16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J.
Cunningham) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state whether the Government has made inquiries regarding collective farming in various parts of the world, with a view to the adoption of similar methods in Australia during the post-war reconstruction period?
– A Commonwealth committee has boon set up under the chairmanship of the Honorable Frank Wise. Minister for Lands and Agriculture in Western Australia. That committee has been charged with the duty of making a complete survey of the rural industries throughout Australia, with particular regard to planning for the post-war period and to marketing.
Duty on Tobacco and Cinema Projectors.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The matters raised by the honorable senator arc being inquired into, and a reply will be furnished as early as possible.
Debate resumed from the 28th January (vide p. 78) on motion by Senator Collings -
That the Senate, at this its first meeting in the year 1943, in the fourth year of war with Germany and Italy, and in the second year of war with Japan, declares -
Australia’s indissoluble unity with the British Commonwealth of Nations, its unswerving loyalty to the cause of the United Nations and its admiration for the heroic efforts of the allied forces ;
Its pride in the bravery and achievements of the Australian forces, in all theatres, and its intention to make provision for their re-instatement and advancement and for the dependants of those who have died or been disabled as a consequence of the war; and
Its determination to use the whole of the man-power and material resources of the nation in order to ensure the maximum war effort necessary to bring about victory, and arising therefrom to provide the requisite measures to promote the national welfare of the whole of the Australian people.
SenatorLECKIE (Victoria) [11.8]. - At the conclusion of my remarks yesterday I congratulated the Government upon the terms of the motion now under consideration. I stated that, as a new policy had been put. forward by the Labour party, the time was ripe for the declarations contained in the motion. If the policy were not new, there would be no necessity for the declarations. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings), in bis usual kind-hearted way, said that he would not worry honorable senators by giving details of the Government’s proposals regarding post-war reconstruction, but he did something which was much more necessary than that. He showed that the members of the Government had experienced a change of heart, and that was more necessary than any details of proposals that might be made by the Government, either now or in the future. Some time ago the great majority of the members of the Labour party were calling out for a second front. They now realize for the first timethat a first front is necessary, and that we cannot have a second front until the first has been properly established. Recently we have heard from the party opposite references to the importance of global strategy. That is a high-sounding phrase, hut honorable senators opposite, in the past, have confined the first front to a very limited area.
– With certain exceptions, it does not extend beyond 3 miles from the coast-line of Australia, and I understand that the proposed extension of the first front was strenuously opposed by many members of the Labour party, including the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron).
– I did not see the honorable senator at our party meeting.
– The Minister seems to imagine that I have forgotten what he has said outside the Labour caucus meetings. As a matter of fact, he has spoken in strong condemnation of his own leader.
During my speech I have naturally asked whether all of the members of the party which supports the Government are behind it with regard to the declarations embodied in the motion, and instead of receiving an answer I have been met by complete silence. I wish to know, first of all, whether the declarations express the views of the whole of the parliamentary Labour party, and whether those views have been properly obtained from the party’s head-quarters, or whether the declarations merely indicate the opinions of the Ministry, which, after all, is a very small part of the governing body of Australia.
– A subsidiary part.
– Yes. Judging by the actions of the Government, the Parliament of the Commonwealth is of secondary importance. The Government takes its orders, not democratically from the people, but from an outside body.
– If we have not already got them we shall do so.
– The Minister is optimistic. Can he tell me whether members of the Cabinet are in solid agreement with regard to the bills that are shortly to be brought before the
Senate and the House of Representatives % I agree with the three declarations embodied in the motion and shall vote for them, but I should like to know whether the Cabinet has obtained the authority of the governing body for them. Particularly, should I like to know whether the Minister for Aircraft Production has received his orders from the governing body and, if so, whether he will obey them; and if not whether he will still remain in the Cabinet, the head of which he has condemned and obstructed in every possible way.
– There have been no frequent changes of Ministers such as occurred when the previous Government was in office.
– It is time that the present Government adopted the same procedure as its predecessor, because in the present Cabinet there are several men who could well be displaced by better men.
Yesterday, I gave some figures showing the loss of man-power due to absenteeism. It is my opinion, as well as that of many other industrialists, that the only cure for absenteeism and excessive overtime is a system of payment by results. I am aware that the labour unions of this country have strenuously opposed payment by results on the ground that it would mean a reduction of wages. The system does not mean anything of the kind. On the contrary, under it a good man will get higher wages than he does now. What is needed is a system under which payment is made for the work performed. No person should object tobeing paid the exact value of his labour.
– Who would assess its value?
– In the United States of America and in Great Britain a system of payment by results is in operation with the entire consent of the labour unions.
– That system is in operation also in Russia.
– In those countries there is collective bargaining.
– We have collective bargaining here. The Labour party wants all workers to be placed on the same dead level, whether a man works or not.
– - W<ould the honorable .-senator apply that : system to every thing-?
– Yes. From .al over this country .come reports of exorbitant sums of money -being paid for work done. There :ame instances of men being paid as much .as ££0, £50, .and even £100 a week.
– Does the honorable senator believe all -that he hears?
– I do not. Those payments are not necessarily made for a man’s personal -labour-; they include payment for use of trucks, and so on. ‘The payments arc so excessive that the cost of a truck is recouped in a. few weeks. The people of this country want to “know that the money they .provide is being expended -carefully, and is not ‘being wasted. I am aware that a committee consisting of members of “both Houses of this Parliament is examining war expenditure, but 1 ha-ve not seen any of its reports. If it has submitted any reports, are those reports being suppressed by the
Government, or -being treated as private documents? I should like to know whether they will ever sec the. light of day. The Government must ‘be aware of the -many -anomalies which exist all over Australia: it must be aware of the dissatisfaction of the public, and must know that many farmers have found that men who have been engaged in carting their wheat with horses and drays are *in airing ten times as much by way of income -ns they themselves obtained from their Farming operations. Naturally, such men are dissatisfied, and just -as naturally, the people want to know what control is being exercised over the expenditure of public moneys. They question whether the Government is sufficiently careful of the nation’s funds. One of the first functions of the Governmentshould fee to ‘set up a rigid system of supervision over the expenditure of money ©n -works of all kinds, so that the taxpayers may know that value is obtained for -every pound provided by them. As I have said, the only solution of the problem of absenteeism and of loss of nian-power is payment by results. The Government fixes the price of goods, and it ought to be .able to assess the value of a man using a truck.
- The Government has decided, these things.
– r Yes, but .cm Himalayan proportions, whereas the farmer is (paid ion the mole-hill .basis. If the present system be .-continued, there will .be much dissatisfaction throughout Australia.
– The system mentioned by the honorable .senator is not in operation. He has manufactured the suggestion.
– I am suggesting a system which, the Leader of the Senate probably has never thought >©£, because 5* is a sensible .system, and would not occur to has mind. I imagine that the Minister accepts tfe dictum of the labour unions of Australia that -a system -of payment , by results would mean a reduction of wages. He thinks that all the wisdom is concentrated in the labour -.unions of Australia, and that these is no such wisdom in the -union’s $>£ Great Britain, Russia and the ‘United States .of America. Any suggestion of a new method, under which .a fair day’s work must be given for a fair day’s pay, does not appeal -to the Minister.
– Does not the honorable senates1 think that there is danger of members of the le,gal fraternity rushing in to become -truck drivers?
– I can imagine that they would do so, -because they would make about three times .as much money (hiving trucks as in the practice of the law. .The interjection of Senator Large indicates that he .re.gar.ds £100 a week as fair payment for a man using a truck.
– I should like to know now to get in touch with such a job.
– ~No such ridiculous payment .as -2E1-GQ a week for .a man and hia truck has been made. The honorable senator has .been dreaming.
– I have not been dreaming.; I have had a nightmare ais the result .of contemplating the way the Government is handling tike finances of Ais country. I accept gladly the three parts of the motion before the Senate, and agree that the Government, having adopted a new policy, is doing right in proclaiming that policy from the housetops. The gist of my speech is Aat the workers of Australia will have to realize that th&y must do a fair day’s- work for die remuneration they receive1.
– Have they not always done- so?
– No, and they are ito-n doing it now, as the honorable senator knows.
Senator- Collings. - Tha honorable, senator is spilling his conservative bile.
– I am associated with various- enterprises,, and I know what is; going on in the factories, as- well as in> some government de.iiavtm.eii.tS’. I know of the existence of a> system under which, workers slow down during working, hoars- in. order to be paid, overtime for work performed -beyond ordinary workins; hours..
– Did that system prevail when- the ‘honorable senator was » Minister £
– -No.:, or if it existed at all. it existed only in a slight degree, whereas now the workers are making, a welter of it, as the honorable senator knows.
– The honorable senator would not dare to say before any body of organized workers in this country what he has said here, where, he knows bo is protected. He- is making thischamber the last refuge of the coward.
– The Minister himself is. here,, so that is. all right. The burden of my speech is that a good workman will not receive less wages under a system of payment by results.. A man who does a fair day’s work will receive mora than he gets now. But the loafer and the. parasite will get less. For that reason, I urge the Government to undertake a strict investigation of the various undertakings, throughout Australia of which it has charge. I believe that the people of this country will not much longer tolerate a state of affairs under which the money that they are subscribing by taxation, and loans is largely wasted-
– The motion which has been submitted to tha Senate- represents the Government’s policy in a few words - it is an example of multum- in parvo. I was glad, to hear that Senator Leckie had no- objection to it. la my judgment, there was; no need at, the moment for an- elaborate statement,, because the Government, has demonstrated, by results, which have received the wholehearted appreciation of the- community, exactly what it can do. It- has,- been a Government of action. It has been, a Government that has. attempted,, consistently with the resources at. its. disposal,, to do- all that it. has promised’,, and. it. ia a Government quite capable of doing in the near future: a. great deal more- in the. interests, of. the nation than, it has done- in the past.. I suggest that thecriticism’ which has been directed against, the Government is based upon subjectiverather than objective- reasoning. Its critics see the picture not as it is inreality hut as they would like it to he, and subjective reasoning is based mainly upon prejudice and. ignorance-. We,, therefore, cannot afford, to take much notice of it. Senator Leckie for example works himself into a high state of indignation. He is appalled at the extravagance of the Government. He has not one fact to back up his argument, but complacently admits that it is all based’ an rumour. How can. we accept his words seriously? I have a good deal in common with the honorable senator with respect to the choice of words and terms with which to express our ideas. There is a tendency - and possibly I may be guilty myself to some extent in thisregard - to use words and’ terms that do not indicate exactly what we mean. That applies to most of us, and therefore, when- the honorable senator expresses his objections, I find that T have a- good deal in common with- him. Whilst he was speaking he reminded me of what was said by the late John Burns just before lie retired from the British Cabinet at the beginning of the war of 1914-181 - that moat people were slaves of shibboleths and prisoners of phrases. That was good alliteration, as well as a truism. The more I think of that saying, the more I am convinced that the late John Burns was correct. The more experience I have had, particularly itr the company of honorable senators now present, the1 more I have realized that he said -something that was absolutely true.. There is a tendency to allow ourselves to be hypnotized, misled and influenced by mere words. We should try, consistent with our ability, to find 081 exactly what is meant when words are used, and we can do that only by attempting to establish the relationship of cause and effect, and judging the deeds of men in comparison with the words they use. Then we get somewhere near the truth. Senator Leckie, being very much interested in my welfare, naturally desires to know whether I intend to remain in the Cabinet, or whether I am longer to be tolerated as a member of it. I do not consider that I am under any obligation to answer the question, but, consistent with my general attitude, I desire to inform the honorable senator, if it will afford him any satisfaction - and I am always ready to oblige him in that regard-
– I want the honorable senator to remain in the Cabinet, because it will mean a quicker break-up.
– The honorable senator seems to be under the impression that every man in the Cabinet should have the same ideas on every subject. When anybody appears to be out of step, he thinks there is something wrong. I should say that his belief in that regard is based upon his experience in cabinets or governments with which he has been associated in his long political career, but the position in the Labour movement is entirely different. It is not a one-man movement; it is a movement of constructive team work. In the light of the experience of the workers, and of the effects on society of the ever-changing conditions and experiences through which we are passing, we lay down a policy and pledge ourselves to give effect to it to the best of our ability whenever the opportunity offers. Then a war comes, and a war is just as much part and parcel of the scheme of things, economically and sociologically, as is peace. In the light of war, and in the light of everyday happenings, it suggests itself to minds that are not exactly cement-set that a change may be necessary, and those who hold those views in the Labour movement submit them and make their proposals accordingly. Then, on the principle of the thesis, the antithesis and the subsequent clash of ideas and exchange of views, we have what we know as the synthesis - the decision at which we arrive, and there we are! If that is beyond the intellectual comprehension of the honorable senator, I regret it, but I can assure him that, if he had had the same experience as those on this side, including my humble self, have undergone, he would have cultivated, I suggest, for want of a better term, a more flexible and adjustable mind. Instead of making charges against the Government based on rumours, he would do what we should expect from any intelligent senator: he would first make reasonably certain of the accuracy of his statements, and then, from his privileged position in this chamber, challenge the Government on them. His assertions that we want a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage, that we should pay by results, and that the workers are not doing a fair thing, are mere generalizations. No specific instance is put before us. If I made a statement which reflected in a personal way on any honorable senator opposite, questioning his loyalty or challenging his position in this chamber, he would have the right to expect me to give some fact or argument in support of it. If I could not do so. he would be justly entitled in every way to hold me up to public ridicule and contempt. What do we mean by payment by results ? I had the temerity to interject when Senator Leckie was speaking that if the workers were paid according to result; there would be no profit left for the employer, who would receive something approximating that which the average worker with whom he is associated now receives. The workers are not paid according to results. They never were, and I hope I am being too pessimistic when I say that it does not seem likely that they will be for a long while to come. When they are paid by results, they “will receive all the wealth which they produce by the application of their labour to the resources of nature. They will receive all, and not a wage based on the cost of subsistence, or a wage which is being reduced automatically to the extent that they become more efficient and more economic in production. 1 should therefore advise the honorable senator to go more carefully into these matters before he reflects on men who, as workers, are second to none in the world, not because I say it, but because ihe results produced prove it more eloquently and more convincingly than any words I could use.
– Will every man get the same share in the division whether he works or not?
– The principle upon which the distribution would be made is the. one to which I suggest that the honorable senator gives effect in his own household. He is still the breadwinner and I assume that he is an ideal father and head of the household. I am sure, therefore, that the distribution which he makes in his own household is, each according to his or her needs, and service from each according to his or her ability. For instance, the weakest, the aged and the ailing have first preference in the ideal household. Healthy, vigorous persons like ourselves come second. That principle works in the honorable senator’s house, as it does in that of every conscientious and honest man, but in the national household, the wider sphere, we find a direct contradiction. Thus, I regret that the man who is an ideal father to his own children is the reverse, in most instances, where the children of other men are concerned.
F listened attentively to what Senator Spicer had to say, and I wish that time would permit me to answer all his points. He stated that the Government was passing on the war debt to posterity; that we were not paying our way. What exactly does the honorable senator mean ? I am convinced that the nation is paying its way every minute of every day, and will continue to do so in terms of man-power and materials so long as the war lasts.
– I was not talking in those terms.
– I am glad to have that admission. I think that the honorable senator will agree that the real payment that is being made in this war is the payment in man-power and materials.
– The honorable senator is taking a long time to wake up to that fact.
– I woke up to it n long time ago. Unlike the honorable senator, I have been through this busi ness before, and, consequently, he has not the same background as I have. This is not the first war we have fought. While nature is prolific, more materials will be available in this country after the war, but we shall never be compensated for the lives lost on the battlefield. Victory will not restore to parents their lost sons, or to the widows and orphans their breadwinners. They are paying a heavy price. When we read in the press of Australians being used as shock troops in almost every theatre of war - Crete, Greece, Africa and other countries - I contend that in proportion to population we have paid, in terms of man-power, a heavier price and a bigger debt than any other allied nation.
– Why does the Minister say that?
– Our population is 7,000,000, whilst that of the United States of America is 140,000,000, and that of Great Britain about 45,000,000. Analysing the position on that basis, we shall find that proportionately we have suffered more at the fighting fronts than any other allied nation.
– It is very obvious that the Minister has not analysed the matter.
– - I am not making a statement dogmatically, because 1” am not in a position to do so. I am merely expressing an opinion.
– It is wrong.
– On the basis of the figures, the honorable senator cannot be more definite than I am. If Senator Spicer speaks of the war debt in a financial sense, he has used a general term which is misleading. After the war the community will be divided into two categories - a debtor section and a creditor section. The debtor section, on paper, will be expected to pay interest in perpetuity to the creditor section, and a great number of the creditor section will be composed of men and women who are now merely boys and girls and who, for very obvious reasons, will not have done a hand’s turn in production, or in the defence of this country. Those who are living now will leave their claims to their children, and the debtor section will be expected to pay in perpetuity enormous tribute to the creditor section.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that weshould repudiate ourdebts?
– Perish the thought! But I shall show a way out. As was the case after the last war, the debtor section will include thousands of returned soldiers whose wages will he kept down to the irreducible minimum in order that the debtscan be paid. Even though these men have fought and risked their lives in saving the nation they will be committed to pay interest in perpetuityto people who have done nothing whatever for the country. Senator Spicer’s question is very pertinent. He asks whether I suggest that we should repudiate our debts. ‘Certainly not; but Ishall give some idea astohow they can bepaid. The Government of the day could fallow a very ingenious example. When the workers deposit their money in savings banks and atthe end of each year receive2½ per cent, interest, they are, in reality, taxed to enable that interest to be paid. The banks will never repudiate their obligations, but so long as they have the power they will pay interest at the rate of, say, 2½ per cent. to their depositors, and receive, say, 5 per cent. from their own investments. The people whocontribute the 5 per cent. interest are the people who receive the 2½ per cent. interest. The bankshave adopted that principle, and that is one reason why theyhave become wealthy. Thedepositors are taxed and then given backa portion of the tax in interest.
– That is not repudiation.
– It is not called by that name. It is called sound finance. Agovernment can act precisely in the same way ; and so long as it has the power to tax its creditors - perish the thought of repudiation - the creditors can be taxed in order to pay their interest ; and sometimes, although not in a democracy such as ours, but in Fascist countries, there is always a big rake-off for leading officials. However, I could not visualize for one moment menof such high standing as Sir OttoNiemeyer or Mr. Montagu Norman doing it in such acrude way that it could be detected. In fact, the whole process is not very generallyunderstood. The result is that it goeson. There is no repudiation.; and debtsare paid as the governments contractto pay them.
Senator Spicer hadsomething to say about the cost ofliving. He said that it had increased in every direction. We should be more discriminating in our choice of terms. Ishould call it the price of living. Cost isnot the sameasprice. Thecost of producing commodities for which very high prices are charged was never lowerthan it is to-day in terms of labour-time, that is, the time required to produce commodities. Wages based on the cost of subsistence means that the less the labourtime taken in production the lower the cost; but the price we pay for those commodities, which includes ever-increasing capital charges, such as high rentsand 9.d. interest on eachpound of butter, was never higher.
SenatorSpicer. -Rents havenotbeen increased since the beginningofthewar.
– No,except in an illegal way ; but rents were exorbitant before the war., and , as there is less trade now than there wasbefore the war. higher prices are charged in order to maintain the pre-war rents. That i.what is done; and Senator Spicer is just as capable as any honorable senator on this side of understanding the problem. Then there is another cause for high prices. .
– High wages.
– No. The wage which the worker receives would be the quantity of food, clothing and housing he could purchase with the moneyhe receives. If the basic wage were increased to £10 a week to-morrow by a beneficent Arbitration Court, actuated by the generous motiveswhich we are told always actuate it, and the worker could not purchase any more with £10 than he could with the wage he received before the war, ‘there would not be a high wage at all, although in terms of money it would be increased by more than100 per cent. Another cause for increased prices which is operating is the withholding of supplies by monopolies. The more men we take out of production, themore we do to help those arc d’isposed to- established monopolies 1& the- extent that vegetables- are withheld! from the market, groceries from the. grocers’’ stores, meat from- the butchers’’ shops;, and so on. The people must have these1 things- and if they have the money they pay whatever price is asked. The Prices Commissioner does’ not come into the- matter at all Quite apart from the depreciation of ou-r currency in the ordinary way which, as: I have- said, represents more- or loss the action of the forger, the> fact remains that to-day although costs- «f production were never lower in terms- of labour-time and in terms of morney, prices of commodities are high. The business community which is; so ably represented on the opposite side of this, chamber; is deliberately capitalizing the war at the expense of the soldiers and their dependants and at the expense of the workers. Earlier in this debate. I asked, by way of interjection what honorable senators! opposite were prepared to do about the. high capital charges which were, such a. big. factor in prices, but, I was, greeted- with a stony silence-. Obviously the question touches a very vital spot in the whole economic, structure represented by my friends opposite. Senator Spicer waxed indignant, at one- stage and wanted to know what this; Government bad done in, connexion! with war-time industries I had the. temerity to reply by way of interjection “ Everything and I alao- mentioned the Fisher Government. It was the Fisher Government which established the Royal Australian Navy in. the- face of great opposition.; it, was the Fisher Government that erected government munitions and other war-time factories,, again in the face of great opposition; it was the , right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hugh.es) who, acting as a law unto himself,, purchased a line of steamers for the Commonwealth. There was considerable opposition to that -move also. It was a Labour government which established our first shipbuilding yards, again in the face of great opposition. But it was a government formed by the parties now in opposition that gave away the- Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers and sold the Geelong Woollen Mills, to private enterprise, it- was an anti-Labour government in New South-
Wales that scrapped the. shipbuilding yards there. I have, since heard on. goadauthority that the. machines, that, were; scrapped on that occasion went tes Japan, a>ndi no. doubt we are: now getting: them back im the form of bombs, audi bullets’.
– - -Who destroyed the Australian Army?
Senator- CAMERON.- We have built up the Australian Army om a voluntary basis.. Let the- honorable, senator tell’ us who was responsible for scrapping. H.M.A.S-. Australia).. This Government has always been constructive and practical, it has demonstrated what it; can. do, not in mere -words, hut by practical results, but it continues as. a minority government, in this chamber. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) said that the- Government is falling down on its job, a!nd .Senator Spicer was equallycaustic and condemnatory in. his, criticism.. I asked them why they have not challenged the Government as they have the; necessary numbers in- this chamber.. Obviously they are afraid to take that course.
– Do- not be impatient.
– Ever since the present Government has held office benorable senators opposite have had the power to displace it and if they are sincerely convinced of the truth of what they sa.y, obviously it is their duty as representatives of the people, to displace this Government and provide a better one if they can.
– We have not got the numbers in both chambers.
– This- chamber can hold up or reject legislation received1 from the House of Representatives-. The O pposition in this- eh amber has- the numbers to do that if it wishes, but obviously honorable- senators opposite are afraid to take that action. They are afraid of their past record1, and afraid to- undertake the task which confronts the Government of this country at the present time. It is an unpleasant task in many ways; and one which is bound to cause, antagonism insome quarters. For that reason Opposition members are not prepared to face it, but would rather leave it to. those who, are better qualified to undertake the responsibility.. I suggest that the next time Opposition senators are speaking to the people from the public platform and feel inclined to say something that is in conformity with the truth, they should admit that all the time that this Government has been in office, they have had the numbers in this chamber to defeat it.
– A government cannot be defeated in this chamber.
– Quite easily. Any bill that is received from the House of Representatives can be rejected by the Senate on the first reading if it so desires, but for obvious reasons the Opposition is not prepared to take that course.
In conclusion I shall make an appeal to all honorable senators. At times I find myself very much embarrassed by the task which the Government is determined to carry out. It is necessary for us to adopt arbitrary methods at time3, although such methods are not part and parcel of our policy. So far as possible we prefer to act by means of consultation and agreement, but in times of war, as Senator Sampson, Senator Brand, Senator Collett and others well know, there are occasions when it is necessary to act quickly and take the risk. In such instances one may not always do the right thing but it is far better to have attempted something and failed than to have made no attempt at all. That is the position in which the Government finds itself. There are occasions when it is necessary to adopt an arbitrary attitude, and we have to issue regulations which, in ordinary times, we should rather not have issued. Personally I prefer to see the merits or demerits of a proposition fully debated in Parliament if possible before any action is taken. Like Senator Herbert Hays I am opposed to government by regulation, but government by legislation is not always possible in times like these. “We are engaged in a war, the magnitude of which is unprecedented, and despite what sections of the press may say to the contrary, the danger to this country is becoming more acute every day. In these circumstances we have no alternative but to do the best that we can.
In connexion with the department under my control, I admit that at times I have arrived at decisions quickly when I should much rather have had an oppor tunity to consult others. I have done that because time has been of the essence of the contract, and I am proud and glad to say, not because it is any great credit to me personally, but because it is a credit to those with whom I have been privileged to be associated, that wonderful achievements have resulted. Invaluable work has been done by those splendid men and women, technicians and artisans, from the office boys right up to the Director of the Beaufort Division, the members of the Aircraft Advisory Committee and the Director-General of Aircraft Production, Mr. Essington Lewis. I give these people full credit. All I claim for the Government is that it has enabled these things to be done. Although I personally may disagree with my political opponents or even with my colleagues on this side of the chamber - probably I disagree with them just as frequently as I do with honorable senators opposite - I do not think that it can be said that I condemn them wholly and solely because of my disagreement with them. I am always prepared to pay tribute to anything they have done for the good of the country, whether in a private or legislative capacity.
– The Minister does admit then that other people have done some good things?
– I admit more than that ; I admit that the average man in this Parliament is, in my judgment, influenced only by the very best of motives. I do not doubt the sincerity of honorable senators opposite, but where I join issue with them is in respect of the methods that are to be adopted. Foi example, no doubt Senator Herbert Hays would stand for the rights of private enterprise, and would object to any government interference with industry, whereas I contend that where private enterprise has failed, the Government must step in. Where the evidence satisfies me that private enterprise has failed I am prepared to do all that I possibly can to displace private enterprise and substitute government enterprise.
– Will the. Minister admit that many of the appointments made by the previous Government which he and his colleagues condemned were wise and in the interests of the war effort?
– I am not prepared to admit that they were all wise, although I have no doubt that the Government of the day acted in all sincerity. My personal view is that many of the appointments were not wise, and I said so at the time.
– The Minister and his colleagues condemned the appointments.
– Because I condemned an act of the previous Government it does not necessarily follow that I would condemn honorable senators opposite personally.
– The Government has found that the men who were appointed have been very helpful.
– In a measure, that may be so. Very often we have profited by the mistakes of our predecessors. After all, practical experience is the world’s greatest teacher. We have endeavoured to avoid a repetition of the stupid mistakes made by our predecessor.
Senator McBRIDE (South Australia) 1 12.14]. - I join with other honorable senators who have discussed this motion in giving my unswerving support to the sentiments that it expresses. Although I admit that had I been responsible for the drafting of the motion I should have preferred some slight variations. For instance, as I have said before in this chamber, the term “British Empire” seems to me to be excellently suited as a name for the group of dominions and the mother country known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. I should have had no hesitation in drafting the first declaration so that it would read : “ We declare Australia’s indissoluble unity with the British Empire Whilst I admit that such a pronouncement should be unnecessary. I go farther and say that most df the declarations are unnecessary. After referring to our unity with the British Empire, I should have included in the first affirmation a declaration of our unswerving loyalty to the British Throne. That follows naturally from our indissoluble unity with the British Empire, but it is well worth declaring our loyalty to the Throne, particularly at this time when certain opinions have been expressed, not in this country, but by prominent men in the countries of our allies. I stand four-square with the British Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill), when he said that ho had not accepted his present position in order to bring about the liquidation of the British Empire. Consequently, I think that that affirmation might well have been made. The other declarations contained in the motion are entirely acceptable to me. The second excellently expresses my admiration and appreciation of what our gallant men have done in all theatres of war. I am also pleased that the Government has, I assume, given unqualified support to the third declaration. It is an inspiring affirmation, and I believe that it will be acceptable to the people of Great Britain, Australia, and the countries of our allies. I now look with greater confidence to the future, having heard the declarations made without qualifications on behalf of the present Government.
That being so, it would be useful if we endeavoured to ascertain how we best could give effect to the terms of this motion. It states definitely that the Government is determined to use the whole of the man-power and material resources of the nation in order to ensure the maximum war effort that is necessary to bring about victory. I disagree entirely with the previous speaker, who said that in his opinion Australia had made a proportionately greater contribution to the war effort than any other nation. That is a travesty of the facts ] can well imagine what the people of London and Coventry, and Great Britain as a whole, would think of the Australian nation if that statement went forth as the opinion of the people of this country. Consequently I consider it necessary to say that members of the Opposition do not subscribe to that view. To suggest that we in Australia, who have hardly been touched by the disasters of this war, could compare our contribution with that of the people of Great Britain, which in 1940 held the fort for civilization, is to show that, we are not fully apprised, even at this stage of the war, of the facts of the situation. I can quite understand such an opinion as that coming from a member of the present Government, because I am one of those who have believed for a long time that the Government itself has not appreciated the seriousness of the war, and the duties that devolve upon Australia with regard to it.
We have heard appeals from the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and from other Ministers and leaders for unity. It would be of great advantage to the people of Australia, and to the Empire as a whole, if some signs of unity in the Government were apparent. The first sign of unity would be well received, and the best form it could take would be the establishment of a national government. It is fortunate that, during 1940, Great Britain had a government composed of various parties who were prepared to give the lead in their appeal for unity. The Labour party of Great Britain is as well informed, and has as much experience and traditions as great as the Australian Labour party. It declared without hesitation, “ We shall take our share of the responsibility in this time of crisis. We ? !.i all give our help, not by lip service, but by action “. In Great Britain all political parties sank their differences for the duration of the war. Having that brilliant leader, Mr. Churchill, they were able to inspire the people of Great Britain to withstand the greatest blitz in the world’s history.
As a member of the Government that was in office at the beginning of the war, I was hopeful that the then Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) having pointed to the difficulties likely to be experienced in the future, and the urgent need for a maximum war effort, the Labour Opposition would have assisted in the formation of a national government. I admit that I had some doubt, because, having sat in thi; chamber and in the House of Representatives for a total period of twelve years, I realized that members of the Labour party were clearly out of touch with the realities of the situation in rejecting the offer made by the Menzies Government. As the war pro.reeded they gave great lip service in the way of co-operation with the Government of the day, but individual members of the then Opposition, in season and out of season, undermined the work of that Government. They created a feeling of uneasiness in the minds of the people, and eventually, as was inevitable, they themselves took over the reins of government. Since this (Government has been in office, Australia has experienced party government in the most intense form ever witnessed in this country. I greatly regret that advocacy of class hatred has been stirred up by certain members of the present Government, and has been indulged in even by the Prime Minister himself. It is of no use to say that the right honorable gentleman desires unity, when in season and out of season he has made utterances which cause great disunity.
– Where has he done that?
– I shall give one instance forthwith. In Brisbane on the 18th August. 1942, he made a most outrageous and cowardly attack on a loyal section of this community, which is giving a full war effort at least equal to that of any other section of the people. I do not wish to draw distinctions between the various contributions to the war effort because the people as a whole desire the maximum contribution. In his endeavours to obtain unity the Prime Minister said that the country could get on quite well without capitalists but not without the people whom he represented. He did not define the people whom he represented, but it is often claimed, quite erroneously, that the Labour party represents the workers and that we on this side represent the capitalists. It is interesting to try to reconcile the right honorable gentleman’s statement with the facts. Those person’s in the community who might reasonably be considered to come under the designation of capitalists form a very small proportion of the people. Honorable senators on this side arc here because a majority of the people of the States which they represent voted for them. Those voters comprise, for the most part, workers in the truest sense of the term.
– The Government is looking into that disease.
– The Prime Minister went on to say that the people whom he represents do the work of the nation, whilst shareholders in companies, whom other men in the Parliament represented, merely invested a few thousand pounds and then sat back. Such a callous and cowardly statement should never have been uttered by a Prime Minister. A more inaccurate statement has rarely been made by a political leader in this country.
– The honorable senator may describe the statement as inaccurate, if he like3, but not as callous and cowardly.
– I repeat that the statement was not only inaccurate, but also callous and cowardly. That is the kind of leadership that the people of this country are getting from a Prime Minister who, in season and out of season, pleads for unity and a full war effort. I say definitely that we shall never get the full war effort which the majority of the people want until we get unity. The move towards unity must start at the top. I cannot understand the outlook of a man who deliberately sets out to promote class hatred in the community by the use of such terms as the “whitecollar brigade “ and in the next breath appeals for unity. I am strongly of the opinion that the Prime Minister requires a wider vision, and therefore I say that it would be to his advantage and also to the advantage of Australia, and indeed of the whole Empire and its allies, if the right honorable gentleman went abroad and discussed various problems with leaders in other countries. I hope that he will not be bound by the foolish utterances which he and his colleagues made when a previous Prime Minister proposed to pay a visit overseas. Our Prime Minister is the only Prime Minister in ‘the British Empire who has not been abroad to consult with other leaders. If men like Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt .consider it necessary to go abroad to discuss problems in the interests -of their countries, it ls infinitely more necessary that the Australian Prime Minister, because of his background, should ,go abroad and learn what other people are doing and thinking.
– Did the honorable senator notice that, for good reasons, Mr. Stalin did not attend a recent important conference ?
– I hope that in the near future Mr. Stalin also will visit other countries, because I sam convinced that he, too, would benefit from consulta tion with other leaders. I am certain that he would be inspired by a visit to Britain, where he would see at first hand what the people of that country have endured and achieved. Such a visit would increase his confidence in ultimate victory. I repeat the hope ‘ that the Prime Minister of Australia will not feel himself bound’ by what has happened in the past. I hope that he will not miss this opportunity because of any fear that if he left Australia his party would disintegrate during his absence. I realise the difficulties confronting any government in office at the present time. I know also how difficult it is to forget political affiliations in the administration of a country’s affairs. I do not claim that previous governments always acted without regard to those political considerations, but I do say that the administration of the present Government has revealed so many examples of the influence of party politics that unless Ministers are prepared to change their ways we cannot hope that they will do even the things that they themselves decide are necessary. Perhaps the most destructive phrase that has ever been associated with a Cabinet Minister was that in which Mr. Thornton, a prominent trade union leader, described a Minister in the present Government when he said he was a “ cheer-chaser “. No more devastating accusation could be levelled at any public man. The unfortunate thing is that, the term could just as aptly be applied to .several other Ministers as to the one whom Mr. Thornton had in mind. I hope, however, that there will l>e a .change of spirit; and I am encouraged i:n the hope by signs that the Government proposes to do some of the things which previous governments started to do. I. .compliment the Government . on the change that has taken place; but, as is usual with the Labour party, the decision is belated. It is interesting to contrast the utterances of the leader of the previous Labour Government before aud after his elevation to office. After eighteen months of office, the Scullin Government was compelled to do many things which were .obvious very much .earlier to every thinking person in the .community. The same position confronts us to-.day. Early in this war the present Prime Minister, who was then in opposition, moved in this Parliament to prevent any Australian soldier from leaving this country. His motion had the full support of every member of the Labour party.
Sitting suspended from 1245 to 2.15 p.m.
– I have congratulated the Government on the recent signs that it was prepared to face up to some of the problems of a total war effort in Australia. I congratulate it, even at this late stage, on the fact that appreciation of our position is at last apparent in the minds of some of its members. I admit that our confidence is somewhat shaken by the exhibition that we have recently had in respect of one matter. We and I believe the people of Australia generally were very impressed and even thrilled when the Prime Minister made an announcement in connexion with the re-organization of our Army. Unfortunately, later, owing to circumstances which I do not want to discuss here, he = bowed signs of retreat, and, still more unfortunately, since we have seen the bill presented in the House of Representatives, it appears that the retreat has been most disorderly, and indeed has developed into something like a rout. I hope, however, that another sign that has recently arisen in relation to taxation may prove more effective, and that the Government will be prepared to go on with it, even though it does not entirely or even nearly meet the problem. Honorable senators on this side have held and expressed certain views on that matter, both here and in the other House, on very many occasions. Indeed, it was on the financial proposals of a government formed from this side that the present Government, then in opposition, defeated it. It said that those proposals were entirely unnecessary, but now we are led to believe - of course I admit that this has to be confirmed when the measures come before Parliament - that it is in some degree seeing the folly of its ways. I repeat that this is all to the good, but I also repeat that it is a tardy recognition of the requirements of Australia, and will result in the imposition upon the people of very much more, drastic taxation. One of the best evidences of the futility and danger of the financial policy of the Government is provided in unquestionable terms by the cost-of-living figures. When the Government introduced its budget into Parliament last year, it told us how it proposed to finance the war effort. At that time, members on this side, both here and in the other House, stated quite definitely what in their opinion would be the result of such a financial policy. Our ideas were scouted, and even ridiculed, but I repeat that in spite of all the checks, all the rationalization, all the waste of the man-power and resources of this country undertaken by the Government to conceal the results of its policy, it cannot conceal what is evident in the cost-of-living figures. It is worth while calling attention to it, because, when the previous Government went out of office, the cost of living in this country had risen relatively little. Indeed our cost-of-living rise was comparable with that of the other Dominions, but after only twelve months of Labour administration we find that the increase of the cost of living has gone up over 100 per cent., compared with the figure which it took two years under the previous Government to reach. When the previous Government left office, the cost of living had increased just under .1.0 per cent, over the pre-war figure. Now it is 22-J per cent, over, or a rise of 110 per cent, in the increase in the intervening period. What is the position in the other dominions, one of which has a government of a similar political colour, and one of another political colour? In Canada, in contrast to our 22^ per cent, increase, the index figure has risen 16.8 per cent., and in New Zealand, which has a Labour government, but a government with an entirely different conception of both national and military problems, the cost-of-living rise is still only 13.4 per cent. Therefore the Administration of which I was a member held the cost-of-living figures in Australia down to a basis comparable with the figures of those two other countries for two years, but in twelve months under a Labour regime the increase of the cost of living has been more than double the increase in the two preceding years.
That, is undoubtedly the result of the financial policy followed by this Government. I cannot better illustrate that than by pointing out the influence which a certain member of the Senate must have on the Government of the day, because whereas the amount of treasury-bills and government securities, which can be termed bank credit, issued between the 30th June, 1941, and the 30th June, 1942, was £SO,000,000, the amount issued from the 1st July, 1942, to the 31st December, 194’2, a period of only six months, was £106,000,000. These figures bear a direct relation to the cost-of-living figures which [ have mentioned. In other words, the Government in six months used more bank credit than had been used in the previous twelve months, and the figure is still going up at a progressively increasing rate. The cost of living figures will go up at a similar rate. That is one of the problems which up to the present time this Government has failed to tackle. I repeat that there are at the present time signs that the Government is apprised of the folly of its ways, and intends to attempt, although doubtless not adequately, to grapple with these problems, but the fact is that we have drifted to an extent which is going to impose on the people much greater hardships than the war situation requires.
I wish to comment on the latter portion of the third part of the motion, and on the speech made by the Leader of the Senate in introducing it. The last words of the paragraph are, “ and arising therefrom to provide requisite measures to promote the national welfare of the whole of the people of Australia “. That is a principle to which we all subscribe. Indeed, we more than subscribe to it, because we all hope to bring about its achievement. It is only because of this Government’s methods of finance and its system of utilization of our man-power and material resources, that it has made it more difficult. 1. was amazed during the speech of the Leader of the Senate to hear him give as a reason for defending Australia, as though it were a new idea that had just penetrated his cranium, that Australia was a country worth fighting for. Surely all of us have believed that for many years. It is not something that has suddenly occurred to the Leader of the
Senate, lt is something that we subscribe to wholeheartedly. We do not give only lip service to it. We want to give action. We want an administration which will make it possible, but, to show how volatile the Leader of the Senate is and how quickly and frequently he changes his tune, he interjected while Senator Spicer was speaking that the present conditions in this country were a hell. I noticed that remark when it was made, because it was an astounding statement coming from the Minister, following such an address as he gave the day before yesterday. I say quite definitely that a man who is prepared to change his views so violently is not a man for whose opinion we can have very great respect, or in whom we can have much confidence. I say without any hesitation that conditions in Australia do not approach a hell. I suggest that at. present they are probably the best existing in any of the fighting countries, in spite of Senator Cameron’s suggestion that we have done more in this war than our allies have.
– We have had fifteen months of Labour government.
– I have endeavoured to show some of the unfortunate results of those fifteen months. The deterioration in the conditions of this country is largely due, not to our further engagement in the war but to the maladministration that has taken place under the present Government. To give lip service and make statements with the idea of misleading the people, particularly the men engaged in the fighting services, is below contempt. It can be done for one purpose only, and by individuals of only one class, namely, the “ cheer-chasers “. In order to show our bona fides in this matter we must resolve to measure up with what is being done by our allies. Honorable senators on this side want a better Australia, and a better world, after the war ; but the policy of the Government will make conditions worse regardless of the result of the war. The Government has given no indication whatever that it is prepared to do essential things if they are unpopular. I was very interested in a broadcast which was given recently by Mr. Boyer on his visit to the United States of America some time ago. He told us what he saw in the United States of America. He said that America, which was the last country to enter the war, and is the .strongest and richest country now at war, .had already regi-men tod its people to such a degree that whereas, normally, it had an excess food production, food is being rationed on a scale which we in Australia have not yet even -approached. .He said that horse flesh is on sale in Boston, and that supplies are :so!d out very quickly. He also said that -the average American family was now fortunate to obtain ‘meat once a week.
– Does that not make it appear that we “m Australia are living in a paradise rather than in a hell?
– - It certainly does not indicate that we are playing our full part with our allies in the prosecution of the war. Mr. Boyer also pointed out that many families in the ‘United States of America had no butter for Christmas. That was not because the production of butter had decreased. It was due to the fact that the United .States of America, -as it did in the last war, was rationing its own people in order to make supplies ‘of foodstuffs available to the fighting forces of the Allied Nations and to starving people in countries now under the heel of the Nazis. He also .said that the United States of America, whence we are obtaining all our supplies of petrol, had severely rationed that commodity.; and on the East Coast had not merely restricted but completely prohibited pleasure motoring. Set we in Australia, who do .not produce petrol at all, and obtain all our supplies from the United States of America, say to that, country that we want petrol for pleasure motoring. We say, in -effect, that whilst the United States of .America is rationing petrol in order to make .supplies available to the fighting services ‘of the Allied Nations, we who do not -produce petrol .at all are notprepared to ration that commodity to -the degree w.e should, but intend to continue to enjoy better .conditions in this respect than the citizens of the United States of America. I urge the Government to give serious consideration Ito .these matters in order that when we again appeal for help from the United States of America and Great Britain we shall be able to do so in the knowledge that we are playing a part in the war comparable with that of our allies. If we de that I have jio doubt that we .shall .obtain all the help we ask for from those countries, and ensure that the integrity of this nation shall be preserved.
Senator LAMP (Tasmania) £2.35]. - I support the motion. .1 do so because, like the last speaker, I sincerely believe in the unity of -the British Commonwealth of Nations and loyalty to the British Throne. However, the people best qualified ito Implement this motion* are the supporters ‘©If the -present Government. The present war is a fight for democracy -government of the people, by the people, for the people. That means that democracy is a game of life played according to rules made by the people themselves. However, whilst the people have a chance to make the policy of the Labour party, I have yet to learn that ordinary working people have any possible -drane* of determining the policy of the United Australia party or the United Country party. Anybody who wishes to join the Australian Labour party can do so. That party has its branches in every community, and with it are affiliated industrial ‘organizations known as the track? unions. These bodies send delegates to State conferences ‘of the Australian Labour party at which they can also submit matters for discussion. The State conferences of the party then send dele gates to the federal Labour conference., and can also submit matters for consideration by that body. The decision.-: of the federal Labour conference become Hie policy of the party. There is nothing wrong with that. Actually, it is democracy in practice-; and J and my colleagues are pleased to stand for such an organization. -Senator Leckie ‘said idi at expenditure or undertakings being carried out by the Allied Works -Council and other governmental bodies required constant ‘supervision. I agree with him; but, at the same time, I point .out that the Conranonwealth Public Works CommTtt.ee which was previously charged with tha; duty was hamstrung by the previous Government. When I discussed this matter with the gentleman -who was mainly responsible for that action he said to me, “ You know, Lamp, we want to curb the jolly old Public Works Committee “. The previous Government certainly succeeded in doing so. To-day, no inquiry can be undertaken by that committee unless it be referred to it by a resolution of either House. The Public Works Committee should be empowered to inquire into every phase of government expenditure, in order to prevent extravagance and waste; and I sincerely hope that action will be taken to enable the committee to do the work for which it was originally appointed.
Senator. McBride said that we were not making a total war effort because disunity existed in the country and in the Government. He said that supporters of the Government were not united in implementing the Government’s policy. The present Government has put forward a concentrated effort to implement every policy it believes to be necessary. In that respect we might contrast its record with that of the previous Government. I was not a very severe critic of the Menzies Government. In fact, I greatly appreciated the work which it accomplished. However, members of the United Australia party and the United Country party could not agree among themselves, and it was for that reason that the Opposition parties threw out of office the best leader they have ever had. The fact is that Labour assumed office as the result of the disunity existing amongst the Opposition parties. Senator Clothier has handed to me a press cutting on this subject. It reads -
Decision to try to force the Government to provide for compulsory Australian Military Force service was made yesterday at an Opposition meeting.
It was against the wishes of Opposition Leader Fadden and U.AJP. Leader Hughes.
At one stage Mr. Fadden is believed to have considered resigning.
The move was started by a South Australian bloc, was fought so strenuously that more than one Opposition member appears likely to go with the Government on a division.
Voting was fairly close.
An Opposition member commented, “ This is the worst move we have ever made. The U.A.P.. and TJ.C.R would never survive an election on such an issue”.
Government defeat is unlikely, as at least one independent member will continue support, it is believed.
– Is that-from The Worker ?
– Mr. President, the honora’ble senator is quoting from a newspaper. I ask that the quotation be laid on the table.
– I am quite willing to do that. Senator McBride stated that our war effort was not comparable with that being made by Great Britain. I appreciate the wonderful war effort the Mother Country has made. However, we must remember that Great Britain has always been a highly industrialized country. It has always had a vast quantity of manufacturing equipment. We had to start from scratch, because we were not at all equipped in that respect. No blame can be laid at the door of the Labour party on that score, because this party has always stood for protection with the object of building up our manufacturing industries. I also appreciate the assistance which Great Britain has given to Russia and our other allies. However, generally speaking, the output of the Australian worker is far in excess of that of the British and American workers, particularly in the engineering trades. Labour assumed office on the 7th Octo’ber, 1941. During the following twelve months the strength of the Army was increased threefold. Our fighting services are better armed and equipped, and the mechanical strength of the forces has been very greatly increased. Our Air Force personnel has been almost doubled, and the equipment of the Air Force has also been doubled. In September, 1941, we had 6 government munitions factories, 76 annexes and 19 government factories under construction, and employed 37,789 hands. In September, 1942, we had 22 government factories, 143 annexes and 19 government factories under construction, and employed a total of 67,8S6 hands. I understand that very shortly nearly 500,000 people will be employed in our munitions factories. The charge has been made against the Labour party that it has done nothing to increase the war effort. Let us look at the record of the Labour party in this respect during the last twelve’ months. The ineffective Army Board has been abolished and replaced by a unified command system comprising efficient and experienced officers; the old Inventions Board has been discarded and a new one established, consisting of capable, experienced men; mass production of the Owen and Austen guns has been undertaken; the Allied Supply Council has been established to ensure supplies of munitions and equipment; the National Food Council, aimed at increasing production and controlling supplies, has come into being; a war risk insurance scheme has been established ; industry has been rationalized, production standardized, and the output of coal has broken all records; trading banks have been controlled in the interests ‘of the nation; holidays and sport have been cut down; the consumption of alcoholic liquor has been reduced, and transport facilities have been curtailed drastically in order to conserve our resources and provide for the efficient transport of war material and troops. Senator McBride cited a statement made recently by a certain gentleman who had made a tour of the United States of America, and who compared the United States of America war effort with our own war effort at the present time. In that regard it is interesting to note that Mr. J. Harsch, special international correspondent of she Christian Science Monitor, wrote recently that -
Australians haveproduced a war effort of which some American generals out here wish ruefully could be duplicated back in U.S.A.
That report was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 24th September, 1942. The Australian war effort is nothing to be ashamed of. I quote the following figures to illustrate how the output of munitions has increased in the past year: -
Complete gun equipment - Six times greater than in October, 1941.
Rifles - Two times greater than in October, 1941.
Machine guns - Two and a half times greater than in October, 1941.
Sub-machine guns - Substantially greater than in October, 1941.
Aircraft bombs -Four times greater than in October, 1941.
Mortar bombs and grenades - Ten times greater than in October, 1941.
Gun ammunition rounds - Three times greater than in October, 1941.
Small arms ammunition rounds - Two times greater than in October, 1941.
Mines, anti-tank - Four times greater than in October, 1941.
Armoured fighting vehicles - Three anda half times greater than in October, 1941.
Explosives (tons) - Two and a half times greater than in October, 1941.
Those figures indicate clearly that the Labour Government’s war effort greatly surpasses that of the previous Administration. I admit that the figures were given in a Government bulletin issued last year, but they are open to be challenged by any one who so desires. My opinion is that they are correct and cannot be challenged successfully. Senator McBride suggested that the Prime Minister should visit Great Britain and the United States of America to see what isbeing done there, and to consult with allied war leaders. I point out, however, that visits to the other side of the world have been made already by various people, including the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) when he was Prime Minister, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). The war situation in this country is as grave as it has ever been at any time since Japan entered the war.We know from reconnaissance that something is likely to happen in the near future. In view of these circumstances, are we going to ask our leader to leave Australia at this critical time? I contend that the proper place for our Prime Minister is at the head of his Government here in Australia, and I sincerely hope that he will stay here and continue his good work.
In conclusion, I should like to pay a tribute to our soldiers in the Middle East, Papua and New Guinea, our airmen, our Navy, and particularly our merchant seamen, for the wonderful job they are doing. I am sure that if this Government remains in office and is allowed to continue the good work that it has begun Australia’s position will be secure.
– In moving this motion, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) informed the Senate that in normal circumstances there would have been an opening of Parliament, and a Speech by the Governor-General setting out the Government’s programme for the ensuing session, but that this motion would take the place of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech and would permit a discussion such as that which usually takes place on an Address-in-Reply. We thank him for that privilege, although the conditions are dissimilar. Had there been a Speech by the Governor-General, it would have set out not only what the Government proposed to do, but also how it intended to give effect to its proposals; it would have given us some idea of the legislation to be introduced. The speech by the Leader of the Senate referred only to what would be done, and made no mention of the legislation which would be introduced to implement the programme. In fact, all that the Leader of the Senate gave us was promises of a very much brighter and better world when the war is finished. He went so far as to say that owing to the efforts of this Government, Australians would be free, from fear and want for many years after the war, if not for all time. The honorable gentleman even said that wars would be avoided in the future, but I am afraid that he was indulging merely in wishful thinking. At the conclusion of the war of 1914-18 the League of Nations was formed and people expected it to perform miracles such as those which apparently the Leader of the Senate hopes to see performed. We are a strong people and no doubt we all cherish the hope that “ There will always be an England but we must realize also that there will always be Hitlers and Mussolinis, and for that reason I do not, think that we shall ever be able to rid this world of war. When dealing with the promised brighter and better future, the Leader of the Senate spoke also of raising boys and girl’ as cannon fodder, and I do not think that, that, remark was quite fair. The British Empire has never done that, and T do not think that it will ever do it in the future, but thank God the Empire has always raised men and women who are prepared to fight and even die for freedom. The present war was not started by the British Empire. The Allied Nations were brought into the conflict because it was forced upon them, and for that, reason it has been mainly a defensive war on our part. Russia did not invade Germany, nor did Britain invade Germany; neither did America or China invade Japan. Therefore we cannot be blamed for the present state of affairs, and there should be no talk of making cannon fodder of our people when we are fighting only in our own defence. These are vital days for the Parliament of a nation like Australia. We have just read an account of a meeting between the British Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill) and the President of the United States of America (Mr. Roosevelt) to discuss those weighty matters which are perturbing the minds of allied leaders. Constant touch was maintained with the Russian and Chinese leaders, and the talks lasted for nearly a fortnight. But what matters were discussed ? Did these great men discuss post-war reconstruction.? No, they discussed how we were going to win this war.
– Does the honorable senator object to post-war reconstruction being discussed at present?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN Postwar reconstruction has been discussed, but in my opinion it must take second place to the winning of the war.
When moving this motion, the Leader of the .Senate said that everything would be done in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia. I do not know whether or not he realized what he was saying, but be added that things would be done, constitutionally or unconstitutionally.
– No. I did not say thai.
– The honorable senator said -
That plan must be proceeded with if the Government La to justify its existence. Whatever steps - either constitutional or otherwise - sire necessary to give effect to that plan will be taken by the Government.
– I did not. use the word “ unconstitutional “.
– If something is other than constitutional it must be unconstitutional, and I warn the Leader of the Senate that the people of this country have a great regard for our Constitution. Some time ago, an attempt., was. made te- scrap our Constitution, at a convention held ali Canberra.
– That is not true, and the honorable senator knows it.
Senator- JAMES McLACHLAN.- A convention was convened to swap the existing Constitution,, and although the reform* which were prepared for that convention were drawn up- by a doctor of laws. I think that he must have also been a doctor of medicine, because he felt the pulse of the people, and realizing thai the proposals would not he acceptable, he put them in the waste-paper basket. When the convention assembled he had a. new se* of proposals framed, but the convention would not accept them either, and they also were put in the waste-paper basket. After that the meeting was held m camera. That shows without doubt that the people of Australia have a great regard for the Constitution,, and I advise the Leader of the Senate not to do anything unconstitutional.
When moving the motion, the Leader of the Senate said -
The Government is determined upon its course; I say that in no way as a challenge. So long as it has the confidence of the people of this country-
That, of course, is not correct. This Government has not the confidence of the people of Australia. No government can claim to have the confidence of the people unless it has been returned to Parliament by the people. This Government was not returned by the people; it occupies the treasury bench merely through a miscarriage of justice. At the last general elections honorable senators who are now sitting in Opposition defeated the present Government supporters by 400,000 votes.
History records that in ancient times Nero fiddled while Rome was burning. Tt seems to me that history may be repeating itself to-day. The Ministry reminds me of an orchestra of nineteen players, each of whom takes little notice of the conductor, whilst the conductor himself takes his tune from the noisiest section of his audience. The Opposition, when in power, submitted to Parliament a similar declaration to that contained in the first paragraph of the motion,, and stands- loyally by it As to the second declaration,, we should he indeed callous, and ungrateful if we.- did not recognize the devotion to duty and the self-sacrifice of our fighting- men. Whilst, we take no exception’ to the terms, of the third declaration, we reserve the right to- make our own decision as- to the best way in which to make full use of the available man-power and material resources, an order to produce a maximum war effort. Some of the speakers in this debate have said that the first declaration is not necessary, because; it merely reaffirms principles that have already been, accepted ; but perhaps- it is desirable that the Government should submit a motion embodying an affirmation of that kind.
Sin.ee the establishment of this Parliament over 40 years ago, no Labour ministry has taken a particularly keen interest in the defence of Australia. This interest by the Labour party has been displayed only since the present Government has come into power.
– Does, not the honorable senator remember the late Mr. Andrew Fisher and the establishment of the Royal Australian Navy?
– 1 do not intend this afternoon to go back as far as that, but I reiterate that the Labour party, in the past, has taken no great interest in the defence of this, country. I invite honorable senators to cast their minds back to the years 1936 and 1937, when, for the first time, a substantial vote was proposed for defence purposes, although it was a paltry sum compared with the many millions of pounds being expended on defence today. What support did the anti-Labour Government then receive from the Labour Opposition? The then Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, who is now the Leader of the Senate, asked, “Who is our enemy ? Whom are we to fight ? “ On the 10 th October, 1942, when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) was celebrating the first anniversary of his advent to office, he made the following statement in the Sydney Town Hall: -
As a Labour man, I have to accept the responsibility, as does the Labour movement, of the whole world that it made no preparation for war. It believed in disarmament, in better conditions for the worker. It preferred butter to guns, homes to Flying Fortresses,. waterworks to dockyards. We thought and hoped that we had finished for ever with the era of determining national disputes by war. War’s primary purpose is to kill and destroy.
– Read on. That is not all that the Prime Minister said.
– He admitted that he and his party had made no preparation, and was even opposed to preparation for war.
– That is not the whole of the statement made by the right honorable gentleman.
– It is.
– Mr. President, I ask that the document from which the honorable senator is reading be laid on the table.
– The Minister will be entitled to move, at the conclusion of the honorable .senator’s speech, that the .paper referred to be laid on the table.
– On the 2nd November, 1938, according to Ilansard, page 1095, the Prime Minister said - . . 1 say that any increase of defence expenditure after the Munich Pact so far as Australia, is concerned appears .to me to be an utterly unjustifiable and hysterical piece of panic propaganda.
Speaking on the Estimates, on the 17th September, .1.936, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) said -
I strongly protest against the expenditure of even one pound of Commonwealth revenue »n implements of destruction while it is so difficult to induce the Government to spend anything on schemes for the saving of human ‘ life….. the .only .people who have any thing in this country .to-day .to defend are the richer sections of the community who live on the cream of the land, and take for themselves everything that is good, in life.
On the ‘5th November, 1936, speaking again on the Estimates, the Minister for Labour and National Service remarked -
I should mot be prepared to take up arms against the workers of any country, whether they be German or of any other nationality. As a matter of fact, because I am not prepared to do that, I am ,not prepared to tell ritters to do so. 1 believe, anil judging by statements made by honorable members on both sides of the committee it seems to be generally agreed, that Australia would -find it very .difficult, if not impossible, to -defend itself against an aggressor.
On the 5th .November, 1939, the honorable .member for Batman -(Mr. Brennan),, according to Hansard, volume 152, page 1564, said-
Our association with the British Navy is an entirely evil one. . . . The Navy, in truth, can ,no longer serve any useful .purpose, as far as Australia is concerned. I know of no more inveterate fallacy than that which is constantly being reiterated, ad mauseum, that we in Australia ave dependent for our safety -on the British Navy. . . . As to the .need for defending Australia, this country has never been threatened with attack. . . There was never even a suggestion of an attack upon Australia … if we attended to our own business, and beni our best efforts to the maintenance of this country as a bright jewel in the world, .free from the entanglements of imperialism …
In 1935, when Germany began to rearm, the honorable member for Batman further declared -
The defence vote for Australia should be substantially and progressively reduced, instead of being, as suggested by the present Government, calamitously increased. , As to the Navy, if it should not ite cut out altogether, ‘expenditure upon it should “be reduced to the very minimum, for .the reasons I have mentioned, and because it has indeed brought ns in the past into conflict with other Powers. Our land defences might well consist of armaments only, and the harbours of our .main cities ure .co-m.parati.vely .easily defended.
On the 29th November, 1939, the present Prime Minister, .when Leader -of the Opposition, moved., as an amendment to a motion for the printing of ,a .paper containing a ministerial statement-
This House is of opinion ‘that Australia’s man-power is required for the defence .and safety of the Commonwealth and is opposed to .the despatch of expeditionary forces.
On the 16th November, 1939, the Minister for Labour and National Service, speaking on the Estimates, stated -
I am firmly of the opinion that, irrespective of how long this war lasts, the boundaries of Poland will not be restored to what they were prior to the commencement of .hostilities. Therefore, the only sensible thing to do is to adopt the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition .(Mr.. Curtin), namely, that instead of carrying on this stupid conflict, that cannot bring .benefit “to the workers of .any country, an effort should be made at the earliest possible moment to .summon a conference of the major nations for the purpose of ending it.
On the 12th October, .1938, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) declared -
Personally, I would not spend three pence on armament works or on ‘defence works of any kind in Australia.
SenatorCourtice. - That honorable member was “shot up” in the last war.
– That may be so, and I say nothing against him in that regard. I am merely referring to something which he said in 1938. Replying to an interjection by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who asked, “ Then why not cease all defence operations?”, the honorable member for Ballarat replied, “ I would. I am at least consistent “.
The present Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), speaking on the 29th November, 1939, stated -
I am opposed to an expeditionary force leaving Australia. If peace should fail our dangers are increased, and while this uncertainty confronts us then most certainly we should not agree to the depletion of our man-power.
On the same date, the present Minister for Health (Mr. Holloway), as reported in Hansard, volume 162, page 1708, said - 1 shall oppose, even to the point of stretching the law to breaking point, any proposal to send Australian soldiers to fight on foreign battlefields.
At that time the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) was an honoured member of the Labour party. As reported in Hansard, volume 162, page 1759, that honorable gentleman said -
If the Australian Labour party must choose between the raising of forces for overseas service and an immediate negotiated peace, I know which I should choose.
I have no doubt that he would have chosen a negotiated peace. The honorable member for Batman said on the 16th November, 1939, as reported in Hansard, volume 162, page 1212 -
I declare emphatically against any expeditionary force proceeding overseas to wage war inEurope. Not only do I object to soldiers being enlisted, equipped, and sent overseas, but I also object to their wearing the uniform of Australia in conflicts on foreign battlefields because the consequences must necessarily be the embroilment of Australia in a spirit of ill will with countries with which we have no quarrel.
The present Leader of the Senate, who was then in opposition, said on the 1st
December, 1939, as reported in Hansard page 1938-
I would not negotiate with that scoundre Churchill. I regard Mr. Churchill as amad dog let loose for the purpose of spreading hatred where previously none existed.
Those quotations prove my contention that up to the time of taking office members of the present Government took no particular interest in the defence of Australia. I am therefore pleased that they have changed their minds.
We have heard a great deal of the work that the present Government has done. It would almost appear that the Ministers now in office are the only persons in Australia who could bring this country safely through the present crisis. Under the regime of the Curtin Government, legislation has been almost entirely by regulation rather than by act of Parliament. The Government has a remarkable record in the making of regulations; during the last twelve months the output has been practically two a day. Those regulations have been made under the authority of the National Security Act, which was introduced by a previous government, and during its passage through the Parliament was strenuously opposed by the Labour party. Members of the Labour party regarded that legislation as monstrous in that it would enable an unscrupulous government to do almost anything it liked.
– Has not the present Government shown that that criticism was justified ?
– Yes. One unfortunate aspect of this matter is that regulations are turned out so quickly that many members of the public have no idea of the laws under which they live. A man may be perfectly honest and yet find himself liable to heavy penalties for some act which he performs. For instance, if a man hurried into a shop and asked for a box of matches, and tendered 2d. instead of11/2d. for it without asking for the change, both he and the shopkeeper would be liable to a fine of £100, or six months’ imprisonment. Traders find the utmost difficulty in keeping pace with the numerous regulations that are promulgated. Even members of the Government appear to be unacquainted with all the regulations that they have authorized. Honorable senators may recollect that on the 26th March, 1942, when the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) moved for the disallowance of certain regulations, the Leader of the Senate in an impassioned’ speech said -
The Government will not accept any whittling down of the terms of these regulations. They are part of the chain of regulations which the Government has found necessary to promulgate in the interests of the maximum war effort in the hope that eventually we shall come out of this struggle victorious.
A’b out two hours later, the Minister apologized to the Senate, and explained that the regulations complained of had previously been repealed. If Ministers responsible for making regulations do not know what has happened to them, how can we expect the general public to know ?
The utmost use of Australia’s manpower and woman-power is necessary for the successful prosecution of the war, and I believe that the people generally are prepared to give every assistance possible to that end. Nevertheless, many things which laymen cannot understand happen in the community. Since November of last year, about 120 women workers in a boot factory in South Australia have been on strike because they did not like the foreman’s tie, or the way in which, he parted his hair, or something of the kind.
– The honorable senator knows that the reason for the strike was nothing like what he has mentioned. Apparently, he has not taken the trouble to ascertain the real reason for the cessation of work.
– The judge said that the reasons for stopping work were frivolous, and he ordered the women to return to work. The position now is that the Government is calling for 300 women in New South Wales to work in South Australia - appointees remaining six months having their fares paid each way - whilst the 120 women, in South Australia refuse to work.
– -Evidently, the honorable senator believes that he has revealed an awful situation, and therefore it is a wonder that the Opposition does not do something in the matter. It has the numbers to do so.
– If the Government desires to have an election, it can have one to-morrow.
– We cannot. We would have an election to-morrow if we could in order to put the honorable senator out.
– 1 would not be put out, even with a double dissolution. There seems to be a great deal of overlapping in connexion with man-power matters. Some Ministers have said that they intend to implement the policy of the Labour party, whatever happens. I admit that they are doing that job well. Only committees or commissions ‘biased in favour of the Government are appointed.
– Mention one such body.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.The Meat Commission has six representatives from New South Wales.
– ‘Does not the honorable senator know that his leader is now negotiating with the Minister with a view to ironing matters out?
– It is true that they need ironing out; in fact, a steam roller is required for the purpose. There is also the Women’s Employment Board.
– The honorable senator knows what the Parliament did about that body.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN Every man on the Australian Wheat Board who knew anything about the handling of wheat was put off the board to make room for some one else.
– The . honorable senator is annoyed because he was not allowed to hand-pick the men.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.The Government has hand picked them.
– For the first time, all the interests involved have been given representation.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.I could have done better by drafting them through a gate. .1 subscribe to the third portion of the motion which reads -
The Senate declares -
Its determination to use the whole of the man-power and material resources of the nation in order to ensure the maximum war effort necessary to bring about victory, and arising therefrom to provide the requisite measures to promote the national welfare of the whole of the Australian people.
If the Government wants to ensure the welfare of the whole of the people it can do so best by agreeing to the formation of a national government. So long as party political considerations are allowed’ to dominate the Government, the welfare of the people cannot be ensured. There should be an all-in union of parties. We on this side ask to be allowed to sharethe burden- of government. We want thepeople of Australia to know that in the government of this country all sections of the community are united. To-day there are strikes on the. coal-fields and elsewhere; on one day 30,000 men refused to work and took a holiday instead. The Government made a hollow farce of the law by bringing them before the court and saying, in effect, “ Be good boys and go back to work, or you will be fined £20 “. Perhaps the men did not actually put their fingers to their noses at the Government, but they did so in effect. The ills which are troubling this country will not bo cured until we have a trulyrepresentative national government.
’.: - Senator James McLachlan has made a remarkable speech. When I reflect on the perils facing this country, I envy the complacent manner in which he approaches the problems confronting this country. There was not one word throughout his lengthy speech in praise of those who are doing the real work in defence of Australia. He did not think it fitting to mention the soldiers and airmen, or the men engaged in the far-distant parts of Australia, whose efforts make it possible for us to discuss these matters in the calm atmosphere of this chamber. The Opposition claims that our war effort is a: failure because there is not a national government, but if that is the way that it courts– the friendship of other political parties, or the manner in which it intends to assist the Government in its war effort, I am- forced to the conclusion that the Prime Minister (Mr: Curtin): was very wise when he decided to have a one-party government to carry on the defence of Australia-. Honorable senators opposite constantly attack the Government, but they, have not. given, us one- constructive piece, of criticism throughout the debate. I make an exception in the case of the Leader of the Opposition. (Senator McLeay), because his speech was- a good one and was calmly delivered’, with an appreciation of our difficulties,, but I cannot say the same of any other member of the Opposition. First of all, Senator McBride and his colleagues condemned the Government because the Senate met without a legislative programme: being; ready for it.
– I did not say a word about that.
– The Senate has met this year in January. This is probably the earliest, period of: the year in. which the- Commonwealth Parliament, has ever been called together; but- the Opposition condemns the Government because it did not indicate its programme on the first day of the sitting:. Indications have already been given in the House of Representatives of the measures that the Government intends- to bring: forward. In- the meantime the Government submitted this motion in order to give honorable senators an. opportunity to discuss the war effort and the condition in which Australia finds itself after over three years of war. There can be noobjection to any of the three paragraphs in the motion. If we did’ not announce our unswerving loyalty to the British Commonwealth of Nations and our appreciation of our allies, the Opposition would want to know why we did not do so. When the Government does so, the Opposition says that it can be taken for granted. It does no harm, to mention these things, or to remind ourselves and the people that we are indeed grateful, to. those who are carrying, the burden of this terrible conflict.
As regards the man-power and material resources of the nation, mentioned in paragraph 3- of the motion; I should have thought that we could expect some suggestions from the Opposition- to. assist the Government in the problems> that now confront us, but we have not heard one- constructive word in this debate from the Opposition.. All that Senator McBride, who. is the Deputy Leader of the- Opposition and takes an active- part in the debates of this- chamber, could put forward as a remedy was the- appointment of a national government. Are we to assume that the inclusion of four or five men from the other side will make the war effort so much better and bring about unity? Why should it do so? When the whole of the Cabinet consisted of members of the present Opposition, it had a great deal of trouble in controlling the affairs of the country. In fact its members could not agree among themselves. Its failure was so great when it had a full team of its own that probably things would he worse if one-half of them were included in the present team. So far as I am concerned there is nothing to prevent honorable senators opposite, even though they may not hold positions in the Cabinet, from assisting the Government in its time of great difficulty. I said at the outset that I envied the complacency of honorable senators opposite. I have been through the north of Australia. If honorable senators knew what those in the far-distant parts of North Queensland are doing at the present time they would be perhaps more considerate in their approach to the task of winning the war. There is no doubt that the problems facing the Government are very many and very great. There is tremendous difficulty in securing man-power to carry on our industries in. sufficient volume to equip and feed the fighting forces properly. That is one of the greatest problems that the Government has to face. In Queensland there is a very deepseated feeling of gratitude to the present Government for the changed condition of affairs throughout Australia, particularly in the far north. I do not blame the previous Government for the position that existed in North Queensland up to eight or nine months ago, but the people there were terribly perturbed at the state they were in at the moment when Japan came into the war. When I hear honorable senators opposite disparage the work of those men who have made possible the defence of Australia, I ad vise them to go north and see what has been done. If they do, they will have a different opinion. The workers under the Allied Works Council have gone out thousands of miles from their homes and undertaken work quite foreign to their usual occupations. There are thousands of them in Queensland doing a great job.
Miles of roads and runways have been constructed, and aerodromes have been built in that State during the last six months, and. everything that has been done is a great credit not only to the Government but also to everybody associated with the work. In fact it is almost a miracle, and the people of Queensland are indeed grateful. At the time the Japanese came into the war, they had fully made up their minds to die in the mountains with their guns in their hands. Only to-day I heard that Japanese reconnaissance planes have been seen over the northern parts of Australia, yet we in this chamber are complacently discussing reports that some people are earning more than they should. I understand that most of the wages and conditions of those engaged on war work are determined by the courts which have been established by this and previous Governments. If in some few cases excessive amounts have been earned because of overtime or the use of trucks, there are probably good reasons, and we all know that rumours are generally greatly exaggerated. I have been in Northern Queensland and seen men working when the temperature was 110 degrees in the shade. I was proud of the work they were doing, and they were getting only the basic wage with a northern allowance. The people of Queensland are quite satisfied that those engaged in the arduous work that has been carried through in northern Australia in the last six or eight months deserve great credit, and that applies to every one associated with all these undertakings.
I look on this war, and have done so from the inception, with a great deal of alarm. I believe that the situation in Australia to-day is more grave than ever before. This country has had a wonderful deliverance. I heard a prominent member of the Opposition party, referring to the short distance across the English Channel, say in this Parliament - thinking that perhaps we did not fully recognize and appreciate what the people of Great Britain had done - that the enemy, so far as Australia was concerned, was 1,700 miles away. At that very moment the Japanese were bombing Darwin1. The honorable senator’s 1,700 miles was the distance from Darwin to Melbourne. The people of southern Australia, including the members of this Parliament, must realize that Melbourne and Sydney are not Australia, and that the northern parts of the continent are equally important. Whatever mistakes the Government may have made, its record in the conduct of this war has been very creditable indeed. I do not propose to go back for years like Senator James McLachlan did and drag out what some irresponsible person has said, and try to saddle it on to the Labour party. Every member of the Labour party is pledged to do his best for Australia in this great war. When Japan’ attacked America, Australia was fortunate to have a leader like the present Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). He fearlessly and with extraordinary foresight was able to bring to Australia in very quick time the forces that saved it. If we had had a Prime Minister who was not fully seised of the danger, and who had delayed only a little while, we should have been in a much more serious position. There are some who fail to realize the danger in which Australia stands in. this global struggle. The people of Australia appreciate that in’ the Prime Minister they have a man whom they can trust, and who will do all in his power to bring the war to a successful conclusion.
I very much deprecate the attitude of honorable senators opposite in relation to the business of this chamber. Ever since I. was elected to the Senate I have noticed that it. has been developing into a party house. It was constituted in the first place as a State House, to represent State interests. Our responsibility and duty in this chamber is to represent the various States. . We should as far as possible ignore party questions, hut we have developed into a party house, which has to a great extent depreciated the value of the Senate. If we continue on these lines the people of Australia will soon ask themselves whether it is worth while to continue in existence a chamber which simply conducts its business in the same way as the House of Representatives, on absolute party lines. I should think that, particularly on questions of war policy, we should be able to exchange our ideas and assist one another in a reasonable way. The Opposition seems to be obsessed with the idea that because it occupies the otherside of the chamber its only duty and responsibility is to attack the Government at every Opportunity. It has a. much heavier and more serious responsibility than that, and that is at every possible opportunity to assist the Government, particularly in a time of peril such as we are now going through. I listen with some sadness on occasions to the discussions that take place here. It is only natural that we sometimes use language which we do not in our calmer moments endorse, but the hostile attitude of the Opposition is becoming both consistent and monotonous. Perhaps it is because its members feel that they have the numbers on their side, and that because they have the strength they have the right to harass the Government as much as ever they think fit. If the Senate intends to follow that course it would be far better for the Government to go to the country.
– What help did honorable senators opposite give to the previous Government?
– I thought that, possibly, on occasions we could have given more help; but the fact remains that the present Prime Minister gave the greatest possible assistance consistent with his position as Leader of the Opposition to the Governments led by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) and the right honorable mem’ber for Darling Downs (Mt. Fadden). After all, political differences are only a matter of degree. Politics are constantly changing, and no doubt honorable senators opposite will change many of their present views as they have changed their political outlook during the last quarter of a century. To-day, supporters of anti-Labour parties subscribe to most of the reforms which were pioneered by the Labour party, although, when I wa.s a boy, they strenuously opposed them. For instance, they opposed any interference at all with vested interests. I recall that a former AttorneyGeneral in Queensland declared that any suggestion of interference with private enterprise would split every plank of his party’s platform.
– Has the honorable senator read what Labour leader Green in the United States of America said?
– I greatly appreciate the wonderful help which the United States of America has given to Australia in this war. No one can deny that but for the American forces this country would have been invaded. If time permitted, I should like to discuss many problems, resulting from the waT, which are causing grave hardship to many sections of our people. Our primary industries are seriously dislocated. Our primary producers are carrying a very great load in this war because of the shortage of labour. I called attention to this matter at a very early stage of the conflict. I protested against recruiting drives throughout the country districts, which were depleting primary industries of essential man-power. However, when we made those protests in the interests of the nation, our loyalty was questioned. To-day, man-power is one of the gravest problems confronting the Government, and I urge it to give serious consideration to the matter with a view to enabling the country to maintain a balanced economy.
– The honorable senator is beginning to criticize the Government.
– That is nothing new for me. I shall criticize any authority when I consider that it is not doing the right thing in this time of crisis. Notwithstanding all the anomalies that may exist, our men and women are doing wonderful work in the prosecution of the war. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday, tho 10th February, at 3 p.m.
Ex-serviceMen: Land Settlement -
Government Finance - AntiGovernment Propaganda.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
To-day Senator Brand asked the following question, upon notice : -
Will the Government consider calling a conference of representatives of the Soldiers’ Land Settlement Committee in each State with tho object of assisting the Government in formulating a policy of land settlement as a means of repatriating ex-service men of this war?
The Prime Minister hae now supplied the following answer: -
Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
On behalf of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) I am now able to say that the Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
– I direct the attention of the Senate to a wave of misrepresentation and lying propaganda that is now being disseminated throughout Australia. I am informed that in. Queensland, particularly, the motion picture industry is being used for this purpose. In that State the screen is being plastered with propaganda deprecating the war effort of the Government. At a time when the Governmentis asking the people to unite in a total war effort against the onslaughts of the enemy, who is within bombing distance of our shores, it is regrettable that some interests are prepared to undermine the confidence of the people in the administration. In a time of peace such propaganda might be regarded as legitimate political practice. However, when the nation is in peril, surely it behoves every person to refrain from doing anything that would destroy the confidence of the people in the Government. We are aware of the events that led tothe disastrous civil war in Spain; and we know how the activities of fifth columnists brought about the downfall of France. I am apprehensive that some of the activities of the press, and a section of the motion picture industry, insofar as they tend to tear down democratic government, can only be described as the work of fifth columnists. I urge the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to take action to stem this insidious propaganda which has been the favorite weapon of Fascists in European countries in the destruction of democratic government.
SenatorHerbert Hays. - What exactly does the honorable senator refer to?
– I shall now give an example of the kind of thing to which [ take exception.
– 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 donow adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No.5 of1943 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired -
For Commonwealth purposes at -
Birkenhead, South Australia.
Kingswood, New South Wales.
Lake Bathurst, New South Wales.
Mathoura, New South Wales.
Parramatta, New 8outh Wales.
Rhodes, New South Wales.
St. Mary’s, New South Wales.
Tamworth, New South Wales.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory ( Administration) Act - Ordinances -
No. 1 of 1943 - Licensing.
No. 2 of 1943 - Darwin Rates (WartimeRemission).
The Senate adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 January 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1943/19430129_senate_16_173/>.