15th Parliament · 2nd Session
The House met at 3 p.m., pursuant to the Proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the Proclamation.
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair, and read prayers.
The Usher of the Blackrod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber.
Honorable members attended accordingly, andhaving returned,
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon.G. J. Bell).I have to announce that during the adjournment of the House I received from the Right Honorable R. G. Casey a letter, resigning as from the 30th January, 1940, his seat as member for the electoral division of Corio. I desire to inform the House that on the 9th February, 1940, I issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Corio in the State of Victoria. I have received a return to such writ, and by the endorsement thereon it is certified that John Johnstone Dedman has been elected in pursuance of the said writ.
Mr. Dedman made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
– I desire to inform the House of the following changes which took place in the Ministry after the adjournment of Parliament in December last, and prior to the recent reconstruction.
On the 26th January, the Right Honorable R. G. Casey, Minister for Supply and Development, resigned from the Ministry. The Honorable Sir Frederick Stewart was appointed Minister for Supply and Development, vice Mr. Casey.
On the 23rd February, the Honorable J. N. Lawson, Minister for Trade and Customs, resigned his appointment, and I was appointed to that portf olio.
– I desire formally to announce to the House that, on the 14th March, 1940, the Ministry was reconstructed, and is now constituted as follows : -
The Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies, K.C., M.P. - Prime Minister, Minister for Defence Co-ordination and Minister for Information.
The Honorable Archie Galbraith Cameron, M.P. - Minister for Commerce and Minister for the Navy.
Brigadier the Honorable Geoffrey Austin Street, M.C., M.P. - Minister for the Army and Minister for Repatriation.
The Honorable Sir Henry Somer Gullett, K.C.M.G., M.P.- VicePresident of the Executive. Council and Minister in charge of Scientific and Industrial Research.
The Honorable Harold Victor Campbell Thorby, M.P.- PostmasterGeneral and Minister for Health.
Senator the Honorable George McLeay Minister for Trade and Customs.
The Honorable John McEwen, M.P. - Minister for External Affairs.
Senator the Honorable Hattil Spencer Foll Minister for the Interior.
The Honorable Arthur William Fadden, M.P. - Minister assisting the Treasurer and Minister assisting the Minister for Supply and Development.
Senatorthe Honorable Herbert Brayley Collett,C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D. - Minister in charge of War Service Homes and assisting the Minister for Repatriation.
The Honorable Horace Keyworth Nock, M.P. - Minister assisting the Prime Minister, Minister in charge of External Territories, and Minister assisting the Minister for the Interior.
Although I have been nominally appointed Minister for Information, Sir Henry Gullett, who previously held the portfolio, will continue to administer the department.
The Minister for Trade and Customs will be represented in this House by Mr. Spender, the Minister for the Interior by Mr. Nock, and the Minister in charge of War Service Homes by Mr. Street.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in abillfor an act to amend the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1939.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Sitting suspended from 3.38 to5 p.m.
– It is with regret that I inform honorable members that the Honorable William Henry : Wilks, a former member of this chamber, died in Melbourne on the 5th February last.
Mr. Wilks enjoyed the distinction of being a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament. He was elected to represent the Division of Dalley in 1901, and held that seat until the general elections of 1910, When he was defeated. Prior to entering the Commonwealth Parliament, he had been a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales for a period of seven years, so that in total he had a very long and an extremely useful public career. His Commonwealth parliamentary service included the occupancy of the position of Government Whip in 1904-5, of Chairmanship of Committees in 1905-7, and of Chairmanship on the Royal Commission oh Postal Services in 1908.
Many years have passed since the late Mr. Wilks held a seat in this Parliament ; therefore, he may be personally unknown to a large number of honorable members. I, of course, did not know him in his capacity as a member of this Parliament, but I had the advantage of some personal acquaintance with him a number of years ago, and I am quite sure that I speak on behalf of all honorable members when I say that very great regret will be felt on both sides of the House at the passing of a man who, for a long period of years, rendered noted service to the State of New South Wales in the Parliament of that State and te the people of Australia in this Commonwealth Parliament. I recall a remark made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) on the occasion of a similar motion last year, when he drew attention to the very special place that was occupied in the parliamentary history of Australia by those who were members of the first Commonwealth Parliament. They were, so to speak, pioneers of the parliamentary institution of the Commonwealth at that time - a. new Commonwealth, with a form that was little understood, and a future that was necessarily hidden. We have great reason to be grateful to the men who worked in this Parliament in its early and formative years. Accordingly, I am quite sure that there will be special regret at the passing of yet one more of those men who held membership of the first Commonwealth Parliament. I desire, on behalf of the Government and of Parliament, to extend our very deep sympathy to the widow and family of the late Mr. Wilks in their bereavement. I move -
Unit this House records its sincere regret at the death of the Honorable William Henry Wilks, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Dalley and a member of the First Commonwealth Parliament, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I beg to second the motion. Like the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I had no personal association with the late Mr. Wilks; but all of us in this place are sufficiently well informed regarding the history of the federation to know that a man who, in the first decade of its existence, shared the tremendously difficult task of piloting this Commonwealth through its infant years, was one who not only had a great and an exceedingly important trusteeship for the future of Australia, but also, by reason of his previous membership of the Parliament of New South Wales, and his successive re-elections to this Parliament, must have won a very high place in the. regard of his contemporaries, lt is, I believe, true, that all of the members of the First Commonwealth Parliament, apart from the privilege that they had of being the first members of this National Parliament, were in themselves men of very great capacity. Most of them had served in the Parliaments of the States, and some of them will, I think, remain for all time imperishable figures in our national history. Although every member of the Parliament could not occupy a place in the Government, I think that it must be true that there was a large number of them who were none the less of very great value to the public life and the public service of the day. So far as my reading enables me to form an opinion, I should say that the late Mr. Wilks was far from being the least of those men. Even to be the humblest in such a distinguished gallery was indeed to be a very important figure. I pay tribute to the late honorable gentleman’s work, and on behalf of my colleagues and myself offer sympathy to his bereaved family.
– I desire to associate the Country party with all that has been said concerning the late Mr. Wilks, and on behalf of that party extend sympathy to those who have been bereaved.
– I associate myself with the very kindly remarks that have already been made in memory of the late honorable member for Dalley.’ As lias been indicated, the late Mr. Wilks was one of the pioneers on the unblazed track of Federal government, and played a very important part in the early work of this Parliament. He was a man of considerable political courage, and although his particular shade of politics was not entirely in harmony with that of the electorate that he represented, nevertheless, for nine years, he served faithfully the party to which he belonged in a division which has since transferred its political allegiance to another political party. He played a prominent part in the affairs of both the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth, and was always a fearless fighter on behalf of those whom he held dear. By reason of my very early recollections of the political struggle in this particular electorate, I can say of him that, whatever his views were, he placed them fearlessly before the people and was at all times a fair fighter in the interests of those whom he represented. It is to his credit, too, that although he has been dissociated fromthe work of this Parliament for many years, he continued to retain an interest in the politics of this country. The opinions that he expressed to political friends as well as to political opponents were valuable, because of the wide experience he had had in politics. I desire to associate his old friends, as well as his old political opponents in my electorate - who speak well of him - with the remarks that have been made, and on behalf of the present generation in that electorate, convey very sincere sympathy to his relatives, as well as to the country in general, in the loss of one of its most prominent citizens.
– I desire to associate myself with the remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and those who have also spoken on this motion. I knew Mr. Wilks very well. He and I were close personal friends. We entered the Parliament of New South Wales at the same time and remained together in that legislature until the establishment of the Commonwealth, when we were both returned to this Parliament. I knew him intimately. He was a bright spirit. We were not members of the same party, but he was a man of democratic instincts. He served his country well. He was an upright and honorable man, and one in whose friendship I rejoiced. I deeply regret his death.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to Mrs. Wilks the foregoing resolution, together with a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
– I have received from Mrs. W. C. Hill a letter thanking the House for its resolution of sympathy.
– Some few weeks ago the Attorney-General’s Department advertised positions of industrial inspectors. Has the department yet considered the applications received? If so, when will the proposed appointments be made? What will be the actual duties of those inspectors?
– A number of applications has been received.
– How many?
– When I say “a number “ I mean a number.
– Does the right honorable gentleman mean a great number?
– I mean a great number. They are not so numerous as the sands of the seashore, but they are getting on that way. The closest scrutiny, as the honorable gentleman will appreciate, is necessary in order that the great qualifications of applicants may be sifted and duly passed on. This will take some time; we are at work on it now.
– Has the Acting Minister for Information had an opportunity to look at certain articles contained in The Publicist, which are articles of a seditious and disloyal kind? If he has, what action does he propose to take to see that statements of that kind are not published?
– I assure the honorable gentleman that articles of the kind to which he has referred and which I have read for the first time to-day in this month’s issue of The Publicist, will not appear in any subsequent number.
– In view of the vastly increased commitments owing to the war will the Treasurer consider reconstituting the Parliamentary Accounts Committee in order to scrutinize all war expenditure ?
– I shall .
– I ask the Prime Minister if it is a fact that, as the result of action taken by a previous Administration, the only penal power now available to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in respect of any award which is not obeyed by a union is the power to de-register that union? If that is a fact, will the Prime Minister consider taking prompt action either under powers conferred upon the Government by the National Security Act or under powers conferred by legislation to be passed through this Parliament in order to empower the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to discipline any union disobeying an award of the court?
– The honorable gentleman’s question substantially and accurately sets out the present position. The Government has under immediate consideration the introduction of legislation to bring about changes in that position.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been drawn to a. report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph in reference to the conveyance of fruit from the wharves to the Sydney market? The statement reads -
Delivery of thousands of cases of apples and pears was held up yesterday morning while members of the Master Fruit Carriers’ Association conferred with the Apple and Fear Board.
The carriers complained about the carting arrangements controlled by the board. “ Conditions have been chaotic ever since the Apple and Pear Acquisition Scheme was introduced,” said the secretary of the Master Fruit Carriers’ Association (Mr. J. V. Sheridan ) yesterday. “ One of our members waited on Monday from 7 a.m. till 3 p.m. expecting to cart 1,800 cases of apples to an agent.” “After that long wait all he got was 78 cases.”
Will the Minister have an investigation made of the delivery from the Sydney wharves of fruit acquired by the Commonwealth Government, as the Apple and Pear Board in New South Wales seems to be trying to make a failure of the marketing scheme, thus causing heavy loss to the growers?
– I have not seen the paragraph but I shall look at it and let the honorable gentleman know what the position is.
– Is the Minister for Commerce in a position to say what payment has been made under the apple and pear acquisition scheme in respect of each case of fruit? Will he explain the basis upon which future payments will be made, and state whether or not it is a fact, as reported, that it is not intended to make any further payment in respect of apples and pears until after August of this year?
– The first payment was1s. 4d. a case in respect of three-quarters of the assessed crop of each grower. A second payment of8d. a. case in respect of apples, and an additional1s. a case in respect of pears, has been authorized. Another payment of1s. a case in respect of approved qualities delivered to the board’s agents will be made on delivery of the fruit. As to the third part of the honorable member’s question, I inform him that no person has any authority to say that no further payment will be made before August next.
– Has the Minister for Commerce received any urgent communication from exporters of apples and pears in Tasmania who have been put out of business because of the inauguration of the apple and pear acquisitionscheme, and will he see that the promise made by the Prime Minister to the Leader of the Opposition, that these men would be given an opportunity to participate in their regular business of exporting apples and pears, will be honoured ? Will he say whether he intends to take any action in the matter?
– Representations along the lines mentioned by the honorable member have been made, both personally and by letter. It would take too long to give details at this stage, but I am prepared to discuss the matter with the honorable gentleman in my office on some convenient occasion.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce aware that, under the operations of the Apple and Pear Board, fruit agents in Sydney are licensed by the State Government? In view of the fact that a committee appointedby the board has prevented a large number of fruit agents from selling apples and pears, will the honorable gentleman,who, we well know, has interviewed every interest, state what policy he intends to adopt?Will he see that these committees are not allowed flagrantly to prejudice large sellers of apples and pears, and advance the interests of some of their friends who are very small sellers of those fruits?
– Doubtless this matter will be the subject: of discussion before long. When the opportunity occurs, I shall make a full statement on it.
– In view of the immense: sales of margarine against the sale of dairy products both in Australia and overseas and in view of the fact that the prices existing to-day in. respect of sales to Great Britain will expireon the 30th June next, will the Minister for Commerce let the House know if he has made any representations for the continuance of the agreement in respect of sales of dairy produce to Great Britain and after that date? And if so, what are the proposals? Can the Minister give any hope that margarine will not continue to affect the sale of dairy products ?
– That question is a matter for discussion between the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom at present. The disposal of margarine in the United Kingdomdepends very largely on the attitude of the imperial Government. The biggest difficulty is the high price of1s. 7d. per lb. in the United Kingdom at which price butter has. beenfixed which price, of course, is very high in comparison with that of margarine.
Mr.MARTENS.- Has the Government yet decided to establish a wool appraisement centre at Townsville ?
– I ask the Minister for Commerce to give me an assurance that when consideration is being given to the establishment of additional centres for wool appraisement, the claims of Rock- hamton, Gladstoneand other centres will be borne in mind. I should also like an assurancethat, if necessary, deputations from Rockhampton, Gladstone and ether centres: will be given am opportunity to re-state their claims’ for appraisements to be made: in those important centres’?
– I assure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the claims of the towns in his electorate will be considered in this: connexion.
-I ask the Minister for Commerce whether, when the Government is giving consideration to the establishment of new appraisement centres, the claims of Portland, Victoria, will be reviewed?
– Is the Minister for Commerce in a position to say whether any foreign wool appraisers, other than men of French nationality are employed by the Central Wool Committee, and can he give the approximate number of such men and their nationalities ? Further, will he say whether the employment of foreigners as appraisers is justified, in view of the fact that capable Australian wool appraisers who were willing to act are unemployed.
– There are foreign appraisers of nationalities other than French in the employ of the Central Wool Committee. I cannot state the number of such men, but if the. honorable gentleman desires the information,, I shall have inquiries made, although some correspondence and considerable time in searching’ forit would be entailed. I point out that before the war, Australian wool was sold to buyers of many; nationalities who had their representatives here. The system of appraisement is based on there being one appraiser to represent the buyer or the prospective buyer, another to represent the seller, the third to be independent I shall look into the honorable member’s question, and shall supply him with the best information which it is possible to obtain..
Separation Allowances- Training of Volunteers in Their Own States.
-Will the Minister for the Army investigate the present inequitable basis on which separation allowances are paid to widowed mothers of men who have enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, whereby the mother of an unemployed man receives nothing except the allotment Which is deducted from his pay, whereas in other cases varying amounts are paid ; and will he also bring down some equitable scheme whereby separation allowances will be paid to all?
– Thewhole question of allowances for dependants is at present under reviewby the Government with a view to removing anomalies and inequities wherever they exist.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform the House what precautions, if any, are taken by the military authorities to protect the interests of wives and children of soldiers who have gone overseas? I have already furnished the Minister with particulars of two cases in which women otherthan the wives of the soldiers concerned have been drawing separation allowances, while the wives and their children havebeen in want.
– I think that the honorable member’s question has probably been covered by the answer which I gave to a previous question. I point out that the records office must accept the declaration of the soldier regarding his dependants. If he makes a false declaration some time must necessarily elapse before the matter can be put right.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform me whether any volunteers in Western Australia for service abroad are now being trained in the Eastern States?Ifso, will he give me an assurance that that policy will be discontinued?
– With the exception of certain technical units, particularly the artillery, the engineers and the signallers, the great majority of the troops will be trained in the States in which they enlist. This procedure will be contrary to the practice adopted in the case of the Sixth Division.
– Will the Minister for the Army take immediate steps by regulation to meet an anomaly in the pay of dependants of soldiers going overseas ? A boy may allot to his mother 2s. out of 5s., but she gets nothing from the Commonwealth Government. Will the Government take the necessary stepsto give 2s. in cases where 2s. is allotted and1s. where1s. is allotted in the same ratio as allotment of 3s.to wives are supplemen ted. A lot of theboys going overseas do not understand the position.
-As I said earlier the dependants’ allowances are at present under review.
– Will that aspect be taken into consideration?
-Is the Minister for the Army awarethat undue hardship is at present being inflicted upon dependants of members of the Australian Imperial Force because of the way in which regulations governing the allotment of soldiers’ pay are being administered? In one instance, the details ofwhich I have communicated to the department, an unmarried soldier had made an allotment of pay to his mother. Subsequently he married, but the department refused to make an allotment from his pay to the wife. When representations were made on the matter, she was informed that it would be necessary for her to obtain a court order against her husband.. In another case, a soldier deliberately left his wife, who was in a delicate state of health, without any provision at all, and she had to go tothe court foran order I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that, in that particular case, it was necessaryto obtain a grant from the Lord Mayor’s Fund in Newcastleso that the woman might be ableto buy the equipment necessary to enable her to go into hospital for the birth of her child ?
-In cases where a court order is made, the soldier is obliged to fulfil that order by an allotment from his pay. To the extent to which the order cannot be met from the soldier’s pay, it is made up by the Commonwealth Government. No unnecessary delay occurs in those cases. If a soldier has made an allotment, and subsequently marries, it is necessary for him to make a fresh allotment to his wife before separation allowance can be paid to her. Until that second allotment is made no separation allowance can be made to the wife. The honorable member will realize that that must be so.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government has granted, or is granting, any assistance to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in connexion with the construction of ships at Whyalla? If so, what is the nature of this assistance?
– I shall have the matter investigated, and shall advise the honorable member later.
– Having regard to the anxiety of the primary producers of Australia concerning the shortage of shipping to convey their produce overseas, I ask the Prime Minister to make a statement concerning the Government’s activities? I alsoask the right honorable gentleman whether he will lay upon the table of the House the Townsend report on shipbuilding and its possibilities in Australia?
– I understand that the report of Mr. Townsend was prepared for the information of Cabinet. I cannot undertake to lay it on the table of the House. The matters arising out of that report, and the whole shipping situation generally, are at present engaging the consideration of the Government.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that Mr. Townsend did not visit the State of South Australia during his investigations, and will the right honorable gentleman see that the claims of that State are not overlooked in this matter? South Australia is entitled to a fair share of any shipbuilding undertaken by the Commonwealth.
– I can assure the honorable member that the claims of South Australia in this matter will not be overlooked. Even if I desired to ignore South Australia in this matter, the honorable member would not allow me to do so.
– Will the Prime Minister consider bringing in remedial legislation to deal with industrial disputes in the Northern Territory in place of the present penal legislation? At present there is no Industrial Board in the Northern Territory as there is in the Australian Capital Territory, but only a Board of Reference. Will he introduce legislation, or have an ordinance passed, for the purpose of setting up an Industrial Board which will function in the same way as does the Industrial Board in the Australian Capital Territory?
– The honorable member’s representations on this matter will be considered by the Government.
– I have received a number of telegrams from representatives of towns in Northern New South Wales advising me that, as a result of a railway disorganization caused by the coal strike, the carriage of mails to those towns is being seriously interfered with. It is suggested that there are alternative methods of getting the mails through, particularly by motor service, but that these methods have not been availed of. Will the Postmaster-General have the matter inquired into with a view to ensuring that these northern towns, and particularly Tenterfield, have their regular mail services restored ?
– It is true that the New South Wales Government has curtailed a number of the ordinary mail train services. As a result, there has been a certain delay on some days of the week in the delivery of mails to outlying country towns. Every effort is being made to utilize other services for the carriage of mails in order to prevent delay.
– Having regard to the importance of the coal industry to Australia’s economic life, and to the successful prosecution of the present war, does not the Prime Minister believe that it is time the Government called the parties together under the provisions of the Industrial Peace Act, which provides that, in the event of a conference failing, an arbitrator may be appointed to bring about an agreement? If he will not invoke the provisions of this act, which was specifically passed to cover the needs of the extremely intricate coal industry, will he state his reasons to the House?
– The Government is not prepared to exercise the powers it possesses under the provisions of the Industrial Peace Act, and, in brief, its reasons are that it is not prepared to substitute some other tribunal for the Arbitration Court simply because a decision of the court has not been favorably received by one of the parties to the dispute.
– By both of them.
– The difference is that one party is observing the award, or would be willing to doso, while the other is not. However, I agree entirely with what the honorable member has said about the great economic importance of the coal industry during the present war, and I only hope that his words will have a very wide circulation in the coal districts.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that in 1929 the coal-owners locked out the coal-miners for fifteen months in spite of the fact that they were working under an award made under the Industrial Peace Act and that his predecessor in the constituency which he now represents withdrew proceedings which had been commenced against the coal-owners? How can the right honorable gentleman reconcile the attitude of the present Government against the workers with the failure of a previous Government to proceed against the coalowners ?
Is the right honorable gentleman correctly reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as purposing to go to the coalfields? Was the right honorable gentleman responsible for the statement in that article that the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and myself purposed to accompany him? If he was responsible, does he not think that out of courtesy, a member of this Parliament, who represents 80 per cent. of the coal production of Australia, should at least have been informed of his intention to go to the coal-fields and of the text of the talks that he proposes to have with the coal-miners ?
– I have no knowledge of what took place here in 1929.
– Oh, yes, you have.
– With great respect, I have not, and I do not think that I should be asked to study a statement of a predecessor dealing with facts of which I am not aware.
As for the latter portion of the honorable gentleman’s question, I am not responsible for any statement that appears in the press that I may be accompanied through the coal-fields by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) or the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). The fact is that I had a conversation yesterday with the honorable member for Newcastle. I endeavoured to have one with the honorable member for Hunter, but he had not then arrived in Canberra. I told the honorable member for Newcastle that I was proposing to go to the coal-fields and would like to learn from him and subsequently from the honorable member for Hunter what were their opinions as to the best place to visit and the best time to go there. When I found that the honorable member for Hunter was not in Canberra I asked the honorable member for Newcastle to be good enough to tell that honorable member what I was contemplating and that subsequently I would get into touch with him. I regret that I have not had the opportunity to-day to do so because I have been almost continuously engaged. I know, however, that messages have been passed to the honorable member for Hunter, and I have the advantage of his view as to what locality I should visit. I am not responsible for what appeared in the press. I made it clear that I did not want to embarrass either the honorable member for Newcastle or the honorable member for Hunter. I realize that they must stand in a position quite independent of a visit by me and that they are in no sense to be treated as responsible for my visit there or for anything I say or do. I make that clear because I know each honorable gentleman has been working to produce a settlement of this dispute. I should be the last to suggest that they would be responsible for any action I took.
– In connexion with the proposals about to be implemented for the purpose of dealing with communist propaganda, has the Government the full co-operation of the various State authorities ?
– I have not made direct contact with all the State Governments on this matter, although with some I have. Speaking generally, I should say that the co-operation of which the honorable member speaks will be forthcoming. I have no doubt in my own mind what their attitude will be, but since the honorable member has put the question to me, I shall ascertain exactly what the State Governments are prepared to do.
– Why not tell them what you desire them to do?
– Quite. I will, if the honorable member insists on it.
– Will the Treasurer state whether it is a fact that payments from Great Britain for surplus primary products sold to it by the Australian Government are made in sterling? Are the products not required by Great Britain being re-sold to other countries which usually purchase such products from Australia, and is foreign exchange from those re-sales being accumulated in Great Britain? Has this loss of foreign exchange by Australia resulted in the imposition of trade restrictions with nonsterling countries, thereby creating unemployment in Australia and loss of trade? Has the Government made any approach to the British Government with a view to having the foreign exchange from those re-sales paid to the credit of the Commonwealth Government in order to relieve these trade restrictions?
– From my general knowledge of the matter I can say that no action by Great Britain has caused any loss of employment or of trade to Australia. If the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper I shall give him a more detailed reply.
– Will the Minister for the Navy state whether he has yet received the report of Sir Leopold Savile regarding the construction of graving docks in Australia? If so, has the Government yet had time to go into the matter? At what places .in Australia does the Government propose to build these docks?
– The report has been received, and will be considered by Cabinet in due course.
– In view of the serious financial position of the wheat-growers of Australia I ask the Minister for Commerce whether he can give me any indication as to when another advance will be paid in connexion with the No. 2 wheat pool? I should also like to know the probable amount of such advance.
– I am unable to indicate either the time or the amount of any such payment at present.
– In view of the fact that only 2s. 6d. a bushel has been paid on the wheat received, and the further fact that the representatives of the wheat industry have requested that a further advance of ls. a bushel be made, I ask the Minister for Commerce when he anticipates being able to make a pronouncement on this vitally important matter?
– In these disturbed times it is not well to anticipate too far ahead. As soon as a pronouncement can he made on the subject I assure the honorable members that it will be made.
– Seeing that conditions relating to the supply of potatoes from Tasmania to New South Wales indicate a good deal of piracy at both ends, namely in Tasmania and at Sussexstreet, I ask the Treasurer whether he will take steps to have potatoes brought under the authority of the Price Fixing Board in order that some more equitable organization may be set up to ensure that potatoes may be available to the consumers at a fair price.
– I shall bring the subject under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– In view of the intense interest of the Australian public in the present international position I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he will consider making a very full statement on the present situation at the earliest possible moment?
– It is my intention to make such a statement to-morrow.
– Will the Minister for Supply informme whether the coal strike has had any effect on the work that is in progress on the shale oil deposits at Glen Davis? Is the strike likely to interfere to any material degree with the production programme in respect of refined oil? If not, when is it anticipated that refined oil will be produced at Glen Davis and what quantities are likely to be available?
– I have no reports at hand which would suggest that the work at Glen Davis is being interfered with by the coal strike. I shall obtain information for the honorable member in reply to the other parts of his question.
– Is the Minister for Commerce able to inform the House whether adequate provision is being made to ensure a satisfactory supply of cornsacks for the forthcoming harvest? Will the honorable gentleman make a pronouncement on this subject, as the acute shortage last year inflicted great hardship on many persons engaged in the wheat-growing industry?
– An advisory committee has already been constituted and is functioning to ensure that all the jute products required for commercial purposes in Australia will be available as needed in satisfactory quantities. There need be no apprehension on this subject. Requisite action is being taken to ensure that full supplies will be available for the current wool season and also for the forthcoming wheat harvest.
– Is the Minister for Commerce yet able to announce his decision on the request of the barley growers of Western Australia to be released as soon as possible from the operations of the Barley Acquisition Board?
– I am not able to hold out any hope to the barley growers that they will be released from the operations of the pool this year.
– Will the Minister for the Navytake steps to have repealed the ridiculous regulations applying in the Navy to the effect that the mothers of young men in receipt of £4 or £5 a week who enlist in the Navy will not be granted a separation allowance if any other child in the family is earning £2 a week, irrespective of the size of the family?
– I shall lake the matter into consideration.
– Will the Minister for the Army have immediate inquiries made to ascertain whether it is true that, although a great many of the men in camp at Ingleburn are on leave from the camp over the week-end, the same quantities of foodstuffs are delivered at the camp from Friday afternoon until Monday morning as though the camp were full, with the result that great quantities of foodstuffs have to be burned or buried because they are not required? I do not suggest that the Minister has information on this matter at the moment, but I have been informed from a reliable local authority that commodities are delivered in the same quantities seven days a week irrespective of the number of men actually in the camp, with the result that there is wholesale waste.I ask that inquiries be made into this matter at once.
– I shall certainly have inquiries made in the matter, but I am confident that the honorable member has been misinformed.
Transportation Costs when on Leave.
– Is it a fact that trainees called up for compulsory training have to pay their own railway fares when given leave during the period of their training? If so, will the Minister make arrangements whereby they may travel on the railways to their homes at such times without payment? In effect, my question aims at providing free transport to their homes for compulsory trainees while engaged on the King’s business.
– It has not been the practice to provide free transport for men called up for compulsory training when they go on leave, and I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will realize that the granting of this concession would involve enormous expense.Where it is possible to use army transport vehicles to take men between the camps and the nearest railway stations that is done, but it is not practicable to pay the railway fares of the trainees. The only fares that have been paid by the department have been in respect of pre-embarkation leave for members of the Australian ImperialForce.
Homes for Artisans
Mr.BLAIN. -Will the Minister for External Affairs make immediate representations to the Minister for the Interior with a view to the inauguration of a scheme whereby artisans, and labourers employed in the Northern Territory may be able to obtain workers’ homes on terms similar to those which exist in the several States?
– My colleague, the Assistant Minister (Mr. Nock), represents the Minister for the Interior in this House, and the honorable member’s question should have been addressed to him. I have no doubt that the Assistant Minister will bring under the notice of the Minister for the Interior the matter raised by the honorable member.
– I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the following report which appeared in the Melbourne Sun of the 4th March -
Police investigations have followed the interruption of the Prime Minister by two men in military uniform at the political meeting in the City Hall on Thursday night. Detectives and military officials have interviewed two men associated with the camp at the Showground. and ask him by what authority the civil rights of the two men referred to in the paragraph have been interfered with?
– I regret that I am not in a position to give the honorable member any information on the subject; if an investigation was made, it was not directed by me. I shall, however, inquire into the circumstances, and let the honorable member have an answer.
– I ask the Treasurer a question in relation to the sales tax on goods which were ordered a considerable time ago, but were not shipped promptly because of the outbreak of war, and have since increased in price. Is it a fact that sales tax is being charged, not on the amount which the Australian importer will pay for such goods, but on the amount which is said to be the domestic value of such goods in the country of origin? If so, is such action being taken in pursuance of some statutory requirement, or is it done simply by a departmental decision?
-I have no knowledge of the subject to which the honorable member refers, but I shall have inquiries made, and let him have an answer as soon as possible,
– Is the Minister for Commerce aware that in the city, of Melbourne many wool warehouses which have been specially built and equipped for the handling and re-classing of wool are not to-day being fully utilized for re-classing purposes by the Central Wool Committee ? ls the honorable gentleman also aware that, on the other hand, wool warehouses, the owners of which are members of the Wool Brokers Association, are being fully utilized; in fact, to such a degree that growers’ clips are suffering the disadvantage of not being re-classed under conditions that are as suitable a3 those provided by wool warehouses owned by non-members of the association? Will the honorable gentleman take steps to alter this undesirable state of affairs?
– The honorable member is not in order in asking a Minister whether ho is or is not aware of certain facts.
– I shall take into consideration the points raised by the honorable member, and shall communicate with him at a later date.
– I ask the Treasurer whether there is a board which approves or rejects applications for the issue of capital and the flotation of companies. If there is, what method does it adopt in determining priority of applications? Can the honorable gentleman explain why companies in the city appear to experience no difficulty in being floated, with capital which sometimes runs into tens of thousands of pounds, while small concerns in the country have great difficulty in obtaining permission to raise capital and frequently have their application rejected?
– There is a Capital Issues Board, which was established under the regulation that operates in respect of capital issues. That board deals with certain applications of a major character. Those applications that are of a minor character are dealt with directly by the Treasury. In each case the recommendations are submitted to me, and final approval must be given by the Treasury. Every effort is made to deal with applications as quickly as possible, and very little delay has occurred in respect of any application that has come before the board. If any particular case can be placed before me, I shall investigate it personally. I am fully acquainted with the operations of the board and can assert positively that there is no truth in the suggestion that preference is given by the board to city applications.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral inform the House of the terms of the agreement that has been made between the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Associated Press for the re-broadcast of the whole of the British Broadcasting Corporation news service?
– The agreement is rather a lengthy document and contains a number of clauses. Its principal terms are that it has been entered into between the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Associated Press for the purposes of making available the whole of the British Broadcasting Corporation broadcast news for the sum of £3,000 per annum. B class stations may participate, if they are prepared to do so, in the financial arrangement. The term of the agreement is for one year, or for the duration of the war. The agreement contains several minor clauses which I do not think are of great importance. The principal feature is that the whole of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s news is now available to broadcasting stations, in the interests of Australian listeners.
Motion (by Mr. Scholfield) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) on duty with the Royal Australian Air Force.
Appointment of Lieutenant-Governor - Co-ordination of Administration with that of New Guinea.
– Will the Minister administering Territories state whether the Government has given any consideration to the matter of the appointment of a successor to the late Sir Hubert Murray, who up to the time of his death was Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, and also whether further consideration is being given to the matter of co-ordinating the administrations of the territories of New Guinea and Papua?
– This matter is under consideration. The office of LieutenantGovernor of Papua will have to be filled ere long.
– Before the Treasurer finalizes the budget, will he consider the advisability of providing for the payment of 30s. a week to invalid and oldage pensioners?
– This matter has been considered. The Government is unable to accede to the request.
– In view of the fact that steel towers have proved unsatisfactory for radio beacons, will the Minister for Civil Aviation state whether a start has been made with their replacement by wooden towers ? If so, what progress has been made, and when is it contemplated that the wooden towers will be completed?
– As the honorable member has said, it has been decided to replace the steel towers on the beam sets with wooden towers. How far the work has progressed I cannot say at present, but I shall obtain the information and let the honorable member know as soon as possible.
– In view of the great anxiety that is felt by cotton-growers as to what legislative provision is to be made for the continuance of the existing bounty system after the expiration this year of present legislation, will the Treasurer give the undertaking that the matter will have early consideration, and that the. Minister for Trade and Customs will personally visit the cotton-growing districts with a view to obtaining firsthand information from cotton-growers before making a final decision?
– The subject-matter of the honorable member’s question is at present before Cabinet, and possibly will be dealt with this session. I shall place before the Minister for Trade and Customs the honorablemember’s request that that gentleman should personally visit the cotton-growing districts.
– Can the Minister for Supply and Development tell me what progress has been made in Australia in the manufacture of aircraft? Is the Government satisfied that progress is being made?
– It would be quite inappropriate in the present circumstances to give a considered reply to that wide question, but I assure the honorable member that both the Minister concerned and the Government are satisfied with the progress that is being made.
– With regard to the inordinate rise of rates in the town of Darwin, by ordinance because there is no town council, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior make certain that the people responsible really know the principles governing increases of rates? Will he inquire into the following: - (1) Has there been any increase in the purchasing power in Darwin ? (2) Has there been any real increased demand for land? (3) Has there been the necessary time lag between the circumstances which made for the rise of rates and the imposition of the rise ?
– I shall have the matter investigated.
– Can the Treasurer say whether the Land Mortgage Bank Bill, which, of course, has disappeared from the notice-paper, will be brought on at any early date in this session ?
– I am not able to answer that question at this stage, but I shall endeavour to do so later in the session.
– Will the Treasurer have inquiries made as to why a small company formed for the manufacture of ramie fibre for export was refused permission to increase its capital by £5,000 for the purpose of erecting a factory at Lismore? Are all applications for increases of capital subject to a report from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research?
– I know the company to which the honorable gentleman refers and I know the reason why its application was rejected. I am prepared to discuss it with the honorable member. With regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question, the answer is “ No “, but where the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is able to give assistance to the Capital Issues Board and myself, such report is called for.
– Can the Minister for Commerce inform the House to what extent the dairying and poultry industries have been affected by the curtailment of the manufacture of flour in Australia? If there is any great disorganization in those industries because of the shortage of bran and pollard, will the Minister take steps to see that supplies are provided by the manufacture of “ Mealie “ from poor wheat, and will the Government subsidize that product in some way in order to relieve the higher costs occasioned in the dairying and poultry industries by the shortage of bran and pollard ?
– Supplies of bran and pollard depend on the extent of shipping space available for flour going overseas. I know that there are some difficulties, but I do not think that I can give any more information than that at the present time.
– Will the Prime Minister try to persuade some of his Ministers to divulge information regarding certain matters upon which they expressed opinions before they were elevated to Cabinet rank? We are confident that they must now be in possession of information which would be of interest to the community regarding the apple and pear industry, the potato industry and the wheat industry.
– I shall encourage all my Ministers to speak their minds freely in Cabinet.
– Will the Minister for Health bring under the notice of his fellow Ministers the urgent need of small children for adequate supplies of milk to complete the food ration so necessary for their health and growth?
– In the absence from the chamber of my colleague, the Minister for Health, I assure the honorable member that I shall bring his question under the notice of the Minister.
– In view of the uncertainty existing in the minds of motor garage proprietors and owners of motor vehicles as to the intention of the Government regarding petrol supplies, will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs make a statement to the House to-morrow setting forth the Government’s policy ?
– A conference has been called of representatives of all who are interested in the sale and transport of petrol in Australia. The conference will be held in Canberra on Monday next.
Sitting suspended from 6.18 p.m. to 8 p.m.
I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the GovernorGeneral in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to make a speech to both Houses of the Parliament of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy(vide page 3). As honorable members have copies of the speech in their hands, I presume that they do not desire me formally to read it.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That a committee consisting of Mr. Scholfield, Mr. Anthony and the mover be appointed to prepare un Address-in-RepIy to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament and that the committee do report this day.
I desire to inform the House that Mr. David R. Grenfell, C.U.E., member of the United Kingdom House of Commons for the Gower Division of Glamorganshire. is within the precincts of the House. With the concurrence of honorable members, I shall invite him to take a seat on the noor of the House beside the Speaker’s chair.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Mr. Grenfell thereupon entered the chamber and taas seated accordingly.
Address-i n -Reply .
Mr. SCHOLFIELD, for the Committee appointed to prepare an AddressinReply to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s Speech (vide page 3), brought up the proposed Address, which was read by the Clerk.
.- I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed” to: -
May it please Yoon Excellency -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I appreciate the honour that has been conferred upon me in my having been asked to move this motion. The House is meeting at the time of grave world disturbance, which is becoming exceedingly dangerous for the people of this country, and every other country with our forms of domestic and national life. The gravest . threats are being made against our independence as a free people, and are being accompanied by the vilest propaganda and the most underhand and treacherous activities that one nation could practice upon a friendly neighbouring country. National and individual morality has receded almost to vanishing point in some countries, and innocent people, whose only desire is to live on friendly relations with their neighbors, are being murdered at the slightest provocation and their property and homes are being confiscated. In those countries liberty is practically non-existent. There i.– indescribable chaos in the world, and scientific discoveries which should be used to promote human happiness are being employed to destroy it and to destroy also the homes and even the lives of the people of those countries. I could go on indefinitely in this way, but there is no need to do so. Everybody must know what is being done. That these things are not abhorred by everybody is a calamity of the first importance, because every ounce of effort that this nation can possibly exert to assist the Allies in their strenuous fight, against these things should be exerted. I say with the utmost deliberation that we are fighting in the defence of civilization. In very truth we are fighting for nothing more and nothing less than civilization itself. Therefore, every effort that we can make in the fight should be made. All rightthinking people will, I am sure, agree with me. Wrong-thinking people, and those who do not agree with this sentiment, should be obliged to submit to the closest investigation of their circumstances, to determine whether they ought to be placed in a position where, if they will not assist the Government, they at least will not be able to hinder it in its war efforts. No praise is too great for the soldiers of this country who have volunteered to fight in its defence and have actually gone, or are preparing to go. overseas to do so. It would be suicidal for us to wait until the battle had to be waged on our own shores. We are fighting for our independence and for civilization, out, if we wait until the battle comes to us, we shall fight a losing battle. Consequently, I desire to pay the highest tribute, to the young men of this country, and of the other Dominions, who have enlisted for overseas service with the. object of endeavouring to localize the fight, if it is at all possible, in the regions where it is now being waged. 1 appeal to all loyal Australians to assist the Government in the strenuous task it has in seeking to assist the Allies in their fight.
I appeal also to all honorable members of this House and to all Australian people to drop party politics and fall in behind the” Government so that out war effort may be made with our maximum strength. On the front bench on the Government side of the House, we have men of average, and probably more than average, intelligence; if they were men of only average intelligence, they would be able to do the job that has to be done. The members of the Government are not less loyal than other persons in this community, and certainly not less loyal than their critics. We all know that they are industrious. Moreover, they have available much more and much better advice than any other persons in the community, and certainly than their critics. Mistakes, of course, will be made. They will always be made. But I hold the view that such mistakes as have been made by the Government have been mistakes of detail and not of broad national policy. I invite honorable members in particular, and the people of Australia in general, to examine the war effort of the Government. I am sure that if they will do so they will come to the conclusion that the Government has implemented a fair and reasonable policy calculated to give to the Allies the greatest assistance of which we are capable in their very strenuous endeavours to defend our civilization. Helpful criticism, I am sure, will always be welcomed by the Government, but destructive criticism at such a time as this is nothing less than a calamity. I therefore appeal to honorable members to offer constructive criticism and not to engage in criticism of a kind which might be helpful to the enemy.
The problems which the Government is facing are tremendous. In addition to the ordinary matters that must face the Administration of this country, there i9 the added problem of devising ways and means to market our primary products in circumstances which are most difficult. I nsk the Government to give very serious consideration to these vital matters, for primary production is of immense importance to Australia, I believe that this is the first Government that has attempted to limit profits in this country in wartime. I hope that it will take within its purview many details in this connexion which, apparently, up to date have escaped notice; for in spite of its activities hitherto, certain people in Australia are taking advantage of the circumstances of the country to make undue profits.
I know that the Government is facing a. very difficult problem in its endeavours to conserve the credit of the country, and to make the best possible use of its financial resources in, the prosecution of the war. I commend it for what it has done in this way.
I should like to see some additional investigation made into some minor details in connexion with imports and the classification of imports. This subject is causing some irritation. Certain critics of the Government have objected to the classification that has been made of goods, and there is room for additional investigation on this important subject.
It is, of course, inevitable that extra taxation must be imposed, but if such new imposts as must be ‘ made are so devised as to ensure that they will fall upon those persons in the community who are best able to bear them, . I am sure that the Australian people will be loyal enough to bear them uncomplainingly, heavy though they may be. The Government will have to go on the money market, and it will encounter some difficulties here.
To all of these problems must be added preparations for reconstruction after the war. Unemployment will have to be provided against and we shall also have to make provision for the well-being of the men who return from abroad. I was glad to notice the reference in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to the intention of the Government to make early preparations for the repatriation of our soldiers. It is not too early to set about the drafting of a comprehensive measure to ensure that the soldiers who come back from this war will receive better treatment than the men who returned from the last war. With the experience that we have had in the last 25 years, it should be possible to evolve legislation which will give much more satisfaction to returned soldiers than was manifested after the last war.
Butin the midst of all these difficulties the Government is being confronted with thecalamity-and I use that word advisedly-of the coal strike. This strike is a crime against Australia and its people at a time when Australian soldiers are fighting in distant lands. It is a crime against humanity and against the workers in other countries who have appealed to their fellow workers throughout the world to assist them in the fight against oppresssion. As we look around the world to-day we find that in other lands, particularly in the British Empire, the workers are doing their utmost to help the Allies in this fight In New Zealand, where a Labour Government is in office, a magnificent job is being done. In Great Britain also the Labour party is behind the Government. From the Labour party in Norway an appeal for assistance has been issued to workers throughout the world. Yet in Australia one of the key industries of the country is being sabotaged by people who profess to bo true Australians. There are Communists in this country, and therefore I am pleased to see in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech an intimation that the Government will take steps to curb their activities. Surely, not all of the men who are On strike are Communists ; surely, not even all of their leaders are Communists ? Should it be found that they are Communists, a very dangerous state of affairs indeed would be revealed-a position which should be closely investigated by the Government. If these men to whom I have referred are not all Communists, I want to see their leaders in this House advise them to end their stupid and traitorous activities. If these men are not all Communists, I charge the trade union leaders, and others, with the gravest acts of disloyalty ever perpetrated in this country. No excuse offered on their behalf will convince ana, or the majority of Australia., that such action is not. disloyal. I have not noticed any efforton the part of honorable members opposite to settle the coal strike, and therefore it would appear that they condone the action of the strikers. I repeat that their action at this time is one of the greatest acts of disloyalty that this country has ever witnessed. An appeal has been made to the Government to settle the strike by the exercise of the power vested in it under the National Security Act; but the very people who have issued that appeal would, at some future date, cite such action to support arguments designed to show why such powers should be refused to the Government. The National Security Act should not be invoked to meet the present situation, and I commend the Government for not taking action under its provisions. I am pleased that the Governor-General’s Speech indicates that action will be taken along the lines that I have mentioned.
I have appealed for unity in the great struggle in which the country is engaged. I appeal to the Opposition in this chamber to drop party politics for the duration of the war, and to get behind the Government in its efforts on behalf of Australia.
-Does the GovernorGeneral’s Speech suggest that party politics have been dropped by the Government?
– I shall conclude by quoting from a speech of a Labour politician in this country two months after the outbreak of the last war, when Labour was in office. His statement then is applicable to the present circumstances, and I commend it to the honorable members opposite. The gentleman to whom I have referred then said-
Ibelieve that we have at the head of affairs to-day Ministers who will meet the situation men, bravely and firmly, and do their beet in the interests of the country. I am charitable enough to thinkthat our opponents in theFederal Parliament to-day will join with the Government in this calamitous time, and help them to put matters onas satisfactory a footing as possible in the circumstances.
I commend the motion to the House.
.- It is my privilege and honour to second the motion that the Address be agreed to. In times of peace the Address-in-Reply is a political occasion, but in time of war, and especially at such a critical time as the present, it becomes an occasion of great significance. The motion before the House gives vital and personal expression by each of us to the loyalties and high purposes which guide all British peoples. The supreme task that ties before itsto-day may well be defined asthe vindication of the freedom ofallpeoples, especially small peoples It is atask into which we Australians, althoughnumericallysmall,should throw everyounceof virility, energyand independencethat wepossess; it is a task tothe accomplishment of which it is the dutyof the Government to lead the people with ‘energy ‘and purpose. I am glad, therefore, to note that, since the House last met, the weight ofresponsibility falling upon the Administration has been shared by members of the party to which I belong. Faced, as weare, by one formidable enemy, covertly threatened by others, and -hesitatingly and feebly assistedby still others who should be our activefriends, we have need for all of the singleness of purpose and high resolution which the AddressiniRepIy expresses. We stand together as a parilamentand as a people in ‘common loyalty to the , great fundamental principles of human rights which in British communities are safeguarded by Crown and constitution alike - freedom of speech, thought and action; freedom to Worship, or not to worship-; freedom to elect and control our own governments ; freedom from the violation of our homes; freedom from the fear of the deprivation of our personal liberty, except by the due processes of the law; freedomas a peaceful and law-abiding people to go our own ways and live our own lives. These lberties are in jeopardy to-day. To-night, I had the privilege of hearing an address on international affairs by the distinguished visitor from Great Britain who now occupies a seat on the floor of this House. After telling us that he had visited many countries recently and had seen what was going on in Europe and Asia, he said “ If the light of liberty flickers out in England, I do not know where it will again be lighted “. Those words made a great impression on my mind, because of the tremendous truth embodied in them. I have mentioned the various liberties which we enjoy, but there is one qualification inrespect ofthem. Eight down the ages when the very existence of the State has been threatened it has been the custom for democracy temporarily to surrender its treasured liberties to the executive,andtoconfer upon itextra- ordinary powers in order that the struggle forthe preservationof the state might be mosteffectively waged. Throughout the British realm, as wellas in the great democracy of France, the legislature has givento theexecutive powers which, in peace, it would neverdream ofconferring. By the passingof the National Security Act this Parliament with a minimum of opposition has given tothe Executive,exceedingly wide powers, which in peace it has reserved exclusively to itself. If the legislature voluntarily restricts its privileges inthenational interest, in myopinion it follows that the liberties ordinarily enjoyed by theindividual must likewise be curtailed ifsuch restriction is in the interest of the security of the State. When therefore, any individual who enjoys civil and political liberty, suchas thiscountry affords, abuses that freedomby engaging in subversive acts of a character likely to assist an enemy and bring about our defeat, a duty devolves upon the Government to step in and protect the state. I therefore welcome that passage in theGovernor-General’s Speech which indicates that a less tolerant attitude towards Communist activity and treachery will be shown in the future. Last Sunday afternoon from the outskirts of the crowd I listened to some Communist speakers in the Sydney Domain. I heard ‘one of them say that not a man, or a gun, or a ship, should leave this country to assist “ in this imperialistic war.” The man who made that statement-, and those who were with him, were protected by acordoh of police to enable them to ‘do so. I commend the Government for having at last taken steps toend such a state of affairs, and I hope that the measures foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech will be applied vigorously. Our sister dominion of New Zealand has already made some move in that direction. I believe that we can follow its example, and perhaps improve upon it.
Before I leave that particular subject; I appeal to our friends on the opposite side of the House to give the Government some assistance when it hasto tackle this very difficult problem of dealing with subversive activities. I am not endeavouring to make party political capital out of the circumstances that exist. I am sorry that I am given no credit by one or two honorable members opposite, but I believe that a number of the members of the Opposition appreciate the penetrative tactics of the Communist section of the community, and have very good reason to resent the activities of those persons in their own organizations. One has only to read the newspapers which sometimes circulate as official organs of the Opposition. party, to appreciate that very many members of the Opposition are waging a desperate battle against Communists to-day.
This is the second occasion during the present generation on which we have been called upon to meet from the same quarter a challenge to the elementary principles I have propounded. The threat to-day is graver than it was on the last occasion, because it comes from a dictatorship which avowedly is out to destroy democracy; a dictatorship that is not only ruthless and aggressive but is also as callous and brutal as was any ravaging horde in the dark ages. It may be equipped .with all of the scientific aid which the twentieth century can give to it, but its methods and ideals are those of many hundreds of years ago. Germany says that it wants colonies. God help ns if it ever had the opportunity to colonize us as it is to-day colonizing Poland, by means of extermination and pillage, free men being driven in hundreds of thousands to work as slaves in order that the Nazi might be in a better position to enslave others, women and children being left to starve or freeze to death, and the firing squad being used for any one who is brave enough to stand up in the name of freedom!
Behind the programme foreshadowed in His Excellency’s Speech to-day, matter of fact and material though such things may be, there looms largely the framework of the gigantic effort which Australia is making. Back of that there i3 a still bigger thing, namely, the indomitable will of Australia. When this war, which was not of our choice or making, burst upon us, we took our stand. All sections of this House and all sections of the Australian people instantly took their stand with Great Britain, and there we shall stand unflinchingly until the end. It will cost us much in men and material, in money and effort, but that is the price which we are called upon to pay for our integrity and our existence, for our right and the right of others to live as a peaceful, civilized, Christian people. We are. fortunately, distant from the flash and thunder of hostilities, but no man with any sense of reality can doubt what would be our fate; we should be trampled upon and plundered, as others have been, were it not for the combined might of the British and French peoples. Great Britain has taken the first shock of the assault, lt has held the Nazi in check in the Kattegat, in the Skager Rak, in the North Sea, with France on the Maginot Line, and with allies and near allies in the south Balkans, where our own troops - the men of Australia, the members of the Australian Imperial Force - are standing ready to lend a hand to drive the Nazi back to his lair when the time to do 30 arrives. The great dominions of Canada,- Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - although we all know that South Africa has its own special and particular problems - count for much in this war, and their combined population of twenty million - ‘Canada with ten million, Australian with seven million, and New Zealand with three million - represent almost half as many people - 45 million - as are contained in Great Britain itself. Between us, we possibly represent much more in resources and materials; therefore, we count for a great deal. What Australia does will either influence other dominions to be lukewarm, or encourage them to give of their utmost. Our heli) may easily prove to be the decisive factor if it is prompt, immense, and thorough, and if it serves to encourage and inspire our sister dominions, and even Great Britain itself. We are immune from the immediate shock of war. We have no imminent fear of seeing our cities bombed, or our coasts ravaged. We have no distractions. Let us, therefore, put forward our maximum effort, and throw our weight where it will most count. Above all, let us fight where the fighting has to be done, and not wait until it is brought to us. We have, unfortunately, seen others make that mistake. Personally, I believe that an overwhelming numbe’r of
Australians is behind the Government which makes that plain.I give this Government the credit that it has never equivocated on that issue. Many of us would like to have seen more done than has been done. We should like to see a greater acceleration on the part of the defence authorities. The Air Department should accept the services of thousands of young men throughout this country who are becoming discouraged by the delay that is taking place. Much, however, has been done. Australia got there instantly in the economic phase of warfare, by joining in agreements long previously planned which cut off supplies from the enemy and assured them for our allies. These arrangements are of incalculable economic and strategic value; they are the basic strategy of modern warfare. On this occasion, arrangements were completed within a few weeks which in the last war took years to complete. Australia is getting there, too, with sea, land and air forces. The Empire air scheme, in particular, will help to hold the ring which will keep the Nazi bush-fire from spreading, which will keep it in check and help to beat it back and, I trust, finally beat it out. Here at home our industrial, commercial and financial systems have rapidly been placed on a war footing. The measures already taken are enabling us gradually to increase the total weight of pressure upon the enemy. But despite all that has been done, our effort lags proportionately far behind that of Great Britain; we are still not carrying an equable share of the load. The programme that the Governor-General has outlined, however, foreshadows much more that is to be done. I welcome that, and feel sure that every true Australian will be glad of it. We shall be asked to sanction expenditure and measures of a magnitude never before attained in our history. To me it is a matter of pride that we are strong enough, that we have attained such national growth and that we can rise to such undertakings. If every Australian plays his personal part as he should, adjusting his personal affairs and expenditures to his individual war effort - as I think, when he properly understands the position, he will be ready and eager to do - we shall all be able to provide sinews of war on a record scale; and nothing less will suffice. We can and we should, in this first year of this war, rise to a financial effort as great as, if not greater than, that attained in the last year of the last war.
– I assure the honorable gentleman that we shall do more than that.
– I am glad to have that assurance. It would ill-become any man to view this as a sacrifice. Rather is it our national subscription, our union dues to the greatest union of free people the world has ever known, the price of ourright to strike in the only way we should strike in these days against the tyranny of a foreign dictator who not only would impair our cherished industrial standards and filch our civil liberties, but also would challenge our very right to life itself. I hope that the programme outlined, insofar as it relates to the war, will be entered upon and carried through this Parliament with the support of all sections in this House, with constructive criticism, not only from the Opposition, but also from Government supporters, where argument is needed, and with a full and earnest realization of the duties which Australia expects us to perform. I have pleasure in seconding the motion.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtis) adjourned.
Mr. SPEAKER laid on the table his warrant nominating Mr. Badman, Mr. Collins, Mr. Jennings, Mr. Makin, Mr. Martens, Mr. Nairn, Mr. Price and Mr. Rosevear to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER,
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That, during the unavoidable absence of
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Mr. Speaker be authorized to call upon any of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees to relieve him temporarily in the chair.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 2.30 p.m.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Honorable members will regret to notice the absence of the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Prowse), in relation to whose absence I moved the previous resolution. I think that I am speaking for all memberswhen I say that I hope that he will be speedily recovered to health. We desire to extend the same message to my friend and former colleague, the honorable member for Eden Monaro (Mr. Perkins), who has been ill for a considerable time, who is, I am glad to say, making progress, and who hopes to be in his place in the House in a week or so.
My suggestion about the sitting of the House is that we should sit on Thursday and Friday of this week. Next week, Anzac Day falls on Thursday. It is a close holiday and many honorable members desire to be in their electorates. That is a matter about which I shall have to talk with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). The House might meet on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
Honorable Members. - That will not give all of us an opportunity to be in our electorates.
– I assure honorable members that I am willing to consult the convenience of all. I said to my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, that I should have to meet with him.. My own suggestion, which, in the circumstances, must be tentative, is that we meet on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week to enable honorable members to get away before Thursday. In the following week I would suggest that we meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I shall discuss with the Leader of the Opposition the possibilities of alternating the opening sitting days between Tuesday and Wednesday, as we have in previous sessions, in order to give honorable gentlemen at every alternative week-end an opportunity to visit more distant electorates.
– For how long shall we besitting ?
– We shall sit until we finish the business.
Mr.Gander. - When will that be?
– In my more optimistic moments I think a fortnight hence, and in my less, about the end of May’: but, between me and the honorable member, I think it will be some time ill June.
– It is true that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that he would consultme withrespect to the sitting days next week having regard to the fact that Thursday is Anzac Day, which, in certain States, is invariably regarded as a close holiday and in any eventis fittingly celebrated. The Opposition will share with members of Parliament and the public generally on Anzac Day in paying tribute to the men of Anzac and, in association with other bodies, doing all that is customarily done in that respect. I think that I can say appropriately that Anzac Day this year will indeed have more than usual significance, but I point out to the right honorable gentleman that, if the purpose he has in mind of sitting on Wednesday and then adjourning until the next week, is that members of the House may share in the ceremonies in their own electorates, it is utterly impracticable, except in the case of few honorable members of this House and, indeed, even fewer members of another place. If it is desired that on this occasion we shall make our arrangements with a view to enabling honorable gentlemen to visit their electorates, then indeed we should have to adjourn on an earlier day than Wednesday. There will be a ceremony, in every way a fitting ceremony, performed here at the Seat of Government, and the members of Parliament can attend tha t ceremony.
– The honorable gentleman will realize that the alternative is to sit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday if we are to have three sitting days.
– That is worse.
– Or Tuesday and Wednesday only.
Mr.CURTIN.- It would not be convenient to adjourn on Wednesday and sit again on Friday, but I merely point out that if we sit on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday-
-What, about the Tuesday afternoon train?
– I do not know how that would benefit the Queensland, South Australian and Tasmanian members.
– It is a matter that you and I will have to discuss.
– Any adjournment which would be at all reasonable would still be impracticable from the viewpoint of Western Australian members. We from Western Australia can view this question with perfect detachment, because none of us will be able to share in any function, except the one that we shall attend here at the Seat of Government. But I do have regard for honorable members generally, and I feel that, if the rearrangement of next week’s sittings is for the purpose of enabling members to visit their electorates, it should be such an arrangement as will ensure that the majority will be able to do so. An arrangement which will serve only honorable members from Victoria and New South Wales, whilst convenient to them, is inconvenient to members from the other States. The Opposition will be content if, so long as this House remains in session, sitting days are arranged by the Government, having regard to its duty to prepare the necessary measures for our consideration and for the convenience of the Administration. Whether the House sits on. three or two days next week and then adjourns, we are bore to expedite the Government in carrying out the work of the country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented: -
National Security Act - National Security (Prices) Regulations -
Declarations Nos. 21-35.
Declarations (Papua) Nos. 1-3.
Air Force Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 31, 53.
Air Navigation Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules1940, No. 25.
Apple and Pear Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 5.
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 37.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1939-
No. 31 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 32 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 1 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia ; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 2-Amalgamated Engineering Union; Australasian Society of Engineers; Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen; Australian Workers’ Union; and Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
No. 3 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No. 4 - Australian Workers’ Union.
No. 5 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No.6 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union and Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 7 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 8 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 40.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation- H. C. Affleck, E. G. Betts. G. H. Gurr, J. D. Jarman, F. W. Stevens, P. L. Taylor.
Commerce - R. J. Gleghorn.
Health - W. Boardinan, L. C. Snook,
D. E. White.
Interior - H. T. Baker, R. Birtwistle, A. H. Fortin.
Postmaster-General - G. V. Byrnes,
M. R. Fordham,R. J. Pring, F. S. Trengove.
Treasury - F. H. Wheeler.
Statutory Rules 1939, Nos. 167, 168.
Statutory Rules 1940, No. 23.
Customs Act -
Proclamations prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of -
Base metal alloys containing copper (dated 30th January, 1940),
Copper, lead, tin, zinc (dated 19th December, 1939).
Industrial diamonds (dated 27th February, 1940).
Pancreas Glands of all cattle and alcoholic extracts therefrom (dated 17th January, 1940).
Used newsprint (dated 27th February. 1940).
Wolfram and Scheelite (dated 5th March, 1940).
Regulations Amended, &c. -
StatutoryRules 1939, No. 170.
Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 27, 30.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 4, 24.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1939, Nos. 172, 173. Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 2, 16, 29, 39, 58, 59.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 3.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1939, No. 169.
Statutory Rules 1940, No. 17.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired - For Administrative purposes - Darwin,
Northern Territory (2).
For Defence purposes -
Albany. Western Australia.
Belmont, Western Australia.
Ceduna, South Australia.
Chats wood, New South Wales.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
Essendon (near). Victoria.
Forest. Hill, New South Wales.
Kingscote, South Australia.
Maylands, Western Australia.
Newcastle, New South Wales.
Port Lincoln (near), South Australia.
Richmond, New South Wales (3).
Stockton, New South Wales.
Tintinara, South Australia.
Warrna mbool, V ictoria.
Williamtown, New South Wales.
For Defence and Postal purposes - Port Melbourne (near). Victoria.
For Meteorological purposes - Adelaide, South Australia.
For Postal purposes -
Canobolas. New South Wales.
East Brighton. Victoria.
East Kew, Victoria.
Fortitude Valley, Queensland.
Wollongong. New South Wales.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 15.
National Security Act -
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Orders a mended -
National Security (Capital Issues)
Regulations - Order -Exemption ( 2 ) .
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders amended, &c. -
Control of Photography (2).
Medical Supplies Investigation.
National, Security (Prices) Regulations
Orders Nos. 44-139.
Orders (Papua) Nos. 1-4.
National Security (Securities) Regulations - Order - Exemption revoked.
Regulations amended. &c. -
Statutory Rules 1939, Nos. 165, 166, 174, 176, 177, 178, 180, 181, 182, 183.
Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 18, 19, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 44, 45, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56, 60, 61.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 1 1.
Norfolk Island Act -
Ordinance of 1939 - No. 5 - Sea carriage of Goods.
Ordinances of 1940 -
No. 1 - Timber Licences.
No. 2 - Importation of Plants.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and
Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinance of 1939 - No. 27 - Married Women’s Protection.
Ordinances of 1940 -
No. 1 - Mental Defectives.
No. 2 - Birds Protection.
No. 3 - Native Constabulary.
No. 4 - Darwin Rates.
No. 5 - Gold Buyers.
No. 6 - Regulations Publication. Regulations amended, &c. -
Mines Regulation Ordinance.
Mining Development Ordinance.
Papua Act -
Ordinances of 1939 -
No. 10 - Superannuation.
No. 15 -Criminal Procedure.
No. 16 - Public Service (LieutenantGovernor’s Leave ) .
No. 17 - Real Property.
No. 18 - Mining.
No. 19 - Lands (Kila Kila Aerodrome) Acquisition.
Ordinance of 1940 - No. 1 - Port Moresby Water Supply (Survey).
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 1, 14, 28, 50.
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1940, No. 43.
Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules . 1940. No. 26.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinance of 1939 - No. 15 - Liquor (Renewal of Licences).
Ordinance of 1940 - No. 1 - Industrial Board.
Industrial Board Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Spirits Act - Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1939. No. 171.
Sulphur Bounty Acts - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940. No. 21.
Tractor Bounty Acts - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 20.
War Service Homes Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 47.
Wire Netting Bounty Acts - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 22.
National Security Act -
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Orders - Enemy aliens to report (10).
National Security (General) Regulations -
By-laws - Controlled areas (5).
Control of highways.
Prohibiting work on land.
Taking possession of laud,&c. (49).
Use of land (6).
House adjourned at 8.55 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: - .
Basic Wage Adjustments.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 April 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1940/19400417_reps_15_163/>.