House of Representatives
20 June 1940

15th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker (Son. G. S. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 14


Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - agreed to -

That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the National Security Act 1939.

Bill brought up, and’ read a first time. Secondreading.

Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

by leave - I move -

That the bill bo now road asecond time.

Honorable members have before them two documents; the first is the bill itself, and the other is a memorandum which sets out the principal act of 1939 incorporating the amendments to be made by this bill. The matter shown in italics ii to be omitted from the principal act, whilst the matter shown in black type represents additions to be made to that act by this amending measure.

This is a short bill, but it is of very great importance. Although there are some other minor amendments of the law, its principal operative provision is clause 6, which proposes to introduce into the National Security Act a new section 13a, which reads - 13a. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the Governor-General may make such regulations making provision for requiring persons to place themselves, their services and their property at the disposal of the Commonwealth, as appear tohim to be necessary or expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of the Commonwealth and the Territories of the Commonwealth, or the efficient prosecution of any war in which His Majesty is or may be engaged.

Provided that nothing in this section shall authorize the imposition of any form of compulsory service beyond the limits of Australia.

As honorable members will see, “Australia “, as defined in the original act, includes the Territories of the Commonwealth. The proposed new section is the most far-reaching provision ever incorporated in any bill presented to this House. With the one exception which is contained in the proviso, it completes the Executive authority to do what is necessary for the winning of this war.

This is, beyond all question, the greatest emergency in our history, and that is why Parliament is being asked to give to the Executive the greatest delegated authority in our history, because the greater the emergency the wider must be the scope of the authority which the Government must be able to exercise to do those things that are necessary to produce victory, and to produce safety for Australia as the result of victory.

Though unprecedented in Australia itself, this bill is not without precedent elsewhere. In this particular central provision it reproduces the measure which was passed through the British Parliament on the 22nd May last. That bill was presented to, and passed by, the House of Commons, not only in the course of one sitting, but also in the course of under two hours. It was subse- quently passed by the House of Lords on the same day in the course of a few moments.

The bill provides for the Executive the power which, although it stops short, and expressly stops short, of compelling any form of service outside Australia - iu the sense in which Australia has been defined- does not, I believe, stop short of anything else. It takes power to control persons in relation to themselves so that they, for example, may be taken and trained to prepare for the defence of Australia. It takes power over their services so that they may be, notwithstanding any limitation contained in the original act, directed as to what services they are to perform and where they are to perform them. That applies all round. It takes power also to require these persons to place their property, whatever that property may be, at the disposal of the Commonwealth. Those arc wide terms which, in themselves, do not admit of limitation, except the express limitation of the proviso to which I have already referred^ I say once more, that .the greatness of the emergency that confronts us must provide the only measure of the powers which we must take to cope with it.

I do not need to use many words, .and I certainly do not need ,to resort to rhetoric. ,to indicate to honorable /members the profound -reality of the emergency through, -which Australia and the whole British Empire is .passing at this time. A .brief month or two ago this war -was in ia ‘.condition .of .relative immobility. We had a great Ally, who was not only .unbeaten but also substantially unattacked, yet in the course of something like ,1,wo months we have seen a powerful enemy, not only overrun Holland and -Belgium, but .also overrun most -of -France, defeat the French armies, ;and ‘Create such a state of affairs in France ‘that the . French ‘Government has been compelled to. ask for an, armistice and ‘to terms for the ending of this attack upon its country.

That, in itself, Would be a black picture, .’but -other circumstances have arisen in ‘-the last few weeks. Italy has come »into the war shamelessly and aggressively, s without any shadow of justification, and at a time when it felt that the Allies would be beaten, because, in the plainest pf English, it wanted a share in whatever plunder could be got. Our position in the eastern Mediterranean still has in it elements of uncertainty. Turkey, as honorable members know, has a treaty with Great Britain, and treaty obligations to Great Britain, but for various reasons that we know about, and that we need not discuss, there is still uncertainty as to what action Turkey will take. We have, in the last few days, witnessed some state of uncertainty in Egypt. We know that for some time past German peaceful penetration of Iraq has been proceeding. All of these things produce uncertainty, and wherever there is uncertainty in the world to-day, there is danger, and wherever there is danger in the world to-day it is danger for us, because, subject <to what I shall .say in a moment about >the position of France, we bare now reached a state .of affairs in the world in which everything that matters for the free people of the world is being defended by the British people of the world.

We find ourselves, in. substance, lonely (Crusaders, yet none , the less determined on that account #ia,t .w.e shall .win, .and none the less confident that we shall win, birt forced to -realize -that if .we want to win-=- and we contemplate no other result -.we must :bo prepared :to do to ourselves and <for .ourselves things that we .would not ha,ve dreamed of doing, .ev>en two months .ago. Tha-t is the .whole justification for the extraordinary bill now before the House. if have indicated >that I would say something .more about the position of F,ra.nce. Let us not .imagine that, because the French Government has been compelled to sue for peace, it follows that F,ranee is entirely eliminated from the war. ‘We still do not know what is to “happen about the French fleet, -which is one of the most .powerful fleets of Europe. We still do .not -know to what length the struggle will be. carried on beyond the boundaries of France itself, by French troops and -the French air force. We still, do not .know to what extent the great resources o”f the French colonial empire will be available to. carry on the fight. These things are to-day on the knees of the gods and in the -control, I believe, of many hundreds - of thousands of stout French hearts. If these doubts can be resolved in our favour, and if we, the British people of the world, can not only do all that the wit and energy of man can devise, but also more; if we can be a little superhuman in our efforts at this time, I believe that once again Great Britain will save not only itself but also Europe. It has been done before. It has been done before in circumstances which, in difficulty, approached the circumstances of the present day, and you and I, Mr. Speaker, and all of us, have no doubt that it can be done again. But it cannot be done again by words. it cannot be done by pious sentiments in our mouths. It can be done only by marshalling every resource which we have in any part of the British world. Many of us to-day are turning our eyes momentarily, perhaps constantly, to the United States of America, hoping for some measure of aid from that other great home of freedom, but when we turn to America and ask America for help, when we ask that American factories shall be devoted day and night to the production of munitions for us and the Allied armies, we must remember that no man can ask so successfully for help as the man who is helping himself. No country can so earnestly and successfully demand the maximum of energy and effort from America as the country which has itself devoted every ounce to the production of the same kind of thing. That, sir, is why the Government has called Parliament together and has asked Parliament to give to it these vast powers. Many powers we have had and exercised under the principal National Security Act, but we come now to say to Parliament, “ Sweep all the limits upon those powers away except the limit to which expressed reference has been made in this bill “.

Now why do we ask Parliament to do that! “What is it that we need to do at the present time? I cannot profess to exhaust all the possibilities of action under this bill, but I do indicate two or three things to honorable members as things that must be done in Australia, if we are to pull our weight, and if we are to defend ourselves. First of all, we ask for unlimited recourse to the property of this country, both real and personal of every kind, not merely money, but any property which this Government may require to take and to use for the purpose of carrying on this work of making munitions and establishing defensive posts. Whatever the purpose may be we ask for unlimited recourse to property. I believe that we shall not ask for it in vain, for this land has at stake at this time things that are immeasurably more important than property. The man who has property as well as life, liberty and his pursuit of happiness may well be expected to place that property io-day at the disposal of the country in order that those intangible things of his may be protected.

This Government, subject to the mere limitation of fact, and that is all, has unlimited power to tax. lt will not hesitate to exercise that power. I can promise increasing taxation in this country. I can promise taxation that may have no limit set to it, except the sheer limit of capacity to get more taxes from the taxpayer. I can promise that this Government will continue to do two things. First, it will continue so to order the business which it does with manufacturers, with contractors and with all others who may be engaged in the supply of materials of war, that there will be no profiteering in this war. It will continue to exercise its control over prices in this country so that there will be no war profiteering of any kind in this country. But, if somebody escapes through the net, if it turns out that there is a war profiteer, that there are war profits in this sense in Australia, we shall regard ourselves as not only entitled, but also bound, to take the whole of those profits by taxation.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!


– Then we ask for leave to deal with persons themselves. We have under the Defence Act extensive powers for the training of the man-power of Australia. As I announced the other night in a broadcast to the Australian people, the War Cabinet has been giving renewed consideration to the problem of the local defence of Australia, a problem never far from the minds of any of us, hut a problem the importance of which has been accentuated, I believe, by the events of the last few weeks. In that connexion, I announced that we proposed to maintain a force of 250,000 for local land defence, including such portion of the

Australian Imperial Force as may at any time he in training in camp in Australia, a number estimated to be perhaps of the order of 30,000 or 40,000 men. Now the raising, maintaining, training, and equipping of that force, all represent a major problem - problems of camps, accommodation and training, providing arms and munitions, and all of the means of training in the use of arms and ammunition. Those problems are at present being worked out in detail by the Department of the Army. We anticipate raising the additional force required partly by further drafts under the compulsory training system, and partly by calling for volunteers who are outside the compulsory training age groups. We know that there must be many thousands of men in Australia who are outside those age limits, and are not able for some reason to enter the Australian Imperial Force, but would willingly submit themselves for training to fit themselves for defence within Australia. As I have publicly indicated before to-day, we have gone on recruiting for the Australian Imperial Force, not merely to reach some predetermined point. We propose to go on. We are not setting artificial limits to the number of men whom we will train in Australia. But, whatever limits we may set, there is a sharp limit of fact set to the number of people who can be converted into a first-class modern fighting army, and that limit is set by our capacity to equip them with modern arms. I do not need to remind honorable gentlemen of the grim proof that we have had within the last two months when millions of men, full of valour, full of determination, are little if they find themselves ill equipped in the path of an army equipped to the last detail of modern ingenuity and modern organization.

Now, sir, it would be folly to endeavour to persuade honorable members that the position of Australia in relation to munitions is a satisfying position. It is not. That is the outstanding reason why we must to-day take every conceivable power to see that no factory in Australia which can. do something for munitions, is not doing it, to see that no man who has tho skill of his hands to give to the production of munitions is not giving that skill. Why, we must take every power so to order, so to command and direct the factories of Australia, those who operate and those who work in factories in Australia, that we may, in the shortest possible time, produce the greatest possible supplies of armaments, ammunition, mechanical transport, aud all of those things which the modern army requires, if it is to fight with success.

No limit is set to any of those things by the bill. The Munitions Department, newly created, is being organized on a comprehensive scale hitherto quite unknown in Australia. We have gone past the stage in which we want to call in first-class men merely as advisers. Men of executive ability must to-day be used in executive capacities. The adviser - and this, perhaps, has more application? than one - lacks the responsibility of the man whose whole reputation is involved in the doing of the job, and in the achieving of results. For that reason the Munitions Department is at this very moment calling to its aid a number of men of outstanding skill and qualifications, and saying to them, “ We want all your time. You are to give us all your time for the doing of this job “. 1 am proud to say that they are doing the job, not merely for the sake of having a job; they are doing these things as a patriotic service, giving the whole of their time and the whole of their skill to it and, in very many cases, offering their services to the country as a free contribution to the country’s war effort.

I recognize that the comprehensive words used in the bill, and which I have used in the course of my own speech, predicate a power to exercise compulsive authority in relation to labour. Just as we can, under this measure, compel the employer to do something, so we can compel the employee to do something. That is a very comprehensive power to take. It is a power which is capable of abuse - all great powers are - but it is a power which I believe, properly understood and wisely exercised, can be used to the enormous advantage of Australia.

It is quite true that, for some time past, difficulties - I do not think they are insuperable difficulties - have obtruded themselves in the way of obtaining the assistance of an advisory panel of trade unions. But although those difficulties are occurring, and some- have yet to be overcome, I have never marie any secret of my belief that we cannot get the maximum industrial effort of which Australia is capable without the real and willing co-operation of the trade union movement. The fact that I am asking, and that the Government to-day 13 asking, Parliament to give powers of compulsion leaves the principle of working quite unchanged. We want cooperation. We may have compulsive authority in our pocket, but we are going to get the best results from the trade unionists of Australia - who are just as loyal and patriotic, and filled with just as burning a desire to win this war, as any one else - by a system of co-operation, by saying, as 1 have repeatedly said, “ Come in and co-operate with us. Indicate to us your leaders with whom we can confer. We have no desire to strike down into the dust the things you have fought for and stand for. We desire only your service, your skill, your experience, to be used to the best advantage of Australia in the greatest crisis in the history of Australia “. The power may be compulsive, but the method, if we are to succeed, must be co-operative. That is the principle I state, the principle by which I stand.

Mr Brennan:

– Then what is the power needed for?


– It is to be hoped that these vast powers may never need to be exercised to their full extent either against trade unions or employers - or members of Parliament - but I say that, in a time of emergency like this, a democratic government is entitled, to say to Parliament and to the people: “We must not fail in this struggle because we failed to take every ounce of power which the situation required “.

One other thing I should like to say about the position of Labour at this time and it is this: There is in every Australian a deep-seated feeling that the burden should be carried fairly by all classes of people. He resents nothing so much as injustice. He believes, he passionately and properly believes, in the principle that we should all bear such burdens as we are capable of bearing, that w« should all play our part. If I go to the trade unions of Australia and say to them : “ You are asked to make sacrifices which other people are not asked to make “, then they will say to me : “ A fig for your idea of justice. We are prepared to make sacrifices, but we demand that they be made in common with all other sections of the community”. And that is right, that is fair, that is proper. No Government has any desire to impair the industrial standards and conditions that the trade unions of Australia have obtained and now enjoy. Of course not.

Mr McHugh:

– Will you stick to that?


– But I say to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McHugh), and to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), whose voice I hear, that it would be sheer humbug for any Prime Minister of Australia to stand in his place to-day and say that those standards will never be impaired. How do I know what standards are going to be impaired in Australia in the months ahead? How do I know what burden of sacrifice the people may be asked to bear in order that they may keep their land free and win the war ? I make no promises except one - that we will ask no section of the community to bear a burden more intolerable than that which all other sections have to bear. And if that means that we end this struggle successful but exhausted, poor, shorn of all sorts of privileges and possessions that we had before, what does it matter so long as we live and are free? When we reach that stage, it would be a poor Government indeed which, armed with the experience we have had, would not say: “ The first step we take in the rebuilding of our national life shall be designed to give to all those who do the nation’s work a fair standard of living and justice, the best standard the country can give them “.

Mr Beasley:

– The soldiers who fought in the last war are still waiting for justice.


– I do not propose to bandy words. What I am saying now I am saying honestly. What I am saying expresses, I believe, the real opinion of 90 per cent, of the people of Australia. In this matter, if we are one in, we are all in. There is not, I believe, one man in Australia who is not prepared to say, “I shall take my share”, or, in the homely phrase, “I shall take my eni, but I am not going to be the only one; everybody else has to be in this”. If there is to be a community to-day, it has to be a community founded upon the principle of all-round sacrifice. That is the principle which underlies this measure, and which justifies the Government in asking this Parliament for the most comprehensive set of powers that any government has ever asked an Australian parliament to provide. I leave it at that.No words of mine are necessary to point the moral of this bill, or to adorn the tale that I have told. Unhappily, no words of mine, no speech made in this House, will provide us with munitions, or will bring us to victory in this war; but we can, by our vote, by our promptness, by the generosity of our approach to this problem, arm the Government and, through the Government, the people of Australia, with the powers that will enable munitions to be produced in greater and greater quantities, and will enable the man-power of this country to be so organized, trained and used as to achieve victory.

This is a great hour in the history of Australia. Great as is the emergency, great as is the danger, it is still a great hour, because all of the events of the last six weeks have led to the culminating fact that it is for us, not only in our day and generation, but to-day, to fight a battle that will determine the future of the world, the future of Australia. A great hour like this produces a great challenge, and I believe that we shall be judged, not only by our contemporaries, but also by future generations, according to the promptness, according to the largeness, of the response that we make to the challenge that the world has put upon us. I say to every honorable member, and I believe that I can say to a unanimous House of Parliament, that we are determined that nothing that we can. do, nothing of which we can direct the doing, will be left undone; that everything that we have, everything that we are, we are prepared to put into the balance to-day. We cannot do less, because, if we do less, we may fail. “We cannot do more. But if we do everything that we can do to-day, then I believe that we shall win this war, that we shall save Australia, and that we shall be able to say subsequently, in the words of Rupert Brooke, “ Now God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour “.

Leader of the Opposition · Fremantle

– I support the motion for the second reading of the bill.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !


– The bill asks that the Parliament shall give to the Executive the power to organize this nation for the purposes of the defence of Australia and the conduct of the war. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said, it asks that the Executive shall have given to it all of the authority that the Executive may deem necessary in order promptly to achieve that preparation which is the first condition of Australia’s capacity to defend itself against attack, and, having first assured our own safety to the maximum of our ability, also necessary to contribute to the common cause. These, naturally, arc powers which no Australian parliament has ever previously voted to the Executive. They are powers which had not, until quite recently, and then for the first time in British history, been voted to the Executive Government of the United Kingdom; and they have also been voted to the Government of the sister dominion ofNew Zealand.

My attitude to the whole matteris this : In the history of every country there is reached, probably, the stage when only one consideration must be taken into account, a consideration which rises paramount over every other aspect of the life of the country ; that is, the consideration of assuring the safety of the country against an imminent danger.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!


– As we look at the situation to-day, nobody in this country will deny that, in the last few weeks, the dangers to Australia have increased in an extraordinary way. For that very reason, it must be apparent that, whatever be the deficiencies that we know to exist, those deficiencies not only must be repaired but also must be repaired with the maximum of speed and the minimum of further delay. We know, also, that in modern warfare bravery is not sufficient; that it is of the first requirement of a country that not only shall it possess men who are willing to defend it, but also that those men shall be given at least an approximate parity with the armaments they will have to resist.

Therefore, as the Prime Minister has said, in order to place this country on a war footing, in order to ensure that we shall have for our soldiers, our airmen, and our sailors, the utmost equipment and the most efficient weapons that the country can provide for them, we have therein a practical problem which can be resolved not merely spectacularly, but only by hard work and industrial organization. I know, and Australia knows, that that involves the most efficient use of labour in the various ways in which labour can he used. The trade union movement of Australia consists of a large number of workmen. It can he said to include not only workmen, but also the wives and families of those workmen. These represent, I venture to say, the great majority of the people of this Commonwealth. The Prime Minister has spoken the truth concerning their patriotism, their loyalty to Australia. If what be has said were not true, this country could not defend itself. It is because it is true, because the masses of the people of Australia, whatever may be their social objectives, their political ideals and ideas, feel that this country belongs to them as much as to any other class, that they also hold the further belief that its future involves more for them than for any other class.

Therefore the workers of Australia have to defend, not only those things which th«y have achieved, all the improvements for which they have struggled, but they also have to defend all those objectives they have in mind which they have not yet been able to achieve, but which, too. are associated with this struggle. We know the difficulties with which we have to contend with respect to the vested interests in this country. The objection to our policy on the part of certain citizens of this Commonwealth cannot be resolved by a bill under which regulations can be promulgated to control the men and women of Australia; but as thing3 stand’ at present, and having regard to this struggle in which the nation is now engaged, our position is clear.

We have at stake self-government in Australia; we’ also have at stake a trusteeship for the future, and for the soil on which we live.

Neither the Government, nor its supporters, nor the great newspapers of Australia, are entitled to assume or to construe programmes or declarations in such a way as to suggest that the trade union movement of Australia is letting Australia down.

As a matter of fact, only yesterday a representative body of Labour, specially summoned to deal with the present situation, decided to scrap everything that had gone before, and to have regard only to conditions as they now exist. That body decided, without any post-mortems, what it should do. having regard to the actualities which face Australia. I find that that responsible body of Labour said that, in order ti> meet this situation, “ the entire resources of Australia, which includes all productive and financial organizations, should be placed under the control of the Commonwealth Government for national service in the urgent and adequate defence of Australia and the prosecution of the war “. The substantive clause of this hill and that resolution can be regarded at being different words with the same meaning; for there is no conceivable difference between the substance of the declaration that for the purpose of conducting the war the entire resources of Australia shall be under the control of the, Commonwealth Government, and the enabling power which this bill proposes to give to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to issue regulations.

Labour knew that in arriving at that decision it was giving to the Government power over life and death, over industrial conditions and over property and persons. It knew that this amounted substantially to making the Executive of the Australian nation the equivalent of absolute government of Australia. Labour knew exactlywhat it was voting for, but felt that the Government of Australia is composed of men who are responsible to the Australian nation, and who will have to account to the Australian nation for their stewardship. We at that conference also knew that the members of the Government would be morally restrained by the judgment of the Australian people with respect to the way in which the power? now sought would be exercised. We f«e! in respect of trade union standards and awards, and the rights which trad* unionism and the workers have in Australia that, while an Australian government governs Australia, those rights will be respected by that government in carrying out the programme which it will have to carry out. The Prime Minister’s declaration to-day, although not a feature of the bill, constitutes a covenant between the Government and, not only trade unionists, but also the people of Australia. I have not the least doubt that if ever the time comes when the Government feels that it must act contrary to the wishes of trade unionists, it will bring to this Parliament at least the merits of the disputation, so that this Parliament can deal with it. Therefore, while we support the second reading of the bill, and know precisely what we are doing and the circumstances in which it is done, we ask the Government, in taking this immense trusteeship from the Parliament which comprises the elected representatives of the people, to bear in mind the general understanding that the Opposition and the Australian Labour movement have in mind in granting these powers. I believe that the Parliament should sit regularly. This Parliament, although giving over to the Executive this absolute authority, must not abdicate its right to have a periodical account of what the Government is doing.

Mr Menzies:

– Hear hear!


– One illuminating passage in Mr. Lloyd George’s review of the last war, was his declaration that the war was won by constructive criticism. While we say to the Government that it has the responsibility to organize the defence of this nation, there should be regular consultation with Parliament, and a regular submission to the Parliament of how the work of the nation is proceeding. We should be told what deficiencies have been discovered, and advantage should be taken of the aid that Parliament can give by bringing before Ministers evidence of what may be described as, perhaps, the failure to make the progress in certain directions that ought to have been made.

Mr Jennings:

– Why not p.hare in the responsibilities of the Government?


– Because we believe that this Government which is responsible to the nation is a Government that has a majority of Parliament behind it, and we feel that constructive criticism is indispensable to any government if it is to exercise satisfactorily the tremendous powers which have been given to it.

Mr Hutchinson:

– A national government would not prevent criticism.


– No ; it would not but the circumstances in Australia are entirely different from those in Great Britain. We have here a Parliamen composed of representatives of all sections of the people and with the best nien on the Ministerial side holding portfolios, and on the Opposition side those who share with the Government the common objective of the defence of Australia. We may not agree with all of the Government’s methods; but the place for us to deal with the Government is here. The place for argument, and for any disputation, which at present should be at a minimum, is in this Parliament. In the Cabinet there ought to be no disputation. The Cabinet room should be the place for action and decision not for argument or dispute or for canvassing opinions, pro and con, from the point of view of the public. Well informed and properly conducted criticism should be ventilated in this Parliament and not driven underground.

I say to the country once again that, as Leader of the Opposition, with the authority to speak for my party, I have been able to do much more for national unity and for the safety of this country than if I were merely a ministerial colleague of the right honorable gentleman, lt is not necessary for newspaper writers or others to tell me my duty. I have a conception as to how 1 can best: serve Australia. I say to a great number of men in Australia to-day, who apparently think they can do certain things better than every one else, that the first test of patriotism when an emergency confronts the nation is for each to do the job given to him a bit better than he did it previously, before he tries to do some one else’s job. That appears to ru<; to be the first condition for qualification to serve Australia.

Mr Harrison:

– Does not the honorable gentleman think–


– The honorable member is in favour not of a national government, but a select’ commission. We support this bill, and we do so as the representatives of a people who stand for democratic parliamentary government. We do not want a Fascist oligarchy running Australia. I venture to say that the powers which the Government seeks under this measure can be wisely implemented with the maximum of efficiency, and with a minimum of delay from the viewpoint of defence, with the co-operation, constructive as it has been and as it will be, of the Opposition in this Parliament.

Mr Anthony:

– And a lot of goodwill.

Mr Harrison:

– But with no responsibility.


– We have a responbility. Surely a responsibility will devolve upon everybody in Australia if we are to ensure that these vast powers which the Government now proposes to exercise are not abused, and that no injustice will be caused as the result of their use. Such injustices as are likely to arise can he properly pointed out, and the opportunity given in free discussion to rectify the position. The people of Australia must be assured of our capacity to defend ourselves, not only against aggression, but also against mismanagement by the Government, or abuse of the vast powers which may be voted to it in a national emergency. This Opposition has a duty to the people of Australia. The Government has a duty to ask this Parliament for whatever powers it requires, and to explain why it wants such powers. If it can convince Parliament, as it has succeeded in doing on this occasion, it will be given such powers. The Opposition’s duty is to ensure that the utmost help is given to the Government. However, do honorable members opposite imply that four or five members of the Cabinet are so incompetent that it 13 necessary to go to the Opposition in order to secure efficient administration? I regret that this matter has arisen, hut the answer to such a contention is to create not four or five vacancies in the Cabinet but fifteen. However, this is no time for political disputation.

I have taken the stand that the right honorable gentleman was Prime Minister when war broke out. The war was not of his making, nor was it due to any action taken by Australia. In point of time, however, his Government was in power, and he was its leader. I saw no reason for the stupid coalition that developed. The Ministers displaced were doing their work just as efficiently as those who displaced them. We saw no reason for such a change in the Government. We were quite satisfied that the work of governing Australia in the present emergency would be done by whoever inherited the responsibility. We were here not to make political capital out of the situation, but frankly to examine the Government’s proposals and to reveal to the people of Australia the traditions which, wc believed we had inherited from the founders of our movement.

Whatever our political views, or opposition to the Government of the day, might be we were not opposed to the country which the Government was administering, and we realized that the best interests of the country could always best be served by the Opposition doing its work as an opposition so long as it remained in opposition, and as a government when it became the Government.

I sincerely hope that in the time left to us - and I trust it will be adequate, although, by all the portents, it threatens to be brief - the munitions requirements of this country will be attended to with the greatest possible degree of efficiency. I assure the Government that the Trade unions will do what they are asked to do. I ask that they be treated fairly; I believe that they will he.

In respect of the man-power of this country, I ask that it be trained as quickly as possible. I welcome the pronouncement by the Prime Minister that volunteers for the defence of Australia will not be turned away. In recent months many have been turned away. The problem of equipping our soldiers requires most urgent consideration, and I ask once more, whatever be the explanation for the delays in the past, that the Government concentrate to the greatest degree upon strengthening the Royal Australian Air Force.

If we have learned one lesson in this war it is that where a shore has to be invaded the power of air defences to make that landing difficult is beyond all doubt. Therefore, we must strengthen our air forces as quickly as possible. We must secure the greatest possible number of pilots, and increase our air crews; but more important still, we must attend to the supply of aeroplanes themselves. In addition, we must attend to the preparation of landing grounds and our requirements in respect of engineering services. The obligation to make our own aircraft now devolves upon us because of the difficulty of importing all of the machines we need. Whatever be the troubles arising in this connexion, let the Government get busy on this work, because we may not have too much time to spare.

In respect of every other arm of our defences we urge the Government to be as active as possible. An immense task also confronts the Governments of the States. If a case can be made out for the formation of a national government composed of all political parties, a greater urgency exists for the co-operation of all of the State Governments with the national Government. The States have immense responsibilities in organizing the civil side of Australia’s defences. We can imagine what would happen in any of our great ports should an enemy strike at one of them. Our fighting forces could be almost incommoded by any demoralization, or disorganization, of civilian life. The fact that so many of our centres of population depend on a few centres for power and transport services, and the like, makes the danger of demoralization of our people and the disorganization of the whole of our economic life in the event of attack so great that it is imperative that we now take steps to prepare civilians to fit in with whatever the fighting forces must do in order to withstand attack. At Fremantle, an enemy might hit a reservoir or a petrol supply, or put out of action the gas or the electricity services. In the event of any one of those services being interrupted, immediate repairs would be necessary. It would be necessary at once to muster, not only soldiers but also electrical engineers, plumbers and artisans, in order to ensure a minimum of confusion as the result of either deliberate or accidental destruction of a service which, is vital to that important seaport. What applies to Fremantle is true of every important port on the sea coast of Australia.

Yesterday the conference of the Australian Labour party declared itself in favour of universal physical training as an adjunct to the training being undertaken under the Defence Act in connexion with our fighting forces. The women of Australia could do with some physical training. A great deal could be done in the organization of civilians, and, in order to make a start at once in that direction, the co-operation of the States and the Commonwealth in that regard should be secured. Once a start is made, the movement will develop of its own momentum, and I venture to say that it will be of great value.

The power that we are now giving to the Government is one that could be infinitely good and it could also be infinitely bad. I repeat what I said earlier. No Australian government could be infinitely bad, because every government in Australia derives its existence from the people of Australia. There are limits beyond which a reactionary government could not go in this country. There are limits to its own political selection, because it knows that it can go so far and no further. There are limits also to the length to which any so-called revolutionary government that might be elected in Australia could go. It would be aware of the moral restraint which the people of this nation have ever imposed upon their governments in all of the years we have had governments. The people have, in the last analysis, protected themselves against an abuse of power by any government. I am, therefore, not afraid of what the present Government may do with the powers now to be conferred upon it, but I am afraid of what the enemy might do if we did not vote these powers.


.- We are meeting at a time of very great emergency, and we are asked to give to the Government extraordinary powers. With that request I entirely agree, and, therefore, I support the bill. I am in accord with the remark by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that this Parliament should meet frequently, so that a check could be kept on the Government’s actions.

Although I know that this bill should be passed quickly, I make bold to rise to-day to offer a. few suggestions to the Government. “With the defeat of our gallant Ally, and the overrunning of Europe by a ruthless and unscrupulous enemy, leaving a trail of death and desolation across Europe, the British Empire has been left to fight alone. We could do no less than we are doing to-day in bringing this measure forward. I have no doubt that a call has gone out from the head-quarters of the British Empire asking the Dominions to do more than they already have done. Therefore, I think that the first and fundamental thing to do is to explore the possibility of forming a national government, as has been done in Great Britain. The Leader of the Opposition has submitted his reasons why he thinks it unnecessary to adopt that course. I suggest that, as the Labour party has abandoned its policy of isolation in regard to defence, and now favours compulsory military training, which it previously supported

Mr Frost:

– When did it do that?


– A Labour government, suspended compulsory military training in 1929, and I then strongly opposed its action.

Mr Drakeford:

– Why did not the honorable member re-introduce that principle when he was a member of a government ?


– I have consistently supported compulsory military service, and adequate defence, and, when a member of the Government, I endeavoured to have that policy implemented. I say definitely that, from time to time. I have tried to foretell some of our present difficulties and have predicted much of what has happened.

When I returned from Germany in 1.938 I pointed out that that country was so centrally organized and so well controlled, that Nazi-ism was a menace to the world: and, when it threatened Czechoslovakia, I said that ultimately we should be threatened. Now the war has definitely come to us, in that Britain is fighting alone. Italy has entered for the kill, and Japan and Russia are hovering and waiting for the final result. We must do our utmost, and it must be “ all in “. I ask for some of the details of this “ all in “ policy. I suggest, first and foremost, that the formation of a national government is essential. At the outbreak of the war I put the proposal forward in Parliament, as previously I had done so publicly. Criticism of the Government could continue. It would not be stilled as the Leader of the Opposition has said it would be. 1 do not burke criticism when criticism is essential. If Britain can have men in its Cabinet like Mr. Bevin, and can obtain the services of the best brains in all of the various political parties, surely Australia, with its small population, could do likewise. Have we not sufficient ability amongst our public men for this purpose? In the minds of the people we certainly have the will to form a national government, and this matter should be further explored by the Prime Minister and the various party leaders. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), the Leader of the Australian Labour party - non-Communist (Mr. Beasley), and others could also be consulted in order to secure the assistance necessary to obtain the best services available in this Parliament.

I remind the House that this Parliament was elected during peace, and we are now placing in the hands of the Executive all of the work that is to be done in this period of war. It is notoriously true that democracies work slowly. The centralized totalitarian governments, which have welded their political, economic and industrial weapons into one strong implement, can defeat the democracies while they work so much more slowly. If we have to wait for conferences, and for the opinions of the Opposition, instead of acting swiftly, we may yet fail. In view of that possibility, I suggest, that, as the Government will receive the powers asked, for, it should further explore the possibility of forming a national government. Three great empires have now lost their governing authorities. The head-quarters of the Dutch, Belgian and French empires have been conquered by the Nazi menace. The taking of the colonies of those empires is only a matter of calculation and distribution later between the enemy countries, and we do not know how many enemy countries may be ranged up.

Let mc suggest also that the Government should re-organize the “War Cabinet. We read in the press much about the War Cabinet sitting day by day, and we wait anxiously for information as to what it has achieved. We have come here to learn all about it, but we have not been told to-day what it intends to do. Yet we are now giving the Government an open cheque. I maintain that the War Cabinet should now l>». reinforced, and not entirely on a political basis, but by calling in industrial leaders and others. This action has been taken in Ohe past by cabinets with which I have been associated. Those governments culled into consultation the chiefs of the various fighting services. Industrial chiefs could also be called into the War Cabinet in order to obtain the best possible results.

I suggest that the Government should also .review the age limits in connexion with enlistment for military service. When the age limits were announced, I said to the Minister for Defence in this chamber that insufficient consideration had been given to the matter., and that it was ridiculous to say that only men under the age of 35 years were capable of effective service. For the rank and file and for the ground personnel of the Air Force, men up to the ages of 50 or 60 years are capable of effective service, and their enlistment would release many others for more combatant work. We have quite a tome of occupations in which it is said that the men cannot be spared. I suggest that 50 per cent, of those enumerated could be spared, and I hope that the Government will revise the list, so that many of “ these men will be liberated for active service.

Let the Government also overhaul the activities of the various boards that are operating in both the State and the Commonwealth spheres, and abolish those that are superfluous. By the suspension of their operations, much money could be saved. The Public Service should also be placed on a war footing. It is true that this has been done in some degree in the Defence Department, but the Saturday morning holiday is still taken in many instances. Such a state of affairs seems incredible, and unless it be remedied, our effort will be held up by administrative bottle-necks and tangles of red tape. Yet, we find in this legislation no suggestion of any amendment of the Public Service Act which, in my opinion, is essential. I believe that some consideration has been given to this matter, but we should like t? law what that consideration was. In association with our fighting forces all mem’ ‘‘rs of the Commonwealth Public Service should be put on h. war footing for the duration of this conflict, “whilst the privileges and concessions which they have enjoyed in peace Jaya, might well be put aside in order that they may share the sacrifice. I do not suggest that officers of the Commonwealth Public Service are not doing their best; many of them are working extremely long -hours, and are doing infinitely more work than before, but, the Public Service Act confers certain privileges which are not justified in the present circumstances, and serve only to hamper the -work that is being done, and the efficiency of the fighting forces.

I suggest also that there are anomalies in the administration of the Defence Department, which might well be eliminated. I was glad to hear the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) say recently that action has been taken in response to my representations in connexion with the payment of separation allowances to widowed mothers, but there are many other anomalies which I shall not enumerate. In the Air Force there are so many varying rates of pay that the system must be very confusing to outsiders.

Mr Mulcahy:

– It is confusing to know how to get into the Air Force.


– Exactly. That is also ;i matter which is due for an overhaul. Being a member of the Royal Australian Air Force 1 am not at. liberty to criticize it, but I do not think that enlistment has progressed as rapidly as it could have. However, in a. gigantic scheme such as the Empire Air Scheme, which is producing men who will later on give a good account of themselves overseas, there must necessarily be small anomalies.

It is important that wider action should be taken to imprison or deport individuals engaged in subversive activities throughout Australia. There are still many prominent Nazis loose in this country and many more Italians should be interned. It is even true that within certain Government instrumentalities, such as the Central Wool Committee, Germans, Italians, Japanese and others, arc employed whereas Australians who could do the work just as well should have the jobs. The excuse made is that these men are British subjects. That may be so, but any Nazi who knows his work would not hesitate at becoming a British subject in order to achieve his ends. In this regard I am not suggesting that any particular person has taken that action, but it is time the Government eliminated all shadow of doubt from the minds of many people who believe that undesirable foreigners or enemy sympathizers are in its employ.

Most important of all, I suggest that the Government should have declared to-day that all men from 18 to 60 years of age must be enrolled for national service. I do not mean by that that all of these men should immediately don khaki, or that equipment should be forthwith supplied to them, hut I say, let them be enrolled for allotment into their most appropriate spheres. To do that the Government needs no additional powers, because all the necessary authority is provided in sections 59 and 60 of the Defence Act of 1903. Section ‘60 enumerates the classes of men who may be called upon to undertake military service. For instance, the first class covers “all men of the age of eighteen years and upwards, but under 35 years, who are unmarried, or widowers without children “. Why has that action not been taken?


– The Defence Act exempts politicians.


– I know that, and I do not think that politicians should be exempt; they should be called up in their turn.

When making an appeal for a national government in September last, I suggested that the powers conferred upon the Government by the Defence Act to impose compulsory service upon certain categories should .be exercised, and I urged that two or three classes be called up to provide a home army then. But nothing was done in that way. The war has now come nearer to us, and still there is no indication that action along the lines I have suggested will be taken. As I have said, ample power exists in the Defence Act, and it is unnecessary for the Government to rely even on this legislation. It could call up 250,000 men to-morrow, if it so desired, and I hope that at least some classes will be called up in the very near future.

It is justly claimed that equipment is of vital importance in modern warfare. The tempo of war is now infinitely faster than it was during the last war, otherwise the French army would not have failed. That army was probably the finest in the world, but it could not stand up to the repeated attacks by waves of dive bombers followed up by streams of tanks which annihilated everything in their path.

It is essential that the industrial life of this country be mobilized and organized for a supreme defence effort, and I feel sure that that will he done under the able administration of Mr. Essington Lewis, who has been appointed hy the Commonwealth Government to the important position of Director-General of Munitions. But the excuse that there is a shortage of equipment should not stop us from calling up thousands of men immediately. Our fighting man-power should be sorted out, and aged men, women and the unfit should :be put into jobs which are now being done by younger men who are eligible for military service. There is no need to wait until we have sufficient rifles and other implements of war. Since the outbreak of war there has been a period of gestation, and ‘better results would have been apparent to-day, had there not been so much talk and complacency. We have been lulled into a sense of security by such slogans as “ Business as usual “, and “ We are not fighting the German people; we are fighting Hitler “. All that has to go; we are fighting the German people; we are fighting not only the Nazi leaders, but also the people of Germany who seek to dominate the world; because Hitler, by means of his insidious technique, has put forward his claim of racial superiority; he has told the “Germans that they are the master race and that the other races which they conquer are only fit to he unskilled slave peoples. That has been the fate of Poland, Holland, Belgium, Norway and Denmark, and it anay be the fate of France. I was glad to read the rumour this afternoon that the French fleet was to join the British fleet. The combined fleets of Britain and France will be a powerful factor in the determination of this conflict.

I repeat that it is not necessary that full equipment should be provided before our men are called up for training. At a corresponding period of the last war, Australia had two divisions fighting overseas. When that conflict broke out we had 40,000 compulsory trainees fully equipped. Now that taxation for war purposes has vastly increased, and there will be a consequent greater spending of money, we should have been able to bring about a better result on this occasion. This is no time for lamentations or recriminations. Let us call up our men. It is not necessary that hutments should be provided to house them, because they could be billeted or put in tents, in order that they might receive the fundamentals of military training, which they lost during that period when compulsory training was waived. Had our compulsory training system continued, to-day all men up to 41 years of age throughout Australia would have had at least a useful knowledge of military training, and our state of preparedness and self-reliance would have been considerably better than it is now. With the increased efficiency, range, and hitting power of aircraft today, it is within the bounds of possibility that troops could be landed on our own northern beaches, in the same way as they were landed on beaches in Holland when that country was invaded recently. It is essential that every man in this country should know the rudiments of defence, and I exhort the Government to regiment fully Australia’s man-power. We have been informed that the Government intends to turn over all war profits to the national exchequer, and that the industrial resources of the country are .to be marshalled in order to expedite the pro duction of tanks, anti-tank guns, and all necessary war equipment. That is laudable, but for its achievement it is essential that the man-power resources of the nation shall be utilized to the fullest possible degree. Men who are either over age or are physically unfit for full military service should be formed into local or municipal reserves, in order that they be given some instruction in defence and perform useful duties. If that be not done, there will not be that equality of sacrifice of which the Prime Minister has so eloquently spoken to-day. Words and lip service mean nothing; action alone matters. Unless Australia pulls its weight, we must fail, and that its weight can be substantial was demonstrated in the last war when five divisions of Australians troops were sent overseas, and played a magnificent part during the German break through, and the counterstroke which followed. In this war Australian soldiers can play a great part in the Near East or even within Australia, because the war may yet come to our own shores. In implementing this measure I exhort the Government to give effect to some of these matters which I have mentioned, and which as previously may seem unimportant, but are actually most important and are causing considerable agitation in the minds of the people to-day. If the Government does not take some action along the lines which I have suggested, it will not be engaging in an “ all-in “ war. The Prime Minister said the other day: “ Our national risk excludes nobody. The national effort must, therefore, be the effort of all”. Only by pursuing an “all-in” war policy, and by excluding nobody, can we go on to victory.

Leader of the Australian Labour party - nonCommunist · West Sydney

– The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in outlining the provisions of the bill, made a perfectly frank statement. Its purpose is nothing more nor less than the imposition of industrial conscription in Australia. That being so, we should consider whether or not there is warrant for the action which is proposed to be taken by the Government. Early in September of last year, this Parliament passed the National Security Act, which,

I contend, vested in the Administration authority to do all the things that any government would.- wish to do in the successful prosecution of the war, with the exception of the specific limitation of power contained iu the Commonwealth Constitution. “When that measure was under discussion, the Opposition felt it necessary to secure the insertion of a provision safeguarding, existing industrial conditions, such as rates of pay and arbitration awards. Finally, the Government acquiesced in the demands of the Opposition, and, following the passage of the National Security Act, it promulgated a series of regulations implementing the powers which that legislation conferred upon the Government.

Attention has already been directed to proposed new section 13a, which contains the emergency powers now being sought by the Government. But these powers, with the exception of industrial conscription, I repeat, are already in the National Security Act. For example, the Government already has authority, in the prosecution of its war effort, to acquire property, as well as to control and direct the services of Australian citizens in the defence forces of the country. In his second-reading speech this afternoon, the Prime Minister endeavoured at some length to prove that this wider authority is necessary, although all honorable members must know that there is no need for this amending legislation. Recently, the Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) deemed it necessary to acquire certain machinery that had been landed in Australia, to the order of a private manufacturer, and to direct its installation and use for defence purposes. The authority under which the Minister acted on that occasion now exists, and is proof of the power to acquire property without this legislation.

Mr Blackburn:

– The honorable member is, I think, referring to powers contained in the Supply and Development Act.


– There is also a similar provision in the National Security Act. I think the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) was responsible for its insertion. It is desirable, in the consideration of this measure, to ask the

Government to produce evidence of the need for the changes which are contemplated. So far, the Prime Minister has not done that, other than to say that the Government considers the international situation to have reached a stage that requires the marshalling of all the resources of the Commonwealth in order that the Government’s war effort may be 100 per cent, efficient. I am sure that every honorable member is determined to support with all of his power and influence the Government in marshalling the whole of the Australian resources in order to safeguard the country in this grave crisis. I am sure also that every worker in Australia is prepared to support, to the very limit of his power, anything that the Government may do in this direction ; but, I repeat, there is no need whatever for this bill. Further proof of this is to be found in the fact that only last week a number of employees of the “Westinghouse company’s works in Sydney, during a lunch hour meeting, waited on the management and intimated that unless the Government took steps to make more effective use. of their services at that establishment for defence preparedness, they would seek work elsewhere. Still further evidence of the failure of the Government to utilize fully the resources of Australia is found in the fact that there are 100,000 persons unemployed in the various States. There is no need whatever to conscript men for industrial purposes, because they are waiting in their thousands for an opportunity to render useful service in the defence of this country. So far their appeals have not been, answered.

It appears to me, therefore, that the bill has been introduced in order to appease the public demand for action, and perhaps also to avoid criticism of Ministers for their inactivity; that it is intended to make the people believe that the Government has not been able to perform all that it undertook to do, because it had not the necessary power under existing legislation. That, in my view, is the reason for the introduction of the bill. It is common knowledge that, in the manufacture of munitions and other forms of war equipment, the Government has not fulfilled its promises.

There are still many idle factories, which under proper organization could be employed full-time on war contracts. Obviously, the Government wishes the people of Australia to believe that hitherto it has not had the necessary power to do all the things that it wishes to do. But the country and the electors should be told that all along the Ministry has had full authority to act, but has not availed itself of the powers already vested in it.

Since Parliament went into recess at the end of last month, the Minister for Supply and Development has been subjected to considerable criticism, and about a fortnight ago, he gave honorable members an opportunity to inspect a number of defence annexes that had been established in various workshops in the Sydney metropolitan area. A considerable number of members accepted the invitation, and inspected several establishments. What did we find? We found that at some annexes, machines that had been installed for many months - in fact in some cases, six months - had not, up to the date of inspection, turned a wheel in production. At the door of one annexe, we found at least 200 men waiting to be called for work, and we were informed that for some weeks prior to our inspection, that number of men had been waiting vainly for the call to employment on defence works. With regard to aircraft construction works, we found a similar state of things.

Mr Prowse:

– How many aeroplanes have been constructed ?


– A number of Wirraways have been handed over by the manufacturers to the Defence Department, but I understand that Wirraways are not suitable to meet the demands of modern war.

Mr White:

– Wirraways are capable of dealing with seaborne aircraft.


– The honorable member speaks with experience, and I accept his assurance; but my point is that the flying range of the Wirraways is not sufficient to enable them to deal with hostile aircraft at any great distance from the Australian coastline. Modern bombers are required.

Mr White:

– That is so.


– This advice was tendered to me on the occasion of a visit to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s establishment at Fisherman’s Bend, Victoria, about six months ago. I informed that if this country is to be adequately defended, we need the larger type of bomber and, unfortunately, up to the present time, the Government has not been able to make adequate provision for that class of aircraft. I say, therefore, that any deficiency in Australia’s air defence, at all events, is not due to lack of man-power; so there is no need whatever for industrial conscription to make good any deficiency, because, as .1 have explained, the workers are willing and in fact, are demanding that their services be used to a greater degree than has been the case hitherto. I suppose my experience is similar to that of many other honorable members. Almost daily, I receive requests from large numbers of competent men who are clamouring for employment in some sphere of defence activity, and it seems to me that the Government should, with greater vigour, direct certain private manufacturers, as well as all Governmentowned workships, to give their attention solely to defence works. Large numbers of skilled workers, toolmakers and others, are continually offering their services, and pleading that they be employed more directly in the defence of this country.

The Prime Minister this afternoon emphasized the gravity of the war situation and told Us how necessary it was that the Government should have full authority to require every ounce of energy which the country possesses to be applied to defence needs. I tell the right honorable gentleman that hitherto there has been a serious waste of national effort, simply because the Government has not sufficiently organized Australia’s man-power and resources. I may, perhaps, better illustrate my point by stating that at the Chullora workshops, primarily intended to engage in aircraft construction, little or nothing has been done to date. When we visited that establishment some days ago, we heard an appalling story that equipment which had been sent out here to be used as -models for future construction could not be utilized, because 33 per cent, of the parts were missing.

The remarks of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) this afternoon were timely. I do not agree with the honorable gentleman’s views on conscription, but I think he was quite justified in. directing attention to Government failures and inactivity over the past nine months. We are entitled to ask the Government what use it has made of the powers already en-trusted to it under the existing act, and how far it has gone in the organization of industry in furtherance of its defence activities. Every honorable member, I believe, can mention a number of industrial establishments that have been offered to the Government for war purposes. I do not suggest that the response of trade unionists to the Government’s appeal is the only voluntary offer that has been submitted to the Ministry to aid it in its war effort. I am aware that many manufacturing interests in this country have also made considerable voluntary efforts and are willing to do quite a lot more. It is probably safe to say that at least 95 per cent, of the manufacturing interests in Australia would be willing immediately to convert their factories to the production of munitions if they were asked .to do so. like other sections of the community, they know that unless the Allies are successful in the war, their factories will be of no value to them. The conversion of their factories to the production of munitions is only the logical action of any business man. It is an insult to the Australian spirit to introduce a measure imposing compulsion on hundreds of thousands of people who are only too willing that their services shall be utilized for the defence of this country. The State governments have been urging the Commonwealth Government to make use of the services that they are capable of providing. A few days ago a deputation waited on the Treasurer (Mr. Spender) to urge him to utilize the services of the Sydney Water Board in the construction of a graving dock in Sydney harbour. It should not have been necessary for a large deputation to wait on the Commonwealth Government to urge the wisdom of utilizing the facilities which the Sydney Water Board is able to provide. The construction of a graving dock involves a great deal of preliminary work, such as the making of surveys, the taking of levels, and the drilling of test bores. All of those undertakings require time. The Sydney Water Board has the staff and the equipment capable of carrying out this work with the least delay; yet the Commonwealth Government has hesitated to take advantage of the offer. In almost every phase of government activity there has been failure on the part of the Government to make use of services that are available. I repeat that there is no need for this measure, because all of the powers that are necessary to provide a 100 per cent, war effort in this country already exist. I go further, and say that there will be little need to exercise these powers, because the Government has only to ask any section of the community for help and that help will be forthcoming without the slightesthesitation. Recently, the firm of Waugh and Josephson of St. Peters, Sydney, manufacturers of caterpillar trucks, offered to the Commonwealth Government the facilities at its disposal for the purpose of building the main structural parts of tanks and the caterpillar equipment of tanks for the defence of Australia, but so far, it has received no reply. Private members of this Parliament therefore had to be approached and have endeavoured to force the Government to realize the wisdom of utilizing the facilities offered by this firm. Another instance of neglect on the part of the Government to accept offers of assistance relates to an offer made by Telegraph Supplies Limited, of Annandale, Sydney. Some time ago the Department of Supply and Development informed that company that orders for certain British colonies could not be fulfilled, because the steel was needed in Australia. The company then offered its plant and resources for use in Australia for defence requirements, but the department said that nothing could be done. The position now is that the employees of the company, who number over 80, are in danger of dismissal. The Government appears to lack organizing power, otherwise it would not fail to make use of the plant and machinery of this company as well as many others.

In reviewing the position which confronts us to-day, we are justified in asking some pertinent questions as to the use made of Australia’s man-power by the authorities in charge of the country during the last nine years. It is all very well for the Government, in asking for these powers, to say that justice will be done, that there will be no inequality of treatment of the people, and that when the war is over normal conditions will be re-established as quickly as possible. I point out that that was not so in the past. The present Prime Minister may make such promises in all sincerity, but who can say how long the right honorable gentleman will be Prime Minister of Australia? No one can say what lies ahead of us. During the last twelve years I have listened to a great many undertakings which have not been honoured. I remember, for instance, an undertaking which was given in 1930, that as soon as the budget was balanced, invalid and old-age pensions would be restored to the amount that was paid before the emergency legislation reduced them; but the fact is that the budget was balanced for years before restoration was made. Indeed, restoration was made only after the strongest pressure on the Government had been applied in this Parliament. As a further illustration of what has taken place, I mention that only last week I was told of the experience of an ex-soldier who had applied for a war service home. At the time of his application he was an employee of the Commonwealth Bank in receipt of about £4 15s. a week. The war service homes authorities approved his application, because, in their opinion, his income at the time was sufficient to enable him to pay the instalments. Subsequently, the exsoldier enlisted, with the result that his income was reduced. When his wife attended at the office of the War Service Homes Department to sign the contract she was told that, because of the reduction of her husband’s income, she could not get a war service home. I saw the Minister in charge of War Service Homes (Senator Collett) about this matter, and he told me that no doubt the decision was in accordance with the law. I mention this case of Mrs.Ricketts, of Glebe, as an illustration of the justice that may be expected. Although her husband enlisted twice - once in the last war and again in this war - she could not get a war service home.

Sir Charles Marr:

– She ought to have been given a home for nothing.


– I told the Minister that such treatment was unjust.

Mr Lane:

– We shall help her.


– I mention her case as an illustration of the Government’s idea of justice. The Prime Minister may speak in all sincerity, but the ramifications of government are wide; and with decisions in the hands of men who are not members of this Parliament, the problem becomes more complex. We on this side are anxious to safeguard the rights and privileges which have taken many years to establish. For a long time the trade unions of this country have striven hard to establish decent standards in industry. The standard that has been set up is based on needs.

Mr Anthony:

– And also on national security.


– That is so; but I have not yet heard any suggestion in this Parliament that all Government loans shall be free of interest, notwithstanding that the financial institutions also depend on national security just as much as, or perhaps even more than, any one else, I shall not be a party to legislation in . this form, which permits interference with the wages and conditions of the masses of the people. To-day, it is claimed that in both Australia and Great Britain, there is a dearth of skilled artisans. The responsibility for the shortage rests with the governments which have been in power. Thousands of lads over the years who have been anxious to learn skilled trades have been prevented from doing so.

Mr Lane:

– That is because the trade unions objected to a greater number of apprentices.


– That is a stupid interjection. The reason for limiting the number of apprentices in trades is that the unions desire that the training shall be effective. Does the honorable member want to “have large numbers of halftrained tradesmen in this country, or does he want men to be trained properly? The point is that our factories have been working at half pressure because there has been no demand for the products of their labour because a stupid financial system has failed and tied the hands of almost every industrial undertaking in the country. Not only have boys leaving school been unable to secure employment as apprentices, but also thousands of adult men have been unable to obtain work. Even to-day, when this country has its back to the wall and is calling for every ounce of energy to be thrown into the common pool, there are 100,000 men in Australia seeking employment. We are told that every man is wanted at his post, yet thousands walk the streets in idleness because no work is available for them. Many thousands of iron workers in Balmain are out of work. The responsibility for this state of affairs does not rest on Labour, because the Labour party has not ruled in this country for many years. Labour has asked that men able and willing to work should have work provided for them. Had its call been heeded, we should not to-day be in such a state of unpreparedness. Unfortunately, a similar unsatisfactory state of affairs prevails in Great Britain, where, too, there have -been hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers for many years. The present unpreparedness is the natural outcome of the policy that has been pursued over a number of years. When we on this side have urged that work should be provided, successive governments have replied that money for such undertakings has not been available. The responsibility for the present state of affairs lies with those who controlled the monetary system. They have tied our hands. We of the Labour party have tried to meet the situation, but all of our efforts have been resisted. From 1930 onwards that position has prevailed in this country.

I do not wish to detain honorable members much longer, but I must still further emphasize my view that the Government has not advanced any evidence to warrant the introduction of this measure. It already has all the power that it needs.

Mr Lane:

– The honorable member perhaps desires a few bombs to be dropped on Sydney.


– I desire nothing of the kind. I have no wish, either, to minimize the seriousness of the situation. We have struggled for years to provide employment for every man, and also to provide the means of resisting the enemy; we have not waited, for the present critical situation to arise.

The Government already has all the power that is necessary. Under the National Security Act it can acquire factories, lands and property. It can do almost anything in order to put the country on a 100 per cent, war footing. Why then is there the need to duplicate the power ? What is the purpose of repeating the word “property” in this bill? The Prime Minister declared in his recent broadcast speech that the National Security Act gave power to issue such regulations as might be necessary “to make provision for the safety and defence of the Commonwealth and its territories “ and for authorizing full control to be taken of finance, and so on. But the Government has not used its power. It seems to me that this bill has been introduced merely to give added weight in one direction only - industrial conscription - to the already existing authority. There has been no evidence submitted to us that the services which the Government desires have been withheld by the men of Australia. I challenge any member of the Government to direct attention to a single instance of a man refusing fro give his services in order to meet the defence requirements of the nation. It is true, however, that scores upon scores of letters have been received by honorable members indicating that, men who desire to serve their country have not been called into its service. These men have been very distressed at the failure of the Government to accept their offers. I therefore say that in respect of labour and defence activities generally the Government already has power which it has not used. I do not know whether the introduction of this bill was prompted by Mr. Essington Lewis or any one else with a similar outlook, but I do know that the trade unionists of this country, and those who have followed the struggle of the trade unionists for many years, are aware of the outlook of that gentleman and his associates; they fear that there may be some sinister purpose behind the introduction of this measure to enable the fullest possible advantage to be taken by certain interests of the present situation of the country. If there are not sufficient men to work our machines and lathes it is because offers to do so have been refused. If such offers had not been forthcoming and men had refused to render service there might have been a case for us to answer, but we are jealous of any attempt to force men to work under conditions which would break down the standards that have been gained after generations of effort.

We stand 100 per cent, for the full use of the resources of the nation, and we are prepared to give any service that we can give in order to produce equipment for the defence of the country. We know only too well how much is lacking to-day, for we are in close touch with the men in the workshops. An inspection was made of the Eveleigh workshops a few clays ago during which we saw shells being produced. Do honorable members realize that more than half the shells that were then being turned out had to be thrown back into the furnace, because they were not in accord with the required standards and did. not pass the tests applied to them in the testing room? That is the sort of bungling that this Government has permitted. The inspection to which I have referred was arranged in order to . dispel doubts and answer criticism, but it did not do so. Again and again we saw evidence of the incompetence of the Government. The inspection, as a matter of fact, was just a pretence with the object of permitting editors of newspapers and certain other persons to go round, like a travelling circus, to watch what was being done, but the whole show had been prepared beforehand. 1 remained in the Eveleigh workshops for fifteen minutes or so after the main party had gone, and I saw that the men who had been working on the lathes and other machines during the inspection had walked away from their machines to other duties. The other duties, I believe, involved some railway work which could not be said to be in any sense vital. This kind of thing should be exposed, and it is the intention of the Labour party to expose it. The honest and definite criticism that we have levelled against the Government in this Parliament has been more than justified. It is for this reason that we are against giving to the Government the powers sought in this bill. We believe that it has bungled badly in using the powers that it already possesses. If the Government would use its existing power in the proper way, it could do everything that is necessary for the safety of the people and the satisfaction of the public. But Ministers have preferred to talk, and talk, and talk. They have made broadcast speeches galore. The Government has issued numerous pamphlets. We have heard endless talk about the construction of hundreds of aircraft, and so on. But we have had no practical results, and practical results are what we want. The nien in the workshops know what is going on. I have in mind, particularly, the Eveleigh workshops. I know of a number of men who went overseas during the last war to work in the munitions factories of Great Britain and who. are very anxious to give their services to the nation in this time of stress. They could do work of great national importance, for they know what has to be done. Yet, although they are clamouring for an opportunity, nothing has been done to utilize their services.


– Why is the Minister for Supply and Development not in the chamber ?


– These men want to apply, in our factories, the knowledge and experience that they gained in the munitions factories of Great Britain during the last war. After a meeting at Arncliffe, a few days ago, two men came up to me and said that they had offered their services and experience to the Government, but nothing had been done. Happenings of that kind cause my colleagues on this side of the House to adopt our present attitude. I have no doubt that honorable members who come from other States could relate similar instances of men who have fruitlessly offered their services to the Government. The trade unionists of this country will do their part, without coercion and without conscription. They do not desire industrial conscription. My indictment of this Government is that it has not used, the resources at its command. Our men are willing and anxious to give all that they possess to their country. They love this country just as much as any one else does.

I have no desire to understate the seriousness of the war position. I am not arguing that this is a capitalist war or an imperialist war. I know that it is a struggle in which my own people are seriously involved. When I think of men, women and children being machine-gunned I quite realize that my own wife and children might suffer the same fate if this country were attacked. I appreciate all these factors, and I have no second thought in regard to them. I say frankly that the Government has let us down. It has had all the power it has needed since September of last year. It has not organized our resources. It has bungled badly. That is why we are not willing to join a national government. Of what use would it be to give to the Government wider, or more extensive powers, seeing that it has not used the resources already at its command? The Government must prove its bona fides and its capacity to provide adequately for the defence of the country. If it cannot do so it should relinquish office and permit another government to take office which is capable of undertaking the job that must now be done to protect this country.


.- We are to-day a sadly disillusioned people. When Germany invaded Poland in September of last year we fully expected that a nation of 32,000,000 people would make some showing against the hordes of the aggressor, and it was with feelings akin to dismay that we saw the great Pol:sh nation overcome in about three weeks. We then made excuses to the effect that it was to be expected that in Polish provinces nearest to khe German border there would be many German people. We said that it was not to be wondered at that there were

German agents throughout the length and breadth of Poland. We said also that we knew that the dry summer conditions that then prevailed were favorable, in the highest degree, to a highly organized and mechanized army. But we also said to ourselves “ When Germany next strikes it will come up against a major power - France, which will have the support of the British Expeditionary Force. Then a different tale will be told”. However, we have seen, since the middle of May, the German domination of Denmark, Holland, Belgium and now France.

We know to-day, that the position of Turkey is uncertain, as also is that of Egypt. It appears quite probable that in Spain General Franco hopes soon to be able to repay to Hitler and Mussolini something of what he owes to them. There is no doubt whatever about where the sympathy of Franco’s brother-in-law, the Spanish Minister for the Interior, Senor Suner, lies. The Spanish press is, to an ever-increasing degree, taking sides with Germany and Italy. We know, also, that there are other pariah and jackal nations besides Italy. If conditions continue to go against us there will be a danger that more nations will enter the war in the hope that they will he able to participate in the spoils. In what empire will there be greater spoils than in the British Empire? Probably Australia is the most valuable prize of all. Eventually, of course, both Hitler and Mussolini expect to strike the British Empire, with the object of parcelling it out, especially the overseas dominions.

This, then, is the situation which faces us, and surely it should call forth from the Australian people their maximum effort, and surely all should be willing to share in the responsibility of making that effort. I was surprised to hear this afternoon, and to read in the press to-day, that the Labour party is not prepared to join us in forming a united team and so accept its share in the responsibilities that must be shouldered in the days that lie ahead.

What has been the secret of Hitler’s success ? It is of no use for us to go back over the events of the last few weeks unless we are prepared to learn from them. “We have had Hitler’s own words on the subject. He has won his success because of bad organization and bad leadership in the countries which he was attacking. Under these circumstances surely it is wise for us to take every possible step to make our organization as perfect as possible. If we do not do this we may again have to cry “ We have been too late “. “We must meet total war by total war. We have to meet a fine organization by a better organization. We have to engage a ruthless and cunning foe with his own weapons, if we are to beat him. If we do not intend to concentrate our entire resources on the effort to defeat the enemy it i3 quite possible that we shall be defeated. In these circumstances I am sorry that in regard to the measure now before us some honorable members still have room for provisos. We are still talking with “ if ‘s “ and “ hut’s “, still asking that powers be limited.

Our military policy is wrong. We have two armies, the Militia and the Australian Imperial Force, one trained for home service and the other for service either at home or abroad, instead of only one, conscripted for service wherever needed, whether in Australia or overseas, imagine Hitler or Mussolini having an organization such as we have here! An organization which cannot be used wherever the high command thinks best, is colossal folly. We must wake up and realize that we must perfect our military organization.

The great bulk of the military camps in Victoria are in my electorate. No one who lives near them could fail to see the folly of the present system, the delays and waste that take place when days and oven hours are precious. Members of the Militia, who have been in camp for three solid months and have been brought to a high state of efficiency, find when they join the Australian Imperial Force that they have to start again right at the bottom of the ladder. I have personal knowledge that that is so, because I myself enlisted three or four weeks ago. While I was waiting for my colleague, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), to undergo his second medical examination, an examination which I, unfortunately, was not able to have,

I stood outside talking to members of the Militia who had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. They did not know who I was and I did not know who they were. We looked towards the Caulfield race-course camp, and saw troops there doing elementary drill. The Militia recruits exclaimed “ What ! Have we to go through all that again after our three months in camp ? “ The answer is that they had. After they had been brought to a high pitch of efficiency in the Militia they had to go to the bottom of the ladder and do the same old drill again, thereby wasting three months of their time. Is this efficiency, or is it a waste of public money? This is not the policy that will defeat Hitler and Mussolini. The position in the Militia is similar. A camp is in progress for say two months. A crowd of the- men enlists in the Australian Imperial Force. They are replaced by universal trainees who have not previously had the privilege of obtaining any military knowledge. With the infusion of untrained men the units have to start their training afresh, notwithstanding the fact that they contain men who have had a considerable amount of training. There may be some who would say that that system is the system that will defeat our enemies, but I am not one of them. The only way in which to meet the situation is by the creation of one organization which will be available for service wherever the high command thinks that that service would be of most advantage.

This constant changing about is leading to remarkable situations. At Seymour to-day there is one unit which has two officers, five sergeants, and how many men would honorable members say?

Mr Conelan:

– Half a dozen.


– Two! Complaint has been made against the Militia. Some might be reasonable.

Mr Blain:

– What is the complaint?


– The complaint is that members of the Militia have not enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in sufficiently great numbers. I do not, to any great degree, join with those who voice that complaint, because the Militia has done a wonderful job of work. The militiamen have come forward and worked for their country while others have held back. The Militia has almost completely, staffed the Australian Imperial Force, and in many ways has made it possible. A big percentage of the Australian Imperial Force is made up of militiamen. The Militia to-day is seething with discontent. Why? When an officer enlists in the Australian Imperial Force from the Militia, he may be transferred to Brisbane, Ingleburn, or any part of Australia, thus losing all his old contacts. That he does not like. There is a friendship amongst men who live in the same barracks and share the same huts. There is a camaraderie amongst troops that only those who have led a military life know. When those men are scattered over the Commonwealth their contacts are lost. The same things happen with the men. They go under new officers and have to begin again. They do not want to do that. What they want to do is to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force as a unit. In the Militia there are men with years of experience who, by diligent pursuit of their duties, have raised themselves from the ranks to officers and non-commissioned officers. When they join the Australian Imperial Force they are shorn of all of their honors and have to begin again with men who are entirely lacking military experience. “Is it right or just?” is the question the men have asked me. They say, “We have done the job and stuck to it while nobody else worried about defence. We have one, two or three stripes. Why were we given them? Why now, when we enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, are we to lose them?” I fail to find a satisfactory answer. Again, I ask: Is the system in Australia the system that Mussolini and Hitler would adopt?

Whilst it is my opinion that the only right and true system for a democracy in these circumstances is compulsory service, I would give the opportunity to the lads of the Militia, who have done a job well, to enlist as a unit in the Australian Imperial Force, before I would put any form of compulsion on the men of Australia. I state with every authority that the Third Division in Victoria would enlist in the Australian Imperial Force almost to a man. I also believe that the

Second and Fourth Divisions, brought up to strength, would follow suit. Within a fortnight we could have an Australian Imperial Force of six divisions, the one at present abroad, the two in process of formation, and the Second, Third and Fourth Militia Divisions. That would give Australia men of the type wanted - men who have had training or a degree of training, and men prepared to play their part in any theatre of war.

Time has marched on since we were here last, and a change has taken place in the policy of the Opposition. We are all agreed now that if necessary men should be sent overseas.

Mr Francis:

– Is the honorable member sure of that?


– So far as I can be from what appears in the press and what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). There is now no argument between us in that regard. We agree now that troops should at all times be available to the high command. We want to win this war, but we want to win it outside Australia if we possibly can. I would not send men from Australia if I did not believe that they should go, and I do not think that troops will go from Australia in the near future. We have no front on which to fight. I do not believe, however, that an invasion of Australia would be made from bases thousands of miles across the seas. An enemy would attempt to move steadily southwards towards Australia, establishing as it moved bases from which to attack us, rather than start a long journey with transports over thousands of miles of ocean. The time may come when Australia as a unit of the Empire will have to send troops away, we know not where. No one should more desire to see the war won outside Australia than members of the party opposite. War to-day is a war of machines and men, of factories and artisans. In a bombing raid where would the enemy strike - at Toorak in Melbourne, or at Potts Point in Sydney ? No. He would go for the industrial areas. If he could knock out a few hundred artisans, or smash a factory, he would feel that he had dealt a worth-while blow. In a night bombing raid, the enemy doe3 not attack the high-class suburbs, but the industrial suburbs, in the hope that he may cripple a factory, or the men who work in it. There are women and children in the industrial suburbs. I have a wife and child of my own, and I pray to God that war may never come to Australia. Any man who is afraid to go to the full limit in the prosecution of this war is not even studying the welfare of his own class, or of his own womenfolk and children. Therefore, I say that we must be organized to the highest point of efficiency, and have trained men prepared to go anywhere at any time. If we want them at home, they stay at home; if we want to send them overseas, they must be at the beck of the high command.

Now I want to say something about equipment. This is a war of the factory and the artisan. It is idle to say that our position is satisfactory at the present time; it is unbelievably bad, and I have only recently come to know how bad it is. Hundreds of people in my electorate living near the military camps are aware of the real position. Now it is proposed to call up more men for the Militia. I do not object to that. I am in favour of their being called up so that they may be hardened physically, even if we can give them nothing but broomsticks to train with, but the plain fact is that we have not enough equipment to supply even those men who are at present in camp. We are using for this pu:pose old equipment left over from the last war; some of it, I have been told, is ready to fall apart. And yet we have been nearly ten months at war. Recently I have often heard in my electorate a word which has come out of the military camps. It is the word “ token “, which is used in the expression “ token equipment “. There are no anti-tank guns, that I know of, in the camps and practically no anti-aircraft guns. Therefore the officers, when giving instruction in the use of these weapons, refer to “token” guns. It has become a joke for miles around the camp. When a farmer is riding his horse over the paddock after the cows he puts it to jump over a “ token “ trench, or he points to the top of the hill, and says that a “ token “ camp is there.

Mr Frost:

– The Government must take the blame for that.


– We cannot afford to delay any longer. When Mr. Grenfell, M.P., was in Australia, he told us that France had awakened just in time, after having listened to the pacifists for so long. We know to-day that France woke up too late. It would be a frightful thing if Australia were also to wake up too late. The Australian Imperial Force left Australia with no anti-tank guns and no anti-aircraft guns, and with no mechanized armoured vehicles. What chance has an army to-day without such equipment? If a tank were to drive through Canberra to-day it could smash the whole place, even though the city were full of armed men. It would leave a trail of ruin and death behind it, and we would be powerless. Shipping in the Red Sea is vulnerable to submarine attack, and the Suez Canal, which is only a narrow river through the sand, might be blocked by a bombing raid.

Mr Frost:

– The honorable member took a long time to wake up to that.


– If we had known of these things earlier, perhaps action would have been taken earlier. I know of them now, and I refuse to remain silent. I shall not tolerate a hush-hush policy. I shall allow no illusions among the people. We must tell the truth, because only in that way can we achieve our maximum effort. I know there are reasons for our unpreparedness. There have been untold difficulties in obtaining tools of various kinds. We have not been able to make everything we would have liked to make, but we must get the organization going now. The experience of Great Britain has been that it sometimes takes as long as three years to get a factory into production. What have we done so far? When these things became known to me, I spent last Wednesday morning ringing up several of the biggest industrial concerns in Australia, including motor-body building firms in South Australia and Victoria. There is only one set of words in our battle song to-day, and that is - aeroplanes, and tanks, and guns and bombs. I said to the men I rang up, “Do you think that you can make mechanized armoured vehicles?

Do you think that you can make tanks ?” And I was told, “We believe that we can. We believe that we have the equipment and the men for the job “. I said, “ Have you been asked to do it? “ In only one instance did I hear that the firm had been approached at all, and even then the approach had been made only a few days ago. The representatives of the biggest firms said in answer to my question, “ No, and thank God that at last somebody has asked us whether we think we can do something”. And this is after ten months of war! I rang up another industrialist who had an annexe at his factory. I said, “What are you doing ? “ He said, “ Nothing “. I said, “ What are you going to do ? “ and he said, “ Search me “. I said, “ What have you got ? “ and he said, “ A very nice building”. I repeat that we have been tcn months at war. I mention these things because I believe that, if once the Australian people come to know the truth of our position, they will be prepared to do anything. There will be no humbugging about any effort they are asked to make.

I now want to refer to the endless red tape that is associated with the getting of any military equipment. Here is an example of what happens. If anything is wanted for a regiment in camp, the application must be sent to the Southern Command, then to the Military Board or vice versa, and, finally, if it is a matter of any importance, it percolates through to Canberra. Then it must go before the Minister, or it may ‘have to go to Cabinet, which is probably discussing something else of great importance. Then, after a decision has been given, the matter goes back to the Military Board, then to the Southern Command and, eventually, after five or six weeks have elapsed, it gets back to the commanding officer who applied for the equipment. Is that any way to do things at a time like this, when every bour is valuable? The truth is that we are still trying to run the show on a peace-time footing. A commanding officer in the field should have the right to say what he wants, and get it. It is high time that this system of endless delay was replaced by something more expeditious. It is only by speed and efficiency that we can hope to defeat Hitler.

Senior officers have said to me, not once but many times : “ I wish to God I had resigned before the war began, and disclosed the true position in regard to these things. I wonder whether it would have done any good.” I doubt it. He would probably have met with some senseless answer such as, “ Who is the enemy ? “ Or with another answer equally as stupid, “ The man who would spend money on defence is either a knave or a fool “. However, I believe that the Australian people, when they know the truth, will not burk the issue. They do not want disaster to threaten us here without having the means to meet it. There will be no party politics among the people outside. They will be united. They are Australian as I am Australian ; they are of British stock as I am of British stock. All that we have built up as a British people through the centuries is at stake to-day.

It might be said that, by making these revelations, one is helping the enemy. 1 asked the same question myself, and was laughed at. I was told that Japan, and Italy, and Germany, know the position, and that the only people who did not know it were members of the National Parliament, and the public. And so I have determined that, come what may, the people are going to know something more about it. I say without hesitation that I do not care two hoots for party politics to-day. I do not care two hoots for any party. I do not care if I never come back to this House again, or never enter a party room again. I know only one thing - that the forces of darkness are marching to-day against the forces of light, and that they must be smashed. I know that they can he smashed only by the finest organization that we are capable of building. I said at the beginning of this war that I believed that an ill-informed democracy was nothing better than a rabble, but that an informed democracy, seised of the facts, and knowing what was before it, was the strongest and best form of government possible, because then there would be real and complete unity, such as was impossible under a dictatorship. When the people know the rights and wrongs of the case, and make up their minds, when they know the magnitude of the job that must be done, they will jump to it, and put forth their maximum effort. The Australian people are united to-day in the prosecution of this war. They are not afraid of adversity. They are not afraid of bad times. The events of the last two or three weeks have shown that adversity rallies them, and we have the splendid spectacle of the recruiting booths being full. By placing the facts before the people, by telling them how we stand and what we want clone, we shall not damage ourselves; we shall strengthen ourselves. The people will rally to us and do the job. I believe that they will do it properly, having only three necessary words in their vocabulary - “ We will win ! We will win ! We will win!”

Declaration of Urgency.

Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

– I declare the National Security Bill 1940 an urgent bill.

Questionput -

That the National Security Bill 1940 is an urgent bill.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon.g. J. Bell.)

AYES: 39

NOES: 31

Majority . . 8



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Allotment of Time.

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -

That the time allotted in connexion with the bill be as follows:-

For the second reading, until 10 p.m. this day;

For the committee stage, until 11 p.m. this day;

For the remaining stages, until 11.15 p.m. this day.

The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon.g. j. Bell.)

AYES: 39

NOES: 32

Majority 7



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Debate resumed.

East Sydney

– It is usual for me to find myself in this House on the opposite side to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in debate. I regret that, on this occasion, I am also opposed to the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). With other honorable members, I believe that the position of this country to-day is very grave and that, in order to achieve the maximum degree of defence, it is necessary to have national unity. I am perfectly satisfied that national unity can never be achieved under the leadership of the present Government. Despite the claim that the trade unions of Australia will support the giving of these powers to the Government, I believe that the opposite will be the case. The Prime Minister quite frankly said to-day to the workers and to the Labour party that he is not prepared to make any promises for the future. The right honorable gentleman said, in effect, that the Government is asking that the executive shall be given complete powers in respect of the lives and the property of every individual citizen. Knowing the record of this Government, how could I, as a Labour representative in this Parliament, vote to give to the Government any additional powers? We have had an illustration of the degree to which dependence can be placed on the word of the Prime Minister. At the outbreak of the present war, when asking for the additional powers given in the National Security Act, the right honorable gentleman said that he did not desire a muzzled Opposition in this country, and that he was prepared to allow free and open criticism of the Government. He added that it would be ridiculous if, when fighting to maintain freedom and liberty abroad, and the overthrow of the evil of Fascism, we were to allow that evil to be established in Australia. I ask honorable gentlemen : What is the present proposal if it be not to establish in this country a dictatorship which will have full and complete powers? I repeat that the right honorable gentleman disavowed any desire to muzzle opposition. Although the Opposition wanted to keep Parliament open when members of the Government were rushing into recess, less than three hours after we had re-assembled at three o’clock this afternoon the Prime Minister proposed to gag through this Parliament what he himself had described as the most important measure ever submitted to us, a measure containing the most sweeping powers for which any government has ever asked. Yet the Government wishes to dispose of the bill in record time. The Prime Minister, wishing to get an early decision of the House by the application of the “ guillotine “, mentioned the time taken to pass a similar measure through the House of Commons and on the same day through the House of Lords. Of course it passed through the House of Lords in record time. This is not a House of Lords, but a House of Representatives, the members of which have a duty to perform totheir constituents. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked what powers the Government is seeking which it does not already possess, and the purpose for which the additional powers are to be used. Under the National Security Act the Government has all the power it requires to organize the defence of the nation, and it is asking for extended powers only because it wishes to impose industrial conscription on this country. I believe that many members of the Labour party who have no conception of the meaning ofindustrial conscription, and who place some faith in the words of the Prime Minister, will regret having recorded a vote to impose these shackles upon the people of this country. It is true that we require unity of action, but what has the Government done to accomplish such unity? It has done everything in its power, by means of the censorship and in other ways, to prevent criticism. Newspaper articles not designed to assist or to give information to the enemy, but ordinary criticism concerning the inefficiency of the Government, have been censored. Let us examine what has happened recently. In Sydney, which has large industrial areas and a huge population, a written, not a verbal, undertaking was given to the Truth newspaper company in Sydney that it would be permitted to import newsprint supplies, to enable it to publish a newspaper, to be known as the Daily Mirror. The Government granted the necessary permission, but within 24 hours of its doing so Sir Hugh Denison and Sir Graham Waddell interviewed the Prime Minister, and, as the result of that interview, the licence granted to the company was revoked. The licence was revoked because this press combine, the members of which support the Government, demanded that a competitor should be crushed. Further, the Government was anxious to suppress that newspaper because it was believed that it would also be a critic of the Government. The Prime Minister has demonstrated that his words are not worth a snap of the fingers, and that he will break his word in order to suit the interests of those outside of this Parliament who support his Government. That is one reason why I object to the granting of additional powers. The Government has misused the powers already granted to it, and the big business interests outside of this Parliament which control the Government will see that these powers are used as they direct and not as Parliament determines. In effect, it means that the workers will be ordered to work wherever the Government considers that their services are required. Should some workers, because of the unfair use of the powers which are being conferred upon the Government, protest, a demand will be made for others to take their place, and those who have protested will be penalized.

We have been told that if an enemy should obtain, possession of this country the workers will lose all the privileges and rights which they now enjoy, and, therefore, all should be prepared to share equally in the sacrifice that has to be made. The Government is not asking every one to make an equal sacrifice. I should like to put one question to the Prime Minister, and I challenge him to give the undertaking which I desire. From one end of this country to the other, the large majority of the people are demanding that the Government should take over the control of all our private financial institutions, because that is the only way in which the defence of the nation can be properly organized. Because the Government will not give such an undertaking I am not prepared to give to it the additional powers which it seeks.

Can any honorable member opposite justify a continuance of our present policy of financing the war by the raising of loans under which we ask the people to bear enormous interest burdens? Under the present system of finance, the sacrifice is not borne equally. If the Government wishes to be sincere, one of its first acts should be to take control of financial institutions. If it did so it would be able to set about organizing the nation as it should be organized. During the last nine months of the war, how many defence works have been undertaken? Why has the construction of a graving dock not been commenced? That is an urgent undertaking. The late Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, who favoured the project, secured the services of a naval expert to report on the type and site of such a dock. The report of the expert has been in the hands of the Government for months, but it has not yet decided when the construction of the dock should commence. That is typical of the inactivity displayed by a Government which is seeking additional powers.

There is also the subject of shipbuilding. When we had a Commonwealth line of steamers - a government mercantile marine - some argued that it should he sold because it was losing so many hundreds of thousands of pounds yearly, when every other shipping line was either losing money or not making any profits.

The Government seized upon the opportunity during the depression and disposed of the line merely to suit the demands of private interests. Wow, during a critical period of the war, we find that there is no government line of steamers which could be used to ship our produce to meet the requirements of the Allied forces. Had the Government adopted any one of the numerous reports recommending a shipbuilding policy, our position would have been much better than it is to-day.

The powers which the Government now possesses have all been used to benefit private employers, and to enable them to enforce economic conscription. In many instances young fellows have been asked by their employers why they had not enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and if they could not give a satisfactory reply from the point of view of the employer they were sacked. In that way many were forced to enlist.

The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson), who gave excellent reasons why additional powers should not be granted to the Government, showed quite clearly that the Government has bungled everything it has attempted to provide for the defence of this country. He mentioned the dissatisfaction that exists in the Militia Forces. Some time ago when I said that there was dissatisfaction amongst the militiamen in camps, honorable members opposite said that dissatisfaction did not exist. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Deakin support my remarks in that respect. Why is there seething discontent? Simply because those men, and the public generally, are dissatisfied with this Government.

The Prime Minister did not mention one word concerning a federal election. Am I to take it that the passage of this measure and the setting up of a supreme war council to control every aspect of our defence activities means placing our democratic rights in cold storage until after the war? Are we to have an election? Are the people to have an opportunity to say whether this Government is to control our destinies, or whether there should bc a change of government?’ This Government, which claims to be a government elected under a democratic system, has never faced the electors. It has never given the people an opportunity to pass judgment on its policy. In a plausible speech the Prime Minister suggested that all sections should co-operate. The people will co-operate only with a Labour government which is not tied to outside financial interests.

The Prime Minister also referred to his desire to co-operate with the trade unions. To-day, a delegation from the metal trades employees came from Sydney to ask the Prime Minister to include in this legislation a provision to protect the rights of workers in industry. The Prime Minister, instead of meeting the deputation and seeking their co-operation, which he said was necessary, stated in this Parliament to-day that he is not prepared to give any promises for the future. I warn the members of the Opposition - I know that they are sincere in the stand that they are taking, and believe that they are doing the right thing - that they are acting wrongly in giving this Government enormous .powers which it will use to the detriment of the people.

Some honorable members have told us what is happening in connexion with the manufacture of munitions. Members of this Parliament, in visiting the annexes in which munitions are supposed to be manufactured, found that the representatives of the Government made many apologies as to why the works are not operating at full pressure. Apologies will not defend this country. We were told that the necessary machinery is not available, and that sufficient dies cannot be obtained. We were also told that certain needed materials cannot be produced in Australia. This Government, and governments of a similar political complexion, have been in control of this country for years, and have failed to such a lamentable degree that we are now without an adequate defence system. In these circumstances how can the Prime Minister ask the people to have confidence in the Government, or to grant it additional powers to assist it in its war effort?

The Government cannot say that the members of the Opposition have not been willing to assist the passage of those measures which it considered necessary to organize the defence of Australia. All trade unionists, and all trade union officials, have been anxious to co-operate in the defence of Australia, but the Government has not sought their co-operation. It is now attempting to bludgeon the workers, and is doing something which the workers will resent. It is ridiculous for the Prime Minister to speak of patriotism amongst the ranks of the workers, and to say that he will ask for their co-operation, because he knows that if they do not co-operate he will say to them “ I have in my pocket the authority and power to compel you to do so “. That is the wrong approach to the whole position. On every occasion when the workers have been asked to assist in the defence of this country they have responded. The Government believes that by mobilizing men, arming them with broom-sticks and marching them up and down the country, it is providing for the defence of Australia. When we told the Government that the best contribution that Australia could make to the Allied cause and to the defence of the British Commonwealth of Nations was by organizing industry in Australia, and sending aeroplanes and materials overseas, our suggestions were ridiculed. We were told that men only were wanted. I ask those honorable members opposite who have had military experience: If the Allied forces which met with such disaster in Flanders had had the choice of 100,000 men from Australia or 1,000 aeroplanes, what their answer would have been? The men in Flanders lacked equipment.

We have been told that the only way to organize the defence of this country is to secure the active co-operation of every section of the community; but such co-operation can be secured only through a Labour government. Those who are rendering the most useful services to the community live in industrial areas, and support Labour governments. The honorable member for Deakin said that if bombers flew over Melbourne bombs would be dropped, not on such suburbs as Toorak but on the industrial areas, where the workers live. Those in charge of the bombers would know that if they dropped bombs on Toorak they would most likely kill only a few parasites who are not rendering any service to the community. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) interjects that if bombs were dropped on Toorak, they would probably fall on members of the Fifth Column, many of whom are the friends of members of this Government. Bombers would select industrial suburbs, in order to destroy industry and those engaged in the production of war equipment. The members and supporters of the Labour party are as anxious as is any one else to defend Australia. They are prepared to put forward their maximum effort in co-operation with others for the defence of this country, but they want co-operation with those elements in the community which genuinely desire this country to be defended in the interests of the people.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.


– I cannot possibly support this measure which gives such extensive power to the Government. I have before me the report of a speech delivered by the Prime Minister over the broadcasting system a few nights ago. He said then that this measure would confer on the Government unlimited power to tax; unlimited power to take property; unlimited power to direct employers what to do; unlimited power to direct employees what to do; and unlimited power to call upon our manhood for the defence of Australia. To-day, he told us that, in the exercise of those powers, the Government will see that no injustice will be inflicted upon any section of the community. I am not prepared to accept the word of the right honorable gentleman, because he has broken it so often in the past. He said to-day that he is opposed to war profiteering and that the Government would use its powers to stamp out profiteering. Is there any reason to believe that the Government will do so, when for the last nine months it has had ample power to prevent profiteering, and yet has not taken action to deal with any profiteer? Representations have been made to the Commonwealth by the State authorities recommending that action be taken against certain persons who are guilty of exploitation, but nothing has been done. One of the companies against which action was recommended was a subsidiary of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. When the Government was asked what it proposed to do with those profiteers we were told, just before Parliament adjourned, that the matter has been referred to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Hughes) for consideration as to the action to be taken. So far, no action has been taken. Some time ago, I brought before this House an instance of the victimization of a Commonwealth public servant because he insisted on goods, supplied to the Government by tenderers, being up to the specifications. I do not ask honorable members to accept what I say, or what any other member of the Labour party says, in this matter, because the official files contain evidence of the victimization of the officer referred to. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) admitted, in reply to my charges, that military boots lasted for only six weeks. In the face of that admission, it does not appear that the Government is anxious to prevent profiteering, seeing that it allows such a state of affairs to exist. The most alarming aspect of the case is that the Government suddenly found that Mr. Gill, the officer referred to, was temperamentally unsuited to his work, notwithstanding that he had been for 28 years a member of the Public Service, and for eleven years had been engaged on this particular work. Following a deputation by three interested persons which waited on a senior officer in Melbourne - the representatives were Mr. Goldstein, Mr. Michaelis, of McMurtrie’s Limited, and another gentleman named Matthews - the inspector was advised that he was to be transferred to Melbourne. Those gentlemen represented three of the firms which the Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) said in this Parliament had been guilty of conspiracy to defraud the Government by charging excessive prices for boots supplied to the Military Forces.

How can it be suggested that there will he any inclination on the part of the Government to stamp out profiteering, when it has not been prepared to use the powers it already possesses? So numerous are the cases of profiteering which could be brought under notice that I am convinced that the Government does only the things which big business outside dictates. I use the term “ big business “ advisedly, because small business men have not received fair treatment at the hands of the Government. The work which has been available has been given, not to them, but to the monopolies. In some instances, the smaller men have been forced out of business. Yet the Government talks of making a maximum effort.

This measure really means the establishment of a Fascist council in Australia. When we consider who are the men who are advising the Government to-day, it is difficult to imagine that they will recommend any limitation of profit. Two of the Government’s advisers are Sir Marcus Clark and Mr. Norman Myer. Do honorable members imagine that they will act in the interests of the people generally? Will they not rather act in the interests of those in their own social and business circles? The Prime Minister has not indicated what the Government considers to be excess profits; all that he said was that, where profits are excessive, they will be taxed even as much as 100 per cent. It all depends on what is regarded as “ excess profits “. I remember that, although the Treasurer introduced into this chamber a measure to impose a tax on companies, before long it was relegated to a place near to the bottom of the business-paper. That measure will probably never come before us for consideration. It provided that profits above 8 per cent, were to be progressively taxed. In order to meet the wishes of big business, the Treasurer decided that the authorities would take into account, not the subscribed capital, but the watered stock, and the cash reserves, which means the undistributed profits earned in other years. Even the big business interests admitted in the press that the Government’s proposals were acceptable to them.

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order 1 The honorable member is not in order in anticipating debate upon a bill which is on the notice-paper.


– Experience has shown that whenever the big business interests of this country ask for concessions from the Government, their request is granted. In 1934, when there was some talk in this Parliament of dealing with excess profits, and the distribution of bonus shares, it was pointed out that certain business interests in the community were evading taxation. The Government introduced a measure along the lines of a recommendation by a royal commission. The Labour party approved of the bill in principle, and it should have had an easy passage. However, when the measure reached the committee stage, the then Treasurer (Mr. Casey) moved that it should not be brought into operation for another six months. When pressed for a reason for his motion, he said that representations had been made to him. We did not have to wait long to know the source of those representations, for within a few days, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited made one of the greatest distributions of bonus shares that this country has ever known. It did that without the payment of one penny in Commonwealth taxes. Yet the Government would have us believe that it is the champion of the people in their fight against profiteering. Does any honorable member imagine that the Government would do anything to affect the interests of its best supporters? Yet the Government says to the trade unionists, “You must bear willingly every sacrifice that you will be called upon to make “.

I disagree with the Leader of the Opposition ‘ in regard to this measure, as I do also with his interpretation of what happened at the recent Labour conference, and with his remark that the resolutions of that conference are in conformity with the provisions of this measure. I take it that the Labour conference had in mind legislation administered by a Labour government. I should be prepared to concede to a Labour government greater powers than I am willing should be given to the present Government. It is not fair to quote one section of a resolution of the Labour conference without also quoting the remainder. The section which was quoted read -

The entire resources of Australia (which include the productive and financial organization) to be under the control of the Common wealth Government for national service in the urgent and adequate defence of Australia and the prosecution of the war.

Standing alone, that might be thought to be in line with what the Government proposes in this bill, but there were other recommendations of the conference. Recommendation No. 6 reads -

Full recognition of trade unions, safeguarding industrial standards, and the participation by Labour organizations in the successful organization of the nation.

The Government does not want the cooperation of the trade union movement; rather does it want power to coerce that movement into doing what the Government desires. Any one who says that the trade union movement will willingly support this measure does not know what he is talking about. Although this measure was introduced as late as three o’clock this afternoon, I have already received the following telegram: -

The Griffith branch of the Australian Workers Union most emphatically protests against the Government’s action of introducing industrial conscription.

Anderson, President.

That telegram is from an important branch of the Australian Workers Union. I do not think that any honorable member would suggest that the members or the executive of the Australian Workers Union are not loyal to, or unwilling to put forth their best efforts for the defence of, Australia. The workers believe that the Government is seeking these powers in order to enable it to do something which they are not prepared to concede. I want honorable members to realize what is meant by the power to order men to transfer from one branch of employment to another. If men are employed in one occupation which, might at the moment be regarded as unnecessary, there will be no need to coerce them into transferring to some other occupation. If the workers are treated fairly, they will be only too willing to transfer from one factory to another in order to assist in obtaining the maximum output. What they arc afraid of, and there is every reason for their fear, is that when the Government takes control it will -want to run things “ on the cheap “ and will not be prepared to allow present conditions to continue. The workers have been prepared to help in every way in their power. The members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union are prepared to work overtime, but they have properly insisted upon the payment of overtime rates. The workers have not been given a fair deal. Take, for example, the issuing of licences. Honorable gentlemen opposite say that they honour the workers for their patriotism and loyalty. To my mind those are meaningless words, for the workers are not being treated with proper respect and regard. The waterside workers must obtain a permit before they may follow their calling. If an applicant is refused a permit, he has no appeal against the decision. Is that the kind of tiling that is likely to encourage the workers to co-operate ?

Another telegram, among the many I have received to-day, reads as follows: -

Waterfront permit our Adelaide secretary revoked without explanation. Trade union correspondence taken from union delegate at White Bay. Members victimized at Commonwealth Rolling Mills, Kembla. Please take up first matter urgently. Thornton, ironworkers.

I receive similar protests almost minute by minute. As a matter of fact, the Government has used its power under the National Security Act almost solely against the workers. It has, among other things, carried out numerous raids on workers’ homes. What have the police discovered in those raids? So far as I know not a single prosecution has been initiated. It is true that loads of workingclass literature, including books, periodicals, and pamphlets, have been carted away, hut similar publications may be obtained by any honorable member from the library of this Parliament. If workers read revolutionary literature in order to enlighten them on happenings in other countries, it is not to he taken for granted that they approve of it. Do any of us approve of all we read ? If the Government took action against all persons Avith revolutionary literature in their possession it would have to initiate proceedings against some of the members of this Parliament who possess copies of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The possession of a little working-class literature is not an indication of disloyalty. Although action has been taken to search workers’ homes, I am quite sure that no search has been made of the home of Captain

Patrick, who entertained the notorious von Luckner when he was in Australia. This von Luckner proved to be a German spy. He and others like him are the fifth columnists, but Captain Patrick, a selected and endorsed United Australia party candidate for the Senate for the next federal elections, may entertain such gentlemen without any protest from the Government. When the workers drew public attention to the danger of allowing men like von Luckner to come here, they were cried down, and honorable gentlemen opposite were permitted to entertain such visitors.

The main purpose of the Government seems to be to take action against men who have been prominent in the tradeunion movement of Australia. At all events, the homes of many militant unionists have been visited hy the police. We know very well what will happen if the conscription of industry is agreed to by the Parliament. Every man in every industry who, in the past, has fought to obtain better conditions for his fellows, will be victimized and will have no opportunity to appeal against the treatment meted out to him. Such abuses will be possible under conditions which will prevent even members of Parliament from voicing a protest. The Prime Minister said to-day that membership of the Parliament would not protect any man who criticized the Government, and the applause with which this remark of mine has been met on the ministerial benches bears out the truth of it. The fact that certain citizens have been elected to this Parliament to represent large bodies of the people, will not enable them to utter such criticism of the Government as they believe to be necessary, shows that we are rapidly following along the path that Hitler himself has taken. In other countries of the world action is taken to stifle criticism of various governments and before long persons who engaged in such criticism were placed in internment camps. What honorable gentlemen opposite want is a “ one way “ government. They desire to prevent the representatives of the people from uttering any criticism. It seems to me that the Opposition in this Parliament is also allowing itself to be led into this grave- danger. I hope that it will see, in time, what is being attempted and that it will take adequate steps to protect the interests of the people.

It is all very well to talk about the Government and the Opposition acting together, and to say that the Opposition is now prepared to agree to the sending of men overseas. I say to the members of this Parliament that we require to retain all our men within the Commonwealth. We need our maximum man-power to protect this country. If that policy was sound at the outbreak of the war, it is imperative to-day, for the Prime Minister himself has said that this country is in imminent danger of invasion or attack from some quarter. We have not been told from where the attack is likely to come, and I am quite sure that the granting of these powers to the Government is not likely to prevent any such attack. The misuse of the powers provided in this bill may actually lead to an attack upon Australia. Some honorable gentlemen opposite have, on many occasions, advocated that Australian troops should bc sent to defend the Dutch East Indies. lt has been stated that somewhere men are being massed for an attack. No one is sure whether the attack is to be made upon Australia or some other country. We can be sure of this, however, that if Australians interfere with the interests of other nations, or show themselves hostile to other nationals, they will invite trouble and probably land Australia in a fight.

I believe that Australia would be doing all that could be expected of it, in all the circumstances, if it kept its own shores inviolate from aggression and gave whatever support or co-operation it could to New Zealand if any request for such came from the people of New Zealand and if they were anxious for our assistance. If, in such circumstances, we were able to render assistance, we should do so. As things are, Australia cannot afford to send its men abroad. They should be fully employed developing our industries and bringing them to their maximum of output so that we could provide for the adequate defence of this country and, at the same time, give the maximum assistance to the Allied cause. Labour stands for that policy.

I say to the members of this Parliament that had the Government been sincere in its desire to organize the nation it would have been able to show some results for the last nine months during which it has had such large powers at its command. But what do we find? When we made an inspection of certain munitions annexes recently certain officers in charge told us that the position in connexion with the construction of aircraft within Australia was that, provided we could get certain materials from the United States of America, we should probably have 180 bombers at the end of next year. What a heartening state of affairs! The plain fact is that this Government has left the country unprotected. If the maximum effort is desired in order to provide for our defence, I suggest that such an important work as the standardization of our railway gauges, recommended by Lord Kitchener many years ago, should be put in hand at once. Would it not also be a good defence measure to go straight ahead with the construction of the proposed naval dock at Pott’s Point? But what is the position? Thousands of men in this country who are anxious to assist to defend it are still out of work. When we suggested, long ago, that our unemployed men should be put to work on essential undertakings, the Government said, “ No finance is available “. Yet. the Treasurer now says, in regard to money for defence purposes, “ The sky is the limit “. I say that what is physically possible is financially possible. Seeing that we have the men, the material and the necessary equipment in this country, how can it be suggested that finance cannot be found? Not long ago, a measure was passed by this Parliament to provide for the raising of £70,000,000. When I suggested at that time that the Government could carry out the works to which I have referred, and also other essential public works, without increasing the national debt, simply by using the resources of the Commonwealth Bank, the idea was rejected. I contend that even if, at the end of any period of redemption that might be fixed in respect of the raising of £70,000,000 through the Commonwealth Bank, a certain proportion of the amount remained unredeemed, the people would be no worse off. What calamity would be likely to befall them if the Government took charge of the financial resources of the nation and organized them to develop the country and provide for necessary defence works? All of the workers of this country are anxious to do their bit, but, owing to the inefficiency of the Government, many of them have been prevented from doing so. A cloak has been thrown over the incompetence of the Administration and it is almost impossible to get the truth to the people. Even the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) said he was sick and tired of the “Hush-hush” polley.


– The honorable member has exhausted his time.


.- I regard it as the most sacred obligation of every honorable member of this Parliament to ensure that every effort is made to provide for the adequate defence of Australia. I do not think that that end can be served by simply occupying the time of this House in making speeches which contain only destructive criticism. Not one helpful suggestion was made by the honorable member for East .Sydney (Mr. Ward). I listened very carefully to his speech to try to discover anything of the kind, and I could not find it. All that the honorable member did was to endeavour to awaken fear, anxiety and suspicion in the minds of the workers of Australia concerning the bill now before the House. He insinuated that there was something sinister in the measure, and that it contained some hidden design to do an injury to the workers. Statements of that kind are not likely to he helpful in these difficult days. I do not believe that the honorable member himself was sincere in making such observations. As I see it, this bill is intended to bring Australia, into line with Great Britain, New Zealand and Canada in order that the host possible efforts shall be made to win the war. In my opinion, the sooner we pass this bill the better it will be, for its provisions can then be put into force.

T am not entirely satisfied with the efforts that have been made in Australia, for the prosecution of the war. For that matter, I am not satisfied with the efforts that have been made by the United States of America to that end. That country promised, through its Government, to do a great deal; but when efforts were made to put it3 promises into effect, difficulties were encountered and supplies were long delayed. President Roosevelt has himself said that he has encountered unexpected difficulties in trying to carry out, to the maximum, the promises that have been made. I am sure that not even Mr. Churchill and the British people are satisfied with the British effort. I am not satisfied with the Australian effort. The people of Canada and of New Zealand are not satisfied with the efforts of those dominions. The design of this bill is to ensure that we in . Australia shall be satisfied. The fact that we are not is at least a good omen, because it shows that every one is anxious to get behind the Government and do everything possible to prosecute this war successfully.

In this debate there has been criticism based on want of knowledge. For instance, it has been said that delay has occurred in the calling up of men because of lack of uniforms to clothe them and that there will be delay in calling up of new militiamen for the same reason. I am authorized by the Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) to assure honorable members that in reserve in the defence storehouses there are 140,000 complete uniforms and 140,000 pairs of military boots. The supplies that are coming forward from the manufacturers daily are sufficient to cope with the demands of new recruits. I would refute other ill-founded criticism, but for the f act that our time is limited by the guillotine. In view of the example I have cited, however, honorable members should refrain from criticism unless they are sure of their facts.

The object of this legislation is to ensure, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said in his broadcast on Sunday night, that - everything that we have, our savings, our property, our skill, the service of our hands, if necessary the service of our lives for the country we love, will be given in this struggle. That is the lead for which this country has been anxiously waiting. It crystallizes the aspirations of our people. I heartily support the bill and regret that some members of the party opposite have declared themselves against it. Under it we are to devote for one purpose and one purpose only - wealth, man-power, effort and skill of every description to ensure the salvation of Australia from the danger that threatens it.

This legislation has two basic principles which are complementary. The measure proposes first to increase the number of men in training in Australia to 250,000 men and, secondly, to regiment those engaged in industry to ensure that our fighting forces at home or abroad shall be supplied with all the armaments necessary to help them to overcome the enemy.

Mr Gander:

– At what wages?

Mv. FRANCIS. - At the wages ruling to-day. The 7s. a day which the private soldier overseas receives, cannot be described as “ wages “. Honorable members who do so pay no heed to the fact that the men are equipped, fed and clothed, and receive medical attention, and of the paramount fact that those men who have enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force are not looking to appeal to the Arbitration Court. They are volunteers whose desire is to serve their country. I am sorry that there are men in this House who try to ridicule the idea of service. The additional 90,000 men needed to make up the total of 250,000 will come from additional universal trainees and from men who, although they cannot go abroad, are ready to volunteer for service in this country, notwithstanding the fact that they are outside the universal service age group. To them must be added those members of the Australian Imperial Force who are in Australia. Never in the history of Australia have we had 250,000 men in training in Australia at the one time. This unprecedented provision for the defence of Australia is, in the circumstances of the world to-day, absolutely essential ; it is also democratic.

The industrial aspects of this measure are vital because without industry modern warfare could not be carried on. The outcome of a battle is dependent as much upon skill in factories as upon courage, determination and sacrifice on the field. The proposals contained in this measure are designed to facilitate greater effort in our factories and more rapid production of munitions and all plant necessary for the prosecution of war. The British act, of which this bill is more or less a replica, was introduced in the House of Commons by the British Labour leader, Mr. Attlee, who is now Lord Privy Seal. The Labour Government of New Zealand has passed through the New Zealand Parliament a similar measure. In Canada, too, there is a similar legislation. Notwithstanding the lead which Labour has given in Great Britain and New Zealand, there are men in this Parliament to-day who are opposed to these proposals. In these dark days there can be no middle course. All must give of their best and serve where their services are most needed, whether it be in the Australian Imperial Force, the Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Militia or, for those who have skill, in industry, the factories and the workshops. To all people this bill gives an encouraging opportunity to join in what the Prime Minister has described as an “all-in” effort. The bill demands equality of service and sacrifice from every body at a time when nothing less than the full national effort will be equal to the task of providing for our own security and reinforcing Great Britain and its Allies.

I rose mainly to speak about the way in which this measure should be administered. If the people who are entrusted with these extraordinary powers fall down on the job and hesitate to give the very best service they must immediately be removed from office. I say that emphatically, because we must have at the head of affairs men who are willing to make and are capable of making the fullest use of the keen desire of the people to serve. Those men must be capable of enlisting the aid of the workers and of industrial executives. This Government has the benefit of the service, freely given without reward, of some of the greatest executive minds in this country. It must use those services. And there must be no delay in getting on with the job. The people will brook no delay.

State instrumentalities are not being used as fully as they should be. I refer particularly to the railway workshops of Australia. I speak knowingly of the Queensland railway workshops, because they arc in my home town. Those workshops have been inspected and turned down three times, first by officers of the Department of Supply and Development, secondly, by representatives of the Canadian Government, who came here to discuss the Empire air training scheme, and, thirdly, the former Victorian Railways Commissioner, Mr. Clapp, who has been appointed to undertake special work for the Commonwealth. In each case it was reported that those workshops were not satisfactory for the highly-mechanized processes. We are going into munitions production deeper now than then and it is proposed to allocate a part of war production to every engineering workshop that can be made available. The Queensland railway workshops must be brought into the scheme. What I want to see happen there is the abandonment of all railway work, except that necessary for the safety of Australia, and the employment on the production of munitions of the skilled men so freed. Now that Mr. Essington Lewis has taken charge of munitions production, I am confident that the workshops of Australia will be re-examined and allocated their share of the war effort. This bill gives to this Parliament an opportunity to discharge the sacred obligation to ensure that Australia will be adequately defended, and I strongly support it.


.- In contradistinction to some honorable members in this very difficult period of our history I am looking for points on which all of us and the whole of the people can agree. There are two things on which we are unanimous, first, the extraordinary gravity of the position and, secondly, that if we are to win this war, which means so much to us, we must give 100 per cent. of our power in our national effort. It is obvious that the powers asked for by the Government are necessary for an all-in fight. My only complaint is that these powers, if not covered by previous legislation, should have been obtained before from Parliament, which was quite ready to grant them. On the 22nd May, immediately after Holland was invaded, similar powers were granted by the British Parliament to the Government. Powers of the same kind were given to the Government by the Parliament of New Zealand, and I hate to see Australia lagging behind. It is agreed that we must take every step possible to increase the efficiency and drive of our national war effort. On another occasion, when the guillotine has not been applied, I may deal with the delay and remissness which have occurred in the past. At this time, when people are disheartened by the grave war news of the last few days, surely, instead of fighting one another, we should endeavour to show a heartening example. We should endeavour, above all, to get the war in its proper perspective. With the radio blaring out the war news during all hours of the day and night, and the newspapers giving us information piecemeal, we are apt to get the situation out of perspective. We, as intelligent men, should inform the people that, though there has been this failure in France, we should not be dismayed. The Empire can lose this war only if we fritter away the resources of the Empire, resources infinitely superior to those of Germany and Italy. Despite the events in Europe, we should be able to add to our own resources those of the colonial empires of Belgium, Holland and France. Within the last few weeks, we have received assurances that the tremendous manufacturing resources of the United States of America and the goodwill of its people are 100 per cent. behind the Allies in their’ fight for democracy and freedom. The people of that, nation are working with spirit and energy to produce the materials necessary for us to win the war. I grant that Hitler has subdued a large part of Europe, but though he controls those territories, he cannot enforce the willing co-operation of a sullen and conquered people. He cannot look for great efficiency from people who have to be dragged to work in the factories. In the circumstances, he cannot expect more than 50 per cent. efficiency. Germany is without many essential items which it can be prevented from obtaining if the blockade remains effective. I am reinforced in my belief by reading a book written eighteen months ago by a former German Nazi, Hermann

Rauschning, former President of Danzig, who forecast what would take place as the result of Germany’s victorious march through Europe. He pointed out that the position would inevitably arise when Germany would be unable to obtain the help and co-operation of the peoples whom it had conquered. I quote the following : -

Between this will to anarchy as the first condition for the creation of a new order, and the conservative progress to higher forms of our western civilization, there can be no compromise. Time cannot bridge the gap between these two tendencies; it can only widen it.

For us Germans, the issue is plain and simple. Everyone who is still capable of thinking for himself must know that national socialism is leading us to self-destruction. The revolutionary character of its foreign policy must inevitably lead to campaigns which will exhaust the nation. In opposition to its boundless aims and revolutionary methods, the plain question must be asked what lasting benefit they can bring the nation. Even if the third Reich achieves complete success in the redistribution of the world, if after a series of further successes and ultimate victory it sets up its hegemony, in the nature of things this can mean nothing but a permanent military occupation of subjugated territories, with all the accompanying violence and terrorism. But there is no escaping the logical conclusion that the day will come when this effort brings exhaustion and the military occupying force is crippled. This will in all probability happen much sooner than the apparent rapid growth of power might suggest. For the G’erman nation is overtaxed, exhausted by its training before the race begins, and really ill. But when its power is crippled, what then?

That is exactly what took place in Europe more than 100 years ago. Although Napoleon overran practically the whole of Europe, dominating territory from Scandinavia in the north practically to Egypt in the south, and from the Atlantic in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east - through his association with the Czar of Russia - he eventually failed under the British blockade. From 1790^ to 1810, when Wellington began his victories in the Spanish Peninsular, Napoleon was the complete master of Europe, and yet, within five years, he disappeared from the scene, not so much because he was defeated in battle, as because the French people had become heartily sick of the war and because of the pressure of the British blockade. There is a world of difference between people fighting for liberty, and those fighting to conquer other nations with which they have no real concern. Though I admit that Hitler has certain advantages from his conquests, I think many disadvantages must arise from his very victories. During the last war, from August, 1914, up to July, 1918, we scarcely had a military victory; yet within three months from the commencement of the last allied push in 1918 we were the complete victors, and Germany was collapsing both in the field and on the home front. That can be done again, if we, and every other part of the Empire, mobilize our resources in such a way as to ensure that the weight and power of the whole Empire is thrown into the scale. The Allies control the seas. The Dominions and the United States of America at the present time - and I pray God that it will be for a long time - are far removed from the field of battle. Men can work under decent conditions, without the fear of bombs dropping on the factories. Moreover, the British Empire is still the greatest and wealthiest and most powerful national unit in existence. The advantage that has come to us from Hitler’s military victories themselves, from his occupation of Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium, is that the leakage of imports through neutrals into Germany through the blockade will be effectively stopped. In March last, according to statistics, more goods were imported into Italy from the United States of America than were imported into Italy and Germany combined during March of the previous year. It is obvious that most of those goods were going to Germany. That source of supply will now be stopped. We can blockade and patrol the whole of the western coast of Europe in a way which was not possible before the neutral countries became involved in the war. I am also glad to see - and this should hearten every one with relatives in the Australian forces - that our troops are to get away from the European mainland. I always regarded Europe as a trap for our soldiers and I am glad that we can get away from it with most of our men intact. The Empire’s first duty is to develop the Empire, to ensure its safety, rather than to act as a policeman for Europe. On the 25 th

May, 1936, 1 told a distinguished audience in London that we in the dominions were entitled to more consideration in our development in the policies of Great Britain, and that we were entitled to a greater share of the credits and trade that went to European countries which, in time of war, might prove broken reeds. So long as we keep the British navy and air force intact, we shall be able, ultimately, to force Germany to its knees, and end the war. We must fight this war until we do win. It is a different war from the last.

In the last war Germany tried to obtain the military domination of Europe and the world, but this is a war to spread the totalitarian idea of government throughout the world. Any one who contrasts the living and working conditions in Germany to-day with those of 15 or 25 years ago must realize that the Nazi Socialist system brings about a levelling down of conditions, not a levelling up. If we wish to have a world in which the workmen of this country and of others may enjoy better conditions and more freedom, we must make absolutely certain that we win. We are fighting the idea of anarchy to-day just as much as England fought it after the French revolution. There may be something that is good in the philosophies of Nazi-ism or Communism, but it appears that the only way to separate the gold from the dross is in the fiery crucible of war. We must have full co-operation in this Parliament, throughout Australia, and throughout the whole Empire.

I was glad to see that the Labour party, at its recent conference, though it refused to join a national government, was yet ready to join a national war council. I wish it had been ready to go the whole way, but, at any rate, its decision is a step forward. By its association with a war council, its representatives would obtain intimate contact with other representative men, and in this way we might hope that, ultimately, the best talent of the nation would be pooled in the nation’s interests. This may be a long war, during the course of which we must produce munitions in ever greater quantities, and increase production, both primary and secondary, if

Sir Earle Page. we are to have the silver and leaden bullets necessary for the winning of the war. I beg honorable members, for this night at least, to leave aside the small things which divide us, and concentrate our attention on essentials. I do not believe that there is a man here who does not desire to see Australia and the Empire win this fight, so that the principles for which we stand may become the accepted principles throughout the world.

Minister for External Affairs · Indi · CP

.- The background of fact which could alone justify, and which beyond any doubt does justify, the wide authority which the Government seeks in this bill, should be kept vividly in mind by honorable members when they consider this bill and how they should vote upon it. I shall not attempt to add to what has been said in respect of the peril in which the heart of the Empire stands at the present moment. But I do wish to take the opportunity to place before honorable members something which may properly be said with respect to the facts and the implications of the international situation as we find it to-day. I do not wish to, and shall not, colour that picture. We cannot quite appreciate, the threat which overhangs us, if we concentrate our attention entirely and exclusively on the military situation in Europe at the moment. The second terrible defeat of the Allied forces in France found the British people represented in very meagre degree with forces alongside our Allies. It is not to be denied that the calamitous loss of equipment, stores and ordnance suffered in the retreat through Dunkirk affected tremendously the capacity of the United Kingdom to reinforce the French forces in their struggle to hold a new and an attenuated line against the final, vital, and fatal assault of the German military machine. The conception of the new French general, of defence in depth, proved correct in theory, but he had at his disposal too few men and machines to enable him to withstand the terrific onslaught of the German army. The gallantry of the French forces is beyond the power of words to describe. We, perhaps, have not yet realized the tremendous measure of the sacrifice of the French people in the self-destruction of their development - their bridges, their railways, their ports, their buildings, their factories, their machinery, their stores, all of those things which denote the development of a country - in the retreat which they made in an endeavour to stem the onslaught of the German machine as their contribution to the common cause. In their unselfish and unflinching sacrifice, Frenchmen have placed us, as British people, for ever in their debt. It is a bitter realization that all of this sacrifice of human life and of the accumulated wealth of France was in vain, in that it failed to stem the onslaught of the mechanized army against which the forces of France and Great Britain were pitted. So, to-day, we realize the stark portent which confronts us in the future. To-day, the British people alone, associated only with the remnants of the Allied forces, must look forward to carrying on the struggle, if we are to continue as a national entity and if the continent of Europe is to remain as history has known it. We face the fact that at least the continental army of France has been broken, the whole of the seaboard of France is apparently to be in the possession and at the disposal of the enemy, the whole of the territory, including the air bases, of France are to be at his disposal in what doubtless will be the next step in his progress - his attempt to dominate the heart of our Empire, to invade and to break the United Kingdom. We face a situation in which, so reduced are we in a military sense - I speak of the total war capacity of the Allies - that we are necessarily suffering a reflected reduction of our influence in the diplomatic arena. While France was at the very apex of its peril, the Italian dictator seized the opportunity to declare war on France and Great Britain and their Allies - surely one of the most contemptible actions that will ever be recorded in the annals of mankind. So there is introduced a new theatre of war in the Mediterranean, a theatre which has a peculiar significance for the people of Australia. We find the pressure of these events reflected in diplomatic occurrences along the littoral of this inland sea. Egypt, with which we have a treaty of alliance, broke off diplomatic relations with our enemies, but has not yet gone to war. It cannot be said that the present situation in regard to the Egyptian nation is satisfactory to the Allies. We are in a similar position in relation to other countries. We also have a treaty of alliance with Iraq, which pledged that country to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in time of war. We see that country hesitating, and taking its lead from the Egyptians. Again, we are a party to a tri-partite alliance with Turkey, which pledged the Turkish people to go to war as our allies in the event of any act of aggression by Italy in the Mediterranean. The Turks are not at war; they are undoubtedly hesitating, affected, as we can well understand, by the reduction of the military strength of the Allies as well as by their doubts as to what may befall them as the result of action taken by the Soviet Government. The Mediterranean and the Bed Sea are closed against us; they are trafficable to-day only by warships, and, as the result of thu laying of mines and the threat of submarines and aircraft, the Mediterranean is virtually divided into two compartments, so that it is only at considerable hazard that even warships are able to pass between the two basins. We have the spectacle of Spain, hitherto an impartial neutral, making an ominous change in its declaration, now describing itself - -as Italy recently described itself - not as a neutral, but by the significant term “non-belligerent”. We have seen the Spanish take the opportunity, quite recently, to invade and occupy the international zone of Tangier. There are demonstrations in Spain to-day against Great Britain and France. There is an agitation specially designed to secure to Spain the return of Gibraltar. We know, of course, that a Spain hostile to Great Britain at the present time could very seriously affect us in the use of Gibraltar as a naval and seaplane base.

Mr Ward:

– This is very interesting, but what reference has it to the bill?


– It has every reference to the bill. If the honorable member is unable to perceive its significance, nothing I could say would enable him to draw the obvious conclusions. I am happy to he able to say that the situation in Palestine, where we have experienced some trouble hitherto, is quiet to-day It has to be noted with satisfaction that, notwithstanding the atrocious claim of Signer Mussolini to the right to set himself up as the protector of Islam, he has entirely failed to affect the Arabs, whilst the Moslems of British India are unswervingly steady in their allegiance to the British Empire. But it cannot be denied that, should the negotiations which the Government of France has felt obliged to undertake with the German dictator, and the threat which may be conveyed to France should it not capitulate, result in France being obliged to cease fighting, we shall have to face a situation in. which Australians will be particularly concerned, because the Allied armies at present stationed in the Middle East would then be reduced to the extent of the withdrawal of the French forces from Syria. These matters not only have a wide effect on the total Allied war cause, but also have an intimate effect on Australia, which has troops of its own people stationed in the Middle East. This is a dark picture, but I feel that honorable members are entitled to have placed before them no less than the reality of the situation.

In contrast to the darker shades of the picture, we may remember that, on the very day on which Italy entered the war against us, President Roosevelt made a most outspoken declaration, in which he said that it was the will, the hope, and the prayer of the American people, that the Allied cause would prevail, and that victory would attend our arms. He also stated that no limitation would be placed on the use of the industrial resources of the American nation, with a view to aiding us in respect of those items of equipment and necessaries of warfare, the shortage of which has placed us in our present position of jeopardy. We may draw confidence from this very outspoken declaration of the President of the United States of America. It is indeed, and I have no doubt that it was intended to be, a message of hope and encouragement to continue the struggle. It was an encouragement to France to carry on, and it is certainly an encouragement to the British people to know that, if we can but prolong the fight and withstand the onslaught of the German aggressor during the present European summer, we shall have available to our arms before another European summer arrives, the tremendous war potential of the North American continent. I believe that we have to do no more than hold our own until that time comes, in order to look forward with complete assurance to victory. So against the dark background that we face to-day, and the additional threats and difficulties to which I have felt obliged to make reference, we can place with confidence the picture of the tremendous material help that will presently be flowing to us from America in an ever-increasing stream.

But it would be bad for us to rely on the industrial potential of another country if we were not to commit ourselves to the utilization of every atom of our own resources. These resources are at our own hands. I believe that there is no one who would wish to claim that so far we have utilized to the utmost our industrial resources of men, factories, machines and materials. We have not done so because, until this very moment, we have not, as a people, realized the full portent of the threat which overhangs our national existence. To-day we realize that we are fighting for the ownership of our native land; and surely that is sufficient to leave us in no state of indecision as to where we should stand in relation to this proposal. We must regiment every resource of the nation - men, machines and material. That is the Government’s proposal. Given this power, the Government will go on with the knowledge that, should this country be overthrown, it will not be by reason df our own negligence, or failure to regiment our resources, in order to withstand the pressure we shall have to bear. If we put everything that we are and have into the struggle, we can look forward with confidence to the outcome.


.- No one can resist the eloquent appeal of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. McEwen) but that is not the appeal made by this measure. I have no doubt that the Minister sincerely expressed his own belief that this country can be saved by the regimentation of its resources - by placing them at the disposal of the Government; but this proposal does not do that. The bill before us is designed to give to the Government control over the workers of this country. In a recent broadcast speech the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that when this bill is carried the Government will have, partly by virtue of the new legislation and partly by virtue of powers which it has exercised for a long time, unlimited power to tax; unlimited power to take property; unlimited power to direct employers what to do; unlimited power to direct employees what to do; and unlimited power to call up and train our man-power for the defence of Australia. I cannot see where the Government is given unlimited power to tax. Parliament possesses that power. Where has the Parliament given that power to the Government? The Constitution provides for the control by Parliament over taxation ; and only by the most express words, if at all, could we delegate to the Government the power to tax without consulting the Parliament. Where is the unlimited power to take property? The Constitution empowers the Government to take property upon just terms. I know that some writers on the Constitution say that the Parliament may fix those just terms. If we accept the opinions of some constitutional authorities “just terms “ may be what the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) would call a token payment, say,£ 1 or £2. There is nothing in the principal act or in this bill, which confers upon the Executive the power to take people’s property without compensation. The highest court of England, in interpreting similar legislation in the famous case of the De Keyser’s Hotel, made that clear. In 1920 the House of Lords said that it would need an express provision in an act of Parliament to empower the Executive to take a man’s property, or the use of that property, without compensation. All that was proposed in that case was the taking of a certain hotel for use during the war. The persons in charge of the hotel said: “We have no power to resist you; indeed, we do not desire to resist you; but we have a claim against you for the use of the building”. That claim was uphold by the House of Lords. It decided that the proprietors of the hotel had a claim for compensation. Although it was within the power of the King’s prerogative to take the property without compensation for the defence of the country, that prerogative, it was held, had been cut down by provisions in the statute. In Australia the power of the Executive, without statutory authority, to take property, has been cut down by provisions in the Lands Acquisition Act and in the Defence Act. It is impossible to take from a man either his property or the use of his property without being liable to pay compensation. The Lands Acquisition Act provides that if not only leasehold or freehold land, but even a power to use a man’s land is taken, that man is entitled to compensation for it. It is clear, therefore, that the power to take people’s property is not unlimited, but limited. So far as property is concerned, this measure will give to the Government no power that it did not previously possess under the National Security Act itself. Section 5 of the act provides -

  1. Subject tothis section, the GovernorGeneral may make regulations for securing the public safety and the defence of the Commonwealth and the Territories of the Commonwealth, and in particular -

    1. for authorizing -
    1. the taking of possession or control on behalf of the Commonwealth, of any property or undertaking; or
    2. the acquisition, on behalf of the Commonwealth, of any property other than land in Australia;

That power exists now. We have not provided to the contrary. This bill does not contain any provision which Part VI. of the Defence Act or the Lands Acquisition Act does not already give. No new power to acquire property or to control property is given by this measure. This legislation is desired by the Government only because the National Security Act, as passed by Parliament last year, says that no industrial conscription shallbe imposed by regulation, nor shall civilians be submitted to trial by court martial. Three things were guaranteed by section 5 of the National Security Act. Three restrictions were imposed on the regulationmaking power entrusted to the Executive. It is proposed in this bill to retain only one of those restrictions, and to remove the other two. “Whilst the prohibition against compulsory military service overseas is to be retained it is proposed to take away the guarantees against industrial conscription and against having civilians tried by courts martial. If this bill be passed, it will be possible for men to be ordered to work under military control, and to be subjected to trial and punishment by courts martial. “ Industrial conscription “ is a phrase that has come into existence since the war of 1914-18. It is indefinite; but it means in the civil field the counterpart of what already exists in the military field. Military conscription means that persons can be compelled to fight for the nation; industrial conscription means that persons can be compelled to work for the nation. The Minister for External Affairs contemplates a scheme under which every person shall be under compulsion to render service to the community. I believe that every one should render some service to the community. My only point of dissent is that I do not believe in regimentation. I believe that the people of Australia are patriotic and are willing to serve their country. Almost daily I meet men who say “ We want to save Australia, but we are not allowed to enlist for home defence. The only form of enlistment allowed to us is enlistment for overseas service, therefore, for that we have enlisted “. They leave good jobs and good wages. After they have enlisted, they find that their wives and children have been left without adequate provision, and then they come to us for help, and we, in turn, make representations to the Minister on their behalf. This scheme is not one for the regimentation of the whole community. It is a scheme which says: “In addition to the powers already possessed by the Government under the National Security Act, which, as to property, are powers to take property with compensation and not without compensation, there shall be powers to regulate workshops and workers, to force men to work, and to punish them if they do not work, by bringing them before courts martial.” That is to say, it brings military direction to the workshop.

Mr McEwen:

– Nothing of the kind!


– No lawyer will gainsay what I have said. There is no existing power to take property without paying compensation.

Mr McEwen:

– The honorable member said that that was the intention, but I deny it.


– I did not say that it was the intention. I said that what the Minister for External Affairs intends is probably perfectly fair, but that the measure as drawn does not carry oat his intention. I accept the Minister’s statement that he does not intend these things, but it cannot be said that that is a consequence of this legislation. If this bill be passed, the guarantees against industrial conscription and the prosecution of civilians by courts martial will go. The only guarantee that will remain is that against conscription for service overseas. Under this legislation it will be possible to establish military control in the workshops of Australia. Ignoring the trade unions altogether, it will be possible to deal with individual workers and to say to a man : “ That is your job; do it, or you will be brought before a court martial and punished”. The Government is making a mistake in ignoring the trade unions, and dealing with individuals. Individuals, as such, have no power at all. As an individual, a man is helpless; but as a member of a trade union, he has great strength. The trade unions of this country are as anxious to serve their country as is the Minister.

Mr McEwen:

– No one has said otherwise.


– If the Government wants to achieve the maximum of industrial efficiency, it should work in consultation with the trade unions. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) has found no difficulty in working with an important body of trade unionists in the Amalgamated Engineers Union. He does not need military compulsion in order to make men work. At the recent Labour conference, representatives of the Amalgamated Engineers Union spoke of the happy relations that existed between them and the Government, particularly the Minister for the Army. The Government will not achieve its object by dealing with the workers as individuals. The workers will regard any attempt by the Government to deal with them as individuals, and to ignore their trade unions, as they would any similar attempt by an employer. The workers know that their only strength is their membership of a strong organization. As an individual, each is helpless; as members of a union, each has the strength of the union. The Government must deal with those organizations in a proper spirit, and not as it has dealt with them in the past. During the last war the trade unions of England cooperated with the Government; they surrendered privileges and made sacrifices. After the war was over they found that great changes had taken place. Women and unskilled workers had come in during the war, and in many cases the old conditions could not be restored. The trade unions would have borne that, but after the war they found the Parliament filled with “hard-faced men who looked as though they had done well out of the war “. The workers will not again make sacrifices unless the result is to be different.

Mr Anthony:

– But they will make sacrifices in order to preserve the nation.


– Yes. The workers of Australia do not look on England merely as a place where they can sell goods, and borrow money, as the members of the Country party do. The members of that party think of England merely as a market for their goods. England is the hope of our race; we love England, and if England should go down it would seem to me as if the sun went down. I love Australia, but my duty is first of all to my country, and next to the people I represent. I will not see them sacrificed in order that some people may make fortunes out of the war. If we hope to do something worth while in this country, there must be consultation on the part of the Government with the trade unions. The Government will find the leaders of the trade unions easy to satisfy if it is to be an “ all-in “ sacrifice, and not a matter of the trade unions only being asked to make sacrifices. I believe that Ministers are willing to ask the wealthy to make sacrifices; but they will not get the trade unions or the workers to do anything, if they try to bully or coerce them. Those are facts. Any one who knows anything about the workers or the trade unions in Australia knows the facts. It is useless for the Government to approach the trade unions with an insincere or ingenuous proposal like this - a mere placard that the workers are prepared to do anything when all the time we know that they are not prepared to do anything.

Mr Thompson:

– The honorable member’s leader supports the measure. What has the honorable member to say about that?


– I cannot help that. This bill was rushed upon us. We saw it for the first time this afternoon, and we did not have the slightest opportunity to consider it. The discussion has been “ guillotined “. No matter who else supports the measure I shall not support it.

Mr Thompson:

– The honorable member is ‘betraying his leader and his party.


– I cannot help that. I feel that I have a duty to my people. I shall render service to the Government so long as I am not asked to sacrifice the interests of my own people. I have grown up with trade unionists. I have acted on behalf of trade unionists of all shades of political opinion, including many who are members of the United Australia party, and many who believe that the Opposition should participate in the formation of a national government. I know the trade unionists and their leaders, and I am aware of the stand they will take in regard to this proposal. I tell the Government that if it thinks it is going to get anything out of the workers of Australia by industrial compulsion it may as well abandon this proposal now. It will merely make the people of Australia as a whole believe that there is national disunity in Australia, when, as a fact, there is not. National unity will be assured so long as the trade unions are given an honest lead by the Government. This party is not anxious for office. We are ready to accept a government, no matter of what parties it is composed, so long as it is prepared to give an honest and sincere lead for national unity to this country. No such lead has yet been given by this Government. I had hoped that the Prime Minister would have given that lead in this matter, but he has disappointed’ my expectations. There are other members of the Cabinet from whom I expect such a lead, and in whom I have not yet been disappointed. I want to see in this country a leader arise who will stand above class, and who will say, “I want to be fair and just to every one. I do not want spoliation of those who have, nor will I have the destruction of those who have not. I want to carry this nation through its perilous difficulties and dangerous straits until it arrives at safety”. I want a leader who will say that everything will be done to preserve the unity of this country. The proposal now ‘before the House will not achieve unity. It is a sham. Those who drafted this clause must realize that it was designed merely to deceive the people of Australia into the belief that now, for the first time, there is to he a general sacrifice, and nothing more is to be taken from those who already have than already can be taken; but the conditions, which the workers have built up and are just as much property-rights to him as land to the farmer, or factories and shops, are to be taken without compensation. And so are the lives of men who are prepared to serve Australia.

I do not always agree with the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), but I believe that his approach to this matter is much better than that of the Government. The right honorable gentleman has a better sense of what can be done, and has less faith in compulsion and coercion than honorable members of the Government. If the Government intends to rely on coercion, regimentation and compulsion, it will not get very far with the Australian people. Such a policy will divide rather than unite them. That was proved in 1916 by one of the colleagues of honorable members opposite.


– Strangely enough, I find myself in accord with the view advocated by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) as to the necessity for consultation with the trade unions. With regard to our war effort, however, I do not go so far as to oppose the bill. In a time like the present, when we are confronted by a national crisis of great magnitude, we should be prepared to preserve our liberties by giving of those liberties with both hands in order to strengthen our war effort, so that we may bring it to a successful conclusion. This measure asks us to do that. The criticism voiced by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), would be answered in the main if they were agreeable to the formation of a national government, because all of the fears which they have voiced might well be dispelled if honorable members opposite joined with honorable members on this side in an effort to preserve those privileges which they feel should be preserved for the workers as a whole.

I listened carefully to the apology made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) for his refusal to participate in the formation of a national government. The honorable gentleman read the resolutions passed at a Labour conference held recently in Melbourne as a justification for his refusal to form a national government, but has failed to sound correctly the public feeling in regard to this proposal. In its issue this morning the Sydney Morning Herald, which can be regarded as a conservative paper, gives a certain degree of approbation to the resolutions passed by that conference as a step in the right direction. However, the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, which is not a conservative paper by any means, takes the Labour party to task in its issue to-day. It says -

page 58



The federal conference of the Australian Labour party has failed in the greatest crisis it has ever been asked to face. It has declined to participate in a national government. It has shirked its responsibility and forfeited its claim to the support of the workers of this country . . . There can bc no more dismal commentary on this lack of decision and incapacity to assume the burden of leadership than this pitiful compromise in a fateful hour in the history of Australia and the British Commonwealth of Nations.

I repeat that the Leader of the Opposition has not analysed correctly public feeling towards this proposal. Every section of the community insists that it should have complete representation in a national government. If the honorable gentleman claims to represent the workers, it is his bounden duty to forget party political considerations, and to listen to such an appeal as was made by the honorable member for Bourke when he pleaded the case of the trade unions. I have had over twenty years’ experience in manufacturing concerns during which I was closely associated with trade unionists. I know how they feel with regard to the preservation of their ideals and I feel that the plea made on their behalf by the honorable member for Bourke should be carefully considered by this House.

At a time like the present a definite need exists for the formation of a national government. Without such a government we cannot make the greatest possible war effort. If we wish to allay the suspicions of trade unions, whose support we must have, if we hope to do anything of a concrete nature, we must induce the workers to enter wholeheartedly in our war effort. To do that I shall be prepared, if necessary, to abandon certain of the ideas which have formed the background of the party to which I belong. If it is essential that those ideas be scrapped, we should not hesitate to scrap them. Party counts for nothing in the present crisis; the national interest is supreme. Consequently, we should do everything to bring in the trade unions on the side of the Government. This war is an “ all-in “ war, and our primary consideration must be to win the co-operation of every section of the community, not only that section represented by the trade unions but also all sections as they are represented by the States of the Commonwealth. The State governments must be asked to do their job. The Prime Minister spoke of the compulsory clauses of the measure, and said that he must have the real and willing co-operation of the trade unions. He also said that whilst the power of this bill may be compulsive, the results must be co-operative. I agree with that view. I believe that the right honorable gentleman is sincere in his approach to this matter, but I feel that he places too much reliance on political rather than trade union labour in seeking a solution of this problem. That is where I think the right honorable gentleman is making a mistake. He said that the trade unions are behind the Government, and declared that enlistments by trade unionists was proof of that assertion. I believe that the trade unions are behind our war effort, notwithstanding the fact that they are suspicious of the representatives of big business who have been appointed to take so prominent a part in our war effort. However, they should be prepared to accept their share of responsibility for our war effort by ranging themselves on the side of the Government. The Leader of the Opposition has been offered a number of seats in the Cabinet. In giving his apology for his refusal to accept that invitation he said -

With the authority to speak for my party I have been able to do much more for national unity, and for the safety of this country, than if I were merely a ministerial colleague of the right honorable gentleman.

The Leader of the Opposition cannot claim to represent public opinion when he makes an apology of that kind. He contended that if he joined the Government his party would be robbed of its right to criticize the Government. He reminded us of Mr. Lloyd George’s statement that the last war was won by constructive criticism. I point out to the honorable gentleman that the British Government which won the last war was led by Mr. Lloyd George himself, and it was a government composed of all political parties in Great Britain. That Government “was not immune from criticism simply because it happened to be a national government, and Mr. Lloyd George’s statement provides a complete answer to the contention advanced by the Leader of the Opposition that he would be denied the right to criticize any government which his party joined. However, he has a great incentive to join this Government. He declared that the future of trade unionism was wrapped up in the future of Australia. He said that the trade unions had passed resolutions giving absolute power to the Government.


– That is the effect of the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition, and I take it that the honorable gentleman knew what he was talking about. The Leader of the Opposition would be warranted in joining the Government if only in order to protect the rights of trade unionists. By joining the Government he and those appointed with him would be enabled to take a hand in the moulding of Government policy, and, particularly, would be enabled to prevent the exploitation of trade unionists, which, I suggest, is not altogether an impossibility when we are in the throes of an “all-in” war.

The Prime Minister has offered to the trade unions the opportunity to form an industrial panel to act, with about 4)0 other advisory panels, in assisting the Government in our war effort. I do not think that the trade unions will be satisfied with representation on such a panel ; they will want something more than that. I therefore suggest to the Prime Minister that he should consider the attitude taken by the Government of the United Kingdom, which stepped right over the political Labour party and appointed to the Cabinet a man from the very heart of the trade union movement, who is now working side by side with big business executives in connexion with the war effort of Great Britain. That very aci; put trade unionism completely on-side. I should like to see similar action taken in this country. Because of the suspicion which trade unionists may harbour concerning big business executives, and the fact that they are not working side by side with Mr. Essington Lewis, Mr. Harold Clapp, Mr. John Storey, and others, I appeal to the Prime Minister to consider stepping completely over the political Labour party, as represented in this House, including the Leader of the Opposition, and approaching the trade unions direct. I have in mind not only the rightists but also the leftists. I have in mind the big trade-union organizations such as the railway unions, the transport unions, the waterside workers’ unions, the miners’ unions, the meat industry employees’ unions and others. I do not know whether the Prime Minister has approached these interests direct, but I suggest that he should go to them and say : “ We want you to come on-side with us. We know that there is a possibility that, in the first rush of a war, when we must throw in our maximum effort, some of the things that you have fought for might not be safeguarded and might be lost. Therefore, we want you to come in with us. If you do so, you will be able to preserve your interests. There is a place for you in this war work, and wo want you to stand on-side with us “. If something of that kind were said to the leaders of the trade-union movement, and they accepted the invitation, I believe that our problems in connexion with the formation of a national government would be solved.

I regret that my remarks are somewhat disjointed, but on account of the limited time available for this debate, and of my appreciation of the fact that other honorable gentlemen wish to speak, I have been obliged to curtail what I would otherwise have said. There is one other matter, however, which, to me, is of great importance. At present the State governments are critical of the Commonwealth Government, and are saying that this is a Commonwealth Government war, and that the State governments are not being asked to take their full part. They say that they have not been invited to help the Commonwealth Government in making a maximum war effort, although they have certain State instrumentalities available, such as the water and sewerage boards, the State engineering departments, and the like, which could render invaluable service. They hold the view that the engineers in their engineering branches could, for example, make tracks for tractors on a commercial track basis and do a good deal of other similar work that would be invaluable in connexion with mechanization. They say that they have their marine staffs, which could do essential work in connexion with the proposed graving dock. They say that they have, in their land and survey departments, surveyors who should be engaged in the national effort. There are 500 surveyors in New South Wales who could be engaged on the work of preparing a real defence map, which would not perpetuate and even aggravate the mistakes now contained in the enlarged small maps of 4 miles to. the inch, and similar maps which are being used as defence maps. The photographing down of large maps does not tend to remove errors. Unfortunately, the procedure in vogue at present is actually in reverse gear, for small errors are being accentuated in the so-called defence maps that are in use. If the services of the surveyors were really organized, we could soon have a defence map that would be worthy of the name. The works departments of the various States should be coordinated to ensure the putting forward of our best effort. All of the State instrumentalities should be regimented. Only thus will it be possible to make a maximum war effort.

I shall support the bill because I believe that we must temporarily surrender some of our liberties, if we are to maintain in our democracy the democratic ideals for which we are fighting. In days like these some of our democratic ideals must be shelved in order to maintain greater things. I again appeal to the Prime Minister to step right over the political factions and go right into the heart of the trade-union movement to contact the leaders there, in order to secure their active co-operation in helping the country to present a united front to the enemy.


.- I should like to have made a fairly wellconsidered speech upon this bill, and should have done so had the Government elected to bring the measure forward under conditions which would have made that possible, and have permitted a full and free discussion upon the matters involved. However, the “ guillotine “ falls in seven minutes. I must disabuse the mind of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) of the delusion that this Kill has beer endorsed by the trade-union movement of Australia. It has not been so endorsed, or approved in any way, either by the trade-union authorities or by the Labour movement.

As other honorable members wish to speak to the bill I shall compress my observations into the smallest possible compass. Some time ago, when the National Security Bill was introduced, the Labour party unanimously opposed it at its second-reading stage, and later in all its details. We did so because it vested extravagant powers in the executive government of the country. We considered it to be a deliberate negation, and denial, of our democratic system. But at least that bill, and subsequently the act which it became, contained a provision to the effect that nothing contained, therein should justify industrial conscription. Certain other provisos in it were mentioned in greater detail by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), but, notably, nothing in the measure justified industrial conscription. The bill now before us not only justifies, but also asserts, the principle of industrial conscription. In the broadcast speech which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made when he indicated that this bill was to be introduced, he said that the National Security Act contained its own limits, amongst which was the limitation of the power of the Government to exercise direct control over the labour necessary for war industry. He suggested that a similar state of affairs existed in Great Britain prior to the 22nd May, when the emergency powers bill was passed by the Imperial Parliament.

The important fact, from my point of view, is that the National Security Act did limit the power of the Government to exercise direct control over labour. Having opposed that bill in all its detail, because of our adherence to democratic principles, and also because of our lack of confidence in this Government, and having been assured by the Prime Minister that the object of this measure is to remove the only safeguard which the working classes possess under the National Security Act, I ask how it can be expected that I shall vote for this bill. The present National Security Act was wholeheartedly and unanimously opposed by the Labour party. This bill seeks to make into law the worst abuses that were foreseen by us in the present National Security Act. In these circumstances I should be unfaithful to my electorate which, in the most explicit way, has endorsed my actions in connexion with the present National Security Act; I should also be unfaithful to. the authoritative Labour organization, and, what is of far more importance to me us an individual, I should be unfaithful to myself and to the principles of a lifetime, if I allowed myself to be a silent supporter, or a supporter in any way, of the principles of this measure.

When the Prime Minister was speaking to this bill, I asked why, if he did not expect to exercise the powers sought in this bill, he should seek to secure them ? I ask now why, in such circumstances, this should be regarded as an urgent measure. As I see it, the purpose of this bill is to empower the Government to exercise compulsion upon the working classes. But why was a special meeting of the Parliament convened for the purpose of forcing this measure through at break-neck speed, and with the help of the “ guillotine “ if the Prime Minister, as he states, does not expect that he will have to use it at all ? Will the right honorable gentleman explain these points? I ask, further: Has a single instance occurred of men refusing to work in our war activities? Men are falling over each other looking for work. Men are starving for the pittance they get for their work. Why, then, has it become necessary for Parliament to be called together to authorize the Government to say “We shall make you work when we like, where we like, and at what rate of remuneration we like. We shall bring to bear upon you a measure of coercion which, never in the darkest days of Australia’s history, has been imposed upon our working classes “ ? A very considerable number of the men of this country are still unemployed. I meet them every day of my life. Every day every member of the Labour party meets good, suitable men who are looking for work.

The attitude of the Labour party to the matter of industrial standards was defined by some resolutions adopted by the federal conference as recently as yesterday, which provided, among other things, for -

Pull recognition of trade unions, safeguarding industrial standards, and the participation by Labour organizations in the successful organization of the nation.

Will any honorable member tell me where there is in this bill any provision for the safeguarding of industrial standards? This measure threatens and assails, but does not safeguard, industrial standards. I have no confidence, and I do not believe that the country has any confidence, in the Government which is to implement these extensive powers. I believe that not only Labour, but also intelligent non-Labour opinion distrusts it. Every appeal that has been made to the electorate shows that’ the country has no confidence in this Government. If the Government realized, as it professes to, the intensity of the danger in which we find ourselves, it should gracefully retire and hand over the responsibilities of government to an administration which had the confidence of the electorate as a whole.

For the reasons that I have given, and for many other reasons which I could advance if time permitted, I shall vote against this bill at the second-reading stage and, if necessary, at other stages. I believe that it is absolutely opposed to the best interests of the Labour movement, and to the fundamental principles upon which that movement has been built and which I am pledged to support.


– The time allotted for the debate on the second reading of the bill has expired.

Question put -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 61


Majority . . . . 52



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Glauses 1 to 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 (Arrest of offenders).


.- Will the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) explain why the Government considers it necessary to amend sub-section 1 of section 13 of the principal act? If the words proposed to be deleted imposed a limitation upon the power of the arresting person, they were in favour of the liberty of the individual. Those words were, apparently, in the English measure.

Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

– The words proposed to be deleted are not contained in the corresponding English act, and they are of rather uncertain meaning. The words are -

In the same manner as a person who is found committing a breach of the peace may, at common law, be arrested by any constable or person. “ In the same manner as a person who is found committing a breach of the peace may be arrested “ is, undoubtedly, an expression of uncertain meaning, and it was considered that, if those words did impose some limit, it was a limit so uncertain that it was of very little value. Sub-section 1 of section 13 of the act, without the words proposed to be deleted, will provide -

Any person who is found committing an offence against this act, or who is suspected of having committed, or of being about to commit, such an offence, may be arrested without warrant by any constable or Commonwealth officer acting in the course of his duty as such, or by any person thereto authorized by the Minister.

Having regard to the nature of the offence created pursuant to this act, it is thought proper that there should be the power of summary arrest. This would not lead to summary imprisonment without trial ; it is merely a provision for summary arrest. As the words proposed to be omitted are of uncertain meaning, they would render the operation of the section uncertain, and, as I have already indicated, these words are not found in the corresponding section of the British law.


– I point out to the right honorable gentleman that he is wrong in saying that a man who is arrested cannot be kept in prison for any time. On the contrary, he can be kept in custody for ten days without being brought for trial.

Mr Menzies:

– “What I intended to convey was that he could not be imprisoned for any considerable period.


– The words proposed to be omitted provide that a person may be arrested only when he is suspected of committing an offence against the act, and I consider that the safeguard should stand for what it is worth.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 8 (Emergency powers).

Leader of the Opposition · Fremantle

– This clause is the substantial part of the bill. It gives to the Government absolute authority to do all things with respect to persons and property which it might find to be desirable to do. In his secondreading speech, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made an explicit statement with respect to the need for co-operation by the’ trade unions and the Labour movement, in order that the maximum productive effort might be assured. I have no doubt that the country, and the tradeunion movement in particular, will welcome and, indeed, accept all that the right honorable gentleman has said, to the extent that any statement of intention on the part of the head of the Government can be accepted as a complete indication of what will occur. As I have already stated, I accept the assurance of the Prime Minister; but I believe that we should insert in the bill a provision which would be an indication to the Executive that this Parliament believes to the utmost that the changes which will be sought in trade union and industrial practice are changes that would be better made after consultation with the appropriate trade unions. Therefore, I move -

That at the end of proposed new section 13a the following further proviso he added: - “ Provided further that, in relation to industrial standards, variations thereof will not be made without prior consultation with the trades union of the craft or industry affected by the proposed variation “.

All that we seek is that the statute should place on the Executive the obligation to consult with the appropriate trade unions in respect of such variations as circumstances may suggest as being desirable, in order to get the maximum effort for the country. It should be borne in mind that the maximum effort must be an effort on the part of trade unionists. I believe that that maximum effort on their part will be the more cheerfully given and will be given free of any conceivable misunderstanding if, prior to the regulation effecting such variation, the workmen know that their representatives have been consulted by the Government. We do not propose to diminish the final executive authority of the Government; but we say that that authority should be exercised prudently. The right honorable gentleman said a very true thing this afternoon when he’ said that power of compulsion rested with the Government, but that the best results would be assured by co-operation. Now, we know that it is intended by the Government and by the trade-union movement ito establish an industrial panel. I have said repeatedly that such help as I can give to ensure the early establishment of that panel will be given. The best endeavours on my part have been and will be forthcoming for that end. I would not diminish the emergency authority of the Executive set out in the substantial portion of this clause, but I do hope that the Government, as an earnest of the way it desires to approach this problem, will accept the amendment, because all that the amendment means is that whenever it is realized that alteration of industrial standards is necessary in order to serve the country, the trade union which is concerned with’ the safe-guarding of that standard will be consulted. I do not believe that there would be an interminable delay in such consultation. The requisite machinery would be speedily devised to ensure quick consultation where consultation was necessary. I do suggest, therefore, that, as an indication that in this tremendous crisis which confronts Australia, we shall behave as citizens acting together, the Government will say, “Because we do desire to act in concert with the trade-union movement, we will act in consultation with it.”

PrimE Minister · Kooyong · UAP

– I agree with a good deal that has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), but the Government is not able to accept the amendment. I can state the reasons for that very shortly. We are not prepared to put formal limits to this very comprehensive clause, because we regard limits, particularly limits which have not been fully examined and the meaning of which is not perfectly clear, as being very dangerous in a time of emergency. This proviso that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition is one which, personally, I find to be of uncertain operation and may, in fact, cut across certain ideas that the Government has in mind and that, I think, he himself has in mind. The language used is “ without prior consultation “, whatever that may mean. I do not know exactly what would constitute “ prior consultation “. I can foresee a great deal of argument. How does one consult a trade union?

Mr Curtin:

– We have very little difficulty if we are determined to do it.


– I have noticed that the difficulty varies from time to time. I have had a good deal of difficulty more than once in discovering how to consult a trade union.

Mr Rosevear:

– The right honorable member knows how to send his bill to a trade union.


– I have never sent a bill to a trade union. I have sent a bill to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) when he has instructed me on behalf of the trade union.

Mr Blackburn:

– And to me.


– Yes. Further it may not always be practicable to institute prior consultation, whatever that is, with every trade union which is to be affected by some change It is very easy in a simple case to say, “ This particular change affects the amalgamated engineers and in some way I will consult that union but in many instances it would be extremely difficult to go through the formal step of consultation with perhaps a great number of trade unions affected by some change. Then again, I remind the honorable gentleman, I have for some time been asking for and hoping to obtain the services of a representative tradeunion panel.

Mr Holloway:

– The right honorable gentleman has nearly got it now.


– I am told that the signs are good but unfortunately when the signs are good in some quarters they are bad in others. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) who smiles follows me perfectly. Nobody understands better than he that as one side of the swing goes up the other goes down. Consultation with a trade-union panel, a permanent and standing body, may prove to be the most effective way of bringing about any changes that are necessary in the perfectly harmonious way. But such consulation would not be consultation with the trade unions affected by proposed changes. It would, on. the contrary, be consultation with a representative body which purported to act not for individual trade unions but for the trade-union movement as a whole. It is for reasons of that kind that I find myself uncertain how the amendment would work. I think that we would be foolish to tie ourselves to some particular method form and area of consultation when we did not know what the limitation would impose on the all-important national power. I do not say that because I want to get away from consultation and co-operation. I want co-operation; I want co-operative action. I do not think that using the big stick will get us anywhere in dealing with Australians. Therefore, I want co-operative action. I havesaid so and I stand by it to the fullest degree practicable that I and the Government will engage in consultation. But I do ask not to be tied to the terms of the amendment, so that I shall have to say, It is true that I can make arrangements, but I am bound by Parliament to engage in prior consultation with every particular union affected “. The whole problem is practicability, but within the limits of practicability consultation and co-operation will be used in putting into operation this portion of the new power.


– I have not spoken previously on this measure. I was hoping that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) - which I desire to second - would get over the only outstanding difficulty that I have in giving 100 per cent. support to the bill. I think that if the only stumbling block is the wording of the amendment, there should be no difficulty in our meeting each other in the framing of some other draft satisfactory to both sides. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is straining at this thing more than is necessary. He knows that he is on the eve of completing negotiations for the establishment of a tradeunion panel. That panel would have been in existence now if the Prime Minister had not been so busy.

Mr Menzies:

– How can the honorable gentleman say that? He has not been present.


– But I know what has been going on. When I say that the Prime Minister has been too busy, I say it in no critical way. Every one knows that the right honorable gentleman has been busy. The leaders of the tradeunion movement, in answer to my questions this week, have said that they are now waiting for the next session with the Prime Minister, and they think that that session will- be”- the? final! on’e. I- feel confident when. I- say that a- thoroughly representative” trade-union panel’ will- be1 apointed te negotiate with the Governs m’ent <m ali of- these’ industrial! problems. I’ remind the- House that twelve’ months ago* this week we passed an- net which gave to the Government 99 per cent, of the- powers asked for’ in this measure. That acf has’ been amended” front time time in order to give extra powers where’ required, and to make it perfect. The only power the Government has not got now, as the result of that legislation,is the power which was expressly omitted from it,- and that is the power which the Government is’ seeking’ to-day. We were grateful that the Government then agreed to a limitation of the power to make regulations to interfere with wages and’ working conditions. It was agreed then that She power of regulations1 would not be used to interfere with wages and conditions of workers. All that this bill does, shorn of its padding, is to remove that limitation which was placed in the principal act.

Sir Beasley:

-That is exactly the position.


– Yes. In more peaceful times my objection to such a procedure would be so hostile that I could not dream of supporting it. The living standards of the workers are protected by law, but this bill gives to the Executive the power so to interfere with the operation of the law that the Arbitration Court may no longer review and re-state wages and conditions in industry ; because the Governor-General shall have power, by regulation, to do anything the Executive likes, without consultation, in relation to wages and conditions in industry. Unreservedly I accept the principle that the Government should have power scientifically to organize and use skilled labour to the best advantage to help our defence programme. Nobody objects to that. I do not believe that one would find a trade union which, having had the proposals properly put to it, would object to giving power to the Government to take skilled artisans from one workshop to another.

Mr Gander:

– They would go voluntarily.


– Tes. So long: as the change-over did not- worsen* their wage’s and conditions, the men would have- absolutely no’ abjection;. I will stakemy reputation here - and I cannot come* back here without the willingness of the trade-union movement - on the statement that the movement will agree to- the proper use being made of the- skilled artisans of this country to help in the war effort provided they are not submitted to sweating conditions. They have said thai they will. The largest metal’ trade unions have said that their only objection is to industrial conscription. When the industrial panel is appointed, or, if the Prime Minister without waiting for that panel - I do not think that he will have to waitlong for it - agreed to consult the representatives of the trade unions before any changes are made, the unions will fall in with his wishes. Why do this by regulation? Why are the Arbitration Court or the wages boards not good enough? Bound the conference table agreement could be reached between the representatives df the Government and the unions in an hour. I see no necessity for regulations unless for the purpose of getting cheap labour. This is such a terrible and drastic inroad into the rights of trade unionists that to ask us to accept it is to ask too much. We are agreeing to compromise as it is. We ought to protest to the end, even in wartime, against regulations of this kind being enforced, but we are not going that far. We want to help the Prime Minister because of the danger this country is facing. I do not know whether he believes us when we say that, but we have given proof during the last year that we on this side of the House, just as much as those on the other side, are prepared to do everything in our power to help the Government, and we shall continue to do so. I suggest to the Prime Minister, however, that he should not ask too much. He knows the trade unions as well as I do. He has met their representatives hundreds of times. He has represented the unions in the courts, and has given his advice on the interpretation of awards. He must know how difficult it is to impose a measure of this kind on the trade-union movement. We do not object to the provision, for the taking of power to transfer expert fitters from the making of wireless sets to the making of Bren guns, for instance, provided wages and conditions are not interfered with by regulation. Those are matters which should be reviewed from time to time, if necessary, by the competent tribunals, or adjusted by mutual agreement. This has for years past been the practice in various munitions establishments, and there have been no strikes or hold-ups. That proves the success of the round-table conference method. That method can be continued. If the Prime Minister wants 100 per cent, co-operation from the workers, and I know that he does, he will not get it by the method he proposes, and I do not say that in any hostile spirit. I say it with regret, because I want the Prime Minister to get that co-operation. I assure him, however, that if he insists on scrapping existing methods, and standing pat on the powers conferred by regulation, then everything he does will ‘become suspect.

Mr Menzies:

– But I do not insist on it. I do not even contemplate it.


– I hope that that is so. Will the right honorable gentleman, then, help us to frame an amendment to meet the position?

Mr Menzies:

– I do not think there is any need for an amendment.


– The Prime Minister may say that he has already given us his word that the regulations will not be used to prejudice the interests of the workers, hut how can he assure us of that? He has to qualify his assurance by saying, “As far as I can, I will “. I accept that statement from him, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) did. I know the Prime Minister. I know the value of his word, and I accept his assurance insofar as it refers to himself. But it is not just Robert Menzies who is speaking, but the Prime Minister of Australia. How can he know that his colleagues will agree to honour his promise ? We cannot be expected to accept an assurance of that kind as representing the permanent intention of the Government. Therefore, I appeal to the Prime Minister now to listen to my representations. I shall probably have something to do with future industrial operations associated with our war effort. Probably, if the need arises, I shall put on the “ blueys “, and go into the workshop myself. I assure the Prime Minister, however, that the best results cannot be obtained by the method he proposes. We are not fighting for higher wages or shorter hours. If it is necessary to work longer hours, we shall do it, provided all men capable of doing the work are employed. If there are not enough men, we shall teach women to do the work. However, if the unions are not asked to express an opinion, if they are not asked for their advice or co-operation, if they are merely told that the regulations, after having been laid on the table, will become operative at the end of fifteen days, the Government cannot hope to gain their support and cooperation. I appeal to the Prime Minister to meet us on this matter.


– This clause is without precedent in the history of Commonwealth legislation, but we are living in unprecedented times. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has made rather a moving appeal. I suggest that it is his duty, as it is the duty of us all, to assist the Government, to have faith in its sanity and in its readiness to exercise this power in such a way that it will not create industrial turmoil. I remind honorable members opposite that the leaders of the trade-union movement in Great Britain are just as concerned for the welfare of the workers of England as the leaders of the unions here are concerned for their members; yet the English leaders have unreservedly accepted this particular clause. I suggest that, if the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) concedes this demand, the Government will have to consider also the position of the Chamber of Manufactures, the Employers Federation and the Taxpayers Association. This clause does not affect the trade-union movement only. It affects every section of the community, including landowners, employers and persons of independent means. Therefore, if there is an obligation on the Government to consult with one seetion, there is the same obligation upon it to consult with every other section whose interests may be affected. It is necessary that a great deal of confidence be placed in the Government to administer this act wisely. We are living in critical times. We are entrusting a great deal of power to the Government, hut it is not power of the sort that is enjoyed by Hitler and Mussolini. Those dictators are in power by their own right, and are subject to no control. In this country, however, the Executive is subject to the control of Parliament, and if it exercises its powers in a way that is inimical to the rights of any section of the community, there is a remedy. I hope that the trade-union movement will not do anything to hinder the Government.


– I am sorry that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is not prepared to accept the amendment. I was under the impression that the right honorable gentleman would accept an amendment along these lines. During his second-reading speech, he said that the Government did not intend to use these powers but rather expected to seek the co-operation of the workers. He now proposes to keep the right of compulsion in his pocket. I say definitely that, having been a party to the settlement of the recent coal dispute, he and his Government should see that the terms of .that settlement are observed, instead of allowing further trouble to develop, particularly in the northern coal-mining district, in which some of the owners are defying the spirit of the agreement by practising victimization. Only recently I had to appeal to the Miners Management Board to bring to the surface men who had remained underground for 30-odd hours as a protest against victimization. Although the terms of the recent settlement embodied resumption on the conditions prevailing before the commencement of the trouble, the registrar in New South Wales has been responsible for the greatest turmoil that has ever arisen, by the registration of another union covering similar conditions of mining in the industry. An appeal has been made to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Hughes), the State Registrar, and the State Minister for Mines, to cancel the registration, but the reply has been that there is not the power to do so. Under the original National

Security Act. and the amendments now proposed to it, the Prime Minister will have complete power. The Commonwealth Government will be empowered to annul, amend, or add to, any law of a State or the Commonwealth. If cooperation be desired in a primary industry that is so essential to the manufacture of the necessary implements for the conduct of the war, particularly steel, why cannot action be taken immediately? That would at least justify my support of steps designed to achieve the successful prosecution of the war. It appears to me that action is contemplated only against the working-class movement, and that compulsion is not to be applied by this Government to the great financial institutions and the owners of the ‘ wealth of this country. The Government will be more prone to listen to protests by that class than by the workers who are suffering hardships. Surely it is not expected that one class shall shed their blood in defence of the nation, whilst those who control or own its wealth shall make no sacrifice! If it is right to call upon man-power to make such sacrifice, then we should call up the wealth, but not by way of loan, and certainly not at interest rates. It will probably be found that, as occurred in 1918, those who have contributed to war loans in large amounts will be given first consideration at the termination of the present war. The Government will say that it has entered into an honorable contract, and that the nation must meet the interest on the bonds it has issued, whilst the soldiers who fought in the war will have to tighten their belts in order to pay these investors. I appeal to honorable members opposite who are decent and reasonably minded to vote for the amendment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has not done anything to retard the Government’s war effort, but on the contrary has given to the Government every assistance in his power. Here is a matter of vital concern to industrial organization. We agree that it is essential to have the co-operation of the workers in the conduct of the war. All that we ask is that they be safeguarded ; that before any action is taken in the direction of industrial conscription, the Government will at least confer with the unions concerned. Surely there is nothing radical in that! Is it that “ Little Archie “ has again exerted his authority, and demanded that the Prime Minister shall not accept the amendment ? We were of the opinion that this would be accepted. We expected a little cooperation by the Government. Surely we are not to be asked to give everything away! I make a final appeal to the Prime Minister not to ask the workers to bear the whole of the burden of the war while others are allowed to ride rough-shod over the existing law. We know that profiteering is the order of the day. The purchasing power of £1 is now only 14s. It is of no use to say that the cost of living has not increased. Wherever one goes, one finds that the cost of meals and accommodation has risen. I ask the Prime Minister to accept the amendment, and Government members to support it.


.- I arn sorry if any honorable member of the Opposition was misled into voting for the second reading of the bill in the belief (hat the Government would mitigate the effect of this clause. Were it not for this provision, which will enable conscription to be applied to the industries of Australia, the bill would not have been introduced. I do not know whether any honorable member expects the Government to accept an amendment which will reduce the powers it is seeking under this clause. To be perfectly candid I must admit that I do not think the amendment, if adopted, would improve the measure from the workers’ point of view, because all it provides is for “ prior consultation “. Assuming that everything possible were done to get the trade-union representatives and the Government’s representatives to confer on some proposal, the ultimate object of which was to destroy trade-union conditions, what would be the use of consultation when the Government held the big stick ? If there should be consultation without agreement, consultation, in the vast majority of cases, would be entirely useless. We are concerned with two aspects of industrial conscription - first, the limitation placed on the freedom of the worker to offer his services in any capacity; and secondly the preservation of the standards of living and conditions that the trade-union movement has secured after the expenditure of many thousands of pounds. The Prime Minister has assured us that he desires co-operation. In what way does he desire co-operation ? Only to-day he said, in reply to an interjection, that he would not guarantee that the present standards obtaining in the industrial movement could, be preserved under this legislation. Does he want the cooperation of the trade-union movement in reducing present standards? Evidently he believes that a reduction is inevitable. The principal standards are those relating to wages and hours and conditions of labour generally. As I understand the amendment it is desired that the standards shall not be lowered until after consultation with the Government. The amendment reads -

Provided further that in relation to industrial standards any variations thereof shall not be made without prior consultation with the trades union in the craft or industry affected by the proposed variation.

If the amendment is to be of any use at all it should also include the words “ and agreement “. If time permits I shall move to include those words after the word “ consultation “, because unless we provided for agreement the position would not be improved. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) said he did not desire to diminish the executive authority of the Government. We do desire to diminish that authority, and that is why we opposed the second reading of the bill. We are opposed to the Government having authority to conscript labour, but as it has taken that authority, we desire to preserve from the wreckage whatever is possible for the Labour movement. The Prime Minister said he could not accept the amendment because of the limitations which its adoption would place upon the Government’s action, and because it would cut right across the Government’s scheme. As I interpret the Government’s scheme, it is to worsen the conditions of the workers in industry. The trade-union movement would be fighting for the preservation of those standards which the Government desires to destroy. The Prime Minister said that there cannot be prior consultation. The psychology of United Australia party governments suggests that they do not believe in consultation prior to doing anything. Usually they do the job and then argue afterwards. The Prime Minister might take the line of consultation he has already taken with the officers of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions for the purpose of setting up an industrial panel. Such negotiations can be regarded as being in the nature of prior consultations. Before anything is done to attack the standards at present enjoyed in the matter of wages and hours, there should be consultation and agreement with those connected with the calling involved. I do not think that it would be difficult to get in touch with the representatives of any particular union.

Mr Nairn:

– Discussions could go on for weeks.


– I quite agree that consultation without agreement cannot mean anything. Apparently the Prime Minister does know what prior consultation means, because for months he has been negotiating with the leaders of the trade unions with a view to setting up a trade-union panel. If, eventually, as was forecast by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), a panel is set up for consultation, such a panel might be a ready and easy way by which the Government could get into prior consultation with the unions to be affected by this legislation. The right honorable gentleman did not have any difficulty during the recent coal strike in negotiating with the unions prior to the settlement of that dispute. Settlement was reached by prior consultation. I regret that time does not permit me to deal with this subject at greater length, but I assert that the fear which we express in connexion with this clause will not be removed even if the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition be accepted. It is useless having consultation unless we also have agreement.


– In view of the stone- walling tactics adopted by honorable members opposite, and by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), I have little time in which to express my views on this important clause. The Labour party, at itsspecial federal conference this week, has decided that there should be “full recognition of trade unions safeguarding industrial standards, and the participation by Labour organizations in the successful organization of the nation”. I would like to see the same provisions made in the bill as were made in the Supply and Development Act to protect trade unions and their members. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Cur tin) is one which should be accepted by the Government. If the phraseology is not what the Government would like that objection can be easily overcome. Although the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that he does not propose to exercise unnecessarily the powers asked for, some of his colleagues would be only too willing to do so. The statements which some Ministers have made front time to time indicate the degree to which they are prepared to go in making the conditions of the workers worse than they are to-day. In these circumstances we wish to provide a definite safeguard, and I believe that the clause could be amended as suggested without interfering with the Government’s proposals.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The time allotted for the committee stage of the bill has expired.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Curtin’s amendment) be added.

The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)

AYES: 33

NOES: 36




Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendment negatived.

Question put -

That the remainder of the bill be agreed to, and that the bill be reported without amendment.

The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)

AYES: 58


Majority . . 50



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Bill reported without amendment

Question put-

That the report be adopted, and that the bill be now read a third time.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 60

NOES: 10

Majority . .50



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

page 72


Assent to the following bills re ported : -

Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Bill 1840. Loan Bill 1940.

Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1939-40.

Trade Agreement (Greece) Bill 1940.

Sales Tax Exemptions Bill 1940.

Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 1) 1940.

Motor Vehicles Agreement Bill 1940.

Patents, Trade Marks, Designs and Copyright (War Powers) Bill 1040.

Trading with the Enemy Bill 1940.

Rabbit Skins Export Charges Appropriation Bill 1940.

Rabbit Skins Export Charges Bill 1940.

Immigration Bill 1940.

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill 1940.

Gold Mining Encouragement Bill 1940.

Gold Tax Collection Bill 1940.

Income Tax Collection Bill 1940.

Supply Bill (No. 1 ) 1940-41.

Supplementary . Appropriation Bill 1938-39.

Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Building) Bill 1938-39.

page 72


The following papers were presented : -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, Ac. - No. 11 of 1940- Postal Overseers’ Unionof Australia.

Commonwealth Public Service Act- Appointment of H. C. Wickett, Department of the Interior.

Lands AcquisitionAct - Land acquired -

For Defence purposes -

Amberley, Queensland.

Brisbane, Queensland.

Ingleburn, New South Wales.

Narellan, New South Wales.

Rathmines, New South Wales.

Tatura. Victoria.

For Postal purposes -

Albury, New South Wales.

Camp Hill, Queensland.

Meat Export Charges Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 95.

National Security Act - National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations-Orders - Exemption (2).

Navigation Act - Regulations AmendedStatutory Rules 1940, No.97.

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1940 -

No. 8 - Land Tax (Repeal),

No. 9 - Public Service.

Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1 to 9) -

Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No.98.

Supply and Development Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 99,

Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 94.

page 72


Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That theHouse, at its rising, adjourn until 11.30 a.m. to-morrow.

House adjourned at 11. 26 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 June 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.