15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the. ( chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– To-day it is again my sad duty to record the death of another former member of this House, the Honorable William Caldwell Hill, who passed away in Melbourne yesterday afternoon. Mr. Hill terminated his association with the
Commonwealth Parliament just before I entered it and I, therefore, did not have the privilege of personal association with bini. His parliamentary career commenced in .September, 1919, when he was elected to represent the division of Echuca in this House. He retained the seat continuously until 1934, when he retired on the expiration of the thirteenth parliament. He attained office as Minister for Works and Railways in August, 1924, and held that portfolio for over four years. He is remembered in this House for his practical knowledge of rural problems, particularly those associated with the wheat industry. His ministerial duties were discharged cap.ably. and his personal qualities earned for him a high place in the esteem of his parliamentary colleagues. We extend our sympathy to Mrs. Hill and the members of her family in the loss which they have sustained. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable William Caldwell Hill, a former member for the division of Echuea in this House, and Commonwealth Minister, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its heartfelt sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion with very deep regret, which is shared, I am sure, by the whole House, but more particularly by those members of it who were contemporaries of the late Mr. Hill. The deceased member was a Minister of State when I entered this Parliament, and I recall many experiences of his consideration and courtesy. As I came into closer association with him I learned to admire and respect his manly character and to appreciate the very high standard of public duty which he had set himself. I am quite confident that no section of this Parliament entertained for the late Mr. Hill anything but the very greatest degree of affection. I tender to his family my sincere personal sympathy, and associate all the members of the Labour party with the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
– On account of my long association and friendship with the late Mr. Hill, which extended for practically a quarter of a century, the Leader of the Country party (Mr. Archie Cameron) has asked me to support, on behalf of the Country party, the tributes of respect which have been paid by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) to one of the straightest, most lovable, most loyal, and most single-minded men who has ever come into this Parliament. Before he went on the land, Mr. Hill worked on the railways of Victoria, and because of that fact he always maintained an extraordinary interest in the working conditions of all sections of the people. Subsequently, when he came into politics, he continued to maintain a very greatinterest in the fundamental economic conditions of the farmers, and was instrumental in establishing the great Phosphate Co-operative Company, which cheapened and extended the use of fertilizers all over Australia. He was chairman of directors of the company at the time of his death.
He had a distinguished public career in this Parliament. He entered the Commonwealth Parliament as the pioneer Country party member, and, for four and a half years, he was Minister for Works and Railways in the Bruce-Page Government. While holding that portfolio he was associated with the initiation of three permanent landmarks in the history of Australian development. These were the standardization of the railway gauges of Australia, by the inauguration of the work of constructing the line from Kyogle to South Brisbane, and so linking Sydney and Brisbane; the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, in South Australia, thus assisting in the construction of the North-South Transcontinental line; and the introduction of the federal aid roads scheme, which has revolutionized transport conditions throughout Australia. But the great love of the official life of Mr. Hill was in connexion with the harnessing of the waters of our great Murray River, in order to encourage closer settlement along the valleys of that great river. His generation in this Parliament - I regret to say that only nine of those who were members of the Parliament when he entered the Parliament are members of this Parliament, and curiously enough, three of us are in each of the three parties - will always remember him because of his encyclopedic knowledge of the wheat industry in respect of which he had an extraordinary experience.
The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) will recollect that the late Mr. Hill was a member of the Australian Wheat Board during the Great War. He was also a director of (the Victorian Wheat-growers Corporation from its inception up to the time of his death. As a wheat-grower for many years he was able to speak of the Australian wheat industry in such a way, and with such authority, as to make unnecessary any reference to Broomhall or any other statistical authority for information on the subject.
He was one of the founders of the Country party of Victoria and of Australia. In fact, he was the first president of both organizations. The Australian Country party feels that it has sustained an irreparable loss by his death. His wisdom and experience were greatly valued. By reason of the widely varied phases of his life - his association, with industry, and his knowledge of farming, business and politics - he was able to bring a balanced judgment to all the questions that came before him. His comprehensive grip of his subjects, together with his sagacious advice and extraordinary interest in the every day life of the people of every section of the community, made his advice invaluable. He was just in all his dealings and a loyal comrade in fair weather or foul. I never knew him to ‘be angry except at injustice to some one else. He has left a clean, unstained record of great public service and of a charming private life to comfort his family and friends. To posterity his works, because of their beneficient activity, will continue to speak of a man who gave of his very best in every way he could for the land of his birth and who left everything he touched better than he found it. We tender our very deep sympathy to his widow and children.
– As the successor in this Parliament of the late Mr. Hill, who represented Echuca, I associate myself with the motion, and with the expressions of sympathy with Mrs. Hill and the members of her family.
I speak as a friend who knew Mr. Hill for a long time as a gentleman of the very highest integrity, commanding the respect of all people wherever he went. I know that those whom he had the honour to represent in this Parliament for many years will hear with the deepest regret of his passing. He took a leading part in transforming the ideal of a country political organization into an actuality. As the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has said, he was the first president of the Victorian Farmers Union, which was the first rural political party in Victoria, and he was afterwards the first president of the Australian farmers federal orgnization which was the first rural political party in Australia. He was an eminently practical and successful farmer, and that, with his high personal qualifications, made him an ideal representative of rural interests. No man was better fitted to speak on behalf of the rural industry, and particularly the wheat industry, than was Mr. Hill, by reason of his practical experience and his sterling work. He associated himself with every effort calculated to advance the interests of his country, and particularly of the rural population. His high record of achievement as a Minister of State in the Commonwealth Parliament requires no comment from me, but he extended his activity beyond the sphere of parliament and of politics to include the most practical affairs. He was the first chairman, and continued to be the chairman, of directors- of the Phosphate Co-operative Company which has played a tremendous part in making cheap phosphate fertilizers available to the farmers,’ thus increasing the production of rural industries in Australia. His services as a member of the Victorian Wheat-growers Corporation will always be remembered by wheat-growers in Victoria. He was chairman of directors of the first and, I think, the only daily paper owned and conducted by a rural political party in Australia. In every sphere in which it was possible for him to exert his efforts and his abilities in the interests of the country people he took a prominent part. He has set a splendid example, and, if others are able to live up to it, they will not fall short in the discharge of their duty.
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 Mrs. Hill the foregoing resolution, together with a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
– by leave - Since the first major calamity of the war - the overthrow of the Polish nation, and the partition of its territory between Germany and Russia - international affairs bearing upon the war may fairly be said to have developed unfavorably to Germany. The independent attitude adopted by Italy, the advance of Russia to the Vistula, the ascendancy acquired by Russia in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and, what is of still more importance, over the greater part of the Baltic Sea, can be read only as most grievous and bitter setbacks to Nazi feelings and aspirations.
The decision of the United States Congress to lift the embargo against the export of arms and munitions, and particularly military aircraft, might well prove in the long run a mortal blow to Germany in the war, while the agreement successfully reached between the United Kingdom and France and Turkey is of scarcely less significance.
In the Far East there has been, at least for the time being, a marked easing of the strained relationship which previously prevailed between British and French and Japanese interests. Until the war had actually commenced there was positive apprehension that the Allies might have, even at the outset, to contend against more than one enemy. So far, at least, the only enemy is Germany.
Of perhaps still more moment is the undisputed fact that in this mighty conflict, upon which the Commonwealth has entered in co-operation with the British Empire and with France, the weight of neutral opinion, and even strong sympathy, is overwhelmingly on our side.
To-day, Germany not only fights alone, but also fights without declared friends. We of the British Empire enter into the struggle with a proved and trusty ally of great military renown; and we enter it, too, with a host of most influential friends in almost every part of the world. The sea routes by which Germany normally receives supplies from the outside world are already closed. Those leading te France and Britain are wide open.
From these relatively happy circumstances, however, it must not be too confidently assumed that the position in an international sense, and with respect te neutrals, will remain unaltered ‘Until the conclusion of the war. In the light of all the information possessed by this Government - which means &M the information possessed by the Governments of the United Kingdom and France as well - what can be said with certainty is that the position, at the moment, is not only favorable to us but is also improving from day to day.
I turn now to the condition of the war as it is developing along the FrancoGerman frontier, and further north, and in the adjoining seas. <Germany has had two signal successes with its submarines - the torpedoing of the aircraft carrier Courageous and the old battleship Royal Oak. Apart from those two losses, however - and it was never anticipated that the British navy could avoid some important losses - the war at sea has gone to a reassuring degree against the enemy. Its losses in submarines have been quite up to British and French expectations.
On our side, the losses to the mercantile marine, the safety of which is so vital to us here in Australia, have by no means exceeded expectations, and actually have been more than set off by the capture of German tonnage and the charter of new ships completed since the declaration of war.
Moreover, the reduction by destruction of a substantial portion of the enemy’s submarine strength, and the development of the convoy system, have, during the last few weeks, given a progressive measure of safety to both Allied and neutral shipping. The losses during .the last, day or two of odd ships by contact with enemy mines need not be seriously regarded. They are incidental to war.
A little reflection will persuade honorable members that with Allied shipping scattered as it was at the outbreak of hostilities over the whole globe, some little time passed before the convoy system could be effectively applied, lt has not even yet reached its full control, but day by day its protection against the enemy submarines is increasing. A reassuring factor is that the loss of ships which have been in convoy has been nominal.
There is, however, one consideration which should not be overlooked. At any hour Germany might decide to launch an air attack of great strength, not only upon vital objectives on land in the United Kingdom and Prance, but also upon allied shipping in convoy and more particularly in port. This contingency has been fully considered, however, and we may take it that the great encounter, when it comes, will be by no means a one-sided affair.
As to when the German air attack will be made, or as to when the enemy will move with his gigantic armed land forces, I know no more than honorable members. The offensive lies for the time being with Herr Hitler, and he will strike in his own way and in his own time. We may expect that the blow when it falls will be on1 a scale of unprecedented magnitude and violence, but the resistance which will be offered by the French and the British, fighting so far as the Franco-German frontier is concerned, upon the defence of a line of care-, ful choice and prodigious preparation, will be of the most confident kind.
Flooded heavy ground strongly favours the defenders. This is the wettest autumn in western Europe within half a century, and that alone would give pause to the German High Command. It may be, but this is only surmise, that Germany intends to attack by land and air simultaneously and so place the heavieststrain upon Britain and France.
It would be idle to deny that the concentration upon the most powerful scale by German armies along the Belgian and particularly the Dutch frontiers is causing concern. It is assumed that if Hitler strikes through Holland, his objective will be the possession of Dutch ports which would give him bases for his submarine campaign in closer proximity to allied shipping- than those he pos- sesses in German territory to the north. A still more important requirement he would achieve by a successful drive across Holland - where, by the way, he is faced by only four or five Dutch divisions - would be taking-off grounds for his great fleets of fighting aircraft. This type of very high speed machine is not equipped for long distance flying. Operating as they are now compelled to do from aerodromes upon German soil, these machines could not give to great fleets of German bombers launched over England that protection which the bombers to be effective must have. Operatin’g alone, the bombers would certainly suffer very heavy losses at the hands of British aircraft of fighting types.
Germany has at the moment a substantial superiority in both the number of army divisions and aircraft. The army superiority is perhaps more than set off by the strength of the Maginot line. One factor should, however, be borne in mind. Provided Germany does not violate the neutrality of Belgium or Holland, it will be able to concentrate its military strength upon a far shorter line than that which must be covered day and night by the armies of France and the gathering forces of Britain. This is because it is necessary for the Allies to guard against invasion of France by way of Belgium, more or less by the route followed by the armies of the Kaiser 25 years ago.
Reference to Holland and Belgium makes this an appropriate point at which to refer to the impressive move for the preservation of peace, even at this stage, by the Queen of Holland and the King of the Belgians. Honorable members will be familiar with the reply of Mr. Chamberlain to this overture. In that reply the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom left the door wide open to negotiations, but insisted, and with the approval of the dominions as a whole, that the first step towards peace must be guarantees from Nazi Germany that any peace now contemplated by negotiations must be supported by guarantees of a completely convincing kind. The spoken or written word of Hitler can no longer in itself be accepted by the Allies or indeed by any nation in the world.
The pact between Germany and Russia still remains secret to its parties. When signed, it was heralded by Germany as a great triumph for Hitler and a staggering setback to the Allies. The events which have followed it, however, cannot fail to have caused angry heartburnings in1 Germany and particularly among the Prussian element.* It is a reasonable guess that Russia has, since the signing of the pact, far exceeded its terms.
By its transgressions into and virtual absorption of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania., and its acquisition of a huge portion of eastern Poland, Russia has enormously advanced its strategic position and its general Baltic influence as against Germany. Hitler has, in short, paid a disastrous price for the neutrality of the Soviet, which, Ave must remember, he had previously invariably declared in violent language to be the chief enemy of Nazi Germany.
Moreover, Russia has, at least for the time being, apparently denied him of what roust have been an almost unresisted conquest of Rumania with its prolific oil supplies and its wide wheat lands.
The position in the Balkans still remains indefinite. Unhappily, a number of these States entertain traditional animosities which are proving difficult to compose even now when they are in the shadow of a positive menace from Germany and a potential menace from Russia. There are, however, grounds for the strong hope that all or at least a number of the Balkan countries will come together with the common purpose first of preserving their neutrality, and if that becomes impossible, of merging together in a united resistance, with Italy or Turkey - or possibly both - in active support. Here, however, we are in the realm of doubt and speculation and hope, and it would be folly to engage in a positive forecast of any kind.
The two bright spots in the Mediterranean in recent events are the very valuable alliance with Turkey, and what certainly appears to be a_ steadily improving relationship with Italy.
As I have said, the tension has gone out of the situation which prevailed for some months between Japan and the United Kingdom with respect to Tientsin and other concessions and settlement areas in Chinese territory, and to a lesser extent between Japan and Prance. When Ger many linked up with Soviet Rusia, it dealt a heavy blow to its prestige with the Japanese. The downright declarations of the United States Ambassador at Tokyo in warning Japan as to the consequences of further interference with American property and rights in China, and also the recent great expansion of American armaments cannot fail to have a steadying effect in the Pacific generally.
If I have in this brief survey ventured to sound an optimistic note respecting international events since the declaration of the war, apart from the tragedy of Poland, I ask the House to believe that I do not for a moment overlook the fact that the mighty conflict into which we
Iia ve entered is only just beginning. The defeat of Nazi Germany will call for all the fortitude and resources of the British Empire and of France. The road to victory will be long and the sacrifice heavy, but it is one which we must tread to a completely victorious end if we are to continue to live in safety and in the enjoyment of those things spiritual, political and material, which individually and in ;i national sense make life worth living. I lay on the table the following paper: -
External Affairs - Ministerial Statement and move -
That the paper be printed.
– Before I move the adjournment of the debate, I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, a question. Having regard to the text of the Minister’s statement, which bears intimately upon the statement made’ by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), would it be practicable in the discussion on the Prime Minister’s statement to make extended reference to this statement, I think that they are distinctly related.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).It must be apparent to all honorable members that the two statements relate in the main to the same matter and should be debated together; that may be done.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned..
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House whether the Government intends to continue the wine ‘bounty on the same bas is as last year?
– That is substantially the “intention.
– In the Sydney newspapers, hardware merchants continue to advertise that they have ample supplies of galvanized iron, but, in Queensland and in the north coast districts of New South Wales, it is practically impossible to secure supplies of this commodity, and ‘building operations are held up. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs investigate the position, and ascertain why companies which have been given a virtual monopoly through the tariff are not carrying out their obligations and maintaining a continuity of supplies? This position obtained also before the outbreak of war.
– I shall have full inquiries made into the matter memtioned by the honorable member, and endeavour to furnish him with the information sought.
Instructors’ Rates ov PAY
– ls it a fact that the rate of pay of the recently appointed instructors of the Royal Australian Air Force has been reduced to 14s. a day from 23s. 6d. a day, which rate is paid to members of the permanent Royal Australian Air Force, many of whom will ,be trained by these instructors?
– I am having inquiries made into the matter, and, when the information comes to hand, I shall see that it is conveyed to the honorable member.
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs to the menace of margarine, particularly that made from commodities imported from the Pacific Islands. Is it proposed to introduce co-ordinating legislation similar to that passed by the parliaments of the various States to deal with this problem ?
– The matter is now under the consideration of the Government.
Exemptions From Attendance
– With reference to the authority given to officers commanding local Militia units to grant exempt tions to harvest hands and other rural employees from attendance at Militia training camps, will the Minister for the Army state whether he has received a report on the operation of that method of granting exemptions? Will he also say whether he has been made aware of the fact that great dissatisfaction is felt in many wheat-growing districts at the large number of refusals by officers to grant exemptions?
– I have had no specific report on the operation of that provision, but I understood that it was operating satisfactorily. I have certainly had no large-scale complaints such as the honorable member suggests. If he can bring cases under my notice I should be glad to investigate them.
Prosecution op Lascars.
– Will the Minister for Information state whether it is a fact that the New South Wales censor has ordered the Sydney newspapers to make no further reference to the cases now before the courts in Sydney of the Indian seamen, who recently left their ship as a protest against their wage rate of 27s. a month, and their brutal conditions aggravated by the war?
– The reply is in the affirmative.
– by leave - The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has already presented to honorable members a clear picture of our war aims, of the general conduct of the war, and of changes of defence administration which fall into the broad design of the Commonwealth plan for the conduct of the war. It is my function- to fill in the details of the activities of the three services - the Wavy, the Army and the Air Force - since war broke out. The Commonwealth’s war measures have operated in a way which entirely justifies the care and forethought that were put into their preparation. The unsensational way in which Australia’s war activities are going forward is in itself proof that the closer relationship demanded by modern warfare between the military and the nonmilitary sections of the community has been accomplished to a remarkable degree.
Honorable members are already acquainted with the highlights of the war activities of the fighting services. In the Navy, the personnel has been doubled, the ship construction programme greatly expanded and the strength of the squadron increased. Already mobilized for active service before the war began, the Navy, while silently at its work of guarding trade routes and patrolling the coasts, is continuously adding ito its striking power, whether for offence or defence.
The Army has been put through its paces. Half of the members of the Militia have completed their month of training, and have emerged from camp demonstrably the better in physique and efficiency, and invaluably enhanced in morale and determination to serve their country. The 2nd Australian Imperial Force has been launched into its longer period of training. The veterans of the Australian Imperial Force Reserve are carrying out garrison duty. The Air Force is swelling to proportions never contemplated; the Air Board is steadily preparing so that the Commonwealth will play a full part in the gigantic Empire air training scheme, and Australia, with its Sunderland flying boats, will be the first dominion with a complete air squadron working with the Royal Air Force abroad. The establishment of group commands within Australia will add to efficiency in administration, and training plans have been expanded ‘ with the expansion of the air programme.
I shall examine the war measures of the several fighting services in turn.
Immediately prior to the outbreak of war, all naval reservists were called up for continuous service. This increase of personnel enabled all ships at that time to be commissioned with full complements made up from active-service ratings in depot and on shore duties. It also allowed an immediate expansion of the Royal Australian Navy necessitated by the changed situation. The strength of the Royal Australian Navy has been considerably augmented by chartering merchant vessels and arming them for naval service. This method of increasing the naval force can be rapidly put into practice and continued from time to time as necessity demands. The smaller types of vessels are readily convertible into mine sweepers, anti-submarine vessels, examination vessels and light patrol craft. Consequently, it is this class of vessel which has been requisitioned for service more than any other. In this way thirteen mine-sweepers and anti-submarine vessels, two fast mine-sweepers, ten examination steamers and a store carrier have already been fitted out, manned and placed in service. In addition, five vessels have been armed and fitted out as armed merchant cruisers - three for the Admiralty and two for ourselves. This action has greatly increased the work in the various dockyards. In addition, the number of naval vessels Under ‘ construction at the outbreak of war has also been increased. As ship-building facilities improve, consideration will be given to increasing the building output of the dockyards, and the Commonwealth Government has offered to arrange for construction on behalf of the United Kingdom Government, should that Government so desire. Over 80 merchant ships still engaged on their normal trade duties have been defensively armed in Australia. Gun crews for these ships are trained in Australian ports and certain key. naval ratings are allocated to each ship.
The organization required to maintain the efficiency of this increased naval force has necessitated an expansion also on shore and in shore establishments. Thus the expenditure on naval stores, additional accommodation at naval depots, improvement of harbour facilities and services, strengthening of harbour defences and increase of oil-fuel storage and supplies has risen in proportion to the size of the fleet. In addition, the merchant shipping in Australian waters is controlled and routed as is necessary bythe Navy acting in conjunction with the Admiralty world-wide organization. Signal and coast watching stations which have been established around the coasts have been functioning satisfactorily for some weeks. The expenditure on the Navy during the year 1939-40 will be £14,500,000, of which £5,333,000 will be expended on special war measures.
With regard to the Army, early in October a review of internal security commitments was undertaken owing to, first, the internment of known enemy and other persons likely to engage in subversive action; and, secondly, the large number of troops immobilized in protective duties. This resulted in the elimination on the 16th October of guards at points where danger was remote and the reduction of personnel at other places. In September all commandants were authorized to raise garrison battalions for the relief of Militia units and detachments called up for duty as guards of vulnerable points and internment camps, and for the close defence of the fortress areas. When war was declared, as a precautionary measure those enemy aliens who might reasonably be suspected of espionage or subversive action if allowed to remain at large were immediately arrested and detained. Later a committee of review was set up to review the cases of all internees, as the result of which some have been released, either on restricted control or on parole.
– How many naturalized British subjects are interned?
– A naturalized person has power to appeal to a special committee set up in each State. About 300 persons are interned, some of whom are naturalized. The general principle regarding internment is to keep the number of internees as low as is possible consistent with national security. Only those aliens who are actually suspect are now interned. The number of internees is at present fewer than 300. Coast and antiaircraft defences at all ports throughout the Commonwealth were early placed on a war footing, and have been since so maintained. Essential details of the defence scheme for Papua had been completed before war broke out and the coast defences at Port Moresby were ready for action.
In New Guinea - the Defence Act having been extended to apply to all Commonwealth territories - approval was given for raising a volunteer defence force, and the unit has been named the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles. Training had commenced by the middle of October. At Norfolk Island a Militia infantry detachment is being raised.
The first month’s training of the Militia Forces will be completed next month. Three months’ camp training will commence early in 1940. The effect of the decision to extend Militia camps to one month has been that leave had to be granted from the first series of camps for approximately 6,110 personnel for the following reasons : -
In addition it has been ascertained that approximately 16,350 personnel, or 22 per cent. of the total other ranks of the Militia, are married, and of these more than 12,000 are private soldiers. Instructions have been issued that these latter may, at their option, be transferred to regimental reserves at the end of the one month’s training if they so desire. The information at present available indicates that about 6,000 of these may elect to be transferred to the regimental reserves. The total effect of the process may be that as many as 25,000 members of the Militia may not be available for the period of three months’ camp training. The decision of the Government to re-introduce universal military training, to take effect from the 1st January, 1940, will ensure that the Military Forces, apart from the Australian Imperial Force, will be maintained at a strength of not fewer than 75,000. The first draft to be called up for training will comprise personnel who were unmarried on the 21st October, 1939, and who will become 21 years of age during the year ending on ‘the 30th June, 1940. They will undergo three months’ camp training with the Militia.
The Sixth Division of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force has now about 16,000 men undergoing training in camp. They are being gradually concentrated into three camps at Ingleburn and Allandale in New South Wales, and Puckapunyal in Victoria. This will greatly facilitate training and administration. The artillery of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force is being re-organized on the same lines as the artillery in the British Army. This is in keeping with the policy followed in modernly-equipped armies, and is based on experience gained during and since the Great War, namely, to increase fire-power relatively to manpower. The objects of this new organization are, while effecting economies in man-power, to achieve more effective fin.’ control and quicker manoeuvre. The organization improves the administrative capacity of the artillery regiment, simplifies ammunition supply and facilitates the occupation and concealment, of gun positions. It is not proposed at the present juncture -to introduce the new artillery organization in the Militia; but the first step is being taken in the reorganization and re-equipment of the infantry of the Militia on modern lines. In future rifle platoons- will bo organized in three, instead of four, sections, each section being equipped with a light machine gun. The infantry of the Militia will adopt the new organization at” the commencement of the first period of three months’ continuous training in January, 1940. The 2nd Australian Imperial Force will also adopt this organization as soon as the necessary preliminary arrangements oan be made.
Before the outbreak of war, arrangements were in progress for obtaining items of war material required by the existing army organization. These arrangements were accelerated at the outbreak of war, and, shortly thereafter, wore extended to provide for the special training of the Militia and raising the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. As the result the Army is being supplied with additional arms, armament, ammunition, mechanical vehicles and equipment of all kinds. For similar reasons, the process of mechanization has been accelerated. Additional motor transport vehicles are being purchased for the Militia and the 2nd Australian Imperial Force.
It has been necessary to take urgent action to ensure proper comfort for the troops called up for training, and for the accommodation of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force; and very satisfactory and rapid progress has been made in the provision of works needed after the outbreak of war. At this stage I wish to pay a tribute to the various government departments and commercial firms and their employees for the whole-hearted cooperation extended in this form of preparation. Their energy and ability are assisting materially in carrying out the Commonwealth’s war measures. The estimated expenditure on camps for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force amounts to £1,250,000. Structures for outlying districts and commands have been erected, but the main works are for the brigade camps at Ingleburn and Allandale, New South Wales, and Puckapunyal, Victoria.
The Repatriation Department and public hospitals are at present being utilized for military cases. Dental treatment for the Militia and garrison battalions is limited to relief from pain and the treatment of acute cases. The personnel of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force will be rendered dentally fit. Dental personnel are being enlisted for this purpose, and dental equipment ha? bi.’cn purchased.
– Docs that mean that free dental treatment will bc given in the Australian Imperial Force camps?
– Yes. Nursing personnel are being recruited from the Australian Army Nursing Service. Arrangements have been made for the supply of medical stores to meet the requirements of the Militia, garrison units and 2nd Australian Imperial Force and also for the replenishment of stores drawn from district depots of medical stores. Contract demands have been submitted for medical equipment for the medical units of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. Special contracts have been submitted for reserve medical equipment for certain hospitals.
A canteens service administered by the Army will be inaugurated in appropriate military camps in the near future. It is proposed that the general administration will be the responsibility of the QuartermasterGeneral. A Contoiler of Canteens Service will be appointed and attached to Army Head-quarters. District canteens committees will be sot up in each military district, consisting of three representative citizens and three army representatives.
The command organization was introduced on the 13th October to bring the peace organization into line with the war organization. The command system provides for the personal and whole-time guidance and supervision, hy a higher commander, of divisional and other formation commanders on questions of training and general preparedness for war. It also reduces the number of lower formations under the direct control of Army Head-quarters. The responsibilities previously exercised by the QuartermasterGeneral and Master-General of the Ordnance have been divided, and a new appointment of Master-General of the Ordnance has been created on the Military Board.
Measures have been taken to cope with the greatly increased work of the various head-quarters staffs, and for the administration of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force and garrison battalions.
The estimated total expenditure on the Army in 1939-40 is £28,200,000 or £17,770,000 over the pre-war allocation.
– Will the Minister say why there is no Inspector-General now?
– The functions of an Inspector-General, as the honorable gentleman will realize, are more suitable to peacetime than wartime conditions.
At the outbreak of war the Royal Australian Air Force was mobilized and all members of the Active Citizens Air Force and all available reservists were called up for continuous service. The Royal Australian Air Force has cooperated with the Navy in patrolling coastal areas. New squadrons have been formed and training has been intensified.
The development programme is being accelerated in order to complete it toy June, 1940, instead of June, 19.41, as originally intended. Of the new squadrons formed, some are equipped with modern civil aircraft obtained under charter and operated by. their regular civil crews, supplemented with specialist Air Force personnel. The order for Lockheed Hudsons from the United States of America has been increased from 50 to 100. and the Government has arranged with the Commonwealth Aircraft Cor poration to accelerate the rate of production of Wirraway aircraft. My colleague, the Acting Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart), will deal with the measures being taken generally for the supply of aircraft in Australia.
Considerable numbers of training type aircraft will be required under the Empire air training scheme. Negotiations are proceeding to take up 40 suitable privatelyowned aircraft in Australia. Most of these will be elementary training type. The number of civil aircraft required may have to be increased to a total of 100. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation recently produced to the order of the Government a light training type of aircraft which has embodied in its design the essential features of the modern heavily wing loaded service type aircraft. The service trials of these training aircraft are well advanced.
The right honorable the Prime Minister has already dealt with the Empire air training scheme and its great significance. Australian pilots and air crews sent to the United Kingdom to take delivery of Sunderland flying boats will form the nucleus of a complete air squadron which, although retaining its identity as a unit of the Royal Australian Air Force, will serve as a reconnaissance unit alongside Royal Air Force squadrons. The necessary personnel to complete the squadron will leave Australia as soon as it can be conveniently arranged. Thus Australia will be the first dominion to have a complete air squadron working with the Royal Air Force.
– Will it be commanded by an Australian?
-Yes. Valuable flying experience has already been gained by some of the personnel overseas who have accompanied Royal Air Force aircraft on submarine and convoy patrols. A seaplane conversion course has been run continuously at Point Cook since the outbreak of war, and no difficulty is anticipated in meeting our full seaplane pilot requirements.
To provide for a large increase in the training of flying instructors the following measures have been adopted: -
The technical training of airmen at the training depot, Laverton, has been accelerated, and training capacity of the service generally has been increased by -
It has been decided to form two group commands within the Air Force. The formation of these groups is part of the normal development programme of the Air Force, and would have taken place whether war was declared or not. The state of war, however, and the consequent large expansion of Air Force activities now taking place and contemplated in the future, make the establishment of the groups more than ever necessary. The group head-quarters are to be responsible for close supervision of training and general preparedness for war and for the administration of all units within the group. No. 1 group head-quarters, which will be established in Melbourne, will be responsible for the Air Force stations at Laver- . ton, Point Cook and Cressy in Victoria, and Parafield in South Australia, and the training and operation of units located in those establishments. Later, it will be responsible for the Royal Australian Air Force station being established at Wagga, New South Wales, and the units located there. No. 2 group head-quarters will be established in Sydney and will be responsible for the administration of Air Force stations at Richmond and Rathmines in New South Wales, and Archerfield in Queensland, and the training and operational units allocated to those stations. . Also, it will be responsible for the station that is being established at Canberra.
The formation of these group headquarters will permit a closer supervision to be exercised over flying than is now possible at Air Force head-quarters and, in addition, will make possible decentralization of administration, which is essential to eflicient operation.
Group Captain H. N. Wrigley has been appointed to command No. 1 group, and Group Captain A. T. Cole has been appointed to command No. 2 group.
During 1939-40, exclusive of the cost of the Empire air training scheme, £11,900,000 will be spent on tie Air Force. This is an increase of £2,442,000 on the pre-war allotment for the service during that year.
So much for the war measures of the fighting services. Such a statement as this, however, would be indeed incomplete without an appreciative reference to the voluntary patriotic service of private citizens iri all walks of life. The Commonwealth must acknowledge with gratitude the thousands of unconditional offers of personal service which have been made and many of which have been accepted. I lay on the table the following paper -
War Activities of tlie Fighting Services - Ministerial Statement - , and move -
That the paper he printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
t Action Taken Since the Outbreak ok Wak - Minist.hr jal Statement.
– by have - In the general review of the transfer of the defensive machinery of the Commonwealth from a peacetime to a wartime basis, it is my duty to place before honorable member;ft statement of the steps that the Department of Supply and Development has taken in that, regard.
The activities of the department cover a wide range, including munitions supply from Government factories and armament annexes, contra.ct purchases running into many millions of pounds, aircraft construction on a scale and of a form not hitherto attempted in Australia, and plans for the maintenance and control of supplies of essential commodities, both of raw materials and of manufactured good fi.
While I propose to deal with those subjects in some detail, I should like to remind honorable members that in the time at, my disposal it is possible only to pick out. the high lights. There are also certain particulars of armaments and of production figures which it is obviously inexpedient to discuss. I therefore ask honorable members to bear in mind that thi* statement does not purport to give a complete and detailed account of the extensive operations which the department has completed during the ten weeks that have elapsed since the outbreak of war. Tt will, however, reveal that these opera tions have been of such a magnitude and such complexity as completely to justify the decision of the Government earlier in the year to place the function of defence supply under the control of a separate department, working on foundations which were soundly laid in past years by the Department of Defence.
At the outbreak of war the Government munitions factories were filling the requirements’ of the defence services for the reserve stocks of munitions necessary to. pluto thom on a sound footing to meet the first shock of a war, and to enable hostilities to be maintained while the productive resources of the country were being organized. It was intended in the development programme of the time that this objective should be reached by June, 1941. The number of employees was. then about 6.000 and the weekly wages bill was £26,000. Generally* the operations were being conducted upon a single shift basis.
Immediately war commenced, the manufacturing programme was accelerated. In most of the factories, two or three shifts are now being worked, and additional shifts are being established wherever practicable. In the institution of second and third shifts, the necessity for additional supervisory staff and manufacturing plant is a limiting factor. This staff is being engaged and trained, and large orders for machine tools, placed both locally and abroad, are greatly increasing the manufacturing capacity. Since the Srd September, additional employees directly engaged for munitions factories have numbered more than 2,000, with a consequential increase of thewages expenditure to £3.6,000 weekly. Many more have obtained employmentthrough the purchase of machines and materials. One result of the war demand has been that various stores and materials which it, would not have been economical to manufacture in -Australia in. pence time are now being produced hero as the result of negotiations with manufacturers. It is hoped that this will rc-tn.lt in the permanent establishment of new industries in Australia.
Apart from the extensive purchases of stores and materials on account of current production orders in government factories, the -Government, has authorized the expenditure of a very large sum on reserve stocks of materials, so that there in ay be no Stoppage of production through interruption of supply. The influence of these purchases has been reflected through a wide range of industry, from textile and leather goods to steel, copper and zinc products.
It will be obvious that the increased productive capacity of the Government’s munitions factories and the associated armaments annexes cannot be given in any detail, but in the ten weeks of war the variety of manufactures has increased greatly, and the volume of output has increased several times compared with the pre-war figures. That is only the beginning. Factories ave still being built. Authorizations already in hand for munitions will exceed £6,000,000, and others have been notified which will bring the total up to £8,000,000 or more. Probably three-fifths’ of that amount will be spent directly in wages in the munitions factories and annexes, about one-fifth in stores and materials, most of which will also go into wages, and the remainder in overhead expenses and services, such as power and lighting; most of which also will ultimately be expended. in wages.
Among the developments in munitions, production which might be disclosed is that of a modern and powerful type of anti-aircraft gun. This weapon is being manufactured in quantity at the government ordnance factory, and is rapidly approaching the finishing stage. There is so much confidence in the quality of this product that an order has been received from overseas foi- a substantial quantity. We are also making anti-tank guns and trench mortars at that factory. This work is additional to the lighter type of anti-aircraft guns previously manufactured at the factory, Of which there is a quantity now in service.
At the Small Anns Factory, we arc making three types of machine guns, including a large order for overseas, and also an extensive range of Lewis gun components. A big overseas order has also been placed for rifles. It is expected that employment at Lithgow, already approaching the 1,000 mark, will be appreciably increased during the next few ‘months. Bren gun production is also being accelerated as fast as possible.
Unfortunately, we have had to draw on British sources for a number of gauges to complete this work. Urgent representations have been made to ensure that these essential gauges shall be sent out as quickly as possible.- At the small arms ammunition factories, hundreds of additional employees have been engaged during the last ten weeks, and the output has been greatly increased. All the standard types of small arms ammunition are being produced, as well as three new ones. Plans are being developed for several additional types.
Similar progress is being made in regard to the manufacture of gun ammunition. Our own production of fuses and Other brass components of gun ammunition has been greatly increased; we are also getting assistance from several commercial firms.- That also applies to the production of shell and shell forgings.
In all cases where private firms are engaged in the production of munitions components, including those operating armaments’ annexes, a. system of costing is being worked out by the department in consultation with the Advisory Panel of Accountants. This will ensure that the rate of profit– or the management charge as it might well bc termed- -will he kept down to a minimum. This system will be found to meet tho undertakings in this regard previously given by the Government. The department maintains a Staff of costing experts for this special purpose acting in collaboration with the advisory panel.
I should like to take this opportunity to pay a very sincere tribute to the gentlemen composing the panel, who are serving in an honorary capacity at considerable sacrifice to their own professional and business interests.
At the government projectile factory, no less than 35 different varieties are being manufactured, including aircraft bombs, trench mortar bombs and hand grenades. Several commercial establishments are working on shells and bombs. The explosives and filling factories are particularly active. In some sections, output has been increased to ten times the quantities obtaining a year ago, and production is constantly being increased.
Honorable members are of course aware that, under the development programme launched by our predecessors in 1937-38, a sum of £3,000,000 was set apart as capital expenditure for increasing the productive capacity of the government munitions factories. The works were to be completed by 1941. In the brief time that this Government has been in office, it has speeded up the construction programme. It provided another £2,000,000 to strengthen the manufacturing capacity soon after war broke out, and proposals to make further extensions to the munitions factories involving an expenditure of another £1,000,000 are under considera-tion. Thus, within ten weeks, the Government has doubled the authorized expenditure upon munitions factories as contemplated a couple of years ago.
The new works already undertaken under the expanded programme include considerable increases of the productive capacity of all the established factories, so that not only are the quantities of output being increased, but also facilities are being installed for production of some important new types of armaments not hitherto undertaken in Australia.
New munitions factories already approved include a second factory for production of cordite and T.N.T. in Victoria, a second small arms ammunition factory in Adelaide, >and a second factory at Albury, New South Wales, for filling explosives into ammunition.
What has been done and is being undertaken gives effect to the Government’s policy of munitions production. Such a policy is necessary, unfortunately,, but it has a certain degree of economic merit apart from defence, since it retains money in the country and provides employment. Lately there has been a demonstration of its value from another aspect, a highly important one, too - that of Empire defence. For some years we have been receiving moderate orders for munitions from other dominions. We have sold these munitions at prices satisfactory to them and to ourselves, and we have reason to believe that they appreciated the facilities we were able to offer. Not the least gain was the engendering of confidence in the quality of munitions produced by government factories in this country.
A few days ago we received an effective tribute “ to that confidence through my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey), who advised me from London that he had obtained orders from the British Government for various types of munitions amounting in value to several millions of pounds, with prospects of more to follow.
The filling of these orders will be carried out at .various factories in the Commonwealth and will result in an increase of the number of munitions factory operatives, now standing at 8,000, to about 12,000 within the coming twelve months.
Thus not only is it accepted that the quality of our munitions is good but also our policy of developing our own resources for munitions production has been justified by this recognition that we are a factor in Empire defence.
The cordial relations already existing with the unions whose members are employed at the munitions factories have been maintained. An agreement has just been concluded with all of the unions concerned respecting wages and conditions in the Victorian Factory Board establishments.
There Ls every reason to believe that work at munitions factories is carried on under conditions which are appreciated by employees. This, of course, is conducive to harmonious relations and wholehearted co-operation. No better example of this need be mentioned than the action of the girls in the ammunition factory who voluntarily offered to sink, for the time being, their opposition to night shift in order to enable adequate reserves of small arms ammunition to be obtained. The Government appreciates that gesture as an indication of the spirit in which munitions production is being undertaken by the employees.
It was realized some months ago that war conditions would create a demand for tradesmen in metal industries which would be difficult to fill. As the result of a. series of meetings of experts and a careful analysis of requirements, it was decided to take steps immediately to increase the number of skilled workers by 500 tool-makers and 2,000 metal tradesmen.
– What experts were eonsuited? Were representatives of the workers included among the experts?
– Yes ; Mr. Roberts, the representative of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, was consulted.
The facilities and staffs of the State technical colleges and schools will be utilized by arrangement with the State authorities concerned. An advisory committee has been appointed, together with a director who will co-ordinate the requirements of the armed services, munitions factories, aircraft construction branch, &c, and will arrange suitable allotment of trainees to the several States.
Tool-making equipment is being purchased, and applications are being invited for tool-maker trainees immediately. The Air Force and Army have already commenced enrolment of pupils at technical colleges,’ and it is expected that the scheme will shortly enable us to cope with the increasing demands for skilled men.
I turn now to armaments annexes which are ‘being established in order that the output of ammunition components from the government factories proper may be supplemented to equal the quantities which it is estimated may be required. The great bulk of the plant and equipment required is now on hand; in some cases it has been or is being installed ; in others it is awaiting the completion of the buildings. Eight of these annexes have been proved and are in a position to fulfil orders, and ten more should be ready for the “ try-out “ of plant by the end of this year.
Acting under the powers conferred upon1 it by the Supply and Development Act, the department has undertaken a wide survey of Australian industry. A very complete census is being taken of in’dustry and of merchant stocks, the form of which was determined in consultation with the Advisory Panel on Industrial Organization and representatives of individual industry. This will not only enable the Government to determine the productive capacity of the Commonwealth but will also provide an accurate estimate of the requirements of industry in raw materials for ‘both war purposes and essential civil needs.
The advent of war has, of course, produced a crop of problems connected principally with short supply of materials and commodities,, owing either to interruption of the supplies from overseas or to the heavy demands suddenly made to meet the needs of the fighting services. Some dislocation was inevitable, yet, although the burden of work on the staff in my department has been! extremely heavy, dislocation has been surprisingly small. ‘ The assistance rendered to industry generally has been appreciable and appreciated.
I cannot pass from this subject without expressing the very sincere appreciation of the Government of- the work so ably and willingly done by the members of the Advisory Panel on’ Industrial Organization. In! the inspection and selection .of workshops for the establishment of armaments annexes, in the drafting of the industrial questionnaire, and in very many other directions, the ability and experience of these gentlemen, voluntarily placed at the disposal of the Government, has assisted very materially towards the realization of one of the cardinal articles of its defence policy. I refer to the association of private industry with Government instrumentalities in the production of munitions, in such a manner as to secure against any possibility of the growth of a private armaments trade.
In the means adopted to implement this policy, namely, restriction of profits, supervision1 and control over every stage of manufacture, limitation of private manufacture to unassembled ammunition components and, in the majority of cases, government ownership of plant and buildings, the Government has been supported most ably by these representatives of private industry, In the outcome it has been .possible to combine all of the advantages of public ownership of munitions plant with the experience and efficiency of highly developed private industry.
In addition to looking after the needs of our own services, we have received requests for requirements for other parts of the Empire, and wherever it has been within the capacity of the country to make the items available, supply’ has been undertaken. The requests have been directed principally to foodstuffs and requirements for field and structural engineering work. In some cases quantities despatched have been relatively large. The policy adopted by my department in regard to overseas orders is to ensure that the needs of our defence forces and of the Australian civil population are given’ precedence. Consistent with these requirements, every assistance has been and will be accorded to other parts of the Empire requiring supplies from Australia. Honorable members will, of course, appreciate that I am unable to quote specific instances in this regard.
The sudden and enormous requisitions received from defence services to meet war-time requirements necessitated a re-organization of the Central Contract Office, which has been sec- tionized, each section being placed in charge of an officer long experienced in the purchasing of departmental requirements. In order to handle the increased business, it was necessary to augment the staffs in the central and State offices. The central staff in Mel-, bourne was increased from 32 to 80 and that in Sydney from 12 to 32. Increased staffs were also provided in the District Contract Offices in other .States.
The Contract Board was reconstituted, and a business adviser, Mr. E. V. Nixon, C.M.G., was added to its personnel. The Contract Board has also had the benefit of consultation with Mr. Norman Myer in regard to textiles and clothing. Mr. Nixon has already given valuable service as chairman of the Advisory Panel of Accountants, and his acceptance of the heavy duties which have been placed on him as an honorary consultant to the Contract Board is deserving of the highestcommendation. The assistance and advice of both of these gentlemen, so generously given, has earned the gratitude of both the board and the Government. These arrangements were speedily completed, with the result that the details involved in transacting business in a huge volume under the markedly changed war conditions were soon well in hand. The Contract Board has functioned effectively and smoothly.
Complaints have been received, and impatience expressed in certain quar- ters, regarding what some consider to bc unnecessary delays. The critics overlook the time-lag involved in negotiating with industry to make types of articles in which many of tha factories concerned are inexperienced, and the period required to get production under way. In certain of its transactions, the Contract Board has found difficulty in arranging with industry to produce supplies at rates which the board regarded as reasonable. The board’s aim has been to keep costs at pre-war levels, consistent with unavoidable increases, such as are due to advanced costs of materials. For the period from the 1st September to the 13 th November, 1939, the purchases by the contracts organizations of the department represent an expenditure of more than £3,000,000. Whilst the transactions involving the largest expenditures Iia ve been arranged by the Centra] Contract Board, the District Contract Boards in the various States have also placed large orders. A detailed list of the transactions would cover many reams of paper, and. therefore no attempt has been made to give an indication of the range of supplies or services arranged. Some particular instances may be given of ‘ the extent of these orders. Extensive mechanization of the Army has called for the purchase, from various sources, of 4,000 motor vehicles of all types, ranging from heavy lorries and artillery tractors to motor-cycles. The total cost of these purchases has not yet been determined, hut honorable members will recognize that this is a business transaction on a .scales surpassing anything that has ever been attempted in the automobile industry in this country. Contracts have been negotiated for the purchase of huge quantities of clothing and personal equipment, cither by the method of impressment, or through the normal contract channels.
The first problem was the task of obtaining sufficient quantities of materials for the clothing which was immediately required by the naval, military and air services. Peace contracts were inadequate to meet the needs of the manufacturing programme of war requirements. In regulation woollen clothing alone, 11,000 uniforms were required each week. This, with a margin of safety, necessitated the woollen mills manufacturing a Minimum of 60,000 yards of woollen materials weekly. In addition, cloth had to be provided for such items as caps, water bottles, bottle covers, and gaiters. The department, therefore, aimed at a weekly production of 100,000 yards of piece materials, including flannel for heavy shirts and singlets. The number of blankets required amounted to 240,000. Although certain peace-time contracts were in operation, it would have been beyond the capacity of these mills, even if they concentrated their entire plants on defence work, to have produced anything like the quantities of textiles and blankets required. In order to meet the situation, the department ‘convened a conference of representatives of the woollen mills throughout the Commonwealth, with the object of allotting these large quantities of cloths, blankets, &c, to the various manufacturers according to their capacities. At this conference orders were immediately placed for the total requirements. Where mills were current contractors, arrangements were made for them to increase their output to the greatest possible degree. Arrangements we’re made for new firms, not previously experienced in manufacturing service cloths, to be assisted by the department’s previous contractors. Weekly delivery rates, and dates upon which contracts were to commence, were fixed. Unfortunately, many of the new firms have not been able to adhere to those dates. In the majority of cases, however, their initial difficulties have ‘been overcome, and indications are that the textile industry will shortly be manufacturing :j3,O00” blankets and 100,000 yards of woollen piece materials weekly. The gross total of these orders exceeds 1,000.000 yards. In the meantime, large deliveries have come to hand from those firms which had already mastered the technique of producing these supplies.
Arrangements were also made with several of the Australian cotton mills to increase their production of cotton cloth such as drill and jean to approximately 70,000 yards weekly. These materials are used for the production of working dress uniforms and shorts, also for linings and trimmings for the woollen uniforms. The total orders placed for such cotton piece goods approximate 1,000,000 yards.
The next step was to arrange for the materials to be converted into articles of uniform. The total requirements of the combined services aggregate 200,000 woollen uniforms, 120,000 greatcoats and approximately 250,000 cotton garment f of different types. As in the case of the woven materials, the department called a conference of clothing manufacturers at which arrangements were completed for the production of woollen garments at the rate of 4,500 greatcoats and 11,000 uniforms weekly. These were additional to large contracts which were in existence for the manufacture of working dress uniforms, shirts, overalls and other miscellaneous items. Contracts for clothing have been lei with 50 firms, the majority of which have now commenced production. It is hoped that within a very short period the various services will be receiving deliveries at a rate which will not only be sufficient for their requirements but will also enable reserves to be built up against future needs. The total expenditure on clothing alone has been over £600,000.
In order to ensure the greatest number of felt hats being available within the shortest possible time, the department called all Australian hat manufacturers into conference and arranged for them to take up contracts in quantities which had relation to their outputs. These discussions resulted in arrangements being made for approximately 70,000 hats to be supplied within a comparatively short period. Some of these firms held contracts at ‘the outbreak of war, but they increased their deliveries, and immediately these contracts are completed they will continue with the production of the additional requirements.
The board is also purchasing throughout the Commonwealth all requirements of foodstuffs for the three defence services at sea, in military camps or in Air Force units. These transactions have run into many hundreds of thousands of pounds. Large quantities of foodstuffs are also being purchased for shipment to other parts of the Empire.
Ail urgent requirement in tents for camps was met by organizing the tent manufacturers throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, provisional arrangements have been made to purchase and hire large-size tents, such as marquees, and store tents from public bodies and private persons until the canvas goods trade is in a position to undertake manufacture. The aid of the various State railway departments has also been enlisted.
Large demands from the navy, air, and military services for cutlery, crockery and mess utensils have been met.
Footwear orders were recently placed for approximately 129,000 pairs of boots and shoes for the fighting services. Considerable difficulty attended the placing of these orders, owing first, to the dislocation of the hide and leather markets consequent on the outbreak of war, and, secondly, to the fact that the Boot and Shoe Manufacturers Association of Victoria and New South Wales met and fixed prices for service footwear which were considerably in advance of current quotations. Most of the manufacturers in those two States, when tendering, adhered to the prices so fixed, with the result that not one pair of boots was ordered from New South Wales, and relatively few from Victoria. The price fixed by the manufacturers conference was almost 40 per cent, in advance of the immediate pre-war tenders. On being advised of this, I gave instructions that this attitude should he rigorously combated, even if it involved the use of our power of factory requisition. Such action, however, proved unnecessary, as we have been able to place orders for the whole of our requirements of 129,000 pairs at an average price of 3s. 3d. a pair lower, than that demanded by those manufacturers to whom I have referred. Had we not been able to combat successfully the price rise to which I have referred, the cost of this single item would have been £20,000 greater than the tenders which we have arranged. I make no apology for publicizing this incident, as I wish to give the most emphatic warning to all potential suppliers of defence requirements that the power to ensure the protection of the national resources - and these powers are not altogether anaemic - will be used without hesitation, and without discrimination as to individuals or State location.
Defence requirements of jute goods have been difficult to meet owing to the fact that local stocks could not satisfy the combined needs of both defence and civilian requirements. Despite this fact, 190,000 sandbags, 60,000 palliasses and other hessian goods have been purchased. To relieve the strain on local stocks of hessian, 60,000 of the total of sandbags purchased have been obtained by buying once-used sugarbags and converting them into sandbags. Every effort has been made to prevent dislocation of essential civil needs. With the object, both of ascertaining precisely the destination and ultimate use of hessian coming into Australia, and of - meeting urgent defence needs, a shipment amounting to 557 bales of hessian arriving in Australia was temporarily impressed and full particulars were obtained as to the purpose of the individual consignees. All hessian destined for essential civil nec, ds was immediately released, but those importers who had purchased merely for casual resale were given the opportunity to sell the material to the Department of Defence at a reasonable price, or to manufacture it into palliasses and sandbags. In addition, action has been taken to order from India 550,000 yards of hessian, and to assist the authorities in India in their efforts to steady the jute market in Calcutta. Purchase and shipment have been left in the hands of the Government of India. The civil supply section of the department has also taken effective measures to meet a threatened shortage of cornsacks.
Less spectacular than munitions supply perhaps, but certainly of equal importance in the prosecution of the war, has been the work allotted to the civil supply section. Maintenance and, where necessary, control of essential commodities, have occupied a great deal of attention by this section. The department has received from the British Ministry of Supply authority in Australia for priorities for export from the United Kingdom. On its recommendation priority certificates will be issued in the United Kingdom. Already many applications for such certificates have been made and granted.
As soon as an import licensing system is introduced by the Department of Trade and Customs, this department will put into operation a system appropriate for priorities of essential goods from the United Kingdom and elsewhere. This system will be in many respects similar to that conducted with such success in the last war by Mr. (now Sir Walter) Leitch.
Although the Government has not found it necessary to introduce a system of petrol rationing, steps had already been taken, before the outbreak of war, to prepare a complete scheme for rationing, should circumstances so demand.
Many conferences have been held with representatives of industry, such as timber and paper-making. These have dealt, with the provision of locally produced substitutes for imported commodities, as well as the relative importance of different uses of imported goods. It has been the rule, wherever practicable, to use the administrative machinery of the State Governments to dealt with these questions.
The civil supply section has also dealt with a large number of miscellaneous inquiries from manufacturers and distributors in Australia regarding supplies of raw materials and manufactured goods. Threatened shortages of commodities, such as chemicals for manufacturing purposes, furred skins for hat manufacturing, various metal manufactures, including wire, galvanized iron, steel, and the like, have been investigated. In most instances it has been possible to place the inquirers in touch with potential suppliers to enable a business to be carried on. Where the goods have to be imported from overseas, detailed inquiries regarding relative urgency have been made before making any recommendations for export permits in the country of origin.
The department has also received many inquiries from overseas for the supply of all kinds of goods produced in Australia. These inquiries have been dealt with, having regard to Australia’s own requirements for defence and civil use.
One of the outstanding achievements of our war effort is to be found in the development of Australian aircraft manufacture. Arrangements commenced on the 1st July for the manufacture of Bristol-Beaufort aircraft are proceeding satisfactorily. The United Kingdom Air Mission recommended in March, 1939 -
British and Commonwealth Governments;
These recommendations received the approval of the British and Commonwealth Governments. Governments of the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have agreed to the utilization of the State railway workshops at Chullora, New South Wales; Newport, Victoria ; and Islington, South Australia, for the manufacture of details and the production of airframe components to the stage of sub-assembly.
SirFREDERICKSTEWART.This action followed recommendations made. This arrangement necessitated the preparation of sections of these States, railway workshops as aircraft area workshops. The work has been practically completed in the three States, and the workshops are ready for the installation of jigs and machine tools and other equipment. Arrangements for the construction of the main assembly workshops at Mascot, New South Wales, and at Fisherman’s Bend, Victoria, are in the hands of the Department of the Interior. Work has been commenced in both places and the buildings will be completed according to the pre-arranged schedule related to the production programme.
It has also been necessary to arrange for the provision of a main store-house. This is in course of construction on land in the Victorian Railways main storehouse area at Spotswood, and will be completed before the end of the present year.
While the area workshops are being prepared and the construction of new buildings is being proceeded with, shipments of jigs, tools and other equipment and of finished details and raw materials are being received from overseas, the capacity of private engineering establishments to undertake the manufacture of detailed parts is being investigated, and the necessary staff organization set up to permit of the scheme being carried out according to predetermined plan of production. The aircraft main assembly workshops at Mascot, New South Wale9, and at Fisherman’s Bend, Victoria, and the aircraft main store-house at Spotswood’ will be controlled directly by the general manager of aircraft construction.
In the complete organization which is now being developed, the chief mechanical engineers of the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian railways, respectively, will act as area controllers under the central organization, and will arrange for the manufacture and sub-assembly of details and components and the sub-contracting of work to private industry. As the first ten air frames will be assembled from completed details being supplied from overseas, progress can be made in the main assembly workshops, while the local fabrication from raw materials now being received of components and details for production beyond the ten air frames is being organized.
The direct and indirect employment of the necessary skilled tradesmen and semiskilled process workers will be a feature of the scheme, and will be of considerable industrial importance to the Commonwealth. Immediately tile organization was commenced, arrangements were made for the first party of the specially selected technicians to leave Australia foi training in England, and three additional parties have since been despatched.
– How many were in that party?
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.About 80. These technicians consist of fitters and turners, tinsmiths, coppersmiths, chemists and metallurgists, machine tool operators, planning and progress engineers, stores officers and inspectors. Each party is receiving ali average of ten weeks’ training in the works of the English manufacturers. In addition to these technicians, a large number of skilled tradesmen will be required in each State. Both tradesmen and semi-skilled process workers will be trained in each State, and the organization necessary for this training is now being set up. This project will provide employment for about 4,500 skilled and semi-skilled operatives in shops widely distributed over three States. Machine tools, machines and small tools, consisting of lathes, grinders, milling machines, guillotines, rolls, drills, and a considerable number of portable machines and hand tools of various kinds have been ordered from local stocks in Australia, as well a 3 from abroad, and deliveries are being made in accordance with the requirements.
Whilst arrangements might have been made for the supply from the United Kingdom of the necessary engines for installation in the Beaufort aircraft, the Government has decided to manufacture high-powered aero engines in Australia for installation in the majority of the Beaufort aircraft, and also for other purposes. The necessary arrangements for local manufacture are in train, and provision is being made for deliveries to be effected in sufficient time to meet the major requirements of the Beaufort manufacturing scheme. A factory is being erected also for the manufacture of propellers for the Beaufort and similar aircraft. It is anticipated that the manufacture of the engines will require longer time than will the air frames, and as a measure of re-insurance against the nonsupply of engines initially, the earlier requirements of engines are being obtained from Great Britain.
Without going into any greater detail I should like to summarize what I have said about aircraft and give to honorable members a picture of the degree to which the Government has embarked upon the manufacture of aeroplanes in Australia for defence purposes.
I have already sketched briefly the programme for the manufacture of Beaufort aircraft in this country. In this scheme the British Government is a. partner with the Commonwealth Government because half of the initial order for these aircraft will he purchased by the Government of the United Kingdom.
As honorable members know, a factory at Fisherman’s Bend, Victoria, operated by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation is already in full swing producing Wirraway aircraft. This factory is one of the most modern and efficient of its kind in the world, and will shortly be producing at the rate of six complete aircraft a week. In addition, the company has produced two prototype trainer aircraft of the most modern type, which are now undergoing trials. Shortly the company will be capable of turning out some hundreds of these trainers as part of the Empire scheme for training war pilots.
The Government is embarking with all possible haste on the establishment of an aeroplane engine factory capable of producing the most modern twin-row aeroplane engines, not only for the Beaufort aircraft, but also for other high-powered defence aeroplanes. The production of aeroplane engines is also being extended to include the manufacture of Gipsy fourcylinder and six-cylinder engines for trainer aircraft. The De Havilland Proprietary Company of Sydney has an order for several hundreds of these light trainer aircraft.
The various sections of the aircraft construction programme which I have outlined will provide increased employment for workers in a variety of trades. A preliminary estimate shows that during 1941, when it is in full operation, between 8,000 and 10,000 wage-earners will be engaged in this work.
At the commencement it will be necessary to obtain from overseas some of the component parts not obtainable in Australia and not capable of manufacture here at the present moment. This however, is a measure designed merely to avoid delay in delivery of completed aircraft, and the intention of the Government is to make Australia, as far as possible, independent of overseas supplies for the production of all classes of aircraft. That statement also applies to the production of aircraft instruments, negotiations for the manufacture of which in Australia are proceeding.
One aspect which the Government is keeping constantly in mind is the posi tion to be faced at the cessation of hostilities, when there will be a large manufacturing potential in existence and when small, or, at the best, diminishing orders for defence purposes will be forthcoming. The Government feels confident, however, that such a large and highly technical manufacturing potential can, after the war, be devoted to manufactures which, a little time ago, were considered to be quite beyond the ability of Australia to undertake, and will be capable of producing many articles required by the people of Australia which have now to be imported with a consequent transfer of large sums of money to oversea countries. One thing the war will have compelled, through dire necessity, is the establishment in Australia, on a comparatively large scale, of industries which a year ago were considered to be out of the question but which, once they are established, will prove beyond doubt Australia’s capacity as a manufacturing nation and will add strength to the economic structure of the Commonwealth both during and after the war. I lay on the table the following paper: -
Department of Supply and Development - Action taken since the Outbreak of War - Ministerial Statement - and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned
– I ask the Treasurer what is the object of the Government in appointing a board to restrict investments within Australia? To what extent will the board exercise control or authority to restrict industrial expansion here? Does not the Government consider that the policy of industrial expansion or development should be carried out within Australia for the purpose of increasing the amount of employment available?
– The object of the Capital Issues Advisory Committee is not, as suggested by the honorable member, to restrict development, or to restrict investment along useful avenues. The committee has been set up for the purpose of exercising some general control over the problems of investment in order to maintain the interest rate at a reasonably low level.
– Is the Acting Minister for Supply and Development able to indicate the amounts of money tha’t have been spent in the several Australian States under contracts for the supply of defence materials during the last few months ? If the Minister cannot give me this information immediately will he lay upon the table of the Library the details of such contracts so that honorable members may be informed upon the subject?
– If the honorable member will inform me, not necessarily publicly, of the particular items in which he is interested, I shall see that the information is supplied to him.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral able to inform me whether all the foreign books and magazines that have been imported into Australia for public sale since the outbreak of the war, fulfil the registration requirements of the Postmaster-General’s Department ?
– I am not aware as to whether all publications imported fulfil registration requirements, but I can assure the honorable member that allof those publications which pass through the post must conform to the postal regulations.
Prosecution of Lascars
– Having regard to the assurances given by the Prime Minister and also by the Minister for Information respecting the preservation, in principle, of a free press in Australia, how comes it that the Minister for Information has directed that information concerning a certain industrial dispute in Sydney shall not be published in the daily newspapers ?
– The reply to the honorable gentleman’s question is quite simple. The origin of the dispute was not, as stated by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), earlier in to-day’s proceedings, due to wages.
– Oh yes it was !
– The dispute originated in the refusal of the men to proceed to sea because of war risks. However, the men were quite prepared to go to sea as passengers on a ship travelling over the same route, in order that they might return to their own country. There is in possession of the Government information which gives sound reason to believe that this dispute has been deliberately engineered ‘by agencies hostile to the proper prosecution of the war by the Government.
– The men were receiving 27s. a month in wages.
– Wages did not enter into the origin of this dispute.
– They did.
– There is evidence to show that influences of a sinister kind are operating in this dispute which aim to bring about a hold-up of deep sea shipping upon the Australian waterfront, which would he adverse to the exportation of Australia’s primary produce and calculated to bring about, if successful, a great deal of unemployment on the waterfront. The reports give the name of the ship and the name of its captain and also other information which has been under censorship since the outbreak of the war.
– In view of the statement of the Minister for Information that the trouble among the Lascar seamen in Sydney is not due to their protest against wage rates, but is due to “ influences hostile to the successful prosecution of the war”, will the Minister make available to the House the information upon which he bases his charge?
– I shall consider the honorable member’s request, rat cannot give an absolute undertaking i hat the information will be made availi (bie.
– Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the Lascar seamen will not be deported from Australia until this House has had an opportunity to discuss their case, and analyse the charge made by the Minister for Information?
– I shall give to that question the consideration that I always give to anything that falls from the lips of the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Information: Is it a fact that the action taken by the Lascar seamen in Sydney has been supported by the Seamens Union, the Waterside Workers Federation and the Trades and Labour Council ? If so, can the Minister substantiate his charge that the action taken by the men has been due to enemy influences?
– Order ! It is not in order to base a question on an answer to a previous question. This matter, it appears to the Chair, is being debated by a series of questions.
Proposed Moratorium - Revised Method of Payment
– In view of the impoverishing price to be paid to Australian wheat-growers for the new crop, as announced by the Prime Minister yesterday, which will involve wholesale bankruptcy and the possible eviction of some thousands of these farmers from their properties, will the Government give consideration to the introduction of a general, or a qualified, moratorium to protect these producers and others involved with them?
– I shall take the honorable member’s suggestion into consideration. In the announcement that I made yesterday, concerning the advance to be made to the wheat-growers by the Australian Wheat Corporation in connexion with the wheat to be acquired during the coming harvest, I said that the total amount of the advance would be 2s. 9d. for bagged, and 2s. 7d. for bulk, wheat. I added that the amount would be paid in two instalments. Taking bagged wheat, for example, ls. 9d. would be paid on delivery, and ls. in April next.. I said that the first advance would be made subject to freight charges. Further consideration has been given to the matter, however, and I am Bible to inform honorable members that the Government now proposes to arrange for the first advance to be made net. The freight charges will be deducted from the second advance. The second advance is to he made on the 1st February instead of on the 1st April.
– In the British Broadcasting Corporation’s broadcasts of overseas news, it is always stated that the broadcasts are free. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, on the other hand, in its announcements over the national network, always states that the British Broadcasting Corporation’s news is included “by courtesy of -the Australian Associated Press.” I wish to know whether any payment is made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to the Australian Associated Press for news which is, apparently, free to the rest of the world? I ask the Minister for Information to explain the situation.
– I am aware, by listening, that the position in regard to overseas news broadcasts is as the honorable member has stated. The matter, however, is as it was before I assumed responsibility in the Department of Information. I understand that the position was fully investigated by the Postmaster-General’s Department. There is no question, I believe, but that the Australian newspaper interests pay upwards of £10,000 a year to Reuters Limited for the Australian rights to all Reuters’ news. At the same time, the British Broadcasting Corporation pays £10,000 for the right to broadcast that news. The position, therefore, appeals to be that although the British Broadcasting Corporation has the right to broadcast the news, such news could be received in Australia only by those who have shortwave length receivers unless some other arrangement were made. The copyright within Australia, for which the Australian newspaper interests pay £10,000, is for the right to re-broadcast. The position, as I see it, indicates that there might be some discrimination against persons on lower incomes who cannot afford the more expensive short-wave receivers, unless some arrangement such as that now in operation had been made. The matter is now receiving the very close attention of the Postmaster-General and myself, and I trust to be able to make a more satisfactory statement on it at no distant date.
– Would not the copyright be only for the printed word and not for the spoken word?
– No; that is not the position.
– The Minister for Information has not yet stated whether any money is paid by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to the British Broadcasting Corporation in respect of the broadcasts. Will the Minister state whether payment is made, and, if so, what is the approximate cost? Having regard to the disputed rights in this matter, will he confer with the Attorney-General to see whether anything at all should be paid ?
– I understand that the Australian Broadcasting Commission does not make any payment for the right to rebroadcast the British Broadcasting Corporation news, hut the time of the broadcast is limited by arrangement with the newspapers.
– The Minister explained all that before.
– There has never been any mystery about it. The matter has been under examination for some time.
– Will the Minister for Information say whether there really is any copyright in news as such, or whether it applies only to the form in which it is expressed?
– If the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper I shall submit it to the Attorney-General for an opinion.
– Can the Acting Minister for Supply and Development inform the House what portion of the total war expenditure will be allocated to South Australia where, up to the present, only about 3 per cent, has been expended?
– I shall supply the honorable member with the information. I assure him that South
Australia will fare very much better during the next few months than it has done in the past.
– Seeing that the Federal Government is assuming responsibility for financing the war, does the Prime Minister consider that there is any legitimate reason why the Premier of New South Wales should increase taxation in that State, allegedly for war purposes?
– The Premier of New South Wales must accept responsibility for the financial obligations of his State, and must do his best to meet them. What methods of taxation he adopts in order to balance his budget is a matter for him to determine, and not a matter on which he requires my advice.
– Can the Acting Minister for the Navy state whether anything has yet been done to bring members of the Mercantile Marine Service who enter the Avar zone under the provisions of the Repatriation Act so that their dependants may be provided for should their breadwinners meet with injury or death?
– The point has already been’ considered, and it will receive further consideration.
– Will the Minister for Defence make inquiries to ascertain whether Mr. Essington Lewis, who is on the ad visory panel to the Supply Department, is the same gentleman who recently v refused the military authorities the use of his grazing property next to the Seymour camp for manoeuvres?
– I shall make inquiries and let the honorable member know.
– On the 24th October last, the Commonwealth Public Service authorities held examination No. 2232 for clerks in the third division. Two hours were allowed for the arithmetic paper. Problem C in part 1 was impossible of solution. Can the Prime Minister state whether it is the intention of the Public Service Commissioner to disallow that problem, or to allocate marks to those who attempted a solution?
– I shall find out, but it may turn out to be similar to the case that came under my notice when I was an undergraduate. A student was given full marks for writing in answer to a question, “I do not know”, because that was undoubtedly correct.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of compelling all persons to contribute to war loans according to their incomes, thus keeping interest rates down to a reasonable level?
– I do not think that a state of affairs has yet arisen in which forced loans are necessary. Recent discussions with the Loan Council and the Commonwealth Bank were entirely satisfactory, and we are hoping to be able to keep interest rates at a reasonable level while at the same time getting all necessary financial accommodation, both directly and from the public.
– In view of the fact that the principal company established for the purpose of manufacturing aeroplanes in Australia is a proprietary concern, and therefore not compelled to disclose its profits, will the Prime Minister say what measures are being taken to prevent the making of unduly high profits?
– That matter is controlled by the Department of Supply and Development. So far, instead of its being necessary to control the profits of that company, it has been much more necessary to control its losses. No profits have been made.
– Can the Minister for Social Services say whether all claims for compensation in respect of the national insurance scheme have been adjusted? If not, will he give an assurance that these claims will be finally dealt with at an early date?
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.If the honorable member’s question refers to the claims submitted by approved societies, I can inform him, that all such claims that have, been accepted have already been settled.
– Can the Minister for Air say whether residents of New7 Guinea as such are debarred from enlistment in the Air Force? Last February, a young man came down from New Guinea and applied for admission to the Air Force. He was a mechanic who had been flying for four years for New Guinea Airways. He passed his flying tests at Laverton, but, when he was being examined, he was asked how long he had been in New Guinea.
– Surely the honorable member can ask his question without, all that explanation.
– Are persons debarred from entering the Air Force because they have had malaria?
– There is, of course, a strict medical examination in the case of applicants for the Air Force.
– But are they refused even a medical examination if they have had malaria ?
– Not that I know of. If the honorable member will supply mc with the details, I shall investigate the matter, and make the information available to him later.
– Is it a fact that, in one of the statements made by the Prime Minister since he assumed office, he requested private employers not to penalize their employees who were called up for military service? How does he reconcile this with the action of the New South Wales Government in penalizing men, who were taken off relief work to undergo military training, by letting them go back on the dole after their period of training was over, while other authorities, such as the Water Board, did not make up the difference between military and civil pay?
– That question should probably be directed to the Government of New South Wale3.
– Regarding the amount of £2,000,000 which has been allocated for relief work, can the Acting Treasurer say whether the precise details of the allocation among the States has yet been worked out, and whether any conditions are being imposed regarding its expenditure?
– In the first place, the £2,000,000 is not being made available for relief work. It is for the relief of unemployment which has been created as the result of the impact of war. The details of the allocation have not yet been finalized. I expect that they will be by to-morrow, and an announcement will then be made.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce tell me whether the Central Wool Committee has requested or suggested to the Wool Brokers Associationthat it should negotiate with country wool-brokers to have the wool normally handled by country brokers sent to city brokers for appraisement ?
– I have no knowledge of the suggestion.
-Could the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce indicate the powers of wool committees, particularlythe State committee in New South Wales, in regard to the erection of sheds for the storage of wool before shipment? My inquiry is to ascertain by what method or powers this committee exercises its right to make a choice of particular building contractors as against other building contractors. That is to say, I should like to know what powers these gentlemen have to proceed with works of this character without allowing the works to be tendered for in the same way as other governmental works which are not carried out by the Government itself.
– If the honorable member will indicate the locality-
– Wentworth Park.
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.Wentworth Park? I shall have specific inquiries made and inform the honorable gentleman in accordance with his request.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce inform the House whether the cost of the buildings to be erected by the Central Wool Committee in Sydney will be met out of the proceeds of the sale of wool or be borne by the Commonwealth Government?
– I shall add that question to the question asked by the honorable member for West Sydney and convey the result to the honorable member.
– Is it a fact that the Prime Minister asked the financial institutions and insurance companies of Australia to curtail the amount of finance made available to semi-governmental bodies?
– It is not a fact.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to the Bulletin of the 8th November last, in which a statement appeared to this effect-
– It has not, if that will save the honorable gentleman any trouble.
– The honorable member will realize that he must vouch for the accuracy of a statement in any newspaper before reading it in the House.
– It is a reputable newspaper.
– The honorable member must vouch for the accuracy of a statement that he quotes from a newspaper.
– I vouch for it. The statement is as follows: - “ Business as usual “ was urged by the Prime Minister, who almost at the same time communicated with the financial institutions of Australia and the big insurance companies and instructed them that only a limited amount of finance must be made available to the semi-governmental bodies. There could be only one result: retrenchment of a large number of employees throughout Australia and dislocation of the “ Businessas usual “ slogan.
– I regret that the honorable member should have given his personal authority for that statement because it is not accurate.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, who I understand carries out federal works. The question refers to when the Defence Department, routed on the Lochinvar front, fought a rearguard action and retreated to Allandale. Is it a fact that the Defence Department, in putting a water line in the first place through to Lochinvar, selected and took men off State Government emergency relief works and that, now that the job is completed through to the new front at Allandale, these men have been dismissed, despite the fact that there is other work at Allandale, with the result that the men are now on the dole instead of being back on State relief works? Can anything be done to engage these men who were taken from relief work on other work so that they will not have to subsist on the dole?
– I shall submit the question to the Minister for the Interior and endeavour to obtain information.
– In the arrange ments that have been made for the acquisition of wheat will deferred payments be made in the form of certificates, as previously, and will the banks be allowed to discount those certificates thereby depriving the wheat farmers of part of their returns?
– I am not able now to answer as to the details of the method of payment, but I shall ascertain the information as soon as possible and convey it to the House.
– At what time can I expect an answer to my question relating to meat contracts.
– Immediately after the close of questions I shall see if I can secure the information for the honorable member. 2nd AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE ENLISTMENTS.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he could present to Parliament, say, next Tuesday, a statement showing the percentages by which enlistments in the 6th Division have exceeded or fallen short of the quotas allowed to the different States?
– I shall do that.
Staff Housing Arrangements
– Can the Minister for the Army inform the House of the reason why the most fashionable part of Sydney, where property is the most costly, has been acquired for the housing of the heads of the Royal Australian Air Force? What reason actuated the choice which will mean extra cost?
– I shall endeavour to ascertain what actuated the selection of that locality.
– I ask the Minister for Information: Is it the intention to apply the same censorship to the parliamentary debates and the sending of Hansard reports through the post regarding the Lascar dispute as has been applied to the press reports?
– That is not the intention of the Government.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
Thathe have leave to faring in a bill for an act to amend the Rules Publication Act 1903-1934.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to make special provisions with respect to Patents, Trade Marks, Designs and Copyright in consequence of the War, and for other purposes.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Order of the Day - Government Business - Patents Bill 1938, second reading, resumption of debate - read and discharged.
Australia’s War Policy - Ministerial Changes - War Cabinet - Economic Cabinet’ - Director or Economic Co-ordination - War Expenditure - Compulsory Military Training for Home Defence - Empire Air Training Scheme - Plying Boat Squadron for Service in War Zone.
Debate resumed from the loth November (vide page 1134), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the paper be printed.
– A little more than seven weeks has elapsed since this Parliament dispersed after having had before it for about three weeks the consideration of the problems of Australia resulting from the declaration of a state of Avar between Great Britain and Germany. It will be recalled that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) outlined the position of the Government and that I outlined the position of the Opposition on behalf of the Australian Labour party. To-day, Ave are to discuss the exposition which the Prime Minister gave yesterday of what the Government has done in the meantime, and how the Avar and all circumstances related to it have developed since the Parliament dispersed. I have to say that there has been no variation in any shape or form of the declaration which I made on behalf of the Labour party immediately after the declaration of the state of Avar. We stand to that! There Avas no ambiguity about it and it calls for no revision. The Prime Minister said yesterday that the Avar had been a somewhat unusual one, in that there had been an absence of marked military offensive operations on the part of the belligerents, that there had been some examination of the possibility of peace. He stated in effect that, after two and a half months, the Government, and the world, are apparently waiting for the war to commence, and that, both in belligerent and neutral countries, discussion is occurring on the possibilities of peace and the terms on which peace could be obtained. Then he made the significant and most important observation that he had little doubt that those two remarkable circumstances were closely associated. It must be apparent that, in any examination of war aims, peace terms are inevitably invoked. Whatever countries proclaim as their objectives in this struggle, those objectives must be consistent Avith what the enemy would expect to be the attitude of the victors in an examination as to how peace should be implemented.
With the right honorable gentleman’s statement of Avar aims, as he gave it to the Parliament yesterday, I find very little room for cavil. He said that, first, the Government stood for victory. Obviously it would be ridiculous to be fighting for defeat, and the Labour party takes no exception to, and inevitably endorses, the statement that, while the Avar continues, it is expected that the whole of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations Wi 11 do their utmost to achieve victory. Most certainly nothing will be done on this side of the House which would contribute to the defeat of the British Commonwealth, for our undertaking is to maintain its integrity. Om1 duty in construing that obligation is to have paramount consideration for the safety of this portion of the British Com.monwealth. That, Ave venture to say, is not only the duty Ave OWe to our own people, but also the responsibility Ave incur as the trustees in this part of the British Commonwealth for what shall be done here. The right honorable gentleman said, that the Government sought victory, not merely for the glory of victory, or the humiliation of the German people, or any spoils resulting therefrom, but also a victory in which would be involved the future peace and happiness of simple men and women the world over.
The Prime Minister went on to say that no mere formula of compromise or patched-up peace could give to the world any assurance of a peace that would endure. I agree with the right honorable gentleman that we either have peace, freedom and justice, or we do not hav them; but I remind him that these are abstract terms, and should have some application to the factual situation. Freedom in respect of what? Freedom as against tyranny? In what form might the tyranny be? Whilst giving a general subscription to the declaration of the right honorable gentleman, I think that an amplification of what is meant by peace, freedom and justice is called for. We want a peace founded upon just dealings in the social and economic life of all peoples, and “ all peoples “ include ourselves. I make this statement to-day, not only in order that there may be a clear understanding on the part of the Australian people regarding the point of view of the Opposition in this Parliament, but also in the hope, and with a certain amount of confidence, that the more clearly we state these rational objectives to the world the earlier we may expect that peace will at least be made possible. If we are not aiming at the humiliation of the German people, then obviously we owe it to ourselves, and to ihe people of Germany, to make clear to them precisely what the British Commonwealth is aiming at. To lay the foundation of peace, I declare to-day to the world, requires not only world action abroad, but the firm establishment of this principle in our own country.
I need not emphasize the fact that great numbers of human beings in Australia, and in all countries, cannot share freely in the benefits that science and invention may evolve in the near future. Lasting peace cannot come while totalitarian governments apply policies that menace other nations. I say that clearly and decisively, but I also insist that it is impossible to expect peace while a few persons or nations impose economic fear and want on their own people for their own gain. The principles implicit in the Prime -Minister’s statements cast upon us the obligation to give a lead in our own internal economy before we can expect other countries to entertain any realization of the genuineness of our war aims.
The Labour party has declared its horror of war and has affirmed that international disputes should be settled by arbitration. It has deplored the fact that force, instead of negotiation and discussion, has plunged the people into this catastrophe. Wo have said in the clearest and most unequivocal terms that we, stand for the maintenance of Australia, and will do ail possible to safeguard this country, and, in accordance with our platform, to maintain the integrity of the British Commonwealth. We, the free people of Australia, are in a war which is not of our making any more than it could be said to be the making of the people of any other country. As far as I can construe the speeches of the right honorable the Prime Minister, he has drawn a clear distinction between the Government of Germany and the people of Germany in declaring where the culpability for this war should be placed. Because the peoples of the world have not had the making of this war, it is right that the issues should be kept clearly in the forefront of every important national statement. I should like the Minister for Information (Sir Henry Gullett), by means of the organization which he- is developing, to make available to other countries; particularly those contiguous to Australia, frequent transmissions of what are the purposes for which the British Commonwealth is at present engaged, and more particularly what is the point of view of the Australian people with respect to this struggle. Where there are bad governments, the only conceivable remedy is enlightened and determined peoples. The importance of keeping these things before the world impresses me. It i3 not the reshaping of maps and territories that is our concern. Our concern is for peace, security and safety, and economic order of the type that Labour believes is the foundation upon which pea eg i5 practicable.
Om- conception of democracy - and this is pertinent to a matter mentioned in this House a few moments ago - is one that we refuse to abdicate. We agree neither with dictatorships exercising coercion over other peoples nor upsurging from within. Our conception of national unity, which we regard as imperative in ensuring the maximum strength in time of war, does not imply that we condone profiteering and exploitation, or any violation of the civic liberties of the people. To oppose dictatorships does not mean that we countenance the piling up of fortunes by a i*m am ents rings and the profit-making interests that batten on the people. While man-power is drawn on to wage the war of liberty, we must not allow the instruments of production and exchange to be used to build up economic power for a privileged class in our own country. Opposition to the external enemy does not require us to give new strength to the capitalist forces in Australia. I say to the Government that when exploitation breeds discontent, as it always will, it is not the discontented who must be dealt with, not the man getting 28s. a month who must be blamed for enemy activities, but the exploiter. The Government must deal with the cause and not the effect. Instead of suppressing information about, Lascars getting 28s a month, the Prime Minister should have said something to the shipowners who were expecting services in time of war without giving to those men new articles as the result of the declaration of war. Parenthetically, I remark that only the other week at Fremantle, in similar circumstances, I took a personal part in enabling the mercantile services of the British Commonwealth to be continued, while at the same time successfully arranging with the shipowners to treat Lascars more fairly than might otherwise have been the case. I see no reason why the agreement made at Fremantle should not be repeated at Sydney. I suggest that course to the right honorable gentleman as a practical and reasonable contribution to the solution of the problem.
It is very important for us to realize that the war has taken what the Prime Minister has described as an unusual course, because in the background there is a more or less well-founded belief that there is some hope of peace being negotiated. The interposition of the King of the Belgians and the Queen of the Netherlands, the responses immediately made by His Majesty the King to those communications, and the fact that in many places where influence is exerted some endeavour has been made to see if, even at this terrible stage, it is not practicable to resolve the situation without prolonging or continuing the war, is unquestionably one of the reasons why we have not had the intense military struggle which, no doubt, many people expected. Having regard to the statement made to-day by the Minister for External
Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett), in which he referred to the representations of the King of the Belgians, and then spoke of the fact that military operations were being hampered by the wettest autumn for many years, it occurs to me that at this stage, at any rate, it would not do civilization any great harm for us to pause and reflect whether, after all, some method could not be devised as an alternative to all the horrible consequences that must follow if this ghastly struggle attains full momentum. The Labour party is not alone in the belief that the door should never be closed against negotiations which may have for their object the prevention of a lengthy struggle. I believe that to the degree that we make plain the legitimacy of our purpose we shall be helping to bring about a more favorable atmosphere for a settlement of the struggle, and thus avoid a tremendous loss of life which mustbe colossal, when the war is waged with full ferocity. I direct the attention of the House to a statement which appeared in the West Australian of the 10th November last. It is important not because of what it contains - it would be supported by all democratic, radical, and peaceloving people the world over - but because of the representative nature of its signatories. They are -
Leader of the Opposition (Mr. C. G. Latham ) .
Leader of the Nationalist Party (Mr. Boss McDonald ) .
Chancellor of the University (Dr. J. S. Battye).
Sir Hal Colebatch (ex Agent General).
PresidentRotary, President Chamber of Manufactures (Mr. H. L. Brisbane).
That representative body of public opinion in Western Australia is not distinctively Labour. This is what it says -
It is not enough simply to fight against the wrongs which have been inflicted upon roland. Wo must prepare for a peace founded upon just dealings in the social and economic life of all peoples. 1 said that a few moments ago. It continues -
Our supreme objective must be to establish a peace which will bc approved everywhere, even by the vanquished. Such a peace will place world welfare before national advantage. It can only be built on principles of honesty, unselfishness, and brotherhood.
I repeat that the peace that is won must have the support of the vanquished. It represents the lesson wo learned from the failure which occurred during the last war and immediately after to formulate a satisfactory peace. Professor Bailey, of the Melbourne University, in discussing the present war with Mr. W. McMahon Ball, as reported in a booklet issued by the Victorian branch of the League of Nations Union, said -
T disagree with the view that it is altogether too early to think of the terms of peace, though we have all felt some kind of sinking in the pit of the stomach when we start doing so, and I fully appreciate the realism which lies behind such a view. But I believe that it Ls entirely wrong to leave it until the war is over or nearly over before one starts thinking about the terms of peace. That was a mistake of the last war, for while it. is true that there was some very straight thinking done in the United States nuri the United Kingdom about the sort of order that was to bc provided, it came too late to influence the atmosphere and the minds which dictated the settlement at Versailles.
I have only to make it clear that this party is determined that the present war must be won; it would be absurd to be in a war and to contribute towards its defeat. We support the declarations, as we have construed them, which the Prime Minister has put forward, that the aim of this country and of the British Commonwealth, is not to acquire additional territory or to interfere with the rights and political aspirations of other countries. ‘But we ask that the parties to this dispute should agree to some means whereby it will be possible for some satisfactory decision to be reached even by negotiation - a term used by the Minister for External Affairs this afternoon. Obviously the only alterna tive would be the complete victory of one of the belligerents over the other, but before that point could be reached, some negotiations must take place. I appreciate as much as any one else the form of the British Prime Minister’s reply to the King of the Belgians, and I subscribe to the view that has been put forward that there has to be associated with overtures for peace an exhibition of genuineness on the part of those who will participate in the discussion. It must be quite apparent, to the British-speaking community at any rate, after what occurred at Munich, that all must ask for more substantial guarantees and a closer adherence to pacts than marked the signing of the Munich agreement. I trust that at this early stage an atmosphere will be achieved in which suggestions of peace discussions will not be misconstrued as being synonymous with a spirit of defeatism. To make that clear at this early stage, should be a notable contribution towards a saner solution of the problem of international relations than marked the termination of the last war or the events which followed it.
In the Prime Minister’s speech, there was an outline of the general activities of this Government. I direct attention to the fact that there were two notable points, as the right honorable gentleman described them, marking decisions of the Government in the interim between the adjournment of Parliament in September and its re-assembling this week. They are, the introduction by the Government of compulsory military training, and its decision in respect of an expeditionary air force for overseas.
I know, of course, that the 2nd Australian Imperial Force has been recruited as a special force in which enlistment is on the basis of service at home or abroad. The Government has made it plain that it is committed to the Empire air scheme, the head-quarters of which are to be in Canada. The Prime Minister gave us to understand - his remarks were supplemented by the Minister for External Affairs - that, while there is a hope in the peace discussion background to this unusual war, there is no finality in the alinement of the powers or in the dis- position of neutrals which can be regarded as wholly satisfactory; there are possibilities in the situation which are not yet quite clear. I remind the House that there is inherent in these circumstances the possibility, and perhaps the probability, of some of the neutral countries, particularly in Europe, being involved, not as a result of any willingness on their part, but solely owing to the fact that they may be invaded because of the strategic necessities of the situation. During the last war Belgium was in such a position, and quite recently there has been a suggestion that Holland may be in a similar predicament. Let ‘us contemplate what the situation would be should Holland bc brought into the vortex. We have not far from our shores a. very important dependency of Holland,’ which I need not describe other than to say that it is rich in some of the most essential raw materials which modern industry requires.
– Yes, and I venture to suggest that the vulnerability of this Commonwealth from all conceivable dangers would become increased should the Netherlands East Indies lose their fatherland or should its sovereignty actually disappear. In these circums tan ces, and in view of the speech of the Minister for External Affairs, it would appear to me that at least until the whole situation is clarified and assumes a more decisive complexion, the original statement made by me in this House that the maximum man-power of this country is needed here to ensure its safety, is one which needs no justification or alteration. I refuse to alter it. There are still possibilities of peace by discussion, and by agreement. But it is staring us in the face that we may not have peace; that the war may lose its unusual character and that we may have to partake in what has been properly described as the most, terrible and bloody struggle that civilization ha« ever known. I would point to all of the statements that have been made by present Ministers of State in Australia as to the trophy that Australia constitutes in time of war to a powerful enemy, the advantage that it could easily be to those who would profit by the occasion - those who, at present having no concern with us, but who, seeing probably as Russia saw when Germany invaded Poland, an opportunity to march in, would take advantage of a situation which they would not create, but which they would most certainly profit by once it was created. In the circumstances with which we are now faced it appears to me not only unwise but also bad policy at this juncture for the Government to train the man-power of this country for use in theatres far removed from this portion of the Empire. I shall not repeat the nature of the problem that would confront Australia were we subjected to ;i threat of invasion, or to the prospect of raiding. Obviously, the enormous expenditure of the Government is in itself an acknowledgment of the seriousness of the problem, and the steps that it has taken appear in general to be all based upon the realization that there is a problem at home, military, naval and air. It appears extraordinary that the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs should indicate the significance and importance of aerial power in the present war. I listened with interest to-day to the speech of the Acting Minister for Supply and Development concerning the hurried preparations being made to get the Government’s air organization and aircraft manufacture on a sound basis ; but I remind Ministers that two years ago the members of this party said that the next major war would be decided in the air. The Empire air armada, a phrase used by the Prime Minister, represents in thi? present stage of the war, not only a weapon which is feared when war is waged against us, but also one which must be relied upon as being likely to exercise the most decisive effect upon the enemy. One can see these two fixed lines of defence with even large armies marshalled behind them unable to move merely because of the tremendous casualties that must be suffered by whichever side takes the offensive. And what is the result? The Minister for External Affairs said to-day -
At any hour Germany might decide to launch an air attack of great strength, not only upon vital objectives on land in the United Kingdom and France, but upon allied shipping in convoy and more particularly in port. This contingencyhas been fully considered, however, andwe may take it that the great encounter, when it comes, will be by no means a one-sided affair.
The Prime Minister quite properly has outlined the great amount of activity that the Government has displayed in organizing the forces of the Commonwealth. I merely say that we should have had more time to do this had the Labour party’s policy, instead of being derided, been accepted, and had efforts been taken to place the Air Force of the Commonwealth on a better and sounder basis. In the meantime I am opposed to an expeditionary force leaving this Commonwealth for overseas. If the present efforts to restore peace should fail, our dangers will be increased, and while this uncertainty confronts us, then most certainly we ought not to agree to the depletion of our manpower, more particularly in respect of our men who are trained, or about to be trained, forthe Air Force, because the most effective form of defence that Australia can employ is in the air. We need great efficiency in the air. Indeed, I remember the Prime Minister saying that whilst we cannot hope to have a land army or a navy equal to that of a first- c lass power, it was within the possibilities of this country to build up an air force which, at least for defensive purposes, would be the equal of any air force that could bo brought against us. I think that the right honorable gentleman said that in one of his broadcast speeches.
– I did.
– I agree with him, and I suggest that the economics of that form of defence gives to us for every £1,000 of expenditure far greater powers of resistance than we could achieve by other forms of resistance.
With regard to compulsory training, I say that we are against it. I see no justification for it.
– Yet the honor- able gentleman just said that we need our full man-power.
– I say that there is no justification for compulsory military training. I see no necessity for it. Indeed, the Government has been turning away volunteers for the Militia Forces. It has failed to provide training areas in various districts of Australia for volunteers, and more than that, which is its fundamental and greatest error, it has failed to pay the volunteers decently. Neither the men in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force nor the men in the Militia, nor the men who will be called up under the compulsory training proposals, are to be treated fairly from the point of view of their obligations as citizens and their responsibilities to their wives and children. Let me gi ve one instance. On the average - I shall take the statement of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) - the pay will be at the rate of 5s. a day for the soldier - 3s. a day for his wife, with1s. a day for each child. The 3s. a day for the wife will be sufficient only to pay the rent. That is all it will pay. [Leave to continue given.] The 3s. a day, or £11s. a week, will pay the rent. The rate of1s. a day for a child is about the rate fixed by child welfare departments in respect of the upkeep of indigent children. Then, how much of his 5s. a day will the soldier be able to allot to his wife and family?
Mr.Street. - He must allot threefifths.
– That means that the soldier’s allowance will be 2s. a day, whilst his wife will receive 3s. a day or one guinea a week. This is all the Government proposes to provide for the upkeep of the home of a soldier, a citizen who would otherwise be following his ordinary avocation.
This Government proclaimed that it would not conscript men for military services. Ministers have made speeches which at least bear the construction that compulsion over the people of Australia was alien to the Government’s intentions. If the right honorable the Prime Minister does not accept that as a fair statement of his Government’s position I at least say it can be regarded as a fair interpretation of the statements made by Mr. Lyons, the then Prime Minister of this Commonwealth, when he resisted my attack upon him prior to the last general elections.
Mr.Menzies. - I challenge that.
– I still say that that was my reading of the late Prime Minister’s statements. However, let that go. At any rate, men volunteered in numbers in excess of the total for which the Defence Department could provide. It could not train all of them. Now it has failed to pay them properly. It is obvious that these men had commitments. After all, of what type is the man who is the real Australian when his country is in danger ? Generally speaking, without making any reflection upon any body, he is a man who looks to the future, and has concern foi his standing in the community. Probably he is endeavouring to buy his home, paying it off by instalments. He has an insurance policy, so that should he pass away the house he has been paying for will not be lost to his family. These obligations can reasonably be regarded ascharacteristic of those undertaken by the average volunteer. But the Government took no account of those factors. It failed altogether to treat properly the manpower of this country, and, therefore, it failed to get a full quota for the 6th Division. Furthermore, there was a certain amount of discontent as between the man who left his job to volunteer - the man who was told to spend £3 on personal equipment when he went into camp in order to be trained, and who had to make financial sacrifices as the head of his household in order to train himself jo defend his country - and the contractor who built the hut in which this man was to sleep while in camp. Was the contractor asked to make financial sacrifices? No. He was given 5 per cent, above all his costs. And how were his costs incurred ? By sub-letting the job. And on what basis were the contracts sub-let ? On a competitive basis? No. Many of these contractors - and I challenge an investigation on this point - simply sub-let their contracts to satellites and associates, and there was no competition in the business at all. The higher the costs charged by the sub-contractor the greater was the ultimate profit of the contractor. That was the vast distinction which the Government made between the men of this country who were prepared to train themselves to defend it, and big business. If there has been any fault in the system of voluntary training, it is entirely attributable to the miserable outlook which the Government has exhibited towards the family responsibilities of the patriotic men of this nation. The men of Australia would never fail Australia. But what does the Government say to them?
It says in effect, “ Now that you are 22 years of age, or 24, or 30, and you will not enlist to serve overseas, well, there is nothing we have for you to do. We will not train you, and we do not need you “. That is what the Government now says. Let this nation realize that there has been a closedown on voluntary enlistments for the Militia. The only other forces available are the 2nd Australian Imperial Force which involves service overseas, or the force of youths who this year will attain their twenty-first birthday. The latter are to be compelled to serve, but any other who is not ready to serve overseas is being turned away. Yet this is the Government which affronts the patriotism of the Australian people by the imposition of compulsory training. There is no justification for compulsory training.
Furthermore, the organization of military camps needs to he very considerably improved. In this respect, I make no reflection upon the Minister for the Army. I agree with the Prime Minister who very properly said yesterday that the Minister has been doing more than one man’s work and a great deal more, perhaps, than another occupant of his position would, or could, have done. I have the utmost admiration for his unflagging zeal, and his fairness in considering matters which I have brought before him. It is the principle of this thing which I attack, and I sincerely hope that as the result of the division of duties in respect of our defence services the Minister will be able to exercise a greater personal authority over his department than he has hitherto been able to do. I am criticizing not the Minister, but the Government’s pay sheet, which is the chief factor in this connexion. Many men are being turned away from cam]) because they are physically unfit. I have read that numbers of them who had passed the preliminary medical test were again examined on being put into camp, and in one camp alone, Ingleburn, 200 of them were discharged. I make this general statement, which I think is fair. The fact that so very many men should be physically unfit is in itself a reflection on what has happened in Australia during the last ten years. Obviously their physical condition is associated with the failure of this community to give them that kind of atmosphere and treatment which would enable them to develop sound physique. Bear in mind also that numbers of these men were probably ten, twelve or fourteen years of age during the depth of the depression. Bad social conditions have weakened the defensive power of this country.
– Most cases of physical deficiencies are inherited.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. This countryhas, at least, very good food, and all of the attributes needed to develop a sound healthy man-power. This weakness to-day is due not to any inability on our part to produce good food but to the fact that so many of our people have not had sufficient money to buy that food. In any case I say in regard to camps and the physical condition of the men in the camps that the Government has a social problem which it should tackle right away.
I was greatly interested in the fact that the Prime Minister envisaged, as a result of the economic activity of the Government in time of war, the unlikelihood of any reversion, when the war was over, to the economic structure as we now know it. He has associated with the Government a veritable legion of officials. I believe that if my side occupied the treasury bench and we had appointed this army of consultants, these boards and committees and this super-structure of officialdom which theright honorable gentleman has established, we would have been criticized as almost having taken advantage of the war to enforce a state of semi-socialism upon the community. All I have to say is that if that be the kind of thing the right honorable gentleman has in mind, he is “ doing the Lord’s work “. A committee to direct investments, or to influence the direction of investments, appears to me to be a perfectly sound thing. I see no reason why there should be no restraint upon private enterprise in the investment of large sums of money on capital projects which would not minister to the economic and social purposes of the nation. I quite agree that there should be some management of private capital in that connexion. The fact is that we have scrapped private enterprise as the machinery for marketing. To a very large degree, the Government says that private enterprise is not to be trusted to deal fairly with prices or with the services it renders to the community, and it has arranged this vast accountancy system in order to examine all that private enterprise does. Very good. Capitalism cannot fight the war and the workers in every war are the chief losers. We simply say that we know that this Government and this nation are no more responsible for the present state of affairs than is the Opposition. We believe that the British Government itself can face the whole world fair in the face as having no responsibility for the state of affairs that has been brought about. That is my estimate of the work of Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax and of the British Government. I say that frankly; but I say that the causes which worked in Europe are causes which in character if not in the same magnitude are causes which are to be found in every country of the world. They make for the demoralization of the national life. It is of the first importance that during this war we should have constantly before us the purity of our principles and the idealism of our struggle. If once we lose these as the keynotes of the declarations we repeatedly make, not only will we lose the soul of this Commonwealth and the prin- ciples for which we have entered upon this struggle, but also we shall abandon every possibility of ever winning it for the good of mankind. Victory need not necessarily mean success. Success is a vastly different thing. It may depend on victory if peace by negotiation and by agreement should fail, but neither victory nor negotiation in themselves will accomplish for this world what I believe it is seeking - relief from the menace of being embroiled inothers’ struggles, and the advantage of having all the tremendous possibilities of the social order made available even to the humblest man or woman of whatever race they may be and wherever they may be located. We have been through one terrible chapter of world history. Most of the men and women of this generation know what it means, even here so many thousands of miles from the scene of conflict. Even in this land there are hospitals and asylums in which are to he seen the living memorials of the dire agony which is war. I say that if that sort of thing could be brought to an end as the result of peaceful discussions - not because I entertain any spirit of defeatism but because I believe in that larger outlook for the good of mankind - whatever may have led us into this desperate struggle, at least to the degree that we can reduce to a sense of regard for others the spirit which made this war, then to that extent do we make more definite its final end.
.- The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gives to Parliament an opportunity to receive authentic reports on what the Government has done, and also gives to honorable members an opportunity to offer commendation or criticism of the Government’s actions. In recess we are dependent for information as to what the Government is doing largely on broadeasts and the press, and therefore it is necessary that, in a democratic community, we should have these opportunities for discussion in the Parliament. I do not intend to criticize where criticism is not deserved. On the contrary, I am prepared to give commendation where commendation is deserved. The Government is to be commended on the fact that it has made good economic bargains overseas. The Minister for Commerce (Senator McLeay), his Assistant Minister (Senator McBride), and the officers associated with them deserve the greatest credit in this regard. There are some difficulties to be surmounted in connexion with apples and the like, but, generally speaking, the fact that the great primary industries of Australia will be assured of a steady income for the duration of the war. is very satisfactory. The position in regard to defence, however, is not such a happy one. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) said that he does not believe in sending an expeditionary force overseas. He pointed out that there may be dangers confronting us with the different line up of nations and that we have to ‘be alive to these dangers, but I say to him that Australia’s fate may not be fought out within its own boundaries. The first essential is that we should win the war. The honorable gentleman says that he believes in that. I point out, however, that you cannot win a war by merely being the supplier of foodstuffs and not the supplier of man-power, and that we must use the utmost endeavour fo win through this war to victory. I feel that it is rather premature to talk at this juncture about a just peace and to attempt to define our aims and the like, however much these things may be a subject for helpful discussion in a minor way.
– Ninety-five per cent, of the people of the world want peace.
– But one man does nor. You have to deal with him first. It may be that a. just peace may come from a combination of circumstances that do notarise in our minds at the present time. It may come about with the assistance of other nations, because this may be a long and protracted struggle. We see behind Germany and its armed might much that we in Australia may not appreciate. Consider the energy and enthusiasm behind the Nazi machine. We know of Germany’s swift campaign in Poland in which over 100,000 were killed, 800,000 taken prisoner by the Germans, and S0.O00 taken prisoner by the Russians - in fact a country of 30,000,000 people taken over into serfdom in a swift campaign.
– They were in serfdom before that campaign was waged.
– That, is true in a small measure. Poland was a military dictatorship. After being in subjection for generations the Poles did not have the same ideas of democracy as we have and, having gained their freedom after domination by three different nations, they had to fight for self-government in the greatest struggle of all time. After the last Avar they had to construct some form of government upon these ashes, only to be attacked by Russia again in 1922. With great gallantry they defeated Russia and received territory to which they may not have, given the same attention that they could have given had there been a more peaceful environment at the end of that war. The Polish soldiers showed great gallantry during the recent conflict; but their country was overwhelmed through the incompetency of the general staff, who believed that the Polish army could defeat the German forces in a war of movement, that their cavalry and troops could meet the best German troops and the German mechanized army. Had the weather broken they might have been more successful, but the Polish soldiers could not stand against the German mechanized forces. Had they a Maginot line or a Siegfried line it might have been a different story, with the Poles remaining in the present fight to defeat nazi-ism.
I suggest to honorable members not to let their pacific feelings run away with them. Whilst it is important to think about the future, and about terms of peace, we must not forget that the war may run for many years yet. It is easy to blame the Treaty of Versailles for the present conflict. Hitler did that, and made it part of his policy of antagonism to lash the people into fury at what he called the dictatorial powers who laid down the Treaty of Versailles. That treaty it was which laid down the framework of the League of Nations, under which international disputes were to be settled. It did not suit Hitler to suggest that any credit should be given to the ideals of the League of Nations. Nevertheless, it is to that ideal that we shall have to return, whether we call it a League of Nations or some other name. When we have embarked upon a war against a nation with the strength of 80,000,000 people, and behind it that sinister and immense conglomeration of people, the Russian Federation of Soviet Republics, of nearly .200,000,000 people, whilst we have only 40,000,000 in the homeland and another 40,000,000 among our allies the French, it is ridiculous to conclude that we may have any easy victory. We know that there is room for the expenditure of every ounce of energy and effort by every body within the British Empire.
– Russia is neutral.
– Russia says that it is neutral; but we must not forget that Stalin was trained in the same school as Hitler. Can we trust the word of a man who has removed from his path by violence every critic, however liberal. minded he might be? His hands are as red as the hands of Hitler, who, in 1934. by purge removed all of those who opposed him politically. Russia’s position in this war is purely opportunist.” Russia saw an opportunity to take back the territory that Poland took from it. It has done so, and has liquidated or murdered those who have opposed its political regime. It has now swallowed tho hegemony of the Baltic States, part of the old Czarist Empire, which shows that its policy is imperialist and that its professed humanitarianism and international brotherhood were only so much flim-flam, and that its real objective is quite as ruthless as that of Germany. Many people have given academic support to the Russian ideals. There is a lot of idealism in communism, as, I suppose, there is in nazi-ism also. But both communism and nazi-ism are atheistic, because they are a denial of humanism and christian ethics. Those nations are arrayed against us - one armed to the teeth, and the other bound to supply the wherewithal to assist its partner in what it hopes will be a victorious war. Nevertheless, Russia would probably be just as well pleased if both sides exhaust themselves in this war, for in that event an exhausted Germany might turn to Russia in the belief that salvation will be found there. Son:e of the captains of heavy industry, such as Thyssen, have already fled from Germany. Others who assisted Hitler to power by rendering financial support to him have escaped from the country. Sections of the German people are now turning to Russia and are talking more of socialism than formerly. The German propaganda machine is endeavouring to prove that the ideologies of naziism and of communism are the same. I have always said that there is little to choose between them. Indeed, when I was in Berlin last year, prominent Nazis admitted that there was little difference between the two ideologies. One is claimed to be national socialism and the’ other international socialism; and therefore it is logical to believe that agreement between them oan be found. I have gone into that somewhat long explanation of those two forms of government because I believe that we labour under many delusions in regard to Russia, and take Germany too cheaply. The German policy has always been one of political intrigue, frightfulness and armed might. If hon.orable members think that the German leaders can be fooled by the constant repetition of the need for a just peace, they are deceiving themselves. Hitler wants a free hand to divide his enemies and to absorb any weak nation. The great democratic powers of Britain and Prance have been most patient with Germany. They have gone into the war reluctantly, in order to keep their pledge to Poland, a country which they could not defend but which they expected to make a stronger resistance against the invaders. They realize that German domination in Europe would mean ultimately world domination.
I turn now to more local affairs. From time to time many have felt impelled to disagree with what the Government is doing in this crisis, and because they do so, they are condemned as critics. I suggest that instead of being condemned for- their criticism, they should be encouraged if their comments are helpful. For years I have advocated that, if Australia were to be prepared in a military sense for an emergency, universal military training should be reintroduced. I shall not discuss the pros and cons of universal training, except to say that, in my opinion, it is the most democratic way to provide for the defence of any country. For many years it had the approval of all political parties. Had universal training been adopted earlier, many of the present difficulties associated with the Militia would have been obviated. As it is, the Militia contains many men over the military age, and also numbers of married men, who expected to be in camp for a few days, but now find that the training is to be for a much longer period. Moreover, had the universal system been in operation, there would not have been the present prodigal spending that is now thought necessary in order to make up the leeway.
– Was not the honorable gentleman a member of the Government which was against universal training?
– I have consistently advocated universal training after a long experience of both systems. The failure to adopt that system has left Australia with large numbers of men who have had no military training whatever. Moreover, the men in camp must now be trained rapidly. As an alternative, I suggested immediately war was declared that section 59 of the Defence Act should be implemented. Under that section, men between the ages of 18 and 35 fall into six categories. I advocated that they, or some of them, should be called up and given training in1 camp; but my suggestion was frowned upon by both the Government and the Opposition. However, what I then advocated is now being done, and I commend the Government for having, at long last, adopted a better policy than it advocated previously. The conditions which have obtained in regard to our defence forces have been almost intolerable for the Minister in control of them. He has frequently said that the voluntary system suited both him and Australia, but I am glad that he has changed his mind.
– Who made him change his mind ?
– He can answer that best himself.
I was pleased to get from the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Harrison) yesterday an assurance that he will investigate with a view to adjusting the many anomalies in the repatriation administration - another matter for which I have been fighting.
– My reply did not altogether mean that.
– We shall then see what will be done.
I think that most honorable members will agree with the leader in yesterday’s Melbourne Herald regarding enlistments in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. From that leader I extract the following: -
By backing and filling and delay on the part of the Government our young men have been given the confused feeling that the sacrifices they are ready to make have not been really needed
When we consider the different conditions which have prevailed, first as to rates of pay, then as to voluntary enlistment, and later as to compulsory service - indeed the whole zig-zag and tortuous path that has been followed - we can understand the reason why such a leader came to be written. Protests and criticisms have been useful in that they have caused the Government to prepare a better plan, and to have something to show for all of its expenditure and all of the speeches that have been delivered. Nevertheless, enlistments in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force are not satisfactory. It was expected that Victoria would provide 6,000 men, but I understand that of the 4,000 enlisted in that State only a little over 1,000 men have volunteered from the Militia, who were to provide half
That is no reflection on the men, but is due to the uncertainty as to what part the Australian Imperial Force is to play. In the previous war, men were told that they would be required to serve overseas; and they quickly went. During the present crisis, there has been much change and uncertainty. Men do not know what is expected of them. If they are in employment, they are reluctant to enlist and go into camp for 5s. a day, when they may not go overseas at all. If they knew that they were to go Singapore, India, Egypt or elsewhere to continue their training, enlistments would be more numerous. In 1914 the first expeditionary fore was recruited within a few weeks of the declaration of war, and would have left Australia even earlier than it did had it not been for the presence in adjacent seas of the German raider Emden. We are told that preparations are further advanced now than they were in 1914, but I say that for celerity of organization the effort on this occasion does not compare with what was done in 1914. On that occasion the forces were organized, equipped and sent overseas much more quickly. Early in the present war I advocated in Parliament the sending of an expeditionary force from Australia. For some time there was no response, but, later, I believe that such a force was offered. In a recent speech, Mr. Hore-Belisha said that he looked forward to the time when the overseas dominions would have their divisions alongside the British forces in the fighting line. Yet there still is hesitation. As I understand the position, the British Government would be glad to have some assistance from Australia, but it would be the last to suggest that Australia should give that assistance. The decision rests with us. The people of Australia want to do something, but the uncertainty as to whether the forces will be sent overseas prevents many young men from offering their services. I am able to quote figures of one unit that has supplied a considerable quota to the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. 1 do not wish to give the exact figures in case I should get some one into trouble, but 1 can say that approximately half of the number who joined were unemployed, one-fourth of them were unskilled in any occupation, and the remainder were skilled workmen or men following clerical occupations. I do not offer this criticism in a derogatory sense. All that I intend to convey is the fact that, because of this unfortunate uncertainty about the objective, many men prefer to remain in their jobs or con tinue as members of the Militia Forces. They will not enrol in active service forces until they know definitely what is to be their ultimate objective.
– And what they are going to be paid.
– Pay is another of the factors operating against enlistment. It is a question of back to the rates of 1914. But we do not say that about parliamentary salaries. In 1914 members of this Parliament received £650 a year; to-day we get £1,000 a year. The soldiers, however, are on approximately the 1914 rate. This is a matter that should be looked at. I think the men should be given a fair rate of pay in whatever arm of the forces they are serving.
In the proposed Australian air expeditionary force an aircraftsman is paid 5s. a day, whereas during the last war a second air mechanic received 8s. a day when Australian currency was at parity with sterling. To-day the purchasing power of Australian currency is considerably below sterling. The Minister may say that there are gradations in the forces, but the point is that the air mechanic at the bottom of the list is to receive pay which is equivalent to that of a private in the infantry. If he should go abroad, he will receive 6s. a day, whereas a mechanic in civil employment receives approximately £5 a week. Under these conditions it is a test of the patriotism of young Australian mechanics to ask them to volunteer for oversea service. The ordinary labourer receives the basic wage, plus extra payment for any skill which, he- may possess ; yet that does not apply to a mechanic in the Air Force to-day, although it did apply during the last war. Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister if there was a shortage of volunteers for service as mechanics with the proposed air expeditionary force owing to the low rate of pay, and I was assured that there was not. I hope that is so, but I think the Government should look into this matter and offer a reasonable rate. In our small air force units that took part in the last war, better pay was given to the mechanics. Surely to-day when mechanics who service aeroplanes require a higher degree of technical skill, the rates of pay should be commensurate with their ability. Consideration should also he given to the greater risks that attend flying in the faster aircraft now operating. I am quite sure that there is more danger attached to flying a fast modern plane than was attached to aviation during the last war.
A man joining the Royal Australian Engineers in any State will receive after the deduction of allowances, approximately 8s. 9d. a. day. He must be a single nian and his service will be confined within Australian shores. Yet an unmarried private in the Australian infantry forces will receive 5s. a day, and there are allowances to the married man. If he goes overseas he will get 6s. It is entirely wrong that the men who risk their lives overseas should get such a paltry rate of pay when nien who enlist locally and who need not go outside .Australia - because the Government is committed definitely against any conscription for overseas service - can obtain rates comparable with the wages which they would receive in civil life, and may face no hardships. If that state of affairs had prevailed in 1914-18, Australia would not have achieved the excellent results it did. I say that without wishing to deprecate in any way the qualities of the men. This “ backing and filling “ to which not only the Melbourne Herald hut also other newspapers have referred on more than one occasion, has- created a great deal of discontent. It is only because the men feel that it is right to be patriotic and to refrain from criticism, that more complaints have not been heard. Honorable members of this Parliament have, however, an obligation- to rectify these matters. I repeat that very little encouragement is given for other men to enlist, the chief factor being the uncertainty regarding the future and the low rates of pay.
– The honorable member is putting up a good argument for voluntary service.
– Not at all. At the outbreak of the last war, Australia had 45,000 militia men, all of whom had been in camp, and over 80,000 cadets who had received, training but who had not been in camp. Consequently, it was easy to get a nucleus of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men. That had a great deal to do with the good reputation and prowess of the first Australian Imperial Force.
– Most of those officers were the product of previous voluntary training.
– Yes, so far a3 the senior officers were concerned, hut secondlieutenants under the age of 23 had to go into the ranks; cadet officers were not recognized as Australian Imperial Force officers and had to drop their rank.
Yesterday, when I asked the Minister why there was not now an InspectorGeneral of the Australian -Military Forces, he replied that the position was a peacetime one. .But many peacetime posts are continued during war. I point out that Lieu tenant-General Squires was brought to Australia as Inspector-General under a contract for two years. Then the Minister has also recently introduced the command system under which Australia has been divided into new areas.
– Did not Parliament adopt that system ?
– Yes, but it is anomalous that this peacetime idea is persisted with.
– The honorable gentleman has missed the point. The reason for the change was to place Australia’s organization on a wartime basis.
Ali-. WHITE. - Yes, but right up to the outbreak of war. the Prime Minister said that there would be no war. The plan was formulated in peacetime-
– To work in wartime.
– -So was the InspectorGeneralship. When an Inspector-General was appointed, it was not understood that he would take some other post in the event of war, but the Minister has persisted in the command system. I asked the honorable gentleman whether senior militia officers, such as brigadiers and major-generals who had commanded brigades in the last war, would be eligible for appointment to these commands or whether they would be superseded. He assured me that they would be eligible.
– -I do not retract that assurance.
– The honorable gentleman said that any senior militia officer might hold any or all of those posts, but. no militia officers were appointed. Lieutenant-generals and major-generals, some of whom, were elevated from the rank of colonel or lieutenant-general, were appointed. It is folly to continue with this system in time of war.
– Does the honorable member prefer the base-commandant system to the command system?
– Surely the Minister must realize that the command system only makes another channel through which communications must pass. The result will bo that officialdom will get a little deeper into the barbed wire entanglements of departmental red tape. Some excellent officers have been put into the commands.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 bo 8 p.m.
– I believe that criticism in Parliament should be vigorous and active. If honorable members feel that there is anything wrong, or merits criticism, they should utter their criticism. Otherwise they are not fulfilling their obligations. Before dinner I had referred at some length to the leading article in last night’s Melbourne Herald. It emphasized the necessity to give a better deal to the men of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, and also discussed why there is difficulty in getting the required number of men. A statement should bo made on behalf of the Government at an: early date intimating the ultimate role of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. We should also be told on what date it is to leave Australia. Additional information should be given in regard to pay. One adjustment has already been made. Perhaps the Government can make another. These remarks apply to the Air Force also.
I have already made some observations concerning the command system. I suggest that this re-organization could have been left until after the war. The Minister said that it was a war measure. It might have been. But I still contend that it could have been put aside for the present, for it may lead to undesirable complications. In making these remarks, I do not reflect in any way upon the officers concerned, who are all well trained in their profession and quite capable of filling their high posts. All I say is that they are in the wrong place at p resent. Their skill and knowledge are needed in other places.
Reference was made in the Prime Minister’s statement to the n’ew arrangements in regard to defence control and management. The Prime Minister stated that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) had been very overworked. I agree that lie has worked hard and has stood up to his task very well. At the same time, we must remember that it was not exactly a case of one man doing the work, for ho had as assistant the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Fairbairn). The trouble was that the Minister for Civil Aviation was not given sufficient work to do. He could have been entrusted with the complete control of the Air Force. A previous Minister desired to divorce civil aviation from the Defence Department. 1 opposed thi:-! as undesirable, for it would have invited overlapping and duplication, and in any case, in wartime, civil aviation is taken over by the Defence Department. The Minister for Civil Aviation prior to the re-arrangement - now the Minister for Air - is completely au fait with aviation, and he could have been given control of the Air Force.
I come now to the Navy. It was scarcely necessary, in my opinion, to place the Navy under the control of a separate Minister. However, if that procedure will have the result of relieving other Ministers of work, it will be a good thing.
Personally, I believe that as our Navy to-day is of about the same strength as during the last war, and is still without a capital ship, it was hardly necessary to appoint a Minister for the Navy.
– The Navy is doing a good job.
– Exactly, and for that reason it could have been left alone. It scarcely needed additional ministerial direction.
I suppose the idea of co-ordinating defence activities occurred to the Government because of the action taken in Great Britain in this regard.
– The plan was drawn up in 1932.
– In Great Britain, Sir Thomas Inskip was appointed Minister for Co-ordinating Defence. Three members of this House had the opportunity of meeting Sir Thomas Inskip last year. We know that for a while the system did not operate very well in Great Britain. Sir Thomas Inskip was a wise lawyer, but it was not until a change was made in regard to hia portfolio, and a very experienced Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Chatfield, took his place, that an acceleration occurred. Lord Chatfield, by the way, holds the view that Australia should include a capital ship in its navy. We need not assume that because a certain scheme works well in England it will work well in Australia. It remains to be seen whether the co-ordination plan will fulfil expectations here. If it means that there will be an acceleration of work, it will be a good thing. If it merely means that there will be a narrowing down of Cabinet responsibility wth a step forward towards the dictatorial system of inner groups - which incidentally meant my departure from the Cabinet, because I felt that that system was a departure from the democratic joint responsibility of Cabinet - it will not be a good thing.
The Prime Minister is not necessarily in the best position to co-ordinate defence activities. [Leave to continue given.”] We may learn, in this connexion, from what has been done in Great Britain, for it is not the Prime Minister of Great Britain who is the Minister Co-ordinating Defence Operations. Our Prime Minister as chief of the War Cabinet, chief of the Economic Cabinet- and Minister Co ordinating Defence, undoubtedly has his hands very full.
– He is also Treasurer.
– But another Minister is now acting in that office. Without doubt we need the fullest possible coordination in our defence activities. For that reason, I suggest that the Minister Co-ordinating Defence should not take over any other activities that would detract from the attention that he can give to this highly important work.
In that connexion I refer to a broadcast which the Prime Minister made two or three weeks ago to the troops in camps throughout Australia. That is a procedure which is not followed in other countries except Germany where, I believe, broadcasts are made to the troops in the Siegfried Line. I contend that that procedure is unnecessary, expensive and unwarranted. Troops who go into camp should be allowed to give their full attention to the curriculum of training without being required to parade to listen to broadcasts irrespective of how distinguished the broadcasting politician may be.
– Were the troops paraded ?
– A photograph was published in a radio journal showing troops on parade listening to the broadcast. I was not able to appreciate any particular need for the broadcast, although I listened to what was said. No doubt, the statement might have been interesting to some people. But troops did not go into camp for this; they are there for the purpose of training, and their protests in the press plainly showed they do not approve of such broadcasts.
– They do not wish to listen to politicians.
– Quite so, and politicians, however distinguished they may be, or of whatever party, should not make broadcasts to the troops. - In connexion with this broadcast, I direct attention to the following paragraph which appeared in the Melbourne Argus of the 31st October :-
At the conclusion of the speech, when Mr. Menzies expressed regret at his inability to shake hands with each member of the Australian Imperial Force there was a unanimous chorus of shouts, groans and animal noises.
– What about “ the little Digger’s” hat?
– All I say on the matter is that such posturing is unnecessary. There was no specially important pronouncement in the utterance of the Prime Minister.
Considerable reference was made in the Prime Minister’s statement to the proposal to send an Australian air expeditionary force overseas. On the 30th September, he declared that six squadrons would be sent abroad as Australian units. Yesterday, the right honorable gentleman said -
Sometime ago I announced on behalf ot the Government that we were proposing to send to England an air expeditionary force 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.
It certainly was. In newspaper articles published at the time when the announcement was made it was definitely declared that this was the best form of help that Australia could give. The matter had been carefully investigated as the following passage from the Prime Minister’s speech shows : -
After a very thorough examination of this problem by the Defence Department we find that after providing fully for our present and contingent requirements it will be possible also to train enough men to provide for the expeditionary force.
After the statement was made about out sending an air force overseas the Prime Minister, in a broadcast on the 11th October, said that all the Dominions, except South Africa, intended to send pilots and other personnel of the air force to Canada for training. In a reprint of the broadcast, reference is made again to the Air Expeditionary Force, and there is no suggestion of its abandonment. Yet we were casually told in the press of the 1st November that this useful Australian formation is not now to be sent.
While the Empire air scheme is excellent, and will no doubt result in the training of a very large number of pilots, we must bear in mind that this separate Australian unit would have been of great service and would have carried on the tradition of our squadrons of the last war. The air force will play a very important part in immediate war operations. I do not know that I go so far as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in this connexion. He seemed to think that it was almost the sole consideration.
– I did not say that. What I said was that the air force is becoming a more significant feature of the war.
– I agree with that view. We should not lull ourselves into any false sense of security because there has been no infantry action of any magnitude on the Western Front. We have to thank our realistic French ally for the Maginot Line. But if the British Air Force had not shown itself to be thoroughly efficient, I believe that the people of Great Britain would have suffered from the same kind of ruthlessness as the Polish people experienced a few weeks ago. A checkup of the figures shows that 800,000 Polish prisoners have been sent to Germany, and that some 40,000 other Polish troops escaped into Rumania. The remainder of the Polish people have been enslaved. We do not know what casualties the civil population has suffered. We should be very thankful that the British Air Force has shown that it is able to cope with the German force. Up to date, no very large scale attacks have been attempted by the German bombers. Some minor reconnaissance operations have occurred over the Orkney Islands and at a few other places, but our fighters have shown both in the United Kingdom and on the Western Front that they can deal with the German bombers and fighters. Had it not been for this, I have no doubt that British camps, aerodromes and industrial centres, if not the larger British cities, would have been subjected to very severe aerial bombardment. It has to be remembered that the Polish downfall occurred because the troops were bombed principally at their places of mobilization. Many troops did not get even to the points of mobilization. We know that Polish hangars and aerodromes were destroyed before the Polish aircraft got properly into action. These considerations indicate the very great importance of aerial development. It is therefore worth emphasizing that the action of the Dominions in joining in this Empire air scheme is sagacious in every respect. The Dominions have shown their loyalty to the Empire and their intention to stand for democratic government, liberty and justice. Dominion forces will no doubt be able to play a very effective part in aerial warfare, and for this reason the Empire air scheme is to be commended.
There was no necessity, however, to abandon the scheme to send six squadrons overseas, for the personnel of these squadrons could have been recruited quite easily. It was proposed to send four ‘bomber squadrons and two fighter squadrons, and I urge the Government to give earnest and serious consideration to the revival of this project. Honorable members may read the statement of the Prime Minister as carefully as they like, but they will find no clear declarations in it as to why both schemes could not be carried out. The much bigger Empire .scheme will take some time to fructify. It would have been an excellent gesture, in my opinion, therefore, to have proceeded at once with the recruiting of the proposed air expeditionary force. The original announcement in connexion with this scheme was received with a chorus of approval and we were told that there had been the closest consultation between Great Britain and Australia. It seems strange, therefore, to be told now that, after further close consultation, the proposal was abandoned.
This kind of backing and filling is not satisfactory and deserves severe criticism. Let me emphasize again that defence is not a matter for the United Australia party, the United Country party or the Australian Labour party. Defence should be above party considerations, and honorable members of this Parliament should consider it so. We in Australia are in i very privileged position. For the most part, the war will be fought by that country which is the head-quarters of our Empire. Were we in Britain it would not be possible to sit in quiet debating comparatively trifling matters as we do here. We would know that we wore likely at any moment to be the object of attack by bombers, and our defences would have to be in readiness to meet them. At this distance from the scene of conflict, we have been able to prepare tardily for our defence. Something has been done, it is true, but our prepara- tions have been made all too slowly. Quoting again from the Herald leader,
The fault for the delay in recruiting Victoria’s quota for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force lies with the Government, and a frank admission of that fault should be made to clear the reputation of our men.
There is work ahead for every citizen of the Commonwealth if - we are to achieve victory in this war. We must not only win the war, but we must win it as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. The present delay on the Western Front means only that Hitler is delaying the putting into execution of his ruthless policy because he finds that he is opposed, not to weak nations like Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, but to nations determined to see that freedom does not perish from the earth. We must remember that in this war we have not many friends. The United ‘States of America sympathizes with us, and has given evidence of a good deal of moral support. Though we are aware that a few months back frequent attacks were made in newspapers in the United States of America on Hitlerism, and Britain and France were chided because they had not taken military measures to prevent the overrunning of Czechoslovakia, the fact remains that, at the present time, the chief objective of the United States of America is to keep out of the war. I do not say that in any critical spirit ; I am merely stating a fact. A. determined attempt is being made now to isolate the United States of America from the war. That nation has made up its mind to sell arms to the belligerents on a cash-and-carry basis. There are many people in the United States of America who would like to he with us, hut as a nation they are not giving us the support of their man-power. It is rather early yet to talk about a just peace and the laying down of our war aims. Our motives are not misunderstood anywhere in the world. Great Britain and France suffered much provocation before they took action. If they had not moved when they did, action might have been too late. Even this huge continent, which it is our duty to develop, might have come under foreign domination. The Prime Minister made reference to economic arrangements. It is our duty during these preparations to prepare for the slump when peace comes. In setting up these economic committees, and in making arrangements for the wholesale disposal of our primary products to Great Britain, we must ensure that we keep the channels of trade open. We know that Germany’s policy envisages, not only military domination, but economic domination also. If we make an indecisive peace now, Germany will, in the future, repeat her present tactics. We have seen two wars in our lifetime. We must ensure that no future generation shall see another. It is our duty, therefore, to co-operate with Great Britain to the utmost.
– Let us change the record. This is just the same old stuff.
– The honorable member has only been in the House for a few minutes but I point out that for years he has taken his inspiration from Russia. I hope that he is now disillusioned. It is a fact that there was some idealism in communism.
– When did the honorable member find that out?
– I happened to be in Russia during the revolution.
– Which side did the honorable member take?
– I was not taken round the country like a Cook’s tourist, as were some honorable members of this House who visited Russia more recently. I was a fugitive there, and had to pass as a Russian. That was one of the experiences that impelled me to go into public life, so that I might do what I could to ensure that that kind of government should never come to Australia.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Qt. J. Bell).The honorable members time has expired.
– I listened to a good deal of what was said by Ministers in the typewritten statements they read and subsequently circulated. I have not read through them all, but there are two or three things that stand out beyond the others as being matters of urgency. Much of what was said by Ministers may be very interesting, but it did not contribute a great deal to an understanding of the problems before us, or to their solution.
Above all, we must realize that we are, unfortunately, at war with Germany and, notwithstanding what has been said by leading men of various political parties during the last few weeks, we are at war, not only with the German Government, but also with the German people. We are at war with the armed forces of Germany, whether on land or on sea or in the air, and we are at war with the economic power behind those forces. If that is not so, then we are at peace. Talk about being at war with the German Government and not with the German people is merely so much eye-wash, so much self-deception. When we go to war we have only one objective: that is, to impose our national will on the country we have selected as an enemy. Our present objective is to impose the FranceBritish will on the German Reich. We may regret that it is not possible to do this by diplomatic means. Diplomacy implies resort to argument, the bringing of reason to bear on the other party, but diplomacy as a solvent of the Polish problem unfortunately failed. In honouring certain commitments which Great Britain and France gave to Poland we find ourselves at war with Germany. War is the doctrine of force. We kill, we blockade. We impose our will by any means recognized by international law. In the course of an interesting speech - with which I did not agree - something was said this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) of peace bv negotiation. Something of that kind is implied also in the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he said that, speaking for himself, he had little doubt that those two remarkable circumstances - the possibility of peace by arrangement through certain neutral countries, and the stalemate on the Western Front - were closely associated. Whether he used that language deliberately I do not know, but I should say that the first thing we ought to expect from the head of the Government, particularly in wartime, is that he should speak, not for himself, but for the Government that he leads. Something has been said about peace by negotiation, and something also of peace by victory. As I see the matter, until you are a victor you are not in a position to impose peace.
If you secure peace by any other means than victory, you must secure it by negotiation, but peace by negotiation should never be confused with peace by victory. When you go to war you must arrive at one of three conclusions : you win, you lose, or you draw. If you win, you impose terms of peace; if you lose, the terms of peace are imposed on you. It is the lot of those beaten in war to suffer, sign and obey. Peace by negotiation signifies that you neither win nor lose - that, in fact, you draw. It is very significant that we are at war to-day with a power which, a very few years ago, was considered to he one of the most completely disarmed nations in Europe. This afternoon, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) stated, I understand, that the German forces on the Western Front were reputed to be the stronger of the two opposing sides. If that be so, then those forces have been brought to that state of perfection, that standard of strength, in a much shorter time than was available to Great Britain and France, who were not restricted by the Versailles Treaty which imposed conditions fully upon Germany until 1933, and to a lesser extent after that time. We must be clear in our minds when we speak of such matters as peace by negotiation. If it is our purpose to uphold the rights of members of the British community, the rights of the common man, of which we hear so much, we should be careful in talking of peace by negotiation to gentlemen of the type of those who are to-day in control in Berlin and Moscow. We are to-day at war with Germany because that country, in the face of our guarantee, invaded Poland; hut, significantly enough, we are not at war with Russia which did the same thing, and did it in circumstances that made it more blameworthy even than Germany. We have imposed an economic blockade on Germany because the forces of that country invaded Poland, but the British Government has entered into a trade agreement with Russia which did the very same thing. We cannot be altogether oblivious of these facts. I am not one of those who seek to muster the greatest number of enemies, but we must take facts like these into consideration.
– The honorable member attracts enemies as a mere matter of course.
– Weil, something has been said about making one’s enemies one’s footstool. The Leader of the Opposition also called attention to the peace efforts which are being made by the Sovereigns of Holland and Belgium, and referred to certain possessions which are held by Holland to the north of Australia. Beyond that, I do not know that he exhibited any great interest in them. But it is a significant fact that other powers in the world to-day are deeply concerned about the fate which will overtake the Netherlands East Indies in the event of Holland being involved in war in Europe. There are people in this community who talk a lot about the line-up of democratic against dictatorship powers. It has been suggested by some responsible people - I have no doubt that they would be classed as such - that the Scandinavian and Low Countries should link up with Great Britain and France in order to face this danger. I do not expect the governments of any of those countries to be so inclined to suicide as to embark on such a course. Holland and Belgium are both colonial powers, both have commitments overseas ; but they cannot afford to take part in a war on either side in which Germany and France and Great Britain are the antagonists. If they come in against us we shall very quickly collar their possessions. There is no doubt about that. If they come in on our side they will be quickly invaded by German armies. So there is every reason in the world for the governments of those countries to attempt to pursue a neutral course. But what I should like to have from the Leader of the Opposition, on some future occasion, is his reply to this very simple question: In the event of a possession of the democratic power of Holland so close to us as to be capable of being used against us falling or threatening to fall into the hands of some other power, what action will the Labour party take if it is in office?
– I answered that to-day by saying that until the situation was clarified no man should leave Australia.
– Then the Leader of the Opposition, by implication, now says that, if that danger exists, he is in favour of an expeditionary force going to the Dutch East Indies.
As I see the position, the Government of this country is faced with two chief responsibilities. The first is the responsibility of the Government for the proper security of this country, and the second is the responsibility of Australia towards its fellow members of the British Empire. Those two responsibilities will have to be very carefully studied. “We can lay it down as a first principle that the Government’s primary duty is to provide for the effective defence of this country by sea, air and land. There can be no argument about that, although there may be arguments between ourselves and the Leader of the Opposition and some of his party on the methods which we should employ in order to ensure that security for this country. In the opinion of my party, we must stand up to a system of universal and compulsory military training. I am extremely pleased on this occasion to note that my friend the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) is a convert to the cause which I and others have for so long advocated as one of the primary military requirements of this country. My only criticism in this regard is that the Government started at the wrong end of the scale. In re-introducing compulsory military training the Government should have started with that class of men which was first exempted by the Scullin Government ten years ago. In other words, the Government should have started just where the Labour Government left off and worked back towards the men of 21 and 22 years of age. The Leader of the Opposition said that he believed that, in the event of an attack on this country, every man in Australia would be needed. I. think that he advanced that as one of the reasons why no man should be sent out of this country. If he believes that every man in the community will be needed for the effective ‘defence of this country he has no alternative to agreeing that every man in this community should be properly trained for the defence of this country. It is ridiculous to raise a proposition of that type on a voluntary basis because it must fail.
In order to carry out our duty to our sister dominions and the mother country in this Commonwealth of Nations, or British Empire, whichever you like to call it, we must be prepared to intervene wherever we are wanted by the provision of expeditionary forces, subject always to the security of our own country being provided for. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) said emphatically that the Opposition did not desire the defeat of Great Britain. I did not think any one would suggest that the Opposition has that desire, but I should have been happy to hear from the honorable gentleman a statement giving in broad outline some idea of the measures which his party thought should be put into force to help Great Britain towards that victory for which we should be looking.
– Subject to two cardinal differences of method between ourselves and the Government I gave a general subscription to the policy which the Government is carrying out. It is not for me to lay down plans.
– I should be glad to hear in the future the Opposition detail its views as to how this country should contribute towards that general victory for the British forces which is necessary to the security of the British Empire as a whole and this country as a component part of that Empire.
My fourth point concerns the forces which may have to go overseas. I plead with the Minister that it be absolutely laid down by this Government that the Australian units serving overseas shall preserve a separate entity and identity, whether they be sea, land or air forces, and that they shall fight, wherever they happen to go, as Australian units and under Australian command.
My next point is in regard to the full use of veteran experience. I beg to differ from the age limit which has been laid down’ by the Commonwealth Government. It is no satisfaction to me to be informed that that is the standard of age which has been accepted by the United Kingdom. What the Australian people want from this Government above all other things is a clear statement that the defence policy and military measures of this country have been founded in Canberra by an Australian government with a prime view towards realizing Australian objectives and coping with Australian necessities. There is a belief amongst the people outside - and it is well that the Government should know it - that too much influence is being exercised by London opinion on the defence measures of the Commonwealth Government. A concrete example of this is the standard of ages laid down, according to which I am practically five years too old for active service. I do not think that I look like it, and I assure the Minister for the Army that I do not feel like it. There are plenty of other men in the same position as myself. Amongst our men who served in the last war are many who are able to give valuable experience to those forces which may go overseas. The honorable Minister was on Gallipoli - I was not - and knows the price paid in Australian lives on the Peninsula to get certain experience. That price should not be paid a second time by an Australian expeditionary force,because there are men here who can impart to our forces a great deal of that experience. Technical advisers may argue that war is more mechanical than it was in the years 1914-18, but, if the men who served in the last war have had no experience of mechanical warfare, nobody younger than they has either.
We should aim at a maximum range of output of munitions in this country. Looking at the map of the world and the British Empire we see that Australia is situated at a very important point. About 80 per cent. of the Empire’s territory impinges on the Pacific and Indian Oceans. A ustralia is almost centrally situated, and is in an excellent position to provide for the supply of munitions to all British countries which border on the Pacific and I ndian Oceans or are contained within them.
Then there is the subject of training. I think that we should use to the fullest possible extent every facility for training our troops in our own country and under our own conditions. The Minister for the Army should produce without delay some clear, comprehensive statement of our commitments in regard to the Canadian air-training’ scheme. I have nothing against the Air Force, naturally, but. I have very grave doubts whether the scheme, seen from the Empire point of view, is the best. If you look at it from the viewpoint of Canada’s immunity from attack, good! certainly. If you have regard to the similarity of meteorological conditions in Europe and Canada, again good ! But Canada and Europe are not the whole of the Empire, and I believe that the air force that will be engaged in the British Empire throughout this war, if it should unfortunately spread, will be of such magnitude that we shall be warranted in having proper training facilities much closer to home than Canada.
– I do not think that the honorable member will be disappointed.
– You never know. I am a hard man to please at times. In respect of military pay and allowances, I do not want to go into that matter in great detail, because I expect that there will be a further opportunity to debate it, but, when the Government tells the fighting men of this country that they and their dependants are to receive a lower standard of living than those who are engaged in private industry, say the manufacture of munitions, it is adopting a policy which, I feel sure, will not be acceptable to the general community. One interesting point arises out of the pay, and that is the attitude of the Government towards the Militia Forces. Last summer there was a great recruiting campaign. I was a member of the Government at that time, but I did not take any part in the campaign.
– Why not?
– Partly because I had better things to do. In any case I am not a lover of the voluntary system. Ministers went on to platforms and said that the rate of pay would be 8s. a day. If the Government’s promise meant anything, it meant that the rate of pay would be 8s. at all times, and under all conditions.There were no tags.
– There was a tag in a technical sense. The rate of pay was to be 5s. a day plus a peace training allowance of 3s. a day.
– Has that allowance been abolished?
– The peace training allowance has been abolished and the rate of pay is 5s. a day.
– If that is the position, I simply say that it is still more remarkable. The men are training under what may at any minute become service conditions, and it is something new in the world’s history to lay down the principle that the rate of pay in wartime is to be lower than the rate of pay in peacetime.
– The troops did not know it.
– That is correct.
– It has been published in every pamphlet issued.
– I have no satisfaction from hearing the Minister say that there was some technicality in connexion with the matter. Men do not enlist on technical considerations, and the people of this community will not accept as a defence on the part of the Government the statement that the rate of pay was reduced from8s. to 5s. after some technical consideration of the terms of enlistment.
– I do not put that forward as an excuse; I merely state the facts.
– It is a matter to which the Minister should give further consideration. There is also the question of Commonwealth responsibility for the dependants of those who serve. No section of the community will desire to escape that responsibility. Proper consideration should be given to the inauguration of a pension system for the benefit of those who may be injured in defensive operations.
I do not intend to go deeply into the subject of what should be done in regard to the military command system. I simply say that I have grave doubt whether the present divisional system operating in Australia is the best under our conditions. It may be suitable for countries overseas where there are larger popula tions and greater concentrations of people ; but in a country where the population is scattered over great areas and it is difficult to get a large number of troops together, a mixed brigade is about the greatest number that we can conveniently handle at one time. I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) in his criticism that the command system merely adds another link to the chain, absorbing more staff and personnel in non-fighting services, thereby rather complicating instead of simplifying the administration of military affairs in this country.
– The honorable gentleman agreed to it when the bill was passed.
– I agreed to the divisional system, as well, going from divisions down to brigades. The divisional system is what I am aiming at, not the command system.
There are many other matters in connexion with the Defence Department that could be dealt with, but I do not propose to touch upon them at this stage. A good dealhas been said by Ministers during the last few weeks, and a few administrative changes have been made. The Defence Department has been subdivided again. I shall not go into that matter, except to say that I have doubts of whether the right method has been adopted. It appears that we now have three Ministers for Defence, with a superMinister over them. I have great doubt of whether the Royal Australian Navy is of sufficient dimensions and importance to warrant even a moderate proportion of the time of one Minister being occupied in caring for its troubles and attending to its administration. The same might be said of the Royal Australian Air Force. I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava that the Air Force and the Civil Aviation Department could possibly best be administered by one Minister, because there must be a liaison and co-operation between them. I am possibly one of those old-fashioned persons who have a great respect for and faith in the principle of ministerial responsibility. Therefore, I am not one of the admirers of a system that will bring into close contact with cabinets and ministers a great number of committees.I fear that under that system. there will be too much of a tendency to delegate ministerial responsibility to members of committees, secretariats, and so forth, who cannot be conveniently got at by this Parliament. A democratic system of government, if it is to be successful, must rest on the principle of full and absolute ministerial and cabinet responsibility. We must not only know who these men are, but we must also be able to meet them face-to-face in this chamber, and deal with any grievances that we may have.
.- We have had a feast of technical knowledge from the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) and the honorable member for . Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), and I yield to them all the respect that is due to their craft, whilst entirely rejecting as pagan and futile their philosophy of life. Since I last spoke in this chamber, events have moved with fair rapidity, so far as my salient is concerned, and that is the prosecution of the peace. I leave to others the business suited to their taste, and accepted by them, of prosecuting the war. I was much interested in the reading of the departmental compilation submitted to this House by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and I extracted from it three items of supreme interest to me. One was that a great deal of discussion was occurring, in both belligerent and neutral countries, on the possibilities of peace, and the terms upon which peace could be obtained. That is all to the good, and it agrees entirely with my own reading of the case. The right honorable gentleman, however, answering, if not intending to notice, a question I put to him two months ago as to the war aims of the Government, stated that the first, and paramount aim is victory. If it, be true that a great deal of discussion is proceeding in belligerent countries and others, as we believe it is, making for the end of war, it is a little unfortunate that the Prime Minister thought it necessary to couple with that statement a. general declaration that the first and paramount aim of the Government is victory. The two objectives mentioned, of course, are not entirely consistent, and I think it is necessary to say in a few words what my view is on that aspect of the matter.
The Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Curtin) has pointed out, in the course of his comprehensive and admirable speech, our abhorrence of war, and the fact that we have rejected it as a means of settling international disputes, substituting for it counsels of reason expressed through the process of arbitration. That, I may say, amounts to an outlawry of war, and that is precisely what was done many years after the Labour party had done it, by what is known as the Kellogg Pact. But there is a striking difference between the standard of the Labour party so expressed and that of the Kellogg Pact in that the Labour party stands firm by its policy, whilst those responsible for that pact have run away from theirs. We have accepted this policy of ours, not alone because war is a painful and cruel thing; not alone because at least many regard it as unchristian; not alone because it is wasteful and destructive; not for those reasons altogether, or for any of them alone, but because, in addition to them, it is ineffectual to achieve any useful results for the masses of the people in. any of the countries involved. The Labour party, therefore, does not favour recourse to war for any purpose other than that of clear defence, and the clear defence of this country is always obvious from its insular position and its distance from other possible theatres of war. I cannot, therefore, accept conquest in this war as either an immediate or ultimate war aim, believing, as I do, that it is, in the first place, harmful to the interests of those who sent me here, and, secondly, harmful to humanity as a whole. That is the case, whatever the technical or formal result of the war may be. I am strengthened in this view toy the special advantages which always accrue and are now accruing to certain favoured individuals during the currency of. and as a result of, war. These are sufficient reasons to account for the fact that I declare emphatically against any expeditionary force proceeding overseas to wage war in Europe. Not only do I object to soldiers ‘ being enlisted, equipped and sent overseas, but I also object to their wearing the uniform of Australia in conflicts on foreign battlefields, because the consequences must necessarily be the embroilment of Australia in a spirit of ill-will with countries with which we have no quarrel. Victory and compulsory military training are the inspirations, if they are not the subject-matter, of this address. I shall go to the basis of the subject. I have raised it before and I shall raise it again. I address honorable members on these lines because they seem to take it for granted t]] at we are properly and rightly involved in this conflict. That I deny emphatically. When, may 1 ask, did the Prime Minister, insecure as he ia at the head of 7,000,000 inhabitants of this isolated continent, receive a mandate to make war upon 85,000,000 persons in central Europe; a war not for to-day or. for to-morrow, but for an unlimited period and to an unlimited degree? When did the United Australia party embrace in its impressive programme the duty of stabilizing unstable countries in Europe? What are the claims of the Prime Minister - this Colossus amongst generals, this modern Pilsudski - to undertake the part which he has so lightly undertaken? Who authorized him to pledge the lives of my constituents, and even of my family, in this comprehensive scheme of conquest to which he now sets his hand? That is what he has done. I should like him to explain to me if it is the policy of the United Australia party, hitherto undisclosed, to stabilize any old State, however unstable in central Europe. When he gently declared on the 3rd September last that because Britain was at war therefore we were at war was he stating Government policy or the legal position that arose from the fact that he had failed to give effect to the promises and undertakings, which he had made repeatedly, to adopt certain portions of the Statute of Westminster? The course which he has taken vitally affects me and everything I hold dear in this country. I am a battlescarred veteran. I have come safely through two wars, at least so far. I have reached the stage in life when, according to all forecasts that were made in the years between 1914-18, my lineal descendants should be saying to me, “Daddy, what did you do in the Great War ? “ Instead of that being the case history is so perverted and so inverted that the old man is found saying, “ Sonny, what part has Mr. Menzies allotted to you in this funny war ? “ The forecast is entirely different from that with which we were familiar in the last war. I do not wish to be accused of being personal in th, slightest degree beyond what is necessary for an honest examination of this case in its military bearing and having regard to the responsibility involved. The Prime Minister must realize that he has had the good fortune to miss the Great War and this war. He has explained to us that he took v the view that it was a matter for a man’s own conscience whether he did or did not enlist. In delivering a broadcast on the subject, I said it might be surprising to my listeners to learn that I entirely agreed with the right honorable gentleman on that point. I also said if it were true that the Prime Minister was likely to become the compulsionist by introducing compulsory military training, and I in his position were confronted with my utterance in this chamber, I would be shrivelled with shame at the fact that I had gone back upon my public declaration in which I had excused my failure to enlist in the last war, and that I was bringing compulsion into operation in this war after my speech had served its purpose to get me out of a most difficult situation with the Country party. He missed the first war for conscience sake and because of his firm belief that it was a matter for the individual decision of each man. In this war we find that he cannot be spared. He is again exempt. He is too valuable to his country to serve in a military capacity. He should have been the very first man to don khaki if any man is to fight for the stabilization of portions of central Europe. The gentleman who committed Australia to war should be the very first to lead the way as an inspiring example, but I apprehend that he is likely to be the last. .Like the minor heir to a throne, who has to be carried about in a glass case for fear that the succession will be endangered, tlie prime ministership must not be endangered on the battlefront. But there are quite a number of aspirants ready to succeed him in his present position at a moment’s notice; some upon my left, some on your right, sir. If we look long enough and far enough we shall see that that thrice battlescarred veteran - the hero of conscription of 19.14-18, the proudest noble of them all - also is ready. In the contest that has already taken place for that high office the Attorney-General was only a half-head behind. At any rate, if he does not get to the front, if he does not present an impressive target for foreign bullets, he still remains -commander-in-chief of the legion that never was listed and is still a member of the immortal “ Would to God Brigade “. I read in the newspapers of a German general who was shot in the course of the ruthless invasion of Poland, and propagandists eager to explain the occurrence said that, although many thousands were killed, he was shot in the back by his own people. It Avas explained that General Fritsch Avas not likely to be engaged personally and that generals do not get shot at Avar. There are many persons who do not get shot in a military sense. In fact I have a. list of some of those Who do not get shot in a military sense, but who frequently do so in a social sense. Generals do not get shot, and I. know of one Prime Minister who does not get shot in any sense. Patriotic radio commentators 12,000 miles behind the lines do not get shot. -J Judges, and especially chief justices, do not get shot. Company directors do not get shot - in a military sense. Holders of large parcels of shares - yielding, as do those in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, for instance, 22-J- per cent, - do not get shot, in the military sense. Shareholders in chemical industries and makers of various commodities - at 22J- per cent, dividends - such as poison gas, and other lines of trades in death, do not get shot.
– What about politicians?
– As a rule politicians do not get shot. None of the most successful profiteers or blatant patriots get shot, in the military sense. Newspaper editors, except those pushed into the firing line by newspaper proprietors to aid circulation, do not get shot. And newspaper proprietors, other than proprietors under orders from financial backers, do not get shot. That is not a complete list. As a matter of fact, it is only a sample list of those who do not get shot. This war has not begun in all its horror, beastly destructiveness and foulness; it has not yet begun to be waged as it is intended to be waged, upon mon, women and children; it has nol begun, to any material degree, the starvation of non-combatants; we have not yet caused the tightening of the belts of those people in Germany, who, according to my friends opposite, are entirely out of sympathy with the Kaiser-
– The Kaiser?
– Well, it is all the same. We were to hang the Kaiser after the last war, and Lloyd George won an election on that slogan. But the Kaiser, instead of being hanged, Avas sent to Doorn with a beggarly £2,000,000, and is still there ; and Lloyd George went to his home in Wales with only half of that amount, and he is still there. None of them got shot in the military sense. But some people are getting shot in the military sense. We see every day that lives are being lost although the Avar has not started. Although we are merely trifling
Wit] 1 it, merely keeping up an attitude of offended school girls in a state of animosity to one another, while playing Avith very dangerous explosive weapons all the time; although that is the kind of “ funny “ Avar which they are pleased to say goes on, yet I saw where a submarine made its way into Scapa Plow and, delivering three deadly secret hit-and-run shots into the breast of a. British warship, sent 800 of the working class to their watery graves within a few minutes. Yet the war has not started ! And a. day or two afterwards I read that the First Lord of the Admiralty, as a tribute to the spirit of the navies throughout the world, enemy and friendly, declared that, the enemy had. in entering this harbour and firing these shots and getting away secretly, exhibited great skill and daring. If a motorist accidentally collides Avith another in tho street and runs away in a state of confusion and terror, he is regarded with contempt as an exponent of the hitandrun policy. But this is the standard of naval warfare: That you may come in secret into a harbour at night, deal your deadly blow at ships lying at anchor, all unsuspectingly, and turn on your tracks and run for your life; and then oven the ranks of Tuscany must cheer by saying, in the interests of the naval service everywhere, that you have exhibited great skill and daring. I say that such men exhibited murder, and that those who were sent to their death in that way by the hundred were workingclass men. The working class the world over pays the price of the ambitions and venalities of men in higher places. That is why I have made this declaration as to my views on the objectives of this war. Eight hundred men at <a time are sent to their death at one blow before the wails started ! “When I recall the case of Lloyd George and the Kaiser, the various classes of gentry who arc notshot and the various classes who to-day are enriching themselves in sums of untold millions out of this war, I recall also the fact that I was privileged as a guest of the British Government to visit the war graves in France and Belgium. I saw acres and acres, and still more acres of these graves carefully tended and simple in construction, but very eloquent and unanswerable testimony to “man’s inhumanity to man”. And 99 per cent, of those dead were of the class of persons whom I, all unworthily and inadequately, attempt to represent in this chamber. For these reasons T believe that General Fritsch was not killed in action. And .1 am quite certain that a perpetual close season exists for . prime ministers, especially those with conscientious objections. Before this war breaks out in all its wanton fury, and in all its naked horror, it is time at least to encourage by word and deed an atmosphere in which consultation is possible. We who are many thousands of miles beyond the danger zone, and can only come into the conflict by our own act, should be the very last to provoke a continuation of the struggle. The fact is, as everybody knows who is at all well informed, that all of the European States vitally and immediately concerned, and in contact almost with the scene of hostilities, are urgently bent upon a return to reason. If they arc not actually bound to us by ties of alliance they are bound to us by ties of friendship, and the great majority of them are neutrals on friendly terms with the nation with which we are at war. If they who surround Germany, the object of our present hostility, and are, therefore, the most concerned, are bent upon consultation and conference and a speedy end to this midnight horror of war, surely we, who are so far removed and have never been threatened - whose existence lias never been noticed, and who have never been reminded of that enemy nation except by the fact that we have possession of one of its colonies to the north of Australia - can venture to be magnanimous and courageous - I say courageousdeliberately - and to pay attention to the half-open door of conference, because the door is now half-open, in order that this terror might be ended.
– Does the honorable member think that. Czechoslovakia would bc satisfied with that?
– I remind those who are caught up in the notion of a crusade for Christianity against German and Russian materialism, and worse, that the end does not justify the means. I remind them that, Christianity affords no warrant for the employment of brutish methods even to resist brutality. And thai, is most certainly so when the door to discussion is half open. It was very different when the German armies were rushing through Poland. The position now is entirely changed. [Leave to continue given.] The line which has been drawn east of Poland is, according to the best information available, that which in any circumstances is likely to bc accepted as a final limitation. It is utterly incredible that Europe can be restored along the lines of its reconstruction prior to the beginning of what is known as the aggression era. Therefore, since we cannot throw these States together as they were thrown together previously; as, indeed, it is not desirable that they should be reconstructed in that way ; inasmuch as it. is a complicated problem requiring the highest statesmanship of the wisest minds, the claim becomes most urgent from duy to day that we should seek out - and we in Australia are particularly favorably circumstanced to move in this matter - a means of inquiry and consultation for the pacification of Europe in the days to come. We can give no guarantee to the world that the exercise of any degree of force which we can employ against the common enemy, no matter how successful our arms, will achieve more, or that our victory will be more decisive than that which was won in 1914-18 and from which we gathered a heritage of misery and woe. As the result of our last victory we sent women and children stalking hungry across the face of Europe; we stripped the flesh of the working man that we might pay the bondholder; we settled no question, but we sowed the seeds of this particular trouble which has been developing in all its festering mischief from that day of victory to the day in September last when it broke out afresh in an ebullition of a similar kind. Once negotiations become a possibility, and that, I suggest, has been reached, every act of violence on our part is a concession to Nazi-ism and a betrayal of the spirit underlying democracy. The mudslingers of various kinds - I am not speaking of any member of this Parliament - should be restored to their natural element, and their place, after proper disinfection, should be filled by reasonable men and women, of whom there are thousands in this country afraid to open their mouths to speak for fear they would be set upon and spat upon by “the loud-mouthed agents of provocation and war. There is much work waiting to be done. We are shamefully neglecting the social duty which lies on this Parliament. Unemployment and distress are increasing. We have at least served one pur pose - we have exposed the moneyjugglers. There is no reason why we should not be able to get unlimited money. Limitless money is being made available for destruction, but none apparently for the betterment or uplift of mankind. Nothing can be done, however, until we rid the world of this unhappy brawl and its consequences. I make no apology for my stand in this Parliament in favour of the Government proceeding speedily, and with as much dignity as it likes, to the expression of the conviction of the Australian democracy that only by consultation, and not by force, can the principles of democracy be established - that only by the adoption of right means can right prevail against might and this war be ended.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has just given us an idea of the policy which he would follow if his party were in control of the treasury bench. In contrast to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) who, in a speech this afternoon, enunciated an indefinite policy, the honorable member for Batman has said definitely that he is in favour of a policy of complete isolation. Listening to these speeches we cannot but remember the Labour party as it was led by Andrew Fisher, who achieved a wonderful election success with the slogan that Australia was behind the Old Country “ to the last man and the last shilling “. I have before me some extracts from the speech made in 1936 by the honorable member for Batman on the Naval Estimates. The anti-British policy which he enunciated on that occasion is identical with the anti-British policy which he has enunciated to-night. Any one who is antagonistic to the British Empire at this time has no right inside the British Empire. If a person supports the policy of sovietism let him go to the country that practises it. The honorable member said, in effect, to-night - “ I believe in Hitlerism because my isolationist policy will not allow me to raise a hand to smash it”. He has no sympathy for the smaller countries of Europe. He is indifferent to the fate of Czechoslovakia, which had developed a political and industrial organization that had won the admiration of Europe. There were no better and freer workers in Europe than the Czechs, before their country was raped by Germany. If the last war did any good - the Lord knows it did a tremendous amount of harm - it restored to the peoples of many countries of Europe the freedom which had been enjoyed by their forebears and which had been filched by aggressors. I am as much concerned at “ man’s inhumanity to mau “ as is the honorable member ; I believe, as he does, that men of all nations should act as brothers to each other. And that is done when we cross the road and lift up the weary traveller and put him on his feet again, not by crying because some wrong has been done and taking no action to rectify it. On the last occasion on which the honorable member for Batman spoke in this strain he said -
Mammon….. Our association with the
British Navy is entirely an evil one.
I deny that. I say that the safety of this country depends upon our association with the British Empire and the protection of the British Navy. The honorable member also said -
Wc have gone into Chinese waters; we have sent our battlecraft there as messengers of illwill….. they have been emissaries of illwill wherever they’ have gone…..
I could take him up to the little port of Fau on the Persian Gulf, the people of which thank God for the British Empire and the protection of the British Navy. Three hundred yeans ago the British Navy drove out the pirates that infested those waters and the Shiek of Koweit has hoisted the Union Jack because he knows that under it there is protection for his people. Yet the honorable member for Batman says “ Our. association with the British Navy is entirely an evil one “. He went further and said that the Navy in truth could no longer serve any useful purpose so far as Australia is concerned. I would say to the honorable member, to every member of this House and to every person in the country, that our very life depends on the protection of the British Navy. What a vast difference there was between the speech to which we have just listened and the speech recently delivered by the Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand. Mr. Savage said - “ This country can exist only while we are part and parcel of the British Empire.” T take off my hat to him and say “ Thank God there is a. man who has such blood flowing through his veins that he will not, in any political stress, depart from that great sentiment that keeps the British Empire together and recognizes the defence that the Empire demands and deserves.” The honorable member for Batman also said -
I know of no more inveterate fallacy than that which is constantly being reiterated ad nauseam, that we in Australia are dependent for our safety on the British Navy.
We should repeat these words in every electorate in Australia; we should let the people of Batman know what their representative in this House has said. I refuse to believe that the people in Batman would endorse a policy of that sort. Why, the world to-day is in the throes of war, and God knows that nobody here wants war, and that nobody here has been the cause of it. When I last spoke I said that the honorable member’s attitude reminded me of a family of boys of upwards of 21 years, one of whom said when a burglar entered the family home : “ I do not care if you rob father’s room, mother’s room or my sister’s room; you can have what you like if you do not touch my room.-“ The honorable gentleman says that we have adopted a “hit and run “ policy. His policy is a “ run and hide “ policy. If there were an attack on this country I have no doubtthat some of my friends opposite would be buried in the Jenolan Caves where the enemy could not get them. The honorable member for Batman also said : “ Our policy is the defence of our own territory.” I agree that the primary objective of our defence policy should be the protection of this country. I say further that the best protection this country could have, apart from being inside the British Empire, is protection outside its own shores. This country has never yet conscripted a man for service overseas. I pray that if this country be ever attacked the fight in its defence will take place outside its borders and not inside. To what can we look for that defence but to the British Navy and the Royal Air Force? The Minister for the Army (Mr. Street), who has just been relieved of a portion of his former duties as Minister for Defence, did a wonderfully good joh of work in the department over which he had control. It was a bigger job than could be reasonably asked of any man. I am hoping that with the redistribution of work his task may be done a little more efficiently, not because he was inefficient, but because with three Ministers perhaps more time can be devoted to the various services.. We all are able to criticize departments and find fault with their administration. I have done so myself. I have let the Minister for Defence know certain things which to my knowledge were happening because I thought he should know of them. I regard it as thejob of all of us to make our services efficient. The defence of Australia is a task that belongs not only to the military, naval and air forces, but also to every man in the country. In my opinion the scheme of universal training should include the boys and girls at schoolby giving to them physical training which would make them more fit to discharge the obligations of later life. I would force every man to defend this country, either here or overseas. I have never favoured conscription, but I have consistently advocated a system of universal training which would include both employers and employees.
– With no exemptions.
– Except for medical reasons. A man who offers his life for his country risks all that he possesses. My idea of universal training is that the man who possesses wealth has at least as great an obligation’ to serve his country as has any man in more humble circumstances.
– The Government which thehonorable member supports does not think so.
– I think that it does. The Government tells us that already in this war more money has been expended than in a similar period during the last war. I could reply to that by saying that in ‘the last war more money was expended in one day than in the whole of the Wars of the Roses. I disagree with the Government on some matters. Every person in the community should be allowed to criticize the Government so long as his criticism is constructive and not destructive. Why pull down an existing structure unless we can put something better in its place? I regret that the honorable member for Batman should advocate a policy of isolation. To a greater degree than during the last war,
Canada has declared in no uncertain terms its support of the United Kingdom.I remind the honorable member for Batman of what happened in Canada recently. A French-Canadian Premier advocated a policy of isolation; he was not in favour of Canadians beingcalled up to serve in the Empire forces. Although his Government had more than 60 supporters before the election, it had only about eleven supporters when the result of the election became known. The loyalty of the Australian people is undoubted; the humblest worker may be just as loyal a Britisher and as true to the ideals of the Empire as any one else. I go further, and say that many who are in receipt of the dole are loyal. There should be no need in this country for the accursed dole system. I advocate a comprehensive scheme of development as well as of defence for this country. When the last war ended, we were not prepared for peace; there were not sufficient jobs in civil life into which to fit the men on their return from active service. Even now, we ought to be evolving schemes for the absorption of the men when they return to Australia, should they be required to serve outside this country. It was my privilege and honour to represent Australia at the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1929. I have the happiest recollections of the great statesmen whom I met there. I never met a better Britisher than the black-faced leader of the Indian delegation. He told me that the people of India admired the Australians, but did not understand our White Australia policy which kept them out. We had many talks and later, he said that he agreed that Australia had just as much right to evolve a policy for its development as the people of India had to devise their own policy. He went on to say that India was gradually progressing and in time would become a self- governing dominion of the Empire. In all parts of the Empire, and among all sections of the community, as well as among members of all political parties, there is general unanimity as to theunity of the British Empire; it remains for the honorable member for Batman to advocate an isolationist policy. He spokeof the brutes who went into Scapa Flow, and with a few dirty torpedoes sank the mighty battleship Royal Oak, causing the death of 800 brave men. He deplored such happenings. We all deplore them., as we do the action of the hit-and-run motorist who passes on and leaves his victim lying on the road. We all abhor war; but is that any reason why we in Australia should sit down and say ’ Thank God, we live in an island continent; we are not at war with any one, and even if we are attacked we shall not fight. Come and take us if you like.” ? If we were to adopt that attitude, our fate might easily be that which has befallen Czechoslovakia, a country with a bigger population than Australia, and an army greater than Australia is ever likely to have. Indeed, Czechoslovakia had a bigger standing army, in proportion to its size, than any other country. Moreover, it had the second largest armament works in the world, and its workers enjoyed a considerable measure of freedom. Yet its people, who were prepared to fight to defend their privileges, were trampled upon by the monster of Hitlerism. , Mr. Ward. - Mr. Chamberlain agree ! to what happened.
– He did not. At the time of the Munich Conference the British Empire was in a weaker condition than ever before. The honorable member knows that that was largely due to the pacifist policy of such idealists as Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald. Their disarmament policy would have been all right if other nations could have been persuaded to adopt similar peaceful methods. Through its leaders the British Empire said that it would show an example to the world. It agreed to lay down its arms, sink some of its battleships, and dismantle some of its munition factories. Finding the British Empire weak Germany began to re-arm. The result was that in Germany an intense nationalism developed under Hitler. If that policy of peace at any price had been continued, Australia, as well as Great Britain, would before this have been under a despotism similar to that which now exists in Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland. Does our interest in humanity extend no further than the people of our own country? We should be able to set an example to the people of other countries. If our shores are threatened, we should be prepared to defend them here, or in New Zealand, or Canada, or elsewhere, as the occasion demands. Among the leading nations of the world there has for some, time been a belief in a policy of co-operation for the prevention of wars. Probably most honorable members have read a book by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) on that subject. The attacker was to be ostracized. The writer of that book said that it was possible to give effect to decisions of the League of Nations only if the League had sufficient power to enforce them. Australia will be less liable to attack if every healthy person in the community is trained to defend it.
– The book mentioned by the honorable member will become famous yet.
– What is written in it is correct. For the first time in my experience in this Parliament, the Government has prepared for the information of honorable members a statement which gives a bird’s eye view of the activities of the various government departments engaged in war activities. The statement shows that, in regard to our defence forces and the supply of munitions, we are in a better position than ever before. I hope that those forces will never be used for aggressive purposes, but only for the defence of this country, if at all. I believe that if our security should ever be threatened the best place to defend Australia will be outside, not inside, its borders.
.- The general public must have been greatly disappointed with the speech delivered yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), because they are entitled to know exactly what this war is about, and what we are supposed to be fighting for. According to my recollection of the speech yesterday, the Prime Ministerstated that, following the declaration of war by Great Britain, Australia, as a component of the British Empire, was automatically at war. The reason given for the declaration of war was that Britain and France were under some obligation to protect the boundaries of Poland. Actually. Poland, as a nation, has ceased to exist. Nevertheless, so we are told. Great Britain and France are determined to continue this conflict for the purpose of restoring Poland to its former position. I agree with the Leader of the Country party (Mr. Archie Cameron) in one respect only. In his speech this afternoon, he reminded the House that a portion of the territory of Poland is now under the control of Germany, against which we have declared war, and another portion is now controlled by the Soviet Government against which we have not made a declaration of war; so there is no force now in the argument made by various leaders, that we are fighting to restore the boundaries of Poland as they existed before the conflict began. I am firmly of the opinion that irrespective of how long this war lasts, the boundaries of Poland will not be restored to what they were prior to the commencement of hostilities. Therefore, the sensible thing to do is to adopt the suggestion of the -Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), namely, that instead of carrying on this stupid conflict which cannot bring benefit to the workers of any country, an effort should be made, at the earliest possible moment, to summon a conference of the major nations for the purpose of ending it.
Need I remind those honorable members who claim that we are fighting to defend democracy of what has happened in this country already, although, according to the Prime Minister, the war has not yet commenced? At the outset we were asked to co-operate with the Government in its conduct of the war. This Parliament, in the first days of the conflict, passed certain legislation, including the National Security Act, conferring on the Government wide powers with regard to censorship and other matters. We were given to understand that these powers would be exercised only for the purpose of preventing the publication of information that might be of value to the enemy. But what has happened? A few days ago reports appeared in the newspapers of an industrial conflict in Sydney, in which a number of Lascar seamen were involved. These men were being paid the paltry wage of 27s. a month. Honorable members should not forget that these seamen are British subjects, with all the rights and liberties which that status connotes ; yet, as I have stated, they were receiving the beggarly wage of 27s. a month. I understand that their wages were less until the vessel on which they were employed entered Australian waters. Because of the outbreak of war, all seamen now have to face greater dangers than those to which they were exposed in time of peace - dangers designated ordinarily as the act of God. Now they have to face the risk of attack by submarines or of being destroyed by mines, and because these Lascar seamen refused to continue working without additional pay, legal action was taken against them. Acting under the powers conferred upon it by this Parliament, the Government, through the responsible Minister, has instructed that no report shall be published concerning prosecutions which have been instituted against these men. Thus, it will be seen that early in the conflict, although the Government said that no action would be taken to interfere unnecessarily with the civil liberties of the people, the powers which it now possesses are being used against workers involved in an industrial dispute. This being so,, I suggest to the workers that if they want to defend democracy, they should first pay some attention to what is happening in this country.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) this afternoon declared that the Poles were now in a condition of serfdom. Were they in a better position before the commencement of this war? It may be true that they were nationals in control of a particular territory, but beyond that the people did not enjoy much freedom or liberty. What is the position of the people of India? We have been told on innumerable occasions that India is to be given the right of self-government. As a mater of fact, one of the conditions upon which the people of India gave aid to Britain and her Allies in the last war was the understanding that, at the earliest possible moment, the people of India would be given the right of self-government. Up to the present time, however, that undertaking has not been fully honoured. That is one of the reasons why the Indian Congress refused recently to give full co-operation to the British Government in its war efforts.
Let as examine further the statement of the Prime Minister with relation to our war aims. The right honorable gentleman said yesterday -
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.
Similar declarations were made during the last war, and we know how much they meant to the people of this country. I invite honorable members to read also a recent comment made by the AttorneyGeneral in an endeavour to secure some allies for Britain and France in this conflict, because I understand, from the speech of the Prime Minister, that Great Britain and France have been to some extent isolated in this conflict. A Sydney newspaper, reporting an interview with the Attorney-General, said this -
The Federal Attorney-General (Mr. W. M. Hughes) sees nothing objectionable in the prayer, contained in the second verse of the National Anthem that God should “Scatter our Enemies”. “After all, the only way to get peace is to beat Germany to her knees.”
That statement is in marked contrast to the declaration of the Prime Minister who told us that this Government had no desire to humiliate or destroy the German nation or interfere in any way with the livelihood of the German people.
Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Minister, in declaring the war aims of the British Government spoke in terms similar to those employed by our Prime Minister. He said -
We are fighting in defence of freedom ; we are fighting for peace. We are meeting a challenge to our own security and thatof others. We are fighting to maintain the rule of law and the quality ofmercy in dealings between man and man and in the great society of civilized states.
Since this conflict began, I have examined carefully the statements of the various leaders and have tried to ascertain what benefit is likely to be secured for the workers of any country, ‘and I have come to the conclusion that the workers in every part of the world, regardless of whether their nation be declared the victor or the vanquished, will be the losers. That was our experience in the last war. Government supporters will tell us that some of the things that happened in the last war are not likely to happen in connexion with this war.
This Government has commenced to finance this war along lines followed in the last war. The effect of that financial policy has been to increase the national debt of the Commonwealth to approximately £1,300,000,000. A very large proportion of that debt is due directly to our participation in the last war. There is now an enormous debt burden resting on the shoulders of the people. When this country was feeling the full force of the depression some years ago, the Government declared that the interest charge on the national debt was sacrosanct; that interest payments must be met on the due date, although the workers were expected to be satisfied with smaller incomes and a lower standard of living. If we start this war, as we do, with a national debt of £1,300,000,000, and if we spend at a rate fourtimes greater than the rate of spending during the last war, as it is said we are doing ; and if this war lasts as long as the last war, as some people say it will do, if not longer, how will the people be able to face a national debt at the end of the war of more than £5,000,000,000? What will the legislators of the country call upon the people to do in order that the bondholders may have their interest rake-off? Of course the living conditions of the people, low as they are now, will be forced to a still lower level. The people will be reduced to a condition of serfdom such as the Poles were in, even prior to the outbreak of the present war. It is all very well to view things from a distance or from the point of view of other countries, but let us look at them for a moment as they concern the peoples of the British Empire. Here is a report which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 27th July last -
In its first report, the Government Committee on Nutrition in the Colonial Empire says that in almost every part of the Colonial
Empire, the income of a very large proportion of the population is a long way below the minimum required for satisfactory nutrition. “ This must result, not only in the prevalence of specific-deficiency diseases, but in a great deal of ill-health, lowered resistance to other diseases, and general impairment of well-being and efficiency,” it says. “ The Governments should lead the way by providing a well-balanced diet for their labourers.
Plight of Natives. “’ The health of the Basutos is not what it used to be. Malnutrition can be seen at every village dispensary, school, and recruiting office. “In Bechuanaland the natives are living on the verge of vitamin deficiency, which shows itself in outbreaks of scurvy. “ At St. Helena, irregular pulses and subnormal temperatures are usual. Nursing mothers have very little milk and the infants’ diet is one of rice, water, and ten. “ At Sierra Leone, the natives are subject to many complaints caused by vitamin deficiency.”
The committee recommendsa large-scale propaganda campaign among the natives and special efforts to convince officials and large employers that it is of advantage to them to keep the natives well.
That isthe report of a committee set up by the British Government. It reveals clearly that millions of people living within the Empire are forced to submit to conditions of which no people could be proud. The Imperial Government should turn its attention to the well-being of people for whom it is definitely responsible.
The Prime Minister made a few remarks prior to the war which deserve some attention. He did not always hold the view that war was inevitable. I direct attention to the following report which appeared in the Sydney MorningHerald on the 1st July. 1939 : -
Thu Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, said yesterday that prestige wasa good thing if it meant honest pride, but a bad thing if it meant, vanity or self-love. “ Take some question of national prestige,” he said. “ and put in one scale, and take more than 1,000,000 human lives and years and years of human happiness in the other, and there is no doubtas to which scale must weigh down.”
Mr. Menzies was addressing800 members of women’s organizations at a reception by the Women’s U.A.P. Club. He was commenting on the view, bo said, some people held that, if the British Empire did not take action, its prestige would bc injured. “ Never before in the history of the world has there been such an upsurge of deep, passionate desire for peace,” declared the Prime Minister. “ It has been said that the only real foundation for permanent peace is complete understanding. That has been the foundation of Mr. Chamberlain’s policy, and that is the reason for its success. It has been criticised, but it is a good policy.”
The proof of the world’s desire for peace, he went on, was that any one of the many incidents that had happened in the past 12 months would 30 years ago, have led to war over-night. “War solves no problems; it creates them,” Mr. Menzies said.
The concluding statement of the right honorable gentleman is quite true. It is a fact that war creates problems and does not solve them. If those were the views of the right honorable gentleman at that time, why has he altered them ? If, then, he believed that war could not solve any problems, why is he to-day advocating war as the solution of certain problems?
In the light of the right honorable gentleman’s own published statements I feel that I am justified in demanding that every effort should be exercised to bring this stupidity of war to the speediest possible conclusion. The right honorable gentleman in the course of his statement yesterday said -
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.
Hearing such comments, one might imagine that the Australian people enjoyed social justice and were not subjected to misery, degradation and injustice, but an examination of the conditions of many people in this country will show the hollowness of any such claims. The reason why the Government has not been able to obtain the recruits it desired for the various arms of the defence services is clear. The workers of this country are asking themselves what they have to defend. They want to know what the war is about. They are asking whether their participation in it is likely to lead to any improvement of their conditions.
I direct attention now to a report which appeared in the Sydney Morning. Herald recently in relation to malnutrition. I cite the Sydney Morning Herald in preference to a Labour journal because Government members will not then dare to challenge its veracity. The report reads -
Examination op Children.
A special investigation of State school children in an industrial area during 1937-38 showed that the incidence of malnutrition was 1.8 per cent., which was slightly higher than the average of the total examinedby the school medical service in 1936, which was . 67 per cent.
A considerable proportion of the population in the area in which the investigation was made had been unemployed for a number of years.
The Minister for Education, Mr. Drummond, in his annual report, which was presented to Parliament yesterday, said that all the children were carefully weighed and examined, special attention being given to the state of their nutrition. The percentage of suspected cases of malnutrition was 3.4.
ChildrenofUnemployed. “ The children of unemployed, and other parents, whose economic circumstances were unfavorable for various reasons,” he added, “ showed a definitely higher incidence of notifiable cases of malnutrition, varying from 3 per cent. to 8 per cent. of the suspected cases of malnutrition, and up to 10 per cent. “ It was noted also that the groups with a lowered rate of consumption of milk had a higher incidence of malnutrition. “ This relationship, however, cannot be explained simply in terms of cause and effect, as one had to take into consideration the fact that the total food supply of these groups, apart from the milk supply, would bo less satisfactory than the employed groups in general.”
That report deals with the conditions of women and children in Australia, so we have no need to go to Poland or Czechoslovakia or any other country to experience the results of attacks made upon women and children. These statements relate to our own home land.
I shall now refer to a matter which would have been of interest to the Minister for the Navy (Sir Frederick Stewart) had he been present. Some years ago he interested himself in the provision of a home at a seaside resort in New South Wales for the benefit of women and children suffering from malnutrition. It was called Stewart House. The report reads as follows: -
Appeal to be Made.
Efforts are to be made to save Stewart House, which, for eight years, has been combating malnutrition among school children.
At the annual meeting of the home yesterday it was stated that the income last year was £2,148, and the expenses were £3,306, while, since the end’ of the year, the deficit had reached £300.
Since its inception, it was reported, 3,395 children had passed through Stewart House.
Sir Frederick Stewart said that when millions were being spent on arms, it was surely equally important to safeguard health.
Yet the Minister has not seen fit to raise one finger or make one effort to prevent an extension of malnutrition among the unfortunate women and children of New South Wales. Many of our people are in dire distress.
I direct attention now to a newspaper report of a case in which a man named Maher pleaded guilty to a charge of having stolen a quantity of groceries in ordeT to provide food for his starving family. Although an appeal for leniency was made, he was sentenced to sixmonths imprisonment. This report reads: -
Maher, who pleaded guilty to having broken into a store at Richmond and stolen a quantity of groceries, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, to date from January 6.
Maher said he had only stolen food for his two children and their mother, who was expecting another. He had been camped in a tent with the mother and the children about 18 miles from the nearest police station, and had tried to get work, but the bush fires and heat wave had ruined everything in the district. “1 could not see the children starving,”he said. “1 did not take the goods for personal gain. There was a lot of valuable stuff that I. could have stolen and sold afterwards.”
His Honor said there was little doubt that Maher had committed the robbery to obtain food.
This happened in Australia, and these are the men to whom the Government is appealing to take up arms and fight on foreign battlefields in the defence of thu lands of other people. As an inducement it is offering them5s. a day.
Let me now deal with the attitude of the Government to those unfortunate children of the unemployed whose parents are unable to provide for them. Here is a newspaper extract which tells something of their condition -
Work of City Mission at Schools.
More than 1,200 school children, many of whom would be classified as under-nourished by medical men, received hot soup yesterday in eight of Sydney’s industrial suburbs. The soup filled a serious gap in the diet of many. livery winter’s day these children receive a bowl of soup - rich meat and vegetable soup - through the enterprise of the Sydney City Mission. The soup is distributed from eight kitchens established in mission halls close to the schools in Alexandria, Balmain, Camperdown, Chippendale, Newtown, Paddington, Surry Hills, and Waterloo.
An inspection yesterday showed that the lunches which the children bring to school comprise little more than bread - sometimes bread and butter, but more often bread and dripping or bread and jam. Meat sandwiches are rare, and hot drinks are unobtainable. In the present cold weather the soup supplied free by the City Mission fulfils an urgent need.
The service is made possible by public contributions to the Mission’s Winter Belief Fund and the self-sacrificing energy of scores of voluntary workers.
I mentioned these matters because the honorable member for Parkes said members of the Opposition were not alone in feeling sympathy with the more unfortunate sections of the community. But what is the use of the fine speeches of Government supporters? When they leave the chamber they forget all about the unemployed, but the misery of those people goes on all the time. Now honorable members opposite are worrying about schemes for sending abroad what they term our “ surplus “ primary products. There is no surplus while our own children need food. The Government should be considering schemes to put an end to starvation among the men, women and children of this country. The farmers want to sell their butter. How better could they dispose of it than in feeding our own people? Yet the Government does nothing. Whenever we of the Opposition urge that something should be done to relieve suffering, we are told that there is no money, but when the war broke out the Government was able to find £60,000,000 in one year. Mr Casey gave the impression that there was no limit to the money that could be found for the war. He claimed to have a blank cheque for defence, but no money can be found for starving women and children. Is this the best the Government is able to offer the people ? Is this what the men who go abroad will have to return to? We can all remember the promises that were made to the men who served in the last war. Honorable members opposite will say, no doubt, that everything possible is being done, but let us consider for a moment the food relief scale in operation in New South Wales. On the 1st August last, this scale was increased, the allowance to single men being actually raised from 7s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. a week. That is for food, but no provision is made for rent. The unemployed man must find shelter where he can, and must also find clothes to wear. The so-called humane Government in New South Wales is of the same political complexion as the Commonwealth Government, but its humanity is equal only to increasing the scale from 7s. 6d. a week to 8s. 6d. There is a graduated scale which rises to 97s. a fortnight for a married man1 with eleven children. The increases in the case of such a family work out at a fraction of a penny a. day for each unit. How does the Government propose to improve the conditions of the people ? The Acting Minister for Supply (Sir Frederick Stewart), while he was still a private member, suggested that there should be set up in this country a Federal Food Council, similar to that in Great Britain, to make periodical investigations of the prices of foodstuffs, but since his elevation to cabinet rank he seems to have forgotten all about .the suggestion. For some time, the Government has interested itself in a. scheme to secure physical fitness in the manhood of the nation. The idea is, not to give them the food which is necessary to physical fitness, but to make them do physical jerks. The Government’s idea in this respect is not shared by members of the medical fraternity, as is shown by the following passage which appeared in the Sydney Sun on the 4th March last: -
Poverty is the greatest single cause of disease and death in the world to-day, says a doctor, in a study of the relation of health to property, in the Medical Journal of Australia to-day. “ We must show that any attempt to get physical fitness is a farce,” he says, “ unless everyone, especially every child is adequately fed. “ Australia is committed to a policy of rearmament. The Government must be told in a way it cannot ignore, that its most fundamental need is for fit men, and that it cannot have fit men until it can assure adequate food, decent shelter and work for all.”
Tlie honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said that 50 per cent, of enlistments to the 2nd Australian Imperial Force were from among the unemployed.
– No doubt that unit waa representative of the others. That is proof that unemployed men, in order to obtain food, shelter and clothing, had to join the army. It is a form of economic conscription. Indeed, many of the unemployed have openly stated that they joined, for those reasons, and evidently this view is shared by General Blarney, commanding the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, whose comments on the situation are reported as follows : -
Lieutenant-General Blainey, leader of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, is not put out by criticism that the uniforms issued to recruits are sloppy and ill-fitting.
With good food and exercise, he said, the men would fill out the cut of the uniforms.
This shows clearly that when they joined the Army the men were half-starved. The Government evidently recognized the fact that they were half starved, because, when it provided them with sloppy uniforms, it was mating provision for an improvement of their physique after they had entered camp.
The Commonwealth Government has decided to issue brochures on diet. The first pamphlet will be “Food, its composition and use “. Subsequent pamphlets will deal with “ Vitamins, and how to get them” - that will be interesting; I hope it will explain bow to get vitamins on 8s. 6d. a week - “ The value of fruit and vegetables “, and “ Milk and milk products “. About 100,000 copies of each pamphlet will be distributed. All the Government needs to do is to follow these pamphlets up with another pamphlet to tell the people how they will secure the means to purchase milk and milk products and fruit and vegetables. That also would be interesting.
Let us consider how the Prime Minister feels about the Poles. A fund was established in New South Wales for the relief of distressed Poles. The Labour party believes in assisting in the relief of distressed people wherever they be, if the country is able to do it, but it believes that it should be the first duty of the
Government to see that there is no want in our own land. Here is what the Prime Minister had to say when he made a touching appeal for the distressed Poles -
The Australian people have never shown a greater sense of unity than in pledging the full resources of their young nation in the fight .against the use of brutality and force to settle disputes between nations.
In the fight for such a just cause, as Australians unhappily are aware, the State of Poland has been dismembered, many of its people have been killed, many driven from their homes, and hundreds of thousands of Poles who face a bleak and uncertain future are in need of such everyday necessities as food and clothes. These people, through their representatives in Australia, say simply to a nation which has escaped such overwhelming disaster, “Help us!”
Have we escaped such overwhelming disaster? In view of what I have told honorable members of the condition of people in this country, they cannot possibly suggest that we have no hunger, want, degradation and misery in this country. When the Prime Minister is shedding tears for the people in other parts of the world - and I express my sorrow at their condition, in such circumstances - anybody would imagine that no one in this country had been rendered homeless. In the metropolitan district of Sydney alone in the year ended the 30th June last, approximately 3,500 evictions occurred. On the South Coast recently a man, his young wife and child were incinerated in a bag humpy. The child, being ill, the parents kept a fire alight in order to get warmth into the child’s body. The humpy caught fire. They were not living in a bag humpy because they wanted to do so. They were compelled to live there because the man had had no work for a long time and because the governments had done nothing to assist them. Is the Government going to suggest that these men of our own country, before their conditions are bettered, must go thousands of miles overseas onto a foreign battlefield? Why not improve their conditions at the moment? There might be excuse for the Government if there were no way in which to provide for the whole of our people, but in this country we have a surplus of everything that they need - materials to provide homes, workmen skilled enough to build homes, and an abundance of foodstuffs.
I desire to deal with some statements made by Ministers in respect of the attempts of the Government to finance this war. The Acting Treasurer (Mr. Spender) has been making a lot of statements publicly, a lot of them contradictory ; they vary according to the audience he is addressing. But, evidently, some of the newspapers have become alive to the fact that there is necessity for a change of the financial policy applied by this Government. Here is what the Sydney Sun said on the 9th November last -
Australia Can Find the Money.
A few thousands of pounds will be contributed for Christmas relief.
The trouble with our Federal Ministers is that they have a very limited vision of the possibilities of development which now face Australia, and naturally a very limited idea of the means by which that development may bo effected.
Deep in the minds of the Treasurers of Australia appears to have been engraved the fixed idea “ There is no money “.
A country’s strength is not in the number of bank notes it can issue, but in the men and women who are its citizens.
If we have a well-fed, and eager, and adventurous citizenry, the country will not go far wrong.
If, on the other hand, we have a poorly fed, dispirited citizenry, a citizenry of which a large proportion is out of work . . . then everything will go wrong.
It (the Commonwealth Bank) has never been asked, since the last war, to loosen up credit. Upon that occasion it did so with considerable effect on the adequate financing of the war. There was no evil inflation on that occasion, because credit was not released in excess of the legitimate needs of the governments and of the private enterprise of the Commonwealth. Until that point is reached and passed the use of the word is a plain misnomer. [ Leave to continue given.] In a further leading article the Sun goes on to say -
Bao Finance is as Bad as Wak.
We find the same sort of restriction of credit ;is that which was largely responsible for the great depression not so long past.
The tragedy of it is, that Australia has never been in a better position for expansion of her industries and her employment.
The dread word “ inflation “ appears to paralyse any intelligent action towards removing the economic restriction. lt may be taken, however, as a fact that inflation cannot be a danger until we overshoot our industrial development, that only after all arc productively employed and all our industries are prosperous, can real inflation begin.
I agree with that view. This Government has fallen down on its joh. It has neither provided for the adequate development of the industries of this country nor for its adequate defence.
I shall devote what is left of my time to the subject of profiteering. I shall do so because 1 made a statement at a public meeting in Sydney in respect of the interest that the Prime Minister himself has in this profiteering. I have also in mind the way in which the Prime Minister answered that charge in the daily press of Sydney. In his speech on Wednesday, he said -
It is anticipated that we will get as near as it is humanly possible to get to that desirable state in which we will get a pound’s worth of real defence for every twenty shillings of defence expenditure.
Nobody will take much heed of that because Commonwealth Ministers are actually the political representatives of the profiteers. Take what the Premier of New South Wales had to say on this subject -
The Premier, Mr. Mair, said in the Legislative Assembly yesterday that several instances of profiteering had been brought under the notice of the Prices Commissioner. They had been settled satisfactorily after direct negotiation with the parties.
Mr. Lang (A.L.P., Auburn). To whom have the settlements been satisfactory - to the profiteers or the general public?
Mi-. Mair said it might be inadvisable to make the details public. The matters dealt with so far had been settled in the interests >f the consumer. He believed that trade should not be harassed unnecessarily.
What he said in effect was that the details should not be made known to the public, because that would mean an exposure of the crooks in the community who were fleecing the public by skyrocketing the prices unnecessarily. The Minister for the Navy (.Sir Frederick Stewart) made a statement in regard to profiteering in war supplies -
A warning that no defence orders or contracts would be given to any firm which attempted to exploit the Government was issued last night by the Acting Minister for Supply and Development, Sir Frederick Stewart. “ In the short time that I have been administering this department,” Sir Frederick said, “ I have already discovered that, whereas some business enterprises have shown a commendable disposition to conserve the public finances available for the, prosecution of the war, others would .appear to be adopting a quite different attitude. ‘ 1 want to make it clear that, regardless of the State in which the firms are domiciled, no business will be allowed to go in directions where there is the slightest suspicion of exploitation”.
Set, when we questioned the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. John Lawson) he said -
There has been no case of undue exploitation of the public.
ask the Government what it is doing in regard to cheeking profits on watered capital: It is prepared to allow profits to be earned, not on subscribed capital alone, but on watered stock. Broken Hill Proprietary Company limited, not long ugo, issued bonus shares in the proportion of 64 new shares for every 100 shares held, and by this process it distributed £4,459,790. It increased the holdings of its shareholders without putting an additional £1 into its industry, and profits will now bc declared on the additional capital of over £4,000,000 made available to the shareholders by the issue of bonus shares. Recently, a contract was entered into with the British Government in respect of zinc and lead exports by Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited and Broken Hill ‘ Associated Smelters. It was stated in the press that the boards of both companies had indicated that the contracts had been made with the approval of the Commonwealth Government. Of course, because Sir Colin Fraser, the eli airman of the Electrolytic Zinc Company, is one of the industrial advisers of the Commonwealth Government. When the company requires to enter into an advantageous agreement, Sir Colin Fraser can secure the consent of the Commonwealth Government, because he is one of the persons who advises it. This is why these men act in an honorary capacity as advisers to the Government. It is not ‘because they want to give patriotic service to the community, but because their positions open up avenues for the advancement of personal interests. This company has wide ramifications and, no doubt. will increase its profits enormously as the- result of defence expenditure. The extent of the company’s interest is to be gauged by the fact that it has large shareholdings in Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited, Australian Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited, Australian Ferti lizers Limited, Amalgamated Metal Corporation Limited, Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited, Commonwealth Steel Company of Australia Limited, Gold Mines of Australia Limited, imperial Smelting Corporation Limited, Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, and many other companies.. By reason of its wide interests, this company can rake off enormous profits.
If there were any intention on the part of the Government to limit profits or to. prevent profiteering, one would imagine that this would have an adverse effect on the share market ; but, according to the market reports, there have been large increases in share values, particularly in the metal industries, indicating that these concerns are looking everywhere.’ to increased profits-. This proves conclusively that the Government is merely playing with the situation and doing nothing, to. prevent profiteering.
I stated at a public meeting in Sydney that, the Prime Minister was profiteering, as tlie result of the Government’s defence expenditure. I linked him up with the armaments ring in this country, and made the charge that a perusal of the latest returns indicated that the Prime Minister and his wife - and I dare say other members of the Government are involved - are actual shareholders in concerns which are reaping profits as the resul fc of Australia’s expenditure on defence, la answering this charge, the Prime Minisster said that he was. not a director of p.ny of the companies which I had mentioned - that he had resigned the directorships long before he entered the Ministry. I did not charge him at the public meeting with being a director.. I said that he was a shareholder, and he has not answered the charge.
– I think that the honorable, member will find that- he is not a. shareholder.
– It would be interesting to know what has become of the shareholdings by the Prime Minister, if he does not still retain them. It would be of interest to know in what quarter they have been disposed of. I am aware of the tricks- that oan be resorted to ih passing shares over to some distant relative to be held in trust. The latest returns show that in Equity Trustees, the Prime Minister has 300 shares. Equity Trustees are large shareholders in Howard Smith Limited, which is, in turn, one of the largest shareholders in Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. In National Reliance Investment Company the Prime Minister, according to my information, has 5,000 shares, and Mrs. Menzies 3,750 shares. National Reliance Investment Company is a large shareholder in Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand, which is in turn a large shareholder in Commonwealth Aircraft Proprietary Limited, which does not have to publish its balance-sheet. According to my information, the Prime Minister holds 1,333 shares in the Capel Court Investment Trust, and Mrs. Menzies 1,000 shares. This trust is a shareholder in imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand. If the Prime Minister or his wife still hold these shares, or have simply put someone else in as a dummy for them, they are themselves interested in this racket of profiteering which is rampant throughout the country to-day. Mr. Menzies entered upon his prime ministership as a protector of monopolies. His whole history, both as a member of the Parliament of Victoria and as a member of this Parliament, and as a member of the legal profession, can lead one to no other conclusion than thathis appointment to the position of Prime Minister was made possible by monopolistic interests in this country. Those are the interests which he is protecting, and the Labour party will not be satisfied with the puny efforts put forward by the Government to convince the workers of Australia that, in view of the sacrifices they are to he asked to make, there will be no profiteering.
I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. John Lawson), if there is to be no profiteering, why have not prosecutions been launched against the profiteers, who, according to the Premier of New SouthWales, are to be found in the community. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Frederick Stewart) also admitted that there were profiteers, but they have not been prosecuted. When the Minister for Trade and Customs was asked to make the files available to members of the State Parliament in New South Wales, who wanted to ascertain what action had been taken by the Commonwealth Government against profiteers, the reply given was that no information could be made . available because the Government was exercising its powers under the National Security Act!
Nobody in this Parliament has a greater abhorrence than I have of what has been termed Hitlerism. I abhor it because of what it has done against the interests of trade unions, and in the direction of destroying civil liberties ; but honorable members should not imagine fora moment that this Government is influenced by those considerations. Shortly after the last war, the workers in Germany had control temporarily. They had what might be termed a liberal government in that country, but the victorious Allies maintained their blockade for twelve months after the war, thereby starving women and children. After an internal upheaval brought about by this starvation due to the blockade, the government in Germany was overthrown, and the building up of Hitlerism was made possible by the policy of the British imperialists. Who re-armed Germany except the British imperialists themselves ? When any imperialists go to war, their object is not to uphold civil liberties, or the living standards of the people, but to protect their own interests.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Anthony) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Street) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the House the serious position which has arisen by censoring newspaper reports of an industrial dispute in Sydney. To-day I asked the Minister for Information (Sir Henry Gullett) whether it was a fact that information had been censored concerning the dispute which has arisen because certain Lascar seamen have absented themselves from their ship in Sydney as a protest against the wages they are receiving and the inhuman conditions of their employment. I wa3 amazed to learn that the censor in New South Wales, at the instigation of this Government, had directed the press not to publish any information concerning the dispute, which it was said had not arisen in consequence of wages or working conditions, but had been engineered by influences hostile to the successful prosecution of the war. I ask honorable members to view this subject in its proper perspective, and to realize that when these men signed the ship’s articles a state of war did not exist, but by the time they had reached Australia the risk associated with their employment had changed considerably, and that instead of being subject to such dangers as acts of God, which they have to expect, they have now to incur the risks of being torpedoed and of destruction by mines. These men were therefore justified in contending that their articles have terminated because conditions have changed, and that they should either be allowed to sign fresh articles, under which they would be granted higher wages to cover the additional risks, or be allowed to leave the ship. In these circumstances surely the Government does not suggest that their action was due to the work of foreign agents who are anxious to prevent the successful prosecution of the war. Is it contended that these men should incur undue risks for £1 7s. a month? Other instances have occurred recently on the Australian coast in which Lascar seamen have been involved, one of which was handled very effectively by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). I understand that the Lascar seamen on the motor vessel Elmbank were dissatisfied with their conditions and after negotiation were informed that if they were asked to go beyond the Indian Ocean they would have the right to be .put ashore at the nearest port and sent back to their own country, and that a new crew would be signed on. There have been similar cases at Townsville and at Brisbane in which white crews were involved. There have been successful settlements of such disputes by providing the men with additional pay and improved conditions to cover the extra risks. I should like to know whether the action taken by the Minister in this dispute is likely to be followed in other instances. At present there is industrial trouble on the coal-fields, but up to the present the Government has not been instrumental in suppressing information concerning that dispute. If the policy adopted in the Sydney dispute is likely to be followed in other similar instances, the Labour party will have to re-consider its attitude towards the Government. That party is strongly opposed to any attempt to infringe the civil liberties of the people, particularly at a time when men are being asked to enlist in order to fight for those liberties on foreign battlefields. What civil rights we possess we intend to defend. Will the Minister state whether the action taken in this instance was on his own initiative or after consultation with the Government, and if the policy adopted in this instance is indicative of that to be followed in all industrial disputes ?
– I support the opinions expressed by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and trust that a definite pronouncement will be made by the Government at an early date. It is dangerous to interfere in this way in marine or other industrial disputes, and, in view of the action taken in this instance, those expressing sympathy with the unfortunate men concerned may become involved. There is a keen sense of loyalty amongst all seamen, and these men are likely to receive substantial support in many directions. The coolie crews on overseas steamers have a strong organization and, although the coloured members of ships’ crews do not all belong to the same organization, they have means of conveying information from one ship’s crew to another. I believe that the Himalayan mountain coolies usually work as firemen, and that those who come from Calcutta and Bombay are generally employed as seamen, but they have more or less the same interests, and, generally speaking, Asiatic seamen have similar religious beliefs. I trust that the Government will have very careful inquiries made as to whether a Minister or an official is responsible for suppressing information in connexion with what may be a legitimate industrial dispute. I do not believe that any anti-
British influence is responsible, because other Asiatic crews have received additional pay and improved conditions to cover the risks involved in the war zone. Already some of the coloured, as well as the white, crews have been given increases of pay in order to compensate them for the extra risks which they are obliged to run at this period. Freight and insurance rates have been automatically increased, and the shipping companies have adjusted the wages of some of the crews. Evidently, however, they have not dealt with all of the crews in this manner, and this particular crew, having been informed of what has been done for crews on other ships, has asked for similar concessions. Sometimes the chief officer of a ship who handles the crew is not so good as another man in performing that work. Some of these officers frequently adopt the policy of the big stick. I know that 75 natives were brought out last week to take the places of men who are protesting. Consequently the dispute has developed into a contest between the men and the owners. I ask the Minister to take steps to prevent this dispute from developing into a serious industrial conflict. I am sure that no one, not even the men concerned, wants to see that happen. This trouble, therefore, should be nipped in the bud. If no legitimate reason exists for such action it is a drastic interference with the liberties of the people of Australia to try to deny them knowledge of something so important as an industrial dispute.
– in reply - I am not completely familiar with the details of the particular cases raised by the honorable members for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway). I undertake to bring their representations under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Information (Sir Henry Gullett).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
National Security Act - National Security (Prices) Regulations - Declarations Nos. 14-1 7.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment of R. S. Robinson, Department of Civil Aviation.
National Security Act - National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders Nos. 22-30.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1939 -
No. 3 - Police Offences.
No. 4 - Ordinance Interpretation.
No. 5 - Papuan Antiquities.
No.6 - Customs.
No. 7 - Sea-Carriage of Goods.
No. 9 - Customs Tariff.
No. 13 - Criminal Code Amendment.
War Service Homes Act - Report of the War
Service Homes Commission for year 1938-39, together with Statements and Balance-sheet.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
s asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– I have ascertained from the military authorities that there have been no instances of maggoty or affected meat having been cooked, nor has there been any dysentery in the camp. The camp sanitary conditions are reported by medical authority to be satisfactory. In all cases meat received in camp has been inspected by the prescribedRation Board. In one instance, approximately 820 lb. of meat was condemned by a medical officer, its condition undoubtedly being due to the heat. It was immediately replaced by the contractor.
n asked the Acting Minister for Air, upon notice -
When is it proposed to proceed with the construction of the radio and meteorological building and the septic tank sanitation at the Geraldton aerodrome mentioned in the letter of the 12th July from the Minister to the Town Clerk at Geraldton?
– The information is being obtained.
Movements of Public Servants between Canberra and Melbourne.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be made available at as early a date as possible.
n asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
i asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What protection, if any, by way ofcustoms duties is afforded to the products of the Commonwealth Boiling Mills, PortKembla?
– Imported iron and steel sheets similar to those produced by the CommonwealthRoiling Mills, Port Kembla, are provided for under tariff item 136 (d) under which the following rates of duty are operative: - British preferential tariff - 15 per cent. ad valorem, provided the duty shall not exceed £28s. a ton; intermediate tariff - 15 per cent. ad valorem, plus £3 10s. a ton; general tariff - 27½ per cent. ad valorem, plus £3 10s. a ton.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following information : -
d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister. upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows.
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be made available at as early a date as possible.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Australian Broadcasting Commission: Broadcasts by “ The Watchman.”
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Wheat Crop: Cost of Handling - Purchase by Great Britain.
y asked the Ministerrepresenting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
In connexion with the acquisition by the Commonwealth of this season’s wheat crop, what rate a bushel for handling and receiving is to be paid or allowed to agents appointed by the Australian Wheat Board?
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information : -
The rate of remuneration to be paid to agents of the Australian Wheat Board has not yet been determined.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information : -
k asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : -
t. - On the 15th November the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) asked whether, if the Government provided additional capital for the development of the shale oil enterprise at Glen Davis, larger quantities of petrol would be available at a much earlier date than is anticipated under the present programme.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that, at the request of the Government, National Oil Proprietary Limited, the company concerned, is now investigating the possibilities of rapidly increasing production at Glen Davis from 10,000,000 gallons of petrol per annum to 3.0,000,000 gallons of petrol per annum. This matter is bound up with such questions as quantities and accessibility of shale, availability of plant and capital requirements. Until these investigations are completed, it will not be known what further capital, if any, would be required by the company to increase its output.
War in Europe: Peace Negotiations.
– Yesterday thehonorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) asked me whether I had 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 the purpose of attempting to arrive at an early and honorable peace by the process of negotiation.
No invitation has been received by me or the Government to express an opinion bearing directly on the question of an international peace conference. The Commonwealth Government did, however, have the opportunity to expressits views on the form of the reply made by Mr. Chamberlain to the proposals for bringing the war to an end put forward by the German Chancellor in his speech to the Reichstag on the 6th October, proposals which, it will be remembered, in cluded as one of their points an international conference for the adjustment of European and other problems. This reply, which was agreed upon by all the dominion governments in consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom, made it clear that we could not enter on peace discussions on the basis implied in the German Chancellor’s proposals, namely, recognition of the German military occupation of Czechoslovakia and Polish territory. The reply also plainly stated that we could not treat with the present German Government until the latter were in a position to offer tangible guarantees that their future undertakings would be observed.
The Commonwealth Government was also consulted on the answer made by the King last week to the offer of mediation received from the sovereigns of Belgium and Holland. This answer was also quite definite on the point that the governments of the British Commonwealth felt bound to continue the war until the conditions laid down in the declaration by Mr. Chamberlain to which I have referred were fulfilled. The reply was as follows : -
The honorable member asked further whether, in the event of an invitation to an international peace conference being received in the future, the House would be given an opportunity to express its views before the Government made any reply. I can assure the honorable member that bis request will be borne in mind should such an invitation be received.
Mrs. Guy Smith.
s. - Yesterday the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), asked the following question, without notice -
In 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 desire to inform the honorable member that Mrs. Guy Smith is an employee of theMyer Emporium Limited, one of the firms which are performing services in connexion with the work of rehabilitation and replacements necessitated bywear and tear at GovernmentHouse, Canberra. Mrs. Guy Smith is associated with the Department of the Interior in the work mentioned above, and her activities have extended far beyond the arrangement of the furnishings supplied by the Myer Emporium Limited. Her services have been utilized in view of her special knowledge of interior decoration - a knowledge which is not possessed by any officer of the department. Her living expenses in Canberra are being paid by the Commonwealth Government. When the work is completed consideration will be given to the payment of an honorarium to Mrs. Guy Smith, whose services have been of great assistance to the department. The cost of the work is being made available in reply to another question asked by the honorable member for East Sydney. The workupon which Mrs. Guy Smith is engaged will terminate in a few weeks’ time.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 November 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1939/19391116_reps_15_162/>.