14th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Occupation by Japan.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs received confirmation of to-day’s press statement of the Japanese occupation of Ling Ting Island ? Is this island twelve miles distant from Hong Kong? If the Japanese have occupied it, will that occupation affect the large trade which Australia does with Hong Kong?
– I have no knowledge of such occupation having been effected, but I shall make inquiries immediately and furnish the honorable member with whatever information I may obtain.
– I have received a copy of the following telegram which the Mayor of Hobart has sent to the Prime Minister : -
Anxious finalize agreement for the removal of the Queenborough Rifle Range. Can you make definite statement on the position before Parliament adjourns.
Can theright honorable gentleman make the statement sought ?
– The matter is receiving the attention of the Minister for Defence.
– by leave - The honorable member’s question relates to the proposal to remove the Sandy Bay rifle range to another site. Negotiations in connexion with this matter have been proceeding between the Defence Department and the Hobart City Council since 1922, and so have been somewhat protracted. Early in the negotiation’s, the Defence Department stipulated the conditions under which it would be prepared to surrender the Sandy Bay rifle range, which is in a fairly populous part of Hobart, and accept another site. Incidentally, the department agreed to pay £1,500 towards the cost of acquiring a new site. The conditions governing the project were set out in detail; hut it is unnecessary for me to refer to them. The Hobart City Council agreed, in the main, ‘ to these details, but intimated, on the 11th March, 1935, that its financial position was such that it could not take action in connexion with the matter at the time. It undertook to inform the department immediately it was able to do so. The matter then remained in abeyance for a considerable period. In the meantime, the Defence Department and the Department of the Interior, after consultation, made some amendments to the draft agreement, and it was again submitted to the Hobart City Council on the 23rd November, 1936. On several occasions subsequently the council was asked to expedite its reply to the proposals made, but it was not until the 9th July, 1937, that it intimated its acceptance of the amended agreement, with minor alterations. These proposed alterations are now being discussed, and the deed of transfer should be completed at an early date. Yesterday the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) showed me a telegram which indicated that one of the outstanding points at issue was. the acceptance by the Defence Department of certain financial responsibilities. Owing to the pressure of parliamentary work, I have not been able to ascertain whether that particular point is at issue, but that aspect has been made the subject of a question in another place, and I am obtaining information upon it, which I shall convey to the honorable member.
– Several departmental reports which were received by honorable members in July of this year were signed by the heads of the departments concerned as early as August or September of last year. Can the Prime Minister have inquiries made to ascertain the reason for the delay in their circulation?
– I shall investigate the matter.
40-Hour Working Week.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral say whether consideration has been given to the statement made by the Public Service Arbitrator, when delivering his determination on the claims of the unions in the Commonwealth railways case for a 40-hour working week, namely, that “ while the granting of the claim was warranted, as it was a national question the initiative rightly belonged to Parliament “ ? If so, does the Government intend to apply the 40-hour working week to those claimants who are in its service?
– The honorable member’s question relates to a matter of policy, on which I am unable to answer questions.
– Is the Prime Minister able to advise the House as to whether the Government contemplates implementing, before the dissolution of Parliament, any of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Monetary and Banking Systems, particularly the recommendation that a mortgage bank should he established to make available longterm loans at low rates of interest to assist primary industries and those secondary industries that desire to expand their operations ?
– This is a matter of policy, upon which a statement will be made later.
– Inasmuch as the Treasurer in his budget speech divulged the policy of the Government in the matter of a mortgage bank, can the Prime Minister say when it is proposed to introduce this legislation?
– In due time a statement will be made in regard to the matter.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state whether it is a fact that married relief workers in Canberra have been restricted to one week’s work in two weeks, and single men to one week in four weeks? If this bo so, howcan the conditions be reconciled with the contention of the Government that prosperity has returned?
– I regret that it. has not been possible to continue indefinitely regular full time work for married men. It has been necessary to ration the work for the present to one week in two weeks. I t is expected that we shall be able to revert to full time a little later in the year. During the last fourteen months, married men have had the equivalent of twelve months’ full time, which is a greater amount than has been the case in any State in Australia.
– Will the Minister for the Interior indicate to the House whether the work proposed to be put in hand to absorb the unemployed in the near future, which a report in the Canberra Times to-day states will be located at Captain’s Flat and Bungendore, will be under the control of the Commonwealth Government or the Government of New South Wales ?
– I have not seen the report mentioned by the honorable member but I shall inquire into the subject to see whether I can get the honorable member complete information.
Movements of Vessels
– Will the Minister for Defence state whether it is a fact that, some units of the Royal Australian Navy have left Australian waters; and if so, what is their destination?
– I have stated previously, in reply to similar questions, that it is not usual to mention publicly the movements of war vessels, but I may say that the Royal Australian Navy is engaging in its usual braining cruise at the present time.
– Can the Minister for Defence confirm the report made yesterday that British aircraft are to be manufactured in Australia under licence, for defence and civil purposes?
Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Although I haveseen this statement,I have no official knowledge on the sub ject at the moment, but I believe it to be accurate because it is and always has been the intention to manufacture British aircraft in Australia.
– I have received from the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association a communication in which it asks if the PostmasterGeneral will exempt its members from the payment of the wireless listeners’ licence-fee. Is the Minister prepared to grant that concession to these men?
– This is a matter of policy, which will have to be considered by the Cabinet. I am therefore unable to reply at this stage to the honorable member’s question.
The following papers were presented : -
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Thirteenth Annual Report of the Dried Fruits Control Board, for year 1936-37, together with statement by the Minister regarding the operation of the act.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Nhill, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Lighthouses Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, Nos. 83, 88.
Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 92.
Public Service Act - -Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General - S. A. Mathew-Dakis. Interior -O. A. Beattie, F. M. Clemenger and J. M. Moss.
War Service Homes Act - Report of the War Service Homes Commission for year 1936-37, together with statements and balance-sheet.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether the Government has come to any understanding with the Ford motor works in Melbourne, in regard to an alteration of the trade diversion policy with a view to its endeavouring to expand its operations in Victoria ?
– The answer is in the negative. On Friday last, I stated that the quota for the next two years will be similar to the 1936 quota. Apparently that announcement gave this company such confidence that it decided upon considerable expansion of its operations. The honorable member may have noticed in the press the statement that it is estimated that as a result an additional 300 to 500 men willbeemployed.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs able to give the House an assurance that, despite the continuance of the quota for Ford cars for the next two years, the Government is not in any way bound not to increase the duties against these cars if the manufacture of motor cars becomes imminent in Australia?
– That is obviously a matter of policy, but I think the honorable member realizes that the quota has been pegged for the next two years at the 1936 level. That will not interfere in any way with the Government’s policy to encourage the manufactureof motor cars in Australia. Further action in this connexion is dependent upon the contents of the report of the Tariff Board on this subject, which has just come to hand.
– When will that report be tabled?
– It has not yet been considered by the Government.
– Apparently the Minister did not quite understand the question I put to him. I wish to know whether in the event of the proposal to manufacture motor cars in Australia developing to such an extent in the next two years that production will be possible, the Government is in any way bound not to increase the duties on Canadian cars?
– There is nothing to prevent the Government increasing the duty on any item on the tariff at any time.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform me whether the Government intends to proceed with the discussion of the Statute of Westminster Bill . with a view to its enactment, or whether I am correctly informed that it is proposed to shelve the measure?
– I am not able to make any statement as to the order of business in the next few days.
– As the Prime Minister was not able to make a statement last night on the motion for the adjournment as to the bills the Government wishes to be passed before the Parliament adjourns prior to prorogation, will the right honorable gentleman make such a statement some time before the end of this sitting?
– I hope that the progress made to-day will enable me to indicate to the House this evening which bills the Government desires to be passed before the prorogation.
– Will the Prime Minister have inquiries made as to advisability of establishing an air bast at Hervey Bay, and if it is considered advisable to do so, will the Government bring down a bill to give effect to it soon after the Parliament reassembles subsequent to the election?
– That question should have been directed to the Minister for Defence, but I shall bring it under his notice.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to announce the decision of the Government as to whether the proposed air base in Queensland will be at Rockhampton or Bowen, where sites have, I understand, been investigated?
– No decision has yet been reached as between those two localities.
– Is the Treasurer yet in a position to announce when the report of the committee of actuaries and officers on national insurance is likely to be received, and also whether arrangements will be made for another conference of the State and Commonwealth Ministers on the subject?
– The committee of actuaries and officers is proceeding rapidly with its work. I have been provided with reports from it as to the progress made, but the complete report is not yet to hand. The Government’s subsequent action will be determined by the contents of the report, but the matter will be actively pursued.
Effect on Workers.
– . Has the Minister for Health yet made any investigation into the statements I brought under his notice yesterday to the effect that the dust caused by the bulk handling of wheat bad resulted in a considerable increase of certain diseases among the workers concerned?
– I have not yet received any report from my department on this subject, but immediately it comes to hand 1 shall inform the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for Defence inform me whether he has received any correspondence recently from the port authorities at Melbourne seeking the co-operation of the Government in an effort to modernize the Williamstown docking facilities?
– I have no knowledge of any recent communication on that subject, but I shall make inquiries about it.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether it is his intention to offer his assistance to his late Leader, Sir Stanley Argyle, during the forthcoming elections in Victoria?
– I shall take the honorable member’s representations into consideration.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of Development able to indicate when the vessel which is being constructed for the purpose of investigating fisheries, and on which I understand £20,000 has been spent, is likely to be ready to be put into commission ?
– I shall obtain information on the subject for the honorable member.
– I ask the Treasurer if it is a fact that, according to the latest world statistics, Australia has the lowest unemployment in the world?
– I can well believe that that is the case, but I have not seen the statistics to which the honorable member refers.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Defence Equipment Act 1928.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Menzies do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the hill be now read a second time.
There are in existence two trust accounts designed to provide finance outside the budget for purposes that come within the scope of the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill). One is the Defence Equipment Trust Account and the other is the Civil Aviation Trust Account, of which the former is the more important. The position at present is that, under the budget proposals, an amount of £200,000 is allocated for works in connexion with bases in the north of Australia and beyond in connexion with the Imperial air route shortly to be established. There are no available funds that are not already hypothecated in the Civil Aviation Trust Account, from which it is most appropriate that this money should be drawn. On the other hand there are funds available in the Defence Equipment Trust Account, and the principal purpose of this small measure is to transfer the sum of £200,000 from the Defence Equipment Trust Account to the credit of the Civil Aviation Trust Account.
In respect of any trust account there is set out in specific terms the purposes for which the moneys in that account can be utilized. They cannot be utilized for any purpose other than those specified, and the purposes at present prescribed in respect of the Civil Aviation Trust Account are simply in respect of the development of civil aviation. It is proposed by clause 3 of this bill to extend those purposes by the addition of the words - and for buildings, works and sites (including shore bases and marine facilities), radio, aeronautical and direction finding equipment, and control and auxiliary launches in connexion with the scheme known as the Empire Air Mail Scheme.
They are the two purposes of this bill.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has asked me to be considerate enough to deal with this measure right away.
– It is in connexion with the Government’s works programme.
– Yesterday the Treasurer was good enough to inform me of the purposes of the bill. By the provision of trust funds I realize, of course, that the- Commonwealth Treasury is enabled to perform quite a number of its functions much more effectively than would otherwise be the case. However, I have a fundamental objection to the provision contained in clause 3 of this measure. That provision is all right insofar as it enables moneys in this particular trust fund to be used for building, works, sites, &c. ; but then the clause asks us to agree to this trust fund being used in order to carry out work in conjunction with the Empire air mail scheme. I could understand that proposal if Parliament had ratified the Empire air mail agreement.
– This work would not be gone on with until that agreement had been ratified.
– Nevertheless, Parliament to-day is being asked to allow a trust fund constituted for purposes specified by Parliament to be used for purposes which Parliament has not yet had an opportunity to consider. In principle, if we accept this provision now, we shall, in effect, be consenting to this trust fund being used in connexion with works and services which are essential to a scheme the nature of which has not yet been elaborated to us, and the principle of which has never yet been considered by this Parliament. That is my objection to clause 3, and I see no earthly reason why that clause should not be deleted, and be allowed to stand over until such time as the Empire air mail agreement has been ratified by Parliament. If it is not intended, as the Treasurer has indicated, to use this money for work in connexion with the Empire air mail scheme until that scheme has been ratified by Parliament, there is no occasion now to make the amendments which the bill seeks apart from the transfer of the sum of £200,000 from the defence equipment trust account to the civil aviation trust account. Perhaps it is that this sum is needed for the specific purposes set out in clause 3. If that is the case, the bill ought to be withdrawn, and I ask the Treasurer to look at the matter from -that point of view. I am refraining now from discussing all that is involved in the Empire air mail scheme, although that scheme is specified in the bill. None the less, the details of that scheme have never been formulated for the benefit of this Parliament, and I have accepted the repeated assurances of the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) that there will not be any committal on the part of the Government to this agreement until we have had an opportunity to ratify it. If the Treasurer persists in going ahead with the bill at this juncture, I shall be obliged to divide the House upon it. I do not take that attitude because I say the Empire air mail scheme is objectionable - I do not know - I emphasize that before making provision in statutes to tie up the funds of the Commonwealth for specific purposes we should, first of all, have approved of any principle involved in those purposes. Until the Empire air mail scheme has been approved of by Parliament the Treasurer ought not to be asked to finance any requirements incidental to the scheme. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue bemade for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of £1,000,000 for the purpose of post office works.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Menzies do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The total provision for post office works this year is £3,250,000, of which £2,250,000 will be found from revenue, while £1,000,000, which forms the subject of this bill, is to be provided from the excess of receipts over expenditure for the last financial year. This excess amounted to £1,250,000, of which £1,000,000 will be applied to works in terms of this measure, and the remaining £250,000 will be devoted to the partial extinction of the accumulated Commonwealth deficit.
The sums provided in recent years for post office works are as follows: -
There is a constant public demand for the extension of postal, telegraph and telephone services, and the Government has been at pains to do what it can to meet that demand.
– From what sources has the money been obtained in past years for this purpose?
– A small part of it has been provided out of loan moneys, but, in the main, it has been found out of revenue.
– Can the Treasurer state what the post office surpluses have been during recent years?
– The figures are not available at the moment, but,roughly speaking, the excess of receipts over expenditure has been sufficient to service the post office debt, and this year it is, in addition, providing for the extension of postal facilities. Thus,the post office is providing from its own finances for the extension of its own activities, without recourse to loan money. Actually, it would be quite, appropriate to raise money for postal works, because they have always proved profitable, but this year no loan money is available for any purpose other than farmers’ debt relief. The purposes for which this money is to be expended are set . forth in clause 4 of the bill,’ which states -
The moneys standing to the credit of the post office works trust account may be applied for-
telephone exchange services;
trunk line services;
telegraphic and miscellaneous services ;
national broadcasting services; and
buildings and works for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the acquisition of sites therefor.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned..
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for on act to vary the trustsupon which the Baillieu Gift to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund is held, to provide for the distribution of that Gift, and for other purposes.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies)agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend sections 20and 21 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920-1937.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend sections 9 and . 15 of the War Service Homes Act 1918-1935.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for an act to repeal section8 and amend section 9 of the High Commissioner Act 1909.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Science and Industry Research Act1920-1926 and for other purposes.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Superannuation Act 1922-
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. White) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purpose of a bill for an act . to provide for the payment of bounties on certain goods the produce or manufacture of the territory of Papua and on certain goods the produce or manufacture of thu territory of Now Guinea.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. White and Sir Archdale Parkhill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. White, and read a first time.
Mr. WHITE (Balaclava - Minister for
Trade and Customs) [3.30]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will recall that last year a bill was brought forward, and agreed to, continuing, until 31st December next, the legislation passed in 1926 by which this Parliament granted bounties on certain tropical products of the territories of Papua and New Guinea.
The products upon which bounty is paid are - Cocoa beans, hemp, coir fibre, kapok, spices, bamboo and rattans, sago, and vanilla beans. The bounties are payable only when these products are imported for consumption within the Commonwealth. Coincident with the bounty legislation of 1926, a tariff preference measure was adopted. As with the bounties act, the object of the tariff preference measure was to encourage, the production of a number of other tropical agricultural products in the Commonwealth territories of Papua and New Guinea, and to assist producers in marketing their products in the Commonwealth by relieving them, wholly or partly, of the revenue duties charged on imports of these commodities from other sources.
In general, products of the kind covered by the bounties act are either free of duty under the customs tariff or carry a low rate of duty. As the territorial production of the commodities in the bountiable category was negligible compared with the total importations into the Commonwealth, the grant of the straight-out bounty was preferred to the alternative method of taxing the importations from non-territorial sources for the purpose of providing a tariff preference to the territories. Honorable members will share with me the view that both territories are rich in natural resources, but, as in all new areas, they lack the capital necessary for the development and utilization of those resources.
Honorable members are aware that Papua is largely undeveloped, and, as an outpost of the Commonwealth, it should receive the greatest encouragement which governments can give to it.
– That is no reason why we should not encourage development in Papua and New Guinea.
– Is this not a bounty for the benefit of Carpenter and Company and Burns, Philp and Company?
– The principal beneficiaries will be those who are carrying on plantations under great difficulties.
I think, too, that honorable members will agree that tropical agriculture is the only basis upon which permanent development can be accomplished, and that the main responsibility for it rests on the people of the Commonwealth rather than on the handful of settlers who have ventured upon pioneering work in these undeveloped lands. The late honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten), who, in 1926, introduced the two original measures to which I have referred, explained that the object of this special assistance to the territories was to promote development and bring about a diversification of production which was believed to be essential to further development, and the establishment of the internal economy of the territories on firm foundations. When the first steps were taken in 1926 - and, indeed, at the present time - if we except the great gold-mining developments of recent years in the mandated territory - the economy of both territories rested very heavily on the coco-nut plantations. How truly this condition applies in the Mandated Territory may be judged by the fact that almost 97 per cent, of the total area under cultivation i3 planted with coco-nuts, and that the product of the coco-nut palm accounts for £836,000 of the total exports from New Guinea valued, after the gold export is excluded, at £869,000.
In Papua, where the total area under cultivation is much smaller than in the Mandated Territory - 5S,000 acres compared with 239,000 acres - the lack of diversity of agricultural production, and the dependence of the territory on a single crop are not quite so pronounced. There, however, as in the Mandated Territory, the coco-nut is the product cultivated most extensively. The total area under cultivation is 58,000 acres, of which 47,000 acres are planted with coco-nut palms. The next and only other important agricultural crop grown in Papua is rubber, the planted area being 9,000 acres.
Australia has earnestly carried out its responsibilities to the natives, whose care is our first consideration, but agricultural operations have not been developed as they should be.
In terms of value, however, the Papuan rubber crop is not far short of the coconut crop. On the basis of prices in 1935-36, the Papuan exports of copra and desiccated coco-nut were valued at £143,000. Exports of rubber were valued at £90,000. These two items -made up 66 per cent, of total0 Papuan exports valued at £355,000,’ but accounted for 97£ per cent, of the total exports of agricultural products. The whole of the rubber output of Papua is bought in Australia, by local manufacturers, but Papua produces only about one-tenth of the “rubber used in the Commonwealth. ‘
– Has rubber yet reached peak production in Papua?
– -No; the plantations could be extended considerably. A slight extension has taken place, but production is more costly there than in the Malay States. This is one of the reasons why settlement has not expanded in the past, but the Government has compensated the planters during recent years by giving them a bounty on rubber of 2d. per lb.
– The combines have their own plantations.
– Insofar as the bounty a.nd .” tariff preference legislation was designed to bring about, a diversification of production, it will be apparent that it has as yet achieved little success. In Papua, the change since 1926 has, on the whole, been one of retrogression. The period of depression set matters back considerably. The calamitous fall of the price of rubber prevented further expansion. Rubber is now at a payable price, and the Government has removed the .bounty of 2d. per lb.
– Can tobacco be grown in Papua ?
– It probably grew wild there before Sir Walter Raleigh brought it to England. A small quantity of black tobacco was manufactured at Port Moresby for the Kanakas, but no leaf is exported to Australia.
– Are the existing bounties adequate ?
– Although small, they are adequate for the volume of production at the present time, but it is desirable that white settlers should take up the land. The total area under cultivation declined from 63,000 acres in 1925-26 to 5S.000 acres in 1935-36. The area under coco-nuts fell by 2,600 acres to 47,600 acres.
I was pleased to notice, when I recently visited these territories, that the rubber plantations are being extended.
It is hoped that there will be considerable development in Papua, but progress is always conditioned by the fact that we must give the planters a tariff preference to enable them to compete -with neighbouring countries where labour is cheaper than in these territories.
Sisal hemp has dropped out of cultivation, although 3,000 tons valued at £100,000 were exported prior to 1925-26. There have been small plantings of kapok totalling 128 acres. The only noteworthy developments were the increase of the area under rubber from S,000 acres to 9,600 acres, and the establishment of coffee plantations; totalling 3S0 acres, and yielding, for export, 54 tons of coffee valued at £5,000.
In the Mandated Territory of New Guinea the area under cultivation increased from 182,000 acres to 240,000 acres. Although this increase was mainly due to the growth of the area planted with coco-nuts, from 174,000 acres in 1925-26 to 232,000 acres in 1935-36, the interest of planters has been stimulated in the production of coffee and cocoa. This interest is reflected in an increase of the areas planted with these crops. The coffee acreage grew from 6 acres in 1925-26 to 1,260 acres, and cocoa plantings from 119 acres to 3,305 acres. I have reason also to expect that the next few years will see a substantial increase of the plantings of these cultures. In several areas the cocoa tree is being interplanted with the coco-nut palm under encouragement given by the New Guinea Department of Agriculture, whoso enthusiastic staff is giving valuable assistance to planters, first by testing and selecting varieties and cultures most suited to conditions in New Guinea, and, secondly, by giving advice in cultural methods and in the proper preparation of the raw products for market.
In introducing the bill extending the bounty legislation until the 31st December, 1937, I referred to the disappointing results of that legislation, and informed the House of the intention of the Government to institute inquiries with the view to ascertaining the causes underlying this failure. In the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, the planters have been able ro finance their own development to a large extent owing to the discovery of gold there, and unlike the planters in Papua, they are not so dependent on bounties. .
– Does all the coffee grown in Papua come to Australia?
– Yes. The desiccated coco-nut is divided between Australia and New Zealand. In the last few months, two officers of the department have made a close survey of both territories, and the proposed assistance is largely based on their recommendations.
– Will the planters nol receive the bounty if their goods arc exported to New Zealand or any other country?
– It will be paid only on exports to Australia. If the time arrives when the production is so large that it can be divided between Australia and other countries, the bounties will not be so necessary as at the present time. Only a small proportion of the copra is shipped to Australia. Most of it is sold at world parity prices, and it goes principally to Europe.
Inquiries showed that the extraordinarily difficult economic and financial conditions which prevailed throughout the world during the greater part of the tenyear period since the bounty legislation came into force, together with the heavy fall of prices for all agricultural products, confronted planters with problems sufficient to deter them for the time being from embarking on the necessary longterm capital outlay and risks. A market of considerable dimensions exists in the Commonwealth for all the bountiable products. The average annual volume and value of imports from all countries is as follows : -
In view of the interest which many planters are showing in a number of the bountiable cultures since economic conditions improved and with a desire to encourage the enterprise necessary to the development of the territories, the Go- vernment proposes in this bill an extension of the original bounties for another ten years, commencing from the 1st January, 1938.
The sums expended annually in recent years in providing the bounties are as follows : -
There is also a straight out grant in aid of the Territory of Papua and, until a few years ago when rubber prices became profitable, there was a subsidy in respect of rubber of £20,000 a year.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 27th August (vide page 278).
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed vote, £40,100.
– My object in rising at this stage is to place before the committee an explanation of the Government’s defence proposals so that honorable members may have had some opportunity to hear and to consider them before having to deal with them when the item is reached.
– Why did not the honorable member bring this matter up on the resolution for Supply?
– I could probably have done so, but I thought that this would be the more appropriate opportunity, because the matter concerns works.
– We shall not be given an opportunity to discuss this then.
– Oh, yes, honorable members will be able to discuss this matter immediately or when the Defence Department vote is reached.
– There will be no guillotine ?
– I could give no promise about that. I do not know of course everything thatcan happen, but I give this bona fide undertaking that I am bringing this matter before the committee now in order to give it an opportunity to consider it before dealing with it.
I propose to furnish, for the information of honorable members, details of the provision made for defence this year in accordance with the earlier announcement of the Prime Miinister (Mr. Lyons) that a substantial amount would be provided on this year’s Estimates for strengthening our security.
The financial provision for defence in 1937-38 is as follows : -
Of the above amount, £3,031,000 will be financed from trust fund, defence equipment and civil aviation accounts, £2,500,000 will be provided from loan fund, and £6,000,000 will be a charge to revenue.
The following is the financial provision for the Navy : -
The same number of ships will be in commission this year as was provided for last year, namely -
One flotilla leader and two destroyers
One survey ship.
In accordance with the decision of the Admiralty to increase the armour protection of the 8-inch gun cruisers in the
Royal Navy; H.M.A.S. Australia and H.M.A.S. Canberra will be similarly armoured. As it is desirable that only one ship should be out of commission at a time, H.M.A.S. Australia will be commenced this financial year. The armour plate is on order, and the work will be undertaken by Cockatoo Dock. The opportunity will also he taken while this ship is out of commission to complete the large re-fit for which it is shortly due.
The crew of the Australia will be used to commission the seaplane-carrier Albatross and the destroyer Voyager as an attendant vessel. The recommissioning of the Albatross will also provide the opportunity for valuable experience for No. 5 Fleet Air Co-operation Squadron in the type of work which it would be called upon to perform in time of war. It is essential to equip our cruisers with modern and additional anti-aircraft guns and control arrangements, in order effectively to provide for their air defence, a nd the necessary provision is being made for the Australia and Canberra. The second-last annual instalment for the purchase of the Sydney is also provided in the Estimates. H.M.A.S. Adelaide, which still has many years of effective life, is to be converted into an oilburning ship at Cockatoo Dock. In the opinion of the Admiralty and the Naval Board, the Adelaide can be of value in t he protection of Australian trade, and can also be a stand-by while the Australia and the Sydney are temporarily out of commission. When the Adelaide has been converted, there will be four cruisers in commission.
– What will be the cost of the conversion?
– The cost will be between £50,000 and £60,000, whereas the cost of a new cruiser, assuming that the Adelaide had to be replaced would be £2,750,000. This arrangement therefore will be satisfactory both from the economic and from the service point of view.
– How does the Minister justify converting the Adelaide from a foal-burning type to an oil-burning type, when he knows that supplies of oil can bc cut off, and that we have our own coal supplies in Australia?
– The conversion will give the vessel greater speed. The lack of speed of the Adelaide at present is its main handicap, but it still has ten or twelve years of service of which it is proposed to take advantage.
Our ports cannot be said to have a balanced scheme of defence unless their local naval seaward defences are corelatedto the local defences to be provided by the army and the air force. In view of the progress on the army coastdefence programme, substantial provision is made this year for local seaward defences towards strengthening the security of our ports against attacks by submarines and mine-layers, in order to make our harbours safe, for both our warships and merchant vessels. This scheme will involve the provision of special equipment, buildings at the various ports for its storage, an antisubmarine school, and a certain number of specialist personnel for the technical equipment. In connexion with the booms and other devices to be provided for harbour entrances, three local seaward defence vessels will be constructed at Cockatoo Dock. The plans of these vessels are being obtained from abroad, and on receipt a decision will be taken as to the number to be ordered this year.
It will be of interest to the committee to realize the extent to which the Australian ship-building industry is being encouraged under this programme. The position in regard to the local shipbuilding industry is that orders are in view for the immediate future for a total amount of £500,000 for cruiser reconstruction and the local seaward defence vessels. The bulk of this expenditure will bc on wages. There is also the probability that, when the consultations with the Government of the United Kingdom are completed regarding facilities at flying-boat bases, several launches will be required. In addition, consideration is being given to the question of local construction of two target-towing launches for the army.
In connexion with the development of the defences of Darwin, to which reference is also made later under the army and air force, and its use as a subnaval base by the Royal Australian Naval Squadron, it is proposed to erect a wireless telegraphy station for communication purposes both with warships and with shipping in waters to the north of Australia. Another and more powerful station is also to be erected at Canberra for communication with warships and shipping in the East Indian Ocean, Australian waters and the Pacific Ocean at any time of the day and night. As the result of the best advice Australia has been able to obtain, these stations are considered to be of vital importance in the scheme of Australian defence in connexion with the operations of our warships, the routes of merchant shipping, and intelligence reports relating to the movements of enemy ships in the waters adjacent to Australia. The equipment of these stations will be produced in Australia. Consideration is being given to the possibility of their use in peace in the general scheme of commercial communications.
The work on the naval oil tanks, at Sydney has been completed, and the filling of them is being proceeded with. Provision is made for further work on improved naval berthing facilities and modern workshops at Garden Island, Sydney.
– Is any provision to be made at Darwin?
– Not in this respect at the moment. The seagoing personnel will be increased by 201 for the local seaward defences and wireless stations, ‘ bringing the total number to 4,491.
The following is the financial provision for the army : -
In accordance with the Government’s policy to give priority of provision in local defence to the completion of the defence against raids, the bulk of the in creased provision under the army vote is being devoted to -
The following is a summary of the measures being taken at the various ports : -
The installation of the 9.2-in. and 6-in. armament at Sydney has been carried out, and various small items of equipment and works remain to be completed. Financial provision has been made for the anti-aircraft guns and- searchlights required for this port, and the guns arc being manufactured at Maribyrnong. Full financial provision has now been made for the fixed coast and anti-aircraft defences of Sydney up to the point contemplated in the first stage of the general scheme of defence against raids.
At Newcastle, in view of the vital importance of this industrial centre to Australia, a commencement will be made this year with the installation of the modern armament shortly to be delivered. Financial provision has also been made for the anti-aircraft guns and searchlights required for this port. Those guns are also on order at Maribyrnong.
The installation of the 9.2-in. and 6-in. armament at Fremantle will be completed this year. Financial provision has been made for the anti-aircraft guns and searchlights required for this port, and the guns will be manufactured at Maribyrnong. Full financial provision has now been made for the fixed coast and anti-aircraft defences of Fremantle up to the point contemplated in the first stage of the general scheme of defence against raids.
Provision is beingmade for the completion of the improvement of the fixed coast defences at Brisbane.
Honorable members will be aware that guns for the fixed coast defences, antiaircraft guns and lights, and a permanent garrison, have already been provided for the important port of Darwin. Further reference to increasing its defences will be made later when dealing with the air force.
The progress on the main ports already mentioned now enables provisionto be made for the improvement of the defences of other ports lower in priority. The Port Phillip defences are to be modernized, by reconditioning the fire command, communication, and defence electric light systems. Financial provision has also been made for the antiaircraft guns and searchlights required for this port.
The existing armament and equipment at Fort Nelson are to be transferred to a new site, in order to render’ more effective the defence of Hobart.
Increased provision has been made for the maintenance of the army on a more efficient basis.
The permanent forces will be increased by 148 during 1937-38, to provide additional instructional staff for duty with the militia forces, including antiaircraft defence units, personnel for coast defence units under the developmental programme, and the necessary technical staff for the more complicated modern, equipment now being installed.
The number of staff cadets now in training at the Royal Military College is 75, made up of55 Australians and twenty New Zealanders. As the present establishment of officers of the Australian staff corps is not adequate for the requirements of the existing fixed coast and anti-aircraft defences of the main ports, and as this situation will be accentuated when the installation of the new armament and equipment is’ completed, the same entry as for last year, namely, 22, will be provided for this year.
The strength of the militia forces has been increased from 26,295 on the 1st. July, 1936, to the minimum number of 35,000 necessary for training in peace and to provide for expansion in war. This satisfactory position has been achieved as the result of the action taken by the Government for the improvement of the voluntary training system. These improved conditions will be maintained. The period of training for the militia forces will remain the same, namely, six days in camp and six days’ home training
Provision has been made for additional storehouse and other staff, and for sup plies for the reconditioning and more effective maintenance of stocks of war material.
An extensive programme of army works and buildings is in hand to provide for new drill halls and additions and alterations, in order . to furnish improved conditions and, from the viewpoint of recruiting, make them more attractive, under the voluntary system of training.
The provision for rifle clubs is £66,000. In keeping with the importance which the Government places on the rifle club movement as an important part of the defence organization of the Commonwealth, provision has been made for an increase of the vote for 1937-38, so that the free grant of Mark VII. . 303-in. ammunition, half of which was restored last year, may now be restored in full. Effect is thus given to the promise of last financial year that this action would be taken if the improvement of the financial position warranted it.
The following financial provision is being made for the air force : -
On the 30th June last, Part I. of the Salmond scheme, which had been recommended in 1928 for completion by 1937, was fulfilled insofar as organization was concerned. Thus the leeway due to the depression was made up and, during the last three years, the following new units have been added to the air force: -
New SouthWales -
A station head-quarters.
An aircraft depot.
An army co-operation squadron.
A general reconnaissance squadron.
Expansion of the fleet co-operation flight into a squadron.
A station head-quarters.
A fighter bomber squadron.
A general reconnaissance squadron.
A recruit and technical training unit.
Western Australia (located temporarily at Laverton until buildings are completed at Pearce, Western Australia) -
A citizen air force squadron for cooperation with the fixed coast defences.
– I expect that some of the men will be there before the end of the year. That view was formed byme when I visited the works at the Pearce Aerodrome whichI passed through on my return from England.
During the progress of the three-year programme, the development of aircraft for military purposes proceeded at an extraordinarily rapid rate, and types became available with considerably higher performances than those contemplated when the programme was prepared. By comparison with the types originally set down for purchase, aircraft of the later types are 100 miles an hour faster, carry double the bomb load, and have a greatly increased range. These higher performances are obtainable, however, only at greater cost, and additional funds have therefore been provided for the increased cost of aircraft purchased under the three-year programme.
– What is the speed of aircraft of the later types?
– The machines being purchased are Blenheims which are the latest in use in Great Britain and have a speed of anything up to 300 miles an hour.
The increase of 353 in permanent personnel, making a total strength of 2,472, is due to the introduction of aircraft having the higher performance which require more extensive maintenance and larger operating crews.
Owing to a substantial rise of the price of building materials and building costs generally, a large additional amount is provided this year for the completion of works and building projects estimated at a much lower figure in the original air force programme.
I would now say a word on the effect of higher costs on air force expansion. Of the £1,257,000 provided this year for new expenditure on the air force, £737,000 is for the additional cost of aircraft of improved types and their maintenance, and the increased building costs of projects commenced under the three-year programme. This has a bearing on certain figures quoted by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech of the 25th August last, and I would digress for a moment to make certain corrections and observations. The honorable gentleman quoted £300,000 as the capital cost of a squadron of twin-engined aircraft at a station already established, and £130,000 for single-engined aircraft. He omitted the cost of works and buildings, which are estimated at £100,000 and £90,000 respectively for each type of squadron.
– This is more than an exposition of policy. My estimate was based on the provision of a squadron of twin-engined aircraft at a station already established.
– But if there are to be additional squadrons it necessarily follows that there must be additional accommodation for them.
– I agree with that.
Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That is what I am pointing out. I am saying that no allowance has been made by the honorable gentleman for additional flying training schools, aircraft repair depots and other ancillary formations necessary for the administration and maintenance of an air force of the size contemplated by him. The consequence is that the capital cost of £15,000,000 for the provision of his 50 squadrons is greatly understated, as this sum could provide for only slightly more than half this number. At the present cost of aircraft, its personnel, and necessary accommodation, the cost would be nearer £30,000,000. I freely admit that I have no personal expert knowledge of this matter. If other honorable members are as frank as I am they, too, will admit that they are unacquainted with the details. Consequently, any statement I make must be based on the opinion of . men whose life work has been the study of the matter and the assimilation of knowledge in regard to it. The information that I have given has been supplied to the Government by the best experts available. Probably the same experts would advise another government if the present Government were not in office.
– That is so. It is a quarrel between experts, not between the Minister and me.
– A revision of certain aspects of the Salmond scheme, which was approved by the Council of Defence, provided for an increase of the first line strength of aircraft from 114 to 19S. Eight squadrons, furnishing a first line strength of 96 aircraft, have now been organized, leaving nine squadrons with a strength of 102 aircraft to be formed.
This year the Government will continue the development of the air force towards its ultimate strength, and provision is made towards the equipment, aerodrome, emergency services and buildings required for the formation, of a general purpose squadron, to be located eventually at a new air force station at Darwin. This squadron will be equipped with reconnaissance and fighter bomber aircraft.
An additional 137 officers and airmen of the Citizen Air Force will be required during the year in Western Australia, to complete the establishment of the Citizen Air Force squadron being located in that State.
Provision is also being made for certain essential war reserves, including bombs and ammunition. The bomb is the principal weapon of the air force, and without adequate reserves of these the power of aircraft would be . greatly diminished.
The service aircraft pf advanced type now on order requires fuel of a very high quality, and provision is made for existing stocks of commercial aviation spirit to be raised in emergency to the higher standard required.
The financial provision for the munitions supply branch is -
For the conduct of a munitions supply organization, certain factories are needed for production of those types of munitions which are not readily procurable from commercial industry, or which require special plant and equipment. It is necessary, also, to maintain centres to which commercial manufacturers can refer and obtain information on the technique of manufacture. Likewise, certain establishments must be maintained for scientific research in relation to munitions, the utilization of locallyproduced materials, and the testing and proving of the manufactured articles. The Government munitions establishments are maintained in peace for these purposes and for the production of the training requirements of the services.
At the Imperial Conference, the principles of Empire defence as laid down in 1923 and 1926 were extended to provide for the decentralization of the production of munitions, so as to diminish, as far as practicable, the dependence of the dominions on the United Kingdom, and to provide for the extension of overseas resources in times of emergency.
Much credit was given to Australia for the foresight of ite past policy in commencing the local manufacture of munitions and building up the organization to its present capacity. We are now fully acquainted with the problems of production, and have expert factory staffs and skilled employees. The products of our factories con-form to the high standards laid down by Britain, and their inspection is carried out by a staff independent of the producing factories.
With this valuable experience behind us, and our organization developed to its present degree of efficiency, the Government is able to put in hand important new measures for . the local production of munitions which should be quickly completed. This further advance will not only contribute to our own security, but will also relieve Britain of meeting certain of our demands in an emergency, and establish in the Commonwealth a potential source of Empire supply. The Government is assured that, if it presses on with the completion of these new factories, they will be able to participate in the peace-time supplies required by the United Kingdom Government, and the factories will also be possible sources of supply to other dominions.
En addition to establishing departmental factories, the Government’s policy of national self-sufficiency provides for the development of industrial resources for theproduction of munitions. The ultimate source of mass production of munitions in war must rest with commercial industry, and a special branch of the Defence Department is now charged with the preparation of plans for industrial mobilization in war time. In order that progress may be accelerated, the permanent staff on this work is being more than doubled and additional technical investigators are now in course of training. Liaison officers of the chambers of manufactures have been appointed in each State, whilst direct approach is also being made to other trade organizations and individual companies. As the result, comprehensive details of plant, machine tools, layout, raw materials and other relevant information is being obtained and recorded for use should a need arise for it.
The munitions supply development programme may be divided into the following three broad divisions: 1. The expansion of existing resources of local production of munitions by the modernization and extension of existing factories, laboratories and proof stations to place them on a thoroughly satisfactory footing; 2. Additions to the gun ammunition factory for production of cartridge cases for anti-aircraft am munition, to the ordnance factory for production of a new type anti-a.ircraft gun and mountings, and to the machine gun factory for production of the Bren machine gun.
– Is that a locallyinvented gun?
-No, the Bren gun is a Czech oslovakian invention, the rights in respect of which have been purchased by the British Government. The gun is being manufactured on a large scale, and will be used throughout the Empire in place of the Lewis gun. The manufacture of this weapon in Australia will be undertaken at Lithgow, and ‘additional plant for the purpose will be provided.
– What are the advantages of the Bren gun?
Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.They are many, or it would not have been purchased.
The third feature of the development programme is the provision of the substantial sum of £100,000 as a . first step for placing orders of an educational nature with local manufacturers so that the potentialities of industry may be accurately gauged. It is also anticipated that additional funds will be made available from the normal votes of the services for this purpose.
– Is that £100,000 being provided in these Estimates?
– Yes . The plan provides for an expenditure of £200,000, of which £100,000 is being provided at present.
The following is a summary of the proposals relating to the nature and location of new works at Government factories : -
Ammunition factory, Footscray, Victoria -
Erection of building to replace prewar structure for accommodation of machinery and plant for manufacture of small arms ammunition. Completion of new toolroom now under construction.
Erection of new laboratory building to replace pre-war structure.
Additions for manufacture of antiaircraft cartridge cases.
Explosives factory Maribyrnong, Victoria -
Extensions to naval cordite factory.
Additions for loading primers and fuses and other components of gun ammunition.
Additions to the acid and guncotton sections.
Erection of magazines for storage of explosives and ammunition.
Ordnance factory, Maribyrnong, Victoria -
Additions to toolroom for manufacture of tools and gauges, including provision for drawing office.
Extensions to projectile factory to provide . additional floor space for layout of manufactures and. inspection facilities.
Equipment of a forge and smithy with plant for electric heat treatment of new types of anti-aircraft guns.
Extensions to gun and carriage factory for manufacture of the new type anti-aircraft gun and mounting.
Small arms factory, Lithgow, New SouthWales-
Erection of building for toolroom and barrel departments to replace temporary structures erected during the war period.
Installation of additional boiler equipment.
Extensions to machine gun factory for production of Bren machine
Munitions supply laboratories, Maribyrnong, Victoria -
Additions for gauge measuring department, and metallurgical and physical testing sections.
Inspection Branch -
Additional facilities at various testing stations, principally at Wakefield, South Australia, for testing and proving guns and ammunition, and for provision of gauges and equipment for such purposes.
Though the new avenues of production have been provided by extensions to existing factories, consideration will be given by the Government in any future new expansion to the practicability of decentralizing production where possible. When new factories need to be established, consideration will be given to the possibility of locating them in other States : but when additions can be econo mically made to existing factories for work similar to that at present being done in such factories, that policy will be followed. Obviously if plant and staff are available at Lithgow, for example, for the manufacture of rifles, it would be uneconomic to establish another factory for the manufacture of rifles in some other State. I wish to make it quite clear, however, that whenever it is possible economically to decentralize this work, and when new factories are necessary, the Government will give consideration to distributing the undertakings among the States.
– That will depend on a number of considerations.
I have already dealt with the defence advantages of the policy and programme outlined. Attention is now invited to their economic benefits. The works expansion programmes, not only of the factories, but also of the navy, army and air forces, will be beneficial to employment, and the new factories upon completion will create a demand for labour and materials. The expenditure on wages at the factories last financial year, was approximately £540,000, and the number of employees at the 30th June was two and a half times greater than during the depression. Similarly, the value of orders during last year was more than five times larger. The increased local production of munitions formerly imported, and the growing sale to other Empire governments will add to the advantages to which I have referred.
Mr.Curtin. - Why does the Minister refer to “ Empire “ governments ?
– I used that word advisedly. I wish to be perfectly candid with honorable members on this subject. It isnot the intention of the Commonwealth Government to manufacture munitions for any except Empire countries. Our work is being strictly confined to the supply of Empire needs.
– We can agree most thoroughly upon that point.
Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.There need be no misunderstanding. That definitely is the Government’s policy.
The educational orders to industry will, in the first place, be for such items as steel shell bodies for the navy and army, steel and iron bomb bodies for the air force, and brass primers for army shell. These orders will contribute to employment, and ultimately should lead to local industry participating in the accumulation of necessary reserves of munitions.
In addition to the normal annual requirements for the maintenance of the forces in the way of food, clothing and other supplies, the Government has continued its policy of stimulating the establishment of new industries, as well as of encouraging the expansion of those which now exist. Substantial purchases have been made of practice shot, bomb castings and certain machine tools not previously produced by civil industry, while eontracts have been arranged for large supplies of cotton piece goods of a quality previously unobtainable in the Commonwealth. Substantial contracts were also arranged for foodstuffs and wheat for shipment to Empire defence establishments in the East and elsewhere.
Orders are in hand for the supply of medium and ultra-short wave radio navigational aids and beacons, the major portion of which will be of local manufacture. In addition, arrangements have been made for the manufacture of rotating beacons previously obtained from overseas. These items, which will prove of great value to both military and civil aviation, represent important new spheres of manufacture in Australia.
The preparatory organization, the erection of buildings, and the provisions of plant for the local manufacture of airframes and engines is well advanced. The establishment of this industry, which ultimately will give employment to some 700 Australians, is a further example of the Government’s policy of sound development of local manufacture, and represents a notable achievement towards the goal of self-containment. As already announced, the Government has intimated its preparedness to place an order for 40 aircraft complete with, engines, and also ten spare engines, subject to agreement as to price and other main heads of the proposed contract.
The net provision for the Civil Aviation Branch this ‘financial year is £940,000.
The present route mileage of air transport services exceeds 20,000 miles, the weekly mileage approximating 120,000 miles, and the yearly 7,000,000 miles. It is of interest that over 60 per cent, of this mileage is flown by unsubsidized and self-supporting services.
The Empire air-mail scheme with flying boats will, it is anticipated, commence early in 1938. The agreement with Qantas Empire Airways Limited for the operation of the Sydney-Singapore section is now in process of completion, and this service will commence operations on a thrice-weekly frequency in each direction. Consultations are proceeding between the two governments regarding necessary buildings, marine works and other facilities at stopping places between Sydney and Darwin, and the commencement of these works in the near future is anticipated.
The rearrangement of the present internal services as the result of the inauguration of the Empire air-mail service by flying boats is receiving consideration by the Government.
The regular subsidized service once weekly in each direction between Sydney and Rabaul will also commence early in 1938.
While I was in London the transTasman service was the subject of discussion with representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and the method of establishing this service is at present under consideration.
In view of the vital importance of radio and meteorological aids for air navigation, arrangements are well advanced for the establishment of these facilities at capital city aerodromes and at essential intermediate places along the intercapital routes. The sections between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart are being provided for first, while contracts are about to be placed foc the Adelaide-Perth and the Brisbane to New Guinea routes, as well as at Cloncurry for the Brisbane-Darwin service.
Pending tks establishment of these stations on a permanent basis, satisfactory arrangements have been made for temporary radio facilities to function on all the inter-capital routes.
In keeping with the increase of regular services and the necessity for facilities for night flying, an active policy of improvement and development of aerodromes throughout the Commonwealth is being continued. This provides for the enlargement of landing areas, the construction of hard-surfaced runways for wet weather operations, and the installation of lighting equipment at aerodromes and airway beacons along the air routes.
Much progress has been made in the lighting of air routes. In the first instance, lighting was provided at Darwin, on the Cloncurry to Longreach section of the Brisbane-Darwin route, and on the Kalgoorlie to Forrest section of the Perth- Adel aide route. Activities are now being concentrated on the full equipment for night flying at all the capital city aerodromes and at Launceston, the junction of the air services linking Tasmania with the mainland.
Considerable progress is also being made in the lighting of aerodromes at intermediate points. New landing grounds have been acquired and prepared between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It is proposed to continue this development and to extend these facilities over the Melbourne-Adelaide and Adelaide-Perth routes. This will involve the acquisition, preparation and lighting rf several new landing grounds, and the provision a nd installation of airway rotating beacons at a number of intermediate points along these air routes.
A further development is the acquisition of sites, erection of buildings and the laying on of power supplies for wireless and meteorological services.
The improvement of landing grounds for the operation of regular air services «n the Brisbane to New Guinea and Adelaide-Darwin routes is now in hand, and will be continued during 1937-38.
The provision for defence this year is a new record in the history of the Commonwealth, and the significance of the large amount is the importance of providing as much as possible within the shortest practicable time. A large pro-
Sir Archdale Parkhill. portion of the additional provision this year is for capital expenditure on works, armament and equipment, which take some time to complete. The details of the programme I have outlined conform with the basis of policy laid down in the Prime Minister’s speech, and I would summarize the relation of the two as follows : -
Australia’s part in Empire naval defence is being maintained by strengthening the fighting power of the existing ships, rendering more secure the ports from which they may have to operate, and providing wireless stations essential for operations by our naval forces and the protection of our shipping and trade.
In accordance with the priority of defence against raids, the strengthening of the fixed coast defences and anti-aircraft defences at the main ports is being continued by the army. The navy is providing for complementary local seaward defences to contribute to the security of these ports. The air force is bringing the squadrons under Part I. of the Salmond scheme up to the highest pitch of effectiveness and establishing at Darwin the first squadron under Part II. of this scheme.
Parallel with the development of the services, the local resources for the production of munitions are being expanded towards greater selfsufficiency by improvements to existing factories, the establishment of three new factories, and more active measures in the plans for industrial mobilization, including educational orders for industry.
An important feature of the defence expenditure is the large amount that is being spent locally. Of the total provision of £11,500,000 for the current financial year, it is anticipated that £9,500,000’ will be spent in Australia, and £2,000,000 overseas, mainly on items of modern equipment of a technical nature, and aircraft of advanced types, which it is not possible to produce locally. The manner of development of the Commonwealth defences is such that the financial capacity of the country to provide for its security is being increased by the stimulation that is being given to local production and employment. The figures I have just given relating to local and overseas expenditure represent a complete revolution of the position as it existed a few years ago, when the figures were, roughly, vice versa. I propose to afford further information to the committee at a later stage.
– Does the Minister say that that £2,000,000 to be spent overseas represents all the liabilities of the Defence Department overseas in respect of the current financial year?
– But there is practically that amount in the Government’s trust fund for London liabilities.
– That money is hypothecated for orders already made in respect of last year and for other additional works.
– Those orders have to be paid for also?
– Yes, in the current year. The figures I have just given represent the most accurate estimate the department can make in respect of expenditure for the current year, that is, £9,500,000 for local expenditure and from £2,000,000 to £2,500,000 for expenditure in Great Britain.
.- I direct attention to the fact that the committee is asked to make this provision in respect of additions, new works, and buildings, &c, out of revenue to be received during the current financial year. If honorable members look at the abstract appearing on page 276 of the Estimates, they will find that although this year is a good year .financially, allegedly as the result of the administration of this Government, it is proposed to spend practically £600,000 less out of revenue this year for this purpose than was spent last financial year. Last year the amount spent from revenue for additions, new works, buildings, &c, was £4,319,562, as compared with £3,721,000 proposed to be spent this year. It is interesting to note that provision in respect of these services is to be made possible solely by the Government’s device of arranging a loan of £2,000,000 overseas. But for that we should be doing enormously less this year than was done last year out of revenue. I put it to the committee that we ought not, during this year, when we should undertake so many necessary works, spend less from the proceeds of revenue than we did last year. To do that and go upon the London market for £2,000,000 sterling appears to me to be an utterly wrong view to take of the responsibility of the Government towards the present situation of Australia. The allocation out of revenue for business undertakings is £208,114 greater than it was last year, and there is approximately £250,000 more in respect of territories of the Commonwealth; but in respect of our defence, including the Defence Department, we are to spend £1,000,000 less than we did out of revenue last year. That meant, a total reduction of over £500,000. If honorable members look at page 277 of the Estimates, they will find revealed this extraordinary state of affairs in respect of the Defence Department - that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) asks this Parliament, by a variety of devices, for £11,500,000, which is more than has ever been allocated in this respect in peace time, and yet, out of revenue, he asks us to spend this year, on defence works the miserable sum of £8,000. As a matter of fact, last year we spent out of revenue for new works and additions, in connexion with defence, £1,115,983. Thus for new works, additions, and for the extensions of defence in the present year - extensions which have been elaborately justified by the Government because of the great development in the international situation - it is contemplated that we shall spend only £8,000 out of revenue this year, compared with £1,115,983 spent last year. That is an amazing state of affairs. The Treasurer has resorted to all manner of devices in order to provide the Minister with £11,500,000, but the extraordinary fact remains that the Treasurer has not pruned any of his usual forms of expenditure in order to provide increased expenditure on defence. On the contrary, he proposes to give to the Minister for Defence out of the Treasury, revenue from taxes, and the earnings of the various departments of the Commonwealth, substantially less than he did last year. In respect of works expenditure I ask how, in a period of grave international disquietitude, coinciding with, as he claims, a period of unprecedented prosperity, he can ask us to spend practically £1,000,000 less out of revenue on the works aspects of our defences than he found last year out of revenue. Those facts are revealed by the details given in respect of divisions 9 to 25 on page 277 of the “Works Estimates. I repeat that for new works, additions, &c, we are asked to provide out of revenue this year only £8,000. I put that fact directly to honorable gentlemen sitting behind the Government, and I ask them how do they justify that state of affairs. The Treasurer nods his head; he has been nodding his head for a week, .yet he has not justified the Government’s failure to draw on this year’s revenue for the proposed increased expenditure in respect of defence. He has said that we must incur this additional expenditure, but, virtually, he does not propose to find an additional shilling for this purpose out of revenue; he proposes to find it out of accumulated surpluses of the past, which have already been voted for defence equipment.
– Parliament has voted to put that money into the fund, but not to take it out.
– It was allocated for that purpose.
– On appropriation.
– Parliament authorized the expenditure. I concede that a grave international situation exists and (hat we must extend our defence services,, and works in connexion with defence, but what I cannot understand is that, whilst, last year, the Government was able to find over £1,000,000 out of revenue for defence works, it can find only £8,000 for that purpose out of revenue this year. Yet the Treasurer calmly tells us that the country is in dire peril.
– I shall explain the matter all over again for the honorable member.
– But none of the Treasurer’s explanations square with the facts.
– The honorable member does not want to believe them.
– The Treasurer asks me to accept his explanations. I listened carefully to the statement just, made by the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) and was impressed with the greater part of it. The proposals he disclosed, by and large, offer a constructive approach to the problem of making Australia more secure, and I admit that I agree with the greater part of them. They represent steps which Australia ought to take. But what I am saying to the Treasurer is that we ought to provide for those steps out of this year’s revenue. In view of the fact that this Government received record revenue’ last year, and it is estimated that its revenue this year will be greater, it is amazing to find that but of this year’s revenue, either in respect of the ordinary departmental vote, we are not providing any more than was provided last year, whilst, in respect of works, we are providing practically £1,000,000 less. I ask the Treasurer to give the committee an encore of one or other of his justifications for this extraordinary state of affairs.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has asked for- a further explanation of the means adopted by the Government for financing its defence proposals. I thought I had -made the position reasonably clear in the budget speech itself. On page 11 of the printed budget speech the following table appears, showing in summary the means that the Government proposes to adopt for financing defence expenditure: -
The Government had to provide £8,500,000 for additional expenditure this financial year, and clearly it could not provide the whole of it out of revenue. Some part of the .additional expenditure had to be covered by loan funds, and I cannot see that it matters very much which part. It so happened that the extra funds required for pensions, sinking fund and the Newnes undertaking ware provided out of revenue, but they made such heavy demands upon the budget that it was necessary to find £5,500,000 for defence purposes from other sources. As I have explained, approximately £3,000,000 of this is to be found from trust funds, and £2,500,000 from loan money. I cannot see that the objections of the Leader of the Opposition have any significance from an accountancy, or even from a political, point of view. If honorable members desire the matter to be explained at greater length, I shall obtain all the relevant figures and place them before the committee.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of External Affairs, £350 - agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £6,010.
.- According to the figures accompanying these estimates, a sum of £1,800 was voted last year for the erection of a cottage for a taxation officer in Darwin, but a total of £2,750 was actually expended. The cost of the building seems beyond what is required, and I should like to know why it so greatly exceeded the estimate.
– The figures to which the honorable member has referred have been inserted merely for the sake of giving honorable members information, and are not now before the committee for consideration. However, I shall have inquiries made, and will see that the honorable member obtains the information he seeks.
. -The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has taken up an extraordinary attitude. I do not expect him to have all the details of expenditure at his fingertips, but the necessary information should be in the possession of his officers. We have been informed that the figures referred to by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) were printed merely for our information, but they nevertheless disclose the fact that some person in Darwin has been able to expend £1,000 more than the vote provided, and the impression left is that the officers of the department are not inclined to furnish an explanation.
– That is not so. The explanation is not forthcoming because this matter is not now under consideration.
– There is a suggestion of collusion between officials to hush up the expenditure of this additional £1,000.
– A vote can only be exceeded on the authority of the Treasury, at the express request of the department concerned, in this case, the Department of the Interior. If the amount involved is considerable, the authority must be given by myself personally, and I must be assured that the reasons for exceeding the amount are substantial.
Mr.Beasley. - Then it is remarkable that the Treasurer does not know why this vote was exceeded by nearly £1,000.
– In each financial year thousands of votes are slightly exceeded, while in the case of others, expenditure does not come quite up to the amount provided. It would be impossible for any Treasurer to keep the details of all such votes in his mind. However, I shall obtain the information and supply it to honorable members this afternoon.
.- It is evident that, in this case, either some one has made an unduly low estimate of the cost of the building, or there has been substantial expenditure on extras regarding which no details have been supplied. In either case, there seems to be evidence of official incompetence.
– I feel sure that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) will be able to give a reasonable explanation for the increased expenditure on this cottage. I am myself concerned regarding the matter, because I was an untiring critic of the Department of the Interior, and was successful in having its activities re-organized at Darwin and Alice Springs. The Minister was good enough to agree to my suggestion that an architect and a works director should be appointed to Darwin, and Mr. Haslam, the officer who now fills the position, is most capable. He travelled to Darwin by aeroplane, and then went on to Singapore to investigate houses of a kind suitable for the tropics, and the expenditure has proved to be warranted. A home is to be built for a naval officer on the louvre system, which is a sane design of house for the tropics. Some of my friends from the Malay States consider that the stereotyped designs selected for some of the houses in Darwin are more suitable for coolies than for white men. I appreciate the attitude of the Minister for the Interior in sending an architect to Darwin to assist the local officers; but I am concerned about the extraordinarily high cost entailed in connexion with this new cottage which, I must assume, has been redesigned.
– I regret that I cannot at the moment supply the details asked for, but I hope to be in a position later in the sitting to give the reason for the increase of 50 per cent, over the original estimate of £1,800.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote. £1,630.
.- Under division6 of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, the sum of £1,630 is proposed to lie voted for “Buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture.” That item conveys no information to the members of the committee as to where the buildingsare situated. In other portions of these Estimates such information is supplied.
– This sum is actually for fittings and furniture for the Patents Office at Canberra, and for other branches of the Attorney-General’s Department.
– At Canberra ?
– Yes. Of the £1,630, an amount of £545 is required to cover liabilities in respect of uncompleted services carried forward from last financial year, leaving a balance of £1,085 for new services in the nature of fittings and furniture.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £303,740.
.- In division 7 of the Estimates of the Department of the Interior, I note the expenditure to be incurred under the River
Murray “Waters Act 1915-1934. Why has a reduction of expenditure been provided for this year ? In 1936-37, the vote’ was £120,000, and the expenditure £110,000. This year only £90,000 is proposed to be voted. For the greater part of last year the workmen engaged were employed for only part time. Since the whole of the vote has not been absorbed the men should have been given full-time work. Many of them have family responsibilities. Work in connexion with lock 15 is in progress at Euston, and two new weirs were commenced last year, one at Redbank and the other at Maude. I understand that the work at Maude was held up because the coffer dam was incomplete. Delay was experienced in the delivery of steel piles. This work is of an urgent character, and should proceed smoothly without interruption.
.- Under item No. 7 of the proposed vote for the Department of the Interior, £1,000 is allocated for the erection of a building at the Canberra Forestry School. A footnote shows that there is an estimated further liability of £2,200 in connexion with the erection of this building. I arn disappointed about the tardy development, of the Forestry School at Canberra. This work has retrograded considerably. Little information about it is made available through the press, and little can be gleaned in this chamber. An annual report of the work of the school is not tabled in the Parliament, and honorable members are unable to discover precisely what is happening there; but I gather from the press that there is a lack of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States.
– The State authorities are frightened of the Commonwealth officials.
– That may be the opinion of the honorable member. To some extent there is a lack of interest in the work of the school. When the students have qualified they are not as readily absorbed as they might be by the State forestry services. Victoria, unfortunately, has developed its own forestry school, and is not co-operating in any way with the institution at Canberra. This is an unhappy situation.
L desire to know what need there is for a further expenditure of £2,200.
– Under division No. 7 of the proposed vote for the Department of the Interior, the third item is £10,540 for ‘ Commonwealth offices and other buildingsArchitectural and engineering services.” I understand that that item relates to Commonwealth offices to be built at Darwin, which have -already been designed to bo superimposed on the existing stone building near the waterfront. Before the Minister agrees to this expenditure, I hope that he will wait until Darwin has been re-planned. When the naval authorities have carried out necessary resumptions in Darwin, the town could be re-planned with the assistance of the local advisory committee of high military and airforce rank, which, T believe, has been appointed. Apparently, the naval authorities have been backward in selecting the land required by them, although I understand that the military and air force authorities have signified their needs. A certain urea in the town adjoining the administrative buildings, on which there is only one structure, could be resumed and developed as a civic centre., around which public offices and other buildings could be constructed. Competent town-planners are to be found in Australia, and their aid should be invoked to submit a design. 1 ask the Minister to stay his hand until lie knows the naval requirements, so that an area can bo reserved for a civic square Hanked by public buildings, where it would be better to build the new Commonwealth offices than superimpose them on an old stone building.
– At question time this morning the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Tames) asked for information concerning dismissals of employees in Canberra, and in view of the Minister’s reply, I direct the attention of the committee to the fact that it is intended this year to spend on the Governor-General’s establishment the amount of £1,400. La3t year the expenditure under the same heading was £5,800. This gives a total of a little more than £7,000 in two years. A considerable amount of money has been spent upon the present Governor-General, in fact. an amount much greater than was spent on the Australian gentleman who formerly occupied the office, and seemed to be satisfied with what the country had provided for him at Canberra. I have had great difficulty, not only in understanding but also in ascertaining, why the present Governor-General requires expenditure upon him of which the last Governor-General was not in need to carry out Lis duties with ability at least equal to that of any of his predecessors. It always seems to be strange that the tastes of some men are much more expensive than those of the men who belong to this country and are accustomed to its methods and traditions.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) asked a question relating to the provision of housing for officers of the Taxation Department at Darwin. I find that in last year’s Estimates provision was made for the construction of a cottage at the cost of £1,800. During the year it became necessary to transfer a second taxation officer to Darwin, and provision was then made for the building of a second cottage, also at a cost of £1,800. One cottage was completed, at the estimated cost, and about £950 was spent on the second cottage, which was partly completed during the last financial year. The explanation is, therefore, that the Estimates last year contained provision for expenditure of £1,800 for one cottage, and during the year the construction of one and a half cottages was carried out. The second cottage will be completed with the expenditure of a further £850, which is the amount provided in this year’s Estimates.
The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) mentioned several aspects of the -work of the River Murray Commission. The honorable gentleman will realize that it is not always possible to determine exactly what expenditure will be incurred in respect of any one year, because the amount of work done is determined by the state of the river. On the one hand, it might be that the whole of the work can be carried out uninterruptedly; but, on the other hand, there is always danger of interruptions. The Commonwealth Government provides one- quarter of the money spent on the constructional works in the river Murray water scheme, and the rest is provided in equal shares by the contracting States, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
– Has this anything to do with the barrages at the mouth of the river Murray?
– Yes. The position is that the programme submitted for the current financial year involves an estimated expenditure of £392,000 ; but, having regard to the credit balance carried forward from last financial year, it is anticipated that the amount which each contracting government will be required to make available during 1937-38 will not exceed £90,000; that is, a total of £360,000. The following is a statement of the programme: -
– Will that work provide full-time employment?
– Yes. The men are working full-time now, and will do so until it is completed, Unless there are interruptions. This is, however, a matter which is decided by the State constructing authority.
It is estimated that the expenditure during the financial year 1937-38 on the maintenance, operation and control of completed works and gauging stations, will be £22,000. This expenditure will be met in equal shares by the contracting governments of New South
Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The Commonwealth does not come into that expenditure because the maintenance work is the sole responsibility of the three State governments concerned.
The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) referred to the Commonwealth forestry operations. The honorable member may recall not only that there is an Australian Forestry School, but also, that there is a Commonwealth Forestry Bureau which it is proposed should develop along the lines of forestry research. This bureau was started only recently and provision is being made for a certain amount of building to enable that research work to be done. the amount involved is £1,000 and it is towards an estimated total of £3,200 for the erection of an additional building at the rear of the Australian Forestry School building at Canberra to provide accommodation for a museum, a carpenter’s shop, seed store, and the storage of publications. A dark room is also included in the plan. The development of investigation work necessitates the storage of a large quantity of material, and provision for the photography that will form an important part of the research activities. This work has been deferred for several years owing to the financial position and it is now desired to make a start. This research work will be done by the Commonwealth Bureau in co-operation with the various State forestry departments.
– My question concerned the Australian Forestry School itself.
– Yes. It is true that there has not been the response that the Commonwealth might have hoped for in connexion with the number of students that have come from the States to the Forestry School.
– I mentioned also the need for an annual report.
– There is an annual report of the operations of the Forestry School, but since the research work has only just commenced, there has not been time for an annual report.
– Will the Minister table the annual report of the school?
– I believe it is tabled annually, but I will ascertain if that is so.
– How many scholars are there?
– I am not sure, but I think the number is about six.
Another honorable gentleman made reference to Commonwealth offices, for which the estimate this year is £10,540. During last financial year, approval was granted to effect alterations and additions to the secretariat buildings in Canberra to provide accommodation for the Commerce Department, which was being transferred from Melbourne, and to meet the requirements of various departments whose activities were expanding. These services were only partly completed at the 30th June last, . and the liabilities in this connexion, to be met during 1937-38, total £5,920. In addition, a commitment of £1,670 has been incurred in respect of the erection of a building at Acton to house the architectural and engineering sections of the Department of the Interior. The balance of the proposed vote is required for new services during 1937-38.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) referred to the expenditure on the Governor-General’s establishment. The proposed vote in respect of buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture under that heading for this financial year is £1,400. The honorable member mentioned the greater expenditure which has been incurred in this direction during the last year or two compared with the previous years. The honorable member will remember that some little time ago the New South Wales Government, absolutely free of cost handed over to the Commonwealth Admiralty House, Sydney. Admiralty House is a very fine old building and it occupies a beautiful situation. But when the Commonwealth took it over it Avas in a bad state of repair. The amount voted last year under this heading was used in repairing and furnishing the house and a good job has been made of it.
– A lot of workers’ homes are in a bad state of repair.
– In reply to the honorable gentleman I point out that the expenditure of money in putting Admiralty House in order provides work. Admiralty House is an asset to the Com monwealth, but if it had not been attended to it would have gone to rack and ruin. The liabilities in respect of uncompleted works in hand at the 30th June last, will absorb £490 of the provision which is being made, leaving a balance of £910 for a number of minor services required at Admiralty House, Sydney, and Government House, Canberra.
– What are those services ?
– They are minor services, but I shall get the details for the honorable gentleman.
– I want them.
– I shall reply to the matter raised by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) when the appropriate item is reached.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence
Proposed vote, £8,000.
– I should like some further information concerning the item “ Naval construction “ in division 10. The Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) read a long statement, but, as copies were not made available, honorable members were unable to gather the full purport of his remarks regarding the policy to be pursued in relation to the cruisers Australia, Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide. As I understand it, the armour-plating of the Australia and the Canberra is to be reinforced and the Adelaide is to be converted from a coal-burning to an oil-burning vessel. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in his speech on the Imperial Conference, indicated that the Defence Department proposed to build three small vessels, and said that information in regard to them would be made available when the Estimates were being discussed. I followed as carefully as I could the prepared statement of the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill), but was unable to note in it any reference in keeping with what I understood the Prime Minister to say. I should like to be furnished with details of the proposed expenditure of £133,000 on naval construction, which I understand will be largely carried out at Cockatoo Dock.
– This proposed expenditure embraces quite a number of items, a payment on the Swan, the armour-plating of the Australia, and anti-aircraft guns which are to be used as a protection against attacks by aircraft. I shall furnish the honorable member with full details.
.- The Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) made a long speech on naval establishments, in the course of which he referred to the conversion of the Adelaide from coal burning to oil burning. I do not know whether or not he regards that as a progressive move, considering the possibility of oil supplies to Australia being cut off in time of war. The cost of the conversion will be approximately £50,000. We have large coal resources which are not rendering full service to this country. The Minister must admit that in the last war, oil tankers were torpedoed outside New York harbour. They would have to come thousands of miles to supply our requirements, and on the journey would have to run the gauntlet of hostile submarines. It would be a tragedy if this vessel had to remain in port because oil was not available to fuel it. This proposal will do further injustice to many unfortunate people who are absolutely dependent oh the coal industry for a living. That is at least an Australian industry. Why should we convert our naval vessels to oil burners, and thus give employment to persons overseas where the oil is produced? If the Minister wishes to render a service to this country, he should endeavour to make it self-contained and independent of the well oil imported from overseas. A belated attempt is being made on the eve of an election to do something to resurrect an industry, with a view to enabling the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) to hold his seat.
I regret to have to take the Minister to task in regard also to equipment. If he wishes to stimulate interest in voluntary enlistment, he should provide reasonable conditions for the trainees. When he inspected the drill hall at Kurri Kurri, he promised to consider representations to put down a wooden floor over the existing concrete floor. Since that promise was made, Estimates have been presented to Parliament on three occasions, but no provision has yet been made for the work to be carried out. I ask him to give consideration to it even at this late stage. A wooden floor would be more in keeping with the needs of trainees in winter time.
.– I should like the Minister to give a little more detailed information as to the necessity for converting the Adelaide from a coal burner to an oil burner. Are there any great advantages associated with an oil burner which outweigh the risks involved ?
– It is said that an oil burner is faster.
– If there was no oil in the vessel, it would have to stay in port, and greater speed would then be of no value. The point emphasized by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) is that we have abundant supplies of coal, and always will have, whatever may happen. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) and others have warned Australia of the possibility of its being isolated in the event of sudden action in a world war. If we were isolated and could not obtain supplies of oil, our seaplanes and oil-burning vessels would be of no use to us. It is the height of stupidity to turn coal-burning vessels into oil burners, particularly those required for defence purposes, before ensuring adequate supplies of locallyproduced oil. Possibly, the oil companies have had some say in the matter. I do not know whether they have or not. We are told that these great oil companies and armament concerns, which are interlocked throughout the world, wield a tremendous influence. Writers of books say that they dictate to governments. I am not suggesting that that has been done on this occasion. It seems to me, however, that in a country like Australia, which has almost inexhaustible supplies of coal, there is no justification for dispensing with that fuel in order to travel a little faster. The point emphasized effectively by the honorable member for Hunter is that, without oil, a vessel cannot leave harbour. The Minister should certainly reconsider this matter. The £50,000 involved could be well spent on something else. The Government is putting the cart before the horse. If Australia is to be defended, it must look to its own resources. If the Government cannot guarantee an adequate supply of oil fuel from the resources of the country, it should not aggravate the position by necessitating the additional use of oil where coal is used at present. I join in urging on the Minister the necessity for the diversion of the proposed expenditure to avenues in which it can be used more advantageously, leaving war vessels to continue using coal, a natural product of the country.
Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) 1 5.45]. - In formulating its national scheme for the defence of Australia, the Government has overlooked one vital necessity. Many people in Australia hold I he opinion that our whole defence programme i3 being seriously weakened by the absence of adequate docking facilities at the ports of our capital cities. This deficiency is particularly serious at Melbourne. For the last five or six years the Government has concentrated all its docking activities at Cockatoo Island, with grave results to those who depended upon shipping work at Melbourne. Without doubt the absence of proper docking provision at Melbourne. Fremantle and Darwin is most serious. There might bc room for some difference of opinion as to which of these ports should receive first consideration, but as Melbourne is the queen city of the Southern Hemisphere I suggest that its harbour, which is recognized by the naval experts of many countries as one of the finest in the world, merits first consideration. The Port of Melbourne could accommodate all the great navies of the world. I myself have seen many immense ships berthed there. It is strange, therefore, that its docking facilities should be so deplorably out of date and inefficient. We have an old dock at Williamstown which, when it was constructed seventy years ago, was suitable to accommodate the ships then railing at the Port of Melbourne, but which is almost useless to modern steamers. All honorable members will surely agree that if war should occur we should have to rely to a large extent upon our mercantile marine, which has always played an important part in the wars of the past. We have a number of reasonably good inter-State steamers in commission, but if war should occur facilities for effecting quick repairs to any disabled ships would be vital to our welfare. Yet if a ship were disabled in the vicinity of Melbourne she would have to be towed, or would have to limp, the long distance to Sydney, which is the nearest port where reasonable docking facilities are available. The journey from Melbourne to Sydney in such circumstances would bo looked upon by marine experts overseas as almost equivalent to a trip half way round the world, so much greater are our distances between ports than those between important ports of the old world. I urge the Government therefore to give immediate consideration to the modernizing of the docking facilities at Williamstown. Two or three important conferences have been attended recently by representatives of the Government of Victoria, the Harbour Trust and other influential bodies in Melbourne at which an effort has been made to awaken the sympathetic consideration of the Commonwealth Government to the proposal to modernize the docking equipment at Melbourne. It has been proposed, and I have urged this view, that a three-party scheme should be drafted, towards the cost of which the Government of Victoria, the Melbourne Harbour Trust and the Commonwealth Government should each provide a quota. Most of the work necessary would provide employment for ordinary labourers and the expense would not be great. I therefore urge the Commonwealth to collaborate with the State of Victoria and the Melbourne Harbour Trust in providing up-to-date docking facilities at Williamstown. This work would be abundantly justified for defence, purposes, apart from its need to meet peace-time operations.
.- I direct attention to the potentialities of Frenchman’s Bay, adjacent to Albany in Western Australia, as a naval base. We have there one of the finest possible harbours with remarkable natural resources. I have seen the whole American fleet accommodated comfortably in that bay. It is reasonable, therefore, to suggest that the Defence Department should consider the facilities for a naval base in that locality. Very little expenditure would be necessary to make the harbour completely safe, whereas a great- deal of expenditure would be necessary to make safe some harbours that have been suggested as naval bases. I hope the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) will induce his advisers to examine the advantages of Frenchman’s Bay. I recognize the strategic importance of Darwin, but I nevertheless advocate the claims of Frenchman’s Bay to preferment.
.- I again appeal to the Government to decentralize its defence programme. We heard this afternoon a good deal of what is to be done at Maribyrnong in Victoria, and at Cockatoo Island in New South Wales; but I advance the claims of the River Derwent as outstanding for a naval base. We have there, not one of the best harbours in the world, but actually the best. I fear that my appeal will fall on deaf ears, for apparently the Government can see the advantages of only Sydney and Melbourne; but any money spent in the neighbourhood of Hobart in providing a naval base will, undoubtedly, be well spent. We have been battling for many years for the recognition of the advantages of Hobart for this purpose. These have also been emphasized by representatives of the British Admiralty. A naval base at Hobart could be easily defended and would be quite safe, whereas some of the bases suggested could be defended only with difficulty, and at Williamstown a high tide would be necessary to permit certain vessels to berth. The Mooltan, and some other large vessels from overseas, could berth at Hobart in two or three minutes. Seeing that the natural advantages of Hobart are so great, and that Tasmania has available an unlimited supply of cheap hydro-electric power, I urge the Minister to give earnest consideration to its claims as a naval base. It is time that thought should be given to some other centres than Melbourne and Sydney.
– I am surprised that no indication is given in the Works Estimates that the Government is even considering the reestablishment of the Naval College at Jervis Bay. That territory belongs to the
Commonwealth and was, in fact, ceded to it by New South Wales solely because, after careful investigation and expert report, it was considered to be preeminently suitable for a naval college and base. Reports to this effect were made by Rear-Admiral Henderson and Lord Kitchener among others. The college was established there, but when the Scullin Government was in financial difficulties it effected retrenchment of defence expenditure by abandoning Duntroon and Jervis Bay. The first-mentioned became a residential .area, and the other a tourist resort. Jervis Bay is not in my constituency, but I nevertheless appreciate the necessity to re-establish the Naval College there. The bay is a most desirable site for a naval base, being right on the Pacific coast. I am sure that it would never have been handed over to the Commonwealth had the State authorities visualized its use as a tourist resort. If it is to be continued as a tourist resort in competition” with other tourist resorts on the south coast which have not the advantage of government backing, I assert definitely that the Commonwealth is not entitled to continue to hold it. When the Federal Capital Territory was ceded to the Commonwealth provision was made for a railway to be constructed between Canberra and Jervis Bay, but that work has never been put in hand. There is every justification for objection to the continued use of Jervis Bay as a tourist resort, particularly as need exists for a properly equipped naval college as an adjunct to our defence plans.
.- Although I am pleased that the Government has decided to do something to improve our fortifications, I appeal for more decentralization of our defence forces. Hobart is one of the best sites in the world for an arsenal. The Zinc Corporation’s works comparatively near at hand would supply much of the metal required for munition making, and we could have the arsenal on one side of the Derwent, with the naval base on the opposite side. Nature has so endowed Hobart as to make it one of the most strategic points in the defence of Australia. I suggest that the aim of any attacking force, would be to land at a place where sufficient supplies of food could easily be obtained. Tasmania is one of the most fertile islands within the Empire and there is no doubt that should supplies of food in Australia fail, say, for instance, owing to drought, Tasmania would be able to supply sufficient to feed the whole of the population of this country. Admiral Henderson expressed the opinion that Hobart is one of the finest natural naval and submarine bases offering in any scheme for the defence of Australia. Furthermore, its importance is emphasized by reason of the fact that it 13 the outlet for inexhaustible zinc deposits, whilst 2,000,000 tons of shipping annually leave the port carrying food and material to all parts of the Empire. I urge the Minister for Defence to give careful consideration to the suggestion which I have made.
– I join with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) iti advocating the development of the dockyard at Williamstown as part of any scheme for the defence of Australia. By reason of its situation, Williamstown is less liable to attack or damage and could be more effectively defended than any other port. I emphasize that the Melbourne port authorities are very anxious that the Commonwealth Government should assist them to enlarge this dock in order that any class of repair work for the navy could be done there. It is obvious that we should have more than one port where ships of comparatively large tonnage could be attended to. I am not suggesting that Australia is liable to be attacked, but we should make every reasonable provision for the effective defence of this country, and when this Government is giving consideration to such a matter we should at least make provision for docks which will be able to handle all classes of repairs. I suggest that money spent in that direction could not be more wisely or profitably spent than in the development of the Williamstown dockyard. I feel quite sure that if experts were asked to examine them they would recommend that they be developed, as has been suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and myself. The Melbourne port authorities have done excellent work in this direction and are entitled to some financial assistance from the Commonwealth instead of being obliged to rely completely upon their own resources for a facility which would be of considerable service to the Commonwealth in time of need. I urge the Minister for Defence to examine this suggestion carefully and to see whether it would not be a more profitable proposal than any of those upon which it is now intended to spend money.
.- In this debate most honorable members have been influenced by the interests of the electorates they represent. In the establishment of naval bases, the Government should be guided mainly by experts who obviously know more about the subject than do honorable members who have not the time to devote to a thorough study of such matters. Various experts have recommended the development of Port Stephens as a naval base. At its entrance it is approximately 40 feet deep at low tide and it is navigable for a distance of 60 miles. It has such natural advantages as a naval base that experts have already reported so favorably upon it and the Commonwealth has acquired the whole of its foreshores. However, nothing has been done to develop this harbour as a naval base. It is not situated in the electorate which I represent and, therefore, it cannot be said that I am now speaking from a parochial point of view. I understand that it is in the electorate of New England. J am directly interested, however, in the protection of the great industries inclusive of railways and steel works situated about 20 miles from Port Stephens, which supply the whole of the steel requirements of Australia and. upon whose success depend numerous subsidiary industries. Owing to the unprotected state of Port Stephens, these works, if an attack were made by an enemy fleet at the present time, could be captured almost without resistance. No means whatever has yet been provided .for the defence of this port. There is not even a gun placed in the locality and should a hostile fleet sail into Port Stephens, landing forces cork immediately occupy a wide area. Seeing that the Commonwealth has taken over this port with a view to developing it aa a naval base but has not yet done anything in that direction, 1 urge this Government to give. careful consideration to the matter. There is not even a decent road running to the shores of the port, although an agitation for the construction of such a road has been carried on for some time by various local municipal and shire councils who realize the danger of the lack of such a facility. I brought this matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) by correspondence, asking that a grant be made to the local governing authorities interested in order to assist them to make a decent road to this port. The surrounding country is low-lying and under present conditions a gun could not be transported any distance over it. It would be a veritable bog for heavy traffic. This Government should give some assistance to the local governing authorities by way of a substantial grant to enable them to put the existing roads in the locality in perfect order. One modern road at least should be constructed as soon as possible so that, in case of emergency, the problem of transport, which would arise in the event of an attack in that locality, could be part,lally overcome.
I also point out that in the same region is situated Broughton Island, which would provide a model emergency landing ground or a field of action for artillery. The Labour party is repeatedly attacked on the ground that it has no defence policy. The Minister for Defence himself made that charge, but, of course, it is unfounded. In any case, when defence matters are being discussed in this committee, the Minister should welcome any suggestion made by honorable members on this side; because, even if such suggestions, upon investigation, may be found to be impracticable, at least they have been put forward in all sincerity. In dealing with the problem of defence, the importance of Newcastle as an industrial centre cannot be overlooked, yet to-day it is practically undefended. I also direct attention to the vulnerability of Lake Macquarie which, like Port Stephens, is not situated in the electorate which I represent.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– If the elite of Rose Bay object to that area being used as a seaplane base, I invite the Government to use Lake Macquarie for the purpose. Local residents will not enter any objection. The Defence Department has already done some survey work there with a view to seeing whether it is suitable. Newcastle is a very important industrial centre. We know the part it must, necessarily play in the production of munitions for defence purposes, and we cannot overlook it3 importance in any defence scheme. Incidentally, I should prefer to see the manufacture of munitions entirely in the hands of the Government, instead of, as now, under the control of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited at Newcastle. Other honorable, members have stressed the danger of the private manufacture of armaments, and have pointed out thai there is always the danger that private interests will endeavour to foment war scares in an endeavour to create a market for their wares. I also urge the Minister to consider Port Stephens as a naval base. It would be possible for a hostile fleet to sail 60 miles inland at this point, and threaten one of the most important industrial centres of Australia. In urging the Government to take action I am not moved by selfish considerations, because this area is not actually in my electorate although it is adjacent to it. I am seeking to demonstrate that the Labour party is really concerned with the defence of Australia, and not merely with electioneering, as are so many honorable members of the other side. Indeed, except that they omit to say “Do not forget, ladies and gentlemen, to record your No. 1 vote for me “, one might really believe that they were on the hustings. For my part, I am not so much concerned with the elections, though I know that many honorable members opposite are almost in a condition of delirium tremens at the thought of them. They do not want the Prime Minister to make that declaration regarding the date of the elections which he will probably make before the dawn of another day. When it is made, some honorable members opposite will realize that the time has been fixed for their relegation to the political scrapheap. I appeal to the Minister for
Defence to give due consideration to the matters raised by honorable members on this side of the House. I have myself made representations to him when he has visited my electorate, and I believe that be is convinced that the people in my district are really interested in defence matters. He has been invited to open new aerodromes and drill halls, and he must be -aware that the people are taking a lively interest in matters appertaining to the defence of their country.
.- I have listened with great interest to honorable members from various parts of Australia delivering their vote-catching speeches, but to-night I do not propose to attempt any vote-catching on my own behalf. I desire to urge upon the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) the need for decentralizing our secondary industries, and particularly for spreading munition factories mare widely throughout the . Commonwealth. At the present time, all our industries associated with the production of munitions of war are concentrated in a coastal belt extending from Geelong to Newcastle. The time has arrived when, in the interests of national safety, those’ industries should, be more widely diffused throughout Australia. This, of course, applies to all of our manufacturing industries, but more particularly to those associated with the production of munitions. This point of view has frequently been urged upon the Government in the past, but nothing has been done. The Government now has a golden opportunity to set an example in connexion with its own munition factories. I am not entering a special p’lea for any particular place, but I urge the Government, in the interests of national safety, to consider seriously the suggestion I have made.
– As the member who represents the greater part of Port Stephens, including the area set aside as a naval base, I appreciate the action of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) in drawing the attention of the Government to some of the defence problems associated with this region. However, the honorable member does not seem to be aware that Port Stephens has been a naval base for the last 20 years. It is true, as he says, that no work has yet been carried out, and presumably the Defence Department, although it has earmarked this area as a naval base, has not considered it worth while to proceed with developmental works. I -agree with the honorable member for Hunter that this is a matter of national importance, and not primarily the concern of the local member of Parliament. It seems to me that he is concerned not so much with the safety of Port Stephens, as with that of the great industrial centres adjacent to it. He pointed out that an enemy fleet could enter Port Stephens, and bombard Newcastle 20 miles away. I have an intimate knowledge of Port Stephens, but I confess that it never occurred to me before that a danger of that kind existed. I should like to know on what grounds the honorable member bases his remarks. If the danger mentioned by him really exists it should be taken notice of by the Defence Department.
If honorable members visited Port Stephens, they would see the result of one of the greatest political crimes perpetrated in Australia. - the deliberate closing of a port which should have been opened a century ago, and one about which many other countries would have engaged in costly wars. I cannot agree with the honorable member for Hunter that this harbour is now a menace to Newcastle. I do not believe that an enemy ship could enter the port and bombard Newcastle, which is situated 20 miles away. There is no railway communication between the port and Newcastle, and the connecting roads are in bad order. At night time, the residents can easily see the lights of the big industrial centre of Newcastle. The harbour has a small entrance, in tha centre of which is a bar of indurated sand, and before an enemy fleet could enter, the bar would have to ‘be blown away. Another obstacle is that more than half of the harbour is very shallow, the navigable part being 10 miles wide and 25 miles long. The greatest depth is at Salamander Bay, where the average depth is 70 feet. It has been said that this harbour would shelter the navies of the world, but I have’ doubt about the accuracy of that statement. I admit that it would be possible for submarines to enter the port, but these vessels could not bombard a city 20 miles distant. A modern battleship could not use the port under present conditions, because the harbour is unprepared for the accommodation of such vessels. The naval authorities have apparently not considered this port worthy of development, and the Defence Department has maintained an octopus-like grip on the best part of it for more than 20 years. It has. declared the best residential portion to be a naval reserve, and the whole of Salamander Bay, which is the only deep part of the port, is not available for commercial purposes. The action of the Defence Department has been selfish, and against the interests of New South Wales. Many applications have been made for the commercial development of the port, yet the Commonwealth has grabbed the best portion of it for naval use, and, after 20 years, there is not even, a naval jetty that would accommodate .rowing boats.
The department has leased the foreshore to fishermen, neighbouring residents, and tourists. About 50 lessees occupy the foreshore overlooking the stretch of deep water. The Department of the Interior, which has charge of the leases, seems to have forgotten all about them. Until I became the member for the locality the department took no interest in the leaseholders, but, as the result of representations made by me, the term of the leases was increased from three to ten years. Although the department permits occupation of the residential sites, it will not provide the leaseholders with a road for access to the land.
– That is taken into consideration in fixing the rental.
– Why allow the leaseholders to reside there at all? They have no telephones, and, if any assistance were urgently required, they would have to row five miles to Nelson’s Bay. The system of control should be changed. The Department of the Interior claims that Port Stephens is a naval base and that the responsibility rests with the Defence Department. This dual control is most unsatisfactory. If a member of the Government would visit the port he would realize that the residents are getting a bad deal. As far as I know, no member of a Commonwealth Government has visited the port for the last twenty years.
The honorable member for Hunter postulated that an enemy could enter Port Stephens and blow Newcastle to pieces. In my opinion, it is not practicable to do that, but, if such a danger exists, the Defence Department should have the matter investigated immediately. It seems to me that an expert committee representing the Government of New South Wales, the Department of the Interior and the Defence Department should be appointed to consider the problem. The port is much bigger than Sydney Harbour, and I understand that it is larger than any other enclosed sheet of water on the Australian coast. The residents are entitled to some consideration. Apparently the Defence Department does not intend to use this harbour as a naval base.
– The department is entitled to the best residential portion of the harbour for defence purposes.
– Probably so, but my argument is that it has no right to hold the land decade after decade without making any attempt to use it for defence purposes. I understand that, after 20 years, the department now proposes to use part of the port as an auxiliary seaplane base, but the development of this harbour has been prevented by the selfish policy of the department.
.- I hope that the Minister for Defence, (Sir Archdale Parkhill), will give consideration to the representations made by previous speakers. When I see in these Estimates proposed votes of £588,470 for landplane and seaplane equipment, £133,000 for naval construction, and a total of £2,787,830, it makes me realize that little consideration has been given to the claims of ports away from the capital cities. Representations have been made to me by a delegation from Gladstone, in Queensland, regarding the claims of that port to consideration as a naval base, and as a site for the establishment of an aerodrome that could be used for defence purposes. I urge the
Minister to consider the advisability of having an impartial survey made of the claims of all ports in Australia, when such sites are being selected. I recently received the following letter from the Minis tei’ -
I acknowledge your personal representations ou behalf of representative citizens of Gladstone, Queensland, in support of the establishment of a naval base at that place. I shall be pleased to look into this question, and J. will advise you further as soon as my inquiries are completed.
I should like to know when these inquiries will be completed, and to what extent propress has, been made? Can I get an assurance that a definite answer will be given before the House rises ? I refer the Minister for Defence to the report prepared by the Bureau of Economics and Statistics of Queensland upon Gladstone Harbour in which it was said -
The harbour is well known to be quite the best harbour in Queensland, and for all practical purposes it is almost ideal.
I also direct his attention to the report of the Royal Commission on Transport, which has just been submitted, and which declared that the main features of Gladstone Harbour were -
Entrance depth, 24 feet.
Tidal rise- springs 10 to 12 feet.
Gladstone Harbour possesses, a largo expanse of deep water which requires no dredging. I further direct his attention to the report by that very distinguished authority, Sir John Buchanan, K.C.I.D., Kt., who was brought out from England to report on the harbours of Australia. Commenting on Gladstone, he said -
A magnificent natural port calling for no dredging, either for development or maintenance exists.
If the Minister will give me an assurance that he will have the claims of Gladstone considered together “ with those of the other ports of Australia, I shall be satisfied to let the matter rest for the time being.
– I am glad of that assurance. The people of Gladstone feel that they have a grievance regarding the Minister’s, refusal to spend any money in the provision of an aerodrome which could be used for defence purposes. Huge sums of money have been spent in Sydney and Melbourne in developing aerodromes, and, although I do not cavil at that in cases where terminal ports have to be established, I ask that more sympathetic consideration be given to the outlying ports such as Gladstone and Bowen.
– The reason for my speaking is to urge upon the Ministry that a special appropriation be made every year for a hydrographic survey from the northern littoral to Tasmania. I also urge that the H.M.A.S. Moresby, which is at present the only vessel engaged in survey work in Australian waters, should be supplemented by another vessel. I was privileged last April to send a telegram to the Eighth Interstate Conference of Australian Harbour Authorities, which met at Parliament House, Sydney, from the 6th to the 9 th April, this year. I feel that honorable members will be interested in the report of that conference which has just been published. As the result of my representations, a copy arrived in my possession a few hours ago from the Parliamentary Librarian. The telegram which I despatched to the conference was quoted on page 50 of the report. When the subject “ hydrographic survey of the Australian and Tasmanian coasts “ was called, the chairman, Mr. E. W. Austin, president of the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales, reported that he had received the following telegram from myself despatched from Darwin : -
Strongly seeking your co-operation and recommendations for complete survey Northern Territory coastline and international waters and islands adjacent.
At this stage, I do not intend to deal with the part of tie telegram, referring to international waters and adjacent islands. We can best deal with that if ever the validity of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill is questioned. A debate on that measure would concern the validity of the control by the Northern Territory of those adjacent islands on territorial waters. My remarks to-night will support the recommendation of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) that the survey of the Australian coastline should be continued to Tasmania. At the conference to which
I have referred, the Honorable T. Murdoch, M.L.C., of Hobart, moved the following motion;: -
That a committee consisting of the directors of navigation, the officer in charge of the hydrographic branch, the president of the Maritime Services Board, the chairman of the youth Australian Harbours Board, and the mover, be appointed to draw up a motion for consideration by this conference before its conclusion with regard to the resurvey of the coast line of Australia and Tasmania.
Mr. Murdoch said
We have prepared a report, which I do not propose to read, but to different parts of which I propose to refer. We are very much indebted to Commander Stevens, who on several occasions was a member of this conference, for supplying a great deal of information. Since that information was received, I understand, it has been corrected in two or three ways, which I will specify. This matter has been before the conference on two or three occasions, and the motion usually dealt with has referred to the unsatisfactory state of the survey of the Australian coast, and the need for going on with new surveys. The magnitude of the task is fullyrecognized, but if a plan were adopted to cover a number of years’ work, and a modern plant were provided, it should not be beyond the resources of the Commonwealth. I am told that, with the present vessel, even if it did all the work necessary on the Australian coast, it would take 60 years before it reached Tasmania.
Continuing, Mr. Murdoch said -
Very little of the coastline of Australia has been covered by a modern survey. I notice from thereport that some of the work started by Captain Cook and Captain Flinders has never been finalized. Our harbour master at Hobart says there are numerous defects in chart 1079 and the general chart of Tasmania.
Mr. Murdoch’s remarks reveal a most serious position. There is no need for me to read further. The whole of the ensuing material is couched in similar terms. The whole proves that it is necessary to have this survey immediately prosecuted. It further proves that the northern littoral, upon which the attention of the world is focused, is most important. We cannot carry out this survey work as expeditiously as we should unless another survey vessel is provided. The fact that the H.M.A.S. Moresby will not reach Tasmania for at least 60 years is most alarming. The Australian Harbour Authorities Conference received world-wide publicity, particularly in London.
I desire now to place on record a letter to me from the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales, in the following terms : -
At the Eighth Interstate Conference of Australian Harbour Authorities, held at Parliament House, Sydney, on the6th-9th April last, at which representatives of the Commonwealth, all the Australian States and New Zealand were present, your telegram was read in which you sought the co-operation of and recommendation from the conference regarding a complete survey of the Northern Territory coastline, international waters and adjacent islands, and I have to advise you that, after a lengthy discussion of the subject, the following resolution was prepared bya small sub-committee and. passed by the conference: - “’ ( 1 ) That the attention of the Prime Minister be again drawn to the need of accurate surveys of the Australian and Tasmanian coasts, and that he be requested to give early consideration to speeding-up this urgently required work.
That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Prime Minister, with a recommendation that a definite yearly appropriation bo provided in the Estimates for this work.
That the port authorities of each State forward to their respective Premiers for transmission to the Prime Minister a copy of the resolution, with particulars of the inaccurate charting of their coastline.”
The terms of this resolution have been duly communicated to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. I enclose, for your information, a copy of a paper which had been prepared by the Marine Board of Hobart. and was before the conference during its consideration of this subject.
The letter concludes with a quotation of remarks made upon this subject by the Director of Navigation, Captain J. K. Davis, who does not need any introduction to persons acquainted with the recent maritime developments. Captain Davis captained the Discovery when. Mawson’s expedition went on that vessel to the south pole. Captain Davis is one of our most valued Commonwealth officers. This is what he said -
As one of the Commonwealth representatives, I shall do everything I can to bring under the notice of the people who are dealing with this matter the importance of the work that is contemplated, and I think we will have made a very definite step forward if we pass this resolution, because it will be possible,I think, to bring under the notice of the responsible authorities the particular work that requires to be done. It should be possible, 1 think, to adopt some long-range plan, extending, say, over five years, and to work for a definite sum being allotted in the Estimates to enable this work to be continuously carried out. The very fine work that is being done by the Moresby at present does not come under the notice of the public at a”l, and the public do not realize its importance or the necessity of extending it. I venture to say that no- one would regard the provision of a second survey vessel in Australian waters as extravagance.
Coming from such, an authority as Captain Davis, those remarks, I feel sure, must impress this Parliament, and I feel justified’ in urging that the northern littoral be given first place as the most urgent requirement for the nest twelve months in survey matters, so that accurate surveys may be made for the purpose’ of telling us more than our neighbours of the north know of the channels between (Dape York Peninsula and the foot of Malay Peninsula, at Singapore, which form the entrance from the Indian Ocean to the North Pacific. Darwin is the striking point. There is in the north a serious menace at this very hour, because we all know that, now that the sword of the Orient has been drawn, the sparks are being driven by the north wand into the Timor and Arafura Seas, where we have all the elements of explosion. I ask that the Minister see his way clear to provide another vessel, so that the survey of the northern littoral will be completed at the earliest possible moment.
.- All day I have listened to this committee become naval minded. Every honorable member who has spoken has wanted a naval base. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) pleaded for Albany, - “ There is wonderful water there,” he said. Then we had the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), and the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney), pleading on behalf of the Derwent. “ Wonderful water there,” they said. Then we had the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins), saying “ There is no place like Jervis Bay. Henderson said ‘ This is a wonderful place ‘ “ Then we had the ‘honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) pleading on behalf of Port Stephens. He enlarged on the wonderful natural features of this waterway, and said that if our navy were attacked it would be able to retreat in it for a distance of SO miles. When I beard the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) say that the survey ship Moresby would take 60 years to get from Darwin down to Tasmania, I thought how wonderful it would be if the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) could be induced to go aboard that vessel and be compelled to remain on it for tha*t 60 years. Members of the United Australia party who have pleaded for naval bases must have had running through their minds the words of the popular song, “We joined the navy to see the world: And what did we see? We saw the sea.” They have become navy-minded merely for the moment. I represent Botany Bay, where Captain Cook landed. I assure the committee that a naval base is not wanted there. As the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) has said in regard to Port Stephens, I am of opinion that houses should be built on the shores of Botany Bay, to enable the people to enjoy the wonderful panoramic views afforded by that beautiful stretch of water. The Mascot aerodrome is in this locality. A proper outlet from that aerodrome to the. city should be provided by the Government. Those who arrive there by air do not know how to get out of it. The local authority would prefer the aerodrome to be on another site, because no rates are paid by the Government on the land. If houses were built on it, a considerable amount of revenue would be derived. No objection would be offered to factories, because they provide employment and contribute to the revenues of the municipality. I hope that we shall hear no more from those honorable members who have become navy-minded in an afternoon, and want the navy to be here, there and everywhere. I should not like the Minister’s task of solving the problem of where to put it.
.- Perhaps I shall be pardoned for engaging in this discussion, in as much as the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) has referred to the historic spot known as the birthplace of Australia.
I have risen to refer to the Long Bay rifle range., which adjoins my electorate and that of the honorable member for Cook. The suggestion has been made from time to time that this range should be moved to another site, and that the land on which it is now situated should be subdivided. Some years ago, the old Randwick rifle range was subdivided, and realized remarkably high values. The Long Bay rifle range occupies one of the best building areas in Sydney, overlooking some of the finest coastline in New South Wales. If that land were subdivided, it would probably realize £10 a foot or more. The Defence Department may be holding on to it so that, with the unearned increment, it will realize double that value. I put it to the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) that lie should answer the inquiry of many persons in t)he vicinity as to what is ultimately to be done with this area. Is it the intention of the department to move the range to another site ?
– I join with those who have made a plea for the greater decentralization of defence expenditure than is the case at the present time. I associate myself with the remarks of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price). There has been too much concentration in the past. If one thing is necessary above all others in Australia, it is decentralization from the more congested areas. The matter of defence lends itself to decentralization probably better than any other activity.
Quite a lot has been said concerning the different localities that should be investigated with a View to the establishment of naval bases. I agree with what my colleagues from Tasmania have said in this respect in regard to the Port of Hobart, the only disadvantage of which, as far as I can see, is that it is in the southern part of’the State.
I wish to stress the claims of the River Tamar as a site for the establishment of a flying boat base. In these days of rapid transport, the Tamar is very close to the mainland. The time occupied in travelling from Western Junction to the Essendon aerodrome by air is now only a matter of an hour or an hour and a half, and with the use of more modern aircraft, it will be considerably shortened. The Tamar has plenty of water, and is in a sheltered position. I suggest that the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) might bring to the notice of the experts the advisability of investigating the possibilities of Bell Bay in connexion with the establishment of a flying boat base. It is interesting to note that when Sir George, Buchanan investigated the harbours of Australia some years ago, he referred to the possibilities offered by the Tamar for the development of trade. The use of flying boats did not then loom on the horizon. Sir George Buchanan said -
The river entrance between Low Head and West Head is about 2J cables in width. The depths of water range from 11 to 27 fathoms. There as no bar, and the largest vessels can enter in any weather and at any state of the tide, in safety. There are, however, certain obstructions to navigation that must be removed before Launceston can be classed as a port without risks.
That reference is more to the upper reaches of the river. But, as Sir George Buchanan said, there is a sheltered area with a considerable extent of water in width, depth and length, which could be used for this particular purpose.
I urge the Minister to have investigated the matter of the decentralization of defence operations.
.- I wish to make some observations on the subject of the decentralization of defence munitions production. In doing so, I shall endeavour to avoid giving expression to the indiscriminate hunger which so far has been noticeable in the debate. It is quite fantastic, of course, with docks and with defence munition works already in existence that are capable of handling the production of a particular form of munitions rapidly and in large quantities, to talk about duplication in order to spread the production, at whatever cost. If those of us who come from the smaller States base our requests on fantastic propositions of that sort, we shall not get very far. On the other hand, when defence expenditure is being very greatly increased, as at present, the Government should be able to find some means of distributing the work. We all hope that defence expenditure will not continue to grow, that it will not be a case of engines of war of new types succeeding one another and necessitating the establishment of new centres of production. I suggest that, under subdivisions 12, 16 and 19, which are all related to the general proposition of educational orders, it might be possible to find a certain amount of work which could be conveniently and suitably done in States other than New South Wales and Victoria.
We all know that those States are thoroughly industrialized, but considerable industrial development has also occurred in Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. It is where educational orders are placed that experience is accumulated, and when munitions are required urgently they can be obtained from such sources most efficiently. This form of expenditure would be well justified, for the experimentation would lead to initiative that could be exploited in case of emergency. If a policy of this description were implemented, our defence expenditure could be more equitably spread over the whole community. I suggest that if the State governments and the State chambers of manufactures would appoint men of experience with knowledge of the plant and technical ability available in their respective States, the Commonwealth Government should appoint experts from the Defence Department to confer with them. I believe that if some practical policy of this kind could be set on foot, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence would be glad to co-operate in it.
I notice no reference in the Works Estimates which suggests that provision is being made, or is even contemplated, to protect people against the effects of deleterious gas in time of war. It occurs to me that as Tasmania has a fairly extensive textile industry, and also an extensive engineering industry, and that as South Australia has an engineering industry developed to some extent and a fairly complete chemical industry, these could, perhaps, be made the basis of the development of some means to protect the general papulation against gas attacks. A chemical antidote is required mainly in this connexion. Such a policy would undoubtedly commend itself to honorable members, and a committee of experts, representatives of the State governments, the chambers of manufactures, and expert officers of the Defence Department could do a great deal to develop plans that could be enlarged to enable the whole technical and manufacturing ability of the nation to be utilized if the need should occur. As I believe that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence are entirely sincere in their expressed wish to decentralize our defence expenditure, I urge them to give consideration to my suggestions.
.- I hope that the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) will give earnest consideration to the representations of honorable members, who desire naval and military works to be established in their electorates. I have been endeavouring for a long, while and without success to impress upon the Government the need for removing the Victoria Military -Barracks from Paddington. The area of 42 acres in a thickly populated industrial zone, occupied by these but’ dings, could be far more appropriately devoted to the provision of workmens’ homes. I should be quite happy if the Victoria Barracks were removed to some other electorate. I also ask the Minister to take steps to accommodate somewhere else the warships which are usually at anchor in Farm Cove. So far as I can understand things, the civilian population in countries at present at war suffer greater risks than the combatants, and I fear that if these warships are left at Farm Cove and an enemy fleet steams into Sydney Harbour and fires upon them the residents of Paddington, where I reside, are likely to suffer more injury than the men who man the warships. The Minister for Defence during the last war, seemed, like myself, to be particularly anxious to keep as far away from it as possible. The Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) also seemed to be anxious to keep away from the war zone.
– The Assistant Minister for Defence volunteered for active service.
– The question that I put to the Assistant Minister when he volunteered Che information that he had offered for enlistment has not yet been answered.
The honorable gentleman certainly did not bear a rifle in the last war, though 1 do not know whether his rejection wa3 due to mental or physical disability. I know, however, that he attended a militn ry parade in Sydney recently and that the only medal he could wear on his breast was the Jubilee medal.
– He now has a Coronation medal.
– I thank the honorable member for his interjection. That makes two medals. I again ask the Minister for Defence to see that any warlike equipment at present in the East Sydney electorate is removed. If the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) wants the Military Barracks at Sandy Bay, he is welcome to them, for my part. The Victoria Barracks is not a barracks in any real sense of the word. Most of i he offices within the area are stacked with documents that could easily be stored elsewhere. The military cadets previously housed at Victoria Barracks have now been transferred to Duntroon Military College and very little necessity exists to maintain the Victoria Barracks on its present site. If an invasion of Australia occurred a military barracks would be one of the main points of attack from the air. When bombs are rained there «is no certainty that they will fall on a particular objective, and I fear that the majority of the bombs intended in a general way for Victoria Barracks would be likely to fall on the working class area in the city of Sydney. If I could be sure that the bombs would fall no nearer than in the well-to-do section of the Warringah electorate, I should be much easier in my mind.
These are matters that this jingoistic Government should consider. From the tenor of the speeches of honorable members opposite, and particularly of members of the Government, it might be imagined that an enemy fleet was just about to enter Sydney Heads to attack us. Personally, I do not share the fears of honorable gentlemen opposite that Australia is in danger of an attack from a foreign power. It seems to me that the foreign powers usually said to be a menace to Australia will have enough to keep them busy in their own neigh bourhoods for a long time to come. Australia has more to fear through the meddlesome activities of this (Government, which will not mind its own business, than from any deliberate plan of a foreign power. Instead of trying to force an argument upon some other country, as it is doing by the continuance of its so-called trade diversion policy, this Government should be doing its best to foster friendly relations with other nations whose territories border upon the Pacific. Although it is in the interests of Australia that such friendly relations should be encouraged, the Government seems set upon deliberately annoying these countries by offering insults to them by discriminating against them in its trade policy.
The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) the other night cited a few words which I uttered in a speech that I delivered recently on defence, and, as usual, tried to place upon what I said a construction which was never intended by me. I said that there could he nothing more damaging to the Australian people than for the Australian Government to adopt its alleged “unified Empire policy.” The idea underlying this “ unified Empire policy “ is that Australia shall- supply all the equipment and all the men possible, but shall accept orders from overseas.
– It is nothing of the kind.
– The Minister may say that it is nothing of the kind but in my previous speech I directed attention to certain comments in an article published in the official organ of the United Australia party, the Sydney Morning Herald. in which reference was made to secret discussions overseas, but concerning which no record whatever appeared in the official report of the Imperial Conference. I asked the Minister to tell us the nature of those discussions and the decisions reached, but he has not done so. I want to know what is really at the bottom of this so-called “ unified Empire policy” and what it really means; but no information has been given to us on these vital points.
Great Britain is actually at war in India, according to reports that have been published, and has so far spent £1,000,000 in this one campaign in trying to subdue the natives there, who are rebelling against the oppressive British rule, ls it part of the “ unified Empire policy “ that Australian troops shall be sent to India to lay down their lives to protect the investments in India of British capitalists? The Australian workers should say definitely that they will not lend their aid to British imperialists who desire to crush the endeavour of the Indian people-to resist the oppressive rule of Great Britain in India. That remark also applies to native races in other parte of the British dominions. Honorable members opposite talk ceaselessly about the advantages of British imperialism, but they have never raised their voice in this Parliament or in any of the councils overseas at which this Government has been represented against the exploitation of child and female labour in India, although it is known that children and women have to do the most arduous work in that country at a scandalously low wage and under terrible conditions.
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the item before the committee.
– I am endeavouring to point out to the Government that a lot of this expenditure, which it declares is for defence purposes, is not designed for such purposes, but may be, very likely in the near future, used for purposes of aggression in other parts of the world; and in order to prove that such expenditure is unnecessary, I am showing in what parts of the world these aggressive forces may be used. Great Britain has possessions in every part of the globe and I want honorable members who talk so much about the history of the British Empire to ask themselves why if was that British imperialists ever endeavoured at all to expand their territories. What I am saying now applies not only to Great Britain but also to every imperialistic power. Such powers try to subjugate native races simply with the object of exploiting them and not with any idea of conferring benefits upon them. On previous occasions’ I have stated, that when it is a case of the violation of the territory of a European nation, Ave are prone to de scribe such action as the violation of neutrality, but when it happens that any European nation tries to expand its territory by subjugating native races, be they yellow, black or brindle, it becomes a case of taking up the white man’s burden. Judging by the results of activities of this kind many native races would have been considerably better off if they had never had the advantages of the rule of imperialistic powers forced upon them. I am not satisfied, therefore, that there is any necessity for this extreme haste on the part of this Government to arm Australia to the teeth in order that we might fight an imaginary foe. I am satisfied that Australia has no enemy at the moment, but I am also perfectly satisfied that this Government, Imp wing the intentions of the British imperialists insofar as their future policy is concerned, is aware that Australia will have an enemy in the future. That will certainly be so if meddlesome governments like this one remain in office in Australia. If this Government were likely to remain in office, there might be some argument in support of this expenditure, but we know that the majority of its members, within a month or six weeks, will be numbered in the ranks of the unemployed. After the coming elections it will be succeeded by a Labour government which, Ave know, will aim primarily at creating friendly relations with the various nations bordering on the Pacific Avith the result that there wil 1 be no immediate danger of Australia’s becoming involved in Avar. Seeing that this Government is determined to go ahead Avith this expenditure, however, the Minister for Defence should bear in mind the representations which have been made by honorable members in this debate in support of expenditure on undertakings ‘ in their respective electorates such as the provision of naval and air bases and military barracks. J suggest that the Minister should apportion such expenditure to the electorates of honorable members who are so anxious to obtain the alleged’ benefits -which these works will confer. For my part, I repeat. I shall not be satisfied until the Victoria Barracks are shifted from Paddington to some more suitable area, and I suggest that when they arc shifted the valuable area of 42 acres -which they now occupy should be handed over free of cost to the municipality of Paddington in order that it may be used as a site for the erection of workmen’s homes, to be let at fair and reasonable rentals. If the Government feels disposed to do so, it could shift the barracks, for instance, to Holdsworthy. It may, for my part, establish the much discussed air base at Rose Bay. T suggest that Rose Bay is a suitable place for an air base, but I realize that the principal objections which the “ silvertails “ of that locality raise to such <i proposal are similar to my objections to the Victoria Barracks remaining in Paddington.
– As bombing is not so accurate as it might be, the honorable member will be safer if the barracks are allowed to’ remain at Paddington.
– I cannot agree that such is the case, but I agree that in some instances combatants, in time of war, do not run so great a risk as does the civilian population. I have no doubt that the residents of Rose Bay who object to the establishment of an air base in their locality, fear that in. the event of any invasion they would be exposed to greater risks than they would be if the base were situated elsewhere. I realize that among the residents of Rose Bay there are some intelligent men who, by the way, do not support this Government, and I am not anxious to do them an injury, when I say that most of the residents of that district belong to a class which live upon the labour of others, and I am forced to recognize that in that particular district live a great number of people who, in the last war, were among the “ soolers and flag-flappers “ who, like the Minister and the Assistant Minister, always talk of the necessity of going to fight for one’s country, but always see to it that others do the actual fighting. The great majority of the men who went overseas to fight for Australia in the last war were trade unionists and workers in industry, and men of the same class if this Government has its way, would do the fighting in any future war.
– At that rate there are not many workers on the honorable member’s side.
– I do not know whether the honorable member means on this side of the chamber or in the particular electorate which I represent. What does he mean?
– I was noting the proportion of ex-service men occupying the Opposition benches.
– We were all cold-footers.
– At any rate, I am not going to make the lamentable excuse advanced by the Assistant Minister, when he said that he volunteered for service in the last war, but the authorities would not accept him. I did not volunteer for service in the last war, because I did not believe in it. It wa3 a war waged by imperialists for the purpose of destroying a trade competitor and extending territory and spheres of influence in the interests of capitalism, but not in the interests of the workers of this or any ‘ other country. That is the reason why I did not .volunteer for service in the last war. I am opposed to any war in the interests of imperialists. In any case, however, if I were like some honorable members opposite who definitely say that they are in favour of war, I would not be so hypocritical as they are and expect others to do the fighting. I do not know what excuse the Minister for Defence has for not having enlisted for service in the last war, in view of his repeated expressions of approval of the actions of the imperialists of Britain. Probably he will supply that information to honorable members at a later stage. I believe that the Labour party is right in having a policy for the defence of this country, not only against a foreign aggressor, but also against internal enemies of the people. While we are paying attention to our defence against an external enemy, we must not ‘ be unmindful of the ‘enemies already inside Australia. That is a point which the Labour party must always bear in mind. In this respect I point out that a few years ago the Victoria Military Barracks in Sydney were used as a rendezvous by a revolutionary body known as the New Guard, of which many members of this Government were members.
– That was a good body.
– The honorable member tried to join that organization, but it would not accept him. Even the New Guard movement must draw the line somewhere. I repeat that several members of this Government joined this particular organization, and subscribed to its action in urging insurrection in this country . with the. object of overthrowing constitutional government. In that respect. they were supported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the official organ of the United Australia party.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member’s remarks have no connexion with the question before the committee.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is referring to Victoria Barracks in Sydney and is advocating their removal from the electorate which he represents, stating as one of his reasons for his request that they have been put to base uses in the past.
– I understand further, that, in certain circumstances, for instance, when an anti-Labour Government is in office, our military forces can be used for the purpose of suppressing what such a government might term to be civil disorder. I am rather amazed that there has not been more evidence of civil disorder within the last few years than there has been. If it happens that we should have many more representatives in this House of the type of the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane), it is quite possible that there will be a surge among the people as the result of their being disgusted with our parliamentary institutions. If many more alleged representatives of the people of this typeoccupy seats in parliament and use parliament as it has been used on previous occasions, there is the possibility that the people will be forced to take radical action to improve their lot. In spite of all the talk from honorable members opposite of the supposed return of prosperity in Australia, men in Canberra have just been put back on food relief. Before taking such action, however, this Government introduced an ordinance which prevents these voteless people, who have no representation in parliament, from approaching this Parliament with the object of placing their views before honorable members. Under that ordinance, if these people were to attempt to approach Parliament House-
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order ! The honorable member’s remarks must be relevant to the question before the committee.
– All I can say, Mr. Chairman, is that I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to say as much as I have said, but now, realizing that the future does not present similar opportunities, I shall conclude by asking the Minister to givecareful consideration to everything which I have placed before him to-night.
.- While we all regret the necessity for this large expenditure on defence, we realize that it has been forced on the Government by circumstances over which it has no control. It is the sacred obligation of the Government and of every member of this House to see that the nation is adequately defended. . In passing, let me say that I regret that we have as a member of this Parliament one who seeks every opportunity to make speeches of an anti-British and an anti-Empire char-
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the subject before the Chair.
Mr.FRANCIS. - It has always been the accepted practice in this Parliament that when one honorable member has delivered a speech which contravenes the Standing Orders, an opportunity is afforded to an honorable member of the other side to reply.
– I again remind the honorable member that he must discuss the subject before the Chair.
– I desire to express my appreciation of the action of the Government in providing in the Estimates now before the committee a sum of £133,000 for naval construction, and £420,000 for reserves of stores, ammuni tion, ordnance, fuel oil, machinery, plant and equipment, targets, &c. This has been done so that we may fulfil our rightful obligations as a part of the British Empire, and co-operate with the other parts of the Empire in a scheme of mutual defence for our own safety, for the safety of the Empire, and for the peace of the world. All this, of course, is contrary to the ideas of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). There is also provision for the expenditure of £100,000 on educational training associated with the ; various services, and for the protection of Australian trade routes. That is an activity with which the honorable member for East Sydney does not seem to be in sympathy, a policy of isolation would be one of great danger for Australia, which has a coast line of 12,000 miles, a distance as great us that between Australia and Great Britain. It is imperative that our lines of communication with Britain should be kept open, so that we may market our primary products abroad, and obtain supplies of raw materials for our secondary industries. It would be a sorry day for Australia if we were to pursue a policy of isolation, if we were to cut the painter and break our association with the Emil ire as suggested by the honorable member for East Sydney. God help Australia if the day ever comes when a Labour government is returned to support the policy enunciated by the honorable member for East Sydney. The greatest contribution we can make to the peace of i he world to-day is to put our own defences in order, and to co-operate with the defence schemes of other portions of the Empire. If the policy of the honorable member were given effect, it would mark the beginning of the disintegration of the Empire, and that would be the beginning of Armageddon. After the Great War, Great Britain pinned its. faith to a policy of disarmament, and pursued that, policy faithfully as an invitation to the rest of the world to follow irs example. Instead of doing so, however, the non-democratic nations began to arm to the teeth. They interpreted Great Britain’s gesture of disarmament as ;i sign of weakness, and an indication that the Empire was unable to defend itself, and was about to break up. We have before us to-day the example of Manchukuo, of Abyssinia, and now of China, to warn us against the danger of defencelessness and a policy of isolation. To-day, China is losing its very nationhood because it is unable to defend itself, yet there are members of this Parliament who advocate that Australia should place itself in a similar position. I am sure that the people are behind the Government in its determination to put the defences of the country in order, and to co-operate with Great Britain and the other dominions in the defence of the Empire. I had not intended to speak in this strain, but was induced to do so because of the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney. It is the duty of all honorable members to declare where they stand on this issue, and to throw in their lot with the cause of Empire defence and world peace. Those who do not do so are not the friends of Australia or of the Empire.
I hope that the Government will continue to pursue the policy of decentralizing the activities of the Defence Department, and will distribute amongst firms in various parts of the Commonwealth orders for the supply of defence material ; also that they will hot continue to produce all our munitions requirements in one or two States only, but will distribute the construction plants among other States of the Commonwealth. Recently two woollen mills in my own electorate tendered for the supply of clothing materials, and I am pleased to say that each of them received orders. I commend the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) for that, but I suggest that when the prices submitted by various firms are being compared, freight charges from distant States to Melbourne or Sydney should not Ve taken into consideration. For instance, firms in Brisbane and Perth should be allowed to tender on the basis of the price of goods delivered at the ports of Brisbane or Fremantle respectively. After all, when the cloth is made up into uniforms, it must be sent back to Brisbane and Perth for distribution to trainees. If this concession is not allowed the mills in the vicinity of Melbourne and Sydney must necessarily enjoy an unfair advantage.
I also hope that the policy of decentralization will be kept in mind when new munition factories are being constructed. The present factories at Maribyrnong and Lithgow are excellent, and we have every right to be proud of them. However, there are many skilled engineers and excellent workmen in various parts of Queensland, particularly in Ipswich and elsewhere in my electorate, who could be employed on the manufacture of munitions. In that district there are also many men, women and youths available for this work, and plenty of coal, electric light and large areas of suitable land close to the railway. Queensland is a vulnerable State, and it should be our object to build up its defences as much as possible. We know that, with the present break of railway gauges, it would be a slow and difficult process to move large numbers of troops and large quantities of war materials from one State to another. Something could be done to overcome the difficulty by having in each State factories for the manufacture of munitions and uniforms.
I hope that the situation in Europe will improve, and that those nations which are now increasing their armaments will see the folly of their ways, and will disarm. Great Britain has stated, on behalf of the Empire, that although it is now following a bold policy in regard to defence, and is spending £1,500,000,000 on armaments, it will immediately curtail that expenditure if the other nations agree to call a halt. I appeal to the Government to extend its policy of decentralization, especially during this period when its defence programme is being expanded.
.- Recently, the various sections of the Labour party took part in a get-together movement, and we were told that the Lang group had joined forces with the Federal Labour party. That being so, one wonders whether the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is now to be regarded as the mouthpiece of the Labour party. I am also curious to know whether, when he tells us that Labour is going to win the elections, it has been agreed that he is to he the next- Minister for Defence?
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the subject of the Chair.
– It would be a sorry day for Australia if the honorable member, or any one like him, ever became a Minister in a Commonwealth Government.
– The honorable member will have to resume his seat if he does not obey the direction of the Chair.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister a matter relating to the navy. The navy does important work in defending ourtrade routes. I am afraid that there is not a sufficient number of graving docks suitable for the accommodation of large liners and naval vessels. What would be the position if an enemy blew up the Sydney Harbour Bridge and prevented access to Cockatoo Dockyard? Between Colombo or Cape Town and Sydney no large graving dock is available, and when the Minister for Defence is considering the needs of the navy and of overseas vessels, I hope that the claims of Port Adelaide as a suitable site for a large graving dock will not be overlooked.
– Although defence matters have been discussed to-night from various aspects I shall confine my observations to the points particularly raised by honorable members. The proposal to convert H.M.A.S. Adelaide from a coal-burner to an oil-burner has aroused the opposition of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who says that the Naval Board is wrong, and that this vessel should be retained as a coal-burner. I point out that, if it were, it would be unable to keep pace with the other ships. Therefore, the opinion of the experts must prevail. The Government intends to accept the advice of the Naval Board and the experts of the Defence Department who are available to guide it in matters of this kind. The honorable member for Hunter, whose contention was supported by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), spoke of the difficulty of obtaining oil in time of war, yet the party to which those honorable members belong advocates the protection of this country entirely by aeroplanes, which have to be operated by means of oil products. It may be of interest to the people in the electorates of those honorable members to know that they suggest that the naval policy should be reversed, in order that their constituents may produce additional coal, but this can hardly be a governing factor in determining the defence needs of this country. The remarks of those honorable members will be brought under the notice of the Naval Board.
The subject of -docking facilities has been mentioned. Some honorable members seem to suggest that the effective defence of Australia is largely dependent upon expenditure in various electorates, but that is not the way to provide security for the people. The views that have been expressed to-night will not cause any alteration of the defence policy of the Government. Honorable members do not advance the best interests of Australia by urging that, irrespective of strategic needs, money should be spent on defence works in their particular electorates. Sufficient docking accommodation is available to-day, and it is provided by governments and -by private enterprise. The establishment of additional docks, when we already have enough of them to meet requirements, would be a sheer waste of public money. I appeal to honorable members to show a wider vision than they have as to the way in which the finances of this country should be administered.
– Is not Newcastle worth protecting ?
– In outlining the proposals of the Government this afternoon, I indicated that 9-inch guns similar to those at North Head are to be provided for Newcastle. These guns have been ordered at a cost of about £250,000, and about that sum will be expended upon the works required at Newcastle in connexion with their erection.
With regard to Port Stephens and other localities that have been mentioned, let me say that men who, in the early days of federation, occupied positions similar to those’ held by honorable members, showed far greater vision than has been displayed to-night. They set apart special areas of land for defence purposes in localities where the reserves would be of the greatest use. Our present population is insufficient to make our financial position strong enough to develop all those areas immediately, but the Department of Defence intends to retain all of them for use in the future.
It has no intention to give up any reserves which are considered necessary for our security. Similar areas are to be found in my own electorate. If the department did not studiously refuse the requests of persons and organizations for the right to use these lands, all of them would be occupied, in many cases by unsightly buildings. We have to thank our pioneers for the fact that we have these reserves to-day, and we should be recreant to our trust if we allowed them to pass out of the control of the defence authorities.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) referred to the survey vessel Moresby and to the necessity for a vessel to assist it in its work, so that greater progress could be made. I realize the importance of the work done by this vessel, which, during the regime of the Scullin Government, was laid up altogether. During the last five or six years the Moresby has been actively engaged, but there are other avenues of expenditure in which our limited funds could be more judiciously used than in providing another vessel to assist it.
Several honorable members have spoken of the need for the decentralization of industry. I can only repeat the assurance given by. the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) last week, and by myself this afternoon, when I said that this matter would receive serious consideration from the Government. But I do not suppose that any reasonable person would suggest that additional factories should be erected for the production of munitions when we already have buildings which, with slight alteration, could be used for this purpose. Our munition requirements could be satisfied by the utilization of existing factories. Nevertheless, the Government is not unfavorable to the view that we should, as far as possible, distribute defence buildings and works all over the country, having due regard to resources and actual defence needs. I pass by the gibe by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost: that his State and other States are excluded and that the cities of Sydney and Melbourne are the only centres that are ever considered. I beg him to believe that that is not the case at all. I remind the honorable member that, as stated by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), when any tenders are accepted by the Defence Department the endeavour is made to distribute contracts throughout the Commonwealth. Within the last six weeks, when tenders were accepted for very considerable amounts, the contracts went to five of the six States. I am inclined to think that Tasmania was one of the States and I am certain that South Australia and Queensland shared. I merely mention that to indicate that the Government will, as opportunity occurs, do what it has been urged to do in the distribution of defence activities. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) has indicated the different forms of munitions that might be manufactured in States other than Victoria and New South Wales, and the honorable member can rest assured that consideration will be given to his suggestions. I repeat that the Government is desirous of decentralizing this defence work to the fullest possible extent without injuring the efficacy of the defence measures.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in one of his typically insulting speeches, referred to the Victoria Barracks at Paddington and to the warships at Farm Cove. The’ honorable member will get no satisfaction from me in his efforts to relieve himself of the constant fear and dread in which he lives. As long as I am Minister for Defence the Victoria Barracks will stay where they are.
– That will be about another three or four weeks.
– Yes, with another three years added. I repeat that as long as I am Minister for Defence - and I believe that those who follow me will take the same view - the Victoria Barracks will remain in Paddington. It is essential in every great city, particularly in a city like Sydney, which is the second largest white city in the Empire, there should be in its most thickly populated district at least some area for military and defence purposes. Ail of the honorable member’s representations to me have consisted of the speeches like that which he delivered to-night. No other representations have been made by him to meduring the whole three years in which I have been Minister for Defence. I give the honorable member for East Sydney the assurance that it is a waste of time for him to make further representations to me on this subject, because the Victoria. Barracks will stay where they are. Farm Cove is a terminus for the navy, and its use for that purpose will be maintained. I can give the honorable member no comfort.
I think that, with the exception of the question of the rifle range to which the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings) referred, I have covered most of the matters raised. I have made a note of what the honorable gentleman has said and I propose to make inquiries as to whether it is necessary to retain the land as a rifle range. I shall be very glad to inform the honorable member of the position”. I have supplied the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) with the information he sought with respect to the item of £133,000 in naval construction. It covers the payments on the Swan, an amount of £30,000 towards the construction of seaward defence vessels, and £100,000 towards the reconditioning of the Canberra and the Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of Trade aud Customs, £40,000 - agreed to.
Department of Health
Proposed vote, £40,250.
– I should like elucidation of this item from a Minister. An amount of £40,250 is to be appropriated for “ buildings, works, sites, fittings, furniture and the purchase of a vessel.” A footnote mentions an estimated further liability of £6,800, which makes a total of £47,000 to be spent by the Department of Health in the directions I have mentioned. I think that the committee is entitled to much greater information than is provided in the Estimates. For instance, for what purpose will the vessel be used ? I am anxious to know whether it is to be built in Australia. If these things are not commented upon at the time, it becomes a habit, if not on the part of Ministers themselves, then of the officers of departments, to make purchases outside this country. If it were possible to lay down a principle that such purchases must be made locally, I should like to see Parliament do so. I, of course, do not know what is meant by “vessel”; it may be a small boat such as a launch. I do not know whether, at this stage, I am entitled to discuss the unfortunate scourge which has developed in Victoria; but, in the hope of my being in order, I ask whether money is to be made available by the Commonwealth to combat that scourge’? Are any laboratories to be set up in an endeavour, by means of research, to prevent the spread of infantile paralysis?
– This item covers revotes in respect of uncompleted works at the 30th June, 1937, and new services. The main items costing more than £1,000 are as follow: -
That is the vessel to which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) referred -
– I am glad to have received that information; but I now desire to refer to the more important aspect that concerns what portion of this money is to be spent in the development of serum laboratories. From what I have learnt I feel that I must ask for some very detailed information as to the extent to which these extended serum laboratories will be used to carry out research work for the purpose of protecting the health of the Australian community. I consider that the circumstances in which this committee is discussing this item are the most unsatisfactory that we have witnessed for a long time. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) undoubtedly is trying to do his best, but, naturally, his knowledge of the requirements of the Health Department is limited. It is most unsatisfactory that the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes), is not in the chamber to advise honorable members upon points on which I feel honorable gentlemen are interested. Not only is the Minister for Health himself absent, but I also fail to see on the side benches reserved for public servants any representatives of the Commonwealth Health Department. Apparently, the attitude of the Government to matters concerning the health of the people is one of indifference. The Minister for the Interior cannot tell us more than files indicate.
– My department comes into this merely to supply the buildings required by other departments. The honorable member for West Sydney would have to wait for the appropriate Minister to obtain the information he seeks.
– That is so. My comments do not reflect on the honorable member. It is not his job to explain the activities of the Health Department. The committee has been treated very shabbily. The Estimates are thrown to honorable members in a most casual manner. The item to which I am referring calls for some detailed information from the Minister for Health. At the moment there is raging in one of the States a scourge among the younger generation. Every effort should be made by the Commonwealth to assist the authorities of Victoria to combat it. We have felt for some time that the Commonwealth is not playing its part towards that State, and the Commonwealth generally, by attempting to prevent the spread of the disease. I want to know what is the purpose of the serum laboratories, and how far the Commonwealth Health Department intends to proceed with its investigations, with a view to combating this scourge? It seems to me that the Commonwealth has walked out on the States in this matter, as it has in regard to unemployment and everything else. Where is the DirectorGeneral of Health? Apparently he is not concerned about advising the Parliament in regard to these Estimates.
Evidently he and the other officers of the department regard honorable members as of very little importance. I consider that I am justified in charging the Government with complete indifference to the health of the community. A discussion of the matter might place us in a position to attract the attention of a number of medical men, who must have given a lot of time and thought to the subject of infantile paralysis. If we could get from the Director-General of Health, through the Minister, some indication of the purpose underlying these works, on which several thousands of pounds are tobe spent-
– The laboratory at Broadmeadows is for animal research.
– If the medical fraternity of Australia have failed to prevent the spread of infantile paralysis, if they have been unable so far to determine how it originated, if they are devoid of all knowledge on the subject, why has not the Government sought advice abroad? It is . prone to bring experts from overseas to investigate various matters. It went to Newfoundland to secure an expert to locate in Australian waters the places where certain varieties of fish might be expected to be found, its excuse being that there was not in Australia a man who was capable of doing that work. Is the health of the community of less importance than the fishing grounds round our coast?
– Unfortunately, no country appears to be further advanced than Australia in regard to the discovery of the secret of this disease.
– Science has made considerable advancement, particularly in the medical world. I am loath to believe that civilization is bankrupt of ideas, that the medical world is unable to take practical steps to cheek the ravages of this deadly scourge. Are not some steps to be taken by the Commonwealth? Even if we admit that there is no known remedy, are we to fold our arms a nd let the matter rest there ? Is there to be no investigation? There are means of preventing the spread of -other diseases. There must have been a starting point in the investigations to determine their origin. Such being the case, we all expect the Commonwealth to launch out and do something to prevent the spread of this dreaded disease. Victoria - is doing its level best, and I commend it for its ‘endeavours, but I still claim that the Commonwealth should make experiments in its laboratories in an endeavour to discover a basis from which this scourge may be attacked. I want to know from any one who can speak for the Government, what it proposes to do in these laboratories. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) has advised us -that certain amounts are to be spent on buildings. I suppose that plant and equipment are to be installed. What work is to be done in them ? Does the Government seriously intend to play its part in preventing the spread of infantile paralysis throughout Australia? (Quorum formed.]
.- The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has made out a very good case for further information to be furnished by a Minister. I do not blame the honorable gentleman at the table, because he is in charge of the Department of the Interior, and not being in possession of the information sought, cannot tell us the purpose for which these buildings are required. These Estimates make provision for buildings, works, sites, fittings, furniture, and purchase of vessel in connexion with the establishment of a laboratory ofsome kind. Is the laboratory to be connected with the manufacture of serumfor the Commonwealth Department of Health?
– In most cases the buildings arc associated with animal diseases.
– The Minister is groping in the dark, just as we are.
– I say that definitely.
– Can he not obtain exact information from some officer of the Department of Health?
– The Estimates make provision for the Parkville serum laboratories and the erection of animal health laboratories.
– I should like the Minister to reply to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), who has taken a great interest in the subject of infantile paralysis, and, as we all do, wishes to prevent its spread throughout
Australia. He is seeking information as to whether the proposed laboratories arc to be devoted to research work into this disease, with a view to devising methods of treatment that will lead to the suppression of it. If the Minister wishes to facilitate the passage of these Estimates, he will be well advised to get in touch with the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) and the permanent head of the Commonwealth Department of Health, so that he may be able to state precisely the purpose for which the laboratory is to be erected. Is it to be used exclusively for animal welfare, or for research into means for the prevention of diseases from which human beings, whether adults or children, suffer? If he does not make that explanation, he will leave himself open to the charge of the honorable member for West Sydney, that he is apathetic, callous, and indifferent to the representations that have been made to him on behalf of the people, who are most anxious that the disease which is causing such concern in Victoria should not be allowed to affect New South Wales. After consulting with the officers of the Department of Health, the Minister may be able to furnish more information than he has so far given. The committee is entitled to full information. The Government knew that these Estimates were to be considered. Surely it is the duty of Ministers to be in their places ! If they are not, the permanent head of the department should be here to give expertadvice to whatever Minister is handling the Estimates. When I was a Minister, I found that one had to be prepared for these debates. It is of no use to rely on hearsay; we want something definite.
– I am not often able to support the Department of the Interior in regard to its method of expenditure, but on this occasion I do so. Honorable members should remember that this is an appropriation for what is highly scientific. As we are not medical practitioners, we have no knowledge of the details. The establishment of the laboratory at Darwin two years ago, was an outstanding achievement for those tropical regions. It is in charge of a highly qualified young medical man, Dr. Carruthers. All sorts of problems are submitted to him for elucidation. We should allow some latitude to the medical officers of the department, who have made a life-long study of the subject of public health. If we do not trust men of such high standing, we should not continue to employ them. If we employ them we trust them. The Opposition is rather straining a point in asking for details. I may be able to assist honorable members by pointing out that at the Darwin laboratory Dr. Carruthers is making a most minute examination of the ability of the white race to do certain work in the trying humid conditions of the tropics. This work entails a lot of study of the effects of the tropics on workmen. Before the Moresby was converted to an oil-burner, Dr. Carruthers specifically tested out the ability of men to withstand tropical humidity in the coal holds.
The doctor himself stripped and went into the hold of the ship to make a personal test as to his respiratory reactions and their effect on weight and the like. In the laboratory to-day they have a canvas bag in which human beings are placed for a certain time under certain controlled conditions of heat and humidity in order to determine the degrees of lessened human effectiveness, loss of water and other effects. The opinions of manual workers now therefore are translated on a scientific basis. My visit to the laboratory was an eye-opener to me, as I am sure a similar visit would be to honorable gentlemen opposite. Medical officers are appointed to undertake research work in these laboratories because of their high qualifications, and I suggest that honorable gentlemen opposite should not demand such minute information from the Government, but should be prepared to accept an assurance that these officers are working conscientiously and thoroughly and are obtaining the best possible return for the money expended.
– In dealing with these Estimates, honorable members on both sides of the committee have shown a particular interest in what is being done by the Government in connexion with infantile paralysis. I have just learned from the Health Department that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are providing all classes of serums for the treatment of this disease and others. An amount of £30,000 is provided under the General Estimates for research work in this connexion, and it is now proposed to undertake definite research in connexion with infantile paralysis.
– It is an eloquent commentary on the administration of this . Government that, although the Works Estimates in connexion with the Health Department are under consideration, the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) is not in the chamber to give honorable members the information to which they are entitled. Last night an expenditure of £8,000,000 was agreed to in ten minutes by the use of the guillotine, and not a single Minister was present to answer questions in connexion with his department.
– All the Ministers were here, and the Supply Bill had been discussed for 26 hours.
– To-night we find ourselves in a somewhat similar position. One of the most important Commonwealth departments is under discussion, but no authoritative information is available. A Minister who is not in charge of the department has told us that he thinks this, that and the other, about certain matters, but no specific information is available.
– I made a definite statement a moment ago.
– A further eloquent commentary upon the administration of the Government is that while a few moments ago, Estimates for the expenditure of £3,000,000 for war preparation and engines of destruction of human life were under consideration, we now have before us Estimates for the expenditure of a mere £40,000 for the protection of human life. Last year the vote under this heading was £25,000, but the actual expenditure from that vote was only £8,395 - about one-third of the amount voted. We are entitled to know therefore whether the Government proposes to spend the full amount voted this year or only a small proportion of it.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) referred a few moments ago to infantile paralysis, one of the most dreadful scourges to which our people are subject. Conditions are so serious at. present that one State is taking quarantine precautions against another to prevent the spread of the disease, yet we were politely told by a member of the Government that the major part of this paltry vote of £40,000 is to be expended in investigating animal diseases. This remindsme that last year when honorable members of the Opposition pleaded for the lifting of the sales tax from human clothing, the Government declined to grant our request but forced through a proposal that pigs’ rugs should be exempt from the tax. Although the Government’ shows a total disregard for the general health of the people, it seems to be interested in the health of animals. This fact is further emphasized by the attitude adopted- by the Minister of Health to the question I asked him yesterday, and repeated to-day, as to whether the Health Department had done anything to investigate the dreadful results on the health of the waterside workers arising from the dust from the bulk handling of wheat at the waterside. Yesterday the Minister said that he knew nothing about the recommendation of Judge Beeby that an investigation be made by the Commonwealth authorities into this subject. It is strange, however, that the officers of his department have done nothing to give effect to the Judge’s recommendation for investigation. The Waterside Workers Federation regards this as a very serious matter. To them it is as serious as infantile paralysis is to the general community. To impress upon the committee the views of the Waterside Workers Federation on the subject I propose to read a paragraph from an article which appeared in a trade journal, The Voice, under the title “ The Dust of Death”. The writer of the article, in urging that the investigation recommended by Judge Beeby three years ago should be carried out, stated -
Of all the deleterious, health-destroying duties performed by the waterside worker the loading of bulk wheat is the most deadly. Dread dispenser of tuberculosis, cancer, duodenal ulcers, chronic asthma, otomycosis, and other diseases, this “ dust of death “ has been the cause of more fatalities in the ranks of the waterside . workers than any other branch of the industry. So terrible is dust as a cause of consumption, that some time ago, Professor Haldane, of Oxford, was asked to carry out a special investigation into this deadly menace. Dr. Haldane’s work on dust is now known the world over. He proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the popular (employer-bought) medical opinion that dust inflicts injury by its grittiness or sharpness is entirely incorrect; but, on the contrary, that its lethal attributes lie in the fact that it is dissolved in the lungs, and, when dissolved, poisons them. The germs of consumption flourish more readily in lungs thus poisoned than in healthy lungs.
– I cannot allow the discussion to be widened to ‘this degree. The honorable member’s remarks would be appropriate to a debate on the General Estimates, but they are not appropriate to a consideration of the details of the Works Estimates.
– I am sure that the general community will draw its own conclusions when it is informed that even when the Works Estimates for the Health Department were under consideration we were prevented from discussing the recommendation of Judge Beeby. It is extraordinary that so much money can lie provided to manufacture engines of destruction and only £40,000 can be provided to investigate the ravages of disease. If I am not allowed to discuss here the scourge created by. dust in the bulk handling of wheat I can only give an assurance that the subject will be discussed elsewhere, and - that the outside public pressure brought to bear on the Minister for Health to give effect to Judge Beeby’s recommendation will be stronger than any pressure we can exert upon him here.
– I wish to reply to some of the observations of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear). The view of the medical profession of Australia is that the efforts of this Government to encourage research represent the greatest forward step taken in this direction during this generation. There is not the slightest justification for the innuendoes and suggestions made by the honorable member that the Government is not interested in combating disease. I point out that continuous investigations have been made into infantile paralysis during the last four years. Tho funds for this have been provided partly by the Commonwealth Health Depart. ment and partly by the Rockefeller Institute.’ During the last twelve months there has also been the most active cooperation between the Commonwealth Health Department and the Victorian committee of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, which has been interested in this disease f or .many years. The senior officer in the research branch of the Health Department has been made available to work in co-operation with the members of that institute, and provision has been made in the Revenue Estimates for a full investigation of the whole series of virus diseases, including infantile paralysis.
– The Minister for. the Interior said that this money was principally for investigation into animal diseases.
– The investigation must necessarily be concerned with diseases of both men and animals to ascertain whether certain diseases are transmitted from animals to men. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are also providing serums for use in the treatment of infantile paralysis. There is not the slightest justification for the accusation that the Government has been remiss in this .regard. Last year the National Health and Medical Research Council was formed, the members of which are eminent persons associated with medical research work, trained investigators on the teaching staffs of the various universities, and eminently qualified private practitioners. The members of the council are giving their time to these activities voluntarily and spontaneously and in an honorary capacity. Moreover, the Minister for Health introduced into this chamber five or six weeks ago the Medical Research Endowment Bill, which was passed very readily. Under the provisions of that measure, approximately £30,000 has been made available and that is exactly the sum asked for by the Medical Health and Research Council to enable it to put all its investigations in train. That money has been found in the same way. An endowment fund has been created so that whatever portion of it is not spent in the actual year for which it is voted, will remain to the credit of the fund and be added to the amounts voted from time to time. Thus, there will he available a fund which will enable the council to carry on research work continuously! That council has actually provided certain sums of money to carry out work in connexion with this particular disease. Consequently, I ask honorable members to pass these Estimates which are for the purpose of increasing expenditure in respect of laboratories in order, first of all, that there will be more serum available and, secondly, that more experiments than it is at present possible to undertake may be carried out.
– I feel that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and those who have supported him in this debate have disclosed a well-founded grievance against the Government in connexion with the Department of Health and the expenditure proposed in respect of something about which, at the beginning, not one tittle of information was vouchsafed to the committee. I am not going to voice “any. complaint against the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes). His own health is such at the present time- that he might well be excused or at least we might well extend to him a little indulgence. I am disposed to do that. But there are other Ministers, many other Ministers, whose Estimates have been so summarily, and so inconsiderately, disposed of, who are not, presumably, working at full pressure.
When the honorable member for West Sydney pointed out that there were no officers of the Health Department present when this matter was being considered, an S.O.S. was sent out to see if somebody could be gathered up in the highways and byways to inform the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) what was involved in this outlay, and after the Minister had given some little information about laboratories and what it was proposed these laboratories should be used for, we found that certain officers of the department had turned up. Then the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) rose to speak. On this subject, when there is a good deal of public tension in regard to infantile paralysis, as it is popularly called, and a great deal of pub lic apprehension and, consequently, a great deal of anxiety about the public health in general, surely it was not too much to expect that the Minister for Commerce, who is an eminent physician, would have given us the benefit of an exposition of what was being done and what it was proposed to do in this matter. I suggest that the opportunity was peculiarly suitable for a reasoned address by the right honorable gentleman. But what did he do? He came into the chamber belatedly, again in answer to an S.O.S., and after hearing the latter part of the observations of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) said nothing in respect of the addresses of the honorable member for West Sydney, and other honorable members. Furthermore, he approached the the subject as though honorable members on this side were carping critics, and were attempting to make party capital out of the fact that the Minister for Health was not present. That is absolutely a travesty. If there was one point made in this debate, more cogent than any other, it was the statement of the honorable member for Dalley that, after we had spent weeks discussing the details of how to kill, and to provide unlimited money for the purpose, the Government, when the much more important subject of how to preserve the lives and health of our people was being discussed did not pay us the compliment of having a Minister present capable of handling the subject. I suggest that a strong case has been made out against the Government. In this connexion, I repeat, I exonerate the Minister for Health. ,
I do not entirely share the views of some of my colleagues in the Labour movement in regard to what is being done in connexion with the combating of infantile paralysis. So far as I am able to form even an immature opinion, I agree with the statement of the permanent head of the Health Department that the matter is being handled with judgment and wise restraint, and I agree that it i« entirely undesirable to create a psychology of fear which will tend to spread the disease rather than arrest it. Whilst I hold that view, however, I am also sensible of the feelings of parents of young families who feel they are entitled, in the course of public debates iu the chief Parliament of the land, to the most detailed exposition from the highest authority as to how the matter stands. It would be unfair to the people of Victoria to segregrate that State from the rest of Australia in order to arrest the spread of this disease throughout the Commonwealth, I realize, as I have realized for a long time, the force of the argument that the numbers of cases of this disease, and deaths from it, are relatively small as compared with cases of sickness and death resulting from other diseases and causes including deaths resulting from accidents. I am not inclined to join in any scare, but I say that the Government has treated us with scant courtesy in respect of this matter. It has degraded the importance of a subject which is of infinite importance by not having expert advisers in the chamber at this juncture, and by not having any expert Minister present to expound what the Government is doing, especially in view of the fact that it is exceedingly well equipped in this regard by having among its number a medical practitioner. He could have raised this debate to a standard worthy of it instead of having it represented to the people that this Parliament regards the health of the people as a matter of minor importance and relative insignificance compared with the passing of measures designed for the killing of men.
– In reply to much of the criticism levelled against the Government in this matter, I ask honorable members to remember that this portion of the Estimates is in respect of works which come under the control of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson). They are not the Estimates in chief of the Department of Health in connexion with which the matters to be discussed would ordinarily include those which have been raised by honorable members. These Estimates refer to works to be carried out by the Department of the Interior and that Minister was present to give full information about those works. This explana tion should be made in fairness to the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes), because I feel sure that he would be quite willing, as he has always been, to take his part when matters directly affecting his department are being discussed. I repeat that it is in connexion with the general Estimates that the details which honorable members have raised should have been discussed.
Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports; [10.58]. - I do not intend to voice any complaint concerning the investigation being carried out by the Medical Health and Research Council. That body is doing excellent work. But I am surprised at the smallness of the amount of money allotted in respect of public health in the Northern Territory. Recently I received correspondence which I handed to the Minister complaining of the inadequate facilities available in the Northern Territory to deal with persons suffering from serious diseases. These persons state that only a couple of months ago there was a round up in an endeavour to segregate the half-castes suffering, frontvenereal disease, from the whites, and in one round up 38 cases were isolated, in some way, under the facilities which exist. They complain, however, that the whites, full-blooded natives and halfcastes, are isolated with persons suffering from leprosy. That. is a serious matter. I inquired into a similar complaint when in the Territory two years ago. The reports sent to me were handed to the Minister, because I did not wish to give the matter undue publicity. In all probability something has been done, but in looking through the Estimates I find that only a small sum has been allocated for the purpose of segregating persons suffering from such diseases. I am wondering whether conditions are better than they were a few months ago.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of Repatriation, ‘ £99,730; Department of Commerce, £27,190; Commonwealth Railways, £269,000- agreed’ to.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 1 1 a.m. to-morrow.
Bill returned from the Senatewithout requests.
Tasmanian Shipping Service - Premier of Victoria - Oil in Dutch New Guinea - Defence Equipment Contracts - Employees of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited.
Motion (by Sir Archdale Parkhill) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Earlier in the day I asked a question concerning the running of the Taroona to the north-west ports of Tasmania, but, as I was asked to give notice of the question, I therefore take this opportunity to give particulars concerning the number of passengers who join the Taroona at Devonport and Burnie. I am bringing the subject forward because of the unsatisfactory state of affairs which exists in connexion with the running of these ships, and because of the experience gained during the last few days in the carriage of passengers. During the weekend I had an opportunity to obtain information concerning the extra distances that passengers have to travel on the day the steamer leaves Launceston and calls at Burnie or Devonport on the trip to Melbourne, and conversely on the days she leaves Melbourne and calls at Burnie or Devonport. It is suggested in some quarters that I take a narrow view in this matter, but I wish to make it clear that the complaint I am making is not personal. The complaint has been made by persons who have to travel via Launceston because of the facilities provided there, and because the majority of the passengers desire to travel via Launceston as it is a central port of call. I am always willing to recognize that we have to work on the basis of the greatest good for the greatest number, but at the same time we should recognize that the claims of minorities are entitled to consideration. An extra vessel was provided, because it was found that one ship could not maintain the service satisfactorily when the Taroona or Nairana was being overhauled. It interfered with the convenience of the majority of the people visiting Tasmania by having to call at Devonport or Burnie or incur the additional expense of travelling to Devonport or Launceston or of travelling to Hobart by rail or road. I have been supplied with figures of the passengers carried between the 25 th August and the 5th September, which are set out in the following table: -
I am not sure of the number of passengers who left Launceston on the 5th September, but I understand that there were 80, and that 13 joined the vessel at Burnie. These figures indicate quite clearly that the majority of the passengers travelling from the north-west coast are quite agreeable to use the Wollongbar as a means of transport. They do not wait for the Taroona, because the figures show that comparatively few join the vessel at Devonport or Burnie. It will be seen from the table that the majority of people travel to Launceston or from Launceston as the case may be. I should like to know who was responsible for this arrangement and, in view of the experience within the last few clays, who made representations to have the vessels calling at Burnie and Devonport. Prom the experience gained it can be shown that the people do not desire to travel by this vessel. It has been suggested that it has been done for political purposes.
– The honorable member made a similar statement the other clay.
– And I repeat it to-day. It is the opinion of the people of Tasmania that this is the greatest political ramp that has been put over for some time.
.- I desire to refer to a statement which has been featured prominently in the Melbourne press of to-day’s date to the effect that the honorable- member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), had said that he would like to give a good bath in sulphuric acid to the Premier of Victoria, the Leader of the Country party in that State.
The honorable member is out of order in referring to a previous debate.
– A savage personal attack of the kind described–
– The honorable member is out of order.
– If the Premier of Victoria, who is a member of the Country party, had allied himself with the United Australia party in that State, instead of with the Labour party, he would have been hailed as a great statesman, and members supporting the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), would not have expressed the wish to see him in a bath of sulphuric acid.
– The honorable member is deliberately defying the Chair, and must cease.
[11.121. - The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), correctly described his attitude as narrow, and I have nothing to add to his statement. He showed that what Was uppermost in his mind was not to secure a better shipping service for Tasmania, but to derive some political profit for himself.
To-day he asked how many passengers travelled on each of the vessels mentioned byl him, and because I asked him to put the question on the noticepaper - no Minister could possibly have the information at hand - he would not wait until to-morrow for his answer, and has tried to make political capital out of it to-night.
– Why net answer the honorable member’s case on its merits*
– I shall do so. One question asked by the honorable member was whether, when the Taroona called at the north-west coast on the trip to or from Launceston, it involved increased cost to the Commonwealth Government. The answer is no ; the company incurs the extra cost and meets it. The honorable member’s complaint is that this vessel, which was specially provided for the service, sometimes calls at north-west coast ports. I can understand the honorable member’s hostility to this, when I recall that on a previous occasion he did his best to prevent the bigger overseas ships calling at the same port.
– That is untrue.
– When this Government proposed to amend the Navigation Act to allow overseas vessels to call at Launceston and Burnie, the honorable member voted against the amendment.
– If the honorable gentleman is making that charge against nif, it is a lie.
– I ask that the honorable member be required to withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw it in defer once to the Chair.
--! never made that, charge in respect to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) who, as *a matter of fact, was the only member on that side of the House who voted i” favour of the amendment. The fact that he did so throws into greater relief the action of the honorable member for Bass in voting against it.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Government a matter in connexion with the alleged discovery of flow oil in Now Guinea. Two days ago I asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) a question regarding rumours of the discovery of flow oil in Dutch New Guinea near the borders of British New Guinea, and I received the following answer -
I now desire to inform the honorable member that the Commonwealth Government has no information regarding the discovery of oil in Dutch New Guinea, and that in reply to the inquiries made of them, the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua and the Administrator of New Guinea have advised that they have no information regarding any such discovery.
I should now like to know whether there is any truth in the following statement, which appears in a circular issued to shareholders of Oil Search Limited -
It is interesting to note regarding our exclusive permit in the Sepik district that it coversall the area up to the Dutch border, and that it is adjoined on the west by an immense concession granted by the Dutch Government to the Shell, Pan-Pacific and Standard Oil of California, who jointly are conducting oil explorations. More or less drilling is reported to have been done ata locality ‘ not far from Humboldt Bay. Two years ago the Administrator ofthe Mandated Territory reported to the Prime Minister that splendid oil wells some few miles from Hongu had been temporarily sealed “.
The document is dated the 14th November, 1930, and so the report made by the Administrator of the Mandated Territory was made to the present Prime Minister. I therefore ask that further inquiry be made as to whether any such report was supplied by the Administrator to the Prime Minister and what degree of accuracy or otherwise there is in the statement which has been made in the prospectus. If it is untrue, the Government should take some action against the people who have made it, for issuing false statements to people in order to induce them to invest their money in the undertaking.
The other matter I wished to mention concerns the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill). Certain representations have been made to me by men interested in the felt hat making industry, who complain that the Defence Department has been securing hats for military and naval purposes from a firm of manufacturers who do not observe trade union conditions. My information is that it is a non-union shop. I want the Minister to see that in the letting of all these contracts for the supply of material for the Defence Department, orders shall be given solely to those employers who are observing recognized labour conditions, and no encouragement given to non-union shops which are not prepared to abide by the conditions laid down by the various tribunals.
– Are they not paying the award wages?
– I understand not.
– I have received complaints fromthe Amalgamated Engineering Union with regard to the methods that have been adopted by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited concerning shift work, and the employment of female labour at piece-work rates in the valve manufacturing section. I have been asked to bring up the matter, because it is said by the union, and understood by the members of the House, that the Commonwealth Government owns 51 per cent, of the shares in the company, and, therefore, has a controlling interest in it. If that is the case, the Commonwealth must necessarily be regarded as responsible, at least to some extent, if not entirely, for the policy which the company is following in these matters. In regard to shift work, the difficulty arose in the first place from the fact that for the engineering section the morning shift started at 7.45 a.m., and finished at 5.18 p.m. from Monday to Friday, whilst the afternoon shift started at 5.18 -p.m. and continued to 2.36 a.m. from Monday to Friday. That, of course, was 36 minutes past two o’clock in the morning when the shift concluded, and, naturally, the men were then forced to walk home, as no travelling facilities were available. They felt that this was a condition of affairs that no company should impose upon them, hut they put up with it for two nights, and then left the company, although they could ill afford to lose their jobs. At the time, steps were taken with the company to correct the matter, but, unfortunately, the organization failed to secure any redress. I have here a schedule of the hours of the shifts which were to be worked, according to information supplied to the union on the 28th July last. They were as follows : -
Sunday night - 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Monday night - 1 1 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Tuesday night - 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Wednesday night - 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Thursday night - 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Friday night - 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Hours worked - 48.
Hours paid for - 46.
Monday morning - 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tuesday morning - 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wednesday morning - 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thursday morning - 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Friday morning - 7 a.m. to 3 p-m.
Saturday morning - 7 a.m. to 12.40 p.m.
Hours worked- 45 hours 40 minutes.
Hours paid for - 44.
Monday afternoon - 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Tuesday afternoon - 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Wednesday afternoon - 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Thursday afternoon - 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday afternoon - 3 p.m. to 11 p.m’.
Saturday afternoon - 12.40 p.m. to 4.20 p.m.
Hours worked - 43 hours 40 minutes.
Hours paid for - 42.
The other point I wish to make is that Mr. Horner, who is an important man in the employ of the company, is an executive officer of the Metal Trades Employers Association. Is it the policy of the Government in regard to this company, in which it holds the majority of shares, to permit that practice to be followed by its officer? I should like the Minister to make inquiries as to whether the representatives of the Commonwealth Government on the board of the company have approved of Mr. Horner occupying an executive position in the Metal Trades Employers Association. As a matter of fact, when the difficulties arose regarding the shift men working into the early hours of the morning, and they held up the work, it was ascertained that John Heine and Company, of Leichhardt - Mr. Heine being the president of the Metal Trades Employers Association - secured the work that was not then being done by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, so that there is apparently a very definite link-up between this company and the Metal Trades Employers Association. I should like to know if the Government or its representatives on the board of the company approve of that.
Then, as to the piece-work system, where the girls are employed on a standard of work which is continually varying, I am informed that there is a system of pace making by which the standard is altered almost from week to week, and naturally ill-feeling is being caused through one girl being pitted against the other, consequently speeding them all up in manufacture to a degree which is considered, by the Amalgamated Engineering Union to be unjust and unfair. The union that makes these complaints is an important one in trades union circles. It has a very widespread influence in all parts of the world, and the men who present this case to me have apparently, done so because they feel that they can get no redress from the company in which the Commonwealth has an important say. I shall be pleased if the Minister will take steps to have the matter investigated, and let me know the result.
– The answers that were supplied to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in relation to oil were based on information in the department.
– Is the report sent to the Prime Minister inaccurate?
– Information given in prospectuses is not a matter which concerns the Development Department. The honorable member asked his question of the Minister representing that department, and he got answers based on the information which the department had.
On the question of the supply of clothing for naval and military units, if the honorable member for East Sydney will give me the name of the firm which is alleged not to be conforming to labour conditions, I shall make full inquiries into the statement he has made, but all contracts for the supply of clothing are advertised and are given to reputable firms. I should be surprised if anything less than the Arbitration Court wage was being paid by any one of the firms to whom the Defence Department gives its contracts.
– The same complaint is being made in Melbourne.
– If the honorable member will supply the names of the firms in question, he may be sure that the fullest investigation will be made, because there isno desire on the part of the Defence Department to obtain its supplies otherwise than under the best conditions.
As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) had previously indicated to me what he proposed to say with respect to conditions of employment in the factory of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, at Ashfield, I was able to make certain inquiries into the matter. I have been informed that n o piece-work is done there, as all the girls employed receive award rates. They also get a bonus, with the result that they earn considerably more than the award rates. I recently saw a statement that during proceedings in the Arbitration Court the judge complimented the company upon the conditions prevailing in its factory, and the advocate for the employees’ trade union expressed the view that “ The union would be quite satisfied to see the same conditions exist in other factories as at Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, as they are much better than in other factories.”
– What I have mentioned is apparently of recent occurrence.
– I have stated the facts with regard to the conditions generally. I availed myself of an opportunity to visit the factory at Ashfield a few months ago, and I was most favorably impressed by the hygienic conditions under which the girls, and the employees generally, work. The premises are well lighted and ventilated. Prom my observations as a layman, I regard the industry as one which is conducted under ideal conditions. I noticed the care taken to safeguard the interests of the employees, and the provision made for their welfare. Few factories could be found in Australia in which the working conditions are as satisfactory as they are in this establishment.
The honorable member for West Sydney has submitted certain details with regard to complaints made by engineers employed by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. As to that matter, I shall obtain information and supply it to the honorable member at a later date. With respect to Mr. Horner and his position on the executive of the Metal Trades Employers Association, I am inclined to think that the manufacturing side of the business of the company is to a considerable extent separate from the part of the operations in which the Government is interested. The Government, of course, is concerned about communications, and there is hardly any reason why it should interfere with regard to the manufacturing aspects of the undertaking, with which it is not particularly concerned. I shall have inquiries made into the points mentioned by the honorable member; but, personally, I see no reason to ask for any restraint in that regard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.35 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e. - On the 2nd September the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked the following questions,- upon notice: -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : - 1.(a) Quantity of petrol and petrol fuels imported in 1934-35, 212,319,450 gallons; 1935-30, 254,509,245 gallons; 1930-37, 272,779,541 gallons. (6) Quantity of power kerosene imported in 1934-35, 17,488,628 gallons; 1935-36, 21,867,056 gallons; 1936-37, 29,380,029 gallons.
*2. (a) Quantity of crude oil imported for refining was approximately: 1934-35, 53,767,637 gallons; 1935-36, 58,359,358 gallons; 1936-37, 59,288,770 gallons. (6) Quantity of crude oil imported for fuel in 1934-35, 90,450,282 gallons; 1935-36, 101,536,019 gallons; . 1936-37, 99,142,514 gallons, (c) Quantity of lubricating oils imported in 1934-35, 13,279,099 gallons; 1935-36, 14,454,548 gallons; . 1936-37, 14,787,516 gallons.
y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
son asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1, 2 and 3. The placing of orders for printing is a matter solely for the decision of tin- honorary board of the Australian National Travel Association. It is understood that thi’ board is guided solely by considerations of price and quality.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– It is presumed that the honorable member, in asking the question, bad in mind the non-inclusion of exmembers of Parliament in the list of recipients of Coronation Medals. Apart from ex-Ministers, an ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives and the seven surviving ex-members of the first Federal Parliament, no ex-members of the Federal Parliament were included in the list.
– On the 2nd September the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) asked a question. upon notice, pertaining to the letting of mail contracts in New South “Wales. The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
The policy governing the establishment and maintenance of mail services is framed on a liberal basis and with full regard to the disabilities of residents in outlying localities-. Tenders for the mail contract? about to be renewed in New South Wales will be considered in the light of this policy, and in pursuance thereof improved facilities will bc arranged wherever the circumstances justify such a step.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 September 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1937/19370908_reps_14_154/>.