House of Representatives
11 September 1936

14th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

,. - I desire to intimate to honorable members thatthe Minister without portfolio (Mr. Thorby) in charge of War Service Homes will continue to act as Assistant Minister for Commerce, and that the Minister without portfolio (Mr. Hunter) assisting . the Minister for Repatriation and the Minister for the Interior will in future be in charge of War Service Homes.

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Motion (by Mr.Lyons) agreed to -

That theHouse,atitsrising, adjourn until

Wednesday nextat3p.m..

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Mr. WHITE laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -

Bassine and similar Fibres used in the Manufacture ofBrooms.

Electrotypes, Stereotypes, Matrices for Stereotyping purposes and- Printing Blocks.

Safety Razor Blades.

Ordered to bo printed.

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– With reference to the following statement made by the Attorney-General at the Victorian manufacturers’ dinner at Melbourne on the 13th August last, namely -

How could we proceed to have 20.000.000 people? We should talk in terms of migrating British stock to this country.

What concrete proposal has the honorable gentleman in mind to bring about an increase of Australia’s population to 20.000,000?

Attorney-General · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · UAP

-While I share the honorable gentleman’s admiration for the speech in question, I can merely reply that it is not the practice to deal with matters of policy in answer to questions.


– Will the Prime Minister state whether the speech delivered by the Minister for Commerce to the Millions Club last week maybe taken as giving as clear an indication of government policy on the subject of migration as did the declaration of the right honorable gentleman on the subject of government policy in connexion with the taking of a referendum for an alteration of the Constitution?


– I neither heard nor read the speech of the right honorable gentleman. In any event, it is not the practice to indicate policy in reply to questions.


– Has the AttorneyGeneral any statement to make regarding the discussions which took place between himself and representatives of the British Government regarding: the resumption of migration to Australia?


– Any statement on that subject will be made by the Government in the ordinary way.



– Yesterday the Minister for Defence indicated that Cabinet was giving further consideration to proposals in connexion with the establishment of an airport at Fishermen’s Bend. Has the honorable gentleman made any progress in the matter, and is he in a position to submit an offer to the Government of Victoria?

Minister for Defence · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– AsI indicated yesterday, the policy of the Government is to extend, and to make preparations for the extension as far as possible, of civil aviation services throughout the Commonwealth. At the recent Premiers Conference in Adelaide, the States agreed with the view that aviation should be a Commonwealth activity, nnd steps are being taken in that direction. Although the existing facilities are adequate for the time being and for some time to come, nevertheless it is the policy of the Government, as opportunities occur and circumstances permit, to obtain additional sites where it is thought that future development will be the greatest. In accordance with this policy, and in view of the agitation and the requests which have been made with respect to

Fishermen’s Bend, earnest consideration kas been given to the matter by the Government, and it has been decided to offer to the Government of Victoria, the owner pf the land in question, the sum of £100,000 for 365 acres of what is known as the western site of the Fishermen’s Bend area. It is hoped that this will settle a matter which has presented some difficulty and caused some conflict in the past. The Prime Minister is advising the Premier of Victoria to this effect, and is intimating that, if necessary, eithev he or I will be pleased to discuss the matter with him.


– Can the honorable gentleman give the assurance that a site for the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of aircraft will be chosen in this area, if an arrangement to that effect can be arrived at?


-I oan only repeat the statement that Imade yesterday, that the matter of choosing a site for the establishment of this industry is one entirely for the manufacturers themselves. I am not able, nor is the Government, to give any assurance as to what site will be chosen ; but I venture to express the personal opinion that the establishment of an airport in the Fishermen’s Bend area wouid bc a considerable factor in influencing the manufacturers of aircraft in the direction of that particular site.



– Will the Minister for

Defence state whether further consideration has been given to the inauguration of an air mail service between Australia, Thursday Island, Papua, and the Mandated Territory; also, whether consideration has been given to the inauguration of a service between Australia and New Zealand ?


– The connexion with the Mandated Territory has already been decided ‘ upon by the Government, and the form of the tenders is being prepared. It is, however, first necessary and desirable to consult the Mandated Territory, so that its views may he known. I propose to make further reference to this matter later in a statement upon defence and civil aviation generally. The matter of a connexion with New Zealand is also under consideration, in conjunction with the British air mail proposals.


– Has the Minister for Defence any statement to make regarding negotiations conducted by the AttorneyGeneral and the Minister for Commerce whilst abroad with reference id the air mail service between Great Britain and Australia? Will the Minister give an assurance that if the existing arrangements are varied, the internal air mail services in Australia will not be adversely affected ?


– I gave an explanation regarding this matter in answer to a question yesterday, and I shall refer to it again in a statement which I propose to make later.

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– In view of the Prime Minister’s pronouncement yesterday, that it is the intention of the Government to take a referendum on the question of an alteration of the Constitution, in consequence of the decision of the Privy Council in the James case, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House as to whether the Government is prepared to give special consideration to those industries which are affected, pending the taking of the referendum?


– The Government does not feel that there is any necessity for special consideration at present, particularly in view of the fact that, so far as those industries which are more directly concerned are affected, there already exist organizations of the producers. It is hoped that the producers themselves will be loyal to those organizations, pending a decision by the people upon any question which is submitted to them at a referendum.

Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Commerce · BATMAN, VICTORIA · UAP

– Referring to the statement made yesterday by the Prime Minister that it is proposed to take a referendum of the people on a proposed alteration of the Constitution, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether, having regard to the urgency and importance of the matter, he will be able to inform the House before it rises for the week-end of the terms of the proposed submission? If I may do so without offence, I should also like to ask him, alternatively, whether his pronouncement yesterday was merely designed to obtain the reaction of honorable members to the intimation that he made?


– I shall not be in a position to make a pronouncement on the subject before the House adjourns to-day for the week-end - it is not quite so important as all that. The object of that which I made yesterday was not to ascertain the view of honorable members. The Government has naturally taken the opportunity to ascertain the views of its own supporters and, having done so, it will now take the responsibility of deciding what particular questions or question shall be submitted to the people.

Mr.Scullin. - Then is it to be a purely party question?


– No, it will be dealt with by this Parliament in due time.

Mr.Scullin. - In its origin it has been made a party question.


– I sincerely hope that it will not be a party question and that the members of the Opposition will take their part in dealing with a subject which is a national responsibility. If the honorable member for Batman will wait a day or two longer, I think I shall be able to satisfy him.


– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a statement made by the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Butler, and reported in the press this morning, to the effect that the proposed referendum was a definite step towards unification and that he felt that the people would answer “ No “ to any questions submitted to them? Mr. Butler said that no greater calamity could befall this country than for the people to answer “Yes.” In view of the fact that statements of this kind are being made, will the Prime Minister consider the holding of a conference of Premiers at an early date to deal with the subject?


– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable member. I have been too busy to read all the statementsmade on this subject. The Government has already held a conference with the State Governments on this subject without any satisfactory result. It received no guidance whatever from tho States. At present I do not think that any good result would follow the holding of another conference.

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– Concerning the suggested visit by a contingent of exAustralian Imperial Force units to the coronation of His Majesty the King, and the many representations that have been made to the Prime Minister, is the right honorable gentleman in a position to indicate -whether an invitation has been received from -the British Government, and if a decision has yet been arrived at?


– Many requests have been made by various individuals and organizations in Australia, but so far no invitation has been received from the British Government. The whole matter is under the consideration of the Government.

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– Has the Assistant Minister for Commerce any report to make in connexion with his recent visit to Western Australia in regard to the granting of drought relief?

Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Commerce · CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– During my visit to Western Australia I had the opportunity to inspect most of the areas which were drought-stricken last year, and to investigate the difficulties of the settlers in them. I then had a further discussion with responsible State Ministers, and found that between £30,000 and £40,000 of the money originally .granted by the Commonwealth to Western Australia had still to be distributed. The State Minister in charge of the matter has now advised me that this money will be sufficient to continue until the end of the month of November tb,e rates that have been paid for relief to married and single farmers. Therefore, the statement of the settlers that their last payment would be received in August and that they would have no sustenance until their harvesting returns came in, has no force, because arrangements have been made to continue relief payments during the months of September, October and November.

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– Will the Minister for Defence state whether, in view of the recruiting campaign instituted by his department, any significance may be attached to the dismissal by the Government of New South Wales of 16,000 men who were engaged on relief work, or whether recruitment is an attempt to redeem this Government’s election promise to find the unemployed constant work at steady wages?


– My answer to the question is, that it is neither the one nor the other.

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– Is the Prime Minister able to give a denial to a rumour which is current to the effect that the Government’s budget proposals may be regarded as the prelude to the holding of an early general election?


– The honorable gentleman should be ruled out of order for hinting at something which ought to bc rigorously excluded from our minda. The Government is hopeful that it will be able to produce another budget as good as, if not better than, .that presented yesterday, before it goes to the country.

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– Will the Assistant Minister for Commerce inform me whether any progress has been made in the negotiations with the Government of New Zealand for the entry of Australian oranges, other than those from South Australia, into the sister dominion?


– I regret that very little progress has been made. The Government of New Zealand has refused to amend or withdraw the embargo which now prevents Australian citrus fruits generally, and Australian vegetables, from entering New Zealand except in respect of certain specified quantities of citrus fruit from South Australia. Representations on the matter have been made to the Government of New Zealand on several occasions and the subject has been discussed with the New Zealand Trade Commissioner in Australia. Our Trade Commissioner in New Zealand has also been advised of the details in regard to the matter. Unfortunately, the Government of New Zealand cannot be persuaded to remove, or even partially lift, the embargo for specified periods when special classes of fruit and vegetables are available for export from Australia to New Zealand.

Mr Beasley:

– What is the reason for the dominion Government’s attitude?


– The real reason why Australian fruit and vegetables are not permitted entry into New Zealand is the fear that certain diseases, particularly Mediterranean fruit fly, may be introduced to New Zealand. Every assurance has been given by the Departments of Commerce throughout Australia that certificates can be issued absolutely assuring that only clean fruit and vegetables will be exported. It has been suggested as an additional safeguard that certain specified periods of export to New Zealand should be fixed for certain States.

Mr Beasley:

– Has the position in regard to potatoes been raised at all?


– That subject has not even been discussed since I have been associated with the negotiations. We have been advised, however, that the Government of New Zealand has appointed a committee of inquiry to investigate the fruit position in New Zealand, and it has been agreed that evidence from Australian interests may be submitted to the committee. The Commonwealth Government has taken action in the .last month to inaugurate an Australian Citrus Council on the same basis as the Australian Apple and Pear Council. It is hoped that when this body, which is now in the course of formation, is actually operating, it will be a strengthening force, and will give useful assistance in proceeding with the negotiations with the Government of New Zealand. We hope that there may be a lifting of the embargo, if not altogether, at least partially, at an early date.

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– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform me whether a request has been received from the Government of Western Australia that a justice of the High Court should be made available, as a commissioner, to inquire into certain allegations made by the member of the Western Australian Parliament for East Perth, Mr. T. J. Hughes?


– The answer to the first part of the question is “ Yes “. A consultation was held with the Chief Justice of the High Court regarding such a request but it was not found practicable to make the services of a High Court justice available for such a purpose, and the Government of Western Australia has been so informed.

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– In view of the repeated statements made by the Prime Minister that the living standards of the people of this country depended upon the overseas price levels for our primary products, will the right honorable gentleman explain why the present high price levels, compared with those of twelve months ago, should coincide with a further attack upon the unemployed people of New South Wales by his colleagues in the Parliament of that State?


– I know of no attack being made upon the unemployed people of New South Wales, but I know how rapidly the unemployed have been returned to employment since the present Government has been in office in that State.

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– I ask the Assistant Minister for Commerce whether he will make a statement at an early date, setting out the exact position that has arisen between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Queensland regarding legislation for the adjustment of farmers’ debts?


– As the question raised by the honorable member for Darling Downs is of a rather involved and legally technical nature, I give an assurance that I shall have a statement carefully prepared.

Mr Brennan:

– Will the honorable gentleman consult the Attorney-General so that he may obtain an ‘opinion on both sides?


– I certainly propose to submit the matter to the AttorneyGeneral, so that a legally correct statement may be submitted to the House. I shall make a ministerial statement with the assistance and concurrence of the Attorney-General which will clearlyset out the legal position as it affects the Commonwealth and the States.

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– I wish to preface a question to the Minister in charge of War Service Homes by congratulating him upon his elevation. I express the hope that his administration will be more successful than that of his predecessors. I now ask him whether he will issue an instruction to the Deputy Commissioners of War Service Homes, and particularly to the Deputy Commissioner in New South Wales, that returned soldiers be not evicted from their war service homes, or threatened with eviction, while they arc unemployed.

Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Repatriation · MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I remind the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) that I have been associated with the administration of the War Service Homes Department for nearly two years. I know of no case of injustice that has occured, for which my predecessors in office for that period have been responsible. Neitherhas injustice been done to any occupants of war service homes by the Deputy Commissioners. There is therefore no need for me to issue an instruction to them as to how they shall act.


– Will the honorable gentleman consider the two cases which I have referred to him?


– I shall consider all cases submitted to me.


-Has the attention of the Minister administering War Service Homes been drawn to a circular issued by the War Service Homes Purchasers’ Association in which the following words occur

Anact.futile, inept and an irrefutable repudiation of Repatriation.

How can he reconcile that statement with the answer which he has just given to the honorable member for Reid?


– My attention had not previously been drawn to the circular, but 1 can assure the honorable member from my own knowledge of the department that the statement contained therein is not correct.

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– I ask the Assistant Minister for Commerce whether the Minister for Commerce, whilst he was abroad, made any investigation into the subject of Australian trade publicity in the United Kingdom? I should also like to know whether the figures referred to in the budget compare favorably with those of other dominions? Is it now necessary that all products exported from Australia shall have the words “ Product of Australia” printed thereon?


– My colleague, Dr. Earle Page, made a close investigation of Australian publicity methods in both the United Kingdom and other countries overseas while he was abroad. In reply to the latter part of the honorable member’s question, I inform him that the word “Australia” is now printed or embossed on the various products of Australia exported abroad. One of the most recent innovations has relation to Australian butter, which now has the word “ Australia “ printed diagonally across every box of choicest butter, and also embossed on the butter itself.

Mr.Beasley. - Complaints have been made that too many brands of Australian butter have been exported.


– It is true that some time ago between 600 and 700 brands of butter werebeing sent from Australia, but the number has now been reduced to four. The great bulk of Australian butter now exported has the word “ Australia “ printed in 3-in. block letters on the butter itself, and the word “ Australia “ deeply imprinted on the butter boxes.

Mr.Mahoney. - Will the word “ Tasmania “ be used?


– No ; we are exporting Australian, not Tasmanian, butter, and every effort is being made in London and elsewhere to give the widest publicity to the word “ Australia “, in preference to the name of the State in which the butter may be produced.


– Early last session the Assistant Minister for Commerce promised that he would make representations to the Australian Meat Board, inviting it to issue a publication similar to that issued by the Australian Dairy Produce Board, but, so far as I am aware, no such publication has yet been issued by the Australian Meat Board. Has the Minister anything to say on this matter?


– The Department of Commerce, which used to carry out a certain amount of publicity on behalf of Australian meat interests, is endeavouring to hand over that work to the Australian Meat Board, and the matter of publicity, both at home and overseas, is under the consideration of that body at the present time.

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– I ask the Minister for Defence whether any agreement has yet been reached between the Hobart City Council and the Department of Defence for the removal of the Sandy Bay rifle range from its present site? If no agreement has been made, I ask that the Defence Department take the responsibility of removing the rifle range from the residential area in which it is at present, at Sandy Bay.


– I cannot say offhand whether a definite decision has been reached, hut I shall advise the honorable member when there is anything to report.

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– For some years past certain of the States have received grants of money from the Commonwealth on the ground that they have suffered disabilities under federation. Recently, the grant to Western Australia was reduced, whilst that to Tasmania was increased. Will the Treasurer state whether this is due to the fact that Western Australia now suffers less disability under federation than does Tasmania, or that the whole basis of the making of thesegrants has been altered?


– The matter has been made clear in the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which has just been tabled, and copies of which will he made available to honorable members.

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– During the absence of the Attorney-General abroad a motion was introduced in this House asking for the establishment of a Commonwealth matrimonialdomicil. Has the AttorneyGeneral given consideration to the matter, and will he indicate the attitude of the Government to it?


– I have been informed regarding the discussion which took place, but the matter has not yet been considered by the Government.

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– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General state whether it is proposed to reduce the licence-fees charged to radio listeners?


– If the honorable member so desires, I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General, but I remind him that, in view of the substantial tax remissions provided for in the budget, the present radio licence-fee should not prove a serious impost.

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– Some time ago I was informed by the Prime Minister that he would get in touch by cable with Sir David Rivett, who is abroad, requiring hint to inspect plants for the extraction of oil from coal. I should like to know whether the Prime Minister has been in communication with Sir David Rivett, and, if so, whether he has anything to report?


- Sir David Rivett, who is at present making inquiries in Great Britain and Germany in regard to processes for the extraction of oil from coal, reports that Imperial Chemicals Industries Limited has been unable up to the present to design production plant suitable for Australian conditions, and he does not recommend that anything should be done until certain improvements are made in the English plant. However, he is making inquiries in Germany, and has been much impressed with the FiseherTropsch process, though he is going carefully into the matter before making a final recommendation.

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– Will the Minister for Defence state whether following the precedent established when the airport at Mascot was re-named the Kingsford

Smith Aerodrome, it is now proposed to call the airport at Bullsbrook in Western Australia the Pearce Aerodrome, after Sir George Pearce?

Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.It has already been announced that it is the intention of the Government to immortalize the achievements of famous airmen by connecting their names for. all time with certain airports, and it has been decided that the airport at Mascot shall be called the Kingsford Smith aerodrome. Before that decision was reached, the airport in Western Australia was known as the Bullsbrook aerodrome, and as this was not considered a particularly suitable or euphonious name, it was decided that a change should be made. I suggested, on my own initiative, that, in view of the great and distinguished services which Sir George Pearce has rendered this country, and which history will record in vivid language, he was entitled to have hi.0 name attached to this Western Australian airport, more especially as, during his regime, he had established civil aviation in this country, and laid the foundations of the air force. I, therefore, make no apology for what has been done, and I make this statement now in view of the carping criticism which has been indulged in by some persons in regard to this matter.

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– Will the Treasurer give instructions that, on next pension pay day, when pensions will be increased, all the inmates of institutions who receive pensions will obtain the benefit of the ls. increase?


– The matter will be dealt with in the financial relief measure which will be brought down shortly.

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– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties state what progress has been made in the negotiation of a new trade agreement with Canada, and will he ensure that adequate consideration is given in the framing of such an agreement, to the interests of the pineapple growers of Queensland.

Minister without portfolio, directing negotiations for trade treaties · HENTY, VICTORIA · UAP

– The Canadian Government has stated that a Minister will visit Australia shortly to enter into negotiations for the amendment of the existing trade agreement.

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– Under the old tariff rates on imported logs many firms were induced to spend considerable sums of money on log cutting plant, and much employment was provided. Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that, under the new rates, much of this plant is now idle, and many workers have been dismissed? Is he prepared to give further consideration to the matter with a view to varying the rates before they aTe finally ratified?

Minister for Trade and Customs · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · UAP

– It is true that because of the increase of duties on imported Oregon some dislocation has occurred in the industry, but if men have been put out of employment in one branch of the timber industry, a greater number have been absorbed in other branches. The hardwood millers have indicated their appreciation of the new rate, and Australian timbers are, in consequence, being increasingly used.

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– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence a question without notice relating to compulsory military training. I am aware that this is a matter of policy about which the Government is naturally reticent, but I should like the Minister to say whether he is in a position now to make a pronouncement of Government policy. Has he thought fit to inspire certain resolutions and press propaganda with a view to influencing the public mind in favour of compulsory military service?


– On very many occasions statements have been made on behalf of the Government that its policy is to continue the existing voluntary system. The suggestion of the honorable member regarding some sinister campaign, of a nature with which, apparently, he is very familiar, has nothing whatever to do with the Government’s policy.

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– Will the Minister for Repatriation indicate whether some reciprocal arrangement can he arrived at between the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Departments and the Repatriation Department to enable returned soldiers who are in receipt of invalid pensions to receive a service pension a little more readily than is the case at present? Possibly persons who have passed a medical examination for an invalid pension during the last five years could be considered eligible for a service pension ?

Minister for Repatriation · NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– As the honorable gentleman is aware, a service pension, except in cases of tubercular soldiers, cannot be granted to those who are in receipt of an invalid pension, but this matter can be dealt with when measures dealingwith financial emergency relief and amending the Repatriation Act are introduced in the near future. The honorable gentleman can raise this matter then, and I shall be glad to explain the position fully.

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– I do not desire to curtail the privileges of honorable members, but I suggest that, as we have had questions without notice for an hour and three-quarters yesterday, and for threequarters of an hour to-day, honorable members should give notice of any further questions.

Mr Ward:

– Why did the House rise so early last night?


– The honorable member had every opportunity, on the adjournment last night, to raise any matter he desired.

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ringah - Minister for Defence · War · UAP

. - by leave - Provision is made in the budget this financial year for the final yearofthe three-year programme, ana the first year of a new programme. As the defence vote will probably result in the highest annual peace expenditure on defence since federation, the Government has decided that the earliest opportunity should be taken to inform Parliament and the public of the purposes for which this large provision is being made. I could have made this statement at a meeting in my electorate, or elsewhere, but I think that information on a matter of this kind should, as far as practicable, be brought first before Parliament. For this reason, and also because of the importance of the subject, I crave the indulgence of honorable members should this explanation take a little longer than usual. The following is a summary of the financial details of the provision for 1936-37

Of the above amount, £1,952,008 will be financed from Trust Fund, Defence Equipment Account, £6,831,062 will be provided from revenue this financial year, and £26,408 is available in Loan Fund.

To enable the details of what is being done by each of the services and branches to be seen in their proper setting, a brief reference to the basis of policy is first necessary. The objectives of the Government’s defence policy are: -

  1. The maintenance of the Royal Australian Navy at a strength which is an effective and fair contribution to Imperial naval defence.
  2. Local defence against invasion and raids.

As raids are the most probable form of attack, the Government decided that, in the three-year programme, defence against this danger should have priority of provision, whilst a certain proportion of the vote should also be allotted for strengthening the defence against invasion.

The Defence Committee, having been requested by the Council of Defence to report on the guiding principles that should be observed in the allotment of any future development expenditure after the completion of the three-year programme, advised that the policy as already laid down establishes a broad basis for guidance in any future programme. The Government, therefore, in pursuance of its aim to ensure the continual development of an effective policy, is providing this year for the first year of a new programme. The first stage will cover miscellaneous unavoidable increases, a number of items for rounding off the current programme, and certain new proposals of an urgent nature. The Council of Defence recently considered and endorsed the detailed proposals put forward by the various boards. The further provision necessary for the continuance of the new programme will be considered by the Government later.

The following is the financial provision for the Navy this year: -

As Australia is an island continent, foreign aggression against the Commonwealth must come from overseas. British seapower is, therefore, our first line of defence. Our safety and security are largely assured if British naval strength is sufficient to render invasion so hazardous an operation that an enemy will not undertake it. Seapower also ensures the safe passage of our export trade of wool, wheat and other products to their markets at the large centres of population overseas, and this freedom of movement also guarantees the power to send reinforcements and munitions to our aid. The disastrous effects on our national economy of a fall of prices have already been witnessed, but it is necessary to multiply them to imagine the results of a complete stoppage of seaborne trade. We wouldbe reduced to a grave position, both economically and militarily, by an enemy with command of the sea. These safeguards of seapower are the justification for the Royal Australian Navy, and nonparticipation in Empire naval defence by the Commonwealth would be a reckless disregard of its interests and security.

Should any re-assurance be necessary on the constitutional aspect I cite the following from an earlier statement on the Government’s defence policy -

Subject to the sovereign control of its own policy and without prior commitment in any shape or form, the Commonwealth stands for co-operation in Imperial defence.

I shall now give a brief outline of what is being done to provide the Commonwealth’s reasonable contribution to naval defence. At the conclusion of the threeyear programme, the following ships will be in commission: -

Three cruisers;

One flotilla leader and two destroyers ;

Two sloops and a survey ship.

To date, the squadron has been strengthened by one new cruiser and a sloop. The second new sloop built at Cockatoo Island dockyard will be commissioned in January, 1937. In the new programme, provision is being made for the continuation of further local construction, but the type of ship is at present under consideration. Improvements are also to be made in the armament of the 8-in. gun cruisers to keep them in line with recent naval developments. The remainder of the naval part of the new programme consists of miscellaneous unavoidable increases and items for rounding off the first programme.

As the training of naval ratings takes longer than the building of ships, it is necessary to recruit crews well in advance of commissioning ships and also to carry a margin for wastage. The strength of the sea-going forces will he increased this financial year to 4,290, the total increase since the commencement of the programme being 1,050.

Adequately defended bases and facilities for repair and fuel are essential for the operations of the squadron. What is being done for the defence of bases by the re-armament of the fixed defences at the main ports will he mentioned later. The maintenance of industrial resources for repair of ships is covered by the earlier reference to orders for new construction. The programme of increased repair facilities at the naval establishments at Garden Island is being continued this year by the provision of berthing facilities, workshops and storehouses. The construction of three additional 8,000-ton oil-fuel tanks at Darwin, “making a total of nine, has been completed, and all will shortly be filled. Two 12,000-ton tanks are being erected at Sydney, and provision is also being made this financial year for the commencement of filling. An essential condition to the preparedness of the navy it the existence of adequate reserves of naval and ordnance stores, and provision is also being made this year for the continued replacement of stocks which became depleted during the depression.

The financial provision for the army this year is as follows: -

As a self-governing dominion, the Commonwealth accepted responsibility for its local defence under the following resolution of the Imperial Conference of 1923, which has also been subsequently reaffirmed : -

It is the primary responsibility of each part of the Empire to provide for its own local defence.

To provide a deterrent to aggression, or, should an invader reach these shores, to enable a strong resistance to be offered until support is forthcoming, the peace organization of the army provides for -

  1. A nucleus of a field army of two cavalry and five infantry divisions.
  2. The coast defences of the important ports.

I shall briefly traverse the main directions in which development is proceeding in the army.

The peace organization of both the field army and the coast defences is composed of permanent and militia forces. The permanent forces provide the staff of formations and units, and a cadre of the coast defence units and the technical corps. The militia forces provide the leaders, specialists, and other rank and file required for the peace establishment of units. The field army is organized on a nucleus basis, but its framework isdesigned for expansion in a time of war so as to enable the man-power of the country to bring existing units to war establishment and to form new units.

The strength of the permanent forces will be increased this financial year to 2,300. The total increase since the commencement of the programme is 623, and is principally for additional permanent staff for units of the militia forces, and further personnel for coast artillery and engineer units under the three-year programme.

There are now 45 Australian and sixteen New Zealand staff cadets in training at the Royal Military College. In order to continue the process of reducing the deficiency in officers of the Australian Staff Corps, the establishment of Australian cadets will, this financial year, be raised to 55. The transfer of the college from Sydney to Duntroon will be made before the beginning of the 1937 instructional year.

For some time the Government has had under consideration the measures necessary to bring about an improvement in the strength of the militia forces which, for some time, was between 26,000 and 27,000, as against a minimum strength of 35,000 necessary for training in peace and to provide for expansion in war. The voluntary system was inaugurated in 1929, and the efforts for its sound establishment were carried out under rather adverse conditions. Owing to the exigencies of the depression, the defence vote fell to almost less than half its earlier figure, and trainees were asked to continue to serve at the low rate of pay of 4s. a day which was paid under the system of universal training. Itis evident, and the results have confirmed it, that adequate financial provision was not made, and the voluntary system should be neither condemned nor discarded without a fair trial under reasonable conditions. The Government, therefore, considered that, if it removed the financial handicaps, it could confidently rely on the people of Australia doing their part in supplying the manpower to bring the militia forces up to strength. The details of the improved conditions have already been announced, and the main army item in the first year of the new programme is £288,600 for these purposes. Of this amount £44,350 will be eapital expenditure of a nonrecurring nature. It gives me much gratification to inform honorable members that the preliminary returns indicate that the strength will be attained. A large turnover has occurred in the militia forces in recent years, and as every re- cruit is a potential soldier of long-service, if his initial enthusiasm can be retained, the Government has placed on the Military Board the responsibility for ensuring that the interest of these men is held by a system of training and a method of administration that fully realize that the militiaman is a citizen soldier doing an important duty in a public-spirited manner.

The period of training for the militia forces will remain the same as previously - six days in camp and six days home training. As the pay for privates has been doubled, and many large employers have offered facilities for employees to attend training, it is hoped that a high standard of efficiency will be attained, by both rank and file and officers, who will have opportunities for commanding larger bodies of troops. A feature of the training improvements provided for this year is a greater provision for voluntary week-end bivouacs, at which much useful work can be done under conditions that axe attractive to the citizen soldier.

I shall now refer to fixed defences and anti-aircraft defences. The Navy requires adequately defended bases from which to operate, and these are also available as safe ports to our shipping in war. In addition, there are vital centres on the coast whose destruction would imperil the capacity to offer resistance. The fact of the existence of adequate local defences is generally a sufficient deterrent to ensure immunity from attack, and in the Army programme priority is being given to the re-armament of the coast defences. The rum of £162,000 is being provided under the first year of the new programme to round off the part of the three-year programme devoted to the fixed defences and anti-aircraft defences. The following is the work to be continued this year : -

  1. To complete the installation of the 9.2-inch and 6-inch armament, and to continue the installation of the necessary technical equipment for the coast defences of Sydney.
  2. To continue the installation of 9.2-inch and 6-inch armament, with the necessary technical equipment, and to increase the 6-inch armament for the defence of Fremantle.
  3. To make the present site of Fort Forrest at Fremantle available for sale by removing the armament and equipment to a new site, thus permitting the expansion of the bulk storage facilities of oil companies, or other commercial use of the area.
  4. To improve the coast defences of Brisbane.
  5. To allot further funds for the local manufacture of anti-aircraft guns, and for the purchase of port-on of the necessary instruments and anti-aircraft searchlights.

An order has been placed abroad for the purchase of modern armament for the defence of Newcastle.

Provision is also being made for improvements in the armament, equipment, and reserves of the field army by continuing -

  1. The mechanization of the Forces.

    1. Increasing the reserve stock of artillery and small arms ammunition.
    2. An instalment of modern armament and technical equipment.

The degree of progress in mechanization is limited by funds that can be made available, but the present policy ia to concentrate on -

  1. The completion of the Australian Army Service Corps (Transport Service).
  2. The mechanization of the Artillery units allotted to the Cavalry Formations.
  3. The mechanization of the Medium Artillery Brigades.
  4. Research for the provision of local patterns of armoured fighting vehicles, &c, and to increase the mobility of the Field Artillery.

A number of armoured fighting vehicles, mainlyfor training purposes, should be delivered during this year.

An extensive programme of Army works and buildings is in hand. The total provision this year is £525,000, and the main groups of items are: -

Now drill halls and barracks necessitated by replacements.

New buildings for the Royal Military College at Duntroon.

Additions and alterations to drill halls to provide improved conditions in accordance with the recruiting campaign.

Barracks and works connected with the fixed defences programme.

Before leaving the details relating to the Army, it is appropriate to make special reference to a small but important item provided for this year. The recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers at Adelaide considered the organization of measures necessary for the protection of the civil population against gas attack. Whilst neither the probability of gas attack in this country, nor the scale of such attack is comparable to that which is possible in Europe, it is considered that, as the possibility of a light attack from a raiding vessel with aircraft does exist, certain preparatory measures of defence should be planned. At this stage, it is not necessary to provide for the wholesale protection of the civil population, but the careful preparation of certain protective measures is advisable for the larger centres of population. The responsibility for organization will devolve upon the State governments, as they control the public services that will carry out the plan. The Commonwealth Government will provide training equipment, such as anti-gas respirators, gas substitutes, handbooks and instructional manuals, at a cost of approximately £2,470, which willbe the present limits, both in nature and amount, of the Commonwealth’s liabilities. Assistance will also be rendered by the Defence Department by providing a course in gas training, and by furnishing information and technical advice to the State authorities in the organization of the protective measures.

Mr.Beasley. - How will the equipment be distributed?


– Preparation for the rapid distribution of the necessary equipment, in the event of an emergency, is an important aspect which has not been overlooked.

I am very pleased to be able to announce that the Government has increased the vote for rifle clubs by £18,000 in order to provide for the restoration of half of the free grant of Mark VII. 303 ammunition which it was compelled to suspend owing to the position of reserve stocks. On other occasions I have stressed the high value which the Government places on the rifle club movement as a means of creating a reserve of men trained in rifle shooting. The step now taken is in accordance with the Government’s policy of encouraging this important adjunct to the Military Forces.

Mr Jennings:

– I suppose the matter will be further reviewed at a later stage.


– The Government will be glad to make a full restoration of this grant, if a further improvement of the financial position warrants that action.

Turning to the Air Force, the following is the financial provision for this year : -

The Navy was described as the first line of defence against an aggressor. An air force of sufficient strength offers a second line of defence, as the convoy of an invader would become vulnerable to air attack when nearing this country. Should he reach our coasts, his landing operations and establishment of a base are also a stage at which he is particularly open to air attack, or the location of his landing may be such that he can he opposed only by air forces. The Air Force organization also provides for squadrons for cooperation with the fixed defences, for coast reconnaissance and the protection of shipping, as well as for the direct attack of enemy raiding forces, and the defeat of enemy aircraft. During the current financial year, the following three new squadrons will be formed to complete the

Air Force part of the three-year programme : -

A bomber reconnaissance squadron at Richmond, New South Wales.

A bomber reconnaissance squadron at Laverton, Victoria.

A citizen air force squadron in Western Australia for co-operation with the fixed defences at Fremantle.

These units will complete the following Air Force expansion under the three years’ programme : -

Victoria. - A station head-quarters; a fighter-bomber squadron; a bomber reconnaissance squadron ; a recruit and technical training unit.

New South Wales. - A station headquarters; an aircraft depot; an army co-operation squadron; a bomber reconnaissance squadron; expansion of the fleet co-operation flight into a squadron.

Western Australia.-A citizen air force squadron for co-operation with the fixed defences. .

The organization developed this financial year will mark the fulfilment of Part I. of the Salmond scheme. Sir John Salmond made his report in1928, and the execution of Part I. was to have been spread over nine years. It would thus have been completed in the ordinary course of events in 1937. The exigencies of the depression delayed the commencement of expansion until 1934-35, but the Governments’s three-year programme and the first year of the new programme will have made up the leeway.

At the recent meeting of the Council of Defence, recommendations for the revision of certain aspects of the Salmond scheme of air defence against raids were endorsed. The changes involved are -

  1. Three squadrons for co-operation with the Field Army instead of one.
  2. A squadron for naval co-operation in place of a flight.
  3. Five squadrons for co-operation with the fixed defences.

This question was not specially considered in the Salmond report.

  1. The substitution of land-planes for flying-boats in four coast reconnaissance units which will result in a larger number of aircraft.

The changes provide for an increase of the first line strength of aircraft from 114, as originally contemplated in the Salmond scheme, to 194. The Air Force part of the three-year programme and the first year of the new programme will give immediate effect to portion of these changes within the funds provided, and will furnish a first line strength of 96 machines. Subsequent . expansion is a matter for future consideration. The Citizen Air Force Squadron, to be formed in Western Australia this year, will be the third of four to be organized on this basis, for co-operation with the fixed defences. At the recent meeting of the Council of Defence, consideration was given to the basis of the organization of the Air Force and the extent to which it should bo developed on citizen force lines. The characteristic feature of our army is a militia force with a small proportion of permanent personnel. Limitations of man-power and expense will not permit the Commonwealth to maintain large permanent forces, and any military effort organized on an extensive scale must be essentially citizen force in nature. The Permanent Air Force is, therefore, the spearhead of our air defence, and the instrument readily available to , co-operate in repelling an invader, or in offering a resistance until our resources can be organized and our full strength brought to bear.

Closely allied to this aspect of organization are the potentialities of civil aviation for air defence. In any extension of our air defence in an emergency, the Government looks to members of aero clubs and pilots of airway companies, civil aircraft, and the ground organization for civil flying as valuable adjuncts to the Air Force. The Council of Defence has requested the Defence Committee and the Controller-General of Civil Aviation to examine these two matters, and to submit a report for the consideration of the council.

The strength of the permanent personnel of the Air Force will be increased this year to 2,263, the total increase since the commencement of the programme being 1,373. The number of air cadets in training as pilots is 96. The increase of personnel is due, not only to the formation of new units, but also to the development of new types of aircraft, which require additional tradesmen for their maintenance. Part of the Air Force provision in the first year of the new programme is for additional personnel to complete the first programme establishment. An increase of 119 officers and airmen is provided for in the citizen air force.

The bulk of the provision for the Air Force in the first year of the new programme is for aircraft and equipment. Aircraft from overseas is still awaited to complete the equipment of the squadrons formed during the last financial year, but it is expected that deliveries will be completed during the next three or four months. Meanwhile, these unite are equipped partly with service type aircraft and partly with training type. The delays which have occurred in delivery from overseas are due to the enormous strain placed on the resources of manufacturers in the United Kingdom, owing to the Royal Air Force expansion. It is confidently expected, however, that the aircraft industry will be established in Australia in the very near future, when the supply position will be on an infinitely improved basis.

The development of aircraft for military purposes is proceeding at an extraordinarily rapid pace at the moment, and types with considerably higher performances than those contemplated when the three-year programme was originally prepared are becoming available. These higher performances are obtainable, however, only at greater cost. Orders have been placed overseas for aircraft of the latest type and of high performance, for the two general reconnaissance squadrons to be formed during this financial year. A further strengthening of the number of reserve aircraft will also be made, so as to bring the reserves up to the minimum number considered advisable to hold. It is not in the public interest to disclosethe numbers on order.

The introduction of now types of aircraft embodying new methods of construction makes it imperative that machine tools and technical equipment of units should be kept up to date, and pro vision is being made to complete the requirements in this respect.

The initial stages of air-force expansion involve much ground organization in the form of barracks, hangars, aerodromes, and workshops. Steps have been taken to provide the necessary accommodation for all units formed to date under the three-year programme, with the exception of the workshop section of No. 2 Aircraft Depot at Richmond, New South Wales, which is now in temporary buildings. The provision this year for works and buildings is £328,000, and the main items are -

Richmond - Additional quarters and accommodation for personnel; new wireless direction-finding station.

Point Cook - Additional quarters for personnel.

Laverton - Additional quarters and accommodation for personnel ; new wireless transmitting station; new wireless direction-finding station.

Now Station, Western Australia - Hangars, stores and workshops; quarters for personnel ; wireless stations; engineering services.

Mr Mahoney:

– What provision has been made for Fort Nelson?


– I may be able to supply the honorable member with that information inthe near future.

The following is the financial provision for the Munitions Supply Branch this year : -

Modern war involves a vast expenditure of munitions and equipment, and it is necessary that our forces should have adequate reserves if they are to be fully effective. Preparation on the material side is a combination of building up certain necessary reserves for mobilization and organizing local resources for the production of supplies, so as to avoid the great expense of accumulating in peace vast stocks which deteriorate or become obsolete. The policy of the Government is to erect factories for making the types of essential munitions which have no counterpart in commercial industries, and to maintain them on a nucleus basis in peace, so that the knowledge will he available should war come.

The objectives of the three-year developmental programme in relation to munitions supply are to provide for -

A naval cordite factory.

Additional facilities for the manu facture of gun ammunition.

The manufacture of 3-in. antiaircraft guns.

Replacement of temporary and inefficient structures erected during the war years and earlier.

The amount provided under the first year of the new programme is for additional facilities to meet the requirements of the services. A brief summary is given under each establishment of what as been done to date, and what is proposed for this financial year: -

Ammunition Factory, Footscray, Victoria.

  1. Completed by the 30th June last -

A fully equipped tool-room for the manufacture of tools and gauges necessary in the manufacture of brass cartridge cases, fuses and primers, and other components of gun ammunition.

  1. To be undertaken this year -

Modernization of the small arms ammunition factory for production of rifle ammunition.

Extensions for the manufacture of two-pounder naval cartridge cases.

Additions to the facilities for making tools and gauges.

A building to house the staff engaged in the inspection of manufacture of gun ammunition.

Explosives Factory, Maribyrnong, Victoria.

  1. Completed by the 30th June last - A factory for the manufacture of naval cordite, which hitherto had been imported. The factory commenced operations, and it is expected that production will be attained during the current year.
  2. To he undertaken this year -

Additional manufacturing plant and buildings for loading various types of components of ammunition.

Additional facilities for the manufacture of nitric acid.

Ordnance Factory, Maribyrnong, Victoria.

  1. Completed by the 30th June last -

A complete factory for the manufacture of all types of shell and projectiles up to 8-in. shell. The factory is actively in production.

Additions to the gun and carriage factory, to provide for the manufacture of the 3-in. anti-aircraft gun with mounting. These are in production and the first gun is expected to be completed this financial year.

A new building to house the tool and gauge-making equipment required in the manufacture of guns and projectiles. The building is completed, and it will be equipped with plant during the current year.

  1. To be undertaken this year -

Additions to the forging and smithy plant for manufacture of guns and projectiles.

Equipment of the new tool-room with machinery and plant.

Additions to the factory for production of shells and projectiles.

Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, New South Wales.

  1. Completed by the 30th June, 1934-

Excavations have been made for a new building for machine-gun manufacture.

  1. To be undertaken this year -

Additional machinery and plant for the manufacture of machine guns.

A new three-storey building to replace temporary buildings erected during the war.

The renewal of obsolete machine tools.

Munitions Supply Laboratories, Maribyrnong, Victoria.

  1. To be undertaken this year -

Extensions for the improvement of the facilities for production and testing of gas masks and respirators.

A new metrological laboratory, and additions’ for the scientific examination and control of munitions manufacture.


  1. To be undertaken this year -

Additional facilities at Maribyrnong, Victoria, for testing and proving components of gun ammunition.

Additional facilities and equipment at Wakefield, South Australia, for testing guns and ammunition.

While stressing the defence benefits of this development of our local productive capacity, I should also invite attention to the economic advantages of the works expansion programmes, and the demand created for labour and materials by the factories, when in production. Parallel with the development of government factories, the Government is fostering commercial industries, and thereby it is systematically adding to the country’s resources of raw material, stores and manufacturing establishments. An organization has been created whose function is to prepare a statement of the requirements of the Services in war time, to examine these in relation to the stocks and productive resources of the country, and to prepare plans for mobilizing the resources of industry in an emergency. This important subject was considered at the recent meeting of the Council of Defence, and certain objectives of progress laid down by the Defence Committee were endorsed for attainment as speedily as possible.

The vote for the Civil Aviation Branch in the first year of the three-year programme was £164,150. An additional amount of £50,000 was provided last financial year, and the total increase this year is £316,770. At the present time there are approximately 17,000 miles of airways. Along these routes, 89,000 miles are flown each week and about 5,000,000 miles annually. A pleasing feature of this mileage is that half is flown by unsubsidized and self-supporting services. In regard to the overseas service, an important development was the duplication in last May of the BrisbaneDarwinSingapore, the CootamundraCharleville, and the Perth-Daly Waters services. An additional sum of £85,000 provided for subsidies this year is mainly for these duplications. The Commonwealth’s participation in the Empire air-mail scheme for the carriage biweekly in each direction of all firstclass mails by large flying boats is still under review by the Government. Consideration is now being given to the negotiations which recently took place in London between Commonwealth Ministers and the United Kingdom authorities. It is hoped that agreement satisfactory to both sides will shortly be reached.

Regarding the future development of civil aviation, the Government considers that the time is ripe for the establishment of an air service between the mainland and Papua and New Guinea, particularly in view of the growth of the gold industry in the Mandated Territory. Approval has been given for the calling of tenders for a weekly return service, but before giving effect to the decision, advice is being sought from the administrations in Papua and New Guinea on certain aspects of the project, including the question of the route to be followed. The Government is favorably disposed towards the establishment of fast night air mail services between the capital cities. The scheme has been considered in a general way, but no definite decision will be reached until the matter of the Empire air mail scheme is finalized. The installation of radio range beacon and radio communication services, as well as of meteorological facilities on all the major routes, is of paramount importance as a means of ensuring that degree of safety and regularity so vital for the successful operation of air transport services.

A considerable extension of meteorological aids for air navigation is now under consideration. It is proposed to establish centres at the aerodromes in the capital cities and at certain other places along the main air routes. By their agency weather information will be supplied direct to pilots and aviation interests as required. An amount of £20,000 is being provided for this service.

A large expansion in radio facilities as aids to air navigation throughout the Commonwealthiscontemplated. Special aeronautical radio stations complete with full direction-finding facilities are now installed at Darwin, Melbourne and Western Junction (Launceston). These radio aida not only help to guide aircraft to their destinations, but also enable continuous communication to be maintained between aircraft in flight and the aerodromes.

At Mascot aerodrome, Sydney, Amalgamated Wireless Limited has installed an experimental aural type of radio beacon for the purpose of assisting aircraft to find their way to the aerodrome in conditions of poor visibility. The signals from this experimental station are heard up to a distance of 80-100 miles from Sydney.

The organization that is being planned contemplates the establishment of radio range beacons similar to the Sydney station at Canberra, Melbourne and Launceston. Several “ Marker “ beacons will also be installed to indicate to pilots thoir proximity to aerodromes. While these facilities will first be established for the Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart service, which traverses one of the most difficult air routes in the Commonwealth, wireless aids to air navigation will later be extended to other parts of Australia. Aircraft flying on all regular services will thon be required to carry effective receiving and transmitting radio apparatus.

The provision for wireless services is £132,000.

Mr Curtin:

– Has the Minister envisaged any order for the installation of these facilities!


– AsI have stated, the intention is to give priority to the route which is invested with the most danger - the SydneyMelbourneHobart run - then, as funds become available, to complete, it is hoped practically simultaneously, the installation on other main services.

Mr Clark:

– Why not provide for the whole of the services throughout the Commonwealth atthe one time?


– It is intended to make provision for the whole of the services, but tenders are in the first place being prepared for the route already mentioned.

The rapid extension of civil aviation activities and the introduction of heavier and faster aircraft into Australia have necessitated considerable development of aerodromes. This is being carried out by the enlargement of the landing areas, the provision of hard-surfaced runways, the improvement of approaches to the landing areas, general improvement of landing surfaces and drainage, and the provision of night-lighting facilities for night flying.

Concurrently with the need for these improvements, the growth of traffic at the main capital city airports necessitates the provision of more up-to-date facilities for air travellers and others visiting airports. Steps are in hand for the erection of administrative and control buildings at Archerfield and Mascot aerodromes. This work will comprise not only offices for departmental officials and airline company operators, but also suitable lounge, restaurant and other facilities for the public. Similar provision will be made later at the other capital city airports.

Considerable progress is being made in the provision of additional night-flying facilities for air services in. the Commonwealth. The aerodromes at Darwin, Cloncurry, Longreach, Cootamundra, Forrest and Kalgoorlie are already fully equipped for night flying, while rotating airway light beacons are provided on the air routes from Cloncurry to Longreach and from Kalgoorlie to Forrest. It is proposed to equip all capital city airports with full night-lighting facilities, and tenders are now advertised for their installation at Archerfield aerodrome. Tenders for the supply of rotating airway light beacons and for aerodrome distinguishing beacons at, the capital city airports have already been accepted.

The work associated with the establishment of necessary landing grounds and lighting facilities for the proposed intercapital air mail service is well advanced, their construction on the route between Brisbane and Sydney being in hand. A sum of £157,000 is being provided for buildings, works and lighting facilities.

In conclusion, I may say that as Britain and the dominions gave a practical lead to the world in disarmament, the steps now being taken to increase our defences as a safeguard against aggression are really a course to which there is no alternative, in view of

*Estimates[11* September,1936]. 1936-37. 79 the growth of the armaments of other nations. No one can claim that there is an aggressive element in these reluctant but necessary steps to discharge the Government's grave responsibility for national security in the world as we find it to-day. I have carefully studied the additions to the Labour party's defence policy which were made by the recent conference at Adelaide, and find that they are in general agreement with the essential basis of the policy just put before honorable members, except that the Government's technical advisers fortunately do not consider that the present risks of gas attacks necessitate the very extensive provision suggested for the protection of the civil population. The threats to peace to-day do not arise from the democratic countries. It is increasingly evident that the British nations, if they wish to safeguard their traditional rights and privileges as free and democratic communities from being engulfed in the rising tide of dictatorships, must he prepared to defend them. The preamble to the additions to the Labour platform recognises this menace, for the recommendations are stated to be resultant on - >The menace which Fascism offers to any programme of reform, and to the continuance of democracy. It is the hope of the Government that a common ground exists here to raise the vital question of national defence above party issues and so assure that continuity of development and universal support which is essential for its full effectiveness. {: .page-start } page 79 {:#debate-28} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented : - >Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Darwin, Northern Territory - For Defence purposes. Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances of1936 - No. 12 - Mortgagors' Relief. No. 13 - Sanctions (Exports and Imports) Repeal. No. 14 - Administration. No. 15 - Judiciary. No.16 - Motor Car. No. 17 - Probate and Administration. No. 18 - Crown Lands. Exportation of Fruit Ordinance - Regulations. {: .page-start } page 79 {:#debate-29} ### ESTIMATES 1936-37 Additions, New Works, Buildings, etc. *In Committee of Supply:* Consideration resumed from 10th September *(vide page* 49.) {:#subdebate-29-0} #### Parliament *Proposed vote,* £60. {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr CURTIN:
Fremantle .- The committee is asked to approve that portion of the budget which prescribes the expenditure, in the present year, for additions, new works, buildings, &c. In the main, the members for whom I speak have little or *no* criticism to offer regarding the various items contained in the Estimates. I point out, however, that, as some of the works are of such a nature as to become obsolete at a comparatively early date, it is undesirable that provision for them should be made from loan funds. I welcome the fact that, in the schedule before us, the Government proposes to spend from revenue this year on Commonwealth works and services nearly £1,000,000 more than was expended in the last financial year. It is true, too, that provision is made in another bill for increased expenditure from loan account, so that the total works expenditure from revenue and loan in the present financial year will be approximately £1,300,000 more than last year. Furthermore, the provision which the Commonwealth is making in this schedule for expenditure by the States takes £401,000 from revenue and this also will be supplemented in another measure by £2,000,000 from loan account. Generally speaking, the unwisdom of using loan funds for works, particularly for defence, and also, shall I say, for the Postal Department, appears to me to be clear. Our postal services, having regard to the satisfactory financial result of the previous year's operations, and, I presume, too, of the last financial year, suggest that the Postal Department should be regarded as an entirely self-contained instrumentality. I am reminded that, as far back as the 19th October, 1921, the present Minister for Commerce **(Dr. Earle Page),** prior to becoming Treasurer in the Bruce-Pago Administration, said - >I desire to enter an emphatic objection to taking from the Postal Department the profits and crediting them to general revenue. . . In my opinion the profits that sometimes accrue in this department should be reserved to the department. . . . The Postal Department should at least be selfcontained, and whatever profits it earns should he utilized for its extension and development. I support that view. It is unwise for the Government to apply the earnings of the Postal Department to general revenue, and then to draw on the loan account to finance extensions of postal services. The view- 1 submit as a general principle is that, having regard to the future financial outlook of Australia, it is desirable to expend on works as much money as can be spared from revenue. In this connexion I utter a word of warning in regard to what I consider to be the unwise action of the Government in reducing taxation, whilst, at the same time, spending more money in the current financial year from loan account than was the case last year. If this practice is continued we shall, I fear, be faced with very serious financial difficulties in the near future. I take this occasion to remind the Treasurer **(Mr. Casey)** that in a little more than two years the Commonwealth ' will have to convert nearly £80,000,000 of internal debt at a time when, probably, money will cost more than at the date when the loans were issued, and also that six years later an additional £170,000,000 will have, to be converted, making a total of £250,000.000--approximately one-quarter of the entire public debt of the Commonwealth and States - to be redeemed within eight years from the present time. I agree that it is wise for the Government to spend more money on public works than has been the case in recent years, and I welcome this realization that expenditure by the Commonwealth on public works at this stage is an excellent contribution towards the economic welfare of Australia. I noticed, in the latest report of the Director of the International Labour Office, this interesting comment from **Mr. Harold** Butler - >From whatever point of view the social situation is regarded, unemployment remains, and is likely to remain, the outstanding problem. No system of labour protection or of health insurance or of safeguarding wages, however admirable, is of much significance to a man who has no work. I have, on previous occasions, endeavoured to evoke from the Parliament a realization of what I consider to be the unquestioned economic certainty that private enterprise cannot be expected to provide continuous employment for the people of any country; that more and more the State itself must assume responsibility for economic organization directly ot indirectly. The development of national assets by the use of national capital has two purposes: it adds in perpetuity to the general resources of the nation, and in the immediate present it contributes a distinct stimulus towards private enterprise by giving to the customers of private enterprise a purchasing power which they would not have but for public expenditure. I think, therefore, that it is preferable that public expenditure should be distributed in the form of wages for work rather than as a subvention for assistance because work cannot be found. In general outline these estimates represent a forward move on the part of the Government towards the general attitude which the Opposition has taken up for some years. When we come to the details I shall probably have further observations to make; but upon the broad general principle of the statement made by the Treasurer when introducing these estimates last night, I find myself, shall I say, in happy agreement. {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- The only observation that I wish to make in a general sense in regard to these estimates is as to the method which the Government might adopt in the carrying out of these works. In the first place, the programme can be viewed from two points: It makes provision for national necessities in the various departments, and it achieves the object of providing employment. The policy of the Government within recent years has been to allow these works to be carried out mainly by contract, with the result that the spread of employment has not been wide enough to embrace a sufficient number of those who have sought engagement. This is particularly the case in New South Wales. I conceive it to be my duty to endeavour to influence the Government to recognize the circumstances that actually exist at the moment, with a view to having the work shared by as large a number of men as possible I have in mind particularly those who are domiciled in the cities and the nearer suburbs of the cities. The relief work provided by the State is largely general labouring in character, such as road works and sewerage works. Consequently those who are associated with the skilled section of industry have been denied the opportunity 4to obtain sufficient to enable them to make provision for themselves and those who are dependent on them. But this programme, which provides for work of a skilled character, such as buildings, naval construction, and the like, will set in motion an extensive volume of employment for men who formerly have not enjoyed the privilege of anything like continuity of employment. If it is to be carried out under the contract system, however, it will not be spread over a sufficiently large number of persons. I have been approached from time to time by men who have been anxious to secure employment upon such work as the fortifications along the foreshores of Sydney. If the work were carried out by the Works Department, as was the case up to within two or three years ago, there would be some system of rotation and a larger number would participate in it. Because of strict adherence to the present practice, many men have no hope of obtaining employment. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- There is not a great deal of unemployment in the ranks' of skilled labour. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- In my own district, there is an enormous volume of unemployment in the iron trade, particularly among those who follow shipbuilding. Compared with other sections of the community, the opportunities of these men have been very limited, and in many cases their position is desperate. My object in making these remarks is to focus the attention of the Government on the necessity for meeting its obligations with respect to unemployment. I am of the opinion that these works should be carried out by the Works Department. The Government has the necessary organization to undertake the majority of them. The dockyard has been handed over to private enterprise, but work at Mascot and other places, which is mostly undertaken under contract conditions, could be carried out by the Government itself. The small proportion done by day labour is insufficient to do more than absorb those who are entitled to receive preference in the matter of government employment. In New South Wales particularly, the position in relation to unemployment is reaching the stage at which it demands the attention of all sections of the community. Thousands of men have been put back on the dole, and their claim to be employed in some fresh channel should receive serious consideration. In the city areas and the nearer suburbs, under the system of relief work carried out by the States through the municipalities, employment is denied to the residents because they live in localities which are fixed in regard to municipal development, the work being confined to that of maintenance. Thus the avenues of employment are considerably restricted. Many coal trimmers and wharf labourers are no longer able to secure engagement in their particular callings. I have had deputations to the Works Director, and have asked that, in any new works which the Government might undertake, arrangements should be made for the application of a system of rotation, but he has been unable to give any help in that direction, because of a strict adherence to the contract system. When a government distributes funds from revenue, it should see that the benefits are spread as widely as possible. I cannot conceive of the Treasurer arguing that these works should be the close preserve of contractors, and that large numbers of men should be denied the opportunity to share in the benefits accruing from them. The conditions that operate in my district probably are to be found in many other districts. I appeal to the honorable gentleman to give favorable consideration to my representations {: #subdebate-29-0-s2 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
Melbourne Ports .- - In connexion with the works programme generally, there are one or two matters in which the Minister for the Interior **(Mr. Paterson)** is probably keenly interested, because the works in question are carried out by the Works Directors in the different States. The officer with whom I come most into contact is **Mr. McKennal,** who is Works Director in Victoria. The Works Department undertakes a good deal of the work that is required to be done by the different branches of the Defence Department. In work of this character it is essential that, now more than at any other time, discontent should be eliminated. At present I am negotiating with **Mr. McKenDal** concerning one matter which is causing considerable discontent in the ranks of the men who are directly employed by the Works Director. I refer to the matter of annual leave with pay. I am asking not for some extraordinary concession, but for something which is a common practice in industry. For instance, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria has agreed to fall into line with the world-wide trend towards granting leave of absence on pay to regular and direct employees who have worked continuously for at least one full year. In this matter Australia is a long way behind other countries. I have spoken to **Mr. McKennal,** who does not deny the justice of the claim of the men for leave. Men in the direct employ of the Defence Department are granted leave on pay after the completion of one full year's work, yet other men doing exactly the same class of work for another branch of the Government, are denied that privilege. Such differential treatment give3 rise to dissatisfaction, and must in the nature of things continue to do so. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- Does the honorable member refer to men employed directly by the Government, or to those working for contractors? {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- I was speaking of direct employees of the Government. Not a great number of men would be affected, because the policy of the Government is to restrict, as far as possible, direct employment by the Government. Anticipating the Minister's concurrence in my suggestion, so far as men employed directly by the Government are concerned, I now ask him to incorporate the same principle in all contracts let by his department. A system which is considered a good one for direct employees of the Government should be good enough to impose on contractors for government undertakings. That policy is followed by the Government of the United States of America, which requires all of its contractors to adopt a 40-hour working week, and to pay the wages previously paid for a week of 43 hours. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- Was not . the code which provided for that arrangement invalid? {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- The code itself was declared to be *ultra vires;* but what it failed to achieve by legislative enactment has now been attained by voluntary agreement. Unfortunately, any arrangement which is purely voluntary loses its effect should " blackleg " employers fail to fall into line. Consequently the Congress of the United States of America has passed legislation whereby any undertaking costing more than $10,000 must be carried out under a 40-h'our working week 'system, with the old weekly wages. France, the United States of America, Sweden, Belgium, and other countries which are associated with the International Labour Office have passed legislation providing for a 40-hour working week, not for sentimental reasons, but as a scientific way to rehabilitate their countries, and I urge the Government of the Commonwealth, which also is a member of the International Labour Office, to accept the moral responsibility of complying with the decision of that body. I emphasize that my request refers only to permanent employees who, after at least one year's continuous employment, have had annual leave on pay, and is not meant to cover casual workers. There is a tendency on the part of naval and military authorities to get ratings to perform work which rightly should be entrusted to tradesmen. I do not object to ratings being given small jobs, but it is not right that they should be asked to act as, say, painters or bricklayers, &c. The ratings are inclined to blame the present Commonwealth Government for forcing them to do work which should be undertaken by tradesmen, who may not, perhaps, complain directly to the Government, choosing rather to make their representations through the trade union organizations to which they belong. I understand that the policy of the Government is to provide employment for as many workers as possible, and therefore, I urge it to compel men to take leave, to eliminate overtime on these undertakings, and to take steps to ensure that married men and their wives shall not be -employed by the Government while other workers are out of employment. *[Quorum formed.]* {: #subdebate-29-0-s3 .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN:
Cook .- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway)** and urge the Government to institute a 40-hour working week in the carrying out of the extensive works programme for which appropriation is now sought. Such action would provide employment for a number of men now out of work, and give a lead to industry generally. I also support the honorable member's request that overtime in connexion with these undertakings be abolished. At Richmond, notwithstanding that there are large numbers of unemployed in the district, overtime is being worked by government employees. The institution of a 40-hour working week in connexion with this programme of works, and the elimination of overtime would do much to relieve the problem of unemployment in our midst. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** referred to the plight of workers in such district.3 as Surry Hills and Woolloomooloo who, because all local work is undertaken by the respective municipalities, do not share in government undertakings. Because of the policy of the State Government, some of these men have not participated in a " call-up " for over two years. I hope that the Minister will give some consideration to their claims. I again stress the necessity for converting the existing manual telephone exchange at Mascot to the automatic system without further delay. In the district served by this exchange numbers of nev/ factories have been established during recent years, mo3t of them with their head offices in the city of Sydney. *Sitting suspended from 1H.1/5 to 2.15 p.m. [Quorum formed.']* {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN: -- 'Another reason why the existing manual telephone exchange at Mascot should be made automatic, is that sometimes a quarter of an hour is taken in securing telephonic connexion between M'ascot and the city. The conversion is urgently required. Tlie Government will have a remarkably good opportunity when it puts its works programme into operation to give the whole of Australia a lead in the establishment, on a wide basis, of a 40- hour working week. 1 am glad that this works programme is to be put in hand, but I sincerely regret that the Minister for Defence **(Sir Archdale Parkhill)** should have issued instructions that a 4S-hour working week must be observed on certain works under his jurisdiction. New regulations were issued under the Minister's signature on the 12th August last to the effect that a week's duty shall be reckoned as 48 hours " provided that the Naval Board may determine that less than 4S hours may be worked as a week's duty ". I cannot understand why the men engaged in the munitions factories at Lithgow and Maribyrnong, and also those engaged in certain naval establishments, should be obliged to work 48 hours a week when so many artisans throughout Australia already enjoy a 40-hour working week. In such circumstances, it is no wonder that the Government declines to intimate its intention to give effect to the Geneva 40-hour week Convention. I still hope that the Government will see the error of its ways and provide that contractors who undertake the work provided for in the programme now before us shall be obliged to observe *a* 40-honr working week. The Minister for the Interior **(Mr. Paterson)** should see that all day-labour work under his jurisdiction is performed under a 40-hour week arrangement. If the Government were to apply this principle to its own day. labour jobs, and also were to require its observance on all contracts, undoubtedly some good would accrue to the workers, particularly those of the metropolitan areas. I sincerely trust that the Government will give earnest attention to the requests that I have made. {: #subdebate-29-0-s4 .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr MAHONEY:
Denison .- I direct attention vo various promises made by different people that a proper broadcasting studio would be constructed at Hobart. The present position in regard to this matter is scandalous. Two sites have been bought in Hobart, ostensibly for the erection of this studio but neither of them has been used. Wiry is it that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which extracts more than £800,000 in licence-fees from the pockets of Australian listeners, is allowed to delay the bringing to fruition of this long-standing proposal to build a new studio in Hobart < One site in Macquarie-street, Hobart, cost £4,300. When it was transferred to the Government it bore a building which could have been let to professional men for about £4 or £5 a week, but immediately the transfer was completed the building was demolished. This was done during the period when **Major Conder** was manager of the Broadcasting Commission. Subsequently, I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral in this House, when it was proposed to begin the building of the studio. 1 was told that plans and specifications were being prepared. Since that time those plans and specifications have been scrapped. **Mr. W.** J. Cleary visited Hobart after he was appointed chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, and representations were made to him on the subject. He is a reputable man of great experience and was at one time Chief Commissioner of the New South Wales Railways, but he had a dispute with **Mr. Lang.** A deputation of Hobart citizens, including myself, waited on **Mr. Cleary** and urged that the studio should be built without delay. It was pointed out to him that a site for the purpose had been acquired in Macquarie-street and that plans and specifications had been prepared. A report of the proceedings at the deputation appeared in the Hobart *Mercury,* and if honorable members care to read it they will find that a definite promise was made by **Mr. Cleary** that the building of the studio would be proceeded with immediately. We now find that another site for this studio has been acquired in Davey-street, Hobart, at a cost of £2,000. If the Government proceeds along these lines, it will find that all its boasting about its brilliant budget and its clever camouflaging of the financial situation, with its tax reduction proposals in the interests of the wealthy peop'e of this country, will entirely fail to satisfy the people of the Commonwealth. I, as a business man, would not tolerate such a state of affairs for five minutes. Undoubtedly, commission has been paid on the purchase of both those sites. Why, otherwise, should the sales have been completed? {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- The honorable, member is making a very serious accusation. {: .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr MAHONEY: -- I am aware of the fact. I realize that I am a responsible man, but I cannot understand why £4,300 should have been paid for a property in Macquarie-street, Hobart, years ago and the building on it demolished and the site left vacant. If the Government had no intention to build the studio at once it should at least have left the existing building on the site and drawn some revenue from it. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- Has the site remained vacant? {: .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr MAHONEY: -- Yes. Part of the land, to the value of about £300, at the rear of the Returned Soldiers Hospital, has been made available for the use of that institution. Why was the site in Davey-street bought? This matter was submitted to the Assistant Minister for Commerce **(Mr. Thorby),** who went into it and then said, " Yes, something will be done". It is extraordinary that the agent who sold the first block of land to the Government as a site for the studio also sold the second block to it for the same purpose. Undoubtedly two commissions were paid on these transactions. The first block was bought during the regime of **Major Conder,** as manager of the Broadcasting Commission, but **Major Conder** has since gone from that position. We have been told that the PostmasterGeneral is about to resign. If the purchase of sites for the building of the Hobart studio for broadcasting purposes is an indication of the administrative ability of the honorable gentleman, the sooner he goes, the better. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- The honorable member is making some extraordinary statements. {: .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr MAHONEY: -- I am aware of it, but I am a responsible man and I regard the situation as serious. I direct the attention of honorable members to the following article, which appeared in August of last year in the Hobart *Mercury,* a capitalistic newspaper: - >The history of the proposals for the building of a new studio in Hobart contains much that is of interest. Originating some four years aso, plans have been drafted, discarded, and drawn again, but so far the stud:o remain lost in the future. Two sites have been bought, the pr«t of which, that in Macquariestreet. must have imposed a considerable cost on the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for which no return can be shown. In considering the various statements that have been made by executive officers of the commission, there is a bewildering confusion. At one time we were told that only a few details remained for examination, and the work would be put in hand almost immediately. Then comes a statement which challenges the whole matter, and suggests that Hobart is not entitled to a new studio, because the number of licences failed to provide such revenue as would justify the building. It is, however, worthy of note that in the year or two since that statement the number of licences in Tasmania has grown to approximately 20,000. The latest information provided is that certain officers of the commission have been sent on a tour abroad to gain the most recent information as to technical developments in regard to studio construction, and on their return fresh plans will be drafted. As those officers will not return before November and their report will take some time to compile, and also the commission will have to approve any recommendations they may make for the studio on which drafting of plans may begin, it seems probable that Hobart has a fairly long wait before it. It may not be the intention of the commission to delay this matter, but the indications have brought about a belief that such is the intention. This is scarcely to be blamed on anything, except the absence of reliable information that would set the position clearly before the public. A new studio has been an urgent requirement of Hobart, and is still. The structural alterations now taking place at 7ZL are undoubtedly needed to convert it into one possible of reasonably good acoustic properties. But the same alterations could have been carried out long ago without prejudicing the prospects of a more modern building The fact that they are undertaken now carries with it the implication that the commission recognizes that it is likely to be a period of one or two years before the studio is begun. While we are appreciative of the work that has been done in some respects, a feeling of irritation has grown which is due entirely to the constant shift of aim and purpose and the many conflicting statements that have been made. The commission is under the control of the Government, which must accept responsibility for its actions. At present one-half -of the licence-fees collected is paid to the commission out of consolidated revenue for expenditure on broadcasting programmes and the provision and maintenance of new studios. The present position in regard to the proposed new studio for Hobart cannot be allowed to continue. The commission should not he permitted to waste public money in the purchase of sites on which no buildings are erected. I anneal to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to see that the new building for the Hobart studio is commenced without delay. At present several officials of the Australian Broadcasting Commission are abroad conducting inquiries in regard to programme arrangements, and it is said that the building of the new studio is to be held up until their return to Australia. Why is it necessary for such inquiries to be conducted abroad? Recently the Prime Minister **(Mr. Lyons)** stated in a broadcast address that in wireless matters Australia holds second place to none. It seems to me that, in framing these Estimates, the Treasurer has been influenced largely by the claims of the larger States, and is not prepared to honour the promises made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Postmaster-General **(Senator A. J. McLachlan),** that the Hobart studio would be built without delay. I have frequently been asked if the site at Daveystreet, Hobart, is for sale, and if I could advance any reason why that land should not be sold. I understand, however, that the Macquarie-street site is for sale, though when I approached the commission for information as to the price paid for the land I was refused it. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr Lane: -- Is the honorable member a land agent? {: .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr MAHONEY: -- No ; I mention this merely to show the cavalier manner in which the commission treats honorable members of this Parliament. I was able, however, to secure the information from the Postmaster-General's Department. This state of affairs should not be allowed to continue, and the sooner the present commission is scrapped the better. The chairman of the commission has forfeited the confidence of not Only members of Parliament, but also the public generally. No provision has been made in the Works Estimates for the erection of homes for workers on the dole. Recently the Treasurer visited Tasmania, and, in company with **Mr. Baker,** the leader of the Nationalist party in Tasmania, met a deputation of the unemployed in regard to a housing scheme for tlie homeless. The honorable gentleman's heart bled for the poor unfortunate workers who were unable to secure homes, and he promised to give serious consideration to their suggestions. But what has been done to help to solve the housing problem? Though one would naturally expect to find some vote in these Estimates to finance the building of homes for necessitous persons, no such provision is proposed. Apparently the sympathy of the Treasurer "was expressed merely in an attempt to ''put one over " the Premier of Tasmania **(Mr. Ogilvie).** The Treasurer visited Tasmania merely for the purpose of partaking of lunch with a group of Nationalist ladies, to whom he explained the steps to be taken to defeat the Labour party at the next election. During his stay in the island State he had no time to interview honorable members of this Parliament. If he had no time to meet Tasmanian representatives he should not have had time to meet a deputation arranged by **Mr. Baker** to bring forward matters which are not directly the prerogative of this Parliament. Though housing is primarily a matter for the concern of the States, yet the Commonwealth cannot escape some responsibility for it, and I am informed that the Tasmanian Government intends to approach the Commonwealth Government for a grant to house those unfor- tunate workers who are unable to pay rent at the present time. The Government boasts of the concessions made in the budget to invalid and old-age pensioners, and has made much of its promise to increase the invalid and old-age pension by1s. a week. Because of the cessation of building operations, however, the position of the invalid and oldage pensioners will not be improved by this magnanimous decision of the Government; on the contrary, the shortage of housing accommodation will bring about an increase of rentals, and thus the extra shilling given with one hand will be taken away with the other. This Government is notorious for its lack of policy, and is mainly engaged in the task of maintaining unity amongst its members until Ministers have had their trip abroad to take part in the coronation ceremonies. Some time ago I requested that the rebuilding of the fort at Fort Nelson should be proceeded with. I understand from eminent military men that the existing fort at Mount Nelson, being in close proximity to building areas, is unsuitable for further development. In any scheme for the efficient military defence of this country it is necessary that the military forces should engage in what is termed night practice. Though the Minister for Defence **(Sir Archdale Parkhill)** has said that facilities for night practice would be provided, so far nothing has been done. I should imagine that such an undertaking would be given only after serious consideration. Works for the adequate defence of Australia should be carried out carefully and expeditiously. Eminent military authorities in the Defence Department regard Hobart as one of the most important strategic links in the chain of Empire defences, and it is the duty of the Minister for Defence to see that every link under his control in Australia is sound. After the Great War it came as a shock to some of the people to learn that the German raider *Woolf* came within 100 miles of the port of Hobart. Unless adequate defence measures are taken at Hobart the citizens of that State will be at the mercy of any foreign invader. We have made the Government sit up and take notice of the requirements of Tasmania. I offer my thanks to the Commonwealth Grants Commission for the magnificent grant it has recommended for Tasmania, but that does not mean that the Government, by making the grant, can buy our silence. We insist on our rights. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- Another suggestion of corruption! {: .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr MAHONEY: -- No. The suggestion of corruption exists only in the distorted mind of the Minister. We are dealing with national questions now, not with personalities. I am convinced that . the Minister himself is actuated by the greatest sincerity of purpose. I understand that, in 1911, Admiral Henderson reported that the adequate defence of Hobart was of the most vital importance to Australia, as a whole, having regard to the strategic importance of that harbour. It. is generally recognized that Fori, Arthur would probably be the landing point of a hostile force which would be able to support itself on the fertile surrounding country, while preparing for an attack on the mainland.' It is high time, therefore, that provision was made for the construction of a naval base and fortifications in the neighbourhood of Hobart. I am aware that many honorable members on the other side of the House, including Ministers, earnestly desire to provide for the proper defence of Australia, and to them I appeal for assistance in having this necessary defence measure carried out. I hope that what I have said will tend to improve the relations existing between Tasmania and the Commonwealth, but the Government must do its part, and honour the promises it has made in connexion with defence, broadcasting, &c. "When the press of Hobart, which, on the whole, is very fair and broadminded, is moved to criticize the broadcasting commission, I feel that I am justified in bringing the matter before the Government. {: #subdebate-29-0-s5 .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON:
Minister for the Interior · Gippsland · CP -- The honorable member for Denison **(Mr. Mahoney)** has delivered one of the most irresponsible speeches to which I have ever listened. Honorable members are given a good deal of liberty under the protection of parliamentary privilege, and it is right that they should be, but it is wrong that they should abuse their privilege in the way in which the honorable member for Denison has undoubtedly abused it. He has made totally undeserved reflections in the most cheerful way upon the Postmaster-General, the broadcasting commission, and members of the Government. He referred to the purchase of two sites at Hobart by the broadcasting commission. I point out that this is entirely a responsibility of the broadcasting commission. I do not know what is the reason for the purchase, but I have no doubt whatever that the action is capable of a perfectly simple and satisfactory explanation. Nevertheless, the honorable member jumped into the ring and made all kinds of charges before attempting to learn the true explanation. However, I shall look into the matter, and find out the reason for the purchase of two sites. My department has not yet received any instructions from the broadcasting commission to prepare plans for a studio at Hobart, though tentative proposals have been put forward by the department. I remind the honorable member that there is a perfectly good reason for this delay. Some little time ago, the Broadcasting Commission requested the Department of the Interior to make available the services of its principal architect, **Mr. Henderson,** in order that he might travel overseas and examine some of the most up-to-date developments which have taken place in the design of broadcasting studios. Does the honorable member for Denison want to have at Hobart a studio complete with the most modern developments, 'or will he be satisfied with something which falls short of that? {: .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr Mahoney: -- "We want the best. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- Well, if the honorable member wants the best, he should be the last man to cavil at a little delay caused by our trying to find out, by examination of what is being done in other parts of the world, the best methods of studio construction, so that we may, in turn, give to Tasmania the best that is possible. It is in order to gather this information that **Mr. Henderson** has gone abroad and the Broadcasting Commission is justified in awaiting his return before going on with the construction of more studios. {: .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr Mahoney: -- Why has it been decided to place Hobart after Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide? {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- I cannot say. That is a matter for the Broadcasting Commission. Not being a human encyclopedia, and this1 being a matter outside my own department, I cannot give the honorable member the answer off-hand. The manner in which the honorable member for Denison has preferred hie requests is in marked contrast to that of the honorable members who preceded him. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley),** the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway)** and the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Garden),** put forward certain suggestions to the Government in a manner which was moderate and reasonable. The honorable member for West Sydney asked that the day-labour system be employed in the construction of government works to a greater extent than is done at present. There is a tremendous amount of work in progress for the Defence Department and the PostmasterGeneral's Department, and even if it were not the considered policy of the Government to have these works done by contract as far as possible, it would not be practicable to do all the work by day labour. We have to utilize the services of contractors in order to get the work done at all. However, a good deal of work is at present being done by day labour. In cases of emergency, when something has to be built very quickly, and when there is not even time to get out specifications, the work is done by day labour. In the Federal Capital Territory, engineering services are to a considerable extent carried out by day labour, but the Government would never agree to adopt the system for all works throughout Australia. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- But surely some of the work could be done on a roster system whereby those who now have no work at all would get a turn. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to work being done in Melbourne by naval ratings. My information ie that the amount of such work is very small, and is confined to unimportant undertakings. However, this is a matter which comes within the province of the Minister for Defence, and I understand that it is in accordance with the policy of the Defence Department that small jobs should be done by naval ratings. I listened with interest to the suggestion of the honorable member regarding the abolition of overtime, and the spreading of work over, as many men as possible. I can assure him that, insofar as his suggestions come within the province of my department, I shall give consideration to their practicability. I shall discuss the matter with the Director of Works in Victoria as the honorable member has suggested, and I shall also mention to the Postmaster-General the representations by the honorable member for Cook regarding an automatic exchange at Mascot. {: #subdebate-29-0-s6 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY:
Swan .- It is very gratifying to see in these Estimates provision for the carrying out of so many public works from revenue. The Government can be complimented upon having placed large sums of money on the works estimates, but insufficient information has been placed before honorable members in respect of such proposed expenditure. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- I understood that first there would be a general debate on the whole works programme, and that detailed information would be supplied later. I propose to ask for further particulars in respect of certain works. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- Approximately £7,000,000 is to be expended from loan and from revenue, but very little detailed information is available. I rose more particularly to direct the attention of the Government to the necessity for re-constituting the Public Works Committee. I speak on this subject with some knowledge, because for many years I was chairman of that body. I have no personal interest in advocating that the committee be brought into being again, for, even if I were nominated, I could not. accept a position on it. I do not suggest the appointment of a committee of the size of that which functioned in the past. I have known a committee of nine members to visit districts to inquire into works of a comparatively unimportant nature although their estimated cost may have exceeded £25,000. I suggest the appointment of a committee consisting of three members of this chamber, and two members of the Senate, one of whom, an efficient and practical man, should be appointed chairman by the Government. Such a committee could supply valuable information to the Parliament and unnecessary " expenditure could be avoided. The honorable member for Denison **(Mr. Mahoney)** referred to the visit of Rear Admiral Henderson, who drew up a scheme for the naval defence of Australia. Amongst other works, he recommended the construction of a sub-naval base at Flinders. I visited that site in 1916 when the representatives of the Defence Department had considered the project in detail; but instead of erecting a wharf on the water front where there was a depth of 40 feet they selected a site on a lagoon at the end of a winding creek. The erection of a huge wharf wa3 commenced on the shore of the lagoon necessitating the construction of a wall, and instead of driving the piles in the water they were driven in dry land behind the wall. I informed the House at the time that I had often heard of a dry dock, but this was my first experience of a dry wharf. I was informed that a huge excavation about 700 feet long, 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep waa necessary to enable the piles to be driven through the sand, but I told those responsible that if proper methods had been adopted, there would have been no necessity for this huge excavation. I was shown a pile which was said to have been broken in driving, but I think that it had been damaged by falling off a railway truck. A portion of the constructional work and the huge excavation can still be seen. After I made a report it was found that there was no need to remove the earth and the piles were driven from the surface. If honorable members were to go there to-day, they would see for some 700 feet piles standing up in this huge excavation, and the balance of the piles, for about 300 feet, driven from the original surface. Having made the excavation, the department expended £2,800 on sheet-piling, which would have been unnecessary had tlie work been .done properly. It cost at least 9s. a yard to shift the earth, and after £750,000 had been expended, it was discovered that the site was useless as a sub-naval base, and it was converted into a training base. I could cite other instances of the reckless waste of public money. As a direct result of the recommendations made by public works .committees over £1,000,000 of Commonwealth money was saved. Moreover, the reports presented by the committee gave to members of this Parliament complete information on the various projects under consideration before money was expended. In some instances slight delays may have occurred but the saving of expenditure justified delay. It is possible that for a time "departmental officers will examine proposed works very critically, but ultimately they will become careless and money will be wasted. For instance the River Murray "Waters scheme was approved when the cost was set down at £4,600,000, and it will now cost about £14,000,000. I know that that work has since been extended, but information should have been supplied to this Parliament before the cost was increased. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- About £10,500,000 has been expended to date. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- The Minister has given reasons why public works cannot be carried out by day labour. The estimated cost of Parliament House was £220,000, but the actual expenditure was about £660,000. **Mr. Murdoch** was the architect and his estimates were always fairly reliable. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- In fairness to **Mr. Murdoch** it should bc said that the design was altered considerably. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- **Mr. Murdoch** was one of the finest officers the Commonwealth Government has had in its employ, and I make no charge whatever against that gentleman. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- Substantial alterations were made to the design at the instigation of the Pu'blic Works Committee. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- The estimate was for the work as recommended by the Public Works Committee, and the slight alterations at the rear did not justify the heavy expenditure eventually incurred. Every one knows that many of the workmen employed in constructing this building did practically as they liked. The alterations to the Governor-General's residence at Yarralumla cost £70,000, and that expenditure cannot possibly be justified. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- The honorable member should tell the committee something about the wooden ships, railway bridges and war service homes built under the contract system. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- I know that, after full consideration, the Government let a contract for the construction of wooden ships to "Kidman and Mayoh, and that the late **Sir Sidney** Kidman, who was a member of the firm had to pay the Government £75,000 for breach of contract. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- He should have gone to gaol. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- The late **Sir Sidney** Kidman was not responsible. I know that he made money available and allowed his name to bc used, but I suppose he lost £150,000 on the contract. He was influenced largely by the opinions of an engineer who was supposed to be conversant with the construction of wooden ships, but who knew nothing whatever about the work. The Government would not have received the £75,000 eventually paid but for the Public Works Committee. The facts in relation to the manufacture of bricks in the Federal Capital Territory are interesting. On one occasion I was informed that bricks were being manufactured for only one-third of the year. The actual cost of those bricks was over £10 a thousand at the kiln. If large sums of money are to be spent in Canberra on bricks to be supplied from this kiln, which, it is said, has one of the most up-to-date plants in Australia, I fail to see why they cannot be supplied at something like the prices ruling in other cities in the Commonwealth. In view of the large expenditure to be incurred on public works, I hope that the Government will consider the early reconstitution of the Public Works Committee. The former committee was too large ; I suggest that the best results would be obtained from a committee of not more than five members, three from this chamber and two from the Senate. The chairman should be selected by the Government, instead of being elected by the committee; he should be a man with a sound practical mind. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- Would the honorable gentleman agree that the buildings of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Commonwealth Bank should also be subjected to similar scrutiny? {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- To carry out the honorable member's suggestion would require an amendment of the act; to that I see no objection. Naval works have rarely been submitted to the committee, the Department of Defence contending that to a certain extent secrecy has to be maintained in connexion with such works. Provision could be made in the act to cover the construction of such works, but that is entirely a matter for this Parliament to decide. I complain of the paucity of information in these Estimates. What is meant by ' " architectural services, £68,295" and " engineering services, £123,000 " ? . Yet. the bare setting out of these items is all the information which is given to us. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- Details will be given in connexion with any specific item when we arc dealing with it. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- Do the amounts proposed to be allocated for architectural services and engineering services cover not only architectural and engineering services, but also the cost of construction? {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- Yes. For instance, the amount shown for "architectural services '' covers houses and other buildings, and that for " engineering services " covers the cost of construction of roads, bridges, &c. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- I was not aware of that; I thought that the amount shown for "architectural services" for instance, merely covered the cost of the preparation of plans and specifications. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- That is how it would appear to me, too. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- In regard to the building of homes for workers, a matter which was mentioned by the last speaker, I suggest that this Government would be going outside its sphere if it undertook such work; that is entirely the duty of the States. If there are a number of old-age pensioners or unemployed workers for whom it is considered cheaper homes should be provided, I see no objection to the Commonwealth granting sums to the States for such work, but it is the duty of the States, which have their own engineers and certain local knowledge directly at their disposal, to consider such proposals. The Commonwealth is too fond of infringing upon the rights and duties of the States in this connexion. I agree with many of the statements made in this discussion in connexion with defence. The time is ripe for the re-introduction of compulsory military training. Honorable members opposite advocate compulsory industrial arbitration and compulsory unionism; surely it is only fair that, in respect of the preparation for the defence of Australia also, compulsion should be applied. I cannot understand why honorable members who say that they believe in compulsory unionism, and will refuse a man employment unless he joins a union, object to compulsory military training. I know of instances in Western Australia, where a Labour Government is in power, of men having been told that they could not be given employment unless they joined a union. This edict has been applied even to men on sustenance, who have been compelled to provide their subscription to a union out of the paltry funds given to them. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Does the honorable gentleman believe in compulsory unionism? {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- No, I do not. I believe in unionism. In view of developments throughout the world, which suggest that we may soon have to' fight for the protection of this country, the need for compulsory training is evident. In the early stages of the depression I urged the Government to establish a partial compulsory training scheme in connexion with forestry camps. {: #subdebate-29-0-s7 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: **- (Mr.** E. F. Harrison).- Order! That subject is not relevant to the works estimates. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- I congratulate the Government on having provided fairly large sums for the carrying out of those works from revenue, and I hope that it will give some attention to my suggestion that the Public Works Committee should be reconstituted on the basis I have indicated. {: #subdebate-29-0-s8 .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR:
Dalley .- I am pleased that the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** raised the matter of having more of the work of the Department of the Interior done by day labour. Frankly, however, I am not hopeful of being able to convert the Minister to the day-labour system, or to the introduction of a- system that will guarantee award wages and conditions on jobs done either by day labour or contract. On every occasion on which this Government has made a vote to the State governments for works for relief of the unemployed and the Opposition has requested, or moved by way of an amendment, that the payment of award wages and the observance of award conditions on jobs on which such money was to be expended should be guaranteed, the Minister has voted against such proposals. It is not . strange, therefore, to find that in his department these abuses are still continuing; contractors to the Department of the Interior are not paying award wages or observing award conditions. In one case which I brought under the notice of the department a contractor sub-let portion of his contract to an individual who " vamoosed " and left his men without any wages at all. If the Minister is so enthusiastic as he professes to be to have the work of his department done by contract, and if he believes, as he has so often said he does, in award wages and conditions, I suggest that he should insert in future contracts let by his department a clause providing that contractors be held responsible for the payment of award wages and the observance of award conditions. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- Such a clause has been in the department's contracts for years, and it is watched very closely. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- I challenge the Minister's statement that these conditions are properly watched, because it took me four months to fight his department and one of its contractors to secure a miserable 25s. on behalf of a certain worker. The Minister cannot claim lack of knowledge of this case, because I have made representations regarding it, not only to the Sydney 'branch of the department, but also to the head office at Canberra. I refer to the job at Newington which was done by Messrs. John Harrison and Son. The contract for the clearing of land preparatory to the erection of buildings was sub-let to a man named New, who employed seven men. The price of the sub-contract was, I understand, ?50. After having drawn' the sum of ?25 from Harrison and 'Son, New gave each of the seven workers ?1 13s. 4d. for seven days' work, and then absconded. I raised this matter in this chamber last session and it has not been settled yet. As a matter of fact, the attitude of the officers of the Department of the Interior on every point which I have raised concerning it has shown that their sympathies are with the contractors. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- That is not so! {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- It is so! If the honorable gentleman wishes to challenge the correctness of that statement, at a later date I shall produce the correspondence with his department; it clearly shows that my contention is right. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- I assure . the honorable member that he is wrong. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- I do not think that the Minister knows anything about the matter. He has not gone into it. Ifhe knew anything about this case, he would not attempt to justify the fleecing of these men. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- I know the extent to which the department has gone to see that justice is done to men who have been badly treated by employers. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- The Minister says that the officers of the department have gone to great lengths to obtain justice for employees? {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- I do. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- That proves that this is only one of many instances of employees having been badly treated; it is clear that there have been other instances of contractors seeking to fleece the workers. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- That does not mean that the department is responsible. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- All I ask for is the insertion of a clause in all contracts to ensure the payment by contractors of proper wages, and a guarantee of payment when the wages are earned. After I had made representations, the department approached the contractor, and each of the seven men concerned was then paid £2 9s. 2d. of the £311s. 8d. which was still owing to him. I contend that if each of these men had been paid the full amount of the money to which he was entitled, the contractor would still have had the work done for less than the £50 of the sub-contract. When an appeal was made to the department, it consulted Harrison and Son, and then declared, " This firm has met all its obligations." When it was proved that the firm had not done so, it paid £2 9s. 2d. to each of the men. When they went to receive the money, they were compelled to sign a document stating that they had been paid in full. This document was produced to the officers of the Department of the Interior as proof that all the payments had been made. These were demoralized unemployed men, prepared to sign almost anything in order that they might get their hands on a few shillings. Of the seven, only one man was game to assert his rights. He refused to agree to this as being a final settlement. The department then used the documents signed by the men as an indication that they were not entitled to the balance of the money claimed, namely, £1 2s. 6d. Actually, this man was the only one of the seven who in the first place stood up for his rights. Evidently, however, the department is prepared to accept at their face value such documents as those which the men were forced to sign before they were given less money than was their right. The assistant secretary of the department, **Mr. Gourgaud,** accepted the documents as evidence that all claims had been settled. The contractor sent a man looking for proof. The sub-contractor could not be found, and the foreman on the job at Newington told him that he had enough to do to look after his own men without having to look after men employed by the sub-contractor. Surely the Minister must realize that these men would not fight for a miserable 25s. unless they were entitled to the money! I do not blame Harrison and Son, so much as the system which the Minister has allowed to grow up in the department under which after a contract has been let, portion of it is given to a sub-contractor, who may possibly abscond without having paid the wages he owes. I ask the Minister to look deeply into this aspect of the contract system, and definitely to charge the contractor with the responsibility for the payment of wages. In the Department of the Interior there is a host of officials. Its organization is something like that of a South American army in which all are officers and none are men. The administrative staff is large enough to enable a considerable amount of work to be done by day labour. The honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Gregory)** objects to day labour, and pointed to certain instances where its use had cost more than would have been expended had the work been done by contract. I have yet to hear anybody deny that the class of work done by day labour is infinitely better than that done by contract labour. It is necessary only to cite the numerous scandals which have been associated in the past with the contract system to show that the day labour principle is the better. The honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** has directed the attention of the committee to the scandal associated with the building during the war years of wooden ships at a cost of many hundreds of thousands of pounds. Not one of those ships did any useful service. The honorable member for Swan by championing the contract system justifies that kind of work. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- No. Mi-. Paterson. - That is unfair. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- The honorable member for Swan found fault with the day labour system, because sometimes works done under it have cost more than was originally intended. As an example he cited the erection of this House. He would do well to remember that this building is standing and will stand for many years, whereas the wooden ships, which cost this country so many hundreds of thousands of pounds, were never of use, and were ultimately destroyed. A considerable amount is provided in the Estimates for the PostmasterGeneral's Department. I again impress on the Minister the necessity to do something more than is being done at the moment to convert the Petersham telephone exchange from manual to automatic. The conversion of this exchange has been dragging on for more than six years, only small sections being done at a time. One of the largest manufacturing and residential districts in the Sydney metropolitan area is served at present by an obsolete telephone system, which does not give satisfaction to the users. I have had personal experience of the unsatisfactory nature of the exchange. Only last week, when attempting to make a local call, I was delayed for a quarter of an hour. Eventually I got into touch with the superintendent who explained that there was " something wrong with the lines." Whether that was so or not, the fact remains that within a quarter of fi minute of speaking to him I obtained the number I was seeking. Tn comparison with some of the large industrial firms in the locality, I am not a frequent user of the telephone, but I can imagine the bad effect on business that must result when firms have to submit to delays such a) T experienced. Yet the department continues to potter along with the job of conversion from the old system to the new For five or six years it has been doing a little here and a little there, whereas, if the work were properly undertaken and done speedily a big saving of government funds could be made. Although the Minister for the Interior **(Mr. Paterson)** defended the Australian Broadcasting Commission to-day against the attack of the honorable member for Denison **(Mr. Mahoney),** the activities of that body leave much to be desired. The people of Australia are not getting from the commission the service to which they are entitled. In view of the large surpluses being accumulated by the commission, I venture to say that at least one-half of the money spent on programmes for A class stations is absolutely wasted. If the Government took a census of listeners throughout Australia, it would probably find that 90 per cent, of them do not tune in to the national stations, because the B class stations cater for the requirements of the average listener. The commission incurs heavy expenditure in trying to foist upon the public more " high-brow " music than the public desires to listen to; but it should show regard for popular opinion by employing more Australian artists, many of whom could supply far better items than those contributed by highly remunerated imported artists. I agree with the honorable member for Denison, that in most of the capital cities there 13 a serious shortage of houses, and that landlords are taking advantage of the situation by charging exorbitant rents. They are not prepared to build more homes for the people, because they realize that by limiting the number of houses available higher rents can be obtained. It is as much the duty of the Commonwealth Government to provide housing accommodation for the people as it is to supply food to those who cannot obtain it. The present Ministry has recognized, to an extent, the need for assisting the governments of the various States to provide work for the unemployed. Formerly, this Government repudiated all responsibility in that regard. It is also essential, however, that it should participate in the provision of funds to enable housing accommodation to be made available to the workers of Australia. Just as the Government recognized that the efforts of the State authorities in providing work for the unemployed fell short of requirements, it should realize that private landlords and the State governments have not supplied sufficient housing accommodation. The Government of Great Britain has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in building workers' homes and in abolishing slum areas, and a similar responsibility rests upon the Government of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KK7} ##### Mr Jennings: -- The State governments do not welcome interference by the Commonwealth in matters that fall within their jurisdiction. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- I do not imagine that the State authorities would refuse assistance in the provision of homes for the workers. Thousands of war service homes have been built in the various States by the Commonwealth Government, and I am not aware that this action has been resented by the States. The State governments assert that they have insufficient funds to enable them to carry out ex-tensive housing programmes, because the Commonwealth has invaded fields of taxation which properly belong to the States. Having regard to the buoyancy of Commonwealth revenue, provision should have been made to enable the States to build sufficient workers' homes to make up the leeway. Referring again to the Petersham telephone exchange, I am supported in my request by every business man in the Dalley electorate. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- Provision has already been made for the equipment of that exchange. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- I have already said that the work has been proceeding piece-meal for years. If the department intends completely to re-organize this exchange, and to convert it to the automatic system, the job should be carried to finality immediately. I shall not contradict the Minister by saying that nothing has been done, because I am aware that some work is actually being carried out in this connexion. One side of the street in which I live is served by the automatic exchange, and the other by the manual exchange. That position has obtained for some years. My complaint is that the work of installing this automatic exchange is being done piecemeal, whereas doing it as one complete operation would save the Commonwealth thousands of pounds. Furthermore, it would encourage people to use the tele? phone more extensively than they do. Not only have the subscribers in general been up in arms for some years concerning the inefficiency of the Petersham exchange; the municipal councils also have, through myself, made representations, on more than one occasion, to the Government, with a. view to having the matter remedied. On each occasion the same reply has been given; - that the Government is getting on with the job. I admit that the Government is getting on with the job, but if the present rate of progress is maintained, the existing apparatus will have long passed its useful stage when the work is eventually completed. One function of the Postal Department is to provide public telephones, but its attitude in this connexion has been a standing joke in the Dalley electorate for at least two years. Municipal councils and other public bodies have continually approached the department with requests to provide public telephone boxes, and invariably the reply has been received that an officer has visited a proposed, site, and has satisfied himself that the installation of a public telephone would pay for itself, but that, owing to the shortage of boxes, it would be some time before the department could undertake the work. The Postal Department has a works branch and a staff which should be capable of providing the required boxes. If it is not big enough to do so,' there arc thousands of unemployed persons in the capital cities of the Commonwealth who could be given this work. Yet the department refuses to extend its operations for the purpose of giving this facility to the public. In tram cars, newspapers, and elsewhere, advertisements costing thousands of pounds are conspicuously displayed, which invite the public to instal " telephones, and which point out the enormous convenience of this service in their homes. Yet the department is refusing to install public telephones in profitable public places for the simple reason that it has insufficient boxes for the accommodation of those instruments. It is not a sufficient excuse when there are so many unemployed in our cities who could be given work in making these boxes. {: #subdebate-29-0-s9 .speaker-KUW} ##### Mr STACEY:
Adelaide -- A sum of £6,345 appears on the Estimates for the erection of a post office in Rundle-street, Adelaide, and for five or six years an amount has been provided for this purpose. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of introducing a deputation to the Postmaster-General **(Senator A.J. McLachlan)** while he was in Adelaide, and we were shown the plans, which had been approved of, for the new building. I understand that tenders are to be called in the near future, but I question whether the amount shown on the Estimates is sufficient to carry out the work. The proposed new building will be two storeys high, and provision is made in the foundations and walls to increase it at a later date by three more storeys, but it seems to me that the amount provided on the Estimates will be quite inadequate to finance the work. Last year a vote of £3,000 or £4,000 appeared on the Estimates for this purpose. I queried it at the time. I was assured that it was far below the sum which would be required to provide this busy part of Adelaide with a building worthy of its importance. In my opinion, at least twice that amount will be necessary to carry out the work as it was described to me, and as I envisaged it after seeing the plans. I ask the Minister for an assurance that it is considered sufficient. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 95 {:#debate-30} ### COMMONWEALTH PUBLIC SERVICE BILL 1936 Order of the Day - " Commonwealth Public Service Bill 1936 - Second Reading" read and discharged. {: .page-start } page 95 {:#debate-31} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-31-0} #### Sydney-Canberra Train Service - Canberra Hotels - Scables in Canberra. Motion (by **Mr. Menzies)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-KK7} ##### Mr JENNINGS:
Watson .- With other honorable members, I was interested when I was informed last night of the intention of the New South Wales Railways Department to inaugurate a daily train service between Sydney and Canberra. The improved service will be greatly appreciated by the increasing number of tourists desiring to visit the National Capital. I would, however, remind the Minister for the Interior that the present day train from Sydney on Tuesdays is certainly not one of the modern passenger trains in New South Wales. We seem to have better trains running on the Sydney suburban lines. I suggest that representations be made to the New South Wales Railways Department to place on the Sydney-Canberra run a train, say, equal to that between Sydney and Newcastle and between Sydney and south coast towns. This much is due to Canberra, which is one of the most, beautiful cities in Australia. The attractions of Canberra suitably advertised would be a good business proposition, and the increase of tourist traffic would add substantially to the revenue of the railways department. {: #subdebate-31-0-s1 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr CURTIN:
Fremantle .- My attention has been directed to a complaint that, although certain hotels leased by the Department of the Interior in the Federal Capital Territory have rooms vacant, the licensees refuse to make them available to persons whose duty obliges them to remain in Canberra during the parliamentary session. I hope that the Minister will ascertain the facts and take what action may be necessary in the interests of the people concerned. My information is that requests made in the ordinary way for accommodation are met with an abrupt intimation that it is not available. In one instance, I am advised, when an applicant told the licensee that she was a typist, she was informed that there was no accommodation for typists. It may be presumed that the charge for accommodation at the hotel in question is greater than that which a female typist could afford", but it is common knowledge that certain hotels in the Federal Capital Territory prefer to cater exclusively for tourist traffic, to the- detriment of persons who are obliged to remain here during the parliamentary session. The Commonwealth has spent a very large capital sum on official buildings for the transaction of the nation's business, and also for the accommodation of those who visit the Federal Capital as tourists, as well as on housing for citizens. No hotel licensee should be permitted to continue holding his lease from the Commonwealth while refusing accommodation to any person at the customary charge when there are rooms vacant in the hotel. Recently, the department had to agree to the construction in Canberra of two new hotels, although, as the Minister himself is aware, certain hotels in the territory - I am not referring to the Hotel Canberra - at that time had accommodation which the licensees were not placing at the disposal of either public servants or the general public. My protest against this condition of things is two-fold. First, I protest against the Government having leased hotels erected with public money without inserting in the conditions of lease adequate safeguards in the interests of the general public and public servants in the Federal Capital city. Secondly, I protest against the omission from the leases of any regulation governing the charge for accommodation, and I protest the more emphatically because there is complaint about the absence of accommodation in the Federal Capital city when actually accommodation is available. This state of affairs is unfair to the administration, and steps should be taken without delay to remedy it. {: #subdebate-31-0-s2 .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON:
Minister for the Interior · Gippsland · CP -- In reply to the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Curtin),** conditions which he mentioned have been inserted in the leases of certain accommodation houses leased by the Government. I shall make further inquiries into the complaint which he has voiced, because I am just as anxious as he is to ensure for public servants the accommodation to which they arc justly entitled. With reference to the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Watson **(Mr. Jennings),** I am informed that the Railways Department of New South Wales proposes to improve the service between Sydney and Canberra from about the end of the present month, by running daily the train which at present leaves Sydney at 8.20 a.m. on Tuesdays only, and also inaugurating a daily train leaving Canberra at 4.15 p.m. At present this train runs only on Fridays. This improved service will be conducted for about six months on trial. I shall direct the attention of the New South Wales Railways Commissioner to the criticism of the honorable gentleman with reference to the make-up of the train in the hope that an improved service Will be provided. Arrangements have just been completed with' the department to improve the accommodation for travellers from Victoria, by replacing the present composite car, which members sometimes have to travel in from Albury, by cars of more modern design. I may add that the train which reaches Canberra at 8.55 a.m. on Tuesdays from Goulburn will, in future, run also on Wednesdays. This should meet with the approval of honorable members and visitors from Melbourne or South Australia. {: #subdebate-31-0-s3 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
Melbourne .- Yesterday, I directed attention to the reported outbreak recently in the Federal Capital Territory of the contagious disease of scabies, and I was informed by the Minister for Health **(Mr. Hughes),** that his department intended to issue a leaflet advising citizens how to avoid or treat the infection. In view of the seriousness of the disease, it is desirable that I should place before the House the following statement which has been placed in my hands by a competent authority on the subject: - >The Minister for Health has issued a statement on the question of scabies infection which, if it does nothing else, at least removes from the Molonglo area an obvious injustice and unfair press publicity. Knowing that cases had occurred and been reported in almost every suburban area, I specially refrained, in my motion and remarks, from specifically designating any area. It is true, however, that almost without exception infection, and especially recurrent infection," is found in wooden houses. **Dr. Holmes,** at the Advisory Council, indicated in some theoretical detail, th<- ideal method that alone oan successfully eradicate scabies infection. I am prompted to ask why on earth a genuine effort has not been made along these lines in regard to the cases and recurrent cases that have been notified. > >The statement that wooden houses, apart from the persons occupying them, and personal effects, are not liable to infection or contagion is pure academic conjecture. Experience of the Great War exploded this fallacy, when every unit occupying certain billets in Belgium went out of action temporally to the scabies midnight attacks - legacies from the initial Belgian occupants. The further statement that a boy was refused admission to the hospital fur treatment because he was only infected the arm is absolutelywrongin fact and inference. Howcould the case be better treated at home by the mother when it was a recurrent case in a grossiy-infected house? As a matter of cold fact, the mother reported at the hospital and requested that both her children be admitted for treatment, the infant in arms being particularly infected to an aggravateddegree, whilst the other child had a recurrent but less degree of infection. She was told that scabies cases were nut being admitted. The mother left to petition the Health Department on her own account. This is confirmed in detail by the fact that the Medical Superintendent intimated officially to other medical officers and myself that cases of scabies *per se* would not be admitted to the hospital. I was evenofficially approached by the Matron, on instruction, with the request that I discharge another patient who suffered from scabies in addition to a more serious indisposition, and that was on the Sunday previous to the day on which the children reported at the hospital. So far as I can ascertain no provision of any ordinance proclaims that taxpayers who contribute the hospital tax, and who, through the laxity of publ ic health control, are unfortunate enough to contract scabies, are precluded hospital treatment. These incontrovertible facts cannotbe made subversive to political expediency, because they can be examined and checkedup at this very moment. The mother and two children can he seen at ten minutes' notice. I think that the Minister for Health and the House will agree that those who contribute by means of a tax to the upkeep of a hospital have every right to claim admittance to that institution. {: #subdebate-31-0-s4 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
AttorneyGeneral · Kooyong · UAP . - I shall bring to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Health **(Mr. Hughes),** the matter dealt with by the honorable member. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 4.3 p.m. {: .page-start } page 97 {:#debate-32} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated: -* {:#subdebate-32-0} #### Fisheries Research Vessel {: #subdebate-32-0-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of Development, *upon notice -* >What is the position to-day regarding the proposed construction of a vessel for fisheries research in Australian waters? {: #subdebate-32-0-s1 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons:
UAP -- The tender of the Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners was accepted last month for the construction of the Commonwealth fisheries research vessel. {:#subdebate-32-1} #### Trade Treaties {: #subdebate-32-1-s0 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: n asked the Minister directing negotiations for Trade Treaties, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has he yet arranged any trade treaties with foreign countries? 1. If so, with what" countries have treaties been made, and when will Parliament be advised as to the nature of the treaties': {: #subdebate-32-1-s1 .speaker-KFS} ##### Sir Henry Gullett:
UAP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Any treaties which have been completed with foreign countries will be submitted to Parliament for approval during the current session. {:#subdebate-32-2} #### Subscriptions to Commonwealth Loan {: #subdebate-32-2-s0 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: n asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* >Will he state the amount subscribed by the private banks and insurance companies to the recent Commonwealth loan of £9,000,000? {: #subdebate-32-2-s1 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey:
UAP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: - {:#subdebate-32-3} #### Employment: Statement by Mr. Withall {: #subdebate-32-3-s0 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: n asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has hisattention been drawn to a statement made by **Mr. Withall,** secretary to the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, as reported in the press of the 19th August, in which he said that opportunity for employment should be available for fully 100,000 new arrivals yearly if the present rate of industrial progressismaintained? 1. In view of the poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, and low wagesexisting in Australia to-day. will the Prime Minister advise the British people that such a contentionis ridiculousaswehaveover 250,000 people to-day seekingemployment? {: #subdebate-32-3-s1 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons:
UAP -- I have not seen the statement referred to, nor is the Government responsible for any such statements which may be made by persons not associated with it. {:#subdebate-32-4} #### War Pensions {: #subdebate-32-4-s0 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: n asked tlie Prime Minister, *upon notice -* ls it the intention of tlie Government to restore the pensions of soldiers' dependants to tlie rate which existed prior to the passing of the *Financial Emergency Act* 193.1 ? {: #subdebate-32-4-s1 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons:
UAP -- Tlie extent to which the Government proposes that the pensions of soldiers' dependants shall be restored will be seen from the following extract from the Treasurer's budget speech yesterday : - >The Government proposes to increase the rate of service pensions by ls. a week, and also to increase by ls. 6d. a week the pensions to children of incapacitated soldiers. Several other minor concessions will be madu to remove anomalies in the existing legislation. The estimated annual cost of the additional concessions proposed in this budget is f 1(12.000. In addition, the Government is providing £123,000 in the budget for the extension and improvement of repatriation hospitals and institutions. BROADCAST of Speeches Through National Stations. {: #subdebate-32-4-s2 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. On how many occasions from 1st January, 1935. to the 31st August, 1936, have Commonwealth Ministers broadcast speeches through A class stations? 1. What are the names of such Ministers, the stations associated with the broadcasts, the dates of each broadcast, and the subject of the address? 2. Will he also supply similar information in respect to addresses broadcasted by members of the Opposition? {: #subdebate-32-4-s3 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Sir Archdale Parkhill:
UAP -- The information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible. {:#subdebate-32-5} #### Interest Rates {: #subdebate-32-5-s0 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: n asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has his attention been drawn to a statement by **Mr. Davidson,** general manager of the Hank of Kew South Wales, who, in giving evidence before the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems, according to press report, said. " The recent increase in interest rates on deposits, made in the first place by the Bank of New South Wales, was done with the knowledge and concurrence of the president of the Commonwealth Bank Board. He **(Mr. Davidson)** had a consultation with the president on the Friday when he said he would not raise the interest rate in the Commonwealth Bank without consulting the Bank Board, but that he held no objection to the trading banks increasing the interest in the meantime as that was in accord with the policy of the central bank."? 1. Will the Prime Minister secure a statement from the Commonwealth Bank Board regarding the matter? {: #subdebate-32-5-s1 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons:
UAP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. 1. The statement referred to is of an *ex pan te* nature. As the proceedings of the royal commission are not yet completed, it may be assumed that the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board, who is at present out ot Australia, will make a relevant statement in evidence before the royal commission. Premiers Conference at Adelaide. {: #subdebate-32-5-s2 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: E asked the Prime Minister; *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was the total cost of the Commonwealth Government's representation at the recent Premiers Conference at Adelaide? 1. How many Commonwealth Ministers and officials were present? {: #subdebate-32-5-s3 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons:
UAP -- In order that cabinet meetings might be held in Adelaide, and also in order that the 46 subjects which were included in the Premiers Conference agenda might be dealt with, practically the whole of the Cabinet visited Adelaide, the exception being **Sir Henry** Gullett. Advantage was taken also of the presence in Adelaide of the Cabinet to hold meetings of the Agricultural Council. The number of officers accompanying Ministers was 37. A reliable total of expenditure cannot at present be given, but will be furnished at a later" date. {:#subdebate-32-6} #### Trading Banks {: #subdebate-32-6-s0 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard:
BASS, TASMANIA d asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What is the value of notes kept on call hy the Commonwealth Bank for use of trading banks? 1. What interest is paid by trading banks for use of notes drawn therefrom? 2. What is the total value of the notes used by the trading banks during tha past five years ? {: #subdebate-32-6-s1 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey:
UAP -- Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible. {:#subdebate-32-7} #### Fishimports {: #subdebate-32-7-s0 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: d asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, *upon notice -* >What was the total value of fish (fresh, preserved, and dried cured) imported into Australia during 1935-36? {: #subdebate-32-7-s1 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White:
UAP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: - {: type="1" start="2"} 0. What amount is collected by the department in the Northern Territory? {: #subdebate-32-7-s2 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey:
UAP y. - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 September 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.