16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If so, will immediate inquiries be made as to why the Perth censor materially altered the script of a broadcast delivered by Mrs.
-The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
– (1.) A person shall not -
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Collings) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the National Security (Apple and Pear Acquisition) Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rule No. 14 of 1943, and made under the National Security Act 1939-1940, be disallowed.
This statutory rule amends the original regulations made dealing with the acquisition of apples and pears. It is concerned with claims for compensation for acquisitions made by the Government, and it contains some rather curious provisions, which, I confess, I find it rather difficult to understand. The position under the original regulations was that under regulation 12 the Minister was authorized to acquire apples and pears, and it was provided that when apples and pears were acquired, the interest of persons in the fruit should be converted into claims for compensation. Under regulation 17 in its unamended form there were provisions by which growers could present to the Minister claims for compensation. No time limit was prescribed in the original regulation in which these claims were to be made. The regulation further provided that the person who made such a claim should be entitled to such compensation as the Minister, on the recommendation of the board, determined. That was an attempt to put the whole subject of compensation into the hands of the board and the Minister. I think that the intention was that the decision of the board and the Ministershould be final, but the High Court had some other views on the subject. The matter, quite properly, was raised in the High Court by a citizen of this community, and the court held that under the Constitution a person whose property had been compulsorily acquired had a claim, of whichno regulation could deprive him, to compensation according to the just value of the goods taken from him. That decision was reached by the High Court in October, 1942, in the case of The Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board and Tonkin. The judgment in that case put the matter very plainly.
– What authority would determine the value.
– The courts are the final tribunals in which the question of value is to be determined. It is just as well that we still retain that valuable protection in our Constitution. Tinder the Constitution alteration proposals first submitted by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), he would have given power to this Parliament to override that valuable safeguard, but I am glad that he did not succeed in that direction. This “was what the High Court had to say -
Bach individual grower has a legal right to be paid the full value of his fruit, and some growers must not be underpaid so that other growers may be overpaid. Any regulations which allow this to ibc done must be unjust.
Mr. Justice Rich, from whose judgment I am reading, went on to say that he agreed with the trial Judge that -
In determining this value, the price which, having regard to the objects of the regulations, the fruit actually realized on the market can be taken into account.
In other words, one way in which the fair compensation could be determined in compliance with the Constitution was to see that the grower received the amount which the board had received for his fruit. In this particular case the amount which the board has recommended the Minister to pay Mr. Tonkin fell far short of that which the board had received in respect of his fruit. The proceeds of sale amounted to £2,040, after deducting selling agents’ commission. The net proceeds of sale amounted to £1,288, and all that the hoard had given to the plaintiff was £573, but the High Court held that he was entitled to have that amount increased by £715. That increased the compensation to the net amount to which the board had received for the fruit. That is the plain position under the Constitution, as determined by the highest tribunal in this land as recently as October of last year. In the face of that decision I become a little disturbed, and somewhat suspicious when I find the Government amending regulation 17 by inserting a new sub-regulation which reads -
Unless the Minister in special cases otherwise determines, the Commonwealth shall not be bound to pay compensation in respect of any apples or pears acquired under these regulations unless the claim for compensation … I
Then follow certain requirements which are set out in paragraphs a, b and c. I emphasize that the amending subregulation is diametrically opposed to what the legal officers of the Government must know to be the law, and it is quite false to represent to the public, in a regulation of this kind, that growers have no claim to compensation unless they comply with regulation 17, when the High Court has definitely held that claims for compensation are not limited to those made in accordance with the procedure prescribed by regulation 17, but that, apart altogether from that regulation, a grower is entitled to enforce his claim in the courts in accordance with the Constitution. I regard that as a serious matter.
– “Why was the new sub-regulation inserted ?
– The only conclusion that I can come to is that it was inserted in order to hoodwink the growers.
– The honorable senator has a bad opinion of the Government’s legal officers.
– I am afraid that I cannot understand the position on any other basis. I could understand it if it was designed to represent to the public and to the growers who might have claims that unless they complied with that regulation they would have no claim.
– The board will not be able to function satisfactorily without this provision.
– The hoard has been functioning for about two years, and the position has been laid down in the decision of the High Court.
– The board has been functioning since soon after the outbreak of war.
– That is immaterial to the present discussion. Apart from the other provisions of this regulation, I object to the representation which is contained in it, in perfectly plain language, that “ the Commonwealth shall not be bound to pay compensation” unless this regulation is complied with, when the truth is that the Commonwealth is bound to pay compensation under regulation12, and also under the provisions of the Constitution. Let us consider the conditions which apply under regulation 17. It is provided that, in respect of apples and pears acquired more than three months prior to the date of that regulation, a claim for compensation must he made before the date on which the regulation comes into operation. In other words, that regulation provides that if a grower delivered his fruit more than three months before that date he shall be deprived of any right to claim compensation unless he had submitted a claim for compensation by that date - and previously no one had been required to do that. If that provision is to be given effect at itsface value, a man whose fruit was acquired three months before the date of the regulation and, who was under no legal obligation to make any claim for compensation with respect to that fruit, is, willy nilly, deprived of a claim for compensation in terms of this regulation.
– How does the decision of the High Court affect that provision ?
– My view is that it is legally ineffective.
– I think so too.
– There are many fruit-growers in this country who do not know as much a bout the law as I, or other honorable senators, know. Should a grower come along to some officer who deals with these matters, and who, perh aps knows nothing about the law other than that he has a copy of the regulations, such grower may say that he delivered his fruit in July last and has a claim for compensation. But the officer, knowing only what is in the regulation, may say in a sympathetic voice, “ I am sorry, but you have no claim for compensation, because you did not submit any claim before the date on which this regulation came into operation “. It would not matter to such officer that the grower did not know that he had to make a claim. He would merely read the regulation and say, “ There you are. It is set out in plain language’ that the Common wealth shall not be bound to pay compensation . . . “.
– Not many growers would deliver their fruit and not make claims in respect of it within three months.
– That is quite likely in many instances. I strongly object to this regulation. I understand that since this matter has been brought forward in the Senate, sympathetic consideration has been given to the complaints that have been made; but I want to know what is to be the form of any new regulation before I am. prepared to allow this regulation to remain.
-Did not this morning’s newspapers indicate that the regulation had been withdrawn?
– I have not seen any intimation to that effect but only one that amendments are to be made, or will be considered.
– Is not the honorable senator chairman of the Regulations Committee?
SenatorKeane. -Then how did the regulation get through?.
– If the Minister for Trade andCustoms (Senator Keane) had taken the trouble to read the report of theRegulations Committee which has been presented to the Senate, he would have seen that that committee, being unable to deal with matters of policy, had decided not to carry out functions which seemed to it to be useless as all regulations under the National Security Act deal with matters of policy. Paragraphsb and c of proposed new subregulation 4 of regulation 17 read -
. unless the claim for compensation -
The growers may say that if they have to make a claim, and set out that claim in full within a month after the delivery of their fruit, or even within six months after delivery, they will be debarred, through, absence of evidence, from making their claim upon a basis which the High Court said was a perfectly proper basis, namely, claiming the amount which the hoard realized for the fruit. Let us consider this year’s crop, which is now in process of acquisition. It is probable that a lot of that fruit will not be sold until the end of this .year.
– ‘What would be the position if the fruit realized less than the beard paid for it?
– The board .has not paid for it. What the board will pay for the fruit is determined by the claims which the grower makes, having regard to his right to just compensation. The point is that if he is required to make his claim within a month, he may he deprived .of the right to make that claim upon a basis which the High Court says is a proper one, namely, the price which the fruit realized when sold by the hoard. Those are strong reasons why these regula tions should be reconsidered by the Government. I have moved the motion first as an indication of our complete disapproval of the regulations in their present form, in the hope that the Ministry may see the light, as it has done on other occasions, and repeal this provision ; and also in the hope that, if new regulations are desired, such regulations will not deliberately misrepresent the position to people who do not know what the law provides.
Debate (on motion by Senator
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
On the 9th September, 1939, both Houses of Parliament gave their support to a measure introduced by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), who was then Prime Minister. That measure was the National Security Act. It made provision for the safety and de fence of the Commonwealth and its territories during a state of war. Parliament, within six days of the outbreak of hostilities on the .other side of the world, gave to the government of the day, wider powers than had hitherto been granted to any Australian Cabinet. The dangers confronting democracy made it necessary that- governments be clothed with very wide authority. Between September, 1939, and June of the following year, many things happened. The most vital event, from the point of view of the British Empire, was the fall of our former ally, France.
On the 21st June, 1940, following -the devastating advance of the German army, the right honorable member for Kooyong presented to Parliament an amendment to the National Security Act. In view <of the changed conditions, it became perfectly obvious .that the Goverment required additional vital powers; and with this object in view the right honorable gentleman brought down an amendment, which added to the National Security Act the following new section: - 13a. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act., the Governor-General may make such regulations making provision for requiring persons to place themselves, their services and their property at the disposal of the Commonwealth, as appear to him to be necessary ©r expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of the Commonwealth and the Territories of the Commonwealth or the efficient prosecution of any war in which His Majesty is, or may .bo engaged:
Provided that nothing in this section shall authorize the imposition of any form of compulsory service beyond the limits of Australia.
That new and vital addition to Australia’s war legislative authority gave to the Government power to marshal completely all the resources of the country, both material and physical, with the sole limitation that. compulsory service beyond the limits of Australia was not to be imposed. I shall refresh the memories of honorable senators as to the extent of the authority conferred by this now widelyknown statute. Under the Act the Government is given the power, notwithstanding any other law, to make regulations which may supersede anything already in existence. The new Section 13., which
I have just quoted, must be read in conjunction with Section 18 of the principal Act in order to comprehend its full import. Section 18 reads -
A regulation made under this Act shall, subject to the Acts Interpretation Act, 1901- 1937, have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any enactment other than this Act or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any enactment other than this Act.
The Government, therefore, now has practically unrestricted authority to do anything which, in its opinion, will provide for the safety and defence of the Commonwealth and its territories during the present war. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), as the then Leader of the Opposition, and the majority of Labour members, supported the bill which, in effect, accepted the principle and brought in industrial conscription.
In December, 1941, eighteen months after the Menzies Government amended the National Security Act, the Pacific nations were thrown into this bloody conflict. Australia declared war on Japan, and we are now engaged in a struggle for our very existence. The Japanese menace to our . country completely altered the people’s approach to problems hitherto regarded in a parochial manner. The Australian people realized with sudden severity the real and imminent peril facing them. Shortly after the present Government assumed office, the Opposition assured it of its support in everything likely to improve Australia’s position and our war effort. At a meeting of the Opposition parties held shortly after the entry of Japan into the war, full consideration was given to the difficulties that confronted this Government in the defence of Australia. It was readily acknowledged by the opposition parties that disabilities were certain to arise in Australia’s defence owing to the fact that the Commonwealth Government was unable to send Militia troops to the neighbouring islands, or to the Dominion of New Zealand, owing to a restrictive proviso in the National Security Act.
In order to illustrate clearly the unequivocal opinion of the Opposition, I quote the following brief extract from an official letter which was sent to the Prime Minister at that time : - . . The Opposition stresses the importance of meeting the enemy outside the shores of Australia as well as within, and that the distinction which must be drawn between the Australian Imperial Force and the Militia at the present moment may seriously hamper the strategy of your Government, and interfere, the Opposition feels, with the adequate defence of this country.
While having no desire to raise any controversial political question, but animated with a sincere wish to free the hands of your Government, the Opposition would be prepared to unanimously support a measure amending the National Security Act in such a manner as to enable the Government to employ any of out troops in any area vitally necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth. The Opposition unanimously desired me to convey the intimation to you in the friendliest possible spirit, and we are animated, I was asked to assure you, by the single desire to assist the Government and to free its hands of what may prove an embarrassment. . .
– Who signed that letter?
– The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Fadden). He signed it on behalf of both of the Opposition parties in both Houses. The letter was dated the 17th December, 1941. The rapid advance made by our Pacific enemies was staggering, not only to Australia, but also to all the United Nations. Within a few months the Japanese threatened our very shores, and, in fact, we felt the blasts of aerial bombardment. Nevertheless,- today, we find this Government content to muddle on, turning a blind eye to the real importance of having one army to fight wherever required.
In May, 1942, the Opposition made a further determined effort to remedy the obviously anomalous position existing in regard to the organization of our fighting services. With this object in view the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives moved the following motion : -
In order that the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Military Forces may be effectively welded into one fighting army available for offence as well as defence, this House is of opinion that all territorial limitations upon the power of the Commonwealth Government to employ the Australian Military Forces should be removed.
The Government flatly rejected that motion; and, despite the ever-growing Nipponese menace, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet preferred to rest the burden of our responsibilities largely on the shoulders of our American friends. The Prime Minister was not prepared to take any action necessary to indicate to our generous allies that we placed no bounds on our efforts in the prosecution of the war. Rather did he force the Australian people to hide their faces in shame while saying, in effect, to our American friends, “ We are in danger ! Please come to our aid quickly ! Send us as many of your conscripted men as you can - help us push the Japs back from Australia! .When you, and we together, have pushed the Japs away from the shores of. Australia and its territories, you can then - with any help you may secure - proceed to push the Japs back to Tokyo. Do not, however, expect us to leave our own shores and come with you, as after all, we are only a nation of 7,000,000 odd people and must stay behind to protect our communications “. What a shocking spectacle. «
– I rise to a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition has just said that this Government appealed to the United States of America to send conscripts to Australia in order to keep the Japanese from our shores. Is the honorable member in order in making a statement of that kind for which he does not give any authority? What is he quoting from?
– The Leader of the Opposition has not transgressed the Standing Orders. If the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) takes exception to any statement made by the Leader of the Opposition he will have an opportunity to challenge its accuracy when he has concluded his speech.
– We must remember that at the time of the rejection of the Opposition’s move .to secure the formation of one effective army, many thousands of our Australian sons were even then prisoners in the hands of the Japanese demons at Singapore and elsewhere. Members of the Opposition have now decided to ask the Parliament to place . on the statutebook the necessary authority for the unrestricted utilization of the Citizen Military Forces. I am convinced, and I am sure that I speak for all members of the Opposition, that the day must no longer be delayed when we, as a nation, can say to our allies - and to our enemies, and the world at large - that Australian soldiers, regardless of the names of the forces of which they are members - Militia, Australian Imperial Force or any other f ore - will be sent to any part of the world to play their part, a part consonant with the safety of Australia and the ofFensive strategy of the United Nations.
We know that in the House of Representatives the Government has introduced a measure providing for the service of Citizen Military Forces in what has become known as the South- Western Pacific Zone. We, of course, cannot at this stage debate that measure; but I think, Mr. President, that I am in order in saying that from information which has been made available to us, the Go»vernment has accepted, and has embodied in that measure the principle of compulsory service beyond the limits of Australia and her .territories.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit, Mr. President, that the Leader of the Opposition is not in order in alluding to any debate of the current session in the House of Representatives.
– There are two bills before the Senate which relate substantially to the same subject. They are the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill 1943, and the National Security Bill 1943. Both are properly before the Senate, but the debate on each measure must be confined to it. Honorable senators may not, in discussing this hill, anticipate the discussion of any other subject which appears on the noticepaper. I therefore ask the honorable senator not to refer to any provision, clause or subject-matter contained in the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill 1943- during the course of his speech on the bill now before the Senate.
– Without going into the Labour party’s defence policy over the years, it is a fact that one of its long-cherished principles has now been scrapped. That being so, there can be no possible objection by the Government to this bill. As I have said, its purpose is to remove from the statute-book shackles which deny to the Government the full and unrestricted use of the Militia troops of this country. During the past few months the Prime Minister and several other government spokesmen have issued statements having reference to Australia’s active participation in war zones, and I believe that it would be advantageous for me at this stage to quote one or two of them. For instance, on the 7th April last year, in the 7 o’clock broadcast news session, the following statement was made : -
The Government will send Militia troops outside Australian territory, if necessary. A high government authority made this clear to-day. The supreme commander of the Anzac forces in the South-west Pacific (General MacArthur) can send troops wherever they are most needed. The Australian Government had asked that all forces in the South-west Pacific should be under General MacArthur’s control. Obviously this request included the Militia a-s well as the Australian Imperial Force.
– I rise to a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition i$ again referring the provisions of the bill which has recently been debated in the House of Representatives and has just reached the Senate.
– The Leader of the Opposition referred to something that is likely to take place or has taken place in the South-West Pacific Area, but has not referred to any of the provisions of the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill 1943. I know that the line of demarcation which I. am asking honorable senators to observe is very fine, but. although the position is complicate, if honorable senators confine their remarks strictly to the bill before the Senate, we shall conduct our proceedings in an orderly manner. I have already appealed to the Leader of the Opposition to confine his remarks, to the limits of the bill now before us, and unless he refers to any of the provisions of the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill J 943 he will be in. order.
– I am referring to press and broadcast statements which relate to the bill now under discussion. On the same day as that on which the broadcast which I have quoted was made, the following comment from a Govern ment spokesman appeared in one of our prominent daily newspapers1: -
Provisions of the Defence Act restricting compulsory military service to- Australia and its territories will not stand in the way of the utmost freedom of. disposal by the Supreme Allied Commander in the South-western Pacific (General MacArthur) of Australian forces under his command. It has been known practically from the beginning of the Pacific War that the War Cabinet considers that no technicalities can limit the effective use for Australia’s protection of Australia’s armed forces. … It can now be authoritatively stated that the Government will regard as territories of Australia for the purpose of the Defence Act any territories which are occupied by Australian forces for the purposes of resisting Japan, and which consequently de facto come under the Australian flag.
On the 20th November, 1942, the following report of a statement by the Prime Minister on war strategy was published : -
Australia was a,t present being defended on an outer screen running through New Guinea, the Southern Solomons, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and Fiji. If the more eastern parts of the screen were held, we could defend the eastern part of Australia from the Owen Stanley Range in New Guinea. If the Japanese could be pushed out of the Solomons and. New Guinea, lie would have to retire to his bases in the Marshall Islands. It was better to keep the eastern part of Australia inviolate from the ravages of war by keeping the enemy at arm’s length than to let him in. The same applied to the defence of the northern and western part of Australia, where the battle would have to be fought in Timor and the islands adjacent thereto. These islands were within the theatre of the Southwest Pacific and were vital to the holding of the Commonwealth. Because of the nature of the continent of Australia, it became in fact a series of military islands, the movement to and from each involving grievous, transport problems, all of them making mobility a matter of difficulty and taking time. The delays in this connexion were a- bitter handicap Tn dealing with the enemy.
This is the part I wish to emphasize -
That was why one army under one command for the military operations in the South-west Pacific was now a military necessity.
We cannot have one army unless the Government agrees to remove the proviso to section 13a of the National Security Act 1939-40.
Some days later - on the 6th December, 1942: - the Prime Minister said -
There are islands close to Australia which the enemy holds and from which he launches attacks against us. These include the Netherlands East Indies. Timor, the Solomons and others. These places aic integral to our defence, but, politically, arc outside the jurisdiction of the Co in mon wealth. … I have told the Labour movement that .all these islands are vital places in respect to thi’ defence of Australia. . . .
Those statements clearly show that the Government knows how necessary it is that there should -be no restriction on the use of our armed forces, but purely because of a traditional Labour principle it is not prepared to come straight out into the open and do the right thing. If this hill becomes law, the Government will be able to use the whole of the armed forces at its command in any theatre of war which it deems necessary. The bill does not provide “that the Government will be forced to use that power, but, as we have endeavoured to emphasize on several occasions, it removes the restrictions at present in the law so that, should the necessity arise, the Government will not be embarrassed or prevented from immediately deploying the Citizen Military Forces if required by the ‘CommanderinChief. In recent months, the majority of patriotic Australians have felt a distinct sense of shame when they regard the statements and actions of the Government so far as our fighting forces are concerned. “We find the Prime Minister, on the one hand, repeatedly appealing to our allies for help, yet on the other hand clearly placing a limitation on the extent to which he is prepared to commit his Government in the United Nations’ scheme of things. We have only to study the war efforts of the various allied nations to find that Australia, due to this ostrich-like attitude of the Labour party, compares most unfavorably with our allies.
– I rise to a point of order. I arn exceedingly anxious not to make your task any more difficult than it is, but the Leader of the Opposition has just remarked.
We find the Prime Minister on thu one hand repeateddly appealing to our Allies for help, yet on the other hand clearly placing a limitation on thu extant to which he is prepared to commit his Government in the United Nations’ scheme of things.
There is nothing of that nature in this bill. The Leader of the Opposition is simply making an assumption because of his knowledge of what was said in the House of Representatives during the debate on the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill 1943.
– I direct the attention of the Leader of the Senate to the substance of the bill now before the chamber. Its purpose is to delete from, section 13a of the National Security Act 1939-40 the following proviso:
Provided that nothing in this section shall authorize the imposition of any form of compulsory service beyond the limits of Australia.
That proviso has been observed since its enactment. The purpose of this bill is to delete that proviso. This, if agreed to by the Parliament, would make possible by regulation the use of the Citizen Military Forces without restriction in any theatre of war. The Leader of the Opposition has not transgressed the line of demarcation which should be observed. I desire to give all honorable senators the fullest possible opportunity of expressing their views on both bills but it must be done within the scope of the Standing Orders.
– Take for instance New Zealand. We find that troops conscripted in New Zealand are serving in many of the islands much further away from that dominion than are our Militia Forces. New Zealand conscripts are serving in New Caledonia, the Solomons, and other outlying island battle zones. One can readily admit that if Australia were invaded New Zealand would undoubtedly come to our immediate assistance, with conscripted men, yet we are faced with the ridiculous position that, if New Zealand were invaded, we would be prevented from sending Militia Forces to its aid, unless we repealed the proviso which is the object of the bill. Any argument that the Government may put forward to the effect that we, when in power, should have removed that restrictive provision, will not stand investigation. Conditions when it was inserted almost three years ago were entirely different from those prevailing to-day. We have heard some comment to the effect that, with only seven million odd people, Australia cannot be expected to do what some expect with its fighting men. What about New Zealand? With less than 25 per cent, of our population it is placing no limitation whatever on the use of its conscripted soldiers.
My mail each morning during the past few weeks has contained a great number of protests against the reported limitation of operational areas for our Militia. The latest received by me was a telegram last night from the South Australian Branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s League strongly advocating that provision should be made for service wherever required. I would sooner receive requests from that source than instructions from the Australian Labour party executive as the Prime Minister did-. It is no wonder that our blood boils, and our feelings of patriotism are outraged, when we think of the attitude taken by the right honorable gentleman in his dealings with the Australian Labour party executive. ‘ On “Wednesday the Graziers’ Association of New South Wales sent him a telegram.
– What do the graziers know about the war?
– They know a great deal about it. Without wishing to make invidious comparisons, I say that if any section of the community has done a good job for this country, it is the graziers of Australia and their sons.
– And the sons of the workers?
– I admit that the eons of the workers are playing their part, but I resent any suggestion that the sons of the graziers and other primary producers of this country are not doing their share in this struggle. This is the telegram that the Graziers Association of New South Wales sent -
The Graziers Association representing over 8,000 primary producers protest against the Militia Bill now before the House and regard it as a repudiation of our obligations . . .
– Order ! The Leader of the Opposition will not be in order in referring to the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill 1943 which also is before the Senate.
– I regret that the telegram made reference to that measure, and I give my assurance that I am doing my utmost to confine my comments to the bill that I have introduced. I was merely drawing the attention of honorable senators to the opinion that is held by the graziers of this country, who apparently approve what we on this side of the chamber are endeavouring to achieve.
A few days ago, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) in a broadcast address, said that .it was Australia’s duty to require urgently and insistently, that the proper needs of this South-We3t Pacific Area, in relation to total war strategy were met, before it was too late. The Attorney-General for once is right - absolutely right - but let that right honorable gentleman and his Government look to requirements nearer home rather than look continuously beyond the horizon in the hope that out of the blue will come the necessary assistance, so that the necessity for the scrapping of some Labour party principle will be obviated. Once and for .all let us show the world at large that we, the people of Australia, desire no geographical limitation of the area of operations of our fighting men; that we are prepared to fight for the freedom of democracy, no matter what the meridian of longitude or the parallel of latitude may be. Before honorable senators record their votes on this measure, I ask them to compare the attitude of the British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, with that of our Prime Minister.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that there is nothing in this bill which would indicate the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to any matter. Obviously the honorable senator is referring to the Prime Minister’s attitude to another measure that is now before the Senate.
– I remind the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) that the Leader of the Opposition has not yet defined the matter in relation to which he proposes to deal with the Prime Minister’s attitude.
– I wish to make a comparison of the two leaders, with special reference to the limitations that are placed upon the area in which our conscripted soldiers may fight and that, I submit, is a matter which is set out clearly in this measure. Mr Churchill has said that when the Germans have been beaten to their knees, all the forces at his command, including conscripted soldiers, will be sent 12,000 miles to help their kith and kin in Australia and New
Zealand in their struggle against the Japanese. Our Prime Minister, on the other hand, says that the Australian Labour party executive will permit him to send the Citizen Military Forces a little way beyond a few islands which are only some 500 miles from Australia.
– Order ! This is the third time that I have had to warn the Leader of the Opposition that his remarks must be confined to the measure that he has introduced: I ask him again to observe that direction.
– Unless the restrictions upon the areas in which our conscripted troops may serve be removed, it will be impossible to have one unified army and the position will be - there is no need for me to say who said this, because it should be quite obvious - that the Australian Imperial Force will have to do the fighting whilst the Militia looks after the bases and lines of communication. The attitude of the Labour party casts an ignominious slur upon members of our Militia Forces - men who are anxious and prepared to fight anywhere that they are required - and creates a most unfortunate division in the fighting forces of this country, which may have serious repercussions in the fight for Australia and in our postwar repatriation problems. I firmly believe that Mr. Churchill has done more than any other person to save the world and that Great Britain has done more than any other single nation to save democracy and civilization from complete destruction. On behalf of His Majesty’s Opposition in the Senate of Australia, I declare our belief in equality of sacrifice, and affirm that Australia is an equal partner with Great Britain, the United States of America and our other allies in this fight for freedom! Our fighting men should be found side by side with those of our allies, wherever they may be required. We acknowledge to the world our responsibilities as a partner in this death struggle, and these responsibilities will be fulfilled with our last ounce of energy and. if necessary, our last drop of blood. I appeal to honorable senators to regard this measure with all the seriousness and patriotism at their command. T commend the bill to the Senate.
– All honorable senators are aware of the circumstances which have lead to the presentation of this measure in the Senate. Yesterday, I suggested that there were occasions on which the Opposition should not adopt the attitude that it must alter or oppose everything that the Labour Government finds it necessary to do in the distressing circumstances with which this nation is now faced. This morning we have listened to a speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), which can be excused only in the belief that his reason for bringing this measure forward is purely a desire to create fractious opposition. There is no justification for this bill, and I do not propose to lend dignity to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition by attempting lengthy criticism of it. In places his remarks were exceedingly offensive and sometimes frightfully untruthful.
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know if the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) is within his parliamentary rights in stating that remarks made by tie Leader of the Opposition were “frightfully untruthful”. If that statement is disorderly, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I “have frequently heard the word “ untruthful “ used in debate in this chamber. It is unparliamentary, but often no request is made for its withdrawal. I ask the Leader of the Senate to reconsider the words that have been used by him. Usually it is the person concerned who asks for their withdrawal.
– The words are offensive to me, and not in keeping with the dignity of Parliament. I ask that they be withdrawn.
– As the Leader of the Opposition considers that the words “ frightfully untruthful “ are offensive to him I ask the Leader of the Senate to withdraw them.
– With deference to you Mr. President, and in accordance with. Standing Orders I withdraw the words “ frightfully untruthful “. I shall now proceed to read a portion of the statement that was made this morning by the
Leader of the Opposition. The honorable senator was courteous enough to supply me with a copy of his speech, and I draw attention to the following: -
Our Prime Minister, on the other hand, says that the Australian Labour party executive will allow him to send the Militia only a little way beyond a few islands some of which are only 500 miles from Australia.
The Prime Minister has never made such a statement, and therefore what the Leader of the Opposition has said is untrue and I have nothing whatever to apologize for in that regard.
I shall proceed now to make one or two brief comments, following whichI shall leave the measure in the hands of the Senate, because I decline to fall into the trap which has been set by the Leader of the Opposition. Honorable senators on. this side of the chamber have no intention of following him along lines which I say definitely are a discredit to the Opposition and unworthy of its Leader. The Leader of the Opposition also said -
Rather did he force the Australian people to hide their faces in shame while saying, in effect, to our American friends–
I ask honorable senators to note how cleverly he has safeguarded himself against any further charges of lying by using the words “ in effect “. In that way, if one is clever enough, it is possible to attribute almost any statement to one’s political opponents, then, when taken to task, to explain away the misrepresentation by saying, “Well, he did not use those words exactly, but, in effect, that is what he meant “. He continued; - “ We are in danger ! Please come to our aid quickly! Send us as many of your conscripted men as you can - help us push the Japanese back from Australia. When you, and we together, have pushed the Japanese away from the shores of Australia and her territories, you can then - with any help you may secure - proceed topush the Japanese back to Tokyo.”
When the Leader of the Opposition made that statement he was well aware that Australian sons were shedding their blood in defence of this country in practically every theatre of war, and that they were doing so as volunteers. I say again that he covers the Opposition in this chamber with shame, and besmirches our parliamentary institutions when he useshis power as Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition to slander Australia’s sons. When the Leader of the Opposition is a few years older and is able to dissociate himself from the vested interests with which his own interests are irrevocably bound up he will realize that what I have said this morning is true. He has done neither himself nor his party any honour. He went on to say -
Iam convinced, and I am sure I speak for all members of the Opposition . . .
The honorable senator has a complete disregard for truth and accuracy, because, when he made that statement, he knew perfectly well that he had no right to say that he spoke for the Opposition.
– That is not correct.
– Every honor able senator opposite knows that that is true.
– What about the bill?
– When my friends opposite object to my making a speech in my own way, I am satisfied that I am doing my work as Leader of the Senate properly. This measure is, in effect, a bill to authorize the Executive to impose conscription for overseas service, or to adapt the verbiage used by a former Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in referring to a provision similar to the proviso to section 13a contained in the original National Security Act, it can be described as a bill to enable the Government, behind the back of Parliament, to impose conscription for overseas service. It is a bill to override the power of the Parliament conferred by the National Security Act, which provides that such power shall not include power to make regulations imposing conscription for overseas service. Only two days have elapsed since the Leader of the Opposition in moving for the disallowance of the National Security (Australian Meat Industry Commission) Regulations said that as those regulations were of great importance and overrode long standing legislation, such far-reaching changes should be effectedby Act of Parliament and not by regulations.
The honorable senator cannot have it both ways. In the short period of 48 hours he cannot do the chameleon act and get away with it.. The honorable senator stands convicted of inconsistency when he says, yesterday and to-day, “Acts of Parliament for cattle,, but regulations for human beings “.
One complaint, not without foundation, in respect of this plenary regulationmaking power, is that the safeguard of disallowance of regulations by either House is often, incapable of exercise until ill-advised regulations are in operation, so that it is too late to prevent the mischief being done at least in part. How true this would be if troops were sent abroad merely by the Executive promulgating regulations. “Would not the members of each House have to accept the f act that the men were abroad, without moving for their return? In the alternative, would the repeal of the regulations by disallowance compel the Executive to return the troops to Australia? Would military necessities permit of troopships and their escorts being made available for that, purpose? If no transport were immediately available for their return, what would be done with the men? Would they be kept in idleness, or would they be despatched to the fighting line, and what would bc the authority for so doing? No government dare face the possibility of disallowance of such regulations. The only government that could impose overseas conscription by regulations would be one that was sure of its supporters in each House of the Parliament, and, if a government were sure of its numbers, there is no reason why it should not introduce a bill providing for overseas .service, limited or unlimited, according, as its wisdom directed it and military necessities guided it. That, in effect, is what this Government has done. That is what the Government would do if the proviso to section 13a did not exist. That is the right course for any future government, whatever its political complexion, to pursue. The justification for the National Security Act is the fact that the sudden onset of war’ has rendered necessary the. doing of a multitude of things in a minimum of time, so that it is beyond the powers of Parliament and the Administration to deal with them by ordinary Parliamentary process. Does the time factor apply in regard to overseas conscription? The sending abroad of a (body of, say, 20,000’ or more troops is a proposition that entails a great deal of preliminary organization and preparation. Ships and escorts have to be provided. The project for which the troops are to be used, is not conceived in the twinkling of an eye. On the contrary, we look for a well matured plan prepared months beforehand’. There is therefore ample time to obtain the sanction of ParKara en<t, and there is not the shadow of excuse for hastily-made regulations.
– Has the Minister made the necessary arrangements with Tokyo ?
– No,, but the Government has not encouraged Tokyo by unwise remarks such as have been made in this chamber by the Opposition with regard to this bill. I can imagine nothing that would encourage Japan more than the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition this morning.
Finally, I condemn this bill because it is ill-advised, negative in character and inconclusive in operation. It does not propose anything-. It does not suggest anything that might be done. It does not say “ go there “. If the desire of the Leader of the Opposition were to introduce conscription foi’ overseas service, this bill would not accomplish it. I can imagine the honorable senator sitting up, night after night, endeavouring to conceive a means whereby he could condemn Australians for all time to conscription for overseas service. If he thinks that the introduction of this bill is the way to accomplish that purpose, he does not know the first elements of his job. The Leader of the Opposition has at least done something; as Longfellow said in The Village Blacksmith, “‘Something attempted, something done, has earned a night’s repose “. The introduction of this bill is an adroit attempt at facing both ways. The Leader of the Opposition knows that that is what he set out tq accomplish; he knows in his heart that the bill is a sham and a delusion, and was never intended to be anything else than a facesaving proposal.
.- The ban imposed by the proviso in section 13a of the National Security Act upon the use of the main part of our land fighting forces outside Australian territory, has become a serious embarrassment to the allied command to “which Australia has pledged all its resources. The removal of the restriction is a moral as well as a military issue. Our allies might judge us as avoiding our full responsibilities, and so feel less justified in continuing to plan offensive operations undertaken for our security against the Japanese.
The Militia has played, and is playing, a notable part in the New Guinea operations, and is willing to take a greater active share in the protection of Australia against Japan wherever their services are needed beyond Australian territory. Under the existing National Security Act, the Militia is denied that privilege and is condemned to a secondary role. When the act was passed there was no indication that Japan would enter the war. The time is now opportune to delete the restriction on the despatch of “ called-up “ troops to wherever they may be required. Unless this measure be agreed to, the Government cannot reconcile the Prime Minister’s appeal to our ally, the United States of America for help with the present minimum co-operation in offensive operations. Australia wishes to retain its reputation as a virile and progressive nation, yet here we are “squealing” for outside help and at the same time proclaiming to the world that we prefer to act as non-combatant caretakers. What an insult to the old Australian Imperial Force ! The vast majority of the Militia are volunteers in spirit, although the “Left Wing” of the Labour party likes to refer to them as conscripts. They are “ called ups “ like many other sections of the community in our war effort, and are willing to do the job which befits their age and physical standards.
General Douglas MacArthur does not desire to use the whole of the Citizen Military Forces for an Allied offensive force. Australia is the base from which that force will operate, just as Britain is the main base for the Allied expediionary force destined for operations on the Continent of Europe. As in Britain, 30 in Australia, certain Citizen Military Force units are allotted the task of manning our coastal defences and protecting our long lines of communications. Their role is static, as against the mobile role of units responsible for the protection of strategical areas. There is no need to mention the localities. The troops allotted to these various and very essential duties number many thousands, but a far greater number of well-equipped and well-trained Militia units are available for the more active defence of Australia. They are distinct from the Australian Imperial Force. All General MacArthur is likely to ask for is authority to draw from this pool of mobile Militia units. The withdrawal of these units for inclusion in an Allied offensive would be regulated by the military situation, of which he is the best judge. In other words, the Militia would be used in conjunction with the Australian Imperial Force and United States troops to drive the Japanese out of and beyond the territories from which the safety of Australia might be menaced. Employing the Militia in this manner is definitely using them for the defence of Australia.
I heard a member of the House of Representatives say that “ several armies were being kept in England because the British High Command considers it is the right place to keep them “. They are concentrated there, till the time is opportune to release them for the grand Allied offensive which we all hope will be launched against Germany this year. Those armies are composed of “ called-up “ personnel like our Militia. From Narvik, in Norway, to Bordeaux, in France, the enemy is nearer to Britain than the Japanese are to Australia. That gentleman’s statement was a stupid one, if it was intended as an argument for retaining the Militia in Australia. It shows complete ignorance of military tactics and strategy. The Government should profit by Britain’s example in May and June, 1918, when every division, except a few required for static- local defence, was rushed across to France. Marshal Foch said that he wanted them. There were no arguments, no political conferences.
The men went and they fought well, as I know, because I saw them in action. Many of them were mere lads; some of them were 03 men.
Except for a few isolationists and “ fight-on-the-beach “ cranks, the great majority of Australian citizens want to give General MacArthur the same answer as was given to Marshal Foch when the time and situation warrant offensive action on a large scale. There are some people in this country who would let the British “ Tommy “, the Canadian, the American, the New Zealander soldier and the young “ diggers “ of the Australian Imperial Force do all the fighting in order to save their precious hides. The same cross section of the public prates about a “ new order “. If the Japanese are not driven back to the place whence they came, the “ new order “ will be a “ made-in-Japan order “.
No one can prophesy with any degree of certainty how this war will end. Exhaustion may result in the belligerent nations agreeing to premature compromise peace negotiations. History has revealed that a warring nation which is in possession of foreign tracts of land when an armistice is called uses that situation as a bargaining basis in order to secure certain concessions. Suppose Java, or part of it, was still in Japanese hands when such an unfortunate situation had arisen. Obviously, Japan would want concessions from the Dutch. At the peace conference table, Japan would seek certain concessions from Australia. “What would be their nature? They would- certainly include the removal of the immigration restrictions, and the unrestricted entry of coolie-manufactured merchandise into Australia. Would Britain and the United States of America back up this country in that event? They would do so only if Australia used its maximum fighting strength to avert defeat; a compromise would he made, but. Australia would still be the loser. What about our standard of living then; what of our economic future? Every man, woman and child would be affected-; yet there are some people who are opposed to Australia putting forth its maximum effort to deny Japan the opportunity to demand unfavorable concessions. I shall support the bill in order to allow the Government freedom of action in the use of Australia’s land forces.
– As there will be other opportunities to discuss similar proposals I shall not speak at length on this bill. I consider that Australia’s national pride has been sorely wounded by recent happenings in this Parliament, and therefore I hope that the swift passage of this measure through the Senate will, in addition to placing on the statute-book a valuable piece of legislation, show to Australia and the world, and particularly to our partners in the present conflict, that the senior legislative chamber in the national Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia recognizes its duty. There is nothing inconsistent in the attitude of honorable senators on this side in seeking to amend the National Security Act.
– I must say that the honorable senator has been consistent in his attitude, but I cannot say the same of some of his colleagues.
– I appreciate that tribute from the Minister for External Territories! My colleagues, like myself are masters of their own actions. Although I feel strongly on the matter covered by the bill, I shall not delay its passage through the Senate. For the sake of Australia’s pride as a nation I hope to see it pass through this chamber as quickly and as peacefully as possible. There is no comparison between conditions to-day and those which existed when the National Security Bill was before the Parliament. At that time, the then Government deliberately placed restrictions on the use of Australian forces because some of its supporters thought that it would not be wise to divide the country by raising the issue of conscription for overseas service, and also because that Government desired to have the full support of all parties in passing the measure through the Parliament. However, as I have said, circumstances have changed, as is made clear by the changes of policy made by the present Government since it came into office. There is nothing in the argument of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) about giving to the Executive power to do certain things by regulation. That power is merely the exercise of executive authority. The Minister suggested that before troops could be moved from place to place the authority of an act of Parliament should be obtained, but no such provision is in force to-day. For instance, when the previous Government was faced with the problem of deciding whether to send troops from Egypt to Greece, the Parliament was not called together in order to sanction the change. At such times, the Executive Government, after consultation with its military advisers, must take the responsibility for doing what it thinks best.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The most effective way of using our troops, according to the demands of the changing military situation, is to give full authority to the Executive to direct their movements, after, of course, adequate consultation with our military leaders. This bill does not provide for the unrestricted use of the Citizen Military Forces for service overseas. Consequently, it does not really involve the issue upon which large numbers of our people strongly disagree. However, should the Government which has, for political reasons, tied its own hands in relation to the movement of troops, suddenly find it necessary to despatch troops beyond existing limits, th is bill gives to it power to do so.Without such power the Government will be obliged to pass an act of Parliament in order to give effect to its purpose. This measure will enable the Government to meet the wishes of the higher command immediately, without having to consult any other body. For that reason, it is much more important than the measure, which, I understand, is to be brought before us later. Therefore, I hope that it will have a speedy passage through this chamber. Indeed, I was hopeful that the Government would accept it; because, obviously, it would be to the advantage of the Government to possess the power which this measure is designed to give to it. In addition to facilitating the conduct of military operations in the way I have pointed out, it will also be an indication to our allies that we are prepared to allowour troops to fight under the same conditions that theyare fighting under.
. -I welcome the bill because, if it be passed, it will remove a blot from the statute-book. I was not a member of this Parliament when it passed the National Security Act, or in. June, 1941, when section 13a. was added to that measure. I have always regarded that section as ignominious and dangerous. When I was looking through my drawer prior to the suspension of the sitting,, I came across a. copy of a notice of motion, and a bill, which I had prepared with regard to the subject-matter of this measure. That notice of motion reads -
On Wednesday, the 26th of November, 1941, Senator Sampson to move -
That he have leave to introduce abill for anact to amend section 13a of the National Security Act 1939-1940.
That was prior to Japan’s attack upon Pearl Harbour. To-day, I feel somewhat guilty and ashamed that I did not go on with the bill at that time. I shall not. now go into the reasons which induced me to abandon it.. Obviously, therefore, I welcome this bill with all my heart. Since the war of 1914-18 I have believed in the principle of conscription. I believe that every man in a time of war should be detailed to his particular task: and I shall always hold that belief. I believe in equality of sacrifice. To-day, we have not applied the principle of equality of sacrifice. Up to date, the bulk of the burden, the actual fighting and suffering, has been borne by the volunteer. I do not believe in voluntaryism. There was a time when I believed in voluntaryism; but that was prior to the war of 1914-18. It is absolutely unjust and unfair and always a very dangerous expedient. I reiterate that the outworn, unjust, and rotten system of voluntaryism, of calling on the volunteer to carry the burden, is utterly repugnant to me. I should like to quote from a speech made by a great President of the United States of America in 1863, when he was introducing his Draft Bill. The North had reason to know that what he said about the voluntary system was true, as any one knows who has studied the dreadful war waged for the right of secession by the Confederate States against the North -
Voluntaryism is the unprincipled dodge of cowardly politicians. It has ground the choicest seed corn of the nation. It has consumed. the young, the generous, the intelligent, the brave. Ithas wasted the best moral, social and political elements of the Republic and left the cowards, the shirkers and the moneymakers to stay athome and procreate their kind.
– From whose speech is the honorable senator quoting?
– From a speech made by Abraham Lincoln on the occasion on which he introduced his Draft Bill for compulsory service in the Northern States of the United States of America. I agree with every word of that statement. That great man was Faced with a terrific task; and, in introducing that measure, he acted with the greatest courage. I welcome this bill because it seeks to remove ablot from the National Security Act. That blot was not put on the statute-book by honorable senators opposite, but by a previous government, whose action at the time I regretted very much indeed. By removing it we shall remove all hindrances to any action which the Government of the day must, as part of its duty, undertake in the defence of this country, and free it from any legal enactment that might be likely to hamper its decisions. For that reason, I support the bill which has been introduced by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay).
.- It is rather a novel spectacle in this chamber to find the Leader of the Senate ( Senator Collings) vigorously resisting a proposal, which at this stage, does nothing more than increase the powers of the Government for the purpose of carrying on the war to a successful conclusion. The Leader of the Senate, in a characteristic speech in which be dealt with every matter but the bill, entirely failed to advance a single reason why the Government should notbe able to exercise the powers which the bill is designed to confer upon it. He attempted to put forward some specious reasoning which does not in any way meet the case made out by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay). In effect, he said, “Why, all you are doing is to give power to the Government to pass regulations “. How can the area in which troops are to be used be defined in an act of Parliament except upon the basis of giving the
Government of the day power to make final decisions? The Leader of the Senate apparently contemplates a state of affairs in which, whenever we should desire to shift the Militia to an area to which we cannot at present legally send it, the Government must present a bill to Parliament, and strictly define the area to which the Militia is to be sent.
– The honorable senator is not in order in referring to the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill 1943.
– I submit, with respect, Mr. President, that I have not referred to that measure. I combat the Minister’s argument by suggesting that it is quite impracticable to deal with this question upon any other basis, in either this or any other bill, and that the most that an act of Parliament can do, in relation to a restricted area or to the whole world, is to vest in the government of the day the power to do what is needed.
– It could also give a direction, but none has been given in this bill.
– It is possible to give a direction ; but it is a very impracticable way to do it if, every time you contemplate sending Militia troops into a new area, you publish to the worldby act of Parliament a direction that they shall be sent there. The Minister’s second objection was as specious: as the first. He said that, if regulations were passed introducing a measure of conscription,they could be disallowed by Parliament. That is perfectly true. They could be disallowed within fifteen sitting days of the meeting of either House, so that the utmost delay that, there need be in putting into operation a scheme of this kind by regulation would be no more than that. I suggest that that is far less delay than would be involved in carting a proposed act of Parliament around the Commonwealth to every branch of the Labour party for its approval of an amendment to existing conditions.When those fifteen sitting days had expired the regulations would be as effective as an act of Parliament.We have had drawn for us a picture of the Ministry, acting under such regulations before the fifteen days had expired, sending troops to an area, and then being faced with the possibility of the’ regulations being disallowed. I cannot imagine any ministry which would undertake to send troops away in those circumstance^, unless it be this Ministry, which is capable of anything. In a very short space of time, by exercising its powers under this bill, it could bring into effect all that was required to meet the military situation as it developed from time to time.
– And, of course, that makes all the difference !
– I have always been in favour of this proposal, and am in favour of it to-day. I shall do all I can to ensure that the proposals in the bill, which will enable the Government to use the Militia Forces wherever necessary for the appropriate defence of the Commonwealth, are given effect to whenever they come before Parliament. For those reasons I support the measure.
did not attempt to give one practical reason why the Government or its supporters should oppose the measure. He did bring forward certain reasonings which have already been exposed as specious. Senator Spicer referred to the danger of the disposition of troops under regulations, but he will agree that the. same danger is inherent in any parliamentary system, whatever powers the Government may have. Whether the Government acts under statute or regulations, Parliament decides whether it will support or oppose what it has done. Consequently, there is no more danger in disposing troops by regulations than if it is done by act of Parliament, because Parliament itself, if it feels that the Government has not done sufficient or has exceeded its obligations to the country, can immediately put it out of office. Then the same set of circumstances as is suggested by the Minister would prevail. This bill therefore gives powers ample for any government. The Minister also suggested that we on this side of the chamber had opposed certain regulations gazetted by the Government. I fear that we may also have to oppose others in the future; but we realize that, in a matter such as this, connected with the armed forces of the country and its effective defence, it is most necessary that any government in power shall have the right to do things promptly by means of regulations. I was a member of the Government which introduced and passed a National Security Act, designed entirely to meet war-time exigencies, to allow the Government to do expeditiously whatever it felt was necessary. I therefore hope that honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber will realize the real intention of the Opposition, and see that, if the Government meets its obligations and responsibilities to Australia, it must have power to do what at the moment may be unnecessary or undesirable, but what may in the very near future become urgently desirable and necessary. I hope, therefore, that honorable senators opposite will support the bill, because it is in the interests of good government in this country, whatever the political colour of the government may be.
– It rather difficult for me to understand the motive of the Opposition in bringing forward a bill of this nature. Only yesterday a continuous barrage came from the other side of the chamber against government by regulations. Regulations were quoted to us by the yard., and the Government was ridiculed for the number it had passed, and the way it was governing by means of them; but to-day the main purpose of the Opposition is to delete portion of an existing act and to bring in by regulation, if the Government sees fit, one of the most momentous enactments that could ever come before Parliament. The Opposition has never come forward with anything clear-cut as to what it actually wants, except that it desires the Government to take steps, by regulation, for the purpose of conscripting men to send them to any part of the world, whether it is necessary or not. That is something of a major character which if it is introduced at all, should be by means of a bill. It is not merely a matter of passing a regulation to administer some portion of a department. It is a very contentious issue, all-important to Australia. If honorable senators opposite are sincere, and are not merely putting up a sham fight, why is it that they supported the Government which was responsible for the insertion in the National Security Act of the provision which they now seek to eliminate from that legislation? Most of the speeches by Opposition senators were based on the cry that there should be one unified army in this country, yet the Governments which they supported made no attempt to form such an army.
– There is nothing about one army in this bill.
– .No, but much has been said about one army by honorable senators opposite, although, as I have said, previous war-time Administrations which they supported made no attempt to establish one army. Why did they not do so? Because they knew perfectly well that such action would not help our war effort at all; they knew that it was not necessary then and they know that it is not necessary now. Without any amendment of existing legislation, our armed forces can fight, and have been fighting since the war started, in distant parts of the world. It has been claimed in support of this measure that unless the present restriction be lifted, our fighting men will not be able to drive the Japanese back to Tokyo, but I point out that the limitations imposed by existing legislation were in force when Australian men were fighting in the Middle East, in Greece, in Crete, and on almost every other battlef1’0]11 ; men of the Royal Australian Navy were fighting on every ocean, and our airmen were participating in air battles wherever the enemy could be engaged. To argue that our fighting men cannot drive the Japanese back to their own soil unless a measure such as this be passed is nothing more than sham fighting. Honorable senators opposite know perfectly well that Australians can fight, and are fighting, in all parts of the world, yet they are endeavouring to make us believe that there is a necessity to enforce conscription for overseas service. If the speeches that have been made toy the Opposition served some useful purpose or contained constructive ideas which would help our war effort, they would be excusable, but almost without exception, the remarks of honorable senators opposite would do a great disservice to this country if they were heard in Tokyo. To bolster up the morale of the Japanese people, Tokyo propagandists could ask for nothing better than the speech delivered to-day by the Leader of theOpposition (Senator McLeay). His remarks could be used by our enemies to blackguard Australia in the eyes of the world. What a picture Tojo and Hitler could draw of the people of this country !
– They would not take much notice of what the honorable senator is saying, anyway.
– Perhaps honorable senators opposite have forgotten just what the Leader of the Opposition did say. He said that we were appealing now to America to send conscripted troops to our aid, but when the Japanese were driven well away from our shores, we would tell our American allies that Australian troops could go no further; the American soldiers would have to carry the battle to Tokyo. I say that no greater slur than that could be cast upon Australian fighting men.
– It is a deliberate untruth as well.
– Yes, and nobody knows it better than the Leader of the Opposition, and his supporters. The carrying of this measure would not assist our war effort in any way, but if the restrictions upon the sending of our soldiers overseas were removed, and some time in the future this Administration were replaced by one supported by honorable senators opposite, what would happen? Surely that is obvious.
– Apparently the honorable senator has the jitters.
– No, I have not got the jitters, and I shall tell honorable senators opposite the main reason why I oppose this measure. Obviously its supporters are not only putting up a sham fight, but also they are endeavouringto compel this Government to do what they themselves were not game to do whenthey occupied the treasury bench. They are endeavouring to make it appear that there is a necessity for this measure, but the Government is not impressed with their efforts. Do honorable senators opposite suggest that they have a better grasp of war strategy and military matters generally than have the heads of our fighting services, including General MacArthur?
– Their speeches are sheer hypocrisy.
– Yes. If the provision which this measure seeks to eliminate from the National Security Act really stood in the way of the successful prosecution of the war, it would not be allowed to exist for another day, but, as honorable senators opposite know perfectly well, it does not stand in the way of our war effort; it is no hindrance to us. There is no real basis for the Opposition’s claim that a restrictive proviso stands in our way. Is the Opposition being advised by military experts who are superior to those advising the Government? I am sure that they are not, because to-day the Government is guided by the most competent authorities that are available.
After all, what is the Militia that honorable senators opposite are talking so much about and which they would seek to incorporate with the Australian Imperial Force - in a single army?
– There is nothing about the Militia in this measure.
– That may be so, but it was upon the Militia that the Leader of the Opposition based his entire speech. What is the Militia? Some members of itare returned soldiers from the last war, up to 60 years of age.
– Some have returned from this war too.
– Yes. Some of them also are men who have volunteered for service in the Australian Imperial Force two or three times in the course of this war, but have been rejected on medical grounds, and even had they been accepted for the Australian Imperial Force, many of them could not have been used except in an administrative capacity or at garrison posts, owing to their physical condition.
– That applies to any army; many members of the Australian Imperial Force never reach the frontline.
– In effect the Opposition wants the Government to say to these men, “ You have already fought in one war, and you have offered your services in this war; you are too old to fight, but we shall conscript you so that we may send you to any part of the world “. That would be a stigma of the worst type.
– But most, of these men have ‘been called up compulsorily foi military service.
– Some of them have been called up for service in Australia, and others have volunteered. They have- been classed as militiamen and many of them could not get into the Australian Imperial Force even if they wished to transfer; yet the Opposition seeks, not openly by act of parliament, but toy regulation, to brand them as conscripts.
– They are conscripts now.
– I have already pointed out that many members of the Militia volunteered for service, and are unable to transfer to the Australian Imperial Force. They were not called up.
– The passing of regulations is a matter for the Government; that has nothing to do with this measure.
– The object of this bill is to delete the restrictive proviso in section 13a of the National Security Act so that regulations could be introduced overnight to send our militiamen to other parts of the world1. In these circumstances, the men affected would have no opportunity to defend themselves through their representatives in this Parliament. They would be branded as “ conscripts “ and’ would toe available for service in any part of the world.
– The honorable senator seems to be a little confused.
– I am not confused.. The Opposition would like to see something done by regulation which an ex-Prime Minister of this country was unable to do by means of two referendums. That right honorable gentleman was not game to bring the matter before Parliament, and it was a Government of the same political complexion as this Government that passed the National Security Act. That Administration held office during two years of this war, and it had not the courage to do by means’ of legislation what honorable senators opposite wish to have done by regulation. Honorable senators know that once conscription for overseas service was. introduced it would be very difficult to remove it.
The number of men in the Citizen Military” Force is not nearly so great as many people believe it to be. Certainly it is not so great, as the daily press of this country would have us believe when it says that at the rate militiamen are transferring to the Australian Imperial Force the numbers of the two forces will soon be equal.. That statement is a distortion of the facts, because the press knows perfectly well that the number of conscripts in our Citizen Military Force to-day is only a small percentage of the total voluntary enlistments in our three fighting services.
– What are the figures ?
– Does the honorable senator want me to broadcast them to Tokyo?
– Obviously the honorable senator does not know the- figures.
– I know the figures for every one of the services: I also know the figures for the. Militia, but 1 do not propose to disclose them. I assure honorable senators, however, that the Militia represents only a small proportion - about 16 or 17 per cent - of the total number of men in all the forces. By far the larger proportion of our fighting men have volunteered for service in any part of the world. I make that statement in view of the arguments that have been advanced by the Opposition, which apparently seeks to place the determination of one of the most vital matters in our his-‘ tory within the ambit of regulations. I have no doubt that some members of the Opposition would be glad to have an opportunity to impose conscription for overseas service overnight. I base that statement on speeches made in this chamber to-day by certain members of the Opposition, who said that Australia should always have had only one army and that its troops should have been available for service in any part of the world. The Government refuses to place on Australia’s fighting forces a stigma which,” once imposed, would probably never be removed. There is not a sufficient number
– The bill under consideration would do a great service to the Government, if it were passed into law. Power would be placed in the hands of the government of the day to enable it to do at the appropriate time what is considered to be right. The passage of the bill would dispose of the vexed question as to whether members of the Citizen Military Forces should serve beyond Australia and the territories under its control. During the last ten weeks the people have been divided on the subject of conscription for overseas service, and that division of opinion cannot be in the best interests of the war effort. A similar conflict is likely to occur in future, unless power be given to the Executive to decide to what theatres of war the Citizen Military Forces shall be sent. It would be unfortunate for this country if such a conflict of public opinion arose on every occasion when our military leaders thought it necessary to send members of those forces to a certain part of the world. The present war cannot be compared with that of 1914-1S. At that time Australia was able to send troops and equipment overseas in order to assist the Motherland, but, in the present war every man, woman and child in Australia is in great danger, because the whole of this country is practically a war area. Instead of sending men to the aid of the Mother Country, we are now asking for assistance to be sent to Australia. That appeal has been well responded to, and we are accepting drafts of men called up in other countries for service where required.
The strongest point in favour of the bill is that, under the Opposition’s proposal, the whole of the fighting forces of this country would be merged into one
– One of the complaints by the Opposition is that Australia is being governed by regulation and not by acts of Parliament. That criticism has been ably disposed of ,by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings). The whole of the speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) savored of pretence, but the present position is so serious that all pretence should be swept aside, particularly in dealing with the defence of Australia. Previous speakers have pointed out that many members of the Citizen Military Forces are returned soldiers who fought in the last war, and should not now be called upon to serve overseas. I should like to see a greater display of honesty of purpose than has been given by the Opposition. The belief of the Government is that power to promulgate regulations dealing with the area in which members of the Citizen Military Forces may be employed would meet the needs of the situation at present. If the position should become worse than it is, what would prevent the Government from introducing regulations to extend the area? The Menzies Ministry supported government by regulation. It was responsible for the promulgation of regulation 42a of the National Security (General) Regulations which restricted the liberty of the subject, but the present Government lost no time in securing its disallowance. That regulation prohibited the making of subversive statements, and anybody criticizing the financial policy of the Government could be incarcerated for the duration of the war. No doubt the Opposition considers that one of its duties is to oppose all measures introduced by the present Government. I hope that a majority of honorable senators will object to any tampering with the National Security Act.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keane) adjourned.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Commonwealth Bank Bill 1942 - Report of Special Committee appointed to consider the Bill.
The report will not be printed, but any honorable senator requiring a copy may obtain one on application to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley).
SenatorKEANE (Victoria - Minister for Trade and Customs). - by leave - The disallowance of National Security (Australian Meat Industry Commission) Regulations by the Senate does not mean that the control of meat prices will be abandoned. Under existing conditions of disturbed transport, heavy demands for meat, and shortages of supply, the control of meat prices is essential. Indeed, the Australian Meat Industry Commission was established partly for that purpose, because the Government considered that it was not equitable to fix a maximum price for meat without guaranteeing a minimum price to those who produced it. The fixation of maximum prices without the control of supply and distribution would involve great difficulties and. offer no solution of the troubles experienced by the producers in times of high seasonal output. The Government’s scheme was designed to do justice to the producers by guaranteeing a minimum price and eliminating all scope for speculative activities, whilst, at the same time, protecting consumers against exorbitant prices. In consultation with the Australian Meat Industry Commission, the Prices Commissioner has been examining the whole price structure, and a scheme for controlling the prices of pig meats is almost ready to be put into operation. It is to be hoped, therefore, that traders and producers will not interpret the disallowance of the regulations as an indication that free market conditions will prevail. Should they do so, they will again get the market out of line with a reasonable price structure and provide speculators with an opportunity to exploit both producers and consumers. Within a few days, the Government intends to declare pig meats for price control, and action in respect of other meats will follow in due course.
Post-war Reconstruction - Broadcasting: Censorshipof Address Script - Statute of Westminster.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Various views have been expressed as to what will happen after the war; some people say that there will be a world-wide depression, whilst others hold entirely different opinions. I, therefore, draw attention to the following article, by John D. Van Becker, under the heading, “ Golden Age After War Possible “ : -
An era of prosperity never before seen and a standard of living highest the United States has ever known is envisioned by Stuart Chase, economics writer, if the war’s full employment of man-power and material resources were carried over to peace-time. Chase is making report on post-war problems for the Twentieth Century Fund, an independent research organization founded and endowed by the late Edward A. Filene.
In his first report, which he calls “ The Road We are Travelling “, Chase found that money was losing its leadership to materials in the new order economy. “No nation in this dangerous world of 1942 is meekly going bankrupt because some textbooks say it ought to “, declared the wellknown writer. “ It will go physically bankrupt when it runs out of food, coal, iron, oil, aluminium and not before”.
Full use of men and materials,” the economy of abundance “, may well continue after the war and through a highly prosperous peacetime, Chase believes.
But the prodigious war effort now in effect is distorting the American economy from its accustomed pattern and we are changing our ideas regarding money, he continues.
All the wealth of Croesus will not buy a pound of aluminium if none was available. “ Heretofore “, Chase goes on to say,” one could get what he wanted if he was prepared to pay the price. From now on, price will become a secondary consideration as commodity after commodity goes under priority and national control. “ For many years such perspective has been blurred by a capacity to produce far in excess of normal demand, with the result that people came to think that purchasing power, us expressed in terms of money, was the prime consideration.
Double for Guns.
Now we are in a period where the amount of steel, ‘copper, aluminium, raw silk, lead, zinc, kilowatts of ‘energy appear as prime considerations, which, of course, they are and always have been “.
Congress before the attack on Pearl Harbour had already appropriated moTe than twice as much money for .guns as the new deal .spent for butter and other tilings in eight years to MI48, be added. lt had .appropriated mono than twice as much as was s,pent for guns in the last war, when we shipped 2,000,000 men to France. “ Where is the money coming from 1” Chase asks.
Money Second. “ In the old peace-time economy, such reckless outlays have spelled bankruptcy and ruin “, he answered. “ Money came first and men came second. “ In the new economy, no nation will permit bankruptcy and ruin .so long as men, materials and energy are available. Men first, money second
And Chase concludes in his study that it has taken the pressure of war-time production to get America back on the road to what he regards as the main goal in American life.
– I draw attention to .a reply -given -this -morning by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) to a question which I asked in connexion with the censorship. The Minister must have been wrongly advised because the answer which he gave was not correct. I have here a copy of the script of a broadcast speech by Mrs. Card ell-Oliver showing the deletions and alterations made by the censor. It has been forwarded by Mr. R. Goyne Miller, chairman of tha Liberty Defence League of Western Aus- tralia. The reply given to me by the Minister stated -
The State Censor in Perth deleted eight words from one sentence and nine words from another sentence of Mrs. F. Cardell-Oliver’s broadcast script. On appeal the Chief Censor supported his officer’s decision.
According to advice which I have received from Western Australia, the Perth censor did more than that. On page one of the script he deleted the words “ a totalitarian State “, thereby, in my opinion, spoiling the paragraph. That deletion was not mentioned in the Minister’s reply. Again on page three, the words “or wear (a vest under jour Dedman suit “ have been struck out.
– I rise to a point of or.d,er. If it is the honorable senator’s intention to read in this chamber wordsdeleted by the censor on the ground that they should not be made public, I regard his action as serious.
– I do not think that any point of order isinvolved. The Minister’s reply to my question indicated that the censor in Perth had deleted only certain words. 1 am pointing out that he deleted other words, which I propose to read.
– I did not quote any of the words that had been deleted.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Some time ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said that no citizen -of the Commonwealth would be prevented from expressing his opinion, so long as he did not thereby imperil the security of the Commonwealth. I cannot .see that the use of the words “or wear a vest under your Dedman suit” is in any way injurious to the security of the Commonwealth. Other words deleted from page three of the script were, “ In fact to Hitlerize Australia under national socialism “. I should like the Leader of the Senate to show how the broadcasting of those words would endanger the security of the Commonwealth.
– They were .deleted because the censor thought that they militated against security.
– Again, on page six the words “ The equivalent of Hitler’s pre-war conscript labour corps “ have been struck -out in red ink, notwithstanding that similar terms can .be heard every night from a speaker representing the Communist League, who speaks from a “ B “ class station in Western Australia. Apparently, that body may make any reference it likes to “ Hitler’s prewar conscript labour force “, but when a nationalist speaker, in a criticism of the Commonwealth Powers Bill, uses a similar term., it is ‘deleted by the censor. On page’ seven the censor has substituted, the words “ a large one “ for the word “ Hitler “. Originally, the sentence read - “ Every small State that has capitulated to Hitler because of fear .. . . “, but in its altered form it reads, “ Every small State that has capitulated to a large one because of fear …” That substitution alters the whole meaning of the script and tends to stultify the meaning of the speaker. Farther down on the same page the words “ the present “ have been substituted for “ a totalitarian “. The effect is to change a sentence reading “… but under a totalitarian scheme it is doubtful if any power would he left to us “ to “ bu t under the present scheme it is doubtful …” I submit that the censor has exceeded his function; it is not his duty to substitute words of his own choosing for words in the original script. It cannot be said that these alterations come within the category of protecting the military security of the Commonwealth. I have read the original script carefully, and I see in it nothing which might prejudice the Commonwealth in the eyes of the world, whether published in a newspaper or broadcast over the air. The broadcast address was a severe criticism of the Commonwealth Powers Bill now before the Parliament of Western Australia ; it advocated resistance to the measure. Probably thecensor would have acted differently if the script hud been in favour of the bill. Unless I have been wrongly informed as to what has taken place - and I do not believe that Mr. Miller would attempt to mislead me - it would appear that thecensor has gone out of his way to make the address innocuous. In his own interests, the Minister should sec that when he is supplied with an answer to a question it is a correct answer. If some one has advised him wrongly, that person should be called to account for his action. If the Prime Minister’s assurance is to mean anything at all, the Government should ensure that its policy with regard to censorship is carried out by officials regardless of persons. I do not know who is the censor in Perth, and I do not care.
I should also like to know whether the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley), as the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) in the Senate, has yet received a reply to a question which I asked, upon notice, some time ago concerning a pamphlet issued by Mr. Brinkley, of Mosman Park, Western Australia.
– Senator Allan MacDonald appears to complain about the time which the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) has taken to answer the question: to which he has just referred. That question is rather important, and as it involved legal opinion it could not be answered within a few hours. The honorable senator asked -
The Attorney-General has supplied the following answers: -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Taxation Acts - Twenty-third Report of the Commissioner of Taxation, dated 1st November, 1942, together with Statistical Appendices.
Senate adjourned at 3.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 February 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1943/19430212_senate_16_173/>.