15th Parliament · 1st Session
The House of Representatives on the 22nd September, 1939, adjourned until a day and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, and notified by him to each honorable member. The House met pursuant to such notification.
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Honorable members will have read, with regret, of the death in Adelaide, on the 22nd October last, of the Honorable Sir John Langdon Bonython, K.C.M.G.
Sir Langdon Bonython, as he was generally known, was 91 years of age at the time of his death, and had been a foremost figure in the public life of the Commonwealth for many years. In the early days of federation he was a member of the House of Representatives, having been elected to represent South Australia at the general elections of 1901. Upon the division of that State into electorates, he was elected to represent the division of Barker at the general elections of 1903. His association with the Commonwealth Parliament ceased in 1906, when he retired upon the expiration of the second Parliament.
Valuable service was rendered by the deceased honorable gentleman in the Commonwealth sphere as one of fourteen trustees appointed under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act of 1916, and as a commissioner appointed under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act of 1917. In 1922 he was appointed a member of the commission to make arrangements for the representation of Australia at the British Empire Exhibition of 1924. He was also chairman of the
CommonwealthLiterary Fund from1908 to 1929.
In the business world the late Sir Langdon Bonython was eminently successful as a newspaper proprietor. He was associated with many public organizations in South Australia, and was particularly interested in matters appertaining to the scientific and educational activities of that State. His public benefactions in the cause of education included gifts of £50,000 for the erection of a Great Hall at the University of Adelaide, £20,000 for the endowment of a Chairof Law, and £20,000 to the School of Mines. His gift of £100,000 for the completion of the parliamentary buildings in Adelaide was a magnificent example of the public spirit that he displayed throughouta long and an honorable career.
Sir Langdon Bonython was honoured by His Majesty the King on three occasions, the order of Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George having been conferred on him in 1919.
I may add, in recognition of Sir Langdon Bonython’s distinguished service to Australia, that the Commonwealth Government accorded him a state funeral.
I had not the advantage of a very intimate acquaintance with Sir Langdon Bonython, but I can remember meeting him for the first time 27 years ago when I was a schoolboy, and again, after a very long interval of time, only during the last twelve months. I was profoundly struck by the fact that the long period of time which had- elapsed between those two meetings had left his mental powers and the strength of his personal character unimpaired. Sir Langdon Bonython was a very striking man. He was a man of great power of mind, of great vigour, and I believe of great ‘ patriotism. He made a mark in Australia. Undoubtedly he made a special mark in South Australia, and there is great satisfaction to all of us in the realization of the fact that men of this high type, men ofthis great calibre, can be produced in Australia, and can render such notable service to this country.
I ask honorable members to join with me in an expression of real sympathy with the members of his family. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Sir John Langdon Bonython, K.C.M.G., a member of the House of Representatives for South Australia in the first Commonwealth Parliament, and subsequently member for the division of Barker, places on record its appreciation of his distinguished public services, and tenders its sincere sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion, and associate honorable gentlemen who sit behind me with everything that the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said concerning the late Sir Langdon Bonython.
As has been recounted to the House, the services of the late honorable gentleman to Australia were many and varied. Apart from his membership of this Parliament, he displayed very considerable public zeal, and the very great personal qualities that he possessed, associated with the fact that he was in a position to give effect to many of his wishes, enabled him to play a very great part in the cultural life, particularly of South Australia, and, I believe also, to a very great degree, of the Commonwealth. I am very glad that among his many activities he was able to be associated with the control of the Commonwealth Literary Fund. That was evidence of his willingness to serve, in a humble way, in a matter which has contributed greatly to the best interests of Australia. I had not an opportunity to meet Sir Langdon Bonython, but I have had the privilege of meeting his distinguished son, Sir Lavington Bonython, while he was Lord Mayor of Adelaide. I feel that the Bonython family can be admired as representing in Australia a type of which we can indeed well be proud. I sincerely associate myself with the expressions . of regret that the Prime Minister has voiced at the decease of the late honorable gentleman.
– I desire to support the motion moved by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr Menzies) and to associate the Australian Country party with every word that the right honorable gentleman has uttered. I personally had the opportunity to know the late Sir Langdon Bonython moderately well, and as a South Australian I know the great part that he played in many of the activities of that State - some of which were known to the general public but many of which never became known - designed for the benefit and welfare of the State. He was a man who had distinguished himself in journalism and in business. He had also played a prominent part in the politics of his own State, and in addition was one of the original members of this House of Representatives. I believe that I can say that, above all, he was a man who not only loved his fellow men but also endeavoured, to the utmost of his capacity, to serve them.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– It is with regret that I inform honorable members of the death in Sydney on the 20th October last of Dr. Francis Liddell, a former member of this House.
Dr. Liddell was elected to represent the division of Hunter at the general elections of 1903 and 1906. He was defeated at the general elections of 1910.
It is nearly 30 years since Dr. Liddell was associated with the Commonwealth Parliament, but it is nevertheless fitting, I think, that we should to-day honour his memory and record our sympathy at the passing of one who belonged to an earlier generation of members of this House. T move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. Francis Liddell, M.B., M.S., a former member of the House of Representatives for the division of Hunter, places on record its appreciation of his public services, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his relatives -in their bereavement.
– I second the motion. I am quite sure that the few surviving members of this Parliament who were contemporaries of the late Dr. Liddell could speak more intimately concerning his personal characteristics than I can do. But any man who, in the years that have gone, was elected to this Parliament must have demonstrated that he possessed outstanding ability and that the public bad confidence in him. I have not the least doubt that, in his day and generation, Dr. Liddell gave to Australia the best that he was capable of giving; and that is as much as any man can give.
– I support the motion and associate the Country party with all that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) have said. It is becoming increasingly evident that the day is not far distant when there will be none left of the generation which constituted the members of this Parliament in its early days. This must give us all cause for thought. We have to recognize also that a new generation is arising. We all regret the passing of those who have gone before us, and to the relatives of this deceased ex-member of this Parliament we express our sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to the relatives of the deceased ex-members the. resolutions of sympathy, together with copies of the speeches delivered in connexion with them.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs make a statement indicating the number of complaints he has received in regard to alleged profiteering, and the steps he has taken to investigate them ? I also wish to know whether any of the charges were proved, and, if so, what action has been taken by the Government to punish the offenders?
– I propose to make a full statement on this subject a little later in the sitting.
Australia’s Wak Policy - Ministerial Changes - Wah Cabinet - Economic Cabinet - Director of Economic Co-ordination - War Expenditure - Compulsory Military Training for Home Defence - Empire Air Training Scheme - Flying Boat Squadron for Service in War Zone.
– by leave - On meeting the House once more after a short recess, I want to take the opportunity to inform honorable members officially and briefly of several matters of outstanding importance which have engaged the attention of the Government during recent months.
First, let me speak of affairs abroad. It is not my intention to speak at length on this matter because my colleague, the Minister for Information (Sir Henry Gullett), will address himself to it to-morrow, but I think I should refer to the entirely unexpected circumstance that, two and a half months after the outbreak of war, we are still, so to speak, waiting for it to commence, and that in the meantime a great deal of discussion is occurring, both in belligerent and in neutral countries,- on the possibilities of peace and the terms upon which that, peace could he obtained.
Speaking for myself, I have little doubt that these two remarkable circumstances are closely associated. Until the last two months the rulers of Germany have had an almost simple time, speaking internationally. They have absorbed one country after another by relatively bloodless victories, but at the beginning of September they found themselves at war with two great Powers, over whom no bloodless victory could be achieved - over whom, indeed, no ultimate victory at all could be achieved. This fact of paramount importance has given Germany pause; it has made the German Government hesitant to put everything to the touch. It has for the time being induced in the minds of Germany’s rulers a feeling that a war of nerves is better than a war of guns, and that by waiting, by keeping Great Britain and France in suspense, by encouraging easy talk of peace, Germany may divide its enemies before conquering them.
Great as their mental gifts undoubtedly are, the German people have never been characterised by a capacity for understanding the psychology of the British people or of the French people. The proverbial patience and tenacity of the British, and the flaming spirit and patriotism of the French, are not to be destroyed or set aside by German threats or German propaganda. This war was not lightly entered upon by us. The cause for which we entered it will not be lightly abandoned.
Little faith as I have in too much talking at this time, it might be useful if, in a few sentences, I said something to honorable members about our war aims. In my opinion we have two. The first and paramount and urgent aim is victory, not for the glory, of victory, not for the humiliation of the German people, not for the spoils, but victory for all that it means to the future peace and happiness of simple men and women the world over. No patched-up peace, no mere formula of compromise, can give to the world any assurance of a peace that will endure. Our people have a hatred of war, but they have a greater hatred of the evil spirit which has animated German policy and which has racked the world. I do not believe that you can compromise about the vital things in civilization, about peace and justice and freedom and the sane settlement of disputes. Either you have them or you do not have them. And there are no people more interested in securing them than the people of small and weak nations, and the small and weak people of every nation. Our cause is that there shall be justice and a quiet living for the weak as well as for the strong. It is a great and humane cause. It has been the dynamic force in our domestic political growth for centuries; from now on it must animate our international affairs, and give direction to the policies of nations.
Our second aim is that after victory there shall be a better Europe and a better world in which there will be security for peoples of independent race and tradition, a revival of the peaceful associations of trade and commerce, an abandonment of the mad and threatening competition of armaments which has been forced upon us in the last five years, and a prosperity in which we will want Germany to share as a great nation. In a. word, and I think it is something we should constantly keep before our eyes, the freedom and equity for which we are fighting will be freedom and equity for the Germans as well as for ourselves. We arc not out to make a “ slave state “ of Germany. We would be not only inhuman but also mad to attempt it. But we are out to establish that the barbarous German philosophy which makes slaves of others - the simple plan,
That they should take whohave the power,
And they should keep who can- - must be completely destroyed in order that Germany may not make slaves of others.
I turn now to our war affairs at home. Of outstanding importance is the effect which wartime experience has had upon the organization of government itself. It has become increasingly clear to me, as the head of theGovernment, that the machinery which was appropriate in time of peace is not only inappropriate, but also inefficient, in time of war. With vastly increased military forces, with the foreshadowing of enormous development in our air service, with the putting of the major portion of our national effort into warlike preparations, it became clear that no one Minister for Defence could possibly cope with the whole administrative responsibility. The Defence Department is therefore being divided. For the duration of the war there will be a Minister for the Army, a Minister for the Navy and a Minister for Air, together with the Minister for Supply and Development.
The activities of each of these departments will be co-ordinated by a Minister for Defence Co-ordination. Mr. Street has been sworn as Minister for the Army, Sir Frederick Stewart as Minister for the Navy and Mr. Fairbairn as Minister for Air, while I have been sworn as Minister for Defence Co-ordination.
Sir Frederick Stewart will, in addition to retaining his existing appointments, continue to act as Minister for Supply and Development during the absence of Mr. Casey. Mr. Street will act as Minister for the Navy during the same period, while Mr. Holt will act as Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation until the return of Mr. Fairbairn from Canada.
The War Cabinet will consist of myself, the Attorney-General, the Minisiter for Supply and Development, the Minister for the Army, the Minister for External Affairs and Information, the Minister for the Interior (including Works), the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Air, with Mr. Spender, who is now Acting Treasurer, co-opted from time to time on Treasury matters.
It will be seen from this arrangement that each service Minister will have the fullest participation in policy by reason of his membership of the War Cabinet.
As Minister for Defence Co-ordination, it is not my intention to create any bottleneck in administration. On the contrary, I expect to be able to produce greater promptness of decision by obtaining direct access, not only to the service Ministers,but also to the heads of the services themselves. My function will be confined to matters ofpolicy and coordination, the actual administration of each arm being for the appropriate Minister.
I take this opportunity to tell the public, as I do not need to tell honorable members, that this drastic re-arrangement is in no sense a reflection upon my colleague, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street). As Minister for Defence he has for many months, in circumstances of unprecedented pressure and difficulty, devoted himself unsparingly to the interests of our country, No man could have done more; most men would have done less. The best tribute I can pay to my colleague’s labours is implicit in the fact that from now on there will be three Ministers busily employed in doing what he has been doing alone for some time past.
At the same time as these service re-arrangements have been made, attention has been directed to the economic side of our activities, and upon that I want to say something of an explanatory kind to the House. Little as the superficial observer may realize it, the economic side of war has a significance and a complexity as great as those of the fighting services. In Australia it has been necessary to give instant and close attention to the problems of maintaining a vast volume of supplies, principally for Great Britain; of obtaining and maintaining a steady flow of shipping; of regulating our overseas trade, and our overseas finance ; of controlling our internal finance so that our resources may be used to the best advantage; of minimizing the shock to business and the price level which is almost inevitably associated with war; and to devising machinery and marshalling resources for the purpose of stabilizing as far as possible the position of those great industries upon which our economic life depends, and which would, without prompt government action, be more or less powerless to resist the impact of war.
Behind all these, I have my mind clearly fixed upon the importance of planning economically for peace. At present we have in various departments, committees and individuals who are doing a great deal of valuable work and valuable thinking. In the Commerce Department we have boards controlling’ primary products, together with specially constituted wartime boards controlling shipping, wheat, wool, barley, and so on. In the Treasury we have an Advisory Committee onCapital Issues, a Taxation Advisory Committee, an Advisory Committee on Financial and Economic Policy, and a number of wartime regulations relating to monetary control and overseas export control. In the Trade and Customs Department we have the Economic Warfare Advisory Committee and the organization of the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, to say nothing of the many activities which arc associated with the control of export and import trade. In the Supply Department such matters as industrial organi- zation, oil and seaborne trade have appropriate consultants and officers, while the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Development Branch are being vigourously pursued.
But all these things need co-ordination and direction if we are to achieve the best results. It would be in my opinion a cardinal error to assume that, if this war lasts for three years, we shall atthe end of it revert to just the same economic structure and life as we had last year. When it is realized that on the war hypothesis I have stated, we shall have behind us three years of intense experience of financial control, of trade control, of price control, of bulk selling and of bulk buying, it will be at once seen that nobody can foretell what changes of a permanent kind in the relations between government and business may be produced by the present struggle. The Government is not hostile to change, but it desires that whatever change comes about should be for the good of the Australian people and should enable the development of our country to proceed soundly and rapidly when the war is over.
All this means that we must bring about the most effective co-ordination of all these wartime economic activities, so as to give them a common direction and a common purpose, and so as to ensure that when we move out into peace we shall move out in a predetermined direction, and with a proper capacity to take the fullest advantage of our war experience.
To bring about this co-ordination and control, I have established, side by side with the War Cabinet, another subcabinet to he called the “ Economic Cabinet “, of which, in addition to myself, the Minister for Supply and Development, the Minister for Commerce, the Postmaster-General, the Minister for Trade and Customs, the Acting Treasurer and the Assistant Minister for Commerce will be members. Regular meetings of this cabinet body, the head-quarters of which will be at Canberra, will of themselves ensure a measure of co-operative effort, but it will still be necessary to have attached to the Economic Cabinet, as its secretary and as Director of Economic Co-ordination, a man of the highest possible qualifications and the ripest experience in business administration. I am not yet in a position to announce the name of the proposed appointee, though I anticipate doing so next week, but. steps are being taken to secure the services of a gentleman whose personal standing and authority will be such as to enable him to contribute very powerfully to the marshalling of our economic efforts. Here again, while announcing far-reaching changes, I desire to pay a tribute to the work that has already been done, not only since the war but also before the war, in the various departments whose executive heads and officers get little publicity and many easy criticisms, but without whose work the magnificent results already achieved would have been impossible.
My final task is to say something in a fairly summary form about one or two of the major decisions that have been arrived at by the War Cabinet. These decisions I may say have already raised our anticipated war expenditure for this financial year to a total of approximately £60,000,000.
I notice that my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has, quite properly, made the comment that the volume of expenditure means little unless the expenditure has been wise and well directed. I agree. In substance, of course, the matters upon which this money is to be expended are those recommended to us by our expert advisers, and I am able to assure the House that they are all calculated to produce a maximum of war effort on the part of Australia. But in point of detail, I realize that in a time of war and of rapidly expanding schemes, waste is always possible. All that we can do is to provide the very best ways and means for eliminating, or preventing, it. With this end in view, we have drawn freely upon the business community for advice and assistance. It has been given to us most generously. I do not desire in this statement to mention names, but I could, in fact, mention dozens of men of undoubted knowledge and standing who have placed their services at our disposal, and have powerfully reinforced us on the business side. In addition to this, a Treasury Finance Committee has been established in connexion with our defence undertakings, and I am able to tell the House that, as the result of this and the activities of the various business consultants, it is anticipated that we shall get as near as it is humanly possible to get to that desirable state in which we shall get a pound’s worth of real defence for every twenty shillings of defence expenditure.
The two decisions of the War Cabinet which I desire to mention are those relating to military training and our participation in air warfare. In relation to the first, we have decided to keep our Militia Forces at an adequately trained strength of not less than 75,000 men, and for this purpose compulsory military training will be reintroduced in January next. Whilst all parties, I think, agree that service abroad must maintain its voluntary character, there is, I ‘believe, a growing recognition of the fact that military training for the defence of Australia should be a normal part of our civic life, and that if it is to be just and democratic, it should be made compulsory.
I once more emphasize that there is no question of conscription for overseas service. We are definitely pledged against it. But for very many years the law of this country ha3 been such as to impose upon all citizens of certain age classes the liability to serve in Australia in time of war. One has only to imagine a state of affairs in which Australia was being attacked on its own shores and in its own countryside in order to realize how unjust it would be to perpetuate the system under which our defence in these circumstances would rest only upon those who had voluntarily undergone the necessary training and preparation. In order to maintain the Militia Forces at their appropriate strength, it is not necessary to go beyond calling up the trainees of one-age class. The class selected consists of those who attain the age of 21 years during the current financial year. A3 time goes on, and each year another group of men enters this class, the obligation to train will attach to it, so that in the course of a few years the men of 21, 22 and 23 years, and so on, will have received a substantial measure of military training, and on the man-power side our defences will have become so strong that any enemy will hesitate to attack us.
The second decision relates to the Air Force. Some time ago I announced on behalf of the Government that we were proposing to send to England an Air Expeditionary Force consisting of six squadrons, fully manned with flying and ground personnel. This decision was, I believe, enthusiastically received by the Australian people and by the Government of Great Britain. Subsequently, however, the British Government evolved a vast Empire air training proposal which was designed, by co-operation between Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to train such large numbers of air pilots, observers and gunners as to make our ultimate personal superiority to Germany in the air not only substantial, but also overwhelming. We at once indicated our willingness to participate in this scheme to the fullest practicable degree, and the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) is now in Canada discussing its principles and details. Quite plainly, our participation in this much more ambitious scheme was bound to affect our capacity for sending away, as a special body, an Air Expeditionary Force as originally contemplated, which would have been almost equal in total personnel to the present strength of the Royal Australian Air Force.
After the closest consultation with the British Government, and, I may say, in full conformity with its wishes, we decided, first, that we should complete the manning in England of a squadron of nine Sunderland flying boats, which were either delivered or on the point of delivery to us in England, and that this squadron, as an Australian squadron, should be in a position to take part in active service by the end of this year ; and, secondly, that we should, subject to the completion of our own air defences, concentrate our resources and energies upon the Empire air training scheme. These decisions were and are, I believe, not only sensible, but also inevitable. I cannot at this stage tell honorable members of the numbers which are envisaged by the Empire scheme; but I can say that, whereas our original Air Expeditionary Force proposal involved the sending, in addition to between 2,000 and 3,000 of ground personnel, of about 550 flying personnel, the pilots, observers, and gunners to be trained under the new proposals will number, not hundreds, hut thousands. The development of such a force means that we shall need every experienced flyer and every competent instructor whom we can find ; it means the building or acquisition of hundreds of training aircraft; it will mean the bringing to Australia of many aircraft of various types for elementary or advanced training. All this will add greatly to our own security in the air. It will, on the personnel side, tend almost to make us a first-class air power. But these results cannot be achieved without an intense concentration of effort. Such a concentration would not have been possible if we had been required to devote ourselves for months to come to the training of the special force originally announced.
I should like to add one observation on this question of the Empire air scheme. It is this: The Government, correctly interpreting, as it believes, the wishes of (Lie Australian people, will, as far as possible, preserve the Australian character and identity of any air force which goes abroad. It is true that in the early stages we could not hope to provide anything more than a trifling fraction of the number of senior officers who will be required for the air armada which will be procured by the Empire scheme, but, as time goes on, this position will correct itself. In the meantime, all that I need to say is that the tradition established by the Australian forces in the last war as Australian forces is fully valued by us, and that the same objective will be aimed at in respect of the air forces to which I have referred.
I have not gone into detail in this sitatement, because my colleague the Minis.ter for the Army (Mr. Street) will deal more fully with service matters; my colleague (Sir Frederick Stewart), who represents the Department of Commerce in this House, will make a full statement on matters affecting our primary industries: the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. John “Lawson) will make a statement in relation to price control. There will be a statement by the Acting Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) on the activities of the Supply Department, while the M Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett), as I have already said, will tell 11$ something about external affairs.
I had a chat with the leaders of the oi her parties in the House about the procedure to he followed, and we thought that it would give the fullest opportunity to members to offer their views on the various matters that are the subject of the statements if at the end of each statement the motion “ That the paper be printed “ be moved and the adjournment then given until the following day.
– Is the right honorable gentleman’s statement to-day being circulated, so that honorable members may read it?
– The leader of each party has been supplied with a copy. Other copies are being made as quickly as possible. In order to carry out the arrangement agreed upon I lay on the table the following paper: -
War Activities of the Government - Ministerial Statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
– by leave - The Commonwealth Government has considered the position of the wheat industry, and has decided its policy in regard to financial assistance in respect of the season 1939-40, having regard to the policy previously announced by the Government and the changes necessitated by war conditions.
In August last, the Commonwealth Government submitted to the States a permanent scheme of stabilization. That scheme provided for the joint provision by the Commonwealth and the States of an annual sum not exceeding £3,500,000 per annum, in addition to the flour tax, with the object of raising the average market realization for wheat to 3s. 4d. a bushel f.o.r. ports. The plan then proposed included provision for control of production and for the imposition of an export tax to operate when wheat prices rose above a prescribed figure. That plan was agreed to by most of the States, but had to be deferred because the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, was not prepared to co-operate in putting it into effect.
Following upon the postponement of the comprehensive scheme of stabilization, the Commonwealth Government indicated that, in respect of the 1939-40 harvest, it would provide such sum, not exceeding £2,000,000, as would be necessary to raise the average market realization for wheat to 3s. id. f.o.r, shipping ports. This sum would, of course, be additional to the flour tax collections, estimated to be about £3,500,000 for the year referred to. Soon after that declaration of policy, war broke out, and, in presenting the budget to Parliament on the 8th September, 1939, 1 stated that the offer already made might be regarded as still standing, but that we must be prepared entirely to reconsider the situation of wheat in the light of the circumstances disclosed by war conditions.
The war has not relieved the marketing difficulties of the wheat industry, but has intensified them by increasing the shipping problems. In order to cope with the increased difficulties, and prevent the occurrence of chaotic marketing conditions, the Commonwealth Government established the Australian Wheat Board, acquired all old wheat, and has disposed of it in the form of grain and flour. The incoming harvest must now be handled. Acting upon the recommendation of the Wheat Board, the Government will acquire the harvest, and will be responsible for financing wheat-growers pending the disposal of the wheat on their behalf by the Wheat Board. Because of the inadequacy of normal marketing machinery and finance, colossal financial responsibility is now imposed on the Commonwealth Government which, after most carefully considering the extent of these responsibilities, lias decided upon the following action : Arrangements have been made with the Commonwealth Bank to make available to the Australian Wheat Board the necessary finance to enable advances to be made to growers, pending the sale of their wheat, on the following basis, namely, -2s. 9d. a bushel for bagged wheat, and 2$. 7d. a bushel for bulk wheat, less the freight from rail siding or other delivery point to the oversea port, these advances are equivalent to approximately 3s. for bagged wheat and 2s. lOd. for bulk wheat f.o.b. ports. Of these advances, the sum of ls. 9d. a bushel for bagged wheat and ls. 7d. a bushel for bulk wheat, less freight from siding or other delivery point to the port, will be paid upon the delivery of the wheat to the agents of the Wheat Board. The balance of ls. a bushel will be paid during April, 1940.
The total finance involved in these advances, and other costs associated with the marketing of the crop, will exceed £20,000,000. This outlay by the Commonwealth Bank, guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government, will be recouped by moneys representing market realizations and by the proceeds of flour tax collections, while, as honorable members know, in certain circumstances the Commonwealth Government has agreed to provide such additional amount, not exceeding £2,000,000, as is found to be necessary to raise the average realization for marketed wheat to 3s. 4d. a bushel f.o.r. shipping ports.
These are, of course, not the maximum liabilities being assumed by the Commonwealth Government. In point of fact, the uncertainty relating to the remunerative disposal of the harvest may well involve the Government to a much greater degree.
It is clear that considerable difficulty will be experienced in disposing of the harvest. The Government realizes that it will be necessary for it to carry the financial responsibility of unsold stocks perhaps for a considerable period. The greatest care will, of course, be taken in the storage of the wheat, and the Government hopes that ultimately the market returns will recoup the advances now being made. I lay on the table the following paper : -
Fi nancial Assistance to the Wheat Industry - Ministerial Statement, and .move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
– It has been stated in New South Wales that thousands of men have been, and will be, thrown out of employment from semi-governmental activities because funds have been curtailed by the Loan Council, the Commonwealth Bank or the Commonwealth Government, because of the needs of the Defence Department. Can the Acting
Treasurer give the House any information concerning this important matter?
– It is not correct to say that the Commonwealth Government or the Loan Council has in any way been responsible for the restriction of expenditure on governmental or semigovernmental activities. At the last meeting of the Loan Council, notwithstanding the fact that defence expenditure had increased enormously, the governmental and semi-governmental borrowing programme was not interfered with at all. I am aware that some institutions of a semi-governmental character have had difficulty in obtaining finance, but that was due not to any action of the Commonwealth Government, but to the fact that the market did not find the investments attractive. The Commonwealth Bank has been giving temporary advances to some organizations of this kind, and the Commonwealth Government is making available £2,000,000, in addition to the defence expenditure, to relieve unemployment during the next six months. I have reason to believe that the money will become available at the beginning of next week.
– Has the Minister for the Army received a largely-signed petition from members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in camp at Redbank, near Brisbane, requesting him to have an investigation made regarding the dismissal of a number of men from the battalion, and, in addition, protesting against the filthy and disgusting cooking conditions at the camp, and the fact that men were compelled to eat meat not fit for human consumption? If he has received the petition, will he institute an inquiry before which members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force may air their grievances ?
– A question in almost similar terms is on the notice-paper. I have not yet received the petition, but I propose to reply to the question on the notice-paper to-morrow, when I shall be able to give fuller information than I could give now.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation received representations from returned soldiers’ organizations and other bodies and certain individuals for the elimination of anomalies in the Repatriation Act? If so, what action does the Minister intend to take?
– Yes, I have had representations made to me by members of various returned soldiers’ organizations. I am considering the representations, and at some future date I shall endeavour to have embodied in amending legislation such alterations as are necessary to meet, not only the present requirements, but also the new conditions which will be set up by this war.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it would be possible to permit the publication of the terms of the contract between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of the United Kingdom for the purchase of Australian wool? If it be not possible to give the details to the general public, would it be possible to give them to the various wool-growing organizations in order to allay any fears they may have as to their position being menaced by any change of the economic position?
– So far as a statement on that matter can be made, it will be made by the Acting Minister for Supply and Development. It is not possible yet to publish the full terms of the ultimate wool agreement, because, in some respects, they are not yet completed. The central features of the agreement have been concluded, notably the price and matters allied to it, and I understand that a statement on that is being circulated this afternoon, but in some respects we are still awaiting a decision on certain of the ancillary matters which are important. The moment that decision is made, the earliest opportunity will be taken to convey it to the public.
– Can the Minister for the Army inform the House as to the method adopted by the Defence Department in seeking the supply of commodities to the various military camps? Is it a fact that tender forms are given to certain business people adjacent to the camps, and that large co-operative societies in the districts which depression has affected most have never been supplied with those forms? If this system has been adopted, does the Minister not think that it would be more equitable to all concerned if tenders were invited through the press, and everybody allowed to tender?
– That particular question is at present engaging my attention in response to a letter received from the honorable gentleman to-day. I am not yet in a position to give full information, but I may be able to do so to-morrow.
– Has a board been established to control the hides and skin industry, and, if so, what is its personnel ?
– I understand that aboard has been established and will function within the next few days. No doubt, the Minister for Commerce will be able to announce the names in due course. That board will take over the control of the hides, skin, leather, and allied trades industry.
– Why are the news bulletins broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation curtailed over Australian national and commercial broadcasting stations? Will the Minister for Information undertake to alter the existing arrangements, so that the complete bulletins may be heard in Australia?
– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman is under close consideration. As soon as I have further information. I shall be pleased to advise him.
– In view of the numerous protests by wool-growers in Western Australia and, I believe, elsewhere in Australia against the methods of appraisement under which they are actually receiving lower . prices than they received last year for their wool, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce arrange that where there is disagreement in regard to values, there shall be some method of arbitration?
– I hope later this afternoon to make a statement dealing with the question of the disposal of the wool clip and, insofar as it does not cover the matter raised by the honorable gentleman, I shall have it referred to the Minister for Commerce.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce ascertain whether the Minister for Commerce will arrange for the publication of the average appraised prices of wool, and for brokers to disclose to the various growers the qualities, types and yields of wool clips?
– I shall communicate that request to the Minister for Commerce.
– On the 15th September, I asked the Prime Minister a question relating to the provision of assistance to the unemployed to cover the Christmas period. The right honorable gentleman informed me that the matter would be considered. As it is an urgent, matter, and as unemployment is on the increase, notwithstanding the heavy defence expenditure, I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government has considered my request. If it has, is any action to be taken, and, if so, what action?
– As the honorable gentleman may have observed, my colleague, the Acting Treasurer, has just pointed out that, as the result of discussions with the States at a recent conference, the Commonwealth Government has decided to make special expenditure over and above the defence programme during the next few months of no less than £2,000.000 in order to deal specifically with unemployment during the period which must elapse before the full effect of the defence expenditure shows itself.
– Will the Prime Minister investigate the appointment of receiving agents of the Wheat Board, with a view to preventing the unfair elimination of firms whose only business is wheat buying, and give effect to the Government’s declared policy of interfering as little as possible with established businesses, more especially as these ire almost exclusively country firms?
– I shall bc glad to take that matter up with my colleague, the Minister for Commerce,
Mp. HOLLOWAY.- Will the Prime Minister inform the House if he has been invited by the British Government or any other government to express on behalf of the Australian people their opinion upon the question of participation in any international conference for ihe purpose of attempting to arrive at an early and honorable peace by the process of negotiation? If any such invitation has been received, will the right honorable gentleman inform members whether any answer has been given in the name of Australia? If no such invitation has been received, will the Prime Minister assure the House that in the event of such an invitation being received, he will give the House an opportunity to express its views before he commits the Australian people upon such a vital matter?
– I shall answer that question to-morrow.
– During the latter part of last session the Minister for Trade and .Customs brought down proposals relating to the cotton industry, and among thom was one for a reduction of the beauty on raw cotton. Vigorous prousts were made in this House, and I believe that the honorable gentleman has since, received deputations from Queensland on. the matter.- Has the Minister reached a final decision as to how the industry is to be assisted, and, if so, will he tell the House what shape those proposals will take?
– It is proposed to introduce a short bill during the present sittings to extend the operation of the Raw Cotton Bounty Act for a further term on the conditions under which it operated last year.
– Has the Acting Minister for Supply and Development received from the Advisory Accountancy Panel any advice relating to the control of prices and profits on raw materials in connexion with defence annexes contracts? If not, can he indicate if, and when, such information is likely to be available ?
– The matter is already engaging my serious attention, and, when I am in a position to furnish definite information regarding Lt, I. shall gladly do so.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state why the ban formerly imposed on the export of margarine resembling butter in colour has been removed; whether, before its removal, the representatives of the dairying industry were consulted; and whether lie considers that the butter export trade to the East must be damaged by such action ?
– The subject to which the honorable member has referred falls within the scope of the work of the Minister for Commerce. I shall refer the question to him, and endeavour to obtain the information sought. . 2s d AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE.
– Will the Minister for the Army state whether the second medical examination of members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, which was carried out recently in Queensland, was held generally throughout the
Commonwealth, and, if it was, will lie have a statement prepared showing the number of men rejected in each State?
– The answer to both parts of the question is “ Yes “.
– Oan the Minister for the Army inform me when the results will be available of the review of Royal Australian Navy service conditions ordered some months ago by him as Minister for Defence?
– The first portion of the review of service conditions has been considered by the Naval Board and the Government, and has resulted in an. increase of the marriage allowance in the Royal Australian Navy from 2s. to 3s. and of the children’s allowance from !)d. to ls. The remainder of the requests arc now under consideration.
– Has the Minister for the Army knowledge of complaints by Militia troops attending the Rutherford camp that they have been subjected to great discomfort owing to an insufficiency of blankets? Is the light allotment of blankets due to the policy of the department or to a shortage of supplies? In cither case, will the Minister see that, at future camps, particularly during the cooler weather, the trainees are provided with sufficient blankets for their comfort?
– I understand that in the early days of that camp there was a shortage in the supply of blankets, burt the position has now been rectified. There is no shortage at the present time.
– Has the Minister Tor Trade and Customs noticed discrimination against the Sydney Daily News in regard to the issue of departmental information? If so, does he intend to continue that practice, and, if so., why?
– There is no such discrimination.
– As to the second part of the honorable member’s question. I do not agree that there will bc a contracting effect consequent upon tho decision of the banks. The financial poliCy involved in having this private loan, ami postponing the public loan until next year, will, in my opinion, tend to increase rather than diminish the liquidity of the banks. As to the first, part of the question, I hope to be in a position to-morrow, or on Friday, to give a full statement of the business contemplated for the present sittings, aud then I shall deal with tho point raised.
– Is tho Minister for Trade and Customs aware that the wholesale stocks of tobacco and cigarettes are being seriously depleted by the action of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited in drastically curtailing supplies? Is any action contemplated by the combine to secure an increase of prices? Has the Minister any knowledge of the stocks held by the British-Australasian Tobacco Company. Proprietary Limited at thepresent time?
– I understand that the stocks now held are considerable, but I shall have more precise information obtained and supplied to the honorable member.
– In connexion with the abandonment of the proposal to despatch an air expeditionary force from Australia, can the Prime Minister say whether the fact that air mechanics were to be paid only 5s. Australian currency on home service, and 6s. abroad, whereas in the last war they were paid 8s. sterling for service overseas, had anything to do with the abandonment of the proposal? Will the Prime Minister table any relative documents or cablegrams that have passed between the Commonwealth Government and the British Government regarding the matter?
– If the honorable member suggests that the proposal was abandoned because the payment was to be less than was that made on a previous occasion, my information is not consistent with the suggestion put forward by the honorable member. The reasons for the abandonment of the proposal are as I have already informed the House.
– by leave - At the outbreak of war, the Government decided to establish an authority to control prices. As a preliminary step a prices order under my authority was gazetted on the 8th September fixing the price of certain goods at the level ruling on the 31st August. The Government then established a Price Fixing Branch of the Trade and Customs Department, and appointed a Commonwealth Prices Commissioner to fix maximum prices of declared goods and services. In cooperation with the State governments, deputy prices commissioners were appointed in each State and in the internal territories of theCommonwealth, and steps were taken to establish the necessary administrative -machinery to deal expeditiously with the control of prices, and to limit any rise of prices to justifiable increases of costs. The same machinery is being used for the control of prices in the external territories, and as soon as some slight amendments to the regulations have been effected, the Administrators in those territories will have certain power delegated to them. The machinery in the States has been developed and is now in complete working order. Under the National Security (Prices) Regulations it is my function to declare goods and services, the maximum prices of which are then fixed by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner. Up to the present I have declared 160’ major commodities and services, and the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner has fixed maximum prices of these commodities and services either at the pre-war level or at a new level determined by unavoidable increases of costs. These increases of costs are due to circumstances largely beyond the control of the Commonwealth. The following are important: -
The last two causes are to a large degree under the control of the Commonwealth, but they are incidental to war conditions. The budget contained some necessary increases of sales tax, but the major influence under our control is the very satisfactory rise of export prices, which were unduly depressed at the outbreak of war. Export prices have in fact risen by about17½ per cent. since the war commenced, and while this has brought much-needed relief to primary producers, it has resulted in some cases in a higher level of prices for materials used in Australian industries. It is the objective of the Government in these cases to give exporters remunerative prices for domestic supplies, but to avoid the unnecessary increase of local costs that would inevitably follow if domestic prices were allowed to rise to the levels possible under the influence of an artificial and temporary demand created by war conditions.
It is important to control any increases of cost of a basic service like transport within Australia because of the effects upon costs of production. On the 2nd October, 1939, the interstate shipping companies announced an increase of freight rates by 20 per cent, on account of war risk insurance and other matters. Action was immediately taken to gazette regulations for the control of all services. Under these regulations a declaration was gazetted making “ every service of transporting passengers or goods or both by sea from any place in Australia to any other place in Australia “ subject to price control. Thereupon the Prices Commissioner fixed the maximum freight rates at 10 per cent, above those ruling at the 31st August, 1939. Following this, he conducted a comprehensive investigation into costs and earnings of the interstate shipping companies, and the matter is to come up for review at the end of the month when further information upon war risk insurance will be available.
The Government is determined to protect Australian consumers against profiteering and to deal severely with any offenders, to permit industry to operate as freely as possible under the supervision of the price-fixing authority, and to absorb gradually into the Australian price structure those increases of ‘ cost which are unavoidable on account of overseas conditions. It is folly to imagine that a country like Australia, with a large import and export trade, could avoid some rise of prices. We cannot insulate our economic system completely from the fundamental changes of economic conditions imposed by a war which has created new and strange demands on the economies of belligerents and neutrals alike. One example will suffice to indicate how swiftly the prices of an essential commodity may rise under war conditions. To-day the landed cost of cornsacks and woolpacks into Australia is nearly double what it was before the war. In this commodity, as in any other imported commodities, price control is designed to limit the rise of price to the landed cost of the goods plus normal margins for handling and distribution. The result is that cornsacks and woolpacks are selling at substantially below replacement cost to-day.
To provide for an orderly adjustment the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner has fixed the maximum prices of most declared goods in accordance with principles enunciated in a general averaging order - Prices Regulation Order No. 2 - published in the Gazette on the 5 th October. Under this order traders are allowed automatically to adjust the basic price of goods - normally the price ruling on the 31st August, 1939 - in accordance with unavoidable increases of average cost. Average cost is ascertained by aggregating the cost of old stock and new stock and dividing the sum by the total quantity of stock. On a rising market this effectively controls prices and prevents profiteering by stopping prices from rising rapidly to replacement cost. At the same time it enables the trader to finance the purchase of more costly new stock. Traders are compelled to keep records in order to justify any price increases they may make, and the Prices Commissioner exercises a strict supervision over such increases. He also closely reviews the profit margins and basic prices, and if he considers that they are inequitable he makes appropriate variations. These principles are applicable also to non-declared goods ; and in cases where increases of prices have been imposed in excess of the maximum prices permissible under the averaging order, I have promptly declared the goods, and the Prices Commissioner has subjected them either to the averaging order or to specific price determinations. In this manner it has been possible to spread the influence of price control throughout the whole range of nondeclared goods, and I am happy to be able to say that it is becoming the practice for traders handling such goods to approach the Prices Commissioner before raising their prices. The following examples will illustrate the efficient manner in which the averaging order has been working and the beneficialresults which have accrued : -
The import parity of tea has been rising steadily, and at the present moment replacemen t costs have increased by 6d. per lb. An investigation was made and as a result tea was subjected to the averaging order, with the consequence that retail prices have risen by 3d. per lb. only.
In cases to which the general averaging order cannot be applied, it is necessary to fix specific maximum prices. This has been done for certain shipments of imported timber. It was also necessary to fix a specific maximum price for sugar in certain areas. In these areas increases which could not be justified by increased costs were made, and the Commissioner issued a prices order fixing the maximum price at that ruling on the 31st August.
Through the central office of the Price Fixing Branch of the Customs Department and through the State offices, numerous complaints concerning increases of prices have been investigated over a wide range of commodities. In some cases where traders have failed to observe the conditions stipulated in the Prices Orders, action has been taken to institute legal proceedings against offenders. In general, however, the business community has observed the conditions stipulated and the system of supervision and inspection has been effective. Thus the retail price index of foodstuffs and groceries for September showed a rise of only 0.3 per cent. on the index for August. This result could not have been achieved without the close co-operation of the State governments, which have made available to the Deputy Prices Commissioners experienced officers in addition to those provided by the Commonwealth, mainly from the Customs Department.
In regard to rents the Government took prompt action by which rents of shops and houses could be fixed at the level of the 31st August, and to provide a basis for their control during the war. On the 2 7th September, 1939, the National Security (Fair Rents) Regulations were issued. Those regulations give authority to each State to establish a Fair Rents Board to determine fair rents. If the States so desire they may pass their own legislation either in substitution of, or complementary to, Commonwealth legislation.
I have distributed to honorable members a brief resume of the activities of the Price Fixing Branch of the Customs Department, giving further particulars of price control, and shall shortly make available a booklet dealing in more detail with the principles of price control and containing the regulations and Prices Orders with explanatory notes. In conclusion, I am glad to be able to assure honorable members that, despite the overwhelming volume of work confronting the Government in devising a system of price control, the position is well in hand and the machinery of control is adequate to deal promptly and efficiently with unjustifiable increases of prices. I lay on the table the following paper: -
Control of Prices and Prevention of Profiteeringduringthe War - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paperbe printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Marin) adjourned.
– Is the Acting Minister for Supply and Development aware that whilst many members of the military forces now in camp in Brisbane are without uniforms, clothing factories in that city which are manufacturing military garments are being disorganized owing to the lack of materials and accessories?
– I am notaware that there are any men in campin Brisbane who are without uniforms, nor do I know of any upset in the clothing factories as suggested by the honorable member. On behalf of my colleague, the Minister for the Army, I should be very pleased to have particulars of the first allegation, and, on my own behalf, withparticulars to the second allegation.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has yet evolved a provision in its defence and other contracts in order to force sub-con tractors to observeaward wages and conditions, and thereby protect the more scrupulous employers who are unable to secure contracts in competition with unscrupulous employers?
– Order ! I remind the honorable member that questions are asked for the purpose not of giving but eliciting information.
– In so far as that is a question I shall look into it, and obtain an answer for the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether the Minister will consider setting up an organization with a view to stimulating private enterprise in Canberra, and expediting the necessary development of the National Capital?
– I , shall place the honorable member’s suggestion before the Minister for the Interior.
– In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister that thousands of aeroplanes willbe manufactured in Australia, can the Acting Minister for Supply and Development say whether the large quantities of magnesium which will be required for this purpose will be imported, or whether it isthe intention of the Government to assist local industry by encouraging the production of this metal in Australia?
– I am already in communication with certain interests which are concerned with the production of magnesium, and I shall duly communicate to the honorable member the Government’s proposals in respect of the obtaining of supplies from Tasmania.
– Is the Assistant Minister aware of rumours that if the Government were to supply additional capital to the company now operating at Glen Davis, that company could produce much larger quantities of petrol at a much earlier date than is anticipated under its present programme ?
– The work at Newnes is ahead of schedule, and we anticipate a production of about 10,000,000 gallons per annum as from the beginning of next year. It is hoped soon afterwards to step up the production from Newnes to about 30,000,000 gallons per annum. Whether the rate of production could be increased immediately by the provision of additional capital, I am unable to say at this stage. However, I undertake to have inquiries made into the matter, and to supply the honorable member with the information he seeks.
MILITIA FORCES AND 2nd AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE.
– Can the Minister for the Army inform me whether arrangements have yet been made for the payment of travelling expenses to members of the Militia Forces who have volunteered for service in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, when they are required to travel by train for the purpose of undergoing medical examination?
– The honorable member brought the matter before me yesterday. I am not yet in a position to answer his question.
– Can the Minister state if it is a fact that members of the Militia Forces and ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force who have been called up for garrison duty are required to pay their own railway fares from the country to military head-quarters and to and from their homes when on leave? If so, and in view of the fact that many trains run empty, would it not be possible to issue railway warrants without involving extra expense to the Railway Department?
– The whole question of travelling expenses of members of the Defence Forces is the subject of consultation, between the Commonwealth and State, governments.
- Sir Nevile Henderson, who, until the outbreak of war, was British Ambassador to Germany, has, since his return to Great Britain, submitted a number of reports to the British Government relating to his negotiations with Hitler for the maintenance of peace in Europe and particularly between Great Britain and Germany? Some of his reports have been issued by the British Government in the form of white papers, and have, I understand, been made available to the members of the House of Commons. Will the Prime Minister inquire whether it is possible to obtain copies of these white papers for distribution among honorable members of this Parliament ?
Employment of Returned Soldiers
– Will the PostmasterGeneral give consideration to the position of many returned soldiers who are employed as casual telephone linesmen in the department? Many of these men have made repeated application for appointment as permanent employees. Although some of them have been employed continuously for over two years, they are still classed as casual employees. As many of these men will have only a few years more of service before they reach the age limit for permanent appointment will the Minister take immediate action to have their appointments declared permanent?
– The policy of the department has been to make permanent the positions of returned soldiers under certain conditions who are employed as temporary linesmen. With regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question, I shall give the matter consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether, in any review of the Repatriation Act, he will give con- sideration to the insertion of a presumable provision so that, in cases where death cannot be definitely proved to be due to war service, the procedure will be simplified if the deceased soldier has had good combatant service? Also, will he consider the granting of the old-age service pension to imperial ex-service men who receive no benefit under the existing law ? Many of them have been taxpayers in Australia for the last twenty years.
– The answer to both parts of the honorable member’s question is “ Yes “.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether the Government proposes to review its policy relating to dry canteens in military camps? Also, if it is decided to maintain the existing system of dry canteens, will it give consideration to the suggestion being made widely in the press and elsewhere that it should be applied to officers as well as to the rank and file.
– The decision made by the Government in relation to that matter was announced some time ago. Whether that decision will be reviewed in the future I am unable to say. The suggestion contained in the last portion of the honorable member’s question will be taken into consideration.
– Can the Minister for the Array say whether it is a fact that men who volunteered for garrison duty and in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force have experienced difficulty because payments have not been made on the due dates? If so, will the Minister take the necessary action to ensure that payment is made promptly when due?
– I regret that I do not know whether the statement made by the honorable member is correct. If it is, I shall have the matter rectified immediately.
Position of Sir Walter Massy-Greene
– Oan the Prime Minister indicate the precise duties which will be required of Sir Walter MassyGreene, the newly-appointed chairman of the Treasury Finance Committee? Also whether those duties will in any way conflict with good taste from the point of view of advice which might be given to the Government, insofar as concerns his association with private financial institutions - J. B. Were and Son, for instance, and possibly others?
– When the honorable member put his question I heard, for the first time, the suggestion of any association between Sir Walter MassyGreene and J. B. Were and Son. There certainly was no such association until this morning. Sir Walter has been appointed chairman of the Treasury Finance Committee, which will otherwise consist of the finance members of the Service boards, a Treasury official, and an official representing the Defence Secretariat. Its function will be to submit to financial scrutiny various proposals that may be made for defence expenditure. Its criticism will be directed to the financial aspect of proposals, and it will submit its reports to the Treasurer.
– Could not tha.t duty have been entrusted to the Public Accounts Committee, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested?
– I do not wish to enter into a debate with the honorable member on this point, but I should say that the work could not more efficiently be carried out by the Public Accounts Committee. The Treasury Finance Committee’s function will be to scrutinize various proposals before the money is expended, not to make post mortem inquiries regarding expenditure already incurred. Sir Walter Massy-Greene’s qualifications for the position are very great indeed. He was, for some time, Acting Treasurer of the Commonwealth.
Mr.Clark. - It is to be hoped that he will attend the meetings of the committee more frequently than he attended the sittings of the Senate.
– He cost this country about £400 an hour for the time of his attendance in the Senate.
– Order !
– Is the position to be an honorary one?
-Yes. In addition to his experience as Acting Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Sir Walter MassyGreene has also had experience in the administration of the Defence Department.
Ministerial Statement : Wool - Wheat - Barley - Apples and Pears - Shipping and Cold Storage
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce prepared to make a statement to the House with regard to the sale of Australian wool and fruit?
– by leave - Economic policy in wartime covers many activities, one of the most important of which, for the Empire, is the disposal of foodstuffs and raw materials produced in the Empire. There is a three-fold objective, namely, to distribute these commodities to those points in the Empire where they are most needed, to prevent the enemy from gaining access to them, and to maintain, as nearly as possible to normal, economic and financial relationships, as between producer and purchaser.
For the United Kingdom, the objective resolves itself into the purchase, transport and storage of commodities of which that country is a deficient producer. For Australia, it means chiefly the sale of commodities of which this country produces an export surplus.
The positions of the United Kingdom and - Australia as prospective buyer and seller respectively on a large scale, in the event of war, led to longrangenegotiations beforehand. These negotiations, and the associated problems facing Australia, may be summarized under four heads, namely : -
The pre-war negotiations were conducted continuously throughout the present calendar year, under the direction of the Minister for Commerce (Senator McLeay). An officer of the Department of Commerce was sent to London to work under the High Commissioner, who directed the London discussions. Senator McLeay and Senator McBride, Assistant Minister for Commerce, established continuous contact with representatives of shipping, and of the wool, wheat, meat and dairying industries. These contracts facilitated the pre-war discussions, which resulted in certain important understandings being reached with the United Kingdom Government.
It was agreed in July that, in the event of war, the entire Australian wool clip would be purchased by the Government of the United Kingdom for the term of the war. This arrangement was modelled on that which proved so successful during the last war. It is satisfactory alike to the United Kingdom and to Australia. The United Kingdom is able to select wool of types suitable to wartime needs, and has complete control over a commodity of great economic importance in war. Australia is assured of the complete disposal of each clip during the war, and of one complete clip after the war. The uncertainty of the market is eliminated.
The pre-war discussions also resulted, in July, in the understanding that the United Kingdom Government would purchase, the export surplus of Australian meat, dairy produce, eggs, dried fruits, and canned fruits. The advantages of such, an arrangement are clear. There is no question of restricting production, of allocating quotas to individual exporters, or of constantly negotiating contracts for relatively small quantities of specified commodities. The position of Australia as an exporter of these products has greatly altered since the last war. Export is now on a substantial scale; and its interruption might create chaotic conditions in the domestic market The free flow of exports according to seasonal conditions is of fundamental, importance, particularly to the livestock industries, and the recognition of this principle beforehand enabled Australia to proceed with normal export activity when war broke out, even before the contracts were concluded. In addition to the above understanding, the way was paved for detailed negotiations for the sale of sugar and base metals.
A less favorable result of these preliminary discussions, but nevertheless a valuable forewarning, was the recognition that it would not be possible for the United Kingdom Government to purchase the entire Australian wheat and barley harvests, and that no arrangements could be made for the purchase of wine, apples and pears.
When war broke out, negotiations were opened immediately with the United Kingdom Government regarding prices, finance, and other terms of sale. Three factors enabled the Government to cooperate expeditiously with the United Kingdom Government in the handling of needed commodities. These factors were : -
The marketing boards already established to. control the export of meat, dairy produce, dried fruits, canned fruits, apples and pears, and wine, were available for immediate consultation. Experience gained in marketing control enabled the Government to proceed quickly with the establishment of the Central Wool Committee, the Australian Wheat. Board, and a committee to supervise the export of eggs. All of these boards and committees have substantial producer representation, and the Government was thus assured of securing the views of producers in respect of price and market organization. This system of market control has proved of very great value. It has enabled the Government, with the continuous help of the industry representatives, to negotiate quickly. We were, in fact, in all cases ready for finality before the United Kingdom Government had completed negotiations with other countries. As contracts were completed, we were in a position to proceed immediately with the marketing arrangements. The marketing boards have therefore served a twofold purpose; they have assisted the Government in. the negotiations in regard to price and other conditions, and they control marketing, subject to the directions of the Minister for Commerce.
The Minister for Commerce has already circulated to honorable members through the post an explanation of the contracts which have been concluded, and of other arrangements that have been made in respect of the major commodities. Honorable members will have noticed that the a mural value of the commodities concerned is approximately £100,000,000. Contracts have actually been completed in respect of commodities of an annual value of about £90,000,000. Details of these contracts, circulated to-day on behalf of the Minister for Commerce, will form an addendum to this statement. Negotiations are proceeding in respect of dried fruits and canned fruits, valued at nearly £3,000,000 annually, and it is estimated that the value of wheat, barley and other commodities which will be sold under wartime contracts will be not less than £8,000,000 annually. . I do not propose verbally to explain in detail the provisions of all of the contracts, but shall leave to honorable members the study of the documents furnished to them. I take this opportunity, however, to mention some aspects of the negotiations concerning wool.
The negotiations concerning the price of wool were undertaken at a difficult time. During the year ended June, 1939, the average price of wool had been approximately 10½d. per lb. Australian currency, and there was no sound guide to the future. The Government consulted the Central Wool Committee, on which the wool-growers are represented by Messrs. Abbott, Boyd, and Cole. It was recognized that advantage should not be taken of the position by demanding an unreasonably high price from the United Kingdom Government. At the same time, however, the Government decided that the year just past could not be taken as a guide. In order to raise the matter above a mere bargain based on recent values, the Prime Minister established personal contact with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and arranged for special attention to be paid to this commodity, the price of which has such an important bearing, not only on the financial position of the individual grower, but also on the economic prosperity of the entire Australian community. The negotiations were concluded within a comparatively short time, but during their progress there were daily telegraphic exchanges between Australia and London, and the High Commissioner was in daily personal contact with British Ministers. The arrangement which resulted from the discussions is a very satisfactory one. The entire wool clip has been purchased by the United Kingdom Government forthe period of the war, and one year thereafter. There is thus no question of market difficulty, or of unsold carry-over, as far as Australia is concerned. The price of10¾d. per lb. sterling in the store, equal at present exchange rates to 13 7-16d. Australian currency, is approximately 3d. per lb. above the previous year’s average. It will bring to Australia an annual income of £12,000,000 in excess of the wool cheque for 1938-39. Three farthings sterling per lb. is added to cover costs from the store to the ship. Moreover, Australia will secure 50 per cent. of the profits accruing from sales of wool for use outside the
United Kingdom. The price of wool is arranged in terms of sterling. Should the rate of exchange between the United Kingdom and Australia alter during the operation of the arrangement, such a change would naturally affect the Australian equivalent of the sterling price. Other conditions also may alter, either in the United Kingdom or in Australia, and arrangements have been made for an annual consultation between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Australia with a view to considering whether conditions have so changed as to justify a review of the price.
– How does this agreement compare with any agreement made by South Africa?
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.South Africa has not anything of this kind.
Appraisement of wool is now proceeding steadily, and wool-growers receive their cheques, in respect of 90 per cent. of the appraised value, within fourteen days of appraisement. The balance of 10 per cent. will be paid at the end of each year. Should the appraisements during the first year prove to have been on the conservative side, there will be a further distribution at the end of the year in addition to the 30 per cent. The point is, that the total payments to growers during the cur- ‘ rent year will be 13 7-16d., multiplied by the total number of pounds of wool appraised. Some growers will get more than 13 7-16d. and some will get less, according to the type and quality of the wool produced by them.
Having expounded the position regarding wool - the most important of the many commodities for which satisfactory arrangements have been made - I shall now explain briefly the position regarding wheat, which is the most important of the products that have encountered additional marketing difficulties because of the war. Wheat presents a very difficult problem indeed. Why it has not been possible to make arrangements for the sale to the United Kingdom of the entire Australian wheat harvest is not generally understood. The reasons can be stated briefly. They are -
First. - There is more wheat in the world than can be purchased at a price that is payable to producers.
Canada, whose recent harvest was the largest for seven years, has at present an export surplus of more than twice the volume of the United Kingdom’s annual wheat imports, and Australia’s export surplus is equal to rather more than one-half of the United Kingdom’s total annual imports.
Secondly. - The transport of wheat presents a colossal shipping problem, even in peacetime. It will be clear to honorable members that the problem is greatly intensified under war conditions, particularly as Australia is so far from the centres of consumption in the northern hemisphere.
Thirdly. - Because of proximity and for other reasons, the United Kingdom Government finds it expedient to purchase wheat even from European sources, such as Rumania.
J Just as the problem of wheat could not be solved in peacetime by resort to Empire preference, so also in wartime it is not possible to dispose of the entire Empire surplus of wheat by sale to the United Kingdom. It is possible that, if the war continues for a long period, existing surplus stocks throughout the world may be absorbed and a better price secured for Australian wheat exports. At the present time, however, we have to face the unpleasant fact that the world price is low and is likely to remain low in the near future, that markets are and will be difficult to obtain, and that shipping for transport of wheat over long distances cannot be obtained for the mere asking. The difficult problems confronting wheat marketing cannot, therefore, be solved by Australia or even by the Empire at the present time. All that we can do is to devise means for selling as much wheat as we can at the best price obtainable, and for storing the temporary unsaleable surplus under conditions that will prevent deterioration as far as possible.
Negotiations conducted with the United Kingdom Government immediately upon the outbreak of war resulted in the sale of 200,000 tons of old wheat in Western Australia and South Australia at prices which constituted an advance on the prices ruling just before the outbreak of war, and the contract for the sale of 50,000 tons of flour to the United Kingdom Government provided a further outlet for wheat and enabled mills to be employed in its gristing. These deals satisfactorily disposed of the old crop, although the whole of the wheat and flour purchased has not yet been lifted ‘by the United Kingdom Government. We are now faced with the problem of the storage, financing, and disposal of the forthcoming harvest, which will probably aggregate not less than 160,000,000 bushels of marketable wheat. The Government is doing its utmost to market this wheat. Negotiations are being conducted with the Government cif the United Kingdom with a view to arranging the sale of the largest possible quantity at the best price obtainable. At the present time the Government is not in a position to make a forecast as to what the quantity will be, or what price will be received for it. The Government has no desire to hide its anxiety as to the disposal of the balance of the exportable surplus over and above the purchases by the Government of the United Kingdom. Markets will be difficult to secure, and prices cannot be expected to be high. In the meantime, the Australian Wheat Board, on which there is a majority of growers and representatives of cooperative organizations, has recommended that the Government should acquire the wheat, so that it may be marketed to the best advantage, in the interests of the growers. The Government proposes to act on this recommendation and to accept the responsibility for financing advances to the producers, in anticipation of the ultimate disposal of the wheat.
The marketing problems of barley, and of apples and pears, have been referred to by the Minister for Commerce in a document that he has circulated to honor-, able members by post. The Australian Barley Board is now functioning, and the Government has acquired the barley crop. As regards apples and pears, an additional detailed statement, which is being circulated for the information of honorable members, will be found as an addendum to this statement. The Australian Apple and Pear Board, composed principally of producers, is working actively on plans for increasing the consumption of apples and pears in Australia, and the Government is exploring all possible avenues of oversea disposal, in the forms of fresh fruit, canned and dried fruit, and fruit juices. It will be necessary to acquire the whole of the crop, to make advances to growers, and to put into operation machinery for the rapid transport of fruit to consuming centres throughout Australia.
Early in this statement, I mentioned that storage and shipping are an important feature of the arrangements for the sale of Australian products. A Shipping Control Board has already been appointed to control coastal shipping in Australia if the need arises for close supervision and control of the cargo requirements of our interstate trade. The same machinery will be available for the control of overseas shipping, should such a course be decided upon. The United Kingdom Ministry ofShipping is at present considering its policy in respect of the conduct of the shipping services between the United Kingdom and Australia, and the Commonwealth Government is ready to co-operate fully with it at the appropriate time. Meantime, the Minister for Commerce is in close and constant touch with the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association, and is arranging for the important export industries to appoint . representatives to co-ordinating shipping committees, the object being to ensure that all available shipping space shall be utilized to the best advantage.
The transport of refrigerated commodities presents a. particular problem. Thosecommodities have to be stored on land from the time of their production up to the time of their shipment, and they require refrigerated space during transport to the United Kingdom. Some time before the outbreak of war, a survey was made of the refrigerated and cold storage space available on land throughout Australia, and certain deficiencies are now in course of correction. As far as can be judged at present, having regard to the shipping tonnage available, it is anticipated that it will be possible readily to transport overseas the Australian commodities in respect of which contracts have been made. Should the demands on shipping space in various parts of the world become more pressing, the Government’s contact with the United Kingdom Government and the shipowners is such that the most efficient possible use will be made of whatever shipping is available.
In conclusion, I wish to say that the negotiation of these contracts and the provision of the necessary machinery has entailed an enormous amount of work which has been very ably performed by the Minister for Commerce and his staff, and by the High Commissioner in London and his staff. At the outset of new marketing arrangements, administrative difficulties naturally occur; these are being coped with as they arise. The Government believes that the arrangements it has made will result in the efficient marketing of the commodities it has contracted to sell to the United Kingdom, as well as those for which other marketing arrangements arc necessary.
issuedby the Ministerforcommerce, 14th November,1939.
Pointof Sale. - On appraisement.
Period of Contract. - Duration of the war, plus one full wool clip after the cessation of hostilities.
Contract Price. -10¾d. sterling per lb., plus 50 per cent. of the profits derived from the sale of the wool for use outside the United Kingdom. To this will be added a sum not exceeding¾d. sterling per lb. to cover the costs from the store to f.o.b.
Arrangements have been made for an annual consultation between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Australia with a view to considering whether conditions have so altered as to justify u review of the price.
Quantity. - The whole of the Australian clip, i.e., wool, -wool tops, noils and waste.
Payment. - Full amount paid by United Kingdom Government to the Central Wool Committee on appraisement. The grower is paid within fourteen days of appraisement less 10 per cent, retained by the Central Wool Committee in order to adjust growers’ returns at the end of the season.
Storage. - Storage in Australia will be the responsibility of the Central Wool Committee.
Point of Sale. - F.o.b. Australia.
Contract Prices. - See attached sheets.
Quantity. - The quantity of meat to be sold under the contract is still being negotiated. The estimated quantity available for export during the year ending 30th September. 1940, is 252,000 tons. 1’ayment. - 00 per cent, on shipment and 10 per cent, within 28 days of arrival, or in the case of steamer being lost the estimated due date of arrival.
Storage. - The United Kingdom Government will not agree to pay_ storage charges in Australia after a stipulated period. It agrees, however, that, in the event of meat having to be kept in store in Australia for an unduly long period owing to inability to provide ships, to make payment towards consequential additional costs of storage in accordance with an arrangement to be agreed with the Commonwealth Government in the Tight of actual experience up to the 31st January, 1940. In the event of delay in shipping owing to inability to provide oceangoing ships the United Kingdom Government will make payment on account in accordance with arrangement to lm agreed with the Commonwealth Government in the light of actual experience up to the 31st January, 1940.
Survey on Arrival. - 10 per cent, of each parcel to be weighed on arrival and the whole parcel to be judged on the result obtained. The allowable variation to be three-quarteT of 1 per_ cent, of declared weight. Should the Ministry of Food’s surveyor make a claim, the Commonwealth representative to have the right to weigh a larger proportion by way of check. An inspection surveyor will be appointed to act in each port and examination will follow the discharge of articles to allow payment adjustment to bo completed.
Consignment. - Bills of lading to show Commonwealth Government as shipper and the Ministry” of Food as the consignee. Bills of lading and shipping specifications to be handed to agents in Australia nominated by the Ministry of Food.
Losses. - Losses in respect of fire or other damages to be at the risk of the seller until placed f.o.b. steamer, except that, in case? where meat is forwarded from one ocean shipping port for shipment on board, ocean steamer at another port on through bill of lading, such meat to be at thu risk of the United Kingdom Government from the point of departure from the initial port.
Point of Sale. - F.o.b. Australian port.
Period of Contract.- The 13th November to the 30th June, 1940.
If unsalted or lightly salted butter is required, a special arrangement is to be made.
Quantity. - The quantity of butter to be sold under the contract is 75,500 tons, which is on basis of 100,000 tons per annum.
Payment. - 90 per cent. on shipment and 10 per cent. within 28 days after arrival, or, if vessel lost, of estimated due date of arrival.
Consignment. - Bills of lading to show Commonwealth Government as the consignor and the Ministry of Food as the consignee. Bills of lading and grade notes to be handed to agents in Australia nominated by the Ministry of Food.
Storage. - The Commonwealth is to be responsible for storing butter in suitable stores at a suitable temperature. The United Kingdom Government will not agree to pay storage charges in Australia after a stipulated period. It, however, has offered that, in the event of delay in snipping due to the inability of the Ministry to provide ships, the Ministry will be prepared to make payment towards the consequential additional costs of storage, in accordance with an arrangement to be agreed with the Commonwealth Government in the light of actual experience up to the 31st January, 1940. It will also undertake to make payment on account in accordance with arrangements to be agreed with the Commonwealth Government in the light of actual experience up to the end of January, 1940.
Losses. - Losses in respect of fire or other damage are at the risk of the seller until placed f.o.b. steamer, except butter forwarded from one ocean shipping port for shipment on board ocean steamer at another port or through bill of lading. Such cases are at the risk of the United Kingdom Government from the point of departure from the initial port.
Point of Sale. - F.o.b. Australian port.
Period of Contract. - Outbreak of the war to the 30th June, 1940.
Quantity. - The quantity of cheese to be sold under the contract is 13,000 tons, which is on the basis of 10,500 tons per annum.
Payment. - 90 per cent. on shipment and 10 per cent. within 28 days after arrival, or, if vessel lost, of estimated due date of arrival.
Consignment. - Bills of lading to show Commonwealth Government as the consignor and the Ministry of Food as the consignee. Bills oflading and grade notes to be handed to agents in Australia nominated by the Ministry of Food.
Storage. - The United Kingdom Government will not agree to pay storage charges in Australia after a stipulated period. It, however, has offered that, in the event of delay in shipping due to the inability of the Ministry to provide ships, the Ministry will be prepared to make payment towards the consequential costs of storage in accordance with an arrangement to be agreed with the Commonwealth Government in the light of actual experience up to the 31st January, 1940. It will also undertake to make payment on account . in accordance with arrangements to be agreed with the Commonwealth Government in the light of actual experience up to the end of January, 1940.
Losses. - Losses in respect of fire or other damage are at the risk of the seller until placed f.o.b. steamer except cheese forwarded from one ocean shipping port for shipment on hoard ocean steamer at another port or through bill of lading. Such cases are to be at the risk of the United Kingdom Government from the point of departure from the initial port.
Point of Sale. - F.o.b. Australian port.
Period of Contract. - The contract is for this season only and will cover all eggs packed for export up to the 31st December, 1939. Eggs requisitioned in the United Kingdom since the outbreak of war but prior to the signing of the contract will be included. All eggs sold c.i.f. before 4th November will be excluded from scope of the contract.
Contract Prices. - Peace time equivalent of the following Loudon prices, i.e., the London prices to be converted to f.o.b. Australian at peace time rates - 13½-lb. and 14-lb. packs, 10s. per great hundred. 15-lb. and 16-lb. packs, 12s. per great hundred. 17-lb. and l8-lb. packs, 12s. 6d. per great hundred.
For New South Wales, 14-lb. pack afloat or packed before 27th September, the United Kingdom Government has agreed to pay the equivalent of 10s. 8d. sterling per great hundred. These prices converted to f.o.b. Australia are as follows: -
Quantity. - 900,000 long hundreds. Subject to freight being available, the United Kingdom Government will accept any additional quantity available for export on the same terms as those specified in the agreement.
Consignment. - All eggs are to be packed in cases with centre boards and consigned to the Ministry of Food. The United Kingdom
Government, however,has agreed to allow the existing stocks of cases with centre frames to be used.
Payment. -85 per cent. on shipment and 15 pur cent. within 28 days after arrival or due date of arrival if vessel has been lost. The eggs arc subject to inspection on arrival, deductions to be made for inferior quality and breakages.
Storage.-The Commonwealth Government is to be responsible for the storage of eggs at suitable temperature prior to shipment. In the event of eggs having . to be stored in Australia unduly long periods owing to inability to obtain shipping space, the United Kingdom Governmentis prepared to make payment towards the consequent additional cost of storage in accordance with arrangements to be agreed with the Commonwealth Government in the light of experience up to the end of December, 1939. It is also prepared to make payment on account in accordance with arrangements to be agreed on in the light of actual experience up to the end of December, 1939.
Losses. - Losses in respect of fire or other damage arc at the risk of the seller until placed f.o.b. steamer, except eggs forwarded from one ocean shipping port for shipment on board ocean steamer at another port on through Bill of Lading. Such cases arc at the risk of the United Kingdom Government, from the point of departure from the initial port.
Arrangements have been concluded for the sale of, by the Queensland Government to the British Sugar Control Board, the balance of Australia’s surplus production of raw sugar c.c the 1939 crop.
The quantity of raw sugar involved is approximately 332,500 tons, and the price will be 7s.6d. percwt. sterling (£7 10s. per ton) c.i.f. United Kingdom ports, basis 90 degrees polarization, plus the existing British Tariff Preference of £3 15s. on dominion sugar. Any excess of freight rates above £1 15s.6d. per ton, or of insurance above pre-war normal rates will be paid by the British Sugar Control Board.
These arrangements are subject to an understanding between buyers and sellers that the price is intended to represent the basis of 7s. 6d. per cwt., according to values atthe time the negotiations took place, and that in the event of currency or other developments rendering 7s. 6d. inadequate to give sellers ( i.e. the sugar producers ) their present return therefrom, sellers will be entitled to reopen the question of price with a view to revision.
It has also been agreed that if better terms are granted to other Empire sugar producers, those terms will be extended to Australian sugar. With regard to freights, as long as chartering remains free, the British Sugar Control Board will do everything possible to support the sellers’ chartering agents in their endeavours to secure tonnage to meet the approximate monthly requirements under the present contract and, in the event of all ton nage being requisitioned by the BritishGo- vernment, the British Sugar Control Board will continue to assist in the same manner.
The price and conditions mentioned will result in a net return on Australian raw sugar f.o.b. mill of approximately £10 per ton, which is slightly higher than that from recent sales to the United Kingdom’, and compares favorably with the low average return of £8 4s. 3d. per ton on the previous season’s exports.
The arrangement involves an increase of 79,500 tons in the exports from the 1939 crop than had previously been anticipated. Prior to this sale, 130,000 tons of raw sugar had already been exported to Great Britain and 72,500 tons to Canada. The total exports’ for the season will thus be 534,500 tons, which will substantially exceed the 1938 season’s record exports of 441,786 tons. The export value of the 1939 shipments will be approximately £5,500,000.
Point ofSale. - F.o.b. Port Pirie.
Period of Contract. - Twelve months. The buyers have option of renewal by giving three months’ notice to the sellers.
Quantity. - 13.330 tons per month up to a total of 100,000 tons.
Contract Price-.- £151s. 3d. sterling per ton, or £1816ds. 7d. Australian currency.
The price to be varied if investigation (which either party may demand) shows over 5 per cent. increase or decrease in seller’s production and delivery costs. If United Kingdom-Australia exchange rate varies, the price to be varied so that sellers receive £18 16s. 7d. in Australian currency.
Similar Empire contracts shall correspond as regards sterling price.
Payment. - To be made within seven days of cabled advice regarding storage warrants and weight certificates handed to buyers’ representatives in Australia on the last day of each month.
Payment shall be made in London in sterling or at the seller’s option in Australian currency in Melbourne or Sydney.
Storage. - The sellers are to provide free reasonable storage and supervision at Port Pirie.
Point of Sale. - F.o.b. Risdon, Tasmania.
Period of Contract. - Twelve months. The buyers have option of renewal by giving three months’ notice to the sellers.
Quantity. - 3.000 tons per month up to a total of 36,000 tons.
Contract Price. - £18 sterling per ton or £22 10s. Australian currency. The price to be varied if investigation (which either party may demand) shows over 5 per cent. increase or decrease in seller’s production and delivery costs. If United KingdomAustralia exchange rate varies the price to be varied so that the sellers receive £22 10s. in Australian currency.
Payment. - To be made within seven days of cabled advice regarding storage warrants and weight certificates handed to buyers’ representatives in Australia on the last day of each month.
Payment shall be made in London in sterling or at the seller’s option in Australian currency in Melbourne or Sydney.
Storage. - The sellers are to provide free reasonable storage and supervision at Risdon.
Should Australia have any surplus electrolytic copper, it will be sold on contract up to a total quantity of 7,000 tons.
issuedby the Minister for Commerce. 14th November, 1930.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
Sale of Australian Commodities to the United Kingdom, and other Aspects of Wartime Marketing; - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Form) adjourned.
Labour Conditionsfor Workmen
– Is the Prime Minister aware that tradesmen employed upon the erection of huts in the military camps at Ingleburn and Dapto are being paid less than award rates, and are being worked longer hours than those provided by the award? Will the Prime Minister take steps to ensure that award conditions are observed?
– The Chair almost despairs of inducing honorable members to conform to the rules in regard to the asking of questions. Honorable members have frequently prefaced their questions to Ministers with the words, “ Is the Minister aware “ that something has happened, and having made a statement they then proceed to ask that the matter be rectified. The initial statement, although in interrogatory form, is out of order, and is quite, unnecessary.
– I shall inquire into the matter immediately.
-Will the Minister for the Army arrange to inform militiamen regarding the date upon which they will be called up for their period of three months’ training in camp, so that they may be able to arrange their private affairs and provide for temporary employment where necessary?,
– I shall make an announcement as soon as possible.
– With regard to militiamen, who would ordinarily be expected to be in camp during harvest time, would it be possible to arrange for them to do this training at some other period of the year, so that they may attend to the harvesting of their crops?
– In all cases of hardship, commanding officers have full powers to grant leave, or exemption from attendance at camp. So far, I understand, the system has worked very satisfactorily.
– To whom should the application be made?
– To the officer commanding the unit. If the honorable member has any particular case in mind I shall be glad to investigate it personally.
– Since the outbreak of war price increases have been authorized in respect of many items. Will the Prime Minister take steps to ensure that employees have their claims for increased wages heard promptly?
– I presume the honorable member is referring to Arbitration Court proceedings. I shall discuss the matter with the Attorney-General.
– Iii what capacity is Mrs. Guy Smith employed by the Government, and what are the conditions of employment? What is the cost of the work upon which she has been engaged, and when is the engagement likely to terminate?
– I shall obtain the information, and make it available to the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for the Army state whether it is true that there is a shortage of equipment for the training of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, and that in one camp there was only one rifle for every four men?
– I am sure the honorable member has been misinformed. There are plenty of rifles for members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force and for many times their number.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the amount of £2,000,000 which he said to-day was to be provided for public works will be made available before Christmas? If not, will the Government do something to relieve the unemployment situation during the Christmas period?
– It is expected that work will begin next week on those undertakings for which the money will be made available.
– Will the Minister for the Interior take action to have applied to the employees of private carrying firms in Canberra the terms of the award governing the employment of Commonwealth transport drivers? I have been informed that employees of private firms have been required to work very long hours, and even to work on holidays and Sundays, without being paid for overtime.
– I shall ask the Minister for the Interior to give consideration to the honorable member’s request.
– Is it the intention of the Government to re-introduce the wine bounty which will terminate at the end of February of next year?
– It is the intention of the Government to introduce a wine bounty bill during the present sittings of Parliament.
– Seeing that weather reports are being broadcast from Singapore, and that reports are being published regularly in the daily press, will the
Postmaster-General permit the broadcasting of weather reports within Australia? Representations have been made to me on the subject by residents of the north-west of “Western Australia, who point out the desirability of broadcasting such reports in view of the danger to shipping from monsoonal storms in that area.
– This involves a matter of censorship, and I shall bring it before the Minister concerned.
Rutherford Canteen: University Students: MEDICAL Practitioners.
– Is it a fact that the canteen at the Rutherford military camp, West Maitland, has been leased to a private individual and that, in order to assist him in the conduct of his business, the military authorities have picketed and declared out of bounds a stove run by a returned soldier at the main entrance to the camp? A militia captain said to twelve men who were found in the store last Monday night, “ Men, you know your orders : leave this store at once “.
-Order ! The honorable member is making a statement.
– The store sells commodities to the men in the camp at a cheaper rate than the canteen.
– I am not familiar with the conditions at Rutherford camp. I know, however, that at -the present time most canteens are under private contract pending their complete taking-over by the department. I shall investigate the matter raised by the honorable member.
– Has any date been fixed for the commencement of the three months’ camp for the Militia, especially for those to be called up under the new age group proposal ? If not, will such a date be fixed as to ensure that university students will be able to carry out. their Militia training during the university vacation?
– I shall make inquiries with regard to the dates of commencement of the camps as early as possible. I am at present discussing the position of university students with the vicechancellors, of the various universities.
-In view of the great dislocation of private practices and hospital services which would follow the calling up of medical practitioners, is it the intention of the Government to call up medical practitioners for a three months’ Militia camp in addition to the one month camp?
– Yes; but individual cases will be dealt with by the special State committee for medical coordination, which has already functioned SUecessfully in connexion with one ease mentioned by the honorable member.
Mi’. ROSEVEAR,- What, active steps Iia ve been taken to redeem the undertaking .given in this House only a feumonths a.go that overtime would be eliminated in connexion with war and other contracts under the control of government departments? Has anything at all been done to limit the overtime worked in government establishments?
– I am not quite sure in what way the question “relates to my own department. To take a specific case, steps have been taken to eliminate as far as possible the working of overtime at Garden Island.
– That action is bearing fruit already.
– The honorable member says there is already an improvement of the position. With regard to overtime in establishment^ under the control of the Department of the Interior, I shall refer any specific cases to my colleague for investigation.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs prepare a tabulated list of items in respect of which price increases have been authorized during the last two months, together with the reasons for the increases?
– I shall endeavour to do as the honorable member suggests.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs .make available to honorable members, when requested - to do so, all files or information in connexion with any inquiries which may have been conducted (by the various pricefixing authorities established by this Government ?
– I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s proposal.
– Has the Prime
Minister received a communication from the president of the Housewives Association in Hobart protesting against the increase of the price of tea, and asking him, by preventing the increase of the price of tea, to avoid the exploitation of people on lower incomes? Does the right honorable gentleman intend to take any action in connexion with that request?
– I am not aware of having received such a communication.
– A copy of a communication . addressed to the right honorable gentleman was sent to me.
– I have not seen it; it may have been received by my department and forwarded to the Minister concerned. I shall inquire about it. docksitesforcapitalships.
Report bysir Leopold Saville.
– Is the Minister now in a position to say whether the report by Sir Leopold Saville in connexion with graving-dock facilities in Australia for capital ships has yet been received ? If it has been received, has it been considered by the Government?
– The report has not yet been received.
Agreement with Australian Associated Press.
– Following on a question which I asked earlier in the session, I ask the Minister for Information whether he has yet; secured the permission of the Australian Associated Press and Australian Broadcasting Commission to divulge to the public the details, particularly the financial details, of the agreement arrived at between them for the privilege of broadcasting news. If not, is it his intention to continue to refuse . to do so, and to leave the public in the dark with regard to the matter?
– If the honorable gentleman had read the newspapers, he would have noticed that the particulars he seeks were disclosed, in the press on the day after he asked his question.
Marketing - Price
– Will the Minister have inquiries made by the Prices Commissioner into the irregular methods of marketing potatoes, not only those from Tasmania, but also those from other States?
– The matter to which the honorable gentleman has referred is at present engaging . the attention of the Prices Commissioner.
– When the Minister is looking into the price of potatoes, will he see that the New South Wales people are not permitted to exploit the Victorians? I understand that last week potatoes were sent from Sydney to Melbourne for which the Melbourne buyers were charged the abnormal price of £30 a ton.
– The honorable gentleman may rest assured that the Government will take every step to prevent the exploitation of the people of any one State by the people of any other State.
– Is any action being taken under the national security legislation to deal with the fixing of , the price of potatoes at a reasonable level, and, by the establishment of a pooling scheme, to stabilize the market?
– I understand that the Minister for Commerce is giving consideration to the establishment of a potato marketing board.
– Regarding the contract with the British Government for the purchase of Australian meat, on what date was the purchase price decided by the representatives of the British and Australian Governments?
– I snail ascertain that information and give it to the honorable gentleman.
– Have any arrangements been made with the Commonwealth Bank to assist small meat exporters by the granting of advance payments? Some’ exporters whose products are on the. water have, I understand, been refused advances of which they are much in need, by the Commonwealth Bank.
– If the honorable member will supply the names of the people to whom he refers, I shall see what can be done to assist them.
Militia Trainee Purchasers
– Willthe department take into consideration the appropriate reduction of instalments due by purchasers of war service homes who enlist, either in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force or in the Garrison’ Forces, and whose incomes are substantially reduced by reason of the difference between civil and military pay?
– I shall bring the honorable gentleman’s question under the notice of the Minister in charge of War Service Homes and ask him to give a full reply.
– In view of the difficulty of marketing apples and pears, will the Government take steps to ensure that only fruit of the right size, and of good quality, is placed on the Sydney market, so that consumers shall not have foisted on them undersized fruit, particularly from Tasmania ?
– The honorable member may rest assured that the interests of the producers and of the consumers will be considered in any action taken by the Government.
– I shall be very grateful if honorable members will reserve their further questions until tomorrow. Several of my colleagues and
I have a very important conference to attend before dinner. We have had two hours and twenty-five minutes of questions since the House met.
– Time has been takenup by the reading of statements.
– ‘Not all of it, as I am sure the honorable member will admit.
– I have asked one question and hope to be able to ask another.
– There will be ample opportunity to-morrow to ask questions, but I request as a favour that no further questions be asked to-day.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Flour Tax (Wheat Industry. Assistance) Assessment Bill1939.
Customs Tariff (No. 2) 1939.
Excise Tariff 1939.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1939.
Income Tax Bill 1939.
Sales Tax Exemptions Bill 1939.
States Grants Bill 1939.
Loan Bill 1039.
Tractor Bounty Bill 1939.
Sulphur Bounty Bill 1939.
Wire Netting Bounty Bill 1939.
Defence Bill (No. 2) 1939.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1939-40.
Supply and Development Bill (No. 2) 1939.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1937-38.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1937-38.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I had a discussion with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) and the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. Archie Cameron) with reference to the procedure to be followed to-day, and it was agreed that, having regard to the lengthy nature of the statements that have been made and the desire to facilitate a full discussion of them, it would be wise, after their delivery and the answering of questions, for the House to adjourn. When we meet to-morrow further statements will be made by Ministers. It is proposed that the remainder of this week, and probably at least the first day of next week, shall be devoted to the discussion of the various ministerial statements.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
National Security Act -
Authority to consent to Summary Prosecutions.
National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations - Delegation of Powers of Treasurer ( 2) .
National Security (Enemy ‘ Property) Regulations - Appointment of Controller.
National Security (General) Regulations - Appointments - ‘Advisory Committees (Restriction and detention orders) (3).
Authority - Public utility undertakings.
Delegation of Powers by Minister - Taking possession of land.
National Security (Monetary Control) Regulations - Determination - Money orders.
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Appointments -
Deputy Commissioners (2).
Declarations Nos. 1-13.
National Security (Securities) Regulations - Notices -
Returns of securities (2).
Wheat Acquisition Regulations - Appoint ment - State Wheat Committees.
Air Force Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 142.
Air Navigation Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1939, No. 122.
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules, 1939, No. 124.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 100.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Treasurer’s Statement of combined accounts of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank at 30th June, 1939, together with certificate of the Auditor-General.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Health- E. C. Slater.
Interior - D. V. Gordon, J. B. McCouat, R. V. Woolley.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 105.
Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 138.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions ) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 140.
Dairy Produce Export Charges Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 141.
Defence Act -
Defence (National Security- General ) Regulations- Orders - Prices (4).
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, Nos.93, 94, 111, 115, 123, 132, 133, 134, 135, 137.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 131.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 121.
Judiciary Act - Rule of Court, dated 30th October, 1939.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired -
For Banking purposes - Ashfield, New South Wales.
For Defence purposes -
Busselton, Western Australia.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
Denman, New South Wales.
Paranoid, South Australia.
Port Adelaide, South Australia.
Richmond, New South Wales.
Tuncester, New South Wales.
For Health purposes - Spring Hill, Queensland.
For Postal purposes-
Clunes, New South Wales.
Wamoon, New South Wales.
Rights acquired for Defence purposes -
Richmond, New South Wales.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 112. National Security Act - ‘
Australian Barley Board Regulations - Order - Acquisition of barley.
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Orders -
National Security (Capital Issues) Regula tions - Orders -
National Security (General) Regulations -
Order- Defence Impressment.
Rules - Advisory Committee.
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders -
National Security (Securities) Regulations - Orders -
Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory
Rules 1939, Nos. 95, 96, 100, 102, 103, 104, 108, 109, 110, 113, 114, 117, 118, 119, 120, 127, 128, 129, 144, 145, 14(1, 147.
Wheat Acquisition Regulations - Orders - Acquisition of wheat (2).
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, Nos. 116, 143.
Norfolk Island Act- Ordinance of 1939- No. 3 - Motor Car.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1939 -
No. 20 - Workmen’s Compensation.
No. 21 - Crown Lands,
No. 22 - Matrimonial Causes.
Regulations Amended, &c -
Darwin Administration Ordinance (3).
Health Ordinance (3).
Mining Development Ordinance.
Motor Vehicles Ordinance.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations
Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 130. Quarantine Act- Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 139.
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Report for year 1938-39.
Science and Industry Endowment Act - Report by the Auditor-General on the accounts of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for year 1938-39.
Supply and Development Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1939, No. 107.
Tractor Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 126.
War Service Homes Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1939, No. 136.
Wire Netting Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 125.
House adjourned at 5.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Control of Prices: Tea.
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING commission :
Publication op Journal.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 November 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1939/19391115_reps_15_162/>.