a similar attitude. Whatever excuses may be made for carping criticism in peacetime, I shall leave to those who indulge in it to determine the” degree to which it should be tolerated in a time of war. I am alarmed by many mis-statements which have been made by some honorable senators opposite during this debate. As I proceed I shall correct some of them.’ The principal offender in this respect has been the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay). I do not suggest that he wilfully endeavoured to mislead the Senate; but the discrepancies in the figures which he quoted in his speech were so obvious that I checked them up.. My suspicions were justified. The honorable senator declared that, during, the first two years of war, when the Menzies Government was in office, the cost of living rose by 7.9 per cent., whilst after the present Government had been in office for six or seven months it increased by 10 per cent. He added that he understood that the latest figures taken out in July showed an increase of 17.9’ per cent. It became obvious that the honorable senator was camouflaging his argument when he spoke of the six or seven months since the present Government took office, because every honorable senator knows that those figures are returned quarterly. In any case, the figures which he gave are totally incorrect. They are not based on factual compilation. Whilst some honorable senators opposite may consider it to be good political propaganda to discredit the Government whenever they get the opportunity to do so, I remind them that they owe a duty to the people of this country at least to tell the truth when making statements in this chamber. I have secured from the Commonwealth Statistician the cost-of-living figures for the period in question, and they disclose a totally different picture from that given by the Leader of the Opposition. They show that during the two years following the outbreak of war, the cost of living increased by 10.2 per cent., and not 7.9 per cent., as alleged by the Leader of the Opposition, whilst for the first six months after the present Government took office, the increase was 4.7 per cent., and not 10 per cent., as the honorable senator stated. In a time of national stress and peril, honorable senators opposite, and particularly their leader, should realize the responsibilities resting upon them. The honorable senator should take steps immediately to correct the figures he gave in this speech.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was dealing with the cost-of-living figures given by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) when he spoke in this debate. The honorable senator has since explained to me that the figures given by him were not intended to convey the impression that during the period in which the Menzies and Fadden Governments were in power the cost of living had increased by only 7.9 per cent.
– It should have been 10 per cent.
– I said at the beginning of my remarks that I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition deliberately tried to mislead the Senate. I also said that the total increase of 17.9 per cent, quoted by the honorable senator was correct, and I accepted it as correct, but I am concerned because the incorrect figure has gone out to the press of Australia and will be published in Hansard. I hope that the same publicity will he given to the correction that I have just made. Apart from the compilation of the figures, there was no semblance of justice or fairness in the calculations of the Leader of the Opposition. He quoted figures for the period from September to March against, the present Labour Government, and compared them with a different period of the previous year, but to obtain an accurate estimate of the cost of living, we must take two similar periods in two different years. Senator McLeay selected periods for comparison without any regard to the fluctuations that occur as the result of seasonal conditions. If the Senate is to be informed of the correct fluctuations in the cost of living and the increase as between the Menzies and Fadden Governments and the Curtin Government, the only method of securing an accurate comparison is to take the same period in each case.
– The apology is accepted.
– I made no apology. I said that I accepted the honorable senator’s correction of his own figures, but I object to his unfair method of making comparisons. From September. 1940, to March, 1941, the cost of living increased by 3.7 per cent. For the six months from September, 1941, to March, 1942, the increase was 4.7 per cent., despite the fact that during the latter period Japan came into the war. Regardless of the government in power, the safety of Australia required the acceleration and intensification of the manufacture of arms, munitions and equipment in order properly to defend the country. The increase of only 1 per cent, in the cost of living compared with twelve months previously is not only significant but also, I suggest, indicates quite a satisfactory position so far as the Curtin Government is concerned.
The budget provides for an estimated expenditure of £549,000,000, of which £109,000,000 is for civil and £440,000,000 for war expenditure. On the expenditure side there has been no complaint whatever from the Opposition. I take that as a compliment to the Government led by Mr. John Curtin. The Opposition say, in effect, that they do not in any way criticize the expenditure of this Governor! en t, which is at least endeavouring to defend this country properly, and spend its finances in a wise manner. That, is a compliment from the Opposition. The receipts from revenue are estimated at £249,000,000, leaving a deficit of £300,000,000. Honorable senators opposite have made many protests in regard to the £300,000,000, which they call a gap, and various other names. They are very perturbed about it, but not one constructive suggestion for improving the methods adopted by the present Government has come from them. Opposition senators say that we spent £100,000,000 more than we budgeted for last year. If honorable senators opposite had been in office when Japan came into the war, they would not have been stopped by the lack of £100,000,000 from taking effective steps to defend. Australia. If it had cost £200,000,000 or £300,000.000 more, and they knew that, by the expenditure of that, amount they were helping to defend Australia, the expenditure would have been incurred.
– Who objected to this Government, spending it?
– The honorable senator was one of the main objectors.
– We approved it.
– Honorable senators opposite would not approve anything that this Government did. Their criticism throughout the debate has justified the exposure that took place in the House of Representatives a night or two ago, when there was produced a letter in which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) asked each member on his side to state what fault he could find with the Government. I admit that £300,000,000 is a large sum of money and that the Government is confronted with the big task of raising it. I accept the declaration of the Leader of the Opposition of his sympathy with the Government in that task, and also his promise that neither he nor any other member of the Opposition will attempt to retard the Government’s war effort. However, 1 tell honorable senators opposite frankly that something more than mere declara tions are required, when this country faces the gravest danger that has ever confronted it. We want something practical. I can remember that in the early part of the war and later when the Menzies and Fadden Governments were in office we went on to the platform and asked the people of Australia to help the Government by subscribing to war loans and war savings certificates.
– We were doing the same thing.
– I hope that the honorable senator will continue to do so. He will only be doing his duty if he does. I said a leeway of £300,000,000 is indicated in the budget, which is a huge sura for the limited population of 7,000,000 to provide, but we were faced last year with a deficiency of £120,000,000, and the fears now being expressed in this chamber were expressed last year. The people of Australia, however, showed their confidence in the Labour Government by over-subscribing the amount asked for, without any assistance whatever from the trading banks. Senator Spicer in his criticism of the budget referred to what he called the Treasurer’s simplicity. I have here the printed budget, speech for 1941-42 delivered on the 25th September, 1941, by the Right Honorable A. W. Fadden, Prime Minister and Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia. Senator Spicer said in his sarcastic manner that the present Treasurer had done correctly a simple sum to this effect : “ We received £120,000,000 last year and. if we double that we will be a long way on our way “. I draw attention to what the Treasurer said in 1941. These are his words -
The total amount to be borrowed in Australia for war is therefore £122.000.000 compared with about £80,000,000 in 1940-41.
He does not even give the actual amount. He simply says, “ Compared with about £60,000,000 in 1940-41”. He does not even say, “ We shall want, double that amount”. I say definitely that the implications contained in the previous Government’s financial proposals, and those of the present Treasurer are identical. Honorable senators opposite have ridiculed the proposal to raise £300,000.000 by way of loans. In fact some of them have expressed the opinion that only onehalf of that amount will be forthcoming. The Leader of the Opposition said that according to newspaper reports, a statement to that effect had been made by the Commonwealth Bank Board. I challenge the honorable senator to prove to me that any such opinion was expressed by the Commonwealth Bank Board. Obviously, the Opposition is still thinking in terms of peace-time conditions. No attempt has been made to assess the effect of war-time changes in the money market. Factors which made possible the raising of £120,000,000 in l941-42, compared with an average of about £15,000,000 during the three financial years preceding the war, include control of capital issues, control of building, restriction of imports, petrol rationing, newsprint rationing, and the reservation of many basic raw materials for war purposes. During the past six months war-time economic control has been added to by drastic restrictions affecting almost every form of civil expenditure. Control of capital issues has been tightened up to the limit and only building essential for the war effort is now permitted. Rationing has been imposed upon clothing, sugar and tea. The production of consumer goods from iron and steel, copper, industrial chemicals, rubber, cotton, tinplate, wool, &c, has been prohibited or severely restricted by governmental orders. The production of goods such as furniture, bath-heaters, vacuum cleaners and washing machines has been prohibited. Travel has been restricted, supplies of liquor have been cut, and the manufacture of hundreds of other item.-! has been restricted or prohibited. This policy must inevitably result in curtailment of excess expenditure and consequential increased savings. Evidence of this has already appeared in increased savings bank deposits for the past two months of this year amounting to £15,000,000 which is equal to a rate of £90,000,000 a year.
One of the main points made by the Leader of the Opposition was that the war should bo financed by national contributions. The 1941-42 Fadden budget - the fatal budget - provided fora scheme of compulsory loans or post-war credits by which it was hoped to raise £25,000,000, but during the year 1941-42, this Government raised an additional £75,000,000 - three times as much - by way of taxation. After all, it does not matter whether the money is raisedby taxation or compulsory loans because it comes from the same source. There has been general support for compulsory loans and post-war credits by all honorable senators opposite. In fact. Senator James McLachlan, in an elaboration of a scheme which lie propounded, said that the additional tax he suggested would represent a weekly contribution costing not more than a packet of cigarettes It has been admitted by honorable senators on the other side of the chamber that the most that could be raised by a system of compulsory loans is about £30,000,000.
– I am taking a figure between the £25,000,000 and the £37,000,000. My figures are based on the British rate which was also the basis used by the honorable senator. Therefore, it is apparent that had the compulsory loan scheme been brought into operation by the Fadden Government, or any other government, we should be £30,000,000 short of the £75,000,000 that has been raised by means of increased taxation. I concede that when the Fadden budget was prepared, there were no definite indications that Japan would become a belligerent. I have no wish to deny credit where credit is due, and I admit that had the Menzies and Fadden Governments expected an early entry into the war by Japan, they would have intensified the manufacture of arms, munitions and equipment. There is only a limited number of sources from which finance can be obtained. First, it may be obtained by means of taxation; secondly, from loans, whether they be voluntary or compulsory; and thirdly, by means of bank credit. I am sure that honorable senators opposite will not deny that recent governments of which they were supporters utilized bank credit to some degree. There has been every justification for the utilization of bank credit, and should the safety of this country be more gravely imperilled the justification will he even greater. I contend that this Government has met the problems of finance during the last financial year in exactly the sarnie way as the Fadden Government or any other government would have met them in similar circumstances. It is true that this Administration has made use of bank credit, but I am sure that it would have been used in the same manner had the present Opposition remained in control of the treasury bench.
Senator Foll referred to the Lakes Entrance oil-field, and I am sorry he is not in the chamber.
– He is absent on military duties.
– Apparently he was able to leave his military duties last night when he assisted to retard our war effort by supporting the motion for the disallowance of certain National Security Regulations moved by the Leader of the Opposition. In the course of his speech., Senator Foll said, “Be fair and get on with this .undertaking, but do not attempt to give effect to your policy of socialization “. I have made inquiries regarding the Lakes Entrance oil-field. In order to make a thorough investigation of the field, arrangements were made early in 1.941, through the Australian Minister in Washington, to secure the services, in conjunction with the United States of America Bureau of Mines, of two oil technologists to report on this field. The services of Messrs. Leo Ranney and Charles Fairbank were procured for this purpose. These two gentlemen submitted a report dated the 24th July, 1941, in which they favorably assessed the prospects of recovery, over a period of not less than five years, of 1,160,000 barrels of oil, equal to 40,600,000 gallons, from a test area of 400 acres on the Lakes Entrance oil-field. They stated that this oil could be recovered on a commercial basis, and would be of asphaltic base, containing 15 per cent, of light fuel oil, 72 per cent, lubricating oil, and 13 per cent, of bitumen. The methods of development proposed were to sink a shaft of 1,200 feet by .8 feet in diameter, encased with 1 foot of concrete, and at the bottom of the shaft build a circular chamber approximately 25 feet in diameter, from which hori zontal holes of .great length were to be drilled in the oil-bearing formationEstimates submitted by Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank put the cost of doing this at £100,000, including 20,000 feet of 3-in. holes. It was anticipated that when this drilling had been carried out the project would become revenue-earn ing, but a total of 50,000 feet of drilling would be required altogether.
Following upon the receipt of the report, discussions took place between representatives of the Commonwealth and the Victorian Governments, and on the 21st August, 1941, the Premier of Victoria advised the Prime Minister that his Government would be prepared to provide a sum of £16,667, subject to the Commonwealth providing £33,333, and subject, also, to the syndicate concerned, the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate providing £50,000. Government moneys were to be made available by way of loan. The matter was considered by ,a full Commonwealth Cabinet on the 5 th September, 1941, when it was decided to accept the proposals made by the Premier of Victoria. This decision was conveyed to the company on the 9th September, 1941. The matter was again considered by the Commonwealth Cabinet on the 25th November 1941, when the decision to provide £33,333 from Commonwealth sources was re-affirmed. It was decided, also., pending the flotation of a company by the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate -
It was to be understood that liability in respect of all these matters, with the exception of about £600 to cover special services to be rendered for the Commonwealth by Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank, was to be assumed by the company to be formed to develop the project. In addition, in order to expedite development, approval was given on the 23rd December, 1943., for an advance of £15,000 for preparatory work in connexion with the shaft-sinking programme.
The Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate formally intimated during April, 1942, that in view of the Government’s limitation of profits, it was found impracticable to approach the public for the necessary subscriptions. The syndicate would, however, proceed with the registration of the company to be known as Lakes Oil Limited, so as to establish an entity to undertake operations when the time was propitious. Further discussions ensued between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, when it was decided -
Following on this decision, the property was resumed by order of the Controller of Minerals Production, dated the 15th May, 1942. The appointment of a supervisor then occupied the attention of both governments. It was eventually decided on the 19th June that this position should be offered to Mr. C. S. Demaine, managing director of Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate, at a salary of £750 per annum, on the understanding that Mr. Demaine and the enterprise should be subject to the general direction and control of a departmental executive comprising the Controller of Minerals Production, Mr. Newman, Mr. George Brown, Secretary, Department of Mines of Victoria, and Mr. A. C. Smith, of the Department of Supply and Development. This executive was to have power to co-opt the services, when required, of other persons, such as technical experts, including Mr. Baragwanath and Dr. Raggatt.
The Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate has made repeated representations for a variation of conditions of resumption of the property. In the main, the syndicate sought a 25 per cent, share of the profits ; a waivure of a condition under which the Commonwealth has the right at any time to purchase the syndicate’s equity outright for a sum of £25,000, and a share in the management of the enterprise. A culminating stage was reached in this regard when a deputation led by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) met the Minister on the 11th July. After further consideration, Mr. Paterson was informed on the 13th August that the Commonwealth Government was not at present prepared to vary the conditions, but, if the capital sum of £150,000 proved to be inadequate, further consultation would, be necessary on the part of the two governments, and when this consultation took place the question as to the proportion of the profits to which the syndicate should be entitled would receive further consideration. It was also intimated that consultation would take place as between the two governments before the Commonwealth exercised its right to purchase the equity of the syndicate, and that the syndicate could therefore be assured that, in the exercise of such right, the whole of the circumstances as they then existed would be taken into consideration. Pending the results of these representations, Mr. Demaine has not yet indicated whether he will accept the appointment of supervisor.
In the meantime, work at Lakes Entrance has been proceeding satisfactorily. At the request of the Controller of Minerals Production, Mr. Demaine has continued to exercise supervision over operations. An electric generating plant has been installed-, the boiler house has been completed, a pipe-line for water supply has been established, fuel tanks have been installed, a pilot well has been sunk to a depth of nearly 300 feet to determine structure in advance of shaft sinking, and the collar of the shaft has been completed. Work done on the pilot bore has shown that high water pressures may be anticipated on passing a depth of 200 feet. Tenders will therefore be called to cover the first 200 feet of the shaft, and steps are now being taken publicly to invite tenders.
The Government has been criticized because it has not an oil expert associated with the Lakes Entrance project. The main job at the moment is to get the shaft down 1,200 feet through high water pressures. This is a hazardous job, and the man now placed in charge, Mr. Cook, is experienced in this class of work. Mr. Demaine has had no such experience, nor for that matter is he an oil expert. He is a consulting electrical engineer by profession, and has gained a little knowledge about oil through his association with the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate. When the shaft is sunk, Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank, the American oil technologists, are to instal the horizontal drilling equipment and to supervise operations. The Commonwealth Government can call upon the services of Dr. Raggatt, the Common wealth Geological Adviser, or Mr. Baragwanath, the Director of the Geological Survey of Victoria, for advice as required. Mr. Dem aine was offered the position of supervisor at a salary of £750 per annum. He deferred the acceptance or rejection of this offer for over two months, and then made his acceptance conditional upon the admission of various items of expenditure incurred by the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate which are not likely to be accepted by the Commonwealth. In addition, a member of the syndicate has made it plain that the terms under which this property was resumed by the Commonwealth will be challenged in the courts, and it can be assumed, therefore, that reliance will be placed upon the evidence of Mr. Demaine to support their case. It would place the Commonwealth in an untenable position if Mr. Demaine were at the same time the Commonwealth supervisor of the Lakes Entrance project. The equity of the syndicate was fixed at the equivalent of 25,000 £1 shares. The syndicate had expended about £40,000; but, with the exception of about ‘£5,000, the whole of this amount has been expended on direc tors’ fees, managers’ fees, and overhead costs. It is not true to say that the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate has brought this project to a stage where success could be more or less anticipated. The fact i3 that the project was languishing until the Commonwealth brought Ranney and Fairbank from America. The Commonwealth paid all expenses associated with the visit of these gentlemen, and the present plans for the development of the project by horizontal drilling methods are based entirely upon advice tendered by them. It may, therefore, be said that the Commonwealth gave a semblance of life to the corpse. Through lack of funds the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate was unable to continue its resuscitation, and that responsibility has now been assumed by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.
At a special meeting of shareholders of the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate, held on Monday, the 22nd December, 1941, Sir Richard Linton read a report, which was signed by three members of the committee. There had been some difference of opinion on the part of shareholders, and a committee was appointed to submit a report. A summary of the report is as follows : -
That shareholders, ‘ in consideration of special services rendered to the syndicate, make the following allocations: To Miss E. L. Lowe, 10 shares; to Mr. E. Smith, 10 shares; to Mr. J. Beveridge, 5 shares; to Mr. C. Carpenter, 5 shares; to the directors holding office on the 6th August, 1941, namely, Messrs. Ellis Davies, W. E. Foster, A. W. Imray, J. M. Stearns and C. Demaine, 40 shares each; to Mr. C. S. Demaine, £3,500 in cash.
One shareholder asked the cash position of the syndicate, to which the chairman replied: “ £S00 in the bank and £5,000 on fixed deposit “. An adjourned meeting was held on the 19th January, 1942. The recommendation of the committee evidently caused dissension among the shareholders. Addressing the meeting, Sir Harold Gengoult Smith deplored the squabble taking place and advised the directors not to accept the committee’s recommendations. He said he was prepared to recommend that the Government take over the whole business. That is not my suggestion, but the statement of an ex-lord mayor of the City of Melbourne who understood the position thoroughly. The Government has no desire to interfere with the Austral Oil Drilling Syndicate, but it has a duty to the people of Australia in connexion with the financing of concerns of this ‘kind. It has, therefore, taken steps to protect the funds which will be invested in the industry. The Government is as desirous as honorable senators opposite to encourage the development of oil supplies in Australia, particularly flow oil.
Honorable senators may be interested in the work of the Postal Department. It will be appreciated that the war has imposed a very heavy burden on that department, but despite the many difficulties with which the department has been confronted in regard to securing adequate supplies of plant and equipment, it has not only effectively undertaken its normal job of providing and maintaining normal postal, telegraphic and telephonic services for the community, but has also met the very exceptional demands made by the fighting forces for communication facilities which are so necessary in the successful prosecution of the war. The department has co-operated in the war effort in a most definite manner and has assisted in the expansion of many industries and organizations that are associated directly with the defence, security, and welfare of the -community. Every opportunity has been taken to extend the availability of postal and telegraphic facilities throughout Australia, and since the outbreak of hostilities arrangements have been made to ensure that during the present critical times essential services shall be maintained on a full day-and-night basis. At the same time, I have been fully conscious of the imperative need for effecting economies wherever practicable, and for setting an example to the community in the avoidance of waste and the elimination of all activities which are not essential to the conduct of the war. In consonance with the recently expressed desire of the Prime Minister for a more austere way of living, the Postal Department is co-operating to the utmost possible degree. Already, as the result of a critical examination of the practice and procedure of the Postal Department, considerate time, effort and stationery have been saved, thus enabling the staff to be either released for service with the armed forces or in war-time organizations, or re-allotted to better advantage in the department. In this respect it is of interest to mention that up to date over 4,000 employees of the Postal Department have joined the fighting forces, and nearly 600 trained officers have been loaned to other Commonwealth departments to assist in war activities.
Some time ago a comprehensive review was made of all postal facilities with a view to determining the extent to which normal services could be curtailed withoutaffecting the war effort or imposing undue hardship on the community. As a result of that review, substantial economies in man power have been effected, through the withdrawal or modification of facilities which, although justified in times of peace, are not warranted during the war period, when restrictions in normal laving conditions are inescapable. Honorable senators will recall the economies in man power, material and services affected by the Postal Department and announced by the Prime Minister when the austerity appeal was launched. [Extension of time granted.] In considering the question of modifying peace-time arrangements, close attention has ‘been paid to the possibility of employing females in many avenues previously restricted to males. These include letter sorting, delivery of correspondence, motor driving, machine telegraph operating, and ako nightattendance at telephone exchanges. As an indication of what is being accomplished in this .respect it is of interest to mention that the replacemen’t of male telephone operators by women has resulted in the release of about 400 young men for the fighting services. The (matter of effecting further economies is under review, and as a result of a recent examination of the position respecting the telegraphic service it is proposed to prohibit -from the 1st October, the acceptance of tipster and betting telegrams for the duration of the war.
A critical review of telegraphic transactions indicates that since the outbreak of war, the volume of transactions ha= risen substantially. In a period of three years the business has increased by over 40 per cent. It will be appreciated that this remarkable increase of traffic has presented many difficulties in respect of both labour and plant, and in consequence the department is obliged to explore every avenue in an endeavour to effect economies. The telegraph service is being used extensively to-day for war purposes, and it is essential that such traffic should be disposed of with the least possible delay. In the circumstances, therefore, it is thought that, as tipster and betting telegrams are in no way concerned with the war effort, they should be affected immediately by any restrictions which it is thought desirable to impose. It is realized, of course, that some inconvenience will result, but this cannot be regarded as being serious. By far the greater proportion of this class of business is lodged on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings, and it is estimated that the time of telegraphists alone in dealing with this class of traffic represents a total of over 12,000 man hours of labour annually. Not only is it necessary to incur heavy overtime expenditure in the treatment of this business, but also other traffic, some of which is of the important priority category and concerned with the war effort, is being delayed. As a further step in the direction of the conservation of telegraphic plant and man power, consideration is being given to the abolition of the lettergram service. This facility was originally introduced for the purpose of utilizing costly telegraphic plant at night time, when it would otherwise be idle. Under war-time conditions, however, the available channels on all the main telegraph routes are fully occupied, often into the early morning hours. In view of the changed circumstances therefore, it is felt that the department would be justified in suspending the lettergram service for the duration of the war. I pay a tribute to the work of the officers and staff of my department, from the Director-General of Postal Services, to the most recently appointed message boy. I. do not omit the women employees of the department. Like Senator Gibson, who occupied the position of PostmasterGeneral for many years, I have been able to observe the valuable work that they perform. People who complain of delays and inconvenience in connexion with the delivery of mails have no idea of the magnitude of the work performed by the department. I regret that last night the Senate carried a motion which has affected the department considerably, as arrangements hadbeen made for the transfer, over a period, of 1,000 males from the department to war departments.
– The matter should not be discussed now; it was dealt with last night.
– The Minister had an opportunity last night to discuss the disallowance of certain regulations; he is not in order in referring to the subject on this motion.
– I am dealing with the activities of the Postal Department and the effect of last night’s vote.
– The Minister is not entitled to make reference to a matter which was determined last evening.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. President. I hope that while honorable senators opposite have been critical of the Government they will at least give it credit for trying to do its best in the country’s present hour of peril. “We have endeavoured to do our best. On many occasions the Opposition has declared that it will co-operate with the Government. Let its assistance be practical. TheGovernment is not infallible. It will make mistakes, as will any other government. I do not abject to the correction of mistakes. However, when honorable senators opposite offer the Government assistance let them be practical. Otherwise, such declarations are useless. If honorahle senators opposite do that they will be making a far greater contribution to our war effort than they are making to-day.
.- This debate enables honorable senators to express views on broad lines regarding the provisions of the budget. In view of the truce to which the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) has just referred, I feel that one should do one’s chiding gently. The assistance which he and his colleagues rendered to the Fadden and Menzies Governments when they were in Opposition reached its climax when, with the aid of two independent members of the House of Representatives, they were enabled to defeat the Fadden Ministry and put themselves on the treasury bench. They must now expect us to chide them,because, as they rightly said themselves when in Opposition, it is the duty of an opposition to point out defects in an endeavour to remedy them. Parliament is the only forum where we can do so. We have not obstructed the Government. Members of the Government, when in Opposition, were not obstructive until they struck a fatal blow at the Fadden Government’s financial proposals. We do not take exception to the broad principles enunciated in the Treasurer’s budget speech, which, when it was cabled overseas, commended itself to the people of London. The Treasurer himself warned us against the financial dangers confronting this and many other countries to-day. Australia does not face only the physical danger of war; this other danger which has been referred to in language far too gentle as the “ gap “ in the budget, is almost as great. Unless we can fill that gap we shall bring the country to the brink of a yawning chasm. We shall be overtaken by a catastrophe from which it will take us a very long time to regain our present poise. The principles enunciated in this budget are not exceptional. Indeed, one could cull from it almost exactly the same language regarding sound principles of finance as were to be found in the Fadden budget. However, there is a fear - I hope that it is not well founded and I say that from the bottom of my heart - that we are incapable of filling this gap except by resorting to a method which has already been resorted to by, not only this, but also other governments. I refer to the use of bank credit. Whilst the Treasurer said that there was no reason to suppose that the Government would not get all of the loan money it required, a view supported by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) in this debate, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) himself expressed very grave doubts on the matter. However, the Prime Minister left us in the air. We do not know what the Government proposes to do should its huge loan programme remain unfilled. Every word uttered by my col league Senator Spicer in his very vigourous speech, with regard to the dangers that confront the Government, and which it is our duty as an Opposition to point out, was absolutely justified. There can be no doubt that those dangers exist. Should they overtake us, woe betide those who are responsible for them. They themselves will be overwhelmed not only politically but also economically by such a catastrophe. I pray that such a catastrophe shall not occur. Not only honorable senators on this side but also supporters of the Government should do all in their power to induce the people who are holding on to their money to place it at the disposal of the Government. At the same time, the Government should take care to see that no loose statements are made in respect to financial policy. During the last few days a statement was made by a prominent member of the Labour party, that these loans will not be repaid, and it was blazoned forth in the press. In view of the Government’s loan requirements such a statement should never have been made. Certainly, it should never have been allowed to see the light of day, and, indeed, would not have done so had the censor been doing his duty. This afternoon, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), as the Minister representing the Treasurer, supplied a statement showing the tremendous increase of the value of notes held by the public. The sum has increased to £96,000,000. We know that the holding of the banks has remained steady between £14,000,000 and £16,000,000. What do those facts mean? A lack of confidence somewhere. Should not that money be in the hands of the Treasurer to-day? Who is holding it? The big man is not holding it. He is far too wise. Notes will be the first form of money to decrease in value should the Government be unable to carry out its loan programme in its entirety, or to a degree sufficient to make the position safe. In these circumstances, any suggestion that this country would repudiate its indebtedness, and loans which are to he raised because of the exigencies confronting the nation, is unworthy of any man holding a position in the legislative halls of this country. It is most detrimental to the efforts of the Government to secure its loan requirements. Such a statement calls for an immediate pronouncement by the Prime Minister. The principles enunciated in the budget speech are sound. Any Statement that cute across them in this way is most dangerous, and calls for something more than an ordinary rebuke. Those words should never have been allowed to appear in either Hansard or the press. They are not sentiments which the people of Australia, or Parliament, will approve. They are not the sentiments of the .British race. We stand by our obligations. Whatever the result may be, we shall pay back the last penny that we extract from any section of the people. What else could we do? Where is the bulk of this money coming from ? It is coming from the large insurance companies, and represents the premiums paid by policyholders. If a doubt be created in the public mind, and the doubt already exists-
– It looks as though the honorable senator is successfully creating a doubt of that kind. What is his idea?
– I am discussing the matter because a report has appeared in the press that loans will never be repaid. Already, that psychology exists among the people. It is proven bv the fact that the people are withholding a gigantic sum of money. Recently, a friend of mine called on a station-owner at his holding. After a little conversation, the latter informed him that he had stowed away in a certain place beneath his home, £3,000 in bank-notes. Finance is a curious thing; it affects every man and woman in the community in a different way. What was at the back of that man’s mind? Probably, he feared inflation. If he did, the most foolish thing he could have done was to keep bank-notes. I remind the Leader of the Senate that not so long ago after some inept words were broadcast over the air, a very large amount in notes was withdrawn from various trading banks in Melbourne and Sydney. I do not know what the exact language used in that pronouncement was; but the remarks of the Prime Minister were construed to mean that there was likely to be a freezing of bank balances, or something of that sort. As the result of that statement, one person, who recently came to this country and had had experience of these dangers, withdrew £3,000 or £4,000 in notes from his bank. He asked the teller whether he thought he had enough to live upon. 3 trust that the Minister representing the Treasurer will impress upon the Treasurer the significance of this tremendous holding of notes by the public of which he gave us details to-day. Our taxation is very severe; but in the main the system is sound. What I fear is that it may become destructive of the revenues of the Government. Already, the feeling is getting abroad that it is not good to earn more than a certain amount. We want every ounce of effort from the people at this moment. We want them to earn all they can, but human nature being what it is, when some persons realize that there is nothing to be gained by earning over a certain amount, they stop at a certain point. That is a matter which the Government should consider very carefully. The Fadden Government was defeated because it proposed to establish a system of post-war credits.
– I think there were other reasons.
– No doubt there were. The manipulations that take place in politics are not altogether outside my vision, but they are always so unworthy and despicable that one refrains from referring to them in the debate on such an important document as the budget. The Fadden Government was defeated, ostensibly at all events, because of its post-war credit proposals. This Government is endeavouring to get by voluntary effort what Mr. Fadden bluntly said that he was going to take, pay interest on, and convert into Commonwealth bonds. What is the underlying principle of the so-called austerity campaign, and of rationing? It is all very well for the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) or some other supporter of the Government to say, “ Oh, it is only to provide against too many goods being taken off the market, and avert a rush for them “. The austerity campaign can mean only that the individual is to have more money in his pock?*, and will not be allowed to spend it. The Treasurer and the Prime Minister hope, by voluntary effort to draw into the coffers. of the Treasury sufficient revenue to bridge this gap. My fervent wish is that they may succeed, but why not be frank about it all ? Why not do what Mr. Fadden proposed to do, hateful and all as it is to me to have to compel people to do anything of that sort? I like them to be free, but they must surrender some of their freedom when the nation is up against it, when their liberty is at stake, and they are fighting perhaps for more than liberty, because I shall presently show that this war means more to civilization than perhaps we at this distance from its centre ever imagine. The austerity campaign and the rationing of goods have all been designed for the purpose of forcing money to where it is needed. In their press and radio appeals the Government is trying to do exactly the same thing as Mr. Fadden was prepared to do, but is using a form of cajolery. It says to the citizen : “ You must not spend money on this or that “. What then is he to do with it? That is why I again stress to the Minister representing the Treasurer in this chamber that the Government ought to ascertain where the tremendous portion of the note issue in the hands of the public is located. It is a menace, because it shows a lack of confidence on the part of the people who are holding it. There is no reason why we should not be confident of the future of this country, large as our indebtedness is, because our finance is ‘based in the main on sound principles, including a. sinking fund, with which I am glad to say that no Commonwealth government, whatever its political colour, has ever tampered. In reading the budget speech of Mr. Chifley I was reminded of the budget speech of Mr. Fadden, because the same principles were enunciated. The only difference is that the Prime Minister hopes by the soothing tones of his Treasurer to induce the people to pay up by taking out war savings certificates and investing in loans. That is not, in my view, a safe or satisfactory way to budget, but the responsibility for the budget rests with the Government. I feel very strongly that it is our duty to do everything in our power to minimize the danger which not only those on this side of the Senate see so plainly but which the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and the President of the United States of America see so plainly. It is a danger that is worrying the controllers of finance on the other side of the world, but there they have taken their courage in their hands and have started a post-war credit system. Some think that we should plan now for post-war activities. That would be quite right if we knew what the situation would be after the war, if we could measure up what we had and what the other fellow had, and if there were no Atlantic Charter, to which I understand that our Prime Minister’s signature is attached. That charter will alter the whole fiscal system of the British Empire, the United States of America, and probably the whole of the southern states of America. It will open up. a new vista, which some people welcome with open arms, of free trade in all the raw materials of the world. With such a charter before us, knowing that it has had the acceptance of the whole of the dominions, the Mother Country, and the United States of America, we should be bold indeed to plan ahead. I appreciate to the full the wonderful work that I have seen done in factories by youths and women who have come off the land, but my heart sinks within me when I know that we have to provide for those people in some form when the war is over. If we are going to live in an armed world, well and good, and it may be that we shall have to do so. This struggle for supremacy may go on indefinitely. If it does, our outlook must be turned in one direction. We must organize and plan for a war economy extending perhaps over years.
– Then let us open up the resources of India.
– I shall mention that subject in a few moments, if the honorable Senator will possess his soul in patience. In the meantime, let us examine the problem. Imagine China, our great ally, coming into the industrial world, compared with Australia, which comparatively speaking, has only just started its secondary production. I look askance at what may happen. The basis of our economic life has been our primary production, and it may have to continue so for many years. Certain things we may be able to hold. We may be able to develop our resources in iron, steel and other minerals and retain the great cement industry. There are certain ways in which we are leading the world and we may continue to do so, but I fear that in respect of a number of others, representing what I might call mushroom growths of industry, will suffer. Without desiring to inflame the minds of Senator Gibson and Senator Aylett let me point to the position of the flax industry. We have embarked on the growing of flax, an excellent undertaking. But once let the position in Europe be restored, let Latvia, and the countries on the borders of Latvia, and also Russia, get into full production again and where will be the market for our flax product? If we subscribe to the Atlantic Charter we shall not be allowed to place prohibitive or any other tariffs upon it, and the producers of our flax, which is now essential to us as a war material, will, I fear, be overwhelmed. I say that although at present I am trying to get men -to grow it.
– It can be made a post-war industry.
– It will have to be produced at a very different cost from that which the producer of flax lias to face to-day, and on a parity with the Latvian or Russian cost of production. We shall have to give the Finns a chance, if we are going to subscribe wholeheartedly to the Atlantic Charter. That is what governs the position. If we are in an armed world, we may carry on as we are and develop certain industries, but the whole question turns on what our position will be when the war is over. I deprecate groping in the dark in an endeavour to make provision for our people, on the assumption that a certain set of conditions will prevail. I take a very serious view regarding some of the secondary industries of Australia. So far as the primary industries are concerned we appear to be in a much better position, and I do deprecate at this stage in the world’s history and in the interests of civilization this urging of people to cease production. Our wheatgrowers have to receive government aid and I believe that they are getting it. Our meat, wool and other primary products must help to feed the starving millions of Europe. It is our duty to the Motherland, our sister Dominion of Canada and the United States of America to continue to produce. We must produce all the foodstuffs we can, preserve them as best we can and send them to our own kith and kin across the seas. I applaud the steps that the Government has taken for the dehydration of meat. The dehydration of butter is another important development. It may astonish some who are notwell versed in this process to know that pure milk is already so treated. A cube, which, when put into hot water, will give 26 gallons of pure milk is being produced. The Americans are using it extensively in their camps in Australia.. I understand that as the result of experiments carried out at Homebush, Sydney, it is now possible to dehydrate mutton, including the fat content. Dehydrated mutton is crumbly stuff resembling some of our breakfast foods and it can be compressed into an astonishingly 9ma’ll space for shipment overseas. Concentrated foods of this kind are proving of immense value to many millions of our own people who have had to go short. No doubt the experiments will extend to many other foods. Shipping space means everything to-day, and food means everything to Great Britain. Our accomplishments in the science of dehydration is something for which I commend the Government, and I hope that this valuable work will continue to receive the closest attention of our scientists, chemists and business men in the future.
There is another matter with which we are perhaps a little hesitant in dealing, and that is the question of a second front. I do not know how many fronts the United Nations already have, but they are legion. They are fighting in Libya, Madagascar, Europe and on the high seas. In the Pacific theatre, our enemies are approaching Port Moresby, and are seeking to recapture the Solomons. All around us we have battle fronts, and to those who would ask iia to open a second front in Europe.
I say, let us trust our leaders. They are better able to judge than we are, unless I am very much mistaken. If they are not capable of leadership, then they should not be where they are. The responsibility is theirs. I can imagine no greater disaster than the failure of a second front. It would be appalling, and it might mean the end of us. It might also mean the end of our civilization as I shall show presently. I repeat that we must trust our leaders. There is an inclination to be disturbed by the frequent changes in our various commands, but we should not despair. We can rest assured that those who are appointed to responsible positions, are the best men available for the jobs. Recently, I read a passage in which the writer referred to “ the awful solitude of leadership “ as “ the most desolate peak accessible to the human soul “. That description appeals to me. In addition to our military leaders, pinpricking attacks have been made upon all our war-time Prime Ministers. Nobody escapes these petty criticisms, and, after all, what are they? Are we not democrats? Are we not prepared to trust those whom we appoint to lead us? Surely the position is serious enough; surely we realize the danger, not only to ourselves, but also to the British Empire, the United Nations, and the even greater danger to civilization itself. This world convulsion may mean the end of our present civilization if certain forces are in the ascendant. It may mean that we shall revert to the dark ages which enveloped Europe after the fall of the Athenian democracy. Others may have to start all over again and work up to the high pitch of civilization that we have now reached. I am not a pessimist; I believe in the future and the spirit of our race, but we must keep together. We must stand behind our leaders; we must not indulge in these pin-pricking attacks to which I have referred. Let us look at the great service that is being rendered by the individualists of this country. I have heard honorable senators opposite declaim loudly against Mr. Essington Lewis, and then, after learning of the excellent work that he is doing, acclaim him as a man with the greatest organizing intellect in Australia. I have seen these individualists at work. We may call them “gun-boat” this, “battleship “ that, or “ red “ something else, but they have character and driving force, and are giving to this country a service which probably could not be given by any one else. I take this opportunity to pay a tribute to them. I have had an opportunity to examine the work that they are doing, and I have no hesitation in saying that it is of extraordinary value. Wonderful service is being given by individuals like Mr. Nixon, Colonel Forbes, Sir Harry Brown, Mr. W. J. Smith, the Ruwolts, and many others. No doubt, on occasions they make mistakes and do things of which we do not approve; but it is on the individual effort, and on the individual character of these men that we must rely. It may be argued that I am speaking of men who are on my own side in politics, but I pay the same tribute to Mr. Theodore, with whom I have no politicalaffiliations. Mr. Theodore is subjected to constant pin-pricking in the course of the great work that has been entrusted to him. Perhaps, he also has made mistakes, hut after all who has not? We all make them; but at such a time as this, it is hardly in the interests of the nation to mispresent minor matters such as the allegedly luxurious accommodation with which these men are provided, or to claim that Mr. So and so, whose car is fitted with a producer-gas unit, always drives on motor spirit. Such petty attacks are unworthy of us. Mr. Nixon, for instance, is a man who could have been spending the rest of his days on what he has earned, without worrying about the war, and that applies to several others. In addition to the individuals whom I have mentioned, there are others whose work is more or less behind the scenes. For instance, there is a panel of accountants, who have placed their services at the disposal of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) without fee or reward. They have offered their services willingly, and they are at the beck and call of the Minister and of various departmental officials, parliamentary committees, and other instrumentalities which are assisting the war effort. In times such as these, when not only our own safety, but also the future of civilization, is im- perilled, it is unworthy of us as democrats to be so mean-minded as to be constantly hurling brickbats at men who are giving their services in our war effort. We must have these men; we must have their drive, force of character and organizing ability. We must place ourselves in their hands, just as a cricket team or a football team places itself in the hands of the captain. It is true that mistakes have been made, but after all, war is the greatest mistake in the world. These men have been given the task of helping this nation, helping the old Empire, and helping civilization, so give them a chance.
Senator Lamp, for whom I have the greatest respect, made certain suggestions for the improvement of conditions in India. I am sure that the honorable senator will forgive me if I conclude by saying to bini that the interference of any dominion in this matter would savour very much of teaching one’s grandmother to suck eggs. The backward nations of the world such as India and Egypt have been the particular care of the Mother Country. Britain has administered, ruled and governed these countries so far as possible with a gloved hand. It. has sought to advance, their peoples in every way. and to protect them against their own civil wars. Were it not. for Great. Britain’s influence, those countries would have been in a constant turmoil. For centuries, Britain has been the greatest colonizing power in the world. The British people were the first to abandon slavery; they were prepared to fight for that principle which they knew was right. Great, Britain has wielded its influence in India for the good of the people. It. has protected them from disease, prevented famine, and, with the assistance of the Indian princes, kept peace. A large proportion of the people of India to-day remain loyal to the British Crown. I say these thing’s to Senator Lamp because he has not the opportunity that I have had te see what has been done in some of those backward countries. It may interest him and other honorable senators to hear what happened on one occasion when I was travelling through Egypt. With me were two distinguished gentlemen from a country which is very friendly to us at the moment. After they had made a survey of what was being done, they said that the country was in a dreadful state. They pointed out that with machines and other equipment work could be done in a way which would seem incredible to people who were not familiar with modern methods. I asked them if they had ever thought what the result of such changes would he upon a backward people who throughout the ages had worked with their hands in their own way. Britain has placed a guiding hand on all of these backward countries. There is no suggestion that India may not some day be a self-governing dominion. Some Indians have attended universities in Great Britain, with dire results, sometimes to the Motherland, because they have gone back to their own country with rather inflamed minds. These countries must be nursed, and peace must be preserved in them. The people must have something to occupy their minds. They must earn their living in the oldfashioned ways that have been adopted for centuries. They must even have their little carts drawn by oxen, and must cultivate their small plots of land. These methods seem to us to be far behind the times, but heaven forbid that we should alter their customs too firmly, or let loose those forces which in some of these countries divide the people, as no other people have been divided. Religious fanaticism and zeal have cost more human, lives probably than great wars.
Britain has acted as it has in order to preserve the peace and contentment of the people of India. Nobody knows better than that long line of statesmen who have succeeded one another in Britain how to handle problems such as those of India. Certain promises have been made to that country and they will be kept. I do not think that those promises are needed in order to ensure the loyalty of the Indians. Their representatives have attended conferences at Geneva with an enthusiasm for peace which is remarkable. It is true that Lord Lytton led them, but their cultured outlook and reverence for the British form of government amazed me. Let us leave alone those things which do not concern us. The Mother Country has managed for centuries, to the advantage of the Indians, to protect them, and will manage to preserve the great Indian Empire as part of our Commonwealth of Nations. The King Emperor is still the Emperor of India, and will so remain. The people of India have a promise ratified by the British Parliament that selfgovernment will be granted to them at the proper time. This is not the time for us, or for the people of any other part of the Empire, or for India itself, to raise this difficult matter. India is threatened by a foe that would not treat Indians as the British have done. It would not treat them with those principles of kindness and help that have characterized British administration there. We may be reminded that -dive and Hastings have governed in India. We subdued India, and we had to do it in the interests of the people of that country. It may be remarked that we are taking similar action in Madagascar to-day for another reason, but dire necessity compels our forces to go to Madagascar, and it is dire necessity that compelled Britain to impose its administration on India for the benefit of that race which is divided in a manner that could lead only to dire consequences to India itself if the guiding hand of Britain were withdrawn.
Sometimes I feel a little sad to think of the direction in which we are heading. I commend to honorable senators a book that I read recently entitled When London Burns, written by an Englishwoman to an American confrere. We have not realized the brutality of this war, and the brutality of the people against whom we are fighting. Sir John Latham who has returned to Australia, and has been candid with us about what the war in the Pacific means to every Australian, has laid the position bare before various audiences in Australia. We must not preen ourselves that we can make peace. We have to win the war and subdue our enemies. If honorable senators read When London Burns. they will learn what has happened to infants, children, women, cripples, hospital nurses, and patients in hospitals. It makes, one’s blood boil and. wish one were younger, so that one might set an example by going to his death in the interests of our civilization, rather than be the slave of those who possess such ele- ments of cruelty in their nature as do our enemies. They can be described only as- barbarians. We should realize the tremendous advance that we as a British, people have made. Having had. all the advantages of education and refinement, hatred of cruelty seems to have been bred in us as a race. These things are too precious to lose, and, therefore, we must fight for the retention of our civilization. Therefore,. I say to the Leader of the Senate, “ Let us not be provocative “.
– As the war has developed through its second and third years, it is natural that many restrictive and unexpected measures have been imposed. There has been slow but certain development in the economic life of Australia, as the pressure of war has increased. »I propose to give a brief survey of the implementation of clothes rationing in Australia. It will be remembered that, because of the serious supply position, the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) introduced a restriction which, in effect, meant that shops were allowed only up to 75 per cent, of the quantity of commodities previously sold by them. As a result, the public, knowing that the first to come would be the first served, indulged in an orgy of panic buying that stands to this day to their great discredit. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) asked the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) to be the Chairman of a. Rationing Commission, which was asked to devise a system by which available supplies would be spread fairly over the whole of the community. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) and I were invited to be members of the commission. The job was urgent, and little time was given in which plans could be developed for the introduction of rationing. In Great. Britain twelve months was occupied in introducing’ the scheme and finally launching it. Therefore, it seems that good work has been done in Australia in putting the scheme into operation within a few weeks. As so little notice was received by the commission, it was not able to introduce the scheme in as complete a form as it desired. Its main task was to. get the system in operation and to deal with inequities as they arose. In the initial stages we sought the help of two great organizations, the Government Printing Offices throughout Australia and the Commonwealth Electoral Office. We asked the Government Printers to produce in three weeks nearly 7,000.000 coupon books. For the moment the task appalled them, but they told the commission that they could guarantee, not only to print the books, but also to deliver them throughout Australia in the appointed time. The next job was to find an organization that could handle the distribution of the coupon books. We approached the Electoral Office, and it accepted the responsibility for this work. Although we considered that it would be possible on the two days of distribution to dispose of 60 per cent of the books, over 93 per cent of them were distributed. I publicly thank both the Government Printers and their staffs and the Electoral Office for their valuable work.
The first impact of rationing, as far as the public was concerned, was the distribution of the coupon books. This was arranged in such a wellplanned manner that the Rationing Commission was regarded by the public as a capable body. Although the work was not done by the commission, it received the credit for it. That made our subsequent work and rulings all the more acceptable to the public. The first difficulty was that a section of the community was anxious to adopt some form of value rationing. It was considered unfair that a man with a good deal of money should he allowed to buy a suit of clothes costing 20 guineas, whilst a poorer man could pay only 5 guineas for his suit. One man could buy an article that would last two or three times longer than the cheaper clothing. The commission studied that aspect of rationing, but found it impossible to implement. It worked in conjunction with the Department of War Organization of Industry, which was working on a system of standards under which eventually almost all rationed clothing will be standardized. This eliminates the inequality. Ultimately, we decided on coupon rationing. Our ration scale is more generous than the scale in operation in Great
Britain. The first scale contemplated was more generous than that on which we ultimately decided. We studied the position in regard to the supply of cotton and wool, and the manpower required to maintain supplies, and finally a scale was introduced which meant that every adult would be able to purchase only half of his purchases in 1939. For children we worked on a scale of 75 per cent, of the purchases in 1939, and for infants under four years the full scale of 1939 purchases was allowed. There was a special scale for expectant mothers. We approached Dr. Scantlebury, who is one of the foremost authorities on problems affecting mothers and children, and obtained a complete list of what was considered essential for the expectant mother and the newborn babe, and the commission made coupons available to cover that list fully.
The first development, and our first problem, was that the public had, to some degree, defeated the main object of the Government by hoarding. The hoarding which took place meant that of the meagre supplies available too much had been taken by selfish individuals for their own future use. It is strange how people defeat their own purpose by rushing to buy goods that are available and hoarding them, because the result is that the authorities are forced to do things which otherwise would not be necessary. These people created a scarcity and a demand, with the result that the Government, in self defence, was forced to institutea form of rationing. The setting up of the organization was a difficult job, particularly as the time allowed was so short. The time which the Commission allowed to the State organizations was shorter still; we gave to the Deputy Directors approximately five days to set up the organization to handle the rationing rush. First, we approached each State Premier and asked him to make available a tried and trusted public servant, preferably one with experience in handling Emergency Food Supplies, to take over the position of Deputy Director in each State. I thank the Premiers for their co-operation with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) in making available the good men that have been appointed ; they are doing an extraordinarily good job. They have, indeed, borne the brunt of the work without gaining any public notice, and with no special knowledge of rationing apart from what they gained on the job. One reason that the system has worked so smoothly is that the Deputy Directors are men of high calibre. Our first approach to people was made easy by the assistance rendered to the commission by the newspapers of Australia. They helped U3 in every way possible, in many instances, going so far as to submit articles to the commission before publication, so that nothing harmful to the system would be published. Thus, we were able to tell them what articles suited us and what, if published, would binder us. I am glad to say that the newspapers co-operated with us in inaugurating and launching the scheme, and in preparing the people to accept the new idea. We also called the advertising and publicity people together. We wanted to lay down a basis on which they could do their job, and at the same time assist the commission. We knew that advertising would have to be controlled - that there should not be any stimulation of the people to buy goods. We asked them to concentrate more on describing the durability and long-wearing qualities of rationed goods, so that money expended in purchasing them would be used wisely. We laid down also that wherever rationed goods were advertised, their coupon value should be stated. We recognized the valuable function which the advertising people could perform in educating the people to the changes of trading customs that were being made. We knew that they could help in securing public acceptance of substitute products and in making a more limited selection of goods. We asked them to help by encouraging people to accept “ austerity “ products, and to make goods last longer, thereby assisting in the Government’s economy campaign.
The State organizations started under a heavy handicap; there was so much to do, and so little time in which to do it. In the Sydney office, where I was on the Tuesday morning that rationing commenced, we had one room in which hundreds of people were dealt with on the opening day. On the following day we were able to obtain another room, and by knocking a hole through the wall we enlarged our premises. Some days elapsed before we were able to obtain the premises which we now occupy. From that humble start the Sydney office has grown, and now it houses nearly 100 employees. Some weeks ago, I made a check of the work done in that office. The inward mail contained 2,400 ‘letters in one day and the outward mail 1,900 letters. In addition, over 2,000 personal interviews and inquiries were attended to. Those figures show the magnitude of the job. Whenever any commodity is rationed the decision of the commission applies throughout the Commonwealth, and to every man, woman and child in it. As an instance of the magnitude of the task which the commission has undertaken, Mr. Hudson, the Deputy Director in New South Wales, estimates that this year the Sydney office will handle 500,000,000 coupons. All those coupons will eventually be returned to the office, where they will be checked and cancelled. In respect of coupons for clothing he expects that his office will handle 300,000,000 coupons. Between 25 and 30 cwt. of coupons are taken away and pulped in .Sydney every week. They are not burned ; the paper is used again. As another instance of the magnitude of the job, I mention that up to date, there have been over 25,000 applications for extra coupons by expectant mothers.
One of the most difficult problems with which the commission. has dealt has been the rationing of industrial clothing. In order to get over the initial period of rationing the commission decided that garments necessary for health and safety were to be coupon-free, but we found in practice that that system would not work. In one factory men working alongside one another would be wearing similar garments, some of which would be couponfree, whilst others required coupons. Moreover, we found differentiation in these matters in the same industry, and that the system placed certain persons at, a disadvantage compared with others. When the rationing system settled down, the commission instituted a Commonwealthwide inquiry, through the trade union movement, in order to ascertain the exact requirements of the workers in each industry in respect of industrial clothing. Every trade union secretary in the Commonwealth was communicated with, and asked to state the exact requirements of members of his union. In respect of the mining industry, for instance, the secretaries were asked to differentiate between men working in an open cut and men working in wet mines. We took into account the greater, or less, wear on clothing in different sections of the same mine or industry. That principle was applied to most industries, and by that means we obtained a good idea of the wear and tear on industrial clothing. We got representatives of the trade unions together, and found them most helpful. We told them that we knew that they should not wish to he placed in a more advantageous position than others. As soon as they realized that every organization in the trade union movement was being treated in the same way, and was on the same basis as the ordinary man in the street, they were most anxious to help. They brought forward their records showing the wear and tear on clothes, working boots, Asc, and from the information thus obtained we were able to draw up a scale. We made ii clear to them also that we did not wish them to be in a more advantageous position than others engaged in clerical work or undertakings not requiring industrial clothes. We told them that we expected them to use approximately one-half of their coupons for ordinary clothing and the other half for working clothes. We explained that a clerical worker who wore his ordinary clothing at his place of employment was regarded as wearing it equally at work and at home. Finally, we worked out a scale for industrial clothes under which additional coupons ranging from 10 to 35 have been provided. Of the main principles which guided us in connexion with industrial clothing the first was that where such industrial clothing had little or no effect in reducing the wear on ordinary clothing, and could not be used for general wear, it should be coupon-free. Under that heading would be included such articles as snow suits worn in freezing chambers and industrial gloves. Types of clothing worn only in industry have been assessed at low-coupon rates. That would apply to such articles as working boots. We tried to ensure that a man doing work which caused heavy wear and tear on clothes should have sufficient coupons to enable him to obtain sufficient clothes. A special reduction of coupon value wa3 made in respect of uniforms for such employees as policemen, firemen and tramwaymen. &c. Reductions were also made in respect of the uniforms of waitresses, or where garments are needed for handling food, and for coats for doctors and dentists, and trousers for surgeons. The commission estimates that there will be between 130,000 and 140,000 special issues under this heading of industrial clothing. In order that the least possible demand shall be made foi” clothing, the commission has asked employers not to insist on maintaining pre-war standards of dress. We have tried to approach this subject fairly in relation to the acute supply position. We left manchester goods and heavy furnishings ration-free if made-up, but not when sold in the piece, because experience in Great Britain showed that people bought furnishings by the yard and used them to make articles of clothing. We could not take the risk of making the same mistake. One reason why the Rationing Commission was launched so quietly, and without causing adverse public reaction, was because it consulted every section of the trade before arriving at its decisions. We talked to representatives of the retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, and told them what we had in mind. We asked for their assistance. Thus, we evolved plans which the industry assured us would be workable. To-day we have advisory committees of these bodies in every State. We registered every wholesaler, manufacturer and importer. In New South Wales, these numbered about 2,500. We did not register the retailer, because it was the aim of the commission to maintain normal trading as far as possible. We knew that we could finally check up on the coupons as they were returned to the commission. In order to give to retailers and wholesalers an opportunity to get used to the scheme, we allowed a couponfree period of trading from the inauguration of the scheme on the 17th June to 31st August. In that period traders were enabled to establish coupon banks before coupons were needed to replace stocks. The handling of coupons represents a very important part of the commission’s organization. We had. to find out the best way to deal with this problem. We approached the associated banks in Melbourne, who were happy to give us every assistance in that respect. We evolved a scheme whereby a trader could bank his coupons against which the banks advanced vouchers. This greatly simplified trading.
One natural development of rationing has been the cessation of demand for certain classes of goods. In making purchases, people now appraise goods not so much on their money value as on their coupon value. They are not buying cheap goods, or goods which are not durable, because they are endeavouring to save up coupons and make them go as far as possible. The result of this trend is that the shops cannot sell many classes of goods. Realizing this, the commission will allow “white elephant” sales, whereby these classes of goods can be disposed of coupon free, or at a greatly reduced coupon rate. This will enable retailers to clear their shelves of those goods. At the same time, however, the commission will recommend that the manufacture of these classes of goods be prohibited. It is obvious that if they cannot be sold at present coupon rates, they should not be manufactured. We hope to assist traders in getting rid of these classes of goods.
Another problem which arose, and one which was the subject of many deputations to the commission, was the inequitable effect of rationing in respect of children who grew very rapidly between the ages of twelve and sixteen years. Boys and girls coming within this category are obliged to buy their clothes in the adult department. They are naturally handicapped because they cannot buy on the children’s scale. Within the next few days, the commission will announce a special coupon scale based on height and weight, under which boys and girls over twelve and under sixteen will receive additional coupons. We hope that school teachers will accept the responsibility of distributing these coupon books. This problem has not been so pressing as it has been in Great Britain, because our general coupon scale is more generous to children. The 56 coupons allowed to children under the general scale has proved sufficient to meet their needs up to this stage. That explains the delay in reaching a decision on this matter.
Another interesting fact is the number of coupon books which are lost. This has caused the commission considerable trouble, because in every case where a coupon hook is lost a certain number of coupons have been used. In order to curtail this development a3 much as possible, and to avoid victimizing people who really lose their books, or have them stolen, we have decided that people who lose coupon books must first of all report their loss to the police, and sign a statutory declaration setting out the details of how and where it was lost. In addition, such persons will be obliged to wait for a substantial period before they are supplied with a new book. That precaution is being taken in case the old books turn up. Each week, over 700 books are reported lost in Sydney alone. That should give some idea of this .section of the commission’s work.
Another difficult problem arose in respect of the issue of wool to the Australian Comforts Funds and the Red Cross and other voluntary organizations. In every district, these organizations are sewing, or knitting, for the soldiers; and, in most districts, these bodies preferred to make a personal distribution to soldiers previously resident in that district. That practice has something to recommend it on the sentimental side. Our concern in this matter concerned distribution. There is an acute shortage of wool. We asked the Australian Comforts Fund and the Red Cross to assist us. We agreed to give to those organizations a reduced quantity of wool, and let them distribute it to their branches or anybody registered with them. We stipulated, however, that the articles made up from such wool were to be returned to the central bodies and distributed by them. The Army authorities issue to the soldiers every thing he needs. Despite that fact, however, the commission has generously decided to allow each soldier a special issue of 25 coupons in order to enable him to buy such extra articles as gloves, scarves, shoes, &c. In view of the fact that the commission was established not because of reduced production of goods, but because 70 per cent, of the goods produced were already allotted to the fighting services, it seemed contradictory to allow further distributions to the soldiers out of the remaining 30 per cent, of the wool available. Our job was to conserve supplies and, we felt that the army authorities had provided the soldier with all he needed. He could obtain replacements of worn out articles by making requisition to the QuartermasterGeneral. Indeed, the Australian Comforts Fund got a bad name because few soldiers ever received a parcel direct from it. On making inquiries, I discovered that all of the goods made up by the comforts fund were going out to the soldiers through the quartermasters’ stores in an anonymous fashion. Consequently the Comforts Fund got little credit for its work. It was only natural that the impression should arise among the soldiers that the fund was not doing anything for them. The military authorities do not favour the forwarding of parcels to individual soldiers, because this practice arouses jealousy among men who do not receive parcels. Further, due to lack of control, one soldier might receive two or three parcels, whereas many of his mates might not receive any at all. The commission fully appreciates the cooperation it has received from all bodies interested in looking after the welfare of members of the armed forces. We consulted representatives of all these bodies. We do not say that our plan is perfect. However, from the point of view of conserving supplies we had no alternative. We decided to allow the nearest relative of a prisoner of war enough coupons to send four parcels a year to that prisoner of war. Our problem does not arise from a shortage of raw materials. As honorable senators know we have sufficient wool. The real prob- lem arises from the shortage of manpower for manufacture. An educational campaign is now being conducted through many women’s organizations. We have arranged for them to obtain raw wool which can be dyed, and spinning wheels are being made available to enable members of these organizations to spin the wool themselves.
We were obliged to work out just what the soldier needed. To every noncommissioned soldier of the Australian and American forces we have allowed 25 special coupons annually. Officers of both the Australian and American forces are allowed an initial issue of 90 coupons and 70 coupons for replacements as well as a special issue of 70 coupons. The position of the officer differs from that of the private in that the former has to provide more of his requirements. We give to the American nurses 70 coupons, and the American Red Cross the equivalent of 35 coupons. Enlisted women personnel are given 30 coupons, and naval personnel 25 coupons for replacements. The official kit supplied to members of these organizations supplies their real needs. Then we had to meet the needs of persons upon termination of service with defence organizations, in order to enable them to carry on until they received their civilian identity cards, and obtained their civilian coupon books. To training nurses, we have allowed an initial issue of 200 coupons, and 100 coupons to fully trained nurses, with 50 coupons a year for replacements in each case. The calls for special issues have been surprisingly large. These include calls from members of the Mercantile Marine, expectant mothers, evacuees and refugees, hardship cases, people going to special climates, and military personnel released from military service for harvesting, cane-cutting, production of food, and war industries.
One of the most interesting aspects of the work so far done by the commission relates to emergency civilian supplies. We found that our first job was not to restrict the supply of clothing to civilians, but rather to make more available in order to satisfy the coupon scale we had prescribed. Factory time and supplies, therefore, were diverted to the manufacture of children’s wool and artificial silk vests, woollen bloomers and vests, and all-wool singlets, men’s wool and cotton singlets, men’s wool and cotton drawers, workmen’s boots and flannels, and also cotton tweed for men’s working trousers. On a survey of the position we found all these articles in very short supply. We obtained them first by “ switching “ the manufacture of the mills, secondly, by diverting supplies from the Eastern Group Supply Council, and, thirdly, by diverting certain mills from service production. In cotton we found that our output was nearly 13,000 tons and our requirements were 19,000 tons, so that there is just the possibility of the hardening of the scale in that direction unless further supplies of raw materials coane to hand. The wool position is very interesting. Before the war we were producing 30,000,000 lb. of wool per year. Now that production has been stepped up, we are producing 90,000,000 Vb., of which 85 per cent, has been required for service orders. Despite the fact that the industry has developed in that way, we find upon a survey of the mills that it shows the largest absenteeism of any in Australia. The fault was on two sides. It was not only the fault of the employees, but also in the conditions under which they had to work, it was very easy for them to be absent. In these days, when we expect all the people to be pulling their weight, it was rather a shock to find such a high percentage of absenteeism in the industry. As regards knitted goods, the requirements have been calculated, and will be adjusted to ensure the most suitable use of available stocks of yarn. This planning involves 58,000,000 articles of clothing for 1942-43. As regards boots, the production programme is now being calculated. We have been working in this matter in very close liaison with the Department of Supply and Development, and with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), the Controller of Footwear, who is working out a plan whereby he will be able to guarantee the quality of footwear, so that the ration scale can be worked out. Our object is to see that only good quality boots are sold. If cheap material is turned out, the rationing scale is defeated. We must sell goods that will wear. When people buy good wearing articles, the rationing scale is not nearly so severe, but. if boots that last only a few weeks, such as Mr. Rosevear revealed in the press recently to have been purchased, are palmed off on the people, no rationing scale and no quantity of coupons can properly clothe them. We are also planning a production programme for industrial clothing. By means of a close liaison with all those who can help us, particularly the Department of Supply and Development and the Division of Import Procurement, the whole of the requirements of the community are being planned ahead. An interesting job done by the commission when it got to work was to divert many things in short supply, including flannels and children’s wear, to Western Australia. The problem of that State was more one of transport than of supplies. Their most severe complaint was that goods ordered from Melbourne by their retailers had remained for weeks on the Melbourne wharfs awaiting transport and had then been sold to other and readier markets in the east.
After the commission had been in existence for’ a month, the Government decided to ration tea. The commission itself has no voice in what is rationed. The Government, through its Production Executive, examines the supply position, and, when certain articles are found to be in short supply, directs that they be rationed. The commission is advised what things are in short supply and the quantity available, and its job is to share that quantity as equally as possible throughout the community. The tea position was such that we had to import our supplies from far ofl’ places. Tea does not last when stored, but deteriorates after three or four months, and loses much of its flavour. The position, therefore, had to be carefully handled. Because of shipping difficulties, our tea supplies have been very short for a long while. The commission took over the rationing of tea on the 6th July, and was able, by looking at the supply position, to increase the ration by 60 per cent. That was our first job. We increased the ration by making it If oz. a week to each member of the community over nine years of age. We helped as far as we could persons living in outback areas by allowing, them to register with their suppliers, so that they could receive quantities exceeding the normal supply in the standard period. Members of the forces on leave for periods up to six days or more, and those living out of camp, have been provided with special tea coupons. Employers who provide a canteen service may register as a cafe for tea supplies. Shearers and merchant seamen are allowed 2 oz. a week, and special consideration has been given to merchant ships because of the indefiniteness of their voyages. All tea clubs and group users are now expected to supply their own tea, and are supposed to make their own arrangements. We worked out a scale for cafes which seems to be operating very well. Tea is supplied to catering establishments on a cup per meal basis, depending upon the number of persons served with casual daily meals each week during the month preceding that in which the application is made. In some cases the tea supplied in cafes seems to be very much weaker, but I do not think that that is the fault of the commission. I believe that the cafes could make it stronger, but, as in a number of instances, advantage is taken of restriction to make supplies go a little further.
The next commodity the commission was asked to ration was sugar. The Government decided to ration sugar, not because of any immediate or threatened shortage, but owing to transport difficulties, and in order that, if enemy action destroyed any of the mills in the north of Australia, the organization would be in full swing to impose a more severe ration in emergency thus created. We have allowed 1 lb. of sugar per person per week, which is not, in effect, rationing, but merely organization and control of the industry.
In conclusion, I wish to compliment the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), who is in charge of rationing. He has done a great job for the commission, and given us every assistance. He has made his department available to us, and enabled us to get all the advice we require.
I should also like to thank the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) for making available to the commission the services of Dr. Coombs, who has been an outstanding success. He is endowed with a great deal of ability, but at the same time adopts the sensible attitude that he can still learn a lot. He is most anxious to listen to suggestions wherever they may come from. This very valuable aptitude has done a great deal to make rationing acceptable to the people. I wish to pay a tribute also to my colleagues on the commission, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) and the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall), who have worked very hard. A great deal of travelling has been necessary. The commission has visited, in the last six or seven weeks, every capital city in the Commonwealth to inspect the organizations and to see that everything is working smoothly. If anything went wrong, we did our best to rectify it on the spot, receiving many deputations in every city, and our visit proved of great value because our deputy directors met us and worked with us. They know the requirements of the commission and have done a great deal to make rationing acceptable to the public. Frankly, it has been accepted mainly because of the fact that, in the first place, the commission did nothing without first taking every possible step to consult the organizations which could help us. Secondly, we have been very fortunate in our choice of deputy directors throughout Australia. They are a particularly highly trained class of men. They accepted a job concerning which all of them, at first, knew very little, but they picked it up and carried it out to the utmost satisfaction of the Government. Thirdly, the people were ready for the sacrifices that rationing involved.
The way in which the community has accepted rationing makes me feel a greatdeal happier than formerly. I am convinced that the people of Australia will accept any sacrifices so long as they know that it is necessary, and that every one is being treated on the same footing as his neighbour. But once they feel that some one is cheating, or in other ways not playing the game, they begin to worry and fret, and they are then not nearly so amenable to discipline as they otherwise would be. They have accepted the rationing system, although it has been a severe burden for many to carry. The reduction of the amount of purchases to one-half of the 1939 figure imposes in many cases a severe penalty, but the community has cheerfully accepted it. In the hundreds of letters that I have received, and the hundreds of interviews I have had, I have not heard a complaint arising from a selfish outlook. I have now, in consequence, a much happier feeling as regards the future. The Australian people have shown that they will accept austerity in every shape and form, and will do their bit behind the lines in order to make the job of the men in the front line as easy as possible. I believe that they will pull their full weight, and will bear cheerfully any burden the Government may ask them to carry.
Debate (on motion by Senator McBride) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to-
That the Senate at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
De Facto Widows - AC2 Falstein - Enemy Aliens.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– To-night, I intend to change over from money to morals. Honorable senators will realize that all justice is founded on the moral law, and that any legislation on the statute-book contrary to it will lead to national degeneration and trouble. A few months ago, the Minister for Health (Mr. Holloway) introduced a bill dealing with widows’ pensions. That act provides for what are known as de facto widows. The words ” de facto “ are Latin, and I am sure that many honorable senators who voted for this measure did not know what they meant. Be facto is the opposite of de jure, which means lawful. Any one who has read the newspapers knows that the act has caused strong resentment amongst churches, and many women’s organizations. The claim is that, under this legislation, de facto widows are placed on the same footing as de jure widows, and a considerable amount of misunderstanding has arisen. Recently, a friend of mine told a woman friend in the bus, that she was looking very smart. The woman said, “ Yes, I am going to be married to-day “. My friend asked in what church the ceremony was to take place, and the reply was that, as it was to be a companionate marriage, she could not be married in a church, because the man with whom she proposed to live was already married. The woman was by no means of an ignorant type, but apparently the man who wanted her had persuaded her that the alliance would be quite legal. My friend assured her that it was not so, and the marriage did not take place. I draw the attention of the Senate to the following letters which have been written by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The following letter was sent to me : - 10th September, 1942.
The executive and members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union have earnestly petitioned the Federal Government, through the Minister for Health and Social Services, to repeal the de facto widows clause in the Widows’ Pension Act.
We will deem it an honour if you will grant us your sympathetic and valued support in our appeal.
To acquaint you with our grounds for objection to the de facto clause, I am enclosing copy of letter forwarded to the Minister setting forth points for appeal, as we view them.
Trusting you will grant our earnest request. (Mrs.) Florence Kenna,
State Superintendent for Moral Education and Legislation.
The following communication was directed to the Hon. E. J. Holloway, M.H.R., Minister for Health and Social Services : -
In furtherance of the letter forwarded by the State Executive of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, requesting you to repeal the de facto widows clause in the Widows’ Pensions Act, I wish, on behalf of my executive and members, to place before you for your consideration the following facts that -
The clause referred to is undemocratic and destroys the basic principle of home life as carried out under our British rule of “ ordered civilization under law”.
It abrogates the right of the unborn child to the protection of lawful parenthood and security of upbringing in ways spiritual and moral; which protection it is necessary to safeguard by administrative law.
The birth-rate in Australia has decreased alarmingly and the legal recognition of companionate marriage must seriously aggravate an already dangerous position in relation to the future of this Commonwealth.
In petitioning for the repeal of the de facto widow clause and the substitution of some other form of relief, we plead the cause of the young people who must at some future date take their places as the rulers of this State and nation.
Trusting that you will urge upon the Government the necessity of this important matter being re-considered without delay. (Mrs.) Florence Kenna,
I have also received the following letter from the Women’s Union of Service of New South Wales : - 22nd September, 1942.
Enclosed you will find a budget containing the context of letters which have passed between the Government and the Women’s Union of Service, also extracts from the replies.
The reponse was very unsatisfactory and entirely missed the point of protest, which was “ companionate marriage “.
Mr. Curtin’s statement that he did not consider the granting of pensions to de facto widows would prove an incentive to the unmarried to live together as husband and wife is not sound, for our group now know of three couples that have been influenced to the extent of living together in what they style “ companionate marriage “. This beside the girl whom we persuaded to reconsider it for the sake of her unborn children.
We are prepared to give proof in this direction should it be required. It is heartbreaking for mothers to watch the girls to whom they have given life humiliating themselves in this way and deliberately casting a stigma on their unborn children.
It is comforting to know that we can depend on you to bring the matter before the House again and we will pray to God to help you to have the measure adjusted before greater harm ensues.
I contacted other bodies and trust that results are forthcoming. Once again thanking you and with very best wishes from all the girls.
Following is the context of letters which have been sent to the Prime Minister and other Ministers. There are also some comments on the correspondence.
– With the concurrence of the Senate the documents can be incorporated in Hansard.
– They are as follows : -
Hansard No. 7 and No. 8, 19th-21st and 27th and 28th May, 1942, pages 1335-1500, and 1501-1715.
The members of the Women’s Union of Service are gravely perturbed by the introduction of a measure into the Constitution of the country whereby de facto widows are placed on the same basis as lawful widows.
We should like to draw your attention to Hansard, pages 1343, 1370, No. 8 - 1508, 1518, 1519, 1529, 1535, 1536, 1537.
This measure aims to countenance irregular unions, therein departing from the spirit of theopening chapter of the Constitution - humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God - for such legislation simply legalizes and subsidizes immorality.
The members of the Union realize the heavy responsibility under which Government is labouring at present and understand that every new piece of legislation cannot receive the full attention of the Ministry, but as this measure strikes at the very heart of Christian motherhood - British woman’s world - we cannot let it pass without making every endeavour to have it annuled.
The “ honour of womanhood “ and the sanctity of the home is threatened, for if permitted to operate this legislation will result in -
Motherhood will thus be debased and relegated to mere animality.
The members of the Women’s Union of Service trust the Government will give this matter their earnest consideration while yet there is time to rescind the measure and its inevitable consequences.
This letter brought forth a stereotyped reply on the “ Act “, finishing thus - “ Broadly stated, the views of the Government and of Parliament is that children have rights of nurture which must be ensured and it is the duty of the State to provide that these rights are ensured. Ways ‘available are the subsidizing of institutions or the subsidizing of parents.
Child endowment is paid to the mother in respect of the 2nd dependent child, but in these cases there invariably is a male breadwinner. Where there is no male breadwinner, as in the case of a widow, the law now provides a pension.
You object to the unmarried woman with children being included in the law. The inclusion is dictated by concern for the nurture of the children.
Miss Marsden and I fought for the endowment (with others), so we considered the reply most unsatisfactory, and quite beside the point, as the question of provision for the child did not come into it. [Context of second letter, 3rd August. Reply to letter from Mr. Curtin dated 16th July. 1942.]
Your letter dated 16th July in reply to a protest lodged against the legalizing and subsidizing of immorality was received and brought before my committee for consideration.
The context of your letter convinced this committee that our protest against the inclusion of de facto widows in the Widows’ Pension Bill was woefully misunderstood.
Points raised -
1 ) That the “ Act “ was agreed to without opposition - met with the unanimous opinion that such an agreement could be accounted for in two ways -
Point (2) The Rights of the Child.- It is because we women, as the divinely appointed guardians of the child, are so cognizant of the importance of our sacred trust that we are determined to bring this measure to its logical conclusion. The right of the child is the right to legal parenthood. It takes two people to bring a child into the world, and it takes two people to fulfil that obligation.
What authority has Government to break the “ law of God “ upon which the British law is founded?
Where there is no law there is no transgression, but where there is a law and “ courts of law “ to enforce it’s enactment (bigamy, &c.), then there must be obedience to that law to justify “ the seat of administration “.
You say we - the members of the Women’s Union of Service - object to unmarried women being brought within the law. We made no such objection - the unmarried woman disqualifies herself when she chooses to set at defiance the laws of her country, though fully aware that her act will react on her hapless children and impose upon them the ban of her transgression.
The lawful wife of a man who has lost his job is placed on the dole - she has not lost her job, indeed, she may even be an expectant mother, but she is humiliated, undernourished, and reduced to the level of the dole.
Is the law-breaker more deserving of a security pension than the law-abiding wife and mother upon whom the nation depends for it’s very life?
We also drew the attention of Government to the iniquity of compelling honorable spinsters to contribute - through taxation of honest labour - to the maintenance of immorality, in the form of a pension to dishonorable spinsters (childless) of 60 years and over, they themselves as law-abiding citizens paying tribute to the Administration being denied the privilege of sharing in its benefit.
The effect which this measure is having on the unstable section in our community is deplorable and we are prepared to give proof in this direction.
We trust Government will have this anomaly repealed before greater harm ensues.
This letter brought forth the following response: -
I have been requested by the Prime Minister to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated the 3rd instant in regard to the payment of pensions to de facto widows, and to inform you he has noted the suggestions put forward by your organization.
You will see why women are so indignant.
A Government who is supposed to represent the people, to break down the Christian standards in a Christian country, and legislate on behalf of the law-breaker to the disadvantage of the lawful citizen, is running the risk of dissolution.
We then made another attempt.
Context of letter three, 18th August, 1942, to the Prime Minister and Ministers.]
It was re-assuring to read the article In the Sunday Telegraph, 16th August, revealing the united churches leading in an appeal for ami advocacy of the maintenance of moral standards in social behaviour.
The points raised in protest must find an echo in many hearts. Mothers are facing the danger of an orgy in debauchery, in which their own sons and daughters, removed by “ war conditions from the steadying influence of home”, may become involved.
Debauchery through alcoholic drink and sex will not win the war, though it could bo instrumental in losing it. The essentials of efficiency, both in the Army and out of it, depend on clear minds and healthy bodies, and the excesses exposed should warn us of the enemy within Australia, insidiously creating conditions favorable to the enemy without.
This wave of licentiousness has its origin in spiritual paralysis. Immorality is the outward manifestation of spiritual darkness and inertia, and government action in introducing a measure to legalize de facto widows by including them in the “Widows’ Pension Bill “’ is a definite menace to legal marriage.
A case in point - the man who was recently condemned to serve four years in gaolfor bigamy.
To have a law “ founded on moral principles - and courts of law “ to administer and enforce its decree - and at the same time that its decree is being carried into effect - to legalize and subsidize immorality, is consistent neither with law nor logic, practice or principle.
The measure which provides for an unmarried mother on a higher scale than the wife of a man on the dole, is a direct incentive to concubinage and irresponsible citizenship, for, if ceremony has the power to have one man condemned to gaol and contempt of it entitles another man to indulgence in illicit conduct and exemption from marital responsibility, then, “what does justify the seat of administration?”
While the Government encourages immorality by -
Well just so long as this corrupt state of affairs continue, so long will Australia sap her strength and suffer from this deluge of immorality which threatens to sweep her toward the abyss of doom.
There is a very simple way of mitigating the financial extremity of the unmarried mother - and that is to set up a special tribunal vested with the power to institute a “ compassionate pension “ to cover cases of betrayal or distress.
Such a procedure, consistent with “ Christian charity “ still refrains from violating the sacrament in marriage.
This letter brought forth a repeat of the first reply on the act, and finished this way -
I have no doubt that any church would render assistance within its ability to de facto widows in need and to children of such widows, and the Government’s object is merely to prescribe by law that such assistance shall be available.
As the women of our group considered this reply just as unsatisfactory as the two previous ones, they delegated me to travel to Canberra and try to get some satisfaction. You know the result of that effort.
The lectures referred to relate to a. course of lectures given by Dr. Norman Haire, alias Wykeham Terriss, alias Zion, alias Zajac,
The following information is taken from the FreePress, January, 1938. An organization whose activities are of growing importance, is that which describes itself as the “ Federation of Progressive Societies and Individuals “. Its new president is Mr. W. B. Curry, headmaster of the Co-educational School at Dartington Hall, South Devon. Other supporters arc Beverly Nichols, Julian and Aldous Huxley, Rebecca West, Dr. Norman Haire, &c, &c.
An extract taken from it runs as follows: - As many people are so old-fashioned as to believe that the family is the basis of civilization, and as this is a great stumbling block in the advancement of communist doctrines, the Federation devotes a great deal of its attention to sexual matters. The social aims include - Legislation to secure (1) Reform of divorce laws; (2) legislation of abortion, with proper safeguards; (3) abolition of laws penalizing abnormality: (4) provision of facilities for voluntary sterilization; adequate provision of information on facilities for birth control; abolition of literary, dramatic and film censorship: abolition of blasphemy laws, &c, &c.
The rest of the aims of the society are the usual Communist ideas, including the setting up of a World Parliament.
He has also written a book, extracts from which definitely support “ Compassionate Marriage” and polygamy. He says if the State supported the children from funds provided by taxation of all citizens, male and female, whether married or unmarried, it would be of no economic consequence which of the husbands were the father of any particular child.
By the time you have waded through this correspondence you will probably be as sick at heart as I am after typing it, but I feel sure you will realize why our women are so determined that Christian ideals shall be maintained in Australia. We intend to fight till the last drop of blood is extracted from us an the effort.
I am enclosing a copy of the lectures. They have been checked by the Chief Secretary and the police, so you will know that they are authentic.
The following is a copy of a letter written by Miss Marsden to the Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes, M.H.R., Parliamentary Representative for North Sydney, Parliament House, Canberra.
Dear Mr. Hughes,
There is now another matter for your immediate attention as my parliamentary representative.
In the recent Widows’ Pension Act 1942, a clause - apparently with your consent, as I see no speech by you when the matter was before the House - has been inserted giving governmental recognition and legal status to persons of loose morals. “ Mistresses “ - called in the act de facto widows - are to receive pensions at 50 years of age, provided they can prove that they have lived as a man’s mistress for three years.
Honest spinsters are not eligible for a pension at this age, but are expected to contribute towards the maintenance of immoral women who cannot even bestow on their offspring the child’s minimum right in a Christian community of legalized parenthood, together with the training belonging to properly constituted family life.
Is this your view, sir, of this Christian State? Are you prepared to compel Christian men and women to pay for the encouragement and support of immorality in the community? It is not my view, and, therefore, I give you direction to take whatever action may be necessary to remove this clause relating to de facto widows from the statute-book.
.- This morning Senator Amour asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air the following questions : -
The Minister for Air has furnished the following replies : -
.- I draw the attention of the Government to an increasing public demand that the selective internment of enemy aliens should be more rigorously pruned, and that sale of poisons and explosives to enemy aliens be prohibited and that stocks held by them be impressed. These people should not be permitted to own any motor vehicle. Current driving licences ought to be cancelled, and no further driving or petrol licences issued. Many citizens urge that a special authority be created at once to control all farms, orchards and businesses owned or conducted on behalf of enemy aliens, such authority to have power to pay all profits received after paying the basic wage into Consolidated Revenue.
Surely the Government is not unaware that aliens are driving Australians out of small businesses. In every town and suburb, small shops have had to close because sons have been called up for service in fighting and other units. This has resulted in foreigners acquiring additional customers, and generally their businesses are flourishing. The opinion is widely expressed that decisions of the internment appeal tribunals should be final. In view of the danger of subversive action, it is urged that all enemy aliens employed in canneries and pulping industries should be dismissed at once. It is too risky to have such persons employed where food is being processed and canned. The public also considers that, as wireless sets can readily be changed into transmitting sets, all such sets owned by enemy aliens or by naturalized subjects of enemy origin should be confiscated.
Question resolved in affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 September 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1942/19420924_senate_16_172/>.