15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Sell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr.MAKIN. - It has come to my notice that the CommonwealthRailways Department is not making available for the conveyance of Bed Cross comforts opportunities equal to those provided by State railway systems. Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior look into this matter, and, if it he found that the facilities afforded by the Commonwealth railways are not equal to those afforded by the State railways, will he see that the matter is rectified?
– I shall place the views of the honorable member before the Minister for the Interior, and advise the honorable member of the reply when I receive it.
B Class Station s: Security of Tenure.
– ThePostmasterGeneral is reported to have stated that B class broadcasting stations can be assured of security of tenure as long as he holds his present office. As he may not always hold such a high office, can he state that he is at present considering the introduction of legislation to afford such security of tenure, and, if not, will ho give the matter his attention?
– I have not given any consideration to the introduction of the necessary legislation, but I shall examine the honorable member’s suggestion to see whether or not it is possible to take action along the lines suggested.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce Bupply the House with particulars of the salaries of the members of the wheat and wool committees?
– I shall duly place the request before the Minister for Commerce to see whether or not it can be met.
– A statement in the press indicates that certain food supplies that were being sent from Australia to Great Britain are held up at Mackay, Queensland, on a Norwegian vessel, as the result of Communist influence. Has the Attorney-General any information indicating whether or not food supplies to Great Britain are being held up as the result of Communist influence, and will he state what steps he proposes to take to ensure that the transport of food supplies from Australia is not interrupted?
– I have no official information about the matter to which the honorable gentleman refers, but I have seen in this morning’s press a paragraph in which Mr. Forgan Smith, Premier of Queensland, draws attention to it. I shall ascertain the facts so far as that is possible, and let the honorable gentleman have all the information I can obtain. The steps the Government proposes to take are fairly obvious. It is doing everything in its power to ensure the free flow of supplies of foodstuffs from Australia to Great Britain.
– Can the Acting Minister for Air give any information regarding the charter arrangements that havebeen made by the Government in respect of the Douglas aeroplanes at present in Canberra? Are these aeroplanes being chartered at full charter rates, and under what conditions are they operating?
– An interdepartmental committee is at present investigating the matter of the compensation which should be paid to the owners of aeroplanes acquired by the Government for defence purposes. The committee has not completed its consideration of the matter, but broadly speaking I may say that in respect of the chartering of the Douglas machines compensation will be paid on the basis of interest on the capital represented, at a rate of probably 6 per cent., and depreciation calculated According to the period for which they will be used. These machines are admittedly expensive to operate, but unfortunately no other machines completely suitable for the purposes required are at present available in the Commonwealth. The Government hopes that in a few weeks it will have a number of Lockheed Hudsons, and they will be used for the purposes for which the Douglases are now being used.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether the experimental stage has now been passed in respect of the establishment of wireless telephonic communication between Tasmania and the mainland ? If it has, can the honorable gentleman indicate when communication will be established, and whether it is contemplated that the proposed service will nrovide a connexion between Flinders Island, Tasmania and the mainland?
– The radio telephone service to Tasmania will not touch Flinders Island, but a service to meet the requirements of Flinders Island is under consideration. The Civil Aviation Department also has in contemplation a radio telephone service to handle civil aviation matters. The department proposes to discuss the amalgamation of both ofthese services, with a view to providing the necessary facilities to Flinders Island as well as to Tasmania direct.
– At the date of the declaration of war the nominal price of wheat in Western Australia was1s.4½d. a bushel, whilst in Melbourne it was 2s. 6½d. a bushel. At that time a number of contracts were heldby certain agents in Western Australia under which they had made advances against the wheat produced. The date of expiry of these contracts was the 15th October. Will the Acting Minister for Supply and Development state whether these agents were entitled to take possession of the wheat in respect of which advances had been made, at the price of1s.4½d. a bushel, and thus derive the advantage of the profit represented by the difference between that price and the price at which the Commonwealth is acquiring the wheat crop, or whether such profit will go to the producers of the wheat?
– I shall have investigations made to see whether it will be possible to comply with the honorable member’s request.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce whether that Minister was in a position to either authorize or reject the proposal to build wool stores at Wentworth Park, Sydney? If he had the power to either endorse or veto the proposal, did he satisfy himself personally that sufficient storage for the whole of the wool supplies was not already available in Sydney?
– In reply to a question of a similar nature yesterday, I undertook to obtain full particulars regarding the provision of these storehouses. I shall ask the Minister for Commerce to investigate the new aspect of the matter raised by the honorable member, in addition to those aspects raised yesterday.
– In view of the importance of the appointment of an Australian ambassador in Washington, can the Prime Minister say whether the delay in the making of the appointment may be taken as an indication that it is to be deferred, or whether it is to he made shortly?
– The appointment will be made at the earliest possible date. The matter has been engaging the attention of the Government for some time.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce whether the Government intends to take action to protect the interests of certain producers of fat lambs, who were very heavily underpaid by certain exporters, in the absence of information from the Government with respectto the values of the lambs before prices were actually published?
-I shall ask the Minister for Commerce to look into the matter, with a view to determining what action, if any, is necessary in that connexion.
– How does the Minister for Trade and Customs reconcile his statement that price-fixation machinery is working efficiently, with the decision of Mr. Mahoney, S.M., who in Sydney yesterday dismissed the information in the first case brought before the court, on the ground that it was impossible to determine-
– Order ! The question is not in order.
– On what grounds, Mr. Speaker ?
– In the first place, a Minister should not be asked whether he can reconcile a statement of his with a different statement of another person.
– I desire to know whether it is a fact that Mr. Mahoney, S.M., in Sydney yesterday dismissed the information in the first case brought before the court, on the ground that it was impossible to determine what was the prevailing price on the 31st August, and whether, in view of that decision, the Minister will alter the price-fixing machinery in order to overcome the difficulty?
– Pending the result of a similar case, which I understand will be before the court to-day, I prefer to defer the answering of the question.
Telephonic Communication with Townsville.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to advise when telephonic communication will be established between Magnetic Island and Townsville?
– I am not in a position to give the specific date of the completion of the service, hut shall obtain the information.
– Has the Prime
Minister noticed that a large local government conference in Sydney yesterday carried by a big majority a resolution in favour of the abolition of State parliaments, and asking the Commonwealth to hold a referendum on the matter at an early date? In view of the growing popularity of this movement, will the right honorable gentleman, before it gets out of hand, make a pronouncement regarding the promise given to this House on a number of occasions that a constitution session would be held in the near future ?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member refers. As he knows, the occurrence of the war, and the volume of urgent business which since has had to be transacted, have so far made it impossible to hold a debate in respect of constitutional reform. The matter is, however, being kept in mind.
– Has the Acting Minister for Air any information concerning the circumstances of an accident to one of the Douglas aircraft which have been taken over by the Government?
– I am not in a position to give any information on the subject referred to by the honorable member, but I shall have inquiries made.
EXPORT Of SKINS.
– Isthe Minister for Trade and Customs in a position to make a statement relating to an embargo on the export of skins, in order to safeguard the fellmongering industry of Australia?
– I shall have a statement prepared, as suggested by the honorable member, and inform the House next week.
Publication of Journal
– Were any attempts made during the recent recess to prevent the Australian Broadcasting Commission from issuing a weekly journal ? Can the Minister give an assurance that any attempt in that direction will be resisted, and can he say what date has been fixed for the first issue of the proposed journal ?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is “ No.” As to the subsequent parts, the answer is that the publication of the journal will be proceeded with. It is hoped that the first issue will be made on the 29th November.
– Has the Government yet considered the report respecting waterside workers’ conditions in the various ports of Australia, and if so, can the Attorney-General say whether it is the intention of the Government to suspend the Transport Workers Act, as recommended in that report?
– This matter has been engaging the attention of the Government for some time, but no decision has been arrived at. As the honorable gentleman knows, there have been many deputations and representations on this subject. I assure him that the matter has not been lost sight of. If all goes well, I hope to be able to make a pronouncement on the subject later.
Storage at Hobart.
– I understand that large quantities of munitions are to be stored at Hobart, and that provision has been made for the building of a store at Droughty Point. “Will the Minister take immediate steps to have the building made available for .the storage of such munitions ?
– 1 have no personal knowledge of the proposal referred to, but I shall have inquiries made, and communicate the result to the honorable member.
Engagement or UNSKILLED LABOUR
– Can the Acting Treasurer say what arrangements have been made with regard to the engagement of unskilled labour pending the full operation of the Government’s defence programme? Will such labour be engaged through the Commonwealth Works Departments in the various capital cities ; will it be drawn from the State Labour Bureaux, or are some special arrangements to be provided so that this work will be spread over the largest number of men possible?
– The final allocation of the amounts to be distributed has not yet been decided, but I can say that the Commonwealth Government desires to work through the instrumentalities of the States, as far as possible. The matter is now under consideration, and I expect that a statement will he made later to-day.
– I address a question to you, Mr. Speaker. Has it been decided to establish on a permanent basis, or for the duration of the war, the practice of issuing tickets of admittance to persons desiring to enter Parliament
House ? In view of the changed circumstances, would you consider the advisability of discontinuing this practice on the ground that it is irritating to people who desire to visit the national Parliament, and also because it causes a certain amount of trouble to honorable members? By way of explanation, I mention that a few days ago some friends of mine - quite harmless people - came to Parliament House, and I was put to considerable trouble in obtaining tickets to admit them. Moreover, when they desired to re-enter the building the same evening, I was again considerably inconvenienced in getting tickets for them. Would you be good enough to explain why these restrictions are being imposed upon a democratic community?
– Restrictions on strangers entering Parliament House were imposed during the previous period of this Parliament by the President of the Senate and myself. Any person wishing to enter the building must be recommended by either a member of Parliament or some other well-known person. It is intended that that practice shall continue. It was followed during the last war, and I understand that it has been adopted in every State Parliament. As regards the inconvenience which the honorable gentleman experienced through having to get tickets a second time on the same day for his friends, I shall have inquiries made. I do not think that the procedure followed was necessary.
– Will you, Mr. Speaker, consider continuing the practice, which was followed before the new rules came into operation, of allowing visitors to Canberra to enter Parliament House at week-ends? As you know, many people visit Canberra from the several States, but under the existing conditions they are prevented from seeing the inside of this building at all. At week-ends there are no members of Parliament here to provide them with tickets.
– It will be realized that the granting of the concession asked for would necessitate” the presence of a large number of attendants. At times, hundreds of people have inspected Parliament House in one day, and if we were to take the precautions that are deemed necessary, a greatly increased number of attendants would be required to show such persons through King’s Hall and around the building generally. I think that there must be some restrictions. I shall, however, discuss the matter again with the President of the Senate and see what can be done.
– Will you, Mr. Speaker, confer with the President of the Senate with a view to enabling persons who wish to see their parliamentary representative to do so without running the risk of being turned away? Recently some of my constituents from Wollongong who desired to see me were told by the attendant that he had looked in the party room and I was not there. My constituents were turned away, and I was not told that they were here. In such circumstances, the attendants should make a thorough search in order to ascertain whether or not themember inquired for is in the building. I was in the building at the time to which I have referred.
– I shall inquire into the member’s complaint, hut it appears to me that persons desiring to see members should be able to communicate with them. If such a communication were entrusted to an attendant it should have been attended to.
– In the event of a bomb destroying this building, has the Government any plans for rebuilding it, or for the transfer of the capital completely to Melbourne?
– That would depend on whether or not the members of the Government happened to he in the House at the time of the explosion.
– Will the Minister for
Trade and Customs consider allowing wire of Nos. G, 10, and 20 gauge to be imported into Australia, in view of the fact that Lysaght’s Limited and other manufacturers are unable to supply such wire to small business people? These manufacturers claim that practically the whole of their output is required by the Commonwealth Government. Will the Minister make arrangements which will enable small contractors to conduct their busi ness in the usual way? At present these persons are losing contracts because of their iinability to obtain supplies.
– I shall investigate the proposal made by the member, and advise him at an ear y date.
– Has the Minister for.
Information yet considered the request which I made yesterday to be allowed to peruse the evidence, information, and papers in the possession of the Government concerning the strike of Lascar seamen in Sydney ? If so, would he indicate the nature of the decision?
– The honorable member’s request is still under consideration. I doubt whether papers of the character indicated should be made available to this House.
– I ask the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister for DefenceCoordination, whether he does not think that it would tend to stimu ate patriotic effort if the defence expenditure of the Commonwealth were more generally spread over the whole of Australia, instead of being concentrated largely in Victoria; and whether he does not think that some of the expenditure should he allocated to devastated areas where unemployment has prevailed for a great number of years, particularly those areas which the right honorable gentleman visited recently and concerning which he indicated that he would attempt to do something to relieve the prevailing distress?
– I shall discuss the honorable member’s suggestion with my colleagues.
– As tenders were received some time ago for the building of four sloops in Australia, can the Minister for the Army say whether any decision has yet been arrived at, and, if so, where the vessels will be built?
– I have not yet seen thu tenders which have been submitted by various ship-building firms, and consequently I am unable to say where the ships will he built. I understand that the decision in this connexion will depend largely on the prices submitted by the various tenderers. As soon as I have any information on the subject, I shall communicate it to the honorable gentleman.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether the report of the AuditorGeneral on the accounts for the last financial year is yet available? If not, will he make inquiries as to the possibility of its being available before the discussion of the Estimates this session?
– I regret that I do not know whether the report is yet available, but I shall make inquiries and let the honorable member know.
– Is the Acting Minister for Supply and Development aware that the- Government owns a factory at Cannon Hill, a suburb of Brisbane, which at present is empty but which could very well be utilized by the Government during the war?
-I have no personal knowledge of that particular property, hut if the honorable gentleman will give me details of it, I shall see whether those premises can be utilized.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether the Government intends to provide railway passes for soldiers on leave? If so, when will such arrangements he made?
– That matter is now under consideration by the Government in consultation with the various State governments.
-Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet considered the request I made yesterday to make available to honorable members who ask for them, all of the papers and information in possession of the department concerning any investigation made under the Price Fixing Regulations ?
– That matter is still receiving consideration by my department and myself.
Australia’s Wak Policy - Ministerial Changes - War Cabinet - Economic Cabinet - Director of Economic Co-ordination - War ExpenditureCompulsory Military Training fob Home Defence - Empire Air Training Scheme - Flying Boat Squadron for Service in War Zone.
Debate resumed from the 16th November (vide page 1228), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the paper be printed.
– After listening to the speeches of certain honorable members opposite in this debate, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), one may well be pardoned for wondering just exactly what the policy of the Opposition will be in regard to the war activities of Australia. If the debate had ended with the speech of the Leader of the Opposition we could have felt more assured of the attitude of the Labour party towards Australia’s Avar aims. The honorable gentleman enunciated certain aims to which all of us subscribe. He expressed the determination of the Labour party and himself to do everything to assist Australia and the Empire in bringing the war to a successful conclusion. He said that hew as firmly behind everything that was being done, or which might be done, provided such action would tend ultimately to our success. To such a view we must give full approval. The honorable gentleman went on to discuss methodsby which peace should be brought about and again elaborated on the possibilities of peace by negotiation, claiming that peace by negotiation was not synonymous with a policy of defeatism. At this juncture of the war I have some difficulty in separating talk of peace bv negotiation from a psychology of defeatism. I remind honorable members opposite that, prior to the outbreak of this war. the British peoples and their allies exploited every opportunity to prevent war. They exploited every opportunity to maintain peace by negotiation. Surely no member of the Opposition will deny that Mr, Chamberlain went to extremes in making concessions in an endeavour to prevent war. .Last night honorable members opposite declared that the British Government should have fought at Munich. How does that square with the contention they now advance that we should negotiate immediately for peace?
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is constantly declaring that the British Government sold out at Munich, and last night the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) hurled similar innuendoes across the table.
– That is not true.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Sell).Order ! The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) is out of order.
– Apparently in the view of honorable members opposite the British Government was wrong when it attempted to maintain peace by negotiation - it ought to have gone to war; but when it is now at war, and when the enemy, as was to be expected, has had initial successes, they say, as was suggested by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), that now the burglar is in possession of his loot, nothing more can be done about the matter and we should come to terms with him. That has not been the policy of the Labour party over a long period in its own struggles. When the Labour party has been defeated,” almost hopelessly, at the polls, it has not accepted such defeat as final, and it has not come to terms with its victors. On the contrary it has raised its standard still higher and perseveringly set to work afresh to win success. That is the principle adopted by the Labour party in its internal affairs, but if we are to take notice of the honorable members for Batman and East Sydney, when it comes to international affairs, it says that we must now haul down our colours and sue for peace by negotiation. La3t night the honorable member for Batman belittled the efforts of those engaged in munitions manufac ture. He also belittled the possibilities of generals being shot in the war, and suggested that those behind the scenes of hostilities had no interest in the conservation of the lives of men in the line. I remind the honorable member that most of the men who are generals in this war served their apprenticeship in the last war when they were subject to all of the risks and privations inevitably encountered by privates and officers in the sphere of hostilities. Indeed, the present Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, Viscount Gort, has won the Victoria Cross, and a soldier cannot win that highest of military honours twenty miles behind the firing line. Consequently, I suggest, the honorable member’s sneers at the expense of generals and those engaged in munitions factories will have little effect. As a matter of fact an examination of the personnel of directorates of most of the big companies which are now helping to supply Australia with war material will show that the majority of them served in the last war. Indeed, returned soldiers constitute a substantial proportion of those engaged in .public affaire to-day.
It has become evident to every one who has given some thought to the matter that this war will be of long duration if we are to be successful. Likewise, it must be evident that a war which can only be shortened by negotiating a peace that leaves the enemy in possession of his gains will leave Europe and the world still open to the menace of armed might as against the maintenance of peace by the honorable fulfilment of treaty obligations. The Leader of the Opposition has flatly contradicted the honorable member for Batman. The latter wanted to know why any Australian should be put into uniform. He declared that Australia was not menaced.
– He did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable member said that this country is not menaced, and will not be menaced unless we provoke other nations to take some notice of us.
The honorable member for East Sydney interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is out of order.
– Later, I shall have a few things to say about the honorable member for East Sydney.
-And I shall tell some things about you which you will not like.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney must cease interjecting. I warn the honorable member.
– Thehonorable member for Batman said, in effect, that if. we keep putof this war other nations will not take any notice of us ; that we are more or less insignificant down here, and that we will be left in peace. Does that square with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition, in which he admitted - as I think most of usdo - that this continent constitutes one of the greatest trophies for the warlike “have not” nations? Is it conceivable that a continent of Australia’s wealth and area should remain unnoticed on the map of the world? The honorable member for East Sydney opened his speech by inquiring what the war was all about. I do not propose to answer that query for the honorable member, because if he has not discovered the answer to it by this time he never will. He said that Poland had now ceasedto exist ; that if we were fighting over Poland, the issue had been determined by the intrusion of Russia on the other side, and that we could never restore the frontiers of Poland. I remindthe honorable member that very few of us hold the view that the only objective of this war is , to restore the frontiers pi Poland, Czechoslovakia or Austria. On the contrary, we are waging it in order to ensure lasting peace in the world, respect for treaty obligations, and in order to safeguard the rights of individuals throughout the world. The honorable member for East Sydney declared that he abhorred Hitlerism, because Hitlerism had destroyed the civil rights of the individual. , He is firmly opposed to Hitlerism, but when it comes to war to destroy Hitlerism, he introduces all sorts of “ifs “and “buts” and numerous side issues which can only have the effect of reducing the efficiency of our efforts in this war.
– I abhor “ Menzies-ism ‘ too.
– I can see that I have here a circular, and I findthat the speech delivered by the honorable member last night is somewhat identicalwith this circular, whichattacks the Prime Minister’ and urges all and sundry to send certain offensive missives to, the right honorable gentleman. I presume that the honorable member for East Sydney may know somethingabout it, from the tenorof his speechlast night.
– When I have anything to say,I say. it straight out.
– The honorable member for East Sydney must cease interjecting. He made his speech last night, and he must now give other honorable membersthe opportunity to make their speeches’ without interjecting.
Mr.ANTHONY. - The honorable member for East Sydney made a long speech last night, the greater part of which consisted of the reading of newspaper articles collected oyer quite a long time. The general substance of most of those articles’ seemed to me tobe of such a form as to side-track the issue ofthe war, andtotrytodivertthedebateto other subjectswhich, meritorious as they might have been, undoubtedly indicated a desire to get away from the war. Apparently, ifthe honorable member for East Sydney hashisway, Australia would makenowareffortatall,but would divert all its energiesinother directions. The honorable memberreferred to the plight ofthe unemployed and also of other persons in needy circumstances. We all sympathize with these unfortunate people, but I remind the honorable member that we have endeavoured to solve the problems to which he has referred by democratic means. If they have not been solved, it is because we have not yet been able to find a solution consistent with the rights and liberties of the individual. The problems of unemployment have been solved in Germany, for there is no unemployment in that country. But how were they solved ? They were solved by the Government putting all of the unemployed inlabour camps. The unemployedwere conscripted and put to workunder conditions that would not be tolerated in this country, and will never be tolerated here if we can help it. Germany certainly solved the problems of unemployment, and we could solve them here by similar means if we desired to do so. We wish, however, to solve these problems in a way that is consistent with the rights and liberties of individuals. If a solution has not been found - and I agree that it has not - it is because the great difficulties which have to be surmounted have, so far, been found incapable of solution not only by the Government and the Opposition in this Parliament, but also by Labour Governments and Labour Oppositions in the various State Parliaments.
– What are the unsurmountable difficulties?
– If the honorable member for East Sydney offends again this morning by interjecting I shall name him.
– He was only asking a question.
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) is now out of order. He also is defying the Chair, and straining its patience.
– I only asked a question.
– I name the honorable member for East Sydney.
– May I ask, Mr. Speaker-
– I suggest that in this case the Minister should send for the Prime Minister. There are very few Ministers here.
– The honorable member for East Sydney was only asking a question.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) having entered the chamber,
– Perhaps, Mr. Speaker-
– As the Prime Minister was not in the chamber when T named the honorable member for East Sydney, I may, perhaps, explain that he was named for- persistent interjections, after having been warned by the Chair that he would be named if he interjected again.
– May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for East Sydney be given an opportunity to withdraw and apologize?
– Your statement, Mr. Speaker, was not quite the whole truth.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is distinctly out of order
– All that I said was that your statement, Mr. Speaker, was not quite the whole truth.
– The honorable member is distinctly out of order and is offensive to the Chair. I am willing to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde).
– Is it not usual, Mr. Speaker, to give an honorable member an opportunity to withdraw any remark that he has made if it is offensive ?
– The honorable member was not named for making an offensive remark. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was not in the chamber at the time the honorable member was named, and so obviously cannot know the circumstances. I had warned the honorable member several times that if he interjected again I would name him.
– Would not the Prime Minister give tks honorable member for East Sydney the opportunity to express his regret?
– I am afraid that that is not now a matter Ssr me.
– T&is trouble ha* arisen several times. W Neither the Leader of the Opposition (Mx. Curtin) nor the Deputy Leader wes m the chamber at the time the trouble occured. I question whether, if they know all the circumstances, they would have made the request that lias been suede. If any honorable member voluntarily asks if he may apologise te the Chair and express regret, the Chair is always ready to hear him.
– The Chair did not give me a chaise of 4kat kind, last time I was named.
– This is unreasonable.
– As I have been accused of disorderly conduct, I should like an opportunity to explain myself.
– The honorable member may do so.
– I desired to point out, when I made roy interjection, that the honorable member for East Sydney, at the time he was named, was merely asking a question. That was the stage at which you, Mr. Speaker, thoughtfit to name him.
– I think the House will realize, as will the honorable member for Batman himself, who is not without experience, that the honorable member for East Sydney had been persistently interjecting. He had been warned that if he did so again, he would be named. In the circumstances, the fact that the honorable member for East Sydney asked a question by way of interjection was clearly a defiance of the Chair.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -
That the honorable member for East Sydney be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr.Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 9
Mr.Frost. - There is no justice in this at all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for East Sydney withdrew from the chamber.
I shall divert my attention to a statement by the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that in this war, the disposition of neutrals is still uncertain. That must be conceded. We may discern, in this morning’s press, a somewhat menacing tone in comments made in Italy. Italy may possibly remain neutral in the war, but the Italian press, according to this morning’s cables, has again adopted a somewhat anti-British attitude. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, the same thing applies to other neutral countries in the east and the west. They may be only waiting until the allied forces are more fully engaged before they themselves enter the war. Although the Leader of the Opposi- tion evidently recognizes the danger, he proceeded to make the extraordinary statement that he could see no justification for the introduction of compulsory military training. How he can square the first part of his speech with the last part is beyond my comprehension. If, as the honorable gentleman foresees, the country is likely to be attacked, and we are likely to need all our man-power for its defence, it surely follows that steps should be taken to train that man-.power effectively. If the system of voluntary enlistment will not provide us with all the trainees necessary - and it is obvious that a force of 70,000 militiamen is not enough for the defence of 3,000,000 square miles of territory with a coast line of 12,000 miles - then it is obvious that every man capable of bearing arms should be trained in the use of arms.
Reference has been made in the press and in this House to the treatment of Canberra by the Government in this emergency. The great majority of the 2>eople of Australia believe, now that large sums of money have been expended on Canberra, that the administration of the country should be carried on from here, and not from any of the State capitals. H the war is to continue for years, as seems probable, arrangements should be made for carrying on the government from Canberra, which is the proper centre. In conclusion, let me repeat that if the Prime Minister were to encourage the people to co-operate by offering their personal services, more would be accomplished at this time than by relying merely upon taxation.
.Immediately Parliament resumed its sittings, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and certain other Ministers placed before the House a lengthy statement setting forth the work that had been done by the Government in this time of emergency, and what it proposed to do in the future. It is vital, not only to Australia, but also to the Empire, that the Government should not hp carried away with the purely defence side at this time, and that it should pay greater attention to the needs of the exporting primary industries because if the people engaged in those industries are not adequately financed, no defence programme can be carried out in Australia. Our whole defence effort must be financed from the proceeds of the sale of our primary products overseas. No further overseas loans, and even no internal loans, could be raised if the marketing of our primary products were interrupted, and unemployment would rapidly increase. I desire particularly to refer to the position in regard to wool.
– I do not wish to restrict the debate unduly, but I think it might be better if reference to the marketing of primary products, for instance, were withheld until the papers dealing with those subjects are before the Chair.
– I appreciate the point you have taken, Mr. Speaker. My difficulty is to separate the specific discussions which may take place on the various proposals submitted from the general defence position as I see it. However, I accept your ruling on the point.
– I shall not unduly restrict the honorable member.
– I was under the impression that the whole of these matters could be discussed in this debate. I was proceeding to say that, unless the primary industries, which are responsible for the great bulk of our export trade, are carefully shepherded, it may be impossible for the Government to maintain the defence programme outlined in the Prime Minister’s original statement to this House. I take it that that is the statement directly under discussion at present. That is why I referred to the position of our primary industries, upon which we must rely to make a very valuable contribution to our share of the prosecution of the war as part of the whole Empire effort.
It has been explained to the House that during recent weeks the Defence Department has been completely reorganized and subdivided into various sections. Although formerly one Minister controlled the whole of the Defence Department, to-day we have four Ministers controlling the various arms of our defence activities supplemented by the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey) and the Minister for Information (Sir Henry Gullett) plus Assistant Ministers. I venture to say ‘that, whilst there was definite justification for the separation of certain sections of the Defence Department, such as civil aviation and munitions supply, from the true Defence Department, I believe the Government has overdone this question of subdivision. There is no justification for the setting up of a separate ministry for each section of the Defence Department. Instead of bringing about coordination this new departure will, in my opinion, have the very opposite effect. In the first place, it will overload the Prime Minister, who, as Minister for Defence Co-ordination, will have to take a large share of responsibility for defence matters. It is not customary for the Prime Minister to administer any other than his own department, because of the great responsibilities attaching to his office. Therefore, I believe that his added responsibilities as Minister for Defence Coordination will impose an undue strain on him. I say in all sincerity, and after giving the matter very careful examination, that the Government has overdone this question of subdivision, and that, in all probability, instead of the new allotment of duties resulting in expediting the work of the department, it will bring about serious delay and confusion. That was the advice I received when I was in control of the Defence Department. I was informed that it was almost impossible to separate responsibility for the Navy from responsibility for the Army and the Air Force, for the simple reason that only by unified control could there be complete co-ordination of our defence forces. I remember when I was the Minister for Defence how seriously I was criticized when I dared to employ even one additional typist in my office at a time when the expenditure of the department rose from the normal amount of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 to £15,000,000 or £16,000,000 annually. At present the Defence Department is being administered by six Ministers, each with his own personal staff, and nearly every section has a separate publicity officer and a huge staff organization controlled by a separate departmental head involving an expenditure running into tens of thousands of pounds per annum. This is the same department as I controlled with one administrative head. Although I am not suggesting that the department should be administered by one permanent head, I do feel that the Government has overdone its policy of subdivision. I know perfectly well that there is hot a large number of trained men capable of giving the same considered opinions as to the requirements of each of those sections of the Defence Department as we had when the department was more co-ordinated than it is now. .
One other matter to which I wish to refer is the attitude of the Government towards this national city. In October, 1938, after very careful examination of the position, it was definitely agreed, as was stated by me on the floor of this House, that one of the most serious disabilities confronting the Defence Department was the fact that Parliament and the Cabinet were located in Canberra whilst the central administration of the various sections of the Defence Department was located in Melbourne. It was then proposed that in order to ensure greater co-ordination the central administration of the Defence Department should be located at Canberra. Now a change of government has taken place; war has broken out; and we find that, instead of the Government doing what was actually planned, provided for and arranged in October, 1938, and transferring the central administration of the Defence Department to Canberra where it would be in close contact with the Government and with Ministers directly and indirectly associated with defence activities, exactly the reverse has been done. The Government has transferred to Melbourne essential officers and sections of public departments and has practically created a defence government in Melbourne. With a considerable amount of information at my disposal I say that this was not only a serious mistake but also absolutely unjustified. The Commonwealth Parliament is sitting in Canberra to-day; all the responsible Ministers of State are here; and what do we find ? Certain key officers and senior officers of certain arms of the defence services are being brought to Canberra to advise Ministers with the result that the central administration in Melbourne is deprived of their services. We still have the same separation of central defence administration as we had before when Parliament sat here and the central defence administration was in Melbourne.. When it ‘ was proposed to transfer the central defence administration to Canberra the heads of each section of the department accompanied me to Canberra. A site was selected for the administrative building, sketch plans were drawn, and provision was made for the erection of cottages to house the members of the staff and their families. It was estimated that all these arrangements could have been completed by last July at a cost of £250,000 for the administrative ‘block - a negligible sum compared with the total defence expenditure now being incurred. The Government has made a very serious blunder in transferring anything from Canberra to Melbourne. It is not too late even now for the Government to make arrangements for the transfer to Canberra of the Department of Defence, the Department of Supply and Development, and the Department of Civil Aviation. It is not as though an enemy were already attacking this country. There is no reason why these departments should not he established here within four or five months. The Government would bo quite justified in taking that step even now, because it would result in the co-ordination of our defence activities, which is so sadly lacking at present. No better illustration of this lack of co-ordination could be afforded than is disclosed by the present position in which key officers are brought, from Melbourne to Canberra i:i order to advise Ministers. No other country in the world would permit these conditions to continue. During the crisis in September last year, when war was expected within 24 hours, this unsatisfactory state of affairs gave rise to great concern, and all that it was possible for me to do was to install teleprinters in my office and in the office of the central administration in Melbourne, in order to give me more secret and ready control over defence administration. At that time every senior officer in the defence organization agreed that the separation of the central defence administration from the central Government constituted one of the most serious difficulties which confronted us. It is not yet too late to rectify the position.
The Government might well consider the advisability of taking over for defence purposes the new Patent Office building in Canberra, which could be completed in a few weeks. I know the dimensions of the building and the dimensions of the accommodation required for defence purposes. The expenditure of a small amount of money would be sufficient to compensate the contractor for the speedy completion of the building. If necessary, with the aid of electric flood lighting, the men engaged in the finishing trades on the building could be worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Temporary accommodation could be provided for the families of the staff. To overcome any difficulty associated with accommodation the staff could be housed under canvas, as many of them were during the crisis last year.
Another matter to which I have referred in this House and to which I gave consideration when I was associated with the Defence Department, is that the commandeering of merchant ships to mee naval requirements in time of war, unless the matter is handled very carefully, may result in undue disorganization of the trade requirements of this country. 1 know that the Admiralty has made certain demands on Australian shipping; but the Government would be well advised to check very carefully demands made for certain ships because, if we are not careful, we may find that our naval strength is being augmented at the expense of our mercantile marine, and we may suffer a great loss and great disabilities by the disorganization of our seaborne trade. Certain classes of ships can he utilized successfully for minor naval duties on our coastline, but we should see that our fast merchant ships are retained for the transference of our commerce overseas. As I said in my opening remarks it is impossible to separate the requirements of our primary exporting industries from those of defence ; and we must not overlook the demands of our primary industries for storage inside and outside Australia. I hope that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) will take up this matter with the Government and see if it is possible to make arrangements’ to provide for the transference of sections of our primary products to a halfway port located either in South Africa or Egypt for storage with a view to subsequent shipment to the United Kingdom or elsewhere’ as the opportunity arises.
Another matter upon which I have written to several Ministers, but’ which 1 fear has been overlooked as it has not been provided for in the agreement entered into between the Governments of Australia and Great Britain, is that as far as possible we should take steps to process all articles produced in thi* country before they are shipped abroad. If this were done considerable additional employment would be provided in this country, and not only would the export value of our products be increased before they left Australian shores, but also they could be more rapidly assimilated when they reached their destination.
The final point upon which I wish to touch - and I have discussed this matter with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - is that we should endeavour to establish in this country new organizations for the processing of certain fruits and vegetables which are essential in the outposts of the Empire such as Singapore, Aden, Egypt and Malta and which could be transported without the aid of refrigeration. I received a reply that the council was considering the possibility of carrying out work of this description and that provision was made for the erection of a building to carry out experiments, but I waa disappointed to learn that a considerable time would elapse before the experiments could be conducted. Private enterprise could do it tomorrow. It is ridiculous for a government department to write to me in that strain. I propose to pass the communication to the responsible Minister. Heads of departments should have sufficient imagination to realize that at a time like this it is of no use to talk about things being done in 12 or 18 months’ time. I received a reply from one high officer pointing out the impossibility of concentrating water and fluids by “ pressure “ when I had referred to “evaporation.” On another occasion T was given some information. When I asked from where it came, I was told that it was contained in a report made by a royal commission in 1935. I hope the senior officers will realize, when honorable members of this Parliament ask for official information, that they are entitled to either information not more than a few weeks old or a plain statement that the information given has been obtained from an outofdate report. Reports of this description are readily available to honorable members. Information, especially at a time like this, should be authentic and right up to date.
I thank honorable members for the opportunity to bring these matters before the House. I hope that the Government will realize the importance of bringing the defence administration to Canberra Even though we are at war, the Government should realize that it has no- excuse or reason to allow the Commonwealth of Australia to remain under the domination of Melbourne. (Quorum formed.]
Mr. JENNINGS (Watson) [12.3J.- In speaking on the interesting statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I shall refer briefly to one phase of pur war activities which I regard as of paramount importance from the public point of view, that is the necessity for strict supervision of the vast expenditure which Australia has been forced to incur. The Prime Minister has pointed out that this year we are expending on the war £60,000,000- £5,000,000 a month. .We realise the difficulty of obtaining finance. We are raising millions of pounds from taxation and further millions will be raised from war loans. Taxpayers generally do not object to taxation for purely defence purposes, but they naturally insist on careful and judicious expenditure. It is true that the Prime Minister has said that the Government has drawn freely upon the business community for advice and assistance and that a Treasury finance committee has been established, but I suggest that we should have a closer inspection of this vast war expenditure by this Parliament. We should be jealous of the practice of this Parliament, although we are working under the National Security Act, and work that should be done by this Parliament should not be delegated to outside authorities. I know full well that highly expert authorities are available to the Government - they are men of eminent prestige - but I submit that there are members of this Parliament who, because of their knowledge of parliamentary procedure, apart from other experience and ability, would be equally efficient in the job.
I do mot desire to anticipate the debate on the motion on the notice-paper, to be moved by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly), himself an expert accountant, for the re-appointment of the Public Accounts Committee, but in view of what I have said there is no doubt that that committee should be re-appointed. Such, a committee would not be a mutual admiration society. It would consist of all parties, be a non-party committee, and it would give its opinion freely and impartially. In supervising the finances of this country it would ensure public confidence in the control of the vast expenditure that we are now incurring.
The re-organization of the Cabinet should meet with approval. The establishment of a new Economic Cabinet, which will meet in Canberra, must result in better co-ordination. A section of this Economic Cabinet will supervise aircraft construction. Stimulation of the aircraft industry is commendable, but there is another phase of industry which is allied to aircraft construction, namely, the construction of mechanized vehicles, including motor cars. It should be borne in mind that the construction of motor cars and other mechanized vehicles is not so intricate as the construction of aircraft. In this country to-day there are firms engaged in the manufacture of motor gear parts. The gear industry is a most essential factor in the establishment of an industry for the manufacture of complete aircraft and mechanized vehicles. Those firms to-day, however, are labouring under difficulties and, if the Economic Cabinet is able to do anything to lessen those difficulties, it will contribute to the industrial development of this country. It is necessary for such industries as that which I have named to be developed, because they are part and parcel of the principal industry whose task it will be to manufacture complete motor vehicles in this country.
It is stated that the Economic Cabinet will meet in Canberra. It was perhaps necessary for the Prime Minister to announce that fact. Rightly or wrongly, there has been adverse comment abOut governmental activities being centred in Melbourne. The Defence Department, the nerve centre to-day, is located in Melbourne, and it is therefore essential that the War Cabinet be at hand to this department. I would suggest, however, that’ as far as possible every effort should be made for all governmental activities to be centred in Canberra. This city is the national capital and is the place which the Constitution says is the national capital. This is the place, therefore, where all of the nation’s decisions should be made.
It would seem from the Prime Minister’s statement that Great Britain has in effect said that assistance is required from the Dominions in the air more than on land or sea. In view of that, the proposal for the establishment of an empire air force is to be commended. Nevertheless, I trust that the Australian Air Force will not lose its identity in this new imperial enterprise. I trust also that our pilots in the Royal Australian Air Force will receive the same conditions and pay as pilots in the Royal Air Force. Our airmen have a glorious tradition. There are many who have lost their lives in making our aviation world famous. On the foundations they laid down our pilots to-day are building. Our men have flown with distinction in New Guinea and have established there what is probably the most famous air transport service in the world. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that there is in this conflict a demand for the services of Australian airmen in which they will take a leading part with the air aces of Great Britain and the other Dominions.
.- I have listened with great interest to the debate and I have been surprised at the statements of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Information (Sir Henry Gullett) that the war has not yet started. I am at a loss to understand what they meant. If we are to accept the information that has come to ns through the press and the wireless and the information that has been given to this House, we must consider that the war has started. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Information have misled the people of this country and honorable members of this House by their statements. We must be told the truth about conditions overseas. I have read in the press about the naval blockade in Germany and the battles that have taken place against submarines in the North Sea and other seas. They convince me that the war has started.
For many years I have been looking at the position in Europe. I have seen various countries developing enormous armed forces, the workers of Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan being trained in the military machine. I have thought of the future of the world and have wondered when it will be able to do without war. While the workers were paraded into armed camps and while there was strenuous military preparation it had to be only a matter of time before war broke out.
I endorse every word that was spoken by my leader (Mr. Curtin) yesterday when he urged that no action should be taken by this Government to close the door to peace negotiations. In a recent issue of a leading newspaper which I understand represents the views of the Soviet Government, there appeared the statement that the second imperialist war had already begun and the whole world knew Germany to be the aggressor. This opinion appears to be widespread in neutral countries and, since Germany is the aggressor, the Government of that country should be the one fo make overtures for peace to Great Britain and France, which called a halt to Germany’s aggression in Europe. I take the view that we must present a united front in order to secure a just peace. It is only 25 years since the beginning of the last war. Those of us who are old enough remember its horrors and the terrible sufferings endured by the people of all of the countries that were involved in it, and we fear that unless Hie present conflict is brought to a speedy end there will be further great loss of life and further sufferings by the people. An enduring peace will not be possible if the various nations are allowed to train armed forces. Some time ago I read, with a good deal of astonishment, comments, which T regarded as almost laudatory, from Ministers and ex-Ministers in this Government, concerning the magnificent military machine that had been established in Germany. I was surprised at these statements because the only purpose of this policy was the domination, by G onn a ny. of other nations. We should not forget that during the last war hundreds of thousands of young Australian manhood went overseas and that (50,000 of them are lying, some in unknown graves, in France and other of the war zones. British statesmen should not have allowed German armed forces to be established in such strength as to make possible, if not inevitable, another gigantic struggle which may again embroil the whole world. Under the existing capitalist system we shall always have the menace of wars. There will always be the danger of workers being forced into military camps to prepare for a struggle against their fellow workers of other countries.
I do not believe in anything savouring of Hitlerism or the ideology of the German people who, apparently, are persuaded that they are ordained by God to rule the world by force. That form of ideology is a. menace to world peace. The spread of such a belief should not be encouraged, especially by those who stand for liberty and the rights of the people. I attach some blame to the High Commissioner for Australia, for some, at least, of the problems that now confront us. He visited Germany on many occasions and must have known of the preparations that were being made for aggressive action. It surely was his duty to inform the Government of the probable trend of world events and the growing menace to civilization by Germany, so that the democracies could have made more adequate preparation to meet this challenge of brute force in Europe.
I listened carefully to the unwarranted attack made by the Leader of the Country party (Mr. Archie Cameron) upon the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). My leader yesterday put before the House a true statement of Labour’s war policy. Last night
Hip Leader of the Country party totally misrepresented Labour’s stand. He declared that Labour was isolationist in its attitude to the war and said that we were not prepared to take our place in the British Commonwealth of Nations for the preservation of world peace. That was a. deliberate mis-statement of the fact?, as the honorable member himself must have known. It is apparent, however, that he has little real knowledge of military matters and especially of the war policy of the Labour party. The honorable . gentleman : and other Government supporters, including the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) accept the view that Australia’s main line of defence is in Europe, possibly on the Western Front. As regards the European theatre of war, General Gort and Marshal Gamelin are more competent to determine the form of warfare to he waged and where the maximum effort of the Allies should be exerted ; but I believe that the measures for the defence of Australia should be laid down by our own army authorities.
– The honorable member should tell his leader some of the things that he is now saying.
– My leader made his statement yesterday. He told the House that we were prepared to co-operate with the Government in the defence of this country on the lines enunciated by Labour.
Coming now to the question of manpower, I am disappointed at the position as outlined by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) yesterday. I can come to no other conclusion than that this Government has not taken adequate measures to secure the enlistment of the required number of men for the defence of Australia. If it had offered sufficient inducement, hundreds of thousands of volunteers would have been obtained. Men who would be expected to do the fighting and face the dangers of war, whether in the Army, the Navy or the Air Force, are entitled to good wages.
– The honorable member’s party has never helped the scheme for voluntary enlistment.
– We have always advocated good pay for the fighting services. The honorable member for Parkes last night commended the Prime Minister of New Zealand (Mr. Savage) for the splendid success that had attended the voluntary enlistment campaign in the sister dominion, but the honorable gentleman - did not mention that the wonderful response in New Zealand was due to the adequate rates of pay offered. A New Zealand soldier gets 7s. a day, plus 5s. for every day he is in camp or training school. If married with two children, he receives £2 9s., his wife £1 ls., and his children £1 15s., a total of £4 lis. Is it to be wondered that when the New Zealand Government called for volunteers for a spe cial force of 6,000 men. nearly 7,000 offered on the first day? Contrast that treatment with the rates of pay offered by this Government. In this country men are expected to enlist at rates below the basic wage. They will have to undergo training of a lengthy period daily, and pass a number of endurance tests under active service conditions, and all for 5s. a day. That is a scandal. Ministers ought to be indicted under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Men who were prepared to defend this country were insulted by the reception they encountered. Industrial workers in munitions factories receive high wages, but the man who goes into the front line of trenches does the hardest, most courageous, and most dangerous work that any man could do for his country, yet the Government says that his wife is entitled to only 6s. a week and that his children are worth only ls. a day. I know that the honorable member for Bendigo does not believe in that policy.
– I do not.
– Nor does the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street), but he is overborne by sweaters and low-wage ministerial colleagues.
– Who are they?
– The Minister for Information (Sir Henry Gullett) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). It is contended that voluntary enlistment has failed. I assert that the Government has helped to kill it. Some men who volunteered were told “ We don’t want you ; come back later”. Is that the way in which to treat men who are prepared to undergo rigorous training in camp? Unemployed men who were on the dole in the different States went into camp for three weeks, and as the pay that they received was greater than the permissible, income they were informed by the State authorities at the conclusion of their training that they were disentitled to further State assistance until they had again made themselves eligible for it by being without income for a certain period. Consequently, the unemployed were induced to believe that it was inadvisable for them to run the risk of being struck off the dole by going into camp. The Government wanted to kill the voluntary system with a view to the introduction of a military swashbuckling system such as operates in the totalitarian States. The members of the Australian Imperial Force fought against the application of conscription for overseas service during the last conflict. To-day there is no justification for the conscription of “the man-power of this country, if the Government is prepared to pay reasonable wages and give decent conditions to those who volunteer. If man-power be conscripted, wealth also should be conscripted to pay decent wages to those who are called up for service. I have heard the Prime Minister say that it is not the intention of the Government to conscript the .manhood of this country for service overseas. The promises of the right honorable gentleman - like piecrust - are easily broken. He is prepared to do anything that is urged by lie Country party in order to continue to hold, office. The day will come when he will conscript men and send them overseas, because he is a man of boundless ambition. Ambition has brought about the downfall of many great men. I do not believe that the Minister for the Army would follow such a lead, because he is an old soldier who has played his part in the trenches. The Prime Minister, on the other hand, is looking forward to the day when he will reach great heights of achievement; consequently, I cannot accept his statement that he will not conscript the manpower of this country. The Premier of Queeusland has described the proposals of the Commonwealth as a cheap method of defence. In reply to that statement, the Prime Minister has said that the Premier of Queensland has a wonderful knack of twisting things round. There can be no doubt, however, that it is a cheap method. It embraces the totalitarian idea, which originated in dictatorship countries, of making the workers do the hard military work for low wages.
Men of 40 odd years of age, who held commissions in the last war, have made representations to the defence authorities with a view to being admitted to the forces, but have been told that they are too old and are not required. We should always endeavour to benefit from experience gained in any walk of life. Men who have never been under fire should be trained by those who have been. I understand that officers of the old Australian Imperial Force are prepared to help to train the present volunteers until some of these young men fit themselves to obtain commissions and take charge of training operations. I have been informed, however, that men who have never done a day’s drill have received commissions through the back door.
– Name them!
– I shall furnish, proof to the Minister. A man who is 43 years of age approached me and said “I was a captain in the last Australian Imperial Force and am prepared to give my services, but have been told that I am not wanted on the voyage “. I could understand a politician being “ knocked back “, because his only reason for seeking a commission would be to parade the fact that he possessed one and to use it as a means of securing his re-election to this House. These men to whom I am referring are “ dinky-die “ diggers and patriots. I have been associated with them in their club. A man who served for four years in the last war and reached the high rank of lieutenant-colonel and was first in command - he is 42 years of age - was passed over in favour of a man one year and ten months his junior, who probably had friends at court - “the old school tie “ again making its influence felt. “We should get rid of “the old school tie”. The Minister may argue that those who served in the last war are not necessarily advanced in the finer technique of modern warfare. I contend that one who has had experience under fire will go a long way further than one who has never so served. I shall cite only two examples to prove my point. The two men who to-day are in command of the allied forces on the Western Front served in the last war; they are General Gamelin and General Gort - known as “ Tiger “ .Gort. The Government desires to introduce a form of military autocracy, under which would fee destroyed the principle which enables a man to enter the army as a private and work up to the higher ranks. There is no consistency m the appointments that are made. If Australia is in danger of being invaded - the Prime Minister has said that it is, and
I accept his statement - every man from 18 to 60 years of age can be conscripted.
-Why not train them before such a contingency arises?
– Why not establish a standing army of 60,000 men for the duration of the war, and pay them good wages? That was recommended by the Inspector-General of the Military Forces, and has received the approval of the Minister. It is proposed to train a large number of air pilots. That is essential for the defence of this country. I commend the statement made by my leader (Mr. Curtin) two years ago in favour of a largely-augmented air force which could be sent to any part of Australia. Some of the patriots on the other side of the House who claim to possess super intellects in matters relating to defence, scoffed at the idea, but to-day it is accepted by the Minister for the Army and the Prime Minister, and has been recommended by high authorities from Great Britain. Australia should have a fleet of not hundreds, but thousands of aeroplanes. It is proposed to produce aeroplanes in this country. That is the greatest “hooey” that has ever been put over the people. What commodities are available for use in their production? Where are the guaranteed supplies of magnesium? I am in possession of information, furnished to me by my military adviser before he left to occupy a high position in the army in England, to the effect that there are not sufficient supplies of magnesium to meet British requirements, and that Great Britain is prepared to take all that Australia can send for the duration of the war. Three months ago, I brought this matter under the notice of the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey), who is now in England; it is a good job for Australia that he is. The Acting Minister (Sir Frederick Stewart) is giving every assistance possible in the establishment of this industry, but the Minister himself was not prepared to do anything in that direction, and the statements that he made in the matter were not in accordance with facts. It is of no use to depend on an Anglo-German firm for supplies of magnesium; they have to be obtained in Australia. The parties who to-day are interested in the establishment of this industry will commence production at an early date. The Government should say to them, “ We propose to manufacture aeroplane engines, and we shall require all the magnesium that you produce; proceed with its production.” [Leave tocontinuegiven.]
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
– I draw attention to the state of the House.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McHugh) having entered and passed through the chamber,
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).The honorable member for Wakefield may not leave the chamber while the bells are ringing.
– I am certain, Mr. Speaker, that if a messenger were to inform the honorable member that he must not leave the chamber at this juncture, he would return immediately.
– I am confident that the honorable member has not deliberately transgressed the Standing Orders. [Quorum formed.]
– I appreciate the efforts of the Acting Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) to establish the magnesium industry in Tasmania. Its establishment is desirable for no.t only defence purposes but also the economic development of Australia. It will be of great value after the war is over in supplying the needs of the people, and therefore I hope that some of the £8,000,000 to be expended on munitions will be devoted to its encouragement. The Australian people do not yet appreciate the possibilities of this industry, but in other countries, particularly Germany. Russia, and Japan, magnesium is used extensively in the manufacture of armaments and the economic life of the community. At the present time there is a great demand for it in England. I hope that the Government will not overlook Tasmania’s claim to a share of the defence expenditure and the right to supply materials which may be used either for the manufacture of munitions or in other ways of value to the country.
All sections of the community must present a united front against the forces which have been over-running Europe.
I trust that the Allied forces will be able to bring the war to a successful conclusion, and that a formula for a lasting peace will be laid down when hostilities cease. At the moment, the great democracies of the world are facing a grave crisis. I recognize that the democracy in which I live, although not perfect, is worth preserving. We should strive to improve existing conditions by raising the standard of living of the people generally, and we must be ready at all times to protect this country, and to do our part, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, for the preservation of world peace.
Evidently Ministers are in conference,, because the ministerial bench is almost empty. The absence of Ministers from the chamber gives the impression that either they are not interested in the debate, or that there has been a lack of preparation for the adequate defence of this country. It also denotes lack of appreciation of the co-operation of the Opposition in the present crisis. I know that among members of the United Australia and Country parties there is much profession of patriotism. I do not claim to be half so patriotic as some supporters of the Government profess to be. In any case, I could not keep up with gome of them in the race. I do say, however, that if this .country is to be developed economically, and its standards of living preserved, the Government must display the qualities of statesmanship to a greater degree than it has hitherto done. There are to-day thousands of persons throughout Australia who, because the States have failed to provide them with employment, are unable to maintain their wives and children in reasonable comfort. It is a disgrace that in some parts of Victoria one person in eighteen is on the dole.
– That is the position in Ballarat.
– While such conditions exist here, it is useless to speak of rectifying the economic wrongs of Europe. Such a state of affairs is conclusive evidence that the State governments have failed in their duty to the unemployed. Every married man with a family is entitled to full-time employment in order that he may feed, clothe and shelter his dependants. It is a waste of money on the part of the Commonwealth to give financial assistance to the States in order to encourage physical fitness among their people, unless provision be made to ensure that every child in the community is fed properly from birth until at least fourteen years of age. Unless the mothers and children of the nation are cared for, any money expended in later years to promote their physical fitness might as well be thrown down the sink. We must have the courage to deal with the causes of the evils which are interfering with the health of the workers of this country.
Money has also been wasted in the registration of women as motor transport drivers. In Hobart £500 was wasted in this way. Instead of registering women for this work, men over the military age - there are thousands of them throughout the country - should be organized to undertake it. I understand that a large sum of money was paid to a woman belonging to the Nationalist party who came from England. A prominent man said to me recently “ Have you heard the tripe that is’ being sent out over the air calling up women as motor drivers? Any one would think that the country had been invaded “. That man is in command of a section of the Defence Forces at the present time. The driving of motor transport wagons is a job for men, not for women. Instead of being left in their homes, women are being urged to assemble at various town halls, where supporters of the United Australia party tell them that they are doing a great job for the defence of their country. These auxiliary services should be in the hands of the Commonwealth Government, instead of being entrusted to private individuals who are associated with the United Australia party. Members of that organization go about frightening the women of this country by telling all sorts of lies about what is going on, and saying that they must do this and that. I hope that no honorable member will endeavour to make political capital out of the remarks of any other honorable member. We should, in the interests of peace, present a united front against the common enemy. I am not a pacifist; I believe in meeting force with force when necessary.
.- At the outset, I express my appreciaion of the action of the Government in introducing a new procedure into the parliamentary discussions, by presenting reports of its activities since the last sittings of the Parliament. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) has made some disparaging references to the Australian Women’s Legion. He contends that the legion is wasting time by doing work which should be left to men and that its members should he doing work at home instead of parading the streets at night. He may not know .that the legion is a voluntary non-political organization whose members are undertaking certain work which they believe will be a valuable adjunct to the defence organization. His lack of knowledge of the activities of this and other organizations justifies the new course taken by the Government in making these explanatory statements. This week various Ministers have presented to the House statements relating to Australia’s war activities, the efforts made to build up an organization to control prices and prevent profiteering, and reviews of the work of the Department of Supply and Development, and our various marketing organizations. Through the lastnamed, arrangements have been made for the sale of our total wool clip valued at £54,000,000, and other commodities, as follows: Butter, £13,500,000; cheese, £1,150,000; eggs, £600,000; beef and veal, £4,500.000; mutton, £680,000; lamb, £3,000,000; pork, £1,250,000; edible offals, £380,000; sugar, £5,500,000; lead, £3,000.000; zinc, £810,000; and copper, £380,000. . Arrangements have thus been made for the sale of nearly £100,000,000 worth of our surplus primary products. This is an achievement of which any government might well feel proud, and will, I am certain, play a very big part in ensuring our national prosperity and solvency during the difficult times ahead.
Having regard to the magnitude of the work of the Defence Department, it is imperative that the Government should inform Parliament and the country exactly what has been done in that respect. Such information will not only be appreciated by honorable members but also will be re-assuring to the people. In the main1, 1 endorse what the Government has done through the Defence Department, although previously I deplored the unfortunate delay which took place immediately following the declaration of war. For two months we had no recruits in camp at all. To-day we aim at having at least 100,000 men in camp. I also criticized severely the department’s delay in providing uniforms for volunteers. I am happy to be able to say to-day that the position in this respect has been substantially improved. The review given by the Minister shows that an extraordinarily good job has been done in this connexion during the recess.
– How many men are in camp?
– The number of troops who will have had training by the end of the year will be 100,000. Already 80,000 members of the Militia have been in camp. Members of all arms of the services are showing a remarkable response to the Government’s efforts to place our man-power on an effective war footing. I am particularly pleased that the portfolio of defence has been divided by the separation of the three arms of the service - the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force - under individual members. I know something of the activities of the Defence Department. The task carried out by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) as Minister for Defence in recent months was so heavy that no one man could do it to his own satisfaction. It was beyond the power of one individual. I have long urged the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to divide the portfolio of defence as he has now done. The three Ministers in charge of the defence services will have a fair opportunity to give effective attention to the many details of their respective departments. After all it is only by strict attention to detail that we can do the whole of our defence job efficiently.
In this war we must keep in’ mind two objectives: First, we must ensure that Australia is adequately defended ; and, secondly, we must establish effective co-operation in a joint effort with Great Britain and the other dominions in order to carry the war to a successful and early conclusion. The co-operation’ of all parts of the Empire is essential to its defence. No one dominion, or part of the Empire, can stand alone. Honorable members opposite declare that the Labour party stands for the defence of Australia, and Australia only, and that no Australian soldier should be asked to leave these shores for active service abroad. I do not think that many people in Australia will agree with that isolationist policy. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) was even more emphatic. However, any effort which we might make independently of the rest of the Empire would prove fatal to both Australia and the Empire. Australia would be the first to pay the penalty for refusing to co-operate with the rest of the Empire in this war. Inevitably, Australia would be impotent without the protection and assistance of the British navy. Without that protection we would not have the slightest hope of exporting our surplus primary products. The bulk of
I’m- raw materials is marketed in Great Britain, which is our greatest purchaser, and should we decline to co-operate with Great Britain we could not expect the Mother Country either to convoy our products overseas or to purchase them. Were Britain to lose command of the seas we should also find ourselves unable to secure supplies of petrol for our own transport system.
A ministerial statement has been submitted in explanation of what has been clone to build up out Air Force. I entirely endorse the Government’s action in this matter. When this programme has been carried through the Australian Air Fore will be the greatest yet assembled by any nation of 7,000,000 ‘ people.
– The honorable member jeered at us when we urged that Australia should build up its air force.
– That is not so. What the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) suggested was that Australia should rely entirely for its defence on its Air Force. Such a policy would be futile. We can defend this- country only by developing the three arms of our defences - the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. Should we at any time rely for our defence on our Air Force alone we shall meet with disaster.
– When did the Leader of the Opposition urge reliance on the Air Force alone?
– He has made that statement time and again in this House. Not one of our aeroplanes could leave the ground if we did not have sufficient supplies of petrol. Consequently we cannot hope to defend Australia without the co-operation of the British navy, because without its protection on the seas we could not secure those supplies. . The policy enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition in this respect is ill-advised and if put into operation would be disastrous. No party which submitted such a policy to the country could hope to win the confidence of the people. Not only must we build up the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, but we must also direct the development of our industries with a view to the successful prosecution of the war. Apart from supplying our food requirements, our primary producers must concentrate on the production of commodities essential for war purposes.
With respect to the proposal to send units overseas, I believe that our first duty is to ensure that Australia shall be adequately protected. Until the position in the Pacific is clear and definite, it would be suicidal for Australia to send large numbers of troops out of the country.
– That is what the Leader of the Opposition says.
–But I differ from the Leader of the Opposition in this respect : I say without reservation that so soon as the position in the Pacific is definite we should not hesitate for one moment to send an expeditionary force overseas. The Leader of the Opposition says that he would not send one man outside of Australia. It is our duty to cooperate to the fullest degree with Great Britain, and, subject to the qualification I have just made, we should not delay in giving Great Britain every help. It is far better that we should meet the enemy abroad rather than on our own soil, and thus avoid the ruin which would follow any conflict in this country. In this connexion we need only recall the experiences of France and Belgium in the last war. When we send any troops overseas I urge the Government to ensure that Australian units shall preserve their identity. I am emphatic on that point. During the last war the Australian Imperial Force carried out its duties as no other military organization did. The success of our soldiers then was due, not only to the fact that they preserved their identity, and, consequently, had confidence in each other, but also to the further fact that the majority of their leaders were Australians. One of the greatest soldiers produced in the last war was an Australian, General Monash. I do not intend to repeat the commendations of the Australian forces expressed by British, French, Belgian, and even American, army chiefs, beyond saying that invariably they paid a higher tribute to the Australian units than was paid to any. other army which toot part in the last war. Consequently, I urge the Government to ensure that iu this war any force which we send overseas shall be lead by Australian officers and non-commissioned officers. I make this plea also in respect of the Air Force. Having regard to climatic condi tiona overseas to-day, I appreciate that i t is not advisable to despatch any troops immediately to Canada or England. Such action at this juncture, when both of those countries are, perhaps, covered with snow, would seriously affect the health of Australian troops. That would be taking unnecessary risks and would probably result in a considerable number of our men being put out of action. However, by next spring, provided the position in the Pacific is cleared up, squadrons of Australian airmen should be despatched for service overseas as well as the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. I reiterate that it is far better that Australia should defend itself by tackling the main enemy in Europe, than that we should risk an attack on our own shores. I ask the Minister to consider favorably representations made to me, and, I believe, to other honorable members, that members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in Queensland should be allowed to remain in that State at least until the beginning of next year. These men have just gone into camp and are now undergoing their preliminary inoculations. Possibly they have vaccination ahead of them. Of course they also have, all their training to come. In addition to their elementary training, they have to complete their section, platoon, company, and battalion drill and they wil have to learn musketry, bayonet fighting, gas drill, and a multiplicity of other operations. In these circumstances I urge that they should be allowed to remain in Queensland until their training is complete. If this request be granted, the men will be at hand to attend to many private matters which have been interrupted iu consequence of their enlistment. There are strong economic reasons, as well as sentimental considerations, to support my request that these 3,000 men should be permitted to finish their training at Bedbank, and should not be required to go to Maitland or anywhere else in New South Wales to be trained until at least after the 1st January next. The activities of the men should not be interrupted unnecessarily and their contact with their relatives and their home affairs should be permitted to continue with the least possible interference.
– Would it not be better if a division were trained in Queensland?
– That is a matter for military experts. Personally, I do not think we have a chance of raising a division in Queensland straight away. All the arguments that I have used in support of my contention that the men should be permitted to continue their training in Queensland would be used against me if I asked that a division from somewhere else, or a part of a division, should be sent to Queensland to train. That is not my idea.
I protest against the decision of the Minister for Defence on the subject of the ages for entry into the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, and the effect it will have upon the capacity of the men of the original Australian Imperial Force to join or to assist, in the training of the new force. In view of the age limits that have been fixed, it will be impossible for ex-officers and noncommissioned officers of the old Australian Imperial Force to participate in the training of a new force* That, to my mind, is ridiculous. Having regard to the fact that 25 years have elapsed since the beginning of the last war and that very few men enlisted originally under the age of 20, the majority of the veterans are now at least 45 years of age.
No one can enter the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in any rank of consequence who is above 45 years of age. This absolutely prohibits members of the original Australian Imperial Force from making their experience available for the training of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. That is bad enough, but there are thousands of officers and senior non-commissioned officers of the original Australian Imperial Force with active service experience who have volunteered to be instructors of the new Australian Imperial Force. Their offers have been rejected, and their appeals that they should be allowed to participate in this important work have fallen on deaf ears. Having regard to the fact that many officers and non-commissioned officers of the Militia have not had active service, the experience of the men of the original Australian Imperial Force would be invaluable. Only men who served in the last war, and had to unravel the tangles, that occur from day to day, and overcome the many difficulties incidental to attacks - men who know from experience what a “ hop-over “ means - can give to the new Australian Imperial Force the help that it needs. These older men know what is expected of them ; they know how to prepare for and participate in a dawn attack; how to site a trench position, consolidate positions, reinforce their trenches, revet them, how to anticipate a counterattack and what to do to repel it, and so on. Obviously, men without practical experience in the field cannot have this knowledge which came to the older men only during the long years of the last war. No amount of training without the aid of veteran soldiers can supply this deficiency in the experience of the officers of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. Consequently the knowledge which the former soldiers obtained should be made available to-day. We should establish within Australia, a? other countries have established, depot -camps where inexperienced young men who are anxious to serve their country can go to be trained by the experienced former officers and non-commissioned officers of the last war. If the young men be given this training, they will be much better equipped than they otherwise can be and will be better able to stand up to the problems and difficulties of the war. I have’ seen the young men of to-day in training. They leave nothing to be desired. They are thorough, determined, and most competent. However, the nation should not be denied the value of the accumulated experience of the officers and non-commissioned officers of the last war. The policy of the Defence Department in this connexion should be reversed at once. Men of the experience that I have indicated could give lectures and, in a general way, instruct the young men of to-day, who would, without question, be far better soldiers than they can be without such instructions and training. The 2nd Australian Imperial Force may well be an even better force than the original Australian Imperial Force, but it will need the strength, leadership, and advice which the veterans of the last war can alone impart. If the services of our former soldiers be availed of for training purposes far better results will be obtained than will otherwise be possible.
I wish now to make a few observations concerning the pay of the Militia. I believe that a definite and unqualified obligation rests on the Commonwealth Government to pay the men of the Militia 8s. a day. I was the honorary secretary of the recruiting campaign committee for Queensland at the time when the new Militia was recruited. I delivered many recruiting addresses and spoke over the air frequently. I signed probably 10,000 letters on this subject. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that the Commonwealth Government, through the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), promised to pay those who enlisted in the Militia 8s. a day and up to 2s. a day travelling expenses. The travelling expenses, i.e., tram and train fares and the like, were to be according to expenditure, but with a maximum of 2s. Some men, for example, might only collect 4d., the price of two tram fares. I understand now that the promised 8s. a day is to be reduced, as from the 1st January next, to &s. a day. In not one of the great number of meetings that I addressed, and certainly in not one of the thousands of letters I signed as honorary secretary of the National Council of Defence - Queensland Division - was it ever suggested that the pay was likely to be reduced to 5s. a day. I still have in my possession the instructions issued on that occasion. I say without any hesitation that the Government will be guilty of a breach of contract if i t pays the young men who go into camp ally thing less than 8s. a day. Many of these young men will have to undergo three months’ training. If they get only 5s. a day their pay will amount to £1 15s. a week. Many of them will leave jobs in which they receive £4, £5 and £6 a week in order to go into camp, and many will not have made up to them the difference between their military and civil pays. I therefore earnestly urge the Government to hold to the undertaking to pay 8s. a day to these men. If it does not do so, it should indicate to us in the clearest possible terms the reason for any change of policy. I shall not be satisfied with anything less than a detailed explanation of the reasons for any alteration of the rates of pay. I discussed this question with the Minister for the Army to-day, but he was very busy and [ was not able to obtain from him any clear explanation of the Government’s attitude. He made a reference to a statement by Sir Archdale Parkhill in 1936, but I am not able to accept the view that a statement made in 1936 can have any bearing upon, or application to, an instruction given during the recruiting campaign of 1938-39 that recruits would receive 8s. a day. This whole matter needs to be reviewed, and the Government should hold to the contract it has made with these men.
Finally, I trust that the determination that has been expressed by members of the Government, and also by Ministers of the sister dominions, as well as by the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Chamberlain), Lord Halifax, Mr. Winston Churchill and others, will be adhered to, and that Herr Hitler and his gang will be given to understand that the peace and happiness of the people whom they are misgoverning, their own personal interest and security, and the happiness of the whole world can be served only by a speedy truce and the negotiation of a treaty that will ensure permanent peace. Unless such a peace be arranged, Hitler and his misguided people must suffer needlessly. Any one who has played any part at all in the endeavours that were made to avert war must appreciate the extraordinary position into which Herr Hitler has led his unfortunate people. I hope that sanity will prevail, and that very shortly a settlement will be reached which will ensure the lasting peace that the world is seeking.
.- I hope that the people of Australia will not early begin a course of recriminations in which accusations, on the one hand, of being anti-British and un-British will be met by counter-accusations, on the other hand, of being an ti- Australian and un-Australian. Such accusations should not be bandied about. The conduct of the last war-time government caused, in this country, a division of opinion that still exists. There are people in Australia who feel these divisions of opinion as keenly to-day as they felt them the day after they were created. Nothing is to be gained by any exchange of accusations of disloyalty to Britain, on the one hand, or to Australia, on the other. Such accusations are merely cheap electioneering. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has set for this country a very proper ideal of national unity, which we should engage our best endeavours to preserve. This is perfectly consistent with the maintenance of separate parties in the political sphere. I believe that only by the maintenance of separate parties can there be that real and organized criticism of the Government that will ensure that the people will have an intelligent understanding of what is being done, and the government’s responsibility therefor.
The position taken up by the Labour party is not new. It has been laid down ever since the interstate conference of 1919, and it is perfectly clear. I support it, not merely because it is the policy of the Labour party but also because it commends itself to my reason. It is perfectly true that the Labour party placed compulsory military training upon its platform in 1908, and it is also true that the bill which actually resulted in the introduction of this principle was introduced by the Deakin Government in 1909 and supported by the Labour party, in conformity with its platform. The Labour party has departed from that principle because, since it was first adopted, the country has passed through the very serious experiences of the war and of the effects that arise from military compulsion. The Labour party’s attitude is this: As a means of raising forces for defence, and as a means of training men for defence, the Labour party rejects the policy of compulsion, and it does so for various reasons. The Labour party believes that the policy of compulsion for military service is not compatible with the recognition of the rights of conscience of the religious objector. No matter what laws you make for the protection of the religious objector, they will not stand the test of inflamed and excited public opinion in time of war. The Labour party believes that, with the adoption of compulsion as a military measure, it may be adopted also as an economic measure. When the idea of compulsion was first advocated during the last war, it was put forward by the Chambers of Manufactures, because they declared that it would be necessary in order to compel men to work. The adoption of compulsion for military purposes carries with it the danger1 of compulsion for all sorts of other purposes. That is what we are supposed to be fighting against - the glorification of the state, and the compelling of people to do things which their conscience tells them they ought not to do. Therefore, we oppose compulsion for defence, even for home defence.
When we consider the form which it is -proposed that home training shall take, we find further objections beyond those of principle. To-day, it is proposed, not that all the young men in Australia shall be subjected to military training, but that a class arbitrarily selected - those who will become 21 years of age on a certain date - shall be trained. In other words, it is proposed that those least equipped with the wisdom, of the world, those whose own judgment is least formed, shall be subjected to military training. They arc to be conscripts in the literal senses - those on whom the lot falls. The others are to escape, but compulsory military training is to be forced upon young men of the most impressionable age. That is unfair, and even if I believed in compulsory military training, I would oppose it in the form proposed by the Government. If I believed in compulsory training it would be only because I believed that it was the duty of every one to do his part. I do not believe that you should pick out one class of young men and train them, while leaving the others free.
We are impelled to oppose compulsory military training because, in addition, we believe that these young men are being trained, not that they shall be ready to defend Australia, but so that they may be more readily influenced by recruiting propaganda to join the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. I believe that the Government would get all the men it wanted for home defence if it paid them properly. If the men were assured that they would not suffer great financial loss, and that they would be in no danger of losing their jobs, there would be no difficulty in obtaining recruits. During their period of service, they will receive less than they received while carrying on their ordinary occupations, and when their service is over they will stand a grave risk of not getting back their old positions. The Constitution of the Commonwealth says that the Government shall not take the. property of any one without paying the market value for it, but the Government claims the right to compel the services of any man without paying the market value for them. That is a curious thing. You may not take a man’s property without paying the full price for it, but without any guarantee of price you can compel his services, and even his life. The objection to compulsion for military service is an objection to the training of men for the taking of life, something which many men believe to be wrong, and altogether unjustifiable in any circumstances. Such persons object to military service even in time of war, but there are plenty of others who would be prepared to give military service in defence of their country if they were assured that economic ruin would not, as a consequence, fall upon them. Even supporters of the Government have pointed out that, when it was seeking to recruit men in time of peace, when it could not compel them, under Part 4 of the Defence Act, it was prepared to pay them Ss. a day; but now, when it has power to compel them to serve, it is offering only 5s. a day. That is not my argument, but the argument of the Government’s own supporters. The Government says, in effect, “ Now that we can get all the men we want simply by calling them up, why should we continue to pay them 8s.. a day?”
Opposition to military compulsion implies also opposition to compulsory service overseas. The greater includes the less. I submit that the experience of the last war has taught us that, once the country commits itself to raising, even by voluntary methods, a force for overseas service, it must come in the long run face to face with the question of whether it will or will not reinforce those forces by compulsion or otherwise. The experience of the Great War was this: first, appeals were made for recruits, and recruits were obtained without difficulty Later it was more difficult to get them, Then resort was had to all kinds of economic and moral pressure. Men were called up before com.mittees and examined, and pressure was exerted to compel them to enlist. Pressure was brought to bear through the churches, through employers, and through all the organizations that form and affect public opinion. Even then it was not possible to get as many recruits as the Government said were necessary, and that brought the country up against the question of reinforcement by compulsion. During the last war we were fortunate enough to have the question submitted to the people. Why ? Because, although the Prime Minister had been converted to the policy of compulsion for overseas service, a majority in Parliament were opposed to it. There was an overwhelming majority in the Senate opposed to compulsion for overseas service, and the Prime Minister knew that he would be unable to carry legislation imposing conscription. Therefore, in order to overawe members of Parliament, he decided to test the feelings of the electorate. That was why the matter was submitted to a referendum. Conscription for service overseas could have been introduced by an act passed through the Parliament in 24 hours, if the majority of members had been favorable to that policy. What I fear is that, when next .this question of compulsion for overseas military service arises it will be enforced without the hold-
ing of any referendum; it will be done simply by the passing of an act of Parliament.
It is true that the Prime Minister has said that he will not introduce compulsion for overseas service. It is true that the Prime Minister of Great Britain said the same thing. So did the then Prime Minister of Australia in 1915, the year before he tried to. introduce conscription. When a public man makes a declaration of that kind, all he says really is that that represents his present intentions. All that the Prime Minister’s statement means i3 that his present intention is that there shall be no compulsion for overseas service, and it carries the implication, “ I hope that I may npt have to depart from my present intention.” There is no more reason to rely absolutely on the promise of the Prime Minister as an irrevocable statement of intention from which he will not go back than there was -to rely on what Mr. Asquith said in 1914 and 1915, and what Mr. Hughes said in 1915.
If we raise forces for overseas service we shall inevitably come up against the necessity for reinforcing them ‘ by moral and economic conscription, and by legal conscription. The raising of forces for overseas service carries with it, of necessity, readiness for conscription in order to reinforce them. Therefore, the Labour party says that no forces shall be raised for overseas service unless the raising is first assented to by a vote of the people. If the people voted in favour of such action, they would commit themselves to compulsion for the purpose of reinforcement. If these views are un-British, I am un-British. If these views are unAustralian, I am un-Australian. The same things that were said against the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) last night were said against him 25 years ago. The same things have been said against me. But I am not concerned about such criticism so long as I .am convinced that I am doing the right thing, and that my party is doing the right thing. And I feel confident that the Labour party is right in saying that it will oppose compulsory military training. It will oppose the raising df forces compulsorily even for home defence, and it will oppose the raising of forces for overseas service, because that will mean conscription in order to reinforce them.
What is the effect of raising forces for overseas service? During the last war it made conscriptionists out of 80 per cent, of the fathers, mothers, sisters and wives of those whose sons, brothers or husbands had gone abroad to the war. As soon as you induce a man to go to fight overseas, you sow in the minds of his relatives and dependants the idea - even if they are not prepared to express their idea in a vote - that other men should be sent to the war also. A great many persons voted against conscription during the last war who would have been quite prepared to accept it if it had been simply imposed by the Government, but they themselves were not prepared to take the responsibility of imposing conscription.
Is there anything in what I have said that is contrary to the spirit or constitution of the British Commonwealth of Nations? The Prime Minister does not believe that there is, because we have been assured by him over and over again that the military action to be taken by any dominion in the course of a war in which the Empire is involved, is a matter for determination by that dominion itself. Therefore, it is for Australia to say how, and to what extent, it shall participate in this war. Membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations exposes Australia to the danger of attack by the enemies of the predominant partner, as it imposes an obligation upon Australia to cease trading with the enemies of the predominant partner. It does not, however, impose on Australia any obligation, legal or moral, to raise forces for overseas service. The only argument in favour of such a course, is the argument that, by sending forces overseas we should be helping to defeat an enemy who might otherwise, ultimately, reach our own shores. We do not know whether that is so or not. During the conscription campaign, when the then Prime Minister, was proposing to take a referendum of the people on the conscription issue, I was a. member of the Victorian central executive of the Labour party. The Victorian members of the executive and of the Federal Labour party met and there came to them a minister who said, “I know that about the condition of this country at present which makes me say that no man should be suffered to leave Australia as a volunteer “. If you do send men overseas you will deprive yourself of the very men who are most likely to be the most valuable defenders of your own country.
I wish now to deal with another question which has been raised lately. I believe, and I think every member of the House hopes, that the war will come to the speediest possible end, and in such a way as will make future wars improbable, if not impossible. Perhaps it is too much to hope that they will be impossible; nevertheless, we all hope that. I believe, and I feel convinced in my own mind, that what is happening to-day is that negotiations for peace are actually going on behind the scenes, and that while these negotiations are in progress neither of the belligerent sides is prepared to take an irrevocable step or do anything that will so inflame the people of its enemy that peace becomes impossible. I do not believe that we would be doing right in expressing any opinion which placed upon Great Britain and her ally the responsibility for there not being peace now or peace negotiations. As I see the position to-day, if war were to cease now on the basis of people keeping what they have, Germany would have attained the whole of the objectives for which it went to war and more. If we place upon Great Britain and France the responsibility of seeking a peace conference we, in effect, say that they ought to be prepared to negotiate peace on the basis of Germany’s keeping what it has already got. That would be wrong and would be calculated to create in the minds of the German people a belief that Australia does not believe that the cause of Britain and France is right. I believe that the cause for which they are engaged in war is right, and that they desire peace. Taking the extreme Bight, Mr. Chamberlain and his Ministers have given every evidence in the past of their willingness to treat Germany fairly. If Mr. Chamberlain could have avoided the war by any action or by any course he would have avoided it. Although I do not admire many of the things he has done, I am convinced that it was with the greatest reluctance that he entered the war. There is no reason to believe that the German system of government would suffer any hurt or any injustice from the British Government. In fact, I would say that the British Government desires to maintain Germany as a strong power in Europe, and is more or less sympathetic to the German system of government. On the other hand, the Labour party in Great Britain has made it perfectly clear that it is not out for any war of conquest, that it does not wish to impose its will on the German people, or to destroy the system of government in Germany. If I may trespass on the patience of the House I should like to read two passages which clearly indicate that. In The Labour Party in Perspective, the Leader of the Labour party in Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, said -
I tlo not believe that a war of ideologies is inevitable. I believe that the way to meet Fascism is not by force of arms, but by showing that with co-operation in the economic sphere far better conditions are obtainable than by pursuing a policy of aggression. ‘Pie League should be used, not as the framework of an alliance of states united against those outside it, but as an organization within which there are the widest opportunities for all states, a League open to all states which will come in and accept its conditions.
On the 5th March, 1938, Mr. Herbert Morrison, the secretary to the London Labour party, and possible future Prime Minister of Great Britain, said -
Wu should make it clear to” the Fascist countries that, on the basis of a genuine peace settlement, we are open to discuss and agree 01T economic settlements, and that, provided other countries are willing to do the same, we are agreeable to hand over all appropriate colonial territory to international administration in which all countries shall be eligible to take a share. . . . That is the policy of constructive peace.
Honorable members may say that those things were said before the war; but they have also been said since the war. The Labour party of Great Britain has published its terms of war and peace ; its war aims have been explained more elaborately in an article which appeared in The New Republic of the 4th October, by Mr. Harold Laski, a member of the executive of the British Labour party. I do not believe that any party in Australia or Great Britain desires to impose on the German people a system of government, which they do not want, or makes the abandonment of the German system of government a condition precedent to peace. What every body desires is a peace which is fair to every body in the world and which enables the small peoples of the world to live in peace as far as within the present economic system they can be assured of peace. I believe that responsibility for the conditions now existing rests upon Germany and not upon Great Britain and France. It is unfair to say that Great Britain and France are responsible for the failure to secure peace by negotiation. It is impossible for either of the belligerent nations to express their willingness to negotiate; that is why I believe that negotiations are taking place behind the scenes. Hitler sees that it is difficult for him to begin negotiations for peace because to do so would be to admit that he was in the wrong. If it is difficult for him to take the initiative, it is equally so for Great Britain and France, and it is especially difficult for Britain and France because Germany has achieved what it went to war for whereas Britain and France have not. Germany went to war to gain a part of Poland, and Britain and France went to war to defend that part of Poland against Germany. To say that Great Britain and France should open negotiations and take the initiative, and that they are responsible for the absence of negotiations is to admit that you are prepared to open negotiations on the basis of Hitler having achieved a victory. I believe with every body in this country that the terms of peace should be such as would enable the peoples of the world to live in happiness, fraternity and security. I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) who has said on several occasions that he does not believe that peace is possible of achievement without the establishment of some form of international union. When the League of Nations failed to do its work we were placed in this position: Neither Australia nor any other single country member of the British Commonwealth of Nations could consider acting for itself. The people of Australia have had and will always have only two alternatives - one is action- to preserve peace through the League of Nations, the other is action to preserve peace through the- British Commonwealth of Nations. Australia cannot do anything to preserve peace by itself. It is not called upon to do so. This is not Australia’s war. I believe that the Australian Prime Minister took the proper constitutional course - the same course wa3 taken by the Government of New Zealand - when he said that if the predominant partner of this union is at war we are automatically at war. It is not a question of saying that we shall declare war. Australia and New Zealand have not declared war, but Canada and South Africa have gone through the formal motions of doing so. Every body took it for granted that both Canada and South Africa would enter the war and the only reason why they went through the motions of declaring war was simply to soothe the susceptibilities of the non-British elements of their populations, the Dutch in South Africa and the French in Canada. The people of Australia and New Zealand are homogeneous people; they have the same traditions; they speak the same language. Our practice in theory is the proper one. “We say “ You cannot have one member of the British Commonwealth of Nations at peace and another member at war “. When the Sovereign of Great Britain declares war he does so after consultation with his Ministers in the different portions of the British Commonwealth of Nations; that is te say, consultation with those people who, for the time being, are supported by the majority of the electors in the dominions. Having accepted’ their advice,, the declaration is made, and that declaration binds every British national throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations.. I have gone on rather longer than’ I intended, but this question of the initiative of peace resting with Great Britain and Prance has- been raised in Australia and is distracting and dividing sections of the Australian people, more especially the section which I represent. I feel that. I should fail in my duty if I did not place on record my view that the initiative for peace, cannot properly be thrown on Britain and France. It is really impossible to expect that any belligerent should take the initiative for peace. But if it is difficult for Hitler, who has achieved what he set out to achieve, how much more difficult is it for Great Britain and France, who have lost what they set out to achieve?
– The United States of America could do it.
– I feel a great deal of regret that the United States of America has departed from its policy of strict neutrality. I believe that it was the only nation in the world that could expect to be listened to in regard to peace negotiations. As a nation it is the epitome of Europe; it is Europe on a small scale; it represents all the peoples of Europe; it is a nation which in the words of Lincoln “was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created free and equal “. It would have been the ideal negotiator, hut what has happened has placed the United States of America on the side of Great Britain and France and it cannot expect to be listened to in regard to peace negotiations. I cannot see any other nation sufficiently detached from the struggle to be able to intervene success^ fully. All we can do in Australia is to hope for peace. We shall maintain as far as possible national unity. Where unanimity is impossible tolerance is possible, and _we should see that men respect the opinions pf others and do not brand those opinions as being disloyal to Great Britain on the one side, or disloyal to Australia on the other side ; that we protect the stranger within our gates; and that we do not assume that every person of German race is necessarily disloyal to Australia. I commend the Government for its tolerance towards such aliens; it is examining the circumstances of people of German extraction, and many have been told that it has no suspicion of them and that there is no reason to believe that they are other than loyal citizens- of the country to which they have sworn allegiance. We ought to use all. our forces* to protect our. people against exploitation. We ought to protect the civil liberties and economic liberties of our people, and try to keep them together, work them together;, in the most united way possible, remembering that the differences between us: are differences of principle and have not arisen only in this crisis; they are differences that we have had all along with the members of the United Australia party and the Country party and have discussed over and over again. We of the Labour party have not made in war-time a departure from our policy of the last ten years. We have been advocating this policy all the time and our opponents, the United Australia party and the Country party, have been controverting it, as they are entitled to do.’ We give them credit for perfect honesty in their ideals and for perfect loyalty to the British Commonwealth of Nations and Australia, and we demand from them the same respect and tolerance for our opinions.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Price) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I direct attention to the fact that by resolution of the House to-day the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was suspended from the service of the House. In accordance with the Standing Orders, this being the second occasion on which he has offended in this session, the suspension is for the duration of one week. I point out to the Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Harrison) and to yourself, Mr. Speaker, that the previous occasion on which the honorable member for East Sydney was suspended was the 29th June, 1938, which is considerably more than a year ago. Section 6 of the Commonwealth Constitution provides -
There shall be a session of the Parliament once at least in every year, so that twelve months shall not intervene between the last sitting of Parliament in one session and its first sitting in the next session.
The general construction of that section is that there must be a session in each year. For many years in the history of this Parliament it was the practice to have at least one session in each year; on odd occasions there have been more than one session in each year. It was not until the last war that the Parlia ment, in order to convenience the Government in the management of its business, the nature of which could not be predicted owing to the national emergency, departed from the practice of having a distinct and separate session in each calendar year. That change, evolved during that war for the purposes of the war, was continued thereafter and has remained the practice of this Parliament since. We are in this extraordinary position : there is one session of the Parliament which extends over three years, and, in practice, because there cannot be continuity about such a session, we have parliamentary periods for what in other parliaments of this Commonwealth are distinct and separate sessions. In the circumstances there appear to be reasons why the Standing Orders in many inspects are working out differently from what was meant when they were framed. For example, under the present system of one session for each parliament, an honorable member may not this year, according to the Standing Orders, refer to a speech delivered, say, two years ago, and so on. The particular point that I make this afternoon is that, when the standing order in question was parsed the provision that for a second offence in the one session the penalty of suspension should extend over one week, and, for a_ third offence, over a longer period, presumed that a session would not extend beyond one year. In the circumstances I suggest that the Acting Leader of the House might ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to consider whether some variation of the standing order should not be agreed to. I ask that you yourself, sir, during the week-end shall give this matter some thought, for I hold that the sentence automatically imposed on the honorable member for East Sydney is one that would not have been imposed but for the development in our parliamentary procedure of a practice which is not followed in any other parliament in Australia, although the Standing Orders are almost identical with our own.
.- As I stated on Wednesday last in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings), the Government has undertaken to make available the sum of £2,000,000 to be expended on defence works for the relief of unemployment. This amount, I want to make clear, is additional to the defence programme for this year.
Some recession in the employment position has been apparent recently and the Government is of the opinion that it is desirable to bridge the gap between the present and the time when the full economic effect of the rapidly-growing defence expenditure will be felt. There is a large number of works which are of relatively low defence priority, and are not of sufficient importance as defence measures to be included in the normal programme of defence expenditure. The sum of £2,000,000 which the Government is making available in order to undertake these works, will be expended upon projects which are of such a nature as to provide for the greatest degree of employment of unskilled labour. It was decided that this amount would be distributed over the various States on a basis which would mainly take into account three factors, viz., the degree of unemployment in the various States, the value of the works for defence purposes, and the population of the States. The Commonwealth officers have been collaborating with the appropriate State authorities with a view to the selection of works which could be carried out under this arrangement, and schedules have now been prepared of works which fulfil the desired purposes. The sum of £2,000,000 will be allocated as follows: -
Certain moneys are at present available under existing defence appropriations which will enable these works to be proceeded with forthwith. It will be necessary, however, to seek further parliamentary appropriations, so that the whole of this money may be made available in due course. The necessary provision to this end will be included in a war loan bill which will be introduced to cover this and other war expenditure during the present period of the session. It is proposed to arrange, as far as practicable, for these works to be carried out through State instrumentalities, and the Premiers are being authorized immediately to proceed with these works. I anticipate that some of the work will be commenced within the next few days.
Honorable members will, I am sure, agree that the provision of this sum of £2,000,000 at this juncture is opportune, and will provide a very necessary stimulus to employment. The present accelerated defence and war programme will not reach its peak, so far as expenditure in Australia is concerned, for some months. “When that stage has been reached the economic effect of defence expenditure will, .1 predict, be very appreciably felt throughout Australia and should result in substantially full employment. In the meantime, the provision of the additional amount of £2,000,000 for the purposes I have indicated will constitute a very important national contribution to the relief of unemployment. The Government has realized that unless the works which this money enables to be proceeded with were put in hand immediately, the very purpose of this expenditure would be likely to be frustrated. 1 am glad to’ be able to state that within the space of about two weeks the scheme has been worked out which is now ready to be proceeded with immediately.
– Will any of the proposed works be undertaken by the Commonwealth Public Works Department?
– The work will be done for the most part through State instrumentalities.
– The Commonwealth department will not employ any men as the result of the disbursement of this money?
– Not directly.
– Will it be an instruction from the Commonwealth that, in the expending of this money and the employment of men, the State instrumentalities shall not apply any of the irksome provisions that are associated with the States’ unemployment relief works?
– Those matters are being discussed, and I am trying to find a way out of the difficulty.
Mr. brennan (Batman) [3.41] .- When I had occasion to make an inquiry a day or so ago I found that the unemployment index figure had reached approximately 10 per cent, and was regularly rising; this in face of the fact that phenomenal sums are being expended on works supposed to be directly or indirectly associated with defence! Such a rise of the index figure creates a state of anxiety in the public mind in any circumstances, but especially in view of the fact that unemployment has not been in any way arrested by this extraordinary expenditure. Now, I learn from the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Spender) that it is “ anticipated “, as a kind of public benefit, that, at some early stage in our history, the full benefits of the expenditure of these large sums on public defence will be felt, as though the expenditure on defence, armaments, re-armament, munitions, is in the nature of productive work, the full fruit of which will shortly be gathered by the people. Of course the fact is that at any time - we know not how soon, but we all pray very soon- the war may come to an end, and this extraordinary expenditure on munitions and other work of defence will come to an abrupt conclusion. In no circumstances are works on defence of a reproductive character; they are of a destructive character. That being so, we should not have had from the Acting Treasurer this fatuous public statement that we are looking forward to the time when the present regrettable position of employment will be redeemed. We have had a statement from the Minister to that effect, but no proposal whatever to meet the extraordinary situation which will threaten the working class of this country at the conclusion of the war - no ordered plan for the future, other than this miserable dole which is now being offered to a certain section of the people. The Government has no plan for meeting the situation in the months that may elapse before the end of the war, and more especially afterwards.
– The honorable member knows that that would call for an entire change of policy.
– And that is very urgently needed. So also is a change of government needed, but unfortunately that form of relief is not immediately accessible. I do not wish the Minister to rush into the chamber and, having made a fatuous statement, rush out again under the impression that he has said something that will bring a glowing sense of joy to the hearts of the unemployed and to the working class generally. I want to rivet attention on the fact that although labour in this country is being drawn from its natural avocations and from its proper and orderly forms of production into works which are, in their nature, entirely unproductive, the unemployment situation has not been relieved. The Government has no plan, either for meeting the special conditions which will arise at the end of the war, and may arise at any time, when thousands more men will be ‘thrown upon the labour market, or for keeping men employed on reproductive works that could be undertaken. If the Minister had waited until he had been told that fact, and if he had taken to heart the lesson which it conveyed, it would have been good for him, perhaps, and also good for the country as a whole.
Mr. nairn (Perth) [3.50].- Whilst honorable members generally appreciate very much the provision that is being made by the Government to relieve unemployment during the approaching Christmas season, I draw attention to the position of what may be termed the “ outer “ States in connexion with the distribution of this money. I noticed from the list read by the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Spender) that the bulk of the £2,000,000 is to be expended in the two larger States of New South Wales and Victoria. Already those two States have received almost all of the benefit arising out f war expenditure, and they will, in the future, receive a preponderance of the to funds to he distributed by the Commonwealth. The Acting Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) in a statement yesterday mentioned the extremely large sums of money now being allocated for defence needs. That expenditure is being incurred almost entirely in the larger States. The “ outer “ States - Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania - are receiving only a very small proportion of it. It i? true that a promise has been given to South Australia that a munitions factory will be established at Adelaide.
– That is a promise of long standing.
– At any rate it is only a promise. South Australia has benefited very little from defence expenditure. In fact none of the small States has been allocated a substantial sum. The Acting Minister for Supply and Development spoke also of the increase of the manufacture of munitions. He said that the ordinary commitment of £3,000,000 had been increased to £6,000,000 and stated that munitions establishments in Melbourne were working three shifts, instead of one. Projected expenditure at Lithgow, he told us, had been increased to about £1,000,000, and he outlined proposals -to build ships in Sydney harbour. He alluded also to orders received from Great Britain for the manufacture of munition* and referred to action that had been taker to expedite the manufacture of munitions in Australia. All of the works which he mentioned are situated in the “ inner “ States. He said that from the 1st September to the 30th November, the Government’s purchases for defence purposes had totalled about £3,000,000. Again those purchases were made almost exclusively from the larger States. All of these facts prove that very little regard has been had for the interests of the “ outer “ States, and for the opportunities for the decentralization of industry. When distributing money to provide employment during the Christmas season in States where there is now unemployment, the Government should consider the activity that has been created in the larger States by the increased expenditure on defence. I hope that the Government will take note of my representations and will look a little further than the interests of Sydney and Melbourne. The “ outer “ States are entitled to more favorable consideration in the distribution of money for defence purposes.
– I I have a great deal of sympathy for the views expressed by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn), and I agree entirely that the terrific drain that is being made by defence needs on public funds that otherwise would be available for investment in ordinary reproductive work will eventually - and I think it will be in the very near future - accentuate the difficulties of the smaller States, in fact, all States, to an even greater degree than at present. The matter to which I direct the attention of the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Spender) applies equally to all of the States. I wish to know whether the honorable gentleman has any guarantee from State Treasurers that the £2,000,000 to be allocated for Christmas unemployment relief will be in addition to the ordinary works programmes of the States. It has been a sore point with members of the Labour party in this House for a number of years that when Commonwealth grants of this kind have been made, the States have used the money to relieve themselves of obligations. By that I mean that money which has been given to the States by the Commonwealth has not been treated as expenditure additional to ordinary State programmes. Money which the Commonwealth had intended to be expended for additional relief of unemployment has, in effect, been used for the purpose of relieving State budgets. I was fortunate enough to hear in the Parliament of New South Wales a recent debate which was an eye-opener to members of the Government parties as well as members of the Opposition. It exposed the manner in which government funds can be manipulated. As the result of manipulation of finance in New South Wales, it was found expedient to rid the State of its then Premier. Unless the Government has an assurance from the States that the money made available to them will be expended in addition to their ordinary programmes, this grant will not improve the unemployment position.
Another very important point affects many hundreds of men, even in the electorate represented by the Acting Treasurer. Whenever the Commonwealth makes a grant for unemployment relief and the money is expended by State labour departments, only those men who are eligible under the relief regulations of the States are entitled to share in the work. Although they may have been unemployed for many years, thousands of men in New South Wales and, I suppose, in every other State, are debarred from participation in relief works, because of the permissible income regulations enforced by the States. They are ready, able and willing to work, but they are not only denied the right to relief work and to a share of the money which they paid to the State governments in wages tax during their working years, but also the right to benefit from similar taxes imposed to-day. Is the Commonwealth Government going to allow the States to enforce the restrictions to which I have referred in connexion with this grant of £2,000,000, thus preventing men from obtaining relief merely because some members of their families are in employment? After all, the Commonwealth, which is paying the money, is entitled to have some say in the matter, and when such a large sum is at stake, it should ensure not only that the money will be expended in addition to what the States intended to expend, but also that every unemployed man shall be eligible to participate. The danger is that if the State Labour Bureau handles the money, many men who have been unemployed for years will not secure relief.
– I realize that it is not wise to “look a gift horse in the mouth “, but I congratulate the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) upon having raised a matter of vital importance to the Commonwealth. The smaller States are not receiving their due share of work in connexion with the Commonwealth’s defence programme. Of the total expenditure for war, only three per cent, is being incurred in South Australia. I take exception to that. I am pleased to know that the Commonwealth intends to grant £2,000,000 for the relief of unemployment during the Christmas season. It is in the nature of a little “hand-out”, which the States must look for from time to time. I understand that, of this £2,000,000, South Australia is to be given £175,000.
– That is too much for South Australia. A larger sum should be given to Queensland.
– I have no objection to the allocation of more money to Queensland, but I do object to the bulk of the grant being allotted to Victoria and New South Wales. I have been hammering away at the Government with a view to having more work done in the State of South Australia, but so far I appear to have made very little headway. I make this further appeal to it not to spend the whole of the money in the two big States, but to spread the expenditure more evenly throughout the Commonwealth. We are entitled to have these works undertaken by virtue of our contributions to the Consolidated Revenue. I urge the Government to give the matter very serious consideration,
– I am sure that the unemployed particularly will very greatly appreciate this gesture of the Government at the Christmas period, even though £2,000,000 is not a very large amount to expend on works for their relief. The intention of the Government to allocate the expenditure to the best advantage is to be commended, but it is possible that, as the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) has said, the great capital cities will secure the greatest benefit on account of the system adopted in connexion with defence works. The decision as to where useful defence works may be undertaken rests with the Military Board, with the personnel of which we are not acquainted, of whose actions we know less, and of whose investigations no one has any knowledge whatever. I agree that there should be some authority to decide matters that are of such importance to Australia; but when the huge expenditure under the defence vote, and smaller expenditure in the interests of the unemployed, are to be undertaken, we should be given some explanation as to who these gentlemen are and the lines on which they work. To-day, most of the defence works are carried out in the big capital cities, which consequently derive the greatest advantage from the expenditure. Take the electorate of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) as an example. With the approval of the Military Board, certain defence works are already being carried out in that district, which is receiving the advantage of that expenditure. In addition, it will participate largely in Queensland’s share of the £2,000,000, whilst other districts which have not had any assistance from the general defence vote, because they have not been proclaimed of military importance, will not receive any recognition and their unemployed will consequently suffer. I blame, not the Government, but the principle under which the money is allocated. I do not suppose that there is one gun on what is probably the most vulnerable portion of the Australian coast, that between Brisbane and Townsville. Provision has been made for the establishment of an aeroplane base at Townsville, but the Government itself took that action on its own initiative, against the decision of the board which has the responsibility of recommending sites. Something should be done to alter this state of affairs. The provision of aerodromes, and the establishment of fortifications in ports and harbours, should come under some review in this House, so that advantage might be taken of the local knowledge of residents in the different States. Why a board sitting in Melbourne should decide which are the most important and vulnerable parts of Australia in which loan money should be expended, I cannot understand. There i3 widespread dissatisfaction in regard to the operation of these boards. The use of the great power that they possess results in an undue proportion of the expenditure being incurred in the big cities. In this respect I except the Naval Board, the activities of which have not, so far, been open to criticism.
A great deal was said about twelve months ago, when representatives of the British Air Ministry visited Australia, regarding the assistance which Australia was to render to the Empire in respect of production generally. The visit of this mission was heralded through the columns of the press, and it wa3 said that construction was about to commence in Australia of British Beaufort bombers, as had been done in Canada twelve months previously. Three months after a similar mission had visited Canada, eight factories started the manufacture of British bombing machines. An order was given to a value of £2,000,000, and the statement was made that the total order in sight for bombers was of a value of £50,000,000. This resulted in’ considerably increased industrial activity in that dominion, and the circulation of that British money has been responsible for the further industrial development which is occurring to-day, together with the congregation of men from different sections of the Empire to train where the bombers are being’ made. Twelve months have elapsed, yet not one British bombing engine has been built in Australia as the result of the visit of that mission. I am not blaming the Government; it was responsible for the visit of the mission to Australia. Who is responsible for holding the matter up, if not some board? I understand that certain difficulty has been experienced in connexion with the construction of Beaufort bombers in Australia, and that 200 of these engines for locally made bodies are being secured from Great Britain. Last week, the Acting Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) stated that arrangements are being made for the building of Beaufort bombers and other engines of British type in Australia. There should be a clean-up of this matter, and if we propose to act as Canada has done, to the great advantage of the Empire generally, but, particularly of that dominion itself, we should proceed immediately with the construction of these machines, and where possible effect decentralization1 of the interests connected with their manufacture. This would be valuable from the standpoint of defence, because much greater difficulty would be experienced by an enemy in destroying manufacturing centres that were widely separated. I hope that we shall be able to develop the policy enunciated both before and after the visit of the British air mission; that we shall not only make of what we are likely to do a good story in the press, but also develop any industries which will prove valuable to Australia and the Empire generally for years to come.
.- I desire briefly to voice a protest against the lack of defence expenditure in the State of South Australia. This is not a party political matter. The people of South Australia as a whole have been led to believe that expenditure on defence works would be such as to take uo the slack in employment in that State. The Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, on returning from various conferences of Premiers and meetings of the
Loan Council, both, before and since the declaration of war, has told the people of his State that a number of factories would be established there. He said, for instance, that at the Islington railway workshops, which are reputed to be the best engineering works of the kind in the southern hemisphere, and in which plant to the value of over £1,000,000. has been installed, thus making possible the production of almost all kinds of munitions, it was expected that the number of employees would increase from 800 to approximately 1,800 before next Christmas; yet, so far as I am aware, scarcely any additional men have been employed at that establishment. The people of South Australia were also led to believe that the manufacture of munitions would be undertaken by at least two of the big motor body-building companies in that State - I refer to T. J. Richards and Son and General Motors-Holdens Limited. An additional factory was also to be erected between Adelaide and Port Adelaide. So far none of these enterprises has materialized. The people of South Australia emphatically protest that, whereas their contribution towards defence expenditure, by means of taxes, approximates to 10 per cent, of the total for the Commonwealth, only about 1 per cent, of the total expenditure is allocated to that State. Such treatment of the central State of the Commonwealth is unfair, especially when it is remembered that South Australia is most favorably situated geographically for the establishment of defence works. I should like to know whether the £2,000,000 will be confined to works of defence value.
– It is for defence works which are low in the order of priority, and have been chosen chiefly because of their ability to absorb unskilled labour.
– T am sorry that the expenditure is to be confined strictly to defence works. In many country districts of South Australia there are large numbers of unemployed persons. At Gawler, where I live, there is a little army of unemployed, but neither there nor at other large country centres in my electorate, such as Peterborough and Kapunda, are any defence works to be undertaken. Large sections of country people throughout Australia will not par ticipate at all in the expenditure of this £2,000,000. The money should not be used for defence works only, but should be spread over the community in whatever way would best relieve unemployment. In the allocation of this grant,, and, indeed, of defence expenditure generally, the unanswerable case of South Australia for greater consideration should not be overlooked.
.- I do not propose to criticize this allocation, because I understand that the money will be expended principally on defence works. Some time ago I urged that the States, which would not. participate to any great degree in the defence expenditure, should receive favorable consideration in respect of public works generally, and I was assured that the proposal would be given serious consideration. Owing to the huge expenditure on defence, there has been a serious curtailment of expenditure on public works by State and semigovernmental authorities. In respect of public works other than those connected with defence, those States which will not benefit to any great extent from defence expenditure should receive favorable consideration. Nearly 70 per cent, of the contemplated expenditure will be allocated to New South Wales and Victoria.
– Those States have a correspondingly larger number of unemployed.
– I wish to make it clear that I do not object to defence expenditure in New South Wales and Victoria, because I realize the need to secure the maximum results from the money disbursed, but I urge the Minister to give serious consideration to the claims of the other States in connexion with the Government’s programme of public works generally.
.- I protest against the neglect of Tasmania in the allocation of this money. Recently there was some controversy between New South Wales and Victoria as to the allocation of moneys voted by the Commonwealth Government, each claiming that the other was being given preference. In this instance, New South Wales is to receive more than Victoria. It may bp that the Government thinks that that will balance things as between the two States. The Government proposes to raise a special force of 20,000 men, all of whom will be trained in Victoria and New South Wales, As Tasmania’s quota is 860 men, that means that approximately 1,000 men will leave Tasmania for the, mainland. Notwithstanding that, because of its cheap hydro-electric power, Tasmania has better facilities for the manufacture of munitions than exist in any of the other States, no use of that cheap power is contemplated by the Government. Probably the explanation of the Government’s policy is that the moneyed interests are to be found chiefly in New South Wales and Victoria. For all practical purposes Tasmania is regarded as being almost outside the Commonwealth; its claims are put to one side, and its people told to keep quiet. This bill merely gives a sop to Tasmania. The Government would have acted more fairly if this £2,000,000 had been apportioned among the smaller four States, in which there is a considerable amount of unemployment. Because of the war the fruit industry of Tasmania will not employ nearly so many workers during the coming season as in past years. Refrigerator spice, which in normal years has been available for the transport of fruit, has been allocated to the exporters of meat and butter. Those engaged in the fruit industry in Tasmania have been struggling for years against bad seasons and other difficulties, and just when they are getting on their feet the whole of their refrigeration space has been taken for the shipment overseas of commodities produced on the mainland. When the Minister could have done something for the fruit industry he said, apparently, to himself, “No, I shall lay up a bit for New South Wales, my own State “.
– In proportion to the number of its unemployed Tasmania is receiving approximately the same grant as New South Wales.
– Many Tasmanians have been obliged to migrate to Victoria in order to find employment in munition factories. As the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) said, seventy per cent, of this money has been allocated to the two larger States. I often wonder for how long more the people resident in the smaller States will stand this sort of treatment. They will have to rise against it. To-day we hear much talk about unification. The Commonwealth will need to treat the smaller States much more generously before I shall ever advocate unification. I feel sure that if a vote were taken in Tasmania to-morrow as to whether Tasmania should secede from the Commonwealth, the answer of the State, as was the case in Western Australia, would be in the affirmative. The treatment meted out by the Commonwealth to the smaller States is dastardly. This money should have been distributed among them. None of it should have been allocated to those States where practically the whole of the Government’s proposed defence expenditure of £60,000,000 is to be incurred.
.- I endorse the remarks of the honorable members for Wakefield (Mr. McHugh) and Boothby (Mr. Price). I am very dissatisfied with the manner in which the Commonwealth Government has allocated this sum of £2,000,000, which, I understand, has been made available to relieve unemployment. When we realize that only three per cent, of the Government’s total defence expenditure has been allocated to South Australia, despite the fact that factories in that State are capable of manufacturing every kind of war material we require, the people of South Australia have very good cause to be disappointed. I say most emphatically that they are very disappointed. They were given to understand that a large proportion of the Government’s defence works would be undertaken in South Australia. Unquestionably the unemployment situation in Victoria . and New South Wales has been considerably relieved by the Government’s defence expenditure in those States. Yet South Australia is allotted only £175,000 out of a. grant of £2,000,000 for the purpose of relieving unemployment. Unemployment in South Australia, has grown owing to the fact that very little of the defence work has come its way. We should, therefore, receive a much larger portion of this grant. Many promises have been made to South Australia in respect of the allocation of Government expenditure on war material, but they have not been, carried out, although much money has been expended in equipping factories in that State in anticipation of getting a fair share of defence contracts. We are still waiting patiently for the ful,filment pf those promises. Yesterday I was told by the Acting Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) that possibly I might be surprised when I heard what was coming to South Australia. “We have heard that story before. Unless we get satisfaction I and “my colleagues from South Australia will cause a disturbance in this House. As no State is more suitable for the manufacture of defence requirements, it should be the Government’s policy to decentralize these industries and I shall not rest content until that is done*
– Like other honorable members I have been anxious to hear what relief the Government proposes to provide at Christmas for the unemployed in not only Victoria but also the other States. “Whilst I appreciate the fact that a sum of £2,000,000 has been made available for that purpose, I do not think that the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Spender) has given to the House any indication that would justify the belief that this money will be used to undertake works in addition1 to those ordinarily undertaken by the State governments out of their own funds.
– This sum is being made available for works which are not part of the States’ programmes, Or for works for which they have not sufficient finance.
– Has any condition been attached to this grant to ensure that this money will not be used by the States for works which they would ordinarily undertake for the relief of the unemployed at Christmas?
– This is an additional £2,000,000 thrown into the pool to provide extra employment for the period of six months.
– I hope that it will be used to provide employment additional to that ordinarily provided by the States a’t Christmas-time for the unemployed.
– An examination of the schedule should satisfy the honorable member on that point.
– Every honorable member knows that in the past the States have utilized grants of this kind f or works which would ordinarily be paid for out of State funds. That principle, of course, is entirely wrong, because in such circumstances, no additional relief is given to the unemployed. I hope, however, that that practice will not be followed on this occasion;, I am surprised and amused when I hear the honorable members for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), Boothby (Mr. Brice), Wide Bay (Mr. Corser,) and Perth (Mr. Nairn) complaining that the smaller States are not receiving a fair deal from the Commonwealth. I could understand such complaints were they made by honorable members from the smaller States on this side, because we have no say in the policy of the Government, or in1 the allocation of grants of this kind. But of 48 members of this Parliament who come from the smaller States no less than 28 are supporters of the Government. Yet they allow the Government to get away with the very sort of thing respecting unemployment, about which they complain, year after year. They say that the Government fails to look after the interests of the smaller States, but they always sustain it in office. Consequently, I can come to no other conclusion than that their interest in the unemployed is merely confined to election propaganda. These honorable gentlemen have the power to change the Government. Why do they not exercise that power if their complaints are sincere? They have adopted this attitude for a number of years past. No one oan say that this Government has any definite policy for the relief of the unemployed, because proposals of this kind are made year after year, and beyond these temporary measures it does not give a single thought to the problem of unemployment. It is true, as has been stated by quite a number of honorable members, that large sums of money are being spent for defence purposes in the larger States, but it is also true that the method under which Australia’s defence is being organized at present necessitates this, at any rate during a period of wa*. _ I have said repeatedly that I think our munitions establishments should be decentralized. Perhaps the greatest proportion of munition manufacture ing in Australia is done in my own electorate. Personally, I should like to see a wider distribution of this work. I should like to know why an annexe has not been provided to the Commonwealth railway workshops at Port Augusta in South Australia. Considerable scope exists for helping the youthful section of the community in the training of artisans in country districts where largo works of this kind are in operation. These matters provide justifiable ground for criticism and I trust that the members opposite who have seen fit to criticize the Government will repeat their complaints in the party meetings. It is idle for them to indulge in this type of criticism in the House when they fail to bring influence to bear upon the Government in their party meetings.
The Acting Treasurer (Mr. Spender) said, in reply to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), that the amount of money allocated to Tasmania was large relative to the proportion of unemployment in that State. That is probably the case, but it should be remembered that in the States in which anti-Labour governments are in office the percentage of unemployment is higher than in States in which Labour governments are in office.
I should like the Government to endeavour, at this time, to plan ahead for the relief of unemployment when the war ceases, which every body hopes will be soon; but the absence of any constructive ideas, or of any organized effort, .towards tin’s end does not give us much hope that anything effective will be done. To expect us to show gratitude for the provision of £2,000,000 for the temporary relief of unemployment in these circumstances, is, to expect a little too much.
– The honorable member is hardly fair. This amount is being provided to meet to some degree the temporary lag caused by the war. It is not suggested that this represents the total attempt of the Government to deal with th B subject
– I have no wish to ho unfair, but I want to know what the Government intends to do when the war ceases.
– This is hardly the appropriate time to make a declaration on that matter.
– Apparently the whole of the energies of the Government are being devoted, at present, to defence matters ; but the fact remains that over a long period of years the Government has taken no consistent action to relieve unemployment. The problem seems to become larger and more difficult the longer the United- Australia party remains in office. I appeal for something effective to be done to meet the situation.
.- I have a great number of complaints to which I should like to refer, but I shall deal with only two this afternoon. My first complaint relates to the tardiness of Ministers in answering questions. I. asked a question of the Minister for Commerce on Wednesday. I did not receive an answer until yesterday. Yesterday I asked another question and I have not yet received an answer. I can quite understand that delay is likely to occur in providing answers to questions which require the compilation of tables or a good deal of inter-departmental investigation, hut the simple questions to which. T have referred could have been answered easily and promptly, as an adequate telephone service is available. I have also to complain of the nature of the answers which I receive. I have one in mind, one in particular which was evasive, contradictory and incorrect. In order that I may obtain accurate information when the House assembles next week, I shall repeat the question. It is -
On what day were prices for meat decided” between the British and Australian Governments ?
That question was asked on Wednesday and on Thursday I received the following reply through the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce: -
With reference to the question asked by yon yesterday regarding the arrangements Hindewith the United Kingdom Government for thesale of Australian meat. I desire to advisethat the negotiations op to price commenced immediately on the outbreak of war mid are not yet completed.
T shall omit the next paragraph of t.hf>reply for it is immaterial, but the third paragraph reads -
Advice of the final agreement, in regard toprices was received in Australia on Sunda?., the 29th October.
The Department of Commerce cannot have it both ways. It is obvious, I suggest, that a good deal of the tardiness and also of the evasiveness in answering questions is due to the fact that the Minister and the department know that serious allegations are about to be made regarding the whole conduct of the negotiations in connexion with the Government sale of our foodstuffs. 1 hope that specific information will be afforded me on this subject, and that we shall see a.n end to these evasive answers. My question was clear, concise and explicit, and there was no justification for the evasive and contradictory reply that I received.
The next matter to which I shall refer affects the Geelong and Cressy Trading Company Limited, and its employees, in relation to the handling of wheat and barley. These products are being handled under the provisions’ of Statutory Rules No. 146 of 1939, under which authority is given to issue licences to trade. Apparently only five wheat agents have been appointed, and the Geelong and Cressy Trading Company Limited, which was established 29 years ago by the farmers of the districts to handle their grain and produce, has been overlooked. The complaint to which I refer was conveyed to the Honorable J. Cain, M.L.A., Leader of the Labour party in the Victorian Parliament. I quote the following paragraph -from tlie letter of the manager : -
Wo feel that through farmers being compelled to deliver their grain to, in the case of wheat, one of the five licensed agents, and we in turn to purchase from these agents our stores would be wasted and some four or five of our staff lose their jobs. As most of these nien are married men the consequences will be far reaching.
Another factor in the wheat position is that we must pay the Wheat Board 3s. 0½d. for wheat whereas a firm of millers in the town who have not provided the storage space which we have for the benefit for the farmers, can obtain supplies of wheat at 2s. lid. to sell against us.
It appears as though the policy of the Wheat Board, and also the Barley Board, is to centralize the handling of these products in the capital cities of the Commonwealth, to the detriment of country traders who have handled the business satisfactorily in years past. The following reply was received by Mr. Cain from the Minister for Commerce (Senator McLeay) : -
Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of the 6th November, with which you forward a communication received by you from Mr. K. A. Wilson, manager of the Geelong and Cressy Trading Company Limited, Geelong, having reference to the effect upon his business of decisions by the Wheat and Barley Boards in the matter of the appointment of agents.
As you will no doubt appreciate, administration is left entirely to these boards, but you may assure your correspondent that 1 shall pass the contents of their communication on to the boards for their sympathetic consideration.
I maintain that the Minister when he is convinced that a complaint is justified, should make an immediate investigation, and should instruct the board, if necessary, to reverse its decision. I have had occasion to refer to the treatment of country wool firms by the Central Wool Committee, and the tardiness with which the Minister took action. Itis time that more ministerial control was exercised in these matters. I have no aversion to boards as such, but I expect that a Minister shall be something more than a mere rubber stamp. When a complaint is addressed to him he should take it seriously, should have an investigation made, and should take what action i= necessary. He should not simply refer the matter back to the board against which the complaint is made. I hope that the Minister will pass on my presentations to the board, and will ensure that the firm to which I have referred is given justice. It has storage space for 30,000 bags: yet, before long, we shall probably see that some of the five licensed handling agents are spending money in providing additional storage space.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Nineteenth Annual Report by the Trustees, for year 1938-30 (including the Sir Samuel McCaughey Bequest foi- the Technical Education nf Soldiers’ Children)
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment of W. J. Gibbs, Department of the Interior.
Customs Act - Proclamations, prohibiting the Exportation (except under certain conditions) of -
Bags, Sacks and Woolsacks (dated 7th
Black Galvanized, and Steam Screwed and Socketed Iron or Steel Pipes or Tubes in sizes not exceeding three inches in internal diameter (dated 28th October, 1939).
Flexible Shafting and Casing therefor (dated 15th September, 1939).
Gold (variation, dated 18th October, 1939).
Hides and Skins (dated 20th September, 1939).
Notes and Gold (dated 13th September, 1939).
Wool (dated 12th September, 1939).
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes - Rottnest Island, Western Australia.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1939 -
No. 7 - Police Force.
No. 8- Appropriation (No. 2) 1938- 1939.
No. 9- Appropriation (No. 3) 1938- 1939.
No. 10 - Criminal Code Amendment.
No. 11 - Shipping.
No. 12 - Ordinances Interpretation.
No. 14 - Administration Employees’ Compensation.
No. 15 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No.16 - Superannuation.
No. 17- Public Service (No. 2).
No. 19 - Pharmacy.
No. 20 - Poisons and Dangerous Substances.
No. 21 - Police Offences.
No. 23 - Mining.
No; 24 - Petroleum (Prospecting and Mining) (No. 2).
House adjourned at 4.42 p.m.
The followinganswers to questions were circulated: -
Mr.Francis asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What has been the importation of bananas from Fiji each year since the signing of the OttawaAgreement ?
What would have been the total amount of duty paid if the full importation of 40,000 centals had been made each year?
What was the total amount of duty paid each year on bananas imported from Fiji under the Ottawa Agreement?
What was the total amount paid by the Government over the same period for the assistance and the development of the banana industry, for eradicating diseases, and for the maturing and marketing of bananas?
New Guinea: Gold Excise.
Mr.Green asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that a 5 per cent. royaltyhas been exacted on gold by the Administrator of the Territory of New Guinea for a considerable period, will he see that the imposition of the excise on gold does not operate so that the tax on gold exceeds that paid by the gold-mining interests on the mainland of Australia?
Will he see that prospectors of New Guinea, whose research under hazardous conditions has been largely responsible for the progress of the territory to-day, and whose net income doesnot exceed, say, £500 per annum, are exempted from the incidence of the excise on gold?
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information: -
Mr.McHugh asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information: - 1, 2 and 3. Appraisement of wool is the responsibility of the Central Wool Committee in accordance with the provisions of the National Security (Wool) Regulations. The appraisement is based on a table of limits, which will not be changed during the year. The Minister does not examine the results of each appraisement, and average appraisements in the various States are not published. The average price received at auction for South Australian wool in normal years is always below the average for Australia.
Yes. 5. (a) At the end of the season.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information : -
South African Wool Clip.
k . asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information : -
The Government is not aware of any arrangement made by the United Kingdom Government for the purchase of the South African wool clip.
i asked the Acting Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
Have any contracts for war equipment been made with the Commonwealth Rolling Mills, Port Kembla? If so, what is the amount of money involved ?
– No contracts have been made with the Commonwealth Rolling Mills of Port Kembla for the supply of war equipment. Purchases from this company of steel sheet and ingot iron to the value of £2,852, however, have been authorized by the Contract Board of the Supply and Development Department since March, 1939.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
What have been the average monthly prices for Australian frozen beef, hinds and crops, separately, at the Smithfield market, for the period 1st July, 1938, to 31st August, 1939?
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information : -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following information : -
k asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– A full statement covering these questions and other matters will be made in Parliament by the Minister for Information next week.
Postal Department: Purchases from British General Electric Company and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited.
r asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The matter is receiving consideration, and if the information can be obtained it will be supplied.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
h asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
What is the actual price paid to the farmer or agent for wheat taken over and sold by the Wheat Board?
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information : -
For old wheat, the Australian Wheat Board will pay to the persons from whom it was acquired the actual market realization, less costs. For the forthcoming harvest, the Australian Wheat Board will pay advances on the basis already announced by the Prime Minister. The subsequent payments will depend on market realizations.
e asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
Does the Government intend to introduce legislation to provide for insurance against unemployment ?
– A scheme for insurance against unemployment contemplating co-operation between the Commonwealth and State Governments has been prepared, but owing to the advent of war these proposals have not yet had consideration by the Government.
y asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– This matter is being considered. A further reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
e asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Australian Broadcasting Commission: Broadcasts by “ The Watchman “.
n. - On the 16th November, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following answers : -
t. - On the 16th November the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green) asked the following question, upon notice -
When is it proposed to proceed with the construction of the radio andmeteorogical 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?
It is regretted that the provision for a building at Geraldton aerodrome, which was originally included in the Department of Civil Aviation estimates this year, has now been eliminated as the result df reduction of this department’s expenditure.
.- On the 15th
November the honorable member for
Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) asked my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, the following question, without notice -
Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state why the ban formerly imposed on the export of margarine resembling butter in colour has been removed; whether, before its removal, the representatives of the dairying industry were consulted; and whether he considers that the butter export trade to the East must be damaged by such action?
My colleague, the Minister for Commerce, advises me that until recently the regulations governing the export of margarine provided that it could not be exported if it contained-
The effect of the first provision was to preclude the export of Australian margarine manufactured from animal fats together with Australian vegetable oils. Because of war conditions, opportunity has arisen for Australian margarine manufacturers to secure some of the trade in nearby Eastern markets which previously obtained their margarine from other sources. Australian manufacturers had received inquiries which they were unable to meet owing to this restriction. As buyers ‘outside Australia would go elsewhere if they could not purchase from Australia margarine of acceptable colour, it was considered that continuance of this particular colour restriction would unjustifiably deprive Australian manufacturers of opportunity to develop an export trade in a product which provides a useful outlet for by-products of the Australian meat, cotton and peanut industries. Although the Australian Dairy Produce Board is opposed to the exportation of margarine in any form, it was considered by , the Government that the Australian butter export trade to the East would not be adversely affected, and, in view of the advantages to be gained, the Words “ or which causes thecolour of the finished product to resemble butter “ were deleted from the regulations. The prohibition against “ added colouring matter” still stands.
Supplies atmilitary Camps.
– On the 15 th November, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked the following question, without notice -
Can the Minister for the Army inform the House as to the method adopted by the Defence Department in Becking the supply of commodities to the various military camps? Is it a fact that tender forms are given to certain business people adjacent to tlie camps, and that large co-operative societies in the districts which depression has affected most have neverbeen supplied with those forma? If this system has been adopted, does the Minister not think that it would be more equitable to all concerned if tenders were invited through the press, and everybody allowed to tender?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that tender forms are sent direct by the District Contract Board of the Department of Supply and Development to all known likely tenderers in the district. In addition, copies of tender forms are sent to local adjutants who are supplied with a list of the firms circularized by the District Contract Board, and who are requested to bring the forms under the notice of any firms who are likely tenderers and whose names do not appear on the list of those circularized by the District Contract Board. For instance, in the ease ofRutherford Camp, 77 tender forms were sent direct to prospective tenderers by the District Contract Board, and, in addition, 21 forms were sent tothe localadjutant for distribution to any firms who might not have been directly advised by the District Contract Board. Co-operative societies were included in the list of those invited to tender, and so far as is knownnone has been overlooked. If any co-operative society or other firm said to have been overlooked will communicate with the Secretary, District Contract Board, 35 Circular Quay West, Sydney, steps will be taken to record their names in the register of likely tenderers kept in the office of the District Contract Board and tender forms will be sent direct to them by the board on all future occasions. As a consequence of the increase of the numbers of men in camps in country districts, arrangements have already been made for all tenders for supplies for these camps in future to be advertised in country as well as in metropolitan newspapers.
n asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 November 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1939/19391117_reps_15_162/>.