16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether his department has made available to suburban, newspaper proprietors known as the Free Press of Australia a sufficient quantity of newsprint to enable them to continue publication ? If the pool has not provided sufficient newsprint for that purpose will the Minister see that the necessary supplies are made available?
– There has been an agitation for the suppression of the Free Press on account of the shortage of newsprint. The matter is receiving my attention, and I have given a direction that in the interim the pool shall supply those concerned with newsprint for the months of December and January, at which stage the whole position will be reconsidered. I am in receipt of information from one or two newspaper proprietors that the order given to the pool has not been carried out. I am inquiring into that matter, and appropriate action will be taken.
– Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to recent imports of newsprint from North America to Australia? How does he reconcile its arrival with the answer given by him to me on the 9th October last that no permission to import newsprint in rolls had been given, and that the importation for which he was then negotiating was for flat newsprint?
– About 600 tons of newsprint was received from the west coast of America as part of a mixed commercial cargo. That was admitted under an import licence that had been issued, and shipping for that consignment had been arranged independently of the Australian Shipping Priority Board. There will not be a recurrence of such an incident. The Australian requirements of flat newsprint, mostly used by country newspapers, has been about 18,000 tons per annum. A priority order was issued on Monday last for the landing in Australia of 1,000 tons of flat newsprint, which I think will help to overcome the present alarming shortage.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister read an article published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph this morning, entitled “No Victory Without Some Tears”? This article is a gross libel on myself and other members of the Labour party. It states -
Labour caucus spent a pleasant Wednesday evening wrangling over a plan to win the war without tears. Senator Darcey, supported by Mr. Rosevear, Mr. Pollard and others, put forward a grand scheme for paying for the war without paying for it. The scheme had a beautiful title, “Nationalization of Credit”.
I have never advocated that in this chamber or anywhere else. The article continues -
The idea is to print more bank notes . . .
I have never advocated the printing of notes.
– Order ! The honorable senator has already asked his question. An honorable senator is not entitled to make a speech, or to offer comments, in asking a question.
– I have not read the article complained of, but I shall peruse it and supply the honorable senator with my comments on it.
– In view of the recent public utterances of the Minister for Aircraft Production, to the effect that he is out of step with the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet in connexion with the Government’s proposal in relation to sending the Militia Forces to certain areas which are not provided for under the Defence Act-
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator is not entitled to express views in asking a question.
– I ask Senator Foll to make his question concise.
– Does the Minister propose to remain a member of the Cabinet?
– by leave - The Joint Committee on Rural Industries recently visited Queensland for the purpose of inquiring into the rural industries of that State, and has submitted an interim report which was tabled in the Senate on the 16th September last. Among other things, the committee inquired into the production of sugar and the problems now confronting the sugar industry. I have studied the committee’s report and agree in general with its findings. The sugar industry, which is probably the most highly organized industry in Australia, has stood up very well to the many difficulties which it has had to face under wartime conditions. The relationship between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government in regard to sugar is set out in the Sugar Agreement Act 1940. This act is administered by my department, and I must say that the co-operation between my officers and the officials of the organization associated with the sugar industry has been all that could be desired. Frequent conferences have been held between them, and problems have in many instances been adjusted with very little trouble. The control which is vested in the Queensland Government has been so efficient that I can see no reason why it should be disturbed, even under war-time conditions. I, therefore, propose to interfere as little as possible. It is only necessary to indicate to the Queensland Government the desires of the Commonwealth Government and every endeavour is made to see that they are met. A specific instance of this co-operation is the recent appointment by the Queensland Government of a royal commission to inquire into a number of questions which have relation to the Commonwealth Government’s desire for the production of not less than 600,000 tons of sugar in 1943.
It will be observed that a number of difficulties affecting the industry are mentioned in the committee’s report, viz., the shortage of labour, particularly for cane-cutting, lack of full supplies of fertilizer, impressment of tractors and trucks and ever-pressing transport problems. All of these matters have been examined by my department and suitable representations have been made to other Commonwealth departments and authorities with a view to alleviating as far as possible the difficulties of the sugar industry resulting from war-time conditions. The Commonwealth has been able to render a lot of assistance by co-operation and the industry is so highly organized that the effects of war-time disruption have been reduced as much as possible. However, some of the industry’s difficulties cannot be overcome at present. “With regard to man-power, the sugar industry has been lifted to No. 1 priority, and every effort has been made to secure labour for cane-cutting. These efforts must be regarded as satisfactory because it is anticipated that almost the whole of the harvest will be milled this season. The remarks of the committee with regard to man-power for 1942 and for 1943 have been noted, and will be referred to the appropriate authority. The use of mechanical equipment for cane harvesting is not a new idea. It has been tried in the past and has not proved as satisfactory as might be expected. The only people competent to judge the efficacy of this method of harvesting are those engaged in the industry, and the opinions of the committee are being brought before the notice of the Queensland authorities.
The report also deals with storage difficulties at Townsville, and in this connexion I might state that attempts have been made to relieve the situation. Whilst the position is not so favorable as I would desire, it is much better than could have been expected at one stage. I am looking into this matter again, particularly with next season’s crop in mind, with a view to seeing that adequate storage facilities are available. The committee has also mentioned the subject of farm peaks. This is also a matter that might be left to the Queensland Government. We have indicated to it the Commonwealth’s wish for a production target of 600,000 tons of sugar, and I know that the Government of the State is endeavouring to reach that figure. There is quite a lot of loose thinking on the question of farm peaks, but there is little use in growing and harvesting sugar-cane which is in excess of the capacity of mills to crush and for which storage, transport and man-power are not available.
The committee has also indicated that the use of mill white sugar in North Queensland is a subject on which further investigation might be instituted. I have made full inquiries into this suggestion. Some people are of the opinion that refined sugar used in North Queensland is shipped as raw sugar from North Queensland to Brisbane, refined at that port and re-shipped to North Queensland. This is not the case. Actually the refined sugar which is consumed in North Queensland is grown in the vicinity of Brisbane, refined there, and shipped in small parcels throughout the year to many northern ports. There would be little saving in transport space if those located in North Queensland were compelled to use mill white sugar. However, if North Queensland residents desire to use such sugar there is no reason why they cannot obtain it. The Sugar Agreement Act specifically provides that mill white sugar shall be available, but up to date there has been only a very small demand. Mill white sugar is a washed raw sugar produced at the mills during the crushing season. Unless notice is given during the crushing season of the demand for this product the mills will not, of course, be in a position to supply from January to July of each year. Mill white sugar has not the keeping qualities of refined sugar, and is subject to deterioration, particularly under the humid conditions of North Queensland. It is, unless hermetically sealed, unsuitable for storing, and it is generally not desirable for use in manufactured goods and, owing to its fermentation, deterioration and colour, the housewife dislikes using it for jam making, &c, when better quality sugar is available. I have been greatly interested in the report of the joint committee and congratulate it on its effort.
– I desire to make a persona] explanation. In to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald it is reported that when speaking yesterday I said that the action of the Labour caucus in demanding the reinstatement of four clerks who had been suspended by the Director-General of the Allied Works Council was a slur on the Director-General, and that heads of departments should not- have their authority taken away from them by the Labour caucus. I have not yet seen the report of my remarks in Hansard, but my statement was that, until an inquiry had been held, men who had been suspended by the head of a large department should not be reinstated. Should an investigation reveal that the men have been done an injustice, or that the head of the department had exceeded his authority, I should not wish to defend him; but the reinstatement of suspended men before a proper inquiry has been held is an attempt to undermine the authority of the head of a large department. An inquiry should be held, and should the men be proved innocent of the charges, they should be reinstated and all their pay and privileges restored to them. But they should not be reinstated until an investigation has been made.
– Arising out of the honorable senator’s remarks, I also desire to make a / personal explanation. The press report of my reply yesterday to Senator Foll on this subject is not at all clear. I said that certain men had been suspended, that the matter had been discussed by the Government and that a desire for an inquiry was indicated. In order that nothing precipitate or hast, should be done, I said that an inquiry would be held almost immediately, and that I had no other comment to make pending the result of that inquiry.
– In view of the altered conditions now obtaining in several States, with respect to the marketing of apples and pears, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce cause to be published a statement regarding the harvesting of this year’s crop, setting out clearly how the act will operate, and the conditions with regard to the transport of fruit between the States, so that the growers and others engaged in the industry may know the true position?
SenatorFRASER.- I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Commerce with a view to having a statement published as desired by the honorable senator.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Inquiries will be made into the matter referred to by the honorable senator and a full reply will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
Debate resumed from the 10th December (vide page 1684), on motion by Senator Keane -
That the following paper be printed: - “Review of War Situation - Ministerial Statement, 10th December, 1942.”
– Yesterday when I obtained leave to continue my remarks I was dealing with the broadcast of a prominent American radio news commentator, Lowell Thomas, in which he paid a glowing tribute to Australia, but which the press of Australia refused to publish.
-Does the honorable senator say that no reference’ to the broadcast was made in Australian newspapers ?
– I have searched the newspaper files, but I have not found any reference to what Mr. Lowell Thomas broadcast to Australia last Sunday night although there was a full report of what the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said. I have secured from the Australian Broadcasting Commission a copy of Mr. Thomas’s broadcast, which honorable senators who desire to do so may peruse. It struck me as something extraordinary that no reference should be made in Australian newspapers to the commentary, particularly as many honorable senators sitting in opposition have said that Australia’s war effort has not been the maximum of which this country is capable. Honorable senators who charge the Government with laxity in its war effort know the good job that has been done. The newspaper proprietors in Australia also know the wonderful accomplishments of the Australian people, but they suppress comments such as those made by Mr. Lowell Thomas because they have published leading articles urging that conscription be forced on the people of Australia. Honorable senators opposite and influential newspapers throughout Australia advocate conscription, because they wish to force every available man out of Australia in order that black labour may be introduced. In the last war the then Prime Minister threatened to bring thousands of Maltese to Australia.
– He actually had them here.
– They are not black.
– This time it is proposed to bring American black labour to Australia.
– Is that proposed by the Government?
– That would be the result if the Opposition and the Australian press were able to force conscription on Australians. If we send from Australia the men who should be the fathers of the next generation of Australians, we shall experience here a repetition of the worst kind of immorality such as that which occurred in Europe after the last war. I urge the people of this country to oppose the move for conscription. The capitalist press of Australia, which refused to publish these talks, cannot claim to be a free press. Labour newspapers such as the Century, the Worker and the Call have opposed conscription. In this connexion, I desire to quote from page 126 of the report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution -
Suggestions were made before the commission by Mr. H. C. Gibson, on behalf of the Australasian Council of Trad« Unions, and Mr. J. J. Kenneally, the federal president of the Australian Labour party, that the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament should he very considerably extended, but that it should be precluded by the Constitution from imposing conscription for military, naval or industrial purposes.
I trust that when the ‘Constitution is amended that provision will be incorporated in the Constitution. The Australasian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Labour party should again request the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to do so. Australia, as Lowell Thomas has said, has done more than its share in this war. If we are to continue to provide the food essential for our own forces’ and. our allies, and help feed the people of Great Britain, as well as maintain supplies of aeroplanes, munitions and war requirements generally, we cannot at the same time send conscripts to other countries. The Australian Imperial Force is second to no army in the world. It was used as a spear head in the attack against Rommel in Egypt. A division of Australians accomplished that task for which they were praised unanimously by Avar correspondents. Those men have volunteered to go to any part of the world where the High -Command deems that they should go. There is no necessity to conscript any of our men for military service overseas. If conscription be applied it will endanger the cherished conditions enjoyed by our people, and will be the first step in any move designed to break up organized trade unionism. Therefore, I ask that conscription be not agreed to. On Friday, the 27th November, we read in the Sydney Daily Telegraph this heading, “ Australian Imperial Force Reinforced “. Similar notices appeared in all our newspapers, indicating that Australia had sent reinforcements to its troops in all theatres of war. On the same date it was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that the largest contingent of members of the Royal Australian Air Force yet to be sent to Great Britain had landed in England. Those men had taken thirteen weeks on their journey from Australia. Apparently, they did not go to Canada, but went direct to Britain. They formed the largest contingent of the Royal Australian Air Force to land in that country. Australia is playing its full part in this war. I again remind honorable senators of the statements made in 1939 by Ministers and supporters of the Government that it would be dangerous to denude Australia of its man-power. We have witnessed successes and reverses against Rommel in Egypt, whilst the fight in Russia ha3 swayed to and fro. We know what happened in Malaya. We lost a division there. It is quite possible that troops sent from our shores to many places to the north of this country may be by-passed by the enemy. In that case they will be useless in the defence of Australia, What part can our men now in Malaya play in the defence of this country? We need to be sure that we do not send troops to theatres of war where they can be bypassed by the enemy in a direct drive on Australia. We must defend Australia. We must produce more aeroplanes and munitions in order that we shall be able to prevent our soil from being bombed or invaded, and we must have an army on these shores to prevent the little yellow men from landing here. I hate the Nazis, and I hate the Japanese. I shall do everything in my power to prevent the Japanese from coming to Australia. The Government has done an excellent job in preparing our defences. The Australian people have made wonderful sacrifices, and have given troops to the United Nations in every sphere of warfare. I know from personal experience of many young lads who have tried to join the Mercantile Marine, the Australian Imperial Force or the Royal Australian Air Force, but have been prevented from doing so. Provided sufficient opportunity be given to our manhood, we shall obtain all the troops we shall require by the voluntary method. There is no need to impose conscription. The principle of conscription is distasteful to Australians. I repeat that if it be applied, it will have tremendous post-war repercussions in this country.
– The interesting statement presented by the Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) has caused a somewhat vivid debate. One would expect that to be so. Although the statement so courteously put before us contains nothing that is new to honorable senators, there has occurred during the short parliamentary recess certain events which have quickened the minds of the whole of the people of Australia. Those events are responsible for this discussion. As a constitutionalist, and as a believer in democracy and the system of wellbalanced parliamentary government that is maintained throughout the British Dominions, I bow my head in shame when I think of the spectacle that has been presented to the world by the head of this Government when he has had to go cap in hand to an outside body to obtain permission to do what he believes in all sincerity, and on the best of advice, to be right. That is a sad spectacle to any one who is a true democrat and believes in government of the people by the people, and that the institutions elected by the people should control their destiny. Yet the Leader of this Government has had to seek outside authority to do certain things which he is convinced, from the information he has received, are right, because his proposal cuts across certain party affiliations. “What a spectacle to present to the outside world ! What chuckling there will be in Japan! How Goebbels gloated when he heard that the Victorian executive of the Australian Labour party had turned down the Prime Minister! What a spectacle to present to the constitutionalist and the believer in democracy! What a spectacle of disunity and looseness in the control of the government and in the working of democracy we have thus presented to Togo and Goebbels. They chuckle with delight when they hear that Australia is divided.
– Does the honorable senator keep in touch with the enemy K How does he know all this?
– Australians are permitted to listen to broadcasts from enemy countries. Does the honorable senator desire that, like the Nazis, we should be forbidden to listen to what is going on in other countries? It is wise that we should know how our enemies view these matters. I do not wonder at their amusement. We, too, might also be amused if the matter were not so important to the future of this nation and Australia’s position at the peace table when the war is won. There is no denying the fact that the Prime Minister has had, first of all, to submit his views to this outside body. By the recent intensification of party government in this country, Parliament has been brought to nought. An outside body, an organization such as Hitler would commend, and which would appeal to the minds of the totalitarian leaders, has had to be consulted bef ore the Prime Minister is allowed to move in that matter. When certain people denounce the Prime Minister for what he has done, and say that his action violates some part of their platform., we can only conclude that Labour is placing party before country. At times, in the heat of partyism we forget our national objectives. But we should be sharply reminded of them when we realize that the Nazis and their satellites aim at world domination. If we study the principles of our enemies in the north we know that their success will mean the extermination and enslavement of Australia. At a time like the present when our enemies are battling at our doors, and a handful of them have been holding out against our men for weeks, it is clear that we face no mean enemy. Yet the Prime Minister cannot move in this matter until a decision is reached on the subject by the representatives of a political party who are not responsible to Parliament. Are we losing the virility that has characterized our race? Has democracy so sapped us, and has soft living so affected us, that we want to take shelter behind some shibboleth ? Of those people who have a mind which they can logically apply to these matters, I ask whether this anti-conscription move is solidly founded on logic, and in the interests of the nation. What has been the first duty of citizenship all through the centuries? Why, for centuries, were women excluded from the full right of citizenship? It was due to the belief that women were not capable of fighting. That was the one ground on which they were refused the suffrage. It is the duty of every man in the community to bear his burden. He has sheltered under the Government of this country, and the governments of British countries; and it is the duty of every man, now the time has come, to shoulder a gun and play his proper part in the defence of his country. Why should not men be conscripted ? The Labour party itself gave the whole case away in the original Defence Act, because in it conscription pure and simple was included. Now its members have some miserable thought in their minds that a man should not go outside Australia to defend it.
– That is what the honorable senator’s party thought when they were in power.
– I never thought so, but we yielded to that false sentiment which apparently had been inculcated into the minds of people - a sort of drug that reduced them to a state of coma,in regard to the defence of Australia, which was little short of a disease. We listened to the clamours of those who were opposed to conscription, and to the advice of the members of what we thought was an honest jury, in its efforts to bring about peace in the world. Unfortunately we, as an empire, subscribed to that policy. We thought it was a pity to divide our people on such a question, but we can see now that the anti-conscription policy is absolutely unsound. In other walks of life there is no hesitation to conscript people to do certain work within Australia, but the whole point of the argument of our opponents is that Australia can be defended only from within its boundaries and the islands which Australia controls. In every speech on this question honorable senators opposite have practically admitted the fallacy of such a position. If Bankstown were shelled, Senator Amour would wonder what had happened to him. It is most undesirable that the war should come to the shores of this country, as it almost has, before we proceed to strike a blow. We in this Parliament who are not versed in military matters are not the people who should determine where it is best to resist the Japanese or to attack the Nazis. We heard a short time ago an agitation for the establishment of a second front. It looked as though nothing was being done at the time, but we struck when we were ready. We did not simply stand on the white cliffs of Dover or on the waterfront of New York to do it. We struck in North Africa, and we are still there fighting our way, as I believe, to ultimate victory. That is the only sort of strategy that can be applied to a global war. The Prime Minister has clearly shown that he appreciates that this is a global war, and that step by step our enemies have to be driven back. So far as we are concerned, this is a war of extermination either of ourselves or of our enemies. Our enemies do not mince matters in their publicity. They have no hesitation in saying over the air what their intentions are towards us. We have known for some considerable time that their envious eyes were cast on this country.
– And they do not stay in their country.
– That is true. Iam reminded by the interjection of what German strategy has been. For at least a century Germany has not fought a war in its own country. In 1870, in 1914-18, and in the present war it has struck outwards. It will be said that Germany was on the offensive, but it is an offensive which has kept its own territory tolerably safe, and its people immune from attack, at least until comparatively recently. Fortunately, science has come to our aid as well as to the aid of Germany and we have been able to carry the war into the heart of Germany’s big industrial centres and munitions factories, and those of its lagging ally, Italy. Sooner or later, our men will have to go abroad to rescue their fellows from Singapore and Malaya, and right up to Rangoon. Are not the lads who now go beyond our boundaries to drop their 1,000-lb. bombs also defending Australia? They are making our position safe while they are obeying the behests of General Douglas MacArthur, and of our Australian CommanderinChief, General Sir Thomas Blarney. Some of our men are going out on flanking movements, attempting to .encircle the enemy. Have those who oppose sending troops out of Australia examined the strategy of this war, and what it would mean if we were beaten? Have they looked at the immense pincers movements, as they are called, which have been going on? The last pincers movement which President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill started in North Africa is gigantic. Yet a certain section of us sit here and say, “ We shall not go outside Australia “. When the Prime Minister takes a step along the road which we for over twelve months have asked him to take, he is greeted by howls; he has to consult his party, he meets with violent opposition, although he is going along the road that his conscience and his advisers dictate.
– He has this country united, at any rate.
– I should be glad if I could agree with the honorable senator.
– The Opposition has the numbers to give effect to its policy if it wants to do so.
– I hope for the sake of Australia .that the Prime Minister has the numbers, because he has shown that he realizes the strategy that should be followed to free the South-west Pacific area from these intruders, and drive them back from what we regarded as the bastion of Singapore, which they took from the rear. Whilst they hold it, they are an undoubted menace to this country, and we must drive them out of Singapore, Malaya, Java and French Indo-China Until we do so there will be no peace in Australia. I do not stand here praying for peace in our time, as some do. What we as men in this National Parliament should try to establish is peace, not for our own day, but for the future of this country. What peace can there be for us unless the nations who are attacking us are beaten to their knees? We shall never beat them to their knees by holding our forces here. I should like to put Senator Aylett right on one point. He asked, “Why denude Australia of men ? “ It is not a question of denuding Australia, but of having the power to send our men wherever they are needed. Gaps occur from time to time, and have to be filled. The army, the air force and the navy suffer, and must be reinforced if we are to succeed. We should remember the sacrifices that the men of the British Navy have made in this war in the effort to hold the enemy back just for the time being, whilst we get into a state of preparedness. It has taken us a considerable time to do that. I agree with the proposal cited by the Leader of the Opposition and which was sent to the Prime Minister twelve months ago: One army, no differentiation between the men, but a right and a duty to fight anywhere and everywhere. Such a policy puts the army on the same basis as the navy, and as those gallant lads of the air force who saved Great Britain in 1940. I pay tribute to the late Mr. Fairbairn, who did a great job for civilization in connexion with the Empire Air Training Scheme. The young men in the Air Force are the salt of the earth. Other men risk their lives too, but the risks that the airmen take are infinitely greater than those taken in the other services. I pay tribute to them, as I do .to the late Mr. Fairbairn, who himself went to his death owing to an air accident. His policy made the Empire Air Training Scheme an immense asset to .the United Nations. Apparently a section of the Prime Minister’s followers are disgruntled with what he is about to do. I think he will do it, although there are sections in the trade union movement who are bitterly opposed to him. At the same time I deprecate his having to go to the Australian Labour party executive, cap in hand, for permission to do his duty by Australia. I heard suggestions made here yesterday that we, on this side, had a consultative council, or something of that sort, from which we had to get permission before we could change our policy. I give that statement an absolute contradiction, because it is contrary to fact. It is contrary to the spirit of this party. We take no instructions from any body. We do not have to go cap in hand to any one before we take action when we are on the treasury bench. We take our risks, we take our political future in our hands, and do what we think is right. We do not go crawling to some secret conclave in LittleCollins-street, or even Little Bourke-street, as I think was suggested, to find out whether what we propose is or is not agreeable to others. I have been in this Parliament for over 16 years, and on no occasion have I had to go to my executive or controlling organization and say, “My Government is prepared to do this, do you think I ought to do it?” What a cur I would be! Honorable senators opposite get instructions from outside bodies which do control them. When the Wollongong showground was taken and certain guns were placed there the owners of greyhounds and others in New South Wales created a tremendous row, and threatened to go on strike if the guns were not removed and greyhound racing restored. The Government took its instructions from those people. They are the sort of instructions taken through the back door from men who crowd around the lobbies - instructions that I would never take or should be asked to take. It was said that if the State authorities did not carry greyhounds on the railways, the Minister for Transport (Mr. Lawson) would be pilloried and the men at a certain coalmine would go on strike. It would appear that greyhounds are much more important than the lives of the people whom our friends opposite desire to save from conscription.When the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) asks waterside workers, over 2,000 of whom have “Mr. Holloway’s umbrella “ over them, why they are not serving with the fighting forces, they produce a badge and say, “ We are waterside workers “ although the only job some of them have done on the waterfront might be to “work” a few things from overseas. When a little discipline is brought to bear on the waterside workers, and somebody in authority tries to find out what they are doing, they say, “ We will not unload any more cargo unless you go away from here “. These matters should be remedied by good military discipline and a sound police force. It is fundamentally wrong to refuse to form one Australian army, which is the logical conclusion to which the Prime. Minister must eventually come. One honorable senator told us that the Prime Minister did not know what he wanted.
– He also said that the right honorable gentleman was not sincere.
– That statement was made afterwards. We were left in somewhat of a haze by the press propaganda asserting that the Prime Minister is about to provide for one Australian army. That was clearly stated in some of the provincial newspapers, but I have come to the conclusion that that is one of the agile attempts at kiteflying which the Government makes when it desires to feel the pulse of the people. It is like the proposed 4 per cent. limitation of profits, and the “Dedman” suit which is without a waistcoat. Another report was published that the people in the metropolitan areas would lose their domestic staffs. It is surprising how the Government goes to cover when it sees that the flare of public opinion is against it.
We look forward with some hope to the Prime Minister being successful in his present proposal, because he has burnt his boats behind him and there can be no retreat without ignominy. Whatever his views may be - and I, as a member of the Opposition, hold no . brief for him - he is our Prime Minister, and is endeavouring to carry out an important task. Whatever his attitude to conscription may have been in the past, tremendous responsibility rests on him to-day, and also on those who oppose him in the present move. Australian’s safety and the lives and futures of the people of this country are at stake. I said to a member of the Opposition yesterday that some people, judging by their outlook, do not realize the inner intentions of the enemy. Even although we may not get the one army, which General Douglas MacArthur and General Sir Thomas Blarney would like, and which I am sure that tried veteran, Senator Brand, would like, we are going to take a step along the road that must ultimately lead to that result. As one of my colleagues remarked yesterday, it is important for Australia to stand well in the eyes of the world. Our troops have preserved the highest traditions of fighting men wherever they have gone. With the Scottish pipers on their flank, as Senator Allan MacDonald has reminded us, they were the spearhead of the Eighth Army at El Alamein. But the time has come when, in the interests of civilization, we should take our place with our allies, including our sister dominion of New Zealand, which has sent its men north indiscriminately, although the political party in power in that dominion is of the same political colour a3 that of the present Commonwealth Government.
We must march side by side with our good friends from the United States of America, and try to hold what we can in the Pacific. We must try to regain what rights and territories we can, in order to make our country safe. Yet we have refused to place our armies entirely at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief, so that they may be sent to any theatre of war where they may be required. Vivid pictures have been painted by the military men in this chamber. I cannot imagine the same degree of fellowship prevailing among the members of a divided army as in an army that is whole-heartedly united. A feeling of security and encouragement comes from the fact that a soldier knows that the man on his right and the other on his left are going along, with him to the front line. If we are to be defeated and enslaved, let us put up a fight in the best way our strategical advisers can suggest, but I do not anticipate that we shall go down. I look forward to victory. We shall have cohesion among our armed forces, and do credit to ourselves, if we say to our allies, “Here is our army, navy and air force. Put them where you will in the defence of the South-west Pacific area.” The Prime Minister is asking for no more than that. That there should be opposition to such a proposal in a global war amazes me. This war will be decided, not in Australia, but when we reach Tokyo and when we reach Berlin. When I was overseas I met Foch and Poincaire, the two soundest men of France, and they told me that in the last war the Allied forces should have marched into Berlin, as Germany had not had war within its borders for centuries. Those men saw farther ahead than those who sat round the table at Versailles.
When we have won the war, and start to talk of peace terms, there can be only one peace that will be of lasting benefit to civilization and humanity. It is a peace which will render the aggressive nations impotent. That is an awful thing to say, but the Russians are pursuing that policy to-day, and, in my opinion, they are right. While the aggressors havepower they will become aggressive again. We know the principles which dictate their aggressive policy. We know their fury, finely spun by their metaphysically minded people. We know their feeling towards civilization in Europe. That may be a decadent civilization, but, at all events, it has been a civilization in which it has been reasonably comfortable bo live. But our enemy to the north of us is so confident of victory that he even contemplates defeating the United States of America with its 130,000,000 white and coloured people. What vaunting ambitions ! My fear is that this war will be long and bloody. With ambitions such as those of the Japanese, with spiritual creeds such as they possess and with the beliefs they hold in their own future, as well a3 the ideals they have set up to be the pivot around’ which the whole world revolves, we have only one duty to the generations yet to come. We must not stop at those islands, where the fighting is now in progress, but we must go on and rescue our prisoners in Malaya and elsewhere, and the brave little band of men who are carrying on their own small war in Timor. It is revolting to find that there are men in this Parliament who will not go part of the way desired by the
Opposition, which is to have one army and one command so that our troops may be sent anywhere they may be required in this global conflict.
, - I am sure that every honorable senator was impressed by the statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) regarding the exploits of our men at the various battle fronts. The statement was compiled by the Prime Minister (Mr. ‘Curtin) from firsthand information. It will be recollected that he sent the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) and the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) right into the Owen Stanley Range where they witnessed at first hand the difficulties with which our troops have had to contend. Even the military authorities had declared that the Owen Stanley Range presented to the enemy an impassible barrier which would save Port Moresby; but the tenacious Japanese penetrated that range and reached a point within 40 miles of Port Moresby. We are proud of the fact that our troops drove the enemy back to the north-eastern shores of Papua. Over a year ago I said that our soldiers, who fight on many fronts, should not be called upon to pay taxes, because they give their services and, if necessary, their lives in order to save the people of Australia, including members of this chamber who are well housed. At times I have thought that my five years’ work in this chamber in advocating monetary reform has been wasted, but I am gratified to find that the New South Wales branch of the United Australia party now advocates the judicious use of national credit, as the following newspaper paragraph shows: -
The Council of the New South Wales branch of the United Australia party to-night approved recommendations about policy submitted by a special committee. Among them was one in favour of the judicious use of national credit for the construction of reproductive public works of a national character.
I do not know how honorable senators opposite who have laughed at me for five years will like that. Senator Sampson applauded my statement just now that men in the fighting services should not be called upon to pay any taxes, but under the present monetary system they have to pay. They are required to pay taxes because of the need, under the present system, to pay bank interest. Most of the loans that have been raised to prosecute the present war have been used to pay interest on loans raised during former years. Yesterday, when Senator Brand welcomed Senator Latham, he referred to him as a gallant soldier and a man interested in primary production. Is Senator Latham aware that the Parliament of Western Australia, which he adorned for many years, passed a resolution on the subject of finance in somewhat the following terms : “ That’ the Commonwealth Bank should be used not only to finance the war with interest-free money, but also to finance primary production “ ?
– I did not support that motion.
– Did not the honorable senator support the primary producers of hi3 own State? When I was in Western Australia four years ago I met many farmers who had walked off the land which their fathers had tilled for many years. The farms had been mortgaged to the banks when wheat realized 5s. or 6s. a bushel, but when the price of wheat fell to 2s. a bushel the farmers could not pay interest to the banks. Many of them became tired of working f or the banks and walked off their holdings. During the term of the Lyons Administration the primary producers of Australia were in a dreadful state. They had been ruined by the banks calling up overdrafts in 1929. In order to assist them, £12,000,000 was borrowed from the banks. That money was created by the banks out of nothing. In saying that, I repeat what I have said frequently in this chamber without being challenged. After that money had been borrowed from the banks at about 5 per cent, interest, the liabilities of the farmers were assessed, and non-negotiable cheques were sent to them. They had to send those cheques to their bankers in order to meet a portion of their overdraft and to enable them to continue to work for the banks. As I have said, that money was created by the banks out of nothing. The banks produced only the cheques; there was no money transaction. Nevertheless, the taxpayers of this country are still paying interest on that £12,000,000. I hope that that system of finance has come to an end now that the United Australia party, in New South “Wales at least, sees the need for the judicious use of bank credit. Recently, the sum of £2,000,000 was appropriated for the rehabilitation of the dairying industry. It is an economic fact that prices are controlled by the purchasing power in the hands of the people, and it is true that a large increase of the amount of money in circulation raises prices. The talk in this chamber would make one think that inflation was some kind of black death - an inescapable catastrophe sent by God. A simple definition of inflation is that prices rise when the purchasing power of the people is increased. Money coming in causes inflation unless prices are controlled. Now that the United Australia party in New South Wales has accepted the principle of the wise use of national credit, why not get on with the job quickly? It has taken two wars to show that all money that goes into circulation is a debt to the banks. The power of money was described by a former Prime Minister of England, the late Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, in the following terms : -
I must confess to being thoroughly disillusioned in regard to the working out of Labour socialism. It simply doesn’t work out. Finance can command the sluices of every stream that runs to turn the wheels of industry, and can put fetters upon the feet of every Government that is in existence. You think that the Bank of England is a national institution. The French think the Bank of France is a national institution. The Germans think that the Reichbank is a national institution. And the truth? The truth is, they are all controlled to some extent by a group of international financiers, whose one interest in life is power, power to rule the world. I tell you that they do rule the world.
Two thousand years ago Demosthenes said to a decadent Greece -
Can a policy which has taken us from success to failure lead us back from failure to success ?
Nothing hurts the conservative mind so much as a new idea. The conservative mind, of the Opposition is trying to assimilate the idea that ‘Commonwealth Bank credit is a good thing. I hope that the process of assimilation will continue, because there can be no lasting peace and no satisfactory “ new order “ under the system which caused the present war and previous wars. To-day, iii an excellent speech, Senator
– The honorable senator suggested just now that the Labour party did not understand finance and economics.
– When Senator McBride was Minister for Supply and Development he was known not by that designation but as the Minister of Retard. The honorable senator laughs. I do not mind a joke against myself, but I do object to being laughed at. Do honorable senators opposite realize the serious character of our work in this chamber? We make the laws under which the people have to live. Those laws are either good or bad, and therefore the making of laws is not a laughing matter.
– Many laws passed by the Parliament are really made outside the Parliament.
– Is the honorable senator speaking for his party?
I have here a comprehensive statement prepared by one of the most highly qualified accountants in Australia. He is not only an accountant in the generally accepted sense, but is also an expert on banking. The author of the statement is Mr. D. J. Amos, who is an officer of the Municipal Tramways Trust, Adelaide. I know him personally. I never express an opinion on any subject without making myself thoroughly acquainted with the facts. Some honorable senators may laugh at me; but no honorable senator has been able to show that any statement I have made in .this chamber during the last five years is not correct.
– But the honorable senator has not made any converts.
– I might inform Senator Gibson, who is a member of the Country party, that a meeting of the Country party held recently at Ballarat, which was attended by 600 delegates, resolved practically unanimously to in struct the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, that at the next meeting of the Loan Council he should ask for the use df the national credit through the Commonwealth Bank in order to finance the war. Can Senator Gibson deny that? The title of this statement is, “ Credit Policy. A Plan to Finance the War without Debts to the Banks “. As the statement is somewhat lengthy I ask leave to have it incorporated in Hansard. [Leave not granted.] Then I shall read the statement, which is as follows: -
Honorable senators may recollect that I made a proposal in this cham’ber that would save the Government millions of pounds in financing the war. I made it first to the Menzies Government, and then to the Fadden Government. I am now placing it before this Government. I can best explain the proposal by citing the experience of an engineering firm whose experience was common to factories generally when they changed over to war work. The company in question had an overdraft of £17,000 with a private bank, and the value of its property was £60,000. The company paid interest on its overdraft at the rate of 6 per cent. Shortly after the change-over to war work, the company required to add a moulding department to its plant, and in order to finance this work it asked the bank for an additional overdraft of £10,000. The bank refused the request unless the Commonwealth Government guaranteed the company’s account. Thus the bank would have a lien on the property valued at £60,000, and would he receiving 6 per cent, on £27,000, whilst the Government would be left to “ carry the baby “ should the project fail. I suggested that every contract let by the Government should contain a clause to compel the successful tenderer to finance his contract through the Commonwealth Bank. That was only asking for reciprocal business, because the Government was giving the’ contract in respect of which payment was certain, and no risk whatever was being run by the successful tenderer. Therefore, to ask successful tenderers to give their business in the form of their overdraft to the Commonwealth Bank was only reciprocal business. Such a policy would have taught the people to use their own bank, the profits of which go to the nation; and by that means the country’s revenue would have benefited by millions of pounds. However, as that proposal was opposed to the interests of private enterprise, it was turned down. I also point out that such a scheme would prevent serious difficulty for the Government. “When a private contractor receives his cheque for his contract for. say, £50.000 he places it in his private bank. In that way the private banks build up huge credits against the Government. Under the scheme I proposed, the contractor would place his cheque with the Commonwealth Bank, with whom he would “ square “ his overdraft, and thus prevent the private banks from building up huge credits against the Government. It was a sane proposal. In view of its importance in relation to government finance generally, I was amazed that it was not adopted. I urge the present Government to adopt it. Mr. Amos’s statement continues -
These debentures shall constitute the sole and only authority under which Banks ma) grant loans. On receipt of such Bank Debentures, the Commonwealth Central Bank must, in its turn, immediately lodge with the Commonwealth Government Treasury, its own debentures, mentioned in paragraph 4 above.
In this manner, the principle is established that when the National Credit is issued, the Banking System, as a whole, accepts as Agents, liability to the Community.
Cash in hand, held by Trading Banks, or Credits established at the Commonwealth Central Bank shall not constitute an authority for the Trading Banks to grant loans.
There is no need to do away with the private banks. I have never advocated that we should. I am concerned with the socialization of credit, not the nationalization of banks. I am not concerned about what the private banks are making out of the trading community. If traders are prepared to place their money on deposit with the private banks at li per cent, interest, and then pay 5 per cent, for accommodation, I am quite willing to let them do so. My first concern, as it should be the first concern of every honorable senator, is that the Government shall not be exploited in this way.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask the honorable senator to connect his remarks with the subject before the Chair.
– I am dealing with the methods to be adopted in order to rehabilitate our soldiers after the cessation of hostilities. We are considering the problem of the repatriation of our fighting men. How shall we find work for them ? We cannot provide work for them without money, or bank credit. Are we going to continue to borrow money from the private banks, and charge the interest thereon to our exsoldiers in the form of taxes? We cannot continue that policy. When Mr. Lloyd George told the people of Great Britain that, after the last war, he would make Great Britain a country fit for heroes he intended to carry out his promise; but he forgot about the power of high finance. The private financial institutions in Great Britain closed hundreds of factories by calling up overdrafts. The result was that thousands of ex-soldiers were forced to endure privations for the twenty dreadful years which have intervened. The banks declared that Great Britain was too poor to give employment to its exsoldiers. Great Britain has demonstrated in this war that it is not a poor nation. More factories than ever before in its history are now turning out essential products, whilst the country has assembled and equipped the greatest armed forces in its history. Great Britain has demonstrated that it is a rich country. Only the money power declared that it was poor; and it was due to the policy of the private financial institutions that so many of the people were forced to walk the streets as beggars after the last war.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
- Mr. Amos’s statement continues -
There is also an appendix, dealing with primary production in these terms -
The following outlines the manner in which this credit policy could be applied to primary production : -
Under the conditions laid down in paragraph 6 above, trading banks are required to deposit interest-free debentures to the value of all loans to industry, &c. Similarly, the Commonwealth Central Bank must lodge debentures with the Treasury. Therefore the banking system, as a whole, must lodge debentures with the respective authorities for the full amount of their existing loans.
On receipt of such debentures, the Treasury may now surrender to the Commonwealth Bank any desired amount and receive in return a credit from the bank.
With the credit thus established in favour of the Commonwealth Treasury, the Government could subsidize prices of primary products at a figure which would ensure farmers a return sufficient to meet their costs and repay their debts.
The difference between the market price and the subsidized price would be met by the Commonwealth Government drawing upon the credit, established as above, and issuing cheques to farmers on evidence of delivery and sale of products.
These cheques would be paid into the trading banks, which on receipt would present them to the Commonwealth Central Bank, thus redeeming a portion of their debentures.
The Commonwealth Central Bank then debits the Commonwealth Treasury credit and cancels the cheques.
Many people outside this Parliament are taking a great interest in the economic situation, and are anxious to know what is going to happen after the war. That is why I have read the statement of Mr. Arnos, who is one of the few accountants who know something beyond mere figures in account books. It was issued on behalf of the Melbourne Economic Research Council, and deals with the use of the national credit - a principle which has now been adopted by the Council of the United Australia party in New South Wales. That council has approved of using the national credit judiciously, and the only way to use it judiciously is to use it according to the advice of an experienced man like Mr. Amos.
.- The statement read by the Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) was interesting, but its contents have not been the subject of the debate that has taken place. I take it that it was tabled for the information of honorable senators, and that the motion, “ That the paper be printed “ was moved to allow a general debate to take place. After all the speeches that have been delivered on quite a number of matters, which I suppose could if necessary be connected with the Prime Minister’s statement, it is difficult to break new ground. Whilst the war position incidentally has been mentioned, the debate has related largely to the questions of conscription and the consolidation of the fighting forces of Australia into one army. We are passing through anxious times and the safety of Australia and our allies, who are bound with us in a common cause, is at stake. We have expressed our appreciation of what the United States of America has done to assist in our defence. Some time ago General Douglas MacArthur, the CommanderinChief of the Allied forces in the South-west Pacific area, was entertained in Canberra by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and all those present will recall the extraordinarily fine address which he delivered. In his concluding words he said in effect : “ I can assure the members assembled here to-day, and the people of the Commonwealth generally, that the United States of America will place at the disposal of this country the whole of its resources in man-power and material, and will, if need be, spill its last drop of blood in the defence of democracy”. I cannot understand why we should find so much hesitancy abroad in Australia to-day. We must have one army to defend our country, and to attack the enemy wherever he is. Honorable senators have all expressed their great admiration aird appreciation of what the United States of America has done in sending its citizens thousands of miles over the seas to make Australia the base for the attack on Japan. It has also sent equipment and material of all kinds. We do not want to designate the members of the great army that it has sent here as conscripts, but we know that the principle of conscription is in force in that country, and that every man is called up in his grade as required. What would our position be if the United States of America took up the same attitude as many members of the Labour party take up here? What would we think if it decided that no Americans should go outside of the United States of America to fight? The President of the United States of America has said on more than one occasion in his broadcasts: “Let us go forward and fight the enemy wherever he may be until we conquer him; let us defeat him in the country where he is and not wait until he comes to America. We arc fighting for democracy and freedom, and wherever those principles are assailed we should go and defeat .the enemy.” Why this hesitancy, this dwelling on fine points? Why the question of one united army for Australia should be referred to some outside ‘ body for a decision passes my comprehension. Who are these people to whom the matter is being referred? To whom are they responsible? Imagine the humiliating position of the Prime Minister of this nation, who has to go cap in hand to an organization which is not responsible to Parliament, or in fact responsible to anybody. Its members have said that they may come to a decision on the 4th January, but who knows whether they will, or what their decision may be? Is it not an invitation to break down those very principles for which we are fighting? The nation’s Parliament is the place where these decisions should be made. Once this Parliament is elected, the duly appointed representatives of the people should decide such matters as this. Will the Minister give some indication of what the Government’s intentions are if the decision is unfavorable to the Prime Minister? We and the people are entitled to know the alternative. A position arose yesterday in the House of Representatives which makes the issue more uncertain than ever. The Opposition is tolerant to a degree, as is proved by its desire to co-operate with the Government in its attempt, in a modified way, to place the Australian forces at the disposal of the Allies. In nearly every other country all men are called up indiscriminately, and are required to serve in the sphere in which they can be best utilized. The fact that Australia has a very lengthy coast-line and a small population makes it all the more important that the services of our troops should be used to the best advantage. After the last war there was some doubt as to whether the White Australia policy, for which this country has always stood, would be maintained. We have not heard the last word on that matter. The conditions which will be imposed on Australia after this war will be determined on what we do in assisting to win it. We need friends around the peace table. Why are honorable senators afraid of conscription ? What is wrong with it ?
– What is right about it?
– The present Government has gone f urther than any anti-Labour government has gone in the past, or has even thought of going, in the direction of curtailing the liberties of the people. When the National Security Act was passed the members of the Labour Opposition expressed a fear of industrial conscription, although the present Opposition has never attempted to implement such a policy, but industrial conscription has been introduced by the present Labour Government. In Tasmania a person working in a protected industry recently transferred to another protected industry, and he waa ordered by a court to return to his former job. The present Government has done without a blush the very thing which the Opposition never contemplated?
– Was not that the right thing to do ?
– Of course it was, but why suggest that conscription would put an objectionable brand on a citizen, although it has been adopted in other countries? The war will be won as a result of the services of those who are called up, and it will be won more quickly if every man called to the colours is placed where his services will be of the greatest value. Why say that Australians should not be called upon to serve beyond the boundaries of their own country in order to defeat the enemy? We do not object to Americans being conscripted and transported thousands of miles over the seas in order io make Australia a base for their operations against the common enemy. We are thankful to know that up to the present the efforts of our friends from the United States of America have been highly successful. Why is the Government and its supporters afraid to adopt conscription for Australia ?
– The last Government, which the honorable senator supported, was afraid of it.
– The circumstances have entirely changed since the previous Government was in office. When the Opposition was in power it did not call for help from overseas, but Australia has now appealed to the United States of America for immediate assistance. The present Government went so far as to say that the help which it had expected from Great Britain was not available to Australia. It was even suggested that Great Britain had let us down, but it was subsequently declared that no such inference could justifiably be drawn.
I commend the Government upon what it is now doing, but I should like to know why it has not submitted to Parliament a proposal for the full use of the armed forces in any theatre in which their services may be required. I am disappointed with the Ministry for having referred this issue to an outside body, from which it is awaiting an answer, on which will depend whether the Government will proceed on its present course or ignominously withdraw. The matters contained in the paper we are supposed to be discussing Lave been fully dealt with in the newspapers from time to time, and the subject of paramount importance in this debate is that of conscription for overseas service. The paper refers in appreciative terms to the great assistance rendered to Australia by the United States of America, and to the important part that Russia has played in the war. “We all join with the Government in expressing appreciation of those services, but I deprecate the absence from the paper of any pointed reference to Great Britain’s large contribution to the combined war effort. I do not wish to suggest that the omission has been made by design, but is it merely an oversight? “When the austerity loan was launched in Sydney, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) referred to the great war work of Russia, without any tribute being paid to the efforts of Great Britain. Nobody could be other than mindful of the valuable contribution of the Mother Country. Despite its many and heavy obligations, Britain faced all She enemies of democracy singlehanded. “We remember Narvik, Dunkirk, Greece and Crete. Despite disaster after disaster, Britain faced up to its responsibilities without complaint, and did not call for aid from other people. There is no mention of that in this paper. Why is there no reference to what the British people have done? They have held the fort; they have sent men and ships to the seven seas; while building up their own army and their own industries they have also sent aid to Russia, China, Africa and Australia. Indeed,all the democratic nations have been aided by Great Britain. I do not say that Australia has not done anything, but I do say that we should be lacking in our duty if we failed to give proper recognition to what Great Britain has done. Theref ore, I say that it would have been only fitting if in the first paragraph of this document tribute had been paid to those who have done so much for us and the world in general. It is true that the document contains a reference to Mr. Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, but these other things have been omitted. I hope that this will be the last time that the Senate will have occasion to draw attention to such omissions.
– Perhaps the honorable senator would like a couple of flags to wave.
– I am not a flag-waver. Does the honorable senator regard as flag-waving a proper recognition of what Great Britain has done for us?, “What is the explanation of these invidious distinctions? What has he to say of the protection and assistance rendered to Australia, and all the Allied Nations, by the British navy and the British mercantile marine? What did Britain do. when H.M.A.S. Sydney was lost, and when H«M.A.S. Canberra was destroyed in the Solomon Islands battle? I remind the Senate that notwithstanding the shortage of ships, even to the point of danger, Britain is replacing H.M.A.S. Canberra. But there is no reference to these things in the document before us. Why not let the Prime Minister of Great Britain and our kinsmen there know that we appreciate what they have done, and are doing? This document is silent on these things. I hope that the Government will see that in future proper recognition is given to the part played in this conflict by Great Britain. At the outbreak of war Britain was weak in armaments, but strong in spirit. For many months Britain stood alone against a powerful enemy. That stand enabled Australia and the Allied Nations generally to get ready. The debt that we owe to the Mother Country can never be repaid. These facts should have been recognized by the Government when preparing this document.
.- It is not difficult to judge the atmosphere in which the speech of Senator Herbert Hays was made. The honorable senator has been tuned in to London for so long that apparently he has forgotten that such a place as Australia exists. In his desire to recognize the effort put forward by the Government and people of Great Britain he appears to have overlooked what Australia has done. Like him, I appreciate what Great Britain has done, but in recognizing that fact I do not shut my eyes to Australia’s achievements. I shall not speak at great length because I believe in “getting up, speaking up and shutting up “, rather than repeating empty phrases such as we hear so frequently in this chamber. The Senate is supposed to be debating the statement submitted to it by the Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) but very little has been said about the contents of that document. Most of the early speakers were members of the Opposition, and they diverted the debate to the subject of conscription. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) said that Australia’s war effort falls far short of that of Great Britain and the United States of America. He admitted that Australia had done a great job, and had, indeed, almost performed a miracle, but he went on to say that this country should have done more. He then proceeded to argue that more could have been done had Australia adopted conscription. As so much has been said on that subject, it is fitting that the attitude of honorable senators on this side of the chamber should be made clear.
– Does not the honorable senator agree-
– Senator Spicer may be an excellent lawyer, but as a mind reader he is a miserable failure. How does he know with what I do, or do not, agree?
– Does the honorable senator agree with the Prime Minister ?
– Before I conclude my address I shall let the honorable senator know the answer to his interjection. The Leader of the Opposition became somewhat excited when he said that this matter had been referred to what he called an outside body - a conference of the Australian Labour party. Other Opposition senators followed his lead, and worked themselves into a state of pious indignation, exclaiming that the control of thi& country had been taken out of the hands of the Government. Every honorable senator remembers the unfortunate happening which led to a new senator being sworn in yesterday, and therefore I feel genuinely angry when Opposition senators constantly accuse the Labour party of using persuasive methods. Honorable senators opposite are obeying the dictates of their masters just as much as we on this side, who represent the vast unemancipated public, are doing our best to work for their emancipation along the lines set out by a democratically constituted conference of the Labour movement. There is no difference between the two sides of the chamber in that respect and therefore there is no need for honorable senators opposite to become indignant because we do what they do. Before he resumed his seat, the Leader of the Opposition “ spilled the beans “. He asked what the position of Australia would be in respect of trade, markets and tariff preferences after the war, if we, in this country, failed to pull our full weight in the war. Australia is pulling its weight, as the recent broadcast by Mr. Lowell Thomas from the United States of America made clear. The question asked by the honorable senator reveals where the Opposition stands in connexion with post-war problems. The Leader of the Opposition does not visualize a changed world, but one in which the pre-war state of affairs shall continue. He expects that the barriers which have existed between nations for centuries will continue and that conditions will revert to what they were before the war commenced. I am convinced that nothing of the sort will happen. Our people will not tolerate a return to the miserable conditions which they endured in the past. Our people were doublecrossed during the last war with the promise that that war was to make the world safe for democracy, and our country a land fit for heroes to live in. They were double-crossed, because, in spite of that promise, they were given a manmade depression as their reward. It is very evident to me that our people will not suffer another double-cross on this occasion. There must be a much more equitable distribution of the world’s goods. The people must be given a reasonable assurance that they shall bc able to spend the evening of life in security. The alternative will be too awful to contemplate. If the promises now being made to the people are not fulfilled after the war, the alternative will be something more awful than the war itself. Yet honorable senators opposite speak as though we shall return to the old order, which means using the big stick to bring every one into subjection. Senator Foll painted an awful picture of Minister fighting Minister. So terrible was the picture he placed before us that I assumed he was speaking not of any recent incident in this Parliament but of happenings in which he himself took part some eighteen months ago. The honorable senator also declared that a bitter feeling existed between members of the Australian Imperial Force and the Militia. On a previous occasion I heard another honorable senator make that allegation, and in the meantime I have made it my business to find out if any grounds exist for it. I have spent a considerable time in Queensland during the last three months, and at every opportunity, in talking to members of the fighting services, I endeavoured to learn as much as I could concerning the morale and discipline of our troops in New Guinea. I failed to elicit any support for the statement made by Senator Foll. Senator A. J. Mclachlan is an old campaigner. At times I envy him for his ability to lash himself into an evangelistic fervour, and for his ability to make a mountain out of a molehill. Occasionally, I am forced to the conclusion that the honorable senator has missed his vocation. He should bo an ..evangelist. The United States of America would make room for him on its roll of evangelistic idols. It is- very difficult, and very seldom a successful experiment, to legislate ahead of public opinion. The legislature must educate the public. Senator A. J. Mclachlan accused the labour party of what he termed “kite flying”, because, he said, this party feels the pulse of the public before it introduces new measures. I can see nothing wrong with that practice. Before initiating important measures a government should ascertain the reactions of the public to its desires. Time has a great respect for those institutions in the building up of which it plays a part. What we may gain by an act of violence to-day we may lose by another act of violence to-morrow. Only those reforms are durable that have firmly rooted in the mind and conscience of mankind before receiving the final seal of legislation. There is nothing wrong in ascertaining what the reactions of the public are likely to be to proposed legislation, before such legislation is enacted. Senator Herbert Hays was not fair to Australia when he discussed the help which we have received from overseas. I was born in the Old Country. I came to Australia about 34-J years ago, and since I arrived here I have seen two world wars. In each of them Australia did more than a fair share in implementing our racial desires. We should not go down on our knees, and cringe to be forgiven because we do not offer a prayer of thanksgiving for assistance we receive from somebody else when we have been rendering assistance to the donor of that aid for over the last 34 years.
Conscription, I understand, originated in Prussia, when Frederick the Great introduced it for the purpose of compelling his industrialists - his economic slaves - to produce the necessary material to aid him in his filibustering expeditions. I believe that to be the origin of conscription. However, I can speak about the actual operation of conscription. In 1903 the wine-producers in the south of France went on strike. Wine may be only just a comfort to the people who consume it, but it is the life-blood of the producers in the south of France. In order to break that strike, President Briand called all men to the colours. He succeeded in breaking the strike. History repeated itself seven years later.- In 1910 the telegraphists in Paris went on strike. It was the first move in what is called the syndicalist organization. President Clemenceau broke that strike by calling the men to the colours. Those incidents show very clearly that military conscription can be applied in the industrial field. It can be used against any one who believes in industrial organization. Coming nearer home, the subject of conscription was introduced in Australia in 1916. The then Prime Minister left this country for the Old Country, a. definite opponent to the idea of compulsory military service overseas. He left this country convinced that conscription for military service overseas was improper. Two or three days before he left these shores he stated, in a speech at Wagga -
When a nation is at death’s grip with an enemy, and calls for volunteers, if those vol’unteers are not forthcoming it will be because that country is rotten and not worth fighting for.
That gentleman went on to England. At that time Great Britain was floating its second big war loan. The response to it was not quite so good as was desired. The Government sought to elicit the cause ; and, consequently, for the first time in 137 years, a secret session of the House of Commons was called in order to receive a deputation from the Jewish money lenders of Lombard-street. I have been informed by a gentleman who was present at that secret session, that an ultimatum was issued by the Lombardstreet money lenders to this effect: “We shall not contribute one more penny-piece to your war loan, unless, and until, our interests are adequately safeguarded by the introduction of conscription “. The Australian Prime Minister attended that secret sitting of the House of Commons. He became converted to the idea of conscription. Did Great Britain jettison its age-old tradition of freedom for the sake of the extra military aid it could thereby obtain? I advise any honorable senator who holds that view to read the debates which took place in the House of Commons during 1919. It will be found that the late Mr. Ramsay MacDonald elicited the information that the conscription issue which was foisted on the British people at that time enabled the British Government to obtain fewer than 119,000 additional effective combatants. Did Great Britain jettison its age-old tradition of freedom for the sake of enrolling 119,000 additional effective combatants? Of course- it did not, because at that time Great Britain had under arms nearly 2,750,000 men. It must be obvious that conscription was then introduced in Great Britain for the purpose of safeguarding Mammon. I have always been bitterly opposed to conscription because of its industrial aspects, but I am 100 per cent, behind the request made by the Prime Minister to the Australian Labour party conference to consider whether, in existing circumstances, it would be wise to ex tend the boundaries for the defence oi Australia to adjacent islands. That is all there is in this proposal. Senator Herbert Hays mentioned, although he did not make enough of the fact, that the evils of conscription had already been accepted by the people of Australia, who jettisoned the age-old jealous regard for their privileges by embracing the man-power proposals. In doing so, they made all the concessions that any body had a right to expect from them, so that this proposal, even though we call it conscription, is only a shell. That is why it is not repugnant to me. Call it what you will, I am in favour of extending our boundaries for defence purposes to the islands adjacent to Australia, but I want- geographical guarantees.
– How far would the honorable senator go?
– I would go so far as Australia is supposed to be interested in this war in the global sense, that is, the South-west Pacific area. We have been allotted a certain zone, and as Australians we are interested in it. It is good tactics in these days of modern fast flying aeroplanes to set our first line of defence in islands within a radius of 1,000 miles away from our coast, because that enables ample warning to be given, and, if there be any “ eggs to be laid “, they will be laid, although it may sound selfish to say so, in somebody else’s backyard instead of our own. That is a common sense proposition, but, unlike some honorable senators opposite, I want geographical guarantees and a time limit. I do not want the power that will be put in the hands of the governing classes to be used to chain a man to his job, as it was in the south of Prance and Paris, and as the Jewish money lenders of Lombard-street wanted it to be used in Great Britain. T have analysed the question of conscription according to the conception of honorable senators opposite, I have shown the evils of it from my angle, and have proved that the term should not be applied in the. present circumstances. That is all I rose to say, but, seeing that we are supposed to be debating a statement on international affairs, and have been led astray by the action of numerous speakers on the other side of the chamber and have been debating conscription, I should like, even at this late stage, to hear subsequent speakers make some’ reference to what is contained in the Prime Minister’s statement. I heard one honorable senator question Senator Amour’s assertion that the operation of the machinery of conscription by a government unsympathetic to our class might force coolie labour or black labour on Australia, and I also heard him say that that had never occurred under British rule. That is not true, because it is well known that a serious crisis was precipitated (in Britain as the result of the introduction of Chinese coolie labour in South Africa. I hope that honorable senators opposite will no longer confuse their conception of conscription with our proposal to extend the boundaries for the defence of Australia.
– At the outset I wish to say how much I appreciate the reception given to me by honorable senators, and particularly the very kindly remarks made by my gallant and distinguished friend, Senator Brand. I admit that I shall have much to learn in this chamber, and I am prepared to learn so far as it is within my capacity to do so. If I may begin by being a little critical, I may say that 1 was very keenly disappointed to find that the Government had no business to place before this chamber, seeing that I have travelled 2,i600 miles to reach Canberra. I admit, of course, that the paper presented to the Senate by the Acting Leader has been very enlightening, but we have had an opportunity of reading its contents in the newspapers from time to time. However, it does give us th<-. opportunity to say how much we appreciate the efforts, not only of Australians, but also of every one of those who are engaged in this gigantic struggle to retain the freedom which we have so long enjoyed. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to participate in the debate in this chamber, if only for that purpose. When I heard that international affairs were to be discussed, I hoped that we might have an opportunity to extend further help to our own forces and those of our allies. 1 have listened very attentively to much that has been said about, conscription. I do not know how we could get more effective conscription than we have in some respects to-day. I have watched very closely and carefully the actions, not only of this, but also those of past governments, and J believe that they have been honorable. I believe that the intention of the Government is to ensure that Australia puts forward the very bes effort possible, but there has been something lacking, which was not evident at the time when the change of government, took place. We were then fighting the war in Africa and Europe, a very long distance from our shores, but after the change of government this country was threatened by a formidable enemy whose population is ten times greater than ours. We must not forget that fact. No matter how wonderful the Australiana are - and no man can applaud them more honestly and sincerely than I can, because I was associated with them for a while - we must admit that numbers must tell. In order to defend this country, we must be united. One of the most wonderful of recent happenings is the response that we have had from the United States of America. It was expected, of course, that the Mother Country would stand to us. I am an Englishman, and proud of it. No matter what Australia does, we can never repay the Old Country for what it has done for us. It permitted us in years gone by to put on the statute-book of our national parliament legislation that we could never have enforced for one day without its help. To-day we are fighting one of the Asiatic races affected by that legislation. I am very concerned lest retaliation for our action in passing it should be visited on those of our men who to-day arc prisoners of war in the hands of the Japanese. I only wish that I had the strength and ability to take up a rifle and do as I did some years ago. I would not hesitate to do so, and I do not believe any other Australian would. Australia has for a long time awaited the lead of the right man in the right direction. It is not a question of this Parliament following, but of leading, and I believe that, Australia is waiting for that lead, because it wants to release its men from captivity as early as possible. Is there any action that we can take that would be too strong to release them ? That is the appeal I make to the minority section of the Labour party to-day. If conscription will do it, and we desire to send our men anywhere within the fighting zones, let us adopt it, so long as it will bring back to Australia those of its sons who are waiting to return to ns. I have heard it argued that conscription will not help. I am sure that it will help. Every ex-soldier on either side of the Senate knows what war weariness is. I know what it is, and those boys of ours know it. It is wonderful to feel that one is to get some relief from reinforcements. How can we reinforce our men to-day, if we tell those who have been forcibly called to the colours that, unless they volunteer, there will be no need for them to go beyond Australian territory? I believe that they would be quite willing to go, and I say advisedly that the men and women of Australia are prepared to sacrifice almost everything to retain their freedom. We have to-day a great responsibility which, possibly, many of us have yet to appreciate. We have had handed down to us the right to say what we like, to do as we like, and even to go outside our national parliament for advice, help and instruction, but we shall not retain that freedom very long unless we can show our allies that we are prepared to co-operate with them to the fullest extent. To me it seems most unreasonable that we should say to the United States of America, a country foreign to us, although its citizens speak the same tongue as we speak, “ You are to send your troops to the Solomon Islands, and to keep them there, but if at any time they need reinforcements you will have to obtain them from some other country. Our country is the nearest to the Solomon Islands, but we will not send our men there to hel]> yours”. The holding of the Solomons might mean the security or downfall of Australia. I have taken this early opportunity to discuss this important subject, so that every member may know exactly where I stand regarding it. It is deplorable that any one holding the high position of Prime Minister of Australia, the most important that we can place in the hands of any of our citizens, should have to go to an outside body, when the results that he wishes to secure could be obtained from this National Parliament itself. Therefore I regret that a national government, representative of the best intellects of all sections of Parliament, has not been formed. If there were to be any sacrifices they would then have been made equally and fairly between the various political parties. I have no hesitation in saying that had the Prime Minister said that, in order to meet the requirements of the allied forces, it would be necessary to send men out of Australia, I believe that with a very small minority - in the proportion to which there are members in both Houses who now disagree with the Prime Minister’s present proposal - it would have been adopted. I hand back to the Labour organizations their own motto, “ United we stand ; divided we fall “. As long as we stand united towards the allied forces, and are willing to do all that we are expected to do, I have no fear as to what the outcome of the war will be; but we shall not give much encouragement to our allies if we say to them that if they want reinforcements in the Solomons or elsewhere outside Australian territory, they must transport the men themselves over those seas where enemy submarines lie in wait for them. We should amend the Defence Act as soon as possible. 1 was hopeful that when I was sent to this chamber I should be asked to support the granting of additional power to the Government to enable it to impose complete conscription for overseas service.
I have been in public life for a long while, but I have yet to learn that those with whom I have been associated in politics in Australia have been instructed by outside bodies as to what action they ought to take. We have had sufficient backbone to resist any offers of that kind, so I am reluctant to say that I am disappointed to hear the criticisms that have been exchanged in this chamber. At a conference of the Australian Labour party a certain proposal was referred to it by the Prime Minister, but the conference could not decide the matter until it had referred it back to the State executives. That is a serious reflection on democracy, because that is the fascist method of doing things. Those are the very tactics adopted by Hitler and Mussolini, and we should not adopt them in Australia. We should accept responsibility, because the people have- placed us here for that purpose. Party politics can be- brushed aside, so far as I am concerned. What I. am chiefly interested in is the welfare of the people of Australia.. The trade unionists should have, the right to- manage their own affairs in their own way, without interference by outsiders. They have fought hard for what they have to-day, but I ask them no.fr to be tyrannical because they happen to be in a position to exercise great power.
As an Englishman, nobody is more proud than I aoa of what Great Britain has done in this war. The people of the Mother Country have saved us from a great crisis. Their- action during the terrific bombing raids, in September/. 1940-,. protected’ Australia. Had Great Britain fallen then, Australia could not have survived. I could criticize the Labour party because- it suspended universal training, but of what use would that be? We desire to live at peace with the world, and we have attempted to do so, but the enemy has- thrown down, the gauntlet, and we must take up the challenge. Our youths- are capable of doing a full-sized man’s jab, and we should put them where they will be able to do it. We do not desire to witness in Australia, the carnage that has occurred in Europe. Honorable senators who oppose conscription to-day should realize that,, if we can win the war by going- out to meet the enemy before he reaches our shores, it will be of great benefit to the people of Australia. Honorable senators opposite should sink their party political differences, as the Opposition ia prepared to do. I believe that we shall all get behind1 the Prime Minister in a united effort to bring the war to a successful termination as quickly as possible.
– During this debate very little- attention has been paid- to the subject-matter of the- paper submitted to the Senate-. Some honorable senators opposite- have shown a tendency to make the most of this opportunity to try to discredit the- Government. I am forced’ to the conclusion that those honorable gentlemen are much more concerned about reflecting on the Government than about speaking on the war itself.. The- Government regards the war as the major issue and looks- upon all others as of only secondary importance. Senator Spicer insists- that Australian, troops must be prepared to go* to any part of the world., He would force them to do so, despite the fact that on two- occasions the people of this country have decided by referendum to the contrary. Yet he would have- us believe, that he is speaking in. the- name of the people. Are- we- to forget the result of those referenda, and ignore- the- fact that the people have been consulted on this, important, issue, not in time of peace; but in time of war, when group hysteria is prevalent, and the passions- of. men often rise above their better judgment? In that atmosphere the people decided against conscription for military service overseas. Honorable senators opposite would have it believed that they speak in the name of the people, and. that they have the interests of the people at heart. Yet,, although the people themselves, have spoken on a clearly defined issue/ those honorable senators say, in. effect, that no notice should be taken of. them.
Senator Spicer objects to the representatives of the Australian Labour party meeting behind closed doors. H’e would have the representatives of- the privately owned public press present, and he would have it believed that that would be a perfectly proper procedure- to- adopt. But he has not indicated that he would’ be in favour of press representatives attending meetings of the Employers Federation, the manufacturers’ associations, and other organizations of that kind which meet behind closed doors and discuss practically the same problems; as those considered’ by the Labour party. The practice of representatives of Labour meeting- behind’ closed doors had its origin in what happened to the martyrs of Tolpuddle in 1’83’4. They met in this way, and at that time the average wage of the British farm labourer was 9s. 4d:. a week. The employers intended to reduce that wage to 6s. a week. Because they met behind1 closed doors they were indicted, and, in due- course, appeared before the court. The- judge, Sir John Williams, sentenced them, to- transportation to- Australia for seven- years-. The present attitude of Labour to its opponents is .similar to what it was in 1834. We still have agents provocateurs., and the privately owned public press still deliberately misrepresents Labour in every conceivable way. Those who have spoken in favour of the use of Australian troops in overseas theatres of war have received as much space in the newspapers as the press could afford to give to them, whilst those who spoke to the contrary have been given hardly a Tine. When the newspapers sensed that public feeling, was increasing .against the proposed merging of the Militia and the Australian Imperial Force they made a virtue of a necessity, and devoted a little more space to the arguments advanced against the proposal; but never of their own volition was space granted to the advocates of Labour principles until public feeling forced them to do so. It was so during the referenda of 1916 and 1’917. In addition, the privately owned public press incited ill-informed and biased persons to manhandle and maltreat those who dared to oppose conscription at that time. But, as the opposition to conscription -grew, the press gave more and more space to those who opposed conscription. It will continue to act in this way. A good deal has been said during this debate about secret juntas. When I interjected, “What about the Australian Democratic Front ? “ there was a dead silence. I remind the Senate that, without the authority of ‘Parliament, a previous government used funds to subsidize a secret junta which had been established to discredit Labour throughout the Commonwealth. A former Prime Minister admitted that that practice had continued for twenty years. During this debate there has been no condemnation of previous governments; but, “because ‘a Labour organization,in conference with the Prime Minister, attempted to deal with an important matter, honorable senators opposite had a lot to say about .government by secret junta. However, that is nothing new; a similar attitude ‘has been adopted ever since 1”S”34, and it will continue because of the inherited prejudice and cultivated bias against Labour that exist. Many honorable senators opposite have, what I may call, a master-and-man complex. They look upon wage-workers as men and women who are their inferiors and are on the earth merely ,to give effect to their will, whether it be right or wrong. When they discover that the wage-workers are rising above .that status, and are disposed to organize with a view to resisting exploitation and impoverishment, and .are making their voice heard and their numbers felt through the medium of ‘ trade unions and .parliaments, the opponents, of the workers resort to the subsidizing of secret juntas, which .have been established to discredit the workers and their representatives. The evidence is overwhelming that those who condemn the Labour party are guilty of the very practices which they condemn in others.. By & process known as mental projection they attribute to the workers and their representatives in the Labour party those objectionable traits which they themselves possess and of which they are heartily .ashamed. Senator Spicer said that Labour is not fit to govern. The present Government took over the administration of the affairs of state on the 7th October, 1941. Tie Parliament then adjourned until the 29th of that month, when it sat until the 17th December. The Opposition caucus met, as it does frequently. If I may ‘digress for a moment, I point out that when the Labour party originally established its caucus more than 30 years ago its action was condemned and ridiculed throughout the country. Subsequently, however., the political opponents of Labour formed their own caucus, which they now regard as a proper and necessary part of their organization. At a meeting of the Opposition caucus held about the 17,th December, 1941, an amendment of the Defence Act to enable Australian soldiers to fight outside Australia and its territories was proposed.; but it was defeated, although there was a sufficient number present to carry it. Notwithstanding incidents of that kind, Senator Spicer says that Labour ‘is not fit to govern. The only reasonable deduction from these happenings’ -is that the honorable senator, and other honorable senators who have expressed similar views, are not serious, and do not really mean, what they -say.
Their speeches in this chamber are only so much political window-dressing, because in their hearts they admit that the Government is doing the job that lies to its hand better than they themselves could do it. Senators Spicer and A. J. McLachlan, and other members of this and the other chamber, are lawyers by profession. Lawyers have done more than any other section of the community to discredit Labour and injure its representatives in every conceivable way. That is part and parcel of their trade. I can understand the adroitness with which they try to sidetrack the issue by an appeal to the emotions on an entirely irrelevant subject. Historians all admit that Sir John Williams was a biased judge. But there have been other biased judges since he sat on the bench in 1834. There have also been notable exceptions. There was, for instance, the late Clarence Darrow, a leading criminal lawyer of the United States of America, who said things similar to those that I have said to-day. I can understand the bitterness of Senator Spacer, and also the camouflaged bitterness of Senator A. J. McLachlan. These and other legal gentlemen are keenly disappointed because some of us on this side of the chamber have not condemned the Prime Minister.
– We have not condemned the Prime Minister; but we have condemned his colleague who is now addressing the Senate.
– I stand solidly with the Prime Minister on everything that he has done up to date. For all practical purposes, the Labour party has put its policy into cold storage, because it regards the prosecution of the war as its first duty. If an attempt were made to implement Labour’s policy in the present desperate war-time situation, Australia’s war-time production would be affected. Because of that the Labour party has set aside its own policy and has given effect to the policy of its political opponents. What has the Prime Minister done? He has conferred with representatives of the Australian Labour party on a question of major importance to the Labour movement.
– In conformity with the sessional order that, unless otherwise ordered, the motion for adjournment shall be put, on Fridays, at 4 p.m., I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– The Prime Minister did what any Prime Minister would do in similar circumstances. This principle of no conscription for service overseas was laid down, not by the Labour party alone, but also by the people.
– Over a quarter of a century ago.
– The point is that the people have not voiced any change of opinion on the matter.
– They have not had a chance to do so.
– The previous Government could have given them that chance if it had desired to do so. However, should we repudiate the Constitution, without reference to the people, simply because it was drawn up 42 years ago? The reasoning of honorable senators opposite is that, because the Constitution was drawn up so long ago, we should be justified to-day in repudiating it. The Prime Minister understood the position exactly. He told the Labour movement that, in his opinion, our previous policy should be altered; and the Labour movement replied, “ Very well, we shall consider the matter from our point of view, and let you know what we think about it “. Yet honorable senators opposite, in their efforts to make political capital out of the Prime Minister’s action, work themselves into a state of emotional frenzy. They declare that the Prime Minister’s action is undemocratic, that it is opposed to all parliamentary procedure, and lowers the dignity of this great and glorious institution, including, incidentally, our noble selves. The Prime Minister, very properly, asked the Australian Labour party, supported by the people, whether in its judgment it would be proper to adopt his proposal. He did not only a proper but also a very courageous thing. He displayed much more courage than honorable senators opposite, on their own admission, would be prepared to display in similar circumstances. The Prime Minister viewed the position as it is to-day. He realized that he must act quickly, but, at the same time, in a manner that would win the greatest possible assistance from the people. He recognized the importance of the issue involved, an issue which had been endorsed by the people. Because he conferred with State Premiers and responsible members of State and the Commonwealth parliaments, who represent the Labour movement, honorable senators opposite can say nothing that is too severe in condemnation of his action. Any intelligent person is forced to the conclusion that honorable senators opposite are merely trying to make political capital out of this action on the part of a courageous and capable leader. The difference between the view of the Prime Minister and my view in respect of this matter is this : I am not prepared to risk placing the interests of our soldiers and workers in the hands of our opponents to a greater degree than I am compelled to do so. That is the issue. It is whether we should run further risk with the major monopolies in this country, and in Great Britain, who control antiLabour parliaments from behind the scenes. WhilstGreat Britain and Australia are being bled white, these monopolists are taking the advantage of every opportunity to build up their bank balances, and add to their capital holdings, in order to establish themselves for the post-war period more strongly than they were before the war. These men, to whom honorable senators opposite give so much lip loyalty through the press, the broadcasting services and in the parliaments of this country and Great Britain, are far more concerned about their bank balances and about establishing themselves after the war than about the war itself. They view the post-war problems with more fear than the problems of the war itself. I am not prepared to go any further with the Prime Minister, or any body else, than I have already gone, in that direction. The only difference between my view and that of the Prime Minister on this matter is that he has much more confidence than I have in those who control the major monopolies in this country.
– He has a great deal more sense than the honorable senator in regard to this matter.
– I can appreciate that point of view coming from Senator Gibson, because he believes much more in war profiteers than I do; and any one who strikes a note in tune with his way of thinking has common sense in his opinion. But that point of view does not appeal to me. Let me deal with what happened after the last war. I hope that honorable senators will turn over in their minds the facts I am now about to give, and try to form some idea of the fundamental basis of the view which I and many others hold in respect of this matter. Let us see what took place whilst the nation was being bled white during the last war, whilst the war drums were being banged and the people were being regimented for the supreme effort. I am quoting from the Encyclopedia of Pacificism, edited by Aldous Huxley, one of England’s foremost writers -
Between 1915 and 1918 the American munition firm of Dupont de Nemour paid dividends amounting to 458 per cent. of the par value of the original stock. According to British history of the Ministry of Munitions, the profits of J. P. Morgan and Co. amounted, from 1914 to 1918, to more than 2,000,000,000 dollars. Recently British rearmament has brought substantial profits to manufacturers and especially financiers. In the Daily Telegraph of March 11, 1935, we read that Vickers Ltd. is giving a threefourths share for every six-eighth share held. The ordinary dividend for 1935 was raised from 6 per cent. to 8 per cent. Writing in the Peace Year Book, Mr. Francis Williams estimates that the total profit to armament share interests during 1935 was more than £32,000,000. More than £5,000,000 of this went into the pockets of the promoters who floated new aircraft companies.
We have aircraft companies in this country which are reaping a veritable harvest of profit while we are asking the workers to put their sixpences and shillings into the Austerity Loan. The quotation continues -
The cynically anti-social attitude of the arms manufacturer is well expressed in the following remark, which is cited from an article in T,he .Aeroplane for March .15, 1933: “ The manufacturers -of tooth aeroplanes .and engines may .hope for increased turnover and profits a vear or so hence, when the Disarmament Conference has faded out and the .programme of expansion .is allowed to proceed.”
As the result of the Disarmament Conference a previous government supported by honorable senators opposite caused the LLM.A.S. Australia to be sunk. The article proceeds -
In a memorandum addressed to the Admiralty in 1919, Admiral of the “Fleet Lord Wester Wemyss summed up the case against the arms manufacturer as -follows: “Every firm engaged in the ‘.production of armaments and munitions of any kind naturally wants the largest output. Hot only has it .a direct interest in . the inflation of the Army and Navy Estimate and in war scares, ‘but it is equally -to i’ts interests -to push its foreign business. For the more armaments are increased abroad, the more they must be increased at home. This interrelation ‘between foreign and home trade in armaments is one of the most subtle and dangerous features of the present system of private production.”
As I have stated on previous occasions, millions of British, French and American capital was poured into Germany, Italy and Japan after the last war for the pin-pose of building up the secondary industries and war machines of those countries against which we .are fighting to-day. The -quotation goes -on - “ The -evil is intensified by the existence of international armament rings, the members of which notoriously play into each other’s hands. So Jong .as this subterranean conspiracy against peace is allowed to continue, tie possibility of any serious concerted reduction of armaments will .be remote.” In the United States an inquiry into private arms manufacture was held in 1934 and 193S, gina in England a .Royal Commission sat in 1935. Private manufacture still continues. For the arms manufacturer, profit comes before patriotism.
I should like Senator Gibson to pay special attention to that reference - profit before patriotism. That is the policy of people who pour out lip loyalty, and who would lead the way in bringing about conscription of our men for military service anywhere, Tokyo .and Berlin included. Aldous Huxley continued -
He will sell his products to .anyone who is prepared to buy, even though the buyer be an actual or potential enemy. In his evidence before the Arms Commission (1935), Mr. W. Arnold Forster mentioned the fact that -a gun captured by the Bedfords in
Palestine had the words, “Made :by Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth & Co.” inscribed on -it. Agreement between arms .manufacturers may even survive the outbreak of hostilities. During the World War, the Briey basin ‘was not bombarded, because French .and German armament makers had a gentlemen’s agreement that neither side should be embarrassed in its production of munitions. The war waa consequently prolonged; hut the profits of the manufacturers were increased.
That happened . during the last war, and it is happening during this war. Those facts speak for themselves. They show the danger of control, particularly of our war industries, by private monopolies. Those interests, through the medium of their subsidized press, and through their political henchmen, demand conscription for overseas service. We have only to think of what happened during the last war, and in the light of those happenings, ask ourselves whether we are justified in submitting to such a demand. During this debate quite a lot has been said about conscription. For the sake of clarity, I classify conscription under three heads - economic, industrial and military. Economic conscription is enforced to the limit where the supply of labour exceeds the demand. It has the effect of forcing the workers into submission through the medium of the weapon of starvation. That wa3 done after the last war, not only in Australia, but also in practically all parts of the world, until capital began to pour into Germany, and then it was not used to the same extent. I remember that in this chamber, while the weapon .of economic conscription was being used so brutally and callously against the workers of this country, when we on this side asked the Government for a few hundred thousand pounds at Christmas time to give the impoverished and starving victims a little more, it was refused with contempt. Then the war came, .and it wanted men to save this country. The very men that it starved it is now prepared to feed, clothe and house so that they may protect them. Those men to-day are heroes, fighting and dying in New Guinea and other places, but many of them aire the very men who were starved through .the medium of economic conscription enforced by previous anti-Labour governments in Australia. At that time those men were called a menace. They were regarded as agitators because they were asking for something to which they were entitled. They had to- bc kept down by law,, to prevent them becoming- dangerous. Now that the war is- on. they are- heroes. When the war i.? over we may see a repetition of what happened after the last war, especially during the depression years. I define industrial conscription as a- weapon which is enforced where the supply of labour is not equal to the- demand. That weapon is being applied now through the medium of the National Security Act. When economic conscription was enforced previously., the workers were free to starve,, and as anti-Labour governments took no notice of their condition they did starve, but tor-day they are not even, allowed to starve. Through tha medium of industrial conscription under the National Security Act they are forced to go anywhere that they are required to work, whether they like it or not. I. make no apologies when I am challenged on the Labour platform with being associated with a government which is enforcing industrial conscription. I reply, “ Yes,, but I would rather take the risk with the enemy inside to the extent that we know that he exists, than take any risk with the enemy outside “.. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLea.y);. ‘Senator Spicer and others who pose as> ultra intellectuals and ultra patriots, the- embodiment of. all the wisdom thai it is possible for a human being, to absorb.. now claim that the Government hae done nothing. I admit that it has- given, way in; certain directions because it is a Government of. men who- are in deadly earnest,, who understand the task with which they have been entrusted, and are prepared to take every risk possible rather than, see their country endangered Some axe now asking for military conscription for overseas service;. It would appear from the speeches of honorable senators opposite that it is required only for immediate military requirements, but I can see that after this war there is going to be a big. standing army in Australia. We shall he armed as. never before,, and military conscription, will, be used in precisely the same way here as Senator
Large pointed out that it was so effectively and successfully used on. the Continent of Europe- in the interests of major monopolies. All the monopolists of this country are behind this movement. Ostensibly they want to win the war. To ill-informed persons,, prepared to accept their- statements at face value1, it would appear that they are inspired by the noblest and most patriotic motives, but in reality, experience has proved, military conscription is wanted in Australia for the same purpose as- it was required on the Continent. I have had the opportunity of conversing with a number- of American business men, who- are officers in the American Army. They have expressed the view that there are too many strikes in this country, that the- unions have far too much to say, and that big business is not treated with the respect and’ consideration to which it is generally considered that it should be entitled. They say. to me, “ If we were in control we should deal with them in a different way. We should have our squad’s armed’ with tear-gas bombs, and even with tommy guns, and put the unions in -their right place. If that did not succeed, we should’ replace them by cheap coloured labour “’. Those gentlemen are not f ools, but have been through the process, and have given effect to- that, sort of policy. They say that military conscription is necessary so that these things can be done in the post-war period, which is likely to be very dangerous for big business. If honorable senators opposite could put themselves in my place, and view the situation as I do,, as one who has had more experience than the Prime Minister of the changing processes through which our social structure is passing,, they would adopt exactly the same attitude as I do. But, because they are associated’ with interests that will profit by the exploitation and impoverishment of the workers, they take up quite a. different stand. Their attitude, politically,, is in conformity with the way in which their economic interests are, or are likely to be, affected.. That is the fundamental reason, in my judgment, for the opinions which they have expressed to-day.. As I say.. I am not prepared, to accept them. The Menzies Government in September, 1939, embodied the following section in the National Security Act: -
– (7.) Nothing in this section shall authorize -
Therefore the present Opposition when in power was opposed to conscription for overseas service, and as recently as 1939 its own government recognized its obligations to the people in the way I have just mentioned. That was done after the war started,but now it asks us to repudiate it, and some of them have had the audacity to condemn one of the most courageous and capable Prime Ministers that this country has ever produced, because he had the temerity to consult humble individuals like myself about the matter. The Leader of the Opposition has said in effect that this Government has not done all that could be done. Speaking for the Aircraft Production Department, I say that it has done far more than was thought possible. For security reasons I am not permitted to state the number of aircraft manufactured, but I can say that it is in excess of the schedule laid down by the experts of the Aircraft Production AdvisoryCommittee, the appointment of which was one of the first acts of this Government. The Leader of the Opposition knows that I am telling the truth, because he is a member of the Advisory War Council and receives progress reports. I am certain that the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) and other Ministers in charge of departments could tell the same story. We have done more than ever the previous Government was capable of doing because, as I said, we approached the task better equipped for it, organized our departments, laid down the proper procedure, and to-day are getting results. We have also the testimony of our American friends one of whom was quotedby Senator Amour. They endorse all that I have said, yet the Leader of the Opposition, although he knows that what I say is correct, suggests that very little has been done, and that we certainly have not done as much as we could have done. I say emphatically, and can produce a wealth of evidence to support the statement, that when the Government took office on the 7th October last year this country was practically defenceless.
– That is rubbish.
– The honorable senator knows that it is true, because he has attended secret sittings of Parliament and heard the reports submitted to members. He knows what deficiencies and shortcomings existed, and he knows that to-day, comparatively speaking, we are armed to the teeth. We are not armed to the extent we should like to be, but within a year we have been able to do what previous governments had failed to accomplish for years previously. Senator A. J. McLachlan made no reference to the state of the country when the Government with which he was associated left office, but he made a strong appeal to the emotions of honorable senators. He would take them overseas, and draw attention to what has been done in the past and what is to be done in the future. By implication he would say that his Government had played its part in making possible what had been accomplished during this war, but the facts will show that, when the Government of which he was a member left the treasury bench, Australia was in a practically defenceless position. That Government was defeated, not because some of its supporters “ ratted “ on it, but because men of experience realized its shortcomings, particularly after the damaging admissions of the then Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender). It was realized that that Government had done practically nothing to build up the defence of this country. Certainly it had never attempted to do all that could have been done.
– The previous Government erected the house, and the Labour Government had merely to place a roof on it.
– The facts and figures will he revealed to the public when it becomes safe to do so. I shall be satisfied to leave the matter to the judgment of the people. I shall tell them that that is one of the reasons why despite superior numbers in this chamber, honorable senators opposite have not had the moral courage to try to defeat the Government.
– We have defeated it in this chamber on several occasions.
– -“When the Opposition is faced with a vital issue, such as uniform taxation, against which Senator A. J. Mclachlan and Senator Spicer spoke so strongly, it avoids the issue. That happened in connexion with the regulations promulgated relating to the employment of women. When the present Government, after the disallowance of the regulations, brought down a bill to embody the same principle in an act, the Opposition could have caused the rejection of the measure, but did not do so.
This Government, like previous Ministries, has been compelled to delegate powers to various people some of whom are very loyal and others not so loyal-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown). - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) has followed along the lines which he has adopted on many previous occasions. It seems apparent to all honorable senators who have listened to him that he has set about to endeavour to talk himself back into a Cabinet which he almost talked himself out of. This honorable senator has the audacity to suggest that the Opposition is not serious, and is not prepared to take the action which it claims to be necessary at this time. During the last two years, the honorable senator has denounced many important proposals that his leader, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has claimed to be necessary, but, when he is called upon to support principles in which he does not believe, I have no doubt that he will meekly fall into line. He has already given an indication of what he intends to do. ‘One of the disappointments of this debate is the fact that honorable senators have devoted little of their time to the discussion of the problem dealt with in the paper read by the Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane). Almost without exception they have descended to the game of party politics of the worst possible kind. I dislike suggesting that some honorable senators have deliberately set out to mislead members of this chamber, but I must mention one or two of the outstanding misstatements made. If they were not made deliberately for the purpose of misleading the people, their authors were playing the game of party politics. Last night Senator Amour said that, when the present Government took office, there was not sufficient aviation spirit in this country to put one new plane into the air, That was an obvious exaggeration. The position was that when the Fadden Government left office the quantity of aviation spirit in Australia was in excess of that regarded by the military and Air Force officials as necessary.
– That was because previous governments had only a few aeroplanes in the country. There may have been only one plane here.
– The PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) is apparently anxious to add to the misstatements of Senator Amour. It is a deliberate misstatement to say that there were no aeroplanes here in which motor spirit could be used.
Senator Aylett attempts to impress members of this chamber, but does not take care to check up on some of the statements which he makes from time to time. I assume that he f ollows the lead of a member of the present Government who, in one of his many irresponsible moments, said that plans were accepted by the previous Government which presupposed the abandonment of a large portion of this continent. Of course that statement has been refuted by two exPrime Ministers, and it is well that we should ‘ draw attention to the time to which it referred. When the Fadden Government went out of office, Japan had not entered the war, and consequently there was no need then to lay plans which would operate in the went -of an invasion.
– The Opposition never lays plans for anything.
– That is another extremely misleading statement. The remark by Senator Aylett could not have been .correct. I <can only assume that he followed a bad lead by the .Minister for Labour .and National -Service (Mr.. Ward).
I have heard with interest the state ment read in this chamber ‘by the Acting Leader of “the Senate and prepared by the Prime Minister.. It sets forth .clearly and precisely, .and as far as I know accurately, the course of the war .during the last two -or ‘three months, but no doubt the .events in that -period have induced the Prims Minister to recognize the necessity for the .action he proposes to take. His statement on that matter has been made in places other than the Parliament of this country. The Prime Minister has said that the Commonwealth Government, having placed its military resources under General Douglas Macarthur, would make the maximum contribution of which it was capable, and therefore would have every right to expect that any additional strength required would be furnished from other sources. That is -a reasonable statement. The important firing about it is that the Prime Minister has undertaken to put under the Commander-in-Chief in the South-west Pacific area the whole of the military resources of this country. When the Prime Minister went to this outside junta, which has been referred to during this (debate as .a grand Fascist council, he apparently .gave to its members information which he has not given to the members of this Parliament and the public of Australia. That was a definite slur ion both the members of the Commonwealth Parliament and the people of this country. The right honorable gentleman gave information to an unauthorized and irresponsible body - irresponsible in the sense that its members are not under any oath .of secrecy as are Ministers of the Crown - in order to get its permission to act.
– To get its support.
– He gave to them some interesting facts. I was .not at .the meeting of this Fascist .grand council, so that my information is derived from statements which have appeared in our newspapers. I am .aware that newspaper reports are not always -correct, but I believe that on this occasion they are correct, .and I am supported in that belief by the fact that they have not been contradicted-. I -should think that statements of so important a character would have been corrected by the Prime Minister had hp been incorrectly reported. The report in the .press was as follows : -
It is /known that Mr.. Curtin, .seeking to make delegates realize the nakedness of the position jas it confronted Australia, which is a member of the United “Nations, gave them an immense amount of confidential information which, it is expected, will he transmitted to the -Australian Labour party executives in .the States on .a similar basis of strict confidence.
– From what newspaper is the honorable senator reading?
– I ,am reading from the Adelaide Advertiser of the 19th November. If the delegates at that conference had not a better conception of responsibility than have some members’ of the present Cabinet, .1 do not expect that -the information will remain confidential very long. The report continues -
It was desirable from the .point of view of efficiency and .general organization .that the forces should be merged. It was necessary to put the troops -into countries adjacent to Australia which were not defined in the Defence Act as Australian territory.
Delegates said that the only direct refer- ence made ‘by the Prime Minister to “General “Macarthur was that he had had to nek General MacArthur to send American troops to an .area -to which, under the Defence .Act, Australian troops could not be sent.
Gould a more intolerable position be imagined than is revealed in that statement? In the light of the facts, is it unreasonable for us to assume that the proposed .merger, and- later, after the Prime Minister had retreated somewhat, the proposal to extend the area in which the Militia Forces anight be used, is somewhat belated? Are -we unreasonable in asking that, once the Prime Minister had made up his mind that the merging of the two armies was necessary, ‘he should have taken, immediate steps to summon the. Parliament and give: effect to has views? Instead of that, we have the sorry spectacle of the. Prime Minister of this country going practically on his hands and knees to. an outside body, and giving to the:: delegates there assembled information which he has not the courage to place before members of this Parliament. I understand that he has now undertaken to meet the Parliament before the end of January.. Presumably, in the meantime,, he will ask that American troops be sent to any place outside- the area, to- which Australian troops can: be sent,, should the- need arise.’
– -Does- the; honorable senator hope- that a message to that effect will be. sent to Tokyo?
– It would be a better message to send to- Tokyo than one which the Prime Minister probably sent, asking f or a postponement of operations. I say that because I assume that delay could be justified only if some -arrangement had been made with Tokyo not to attack particular places. We have heard a lot during this debate about Australia’s war effort. I shall not attempt to detract in any particular from Australia’s achievements. I have a real appreciation of what our men have- done in Egypt, Libya, Greece. Crete, Syria-, Malaya, and N-ew Guinea. I believe that they have maintained the- high traditions set by the Anzacs in 1914-18. Moreover, as a previous Minister for Munitions and Minister for Supply and Development, I know what has: been done on the industrial front. In many respects our efforts are equal to those of any other country. Unfortunately, I also know that there are some serious gaps, and that some gaps which existed when, the- previous Government was in office have not been filled. -Some of: the gaps, such as those which exist, in the- coal-mining industry, are also- known to- the general public. 1 have, supreme.1 confidence in the people of Australia, and I believe that, if they could get courageous leadership, not one of us would have reason to complain about Australia’s war effort. The- complaint which I. now make i3, not that the people will not respond, but. that theleaders: will, not; lead. Having the opinions which I hold, it, is most dis tressing- to- me that this refusal to lead causes misconceptions- in other countries. Senator Amour has complained that a broadcast by an American commentator, Lowell Thomas,, was- not published in our newspapers. I am not. so concerned with what is published-, in; Australia as I am with what is published and broadcast in other countries. In this connexion I refer to- a recent broadcast from the. United. States of America by Mr. WilliamWinter,, in which he told us- frankly of. the misconception regarding Australia’s war. effort that exists in that country. That broadcast also was not published. I should like to- read, some extracts from an article by Mr: Hanson Baldwin which was published in the Mew York Times. Mr. Baldwin had. visited Australia. He enjoys some standing in the: United States of America.
– He was wrong-,- General1 Douglas MacArthur answered- him.
– This is what Mr. Baldwin wrote -
When General’ MacArthur was assigned’ the command of the South-west Pacific; it was understood’ that Australia would be the main baser., and in such a move Australia, may- yet become the main base of a powerful alliedeffort,, but the reason for potentialities not yet being; fully- developed is partly- duc to internal problems indigent to Australia, and partly due to shipping’ shortage-.
Hie strategic problem is further complicated by a division of the. Pacific into two separate” areas. General MacArthur ‘s position as Commander-in:-Chief fi* rendered difficult by Australia’s- internal problems.
Australian politics also must be considered since they weigh heavily in the balance-sheet of the war. The position of any American., any non-Australian, as supreme commander or both American audi Australian troops* is naturally somewhat difficult.
The Australian. War Cabinet naturally continued’ to reserve a considerable share of authority - the military decisions have not always been General! MacArthur’s.
The- normal difficulties, of. waging a coalition, war. hoye been increased in Australia by the labour problem, about which Australians themselves are complaining. There- fe no question, i-n. the opinion of many Australians, that Labour’s, insistence on “ its rights-“, its determination ta work no more than the stated number of hours, excluding Saturday afternoons and holidays, and its general’ attitude to the war, has hampered: a. full development, of the- united, nations’ war. effort in Australia..
The labour attitude- is best described as complacency. Many workers- seem primarilyinterested’ in retaining peace-time privileges. The- Australians are open-hearted, friendly; and hospitable. They have treated our troops as brothers, but, as a result of the labour situation, what has been accomplished in Australia has been largely due to our own efforts.
– Rubbish !
– That was repudiated both in the United States of America and Australia.
– I should hate to think that that statement is completely true. My complaint is that there is sufficient substance in it to warrant this writer returning to the United States of America and publishing it in one of the American leading newspapers. I repeat that the feeling of the people in the United States of America towards the position in Australia is not just what I, and I am sure the Government, would like it to be. All of us have said that we believe that this war will not be won in Australia, New Guinea, the Solomons or the Philippines; it will not be won until the attack is pressed right home to Japan itself. In order to obtain the full support of all of the United Nations for this policy, each one of those nations must feel completely satisfied that each of them is playing its part. Consequently, I repeat what my leader has said, that the present proposals of the Prime Minister are an insult not only to Great Britain but also to all our allies. According to the Prime Minister Australia looks to the United States of America. We have received substantial help from that country. That help has been given to us freely, not because the United States of America has any particular affinity with us, but because it is part of the strategic plan which has been agreed upon by Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt. However, we know that this part of the Pacific is of particular importance in the conduct of the war, and in bringing the war to a victorious conclusion. Therefore, if for any reason at all, we give the slightest suggestion that we are giving less than our total capacity, and do not wholeheartedly adopt the principle that our attack must be pressed right home to Japan, we shall not justify the support of our allies. Unless we follow that policy, what is the future for this country, 20 or 30 years hence? Unless this war be carried to a victorious conclusion, the future of Australia is very dark indeed.
Therefore, we should ensure that nothing we do, or omit to do, shall detract one iota from the war effort of the United Nations. In addition, we must realize that when the war is won, many problems of vital importance to this country will come up for consideration at the peace table. Surely, it must be recognized that our representatives at that conference, from whatever political party they may be drawn, will have a very much better standing if they can feel that they represent a country that did its share during the war. One honorable senator has said that in the past Australia has been free to pass legislation obnoxious to the people immediately to our north, and dared to do so, simply because it enjoyed the protection of the British fleet. I do not think that the British fleet will, in the future, be able to give us the same measure of protection that it has given to us in the past. Therefore, we must look to some other source for protection. We must look first to ourselves. But with a population of 7,000,000 it is impossible for us to maintain our integrity against the many more millions of landhungry people to our north. Consequently, we must stand well with our allies. I hope that, even at this late hour, the Prime Minister will do what he advised the Labour conference was necessary, and that he will merge the Militia Forces and the Australian Imperial Force, particularly in view of his own assertion that the existence of two armies causes inefficiency and complication. I hope that he will merge those two armies, not only on the home front, but also in the firing line, and that he will have the courage to lead Australia in the way I believe Australians want to be led.
– in reply - I have listened with interest to the whole of the debate. Its outstanding feature is the suggestion by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) that the Defence Act should be amended in certain respects. In view of the experience of all honorable senators, it is useless for any to rail against the Government, or to suggest wrong motives on the part of the Government in this matter. The political party which happens to be in office at the moment has an outside political organization. That organization represents a tremendous number of people of all classes in this country. To-day, we are faced with a grave crisis in which certain measures must be taken. Do not ask me where I stand in this matter. I am with the Prime Minister all the way. His proposals should be adopted. I have not made any secret of the fact that I support him 100 per cent, on this matter. However, the procedure being followed by the Prime Minister is in the interests of peace in this community. I admit that it involves some delay. It is bad that there should be any delay whatever; but is it not better to have a delay of three, or four, weeks if by that delay we shall keep the nation united in its war effort? Honorable senators should remember that the platform of any political party is not sufficiently elastic to meet every emergency. We have gone a long way in this war, and members of all parties have done much in relation to the war effort that is to their credit. They have done certain things because those things had to be done; and now, in my opinion, we must do as the Prime Minister proposes. When we do so we shall remove quite a lot of the criticism which has been voiced by honorable senators opposite in this debate. 1 agree that we do not give ourselves sufficient credit for the part this country is playing, and has played in the defence of British ideals. I happen to handle much of the work involved in our lease-lend arrangements with the United States of America, and 1 know the excellent work that is being done by Australians in that sphere. I am also aware of the tremendous numbers of men that the United States of America is pouring into this country. This problem will soon be ironed out. I believe that within a few days a correct decision will be given. In fact, it is practically assured. That being so, it is of no help to the community to have an acrimonious debate in Parliament on the procedure be-,ng followed by the Government in this matter. It has been said that honorable senators opposite have no outside political organization. I do not know everything about the organizations of honorable senators opposite, but I do know something about politics. The political organizations of honorable senators oppo site have their conventions, their executives, and their platform, just as the Labour party has.
– But we remain free men; that is the difference.
– The fact remains that on occasions, I do not say very often, when governments supported by honorable senators opposite required the passage of certain legislation honorable senators opposite had to submit when the party whips were cracked. I do not make any comment about that. But do honorable senators opposite say that the Bruce-Page Government amended the Commonwealth Bank Act merely because Mr. Bruce and the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) thought that it should be amended? Of course not.
The criticism by Mr. Hanson Baldwin of our war effort from which Senator McBride has read extracts has been repudiated by the American and Australian authorities. That is my answer to the honorable senator on that point. The honorable senator’s statement was loose and unsupported by facts. In one regard I agree with him - that the industrial effort made by the workers of Australia during this war, both in the time of the previous Government .and while we have been in power, will go down in history as wonderful. I have never said that when we came to power the previous Government did not leave anything for us. I appreciate the fact that it did leave the foundation of an enormous organization for the defence of this country. We followed up that work and improved it, and the organization has probably become even greater, because we had to construct those huge things which had been very properly planned by the previous Government. If I had compiled the statement which I read to the Senate yesterday, I should probably have included in it some reference to the tremendous battle being fought by the Old Country for the defence of Australia. A lot of people are talking about the amazing defence of Stalingrad, but how many people talk about Malta, which was bombed day and night for two and a half years, and still holds out? We appreciate our American allies and the phenomenal job that they are doing here, but I do not say that they are any better than the Australian people are, whether on the waterfront or in any other sphere of activity.. They have “nothing on” Australians as. regards doing a 100 per cent. job, and I say- that from a pretty close observation of them. Still, they are here with their plant, their great equipment, and their wonderful organizing officers, and they are working in well with us at. the moment. A tremendous burden has been thrown on to this country to. feed all these men, but, that is our job, as it is also to feed a lot of them outside our own operational zone. I. have no. complacency about the war at all. To mymind there is nothing more dreadful than to think that the Japanese are in possession of the island of Timor, a valuable land base not more than 300 miles from Darwin, from which the north and north-west of Australia canbe attacked by aeroplane, and we know- that enemy planes were over Wyndhm as late as last week. Nothing is more certain than that the fighting will move up that? way.. The enemyhasto be blasted out of Timor.. We have not. lost sight of. that fact. We shall get him out of New Guinea, and then we shall have to undertake the. job of garrisoning and reinforcing each island as we free it. I believe that the complacency of the. communityis aggravated by the necessity of keeping certain information secret for. reasons of. national security. Whether that is overdose or not, I do not know. If I had my way, I should tell the people all the news whether it was bad or good. The enemy knows all that we know as a Government, or that the Opposition knew when in power. I believe that if we tell the Australian people the plain bald story, we shall get them to wake up to a greater degree than they have been doing in recent days. We shall still want our sport, and our glass of beer, andour little dog-coursing in Australia. While we are working from twelve to fifteen hours a day there is nothing wrong with it, but it must not be overdone. The Prime Minister’s statement represents’ an effort to place before Parliament a document which would allow members to have a full discussion of current affairs, and. that I suggest, we have had.
Question resolved inthe affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Keane) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave or absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter, such date and hour to be, not later than Wednesday, the 27th January next,, at 3 p.m.
Valedictory - Australia Army : Amalgamation of Forces - Censorship - Payments to Barley and Wheat Growers - Display in King’s Hall - Senator Latham Welcomed - Answers to Questions upon Notice - Land Acquired for Military Purposes - Commonwealth Parliament : Increase of Member- ship - Townsville : American Troops; Commodity Prices: Steam Laundry - Soldiers’ Allotments - Australian Broadcasting Commission : Banning of Sunday Afternoon Broadcasts - Dairying Industry - New Guinea Campaign : Statements by Senator Foll and Senator. Aylett - Wool Prices.
– I move. -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I wish on behalf of the Government to offer to you, Sir, to every honorable senator and to the officers of theSenate. seasonal greetings. I express the hope that before this time next year some of the war clouds will have lifted from this and other parts of the world and thatwe shall have again, what we always look forward to, really happy Christmas. In. extending our good wishes to honorable senators, I specially include our absent colleague, Senator Wilson, who has been on active service for a long time. I believe that every honorable senator who discharges his duties in this chamber gives service to his country. It is on occasions such as this that we can offer good wishes to one another, and I ain happy to do so now.
[>5.22]. - -I endorse what the Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) has said with regard to seasonal greetings. I take the opportunity to again urge the Government to act with the utmost -speed in bringing forward an amendment of the Defence Act. Although it has .agreed to call Parliament together not later than the 27th January next, we should recall that it was on 17 th November last -that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) pointed out the urgency of merging ?the two sections of our military for-ces into one army. If we meet on the 27th January next it will be over three months from the date on which the Prime Minister made his statement, and over twelve months from the date on which the Opposition recommended aim to take action. I Relieve that the people of Australia will look to Parliament to do so. I very much regret that we have not been able to take definite action during the past two days.
I wish also to take the opportunity to mention a matter that is causing considerable concern. I refer to a brief report that appeared in to-day’s Canberra Times in reference to the censorship. I was pleased io hear the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) say that he thought that the Australian people should be told the truth, and that they could take it. I think that so far as the officers of the present Government are concerned, the censorship control is too rigid. The cabled report indicates that when Mr. Noel Monk was in Australia, comments which he desired to send to his newspaper overseas on Australian conditions were censored at this end. I wish to enter an emphatic protest against that, because widen fly the comments were fair. We should remember that, the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt.) has been spending a considerable amount of time on the air recently talking about the four freedoms me of which is the freedom of the press. The paragraph published in this morning’s newspapers is as follow, : -
London. Thursday. - 5?oe1 Monks, the war correspondent of the Dail)/ Mail, who was recently in Australia, stated in a message from
Kew York that during his visit to Australia he had gained the impression that the trade unions were “ running the country but were not making a happy job of it “. He added that that was not realized out of Australia, because of the rigid .censorship. Everything seemed to be conducted by the Labour caucus, which seemed to him to be more interested in politics than .in the Japanese.
Senator McBride made a forceful speech this afternoon. We all appreciate the seriousness of the position. I again urge the Government to take action, and appeal to it to refrain from applying the strict censorship that is exercised when correspondents from other countries are anxious to offer what I think is fair criticism of Australia’s war effort.
The third point I want to mention is of .great concern to South Australia and Victoria. I appeal to the Minister representing the Minister for ‘Commerce to ‘do something reasonable for the barley growers. For the barley delivered last November the farmers lui ve not up to date .received the cost of production, or anything .approaching that amount, and so far no .announcement has been made as to w.-ha-t the first advance is to be on barley produced this season. I urge the Government to take action in this important matter. We know that a handpicked tribunal, consisting of three members of the Australian Workers Union, within a day, and without lairing evidence, fixed an award for those engaged in the wheat industry. Under that award, a single man who drives a harvester or a binder gets 3s. 3d. an hour, or ’26s. a day, plus his keep, and time and a half for overtime. I agree that such workers earn every penny that they get, but many soldiers at the war are getting -about 6s. 6d. a day and their keep. If it is fair that rural workers should get a decent Australian standard - .and I see no reason why they should not have the same consideration as those engaged in .secondary industries - I urge the ‘Government to take immediate action to extend fair treatment to the wheat and harley ‘growers, who up to date have not received the cost of production in the advances made to them.. Tor wheat in excess of 1800 haigs the grower receive.’ an advance of 2s. a bushel which does not cover the -cost of production. I know from experience that the men on the farms, and their wive.? and families, are working from daylight to dusk, owing to the shortage of labour. I wish to protest against the Australian standard being given to one section, and only the coolie standard to another section of those engaged in rural industries.
. - Yesterday Senator Amour referred to the trade name “ Masonite “ which appears on the boards on which photographs are exhibited in the King’s Hall. The exhibition of photographs,particularly those dealing with the New Guinea campaign, was arranged in consequence of a request made by Senator Brown, who thought that the pictures would be of interest to ‘members. In the absence of the President and Mr. Speaker permission to display the photographs was given by the Secretary of the Joint House Department. To enable the pictures to be ‘seen to advantage it was decided to display them on boards which the Department of Information had used in connexion with similar displays elsewhere and these were brought to Canberra for the purpose. The boards bear the trade stamp of the manufacturer as do most manufactured articles in use in various parts of the House.
– I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) on the subject of the censorship, and the claim that justice should be done to the primary producers in respect of recent industrial awards. Only comparatively recently members of this chamber were conscious of the fact that their private telephone conversations were being censored. That gives us food for serious thought as to how the Government of this country is being conducted. As one of the representatives of Western Australia in this chamber, I take this opportunity to welcome Senator Latham to this Parliament. Like Senator Brand, I have seen Senator Latham in other fields, and I know his good record in Western Australia. His presence and knowledge will add to the strength of this chamber. I draw attention to the offhand manner which Ministers have adopted with regard to questions submitted to them by honorable senators.
Over a period of some months answers have rarely been supplied to questions within 24 hours of the time of their submission. I have one unanswered question on the notice-paper which was placed there two months ago. It is not of very great importance, and therefore I think that it might have been answered by now. I have three questions on the notice-paper to-day which I consider of greater importance, but I see no prospect of obtaining answers to them for a considerable time. Questions submitted by honorable senators are not asked without a purpose, and I should like the Government to give serious consideration to them.
– Reference has been made by members of both branches of the legislature to the inadequacy of payments made to men and women who are forced to leave their homes, because of the exigencies of war, and obtain other premises. Their houses are taken over because of the needs of members of the forces of the United States of America now in Australia. A large number of people are being turned out of their homes in Brisbane at the present time. In several cases the wives and families of men in the firing line have been ordered to take up a new place of abode. This imposes personal inconvenience and financial loss, as the recompense paid by the authorities is insufficient. I make no complaint at all against our friends and allies from the United States of America. We talk of the need for equality of sacrifice, and while some men are doing their bit at the front others who are more happily situated in various parts of Australia are not called upon to vacate their homes. In Brisbane and in other centres further north, a good deal of inconvenience and financial loss has been suffered by householders. It is unfair that compensation should be paid to these people on the low basis of 4 per cent. of the capital value of the property. The answer may be given that, if one’s money were invested in the war loan, the interest would not exceed31/4 per cent.; but, if a person who has vacated his property receives only £1 a week, and has to pay a rent of 30s. for another house, he suffers considerable loss.
– And considerable damage may be done to bis property by the new tenant.
– Yes; much damage is suffered by these owners. I know cases in which great damage has been done and no compensation has been paid. People who are compelled to leave their homes, because of military needs, should not be compelled to accept a smaller sum than they find it necessary to pay in renting a new home.
I have recently made a tour of North Queensland which has involved 4,000 or 5,000 miles of travelling, yet I have not seen one half of the division of Kennedy. By the way, there is every justification for the claim advanced that the membership of this Parliament should be increased. I do not think that any man, irrespective of his capacity, youth or enthusiasm, would be capable of representing properly such a huge territory as the division of Kennedy.
During my tour I had considerable contact with the American forces in North Queensland, and, while I have great admiration for the work being done by our American comrades in arms., a good deal of unrest exists at Townsville because the troops quartered there practically control the town. The local Australiana are very bitter in many instances about the way the control is exercised there. The fact that the visitors from the United States of America receive high pay and. do not mind how big a price they give for foodstuffs has led to a general increase of prices, and this has caused much concern among the local residents. I shall not discuss the drink traffic; but I have seen an American soldier pay £5 for a bottle of Old Court whisky. The attention of the Government should be drawn to these matters, and the local residents should be safeguarded against hardship caused through the action of American troops.
I also draw the attention of the Government to certain happenings concerning the employment of labour in the north, particularly the employment of girls at the steam laundry at Townsville, and the way in which they have been treated by their American employers. Those employers have different ideas from those of most Australians as to what constitutes fair play, as far as the workers are concerned, and I shall draw the attention of the Government to these matters in detail by correspondence.
– I hope that the Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) will assure honorable senators that any questions on the notice paper that are unanswered, but to which answers are supplied during the recess, will be incorporated in Hansard, together with the answers, during the next sittings.
– That will be done.
.- I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army to the general dissatisfaction among allottees in respect of the War Finance Regulations issued under Statutory Rules 1941, No. 218, relating to missing soldiers’ allotments. These regulations provide for the payment of allotments in cases where it can be shown that the allottee is dependent upon such an allotment. To verify that fact, special officials of the Pay Department have to investigate every case, either personally or by letter. That is not a pleasant job for either the investigator or the allottee, as it means that one’s private and domestic affairs have to be investigated. To do so a considerable number of the pay staff is engaged almost wholly on this duty. Often the dependency is proved to the satisfaction of the senior pay office official, but more often it is not. In the latter case, the allotment is suspended until it has been officially reported that the missing soldier is dead or is a prisoner of war.
I understand that these regulations are identical with those that operated in the 1914-18 war, the conditions of which were vastly different from those of the present war. In the last war, it did not take long to obtain official confirmation as to whether a missing soldier was dead or was a prisoner. Both the British and the German authorities supplied respective lists, usually within a month. How different is the position in the present war! There has been, I understand, no cause for complaint about German and Italian authorities supplying lists of prisoners in their hands;but Japan, despite appeals from theCommonwealth Government, has wilfully delayed supplying the listsofthe Australian soldiers who were captured in Rabaul, Malaya and Java, months ago. From unofficial sources, such as the Batavia and Tokyo radio, as well as in letters from prisoners at Rabaul dropped by Japanese airmen over Port Moresby, next of kin havehad tidings of soldiers who are prisoners. Naturally, this unofficial information cannot be accepted as sufficient to warrant lifting the suspension of the soldier’s allotment. On the other hand, why should allottees be inconvenienced, or be at a financial disadvantage because Japan wilfully neglects to comply with the international law concerning captured soldiers? Beyond the necessary steps that have to be taken in order to prevent fraud, what right has any government to withhold any portion of a soldier’s pay? He has earned every penny of it. To say that the allottee is not dependent on the allotment is beside the point. The soldier, nodoubt, left instructions to his next of kin to place the money in a bank and draw upon it for special reasons not connectedwith thedomestic maintenance of the household. If these war finance regulations cannot be amended bya ministerial administrative act to give the allottee the benefit of the doubt as to whether or not the soldieris a prisoner of war, I shall, in the next sessional period, move in this Senate that the appropriate section of the regulations be so amended.
In addition to the men ofthe Australian Imperial Force who have been reported as missing in operations against Japan, there are many who have not yet been reported as prisoners of war after the actions in Greece and Crete. It can be safely assumed that if they are not now prisoners they are dead or fighting as guerrillas with the Greek and Yugoslav patriots. The allotment -of these gallant fellows has been suspended. We shall not know until the war is over what has been their fate. If these missing soldiers are dead, or have been killed later in guerrilla warfare, the next of kin would, with certain reservations. receive a pension from whatever date the death could be officially substantiated.
That pension is more than the allotment which the allottee, who is usually the next of kin receives. In any event, should there be an overpayment, the deferred pay of the soldier can bedrawn upon. A reduction of the pay staffs would counterbalance any overpayment, and would release more men for other war activities in either the fightingf orces or some other essential service. On behalf of the allottees, and in fairness to the men of the Australian ImperialForce who, unfortunately, are now missing or may be reported missing in future operations, I appeal to the Ministerrepresenting the Minister for the Army to examine these regulations with a view to removing the dissatisfaction which now exists.
A statement in the reply of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to my question relating to the discontinuance of the broadcasting of addresses delivered at the “Pleasant Sunday Afternoon “ session at WesleyChurch, Melbourne, which was read by the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) yesterday, needs amplification. The statement set out that Dr.. Irving Benson had received £1,000 in fees for conducting the “ Questions and Answers “ session on Sundays. That reverend gentleman, who is the friend of the poor people of Melbourne, took up this task thirteen years ago at the request of the commission. The fee paid to him was the same as that paid to other artists, and alittle calculation will show how the £1,000 is made up. The point whichI emphasize is that the money received by him during the thirteen years that the session has been broadcast has been devoted to the relief of distress among the poor people of Melbourne.
– To-day, in answer to a question which I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce in reference to thedairying industry. I was informed that the matter was still being inquired into. The position of the dairying industry should be well known to the Government, and particularly to the Department of Commerce. Some time ago there was an investigation of this industry, and I assume that certain recommendations have been submitted to the Government, although the result of the inquiry has not been made public legislation has, however, been passed granting financial assistance to dairy-farmers. Why this matter should be referred to another body I do not know. It must be obvious to any one interested in dairying that the dairying industry is languishing because the price paid for butter does not cover the cost of production.
– The Tariff Board is conducting an inquiry.
– Into what aspect of the dairying industry is that body inquiring? These delays remind me of the old proverb, “ Live horse, and the grass will grow”. The assistance given to the. dairying industry should he doubled; and the amount should be paid to dairy-f armers by means of an increased price for butter-fat. A. decision should notbe delayed almost indefinitely.
– The inquiry has been completed.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce to expedite the payment of the money made available to assist the industry.
SenatorFraser. - That was the reason for the inquiry.
– On behalf of Senator Foll I desire to correct a statement made yesterday by Senator Aylett. In the uncorrected proof of Senator Aylett’s speech the honorable, senator is reported to have stated that Senator Follhad said, Australian soldiers were dying in New Guinea for the want of reinforcements which were not allowed to be sent there The uncorrected proof of Senator Foll’s speech reads, “ In the meantime young Australians are dying for the defence of this country and reinforcements that are wanted in certain areas cannot be sent “.
.- Isupport the complaint of Senator Collett as to the delay in answering questions on notice. The Department of
Commerce appears to be the greatest offender in this connexion. Some months ago I asked a question relating to different prices for wool,but the Minister refused to answer it on the grounds that it was not in the national interest and’ that it would serve no useful purpose to do so. I have investigated this matter for myself, and whether or not it be in the national interest, I shall give the exact figures to the Senate. Yesterday, Yass wool was quoted at 381/2d. per lb. That is misleading to the public, as it might give the impression that much of the wool sold brought that price. The facts are that only.0436 per cent. of the wool sold realized more than 30d. per lb. That represents about one bale in 300. Wool which realized between 20d. and 30d. per lb. constituted 23.89 per cent. of the wool sold. Of the total sales, 70.66 per cent, represented wool which realized between10d. and 20d. per lb., whilst approximately 5 per cent. brought less than l0d. per lb. Those are figures which can be worked out easily, or could be supplied by any wool firm in a few minutes, yet the Department of Commerce said that it would not be in the national interest to supply them. I give these correct figures in order to remove the misapprehension that many wool-growers are receiving excessive prices for their wool. The wool that was sold at 381/2d. per lb. consisted of only one bale out of a total of 1,100 bales. The average price of wool is about 15d. per lb.
– in reply - The various matters which have been raised by honorable senators will he submitted to the appropriate Ministers, and replies will be furnished to the hon.orable senators concerned. I am inclined to agree with what has been said about the delay in answering questions.
– I do not agree with it.
– An effort will be made to expedite the furnishing of answers. Replies to any questions which still remain unanswered will be sent to honorable senators by post.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c - No. 43 of 1942 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
Australian Broadcasting Act - Tenth Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for year 1941-42.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Report of the Repatriation Commission for year 1941-42.
Citrus Fruits Bounty Act - Return for year 1941-42.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, Maternity Allowance Act, Child Endowment Act and Widows’ Pensions Act - First Report of the Director-General of Social Services for year 1041-42.
National Security Act - National Security (General) Regulations - Order - Control of Liquid Paraffin.
River Murray Waters Act-River Murray Commission - Report for year 1941-42; together with Statements furnished on behalf of the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in respect of gaugings and quantities of water diverted.
Senate adjourned at 5.54 p.m. to a date and hour to -be fixed by the President, such date and hour to be not later than Wednesday, the 27th January, 1943, at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 December 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1942/19421211_senate_16_172/>.