17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Financial Assistance. Senator ARMSTRONG asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, uponnotice -
Has the Minister’s attention been drawn toa statement published in the Sydney Sun, on the 8th February, 1945, to the effect that the House of Commons had given a second reading to a bill which aimed at more than doubling financial aid from Britain to the Colonies, that there were cheers from the House when the Colonial Secretary (Colonel Oliver Stanley) said that if it had not been for the Colonies, with their man-power, war materials and strategic positions, Britain would never have survived this war, and that it was now proposed to give them £120,000,000, spread over ten years, to help them develop their resources?
Is there anything arising from this statement which would be of interest to the Commonwealth Parliament; ifso, will the Minister make a statement to the Senate on the matter?
– The Prime Ministerhas supplied the following answers : -
Debate resumed from the 1st March, (wide page 225), on motion by Senator
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Royal Highness the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
May itplease Your Royal Highness:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, to extend to Your Royal Highness a welcome to Australia, and to thank Your Royal Highness for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– When I obtained leave to continue my remarks yesterday, I was about to extend my congratulations to Senator Nicholls and Senator Sheehan, respectively, for the able manner in which they had submitted and seconded the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Royal Highness. I was deeply impressed by the report made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) concerning his visit to the United States of America.I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and Senator Nash upon the high honour conferred upon them in having been selected as two of the delegates from Australia to the San Francisco Conference, which may well prove the most momentous gathering of the kind the world has ever known. I say that advisedly, because it is quite conceivable that from that conference may emerge the framework of the new order for the world-to-be. On all ofthe delegates to that conference a heavy responsibility will fall.
Many claims have been advanced that a new social order is imperative. There have been as many conceptions of what that new order should be as there have been speeches declaring that such a new order should be introduced. At this conference a decision will be reached as to which conception of the new social order shall be implemented. I cannot conceive of a new order such as I desire conforming with that visualized even by the Prime Minister of Great Britain or the President of the UnitedStates of America, but I am heartened by the fact that the delegates chosen to represent Australia seem to have a democratic conception of what thenew social order should be. My fervent wish is that they will visualize the building up of an edifice without past prejudices. Let each of them try to secure as clear an appreciation as possible of the other’s point of view. Unfortunately, much cheap lipservice has been heard in this chamber about what is called socialization or nationalization. I hope that the delegates will express their views on these matters without a lack of understanding of what socialization really means. I believe that the hope of the world lies in the socialist conception of society, and I do not think that any honorable senator will doubt my sincerity on that matter.
– Why doubt ours?
– My only doubt is as to the understanding of honorable senators opposite of the principle. I hope that the delegates to the conference will take the widest possible view of all matters that come under discussion, because I anticipate that from them will emerge a semblance of what the new order is tobe.
I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition upon his speech yesterday. Never since I have sat in this chamber has he delivered an address less provocative than it. Later I heard reference to a change of heart, and I was wondering whether that had affected him, particularly as he is to be one of the delegates to the San
Francisco conference. That change may well be reflected in sin improved edifice emerging from that conference. In the course of his remarks, he said that Australia, owing to its strategic position, was destined to play an important part in the history of the British Empire. In that I entirely agree with him. I go further and say that Australia, in my opinion, is destined in future to be the centre of the British Empire. I believe that our isolation and insulation are our greatest protection. Those attributes will contribute greatly to the safety of the Empire. God forbid that there should ever be a recurrence of the terrible conflict going on now, ‘but in the event of such a catastrophe Australia is in the safest part of the world, as it has the necessary formation of outpost islands which would enable us to protect our shores.
Unless something does emerge from the peace conference to give heart to the whole of the civilized world, I cannot conceive of the captains of industry in Great Britain being content to keep their industries in that small island, which is adjacent to all sorts of potential enemies. That consideration convinces me that Australia will be the centre of the Empire in future. I hope that our delegates to the San Francisco conference will boost this country and I trust that those who condemn socialism without a proper analysis of it will take time to weigh its implications. I am sure that by the implementation of the socialist ideal Australia would be made attractive to the best class of immigrants throughout the world. Then we could determine whom we should accept as migrants and whom we should reject. That would be the best basis for the emotion of a splendid edifice in this new world.
It was with some degree of misgiving that I found the Leader of the Opposition still worried - and he was later supported by Senator Cooper - about the effects of what he called the socialization programme of the Labour party. Tn the last few months this Parliament has placed on the statute-book a number of remedial measures dealing with social welfare. In the near future, when the complete and comprehensive plan of social welfare visualized by the Labour party has been given effect, I believe that Australia, will lie the most attractive country in the world. We shall not have to seek immigrants, but we shall be in a position to decide whom we shall have and whom Ave shall not have. Those who are opposed to what I call socialist ideals should ponder as to whether the plan which has emerged from the Labour party will not make this country the greatest land on God’s earth.
I turn now to the speech of Senator Armstrong, who pleaded for a more intense publicity campaign concerning Australia in other countries. The honorable senator may not know that there is almost ready for publication a book which is designed to do just what he believes should be done. I refer to a book entitled The Australian Story, advance copies of which have already appeared abroad.
– It will have to be properly distributed if it is to be of any value to Australia.
– Senator Armstrong will be pleased to know that eight or nine weeks ago arrangements were made in America for an issue of 1,000,000 copies in that country. The foreword was written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian, Mr. Binns, is responsible for an article on the libraries of Australia. In concise, chronological order the book tells well the Australian story. Unfortunately, the price is rather high - £3 - but I have no doubt that cheaper editions will be published later. When the book is in circulation I shall be proud of the small part that I have played in connexion with it. In addition to the volume which will be on sale at £3, there will be a book showing in pictorial form the story of Australia from its discovery to the present time. This book, too, has been well prepared, and will be good value for one guinea. I agree with Senator Armstrong that the greater the publicity abroad concerning Australia the greater the benefits to this country.
Senator James McLachlan gave to us his conception of socialism. He read from a pamphlet which, no doubt, other honorable senators have read - a publication that emanated from the private banking institutions of this country, which to-day ave fighting a last-ditch battle, and are in such sore straits that they are not too fussy about what they say. They go back as far as the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, in an attempt to prove their point. They should have gone back further, and given us some account of tribal communism. Fortunately, the honorable senator’s conception of socialism is not held by the majority of the people. He spoke of the disobedience of certain elements of the community. He probably had in mind, although he did not explicitly say so, the fact that the coalminers of this country are restless, but I remind him that in the not distant past the producers of milk also were restless.
– In that case, the “ bosses “ went on strike and were not starved.
– Senator James McLachlan said that if a sailor went on strike his action would be regarded as mutiny, and he would be treated accordingly. I regard the honorable senator as a. good - even benign - fellow but his trouble is that he does not understand lots of things. If he would try to understand the viewpoint of others, he would be a better man. Treating diso’bedience as mutiny reminds me of conscription, which is something that I have never liked. I have always claimed that conscription is industrial, rather than military in its operation. I shall not make more than a passing reference to the time when Frederick the Great introduced conscription in order to maintain supplies to his fighting men, but shall pass on to 1903, when there was a strike of wine-producers in the South of. France. The then President of France, M. Clemenceau, who later became known as “ the tiger “, decided to break the strike. If the conditions were as I understand them to have been, they were terrible in the extreme. Clemenceau called the troops to the colours, and ordered them into the vineyards. Had they disobeyed commands they would have been punished for mutiny; and so the strike was broken.
Seven years later there was another exposition of the use of the marlin spike - T regard conscription as the industrial marlin spike. In 1910 there was “a strike of postal telegraphists in Paris. I believe that that was the first occasion when the syndicalist movement operated. At that time Briand was President of France. He immediately used the same instrument to break that strike as had so successfully been used by Clemenceau in 1.903. I say to Senator James McLachlan : “ For God’s sake forget that age; do not live in the past, but in 1945, and look forward to the future and better things “.
That portion of the honorable senator’s address in which he referred to soil erosion and discussed the productivity of the land in the Northern Territory appealed to me. Recently, as a member of the War Expenditure Committee, I was privileged to travel through a large part of the north of Australia, and what . saw there deeply impressed me. Like many others, I had read of such places as Cloncurry, Camooweal, Charleville, Katherine River, and Tennant Creek, but I hey were only names to me, and I always had the idea that the Northern Territory was not a fit place for white people to live. T returned from the Northern Territory with an entirely different view of its possibilities. Along the road from Camooweal to Tennant Creek I travelled over a part of the Barkly Tableland - an area about 520 miles by 260 miles. I was informed that in that vast area there were only seven holdings. I asked Mr. Hall the engineer in charge of a road job, whether it was not generally understood that the only water procurable in the Northern Territory was that which had been tapped by the people on those holdings. He replied that that had been the prevailing idea, but that it was not so in fact. He then told me that his departmen had decided to bore for water along the road, and that altogether 27 bores had been put down, in only three of which was water not found. I asked him how deep the bores had to be sunk to reach water and Mr. Hall replied that in no case was it necessary to bore more than 200 feet. He added that if the three bores in which water was not found had been sunk to a greater depth good results might have been obtained. It may be raid that my remarks this morning are a jibe at vested interests. At least it would appear that a few people wanted to retain that country for themselves. I ask honorable senators to visualize the Northern Territory under Japanese control and the use that they would have made of such a fertile area. Among the seven holdings on the Barkly Tableland is the wellknown Alexandra Downs Station. While J was in the north, I heard for the first time that persons who reside on their holdings there are exempt from all forms of Commonwealth taxation. I do not know whether or not that is really so; but I believe that that is the case. Previously, I was unaware of it. However, it is a fact that only one of the seven proprietors controlling those holdings resides on the property. These properties must be very profitable when six huge companies, domiciled abroad, can afford to live as absentee landlords, and, at the same time, pay high rates of taxation overseas. When the report called for is made available, I hope that we shall initiate some scheme whereby the Government will open up this country, and make it available for closer settlement. First, the Government should cancel the present leases, and re-survey and redistribute the land. If that is done, that country will he found to be most profitable.
– The honorable senator has been reading Mora’s Utopia.
– I am giving cold, hard facts. Probably, in any scheme of closer settlement in this area, the Government would have to assist settlers by putting down ‘bores and erecting fences. When I visited that district the dry season had just finished, and the country was supposed to be at its worst.
– For how long did the honorable senator stay there?
– I did not need to stay for any length of time at all. Experts pointed out to me seven different classes of grass as well as scrub which could be used for cattle feed. This grass was then from 15 to IS inches high, and I was informed that iri” the wet season it grew to heights of from 12 feet to 14 feet. These f acts should prove the productivity of that district. The war, in spite of all its attendant evils, has been of some benefit to Australia inasmuch as it has been the means of opening up great areas in this country by the provision of arterial roads, which in the future will help us to tap the vast resources lying dormant in those areas, and of which we have hitherto been ignorant. The north has a very great future. If we do not do something to develop it, many Americans who have travelled over that country will rush it. I have studied the Bradfield scheme, and have read a lot of literature dealing with the problem of watering our hinterland. It would be profitable for this Government to implement the Bradfield scheme. The proposal was estimated to cost between £43,000,000 and £45,000,000, and the government of the day was horrified by that figure. Despite the cost, the benefits likely to accrue from such a scheme are inestimable. To-day, we are used to talking in millions, and should this scheme cost even £143,000,000, it would help to stop soil erosion and prevent dust storms, and bring relief in many other ways, converting the centre of Australia from, an arid waste into a fertile land.
– And we might shift Canberra there.
– I have no objection to that. Indeed, we could with profit have a taste of many of the conditions about which we speak in this chamber. For instance, if honorable senators had to live on the old-age pension for a time, we should have some idea of the real position of the pensioners, and, consequently, would be keen advocates of increasing the rate of pension. I for one would be willing to take that gruel. The Bradfield scheme is one of the most comprehensive and beneficial that could possibly be implemented. By diverting our tropical waters to the interior of the continent by means of channels and tunnels, and controlling the flow by a system of locks and weirs, we should practically solve our drought problem. I know that the principal argument against schemes of this kind is the intense evaporation that takes place, that 60 per cent, of the water would evaporate ; but the Dividing Range which now prevents tropical storms on the coast from breaking inside the range would, with increased water inland, prevent rains originating in the interior from breaking outside, and as the result of continually adding to the water of the hinterland, suitable winds would spread rain over the whole of the dead heart of Australia. Recently, I visited South Australia. Much has been said in this debate about the improvement of dairy herds. I had the privilege of inspecting what J. consider to be the last word in dairies in the world. I tell this story because it points a moral. I found at “Whyalla, where the average rainfall is 6 inches annually,’ that, thanks to a scheme undertaken by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to supplement natural water supplies, that area has abundant water. In that district, I saw an area of from S to 10 acres under lucerne. I had not previously seen anything so beautiful. The crop was being sprayed all day. When viewing the patch, I said to the manager of the Whyalla works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited that I supposed with the glorious sun and plenty of water they would get probably four crops a year off that area. I thought that that was a very high estimate, but I was informed that they got from seven to nine cuttings of lucerne off that patch every year. Let us translate that fertility ‘in terms of the Bradfield scheme. I also saw splendid herds of dairy cattle in that area. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is to be congratulated on its progressiveness. I do not object to the formation of companies like the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I do not object to the formation of trusts, because as a convinced socialist, I appreciate the fact that such bodies gather together the threads which will enable us, when we decide to take them over, to do so quite easily, and operate them without much difficulty. Only a body like the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited could do work of this kind on such a magnitude. On that visit I saw many herds of dairy cattle, and I was struck by their contrast with the mixed herds which Senator Grant and I saw throughout the North Coast district of New South Wales, where we were appalled at the weediness of the beasts. When we sought information concerning butter production from such herds, we were told that the annual yield from each cow varied from 130 lb. to 150 lb. on the average, compared with an average of from 260 lb. to 270 lb. a year in Denmark.
– An average of 450 lb. would be nearer the mark for Denmark.
– If that is so, it strengthens ray comparison. At the moment, I am relying on memory with regard to these figures. Apparently, I have erred, but the error strengthens my argument. The mixed herds on the north coast seem to be unprofitable. Even groups of farmers in that district were unable to obtain pedigree bulls in order to enable them to keep their herds pure. That is why they had mixed cattle. On the other hand, at Whyalla, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited had four pedigree bulls, and were segregating their herds so as to breed the most productive class of cow. If the cows were unsuitable they were gradually weeded out and fresh stock introduced. The only pest they had to combat were galahs which, in thousands, competed very diligently with the cows for the feed available. The company had a magnificent system for milking the cows and distributing the milk after it left the dairy. On each side of the structure in which the bails were housed, were twelve races. Before being milked, the cows would go through a race, passing through a footbath of water about 5 inches in depth, and then through a small arch where, a current of air prevented the entry of flies. We did not see a fly, or the slightest particle of dust, in the “building. It was perfectly clean. After going through the footbath and the air-arch, the cows would go to their feed bin. At the end of the race, an attendant would pull a lever opening an aperture through which each cow would put its head to reach its bin. After a certain quantity of food had been placed in the bin, the flow of feed would be stopped, leaving sufficient room for the beast to finish its feeding without interference from beasts on either side of it. The floor of the building in which the milking was done, was of tiles, which would be good enough for a residential bathroom. On entering the bails, the udder of each cow was washed with brushes through which water was filtered. The cows would then be milked by a machine, which was sterilized, and the milk passed through pipes to a cooling room. When the milk reached the cooling room it passed through perforations in the pipe, and over a cooling apparatus which resembles the serrations on a scrubbing board. From the cooler the milk went into a trough and was then poured simultaneously into four bottles. When the bottles were full they were removed automatically to a table where tops were attached and were replaced by four others. The milk was not touched by human hands at any stage. It was excellent milk containing all the natural butter-fat and cream. 1 trust that modern methods such as these will be extended throughout the Commonwealth. The dairy which I visited was regarded as the last word in modernity. No doubt South Australian members of this chamber and probably some other honorable senators have seen that dairy in operation, although quite often it takes a stranger to tell a man what is in his own “backyard.
– The honorable senator should complete the story by telling how the utensils are sterilized.
– I understand that the sterilization is carried out between milking periods by steam supplied under pressure.
– Where does the water come from that is used for irrigation at Whyalla?
– I understand that it comes about 247 miles by pipe line from the River Murray. I have been travelling quite a lot in the past few months, and I have kept my eyes open and my ears close to the ground with the result that I know much more about Australia to-day than I did when I first became a member of this Parliament.
– There are 1,000,000 acre-feet of water in New South Wales rivers, and in the River Murray, but only 30,000 acre-feet are being used. Why is that?
– I do not know. .1 understand that Victoria is using its quota and that South Australia is approaching its quota, but that New South Wales is backward in this regard.
– The whole undertaking should be a national proposition.
– I agree. If the Bradfield scheme were implemented we would not be fighting about whether a few gallons of water belong to Victoria, South Australia, or New South Wales. Water would be free or at least very cheap.
I conclude as I started, by congratulating Senator Nicholls and Senator Sheehan upon their excellent speeches. I was very impressed also by the report made to this chamber yesterday by the Minister for Trade and ‘Customs (Senator Keane) on his recent visit to the United States of America. The Minister has been a splendid envoy for Australia, and I trust that the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Nash, who are to attend the forthcoming San Francisco conference, will play an important part in moulding a world better than that in which we have lived in the past.
– It is unfortunate that I should follow Senator Large in this debate. In the first place I feel that I am dressed incorrectly. I should have worn my running shoes so that I could follow his rapid movements from Cloncurry to Tennant Creek and the other places mentioned. I congratulate the honorable senator upon having seen a cow milked for the first time. I am glad that he understands now that cows are milked sometimes by machinery, and that the dairymen of Australia generally appreciate the fact that milk has to be kept clean. Knowing that the honorable senator is city-bred, I can understand his amazement and astonishment when he found out that there were such things as bulls and cows, and that they were not quite identical. I also understand now the system adopted by Senator Large in quoting figures to this Senate. Obviously he works on the old principle, Think of a number, then double it I realize also that until the honorable senator spoke, we in this chamber had not a proper appreciation of the magnificent land that is available in the vicinity of
Tennant Creek. His remarks have struck me with appalling force. It is new to me to learn that around Tennant Creek .there is any amount of water at a depth of 200 feet, and that vested interests have prevented the development of this prolific and lush land. I acknowledge my indebtedness to the honorable senator for that most interesting information.
The Speech of His Royal Highness the Governor-General appeared to me to be a “ straight-line “ speech, the definition of a straight line being, of course, “ that which has length without breadth “. I sympathized with His Royal Highness as he struggled through the full length of that document, no doubt wondering when he .would come to the meat in the sandwich. When he came to the end of the Speech he must have felt that he had bitten over the meat. To a large degree the words which were put into the mouth of His Royal Highness consisted of a glorification of the present Government - by itself, of course, because no one else will sing its praises. However, everybody knows the facts. It is impossible to get away from what one might call the despotism of established facts. One fact is that the administration of certain, laws by the present Government has led to evils which will take a long time to cure. Speaking impartially, and without any hope of future favours, I shall sympathize most profoundly with any succeeding administration which will be charged with the unenviable task of putting things right, and restoring this country to an even keel. I was particularly pleased to note in the speeches of the mover and the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, evidence not only of true love of Australia, but also of loyalty to the British throne and to British traditions. I was pleased beyond measure to find that these sentiments were expressed over and over again by speakers from both sides of the chamber. Apparently if the war has achieved nothing else, it has brought the peoples of the British Commonwealth of Nations together as one united family - much closer than they have ever been before.
A large portion of the Speech by His Royal Highness was devoted to a review of war operations. This, of course, was to be expected, as nothing is nearer to our hearts at present than the winning of the war and the safety of our men. There can be no doubt about the final outcome of this conflict, although certainly there is room for some speculation as to the duration and nature of the task which still lies ahead. I arn somewhat perturbed by the role which apparently bus been assigned to Australia in the Pacific war. We are informed that the Australian armed forces are entirely under the control of the High Command, which presumably means General MacArthur. It is said that the High Command and not the Australian Government, dictates where Australian soldiers shall fight, or even whether they shall fight at all. It is reasonable to assume, of course, that our own CommanderinChief has a voice in these matters, but there is general feeling of disappointment in Australia at the present state of affairs. Our soldiers fought in the sands of the desert at El Alamein, in the snows of Syria, and in the jungles of New Guinea. They are still fighting. Wherever they have fought they have earned the reputation of being amongst the best soldiers in the world. But now they have been relegated to a secondary role. I fear not only that our troops may be sacrificed on a job which appears to be hardly worth while, but also that the reputation of the Australian soldier will be prejudiced. What name will the Australian soldier have when’ the war is over. Will he be known as “ the Peon of the Pacific “ or perhaps as “ the garbage gatherer “. I recognize, of course, that the gathering of garbage is a very necessary task, but for a proud soldiery which has won its spurs on the greatest battlefields of the world to be given such a. menial job is a matter which requires some explanation.
– There will be plenty of casualties within the next six months.
– The honorable senator may have more information on this matter than I have, but I am inclined to think that the Government would be wise to place all the relevant facts before the public, or at least before members of this Parliament in confidence. Recently
I asked a question in this chamber about the equipment of Australian soldiers in New Guinea and I was given a rather evasive reply. Subsequently, in a speech in the Senate, Senator Mattner made the same charges. concerning a lack of equipment. Then these charges were repeated in certain newspapers.
– The newspapers are not always correct.
– That is so, but I think that Senator Mattner was quite correct. “Whether he was accurate or not, those statements were made two days ago. The honorable senator stated very plainly that the equipment of the Australian soldiers in New Guinea was not up to the standard of that of the Americans, that it was not the type of equipment that the Americans had been fighting with.
– That statement was not made here.
– Yes, it was made in this House by Senator Mattner and repeated on the following day in the newspapers, but no reply has been forthcoming. The gravest implications against the administration of the Army were made two days ago, alarming the people of Australia; yet not one Minister has said one word to reassure the people or to indicate that the conditions described would be immediately altered. I would imagine that in view of Senator Mattner’s statements, followed as they were by other comments of a similar character, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) or a responsible Minister in this House would immediately rise to his feet and say that those accusations were either right or wrong, and would be eager to announce what steps had been or were being taken to remedy the state of affairs alleged to exist. These complaints have created a considerable feeling of unrest.
– As all these irresponsible statements do.
– These were not irresponsible statements.
– They were not. They were made by a returned soldier of the last war and an officer in this war, and one who saw service in the area of which he spoke. They were made by a senator on the floor of this House, and no one can call them irresponsible.
– They were made without a knowledge of the facts.
– If the Minister is in possession of the facts, he has grossly neglected his duty in that he has not already taken steps to reassure the people of Australia and the members of this House that, rather than things being all wrong, they are all right with our men in New Guinea and the neighbouring islands. I recommend the honorable gentleman, seeing that he has made the big mistake .of maintaining silence, to seize the first opportunity to do his part towards remedying these great evils that have been complained about.
I desire to refer now to a matter that has arisen in the course of this debate, but is not directly connected- with Australia. There has been same talk with respect to the Polish question and as to the way in which the Poles are being treated to-day. Australia has some interest in that particular direction. “We have no great influence regarding it, but whatever influence we may have should be exerted to ensure that a down-trodden and a very greatly injured people are restored to their full nationhood.
– The honorable senator has read the outcome of the House of Commons debate? As a Britisher he ought to regard that as good enough.
– I have read it, of course. The Poles fought with our own boys on battlefields in different parts of the world, and fought most gallantly, and it is our earnest wish that the people of Poland should have their country restored to them, that Poland should be a free country again, that the Poles should be given the unfettered right to choose their own form of government, and should be granted full compensation for all the horror and the devastation that have been inflicted upon them in the course of the world conflict. I have referred previously to the despotism of the established fact. If that should provide a reason why Poland cannot be restored to all that it had before the war, then it is our duty to use our influence to ensure that it is compensated for loss of territory that it may yet have to sustain as well as for all that it has suffered in other directions. We sometimes hear of cases in the law courts, and elsewhere, which establish that where a thing has been taken away it cannot always be restored, but in regard to which compensation has been awarded.
– Poland is going to be given East Prussia, is it not?
– I do not know, but I plead that we use our influence to ensure that Poland is made a free country and that the damage that has been done to Poland and its people be made good; that its rights be restored and that it be compensated for all that it has suffered.
We have heard considerable talk about socialism and all that it means, and as to the misunderstanding which exists to-day concerning what socialism really is. The way in which to understand socialism is to suffer from it. We are suffering and have been suffering from it in the last yearortwo. To know what is true, one must experience the false. What have we found out about socialism in Australia? All the people of Australia have suffered because there is a war, but we have found that most of the woes that Australia has suffered are due to bad administration. When we hear about black marketing, for instance-
– But that is not socialism.
– It is caused by socialism. The war is blamed for it, but it is not caused by the war. It is due to shockinglybad administration. When the measure having to do with black marketing was before this House in 1942 the very things that have since happened were emphasized and very strongly too.
– By the prophets !
– By the prophets - by ex-Senator Spicer and myself. We put up a big fight because we felt convinced that the bill was drafted on wrong lines; and the lines along which the Government is now travelling have accentuated the wrong. I have turned back to the record of what I said in the course of the debate on the Black Marketing Bill, and among other commentsI used these words -
I am anxious to see this measure in operation because I am anxious that black marketing be stamped out. However, I am afraid that the bill as drafted will not accomplish that objective. Indeed, I am inclined to think that it will generate more rascality and blackmail in the community than has previously existed. The measure makes no provision for many eventualities … So long as goods, including stolen goods, are not sold at prices above the prescribed prices, no offence is committed under this measure.
The same warning was given by exSenator Spicer. Now the judges and magistrates are being blamed in that they do not convict. We pointed out that the penalties provided by the legislation were not elastic, that they were too heavy, and that any magistrate would require the soundest and most explicit proof of guilt before he would impose for what apparently might be a small offence the heavy penalties provided by the law.
– If it is the Labour party that is the cause of black marketing in this country, what is the cause of it in every other country in the world?
– I do not know. It may be due to the Labour party in all other countries where black marketing is rife, just as it is here. But that was the warning which I gave in 1942, when the measure was under discussion and we asked the Leader of the Senate to delay its passage, if only for a day, so that he might take the opportunity to consult with some of us in order to see if a bill could not be passed that would be workable. However, the Minister demanded his bill without thealteration of a comma, and what we then prophesied has come to pass. There has developed a degree of black marketing, blackmail, and rascality in Australia never before known in our history and never thought possible by our people.
-Read the history of black marketing in. America !
– That was responsible for the gangster conditions that arose in America over the liquor business. But I emphasize that it is the administration of the legislation in Australia which is itself responsible for the development and extent ofblack marketing to-day, and I contend that the existing conditions cannot be cured by the setting up of extra courts.
– What is the honorable senator’s suggestion?
– I am not suggesting anything. I am alarmed, however, and so are the citizens of Australia generally. The law-abiding citizen, who believes in right and justice, is confronted to-day with this prospect, that the Government is about to set up a federal court system because the judges and magistrates of the State courts will not impose sufficiently heavy penalties. These federal courts are going to administer exactly the same law as the State tribunals have been called upon to administer. Is the Government of the Commonwealth going to interfere with the ordinary course of justice? Is it going to order these new justices that they shall convict, convict, and convict?
– Mr. Weaver, who broke away from the Liberal party, has made the same statements about the magistrates in New South Wales.
– Mr. Weaver is not my leader. The honorable senator is talking about New South Wales, which - except in the matter of , black marketing - is a very inconsiderable portion of Australia. I object to interference with the ordinary course of law and order. I resent the insult that in effect has been put upon the judges and magistrates throughout Australia, namely, that they are not administering the law and that the Government therefore proposes to set up another jurisdiction, with instructions that it shall convict. Has one ever heard of a greater travesty on British justice? We are to have courts established with instructions to convict and to impose the highest penalties that they can pronounce.
Our people believe in fair play. If the Government would only look at the source of this black marketing business and would only realize and admit that that source is the very form of the legislation that was passed ; and if only the Government would alter that legislation, then we might achieve something. But for the Government to set up new courts with the sole and specific object of enforcing convictions in respect of a particular class of crime seems to me to strike at the very roots of British justice and fair play.
The housing shortage is referred to in paragraph 47 of the Speech of His Royal Highness which states -
My Government is not unmindful of the great need for relief in the existing shortage of homes, and it proposes to keep this matter under close review with the object of taking appropriate steps immediately the war situation will permit the diversion of man-power, money and materials towards activities in this direction.
It is consoling to know that the Government is not unmindful of the shortage of homes for the people, but why does it not do something about the matter?
– The Government which the honorable senator supported did nothing about it for twelve years.
– Does anybody believe that the shortage was as great then as it is now? Many people are crying out to be given a roof over their heads. The Government says that it is not unmindful of the difficulty and that after the war it may take some action to provide homes. In the meantime, people can go without a roof over their heads.. The only ste,p the Government has taken has been to prevent private enterprise from building any houses. The statement in the Speech refers to the diversion immediately .the war situation will permit of “ man-power, money and materials “. I underline the word “ materials “. The Government can forget about the manpower and the money, if it will endeavour to release some materials, so that the people may build homes for themselves.
Senotor Sheehan. - Are materials available?
– The Government could release a considerable quantity, if it desired to do so. If it released 200 men te work in the brick kilns there would be sufficient materials available for the building of a considerable number of houses, but the Government merely tells us that it is not unmindful of the crisis.
– The Opposition wants men released for everything, and then it would criticize the Government’s war effort. In the House of Representatives the Government’s disposition of the fighting forces has been criticized.
– I say nothing about releasing men from the fighting forces. I am told that there are from 750.000 to 800,000 people in the fighting forces. We know, of course, that only a comparatively small number of them are fighting in New Guinea and neighbouring islands. We know also that from 300,000 to 400,000 of our men have been eating their hearts out in Australia for the last three years, because they have nothing to do. They are decaying on their feet, because all interest has been taken out of life. They have been prevented from doing the job they wanted to do. They are even prevented from helping their parents for a month or two. The Government must make up its mind whether it will have a fighting front ora food front. It must decide how many men are necessary for the fighting front, and then it must rescue the troops who are now degenerating by giving them something to do. They want to fight or work. If they are to be prevented from fighting or working in the job for which they have been trained, let them goback to civil life.
– What does the honorable senator want them to do?
– They could be profitably employed in building houses or in supplying people with various commodities which they need. I should want them to help in eradicating black marketing. It would be better to let them engage in production than to degenerate through idleness in the interior of Australia. The Government is the greatest black marketeer, because it allows goods that have been acquired by it to be sold at double or treble the price they ought to command.
SenatorFraser. - I thought that the honorable senator said that a Socialist Government was in power.
– That is the price of the policy of socialism. Large quantities of apples and pears have been acquired by the Government and thousands ofbushels have been allowed to rot on the ground, while consumers in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney have to pay 9d. or 10d. per lb. for the fruit.
– The Government does not control that.
– Yes, it does.
SenatorFraser. - The price is far higher to-day than ever it was under the government acquisition scheme.
– Hundreds of thousands of bushels of Tasmanian apples and pears could be brought to the mainland and racketeering could be prevented in a fortnight, but the Government refuses to do it. It prefers to see fruit carried to rubbish tips. Even in Tasmania, the people cannot afford tobuy apples at the prices charged for them.
– The honorable senator asks the Government to divert shipping which is essential for supplying the needs of the fighting forces.
– If a person in Tasmania asked an orchardist to sell apples to him, he could not do it. If one asked the orchardist to give apples away, he would say : “ No, I am prevented from doing that; but if you wait till I walk away, you can help yourself to as many as you like.” I do not know whether the Government is proud of its record.Despite the fact that good fruit is going to waste, the prices are nearly three times as high as they were, at this season of the year, before the war. Yet the Government holds itself up as the saviour of the people! There is a big upsurge of feeling in Australia, which is marked largely by the birth of the new Liberal party, which will, in the final analysis, sweep the government benches clean. The Government cannot get away from the fact that in a land of plenty the prices of certain food has, under its administration, reached a figure three times as great as it was prior to the war, and, despite the large amount of money in circulation, the people cannot afford to buy it.
– Nothing is right anywhere.
– There is nothing right on the government side of the chamber.
Many paragraphs in the speech deal in an indefinite way with a variety of subjects. They all involve something which the Government is not, unmindful about, but which it will attend to at some future time. It has embarked on an ocean of plans. I have never known a planner yet who was willing to plan himself out of a job, although I have known planners to plan themselves into jobs. The Government has started out to make this country a land fit for economists to experiment in. It is cheerfully swallowing any half-baked theory and .taking to its bosom any half-baked theorist who has a new gospel.
Senator Siibe.ii.as. ; The honorable senator’s remarks denote that he is still a reactionary conservative.
– I have always had doubt about the honorable senator’s judgment but he appals me by a comment of that kind. He will need to obtain some tuition from Senator Large, who will advise him regarding the best means of setting right the wrongs of this country. It is pleasant for honorable senators opposite to be supporters of the Government. I can imagine a Labour man getting up in the morning and saying to his fellow Labour representatives: “What do we believe in to-day?” His friend would probably reply: “We do not know yet. We must wait until we get to the House and then we shall know.” I make that remark because certain proposals are foreshadowed for the granting of preference in employment to members of the fighting services. I have a vivid recollection that, in the Senate last session, a proclamation was made in loud and emphatic terms by several honorable senators opposite that they were not in favour of preference to ex-service personnel. Evidently they have since been brought to heel. In spite of their previous emphatic declarations that they did not believe in preference to returned soldiers, they now support a Government which claims that it intends to introduce legislation providing for such preference. And so I can imagine a Labour man saying to himself each morning, “ What do I believe in to-day ? “
Although there is no mention of shipbuilding in the Governor-General’s Speech, I wish to refer to it. This subject has been exercising my mind considerably of late. Recently, I asked a question regarding the cost of the 9,000-ton vessels being built in Australia, and I was informed that the estimated cost was ?550,000 each. The Minister added that the actual cost of the ships was not then known. That works out at about ?61 a ton. I made inquiries, and found thai in Great Britain the cost of vessels of the same size is between ?24 and ?28- a ton, and in the United States of America approximately ?42 a ton. The difference between the cost in Australia and in those other countries rather appals me. If shipbuilding is to become an Australian industry, the cost of production will have to be reduced. I believe in the protection of Australian industries; nevertheless the situation alarms me. It makes me wonder whether the shipbuilding industry can really be established in Australia on a satisfactory basis.
– The honorable senator should consult his friends associated with the Chamber of Manufactures.
– They are not engaged in shipbuilding. The Government set up an authority to build these ships.
– The honorable senator has compared the prices, but he has not said whether the specifications of the ships are the same.
– They are all cargo vessels of approximately the same tonnage and will be engaged in carrying cargoes.
– The living conditions on some ships have improved considerably during the last twelve months.
– The point to remember is that all these vessels are cargo vessels, and that the difference in price is enormous. Can the Minister say what is the reason for the extra cost in Australia? I remind him that the steel used in the construction of these vessels costs less in Australia than in either Great Britain or tie United States of America, so that the extra cost is not in. that raw material.
I compliment the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) on his speech in connexion with lend-lease arrangements. It is some satisfaction to know that the difference between the value of goods obtained by us under lend-lease and the goods supplied to the United States of America under reciprocal lend-lease arrangements is so small. And when we remember that Australian goods supplied to the Americans have, in some instances, been only one-third of the price of similar goods in the United States of America, it would appear that we come out of this arrangement very well indeed. After the war there should be no great heart-burning about the monetary difficulties associated with lendlease arrangements. I thought that the adverse margin might be greater, and that possibly some of the American people would show resentment, but I am glad to see that the difference is not so great asI expected. Indeed, if we have good seasons and can supply more foodstuffto the American authorities, the difference may disappear.
I congratulate the Minister for Trade and Customs on the success of his mission overseas; he seems to have done very well. It may be politically unwise for me to praise the Minister, but Ilike to give honour where it is due. I believe that he did a good job in America, and left a good impression behind him. I am grateful to him for the information that he has given to us, and am especially gratified at his reference to the generosity of the Canadian people towards Australians. In the course of his speech he made some remarks about coal to which the Government should give heed. The Minister said that coal-miners abroad were rewarded for producing extra quantities of coal, and I am inclined to think that in some such policy lies the solution of our troubles in the coal-mining industry. As honorable senators know, many coalminers say that it is useless for them to earn big pay, because most of it is taken in taxes. I wonder if it would be possible to set a target of production, and for payments for any production above that quantity to be free of income tax. I realize that that is a rather revolutionary proposal, but my view is that in industry payment should be based on results. I do not know how this change could be brought about, but I believe that only by paying by results will men do their best.
– Is not the hewing of coal done on a contract basis?
– Not exactly. My suggestion is that in respect of coal produced beyond a certain production target the miner should notbe taxed; in other words, his additional earnings should be retained in full by him.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that that principle should apply only to coal-miners?
– No. I think that the idea may offer a solution of many of our industrial problems.I believe that if men were rewarded according to the work that they perform, so that a man with extra ability, agility, or intelligence would be rewarded for his greater output, there would be greater peace in industry. I know that there is a strong feeling against the bonus system.
– It is hard to put into operation.
– The difficulties cannot be insuperable, because the bonus system is in operation in the United States of America, Great Britain and Russia. I have always thought that if coal-miners, or other workers, who perform extra work have their due reward taken from them by some ill-advised taxation, it should be given back to them in some way. I believe that that is the only way that we shall get the coal that we want, and the best out of men.
We have heard a good deal of the need for greater publicity abroad concerning Australia, and I agree with much that has been said; but I emphasize that we must aim at value rather than volume, quality rather than bulk. Already there is a good deal of publicity concerning Australia; every week I get bundles of printed matter from the office of the Minister for Information. Some of it is beautifully prepared, but at the same time it is a waste of money. After the pictures have been scanned, the publications are probably thrown into the waste-paper basket in many instances. I believe that thousands of pounds are being wasted in unnecessary publicity in Australia concerning this country. If the money were spent outside Australia the position would be different. Recently, I saw a number of posters prepared by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, which I suppose are intended to be exhibited on dairy premises. Much of this propaganda is childish, kindergarten stuff, and will not result in the production of an extra gallon of milk or pound of butter. In order to be effective, publicity must be true, interesting and sensible. The craven fear of being great is nothing compared with the craven fear of seeming small. Australians should realize that they are only a little over 7,000,000 people among the many millions of the world, and that Australia is not yet the mistress of the world. A more general recognition of such elementary facts would be good for our souls. We should not issue propaganda describing Australia as already a great nation, but only that we hope to be great nation. Publicity must not be cheap; it must be good and true.
The last subject with which I shall deal is the forthcoming world conference at San Francisco, which some of my colleagues will attend as members of the delegation appointed to represent this country. I am a little perturbed about the outcome of the conference, because, al an assembly of that kind, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has said, Australia should speak with one voice. In the same sentence, he also said that only the ministerial delegates would bc given an opportunity to express views at the conferences to he held in preparation for the San Francisco Conference. I hope that Australia will speak with one voice at those preliminary conferences; but the Government is not going the right way about achieving that objective. At the beginning of the war, we hoped that Australia would speak with one voice for the duration of the war, but the very people who turned down that proposal when it was made by the Opposition parties in this Parliament now occupy the treasury bench. We said that, during the war, the people of Australia should speak as one family, and that, we should have a government composed of all parties, hut that proposal was turned down by those who are now in office. To-day, however, the Government cries out that Australia needs to speak with one voice. I am disappointed with the composition of the delegation that is to attend the San Francisco Conference. I have no complaint so far as the parliamentary representatives are concerned; but two interests which are vitally concerned in future world arrangements are not represented on the delegation. I refer, first, to our primary producers, who will have to sell their products overseas, and, secondly, to cur manufacturers who will have to sell their goods in this country in competition with imported goods. Those two sections of the community are most vitally concerned industrially and economically in the outcome of the forthcoming conference, yet they, neither of them, are directly represented on the delegation appointed to represent Australia. Surely, that is a mistake. Surely, those two vital sections of the community, whose activities constitute the very lifeblood of this country, and practically guarantee its safety, should be represented on that delegation.
– Is not the president of the Chamber of Manufactures a member of the delegation?
– No, he has been absolutely ignored. The delegation does not include a representative of either secondary or primary industry. Therefore, the Government must not be disappointed if, upon the return of the delegation to this country, those engaged in those industries express dissatisfaction with the results of the San Francisco Conference. When the Prime Minister asks that the country speak with one voice, the representatives of every section of the community should be represented on the delegation. Further, only the ministerial delegates are to be given an opportunity to apeak for Australia. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) and the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) will lead the delegation. They, of course, are representatives of the Government, and what they say “goes”. Although the delegation is numerous - too numerous, in my opinion, to work effectively - the Government has omitted to include representatives of the two vital sections of the community which I have mentioned. It has also neglected to tell members of the Opposition parties in this Parliament what the Government representatives intend to ask for at the conference. It would have acted more wisely, had it discussed such matters with us in order to ascertain our views on the various subjects to be dealt with. On the contrary, in every vital respect the Government representatives will act entirely upon their own initiative, whether or not the arrangements to which they agree at the conference are satisfactory to Australia as a whole. Whilst the Government is prepared to take that risk, it is crying aloud the need for Australia to speak with one voice. It is not making any attempt whatever to ascertain the voice of Australia.
L hesitate to criticize further the proposals outlined in the Speech delivered by His Royal Highness. When I criticize that Speech, I realize that some of the things which are only hinted at in it will come in for more criticism when the Government finally makes up its mind and takes action instead of merely saying that it is considering certain matters. I am sure that if the Government would sometimes make up its mind for itself, instead of letting caucus make up its mind for it, it would achieve a little celerity in its administration. However, it is content merely to say that it has certain things in mind, or, to quote the Speech of His Royal Highness, it is “’ not unmindful “ of various matters.
– The honorable senator is jealous of the caucus.
– I am. When I arise every morning I know what I believe in. I have made up my mind, whereas no Labour supporter need make up his mind for himself. He can content himself with the thought that the caucus will settle all problems. I hope that whoever runs the show, and pulls the strings that make the Government work, or fail to work, will put a little “ go “ into the marionettes on the Government benches, and let them feel that there is some kick at, the back of them, so that Australia will derive some benefit and know that whilst the country may go from bad to worse it will not continue to go from worse to chaos.
– I congratulate the mover and the seconder of the motion upon their speeches in opening this debate. They succeeded in arousing honorable senators opposite to expound profoundly, knowledge and wisdom and to say what they would do were they in office at present. It is the function of an Opposition to criticize an administration, and it may go even so far as to attempt to ridicule the Government. However, unless such criticism is substantiated by facts, it is altogether useless. I had hoped that honorable senators opposite would make constructive suggestions, but so far I have not been able to detect any constructiveness in their speeches. The Speech delivered by His Royal Highness the Governor-General was historic and, indeed, epochal. I hope that the term of office of His Royal Highness as Governor-General will be associated with the early conclusion of hostilities in Europe.
I express my deep appreciation of being chosen as a member of the delegation to represent this country at the San Francisco conference. I do not know whether Senator Leckie’s prediction that I, as a member of the delegation, will merely be an onlooker is. correct; but even should that be the case, I presume that all members of the delegation will have an opportunity to submit to its two ministerial leaders their views and opinions on the various matters to be dealt with. That, at least, will enable every member of the delegation to contribute to the delegation’s success. As the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) pointed out yesterday, this visit will afford a splendid opportunity particularly to those members who have not vet been abroad to ascertain the industrial potentialities of the United States of America, and will enable us to make an accurate comparison between our way of life and that of the citizens of that great country. He said that his visit abroad had practically re-orientated his outlook with regard to industry. I hope that all members, of the delegation will return from the conference with constructive ideas for the future prosperity of this country and the maintenance of the best possible good-will between Australia and the United States of America. I congratulate the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) upon the report which he made in this chamber yesterday. I was glad to hear Senator Leckie also contribute a word of praise to the Minister for what he has accomplished on Australia’s behalf. It has been said that the Minister was a big man for a big job, and with that I entirely agree. I am sure that the work which the Minister for Trade and Customs carried out in regard to lend-lease arrangements will, be of great advantage to this country.
– He brought back some nice motor cars. too.
– “We have heard quite a lot. about motor cars, including very misleading statements in regard to their cost. That, of course, is just another instance of the freedom of the press about which we hear so much - .freedom to misquote and misrepresent.
Honorable senators opposite claim that the Speech of His Royal Highness the Governor-General was unduly long. In fact, Senator Leckie said that the paragraph? were so numerous that ho had difficulty in following the numbers. There were 53 paragraphs in the Speech. It was a momentous document, and apparently Senator Leckie was unable to cope with it. The honorable senator claimed that, despite its length, the Speech contained nothing of importance. Several times he said that the Speech only said that the Government was not unmindful of this and not unmindful of that. In my opinion, it is a good job that the Government is not unmindful of some things, particularly when I recall that during the long term of office of the Government of which Senator Leckie was a member it did not at any time get past the “ unmindful “ stage so far as many urgent needs of the people are concerned.
Senator James McLachlan stated that two.thirds of the Speech was devoted to the war, and that we had read all about the war in the newspapers. That seemed to suggest that it was wrong of His Royal Highness to place before Parliament the latest and most important developments in the war since the last review was given.
– It was not the Governor-General’s own Speech.
– His Royal Highness delivered the Speech, and therefore it can be said to be his Speech. True, like its predecessors, this Government advised the Governor-General in regard to what lines the Speech should take, and very rightly so, because the Speech of the GovernorGeneral is an indication of what legislation is likely to be brought before Parliament during the forthcoming session, and a report upon what has happened in connexion with important public matters. Despite what has been said to the contrary, the war is still of paramount importance to this country, and therefore His Royal Highness the Governor-General was justified in devoting a substantial portion of his Speech to that matter. The Speech sought to impress upon the people of this country the importance of the war to Australia. In paragraph 6, Hip Royal Highness said -
The by-passed enemy forces are formidable and much remains to be done before they are finally liquidated. As has already been announced, .Australian forces have taken over from the Americans, in the Solomons, New Britain and British New Guinea.
Paragraph 9 states - it ha.-; been estimated by Mr. Churchill that it will take eighteen mouths to defeat -Japan after the war in Europe has been won. lt is evident that a great tusk lies ahead and the call is for willing and unselfish service until final victory has been achieved.
That is a clear message to the people of Australia that the war is still our most vital concern. We have been told by honorable senators opposite that there is dissatisfaction with what is being done with our front-line troops. One honorable senator, who was a member of a previous administration, said that he was not satisfied that all Australians under arms were being used to the best advantage. We have been told also that Australian troops should be used to assist in the rescue of our prisoners of war captured in Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies. Rightly or wrongly, I take the view that the disposition of our forces is a matter for determination by the Supreme Command and that it is futile for arm-chair strategists in this chamber to express their views on this matter. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Chi the 22nd February, Senator Leckie asked me, as Minister representing .the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), when the amending patents legislation was likely to !be introduced. ‘ I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that a comprehensive, consolidating mid amending patents bill will be introduced as soon as the exigencies of parliamentary business permit, after ho return of the Attorney-General from the forthcoming conference of the United Nations at San. Francisco.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers wore presented : -
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 19.
National Security Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945. Nos. 14, 10, 17, 18, 20, 21.
Senate adjourned al 12.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 March 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1945/19450302_senate_17_181/>.