17th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– On the 17th February, Senator Sampson asked me the following questions, upon notice : -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that the answers to his questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The introduction of meat rationing in Australia was designed to allow Australia to play a necessary part, which, after all, is a relatively small part in the provision of meat for the United Kingdom. As the population of the United Kingdom is six times the population of Australia, it will be appreciated that it would require a reduction of 0 oz. a head in Australia to provide an additional ounce a head in the United Kingdom.
Supplies and Distribution
– On. the 10th February, Senator Aylett asked me the following question, without notice : -
Is it a fact that prisoners of war working on farms in Australia receive an issue of 6 oz. of tobacco each fortnight, and that a highly paid military officer takes the tobacco around to them in a motor car?
The honorable senator also referred to this matter when speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate on the same day. Inquiries made of the Department of the Army, which, through the Australian Defence Canteens Services, controls the issuingof tobacco and cigarettes to prisoners of war in Australia, reveal that the position is that each Italian prisoner of war in Australia receives a weekly quantity of tobacco products equivalent to approximately 3 oz. as a direct result of representations made at the Hague Convention and a reciprocal agreement entered into with the Italian Government. Tobacco rations for prisoners of war comprise second and third grades of tobacco only. The normal method of distribution of tobacco to prisoners of war by the Australian Defence Canteens Services is to transfer hulk quantities either weekly or fortnightly to the prisoners’ town canteens from the services issuing points at the camp concerned, the method of distribution to individuals thus becomes the prisoners’ own responsibility. I understand that in some localities, owing to local conditions, the tobacco rations are transferred to the prisoner-of-war camps in any military motor vehicle which is visiting the camp.
asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER. - The Minister acting for the Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : -
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Arbitration Court Building, Melbourne - Proposed new buildings.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 17th February (vide page 271).
Clause 4 -
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ income “, in relation to any person, means any personal earnings, moneys, valuable consideration or profits earned, derived or received by that person for his own use or benefit by any means from any source whatsoever whether within or out of Australia, and includes any periodical payment by way of gift or allowance from any person, but does not include -
any payment under the Maternity Allowance Act 1912- 1943;
any payment under the Child Endowment Act 1941-1943; or
Upon which Senator Wilson had moved by way of amendment -
That, in the definition of “ income “, after paragraph (b) the following paragraph be inserted: - “ (c) in relation to a person qualified to receive unemployment benefit, or sickness benefit, any payment not exceeding One pound five shillings per week made under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920-1943 in respect of a pension other than a special pension ; or “
SenatorFRASER (Western Australia - Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services) [10.40]. - It seems to me that in moving the amendment Senator Wilson has misunderstood the object of the bill and the essential principles upon which such a measure must inevitably be based to achieve its object. The bill does not purport to provide normal incomes for breadwinners. This is another matter altogether, to which the Government is giving its most earnest attention. The purpose of the bill is to provide a safeguard against temporary interruptions of earnings. Let us consider what the amendment if adopted would mean in terms of weekly payments. First, take sickness benefit. In the case of the payment of sickness benefit for an incapacity whichwas not the reason for the granting of his war pension, a pensioner could receive under the amendment the full benefit, for a man, his wife and his children, £2 10s. a week; the exempted portion of his war pension, £1 5s- a week; and other allowable income, £1 a week, making a total of £4 15s. a week. In addition, the pensioner might be a member of a lodge and receive an additional £1 a week from that source, making the grand total £5 15s. a week, while absent from work through sickness. Where the incapacity of the pensioner was that for which his pension was paid, he would, generally speaking, be dealt with under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, and not under the provisions of this bill. Turning to unemployment benefits, the position of a war pensioner under the proposed amendment would be that he would receive the full benefit for a man, his wife and his children, amounting to £2 10s. a week, he would be allowed other income up to £1 a week and he would receive the war pension of £1 5s. a week, making a total of £4 15s. a week. The pensioner would thus receive a total of £4 15s. a week under the amendment while unemployed. It should scarcely be necessary for me to tell honorable senators that a fundamental principle in an unemployment benefit scheme is that the incentive to work should be in no way weakened. The arrangements in such a scheme should be such that it would be more profitable for a man to be in work than out of work. This is self-evident, and goes to the root of our economic life. The proposal to exempt part of the war pension, if accepted, would as I have shown mean that a man could receive under the bill a weekly payment equal to or in excess of his average expectation of earnings while in full-time employment. As the bill is drawn, a war pension up to £1 a week can be received without affecting the payment of full benefit. A considerable number of pensioners do not receive more than £1 a week in the form of a war pension, and, therefore, those breadwinners will continue to receive their full pension while unemployed, without their unemployment benefit being affected. This, I submit, is a fair provision. When considering the position of war pensions in common with that of all other workers, it must be remembered that the provisions of the bill are directed to one aspect only of the general problem of economic security. The Government is pressing on with its plans to ensure that industry reaches a high pitch of activity after the war. Every endeavour will be made to attain and maintain the highest possible level of employment. Arrangements will be made to ensure that soldiers and other workers will have every opportunity to obtain suitable employment. The Government cannot accept the amendment.
.- The explanation given by the Minister for Social Services (Senator Fraser) has thrown a new light on this matter. The adoption of the amendment would result in a payment which would encourage idleness, despite all checks that might be used. As the Minister has shown, provision is made for a fair proportion of the war pension to be retained, and, in the event of a pensioner being placed in a worse position through a disability not arising from war service, the matter would be dealt with by the Repatriation Department. I .think that we can agree on that point. A soldier will not be concerned in the application of this new legislation. The figures that have been quoted show that if the amendment be carried he will be able to get the full benefit of £2 10s. a week. The exempted portion of his war pension is £1 5s. a week. Other income amounting to £1 a week makes the total £4 15s. a week. In addition, he may receive £1 a week as a member of a friendly society.
– Do those societies give benefits in respect of unemployment?
– Their benefits are confined to sickness, so that the amount which he would be entitled to receive would be limited to £4 15s. a week. That, I suggest, does not indicate any great hardship. The amount is equal to the basic wage. I confess that, when Senator Wilson moved his amendment, there seemed to be a good deal in it, but, after examination I find that the position is different. ‘The object of the bill is to provide a safeguard against temporary interruption of earnings ; it does not purport to provide normal incomes for breadwinners. In the majority of cases that have come to my notice a war pension does not greatly exceed £1 a week. My view concerning war pensions is the same as my attitude towards men injured in industry. I have consistently advocated that a man mangled in industry should be a charge on industry. Similarly, a man who receives injuries in the service of his country cannot receive a pension big enough to compensate him for his loss.
– Senator Wilson’s amendment does not include the case to which the Minister has referred.
- Senator Wilson wants more than the Government is prepared to offer. In my opinion, this bill is not the .place to make provision for soldiers’ pensions. Should any honorable senator contend that the rates paid to * injured soldiers are inadequate, I shall examine the matter carefully, because I have strong views on that subject. I realize that the existing tribunals are necessary to protect the country against cases of imposition, but, in my opinion, the majority of injured soldiers do not receive adequate pensions. However, I do not want the two subjects to be confused. I ask the committee to accept the view of the Government as expressed by the Minister in charge of the bill.
– I regard the statement of the Minister for Social Services (Senator Fraser) as a weak reply to the case that has been presented in favour of the amendment, and therefore, I shall support
Senator Wilson’s proposal. The argument of the Minister was that a soldier would receive more than if he was working. If the Minister will examine the bill, he will find that a working man with three children will receive £1 5s. unemployment benefit, and his wife another £1. He will be permitted to earn £1 a week, and it may be that the three children earn between them as much as £6 a week, out of which say £1 10s. a week may be paid by each of them for keep. That is to say, the man and his wife would have an income of nearly £8 a week. That is more than they would earn if the man was in work.
– There is a work test.
– That is so, but why the Minister opposes the amendment on the ground that he has mentioned 1 cannot understand. Acceptance of the amendment would not involve heavy expenditure.
.- The Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) assumes that a soldier who has a war disability and becomes ill is sick because of that disability, but that is not necessarily so. A man who has lost a leg or an eye is just as susceptible to the ordinary ills of humanity as is any other person in the community. We on this side claim that a disabled soldier is entitled to the same benefits in respect of sickness as is any other person. Can the Minister inform us whether any portion of a man’s pension in respect of a war disability not exceeding £1 is exempted under this ‘bill?
– That is not so.
.- The Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) contended that this bill is not the place to deal with soldiers’ pensions, but I remind him that the Government has already burned its bridges, because in paragraphs a, b and c certain exemptions have been provided for. Such exemptions include the maternity allowance and child endowment. In paragraph c, the principle which Senator Wilson wishes to embody in this billhas been given away. That paragraph reads, “ in relation to a person qualified to receive sickness benefit, any payment made in respect of the incapacity in respect of which that person is so qualified “. The benefits referred to are benefits towhich the persons referred to are entitled under the law; in respect of paragraph a and b they are benefits to which they are entitled under specific legislation, and as regards c they are benefits to which they are entitled under certain other legislation which is current throughout the Commonwealth. The underlying principle is that those benefits are secured to the individual by certain specified laws. Under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and other legislation certain benefits accrue to soldiers. What distinction can the Minister draw between a civilian suffering from an incapacity which entitles him to a benefit under certain legislation passed by this Parliament, and a soldier who, because of a war-caused incapacity, is entitled to a payment under other legislation passedby this Parliament ? I was pleased to hear the Leader of the Senate say that he was impressed last night by the arguments advanced in favour of Senator Wilson’s amendment, and I hope that he will continue to be impressed by. the logic of those arguments. No good reason can be advanced for not accepting the amendment. The wording of paragraph c is not wide enough to cover the benefit referred to by Senator Wilson, and therefore he desires to enlarge the ambit of these exemptions. I cannot understand why the amendment should he resisted. This Parliament has always been in favour of allowing returned soldiers to have certain benefits free from other charges. Here is an opportunity to continue that practice. Having regard to the enormous sums of money which would be involved in the event of widespread unemployment, or sickness on a large scale, the amount in question is not likely to be large. I cannot see any distinction whatever between the principle embodied in paragraph c and that for which Senator Wilson contends.I shall support the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Wilson’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - SenatorCourtice.)
Majority . . . . Nil
– The numbers of “ Ayes “ and “ Noes “ being equal, the question is resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clause 1 (Registrars).
.- Will the Minister give us some idea with respect to the organization of the staff that will he required to administer this legislation? Is it intended to draw on the existing staff of the Pensions Department to supply registrars under this bill, or to set up entirely new administrative machinery? Is it intendedto utilize the friendly societies in any way?
– It is proposed that each local office of the department throughout the Commonwealth shall be in charge of a registrar who willbe responsible for dealing on the spot with claims for unemployment and sickness benefits, and for making payments of benefits. It will be essential that most claims for benefits under this legislation be dealtwith promptly, and not referred to the head office in each State for determination.
– Does that mean that the registrarswill be entirely new personnel, or will they be drawn from the Pensions Department?
SenatorFRASER. - Whilst the cost of staff to administer this legislation will not approach anything like the estimate given by Senator Leckie during his second-reading speech, it may he necessary to add to the staff from time to time.
– In other words, the intention is to build up a new staff.
SenatorFRASER.- We shall build up a staff sufficient to cope with the administration of this legislation.
– How many additional employees will be required for the administration of this measure?
– Approximately from 700 to 800.
– What is the estimated cost of administration of this scheme?
– The total cost is estimated at £300,000 annually, which is much less than the cost of administering the New Zealand scheme.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Determination of claims).
.- No mention is made in the bill of a right of appeal. Is no provision made for appeal from the decision of the DirectorGeneral? Apparently, an applicant will not have the right of appeal.
– Clause 10 provides for an appeal from the Director-General to the Director-General - from Tweedledum to Tweedledee. So far as I can see, there can be no appeal by an applicant under the dictatorial set-up of the scheme. Clause 9 simply states that the DirectorGeneral may determine claims for benefit. Apparently, it rests with the DirectorGeneral to re-open matters which he himself has determined. That does not place an unsuccessful applicant in a very happy position, because once the
Director-General has determined a case he is not likely to alter his decision. Therefore, many cases of hardship may arise.
– The appeal provisions under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act will apply under this legislation.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Subject to this act, every person (not being a person in receipt of, or qualified to receive, a pension) who-
.- The qualification of one year’s residence in Australia is absurd, particularly when we remember that a person must reside for at least twenty years in this country before he can qualify for the old-age pension. It is important to bear in mind that we now have in Australia thousands of people who cannot speak the English language, and, already, many of them are applying for permission to remain here. Should they have resided in Australia for twelve months before this measure comes into operation they will be entitled to sickness and unemployment benefits immediately the scheme is implemented. The residential benefit should be limited to naturalized subjects. The people to whom I refer are not British subjects. I also point out that a person coming to this country at the age of 50 years cannot qualify for the old-age pension until he reaches the age of 70 years. After twelve months’ residence in Australia, he can qualify for benefits under this measure until he reaches the age of 65 years. That leaves a period of five years during which he will not be able to draw benefits either from this measure or the old-age pension. We should rectify that anomaly. Unless the Minister can give a good reason for a residential qualification period of twelve months, I propose to move an amendment that the period be three years.
– I cannot follow the logic of the honorable senator. The benefits to be provided under this measure are in respect of temporary incapacity, whereas the old-age pension is in an entirely different category. It is obvious that we shall not be able to rely solely upon the inflow of people of British stock in our efforts to populate this country. We shall be sadly disappointed if we do so, although every honorable senator would prefer solely British migrants. However, we shall be obliged to look for migrants from other countries. The foreigners to whom the honorable senator refers, if they are employed in this country, will pay income tax like every other citizen, and, in that case should they become temporarily incapacitated no one will deny them the right to sickness and unemployment benefits under this measure, provided they have resided in Australia for a period of at least twelve months.
.- I am not satisfied with the Minister’s explanation. The people to whom I refer are prisoners of war, of whom from 6,000 to 8,000 are now in this country. To-day, they are working on farms, and many of them hope to remain in Australia. What will be their position under this legislation? Should they be held here as prisoners of war for a period of twelve months before this scheme is implemented they will qualify for benefits immediately this legislation is put into operation, even though they have not paid any income tax. They are not paying tax now. The Government should either increase the residential qualification period to three years, or confine the qualification period of twelve months now proposed to British subjects.
.- It is the responsibility of the Government to look after prisoners of war so long as they remain in the country. Should they decide, after the cessation of hostilities, to remain here they should be entitled to benefits subject to the provisions of this bill.
Amendment (by ‘Senator Gibson) proposed -
That the word “ person “, first occurring, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ British subject “.
– I support the amendment. We know that there are numbers of prisoners of war now in this country who have been fighting against us. Already, they have been resident in Australia, perhaps much against their own will, for periods exceeding twelve months. They have not contributed anything to the revenue of this country in taxes or in any other way.
– They are not residents.
– Then what are they?
– They are prisoners of war.
– Are they members of the Labour party?
– It would be no reflection on them if they were.
– The basis on which the Government suggests that the bill is contributory is that claimants under it will already have contributed by means of taxes. There are in this country many people who have been residing here temporarily and have not contributed anything and never will contribute anything, yet this clause entitles them in certain conditions, as Senator Gibson points out, to receive £5, £6 or more every week while unemployed.
.- The amendment has a good deal to commend it in relation to people who are at present enemy aliens, but it should be much more limited in its operation than it will be as at present worded, because it will cut out a number of very friendly people who have come into Australia from adjoining countries. They include a number of Dutch and others, who we hope will stay here. We have also admitted a quota of refugees from Europe under the agreement made at a European conference, in which we participated. It would be unwise to exclude from the benefits under the bill everybody who is not of British origin. If the amendment were aimed only at enemy aliens, it would be in a different category, but I cannot support it as it is now framed, because it may bit as many friends as foes.
– I am certain that if this clause were inserted for only one purpose, namely, to encourage immigration, it should not be interfered with. We have all recognized, especially in the last two or three year3, that the future of this country will depend on the number of men and women we can induce to live in it. It has always been admitted that the best immigrant is the Australianborn baby. Babies have been arriving in satisfactory numbers in the last twelve months, but the stream may slacken off in the years immediately after the war, and we must recognize that the only way to build up our population rapidly is to encourage immigration. That can best be done by making others think this country better than the ones in which they live. If we cannot guarantee everybody permanent employment, we should at least offer economic security, and that is what this bill helps to do. Does the fact that people have fought against us on the battlefield and are now prisoners of war in this country make them degraded, inhuman or bad in themselves? Will they necessarily, be bad citizens if we allow them to stay here after the war? Whether they remain here will have to be decided by the higher authorities. If their record shows that they will not be
*in acquisition to Australia, they will have to leave the country. If they are allowed to stay, every benefit that this country can confer must be made available to them. Only in such ways can we secure an influx of population without which our people must ultimately perish. I definitely oppose any legislation that will discourage desirable people from coming to this country. If the encouragement of immigration is the only purpose of the clause, at is a good one and should be endorsed.
– I should have no objection to the clause if the whole scheme were put on a contributory basis, and I do not think that Senator Gibson would have any objection to it either. I suggest that the means test depends on the method of financing the scheme. If the Minister will agree, I suggest that the consideration of clauses 15 to 41 inclusive he postponed until after the consideration of clause 42.
– I am agreeable.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That further consideration of clause 15, and consideration of clauses 10 to 41 be postponed until after consideration of clause 42.
Payments of benefit shall be made out of the Trust Account established under the National Welfare Fund Act 1943 and known as the National Welfare Fund.
– During the second-reading debate extensive references were made to the method of raising funds to provide the proposed benefits. In my- opinion, the fund should be established on a contributory basis. It is not necessary to repeat the arguments which have been advanced during the last two days. There is no need for me to move an amendment, and, if I did move one, it might be ruled out of order, on the ground that this chamber had no power to increase the burden on the taxpayer. All that is necessary, in order to indicate our attitude, is for those who favour the contributory system to vote against the clause.
– Will the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) explain what he means by a contributory scheme? Anybody who .pays money may be said to contribute. There are so many contributory schemes in existence that I should like to know what the honorable senator has in mind. Does he favour contributions being made by three parties or only by the employees and employers ?
– I also desire further information as to the purpose of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay). Contributions can be made by different methods. I am in favour of the collection of contributions, but I am ako in favour of the contributions being made by a graduated scale of tax on incomes. If the Leader of the Opposition means contributions under a tri-partite scheme, by the employee, the employer and the Government, I am not in favour of it. If, -however, he will definitely indicate that he means a scheme whereby contribution’s are collected for a specific purpose, the individual who makes the payment knowing that he is paying a certain amount in order to obtain a specific benefit, and that what he pays is to go to a fund set aside for the purpose-, then I shall support him. Is that what he means ?
– The assertion which honorable senators opposite have so frequently made, ‘that they will not agree to the scheme unless it is on a contributory basis, seems to me to be altogether wide of ‘the mark. The clause shows that the benefit is to be paid out of ‘a trust fund established under the National Welfare Fund Act passed last year. That fund was created by means of a special tax, ‘and the Labour party incurred ‘a great deal of odium by agreeing to tax the lower range of incomes. The -criticism was particularly virulent against us, because we had always claimed that ‘we did not stand for such taxation, but we found that, in Order to establish the fund, we had apparently to depart from our age-old policy. We made that departure because there ‘had been so much talk of establishing a new order that we desired to implement it as a guarantee of good faith before the war ended. We felt that we were justified in asking the low wage-earners to ‘contribute something towards that fund. We had in mind the fact that tinder the ‘Government’s scheme of soci’al services many workers would be -saved the ‘contributions which ‘they were making to certain institutions in return for benefits such as hospital expenses and ‘free medicine. Honorable senators opposite have argued that this ‘scheme ‘should he on a contributory basis, but I -point out that ‘as the measure stands, it will be the low wage-eaThers and the workers generally who will he largely responsible for building up the fund out ‘of which these benefits will -be paid.
Opposition Senators.*- No !
– At least the fund will be provided by all -taxpayers. It is ‘to be “financed entirely by ‘taxes imposed for that specific purpose, and it is begging the question to talk about a contributory system. The National Welfare Fund has already been established to finance mea-, sures such as this.
.- I believe that this scheme is on the right financial basis, namely, a graduated tax upon incomes. Honorable senators will recall that I was one of those who protested most vigorously against the reduction of the income tax exemption from £156 to £104. The only justification which was offered for that reduction was the establishment of a National Welfare Fund. Apparently honorable senators opposite would prefer a contributory scheme under which a flat rate of tax would be imposed, but I am afraid that any legislation on those lines would meet the same fate as the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act, and “would never be put into operation.
– I am anxious to understand clearly the attitude of the Opposition in regard to this matter, because I am afraid that there is some confusion in the minds of honorable senators opposite as to what they really want. I was under the impression that members of the Opposition had told the .Senate that they desired a graduated, tax on incomes .to finance this measure.
Opposition Senators. - No.
– Apparently I am wrong .in that assumption. My impression w>as that Senator Cooper had made clear to the Opposition tike recommendations of the Social Security Committee, and that the Opposition had agreed almost unanimously that those recommendations were just what was required. But now it appears that the Opposition does not -agree with those proposals. The Leader Of the Opposition ‘(Senator McLeay) says that he favours a contributory -ada erne. Does lie mean a three-party insurance scheme of ‘some ‘kind, ‘or is he satisfied with the graduated tax that ls already in operation, with the proviso that the tax shall bo so dissected that the ‘contribution .in respect ‘o’f Social security may be placed ‘on one -side, a*nd the -contribution in respecof consolidated revenue upon the other?
Is that what the honorable senator wishes or is his argument about a contributory scheme purely a catch phrase ?
– I thought that I had made my attitude upon this matter quite clear during my second-reading speech. I contend that the first essential of a measure such as this is that it should offer some real security to the prospective beneficiaries; secondly, it should be on a contributory basis. We all know that when the Government introduced legislation providing for the setting up of a National Welfare Fund. it did so for a specific purpose. The Government was not willing to invade the lower incomes for taxation purposes solely to finance the war. It had to put a sugar coating on the pill, in the form of promises that if the low wageearners submitted to these taxes, they would be recompensed in the future by means of social services. The proposal was that £30,000,000 should be put into a special fund every year to finance social service schemes which were to be brought into operation from time to time ; but last night the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) made the most astonishing admission that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) had already raided this fund. Of course we all knew that the money would not be put into that fund and allowed to remain there untouched, but that it would be used for the real purpose for which it was collected, namely the prosecution of the war - and a very proper purpose too. However, we find now that before any of the schemes for which the fund was constituted have been brought into operation, the fund has already been tapped. I suggest that we cannot hold very much hope for security in the future, if in time of war, when money is obtainable from the public and from other sources in amounts which would be regarded as fantastic in time of peace, the Treasurer finds his financial difficulties such that he has to raid this fund. I do not propose to mislead the people of this country by supporting a measure of this kind, based as it is upon unsound financial principles. I believe that social services should be financed by direct contributions, and, personally, I favour the New Zealand or the British scheme, but in any case, I appose this clause because it . is mere sham and humbug for the .Minister for Social Services (Senator Fraser) to say that the prospective beneficiaries are already contributing to this scheme. If the Government is sincere in this matter, let it dissect income-tax payments so that every taxpayer will know the amount which he is contributing to social services. Then the obligation would .be upon the Treasurer to ensure that the money which he has collected foi social services has been used for that purpose. For the Minister to’ say that this is a contributory scheme because all taxpayers are already contributing to it is misleading. This measure does not bring the taxpayer into direct relation with the -benefits which he hopes to receive. On those grounds I shall oppose the clause.
– I am rather amazed at the attitude of the Opposition to this clause in view of its support of the bill at the secondreading stage. I should like to know what has happened to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and to Senator Cooper, both of whom are opposing this clause, when they ‘know that the entire measure hinges uPon it. It must be clear that as taxpayers generally are already contributing to the National Welfare Fund they are contributing towards the benefits which this measure will confer. Honorable senators opposite have not had the courage to move an amendment suggesting anything to take the place of the proposals set out in this provision. They merely say that they disagree with it. The Government is putting forward this measure in the belief that it is the best that can be done; purely, if the Opposition does not agree with any feature of the measure, it should be prepared to suggest something better. Senator- Cooper has said that he would like to see the scheme based upon a graduated income tax, and that everybody should know exactly how much he was contributing to social services and how much to general revenue. If the honorable senator is sincere in that belief, why has he not moved an amendment to that effect? Obviously he is merely shamfighting as is Senator McBride, who prefers the British or the New Zealand seh erne to the one propounded in this measure. Under the British scheme even if a man receives only 15s. a week he still has to make his contribution to the social services fund. The same thing applies in New Zealand. Apparently the honorable senator would be prepared to take 2s. 6d. a week from invalid and oldage pensioners. I repeat that if honorable senators opposite are sincere in their objections to this clause they will suggest something to replace it.
– I oppose the utilization of the National Welfare Fund in the manner proposed in this measure, for several reasons. First, the bill is on a noncontributory basis; secondly, it prescribes the iniquitous means test; and, thirdly, it provides benefits for persons who have not contributed anything and denies benefits to others who have contributed very much. It denies benefits to sick and wounded soldiers, but not to foreigners so long as they have been in this country for only a year. The bill is financially unsound, it is not comprehensive, and it ignores the recommendations of the Social .Security Committee. The aim of the National Welfare Fund Bill was to provide social services on a sound and equitable basis; this bill is neither sound nor is it equitable. It encourages the drone and penalizes the thrifty.
– Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to make a second-reading speech at this stage.
– I am dealing with how the money in the National Welfare Fund should be used. The Government proposes to use money contributed by the general taxpayers in paying benefits to wanderers and tourists who may have lived in Australia for only a little over twelve months.
– I am surprised at some of the remarks made with regard to the National Welfare Fund. Senator Lamp took exception to the Government bringing within the income tax field persons on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder for the purpose of building up the National Welfare Fund, but when the bill relating to the trust, fund was before the Senate it was pointed out that the Government desired to take advantage of the fact that money was being freely circulated, and an opportunity was afforded to provide the funds needed in order to inaugurate the contemplated social security scheme. Therefore, persons within the income range of from £104 to £156 a year were called upon to pay income tax, to enable the National Welfare Fund to be built up at the rate of £30,000,000 a year. Despite Senator McBride’s remarks, under section 62b of the Audit Act the Commonwealth Treasurer has the right to invest trust funds in government securities. The whole of the money raised for the purpose of war damage insurance has been invested in those securities. Indeed, the whole of the contributions to the National Insurance Fund in Great Britain, amounting to £500,000,000, have been so invested. Senator Cooper, who is a member of the Social Security Committee, said yesterday that he favours a graduated income tax for the purpose of providing the funds necessary to finance this scheme. I point out to him that the National Welfare Fund, which will be used for the implementation of the social security plan, has been established by means of such a tax. It is true that the Opposition has advocated contributions to the cost of the scheme on the basis of a flat rate on lines similar to those adopted under the schemes in New Zealand and Great Britain, but the National Welfare Fund was inaugurated in order to avoid the adoption of a flat-rate of contribution. Senator Cooper said that, in order to relieve persons on the lower incomes, he was prepared to accept a scheme financed by means of graduated income tax. We have always had a graduated income tax, and the sum of £30,000,000 is being set aside annually and invested in government securities, on which I presume the trust fund will receive interest. Senator McBride did not tell us whether the Government of the United Kingdom had used the £500,000,000 raised in Great Britain for national insurance purposes. What objection can there be to the raising of the funds needed for our social security measures by means of the present graduated tax on the incomes of the people?
– The money is put into general revenue.
– It is raised by means of a graduated income tax and transferred to a trust fund* in compliance with the terms of the Audit Act. Does not the scheme contemplated by the Government avoid the necessity for the employment of the large staff which would be required for the collection of contributions by individuals ? One of the reasons for the high administrative cost of the New Zealand scheme is that it was established on a contributory basis. The raising of £30,000,000 a year by the taxation of incomes generally, and the transfer of that money to a’ trust fund for social security purposes, places the scheme on all fours with the recommendations of the Social Security Committee. Does Senator Cooper contend that the committee’s recommendations imply that there should be a separate organization for the collection of the requisite money, independent of the Taxation Department ? The Government and the Opposition agreed to bring into the income tax field persons in receipt of incomes as low as £104 a year, so that the trust fund could be built up. Senator Cooper has agreed to the recommendations of the committee.
– But the Government has not carried them out.
– The Government intends to give effect t6 them in broad principle. I have no doubt that the bills that will be brought down to implement the Government’s plans for social security will be’ accepted by the Parliament along the lines desired by the Government and the Social Security Committee”. I hope tha* honorable senators” will appreciate the’ wisdom of the proposals. The only difference” between- the Opposition and the Government is as to” whether we should adopt the present scheme or a contributory plan such as that in operation in New Zealand. It is futile for Senator McBride to’ complain that the Treasurer has’ been dipping into the Nations! Welfare Fund, because, as I pointed out, the money itf that fund is invested iri government securities.
Senator FOLL (Queensland) [11.57 1. -I think that Senator Lamp said that he and a large number of the members of the Labour party agreed to the imposition of income’ tax on persons in receipt of the lower incomes down to £104 a year on the understanding that the’ revenue’ raised from those newly” brought into the income tax field would be used for social services rather than for general revenue purposes. The Minister in charge of the bill (Sena. tor Fraser) has emphasized that the Government and its supporters regard the income tax paid by that section of the people as a contribution to be used for social services. Am I to assume that the direct tax imposed on persons within the lower income range must continue indefinitely, in order to meet commitments with respect to social services ?
Senator DARCEY (Tasmania) [12.0’J. -In his second-reading speech Senator McBride said that he preferred the British scheme to the proposal contained in this bill. I, therefore,- remind him that the Nutrition Committee which was appointed by the British Government before the war began# found that 4,000,000 people in Great Britain had only 4s. a week with which to buy food after paying their other living expenses, and that- 6,-000,000 more had only 6s. left, and that another 9,000,000 people had only 9s. left with which to buy food. That is to say, nearly half of the population of Great Britain was living below the breadline when war broke out”. When Sir Stafford Cripps returned from Moscow” and a’ 100 pe’r cent, war effort was called f o”r”, he told the people that if those” were the best conditions that Could prevail in Britain the country was not worth fighting for.
– The people of Britain have madé a wonderful effort.
– Britain’s war expenditure” has been enormous. Senator’ McBride also referred to’ the increasing cost- Of government”, in this country. I am a member 6’f the’ Economic’ Reform Club of Landon. and have just rece’i’ve’d that body’s latest bulletin dealing’ with’ administrative’ costs in1
Great Britain. It shows that between 1937-38 and 1940-41 the costs had multiplied many times.
– I hope that the honorable senator will connect his remarks with the clause under consideration.
– I am dealing with the clause before the committee. Other honorable senators have referred to the rising cost of government, and I am showing that what has happened here has happened also in Great Britain.
– The honorable senator may proceed.
– The dreadful economic conditions which prevailed in Britain before the war have undergone changes; instead of a large percentage of the people having no money with which to buy the food which was available in abundance, they now have money, but they cannot buy food with it.
– I understand that the Opposition has some scheme in mind, and I should like to know what it is, because some honorable senators opposite disagree with proposals to which their colleagues subscribe. Some of them agree that the recommendation contained in the third report of the Social Security Committee ought to be embodied in this bill.
– Why not?
– I agree that it should be given effect in this measure. If Senator Gibson is of the same mind, I ask him to give more consideration to the committee’s recommendation, “continuation in the post-war period of the principle of a graduated tax on income as a means of financing unemployment benefits “. Can honorable senators opposite point to a scheme which is in operation to-day which is not financed out of revenue derived from a tax on incomes? That was the only kind of tax that the committee had in mind, and on that point the committee’s report was specific. The report did not urge the imposition of a new tax; it said definitely that there ought to be a continuation of the present form of taxation. If honorable senators opposite agree with that recommendation, they should accept this bill because it gives effect to that recommendation. The committee was also of the opinion that the present method of gathering income tax should be the method to be applied to this legislation. Again, the Government has given effect to the recommendation of the committee. It may be contended that there should be a direct relation between the amount collected and the benefits to be paid. That point has not been stressed by the committee, but I agree with Senator Cooper that it would be well if all the social legislation which has been enacted by this Parliament were consolidated in one act.
– Why has that not been done?
– I accept the word of the Minister in charge of the bill that preparations along those lines are already in hand. The task will be a tremendous one. When it has been completed I have no doubt that the Government will give effect to the recommendation of the committee, and will set aside out of revenue a sum sufficient to meet payments under social security legislation. It will then be possible to dissect the payments and to relate them to the consolidated act. At the present time man-power shortages and administrative difficulties make it impossible for the Government to dissect the payments and place them in watertight compartments, or to say that so much money is being paid for social services, and so much is being placed into Consolidated Revenue for other purposes. Although it is not practicable to do those things now, that does not mean that the principle is destroyed. The principle to which we have agreed is that of a graduated tax on incomes. If the money is gathered in accordance with the principle mentioned, and is applied to social services in the way intended, we have, in effect, what the Opposition has asked for; that is to say, the money has been gathered from the people by means of a tax, and it has been applied to social services. The only thing that has not been done is the dissection of the money so gathered into watertight compartments, making it possible for the Government to say how much is being collected for social services, and how much for other purposes. I suggest that the Opposition, having agreed as to the method for financing the scheme, ought to accept the clause as its stands.
.- The method by which this scheme is to be financed is set out in the National “Welfare Fund Act of 1943 which provides in section 4 - (1.) There shall be a trust account which shall be known as the National Welfare Fund. (2.) The trust account established under the last preceding sub-section shall be a trust account for the purposes of section 62a of the Audit Act 1901-1934.
Surely, some reliance can be placed on the Auditor-General’s control of the disbursements from this fund. Sections 5 and 6 of the National Welfare Fund Act read -
Obviously, provision is made for an amount of money not exceeding £30,000,000 to be collected each year, and for such money to be used for a specific purpose. As I do not know that the authority of the Auditor-General has ever been questioned in this Parliament, the provision for the disbursements from the fund to be examined by the AuditorGeneral seems to provide a sufficient safeguard. Under the National Welfare Fund Act a sum of money will be set aside each year, and it is hoped that the fund will be sufficient to meet all claims, without abnormal calls having to be made on the people as might occur in the event of a serious epidemic or the unemployment of a considerable section of the people. I direct attention to section 62A of the Audit Act in order to show that ample protection of the funds is provided for. Sub-section 2 reads -
The Treasurer may establish additional trust accounts and define the purposes for which they are established.
In this case that has been done; the Treasurer has shown why the fund has to be created. Sub-sections 3 and 4 provide - (3.) All moneys standing to the credit of any trust account …. shall be deemed to be moneys standing to the credit of the trust fund. (4.) The Treasurer may direct that any trust account be closed, and thereupon the moneys standing to the credit of the account shall, after all liabilities of the account have been met, be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
There is no danger there.
– It leaves the gate wide open for the Treasurer to do what he likes.
– Sub-section 6 of section 62a provides another guarantee; it reads -
Moneys standing to the credit of a trust account may be expended for the purposes of the account.
The clause under consideration is important. Any interference with this provision will not be in the interests of the people, or of the Parliament. After all, the benefits to be provided under this measure are to be financed on the principle recommended by the Social Security Committee. That point has been clarified by Senator Arnold. The statutory exemption level for income tax was reduced to £104, not only to enable the Government to finance social service benefits but also because the Government thought that as many >f our citizens as possible should contribute towards the tremendous cost of carrying on the country. That is a sound principle. I believe that as the war draws to a close, the existing rates of income tax must be reconsidered. For instance, the company rate of 18s. 6d. in the £1 must be reconsidered. However, provision has been made to finance social service benefits from income tax. The National Welfare Fund will be policed by the Auditor-General, and the disbursement of benefits will be made by a responsible department under the supervision of the Auditor-General. Therefore, I fail to understand why, at this late date, honorable senators opposite have objected to this clause, which is the most important in the measure. I feel sure that Senator Cooper will agree that the method by which it is proposed to finance benefits under this measure accords in principle with the recommendations made by the Social Security Committee, on which he has rendered valuable service.
– The Social Security Committee recommended the imposition of a special tax to finance social service benefits.
– To all intents and purposes that is being done. Of course, as Senator Arnold has said, the ideal setup would be to cover all social services in one consolidated measure, and to finance all benefits from the one fund.
– Why not do that now?
– Because the consolidation of all the departments now handling social services is a sheer impossibility under existing conditions. We have already in operation such benefits as widows’ pensions, invalid and old-age pensions, child endowment and maternity allowance, and each of these has recently been liberalized. This is another instalment of the Government’s social service programme. We have yet to attend to such phases as hospital treatment. I repeat that the method of financing these benefits is consistent with the recommendations made by the Social Security Committee. An amazing degree of unanimity was reached among the members of that all-party committee. Its members are men of experience, and, after hearing the evidence submitted to them, they were unanimous that existing social evils should be remedied, if not all at once, then step by step. I remind Senator Wilson that one does not start to construct the roof when building a house. The foundations must first be laid. We are gradually laying the foundations of a comprehensive social security service, and gradually building on those foundations. This measure represents another storey in that structure. Honorable senators should realize that, in order to finance the benefits provided under this measure, we must draw upon the same source from which we already finance other benefits of this kind. No honorable senator objects in principle to this legislation. 1 am surprised, therefore, that honorable senators opposite now endeavour to raise a financial bogy. I have never heard a member of this Parliament challenge the probity of the Auditor-General. He is above this Parliament, and does not care what I, or any other member of it, thinks of him. His job is to see that the National Welfare Fund is administered in accordance with the National Welfare Fund Act. Honorable senators opposite are only shamfighting. I repeat what I said last evening, that I know of no other legislation which promises to make for greater industrial peace in this country than this measure. Under this scheme, the worker and his wife will be assured that should the bread-winner, through no fault of his own, lose his employment, they will not be forced on to lie dole. I urge honorable senators opposite to reconsider their attitude to this clause.
– I admit that income tax is imposed on the graduated principle, and that a proportion of revenue from income tax is to be paid into the National Welfare Fund from which it is proposed to finance the benefits to be provided under this measure. However, the Social Security Committee, in its second report, unanimously recommended that a special tax should be imposed for the specific purpose of financing social service benefits; and it reiterated that view in its sixth report. I disagree with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) that that is the principle of the method by which the Government now proposes to finance benefits under this measure. I recall that when we were considering the National Welfare Fund legislation, the Treasurer stated that £30,000,000, or 25 per cent, of the total collection of income tax in any year, whichever is the lesser amount, would be paid into the fund, and that the Government’s social service programme would be financed from that fund. However, that means that these services are being financed by the payment of a lump sum from revenue, whereas the Social Security Committee recommended that a special tax be imposed for this specific purpose or that a specific proportion of the income tax paid by each individual taxpayer be ear-marked for this purpose. That principle had not been followed in this instance, ‘because these benefits are to be financed from general revenue. Senator Foll raised a very* important aspect when he inquired whether it was the intention of the Government to retain the existing rates of tax on lower incomes after the war.
– The existing taxes will have to be retained so long as these social service benefits are provided.
– Why does not the Government say that? I suggest that it should indicate on the taxpayer’s assessment form what specific portion of the income tax paid by each individual is to be used for this purpose. Senator Arnold will agree with me that this principle was discussed by the Social Security Committee most fully. I agree with him that the method proposed under the bill represents a form of contribution. I repeat that I object to this clause because no specific tax, or specific portion of income tax paid by an individual, is to be used for this purpose. We are unable to say, for instance, how much each taxpayer will pay in respect of these benefits. That is what we want to get at. Each taxpayer is entitled to that information. Therefore, whilst I agree with the Government that these benefits should be financed from a special tax on incomes, I go further and say that the Government should implement the specific recommendation of the Social Security Committee on this matter.
– Senator Cooper is merely splitting hairs. The main objection of honorable senators opposite to the National Welfare Fund legislation when it was before this chamber, on which measure, by the way, they did not callfor a division, was that the Government was putting the cart before the horse. They wanted to know for what purposes the fund would be used, and the Government’s reply was that it had first to provide for the financing of any social service scheme before it could determine the benefits to be provided. It was explained that a sum of £30,000,000 of the income tax collected in a year was to be paid to that fund which was to be used to finance social service benefits. In view of the fact that income tax is imposed on a graduated scale, the Government’s method of financing these benefits accords in principle with the method1 which Senator Cooper says the Social Security Committee recommended. That was one of the reasons why the Government reduced the statutory exemption level for income tax to £104. I submit, therefore that it has complied with the recommendations of the Social Security Committee. Thewhole bill hinges on this clause. Honorable senators opposite supported theincrease of taxes to finance the National Welfare Fund, out of which the costs of this scheme were to be met, and that increase of income tax was equivalent to the contributory basis they now advocate. They now say to the people who pay that tax : “ Now that we have the money from you, we shall not allow it to be used for any social benefits such as we agreed to pay “. Their attitude is the greatest piece of -trickery that I have seen perpetrated on the public since I entered this chamber. It is time the public knew the reason why that tax was collected, and the real attitude of the Opposition towards the social benefits which the public has been led to expect. If the Opposition defeats the bill by negativing the clause, it will have taxed by false pretences people earning incomes as low as £104 a year. They obtained £30,000,000 from the people to finance social benefits, and now tell them that they have to pay another £30,000,000 on a contributory basis, making the public’s total payment £60,000.000. No wonder the last election resulted as it did, if that is a sample of the stunts and tricks put over by honorable senators opposite.
Senator Wilson was eager to amend the bill so that returned soldiers should get something out of it, and wanted even to increase the benefits, but now, by opposing the clause, in effect, he says to the soldiers, “You are not worthy of any unemployment or sickness benefits unless you help to pay into the Treasury another £30,000,000. You can step into the front line while we stay in the background but, when you come back, if you want a job yon will have to hunt for it yourselves, and if you are sick you can look after yourselves, because I am in favour of throwing out the bill “. That is a nice attitude for a man who preens himself here as a soldiers’ representative! He has- turned three somersaults already this morning. He is opposed to clause 15 because it provides unemployment and sickness benefits for foreigners.
– The Government denies the benefits to returned soldiers but gives them to refugees who have been in Australia for only a year.
– -If the honorable senator succeeds in defeating this clause, he denies the soldiers all the ‘benefits which the bill will give them. He would not allow a foreigner to benefit until he had been resident in Australia for five years. How would he treat those Dutchmen who are fighting side by side with our men, and whose country is occupied by the enemy, if they wished to stay in Australia after the war ? He would deny them any assistance if they were temporarily unemployed or became ill, even though they had helped us to save our country.
The honorable senator must know that if we are to hold this country we must increase its population. We cannot ask people to come here if we are not prepared to guarantee them some economic security. The honorable senator would tell them that until they had been here five years they would have to put up with anything that might befall them, and could not look for help from the Government. He must realize that if Australia is to become a strong nation we must offer all of our citizens equality of treatment. It is strange that not long’ ago, when the Widows’ Pensions Bill, which provides a scheme to be financed out of the National Welfare Fund, was passed, honorable senators opposite did not object to it because the scheme was not contributory. Similarly, when the bill to increase the maternity allowance was before this chamber, they raised no objection to it, although the money was to come from the same fund.
– Because everybody got it.
– Everybody who needs it will be able to receive help under’ this bill. Even the honorable senator, if he were so unfortunate enough as to lose his wealth, could do so>. If he retains hia money or property, he will surely not be; so greedy as to expect to collect from the fund, especially when people earning as little as £104 a year have contributed to it. If the clause is negatived, sickness and unemployment benefits will not be available. We have collected from the people the money to finance the scheme, and it would be deliberate trickery to collect from them another £30,000,000 for the same purpose. The Government has given a pledge to the people to finance these schemes out of the fund which the people themselves have built up, and therefore must stick to the bill.
Although honorable senators opposite are opposed to the main financial provisions of the bill, they have not put. forward anything to take its place. They know perfectly well that they cannot suggest anything better, and they also know that, if they made it necessary for the people to provide another £30,000,000, their trickery would be exposed. If the whole scheme had had to be financed on a contributory basis in the first place, a huge army of officials would have had to be appointed to administer and control it. and particularly to collect the necessary funds. This ‘would have considerably in* creased the expense, as it has in Kew Zealand, and certainly will in Great Britain. As I have already pointed out, under other schemes a person who had the misfortune to be horn an invalid would be called upon to make a contribution out of an income of £1 or £1 5s. a week.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
.- The. only merit that I can see in the attitude of honorable senators opposite to this clause is that it is consistent, because they opposed this method of financing the National Welfare Fund last year. It is significant, however, that the only three members of the Opposition who have raised, their voices against this measure are the three whose terms of office in this chamber will expire in June: of this year. I refer, of course, to Senators McBride, Wilson and A. J. McLachlan. The others have been strangely silent. These three honorable senators have been- rejected by the electors, and apparently their colleagues are prepared to shelter behind them. Such action is a reflection upon our democratic system of government.
No matter how strongly honorable senators opposite may oppose this measure it will be passed eventually because, after June next, the Government will have a majority in this chamber. I recall that six years ago, when a certain number of honorable senators who had been rejected at the previous general elections were due to retire, they acted just as their colleagues are acting to-day. On that occasion, the Senate was summoned in the last week of the term of office of several honorable senators so that the then Government would be able to secure the passage of certain legislation. Whilst I would not go so far as to suggest that the Opposition is sheltering behind the three retiring senators because of its fear of action by the electors in the future, nevertheless it is significant that the main opposition to this measure has been voiced by the three gentlemen to whom I have referred.
– Order ! The Minister should not proceed along those lines. He must confine his remarks to the clause now under discussion.
– I merely wish to draw attention to the fact that the manner in which certain Opposition senators are acting to-day is a reflection upon our democratic system of government.
Last -year, a National Welfare Fund Bill was passed by this Parliament. Section 3 of that measure states -
Section 4 reads -
Although I have the Audit Act before me I do not wish to delay the committee by quoting it. .Section 5 of the National Welfare Fund Act states -
Then follows a very important section -
That measure has been in operation since the middle of last year, and already the fund provided under it has been used to finance certain social services including child endowment and widows’ pensions, but when it comes to sickness or unemployment benefits, objections are raised by the Opposition. I cannot understand the objection to this clause. Honorable senators opposite must realize that if it is defeated, that will be the end of the bill for the time being at least.
– If the Government agrees to amend the clause, there is no reason why the bill should be defeated.
– It would be the end of the bill for the time being. I recall that last year when incomes down to £104 per annum were brought into the income tax field for the first time, there was great jubilation amongst honorable senators opposite. I point out, however, that at that time it was made quite clear that the tax was being imposed for a specific purpose, namely, the establishment of a National Welfare Fund. I have listened carefully to the arguments that have been- advanced by honorable senators opposite in this debate, and I challenge any one of them, other than the three who were rejected by the people at the last elections, to state in this chamber his reason for his opposition to this clause. It is a cardinal principle of taxation practice that taxes should be levied upon those who are best able to pay them, yet honorable senators opposite have objected to the method of financing this legislation, namely, a graduated tax upon income. They argue, in effect, that a man who received £10 a week should not contribute any more than the man who earns only £2 a week. Taxation on that basis is devoid of any suggestion of equity. Obviously an individual who earns £10 a week is in a much better position to make a larger contribution than the man who earns only £2 a week.
Whether or not this clause is rejected is immaterial, because it will be passed eventually. Honorable members opposite can succeed only in delaying it a few months. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) said that he was in full accord with the principles of the bin, but he knows very well that those principles cannot be put into operation unless the necessary finance is provided.
We have heard a plea by Senator Wilson on behalf of the soldiers. In fact, every time the honorable senator speaks he waves the flag and appears to be bursting with patriotism and devotion to the soldiers’ cause. He says that we were not treating the soldiers generously enough, yet along with other members of the Opposition he is prepared to delay the operation of this measure, and to deprive soldiers of the benefits which would accrue to them under this scheme. He is an obvious supporter of vested interests and objects to this measure because individuals in receipt of high incomes will be compelled to make much larger contributions than less fortunate members of the community.
– The Minister’s time has expired.
.- Ministers seem to be getting into difficulties which they might easily have avoided. All the talk about the man in receipt of a low income making as large a contribution to the cost of the scheme as a person in receipt of a high income is futile. A man on a low income may pay lid. in the £1, whereas a person on a high income may contribute 4s. 7-Jd. in the £1. We should be able to reach a compromise regarding the matter. I claim that the tax imposed for the purpose of implementing the social security legislation should be separated from the income tax. Suppose a person on one of the lower incomes contributed 6d. in the £1 in income tax. If we stated clearly that ltd. in the £1 was to be hypothecated, to the National Welfare Fund and 4£d. in the £1 used for general revenue purposes, what objection could there be?
-. - That would be quite unnecessary, because it would cause a waste of man-power.
– To my mind the point is important. In Victoria, income tax returns formerly showed distinctly how much taxpayers were contributing to the unemployment fund. I have suggested a simple way out of the difficulty that presents itself. We may not agree as to the fairness of the allocation I have indicated, but everybody in the community would know exactly how much he or she was contributing to the fund. I ask the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Fraser) to assure us that this will be done, or that an amendment will be made to the income tax law to ensure that certain payments are hypothecated to the fund set_ apart for social services. There is no justification for heated discussion on the matter. Everybody in the community would then know how much he was paying into the National Welfare Fund.
– Would that be a contributory system ?
– To a degree it would, but at present the position is indefinite. I urge the Minister to give favorable consideration to the suggestion by the Opposition, because its adoption would present no administrative difficulties. The Opposition agrees that a fund of this kind is necessary.
– The fund is already in operation for the purposes of similar measures that have already been passed.
– The present bill is the first social security measure of any magnitude that will give relief to the masses of the people. If my suggestion be acceptable, I see no reason why the Minister should not adopt it.
– I have been interested to watch the reactions to this clause of honorable senators who oppose the bill. They have displayed an attitude which has done more than anything else to bring this chamber into disrepute. Such an attitude of mind was responsible for the overwhelming victory of the Labour party at the last general election. The people are sick and tired of finessing and political makebelieve. Opponents of the bill ask for the establishment of a separate fund, knowing perfectly well that that would increase administrative charges and cause an extra demand for man-power. At no time has economy in the use of manpower been more necessary than to-day. The exigencies of the times make it imperative for the Government to adopt the course it has followed with regard to this measure. In medieval times the people were denied freedom of access to roads unless they paid a direct toll, but eventually the demands of the people were such that greater freedom of access to roads had to be given and the tax was abolished. A person with an income of £1,000 a year or more has no more right of access to public roads than a person without a penny in his pocket who has made no contribution to the cost of the upkeep of the roads. Honorable senators opposite still advocate the old system that held up progress and irritated the people, to such a degree that ultimately adult franchise was granted. In a time of war we need to economize in every possible way. Senator Cooper considers that the fund in question should be financed separately, but, when the Government attempts to implement the bill in a practical and economical way, stupid objections are raised. The people will no longer tolerate this attitude in time of war. Opponents of the bill also object to the principle that those who draw the larger incomes should make a bigger contribution to the cost of the scheme than people in the lower income groups. Honorable senators opposite ask for a flat rate of tax, so that a person with a low income will pay more in pro portion to a man receiving a high income. It is not surprising that the people became exasperated because of the eternal splitting of straws and raising of political bogies that have been witnessed. Senator A. J. McLachlan made a serious reflection when he said that the Treasurer of the day might use the fund for. purposes other than that for which it had been established.
– The Leader of the Senate admitted that the Government had used the money for other purposes.
– I did not hear him say that. We do not tolerate that sort of conduct in the Labour party.
– Any Treasurer could do it.
– I am not prepared to reflect on any Treasurer without justification, but Senator A. J. McLachlan, who is a legal luminary, has chosen to reflect on both the Treasurer and the Auditor-General without justification. Political side-play of this kind may be interesting and amusing in time of peace, but in time of war, when the Government desires to get things done in the quickest possible way, and to show the people that it is in earnest in its attempt to provide economic security consistent with our resources, that sort of conduct should not be tolerated. I am astonished that men with years of experience in pub-e life should attempt to waste the time of the Senate by submitting arguments of that kind and indulging in make-believe and pretence. Whilst some persons in the community may accept what they say without question I remind honorable senators opposite that the people generally are now taking a much more intelligent interest in political affairs than they did in the past. They will not all be deceived. At the last elections the people knew the purpose of the National Welfare Fund because from every platform the representatives of the Labour party told them what was intended. In the light of that knowledge, the people returned the Labour Government with an overwhelming majority. Yet the so-called democrats who sit opposite refuse to accept the decision of the people, giving as their ground the possibility of the Treasurer of the day doing this or that. Honorable senators who take that stand claim to be statesmen with intelligence above that of ordinary mortals, but they have merely indulged only in out-of-date political showmanship. I take no pleasure in speaking in this way. This morning I remained silent when I could have spoken, but I see now that honorable senators opposite are at their wits’ end to find objections to the Governments proposal. The objections that they advance are purely theoretical; they are not substantial. I believe that Senator Wilson is perfectly sincere in his advocacy of the claims of returned soldiers. I would be the last person to reflect on him in that connexion, but when he says that if he cannot get what he wants he will do his best to assist to defeat the bill I have reason to doubt his sincerity. His attitude is the attitute of Opposition senators generally. As has already been said, it may be possible for honorable senators opposite to delay the passage of this legislation for four months, but not longer. After June, Opposition senators may talk’ until they are black in the face, but they will not prevent the Government from giving to the people of this country the greatest possible measure of economic security. The Government realizes that the people to whom it would give that security are those who really count in the nation. There are two groups of people who come within that category, namely, those in the .fighting lines and those in production. They carry the nation, and they are the people to whom we shall give economic security to the fullest degree consistent with the claims of war and the resources of the nation. The bill does not contain any extravagant proposals. Provision is made for an annual expenditure of not more than £30,000,000, and, for a time at least, very few persons in the community will make claims on the fund. When the amount of money involved is set alongside the performances of men and women in the fighting lines and in the sphere of production, honorable senators should be ashamed to oppose this clause. Their opposition to it is an attempt to wreck the bill altogether, and as the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) has said, it is significant that those who are taking the lend in this matter have been rejected by the people. How petty, how paltry, how contemptible they must appear in the eye» of intelligent people ! A person who is defeated in an election should take his defeat willi a smile on his face, and not try to hold up a measure which would provide economic security for those who require it most. Yet these self-styled statesmen, these members of the “ old guard “ who are out of date, would like the people to regard them as having intelligence superior to that of the common people. I am impelled to speak in this way because the people look to their representatives in this chamber to act on their behalf. To us has been delegated the power to legislate on behalf of the people; but when we find that elected representatives of the people approach an important subject with a toll-gate mind it is no wonder that the institution of Parliament is in danger of getting into disrepute.
– The Minister’s time has expired.
– During this debate I have been struck with the atmosphere that is evident on the other side of the chamber. Yesterday, Senator Herbert Hays complained that we on this side were doing honorable senators opposite an injustice by imputing to them insincerity of purpose, but their attitude towards this hill allows ‘ of no other construction. I sincerely hope that the people of Tasmania will learn of the specious excuses which have been advanced by some honorable senators from that ‘State in an attempt to justify their opposition to this bill. I entered this Parliament as a representative of a party whose ideals closely approximated to my conceptions of human kindness, and I assume that honorable senators opposite endeavour to reflect the opinions and attitudes of the parties which they represent. All that I am concerned about in this matter is that those honorable senators who undoubtedly represent vested interests in this Parliament shall not nobble those people whom I claim to represent directly in this chamber. I do not want to see the people deceived by the specious arguments of Opposition senators. The more a person weeps, wails or cries when charged with insincerity, the more am I reminded of the words of Shakespeare, “ The lady protests too much, methinks “. Honorable senators opposite have changed their ground of opposition to this bill two or three times during the course of this debate. Senator Leckie has at last admitted that the fund will be financed directly from a tax on incomes. His specific complaint wa3 that that system did not allow a person to know exactly how much he was paying for the particular benefits to be received under this legislation, and how much he was paying for other benefits. That is an example of the toll-gate mind to which the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) has referred. In days gone by a man who went through a gate knew how much he paid as toll, but to-day the taxpayer who contributes to the upkeep of our main roads does not know what he contributes.
– The toll-gate system is still in operation in Sydney.
– I believe that that is a relic of a conservative government - a type of government which the honorable senator who has interjected has represented in this chamber for a number of years. My view is that any structure which is a national asset should be paid for out of national revenue. I do not agree with the imposition of a toll on any bridge or other undertaking which is necessary to the nation’s welfare. I should have been better pleased had Senator Herbert Hays displayed some zeal in the direction of getting the Government to accept responsibility for the beautiful bridge over the Derwent River. In that event, I should have backed him to the ‘utmost degree. However, I can understand the honorable senator’s complacency because he is one with a toll-gate mind and an outlook which was common when men believed that the earth was flat.
– The Government had an opportunity to build a bridge over the Derwent River, but it did not do so.
– I understand that the construction of that bridge was commenced by a Labour government. Now that it is finished, the honorable senator would do well to move that the Government take over full responsibility for it. By so doing he would render greater service to his constituents than by opposing beneficial social welfare legislation on specious grounds. Let us examine the idea of a contributory scheme. Senator Leckie now -admits that a fund will be created out of moneys raised by a tax on incomes. After two days of discussion the honorable senator has made that admission. It is clear that the people generally will know that by means of a direct tax on their incomes they will be contributing towards the benefits which they will receive. Does the Opposition want the people to be taxed a second time for the same purpose? Would it not be sharp practice, amounting to dishonesty, to do so?
– That has never been suggested.
– The honorable senator has asked for a contributory system in addition to the existing system. I can understand the average person in the community imputing all sorts of motives to those who would advocate such a scheme. There is in operation a graduated income tax on all incomes above £104 a year. Persons in the lower range of incomes pay 6d. a week, whilst others with higher incomes pay much more. If that is the graduated form of tax honorable senators opposite want, then why will they not be honest with themselves, and true to the electors, by supporting the clause? Senator Cooper also advocates a graduated income tax. In order to secure Senator ‘Cooper’s vote, those who oppose this clause must agree with his contention that there must be a graduated income tax. That tax is already in force. The National Welfare Fund is financed from income tax, which is imposed on the graduated principle. Therefore, to be consistent, honorable senators opposite should support the method by which the Government proposes to finance these benefits. Senator McBride made a wild statement. He said that the National Welfare Fund which was established to finance the Government’s social service programme had already been raided. That is an alarming statement from an ex-Minister. He knows that the National Welfare Fund has the backing of the Treasury, and the resources of this country, and that any liability incurred by the Government in respect of that fund will be honored. Therefore, his statement is a gross reflection upon constitutional government in this country. In order to establish that fund the Government brought into the field of income tax incomes as low as £104 a year. We on this side did not relish taking that step. When we did so, honorable senators opposite exclaimed that at last the Labour party had realized that it must tax the lower incomes. We have always contended that the average wage-earner pays tax at the point of production, because he is denied the full fruits of his labour in order that some one might get a “ rake off “ in the form of profit. We have always borne that fact in mind, and we have proceeded on the principle of placing the taxation burden on the shoulders of those best able to bear it. It was not easy for supporters of the Government to explain to the workers the reason why it was compelled to tax lower incomes. Honorable senators opposite thought that they had accomplished a very clever trick when, rather than face the people after defeating the self-same proposal contained in this measure, they precipitated a crisis on another incident, in order to provide an issue which would enhance their chances of success at the ensuing elections. They took the view that in a debate on a censure motion they would be able to throw so much mud at the Labour party in this Parliament that some of that mud would stick. They realized that had their action in frustrating the introduction of these proposals at that juncture been made an issue their chances of return would be hopeless. They opposed the imposition of additional income tax for the purpose of financing social service benefits. On that occasion they accused the Government of tacking, because it made the imposition of such taxes contingent upon the establishment of a National Welfare Fund for financing social service bene fits. Eventually, the Government was obliged to provide for the establishment of that fund independent of taxation legislation. The taxing measure was passed; but, now, the purposes for which additional taxes were imposed, are being attacked again by honorable senators opposite. The Government which was obliged to bear the odium consequent upon its action in taxing lower incomes is now forced to fight hard again in its endeavour to implement the purposes for which that additional taxation was imposed. As I have already said, it was not the easiest thing for supporters of the Government to explain to the lower wage-earners the reasons for that increased taxation. The explanation, of course, is that by paying that tax the wage-earner becomes entitled to social service benefits as & right. I point out to honorable senators opposite that a young man or woman, on reaching the age of sixteen years, when he or she would probably earn £2 a week, would automatically go off their fathers’ friendly society list for sickness and hospital benefits. Therefore, they themselves would be obliged to contribute for those benefits.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– This clause deals with the method of financing benefits to be provided under the measure, and it is, perhaps, the most important clause in the bill. The proposed method of financing this scheme conforms in principle with the recommendations made by the Social Security Committee on which is represented every party in this Parliament. That committee was unanimous that something must be done to alleviate social evils; and the Government decided that the people themselves should make some contribution towards the cost of a scheme designed to achieve that objective. To-day, the lower wage-earner is more prepared than he has been in the past to pay income tax, because he knows a portion of that tax will be utilized to finance benefits of this kind.
Whilst I dislike some features of this measure, I welcome it as a first instalment of a comprehensive scheme of social service benefits. One effect of this scheme will be to ensure that we shall not again witness great numbers of people queueing up to draw the dole, or food relief. Under this measure they will be eligible to receive, during periods of unemployment and sickness, cash payments to tide them over their distress. For instance, a man and his wife and five children, if they become unemployed, will be guaranteed an income of £5 a week. They will be given that assistance as a right. At one time, I was fearful that honorable senators opposite would be successful at the last general elections. However, I now realize that the people want this Government to guarantee them social security. They want to make certain that never again shall droves of citizens be obliged to walk the streets in search of employment. The bitterest opposition to this measure has come from the three honorable senators from South Australia, two of whom were defeated at the last election, whilst the third failed to obtain the endorsement of the opposition party. I find it difficult to understand why those three gentlemen have been able to impose their will upon the majority of honorable senators opposite. This measure will provide some security for the down-and-out, but those three gentlemen are bitterly opposed to it. It will provide future security for men of the type who filled the ranks of the 6th Division, and who came to the country’s aid in its hour of need to work in the factories and workshops providing us with munitions and war materials. However, the three South Australian senators, who will relinquish their seat in this chamber on the 30th June next, have told us that this measure is useless. Senator Wilson could not find one good feature in it. Those three gentlemen have caused all the trouble in this debate. But are they likely to need to apply for assistance under this scheme? Why do they want to defeat it? They wish to block the passage of this measure at least for the remainder of their term of office in this chamber. Two of that trio are well-to-do solicitors, and the third is one of the wealthiest pastoralists in Australia. In condemning this measure, Senator Wilson was guilty of sheer humbug. He makes me sick. He claims to make an appeal on behalf of the soldiers, but what soldiers does he represent? He went away with the 9th Division, but he sticks in head-quarters, although the 9th Division is still in New’ Guinea.
– Order! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I am endeavouring to do so. The clause is practically the most important in the bill. The appeal made by Senator Wilson for the soldiers is so much humbug. There was and is a possibility that consideration will be given to the soldiers under the bill as it stands, because the Director-General will have wide discretionary powers which he can exercise in their favour. Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and others complained about the way in which members of friendly societies were being treated. Some of them, it was urged, would receive 22s. 6d. a week from the societies, but the Government allows them to deduct only £1 a week on that account. There is no sincerity in that argument, because the same honorable senators wanted soldiers to be allowed to deduct their pensions of 25s. a week from their incomes. Why did not they ask for the same concession for members of friendly societies? Why the showmanship? Why try to make capital out of returned soldiers? First, they try to take members of friendly societies under their wings-
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in making a second-reading speech on the clause.
– Without the social welfare fund, we cannot pay the benefits proposed in the bill. If honorable senators opposite succeed in. negativing the clause, they will prevent the fund being used for that purpose, yet for political reasons they try to curry favour with the returned soldiers. Before the last elections, every one knew that the Government intended to establish the fund, and to pass this and other bills. Tremendous publicity was given in the press to the fact that the Government intended to extend social benefits to the people, yet now a Senate, many of whose members have been defeated at the polls, is trying to block the legislation which the Prime Minister promised. This is a subtle move on the part of the Opposition to throw out the bill, which is intended to build up an organization to give, at the earliest possible moment after hostilities cease, unemployment and sickness benefits to those who need them. Whatever the Opposition does, I am sure that the Government will not allow the bill to be shelved. The actions of honorable senators opposite in the last Parliament resulted in their undoing at the recent elections in South Australia, and I predict that what they are doing now will result in the defeat of their own party in the South Australian Parliament at the forthcoming elections in that State.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Amour saw fit just now, as he has done on previous occasions, to refer to my military service. He said I advocated the claims of returned soldiers, and that I had no right to do so. He further said that I went away with the 9th Division, and that now, whilst that division is still in New Guinea, I am staying at head-quarters. It is true that I went away with the 9th Division.
– Order! Does the honorable senator wish to make a personal explanation?
– I am answering the statements which you permitted Senator Amour to make about me. The honorable senator questioned my right to make the remarks I made in explaining my opposition to the clause. I stated that I opposed the bill because the scheme was non-contributory and because it denied benefits to. wounded and sick soldiers while giving them to foreigners who had been in Australia for only one year. I pointed out that it was financially unsound and not comprehensive, and that it ignored the report of the Social Security Committee. Senator Amour attacked my remarks, and referred to the fact that I stayed at head-quarters.
– I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator, but I must remind him that clause 42 is before the committee.
– If you, sir, allow foul and untrue accusations to be made against honorable senators-
– Order ! The honorable senator must not reflect on the Chair. If foul accusations were made, I must confess that I did not hear them. If the honorable senator wishes to pursue the subject which he is now raising, it will be more fitting for him to make a personal explanation, because they are not relevant to the clause.
– I shall be glad if you will permit me to make a personal explanation.
– Is it the pleasure of the committee that Senator Wilson be allowed to make a personal explanation?
– No, the honorable senator can make it on the motion for adjournment.
Leave not granted.
Question put -
That the clause stand as printed.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Courtice.)
Majority … . . Nil
Man-power - Preference to Returned Soldiers - Tasmanian Transport Services - War Pensions - War Service of Senator Wilson - Civil Constructional Corps.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Speaking on the adjournment on the 10th February, Senator Brand made some general complaints regarding the Government’s inability to provide man-power for the canning of fruit. The statements made by Senator Brand are of such a general character that it is not possible to answer them specifically. Recently, the Controller-General of Food visited Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley, Victoria, and discussed with fruit-growers their problems at the commencement of the canning season. The fruit-growers’ representatives advised the Food Controller that they had no complaints at all. Consequently, without something more specific from Senator Brand, it is not possible to trace the cause of his complaint.
So far as appointments to Commonwealth departments, including war-time departments, are concerned, the position is that all vacancies occurring in the Commonwealth Public Service are referred by the permanent head of the department concerned to the Commonwealth Public Service Board and preference is given to returned soldiers in filling such vacancies. A close liaison exists between the man-power directorate in each State and the local Commonwealth Public Service Inspector. All available soldiers seeking employment, who have the necessary qualifications, are placed in the Commonwealth Public
Service. In addition, a special rehabilitation section functions in each State and care is taken to ensure that returned soldiers are placed in appropriate positions according to their qualifications.
– On the motion for the adjournment of the Senate yesterday I informed honorable senators that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) had given me advice relative to difficulties that were being experienced in regard to transport to and from Tasmania.
The information which was supplied to the Minister for Civil Aviation, and read by me, was to the effect that the Tasmanian steamer service would not be withdrawn until Monday, the 21st February. Information has since been received that the steamer, which has been making three trips a week since the 1st February, is to be withdrawn to-day. The augmented air service will commence on Monday next as stated.
I regret that the information supplied to the Minister for Civil Aviation and, in turn, to honorable senators, was incorrect, and I take this earliest opportunity to correct the statement which I made yesterday.
.- When a certain measure was under discussion this morning, there seemed to be some misunderstanding on the part of some honorable senators as to various kinds of war pensions. There are three categories: First, there is a special pension, then a service pension, and then what might be termed an ordinary pension. Up to the 30th June, 1943, according to the report of the Repatriation Commission tabled in Parliament last week, the total number of war pensions in operation was 86,096. That figure includes pensions payable to returned soldiers of the last war and of the present war, but excludes pensions received by widows and dependants of deceased soldiers.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable senator in order in discussing a measure which was before the Senate earlier to-day, and which is still the subject of discussion in this chamber ?
– The honorable senator will not bc in order in discussing the subject-matter of a hill which is still before the Senate.
– I am merely endeavouring to explain to honorable senators, who -appear to be somewhat hazy on the subject, the difference between the various types of war pensions.
– If the honorable senator is merely discussing war pensions he may proceed.
– Of that total of 86,096 pensioners, 5.3 per cent, are in receipt of special pensions because their war injuries prevent them from working. They will not be eligible for the benefits payable under the measure to which I have referred. The same may be said of service pensioners who are bracketed with old-age and invalid pensioners because they are unemployable. Service pensioners represent approximately 9.5 per cent, of the total number of soldier pensioners. As the remainder of my remarks have some reference to the measure already before the Senate, I am unable to continue at this stage.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in continuing on those lines.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has replied only to a portion of my question relating to the employment of demobilized servicemen. In my remarks on the adjournment of the Senate on the 10th February I gave credit to the Public Service authorities in Victoria for doing everything possible to place soldiers in employment, but I pointed out that there are certain war-time organizations which do not come under the Public Service Inspector in Victoria, Mr. Gabel, and it is in those organizations that certain individuals are making jobs for their friends.
.- This afternoon, for the third time, Senator Amour made a personal attack upon me in regard to my war service. He said that I went overseas with the 9th Division and that I have remained behind at head-quarters whilst my unit was fighting in New Guinea. The inference is, of course, that I am not playing my part so far as operational service is concerned. Reluctant though one may bo to talk about one’s service, I am compelled to answer the honorable senator. I joined the Army in May, 1940, and went overseas in November, 1940, as a sergeant. I served in action at Mersa Matron for three months in early 1941, when that town was one of the most heavily bombed spots in any theatre of war. I then moved with my regiment - the 2nd/7th Field Regiment - still as a sergeant, to the Libyian border, where I served in action against the enemy at Mersa Matruh, Bug Bug, and Safafi. My regiment then returned to Cairo where, against my wish, but because I was deemed to have special qualifications, I was seconded to head-quarters Australian Imperial Force, Middle East. I made a request to my commanding officer that I be permitted to remain with my unit, but, as honorable senators know, a soldier must do as he is told. Although I was seconded to head-quarters, I was actually commissioned in the 2nd/7th Field Regiment. Subsequently, and still against my desire, I was transferred to head-quarters. Much as I, and many others in head-quarters; would like to join a unit which is performing an operational role, a soldier must obey orders, and, after all, somebody has to do these jobs. Three times now Senator Amour has referred to this matter, inferring that I am sheltering in a head-quarters unit, whereas, as I have pointed out, I served with a unit which was engaged in operations against the enemy for a considerable time. The fact that I am in headquarters is due to a decision made by the Army, and certainly not by me. I think that I am right in saying that practically every man now serving in head-quarters units would be only too happy to have the opportunity to join an operational unit. No soldier that I know of likes to remain in head-quarters in war-time. If a man is in the war, he wants to ‘be given ft fighting role, but unfortunately some people have to do these base jobs, and that is why the Army adopts the only practice that it oan follow, and details men who have had some active service, and possess certain specialized knowledge, to serve in head-quarters units. ManyAustralians who have had distinguished careers in the Western Desert, Greece, Crete, Malaya and New Guinea are now in head-quarters, because it is essential to have there the services of men who have had experience in operational work.
I have mentioned this matter only because, for some reason or other, Senator Amour seems to be determined to create the false impression that my soldiering career has been spent entirely as an officer in head-quarters, whereas actually that is very far from the truth.
– On Wednesday, I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) the following question, upon notice : -
The answer given by the Minister to the first question was in the negative, indicating that there would be still mors call-ups. The Minister went on to explain that, in view of new urgent projects in the northern areas of Australia, laborers would be required in large numbers and that all southern States would be called upon to supply their quota of medically fit men. In reply to the second question, the Minister said that men called up were always man-powered prior to their enrolment and despatch. I mention this matter because it appears that the various departments concerned are clashing with one another. I have received a letter from the Prime Minister (Mr.Curtin) admitting that men have been called up by the Civil Constructional Corps without reference to the man-power authorities. I also have a letter which I received with the compliments of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), in. which the Director-General of Personnel of the Allied Works Council, Mr. Packer, advised the Minister, through the Deputy Director, Mr. Bellemore, that there would be no more call-ups for the Civil Constructional Corps at present. These statements have been published, and so has the reply to the questions I asked yesterday. Here we have two departments in conflict with one another, in spite of the fact that the Prime Minister has advised me that, by arrangement with the Premier of Tasmania, no more labour would be taken by the Civil Constructional Corps from that State, except in very special circumstances.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : - National Security Act -
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations - Order - Papua and New Guinea (Control of prohibited articles). National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of photography - Exemption. Taking possession of land, &c. (73). Use of land (6).
Senate adjourned at 3.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 February 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1944/19440218_senate_17_177/>.