17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister Representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture make a statement in the near future as to when payment for seed for the 1945 vegetable crop will he made?
SenatorFRASER- The information is being obtained and will be supplied to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– Has the Acting Minister for the Army seen the report in the Sydney Sun of Monday, the 11th J une that, despite a denial by the Minister that neither he nor the War Cabinet directed that the Australian Comforts Fund should receive no more tobacco , after the 1st June, officials of the fund had had no official advice rescinding the cut? If so, can the Minister explain why the chairman of the Tobacco Manufacturers AdvisoryCommittee informed the Australian Comforts Fund that the Minister for Trade and Customs had directed him to make the cut? In view of the importance of maintaining this tobacco ration, will the Minister make a full statement to the Senate setting out the true position?
– I have seen the press statement to which the honorable senator refers; it is not correct. The Minister for Trade and Customs will make a statement on the subject.
SenatorFOLL. - Has the Minister for Trade and Customs seen a statement in the press that he has made available additional supplies of liquor and tobacco to hotels and. shops in the vicinity of the Trades Hall, Sydney, where a conference of members of trade unions is being held ? Will he say whether that is the usual practice of the department in relation to conferences, and whether similar facilities will be afforded to members of other organizations who may meet in con ference anywhere in Australia for any purpose ?
– I have seen the report, which is accurate. Authority was given for a certain quantity of beer and tobacco to be made available to meet the needs of about 300 visiting delegates to a conference representing the trade union movement. Should the Liberal party hold a conference anywhere in Australia a similar permit will be granted, provided that beer and tobacco are available.
Releases - Tobacco Issue
– Will the Acting Minister for the Army take up with the Army authorities the question of discharging a number of optometrists for employment in Tasmania, in order to relieve the strain on people who have to wait long periods for spectacles?
– I shall have inquiries made, and will acquaint the honorable senator withthe result.
– by leave - On the return of the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser) from his visit to the operational areas, he represented to me that all troops in these areas had complained that the amount of tobacco available to them was insufficient to meet their reasonable requirements. As honorable senators are aware, a shortage exists in the total supplies of tobacco, which has required rationing to be exercised on a fairly heavy scale to bring the demand within available supplies. So far as the troops in the forward operational areas are concerned, it has always been the policy of the Government that priority of issue of tobacco and other amenities should be given to them, and this policy has not at any time been departed from. However, owing to the fact that the number of troops serving in tropical areas was heavily increased some little time ago to enable members of the Expeditionary Force to take part in the operations in Borneo which have recently taken place, the demands for the supply of tobacco in hermetically sealed tins - which is the only tobacco of any use in tropical areas - were greatly intensified, resulting in a shortage of these supplies for the time being.
Again, aftei- conferring on this question last week, the Acting Minister for the Army and myself directed that a conference should take place between representatives of the three Armed Services and the Tobacco Advisory Committee, with a view to increasing the issues of tobacco to forward operational troops to the basis in existence at the end of 1944. The report of this inter-departmental committee is now available, and it indicates that the three services have taken all the available supplies of tobacco packed in hermetically sealed tins and there were no reserves held on the mainland of Australia, and that no tobacco so packed was being sold or issued to troops or civilians south of the tropical areas. It is essential, however, that tobacco for shipment to the troops in the tropics must be so packed unless it can be ensured that it will .be consumed shortly after delivery from the ship, otherwise it rapidly deteriorates.
The tobacco-manufacturing companies do not have the facilities for increasing the output of tobacco packed in hermetically sealed tins, but in considering the matter the committee had taken into account the directions which they had received from myself and the Acting Minister for the Army, that it was to be ensured that the troops in the forward operational areas would receive their full quota irrespective of who else went short. As a result, arrangements are being made forthwith for the supplies to the various operational depots in the South-West Pacific area to be made available at the rate of 13 oz. of tobacco and/or cigarettes per man per month on the ration strength, and in addition 2 oz. per month will be made available as heretofore to the Australian Comforts Fund for free distribution to the troops. This represents 13 oz. per man per month for disposal by sale through the canteens and 2 oz. per man per month as a free issue from the Australian Comforts Fund.
There has been some misunderstanding of the position in regard to the issue of tobacco for free issue by the Australian Comforts Fund, which’ had been incorrectly informed that the
War Cabinet had directed that such issues were to cease with effect from the 1st June, 1945, so that all tobacco would be issued to the troops through the Australian Army Canteens Service. .Staeb, a decision had not been given by War Cabinet and the position has been clarified as now outlined by me. Tt may be mentioned that in order to achieve the objective of a full issue for the operational troops, it would be necessary for some of the supplies to the base areas in the South-West Pacific Area to be made up in a pouch packet instead of hermetically sealed tins, but precautions will be taken to ensure that tobacco packed in this way will, as far as exigencies permit, receive quick transit and quick distribution at base areas after delivery from the ship.
Storage in Tasmania - Queensland Losses - Reconditioning.
– hy leave - Honorable senators representing Tasmania have raised the question of the deterioration of potatoes held in store and in pits in various districts of that State. I am now able to inform the Senate that an officer of the Australian Potato Committee has carried out an inspection of crops and stocks in the Glengarry, Winkleigh and ‘Scottsdale districts. Generally speaking, the potatoes were found to be in excellent condition. In one instance, heavy deterioration had taken place, but that was due to circumstances which were quite exceptional and did not apply to growers as a whole. The potato inspector concerned has reported to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that, apart from a very small quantity of Bismarck potatoes which were beginning to shoot in the ground, there did not appear to be any deterioration at all. It was to be expected, the report says, that some loss of weight through normal shrinkage would occur, but that cannot be described as deterioration. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has assured me that in the event of any serious deterioration being proved, he will arrange at once for an assessment; of the stocks to be made.
– Is the Minister aware that, owing to heavy floods in parts of Queensland, there have been serious losses of potatoes in that State? Will special consideration be given to this matter in order to ensure that ample supplies of potatoes will be made available to replace such losses, so far as shipping facilities permit?
– I shall convey the honorable senator’s request to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
-The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : -
– In view of certain happenings in the House of Representatives this morning, when the Acting Prime Minister promised to meet the honorable member foa- Fawkner (Mr. Holt) in conference in regard to Landlord and Tenant Regulations, is the Minister for Trade and Customs in a position to say whether the conference has taken place and, if so, with what result?
– A promise was made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that certain amendments of the Landlord and Tenant Regulations, which had been proposed by the honorable member for Fawkner as ,a result of correspondence with various people, would be examined at a conference consisting of the Acting Attorney-General, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the honorable member for Fawkner, before the introduction of the proposed new regulations was announced.
Owing to pressure of work it was not found possible for me to arrange the conference. As stated by the honorable senator this matter was raised in the House of Representatives this morning by the honorable member for Fawkner, and almost simultaneously the conference was held, and a satisfactory arrangement made. The amendments desired by the honorable member for Fawkner had been examined by the Prices Commissioner, and were ready for discussion at the conference. As announced by me last evening, the proposed new regulations will operate from the 2nd July. On the 7th June, the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie) directed a question to me relating to the Landlord and Tenant Regulations, and referred to the case of a returned soldier who had taken the precaution to buy a house for himself before he enlisted and, on discharge, waa unable to obtain possession of it. The honorable senator asked whether the Landlord and Tenant Regulations had been examined with a. view to meeting such cases. The Landlord and Tenant Regulations do not contain any special provisions relating to discharged members of the forces. Certain modifications of those regulations are prescribed by the War Service Moratorium Regulations. None of those modifications excludes the application of the whole of the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Regulations relating to ejectment of tenants where the landlord is a discharged member of the forces. In such a case, however, it is not necessary that other accommodation be available for the lessee before an order can be made to put the landlord in possession of his home. It is not proposed to extend the existing rights of landlords, whether discharged soldiers or not, to recover possession of their homes for their own occupation. At a conference between the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Beasley), the honorable member for Fawkner and the Rent Controller this morning, it was suggested that some rebate of income tax should be made in respect of the second rent that has to be paid. That matter will be considered at an early date, and I shall then make a statement regarding it.
Supplies of Atebrin - Workmen’s Compensation
SenatorFRASER. - On the 7th June, Senator Arnold asked me whether supplies of atebrin could be made available for members of the Mercantile Marine who trade in tropical waters. I now desire to inform him that supplies of this drug are controlled throughout Australia by the Medical Equipment Control Committee. Atebrin is in very short supply, and arrangements have been made for civilians to obtain the necessary drug through the various State Health Departments. Members of the Mercantile Marine may obtain supplies in a similar manner.
asked the Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– On behalf of Senator Ashley I inform the honorable senator that the Acting Attorney-General has supplied the following answer: -
Inquiries are being made into the matter and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator’s questionas soon as the inquiries are completed.
– On the 5th July, Senator Foll directed attention to the continuation of the policy of pegging the values of stocks and shares on the Australian stock exchanges, and suggested that, in view of the improved war position, a free market might nowbe allowed for these transactions. The Government takes the view that the investment market should not be over-active in war-time, and that there is a real need to curb the activities of speculators. The Treasurer advises me that he has received numerous representations from the chairman of the Associated Stock Exchanges, and that although he has had the matter under constant review he does not consider that the time is yet opportune for the control tobe removed.
Man-power and Material Resources.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Man-power - Ministerial Statement,1 st June, 1945. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator Leckie ) adjourned.
– I ask Senator Grant whether on Sunday evening, the 10th June, at a lecture given at the Newsreel Theatrette at King’s Cross, Sydney, by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) on “Labour’s Propaganda Machine”, the honorablesenator used these words-
-Order ! The honorable senator will notbe in order in asking another honorable senator a question along the lines he has indicated. I drawhis attention to Standing Order 98, which reads -
After Noticeshave been given Questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs, and to other Senators,relating to any Bill, Motion,or other public matter connected with the Business on the Notice Paper, of which suchSenators may have charge.
SenatorFOLL. - In view of your ruling, Mr. President, I shall raise the matter on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER.- The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: - 1, A total of 1,951 acres of vegetables (that is carrots, cabbage, parsnips and beetroot) were contracted for by growers in Tasmania directly withCommonwealth Food Control for this year.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– On behalf of Senator Ashley, I inform the honorable senator’ that the Minister for Munitions has supplied the following answers: - 1, 2 and 3. I am not aware of the particular design of components manufacturers propose to utilizein any contemplated programme of production nor is it the function of my department to prescribe standards. Most manufacturers are aware of the developments which have taken place during the war and no doubt will, incorporate them as far as practicable to meet up-to-date requirements. The question of man-power is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who will doubtless allocate labour according to the urgency of the requirement.
asked the Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– On behalf of Senator Ashley, I inform the honorable senator that the Acting Attorney-General has supplied the following answers: -
Senator SAMPSON (through Senator
Leckie) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
Are wooden ships being built in Tasmania for or by the Commonwealth Government?
If so, are they being constructed from local timber?
What kind of timber is being used?
Of what tonnage are these vessels?
How many of these vessels have been completed, and how many have sailed under their own power?
What is the average number of men daily employed in their construction?
How many ships is it proposed to build?
What is the cost per ship, ready for sea?
What is the total cost to date of this project?
– On behalf, of Senator Ashley, I inform the honorable senator that the Minister for Munitions has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Italy, was defined by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in a statement to the House on the 21st November, 1941, as follows: “ After the outbreak of war with Italy, the Treaty ceased to be effective. Whether it is annulled or merely suspended is a question of international law on which opinions may possibly differ. In any event, the treaty has no operation during the war and the Commonwealth Government will take care to see that in the treaty of peace the interests of Australian citizens are fully safeguarded in relation to the treaty “. 6 and 7. A newspaper statement which appeared some months ago stated that the British Government was discussing a plan to send a proportion of the German and Austrian refugees in Britain to the Dominions, but so far no approach has been made to the Commonwealth Government by the United Kingdom Government in regard to receiving any of these refugees.
asked the Acting Minister for the Army, upon notice -
How many Germans and Italians have been interned in prisoner-of-war camps in Australia and how many have been repatriated to their respective countries since the cessation of hostilities in Europe?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
In reply, I have to advise the honorable senator as follows: Interned Germans, 1,639; interned Italians, 18,423; repatriated Germans. 66: repatriated Italians,622.
Debate resumed from the 8th June (vide page 2793), on motion by Senator Keane -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– by leave - Senator Sampson, who had obtained leave to continue his speech on this bill, missed the train from Melbourne to Canberra yesterday owing to the late arrival of the aeroplane by which he travelled from Tasmania, and was also unable to obtain a seat on an aeroplane from Melbourne to
Canberra this morning. In these circumstances, I ask that the honorable senator be given leave to continue his remarks at a later stage.
– I congratulate the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) upon his second-reading speech in which he gave a lucid explanation of this very complicated measure. This is not the first occasion that this Parliament has ha.d before it legislation dealing with preference in employment to ex-service personnel. Preference legislation was first passed towards the end of the last war. Since then, much criticism of that legislation, some of it far from flattering, has been voiced. One honorable senator opposite even went so far as to say that whereas during the last war promises were made to our soldiers that Australia would be made a land fit for heroes to live in, but when they returned to this country they were allowed to die as paupers. That is a harsh statement, and I was very pleased indeed to hear my colleague from South Australia (Senator Finlay) say that more had been done for returned soldiers in this country than in any other part of the world. It is true that many mistakes were made after the last war, and the best that we can do now is to endeavour to avoid repeating those mistakes in the future; but I venture to suggest that many mistakes will be made again. I was closely associated with the passage of repatriation legislation through the South Australian Parliament after the last war, and I also had lengthy connexion with the administration of that legislation. I have no hesitation in saying that I am not in any way ashamed of the part that I played then. In fact, I am proud of what was achieved in those days, and, like Senator Finlay, I am of the opinion that in no other country in the world have ex-servicemen been treated so well as in Australia. During the last war Australia had 416,000 men in uniform - about half the present total. Of that number, 330,000 went overseas, 60,000 made the supreme sacrifice, and 82,000 were wounded. Most Australian soldiers returned to this country in 1919 and 1920. By June, 1920 - approximately eighteen months after the Armistice - only 8,000 men remained to be repatriated. Repatriation included service pensions, medical treatment, vocational training, education of children of exservicemen, war gratuities, war service homes, and land settlement schemes. In 1920, Australia’s war pensions bill was £5,800,000. By 1931 - eleven years later - it had grown to £8,000,000. In 1941 it was slightly less, because of the advancing age of war pensioners and the consequent reduction of their number. The total expenditure up to the end! of 1941 was £330,000,000. The payment of that amount by a country with a population ‘ of fewer than 7,000,000, was an achievement of which any country could be proud.
I am sure that this measure will be a great disappointment to many people in this country. Australian citizens generally were of the opinion that preference legislation should be introduced only for our fighting forces - men who had been risking, their lives on land and sea, and in the air. Instead, we have this bill, the. benefits of which are available to all and sundry. The title of this bill is a misnomer. It should be entitled .the “ Full Employment Bill “, and should have followed rather than preceded the Government’s White Paper on Full Employment. From one point of view, the framers of this measure are to be congratulated. Apparently, they realized the danger of endeavouring to draw a line of demarcation, so they followed the course of least resistance, by providing that the benefits of this legislation should be available to almost anybody. In effect, the bill is designed to benefit any person who has assisted in the war effort.
It is true that all sections of the civilian population of this country have assisted materially in the defence of our shores. Organizations such as the Australian Red Cross, the Australian Comforts Fund, the Australian Prisoners of War Fund, and others, have been of inestimable value. Members of the younger generation have assisted in the production of foodstuffs; and young women, apart from those who have been members of the Australian Women’s Land) Army, have carried on farms, pastoral and dairying properties in the absence of fathers and brothers who havebeen fighting. Sub- scribers to war loans, too, must not be forgotten; but surely it cannot be suggested that these people, together with service personnel whose service has been limited to base areas, should have the same priority under this legislation as men who have risked their lives in actual combat. In many cases, membership of the forces has meant a uniform, a motor car with a chauffeur, a few hours’ work a day on a typewriter, free week-end travel on railways, and other privileges which have not been enjoyed by men and women who have faced the enemy in North Africa, Greece, Crete, and other theatres of war, and many of whom are still risking their lives daily on the battle fronts to the north of this country. Men in reserved occupations have worked in well-equipped factories, enjoyed fixed working hours, higher remunerations than they were receiving prior to the war, and all the amenities of home life. In some instances they have been given training in industry which has made them of more value to themselves and ofcourse to the nation. It is true thatthey have done valuable work, but are they entitled to rank with our fighting men in the enjoymentof privileges and benefits under this legislation? I say that they are not. If this bill were for the purpose of assisting members of the fighting forces, whom should it specify? That is readily answered. It would specify members of the services who havebeen in actual contact with the enemy, or have been stationed in combat areas. The next questions we would ask if this were a bill dealing only with ex-servicemen would be, “ What do these men deserve ? What would they expect from any government upon theirreturn to civil life?” These questions also can be answered readily. They would expect a job, a home, assistance in business, or an opportunity to work on the land ; but instead of dealing only with these very essential matters, the bill covers a confusingly wide range of subjects. With manypoints of the measure I entirely agree. I am completely in favour of full employment; I believe in vocational training, and I believe that a man who either joined the armed forces or was called up at the age of eighteen, should have an opportunity, with government assistance, to continue his interrupted university course or apprenticeship. I believe also in payments to any genuine worker who is unemployed ; but it is contemptible that the Government should endeavourto hoodwink the people with this measurewhich contains no provision specifically for our fighting men.
SenatorFinlay. - Whatsoldiers would the honorable senator exclude fromthe provisions of this measure.
-I would not exclude any. I would exclude civilians.
Thebill covers a wide range of activities and therefore it will require intensive consideration. It has been suggested that the administration of this measure will absorb nearly all ex-servicemen, but I do not think it will be asbad as that. Let us examine for a moment the number of boards, committees, &c, for which provision is made in the bill.First, of course, associated with the administration of this legislation willbe the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. I have before me some figures which were given in answer , to a question asked in the House of Representatives recently about, this department. The answer stated that the total number of employees of that department receiving salaries in excess of £500 a year is 64 of whom only 16 are returned soldiers, and that the salaries of these men total £44,008 16s. annually. The Directorate of War Organization of Industry which is associated with the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, has 104 employees receiving more than £500 a year, and of that number 31 are returned soldiers, the total salaries amounting to £71,416 annually. In these two organizations salaries in excess of £500 a year amount to £115,424 16s., which is paid to 168 officers, of whom only 47 are returned soldiers.
Under clause 7 of this bill the Minister is empowered to delegate his authority to a number of persons. There will be a Reinstatement Committee in each State, and in every territory of the Commonwealth. Provision is made for a
Preference Board, and under clause 48 any number of advisory committees can be set up. Under clause 50 the Minister may constitute what is called a Central Reconstruction Training Committee which in turn, is empowered to appoint regional committees, industrial committees, and provisional committees. Further advisory committees are provided for in clause 61 which deals with disabled persons. The Minister in his second-reading speech said that there was to be a committee to deal with rural holdings. Under existing repatriation legislation of course, there are hospital committees, surgical aid committees, care of dependants committees, war service homes committees, &c.
– Under what authority were they appointed?
– They were appointed under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. The Minister distinctly said that such committees are to be part and parcel of the administration of this hill.
– The honorable senator has overlooked two or three clauses under which other bodies are to be a ppointed.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.That is quite likely. They take a lot of searching out. The subject of war service homes brings us to housing generally, which is of great importance. Many committees have been appointed, many conferences have been held and many blue-prints have been drawn, but we have very few houses. Senator Finlay knows that South Australia, which is the onlyState with a Liberal government at the present time, has done more home-building than any other State and has even proceeded with its programme, on a limited scale, during the war. The only housing fiasco that has occurred recently in South Australia was in connexion with houses erected by the Commonwealth at Salisbury. Some honorable senators should have a look at those buildings. There was another home-building fiasco in that State many years ago, when a wonderful scheme for the construction of 1,000 homes was put into operation. After a few hundred foundations had been laid, the contractor in charge of the work disappeared. He has not been found yet.
SenatorFinlay. -We still have the 1,000 homes.
– Yes, but they cost a great deal of money. Mr. Stanley Whitford, who was Chief Secretary of South Australia at the time, said that, at any rate, there had been one saving of expense, because it was unnecessary to install letter boxes as the material used in the doors was so inferior that, within a fortnight, cracks wide enough to serve as letter boxes appeared.
Clause 92 is important. It deals with loans for the re-establishment of exservicemen in businesses and on the land. I assure the Government that it will have to reconsider its decision that a grant of up to £1,000 is adequate for the establishment of a returned soldier on a farm. There is no possibility of the landsettlement scheme succeeding on that basis. The Government of New Zealand allows £5,000 for an ex-serviceman starting on a dairy-farm, and £6,500 for a man starting on a pastoral property. Those amounts are scarcely adequate for the purpose. Even at those rates, a man would find that, after paying taxes and interest on the loan, he would have very little left. There is a condition attached to the provision for grants to men wishing to establish themselves in business undertakings. Such grants will not be made unless the applicant has the permission of the Government to commence a new business. One honorable senator said that applications for new businesses would be investigated by an inspector, or some other official, who would be able to say whether a new business should be established in the locality selected by the applicant. It is interesting to note, in passing, that a law identical with this provision operated in Germany when Hitler was at the peak of his career. This restriction should not be applied. Whowould be competent to investigate applications in order to decide whether a new business could be established with a reasonable prospect of success? The inspector could not be a butcher, baker, draper, and grocer combined, although only a business man with knowledge of the kind of business concerned would be able to judge the position accurately. It is possible to have half a dozen men engaged in one class of business in one suburb without any one of them giving satisfaction to the people. Yet, because of the number of businesses already operating, the Government would prevent an ex-serviceman from establishing himself and in doing so provide a good trading service for the people.
– What about the treatment of Mr. Dargin, the Portland butcher ?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has allowed another shop to be opened at Portland in competition with Mr. Dargin, and the new establishment is doing well. How is Mr. Dargin’s business progressing under the new arrangement?
– Very well.
– Then he is holding his own. That is an example of a man .who can compete against the Government and continue to make a living. That is the sort of man we should encourage. In the last year or two, I have repeatedly urged the Government to prepare for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land, but, up to the present, neither the Commonwealth Government nor the State governments have taken any practical measures. It is true that they have scoured the country and inspected a number of estates, upon which some sort of valuations have been put, and are negotiating for the acquisition of land, -but the war will be over before soldier settlement areas are established. Properties could have been bought on what might be termed “forward delivery”. Present owners could have been allowed to remain on the land until it was required by the Government, and the properties could have been put in order so as to be ready for occupation by ex-servicemen. Instead of pursuing a far-sighted policy, the Government has remained inactive and the conditions of 191S, 1919 and 1920 are likely to be repeated. As the demand for land increases, prices will increase and exservicemen will suffer as a consequence. The first estate that was purchased by the South Australian Government for returned soldier settlement after the last war was a bargain, but after that prices gradually increased.
– Until the Government which was then supported by the honorable senator finished at “ The Pinery “.
– That scandal belongs to another government. Every country is limited in its operations by the availability of finance, and this must be considered in relation to the problems of reestablishment. One honorable senator said that there would be 900,000 ex-service men and women and 700,000 civilian war workers to be re-established after the war. If the Commonwealth is to spread its money over 1,600,000 people, there will not be much available for each of them. However, if it confines the provisions of this measure to ex-service men and women, as it ought to do, it will be able to give to them some adequate reward for what they have done for the country.
– Who does the honorable senator class as a returned soldier?
– The man who has been a soldier and who has served in a combat area and met the enemy on the battle front. There should not be any argument as to the definition of “ returned soldier “. The New Zealand Government has been far more generous than this Government. If our ex-servicemen are t(5 be settled on th, land in such a way as to provide them with economic security, the Government must considerably increase the proposed re-establishment allowance of £1,000. Clause 4 of the bill relates to beneficiaries. When a soldier returns to civil life his reinstatement in employment will be a matter for negotiation between himself and his former employer or some other employer. If two or three exservicemen with equal qualifications should apply for a job, which none of them has held previously, the employer will be obliged to select the one who is most deserving of appointment. I do not know how he will do so, because a soldier’s discharge certificate gives no indication of where he has served or with what unit he has served. It merely states that he has been in the Army for three, four or five years, as the case may be. That will make it very difficult for an employer to decide as between a number of applicants for a job. Clause 33 contains the much-debated provision that preference shall apply for a period of only seven years. If that provision is allowed to remain, it will cause serious injustice to disabled ex-servicemen. A partially disabled man will have many difficulties if he has to take his chance alone in a cold, unsympathetic world at the expiration of seven years. The Government should reconsider its decision on this mater. Clause 76 refers to reemployment allowances. I understand that the Government proposes to amend this clause in the committee stages, and, therefore, I shall refrain from any criticism of it in its present form. However, it is a pity that a bill of such importance as this should have to be amended so frequently. The Government made 35 amendments to it in the House of Representatives, yet it still bristles with anomalies. I should like the Leader of the Senate to explain clause 17, which reads as follows : -
Where any person has been reinstated inemployment in accordance with this Division or in accordance with the National Security Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations then, for the purpose of determining the rights of that person, as against the employer in whose employment he has been reinstated, in respect of -
annual leave for recreation;
leave on the ground of illness;
long service leave or pay in lieu thereof (including pay to dependants on the death of the person ) ; and
superannuation or pension (whether for himself or his dependants), the continuity of the employment of that person by the employer shall be deemed not to have been broken by his absence from employment during any period between the date upon which that person left the employment to commence war service and the date upon which he was reinstated in employment, but that period shall not, by reason only of this section, be reckoned as part of the period of employment.
Suppose a man who has been serving overseas for four years applies to his former employer for work. Is the employer bound to give him a fortnight’s recreation in respect of each of those four years? It is right that the provisions of the clause should apply in respect of leave on the ground of illness, long service leave, or superannuation or pension benefits but I fail to see why they should apply in respect of annual leave for recreation.
Clause 49 deals with vocational training, and I am heartily in favour of the provision. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie) said he hoped that young men who had received vocational training would be admitted into membership of the various trade unions. Honorable senators opposite seem to be imbued with the idea that the Opposition is opposed to trade unions,but that is not the case. I personally am heartily in favour of trade unionism, and believe that it has done good work for the industrial sections of the people in every part of the world where the principle has been adopted. Members of the Opposition may have expressed opinions which have created a wrong impression. I remember attending an election meeting at which the right honorable member for Worth Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was speaking. When an interjector at the back of the hall called out, “ What is wrong with democracy?” the right honorable gentleman replied, “ There is nothing wrong with democracy, but there is a hell of a lot wrong with the democrats”. That remark might well be applied to the trade unions. There is nothing wrong with the unions, but there is a great deal wrong with some of the unionists. The Acting Leader of the Opposition suggested in all sincerity that at the completion of the vocational training of servicemen they shouldbe permitted to join trade unions, but we have read in the press that many ex-servicemen who desire to become trade unionists have not been allowed to do so. One honorable senator remarked that anybody could join a trade union, and that hundreds had done so since 1939.
– Hundreds of thousands have joined unions.
– There will be a great difference between joining a union in the period since the commencement of the war and joining one at the conclusion of the vocational training for which this measure provides. Speaking in this Parliament on the 14th October, 1943, the Prime Minister (Mr.
Curtin), in alluding to the miners’ federation, said -
In the main the irresponsibles comprise youths of military age and men engaged in other occupations as well as mining - taxidrivers, starting price book-makers, billiardroom proprietors, dog trainers and the like. These men have engaged as miners in order to obtain protection. Generally, they readily agree to strike, sometimes themselves openly addressing the men or making the first move from the mine, thus bringing on a general exodus, because of the miners traditional policy of “one out, all out.”
According to the Prime Minister they joined the union in order to obtain exemption from military duty. Members of the miners’ federation have been in a reserved occupation during the war, but should the same preference be given to those men as is to be provided for exservicemen? Are starting price bookmakers and dog trainers to be given better treatment than the members of the fighting forces?
– “What is wrong with them?
– There may be nothing wrong with them, but as this bill is designed to give preference to ex-servicemen, the benefits of the bill should not be conferred simultaneously on all and sundry.
I hope that in his reply to the debate the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Keane) will tell the Senate what he regards as the meaning of the term “ during the war “. Clause 136 states, inter aiia, that “during the war, the regulations may provide for the repeal or amendment of, or the addition to, any of the provisions of this act”. “Will the Minister make it clear how we are to know when the war ends ? ‘“We remember what happened after the last war. The guns ceased firing in 1918, but the Peace Treaty was not signed until about 3924. Perhaps the Leader of the Senate was somewhat lax in not including a motion of sympathy with the Govern.men,t on this occasion. There should be funeral rites, because the Government is now burying many of the ideas which it held for a long period. Until it attained power it had not shown a great deal of interest in the defence of Australia, although I admit that when it assumed office it proceeded with the good work which had been put in hand, by the pre vious administration. Prior to its advent to office it had not advocated the provision of defence equipment, although, without adequate war materials the mas behind the gun would be unable to defend this country. The Scullin Government abolished compulsory military training. It sponsored an amendment of the law providing that preference in employment should be given to trade unionists and not to returned soldiers.
– That is not correct.
– It is right, and the Minister cannot disprove my statement.
– “What happened toot place in caucus. No bill dealing with that matter ever reached this Parliament.
– Any budgetary proposals for the defence of this country submitted by the Opposition when it was in office were strenuously opposed by the Labour party. The Hansard records contain scathing comments by members of the Labour party with regard to the members of the defence forces and the defence of this country. I could, if necessary, quote the words uttered at various times by the Minister for Transport (Mr. “Ward), the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), the Minister for Labour and National ‘Service (Mr. Holloway), the former honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings). Yet a bill has now been introduced by a Labour government in the interests of ex-service men and women. Therefore, a motion of sympathy with the Government should be moved, because of the fact that it is now burying many of the ideas which it has held in the past. I shall quote what the Prime Minister has said about the defence of Australia, because we cannot separate the defence of this country from the interests of our fighting forces. This is what the Prime Minister said in the Sydney Town Hall on the 10th October, 1942-
As a Labour man, I have to accept the responsibility, as does the Labour movement of the whole world, that it made no preparation for war. It believed in disarmament, in better conditions fortheworker. It preferred butter to guns, homes to Flying Fortresses, waterworks to dockyards. We thought and hoped that we had finished for ever with the era of determining national disputes by war. War’s primarypurpose is to kill and destroy.
I do not doubt the honesty ofthe Prime Ministerbut the fact remains that he made an admission thathe had made no preparation for war andthat his party also was in that position. The Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), like the Prime Minister,was also no doubt sincere in his statement,butit wasalso an admission. In December, 1939, he said -
Iwouldnot negotiate with that scoundrel Churchill. I regardhim as a mad dog let loose for the purpose of spreading hatredwhere none previously existed.
I beg to differ from the Minister forthe Interior,because Mr. Churchill is one of the greatest men that the British Empire has ever produced. This measure is not a legitimate offspring of the Labour party. It is an adopted youngster which was foisted on to itbythehonorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles). Confirmationof that statement is to he found inHansard. A full account of whatoccurred appeared in the Melbourne Age some time ago, but we neednot go to that journal in-order toget the information. In 1943 consideration was given in this Parliament toa bill providing for amendments of the AustralianSoldiers’ Repatriation Act. The Opposition moved to introduce provisionsproviding for preference toservicemen. At thattime the Labour party had as its majority in the House of Representatives the honorable member for Henty. That honorablegentleman saidthat, unlessthe Governmentintroduced legislation to provide for preference, he would voteagainst the bill. And so a promisewas given that preference legislation would be introduced. The bill before us was forced on the Governmentby the honorable member for Henty. It has taken a long time for the Government toredeem its promisegiven in 1943.,but it is only natural that the Government should take seme time to choose for adoption a child which would be suitable to its environment. Likemy colleague, Senator Finlay, I am not enamoured of those “brass hats” who tap a typewriter while clad in uniforms well covered with gold braid - work whichcould as well be done in ordinary civilian apparel, thereby saving the country some thousandsof pounds-but the sailor, the soldier and the airman are in a different categoryaltogether. Honorable senators know something of whaltour airmen have accomplished. Many Australians have distinguished themselvesin boththe Royal Australian AirForce andthe Royal AirForce. They know, too,that onthe seven seas our seafaring men have fought against great odds. Honorable senatorsmay know ofthosefive ratherancient war vesselswhich were sent to the Mediterranean zone toform part of what Mussolini sneeringly called a “ scrap-iron flotilla “. Before thefight finished Mussolini probably thought differently. Australian Diggers have fought in Africa, Greece, Crete, New Guinea and elsewhere. They have lived in mudandfilth ; they have sweated and have shed their blood. Theyhave been in constant danger from not only human enemies but also dreaded tropical diseases. For them I have unbounded respect. Nothing that this country cangiveto them would be more than they deserve. I say unhesitatingly - and I believe that the bulk of the people are of the same opinion - that the measure of preference provided for such men in this bill is not worthy of them.It does not dothem justice.
– I commend the bill to the Senate and congratulate the Labour Government on its introduction. It is the most important pieceof legislation that hascome before us for years. When warbroke out in 1939., we wereall agreed as to its ultimate outcome; we believed that come what may, andthat no matter how long the strugglelasted., weulti- mately would win. Events have proved that our hopes and expectations were wel1 founded; already the war in Europe has ended, and Japan has its hack to the wall. The forces arrayed against Japan to-day are such as the Japanese Government in 1941 did not think could possiblybe brought to hear against it. Right through the years, thoughtful men and women have believed that themost important job after the winning of the war was to ensure that we did not lose the peace. They hoped that the mistakes of 1918 and subsequent years would not be repeated after this war. With that in mind, the Government has introduced this bill to provide for the reestablishment of service men and women. If we lose the battle for the peace, who will say that we have won the war* There are many who consider that the Germans were never actually defeated in the 1914-18 war because of what has happened in the years that followed. By a smart handling of their internal policies, by playing off one victor against another, Germany was able to reach such a position of strength that twenty years1 after the country’s defeat it was able to challenge the world again. Now that victory is in sight, the fundamental job confronting the Governnent is to make sure that the battle of the peace shall be won. That battle involves the reestablishment of service men and women in full-time employment, and. the transfer of those men and women who left their civil occupations to engage in war-time duties to positions which will ensure for them permanent security.
This bill has had a mixed reception in this chamber. Its first opponent was the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie), whose speech was full of party politics. In order to gain a political advantage, he indulged in smart phrases in which he impugned the motives of the Government, and consciously insulted the people of this country. When he said that the bill had been introduced in order to preserve the privileges of those who had not fought, I am confident that the honorable senator said something that he did not believe, but which he thought might gain some publicity for himself and the Opposition. Then we heard from Senator Allan MacDonald a speech which did great credit not only to the honorable senator but also to this chamber. It was truly a constructive Opposition speech. The honorable senator did not agree with all the proposals contained in the bill, but he gave to the Government credit for good intentions. His criticism of the measure was delivered in such a way that no one could doubt the honorable senator’s good faith. We on this side appreciate a speech of that kind; it was constructive and helpful. We had also presented to us the practical experience of Senator Amour, who fought through the last war and endured much under the so-called repatriation policy adopted after that conflict. The honorable senator was given the medical assistance meted out to men who fought, and from his own experience he was able to enlighten the Senate regarding many aspects of this bill. The speech of Senator Sampson, like that of his Acting Leader, lacked dignity, and was full of party politics and bias. The honorable senator would divide the community, setting servicemen and civilians in opposing camps. Our great task after the war will be to unite the community, not to divide it. We cannot afford to be divided if we hope to win the battle of the peace. A great deal of the early portion of the speech of Senator James McLachlan was devoted to a definition of preference. The honorable senator wants to give preference to the men who actually fought in the war. That is the objective of all of us, but I defy the honorable senator or any one else to give practical effect to such an ideal. Indeed, the honorable senator himself showed the impracticability of doing what he suggested, for, in his peroration, he appealed to us not to forget the men and women who had served in various capacities, including members of the mercantile marine. He said that various sections of the community had rendered such service that we owed a great debt to them, and that we must do all in our power to repay that indebtedness. I approach the problem of preference and re-establishment with a clouded mind. I make no apology for saying that I am unable to decide whether this man faced a greater risk than that man, or that one person rendered to his country better service than another. When we consider the war and its effects, it is not easy to say who are war casualties, and who have carried the burden. Many a young man who risked his life in the service of his country will come back better equipped for life than when he went away. Others, who never fought in an operational area, have given their lives in the cause of freedom as much as any man whose bones now lie in the Middle East or New Guinea. Is there any clearer case of a war casualty than that of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) ? Why is it that the right honorable gentleman has been in and out of hospital with a strained heart that offers little hope of his complete restoration to health? One thing alone brought about that condition, namely, his wholehearted endeavours to do all that he could to further the cause of the United Nations and to ensure victory. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Beasley) is another war casualty. He did not spare himself, but, in those dark and threatening days of 1942, attended to his duties day and night. He would not turn from his task while any of it remained to be done. He, too, has paid the penalty for his devotion.
In the domestic field also, there are countless casualties. How often have honorable senators been approached by weary women seeking the release of husbands in order to help them with their children? We all know of numerous cases of women’s health being broken because of the war burden that they have had to carry. In the community, there are many who are mentally weary, and will never again enjoy that standard of health that was their happy possession before their husbands, sons or other loved ones left for various fields of battle. We know these things, and yet we have had great difficulty in obtaining the release of the men who would lighten their burden. Who knows what goes on behind drawn blinds and closed doors in the homes of the people ? We shall never know all the tragedy associated with women who, in addition to great mental stress, have had to face the difficult job of bringing up families under war-time conditions. Then there is the woman diverted to industry, although her health was such that she should not have undertaken the work; but in her effort to do her part, whether she worked in a canning factory or a munitions factory, she undertook that work at great cost to her health. Who is to say where preference starts, or where it finishes? I, for one, am not prepared to answer that question. I believe that all honorable senators will agree that the only solution of our prob lem, the only way to win the battle of the peace, is that with re-establishment every man and woman shall be placed in a position where he and she shall at least have security. Recently, I read one of the speeches of the late President Roosevelt, who also was truly a war casualty, in which he said -
We cannot be content, no matterhow high the general standard of living may be if some fraction of our people, whether it be one-third, one-fifth, or one-tenth, is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, or insecure.
That is the battle of the future, and this legislation takes us only a certain distance along the road. No legislation can put into the heartof men the will to do the right thing. They must have that will. They must be conscientiously determined to carry out that fundamental duty. I have had brought to my notice already many cases of business men refusing to accept their responsibility. I mention a ease which came to my notice only a few weeks ago in Melbourne of a lad who enlisted when he was an office boy, and, after serving for nearly five years, during which period he received his commission, he went back to his former employer and the employer offered him back his job as an office boy. The business community must approach this problem open-heartedly.I know that women in many accountancy offices, for instance, are doing work formerly done by men now in the armed forces. Those women are doing a particularly good job; but when the time comes to re-establish the men who enlisted from those offices the employers concerned must be not merely willing, but eager, to play their part. Otherwise, those women will remain in those jobs. In many cases of that kind, I am certain that this legislation will be dodged. How we can imbue in the minds of the community as a whole its solemn and bounden duty I do not know; but I hope that cases of the kind which have come to my notice are isolated cases. If the opposite be true, our ex-service men and women will return to a sad state of affairs. This legislation gives a lead to the community, and we want to see the lead followed.
Honorable senators opposite oppose the limitation of preference to a period of seven years. I agree with that pro- vision. I know of the case of a man who approached his federal member and complained that he was being sacked from his position. I became interested in the case, and, after making inquiries, I found that that man, who was a returned soldier of the war of 1914-13, had held nine jobs in the preceding two years. He had re-established himself not onas but nine times; and his war record in the last war was that «f a recruiting officer. Are we to re-establish our ex-
Sen-ice personnel time and time again until they -die?
Let us take the other side of the picture. I was never so bitter against the application of preference to ex-service personnel as I was about 1935, when w© were just emerging from the depression. At that time, I became an alderman of the Sydney City Council, and I .endeavoured to obtain a .job for a young fellow, resident in my wand. He had not worked for seven years, that is, from the com- mencement of the depression. Arrangements were made for him to start work, but a week before the date fixed, he was refused employment under the preference provision because he was not a returned soldier. The. preference provision which had been allowed to lapse had just been re-enacted. That lad was too young to enlist for service in the war of 1914-18. But his father had fought in that war, and he, himself and his brothers were to fight in this war. However, seventeen years after the ‘conclusion of the war of 1914-18, and after he had been searching for a job for seven years, he was prevented from obtaining work under the preference provision. That provision simply debarred ‘that lad from obtaining the job. That case,, perhaps,, summarizes the problem that now confronts us. As Senator Amour has said, the .returned man likes nothing less than to have to crowd around a factory gate with twenty or 30 other men in search of a job, and when the boss asks ex-servicemen to stand forward;, .he has to .single .himself out from his fellow men.
– Very little labour is engaged winder those conditions to-day.
– That is so; and we must ensure that those conditions will not be repeated after this war. However, should it happen that sufficient jobs are not available after this war, and once more men in search of employment must besiege the factory gate, what will be more ‘humiliating for a returned man, as a man among men, to step forward and claim a job? And who might such an ex-serviceman be! I have in mind a member of the Permanent Defence Force who, to-day, is a brigadier, but despite his eagerness to serve abroad he has never lef t, these shores. Did he happen to be among a group besieging work at a factory gate that man would have ‘to- stand forward to ,get the job available. But what risk did he take in this w.ar ? Although ‘hewanted to take the risk, the circumstances of hi’s work in the Army were such that he was not allowed to go abroad. Yet. that man has risen by merit to his present rank. He won our highest decorations for valour in the war of 1914-18. Whyshould he have to go through such a process in order to obtain a job ? There artall these degrees of merit with respect to war service to be considered, and I defy any honorable senator to say. where one man’s merit is greater than that of many others. On the contrary, our total war effort in this conflict ‘has been such that even those in civil life have contributed greatly ‘towards it. Hon© of us is in a position to assess accurately the merit of the individual’s contribution. Let u’s take the sacrifice made by the housewife in meeting the problem of maintaining her home. ‘That problem has taken serious toll of her health. Every day, womenfolk face the necessity to Stand in long queues in shops in order to purchase commodities which, very often, were not available. She is obliged to do this because of lack of transport for the delivery of goods, and, consequently, has had to carry home heavy packages beyond her strength. Such women, undoubtedly, have played a worthy part in our war effort; and they have done so uncomplainingly. Therefore, we must approach this legislation realizing that it must be accepted only as an instalment of the Government’s plans for the complete rehabilitation and re-establishment of our ex-service personnel. Of itself, this legislation does not supply a ‘solution of the problem; .but when we consider it in association with the Government’s banking legislation, which will place within the hands of the Government power to make money available for full employment after the war, we can gradually put together the whole jigsaw of the collective efforts of, not only the Government and the Parliament, but also the community as a whole in order to ensure the re-establishment of our exservice personnel.
The primary duty confronting us is that of the re-establishment of our exservice personnel, and in that work we must use every means at our disposal. T admire honorable senators opposite who have approached this measure in the realization of how much we stand to lose should we fail to deal adequately with this problem. I know that many mistakes will be made in the implementation of this legislation; but that is true of all legislation. Until a measure has been actually implemented, nobody knows exactly how it will work. Therefore, the Government gives a promise that, should faults be discovered in actual practice when this measure becomes law, it will readily take steps to remedy such faults. In this connexion, I recall a reply given by Mr. Anthony Eden to a question asked in the House of Commons with respect to Britain’s conduct of the war. He said -
Well, I can only tell the honorable member that we are running this war a great deal better than we ran the last war; and if there are three wars in our generation, we shall run the next war perfectly.
Mr. Eden made that remark in a jocular strain; but it had a wealth of meaning which can be aptly applied to this occasion. We hope to take to heart the lessons learned in dealing with this problem after the war of 1914-18. To that degree, this measure represents an improvement. It is not perfect, but I repeat that when mistakes are disclosed in actual practice, we shall set out to remedy them., determined to win the battle of the peace; because it is vital to the future of the world and the security of all nations, including our own, that what we do now shall bring about peace internationally and security for Australia.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Aus do not intend to criticize the repatriation, legislation enacted after the war of 1914- 18, because I have no doubt that those responsible for that legislation were imbued with the same lofty ideals which now actuate this Government in introducing this measure. We can benefit a great deal from the mistakes which have been made in the intervening period in working out our repatriation legislation, and by taking what is best from that legislation as a basis for our future efforts. However, the problem of rehabilitation of ex-service personnel on this occasion differs so very materially from the repatriation problem arising after the war of 1914-18, that it is impossible to present exactly the same solution of it. This is the first time in the 150 years of our existence that our soil has been threatened by a foreign aggressor; and it is the first time in that long period that almost every man and woman has been called upon to bear some part in the nation’s defence. Therefore, any suggestions which have for their objective the rehabilitation in civil life and industry of those who have played some part in the national war effort must be of allembracing proportions, and must have a great deal of variation in accordance with the parts played in that war effort ‘by the various sections of the community. Much has been said in this debate about the preference issue; what is preference, to whom should preference be given, and for how long should preference last? But I suggest that the really important issue involved in this measure is not whether this person or that person shall have a job, but whether all shall be re-established in civil life. Therefore, I regard the second part of the bill as being the most important part of the measure. With regard to the limitation of preference to seven years, I was amazed to hear some honorable senators opposite express the opinion that there would not be any need for preference in the first seven years after the war because, as was the case after the last war, there would be a period of prosperity during which there would not be any scarcity of jobs, buat the end of that time some preference machinery might be necessary. Any one who subscribes to that doctrine is obviously shutting his eyes to the present, and to the real reason why Ave have been fighting this war for civilization. Surely, if we admit that, after six or seven years of war, there will be a short period of false prosperity followed by another depression, we admit also that we have fought the war in vam. I maintain that preference for seven years after the war will be necessary, because it will take at least that period for men and women who have been thrown out of their stride by their service in the armed forces to regain what they have lost, and re-establish themselves in industry. Any government which is in control of the treasury bench in this Parliament during the first seven years after the war, and fails to ensure that the tragedies of the depression years shall not be repeated, will be deserving of the fate which I am sure it will receive at the hands of the people. In seven years, whatever government is in charge of this country should have pursued such a policy that a state of full employment will have been brought about, in which preference will not be necessary. These things cannot be done in a day. We cannot build a Utopia or a “New Order” overnight. The industrial system under which we are working at present is the outcome of centuries of endeavour on the part of all peoples. We have a certain standard of society which cannot be reformed merely by a few legislative changes here or there. However, I suggest in all sincerity to honorable senators that, after the experience of six years of war, any government should be able to implement a policy of full employment, whereby the 7,000,000 people of this nation will be entitled to their birthright, which is a reasonable standard of living. We have seen huge sums of money raised in time of war. During the past eighteen months, honorable senators opposite have hurled at me the allegation that I am a repeater of catch-cries. Whether that be true or not, if in a catch-cry there is an element of a great truth, there can be no harm in repeating it. We have fought this war without any regard for loss of life or expenditure of money; we must fight for the peace with exactly the same intensity. So many national works are waiting to be carried out that the expenditure of large sums of money in the post-war years will not be an economic waste, but a great asset to this country.
One of the biggest problems which will confront the ex-serviceman will be his return to home and industry. Honorable senators will notice that I mention “home” first; that is because I believe that it will be within the home that the greater work of re-establishing exservicemen will take place; yet we find that it is in the lack of homes that the greatest of our tragedies is likely te occur. I have heard honorable senators opposite suggest on many occasions that this Government has been lax in meeting its responsibility to build homes during the last two or three years. I would remind those honorable senators that, although the parties of which they are supporters held office in this country for more than 30 years, they did little in the way of home-building. It is true that a number of homes were built after the last war. A visitor to any of our capital cities will have no difficulty in locating groups of funny little dolls’ houses. These invariably are war service homes. Many of them were expensive, and most of them were totally inadequate for the needs of the ordinary working family. The real reason for the present housing shortage is not the enforced inactivity of this Government, which has been faced with the necessity to divert man-power and materials to the war effort, but the voluntary inactivity of its predecessors at a time when ample supplies of man-power and material were available and when homes could have been built much cheaper than is the case to-day.
I have vivid recollections also of the dark days of 1929-32, when the people of this country were in dire need of homes. At that time, there were many empty houses, not because they were not required, but because the working people could not afford to pay for them. In practically every capital city throughout the continent, canvas towns arose. Workers, with their wives and families, lived on the dole, and were housed in shacks of all descriptions. I heard no outcry by honorable senators opposite and their supporters against the housing shortage in those days; yet, it was as real then as it is now, not because houses were in short supply, but because the money required by workers to pay for them could not be obtained., with the result that housing conditions were a menace to the national life and health of the people of! this community. The Government has a Commonwealth-wide housing programme in view. When I was in New Zealand a few years ago, I saw, at Palmerston North, an excellent housing scheme, the principles of which I commend to the Government. Houses were built on three sides of a hollow square. They were lovely dwellings containing much built-in furniture, and a great deal of attention had been paid to that very important part of any house, the kitchen, in which the housewife spends one-third ofl her life. Each house had an entrance to the central square, which was the playground for the community school built on the fourth side of the square. Historians tell us that the battle of Waterloo was won by the British square formations; it may be that the battle of the peace, at least, so far as housing is concerned, will be won in a like manner. In any housing scheme, adequate space must be allowed for playgrounds, gardens, and so on. It is rather peculiar that in Australia we do not make very much use ofl the wide open spaces of which we are inclined to boast. Also greater use could be made of school buildings which usually are occupied for only 5 or 6 hours a day. These buildings could be cultural centres. I hope that in any scheme of post-war housing, particularly housing for exservicemen, due regard, will he paid to the individual character of houses, and that they will appear not as rows of almost identic;^ I buildings, but as garden, settlements. Such schemes should not be undertaken in the hearts of existing towns. We must get away from congested, areas. No longer can this country be regarded as six capital cities. Australia is much greater than that. It depends for its prosperity upon the people of the outback, and every effort must be made to decentralize our population. To do that, we must extend to country districts the same health and educational services that are enjoyed by the residents of the cities.
Included in this bill is provision for land settlement schemes for returned soldiers. I do not know what the experiences of the other States were, but in Western Australia after the last war soldiers were badly treated in land settlement schemes. Western Australia occupies one-third of the territory of the Commonwealth, but a great deal of it is not suitable for development. However, in soldier settlement schemes after the last war, little regard was paid to the type of land on which the men were established. In the south-west corner of the State there is an expanse of excellent country of which 10 acres would be sufficient to give a serviceman and. his family a livelihood, provided, of course, that he has guaranteed markets for his products. Incidentally, in that regard, I commend the work of the Apple and Pear Board which has made it possible for apple and pear growers in Western Australia to remain on their properties during the war years. I hope that in any scheme of land settlement full cognizance will be taken of natural factors such as rainfall, soil, &c., and of existing facilities such as transport, so that there will not be a repetition of happenings after the last war when returned soldiers were simply dumped on inaccessible holdings and told to sink or swim, with the result that during the depression years, hundreds of men who were unable to obtain a livelihood from their properties, gravitated to the towns seeking employment. Many of them, of course, had not made the best use of the land, which in some cases had been idle for 90 years before being sub-divided amongst exservicemen as a compensation for service? rendered. One of the greatest trouble* in this country is the mal-distribution of good land. I am not one of those who believe that individuals who have worked for years and developed large estates, should be denied the fruits of their labour ; but to-day many large estates in good rainfall areas and within reasonable distance of transport facilities, are not being worked or are not being used to full advantage. In these cases it is the duty of the Government to ensure that the men who have fought for the preservation of this land, should be given an opportunity to work some of it for their own profit,, and to make Australia more secure.
This is the first legislation ever introduced into this Parliament which extends to private industry the same obligation as has been imposed on government departments in the past to reinstate exservicemen. I realize that it may be most difficult to obtain the full co-operation of private employers in this regard. Recently I discussed this matter with the manager of a big bus company. He said! to me, “ What are you people going to do about returned soldiers who have had malaria”? I said, “Why; what do you mean “ ? He said, “ I have an employee who has had fifteen years service with us and after four years war service, has been discharged with malaria. When he takes out a bus in the morning, I cannot bc sure that I will not have to supply a relief driver within an hour or two. That of course disrupts the work, and I cannot keep that man. Let the Government, look after the crocks “. That is an absolutely true account of that conversation. That incident would have destroyed some of my faith in human nature had I not seen an example of what can be done by an employer who has the welfare of ex-servicemen at heart. There is, in Perth a man who was prepared to spend £8,000 or £10,000 in assisting exservicemen. He decided that the best possible investment that he could make would be by ensuring the happiness andi contentment of ex-servicemen. He decided to. employ 30’ disabled ex-servicemen in his business. A fortnight ago I visited his premises and saw these men at work. Some of the men were without an arm, without a leg, without an eye, or were suffering from paralysis or some other disablement which prevented them from obtaining full employment elsewhere. I understand also that some of these men were nerve cases. They included also a couple of merchant navy seamen who had been torpedoed several times. I found that a great deal was being done at this factory to reestablish these 30 men in civil life, and at the same time to give them an opportunity which otherwise they would have been denied. The real crux of the whole problem is not whether exservicemen, should have preference for seven years, but whether they will ‘be .prepared to take their places against all-comers at the expiration of that period. I have had some experience of technical education, and recently I visited technical colleges where a number of ex-servicemen are under training. One lad had been a dairy hand a few years ago, earning a few “ bob “ a week and his keep. The wage stipulated for him by the employment agency , had been 10s. a week and keep, but the contract had been honoured more in the breach than in the observance. At the college, he was doing intricate engineering work. He was living under a sustenance- arrangement and was acquiring a skill which would have., been denied to him had he not served im the armed forces. I talked with him and with many others who are enjoying the benefits of the Government’s
He-education policy. They were loud in their praises of the scheme, because it enabled them to look forward to some? tiling better than the dead-end jobs into which many of them had been forced before the war because of lack of opportunity. They were victims of the depression years. One lad had worked for three six-month periods as a postal employee. There had been no opportunities for a permanent appointment during that period, because there were no vacancies, for new employees. However, when entry examinations were resumed-, he was too old to compete and so he had remained a temporary employee, driven from pillar to post, for years. The war provided him with his first job with any prospect of continuity. It is an indictment of our economic system that the trade of killing should be the first job for which a man, at the age of 24 years, should receive regular payment. Having spoken to these young men, I am convinced that the most important provisions of this bil] lie in the re-establishment clauses, which will give to men and women of the forces a chance to compete in industry against all-comers. Of .course, there must be a period during which preference to ex-service men and women must apply so that the re-establishment scheme can have time to became effective. No man Gan experience six. years of warfare and remain in the same physical and mental condition aswhen he enlisted. There- fore, ex-servicemen should be given preferencein employmemt until they can be satisfactorilyre-absorbed into industry. Senator James McLachlan said that he regarded this measure as a “ jobs for all “ bill, whichshould have followed the presentationof the White Paper on employment. This bill is part and parcel of one huge problem. After the war, the Government will be concerned not only with the re-establishment of ex-service men and women in industry, but also with the maintenance in employment of the hundreds of thousands of persons who made possible the success of Australia’s war effort on the home front. Senator James McLachlan referred to the” pigiron fleet “ which operated in the Mediterannean. He omitted to mention that many men who sailed in that fleet were unarmed because at that time Australia’s munitions programme had not reached the peak which made it possible for every man to be adequately equipped. No matter how high the standard of human valor, no man could possibly withstand the might of a mechanized foe unless he were fully equipped. We know of the tragedies of Greece, Crete, and Singapore, which were due to lack of equipment. Therefore, we must paytribute to the men and women of the munitions factories who prevented a repetition of those tragedies on the beaches nearer home. I do not claim that the sacrifices of the men and women in the munitions factoriesequal those of themen and women of the armed forces. Nevertheless, they have made a valuable contribution to the war effort and we must not leave them to sink or swim alone after the war. The Government has organized and equipped huge munitions factories throughout Australia. Recently, I visited some of these establishments and saw the work that they had done and the conditions under which the employees worked. It would he tragic if those factories were closed and the employees thrown out of work simply because the need for the commodities which they are now producing no longer existed. These factories could be diverted to the production of many things which are needed in civil life. Many honorable senators have paid tribute to the women of the outback and have spoken of their need for more amenities of civilized life. Everybody pays lip-service to these courageous women, but very few of us do anything on their behalf. If we are sincere, we should ensure that the munitions factories are converted to the production of domestic equipment to ease the burdens of women, particularly those who live in outback areas. Senator James McLachlan criticized the fact that only25 per cent. of the employees of the Department ofPostwarReconstruction and the Directorate of War Organization of Industry areexservicemen. That was not a fair criticism, because all of the officers handling benefit schemesunder this bill will be returnedsoldiers with an intimate andsympathetic knowledge of the problems of ex-service personnel. The suggestion was also made that all sorts of civilians could benefit under the bill. That is not so. In order to benefit from the provisions of this measure, a civilian will be required to prove that his work during the war brought him into contact with the armed forces. Certain groups of civilians were just as much in “ No Man’s Land “ as were many members of the fighting services. It would be ridiculous to exclude them from the benefits of the bill. To suggest that whole groups of civilians who had little or no contact with the war are to be included in the provisions of the measure isludicrous.
I hope that, when theGovernment finally sets in motion themachinery for implementing this measure, it will include in the administration a woman to represent not only the auxiliary women’s services but also the thousands of women who, because of the deaths of their husbands, will be forced to seek advice and assistance from the repatriation authorities. I do not claim that the present officers of the Repatriation Commission are unsympathetic, but as many as twenty women have interviewed me in one day in order to discuss repatriation problems and to seek my intervention on their’ behalf with the repatriation authorities. Many of them are reluctant to place their problems in the hands of male officials. Therefore, a woman should be appointed permanently to deal with the repatriation difficulties of women. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) disregarded the claims of the Merchant Navy for inclusion in the benefits of this measure. Two days ago I was visited by an ex-pupil of mine who is serving in the Merchant Navy. If any men outside the actual fighting forces have done a great deal to keep Australia free they are the men of the Merchant Navy. The lad who visited me had been torpedoed four or five times, had .been in Liverpool when it was bombed, and had been in innumerable convoys that had been attacked. He had suffered a great deal more hardship than the average soldier, apart from those who have served in the front lines for long periods. Therefore, I am pleased that members of the Merchant Navy will have the right to benefit under this measure.
I commend the Government for the introduction of this bill. Its allembracing nature made it difficult to draft. The decision to prepare a bill dealing with preference to ex-servicemen was made in 1943. A great deal of water has flowed under the bridge since then. The war in Europe has ended, but the war in the Pacific is still in progress. There is still a hard road to travel, and, unfortunately, before we reach its end many more men and women will be in need of the benefits provided in the bill. I hope that the bill will be well received throughout Australia in spite of a great deal of misrepresentation by newspapers due to certain features to which they object. The limitation of preference to seven years is a wise precaution inasmuch as it will act as a spur to whatever government may be in power after the war. If, at the end of seven years, the government of the day has not taken steps to render this legislation unnecessary, it will have forfeited the confidence of the people. Any government which did not bring about full employment within that term would deserve to go into oblivion. At the end of seven years, we hope to see in existence a state of society in which there will be jobs for all and in which preference to ex-service men and women will not be necessary. In conclusion, I quote a verse written by a soldier of this war who has since lost his life. The challenge which he hurls at us should, be taken up, and we should see that this measure is implemented with all the expedition of which we are capable. This is what he wrote -
Will it be so again -
The jungle code and the hypocrite gesture,
A poppy wreath for the slain
And a cut-throat world for the living
That stale imposture.
Played on as once again
Shall it be so again?
Call not upon the glorious dead
To be your witnesses then
The living alone can nail to their promise the ones who said
It shall not be so again.
We say, “ It shall not be so again “, and I hope that, in the implementation of this bill, the promise which we gave to those who freely sacrificed their lives will be fulfilled so that, at the expiration of seven years, the necessity for reenactment of the legislation will not arise.
– This is one of the most important bills that has ever come before this Parliament. ‘ Everybody will agree that any government that had been in power would have been obliged to introduce a measure for the re-establishment of exservicemen and providing for preference in employment. Therefore, there is not the slightest doubt that the bill will pass the second-reading stage, and so it resolves itself into a “ committee bill “. In committee, many clauses will be discussed in detail and probably many amendments will be moved. The bill is not altogether bad. It shows that the Government has given a great deal of thought to the problem of re-establishing ex-service men and women in civil life. It is an all-embracing measure. If the Government will go a little further than it has done and accept a number of amendments from this side of the chamber which will improve the bill, I am sure that a very good piece of legislation will emerge. In its present form, however, the measure leaves a great deal to be desired. The object of the reestablishment of ex-servicemen in civil life should be to restore them practically to the positions which they would have occupied had they not rendered war service. It is not sufficient merely to provide a returned soldier with a job and a home. He is entitled to a good job and a suitable home. The first feature of the bill that impresses me is the breadth of the definition of “ serviceman “. The definition appears to have been made 30 wide that the so-called preference to be extended to servicemen may amount to no preference at all. It has been said that the object of the Government is to give a job to everybody in the community, but I claim that that does not obviate the necessity for preference to ex-servicemen. Those who have served in forward areas should have first preference, and there should be no limitation of the preference. [ object to the present limit of seven years, because at the end of that period the serviceman may be more in need of preference than at any other time. The limitation is a blot on the- bill which I hope will be removed. I have no fear that the boys of to-day will be serious competitors with ex-servicemen seven years after the cessation of hostilities.
One of the clauses of the bill provides for the payment of a re-employment allowance of £2 10s. a week for a man and £2 a week for a woman. Although I understand that the Government is prepared to submit an amendment providing for those amounts to be increased, a better plan would be, not to discharge service men and women immediately, but to give them extended leave until they can obtain jobs. Provided they were granted a certain allowance for the sustenance of themselves and their families, they would be free for a few weeks until they could obtain suitable employment. Each case should have to be dealt with on its merits.
No general method could be devised for the solution of the housing problem. It will be necessary to deal with applications as they are received. In the cities it may be desirable to call for tenders for the construction of houses, but in the country different methods may be possible. Discharged servicemen may be prepared to build, or at least assist to build, homes for themselves. Necessary though the building restrictions may be, they should be removed at the earliest possible opportunity. When an exserviceman applies for a house his application should be granted with the least possible delay. A returned soldier recently came to mp for assistance and T took up his case with the appropriate Minister. This man has a block of land and is prepared to assist in the erection of a house upon it. There appears to be no shortage of gravel, stone or cement, and no doubt, with the help of a friend or two, he may have been able to put in the foundations, but certain formalities had to be complied with. I have not heard how he fared eventually. The present cost of building is extremely high, and those who undertake the erection of houses under present conditions face inevitable loss. Therefore, building costs will have to be watched closely. I am of the opinion that four or five years hence the cost of building will be considerably lower than at present. I have not always agreed with the policy adopted by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, but he has done excellent work for Australia, and probably his staff is taking steps to ensure that the prices charged for houses shall be fair. I was talking to a builder some time ago, and he assured me that a house which could have been erected in Sydney before the war for £950 or £1,000 would now cost £1,600 or £1,700. Boom prices rule today, and it is of no use to tell exservicemen that if they wait three or four years they may be able to build at lower prices than those now ruling.
I suggest to the Government that in entering into agreements with exservicemen for the provision of houses there should be a clause in the contract giving to them the right to a revaluation of their properties within ten years. I know that that would cost a good deal, but the servicemen deserve it. If the price ten years later remains at the same level as at present, no harm will be done; but if the value of the properties decreases by £300 or £400, who should bear the loss? Should it be borne by the man who has been fighting or by the country for which he has fought? The country can well afford to bear any loss which might be sustained. Ex-servicemen should not be rewarded for their war service by being sold houses at more than their true value.
– ‘Should there be only one revaluation?
– Yes. My proposal is perfectly fair, and I commend it to the Government for favorable consideration when. its housing, legislation is submitted to Parliament.
The condition prevailing at present with regard to the settlement of servicemen on the land, are similar to those experienced after the last war. There is a boom in land prices, and everything which a farmer needs to buy is dear. If an estate has to be purchased for subdivision, the owner is entitled to its full value. When the land is subdivided and fenced, high prices have to be paid for wire and other fencing material. Labour is scarce and dear. Water supplies are necessary. Farm buildings are required in addition to comfortable houses for the settlers,, and when all necessary provision has been made the properties will not be worth as much as they have cost. It is impossible to subdivide land; and improve it under present conditions at a capital outlay on which the serviceman can afford to pay interest and’ make more than a living. I use the latter words advisedly, because the settlers will have to work hard, and they are entitled to more than abare living. They ought tobe established on the land under such conditions that they can confidently look forwardto a time when they will own their own land and stock. At present, stock is very dear; dairycows fetching up to £25 or £27 a head although their economic value is about half that amount. After the last war, high prices were paid for theland on which returned soldiers were settled, and years later the properties were revalued. The proper procedure on this occasion would be to revalue the properties and debit the loss to the Common wealth.
– Does the honorable senator mean that any loss should be written off?
– Yes. It should be regarded as part of the cost of the war. It is of no use toload exservicemen with debts which they cannot bear; nor would it be wise to allow them to grow produce of which there is now a surplus. The land selected for settlement should be capable of growing produce for which there is a ready market. The farmers scan the newspapers daily to ascertain the prices which their com- modities command, and that shows how much the market prices mean to them Ex-servicemen must have land on which they can grow producefor which there is a market. Wemust provide them with homes in which they can live contented lives; and an opportunity to own their property. If we takesteps to that end our efforts will prove to have been worth while.
.- Every honorable senator who has spoken has referred to this measure as one of the most important that have come before the Senate. I commend the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) on his excellent second-reading speech, in which he gave an indication of many things that could not be gathered from a mere reading of the bill. He finished on an extraordinarily good note when he said; -
There is room for legitimate differencesof opinion at many points. Notwithstanding the echoes of some harsh: notes, many of which have readied our ears, I feel certain that the measure will be received by the Senate in a generous spirit and considered with the solicitous care that its subject-matter deserves.
I am sure that the Minister and Govern ment supporters will say that honorable senators on this side who have spoken have given everyconsideration to the bill. I hope that the position in this chamber will not be the same as in the House of Representatives, where theGovernment said, in effect, that its proposals were like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable; Senator Armstrong sounded a good note when he said that if the bill needed amendments, those amendments must be made, but that is not the position which will face us. As a matter of fact, the measure before uscould well have consisted of only two clauses - one giving to it a title, and the other providing that the Governor-General may, by regulation, do anything he likes. Thatis really what the bill contains. The position is not, as Senator Armstrong says, that the representatives of the people will have an opportunity to discuss its clauses, and make amendments. The Government has really brought down a skeleton bill which it proposes to clothe with regulations. Where it is not satisfactory and does not meet the requirements of the Government, it will be altered. That is what Parliament is for. Parliament is a deliberative body, which should have full opportunity to discuss measures brought before it, and to amend them if thought desirable. However, we have before us merely the bare bones of the Government’s intention, because what is contained in this measure has still to be clothed with regulations. That is not what an act of Parliament should be. -Senator Finlay said that we on this side of the chamber could not find many defects in the bill, as we had criticized only ten clauses. I remind him that before the bill -reached the committee stage in the House of Representatives, notice of 35 amendments was given by the Minister in charge of it. I understand that another 30 amendments will be proposed in this chamber. A total of over 60 amendments in a bill of 136 clauses does not suggest careful preparation.
– It will finish up a good bill.
– I fear that amendments proposed by honorable senators on this side of the chamber will not be accepted, but surely Government supporters have not a monopoly of good ideas in connexion with the settlement of service men and women. .We on this side claim to be as capable as are honorable senators on the Government benches. The criticism of the Opposition has been constructive in a desire to improve the bill, not to destroy it. Some days ago, the Government tabled a White Paper on the subject of full employment, which [ have no doubt most honorable senators have read. I have read it carefully, but I have not found’ a single paragraph to show how full employment is to be provided. I listened to the optimistic remarks of Senator Tangney when she spoke of employment for all. There never has been, and there never can be, employment for all. As the scriptures say, “The poor always ye have with you “ ; and that will be so in tike future as in the past. In Australia’s most prosperous times there has been T per cent, of unemployment. The people unemployed at such times are unemployable - not capable, either mentally or physically, of keeping their jobs. That proportion of the people will remain un employable, and will have to be kept by society. The Government is overoptimistic if it thinks that it can ever reach a state of affairs in which every person in the community will be fully employed. Instead of this one measure being placed before us, two bills should have been introduced - one to deal with service men and women, and the other with civilians. The measure before us sets out to deal with 1,500,000 people. That is an entirely wrong approach to the subject, as I shall endeavour to show. Some of the proposals now before us have been drawn up by economists, and, according to the Army journal Salt, an economist is a man who has enough intelligence to tell another man how to run his business but has not enough intelligence to run a business of his own. Senator Foll said that some of the Government’s advisers were Communists. That would appear to be so. I hope that in committee the Government will show a willingness to accept proposals emanating from this side of the chamber.
Senator J. B. Hayes referred to housing. In my district there was a disastrous fire about eighteen months ago, in which hundreds of homes were destroyed. The people who lost their homes had to get permits from the Directorate of War Organization of Industry to build homes in which to live. Honorable senator* who have had any experience in connexion with obtaining permits to build homes have had the shock of their lives. The maximum cost of a home is fixed at £1,200, and its area is limited to 1,000 sq. ft. A man of my acquaintance applied for a permit to build a home of 1,100 sq. ft. The department told him that there was no objection to the maximum of £1,200 being provided in his case, but, it insisted that the size of the house should be reduced >to 1,000 sq. ft. When I told the. Deputy ‘Commissioner for Housing that such a thing was absurd, he disagreed with me, stating that it was a matter of the supply of materials. In any brick-yard, or timberyard, or tile factory, a person can buy as many bricks or tiles, or as much timber as he can pay for without having to produce a permit. But when it comes to building a house, it is an entirely different matter. No person is permitted to build a house of more than 1,000 square feet. The authorities should know that when a person builds, a house he needs one large enough to accommodate him. and his family in reasonable comfort. That is not possible under the present permit system.
– Does the honorable senator say that timber in any quantity can be obtained without a permit?
– A person can buy as much timber as he likes.
– What about iron?
– The same remark applies to iron if it is available. Timber, bricks and tiles am available, and permits are not needed.
– The limit is material to the value of £25.
– No; a person oan buy materials to the value of £1,000, or any amount.
– That is a deliberate untruth.
– That is an offensive remark, and I ask that it be withddrawn.
– I withdraw it, and say that the statement is not in accordance with the facts.
– It is in accordance with the facts. I could take the honorable senator to a timber-yard where he could buy timber to the value of £2,000. But he cannot get a permit to build a home with it. If a person has material to the value of, say, £800 and wants to build a house for himself, he cannot do so, because he is told that it would be a- waste of material. Why cannot a man build a house for himself? The Government’s housing scheme is wrong, and I hope that it will be altered before an attempt is made to build homes for servicemen. I am opposed entirely to the suggestion of Senator Tangney and others that flats and settlements should be built for servicemen. It would not be long before such places became slums. There is enough land in Australia - not in the inner suburbs1, but in the outer districts - to provide each house with a reasonable area of land.
– What about transport?
– In that matter we could learn from the experience of Victoria. A former Premier of that State, Sir Thomas Bent, endeavoured to encourage workers to build homes in the outer suburbs by providing them with free railway passes for a considerable period. No serviceman should be asked to settle in what will ultimately become a slum area. I understand that already about 300,000 persons have been discharged from the various fighting services., but I do not know whether that figure is correct. Whatever the number, it would appear that nothing has been done to obtain land, or to build homes for them.. These people, like Mahomet’s coffin, are suspended between heaven and earth. The housing position is much better in New Zealand. Senator James McLachlan told us that in the sister dominion a serviceman who desires to settle on a dairy farm is provided with land to the value of £5,000 ; if he wishes to rear sheep, he is provided with property to the value of £6,500. The great mistake made in the settlement of soldiers after the last war was in trying to settle them on holdings which were far too “ small. Senator Tangney advocated settling servicemen on holdings of 10 acres. If that is to be our policy, let us at once make them over to Chinese. Finance is the secret of successful land settlement, but what has the Government done to finance the States in order to purchase land for servicemen? Under the alleged uniform taxation system, the fields of taxation which were previously open to the States are no longer available; they now have no means to obtain sufficient finance to purchase estates on which to settle servicemen. That state of affairs will continue until the Commonwealth Government makes money available to the States for that purpose.
– The State governments have not submitted requests for finance.
– The States and the Commonwealth have met in conference and have come to an agreement in this matter, but, so far, the Commonwealth Government has done nothing about it. Until money is made available to the States it will not be possible to purchase estates for soldier settlement. So far, not one estate has been purchased. The Parliament of Victoria has passed the necessary legislation, and has fixed the value of the land on the basis of the productive value in 1939. But it cannot buy one solitary estate, because the Commonwealth Government will not provide the money.
– And South Australia is in a similar position.
– Yes. We have only one set of taxpayers in this country, and they find the money whether it be collected through the Commonwealth or States. That money must be found for the purchase of estates for settlement schemes. Scores of men in my district in the western, part of Victoria have big estates quite suitable for closer settlement. To-day, they do not know where they are. Their land has been valued by valuators who have gone over the properties and said to the owners, “ We propose to take over your property”. The owners do not know when, or at what valuation their properties will be taken over, or whether they will be taken over at all. Consequently, they are unable to make any plans for the future. Therefore, the Government should come to a decision on this matter immediately in order to enable owners of such properties to know where they stand. If they are obliged to sell all of their stock at present market prices they will be ruined. Following the war of 1914-18, 37,000 ex-servicemen went on the land, but only 14,000 of that number remained on their holdings. In these schemes 29,000,000 acres were resumed and the total loss amounted to 23,000,000.
– Why did so many not remain on the land?
– Too high a price was paid for much of the land. However, we must not live in the past; we must plan for the future and, in doing so, learn from the mistakes of the past. The Rural Reconstruction Committee has submitted very valuable reports with respect to soldier settlement. That committee estimates that after this war 54,000 service personnel will want to go on the land. Should the present number of primary producers be increased to that degree what will they produce? It must be remembered that they will have to produce largely for export. But the Government so far has not made any move to obtain markets for increased production in the post-war years. Unless it can guarantee payable markets to our primary producers, the settlement of greater numbers on the land will bring ruin not only to the new settlers but also to those who are already on the land.
– Is it the Government’s business to provide markets?
– Yes ; if the Government puts men on the land it must find markets for their products. Under this measure it is proposed to make a grant of up to £1,000 to ex-service personnel who desire to settle on the land. The basis of that grant of £1,000 has not been explained, but the amount itself is absurd, because in order to go in for successful farming to-day a settler requires to purchase plant which alone costs £2,000. The plan for the use of machinery on a communal basis about which so much talk is heard in New South Wales will produce chaos, because every farmer wants to put in his crop and to take it off at the same time. New Zealand has already settled 768 ex-service personnel on the land and has taken steps to ensure adequate andi payable markets for the increased production, which will be mutton, lamb and dairy products for export. I shall now give two examples to show the inadequateness.of the Government’s proposals. Let us take first, the case of a man to whom the Government makes available £6,000 worth of land. On that capital he will pay interest of 4 per cent., making his total interest bill £240 a year. His rates and taxes will be £30 a year. He should earn a net taxable income of £600 on the basis of 10 per cent, of his capital, and after he has paid interest at 4 per cent, he actually makes 14 per cent, net profit on his capital. However, income tax on his income of £600 will amount to £178, making his expenditure under those three headings, £448, which leaves him only £152 to live on. I should like to be able to net 10 per cent, on my capital. Does the Government expect that a man on a property worth £6,000 will make more than 14 per cent.? That is impossible.
However, even on that basis, the most he can possibly make for ‘himself is £152 a year. In another ease, let us suppose that the Government makes available to a settler, land valued at £8,000. His interest bill at 4’ per cent, will amount to £240, and his rates and taxes to £30. He will make £800 net tax- able income on which his tax will amount to £265 - making his expenditure under those three headings £535. Thus, he makes 17 per cent, net on his money - -and one would call him a. Jew if he made money at that rate - but all he makes for himself is £265, which is no more than the equivalent of the basic wage. That is the position in which these men will find themselves. Therefore, the Government must be extremely careful in selecting settlers under these schemes, and bow it puts such men on the land. It must also ensure markets for the products of those settlers. On many previous occasions I have emphasized that the proper way to put a man 04 the land is to give him a 1,000 sheep property from which in ordinary circumstances he will earn £1,000 a year gross, because markets are available already for wool and mutton; and, in addition, sufficient estates returning a net income of £10,000 and upwards a year are available for sub-division into ten 1,100-sheep properties.
– The Government might proceed on that basis.
– -I should like to inform the honorable senator that already the Government has turned down for soldier settlement purposes, a property in my district which nets its owner £10,000 a year. Any land in “Victoria is suitable for soldier settlement provided the properties are sub-divided to give each settler a 1,000-sheep proposition. That does not necessarily mean that individual properties will be limited to 1,000 acres. Some may be 5,000 acres in ‘area. But whatever the Government does, it cannot escape the problem of finding markets for the products of the new settlers. “We know, of course, that the Government says, in effect, “ But we are going to make this thing all right for yea. We are going to fix prices, and give bounties. We shall give producers £18,000,000 for dairy products, and so much more for potatoes, onions, apples, wheat, oats, &c. “. That sort of thing cannot continue indefinitely. To-day, over 12,000 wheat farmers are on land which averages under 12 bushels an acre, and in many cases 6 bushels to the acre. If it is made profitable for the farmer to grow wheat whose average is 6 bushels to the acre- and at 4s. a bushel his return is 24s. an acre - wheatgrowing will (be made so profitable for the farmer with an average of 20 bushels - that is £4 an acre - that a glut will result and the Government will be submerged with a surplus of millions of bushels.
I take the strongest exception- to paragraph b of sub-clause 3 of clause 27 which provides that the employer shall consider “the comparative qualifications of that person and of other applicants for engagement in employment in the position concerned “. I ask honorable senators to bear that provision in mind while I set out exactly what happens under the present system for the call-up of men for the Army. Upon attaining the age of eighteen years all youths are called-up, and the man-power authorities then take control of them, directing those who possess the necessary qualifications into key positions in industry. A lad who becomes a kev man in any industry is immediately applied for by a private employer, and is directed into that channel. Then all of those young men go into good jobs after having been given special training. TJ,p to date they have had up to five years preference already. They have been paid for overtime, and their future in the industry when the war is over is assured. Thus, in addition to preference in industry during the war, they will be given preference for the period of seven years prescribed under this measure. In fact, those men will have twelve years preference in comparison with the preference for seven years -which is to be provided under this measure to the man who has served in the firing line. Such a provision is entirely wrong. Secondly, the youth who on attaining the age of eighteen years does not possess any outstanding ability, or a high standard of education, is drafted into the Army as a recruit. But if he has an inclination to join either the Navy or theRoyal Australian Air Force, andhasthe necessary qualifications required By either of those services, he may do so. On the other hand, if he cannot measure up to the requirements demanded by either the Navy or the Royal Australian Air Force he is drafted into a recruit training depot to become a soldier. On arrival at the training centre all recruits are given a psychological test in. order to discover the natural aptitude of each trainee, and to fit him into the arm of the Army for which he is most suited. From these psychological tests it is possible to determinewhether he is mechanically or literally minded, is good at figures or lettering, or otherwise; and on that basis the Army determines its requirements. Approximately 30 per cent. of thesereinforcement recruits are needed as signallers, range takers, cooks, bakers, carpenters, bricklayers, &c, whilst the remaining 70 per cent. are trained as infantrymen. I emphasize that the infantryman is the back-bone of the Army. He does all the hard fighting and runs the greatest risk. However, from what I have just said it is clear that as the call-up has been carefully hand-picked the infantry section cannot be considered to consist of highly qualified men so far as education and industrial experience are concerned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to8 p.m.
– Infantrymen do most of the hard fighting, and hard living and. their lives are in constant danger. The Army reinforcement recruit to whom I referred previously, should not be confused with the men who enlisted voluntarily earlier in the war, and who. were at liberty to leave whatever industrial jobs they’ were doing. Man-power control has had the effect of classifying the more capable and- better educated men,who became key men because of their credentials and the less fortunate and not so well educated lads became fighting soldiers. Why is preference necessary? The 70 per cent. to whom I have referred, representing by far the greater proportion of the membars of the forces, are mere boys of from eighteen to twenty years.. Many of them had no opportunity to undertake higher education or to learn a trade or gain industrial experience before being called up.. When they return, after their years of jungle fighting - the most exhausting and nerve-racking type of warfare known-they will be thrown on to the labour market to compete with their more fortunate fellows who have enjoyed preference, pro- tection, progress and development in their vocations and trades during the war. Is it fair to expect these lads to make up for all their lost opportunities in seven years, and to place themselves in a position to compete with the protected and privileged worker who experienced no break of employment or war strain during his industrial career? At the end of seven years, many of these young ex-servicemem will be only 25 or 28 years of age-just at. the commencement of their lives. They are to receive seven years’ preference,, whereas the men who. entered key industries earlier in the war, and others who went into the services but saw no fighting, will have enjoyed twelve years’ preference. That is entirely unfair-. The position is made worse by clause 27 (3) which states -
In determining whether reasonable andsub stautial cause exists for not engaging in employment a person entitled to preference, the employer concerned shall consider -
the length, locality and nature of the service of that person;
the comparative qualifications of that person and of other Applicants for engagement in employment in the position concerned;
Can any honorable senator say that a man who hashad five years’ experience in a job has not a better chance of securing an appointment to that position than a less fortunate colleague; who fought for his country during those five years ? I consider that the imposition of the seven years’ limit upon the preference provision is entirely wrong; Letus examine what occurred after the last war. Complete preference to ex-servicemen was provided in the Commonwealth Public Service Act. I was Postmaster-General at that time, and I recall that in Victoria alone, the Postmaster-General’s Department had 6,000 returned soldier temporary employees. I understand that altogether 27,000 men obtained preference under that act. The effect of this measure will be to eliminate permanently the provisions of the Public Service Act granting preference to ex-servicemen.
In regard to the placement of exservicewomen in employment, in my view the best position for them is in a good home with a husband on a good salary. Much has been said about the work of women on the land, but in my view they will not want to remain land workers. They have done an excellent war-time job, but I have no reason to believe that they will wish to continue this work which very often is slushy and dirty.
Clause 92 provides for loans to exservicemen. In the case of the reestablishment of an ex-serviceman in business, a loan of up to £250 will be available, and for the man on the land, the loan will be up to £1,000. Obviously that £1,000 is not intended to purchase the land. Its purpose is to assist a farmer to re-stock his property, or perhaps to engage in share-farming. I contend that ex-servicemen who are settled on the land should be allowed to operate their properties for say three or five years, without paying interest on their loans, or taxation.
I notice that no specific provision is made in this measure for the rehabilitation of prisoners of war at present in enemy hands. Special provision should be made for these men so that when they return to this country they will not find that all the best land has been taken up.
– The States will have to do something about that.
– As I pointed out previously, the Government ha3 not yet made an agreement with the States in regard to the provision of money to settle ex-servicemen on the land. The only substantial source of revenue that is left to the States is, of course, the Commonwealth. With the technical assistance available to them through their departments of agriculture; the States are best able to carry out soldier settlement schemes. After the last war, a large number of ex-servicemen were appointed as land inspectors to supervise land settlement schemes. Most of them were failures. They could not conduct properties of their own, and I trust that that mistake will not be made again. Land inspectors appointed to supervise the working of this legislation should ib practical, local men well qualified to advise landholders.
I hope that when amendments are moved to this legislation by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, the Government will give sympathetic consideration to them, and that if an amendment obviously will improve the bill, it will be dealt with in a non-party spirit as should be the case in a measure of this kind, and if possible, accepted.
– So far as it has gone, this debate has been quite educative. By that I do not mean that it has been of a very high standard; it has been educative because, as one who has had a fairly long experience of parliamentary life, I am convinced that unless those of us who hold important and responsible positions as representatives of the people in this Parliament are determined to do our work in such a way as to make Parliament a more widely respected institution than it is at present, we shall have only ourselves to blame for the disrespect which is so obvious at the moment. This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives six weeks ago. For the first time in a quarter of a century a Labour Government has a majority in both Houses of this Parliament. Therefore, it could curtail debate on this measure and pass it in a business-like fashion so that the people, whose representatives we are supposed to be, would realize that we are making an honest attempt to get on with our job. Such an attempt has not been made by honorable senators opposite, who are making a very poor attempt to repeat the obstructive tactics of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. I say this subject to some exceptions; one or two honorable senators opposite have attempted to treat the Senate to a constructive, thoughtful attack on the problem of reestablishment. Senator Gibson, for instance, began by complimenting the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) on his comprehensive second - reading speech. He hoped that the bill would be dealt with in a non-party spirit, as suggested ‘by the Leader of the Senate, but be overlooked the fact that the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie) began by making remarks which were, to say the least of it, not elevating. Senator Leckie said that the correct title of the bill should have been, “A bill to preserve the rights of those who did not fight “. With all respect, I say that the honorable gentleman knew that remark had no foundation in fact. The Government has presented to Parliament, not only this bill, but also a White Paper, setting out the ideals of full employment and giving some indication of its attitude to that important matter.
– The Minister expressed the matter very well in the word “ ideal “.
– If the honorable senator would make himself better acquainted with ideals than with cranky and old-fashioned ideas, he might say something worthwhile in the homilies which he delivers to the Senate. The time has arrived for us to be honest with one another and to cease playing a game of political deceit in this chamber, which is constituted as no upper legislature is constituted in any other country. Each State of the Commonwealth is represented here by six senators; there is no numerical advantage for any State. We are elected on the franchise of every member of the community above the age of 21 years, who is not in a lunatic asylum or a jail at the time of election. We meet here on terms of equality, and we should be able to express ourselves without fear, provided that we do so in parliamentary terms. Nevertheless, practically every speech made by honorable senators opposite has been based on the fallacious conception that it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose every measure, whether it be just or otherwise. That is not the proper duty of an Opposition in this chamber. Senator after senator on the other side of the chamber has said that this bill is a good bill, and has immediately qualified that remark by saying that some features of it are good and some are bad. They hope that in the committee stages they will be able to do what virtually amounts to “ pulling the Government’s leg”. They will have no opportunity to do that. In this de- bate, the Opposition has unsuccessfully attempted to divide the Senate into two groups, one in favour of preference to returned soldiers and one opposed to preference. It hoped to persuade some of the Government supporters to express opinions which it wrongly thought they held. Why is the Government suspect on this matter of preference to returned soldiers ?
– The evidence is there.
– Very well. I have some evidence here which I shall submit to the Senate. Honorable senators opposite know that this Government should not be suspect with regard to preference to returned soldiers. They know perfectly well that the debate does- not hinge on the question as to whether exservicemen should be given preference in employment or not. The real questions are - What preference, how much preference, and how can such preference be administered effectively in the interests of the men and women who have fought in this war? The trouble with honorable senators opposite is that they live in the past. It seems to be impossible for them to get away from the fireside, the slippers and the comforting pipe long enough to do a little intelligent and constructive thinking.
– They are troglodytes.
– A good word, but I fear that they would not understand it.- All of their criticism has been voiced as though this war was of the sort of which we have had previous experience. Their suggestions would have been more relevant had they been made immediately after the Boer War. That is how they have been doing their thinking. If they want to make a catalogue of the fighting men and women of this war, they will have to include, for the first time in history, every man and woman in the community, and many children as well, if they wish to go as far as that. Nobody has anything but admiration for the wonderful job that has been done by the fighting men who have served in the front line trenches. But, as one of my colleagues remarked a few minutes- ago, a nation cannot keep an army in the field composed entirely of fighting men, unless, somewhere else, it has another array.
– Nobody suggested anything to the contrary.
– Practically every speech made by honorable senators opposite has been to the effect that the only people entitled to assistance are those who actually handled the weapons of destruction. Those honorable gentlemen are rendering a great disservice to the nation by talking in that way. What a wonderful proposition it would be if the Government accepted their argument at its face value and said to the people of this wonderful country, “You are entitled to enough food, clothing and shelter to make you happy and comfortable only .when the country is engaged in war, slaughtering, destroying, and squandering our treasure “. : Senator Leckie. - The honorable senator is talking absolute nonsense.
– Let us examine the position. The Acting Leader of the Opposition is a member of a party which held the reins of government in Australia without interruption for a quarter of a century, but he and his- party were not concerned about providing food, clothing and shelter for the people in sufficient quantity to make them happy. As a matter of fact, in the history of that political regime, the only time when there was a plenitude of those items was during the war of 1914-18. When that party escaped from the war, it had no more statesmanlike remedy to offer for the aftermath of war than the souldestroying and body-killing dole, which condemned thousands of people in this country to poverty of the most degrading kind and which resulted in children being born into this wonderful country suffering from malnutrition.
– The same old soapbox stuff that we have heard for the last ten or fifteen years.
– All interjections are disorderly and I should ignore them, but I say, in reply to that exceedingly weak and silly interjection, that utterances which have been made from soap-boxes often contain more wisdom than any of the speeches which the Acting Leader of the Opposition has ever made on the floor of the Senate.
– The honorable senator took goo’d care to be the last speaker in this debate so that we could not answer his attacks.
– The honorable senator is wrong again.
– He is always wrong.
– Yes. If ever he is right in his criticism of me I shall be sure for once that I am wrong. The honorable senator does not know that I am to be the last speaker. He was so anxious for somebody on his side of the Senate to speak last in this debate that he secured permission for one honorable senator who is not here to speak, if he arrives in time. There should be no objection to the fact that I might be the last speaker. I only hope that I shall have time to say all that I have in mind, because I have a special chapter dealing with the honorable senator. In hurling destructive criticism at the Government, the Opposition has merely shown its own absolute incapacity. Many years ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes said -
Society is divided mainly into two classes, the class which goes ahead and does things-
That is this Government, and the things that it is doing are set out in this bill, the White Paper on full employment, and in its social services programme - and the class which stands off and says, “Why wasn’t it done some other way?”
Senator after senator opposite has said, “This would be a good bill, but- “ and, “We hope that in committee we shall be able to do this or do that”. In other words, because a Labour Government has introduced this measure, and for no other reason, the Opposition says that the bill is good only in the spots where, in its opinion, it is not entirely bad. Honorable senators opposite, in raising this futile opposition to the bill, have said things which will not stand analysis. For example, this afternoon one honorable senator quoted scripture to prove that full employment is impossible of achievement. He referred to the words of the Lord, “ The poor always ye have with you “, but he knew that he was deliberately misapplying the quotation, because it was not uttered as a statement of inescapable fact. Those words were used at a time when the Great Teacher was asking, in effect, in a spirit of rebuke and challenge, “ What sort of society is this in which we always have the poor ? “ This Government has come to the conclusion at last that there is no occasion to have poor or unemployed. I know that honorable senators opposite will say that we shall always have a number of “unemployables”.
– That is true.
Senator- COLLINGS.- There should be mental hospitals in which to treat them. Under the present social order we shall always have those who are unable to work and those to whom employment is distasteful, but honorable senators opposite never distinguish between the “ unemployables “ who are poor and those who are tremendously rich. The Opposition represents the vested interests of this country. That class includes the dangerous unemployed who will not work unless they’ “work points” to the detriment of society. When the honorable senator decides to distribute labels and divide society into watertight compartments, he should not forget to go to the mansions of Toorak and St. Kilda and place the label “ unemployed “ upon the dangerous element to be found there.
This is an entirely different war from any other war. Let us cast our minds over what has happened during the last six years. The Government came into office in October 1941, but before many months had passed Japan struck and a new phase of the war commenced. The members of the fighting forces saved this country from invasion, and the war in Europe has been brought almost to the satisfactory termination which we desire. Men and women who were not in the fightingforces were working in the munitions factories and in other avenues of service to which Senator Gibson has referred. He expressed the hope that the women would go back to home duties, get good husbands and lead happy lives, but they cannot do that unless legislation along, the lines of that being sponsored by this Government is put into operation.
The honorable senator declared that we need practical men, not theorists. That statement is inaccurate, because no great plans or legislation have ever been given effect without having first been drawn up by theorists. Honorable senators opposite join in the chorus to the effect that the theorists who prepare the plans and blueprints are bureaucrats. This Government is determined that out of the last six years of turmoil, slaughter and destruction, there shall he a new order in this country at least. By the legislation for which it is responsible the Government is laying plans for a new social order. Honorable members opposite realize that the citadel of privilege is being attacked. They fear that privileges are to be taken away from the class which they represent. One of the meanest things that I know of is the way the Opposition is trying to thwart the attempts of the Government to usher in a now order. In their speeches in Parliament and in statements in the press they are trying to inflame public opinion against what they are pleased to call the tyranny of the bureaucrats. This war came about because of the absence of control and of plans formulated by theorists. Had it not been for the planlessness of the capitalist order of society there would have been no wai-.
The Government was twitted to-day because the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said on one occasion that it was true that when the war struck us we were not prepared for it. He said that we did not believe in war and that we had hoped it would be possible to avoid it. There is no disgrace in saying that. Is the Opposition prepared to tell the people that it believes in war? Of course not, but, because a Labour Prime Minister said that, it is regarded by the Opposition as a crime. Senator James McLachlan devoted the greater part of his speech this afternoon to digging into the past and quoting statements made by me and others on the Government side. I cannot think of anything much more unworthy than conduct of that kind, when the Government is trying to introduce a new order so that the people may have the opportunities to which Senator Gibson said they were entitled. I repeat, for the benefit of Senator James McLachlan, that the Labour party still hates war and will go on hating it. It will do its best in that direction long after I have passed from this vale of tears, and it will try to see that instead of extolling the grandeur of war we shall inculcate into the minds of the people, not only a hatred of war, but also an awakening to the fact that it is destructive of human happiness.
We are all agreed as to the remarkably good job done by our fighting men. We should be sub-human or worse than that if we did not appreciate the fact that our wonderful men, and the women who went with them, interposed their bodies between us and the savagery of barbarism. This country was in ‘great danger of being invaded, but I know that our fighting men did not expect us to. express continuously our appreciation of their services whenever we refer to them. At one stage of the war the Old Country, from which some of us came, and of which, we are immensely proud, stood alone, and the ordinary men and women of Great Britain suffered the hell of the blitz, but they never complained. The great majority of them were not in the firing line, but they were playing their part. Had it not been for their wonderful heroism, and had England gone down, what would have happened to the rest of the world ? When Australia was threatened with invasion and our fighting forces went abroad, the women who joined the various services did a superb job. They undertook work of all kinds which they had never dreamed of doing previously, and they put up with all the sacrifices which the Government found it necessary to impose. Those not employed in the services worked for the Australian Bed Cross Society, the Australian Comforts Fund, the Young Women’s Christian Association and the various hostels conducted, by voluntary labour. These women were as much a means of keeping this country safe from the enemy, and were as much responsible for the safety which we now enjoy, as were the men who did the fighting in the front line trenches. Yet, when the Government proceeds to introduce a small instalment of the happiness about which Senator Gibson spoke, it is told that it is doing something which is not fair to ex-servicemen. That is not so. We must have legislation which will give a fair deal to every section of the community. Senator Nicholls put the case for the serviceman well when he said that we cannot please him by saying that he is the only unit in the community that deserves consideration. I recommend that remark to my honorable and gallant friend, Senator Brand. Returned servicemen do not want to be segregated from their companions in the community and treated as a class apart. They have never asked for that. Senator Nicholls went on to say that the serviceman does not want preference over his son who was too young to go to the war ; or over his dad who was too old to go to the war ; or over his brother who was sent into an essential job and pegged down there so that he could not go to the war. That is our charter for saying that in any plans to bring about a better order of society, all these factors must be considered. Let me tell the Senate some history associated with the Labour movement. In November, 1941, increases were granted to members of the forces in the Australian Imperial Force, the Citizen Military Forces, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Australian Navy and other sea-going forces. Permanent members of the military and air forces were excluded because their rates of pay provided for cost-of-living adjustments. The following statement sets out the position : -
As a. result of this increase of ls. per day. married soldiers were required to increase their allotments to their wives from 3». to 3s. (id. per day.
Members of the Permanent Forces were placed on special force rate of pay and allowances as from the 27th March, 1942. They, therefore, share in any future increases approved for members of the forces.
As a result of the decision to grant uniform conditions of service to members of the forces serving in Australia, deferred pay of 2s. a day was granted to members of the Australian Military Forces and the Royal Australian Air Force on embarkation for overseas or ‘ after six months’” service, whichever is the earliest. In addition, naval shore personnel (except the Naval Guard Section and Naval Dockyard Police) were placed on sea-going rates of pay.
Second I increase.
Further increases were made to soldiers and their dependants in August, 1942. They consisted of an extra -
– That is real preference.
– Yes; the Labour party believes in preference that is real. In addition, income tax concessions to the value of £21,000,000 have been granted to members of the fighting forces. Yet honorable senators opposite prate about preference, and try to brand the Labour party as being opposed to the fighting man. The present Government lias worked day and night to perfect its plans for real preference, not the apology for preference which the Opposition proposes. In 1944, the present Government, as an expression of gratitude to the members of the fighting forces, decided to give to them the following gratuity : -
I : Payment of 2s. fid. a day for services overseas and specified periods after return to Australia.
Payment of Cd. a day for service in Australia after the outbreak of war with Japan.
Both rates of gratuity are flat rates with out distinction as to rank and are applicable t:n all men and women members of the services.
Overseas Service Payments.
The principal gratuity rate i’s £3 15s. n month, or 2s. fid. a day as compared with the principal rate of ls. (id. a day paid by an antiLabour government after the last war.
Senator Leckie said that this is a good bill with some bad things in it. The honorable senator meant that it could not, be entirely good because it did not emanate from an anti-Labour government, but he was forced to admit that, like the curate’s egg, it was good in parts. I assure him that, it is a new-laid, per fectly fresh, and delectable egg. The honorable senator also said that this is a bill to give privileges to men who did not fight, but he has been unable to pick out those men. He cannot find them unless he points to men who did not fight because they were pegged in essential industries. One honorable senator opposite said that certain people had been taken in as coal-miners in order to dodge their responsibilities to the nation. If that were so, surely there was something wrong with the man-power authorities. As Minister control! ing the Allied Works Council, I know what trouble I got into because men were compelled to work. Honorable senators opposite speak of starting-price bookmakers and owners of racing greyhounds being employed in the coal-mines, but some of them are not above making a bet at the week-end, especially if they know a “cert.”. Although I do not bet, I do not claim any special virtue, because I do not believe that the so-called “ certs.” are- indeed certainties. The starting-price bookmaker and the owner of the racing greyhound may be the friend of honorable senators opposite. How long is it since Opposition senators decided that it was wrong to have a bet, or to race, a greyhound, or to do the things that they abject to the miners doing? In spite of all the shortcomings and bad habits of the coal miners, the class represented by honorable gentlemen opposite would be in serious difficulties if the workers decided that they would not hew any coal, or cook any breakfasts, or make any boots, or run any trains or trams. What a nice mess the section of the community whom honorable senators opposite represent - men and women who toil not neither do they spin - would be in if the workers refused to do these jobs !i
– The workers themselves would ‘be in a worse mess.
– What an amusing remark! Evidently, members of the Opposition really believe that it would be worse for the working class if their bosses went on strike.
– I did not say that.
– The workers can do these things for themselves, whereas the class whom honorable senators opposite represent cannot do them. The Opposition has issued a pamphlet in which the question, “ Who provides employment?” is asked. I answer that question by saying that employment is provided not by the well-dressed and well-to-do loafers, but by the workers themselves. To the extent that the workers demand a larger share of the good things of life, the nearer we shall get to a stabilized state of society, because it is the workers themselves, not their employers, who provide the wages. In this connexion, I shall read the following extract from an article by Robert Boothby, a member of the English House of Commons: -
This war has seen the completion of what amounts to a social revolution. To attempt to uncio the major results of that revolution would bo both foolish and impracticable. Our business when peace comes will bc first .to consolidate mid stabilize the new security on a sound basis, and then to develop the enormous potentialities that undoubtedly lie within it.
Tremendous social changes have taken place in this country during the past five years. First of all, full employment has been achieved. The effect of this upon the social welfare of the community as u whole can hardly be over-estimated.
The needs of the workers, not their employers, provide employment. Their work, not their employers, provide their wages. The article continues -
Next, there has been a gigantic redistribution of wealth. At one end of the scale direct taxation has reached a height which is steadily removing the capital accumulations of those who before the war were counted rich. At the other end, the range of direct taxation has been extended to a point at which .the vast majority of wage-earners arc paying income tax. Despite this, the aggregate savings of the community as a whole are colossal. How has this come about? The short answer is: Because wages are good.
Honorable senators opposite are demanding a reduction of income tax. When we say that we are determined to have something in the shape of a new order in this country, and bring down this legislation as the first step towards the new order, honorable senators opposite sit in their places and smugly tell us that it cannot be done, that the poor we shall always have with us, and there will always be unemployed. While we are doing the job, honorable senators opposite are standing off in a puerile, futile sort of way, asking why can it not be done in another way. The answer is because governments supported by honorable senators opposite have been doing it in another way ever since Australia attained self-government, with the result that we find ourselves where we are to-day. We are determined to put an end to that system. By an equitable system of taxation we shall distribute the wealth of the country more evenly. We shall not tolerate a state of affairs in which the rich are unduly rich and the poor unduly poor. There will be a levelling up, with, uo poor and no. rich, but a community in which every one will enjoy the health, happiness, culture and leisure to which every human being is entitled. We know the scriptural saying, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread “. That was true in the past; and that dictum was used by employers right down the ages to convince the toiling masses that there was no method of emancipation except by hard work, toil and sweat. It was true in those days; but it is no longer true. The job we have in prospect is not to provide people with work for work’s sake, but with leisure. When Mr. Nelson T. Johnson wa3 about to leave these shores recently, after his stay in this country as the Minister of the United States of America in Australia, lie declared that our population of 7,000,000 had put up a wonderful war effort. Honorable senators opposite deny that statement because the greatest share of that effort was made by the Labour Government. But Mr. Nelson Johnson, who was an impartial observer, said that we had put up a wonderful war effort ; and he went on to say, “ If you only have intelligence enough to harness your mechanical slaves to your 7,000,000 of people - One man can do with machines what it took ten men to do before - you can have, without any increase of population, 70,000,000 units working for you to produce the wealth you need “. It is time that honorable senators opposite recognized the fact that the working classes who produce the wealth of the world are not prepared to go on earning their bread by the sweat of their brow. They are at last awake, and are determined to have a share of the good things of life which alone make life worthwhile. They are determined to have a share not only of work but also of leisure ; and they demand at last a fair measure of culture, and that the avenues of wealth, culture and refinement shall not be the preserve of a privileged few, but shall be the acknowledged right of every one in the community. When honorable senators opposite talk as they do, we are only the more determined to do something entirely different. I am always interested when honorable senators opposite “trot out” New Zealand, and say, “ There you are. There is a fine country. Look what it i3 doing”.
– Or when they talk about “Andy” Fisher, and what a good Prime Minister he was.
– I should like to toll a story about that gentleman. When “ Andy “ Fisher, a miner from Queenslaud, was elected to Parliament, it was a red-letter day in working-class history, and the gentry represented by the Opposition said, “ Well, what do you know about that. Fancy putting a common miner into Parliament”. With the passing of time “Andy” Fisher became Prime Minister, and they said, “Well, a lovely thing that is. Fancy a Gympie miner Prime Minister of this country ! He will never be able to receive distinguished visitors and do the right tiling by them. This will never do “. Then, when this Parliament sat in Melbourne, “ Andy “ Fisher bought a villa at St. Kilda and the same people expressed the same horror - put a beggar on horseback and he will ride to the devil. We hear the same sort of talk from honorable senators opposite to-day - a Labour government cannot have any sympathy with returned soldiers, a Labour government cannot have any knowledge of how to govern properly. Well, wc are going right on with the job. When the Opposition has finished its attempts to block the Government’s banking and other bills in the House of Representatives, those measures will be carried in this chamber.
I was very interested when Senator Gibson said that it would be useless to make an advance of £1,000 to intending settlers. I have a vivid memory of early development in this country. I know what the pioneers did. To-day, when pastoral and agricultural shows are held in our capital cities, honorable senators opposite and their political supporters eulogize the pioneers of this country and talk about the wonderful job they did and the foundations they laid for the present generation. No payment of £1,000 was made to settlers in those days. But to-day Senator Gibson says that it is useless to make an advance of a mere £1,000 to new settlers, that at the very least we should make available to them £6,000 worth of land, or they will never have a “look in”. Honorable senators opposite should get out of their heads the idea of values of freehold land and make up their minds that there is no reason why returned soldiers, or anybody else, should be saddled with capital values of land which make it impossible for them to come out at the right end. Once they are prepared to adopt the Labour party’s policy of leasehold, they will cease all their nonsense about an advance of £1,000 not being sufficient. I was unwise enough to believe at one time that I could save the country by becoming a primary producer, and I had a “shot” at it. No advance of £1,000 was available then. Perhaps, if such advances were available at that time, a good politician would have been spoiled. I had sufficient intelligence to get off the land, because it was freehold. In the little district in which I lived 60 years ago, all the people were farmers and they owned the land, and could “ stand “ on it, as Senator Gibson said we should enable new settlers to do. They said of their land, “ This is mine “. That is what was said by all of the settlers in the district in which I lived and started farming, but the deeds of their land were in the merchant’s safe 25 miles away. Not one of them owned the land. The merchant owned the lot and, in addition, he owned them body and soul. The merchant had a lien on the crops. When the crop was ripe the farmers got it off and carted it to the merchant’s store and all they received in return was an account which usually showed the farmer still indebted to the merchant. So they went back and got to work again growing maize and potatoes. When they boasted that they were able to stand on their feet they were not telling the facts. The other “joker” owned them body and soul. Honorable senators opposite seem to forget that it is a Labour government that is in office in New Zealand.
– We know that.
– Why “ trot “ out New Zealand as an example to us. All that I have to say is that the policy of honorable senators opposite that no good can come out of Nazareth is hopeless. They should cease talking that nonsense about what New Zealand does and what we do not do. Incidentally, New Zealand has only one Parliament, whereas if there is any country in the world which is criminally over-governed it is Australia, with thirteen Houses of Parliament, six State governments and a Governor-General to govern 7,000,000 people. If we were not a nation of congenital political idiots, we would not tolerate that state of affairs for 24 hours. Senator Gibson said, “ What are you going to do with your products if you produce too much? “
– What are you going to do in such circumstances ?
– The capitalist order of society has a remedy for everything. First, it creates an evil, and then it creates a bigger evil in order to remedy the first. Now, Senator Gibson asks what are we going to do with our surplus products. The capitalists solved the problem of what to do with surplus products. During the depression years, they stoked the fires of ships with coffee, covered the seas with oranges, and destroyed primary products in order to keep up their profits.
– And Labour governments limited production while people were starving.
– The honorable senator is unwise to make charges of that kind. During the depression there were people in this country who were very hungry - I do not think they starved - but a Labour government was not responsible for that state of affairs.
– A Labour government was in power during the depression years.
– A Labour Government was not in power at that time. Senator Gibson should choose his words more carefully. [Extension of time granted.] All honorable senators will agree that Senator Gibson is always sincere in what he says, but I have never heard him ask so silly a question as that which he raised in this debate. Millions of people throughout the world are starving to-day for commodities which Australia can produce in abundance. There is no limit to. what we can produce if we are prepared to work; but people must be given the incentive to work. They moist not be kept on the bread-line, or just above the basic wage, if they are expected to give of their best. We cannot produce too much beef, pork, cheese, butter, wheat, vegetables or fruit or any other kind of foodstuffs which this country is capable of producing. We cannot produce foodstuffs to excess provided we can stop the waste that goes on under the capitalist system, and adopt the plans of socialist experts who are prepared to show supporters of the capitalist system what to do with surpluses of foodstuffs. To-day the world is crying out for foodstuffs. We are told about the starving millions at our northern door. Are we not told that they cast a greedy eye upon this country, because we have only a small population, and are not developing it to the best advantage? If that be so, let us develop this country fully. However, when this Government, at the referendum, asked for powers to enable it to establish orderly marketing, and to surmount the anarchy inevitable in capitalist production and distribution, honorable senators opposite, on the air, in the press, and from every platform available to them during that campaign advised the people to reject the Government’s proposals. There cannot be a new order without controls. Ju.-t as there were controls to secure this country against invasion, so there will he controls to guard against the possibility of disaster in the peace that is to conn’. Honorable senators opposite claim th:it by means of the banking legislation which will come before this chamber shortly, the Government seeks to indulge in political interference with the private banks; that we shall say to a bank manager, “You must not give Jones an overdraft otherwise we shall make trouble for you “.
– That, is being donn now.
– We have never contemplated anything of the kind.
– An overdraft cannot be obtained without a permit.
– Bed-time - tories are all right in their place, but the honorable senator need not try them on me because I am not yet sleepy. The Opposition has said a great deal about bousing and about the housing shortage. The only control that the Government seeks in that connexion is power to say to the banking institutions of this country, “ There shall not bc any more picture shows or hotels built while people are short of homes “. That is the type of political control that we propose to exercise. If there is anything wrong with that, I should like to know what it is. As I have already said, there can he no segregation of the individuals who carried on this war, because every member of the community was engaged in it. Prior to the re-creation of Iiic Department of Works I was the Minister controlling the Allied Works Council, and I am able to speak, of my own personal knowledge, of the valuable work that was done by that body. Because of war-time labour controls, we were able to compel men to serve in the Civil Constructional Corps. Thousands of members of that corps had never before done pick-and-shovel work. They had been clerks, shop assistants, professional men. &c, and their hands were soft. They went to remote parts of the continent on high priority war work, leaving their wives and children behind. They worked as labourers, tractor drivers, bulldozer drivers and at 101 other jobs. Sometimes they complained, but the history of that organization generally shows a spirit of willingness, patriotism and sacrifice in the face of common danger. These people too, fought for and won the right to a new order; a better state of society in which there will be a more equitable distribution of wealth, and in which there shall not be any horribly poor people, or any disgustingly rich people. We must be prepared to pay for the peace, just as willingly as we paid for the war; yet honorable senators opposite are telling the people of this country that now is the time to rid themselves of war controls and restrictions; that they must not be satisfied any longer with petrol rationing, and standing in queues for commodities which are in short supply. My retort is that these so-called shackles were imposed because of the necessity to protect this country from invasion; that, horribly distasteful though, they may be, they are the things which alone make possible a planned society; and that until we rid ourselves of the waste of capitalism there cannot be a planned society. In ordinary times, twelve bread-carters delivered bread to the residents of the street in which I live. Under a planned economy that area is being supplied by one baker, thus eliminating the overlapping in transport. No doubt the Acting Leader of the Opposition will ask what would happen to the poor devils who were thrown out of employment. My answer is that the sooner we get them out of these, jobs and teach them that their future holds more for them than a 44-hour week, and a basic wage of £5 a week, the better. Surely they are entitled to some of tha good things of life which we have been able to achieve, and without which we should be very poor indeed. Whilst, we walk around in good suits, austerity models perhaps, and enjoy a sufficiency of the things that make life worth while, we must not overlook ihe fact that there are many thousands of others in the community who are not receiving a fair deal. All that this Government proposes is that there shall be a fair deal for all sections of the community, and this legislation is part of its plan to bring that about.
I should like now to say a word or two about slums. I have here a publication, Australia Reclaimed, by William Hatfield, and I draw the attention of honorable senators to the following passage: -
Great areas of our cities come under the sweeping classification of slums. Every row of mean houses, every district devoid of parks and playing fields constitutes a slum, no matter if even a more euphonious title than “ Sub standard dwellings “ is coined by the apologists for these eyesores.
I emphasize the words, “Every row of mean houses . . .” Can honorable senators visualize what that phrase means? Have they ever walked in the slums of Woolloomooloo, Surry Hills, Richmond or Footscray?
– One can find slums at the Causeway in this city.
– The Lord has delivered the honorable senator into my hands, and I shall deal with him in a moment. In all our cities there are “ Rows of mean houses “ - unsightly dwellings without gardens or hedges, many of them lacking even bathrooms; yet from these places we raise a nation of people - men who go down in the mines to hew coal, men who man the ships that sail all over the world, and men who do all the ordinary so-called menial jobs of everyday life. Can we be surprised that some of these men have not the attributes of “ gentlemen “ ? They come from “ mean houses “. Before castigating my friend, Senator Allan MacDonald, for his interjection that one can find slums in Canberra, in all justice I pay a tribute to him for endeavouring to be constructive in his speech on this measure. Incidentally, Senator Mattner also is to be congratulated on the thoughtful, kindly and constructive contribution which he made to this debate. Twenty-five years ago a war had just concluded, and Canberra was in the making. There were German internees in this country for whom accommodation had to be provided. The Government of the day built some very cheap cottages in a part of Canberra known as the Causeway, and it was in these dwellings that the internees lived. Some of those cottages still stand. They are slums, erected by an anti-Labour government. Originally, there were 200; to-day there are only eighteen. The remainder have been destroyed by this Government as they became empty, better premises having been- found for the former residents. I recall that on one occasion when an anti-Labour government was in office, and Sir George Pearce was the Leader of the Senate, I raised the question of the Causeway slums and that right honorable gentleman remarked, “ They are not as bad now as they were, because the trees which we have planted are growing, and one cannot see the houses from the train “. Apparently, because the houses were hidden from sight they could be forgotten. That is the story of the only slums which ever existed in Canberra. They were created by an anti-Labour government and removed by a Labour government.
I shall conclude my speech as I began. I have endeavoured to show the reasons for the introduction of this bill. Honorable senators opposite have no excuse for saying that if only they had certain other legislation before them now, they could see what the Government intended to do. Recently, a White Paper on Full Employment was tabled in this chamber. That, and the measure which we are now debating are steps in the direction of a new order. At the very least this Government will start that new order. The plans have been prepared by the alleged “ bureaucrats “ and “ theorists “. We are now at work on them. The structure is taking shape, and if honorable senators opposite will give us the opportunity they will see results in the not too far-distant future. Nothing can be accomplished by slandering those who are working for a new order, or by claiming that the Government is opposed to preference to exservicemen, or that preference for seven years is not enough. How much longer than seven years do the honorable senators want? In seven years time exservicemen will say to the “croakers” now in Opposition, “ We half believed you. We were very nervous, but you were wrong; we have had a square deal and we can now fend for ourselves; the rest of the community is entitled to a fair deal too “. Honorable senators opposite say that we shall never have full employment. I say that we can guarantee full employment. If the Government did nothing constructive for the next five years, the reconditioning work which must be done would provide employment for every able-bodied man in .the community for that period. There are roads to be rebuilt and maintained and new roads to be made, there are railways to be reconditioned, rolling stock to be repaired and water conservation schemes to be carried out, and there is the problem of soil erosion to be handled.
– And there will be unemployment benefits if we fail.
– Yes. Also there arc new houses to be .built and old houses to be reconditioned. No maintenance work has been done on Government property since the war began; scarcely a house has been built in this national capital owing to war-time conditions. Yet honorable senators opposite say that we cannot provide full employment. I repeat that we can not only provide full employment but also so arrange the affairs of t ho nation that those who are fully employed shall have shorter hours of work, better wages and ‘better industrial conditions to give them self-respect and enable them to feel that they are playing the part of intelligent citizens of a great democracy. Only in this way can we preserve our democratic state and the ideals for which our fighting men have fought and died. Only in this way can the principle of liberty be made a real thing instead of something to be scoffed at. The Government has ideals, as distinct from the ideas of honorable senators opposite. We on this side of the Senate realize the vital importance of these things, because the class from which we spring is demanding a fair deal in life. This bill will be passed in spite of the unkind things that have been said by honorable senators opposite.
– wi reply - I regret that Senator Sampson was not able to reach Canberra in time to continue his speech, although the Senate gave him permission to do so.
I have listened almost throughout this debate to the general tenor of the speeches. Generally speaking, the bill lias been very well supported by the Opposition, and particularly by three or four honorable senators opposite. As has been suggested, the legislation can be amended, if necessary, in the light of experience of ils actual operation. Senator Cooper has circulated three amendments which he proposes to move’ in committee, and I have had prepared eight amendments which I propose to insert in the bill. Therefore, honorable senators will have plenty of other opportunities to consider what may be regarded as vital issues embodied in the bill. It is a very comprehensive measure. It provides for the reinstatement of ex-service men and women in civil life, apprenticeship, a Commonwealth employment service, vocational training, the welfare of disabled persons, re-establishment systems, land settlement, housing, legal aid, a war service moratorium, and practically everything that can be urged in the interests of ex-service men and women and other individuals who will be covered by the terms of the bill. I agree with the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) that honorable senators opposite have expressed a mistaken idea of the attitude of this Government and the party which it represents towards ex-servicemen. At no time has the Labour movement collectively challenged the rights of men who went to the war to preferential treatment on their return to civil life. There are State and Commonwealth laws in existence providing for preferential treatment of exservicemen, and I have seen the effect of those laws in the industries with which I have been associated. I have not seen any friction between returned soldiers and others arising from the operation of those laws. Ex-servicemen are given a decided priority over others. However, I object to the suggestion that preference should be on the same lines as after the war of 1914-18. As has been said by several honorable senators, that form of preference banned the employment of boys who had not been born when the scheme was initiated. That sort of thing is too stupid for words. If this, or any other Government, cannot rehabilitate our ex-service men and women within seven years it will have failed in its duty to the people.
Reference has been made to a returned soldiers organization in this country which claims to be non-political. The falsity of that claim is exposed at election times. In the electorate which 1 represented as a member of the House of Representatives, I had occasion to address a branch of that organization. I had done everything which it had asked me to do, which was my job. I told its members that my policy towards returned soldiers was that of an industrial leader towards men injured in industry, which was that such men should receive a fair industrial wage, not the few filthy shillings a week which the association had acquiesced in accepting on behalf of its incapacitated members.
Statements which have been made in this debate to the effect that most servicemen were not unionists before enlistment and will not be accepted by the unions on their return to civil life are incorrect. Whatever their age may be, whether they be qualified men or whether they be apprentices, the trade unions will open their arms to them. Any union that failed to do so would be unworthy of inclusion in the Labour movement. Furthermore, the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party has, within the last three months, endorsed the Government’s proposals as expressed in this bil], which proves that the official policy of the party is in favour of preference. The majority of soldiers were trade unionists before enlistment and they will be trade unionists again. Every committee that will be established under this bill to assist in its administration will include a representative of the trade unions. Everybody should know that. No government would be so foolish as to inaugurate a re-establishment scheme without seeking the assistance of both employers and employees, through the medium of their organizations. The bill provides for such assistance to be obtained. I refer now to Senator Gibson’s speech. I know that he has intimate knowledge of rural industries and I agree with him that the greatest care must be exercised in selecting land to be placed at the disposal of exservicemen. I was not aware that representatives of any Commonwealth Department had inspected land in the western district of Victoria and had left the owners of the properties in doubt as to whether the Commonwealth intends to buy it or not, but I shall have inquiries made into the honorable senator’s allegation.
– The land-owners have come to me.
– The matter will be investigated immediately, and I shall see that the honorable senator is informed of the outcome. I appreciate that such action would cause a great deal of irritation to the land-owners. (Senator Gibson asked what would be done with all the primary products that would be grown if large numbers of ex-servicemen were settled on the land. I remind him that, since the war started, the only exports from Australia have been by way of governmenttogovernment trade, because other trading has been dislocated owing to war-time conditions. We . have been exporting wool, wheat, meat, butter and. cheese, but most of the shipments have gone to our own kith and kin or to our Allies. The Government is now examining the prospects of re-establishing our exporttrade. This is one of the most important jobs which it must do, and it will entail the appointment of more trade commissioners and the examination of trade treaties by the Department of Trade and Customs. The task is colossal, but it is under way now. Australia is committed through Unrra to provide £12,000.000 worth of exports, which should be in the form of foodstuffs. I wish that we had the wheat and the meat to send to the starving people of other nations. Export trade must be revived if the nation is to live. Great Britain is in a parlous condition. Prices have rocketed. Shipping rates between Australia and Great Britain have increased by 33 per cent, within the last month or two, and the price of motor cars has increased 60 per cent, since the outbreak of war. We must maintain some balance of trade. Our imports will be very expensive. The cost of imports has increased much more than have the prices of our exportable primary products. As I have indicated, this is a tremendous problem, but the Government hopes to make a statement regarding the resumption of export trade at an early date.
Reference was made by Senator Brand to a number of amendments which he considered should be made to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. Those matters should not be considered when dealing with this bill. Several references have been made to the draft bill relating to re-establishment which was prepared by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. The draft bill was fully considered by the Government in preparing the measure now before the Senate. Any points which I have not discussed can well be left for consideration during the committee stage. I repeat that it would not be necessary to apply any compulsion to the unions to admit ex-servicemen to their membership. The unions, in common with the employers’ organizations, are consulted in the implementation of schemes for the training and re-establishment of exservicemen. It will be necessary, in the interests of ex-servicemen, to have some check on the disbursement of reestablishment loans. It is easy to extract money from people who are not experienced in the opening up of business undertakings.
The whole measure is an honest attempt to grapple with a colossal problem. The call-up of men in the first stage of the war was a tremendous task. Every eligible person was summoned to the colours, and the call was responded to in a manner which reflected great credit on the men and women of this country; but, when from 1,250,000 to 1,300,000 people have to be replaced in industry, we shall face a task which has never been attempted previously in this part of the world. In the last war, we sent overseas a total of 355,000 men. We provided them with uniforms and they were convoyed overseas by war vessels of Japan, Italy and France. On this occasion well over 900,000 persons have joined the fighting services, and many of them have been as well equipped as any troops in the world. The trade union movement agreed to the dilution of labour, and it waived many principles which it had espoused for years. I do not agree entirely with the remarks of Senator Gibson, but I am in accord with him in the statement that the bill should be discussed in a non-party spirit. We have all been sent here to serve Australia. When this legislation comes into operation mistakes will no doubt be discovered, and the correct time to make amendments will be after we have had practical experience of the operation of the proposals contained in the bill.
– Has an arrangement been made with the States with regard to land settlement?
– Among the bills to be presented to the Senate will be six dealing with land settlement and six others relating to the housing problem.
These matters are under consideration and an announcement regarding them will be made at an early date.
– Will there be one bill on land settlement and one on housing in respect of each State?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Mr. Justice Starke : Statement by
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I bring to the notice of the Senate certain information supplied to me regarding an attack alleged to have been made by Senator Grant on a member of the High Court. In fairness to the honorable senator, I point out that this information has been supplied to a member of the House of Representatives by Mr. W. Frith, a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, who states that he was present at a meeting which was addressed by Senator Grant. Mr. Frith states -
On Sunday night, the 10th June, 1945,I attended a lecture at the Newsreel Theatre, King’s Cross, given by Mr. L. Haylen, M.H.R., the subject being “Labours Propaganda Machine “.
At this meeting Senator Donald Grant occupied a seat on the platform, and at the conclusion of Mr. Haylen’s address made a contribution to the debate.
Senator Grant, speaking of the activities of the High Court, said, “Mr. Justice Starke had never given a verdict or a decision that was not biased “. In addition to this, Senator Grant said that Mr. Justice Starke used propaganda to justify his findings.
Speaking on the banking legislation at present before the Commonwealth Parliament, Senator Grant said he was sorry they were not legislating for complete nationalization. This was not possible because of constitutional difficulties, but what they were doing would drive the privatebanks out of business and close them up without compensation, which was just as good.
Reflections of this character upon the judiciary do very definitely stigmatize the high traditional standing of our courts and, in my opinion, if tolerated must reduce them to the level of public disregard and ridicule.
Senator Grunt’s assurance regarding the bunking legislation reveals quite clearly the insidious motives underlying the Government’s intention, which, he states, is to confiscate private property without compensation.
Knowing that you stand for the maintenance of the high tradition of our courts and the judiciary, and also for the preservation of private enterprise, I am sure you will be interested to learn that such propaganda is being indulged in by Labour representatives.
What I am chiefly concerned about is the statement alleged to have been made by Senator Grant, in which a definite attack was apparently made on a member of the High Court of Australia.
This information having been supplied to a member of the House of Representatives by Mr. Frith, it is right that I should bring it to the notice of the Senate and thus afford Senator Grant an opportunity to state whether the attack alleged to have been made by him on a member of the High Court was in fact made.
– I shall not reply at length, at this stage, to the remarks of Senator Foll, because he has covered rather a wide range of subjects. Seeing that the honorable senator seems to be much concerned whether I made certain remarks about Mr. Justice Starke, I may say that I did not make the statement attributed to me by Mr. Frith, but I state now that Mr. Justice Starke, in some of his recent judgments, has indulged in political propaganda inimical to the Labour party, and that as members of Parliament are supposed not to criticize the judiciary, it is only right that the judiciary should keep out of politics. As to the other allegations, they are different from, the statements which I made. My views on banking will bc given at the proper time. Obviously, certain members of the iudiciary have been indulging in political propoganda, and if certain criticism has been offered by me or anybody else they themselves are largely to blame.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Australia.) r9.55”. - Ever since I have been n member of this Parliament I have been amazed at the lack of contribution from the Commonwealth Government to the cost of education. Recently, an educational conference was held in Canberra and it aroused much public interest throughout all of the States.
This conference has repeatedly stressed the necessity for a federal education plan. The present Commonwealth Government is the first to take an active part in educational matters by providing for grants to university students and to the Lady Gowrie Child Welfare Centres, which provide nursery education. But those two schemes touch only about .3 per cent, ofl the total number of school pupils. Recently, the experiment of the Lady Gowrie Child Welfare Centres was so much appreciated that the Government decided ‘to renew the grants which have been made to them during the last five years. The time has come when something more definite should be done with regard to education and in no way could that be done better than in the National Capital. We should take steps in Canberra to raise the status of the present University College to that of a full university. Here in Canberra we have all that is necessary for the building up of a university tradition. Canberra could then become not only a political capital but also a cultural centre. We realize the important part that education should play in any democracy. A democracy must be educated if it is to succeed, and its leaders must come from the people themselves. Under the present system, by which the responsibility for education is divided among the six States, with no central authority, the best service has not been obtained. A scheme has been formulated for the rehabilitation of ex-service men and women, and it is time we had another scheme for the rehabilitation of the education system. In Western Australia it is difficult to expend money on education as advantageously as in the more closely populated States of New South Wales and Victoria. There are many correspondence schools and many one-teacher schools owing to the wide areas to be provided for and therefore it is impossible to provide the best service for the children in the outback districts. I hope that during the life of the present Parliament steps will bc taken to improve the education system generally, and that a start will be made by the establishment of a bureau of education to assist the States, particularly from the financial aspect. If it be in the national interests to grant public money for the construction of roads and similar purposes, it is even more important, in building up a young democracy, to provide grants to the States to enable them to carry out a more comprehensive and a better educational programme than they are now in a position to provide. I understand that the Government intends to continue the aid given to university students after the war. In 1937 I was a member of a commission which inquired into the financial standing of the parents of university students throughout Australia, and one of the enlightening facts we discovered was that only one out of every eleven university students undertaking a medical course came from homes where the income of the breadwinner was £9 a week or less. That showed that very few of the students came from working-class homes. The present Government is the first to realize that entry into a university should not be decided by the depths of one’s purse but by the ability of the individual to profit from the course. I commend the Government for the assistance given to nursery schools, and I trust that it will go further, and reach the greater school population comprising children between G and 16 years of age, and help them to get the best education possible, because an uneducated democracy is not a democracy at all.
– I wish again to draw attention to two menaces to our rural economic development. The first is the proposed expansion in Australia of the synthetic fibre industry. All honorable senators from Western Australia have received letters from local governing bodies in the more important wool-growing districts of that State expressing great concern at press reports of the activities of the agents in this country of the synthetic clothing industry and the apparent encouragement being given (o them by the Government. For some time Senator Gibson has been endeavouring to obtain information as to the leasing by the Government to manufacturers of synthetic fibre textiles of the £850,000 factory at Rutherford, New South Wales. I should like the Government to make a definite statement as to its policy regarding the synthetic fibre industry. Recently, the principal local governing bodies in the Murchison district of Western Australia - one of the best districts of that State for producing fine Merino wool - carried a resolution favouring assistance by Commonwealth and State Governments in the establishment of mills for the increased production of woollen textiles. Similar resolutions were carried by other country local governing bodies. The latest information that I have received from the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) is that it is not the Government’s policy to establish such factories because that is regarded as a matter for private enterprise. I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs to consult with his colleague, and then to give to the Senate a definite statement of the Government’s policy regarding this menace to Australia’s future economic security, because I assure him that the wool-growers of Western Australia are very greatly concerned as to the future of the wool industry.
The other menace to rural production is the rabbit pest. Despite extended investigations by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research into the efficacy of a rabbit virus, little is known of the intentions of that body or of the Government in regard to it. According to its latest report, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research seems to have ended its present experiments. The published reports of those experiments indicate that the virus has not proved as satisfactory as was hoped. I understand that the further investigation is being held up by the Director-General of Health, who has the custody of the virus and will not release it except by direction of the Government or at the request of the Agricultural Department of a State. I urge the Government to continue its research into methods of coping with the rabbit pest. Throughout the Commonwealth rabbits are destroying feed which should be available for sheep and cattle. Moreover, the ravages of this pest tend to increase soil erosion which is a problem which must be grappled with now. I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs to make an early statement on both these matters, as the people of Western Australia, especially those living in country districts, are anxious to know what is intended in connexion with these two menaces to rural production.
.- On the 9th May, I asked the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) the following question : -
How many overseas enemy aliens released after a period in internment cam>s have applied for and been granted naturalization status ?
The reply was -
It is not practicable to obtain the information for which the honorable senator asks. I can, however, give an assurance that no alien who has shown himself in any way to bc disloyal has been naturalized. Furthermore, if a charge of disloyalty against any naturalized alien can be sustained, his certificate of naturalization would bc revoked.
My reason for asking that question was to ascertain how many of the enemy aliens who arrived in Australia from Britain on the transport Dunera in September, 1940, had . been naturalized. Those aliens were rounded up in tho south of England shortly after the evacuation of British troops at Dunkirk, when the invasion of Britain seemed certain. The conditions of their admission to Australia were that the cost of transport, maintenance and guarding, should be borne by the British Government, and that they should be interned here and shipped hack at the termination of hostilities in Europe. My information is that of the 2,000 enemy aliens brought to Australia in September, 1940, about 1,000 have been returned to Great Britain. Apparently, the British Government, on further investigation, decided that they were genuine refugees, who had been victims of Nazi persecution. To their credit, about 600 of them enlisted in the British “ Pioneer Corps and rendered good service. Manyothers would have been repatriated to Great Britain, but the advent of Japan into the war stopped further shipments. They, on the advice of the British Government, were released from Australian internment camps and given the opportunity to join an employment company. About 500 did so. I have been deluged with letters asking me to ascertain how many of these original deportees have applied for, and- been granted, naturalization status, and why those who were released from internment camps, or discharged from employment companies, are able to open small shops and businesses which were closed when their Australian owners were called up for service. All these people may eventually become good Australian citizens-, but that is not the point. Before being admitted as such, certain immigration laws have to be complied with. One qualification is five years’ residence in Australia. Here are some names of the deportees who have applied for naturalization, though the, will not comply with the residential qualification until September, 1945 -
Hans Hari Walter Bruck ( German j.
No doubt there are many others whose names have appeared in the daily pres.of other capital cities. Has the Minister for the Interior approved these applications? That was the object of my question of the 9th May. Apparently, he has done so, for in the St. Kilda area at least two persons who are now conducting a small business there have been recognized as former inmates of a Goulburn Valley internment camp. The most serious aspect is the facility with which aliens and refugees can acquire businesses, while ex-servicemen, notwithstanding financial assistance from the Repatriation Department, are forbidden to take the first step towards rehabilitating themselves because of rigid Man Power Regulations. In disgust, these ex-servicemen are compelled to take jobs which require no initiative or enterprise - jobs of a pick-and -shovel type. Is it right that aliens, even if naturalized, can readily acquire businesses and keep them well stocked while those who fought for the safety of this country are left out in the cold ? There is a rising tide of public indignation against this state of affairs and I hope that the Government will take some action to remedy the position.
– in reply - The matters to which honorable senators have referred will be given immediate attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Thefollowing, papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 31 of 1945 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 32 of 1945 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Audit Act - Finance - Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for year 1943-44, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
Customs Act -Customs Proclamations - Nos. 626, 627.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 68 (substitute copy), 81.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1945, No. 85.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes - Oakey, Queensland.
National Security Act -
National Security (Capital Issues)
Regulations - Order - Exemption.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders - Taking possession of land, &c. (24).
National Security (Internment Camps) Regulations - Order - Internment camp (No. 11).
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Order - Prisoners of war camp (No. 14).
Regulations - Statutory Rules1945, Nos. 80, 82, 83, 84.
Senate adjourned at 10.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 June 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1945/19450613_senate_17_182/>.