15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell)’ took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– “Will the AttorneyGeneral give me an assurance that during the coming parliamentary recess he will review the provisions of the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act with the object of introducing an amendment, when Parliament reassembles, to provide that the amount payable in cases of incapacity shall be more consistent than at present with the basic wage rate! The amount now payable is £3 10s. a week whereas the basis wage is, I think, £4 ls.
– The Government will certainly do something.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether any further action has been taken by his department to secure a suitable telephone meter for subscribers to enable them to check their telephone accounts? In this connexion I direct his attention to a letter I have received from one of my constituents who is a telephone subscriber, in which he states that every telephone account he receives charges him for calls in excess of those noted on his records, which are carefully kept daily. He further says that every complaint he makes is dismissed with the reply that the meter has been checked And found to be correct. His latest account shows an excess of 301 calls over those shown in his records.
– I suggest that the honorable member give me the details of the case referred to in the letter he has received. I shall then have the matter investigated. As to the installation of meters in connexion with private telephones, I assure the honorable gentleman that the department is always seeking and examining new methods to check calls made from subscribers’ homes and from business premises. If a mechanically perfect device for this purpose could be offered to the department it would use it gladly, and so, I believe, would every other similar service in the world. The department has recently investigated a device that was rejected some time ago in the United States of America on the ground that it was not mechanically perfect. Our investigation led us to form the same opinion as that of the American authorities.
– Did I understand the Postmaster-General to say that the department is on the look-out for some device which could be used to check telephone calls, and that if such a device could be obtained and its installation was technically practicable, it would be installed by the department?
– That is the proposition that is being considered.
– In view of the PostmasterGeneral’s statement to me that there is no misunderstanding concerning the intention of the department to install a device to check telephone calls, if technically possible, I should like to know how the Minister reconciles that statement with that which he made in a letter to me on the 1st June in which he stated that many technical difficulties were involved in connexion with any scheme of satisfactory installations of this kind, , but even if it were technically possible, the arrangement would be most uneconomic.
– If that statement is not taken from its context it does not conflict with the answer previously given.
– J. ask the PostmasterGeneral if a device were obtained to check telephone calls in order to prevent subscribers being overcharged, and the installation of such a device were technically possible, can the Minister state how it would be uneconomic to the department ?
– The honorable member’s question is ‘based on the reply to a previous question and cannot be allowed.
– I shall read a letter in which the Postmaster-General states -
There are many technical difficulties involved in connexion with any scheme for satisfactory installations of this kind, but even if it were technically possible the arrangement would be most uneconomical.
In what way would that arrangement be uneconomical ?
– As I have no direct technical knowledge of the hypothetical machine that the honorable gentleman has in his imagination, I cannot answer that question.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral if the term “hypothetical »-
-Order! I remind the honorable member for Martin that, he has asked four questions on the same subject, each question being based on the previous question. That is not permissible.
– In view of the dissatisfaction of subscribers about their telephone accounts, will the PostmasterGeneral give favorable consideration to a proposal for the issue of dockets to subscribers after trunk-line calls have been made, setting out the particulars so that they may be able to check their accounts ?
– I shall certainly give some consideration to that sugges-. tion.
– Will the Prime Minister inquire, through the High Commissioner in London, why British financial interests differentiate in interest rates on Australian loans, compared with British loans to foreign countries, particularly those of South America? Britain lends Australia about £650,000,000, charging £27,000,000 interest. It lends South American countries £785,000,000 and charges them £15,250,000 in interest. To put it in another way, Britain lends South American countries £135,000,000 more than it lends Australia for £11,750,000 less in interest.
– I remind the honorable member that questions are intended to elicit, and not to impart, information.
– In connexion with the recent Australian loan floated in London, in which higher interest rates were demanded from Australia than from Northern Ireland or South Africa, more than half the total amount was left with the underwriters.
– Order ! The honorable member must ask a question.
– Is this intended to foreshadow higher interest rates still on Australian loans?
– The information conveyed by the honorable member is completely inaccurate.
– In view of the marked growth of air transport, I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether any consideration has been given to the advisability of the establishment of more than one aerodrome in the larger Australian cities so as to ensure adequate accommodation in the future for these very essential services?
– It is realized by my department that, with the very great growth of air transport, it may be necessary, in the not distant future, to remove civil transport from the capital city aerodromes to other centres. The position is being very carefully watched. I feel that sites for additional aerodromes should ‘be earmarked in the various capitals.
Mr. JOHN LA WSON laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Air compressors (including air blowers).
Articles made partly or wholly of silver.
Ordered to be printed.
– by leave - During the last few weeks I have been asked many questions by honorable members regarding the re-organization of airlines, the progress being made with the installation of radio facilities, and the development of aerodromes. Questions have also been asked concerning various aspects of the civil training of pilots, but I am not in a position to make a statement on this subject, except to say that upon the instructions of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) and myself, inquiries have been made by the Air Board and the Civil Aviation Department into the desirability and practicability of a civilian training scheme. Appreciations by the Air Board and the Civil Aviation Department have recently been made, but as yet the Minister for Defence and myself have been unable to go into the matter at any length. It seems to me that a decision on this subject will have to wait until the budget proposals for defence are considered as a whole.
Before giving information about the three specific matters that I mentioned, I draw the. attention of honorable members to the quite remarkable development of air transport in Australia. Australian companies now operate 30,000 miles of airlines and fly more than 9,000,000 miles per annum. More than 370 commercial pilots are in the employ of the operating companies and these would form a reserve for our air force. Australian airliners, freighters and charter aircraft number well over 100, excluding 200 lesser civil aircraft.
In the length of our air routes and in many other aspects of civil aviation, Australia is very greatly ahead of any other country in the world in proportion to population. With such very rapid progress in air transport it is not surprising that the development should have outstripped, to a considerable degree, the necessary organization of facilities. Nevertheless, during the last few months great strides have been made to catch up the leeway in this direction.
For some time prior to my appointment as Minister for Civil Aviation, a great deal of work was done by the Civil Aviation Department under the direction of my predecessor, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby), upon a plan for the re-organization of airlines and the system of subsidies. An interdepartmental committee of inquiry reviewed all existing airlines and subsidies and prepared a report as to the justification or otherwise of subsidies being granted to each particular company, and for each particular airline, and made recommendations upon which a five-year rationalization proposal was well advanced at the time I took over the office.
It would, however; have still taken some months to complete the necessary negotiations for agreements with the various companies concerned; in view of which fact, and also in view of my opinion, that it was desirable that the new proposals should be very carefully examined before the Government was involved for a period of five years, the Government, upon my recommendation, has agreed to make six-month agreements with the various companies to enable them to carry on until the end of the year on the routes which were, with one or two minor exceptions, recommended by the inter-departmental committee.
The existing air services can be divided into three classes. The first of these includes those with long-term contracts, such as the Sydney-Singapore service, operated by Qantas Empire Airways, and the Sydney-Rabaul service, operated by Carpenter and Company. The SydneySingapore subsidy contract is for fifteen years, expiring in 1953, and the Townsville-Rabaul service for five years, expiring in 1943. Then there are some services, the subsidy contracts for which expire in October next, or are terminable at short notice. Finally, in the case of six companies, services are being operated either without subsidy or with quite inadequate subsidy.
Under the six months’ interim policy, agreements for the operation of air routes along the lines recommended by the inter-departmental committee will be negotiated with all companies with the exception of those having agreements which do not terminate within the six months’ period. During the six months’ period, careful inquiry and investigation will be made by a committee to be appointed by the Civil Aviation and PostmasterGeneral’s and Treasury Departments into the justifiability of the routes being operated, and inquiries also will be made into the possibility of alternative mi routes. This committee will also examine the desirability or otherwise of introducing the night carriage of air mails, and other matters having a direct hearing on postal work.
– Will the Defence Department be represented on it?
– That is not the present intention, but the Defence Department will be consulted in order to determine whether it is desirable that it should be represented.
I want to make it quite clear that a six-month agreement will not be in any way a guarantee to any company that it will receive a five-year agreement of the same kind at the end of that time. During the period, the whole position will be most carefully reviewed, and lines will be continued only if they prove to be justified. Also, careful investigation will be made into possible alternatives and desirable developments. The main purpose is to avoid entering into five-year contracts for the operation of routes which may not prove justified, and, what is equally important, to ensure that, by a system of five-year contracts, future development is not made difficult or even impossible.
With regard to air radio installation, I am pleased to report that very good progress has been made in&this direction during the last few months. The radio beacons at Brisbane, Kempsey and Sydney have been in regular operation for over two months, while the Essendon beacon has been placed in operation as required by aircraft. The Essendon, Canberra, Holbrook, Western Junction and Cambridge radio beacons are now in regular operation. The two remaining beacons, Nhill and Adelaide, are not yet tested, though the Nhill tests are in hand, and both should be completed and in operation before the end of this month. With the exception of one fault, the beacons have proved to be entirely satisfactory, and a vast improvement over the medium frequency system as used in the United States of America. The one fault found has the effect of introducing a spurious course adjacent to the true course. This does not gravely interfere with navigation, but it does limit the effectiveness of the beacon system for approach purposes during conditions of low ceilings. As the elimination of this fault may take some little time, it has been decided to place all beacons in operation as a first measure, and then concentrate on corrective measures to eradicate the fault.
All Douglas type aircraft, with one exception, are now fitted with beacon receivers. The one exception is in process of being fitted. Honorable members will notice that this conflicts with previous statements i have made, and particularly with one which I made yesterday in answer to a question, when I said that all Douglas aircraft had been fitted with these devices. I cannot understand how the mistake occurred. The information I have just given comes to me directly from the officer in charge; the previous information came to me indirectly. However, I take full responsibility for the mistake, and apologize to the House for having inadvertently misled it to some degree. The installation on other aircraft operating on air routes where radio beacons have been installed is proceeding. Two of the receivers have been tested by the department, and the tests have proved that ranges in excess of 100 miles will be possible. However, certain installation difficulties have been met in the case of the transport aircraft, and the ranges obtained with them have not yet equalled those obtained in the department’s testing aircraft. This is not considered to be serious. The installations have been executed under unfavorable conditions, and in short time, owing to the fact that the majority of the aircraft are operating seven days a week, and installation must be undertaken at night or when aircraft are not engaged in flying.
The installation of marker beacons is proceeding, and it is anticipated that all “ cone-of-silence “ markers will be completed this month. Marker beacons, which create a cone of silence in the beams, mark the exact position of aircraft on the beam. The beam itself indicates to the pilot whether or not he is directly on the path of the beam, or slightly to its left or right, whereas the cone of silence indicates the exact position along the beam which he has reached. The first marker beacons will be installed at the aerodromes themselves, and marker beacons will later be installed at points some miles from the aerodrome to advise the pilot of his distance from the aerodrome.
The installation of permanent radio facilities at Darwin, Townsville, Rockhampton, Cloncurry, Ceduna and Kalgoorlie, and of temporary facilities at Onslow and Hall’s Creek is proceeding. Air radio installation is also being carried out for use on the trans-Tasman service.
These air radio aids to navigation will greatly increase the safety factor in difficult weather and will, in due course, make it possible to operate with complete safety to more ambitious schedules, and to make landings in very much worse visibility than at present; but I want to make it quite clear that more ambitious schedules, and landings in conditions of bad visibility, will not be undertaken until pilots have had months of experience on the beams, and have complete confidence in them, and in their own familiarity with beam riding technique.
The motto of civil aviation is “ Safety first “. Several regrettable disasters notwithstanding, the safety record of Australian air transport, even without these radio aids, has compared favorably with that of other countries, and more than favorably with road transport. This has been largely due to the genius of Australian commercial pilots. These same pilots, with the additional aids which are now being installed, will make, I feel confident, the safety factor of air travel more comparable with that of rail than road.
Much work has been done during the last year with regard to the development of aerodromes, and further work is being pushed on as fast as possible. Nevertheless, a real problem is the ever-increasing requirements of modern airliners. Not so many years ago, 600 yards by 600 yards was considered an adequate aerodrome for almost any kind of aircraft. This has had to be increased recently to 1,000 yards by 1,000 yards, and now comes the information that strategical aerodromes may need to be 1,500 yards by 1,500 yards to be entirely adequate for the operation of modern, high-speed military aircraft with full loads. This factor will involve the Commonwealth
Government in such considerable expenditure that it seems to be unlikely that the department will have any money available for assisting in the development of aerodromes that are not its direct responsibility. As aerodromes throughout the country for private and charter purposes are most desirable, it is to be hoped that municipalities and local bodies may be able to tackle the problem.
From this statement honorable members will see that much has been done, while a great deal remains to be done, to ensure that future developments shall be along sound lines. The two most important factors that will be kept in mind are “Safety first”, and “Maximum value for the money that can be made available “.
Housing Conditions fob Workers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior ascertain whether any action has been taken following upon my letter to the then Minister for the Interior, dated the 10th December, 1938, asking for an investigation into the inferior housing conditions of Commonwealth railway employees on the east-west line, including accommodation for single employees away from home quarters? If this has not yet been done, will he take action to have the matter gone into during the recess with a view to having the housing conditions of railway workers put on an equal footing with those of postal employees, who are located at places along the line?
– I shall obtain the information and post it to the honorable member.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation give me some comforting words to take back to the west in the form of an assurance that no harm will come to the existing north-west air service in Western Australia?
– I can assure, the honorable member that there is nothing in the six months’ proposals that will result in the elimination of the Darwin to Perth service. Even assuming that the committee recommends and the Cabinet decides to introduce night flying for interstate air mails, there is no certainty that it will be necessary or desirable to discontinue the service mentioned by the honorable member.
Bricks fob Patent Office.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior state the reason for importing from outside the Australian Capital Territory bricks of an inferior colour for use in the construction of the Patent Office building in Canberra when the Canberra-made bricks are the best in Australia, and of a bright red uniform colour? What is the price of the imported bricks landed on the job, and whence are they being obtained? What is the costed price of Canberra bricks ‘landed at the building? Has there been a breakdown of the kilns at the Canberra brickyard, and, if so, what is the nature of it, and how long is it anticipated that the stoppage will last?
– I shall obtain the information asked for and post it to the honorable member.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government has been approached by the Government of the United Kingdom with the request that it should act in concert with the United Kingdom in the taking of economic measures in retaliation for certain action taken by Japan in China? Has any information been received to the effect that any measures adopted in China to preserve British interests will be on an Empire basis, and, if so, what is the attitude of the Government on this matter?
– No such communication has been received.
” IEON LUNG “ RESPIRATORS.
– Can the Minister for Health advise me to whom application should be made in order to secure one of the Nuffield “iron lungs” for a country hospital ?
– My understanding of the arrangement, which was made before I assumed office, was that every State government had been asked to indicate the hospitals to which the respirators should be allotted, and that the allotment was made in accordance with the applications received. If the honorable member will communicate with me regarding a specific institution, I shall have an investigation made in order to find out whether or not it is yet too late to obtain one of the respirators.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether the statement of the Fletcher Chemical Company Proprietary Limited regarding” the Industries Preservation Act, made some weeks a.go, has, been inquired into? Has any action been taken to implement the Industries Preservation Act, or is it intended to take any such action?
-That matter was recently investigated by the Customs Department, hut the evidence submitted did not disclose a prima facie case for reference to the Tariff Board in regard to dumping. However, investigations are proceeding with a view to determining whether conditions have sufficiently altered since the last Tariff Board investigation of customs duties to warrant a case for further reference to the board on that aspect.
– In view of the uncertainty that exists in the minds of the potato growers as to the intention of the Government, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce give an assurance that the embargo against the importation of potatoes from New Zealand will not he lifted?
– The Prime Minister has already enunciated very clearly- in this. House the policy of the Government in regard to this matter, which was to arrange consultations between not only the two Governments but also this Government and representatives of the potato-growers and citrusgrowers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for- Commerce what necessity exists for further considering the Government’* policy with regard to the restriction of imports of potatoes from New Zealand when he has just declared that the Prime Minister has. made a clear pronouncement of that policy? .
– I refer the honorable gentleman to the answer which I have just given to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Spurr).
– The two statements are contradictory.
M/’. PRICE. - Has the Minister for External Affairs received any report as to the effect of the proposed Japanese blockade of Tientsin on Australian trade ?
– The following cablegram was received this morning from the Australian Trade Commissioner at Shanghai: -
The Japanese blockade of the concessions at Tientsin has commenced, but it is too early yet to foresee its extent or period. There are no actual Australian interests in Tientsin. Australian, exports to Tientsin this year have: been confined practically to wheat and flour.
Existing Australian ami all foreign trade is affected adversely, and the situation is serious. I consider that flour imports must continue, but importers are unwilling to enter into engagement’s until the position has been clarified.
China coast com panics refuse to accept freight from Shanghai to Tientsin, and it is possible that oversea cargoes afloat from Tientsin will be diverted to Shanghai.
– Was the statement made by the Minister for Civil Aviation in Cessnock that, as the latest bombers would be- unable to land at the Cessnock aerodrome, the proposal to make Cessnock one of our main defence airports would have to he abandoned, based on a report by the Air Board ? Was that conclusion based on the area already cleared, or was any consideration- given to the availability of further ground’?- The engineer of the- local municipal council states that, if necessary, an additional 200 acres of suitable land could he cleared mid would enable the airport to accommodate the largest aircraft. In view of that statement will the Minister give further consideration to the Air Board’s report?
– The report referred to by the honorable member was made not by the Air Board, but by a departmental inspector, who reported that the aerodrome could not be made, to comply with the standard laid down by the Air Board for strategic purposes.
– Was that conclusion based only on the ground already cleared ?
– No, it was based on the area which the inspector considered to be available. However, I shall have further inquiries made with regard to the information just given by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether there is any truth in the newspaper report that a change in the book censorship is proposed ? If so, will he inform the House of that proposal?
– Order ! The honorable member should not ask whether a newspaper report is true.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state the precise position in connexion with the censorship of books?
– The Government adheres to the general principles which formed the basis of the policy of the previous Administration. As to whether my administration of book censorship will be more rigid or more liberal that that of my predecessor I can only say that in matters of this kind there is always likely to he considerable diversity of opinion.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs give any idea as to what progress the Tariff Board is making in connexion with its inquiry into the tinned plate industry?
– The Tariff Board commenced taking evidence in Melbourne last week, and, I understand, it will continue its inquiry in Sydney during the coming, week. It can be reasonably assumed that. the inquiry will be completed, and a report submitted, within six or seven weeks.
-In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister to the House recently that it is the definite intention of the Government to devote time during the next session of Parliament to a discussion on alterations of the Constitution, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government proposes during the recess to formulate concrete proposals for submission to Parliament? If not, what will be the basis’ on which Parliament’s discussions are to take place?
– I regret that I cannot answer that question at present because that matter has yet to be discussed by Cabinet.
– Can the Prime Minister state that when the Government is giving attention to the proposals to be submitted to Parliament regarding alterations of the Constitution, full consideration will be given to the recommendations contained in the majority and minority report of the Royal Commission of 3927-1928 on Constitution amendments ?
– I ask the Treasurer whether he has had time to consider the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems that decimal coinage should be introduced in Australia on the basis of 1,000 units to the £1, and also whether, during the recess, he will have the Treasury make a survey of the situation to see if it is practicable to introduce a decimal coinage in this country?
– I have not yet considered that matter, but I shall be very glad to have the Treasury examine it with a view to enabling the Government to announce its position when the House reassembles.
– Has the Minister for Defence received any further information concerning the search for the missing launch Nerita? Is it intended to continue the search by aircraft? If so, for how long?
– I regret that I have no favorable report to give concerning the search. It is proposed that the air force machines should cease their search to-day, as after full consultation with all of the authorities concerned and the relatives of members of the missing launch, it is felt that the machines have exhausted every possible method at their disposal. I sent a further letter to Brisbane to make sure that nothing more could be done before the machines withdrew from the search.
– In preparing his budget for the coming financial year, will the Treasurer take into consideration the advisability of continuing the subsidy on fertilizers?
– That matter will be taken into consideration.
– With reference to remarks which I made on the adjournment of the House a couple of weeks ago in regard to the deportation of a worker from New Guinea, has the Minister in charge of External Territories made any inquiries into that matter? If so, when may I expect a reply?
– I instructed the secretary of the department to get in touch with New Guinea on the subject. A reply has been received but it does not cover the full ground. As soon as complete information is obtained I shall inform the honorable member.
– The Bowen Council has been advised that the air-mail service which calls at that town will be discontinued when the Douglas aircraft take over. What is the reason for eliminating Bowen from this service? I point out that the local council has spent over £3,000 on improving the aerodrome.
– I presume that the honorable member refers to advice which has been received from the company operating the service.
– No, from the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation.
– I shall inquire into the matter, and inform the honorable member.
– Following a reference made by the Minister for the Interior recently regarding the large deposits of iron ore of approximately 76,500,000 tons, just brought to notice 30 miles north-east of Southern Cross, Western Australia, will the attention of the Commonwealth and State geologists engaged in the survey of our iron ore deposits be directed to this development?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government will now take the action which it was indicated about nine months ago it was the intention of the Lyons Government to take, to request the Tariff Board to investigate the desirable percentage of tobacco leaf which should be blended with imported tobacco leaf in order to entitle the importer to escape the penalty duty? In vie w of the repeated claims by tobaccogrowers that, due to the present buying practice adopted by the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company and other purchasers of tobacco leaf, they do not gain the full benefit of the import duty in the price they receive, will he also refer this aspect to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report?
– I can only express dismay that if the decision referred to by the honorable member was made by the Government of which he was a member nine months ago it was not implemented by that Government. .Mr. McEwen. - lt was proposed that this should ‘be done each twelve months.
– The whole matter raised by the honorable member is now receiving the close consideration of the Government.
– Arising out of a question which I asked on a previous day of sitting, will the Prime Minister later to-day, in view of the decision of Parliament in regard to national insurance and in view of the early rising of Parliament, inform the House as to what the Government proposes to do during the recess in regard to the uncertain and very unsatisfactory position occupied by friendly societies and approved societies? Further, what will be done for the prolection of the taxpayers until fresh legislation, if any, is implemented?
– The Government has had insufficient time to determine what is to he done in connexion with such an important matter. It will, however, give it serious consideration at the Cabinet meetings to be held during the recess.
– Will the Minister for Social Services state for what period the Government has been paying contributions to approved societies under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Scheme, and what is the estimated average monthly payment to such societies?
– Speaking from memory and I think I can rely upon my memory in this instance - payments have been made since the beginning of this year, and the total to date is in the vicinity of ?70,000. These societies are now much less concerned about their insecurity than they were two days ago.
Conditions at Sydney and Newcastle.
– Some days ago I informed the Attorney-General that the waterside workers in the Newcastle district wished to know if the tight honorable gentleman could visit Newcastle to inquire into the conditions on the waterfront. Is the Minister likely to visit the district, and, if so, when?
– The report, which covers some, if not all, of the questions relating to work on the waterfront at Newcastle, has been completed and I am now perusing it. As soon as I have an opportunity to study it carefully I shall be able to answer the honorable member’s question more precisely. I should be glad to have particulars of any matter which the honorable member has in mind.
– Oan the right honorable gentleman visit Newcastle?
– I shall take an opportunity to visit Newcastle at the earliest possible date to see things for myself.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral, intimate what has been done in connexion with the request, made by a* deputation which waited on him in Sydney about a fortnight ago, for a central picking-up place for seamen?
– The matter is being considered in connexion with the conditions on the waterfront generally. At the moment I cannot say more than that the matter is being given further consideration, and that I hope to be able to make some statement on the subject shortly.
– Earlier in this period of the session I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce if he had received the Eric Murray report on Empire trade. He undertook to inquire and to intimate whether he could make the report available. Have the inquiries been completed, and, if so, what is proposed to be done?
– The honorable member’s inquiry was passed on to the Department of Commerce, and I regret that, apparently, a reply has not yet been received. I shall make further inquiries and give a full reply to the honorable member’s question later in the day.
– In view of the great importance of having a full discussion on the financial proposals of the Government, will the right honorable Prime Minister arrange for Parliament to he summoned sufficiently early to enable the budget to be fully discussed without resort to the application of the guillotine or the gag ?
– I sincerely hope that that will be done.
– Can the Minister for Supply and Development say what has been done with the report on the brown coal deposits in South Australia, particularly in connexion with Moorlands, in which the Government was interested some time ago?
– I have no further information on the subject. I shall have inquiries made and, if possible, supply the honorable member with the information he requires.
– Will the Prime Minister state for which of the counsel appearing before the Royal Commission inquiring into the General Post Office, Sydney, contract, the Commonwealth Government is financially responsible?
– Mr. Windeyer, the counsel assisting the commissioner.
– Has the Prime Minister given further consideration to the request I made some time ago in connexion with the wheat industry? In view of the low prices for wheat has the Government considered the advisability of giving assistance to that industry other than that provided by the flour tax?
– That matter will be further discussed at a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers next week, and thereafter it will be promptly considered by this Government.
– In view of a statement made in Parliament that one of the reasons for the undersubscription of the recent overseas loan was the high rate of interest, and that had the interest been fixed at a lower rate the whole of the loan would have been taken up, because speculators would have regarded it as more attractive, will the right honorable gentleman consider the desirability of floating a conversion loan at 1 . per cent, in order that it may be fully subscribed?
– I am afraid that I do not clearly follow the honorable member’s question, : but if he will intimate to me more clearly the nature of the information he desires I shall - endeavour to supply it to him by to-morrow, or should the House rise before then, some time to-day.
– In view of the many requests which reach honorable members representing country electorates, for assistance from the Commonwealth Government in establishing aerodromes, will the Minister for Civil Aviation make a. statement- setting out the policy of the Government with respect to the establishment by the Government, or with its assistance, of aerodromes in country districts ?
– I direct the atten tion of the honorable member to the concluding portion of the statement which I made this morning, in which I said that the commitments with which the Commonwealth Government is faced in connexion with aerodromes, which are already the responsibility ofthe Civil Aviation Department, are so great that, notwithstanding the urgent need for aerodromes for private purposes, it is most unlikely that the Government will be able to make money available for the purpose mentioned. I agree with the contention of the honorable member that a definite policy in regard to aerodromes is desirable. That is one of the subjects that will be considered during the recess.
– I merely want to know whether that is a normal function of the Government and that it is prevented; by financial considerations, from doing anything, or whether it disclaims all financial responsibility ?
– The honorable member’s question involves a matter of policy which cannot be dealt with in answer to a question.
– What is the policy?
– I hope that a policy can be framed. The Commonwealth is responsible for a great number of aerodromes and is faced with a great expenditure. No very liberal policy therefore, I should imagine, would be likely in the immediate future.
– Will the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Interior have inquiries made into the prices offered for land resumed for the purpose of extending the Essendon aerodrome, with a view to ascertaining whether the offers made by the Government were reasonably adequate? If the offers to those who bought the resumed blocks for home building were not adequate, will the Government give an instruction that more reasonable offers be made?
– The matter will be considered.
– Has the Minister for Social Services considered the matter of medical examination of applicants for the invalid pension in New South Wales ? Is it the intention of the Minister to appoint a medical appeal board to which applicants for the pension who are rejected by the present medical officers may appeal?
– To my knowledge there has been no recent submission on that matter but, if the honorable member will communicate with me personally, I shall see if there is any justification for pursuing the course that he suggests.
– Will the Minister consider the matter of appointing a board of competent medical officers to deal with applicants for the invalid pension instead of the haphazard method of using doctors who are probably paid by results.
– Order !
– One cannot accept the implication contained in the question, but all necessary steps will be taken to ensure adequate and equitable treatment of applicants for pensions.
– About three weeks ago I brought under the notice of the Prime Minister a question concerning pennanent appointments to the Public Service under section 84 of the Public Service Act. Will the Prime Minister be able to make a statement about that matter before tlie House adjourns?
– No. That is, assuming, of course, that the House adjourns within the next day or two.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been directed to reports concerning the condition of the Canberra Community Hospital? What is the position?
– My attention has been drawn to the comments and I have neither the inclination nor the justification to resent the criticism of the Canberra Community Hospital. It is a fact that that hospital is not a credit to the capital city.’ This Government is hoping to be able to implement the recommendation of the Public Works Committee for the construction of a new hospital. The preliminary steps have been taken and I have personally marked the file, “ very urgent “.
FORMAL Motion fob Adjournments
– I. have received from the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the failure of the Government to take the. necessary action to prevent the sweating conditions in the clothing trade “.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I move this motion for the purpose of discussing the failure of the Government to take the necessary action to prevent the sweating conditions in the clothing trade.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– I approach this subject in no party political spirit, but we want action by the Government on this important matter along the lines promised by the Government to the representatives of the employers in the clothing industry. Sweating in that industry was the subject of a deputation to the Prime Minister when he was Attorney-General in the Lyons Government in October last, and it is to the credit of the right honorable gentleman that he gave very sympathetic hearing to that deputation. I understand he promised that the whole matter would be very sympathetically considered. Later, promises were given to the representatives of the union and to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), who raised this question in this House, that the necessary legislative action would be taken by this Parliament. On the 6th June the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) moved -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend section 40 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1934.
The right honorable gentleman approached me as the Acting Leader of the Opposition and said that he hoped that we would be able to give that bill a speedy passage through Parliament because it was necessary to prevent the awful sweating that was taking place in the clothing industry, as disclosed by Mr. Wallace, the secretary of the union, other representatives of the union, and by honorable gentlemen in opposition. The Opposition agreed that there was no reason to hold up the bill in any way and that the bill would be put through without opposition and without much debate. Then I read the following report in the Canberra Times : -
Vital Change in Law.
COURT TO HAVE POWER TO ORDER.
A notable advance in industrial legislation will have been effected when a Bill, of which the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) gave notice in the House of Representatives yesterday is passed.
The Bill, which will amend Section 40 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, will permit the Court to include in any award unqualified preference to unionists, and is designed to prevent sweating in industry.
Mr. Hughes said that complaints had been made of sweating in the clothing trade, and the amendment had been framed to deal with that unsatisfactory practice. Preference to unionists, he added, had been part of the structure of arbitration from the beginning, but in the preference clause were the words “ Other things being equal.” That clause was designed to facilitate smooth working in industry. Becauseso much work was farmed out in the clothing, trade the clause had been rendered negative.
The amendment was being made to deal with special conditions.
Mr. Hughes said it would be fatal to industrial peace if steps were not taken to put an end to them. He indicated that when the amendment became law, application would be made by the Clothing Trade Union to the Arbitration Court for an unconditional preference to unionists.
I have said sufficient to show that promises were made that the necessary legislative action would be taken by this Government - taken this session, because the Attorney-General approached me with a request that the bill be allowed to go through as an urgent bill. That was ten days ago and we have seen bills go through this House since then, but not that bill, in spite of the right honorable gentleman’s promise that it would go through this session. The union asks that relief be given to the 40,000 women workers who are entirely unprotected so far as wages are concerned, by compelling the employers to employ union labour. The award now applies to members of the union only, and 80 per cent, of those employed in the industry are outside the union. This industry gives employment to 60,000 persons in Australia, approximately 10,000 males and 50,000 females. For centuries past, it has been an industry in which a great deal of sweating has occurred. The women, old and young, are especially subject to the frailties of human nature. Competitive effort compels the employers to make them work long hours at low rates of pay. From the time of Hood, who died in 1845, the “ stitch, stitch, stitch “ of the sweated worker in the clothing industry has been notorious. I submit that it is high time that legislative action was taken to stop the sweating which has been referred to by a learned judge who investigated very carefully the conditions existing in this industry as being one in which the will to sweat is prevalent. The learned judge stated . in a passage, which is referred to in the judgment of Mr. Justice Evatt, in the Anthony Hordern case reported in 47 C.L.R. on page 12 that -
Any employer who has the will to sweat can succeed in his purpose and keep within the law. It is also quite clear in my mind that this will to sweat shows a very definite inclination to increase.
This learned judge was none other than Judge Drake-Brockman, who was president of the Western Australian Employers Federation before he entered Parliament as a Nationalist senator. It cannot he said,- therefore, that that stricture comes from a biased union or labour source. The general power of the Arbitration Court to grant relief in respect of any matter of dispute is quite unlimited. Section 40 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been considered by a majority of the High Court, Duffy C.J., Dixon and McTiernan JJ., Stark and Evatt JJ. dissenting, as a limitation upon the otherwise unrestricted power of the court. The difficulty now felt in this industry has been caused rather by the faulty expression of the legislature’s will than by the actual pronouncement of the legislature’s real intention. Compare the original section in the 1904 act. I do not think there is any honorable gentleman more conversant with the law of this matter than the Prime Minister himself. The jurisdiction of the court has been limited by section 40 in respect of a subject-matter which has been considered of such importance as to make the action of the court mandatory in the circumstances set out in sub-section 3. What is now sought* is legislation to remove the fetters which now shackle the jurisdiction of the court to settle a dispute raised before it. Parliament is not asked to grant preference to anybody, or to direct that in any circumstances preference shall be given to anybody. What is sought is that Parliament shall allow to the court, when the welfare of society demands it, the right, discretion, and power, to grant part of the relief that is claimed in the log, namely, preference to unionists, with such limitations or conditions as to the court seem just. The legislative fetters now imposed upon the jurisdiction of the court by section 40 are opposed to the whole spirit of the act. The expressed policy and intention of the act is to create an independent tribunal, and to vest it with the settlement of industrial disputes. Anything which detracts from this jurisdiction is acting contrary to placitum 39 of section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution, namely, the settle ment of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration. In this particular industry, after prolonged investigation by the tribunal especially fitted to deal with the matter, it has been found that where the will to sweat exists it can be freely exercised, and that without the power now sought the court cannot deal effectively with this evil. The difficulty caused by the decision in the metal trades case in permitting claims to be made for members and nonmembers is very real in this industry. And we want that case to be placed before the Prime Minister himself. If an expressed contract be made by a nonunionist to work for a lower rate than the award rate, no court can compel the employer, at the instance of the nonunionist, to pay the award rate. This is something that we as a Parliament do not stand for. It is something that caused Judge Drake-Brockman to comment in very striking terms. Indeed his comments are so apt that it is very fitting that I should quote briefly from them in a judgment given in 1931. It can he seen that this is not a new thing. He said -
The now current awards of this court were originally framed in such a manner as to render difficult the exploitation of female labour. A term of each of those awards provided that the award should be binding on respondents “ in respect of every person employed by them in the industry, whether members of the Amalgamated Clothing and Allied Trades Union or not.” It was later decided by the High Court that this court has no power to bind respondents to an award in respect of employees who are not members of the union (Amalgamated Clothing and Allied Trades Union of Australia v. Arnall and others. -In re American Dry Cleaning Co.). The consequence of this decision is that there is in fact very little protection for about 80 per cent, of the females employed in this industry, and there is, consequently, a very wide field of possible exploitation should employers decide to take advantage of the present state of the law. In circumstances where there is keen competition for labour, the danger in this regard is perhaps not very great; but, in circumstances such as obtain at present with the large surplus of labour, and a particularly keen competition amongst women for the limited amount of employment available, there is a very definite danger that some employers may be tempted to take full advantage of the opportunity to exploit female labour.
During the course of the hearing of this matter, very strong assertions were made that “ sweating “ was very prevalent in the industry. I have come to the conclusion that there is some “ sweating “ in this industry ; but it has not been conclusively proved that such practices are as prevalent as asserted. 1 do not overlook the extreme difficulty of obtaining such proof. However ti) at may be, what is proved beyond a doubt in my mind is that, in the present condition of the law, and in the present circumstances of this industry, any employer who has the will to “ sweat “ can succeed in his purpose and keep within the law. It is also quite clear to my mind that this “ will to sweat “ shows a very definite inclination to increase.
Judge Drake-Brockman made that comment after hearing evidence and examining witnesses. I believe that honest factory-owners, who observe the awards, are desirous that these unscrupulous employers should he brought to book because of the unfair competition which they provide. By entering into secret arrangements with unfortunate young females seeking employment in this industry unscrupulous manufacturers are able to turn out their products at a lower price than that which must be charged by a legitimate manufacturer who observes the awards and does not desire to become rich by exploiting a deserving and very defenceless section of the community. Surely all honorable members, irrespective of party, will see the merit in this claim for legislation that is long overdue.
Judge Drake-Brockman’s statement continued -
In the larger businesses, it is more readily seen, and, even if a desire existed in the mind of the proprietor to take advantage of any opportunity offering in this connexion, public opinion acts as a very wholesome check. In the smaller factories, however, where public opinion is not easily brought to bear, and where the class of employer is in many instances not of the very highest order, there is a very real danger at the present time.
Having regard to all the circumstances, 1 have come to the conclusion that it is necessary and desirable to make an order for absolute 7>reference in respect of the female operatives in all factories where the average number of female employees engaged during the preceding twelve months is less than 50, and to order preference, in the appropriate form based on section 40 of the act, in respect of all other respondents covered by the awards.
The matter afterwards became the subject of litigation in the High Court of Australia, with the results already indicated. The right honorable the Prime Minister was counsel in that very important case, and, looking through the law reports, one reads with interest the opinions which the right honorable gentleman held then. I do not wish to take any party political advantage of the right honorable gentleman, or to suggest that there has been any variation of the views which he previously held on this subject, but I submit that he should put those views into the statute-book by bringing forward the amendments necessary to give power to the Arbitration Court to put an end for all time to the dreadful sweating which is carried on in this industry. We know that through it misunderstanding certain representatives of the clothing industry were sent to Canberra after’ the Attorney-General had made some probably premature statements to the press. It was thought that there would be a drastic and far-reaching amendment of the powers of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, and it was claimed that industry would be tied down. Apparently there has been a very sinister influence at work to stop the Government from introducing this legislation, and I sincerely hope the Prime Minister, even at this late hour, will bring forward the legislation necessary to give the Arbitration Court power to eliminate this dreadful evil in the clothing trade. The interests of 40,000 female employees’ in this industry are at stake. They are unable to look after themselves in the way that men are under such conditions. They represent a section of the community which invariably is exploited by unscrupulous employers. In many cases these females find themselves out of work and they are approached by unscrupulous backyard manufacturers who are not prepared to give them a fair deal. If these manufacturers are to be allowed to get away with injustices such as this then it is not fair to the honest employer.
– Insofar as the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) is a condemnation of the activities of the sweating employer, every body in this House will heartily agree with him. No language is too strong; indeed no language is strong enough, to denounce the activities of the manufacturer who indulges in sweating or, for that matter, the activities of any man who evades his responsibility under an award. The problem, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition correctly pointed out, is in reality a problem of what can be done about this. It affects not only the Commonwealth, but also the States. It is extraordinarily complex; it is by no means as simple as we would be led to believe; it may possibly be attacked along several lines, and, in my view, it may probably have to be attacked along all of these lines simultaneously. In the first place it has been said with force by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in relation to preference to unionists are partial provisions; they have in fact operated as a limitation on the power of the court. That is one problem. It is a problem in connexion with which to-day I can offer no final answer hut is one which I have discussed sympathetically with representatives of the clothing trades unions. The second course that has been suggested as possibly being available in order to cope with sweating is that the awards of the Arbitration Court should cover nonunionists as well as unionists. As honorable members know, it was originally intended in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that there should ‘be a power in the court to make its. awards common rules. That power was successfully challenged in the High Court because of the nature of the constitutional power and it was not until the last few years, relatively speaking, that a modification of that position was brought about. The effect is, that it is now possible for a union to claim that an employer should pay award rates to his non-unionist employees as well as his unionist employees, and it is constitutional for the court to make such an order. Although that may have appeared to meet the position of the non-unionist, in fact, or rather, I should say in law, it has not done so, for while the employer who does not pay the prescribed wages or observe the awards is exposed to the risk of prosecution, the non-unionist has no rights under the award. He therefore has no right to recover arrears of wages that should have been paid to him. Consequently that particular provision has proved ineffective because the non-unionist has not the same rights under the law as the unionist has.
The third method by which this problem may be attacked presents itself through State legislation. Honorable members will appreciate that although a great deal has been said, and no doubt with reason, about sweating in the clothing trade, the sweating does not occur substantially in factories, as we ordinarily understand that term. It, occurs chiefly in relation to outworkers, home workers, and so on.
– But it has the same effect.
– That is so. I am simply considering the problem step by step. I do not think, for one moment, that sweating is any more justifiable because it occurs outside a factory. In fact it is all the worse on. that account because it is more hidden and may, probably, be more intense. One possible method to remedy the trouble is for State parliaments which have power to pass factory legislation, to provide penalties under some special rule in relation to employment in connexion with the manufacture of clothing, just as the Parliament of Victoria has done in relation to the manufacture of furniture.
– Why did the Victorian unionists run away from the State wage? boards ?
– I do not know anything about that. I am, at the moment suggesting a possible line of action by State parliaments. This may possibly be referred to as “ passing the buck “, if 1 may use that expression, but it is, in fact, one means by which the problem may be met. I propose to discuss the subject with the State Premiers next week ann to indicate to them the nature of certain suggestions put to me by my advisers concerning possible amendments of the State law.
The fourth way to cope with the problem is to provide for the better inspection of awards; but power in this regard is sharply limited. The best inspector for employment of this kind, it may well be said, is the union official himself. That, of course, was part of the case that was put to me on behalf of the unions. But I ask honorable members not to run away with the idea that merely by appointing two, or three, or four, or even a dozen, additional inspectors under the Commonwealth arbitration law this problem would be brought very much nearer solution. I do not believe that it would. It can be solved only by some attack by the Commonwealth Parliament, within the limit of its powers, side by side with some attack by the State parliaments, within the limit of their powers. That raises a problem. “We all agree that the complaints should be remedied. We all agree in condemning the sweater. But we may very well disagree as to the means by which the trouble may be attacked.
I remind honorable members that we are at the end of a period of sitting which has been very crowded with extremely urgent measures.
– Nothing is more urgent than this!
– It is not practicable at this stage of the sitting for the Government either to present well-considered proposals to the House or to expect any proposals it may now make on so contentious and far-reaching a matter to be dealt with by the House to-day. Consequently the Government is not in a position to proceed with legislation. I assure honorable members, however, that in addition to discussing this matter with the Premiers of the States next week, I am myself, as I have already indicated unofficially in certain quarters, prepared to join in consultation not only with representatives of the unions, but also with representatives of employers, because they also are affected by the matter, and with the representatives of the governments of the States, in considering the whole problem. I am satisfied that the good employers, as well as trade unionists, and also the Commonwealth and State Governments, have a common interest in preventing any evasion of the industrial laws of the land. I should very much prefer to come to the House in two or three months’ time with a proposal that had been fully examined, not onlyby representatives of the unions, and of the employers, whose considered opinions could be ascertained, but also by the various governments concerned, to having to come to it on the last day of a period of heavy sittings with proposed legislation hurriedly drafted, in respect of which I would have to say to honorable members: “Please pass this in a hurry, because we have had no time to do a better job “.
This is an important and a difficult problem, but I assure honorable members that the Government is entirely in earnest in endeavouring to solve it. I myself have, as I have indicated, given a good deal of personal attention to it. Consequently, I hope that with the degree of co-operation that I expect to receive, I shall ‘be able to come to Parliament in the spring session with concrete proposals, which I can ask the House to accent with a considerable measure of confidence.
Motion (by Mr. Gardner) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J; Bell.)
Majority . . . . 9
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports must withdraw that remark.
– It is doubly indecent.
– The honorable member for Ballarat is also out of order. A serious reflection has been made upon the honorable member for Robertson,, who moved the motion, “ That the question be now put “.
– I was standing on my feet when the honorable member moved the motion.
– That has nothing to do with the matter. I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to withdraw the remark.
– No! I was standing on my feet.
– I name the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– I repeat that I was standing on my feet.
– It should not be necessary for the Chair to explain the standing order in relation to this circumstance, for it is perfectly clear that the motion, “ That the question be now put “, may be moved at any time by any honorable member. The fact that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was on his feet has nothing to do with the matter.
– I still think it is most indecent conduct.
– I have just been reminded, Mr. Speaker, that I am permanently paired with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). Unhappily, I have inadvertently broken my pair, which I greatly regret.
– I think the House will consent to the Prime Minister withdrawing.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
The Prime Minister thereupon withdrew from the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have named the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for disobeying an order of the Chair.
– In view of the great provocation to which the honorable member was subjected-
Honorable members interjecting,
– I ask that consideration be given to his case.
– I suggest, with respect, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports be given an opportunity to withdraw his observation even at this stage. It would be greatly appreciated by every honorable member, I believe, if this could be done.
– I remind honorable members that the practice of inviting honorable members to withdraw a disorderly remark after they have been . named has been disallowed in the past, and properly so, I think, by “other Speakers. However, whenever an honorable member has offered to withdraw a remark the Chair has always permitted him to do so.
– That is not so. It was not done in my case.
– And I was bumped off.
Mr. Holloway remaining silent,
– With very great regret I am compelled to move -
That the honorable member for Melbourne Ports be suspended from the service of the House.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
In division :
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorablemember for Melbourne Ports thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
Original question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. G. j. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments):
Clause 7 -
The executive officer shall be deemed to have vacated his office if-
He becomes bankrupt or insolvent, or applies to take the benefit of any act or State act for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors, or compounds with his creditors, or makesan assignment of his salary for their benefit:
Semite’s amendment.- Leave out “or insolvent “ twice occurring.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The word “ insolvent “ has no legal significance since the Bankruptcy Act was passed.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 15 - (2.) The nature of the particulars required to be furnished by the persons or classes of persons of whom a census is taken under this section shall be specified in the Proclamation.
Senate’s amendment. - Leave out sub-clause 2, insert the following new sub-clause: - (2.) The persons or classes of persons who are required to furnish particulars for the purpose of any census of persons or classes of persons directed to be taken under this section shall be specified in the Proclamation.
– I move -
That the amendment, be agreed to.
This amendment provides for the deletion of sub-clause 2 of clause 15 of the bill. The existing sub-clause 2 states that the nature of the particulars to be furnished is to be specified in the proclamation issued in connexion with the census of man-power. As, however, these particulars are now specified in the second schedule, existing sub-clause 2 may be regarded as inconsistent with the requirement that the particulars in that schedule are to be filled in. In the circumstances, it is desirable that the reference to particulars should be omitted. Sub-clause 2 also refers to “ persons or classes of persons “’. A similar phrase appears in sub-clause 1, and also in several other clauses. There is, however, no means prescribed for defining “ classes of persons “ for census purposes. Subclause 2 has been re-drawn to provide expressly for the specification of persons or classes of persons in any proclamation issued in relation to a census of man-power. The persons required to fill in particulars under a property census are already defined in sub-clause 2 of clause 17. There is not, therefore, any necessity for requiring those persons to be specified in the proclamation. The whole purpose underlying this new subclause is to remove any legal doubts as to the power of the Governor-General to direct a census in relation to classes of persons in the event of such a census being necessary. I assure honorable members that there is no present intention to conduct any census of a limited class of persons. As I have already stated, the census will be taken in respect of all males between the ages of 18 and 65, and, in regard to property, the register must be completed by all persons who own property worth more than a certain fixed amount.
– I do not think that this amendment should be passed over so lightly. The Minister (Mr. Street) says that sub-clause 2 should be omitted because the particulars dealt with in it are already covered in the schedule, but the proposed new sub-clause introduces an entirely new proposition. The sub-clause refers to the particulars which persons are to be asked to furnish, but the proposed now sub-clause deals not with the particulars, but with the persons or classes of persons who are to be required to furnish the particulars. The bill, as it stands, places a direct obligation on every body between the ages of 18 and 65 to make returns, but if the amendment be adopted the Government will be enabled to discriminate as to what classes of persons shall be required to make returns. Public servants, members of the. police force, or members of Parliament for instance, might be exempt. It is all very well for the Minister to dismiss this matter lightly, but the amendment embodies an entirely new proposal under the guise of being a substitute for something which the Senate eliminated from the measure. It is an entirely new proposal and I have yet to be convinced that it is a genuine substitute for sub-clause 2.
.- I am glad that sub-clause 2 is being omitted. However, I agree with the argument advanced by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear). I fail to see the object of the amendment if the Government completely disclaims any intention of taking only a partial census. Under the amendment it will be enabled- to take a census, for instance, of employees in the iron industry, or of the working people of this country intending to use such a census for industrial conscription. The Government would be well advised not to press the amendment. It declares it to be its intention to conduct a general census. That being so I cannot see why the Government should take the power to take a census of only certain classes, say, of persons between certain ages, between . 18 and 35 years’ for instance, or of persons employed as workers only, or engaged in the iron industry or any other industry ancillary to the production of munitions. A proposal of this kind will only arouse suspicion outside as to the true intention of this legislation.
.- If the amendment is agreed to the Government will be permitted to discriminate between various classes for the purpose of taking a census under this measure. I agree with the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) that it is a good thing to omit sub-clause 2. I should like the Minister (Mr. Street) to indicate whether, under the amendment, the Government will be permitted to discriminate between classes of persons in respect of, not only the manpower census, but also the wealth census. If it be given that authority we can imagine the Country party which holds the balance of power in this Parliament, making representations to the Government to exempt certain interests in respect of the wealth census.
– The Minister’s answer to that is that sub-clause 2 of clause 17 makes it mandatory on every property owner to make a return.
– Nevertheless this point should be set out clearly in the particular part of the measure with which we are now dealing in order that no misunderstanding can exist with regard to the intention of the Government. In his brief remarks on this very important amendment the Minister gave no indication as to its real purpose. Why should the Government want power to discriminate between classes of persons to be required to submit returns? I recollect that on the second reading the Minister stated that it was the intention of the Governmen t that certain classes should not be called on for service, and that every member of the community, irrespective of what his position might be, would be required to make a return. If it is not the intention of the Government to exercise discrimination in this matter, 1.’ should like to know the real object of the amendment. The Opposition should strongly oppose the amendment.
– After consultation with the Parliamentary Draftsman, and feeling that a doubt still exists as to certain powers that might be needed, I am prepared to delete sub-clause 2 and to substitute nothing in its place.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Motion (by Mr. Street) agreedto -
That the amendment be amended by omitting all words after “leave out sub-clause (2.).”
Clause 17 - (2.) Every person who owns property of a value not less than the prescribed value shall fill in and furnish to the Commonwealth Statistician in accordance with the regulations a form in accordance with the form in the First Schedule to this act setting out the particulars specified in that form.
Senate’s amendment. - After “ form “ first occurring, insert “ or forms “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment is rendered necessary in view of amendments of the first schedule. I point out that a person may have to furnish two forms in respect of the wealth census, one in respect of property on his own account, and another in respectof the property of other persons.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s amendment. - After sub-clause (3.) insert the following new sub-clause: - “ (4.) Without limiting the operation of the provisions of sub-section (3.) of this section, where shares in or debentures of any company are owned by persons resident outside Australia, the secretary or other prescribed officer of the company shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be the owner of the shares and debentures so owned.”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment imposes an obligation on the secretary, or public officer, of a company to furnish a form in respect of residents outside of Australia who hold shares or debentures in the company. A number of persons have no agents in Australia, and would, therefore, not be covered by the measure as it is now drawn.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 20 -
The board, with the consent of the Minister, may, from time to time, require any person included among the persons or classes of persons required to furnish particulars for the purpose of any census taken under this act to fill in and furnish to the Commonwealth Statistician a form or forms in accordance with one or both of the forms in the schedules to this act setting out the particulars specified in the form or forms as at the date the requirement is made.
Senate’s amendment. - After “ persons “, third occurring, insert “ who have been “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The inclusion of these words is necessary in order to indicate that the persons affected are those included in clause 17, which describes the persons, or classes of persons, of whom a census is to be taken
– Is not this clause almost identical with the provision contained in sub-clause 2 of clause 15, which has been deleted in another place? The words proposed to be inserted carry the implication that everybody will not be required to furnish returns. This clause is contingent upon sub-clause 2 of clause 15, which has been deleted. Unless the Government intends to hold only a partial census, there is no necessity for this clause. I object to loading the bill with provisions which the Minister says the Government has no intention of applying. Such action is at least open to suspicion. The whole of this clause should be deleted.
– No ; how should we stand if we wanted to take a census at alaterdate?
– The Minister, while making provision to cover that point, can also specify that such a census will embrace everybody. [ Quorum formed.]
– The honorable member for Werriwa considers that these words are contingent upon sub-clause 2 of clause 15, which has been deleted.
– I admit that there is some doubt, and I am endeavouring to clarify the provision.
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to l.45 p.m.
– I have since had an opportunity to study this clause, and I am informed that the words proposed to be inserted are not consequential, and have been inserted to clarify clause 20, so that those persons who have been required at one period to furnish a form may, if so required, furnish another form.
.- -I can hardly follow the contention of the Minister (Mr. Street) that these words are not consequential upon other words. It has already been pointed out that the Minister has, of his own volition, deleted the clause which altered the nature of the particulars required, but we find that, in another clause, the Minister has power to require any person to do certain things.
– This is to show what is required to be done under clause 17.
– If the Minister reads the clause again, he must admit that the words have some purpose, because the clause states that the board may require “ any person “. In these circumstances, what is the use of the words “who have been?” What is the difference between those words and the words “ persons or classes of persons who have been required “ ? It appears to me that the words are either redundant or consequential on the amendment which the Minister has rejected.
– When the clause was originally before the committee, it set out what was required to be done with the consent of the Minister, but it has since been altered to include a census of property. It was merely an error in drafting. I can assure the committee that no new principle is involved, and that the amendment is made purely to overcome a legal technicality, the necessity for which may not at first be a pparent.
Motion agreed to.
The First Schedule. “ Fill in particulars of your own property in column A and particulars of property held on trust in column B”. . . . “ (A ) On Account of Other Persons “. 5. (a) Government and Other Public Securities, &c.
Senate’s amendments. - Leave out “ Fill in particulars of your own property in column (A) and particulars of property held on trust in column (B) “, insert “If return is made in respect of your own property, fill in column (A) but not column (B). If return is made in respect of property held on trust, property of a company or property of an absentee, fill in column (B) but not column (A) “.
After “ (B) - On Account of Other Persons” insert “, Companies or Absentees”; leave out paragraph 5, insert the following new paragraphs : - “ 5. Government and other Public Securities. &c. “5a (a) Shares in Companies
Leave out paragraph 11.
– I move -
That the amendments be made.
The object of the first amendment is to indicate clearly the nature of the claim to be filled in. “ A “ must be filled in by a person in respect of his own property, and “ B “ must be completed in respect of property held on behalf of other persons.
Motion agreed to.
The second schedule.
Senate’s amendment. - Leave out paragra ph 8.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
In response to a request by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) I said that I would consider the desirability of leaving out the name and business address of the employer, owing to the fact that the information supplied might be out of date within a week or a fortnight and consequently would be of little value.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
In committee Consideration resumed from the 15th June (vide page 2024) :
Clause 13 - (2.) AnElectoral Officer or a Commonwealth officer may require an alien to produce his certificate of registration and any alien who refuses or fails to produce his certificate when so required at a time and place named by the Electoral Officer or Commonwealth officer shall be guilty of an offence.
Amendment (by Mr. Archie Cameron) agreed to -
That after the word “ offence “ the following sub-clause be inserted: - “ (3) A registered alien who leaves or attempts to leave the Commonwealth without having first rendered his certificate of registration to an electoral officer shall be guilty of an offence.”
Clause as amended agreed to.
Clauses 14 and 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 -
A person shall not affix his signature as witness to any application or other document signed by an alien in pursuance of. this act or the regulations unless he has reasonable cause to believe that the statements contained in the application are true.
Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for three months.
Amendment by (Mr. Perkins) agreed to-
That after the word “application” the words ‘” or other document ‘’ be inserted.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Clauses 17 to 22 agreed to.
Amendment by (Mr. Archie Cameron) agreed to -
That the followingnew clause be inserted: - “13a. - (1.) The Minister may require an alien to report himself to such electoral officer or Commonwealth officer at such times and places as the Minister thinks fit, and the certificate of registration of the alien shall be endorsed with the particulars of such requirement. (2.) Any alien failing to report himself as required under sub-section 1 of this section shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Fifty pounds, or imprisonment for three months.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 15th June (vide page 2014), on motion by Mr. Street -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I have not yet had an opportunity to study this bill in detail. I thought when the Minister agreed to the adjournment of the debate last night that its consideration would be delayed to enable honorable members to study it intelligently. Now, sir, you will remember that this bill was circulated only yesterday and that the second-reading speech was delivered yesterday. It is true that the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), in the congestion of business in which we were all involved at an early hour this morning; addressed to the House an argument in opposition to the bill. I, at the moment, was otherwise engaged, and I asked the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) to consent to the bill going over. I do not intend to attempt to address a considered argument on the bill, because I think that anything that is worth doing is worth doing well, or at least as well as one can do it. It is not often that I have to accuse the Minister of discourtesy, but in pressing this measure 1 submit that he is unfair in using the power of numbers to overbear the rights of honorable members. 1 can tree that on the face of it that this bill involves the consideration of a number of important matters. In the first place, if I may put it in the first place, it should be of interest to technical men who are interested in the details of defence administration and, therefore, I look with some confidence to honorable gentlemen like the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) for support in my appeal that this bill should not be pressed through and that opportunity should be provided for it to be intelligently debated. The Minister has not told us why the bill is urgently necessary.
– Yes, I have.
– The honorable gentleman has not told me.
– ‘-The honorable gentleman must have been engaged on other business.
– If, from the point of view of the Government, the bill is urgent in order to implement governmental policy to which the Opposition is unanimously opposed, that is no reason why it should be rushed through without debate. Indeed, that would be a strong reason why members of the Opposition should be given the opportunity to put their “case. The bill deals with Man dated Territories - the operation of the Defence Act in those territories - and with the duties and obligations of members in respect of the mandates of the Mandates Commission. It also involves consideration of the relative importance of the Papua Act and the Defence Act and seems to enlarge the opportunity for exercising compulsory military operations over an extended area. All of these are matters which demand serious consideration at the hands of the Opposition. If one turns to clause 5 on the technical side one finds that the measure involves the new office of the Inspector-General of the Military Forces and a re-alignment of military commands, the re-division of them under a new theory, and the number of forces in any particular command. None of these matters has been considered by the Opposition. The Minister’s speech was brief. The Minister himself is a man who has had the advantage of military training. He. seems to assume that, because certain of these matters are commonplace to him, a layman, without consideration, should know what the Minister knows or, alternatively, should accept the Minister’s bare declaration that these things are desirable and that the bill ought to be passed. Frankly, I decline to agree to a b-ill in such terms. It might very well be that, fairly well considered and debated, the bill would find no opposition, from the Opposition at all events. It might well be that the opposition that would be raised on matters of detail would be surmounted, or, as frequently happens, the Government would accept suggestions coming from this side of the House. But the Minister is uncompromising ! I do not know if I have ever had experience of this sort before. It has been the universal practice of Ministers to move the second reading of a bill in ample time to warn honorable members of what is contained in the measure and of what the views of the Minister are in regard thereto so that honorable members might study the legislation at leisure for a week or two in advance of debate. But that wise practice has been departed from on this occasion, and I am not aware that any explanation has been given. I accept no responsibility for the bill and I will not support it. T protest against the action of the Minister in attempting to dragoon the Opposition into acceptance of a measure containing important matters of principle in international and local law which it has not had the opportunity to consider.
– From the point of view of myself and others in this part of the world, I see nothing wrong with the bill. I regret that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) is incapacitated by influenza and cannot be in his place to make what no doubt would have been an interesting contribution to this debate in favour of the measure. I can see no ground for the fears expressed by the honorable mem’ber for Batman (Mr. Brennan). The bill is quite clear; it is more or less one of definition. It contains provision for the definite protection of the inhabitants of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea which is in accordance with the articles of that practically defunct body, the League of Nations, that is supposed to be responsible for this sort of thing. The Opposition has no grounds to oppose this bill on that score. Clause 5 repeals section 8 of the principal act and inserts a new section, one provision of which is that any part of Australia may be appointed to be a command or a military district. Formerly there was no provision for the establishment of commands. This provision gives the Minister discretion in the administration of the forces for local defence which I think is very necessary. At a later stage I shall make one or two observations on certain aspects of military policy. The occasion will arise out of the reorganization which must take place after this bill becomes law. One matter to which I shall refer briefly now relates to the question as to whether important field commands are to be held by officers of the permanent general staff. The Minister and I may be at variance on that, hut whether we are or not does not affect the passage of this bill. Another matter that I shall raise at the same time is a question as to whether the divisional organization, under which our defence scheme is now conducted, is best suited for our purposes. But, again, that question is independent of what the Minister is trying to do in this measure, which I strongly recommend to the
House for passage in the form in which it has been introduced.
– in reply - I regret that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) should have found it necessary to speak in the strain, in which he did, particularly in view of the fact that there is some ground for the tenor of his remarks. -I, too, dislike bringing forward bills at a late hour and asking the House to agree to them. As soon as I got the bill ready I consulted the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), and gave him a draft of what I proposed to say.
– In the course of a late sitting.
– No, some time yesterday afternoon. I also discussed with the Leader of the Opposition the possibility of bringing in another bill. As the result of that discussion, it was decided not to bring in that other bill.
– Does the Minister not intend bringing down the other defence bill?
– There is no other defence bill. The Leader of the Opposition said that he saw no reason why this bill should not go through.
– I should say that the honorable gentleman misunderstood the Leader of the Opposition.
– I plead guilty to the impeachment implied in the remarks of the honorable member for Batman. I further regret that it should be thought I would ask honorable members to accept without question any specialized knowledge which I may be thought to possess.
This bill is in two parts. It extends the Defence Act to the territories of the Commonwealth in the one part, and brings into effect part of the report of the Inspector-General of the Military Forces in the other. The report of the InspectorGeneral has been in circulation among honorable gentlemen for many months, and I believe that honorable gentlemen have been well acquainted with the direction in which the Government’s defence proposals would proceed. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) suggested that this bill introduces a new principle, inasmuch as it would make liable members of the Citizen Forbes to serve in. the territories of the Commonwealth, whereas at present they are not so liable. With due reference to the great legal knowledge of the honorable member, I am informed, and my layman’s interpretation agrees, that section 49 of the Defence Act does impose a liability on members of the Citizen Forces to serve in any territory. This measure embodies no alteration of principle. As I said when I introduced the bill, and as has subsequently been emphasized by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), safeguards are provided so that native inhabitants of any country governed by the Commonwealth under mandate shall not come under any of the liability parts of the Defence Act. I ask the House to accept the measure in the form it now stands.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Interpretation).
.- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) referred to this clause as being merely a “ definitions clause “. That statement reminds me of an old legal maxim that “ all definition is dangerous “. At any rate the definitions clause in this bill is dangerous, because, in my opinion, it extends the area within which Australian citizens may be required to render compulsory military service. My interpretation of the Defence Act is that the only territory within which Australian citizens are bound to render military service is actually the territory of the continent of Australia and the island of Tasmania. Australian citizens cannot be bound to render military service in the territories of the Commonwealth. These territories are of two classes, namely, mandated and nonmandated territories. The mandated territories include New Guinea, the German Solomons, New Britain, New Ireland and the Admiralty Islands, and the nonmandated territories include Papua, Norfolk Island, and the Ashmore and Cartier Islands and Antarctica. I base my views in this matter on the fact that in relation to Papua and New Guinea, there is in other acts a provision that no act of the Commonwealth shall apply to these territories unless it is expressly stated that it will apply to them. But for that provision, the Defence Act would apply to them. I submit as a result of studies which I have made into this matter - I do not wish to express my opinion dogmatically - that there is no expression in the Defence Act which applies the obligation of military service to Papua, New Guinea, or Norfolk Island. Section 49 of the Defence Act, to which the Minister referred, is not a section which imposes any duty upon anybody. As a matter of fact, it exonerates people from a duty. At the very least, it is highly doubtful that the Defence Act, as it now stands, compels any Australian citizen to serve in Papua, but it is quite clear beyond doubt that the Defence Act as it stands now does not compel an Australian citizen to render military service in a mandated territory. I base that contention on the Acts Interpretation Act, to which I referred last night. That is not all. The obligation of military service imposed by the Defence Act is an obligation upon citizens of Australia, which, under the terms of the Defence Act, means the territory consisting of the continent of Australia and the island of Tasmania. The obligation for military service imposed by the Defence Act rests upon the residents of the continent of Australia and the island of Tasmania. They and they only can be compelled to render military service. But, under the provisions of this bill, it seems to me that white inhabitants of a territory may be forced to render military service outside the territory in which they live. What I am concerned with now is that we are asked under the guise of a small alteration of the Defence Act tq extend an existing obligation and to place an obligation for military service upon people who at present are not subject to that obligation. If this measure is carried, Australians may be compelled to render military service, for instance, in the Territory of Papua, and I think it is clear ‘beyond any reasonable doubt that it will place a. new obligation upon Australian citizens to serve in the Mandated Territory of Now Guinea and the adjacent islands, and will place an entirely new obligation upon white residents of the territories, not only to defend their own territories, but also to render military service in other parts of Australia.
– So they should.
– That is all right so . long as we know that it is clearly intended. The Minister, however, says that is not the position. He says that no new obligations are involved. My contention is that this measure does impose upon the white residents of a territory an obligation to which they are not at present subject. I do not wish to be dogmatic about my assertions, but my view is that an obligation will also be imposed on Australian citizens to serve in non-mandated territories. No such obligation exists at present. That is a matter of great moment. It is an extension of the area in which persons may be required to render military service. As the Labour party is opposed to any compulsory obligation to serve outside Australia, it will naturally oppose any extension of whatever obligation of that kind that may now exist. The object of this amendment of the Defence Act is undoubtedly to extend the obligation of military service to territories to which it may not now apply. For that reason, I intend later to move that no inhabitant of any territory of the Commonwealth shall be required to serve, except voluntarily, beyond the limits of that territory, and that no inhabitant- of Australia shall be required to serve, except voluntarily, beyond the limits of Australia. Further, my proposed new clause will declare that - “ Australia “ does not include any territory of the Commonwealth unless such territory is within the limits of the continent of Australia and “ territory of the Commonwealth ‘’ does not include any territory of the Commonwealth which is within the limits of the continent of Australia.
– That is a very narrow definition.
– Tasmania will be excluded next!
– The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) is simply jeering. Of course, if the obligation of military service exists in relation to Australia it must exist in relation to Tasmania, which is an integral part of Australia. The honorable gentleman knows that no federal territory exists in Tasmania, nor is it likely ever to exist there. I acquit the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) of discourtesy in connexion with this measure. I think the Minister would not have proceeded with this bill last night had the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) objected. But we knew that a meeting of the ministerial party was to be held this morning to consider a bill relating to preference to unionists, and we did not wish to be discourteous on our part. That was why we agreed te- the measure being taken to a certain stage last night. Personally I make no complaint as to what has been done. But I agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that the bill seeks to make changes in the extent to which the obligation of military service may rest upon our people. Consequently this committee will not, in my opinion, be doing its duty if it allows the bill to pass without mature consideration. It should not be rushed through the Parliament simply because time is short and some honorable gentlemen wish to return to their homes, particularly as the people of Australia know nothing whatever about it, and the members of the Opposition know only what they have been able to learn about it since last evening.
-We were told that it was innocuous.
– I invite the committee to reject the definition clause unless the Minister will agree to accept my amendment. The only reason the Minister has given in favour of the clause is that at present the disciplinary provisions of the Defence Act do not apply to Papua. If that is so the Papua Act could be amended. As it is, the Government is using a steam hammer to crush a walnut. I am not naturally suspicious, but I believe that a gradual movement is occurring designed to extend the obligation of military service in respect of our civilian population. What has happened in this Parliament in the last few months has led me to believe that the liberties of this anti-militarist, peaceliving people are being gradually corroded and eaten away by the making of preparations for war and the fear of war. Sooner than permit that to happen without objection I would remain here not only for the rest of this week but also for the whole of next week to resist it.
.- I am not able to follow the arguments of the- honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). I do not believe that the definition clause under notice seeks to extend the area over which the Defence Act applies. It is proposed to amend the definition section of the Defence Act by inserting the following words : “ ‘ Australia ‘ in- clud.es the territories of the Commonwealth to which this act extends “. That does not imply any extension of the area to which the Defence Act already applies.
– But it presupposes something that is provided in the next clause.
– Nevertheless, it does not, in my opinion, extend the area of operation of the Defence Act.
.- Does the Minister intend to make any reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) ? I do not regard myself as of a suspicious nature, but I am quite satisfied that the Government deliberately introduced this measure late in the session in the hope that the members of the Opposition would be less vigilant than usual. In my opinion, the passage of this bill will undoubtedly result in an extension of the obligation of the Australian people to render military service beyond their own territories. The Government has shown, by measures it has recently introduced, that it desires to impose conscription in this country for overseas service as well as for home service. It was not prepared to do the whole job at one time, and so it; is doing it in stages. If this bill is passed, no doubt another bill will be introduced shortly taking the project another step. Like the honorable member for Bourke, I believe that one object of this amendment is to place upon the Australian people an obligation to render military service in . territories beyond their own shores. In recent years Australia has, to some degree, developed into an imperialist power. Its possessions now include what we know as the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and within the last year or two, the Government, at the request of the British Government, has accepted sovereignty over certain Antarctic regions. Is it proposed that Australians shall be required to take up arms in defence of those regions? It seems tome that a deliberate effort is being made by the British authorities to place upon Australia certain obligations to defend the Singapore base and Hong Kong. We were told that the Singapore base, upon which millions of money has been spent, was constructed to protect Australia. So just as the Commonwealth has been asked to accept sovereignty over part of the Antarctic region, it may later be asked to accept sovereignty over Singapore. If that course is taken, it will be argued that Singapore is really part of the Commonwealth, and so our people may be obliged to leave their own shores to take up arms in its defence. It is quite likely also that eventually the Commonweatlh will be requested to accept responsibility for other British possessions in the Pacific. I have said sufficient to show the danger of this subtle move to extend the liability of our people to render military service.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause, which has relation to definitions.
– Exactly, Mr. Chairman. L submit that the purpose of the clause is to enlarge the definition of “ Australia “ to include territories beyond our shores. The view of the honorable member for Bourke on this point is sound. The Government seems desirous of compelling Australians to take up arms in defence of territories in any part of the globe. Otherwise, surely the Minister would give us a clear declaration to the contrary. The Assistant Minister (Mr. Holt) asked whether we are prepared to defend New Zealand, and another honorable gentleman opposite asked a similar question concerning the mandated territory of New Guinea. Respecting New Guinea, I am of the opinion that the only people who have reaped any benefit from Australia’s control of it are those who constitute the wealthy clique that has exploited both the native race and the natural resources of the country. They, of course, are anxious that Australia shall retain control of New Guinea. For my part 1 shall not agree to an extension of the definition of “ Australia “ to cover that area. We object to the method by which the Government is attempting to drive this bill through Parliament in the closing hours of. this period of the sitting. The bill, from my point of view, is of major significance in that it represents an attempt to dragoon the working people of this country into taking up arms i” defence of areas beyond the shores of Australia. The policy of the Government has been clearly revealed fin the last month or two. First it introduced the Supply and Development Bill, and then the National Registration Bill. These were part of an attempt to increase the liability of the people to render military service. Now this amendment of the Defence Act is brought forward with a similar object. The Labour party is entirely opposed to conscription of any kind, let alone conscription for service abroad. During recess, we should go out into every corner and by-way of the country telling the people what plans the Government has to conscript their sons to fight overseas.
– I should not have taken part in this debate hut for the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). He said that the proposal* to take power to send Australian troops to New Guinea and the mandated territories was something wholly new.
– To send them by compulsion.
– Well, if we have not power now to send troops to defend even our own territories, it is a remarkable thing that the Opposition should entertain such fears regarding the possible sending of Australian troops to other parts of the world which do not even belong to us. From what source did we obtain power to send soldiers to Mesopotamia and to France ?
– Only from Parliament itself.
– Then 1 cannot understand the fear that soldiers might have to serve outside Australia against their will. What basis is there for the fear that something is to be “ put over “ the community, and why the electioneering statements of members of the Opposition? The very amendment drafted by the honorable member for Bourke providing that no man shall be sent outside Australia for service except with his own consent is proof that the Opposition, at any rate, does not believe in the case it has put up against the Government’s proposals. In my opinion, the proposal of the Minister is a perfectly reasonable one. No one concerned with the defence of Australia ought to argue that we should not have power to send men to defend adjacent territories. The holding of those territories is just as necessary to our defence as is the holding of the Northern Territory or northern Queensland. It is absurd to suggest that we could look with equanimity on the occupation of New Guinea or Papua by hostile forces. It is the duty of honorable members on this side to place before the electors the views of the Opposition on this matter. If it is reasonable to argue that men shall not be sent outside the continent of Australia to defend anything Australian, it would be equally reasonable to argue that no one should be sent out of Tasmania to defend anything Tasmanian. Tasmania is a sea-girt island, and it might be argued that there would be no justification for sending any of its citizens to fight beyond its own shores. Then you might proceed to divide Australia into States, and say that no man from New South “Wales should concern himself with the defence of Port Darwin, for instance. The honorable member for Bourke argued that Australia should not concern itself with the defence of Papua.
– I say that Papua should not be defended by the compulsion of the Australian people.
– It is time we got down to bedrock in regard to this question of compulsion. I have argued in Cabinet and out that the only way to defend this country successfully is by some method of compulsory military training; and the sooner the better. If the need should arise, some such system would have to be introduced, no matter what government was in power. The people would insist upon it, and would boot out any government that refused to take the necessary action. Therefore, I say, let us pass the bill.
.- This proposal will certainly suit the honorable member who has just spoken (Mr. Archie Cameron), and if the Government were as honest as he is we should know where we stand. He said that we should impose compulsion for military service in territories outside Australia. Our complaint is that the Government is after what the honorable member wants, but will not tell us so. If the bill does not mean that a step is being taken towards compulsory military service in Papua and other territories outside Australia, what does it mean? The Minister (Mr. Street) says that that is not the reason for this provision, but I can see no other reason for it. If words mean anything, this amendment means that the Defence Act would be extended to apply to those territories. If the Defence Act already applies to them, what is the need for the bill at all? I am absolutely opposed to the principle of compelling any man to leave Australia to fight in defence of any other part of the globe. Even in a conscript country such as Germany, the practice before the war - I do not know what it is under Hitler - was to call for volunteers for military service beyond the frontiers of the country. Under the Peace Treaty of Versailles, Australia was given a mandate over certain territories outside the continent of Australia, and now the Government is attempting to conscript Australians to serve in the military forces in those territories. Something has been said about the need for defending New Zealand and Papua in case of attack. If New Zealand were menaced, whatever government was in power in Australia would have to decide what assistance it would render, and if it were decided to send military aid, the necessary force could be raised on the voluntary basis. When we realize that, counting rejects, probably 500,000 men volunteered for service during the last war, we need not fear that the response to any future appeal would not be adequate. This is a. measure which affects men’s very lives and, in regard to that matter, the citizen himself is the only one who should decide the issue. If it were a matter of defending Australia itself, it would not be necessary to make men fight. The very criminals in the gaols would fight if rifles were put into their hands. As for Papua and New Guinea, what would Australian citizens, be fighting for there? So that a few whites might be able to go on exploiting the unfortunate natives. That is what has happened in those lands, no matter what country has held them. If it- rested with me, not one Australian life would be sacrificed so that Burns Philp might go on exploiting those territories. I commend the honorable member for
Bourke for raising this matter, andI hope that his proposed amendments will be carried.
– The main point made by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) and those who followed him was that this amendment would extend the area in which an Australian citizen might be required to render military service. That is not so. Under section 49 of the Defence Act it is obligatory on members of the forces to serve in Australia and in the territories of the Commonwealth. I know that the honorable member for Bourke does not agree with me in that interpretation of the act.
– That applies only to the Permanent Forces.
– No, it applies to them all, including the militia forces.I have consulted legal authorities, and they have informed me that that is the proper interpretation of the section. That being so, honorable members opposite will ask, why . bring in the amendment at all? Well, at the present time, we cannot raisemilitia or cable guards in Port Moresby or on Norfolk Island, and the extension of the Defence Act to those areas is necessary for that purpose. In addition, as I pointed out in my second-reading speech, there is no power under the Defence Act to prevent the installation at Port Moresby of certain oil tanks which might interfere with the defence of the territory. Legal opinion which I have consulted is that this measure does not impose any fresh obligation upon any Australian citizen to serve voluntarily, or compulsorily, in an external territory. For that reason, I ask the committee to accept the clause as it stands.
.- This clause gives “ Australia “ and “ the Commonwealth “ a wider meaning than they have at present. According to the Defence Act in 1903, Australia meant the continent of Australia and Tasmania, the Commonwealth meant, the various States that had joined together in the federal pact, and included the Northern Territory. The Defence Act was an act for the defence of the Commonwealth of Australia. Enlarging the meaning of the Commonwealth means enlarging the Defence Act to provide for the naval and- military defence and protection of the Commonwealth, the several States and of the territories. Section 59 of the Defence Act provides that all male inhabitants of Australia, who have resided here for six months and are British subjects, and are between the ages of 18 and 60, shall, in tune of war, be liable for service in the Citizen Forces. But, if the meaning of Australia is enlarged, not only all male inhabitants of the Northern Territory, but also inhabitants of the territories of Australia, shall be liable to render service for the defence of Australia and not merely for the defence of the territories in which they live. And, conversely, all male inhabitants of Australia shall be liable to serve for the defence, not only of any part of Australia, but also of any part of the territories.
– Is there anything wrong in that?
– Yes. The Minister made his argument ad hominem by suggesting that the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) wanted Port Moresby fortified, but I do not think that the honorable member for Kennedy, or any other honorable member from Queensland, would want white people residing in Port Moresby to be forced to come into. Queensland and fight for Queensland. It is one thing to compel men to fight for their own- territory, butquite another to compel them to fight elsewhere in Australia. Similarly, it is. one thing to ask residents of Australia to fight for Australia, but quite another thing to ask them to fight for, say, New Britain.
– Is that not as bad as. drawing a distinction between the States?
– No ; the territories are not part and parcel of theAustralian nation. They are a sort of empire which Australia is acquiring, in the course of development with all of the evil’s involved in imperialism. Suppose, as the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) suggests, that we should acquire new territories, say, the New Hebrides or New Caledonia. This measure would apply the Defence Act to such territories. However, I am quite prepared to- base my arguments on the- position as in exists at present. 1 respect the views put forward by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and other honorable members who agree with him. The honorable member for Barker, and, apparently, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane), believes that, in time of war, we should be. prepared to send Australian soldiers anywhere at all. The honorable member for Barker has said over and over again that the frontiers of Australia might be actually in Prance and, therefore, Australian people should be compellable to serve overseas. If the honors able member for Barker believes that Australians, in time of need, should be compelled, to serve on the Niemen or the Vistula, or on the Pei Ho or the Amin-, lie believes that they should be compellable to serve in New Guinea or Papua. My premises are different from his. I believe that compulsion is wrong, and that the Australian people are against it; they are certainly against the extension of compulsion, and this measure extends compulsion. The Minister relies on section 49 of the Defence Act. I submit that, in order, without this amendment, to apply that act to Papua or New Guinea, the Minister must show some provision in the Papua and New Guinea Acts, which expressly apply that act to those territories. I admit that the Defence Act is not. very consistent. The only section to. which the Minister can point, is section 49, which says that no person can be compelled to serve in certain circumstances. When that act was passed, we had no territories at all. Therefore> all we naturally had in contemplation at that time was the- Northern Territory. The Defence Act contains a number of provisions which draw a clear distinction between service: within the limits of the Commonwealth and service without the limits of the Commonwealth. But I do not dogmatize upon the contention that this act does not apply to the non-mandated territories. I admit- that there is some doubt, but I do not want to see that doubt resolved into certainty in favour of compulsion. That is what this measure will do. But this bill goes further in applying the Defence. Act to the mandated territories. In that view, 1 rely on the decision in Jolly v. Mainka, in which two justices of the High Court said definitely that the definition of the territories of the Commonwealth as set out in the Acts Interpretation Act 1930, did not apply to acts passed before 1930. The. Defence Act was passed in 1903. Therefore, it is fairly clear that it does not apply to the mandated territories, and, therefore, it does not compel Australians to serve in the mandated territories.
– Why was the word “ territories “ inserted in section 49 ?
– I do not know, but 1 point out that later provisions of the act draw a distinction between servicein the Commonwealth and service without the Commonwealth. Section 49 does not give, the power to compel service outside ; it denies, that power.. Then, I say that if such a provision were made expressly in the Papua and New Guinea Acts, the position would be perfectly clear, and the Defence Act would apply to those territories, but those acts say definitely that no Commonwealth act shall apply to those territories unless expressly intended by those acts. That is the reason why these provisions are brought down. The issue really resolves itself into this: If you accept, the. view of the honorable member for Barker, then you are in favour of this measure. If the honorable member for Barker were against this measure he would be like the man who strained at a gnat, and swallowed a camel. He wants much wider compulsion; he wants Australians to serve anywhere in the world.
– This measure does not provide that.
– I am simply pointing out why the honorable member for Barker does not boggle at compelling Australians to serve in the territories; but honorable members who believe that this obligation of military service should not be extended behind the backs, of the people, should, whether they are in favour of this measure or not, delay it for further consideration. There are certain clauses- of the bill to which I have no objection, but those clauses in some points certainly extend the obligation of military service, and in others probably extend them, though the obligation should not be passed in the dying hours of a session. If the Minister wishes to establish voluntary forces in Papua, New Guinea or Norfolk Island, let him take an opportunity later to secure the necessary amendment of the Defence Act or, if he wishes to go ahead forthwith, let him be satisfied with a more limited amendment of the Defence Act.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker; [3.10].- The points raised by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) are very interesting, but I think they are capable of being answered. He says that he cannot understand how the word “ territories “ got into section 49 of the act.
– I said I did not know.
– Well then, the honorable member obviously does not understand how it got there. If the honorable gentleman goes back to the origin of federation, he will find that the Governor-General was given a certain title - Commander-in-Chief in and over the Commonwealth of Australia and the territories therein and thereto belonging. That title would not have been granted to the Governor-General at that time unless it was the distinct intention of the Imperial Government that there should be visualized the possibility of this Commonwealth acquiring certain territories.
– The States.
– No, you cannot acquire what you already have.
– The States have been handed over to the Commonwealth.
– The whole idea of what the Commonwealth is, is bound up in the question of sovereignty, and the Commonwealth of Australia, or any other country, when it comes to look at what are the limits of its jurisdiction and military responsibility, must take cognizance of the extent of the sovereignty which it exercises. If the Commonwealth of Australia acquires any fresh territories - if, for instance, the fears, or hopes, of the honorable member for Bourke should materialize, and the New Hebrides, instead of being a condominium owned partly by Prance and partly by Great Britain, should become part of the Com monwealth territory and the Commonwealth of Australia should extend its sovereignty to those islands - then, in doing so, it accepts all of the responsibility which ownership and the exercise of sovereignty convey and imply. And the responsibility of defence goes with the responsibility of sovereignty. So, when, many years before either I or the honorable member for Bourke came into this Parliament, this Parliament passed laws accepting the territory of Papua and Antarctica; and, since we have become members of this Parliament, it passed a law accepting the sovereignty of certain islands in the north-west of Australia, it also accepted ownership and liability, because such ownership is also a liability as well as a right. Therefore, the honorable gentleman cannot argue that the position of the Commonwealth cannot alter; that its territorial limitations must for ever remain the same as they were on the first day of this century. That is a position which he would not take up with regard to the constitutional development of this country. He would be the first to argue that whatever our position might have been constitutionally in 1901, other factors have since stepped in. Certainly, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) would argue that later developments have completely altered the constitutional position as it existed in .1.901. Both honorable gentlemen would be the first to argue from a constitutional point of view that what was the rule a generation ago is. not the rule - to-day. The contention which the Minister has advanced in connexion with this measure is sound. The Commonwealth Government accepted the control of Papua, and it will probably be forced to accept control of additional territory while the honorable member for Bourke and I are still members of this House. Should the Common-wealth do so, we shall also have to accept the responsibility associated with such control. We are a sovereign power responsible for the good government and defence of this country. If we disregard that responsibility, our sovereignty is a mere pretence. If we are not prepared to grant the Government the power it seeks, the honest thing to do is to absolve ourselves from all responsibility iia Papua, New Guinea and other such territories. That is the logical attitude of the members of the Opposition if they support the honorable member for Bourke. When that honorable member speaks of the attitude which 1 adopt, he should also say that at least r am consistent.
– I admit that.
– .1 believe that the day has gone when Australian troops will be forced to fight overseas. In view of the situation in the Pacific we could not forgo our control of the territories mentioned, and it illbecomes the Opposition to act as it is acting to-day, particularly when we recall that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Spurr) was elected to this chamber by a party notorious for its advocacy of compulsory military training which I strongly support.
– I have followed the discussion on this important proposal with a great deal of interest, and I am satisfied that it is of such significance that its further consideration should be delayed at least for a time. I understand that there is no doubt in the mind of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street), or in fact in the minds of the military authorities who are his advisers, that the obligation for compulsory military service contained in section 49 of the Defence Act applies to all territories including mandated territories which come within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) has very grave doubts as to whether there is any such obligation. He views with apprehension the proposals embodied in this bill, and believes that if this measure he passed, a definite obligation will rest on every male citizen in Australia between the ages of 18 and 60 years to render compulsory military service in a territory under the control of the Commonwealth, however far it may be removed from Australia. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) strongly supports the proposals contained in this bill, and the views which that honorable member holds on compulsory military service are well known to all of us. Whatever conflict, of opinion there may be between, different sections of the people on compulsory military service for home defence, 1 believe that an overwhelming majority is strongly opposed to compulsory military service overseas. As a Minister in the former government, and also as a private member of this Parliament, I know that the people in my electorate and thousands of others firmly believe .that a statutory obligation to serve overseas does not exist. While I am a member of this Parliament I shall use my endeavours to see that no alteration is made of our defence policy in that respect. I admit that there is considerable room for argument as to the value for defence purposes of the territories under the control of the Commonwealth. The Northern Territory is an integral part of Australia, and we aTe now informed that if other territory, wherever it may be located, should also become an integral part of the Commonwealth, Australian citizens may be expected to assist in its defence. Recently, a portion of the Antarctic came under the control of the Commonwealth, in a manner which I regard as questionable, and, according tothe arguments of honorable members opposite, we may at some time be compelled to send an expeditionary force to that territory to assist in its defence. If a foreign nation endeavoured to override our self-imposed jurisdiction in the Antarctic, and the Commonwealth Government decided to dispute its right of” occupation, it could, I suppose, compulsorily send certain citizens of the Commonwealth to defend it. That is rather a fantastic suggestion, but it is quitefeasible. Tremendous strategic considerations are involved in connexion with the territories under the control of theCommonwealth, mandated and otherwise,, and those considerations apply to any territory wherever it may be. For once- I am in agreement with the honorablemember for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), although I consider that his postulations concerning Hong Kong and Singaporeare quite irrelevant. To be logical we could take over other territories forstrategic purposes - ‘that is the main reason why we accepted the mandate over New Guinea - and citizens of the Commonwealth could be compelled to defend! them. In passing this bill we are opening up an issue which is not understood by the Australian people. They are quite prepared to support a policy under which the manhood of this country may be compelled to serve for home defence, but would oppose an expeditionary force going to New Guinea, Norfolk Island, or even the Antarctic, or’ anywhere else where the British flag may be raised. Any honorable member who underrates the significance of the importance of this debate, is also under-estimating the importance of the position which he occupies in this Parliament. If there is no doubt in the mind of the Minister as to the ultimate implication of this proposed alteration of the law, there should be no need to oppose it.
– I have no doubt in my own mind.
– If the Minister should be wrong and the people of Australia agree to the proposal there may be important repercussions for which the Government and those supporting it will be responsible. If we are to impose this obligation for overseas service in territories wherever they may be, we should tell the Australian people that we are making important alterations of our defence policy, and that while we are not prepared to send expeditionary forces to France, Belgium, Russia, China or any other country, we are seeking power to send such forces to New Guinea, the New Hebrides, Norfolk Island or any similar territory, merely becaue we believe that such territories are of strategic value to the Commonwealth. It still has to be argued to my satisfaction, at least, that this proposal imposes the same obligation upon the people of Australia as is imposed in respect of the defence of this continent. I suppose that it could be argued that there are about 500 islands in the Pacific which are of strategic value which could be “ mopped up “ and in connexion with which similar obligations would be involved.
– Is the honorable member in favour of relinquishing control of the territories we now administer?
– No, but when we assume control over additional territory, we should consider its strategic implications, and not destroy or disrupt a well- established policy which provides ‘ that there shall be no compulsion for overseas service. In the consideration of this subject I have an open mind, and I may feel disposed to support the honorable member for Bourke.
.- The well-reasoned speech of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) is in marked contrast to the attitude of certain honorable members opposite, who appear to gauge the relative value of the discussion by their desire, more or less, to end this period of the session and to return to their homes. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is not in that category because he argued the subject on its merit, though holding, I think, views entirely different from those which I hold in regard to an extension of our territorial’ responsibilities and establishing a new imperialism in the Pacific. I remember when at the close of the Great War, we accepted additional responsibility by accepting a mandate over New Guinea, which honorable members will recall fell bloodlessly into the open and o.;ger hands of the Commonwealth. When the bill was before Parliament on that occasion the then Prime Minister, the right honorable gentleman who is now Attorney-General in this Government (Mr. Hughes) made an impassioned address supporting the mandate in our favour, which mandate, indeed, we took over, by reason of his advocacy, without a number of those qualifying limitations which apply to mandates generally in other parts of the world. I continue to remember at least one phrase which the right honorable gentleman then used. He said, “ Whoever holds New Guinea holds us his argument being, of course, that it was imperatively necessary for the safety of Australia that we should control Now Guinea. I took a different view and addressed a different argument to the House at that time. I said that by the logic of the right honorable gentleman’s argument it followed that there was a constant urge to extend our territory, and that each new acquisition of territory imposed upon us a fresh obligation to obtain more territory for the protection of our latest acquired territory, and so on ad infinitum, in accordance with-.the well-known theory of the larger flea and . the. lesser flea in the scheme of the . universe. Unless it is to be accepted as a ‘universal principle that the tail should . wag the dog rather than the dog the tail, it would follow that it was not logical to assert that whoever hold New Guinea held us, but rather that whoever held Australia held New Guinea.
– Order! The honorable member must associate his remarks with the clause.
– My remarks are quite relevant. We are dealing with the mandated territory and the application of the law, especially the law of defence, to the mandated territory. Indeed, my learned friend the: honorable member for Bourke (Mr.Blackburn) has made his principal argument that we are extending the obligation of compulsory military service on the people of Australia over a wider area than hitherto,, and - that argument, well stated, has never been effectively answered from any part of the committee.
– The Minister is well equipped to argue on this matter, but he has merely told us that the Crown Law authorities have advised him contrary to the advice of the honorable member for Bourke. But there is no AttorneyGeneral at the table to give the legal view to the- committee. There is no Prime Minister to take the responsibility.
– I take the responsibility.
– In that case why not argue the matter instead of telling us that the Crown Law authorities have assured the Government, and that the honorable gentleman accepts their assurance? There is too much acceptance of the assurances of the expert official gentlemen- behind the lines. I want the responsibility to . be accepted by honorable gentlemen in. the front trenches. That is . my view, in regard to this new imperialism of the Pacific. I am totally opposed to it. The -gravest responsibility and. the gravest danger which attaches to Australia from any point of view is the tendency of honorable gentlemen opposite to link us up with the imperialist ambitions of governments and peoples altogether., outsidethe confines ..of. Aus tralia. This is a Commonwealth with immense territories and small population, and every territorial increase or expansion tends to create new dangers for ourselves and new perils for posterity. I am opposed to this clause for. the reasons that I gave on the second reading. We have been most churlishly treated in regard to this bill, and the people of Australia have been treated most scurvily. Honorable gentlemen opposite have failed to realize their responsibility to the electors in regard to this bill. The Government, cannot legislate for this country by bringing in measures furtively in the early hours of the morning, when members are wearied by long sittings. Ministers must answer for this later. I do not particularly blame the Minister, but he is the instrument and he has constituted himself the instrument, and he accepts the responsibility for being the instrument. I protest against the clause, and I shall vote against it, if it is put to the committee.
.- This argument hinges on the real powers of the Government at the moment in respect of sending troops outside Australia, and on whether the powers which the Government is now seeking are an extension of its authority in this direction. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) cited section 49 of the Defence Act, and said that specific reference was made to territories. By interjection I suggested that the powers referred to by the framers of that act may have been the territories that the Commonwealth had acquired from the States, because among the powers taken by the Commonwealth in the Constitution was power to acquire territory from the States, which it has since done.
– The Territory for the Seat of Government, for example.
– Yes. There is no specific reference to the acquisition of outside territories in the Constitution, and, therefore, there is very little in the argument advanced by the honorable member for Barker. When the Australian people come to know the interpretation given to section 49 of the Defence Act by the Commonwealth Government they will know that everything that honorable members of the Opposition have said concerning the Government’s intention touse the man-power register to inflict conscription on the people was true. During the debate on the National Registration Bill, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) said, “ Where is the man who will not register himself to defend his homeland ? “, or words to that eff ect. The Minister now intends to impose the obligation on the young men of Australia to defend not only their homeland, but also any territory which might be under the control of the Commonwealth. The Minister has declared against contrary arguments advanced by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn ), and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), that the Commonwealth already has power to call upon the manhood of Australia to defend the Australian territories, and that this bill is not necessary as an extension of that power. If that be so there is no limit to whither the Government could send Australian troops. The honorable member for Barker, who until recently was a Minister, has no hesitation in saying where he stands. He is a conscriptionist. The honorable member always bows to what he considers to be the superior strategical knowledge of the British military authorities, and he would gladly be a party to Australia’s compliance with any request from those authorities for Australian troops to be sent overseas. I feel, also, that the Minister is imbued with the same traditions. What has become of the declarations made by honorable gentlemen opposite in the various election campaigns that they are members of a “no-conscription party”.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable gentleman must not carry that line of argument any further.
– I want a clear intimation from the Minister as to whether this Government is a conscriptionist government or not?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order !
– I am trammelled by the Temporary Chairman’s interpretation of the Standing Orders in seeking information of vital interest to the people, I have asked before - the Minister has attempted explanations but he has not yet explained satisfactorily - why,, if his interpretation of the existing powers of the Government is that there is authority to send troops into the various territories, if the need arises, he now seeks the powers provided for in this bill. The Minister said that the reason for this bill, in part, was that the Government requires power to enlist forces in the mandated territory or any other territory of the Commonwealth to place them anywhere it desires, in Australia or in a territory of Australia. I do not agree that that is a power that Parliament should grant. The additional powers which have been sought are not even clearly defined. As other honorable gentlemen have mentioned, it is possible that if Australia acquires more territory in other parts of the world Australian troops will be required to go, as conscripts, to its defence should the need arise.In one way I am pleased that this bill has been produced because it enables us to disclose the conscriptionist ‘ brand which the Government has hitherto tried to hide. The earliest opportunity will be taken by the people to pass judgment on the conscription policy just as they passed judgment on a similar policy many years ago.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Nairn.)
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Extension of act to territories).
.- Clause 4 proposes that this act shall extend to the territories of the Commonwealth as if each of those territories were part of the Commonwealth. This definition is supplementary to the last one. The last definition provided that “ Australia “ included the territories of the Commonwealth to which the act extended. This clause provides that this legislation shall extend to the territories of the Commonwealth as if each of those territories were part of the Commonwealth.
I do not rise merely to repeat arguments which I have already used, butI wish to deal with the statements made by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) who conceives that these territories were in contemplation at the time of the framing of the Commonwealth Constitution. The definition of the Commonwealth given by the Constitution includes the Northern Territory, and specific provision regarding territories and States is made in section 111 which provides that States may cede territory to the Commonwealth. Such action was taken by the State of New South Wales in ceding the Territory for the Seat of Government to the Commonwealth.
– There is nothing in section 111 to prevent the Commonwealth acquiring territories.
– Under section 111 it would be possible for a large portion of say Western Australia to be surrendered to the Commonwealth and therefore become a territory of the Commonwealth. Similarly, territories might be ceded to the Commonwealth by other States. It is quite possible that we might find happening here what occurred in America when the State of Maine was separated from Massachusetts, and other similar separations took place. Section 122 of the Constitution provides that the Commonwealth Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered to it by any State. It also, of course, contemplates a territory not surrendered by a State. The honorable member for Barker said that the reference to territories in the Defence Act is meaningless unless it is made in contemplation of territories being acquired by the Commonwealth outside Australia. When that act was passed in 1903 it was of course contemplated that the Northern Territory would be acquired by the Commonwealth, and that power would be exercised under sections 111 and 122 to acquire other territories. For that reason, possibly, this specific reference to territories was inserted in the act. I do not believe for a moment that anybody contemplated at that time that the people of Australia would be compelled to serve outside the actual shores of Australia. As I pointed out last night, the first defence act contained a provision whereby Australians could be compelled to render military service wherever a war occurred. As was pointed out by Mr. Justice Higgins, troops might be compelled to go to Afghanistan or Africa. The bill was then withdrawn and redrafted to limit compulsory military service to the Commonwealth itself. The Opposition of that time was still not satisfied with that, and at the instigation of Senator Pearce, the present section 49 of the act was put in. That is the history of that provision. It has always been considered that the Defence Act did not in any shape or form impose an obligation upon Australian people to serve outside the actual confines of Australia. I do not wish to reiterate what I have already said in this matter, but I rose merely to answer the arguments raised by the honorable member for Barker. In my opinion, that honorable member always raises arguments worth considering and worth, answering. Sometimes they cannot he answered, but on this occasion, I think his arguments can he completely answered,because he based them on the assumption that the Constitution contemplated only territories outside the Commonwealth, whereas in fact, what was envisaged was that, in course of time, there would be an increased number of States in the disintegration of the present States. It was believed that gradually parts would be cut off the present States, and, after serving an adolescent period as territories, as has been the case in America, each would assume the full status of a self-governing State as we expect the Northern Territory to do when its population warrants such action.
– I intrude again into this discussion to quote to the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) in terms of section122 of the Constitution.
– I have already quoted them.
– Apparently the honorable member misread them. Section 122 states -
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
If any justification were needed for the stand which I took an hour ago on this question, it is contained in that section of the Constitution which, I submit, indicates clearly that the framers of the Constitution contemplated that the Commonwealth might, at some future date, acquire territories from outside its own borders, that is, the borders existing on 1st January, 1901. The territories with which we are dealing to-day are strictly territories of the type contemplated in section 122 of the Constitution. If the framers of the Constitution went so far as to say that the Commonwealth Parliament might make provision, not only for the good government of these territories, but also for the representation of these territories in- the’ Commonwealth Parliament, then clearly they intended this Parliament to take adequate steps for the defence of these territories.
– In making that reference to representation in the Commonwealth Parliament, the framers of the Constitution contemplated territories within Australia.
– No, the Commonwealth could not acquire anything unless it were, extra-territorial to the Commonwealth.
– That is absurd.
– I again-; draw attention to section 122 of the Constitution, which includes the words “ any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of “and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth “.
– What about the Northern Territory?
– The first part of the section deals with territories surrendered by a State. Three different methods of surrender are contemplated. One is surrender in the way that South Australia surrendered the Northern Territory, or as New South Wales surrendered the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay. Another method is surrender by the Sovereign. Within fairly recent years Papua has been placed under Commonwealth jurisdiction. Antarctica is another illustration, but what value that may be to the Commonwealth I do not know. A more recent illustration still is that of the Ashmore and Cartier Islands, off the north-west coast of Australia. The third method is referred to in words “ otherwise acquired “. New Guinea is an excellent example. There was no point in including section 122 in the Constitution unless it was intended that the Parliament should have sovereignty over such territories. The exercise of sovereignty over them implies the taking of steps for the peace,- order,- and good government and protection of them. [Quorum formed.]
.- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has deserted the position he took when he referred to the commission given ‘to”; the’:”. GovernorGeneral to administer territories beyond Australia. “I agree with the honorable gentleman’s interpretation of section 122. I merely rose to point out that the Constitution contemplated territories taken from, existing States, surrendered under section. 111, and received under the powers conferred by section 122. Norfolk Island is another example of a territory “ otherwise acquired “. The Northern Territory,- on the. other hand, was received by agreement, with South Australia and.. the Australian Capital Territory was received by agreement with New South “Wales. The Constitution clearly contemplated territories within the shores of’ Australia.
– But not exclusively territories within the shores of Australia.
– That, is so. The Constitution distinguishes the Commonwealth, the States, and territories. The States are components of the Commonwealth and members of a partnership. The territories are areas which may or may not develop, to the status of States. A territory within the Commonwealth is contemplated, just as a territory without the Commonwealth is contemplated. The honorable member for Barker does not agree ‘ with my view on this point, but I cannot help that,;.
Question put - t
That the clausebe agreed to
The committee divided. (TheChairm an; - Mr. . Prowse. )
Majority . . … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Power to appoint commands, military districts, &c).
.- Will the Minister inform me- whether only officers of the Permanent Military Forces may be appointed to. these positions, or whether they will also be open to members of the Militia?
– Members of the Permanent Military Forces or of the Militia may be appointed . to any or all of the positions.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
I move -
That the following- new clause be added: - “7. - (1.) Notwithstanding anything in this act or the principal act -
no inhabitant of any territory of the Commonwealth shall be required, unless he voluntarily agrees to do so, to serve beyond the limits of that territory; and
no inhabitant of Australia shall be required, unless -he voluntarily agrees to do so, to serve beyond the limits of Australia. (2.) In the preceding sub-section of this section ‘ Australia ‘ does not include . any territory of the Commonwealth unless such territory is within the limits of the continent of Australia’ and ‘ territory of the Commonwealth ‘ does not include any territory of the Commonwealth which is within thelimits of the continent of Australia.”.
I desire this new clause to be inserted in order to make it perfectly, clear that a person who lives within the continent of Australia, including Tasmania, whether he lives within a State or a territory within the continent, including Tasmania, shall not be required to serve beyond those areas, and that a person who resides in a territory of the Commonwealth beyond the mainland or Tasmania, shall not be required to serve beyond the particular territory in which he lives. The Labour party is opposed to compulsion in any form in respect of military service. It also stands for the abolition of those provisions of the Defence Act which relate to compulsory training for military service: That is not the point at issue at the moment. All we wish to do now is to express our view that people who live within the Commonwealth, including Tasmania, or a territory within the Commonwealth, including Tasmania, shall not he required to serve beyond that area, and that those who live in Commonwealth territory beyond the shores of the mainland or Tasmania, shall not be required to render compulsory service anywhere else.
– The amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) is consistent with the attitude of the Opposition to the whole of this bill. The case of the Government rests on the fact that section 49 of the Defence Act - which the honorable member seeks, in effect, to negative - makes it clear that a person serving in the Military Forces of Australia is to-day liable to serve in any territory of the Commonwealth. If the amendment of the honorable member were agreed to it would apply to the Naval Forces, as well as to the Military Forces, and what an extraordinary situation would be created if service in the Naval Forces were confined to an area within the 3-mile limit. ‘ The amendment would also apply to the Air Force.
.- Surely the Minister (Mr. Street) does not base his opposition to the amendment on the assertion that it would apply to the Navy as well as to the Military Forces? Enlistment in the Navy is voluntary, and those who seek service therein accept all the implications of naval service. We are seeking to lay it down that no inhabi tant of a territory of the (Commonwealth, shall he required, without, his. consent, . -te? serve beyond the limits of that territory. The Minister has hinted, though he has made no definite declaration, that nothing; to the contrary is intended ‘by the ‘hill. We further say that no inhabitant . of Australia shall be required to.serv’e beyond the limits of Australia. If the Minister agrees to that , principle, all he .has to do is to accept the amendment.. That would allay all of the fears of the Opposition.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honor; able member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) because it is a fair and reasonable one. During the last war, the people were .asked to express their opinion in a referendum” on a proposal to impose conscription” ;f or service overseas, and to that question they, answered an emphatic “ No “. The Government is now trying to override that decision, which was. reached in a democratic way, and in a time when the country was actually at war. The then Prime Minister, the., present right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), professed to believe that the people did not understand the issue, and a fresh referendum was submitted, but again the people rejected the idea of compulsory, service overseas, even though, in the meantime, the Government had compulsorily taken into camp thousands of young nien in an effort to convince the people of the seriousness of the situation’.” - The honorable member for Bourke does not propose to annul the obligations of citizens under the Defence Act. The provisions of- that act are supported by honorable members on this side of the chamber. We even go so far as to say that we are prepared to render military service anywhere within the Empire, but on a voluntary basis, and that, of course, includes New Zealand. If New Zealand were attacked, does any honorable member think it possible that Australians would refuse to enlist for service in its defence? What, therefore, is the need for compulsion? The Labour party has the right, if any one has, to oppose compulsion, seeing that, if it were introduced, it would apply to so many thousands -‘of workers’ who have nothing to defend. Many of the youths who would be affected have never., had. anything hut a miserable dole of 7s. a week. They have no stake.in the country worth defending, but in spite of that they love their country, and would be prepared to defend it. We will not agree, however, to any proposal for compelling Australians to take part in wars overseas. [Quorum formed.]
– The Minister’s objection to the amendmentisthat, if itwere agreed to, we could not compel any Australian to serve in the Navy outside the three-mile limit. The answer to that objection is that we do not, compel any one to serve in the Navy at all, with the possible reservation that if compulsory training were in operation, some persons would have to receive training in the Navy. They, however, would be members of the reserve naval forces.
– We do not compel any one to serve in the Army.
– Section 59 of the Defence Act provides that, in time of war, a proclamation may be made requiring all male inhabitants of Australia between the ages of 18 and 60 to serve, according to their classes, in the Army. Thosepersons become part of the Citizen Military Defence Forces, as provided for in section 32a of the Defence Act.
– The Citizen Forces include the Navy.
– Yes, but the Citizen.’ Military Forces consist of active forces and reserve forces. Section 32a of the act includes the following subsection -
The military reserve forces shall consist of Citizen Forces, and “ shall include the officers shown on the reserve of officers list, the members of rifle clubs, who are allotted to the military reserve forces, and all those liable to serve in time of war under Section 59 of this act, who are not included in the active forces.
The obligation on the citizen to serve requires him. to become a member of the Citizen Military Defence Forces, not a member, of the. naval forces.
-It applies to the naval forces as well. ‘
– I know that the provision “is difficult to construe, but I believe that my interpretation is right. ;. Mr. Street. - What about section 30 of the act?
-Section 30 provides that the Defence Forces shall consist of two arms - the naval and military arms, each of which shall be divided into two branches, called the permanent forces and the citizen forces. The military forces are divided into active forces and military reserve forces. The military reserve forces include all those called upon to serve under section 59, who are not already members of the active forces. The citizen naval forces, by section 21 of the Naval Defence Act, are divided into naval reserve forces and naval volunteer reserve forces. The naval forces do not include those covered by section 59 of the act. The only persons affected by compulsion in the case of the Navy are those subject to compulsory training under section 12. The naval forces are raised, and kept at strength, by voluntary enlistment. That being so, the point made by the Minister simply comes to nothing, because no one can be compelled to join the Navy. A person may be compelled to render service upon land, but he cannot be compelled to render naval service unless he happens to be one of the compulsory trainees, in which case he is in the reserves. If he renders naval service he does so voluntarily. Section 59 of the Defence Act which is the authority for calling them up, does not enable the Commonwealth to draft the persons so called up into the Navy. Consequently, any one who enters the Navy does so of his own free will ; if he joins the Navy for service overseas he does so voluntarily. There is no substance, therefore, in the Minister’s argument, and the matter must be decided on its merits. The policy of Australia as laid down in the Defence Act is that men should be compelled to defend their home-land. Accepting that as our policy I say that the home-land of a person who lives in Australia is Australia, whether it be a State, or a territory which is part of Australia. The home-land of a person who lives overseas is in territory overseas, and he should not be brought from his home-land to fight, for instance, in Tasmania. Neither should a man whose home-land is Australia be forced to fight overseas. I am quite satisfied that twothirds of what I contend about this measure is correct. This bill creates an obligation to serve in’ the mandated territories which, beyond doubt, does not exist at present, and it imposes on persons resident in the territories an obligation to serve in Australia, which does not exist at present. The only point in doubt is whether the Defence Act as at present drawn applies to a non-mandated territory. In that respect the matter is open to doubt, as the act contains a number of contradictory provisions, but what the Minister is doing under this measure is to resolve that doubt in favour of the Government. It may be that the Minister is right in respect of the nonmandated territories, but he is not right on the other points. However, the question as to whether he is right has to be decided not by himself but by a court, and what we want to do is to put these provisions beyond doubt. No room for doubt should exist on the point as to whether any Australian can be compelled to serve for the defence of a territory which is not actually his own home-land.
– The amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) cuts right across the bill, because under it a military force raised in Australia, could not be stationed in any external territory.
– Voluntary forces could.
– Therefore, the whole force could not be administered satisfactorily, because you might get a force in Australia as distinct from a force in Papua or New Guinea, and promotions in Australia would not apply to members of the forces in either of those territories. The main objection to the amendment is that, it militates against the maintenance of a mobile force, any part of which could be used in any other part at any time, I still maintain that section 49 of the Defence Act places a liability on the militia forces to serve in any territory. “Mr. Blackburn. - Not in the mandated territories. “ -Mr. STREET.- I say again,as the Government is sick of saying, that we have no desire to conscript anybody for overseas service. But surely the honorable gentleman will not say that service inthe territories of Papua or Norfolk Island would be overseas service. It would be just as logical.; to. say that service in Tasmania, or Lord Howe Island, would bo overseas service.. -.It would be analogous to say, that the forces raised in Western Australia . could not serve in Queensland. . As the amendment cuts right, across the bill, the Government cannot accept, it.
Question put. -
That the clause proposed to be added (Mr.
Blackburn’s amendment) be added.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - . Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Street) - by Leave - put.
That the bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G.j. Bell.)
Majority . .5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
Messages from the Governor-General reported transmitting Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure, and Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c., for the year ended the 30th June, 1938, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s messages) :
Motion (by Mr. Spender) proposed -
.- The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Spender) has moved a motion which we are expected to adopt before we have had an opportunity to understand its purport. I am particularly anxious to learn if the Government proposes to do anything to assist the unemployed.
– The motion relates to Supplementary Estimates, and I propose shortly to move the second reading of the hill, when honorable members will have an opportunity, if they so desire, to debate the measure.
.- Some time ago, I asked the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey) certain questions concerning the location of annexes to be erected by the department under his control, and from the answers I received, it would appear that these are to be built on the coast.
– This money has already been expended.
– When the last supplementary estimates were under consideration, I asked the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Thorby) if any annexes had been built, and I was told that they had not; but the interjection of the Minister suggests that annexes have already been erected in certain parts of Australia. According to the list with which I have been supplied, one of these annexes is to be built on the property of Charles Ruwolt and Company Proprietary Limited of Richmond, Victoria, which is adjacent to the shores of Port Phillip Bay, and it does not require a great deal of imagination to visualize enemy vessels entering the .heads and destroying .those works which are being erected for defence purposes. Another, annexe is to be built on the property of Stewart Lloyds (Australia) Limited at Newcastle, which is also on the coast. The annexe, which is to be established in connexion with the Victorian railways, is to be placed at the Newport railway workshops, on the coast, despite the fact that there are railway workshops at Ballarat and Bendigo, both inland towns. I am not conversant with the railways system of New South Wales, but I am of the opinion that the annexe for the railway workshops in New South Wales will be in Sydney and that none of the inland railway workshops will participate in this defence work. Annexes are also to be provided at the works of the Australian Glass Manufacturing Company, Melbourne, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, S.ydney, H. V. McKay Massey-Harris Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, R. B. Davies and Company Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, McKenzie and Holland (Australia) Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited, New South Wales, Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company Limited, Sydney, Amalgamated
Wireless Australasia Limited, Sydney, the Commonwealth Steel Company Limited, Sydney, General Motors-Holden, Adelaide, Johns and Waygood Limited, Melbourne, the South Australian Government railway workshops, Islington, and the Ford Motor Company of Australia Proprietary Limited, Geelong. In the event of a successful invasion of Australia the first bastions to fall would be the coastal cities. I ask the Minister in all seriousness how Australia can hope successfully to implement a defence policy when all of the centres in which the materials necessary for the prosecution of a war are manufactured within such easy range of attack. If the munitions works were decentralized and placed as far inland as possible, Australia would have time to recover from the first shock of an impact of an invading force and to concentrate on the manufacture of armaments in places of comparative safety. Throughout the country districts of Australia there are huge engineering enterprises, both public and private, which have the executive staffs and technicians needed to undertake work of the character which is to be given to similar enterprises on the seaboard. I cite for example the Bendigo and Ballarat workshops. Bendigo is 100 miles inland and Ballarat 70 miles. I cite also M. B. John, ‘brassfounders, of Ballarat. Victoria is studded with competently staffed foundries. At Castlemaine, Thompson and Company have built engines and dredges and every other type, of engineering product for 50 years. This firm’s products have been exported to overseas buyers. The Government’s defence policy lacks realism. I concede that it is more economical to concentrate our heavy industries on the seaboard because coal and pig iron are readily available. Nevertheless, economic considerations must play second fiddle to the security of the nation.
– On a point of order, Mr] Chairman, is any honorable gentleman entitled to discuss any matters except such matters as those with which the Estimates which are before honorable members are concerned? There is no mention of “ annexes “ in these Estimates.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse.)It has been the practice of the Chair on a Supply Bill or a motion for Supply to allow the very broadest discussion.
– I thank the Chair for its wise ruling. I consider that from many aspects this defence expenditure is wasteful, but, as Parliament has adopted it as a matter of policy, I conceive it to be my duty to endeavour to convert the Government to the acceptance of the view that the manufacture of defence requirements should be undertaken as far from the first line of attack, obviously the sea coast, as is economically possible.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- It is twelve months since the expenditure for which this bill seeks authority was incurred and I submit that if there must be expenditure supplementary to that for which provision is made in the budget, parliamentary sanction for it should be obtained at the earliest possible time, essentially before the budget for the next year is introduced. What concerns me most in this case is the expenditure of £256,000 on telephone exchanges. That is a major item of expenditure which Parliament is now being asked to approve. In this connexion I suggest that the Commonwealth should adopt the British policy and carry out the Postal Department works on a three-year programme, because it is impossible to complete big undertakings always- within twelve months.
. -In 1936 . the Commonwealth Government amended the Commonwealth Public Service Act in order to give to returned soldiers who had had a certain amount of casual employment in the Public Service a degree of security and permanency to which the government of the day thought they were entitled. That government realized that from 1931 onwards, during the depth of the depression, the services of a good many men were dispensed with by the various departments of the. Commonwealth Service. Among them were about 200 soldiers; they were the men concerned in the amending legislation. As the result of Parliament’s action, section 84 (9) of the Public Service Act now provides that appointments may be made to the Commonwealth Public Service in accordance with conditions provided therein, and sub-paragraph c reads -
Returned soldiers who have not passed the prescribed examination but -
have been temporarily employed continuously for not less than two years; or
. since becoming returned soldiers and prior to the date of commencement of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1925, were temporarily employed for not less than two years, and in respect of whom the chief officer certifies that their duties have been, or were performed in a satisfactory manner:
Provided that any such appointment shall be to a position the duties of which are similar to those which the returned soldier has been performing or performed.
The intention of the amendment is very clear. There are really only two requirements. First, the officer in charge must certify that the service of the employees concerned has been competent; and, secondly, the men must be appointed to positions in a grade similar to that in which they were casually employed. It would appear from communications I have received from men who have been victimized by the Public Service Board, that that body has taken a more literal view of the amendment than was intended by the Government. These men are very concerned about their positions because the average returned soldier is now reaching the age limit for permanent appointment to the Commonwealth Public Service. In the hope that the passing of the amendment would enable them to obtain some degree of permanency in the Public Service they have completed the requisite amount of casual employment, but apparently the Public Service Board has decided that appointments will only be made to such vacancies as the board creates. Whether or not that is a strict legal interpretation of the wording of the amendment passed in 1936, I submit that that was not the intention of Parliament. I am not attempting to advance the claims of one man as against those of another, nor am I attempting to urge unduly preference to returned soldiers. I am merely advancing the claim that, being already employees of the Government, these men are entitled to some consideration and to the degree of permanency provided for in the amendment. When the amending measure was being debated in the Senate, the then Postmaster-General (Senator A. ,T. McLachlan) said that immediately it became law 150 men would be given permanent employment in the Postal Department. He said that positions were vacant and that the department was ready to employ the men. That was a very definite declaration and it indicates clearly the purpose of the amendment. When the bill was before this House the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Harrison) said -
I have been interested in these cases because, since 1932, I think I have taken six deputations to six different Ministers endeavouring to have these men re-appointed. Only four months ago I took a deputation to the Prime Minister, and I am hopeful that out of that deputation came this bill amending the principal act. Those ex-soldiers who were in the general divison of the Public Service, were, as honorable members are aware, declared redundant in 1931, and a lot of them had a long period of service behind them, some of them as much as ten years. They did not receive appointments of a permanent nature. Though they had applied for it they had been considered in a temporary capacity only. Therefore, they had to suffer the axe when it was introduced during the depression years. Since then they have suffered considerably. Their number is not great. They served their country overseas, and during the depression their circumstances were very sad indeed. After being declared redundant officers, being postal employees and employees only, they found that they could not easily fill any niche in the commercial world; their choice of occupation was limited. They had a perfect right to reappointment, and I commend the Government for doing a real job of work in giving these men a chance to re-enter the Commonwealth service.
I quote that statement merely to demonstrate that the intention of the legislature Was that these returned soldiers, men who were victims of circumstances over which they had no control, should he given special consideration in the Public Service. When the amendment was under consideration in this House all Government supporters who spoke to it, even the present Postmaster-General, were of the opinion that these men who had given satisfactory service for two years should be eligible for permanent appointment. Now the Public Service Board is overriding the expressed intention of the legislature of that time by saying, in effect, “ These men are entitled to permanency, but only when we create the vacancies.”
– Two hundred men were given permanent employment in the Brisbane Post Office.
– -That may be so. but there are still many who have been given no consideration. They are approaching the age beyond which they will no longer be eligible for permanent appointment. The letter to which I have referred states - it is apparent that the majority of men at present holding the qualifications referred to will never be appointed to the permanent stall’ owing to there, not being sufficient created permanent positions for their appointment, or that they will reach 51 years of age at a not far distant date.
What I want to impress upon the committee is that the intention of the legislature was entirely different from the harsh interpretation placed upon the amendment by the Public Service Board. Since the Public Service Board is a creature and a creation of Parliament it should not be able to override the expressed wishes of the legislature in this way.
– To deal with the Public Service Board one would think that it was the Almighty.
– I remind the committee that honorable members on both sides of this House were almost unanimously of the opinion that the amendment provided an opportunity to settle an outstanding difficulty by legislative action. I venture to say that not one member who took part in the. debate on the amendment anticipated that the Public Service Board would subsequently place such a literal and unfair interpretation upon it. For instance, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) said - 1 appreciate that position because, in common with many other returned soldiers in this House, I have urged for a long period that] something of its nature be done. I remind the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), who suggested that the clause will not confer benefits on returned soldiers, that in another place the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) said definitely that about 200 returned soldiers in his department alone will be placed in the position of being able to secure permanent employment when this bill is passed.
Almost every Government supporter who spoke on that, occasion apparently understood the amendment to mean that any returned soldier, irrespective of whether or not he had passed the necessary entrance examination, should be entitled to permanent employment provided he had completed two years’ casual employment in the Public Service. I have ventilated this question on several occasions during the last three weeks because, as 1 have said, many of these returned soldiers are now very close to the age limit and for that reason the matter is an urgent one.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– If no other member desires to speak I shall utilize the second period to which I am entitled.
When I brought this matter up in the House on a previous occasion, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) informed me that inquiries were being made. I point out that to many of these men three weeks might mean all the difference between being permanently employed in the Public Service and continuing their employment on the present casual basis. After all, since the legislature, at the behest of the Government, has decided that these men are entitled to certain rights, it ill becomes the Public Service Board to take up the stand which it is apparently adopting. Having carried the amendment, the Government should have the courage to go a step further and stand by the declaration made by the former PostmasterGeneral in the Senate. The Public Service Board should not be permitted to place its own literal interpetation on legislation and virtually become a dictator of policy. The Government should not sit on the doorstep of the Public Service Board, but should take a firm stand in the matter and see that its wishes are carried out.
Mr. DRAKEFORD (Maribyrnong) 5.30]. - I support the representations of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) regarding the position of exsoldiers temporarily employed in the Public Service. Provision should be made for them to be placed on a permanent basis. Some of these men have periods of from ten to twelve years of casual service. Some even have had fourteen years’ service, with short breaks caused through no fault of their own and arising from depression conditions or departmental convenience. It is time that their service was recognized by granting them permanent appointments. I could give specific instances, but as I desire to deal with other subjects, time will not permit me to do so on this occasion.
The remarks of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) respecting the location of annexes also deserve consideration. The factories for making munitions in times of emergency should be scattered as widely as possible. I suggest to the Government that the Commonwealth railway workshops at Port Augusta are a suitable location for an annexe, for practically the whole of the necessary equipment is available for use there. Port Augusta is well situated at the top of Spencer’s Gulf and could not easily be attacked. It would also afford a training ground for skilled workmen away from metropolitan centres. I disagree with the suggestion of the honorable member for Ballarat that Maribyrnong is on the coast. Actually it is 40 miles inland, but at the same time the concentration there of 4,500 artisans in three factories within a mile or so is dangerous. I visited Queensland recently and I consider that annexes should be established at Ipswich and other country centres such as Townsville; but I shall leave my colleagues from Queensland to deal with that matter at greater length. I realize that a State with a vulnerable eastern coastline of more than 1,500 miles, which includes a fourth of the territory of the Commonwealth and more than one-seventh of its population, should not be left without adequate protection. The Government should see to it that effective defence arrangements are made in Queensland.
I wish now to refer to the necessity to provide adequate rest house accommodation and better housing generally for Commonwealth Government employees on the trans-Australian railway line. I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins) a question on this subject to-day, but I am not clear from his reply whether the Government intends to do something, or whether notice was desired of my question. Not very long ago the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and I travelled along this railway line and inspected the quarters provided for the men. We were accompanied by the secretary of the Locomotive Enginemen’s Union, the industrial officer of the Australian Workers Union, with which organizations most of the men are connected, and a State member of Parliament, Mr. L. Riches, M.L.A. We made an extensive inspection of the housing conditions and were astounded that the department has not made better arrangements for its employees. This is emphasized by further information which has since been made available. According to a reply given by the Assistant Minister (Mr. Perkins) to a question by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McHugh) on this subject on the 23i’d May, the Commonwealth Government has, in the last ten years, made a profit of more than £46,000 in connexion with the provision of stores for approximately 1,500 employees in the service. Such a profit cannot be regarded as other than substantial, and it could have been used as part of that amount required. to provide better housing. The Public Service Arbitrator severely criticized, the Railway Department when he delivered his last award covering these men, because of the inadequate provision it had made for their housing, which in some instances is shocking. I am sure that had he been aware that such a substantial profit had been made in the provision of stores for the men, his remarks would have been much more stringent. Many of the places in which the men have to live are without either bathroom or laundry accommodation. Some of the places on the north-south line are mere humpies with lean-to roofs. I know, of course, that the water supply in much of the country through which the Commonwealth railways pass is poor on account of the low rainfall and that that make* the provision of water supply difficult, but as they have been constructed partly for strategic purposes and employees and their families must be stationed there, better accommodation should be provided.
The Arbitrator commented as follows on the prevailing conditions : - [, fear that the prestige of the Commonwealth as an employer must he lowered in the eyes of the discerning travelling public by the sight of the primitive living quarters provided for its employees at many places.
Referring to the single men’s quarters, he said -
The accommodation consists of one room, lt contains a stove for cooking in close proximity to which the man has his stretcher for sleeping. In the long hot summer with the temperature at over 100 degrees, the juxtaposition of bed and fireplace which has been used for cooking has obvious disadvantages.
On page 12 of his award, he said -
Generally speaking, the housing accommodation provided by the department for its gangers and fettlers and other miscellaneous employees stationed at wayside places along the line is not what it should be. Mr. Justice Starke in 1920 expressed the view that “ the Commissioner’s accommodation huts are, in truth, makeshift affairs and the Government must soon consider the permanent housing of their employees along the trans-Australian railway.” That comment still applies to-day seventeen years later to many of the dwellings now occupied.
He also stated. -
At some places the fettlers’ tent house type of building is used. There is no verandah on such building and this means the men must rest indoors . . . but the view is expressed that the aim of the department should be to provide, as nearly as practicable, facilities which would closely approximate those which might be expected in a medium class, comfortable, well-conducted public accommodation house.
During the hearing of the case a chart was submitted to the court showing the extremes of temperature experienced in. these localities. This disclosed that not only is extreme heat experienced in summer, but extreme cold is also experienced in winter, which closely approximates the coldness of Hobart in Tasmania. Generally speaking, the barracks are- constructed without verandah space or sleepouts, which are so essential to comfort in districts which record such an extreme summer temperature as 118 degrees in the shade ! The quarters are without separate lounge-rooms with an open fireplace although the extreme cold of 30 degrees has been recorded at Rawlinna, and 25. S degrees at Cook. In one or two isolated cases plunge baths are supplied, but they can only be used during winter months. Not in one instance is a bath, heater provided.
The accommodation provided for Commonwealth railway employees along these lines is in marked contrast to that provided for the employees of other departments in .the Commonwealth service who work there. The postal employees, for example, live in quite reasonable houses at reasonable rentals. The Public Service Act provides that the rentals to be charged to officers of the Commonwealth departments who have to make their homes in such places shall not exceed 10 per cent, of their earnings. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth railway employees are not covered by that section of the act, but that is not a good reason why similar conditions should he denied them. Surely it does not require any stressing that families who have to live in these outlandish places should he provided with reasonable conveniences. At Alice Springs, and also at Tarcoola, Rawlinna and Cook the houses provided for the officers of other Government departments are far superior to those provided for railway employees. This distinction should not be allowed to continue.
I could deal much more satisfactorily with this matter if more time were available, but in the meantime the members of my party request that the Government shall either introduce an amendment of the Public Service Act to provide that railway employees shall be granted the same housing conditions as the employees of other departments, or instruct the Railways Commissioner, who should be made to realize his responsibility, to provide adequately on similar rental conditions for his employees who have to live in these remote areas. I hope that the Government will give early and favorable consideration to these representations. If it fails to do so, the members of the Opposition will feel under obligation to adopt other means to direct more forcible notice to the urgency of the case, in order that these people, who are giving good service to the whole community, although they live so far away, shall be able to live under reasonably decent conditions.
.- I desire to bring once more under the notice of the Government the desirability of abolishing the obnoxious tax of 5 per cent, on all gold won by prospectors in New Guinea. I first raised this matter on the 23rd September last, and on that occasion the Minister in Charge of Territories, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), gave me the following reply: -
Nothing has been done since. On the 4th May, I asked the present Minister (Mr. Perkins) if it was a fact that his predecessor had given me that promise, and- he replied that the matter had been considered by the Executive Council in New Guinea, but that finality had not been reached. Again I made inquiries on the subject, and on the 30th May last I received the following reply from the Minister:-
I am unable to say when a decision will be reached, but I can assure the honorable member that the matter is being kept under notice, and that a decision’ .will ‘he taken as early as practicable. . .
It is clear that the Administration in New Guinea has no sympathy for the prospectors, who were responsible for placing the finances of New Guinea in such a very sound position. I do not say that the large profitmaking companies, such as the Bulolo Dredging Company, which makes a profit of about £600,000 a year, should not pay the tax, but the individual prospectors should certainly be exempt. To them it is a very serious matter. The tax is not 5 per cent of their profits, hut is 5 per cent, on all of the gold they win. Every one knows that in the prospecting lottery there are many blanks, but- few prizes. Prospectors are always hoping to make a good strike, and if they do they will be quite willing to pay the tax. In New Guinea, at one time, no one was allowed to engage in prospecting unless he had a stake of £500. Frequently, prospectors go into uncontrolled areas, though they are warned that they should not do so. Therefore they go at their own risk. We are reading now in the press about Mr. Taylor, one” of the best district officers in the New Guinea service, who is exploring new territory, but that area was first penetrated by a prospector named Leahy, who went to it years ago with his brother. Such men take their lives in their hands in their quest for gold. The pros- pectors were in New Guinea when that country was under German control, and knew of the presence of gold there before the Germans did. “ Sharkeye” Park, one of the original prospectors, who found gold on Koranga Creek, was living on the country with the natives years before any other white man penetrated the district. Without gold, the territory would have to depend entirely on copra, the price of which fluctuates and is barely payable. The price of gold, of course, has gone up in inverse ratio to the reduction of the price of other primary products. The administration in New Guinea collects £100,000 a year in royalty on gold. Most of it, I admit, comes from the large companies, and very properly so. The prospectors who go into a new country, such as the Wewak district north of the Sepik river and other districts, have to live on their capital until they find gold, and yet they are charged 5 per cent, on every ounce they find. That is enough to discourage prospectors. Many persons in Wau, including some connected with the big mining companies, have urged that prospectors be exempt from this tax. In no other part of the world are prospectors charged a royalty on gold. Paddy Hannan, who first discovered gold at Kalgoorlie, was honoured by having the main street of that town called after him, and by having an imperishable statue erected to his memory. In his old age he was granted a pension by the. Government of Western Australia, which understood the worth of the prospectors. In New Guinea, however, owing to the inertia or obtuseness of the administration - and I do not exempt the Administrator, though I have never before said a word against him - the iniquitous gold tax is still levied on prospectors, because the authorities, apparently, do not realize the value of what the prospectors have done, and are doing. If the Minister is unable to influence those who form the administration in New Guinea, he should take steps to have them removed. The Legislative Council of New Guinea meets at
Rabaul, hundreds of miles from where the gold was discovered. The members of that council are largely interested in copra and missions. They have singletrack minds apparently, and think only of planting. These are the people who are inflicting this injustice on the prospectors. Numerous letters have been sent to the department on this subject, and I should like to know what the Minister has been doing about it. If I live until the nextmeeting of Parliament, I intend to make this fight pretty hot, unless something has been done in the meantime. The prospectors could not be treated worse in one of the Latin-American companies in South America. [ Quorum formed.]
.- Some time ago, I asked the Prime Minister to appoint a committee to inquire into anomalies in the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, and I drew attention to the methods, employed : by the department to determine total and permanent incapacity in applicants for invalid pensions. I maintain that power should be vested in the Deputy Commissioners in the various States to deal with applications - of this kind on their merits. While it is true that a clerical worker might not be totally and permanently incapacitated by the loss of a leg, a labourer undoubtedly would be. Furthermore, I am at a loss to understand how the departmental medical officers are able to say that some persons suffering from epilepsy are not totally and permanently incapacitated whilst other sufferers from the same disease are totally and permanently incapacitated.
– Mr. Chairman, I draw your attention to the state of the Committee.
– I remind the honorable member that the quorum bells were rung not five minutes ago.
– I submit, Mr. Chairman, that a quorum must always be maintained.
– The Chair will take suitable steps to maintain a quorum.
Motion (by Mr.. Gander) negatived -
That the ruling be dissented from.
– The very weak argument advanced by the departmental doctors in explanation of the anomaly which I have just mentioned is that a person who takes epileptic fits infrequently is not totally and permanently incapacitated, and is able to earn a livelihood. Any one who has had anything to do with these sufferers realizes that an epileptic need take only one fit at work to lose his or her employment. Consequently, it is not possible for persons subject to these fits to earn a livelihood. I urge the Government to instruct the department to grant invalid pensions to all persons suffering from this disease, irrespective of the frequency or infrequency of their attacks.
I also draw attention to certain methods adopted by the departmental inspectors in the policing of the old-age and invalid pensions legislation. It appears that these inspectors pay undue attention to industrial areas, whilst overlooking areas situated in electorates represented by supporters of the Government. They are careful to do nothing which might embarrass honorable members opposite. It seems that in recent months, following the action of the A uditor-General in drawing attention to the fact that the percentage of invalid pensioners in New South Wales is the highest for any State, the department is tightening up pensions in that State. The department now reviews cases in that State on the slightest pretext, and usually the pension is cancelled. In spite of the weight of evidence produced from outside medical doctors, the departmental doctors usually decide against the pensioner. In one case a woman who had been drawing an invalid pension for some time produced a certificate from Dr. Crother, a well-known Sydney doctor, who stated that, in his opinion, the woman was not only totally and permanently incapacitated, but also could not possibly live very much longer. Yet, despite that certificate the departmental doctors declared that this woman was not permanently and totally incapacitated and, consequently, the department withdrew her pension. I suggest that some of the departmental doctors are not capable of doing this work. For instance, many of them are engaged for most of the time in quarantine work. They might be capable of conducting quarantine ex aminations, but, apparently, they are not competent to examine applicants for invalid pensions as thoroughly as they should. The Old-age and Invalid Pensioners Association has urged for some time that a board of appeal be established.
– Some of these doctors have too large a private practice to give proper attention to departmental work.
– The act is also applied very harshly in another direction. A person in receipt of an invalid pension is often called up for medical re-examination, and on the doctor’s report the pension is withdrawn. Within a few weeks, or, at the outside, a few months, that person produces outside medical evidence, the case is reconsidered, and the pension is restored. I fail to see how a person’s health could vary to such a degree in so short a space of time. Furthermore, in such circumstances, the pension is not restored as from the date when it was cancelled. I submit that the -pensioner in such cases should not be penalized because of errors on the part of departmental doctors. The pensioner should not lose any portion of the pension in this way.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
States Grants (Youth Employment) Bill 1939.
Defence Bill 1939.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made -by the House of Representatives in this bill.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the House of Representatives’ amendment upon the Senate’s amendment (clause 15).
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the House at its rising adjourn until a date and hour to he fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall- be notified- by Air. Speaker to each member by telegram, or letter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next meeting.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mi-. PERKINS (Eden-Monaro - Minister in charge of External Territories) [6.16]. - Certain allegations which have received some publicity have been made that migrants of an inferior physical type are being admitted into Australia. The facts are these: Alien migrants are required to furnish with their applications certificates of health and character and, in common with other migrants, are required to undergo medical examination by Commonwealth medical officers on arrival in Australia. In most cases the medical certificates furnished, particularly in the case of refugees, are from medical officers connected with British consulates, or holding official positions, and there is no reason to doubt their genuineness. Assisted British migrants are medically examined before embarkation. It has been suggested that there is therefore a discrimination in favour of alien migrants. The position is that in view of the financial assistance given by the Commonwealth and British Governments in the case of assisted British migrants, it is reasonable that precautions should be taken to ensure that the grantees of assisted passages are physically fit before embarkation for Australia. Moreover, there are special facilities for medical examination of these migrants, as assisted passages are granted only to British subjects coming to Australia from the United Kingdom and it is practicable to arrange for their examination in Eng: land by medical officers appointed by the Commonwealth for the purpose. British subjects who are not applicants for assisted passages are in a much more favorable position as regards immigration. Such British subjects are not required to make application for admission into Australia, or to supply medical certificates or submit to a special medical examination prior to embarkation. They are, of course, medically examined on arrival at the first port of call in Australia. They are also not required to be in possession of any stipulated amount of landing money but are free to land in Australia if in possession of a valid British passport, provided there is no reason for an officer to be of the opinion that, if admitted, they are likely to be a charge upon the public. Allegations have been made that the landing money which an alien is required to hold on arrival has merely been loaned,- but these are mainly in the case pf guaranteed migrants who are required to hold £50 landing money. In the case of non-guaranteed migrants, the amount of landing money stipulated is usually £200 or more, and there is no reason to believe that traffic in the higher amounts is carried on. In fact, many instances come under notice where the non-guaranteed migrants introduce considerably more than the amounts stipulated.
With regard to guaranteed migrants, I may say that although the Government has reason to believe that the amount is advanced by the guarantor in some instances, it is difficult to prove that any improper trafficking is being carried on. The fact remains that the migrant is required to be in possession of the money in a negotiable form on arrival,, and, if anything should have happened to his guarantor, the migrant would have some capital at his disposal for his immediate needs. It is mainly on the guarantee, however, that reliance is placed that the immigrant will not be allowed to becomea public charge on his arrival in Australia, coupled with the fact that in nearlyall cases where there is a guarantor in
Australia, assured employment is also awaiting the nominee. As the allegations published in the press have reflected particularly on refugee migrants, it is only fair to draw attention to the fact that the great majority of such migrants who have been granted permission to enter Australia during the past twelve months have been persons of good physical type a,nd a high grade of mentality. They are persons who have been successful in their own countries, and have become emigrants not from any desire to emigrate, but from political necessity.
A prominent man who recently made allegations as to the unfitness of alien migrants has intimated that his statements were of a hearsay nature only, and could not be substantiated by any concrete illustration. I assure honorable members that every possible precaution will be taken to ensure that aliens of inferior physical type will not be permitted to enter Australia.
– in reply - I take this opportunity to refer briefly to a subject raised on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), who referred to the determination recently given by the Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Boniwell, in the Amalgamated Postal Workers’ case, and who offered certain reasons why he thought that that determination was not in all the circumstances fair. I do not desire to enter into a controversy as to the fairness or otherwise of the determination, because that, after all, is a matter for the person in a position to determine the case, and who, unlike an honorable member in this chamber, has heard all the evidence tendered by witnesses, and has been able to cross-examine them. In these circumstances, the Arbitrator is in the best position to determine what is fair. In the absence of my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Hughes), I think it proper, in justice to the Arbitrator, that I should say that during the whole- of my experience with him, which extends over a considerable period, I have found him a fair-minded . and judicial man. He was appointed to the position of Public Service Arbitrator primarily on my own nomination when I was AttorneyGeneral. He has had a very long association with the Commonwealth Public Service, and is familiar with that Service to a degree which few men can claim. I regard Mr. Boniwell as a man of the highest character, of great clearness of mind, and of judicial temperament. In these circumstances it is regrettable that a decision of his should be exposed to being canvassed, and that my honorable friend should find it necessary to speak on an ex parte statement, and reflect his views when, in effect, he is one of the parties to the litigation. I know nothing concerning the merits of the case. 1 offer no views on the subject; but I would have been neglecting my duty had I failed to take this opportunity to say that the Public Service Arbitrator is a man who rightly enjoys the confidence of the Government and of those under him.
– It is the extraordinary nature of the decision which excludes 50 per cent, of the men concerned.
– It is not possible for me to describe the decision as extraordinary until I know the facts which were before the adjudicator. Even if- 1 knew them I might not then be qualified to sit in judgment on his decision, because he has a knowledge of Public Service matters which I do not .posses.-. To refer to any counter action, and to suggest, unwittingly I believe, that he is an incompetent and biased man, is unfair, because I know that he is highly competent and unbiased.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Nauru - -Report to Council of League of Nations on Administration of Nauru during 1938.
New Guinea - Report to Council of League of Nations on Administration of Territory of New Guinea for year 1937-38.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment of D. J. Simper, Attorney-General’s Department.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes at Northbridge, New South Wales.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government. (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1939 -
No. 2. - Medical Practitioners Registration.
No. 3. - Canberra Community Hospital.
No. 4. - Stock Diseases.
Public Health Ordinance - Regulations amended.
The House adjourned at 6.24 p.m., untila date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
k asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
e asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– - The information is being obtained.
n asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he request the Tariff Board to review its 1934 report on agricultural implements for the purpose of bringing it up to date?
– I recently informed the honorable member that consideration would be given to the matter. A decision has not yet been made.
y asked the Minister for Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
y asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l asked tlie Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Mj.gka.tion : Glove Makers.
l asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon, notice -
How many European migrants have been admitted to engage in the manufacture of gloves or glove leathers, or who, on their applications for admittance, stated that they were engaged in these industries in Europe?
– The information is being obtained.
CIVIL Aviation Department: Appointment of Chief Electrical Officer.
y asked, the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Is the Minister yet in a position to supply the information asked (or by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie on the 2nd June, with regard to matters relating to the pearling centres of Broome, Darwin and Thursday Island?
– The compilation ‘of the information is not yet complete.
L asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
No. The examination standard required of returned soldiers is lower than that demanded of non-returned soldiers, and is apparently not beyond the capacity of the returned soldiers as men are continually passing the necessary examinations.
Industrial Dispute at Darwin.
s. - Yesterday, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked me the following question with respect to the strike at Darwin: -
Is the Attorney-General aware that .the strike at Darwin has now been continued for five weeks with the result that important government works are being delayed and serious losses incurred by contractors? Does the right honorable gentleman intend to take any action in regard to it such as, for example, to apply for the de-registration of the union, or in any other way to ensure that the law will be observed so that work may be continued according to schedule ?
The position is that His Honour Judge Drake-Brockman left Sydney on Tuesday by air for Darwin, having previously taken action to summon a compulsory conference in Darwin at 10 o’clock yesterday morning. No advice as to the result of the compulsory conference has yet been received.
It is hoped that as a result of His Honour’s visit the trouble will be adjusted. The question of de-registration does not and cannot arise until the proceedings of the compulsory conference, and any court proceedings arising therefrom, have concluded.
e asked the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - ;
Charles Ruwolt Proprietary Limited, Melbourne; Stewarts and Lloyds (Australia) Limited, Newcastle; Victorian Railways; New South Wales Railways; Australian Glass Manufacturing Company Limited’, Melbourne; Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited; Sydney; H. V. McKay-Massey Harris Proprietary Limited, Melbourne; McKenzie and Holland (Australia) Proprietary Limited, Melbourne; Duly and Hansford, Sydney; Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company Proprietary Limited, Sydney; Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, Sydney; General Motors-Holdens Limited, South Australia; Johns and Waygood Limited, Melbourne; Ford Company of Australia, Geelong; Commonwealth Steel Company Proprietary Limited, Newcastle; South Australian Railway Workshops; R. B. Davies and Company Proprietary Limited, Sydney.
The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) asked a question on the 8 th June as to the centres and properties upon which annexes were proposed to be built. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the Government has approved of armament annexes being established at the works of the following : -
Charles Ruwolt Proprietary Limited, Melbourne; Stewarts and Lloyds (Australia) Limited, Newcastle; Victorian Railways; New South Wales Railways ; Australian Glass
Manufacturing Company Limited, Melbourne; Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, Sydney; H. V. McKay -Massey Harris Proprietary Limited, Melbourne; McKenzie and Holland (Australia) Proprietary Limited, Melbourne; Duly and Hansford, Sydney; Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company Proprietary Limited, Sydney ; Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, Sydney; General Motors-Holdens Limited, South Australia; Ford Company of Australia, Geelong; Commonwealth Steel Company Proprietary Limited, Newcastle; South Australian Railway Workshops; R. B. Davies and Company Proprietary Limited, Sydney; Johns and Waygood Limited, Melbourne.
Negotiations are at present proceeding in regard to the ownership and tenure of the land and/or buildings, and it is, therefore, not desirable in the public interest at this stage to disclose details, but I can assure the honorable member that in any cases where leasehold tenure is decided upon, it is probable that nominal rentals only will be charged.
Arrangements were made with the Ford Motor Company Limited of Geelong some time before I became Minister for Supply and Development.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 June 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1939/19390616_reps_15_160/>.