16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair . at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Appointment of Inspectors
– Complaints . having been made of overcharges and of methods that are being adopted, particularly by wholesalers, for the evasion of the price control regulations, will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether it is intended to. appoint inspectors to police the matter?
– At the moment, the services of certain State industrial inspectors are being utilized in this con-‘ nexion. If it be found that that is not sufficient to achieve the desired results, consideration will be given to the appointment of additional inspectors.
– Does the Prime Minister consider it expedient to make to this House a statement arising out of a report that appeared in the Sydney Sun of the 21st instant, in reference to the very grave losses that are being sustained by British shipping, and the need for furthermaterial aid to be given to enable such losses to be minimized, but particularly the statement that the new President of the Board of Trade, Captain Oliver Lyttleton, has given to the Australian High Commissioner a preliminary outline of the various measures that will be further discussed with him ?
-I had not seen this report until the honorable member was good enough to place it before me just as the House was about to meet. I shall have a look at it, and furnish him with an answer to-morrow.
– Will the Minister for the Army state whether or not it is a fact that theGovernment is exploiting the generosity of those who, in Geelong and elsewhere, are presenting ambulances to the Army, by charging a duty of £30 on every such vehicle?
– I should say that there has been no exploitation by the Army authorities of any one whohas donated an ambulance for the use of the Army. I shall have inquiries made into the specific matter of the question, and shall supply the honorable member with an answer to it.
Allotment andallowance in Brisbane - Use of Parachutes.
-Has the attention of the Minister for Air been drawn to the complaints of dependants of members of the Royal Australian Air Force in Brisbane, in respect of the delay which unfortunately occurs- very frequently in the receipt of their allotment and allowance? If so, has the honorable gentleman decided to establish in Brisbane an office for the payment’ of allotment and allowance, similar to that which is provided- in. respect of members of the Australian Imperial Force? If not, will he take immediate steps to have this gross anomaly rectified.?
– My attention has not been drawn to the matter raised by the honorable member, but I shall be glad to deal with it.
– The promise to establish such an office was made months ago.
– My attention has not been drawn to the matter since I have been Minister for Air.
– Is the Minister aware that trainees in the Royal Australian Air Force are allowed to fly without parachutes ? In view of the fact that’ the regulations insist that all personnel’’ shall fly with parachutes, what is the reason for this departure?
-I am informed that the regulations require all Royal Australian Air Force personnel to wear parachutes if they are to engage in aerobatics or cross-country flying. Pending the completion of the delivery of orders for parachutes which were placed many months ago straight flying otherwise is permitted without parachutes.
– I ask the Prime Minister if. the published statement is true that- the Government has considered the matter of issuing an invitation to the honorable member for- West’ Sydney (Mr. Beasley), or some person possessing a similar knowledge of the. ship- . building industry, to accept the position of Director of Shipbuilding, and to invest the appointee with plenary powers for the purpose of organizing man-power and. material identical with those conferred on Mr. Essington Lewis in relation to the production of munitions?
– The honorable member for West Sydney is seldom absent from my thoughts, but not in the connexion indicated by the honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister . assisting the Minister for Commerce if the Commonwealth Government has- taken possession of all the apples and pears in Australia, under the acquisition scheme? Is the honorable gentleman aware that last week 15,000 bushels of this fruit were shipped from cool stores in Melbourne to the Sydney market, 90 per cent. ‘of it being not fit for human consumption? Who is to bear the expense incurred ; is it to be defrayed out of the money raised under the acquisition scheme? Is not this a deliberate attempt to ruin the apple and pear industry?
– Any fruit shipped from Tar mania-
– It was shipped from Melbourne ccol stores.
– It would be last season’s fruit, the growers of which have been -compensated on the basis of last season’s payment.
– Who is to pay the freight and other charges?
– Those payments have been, or will be, made by the Apple and Pear Acquisition Committee. Unfortunately, ‘the charge will fall ultimately on the Commonwealth Government, and will form part of the deficit of about £500,000 or more on last season’s pool.
– Why is the Government trying to make the deficit larger?
– What we are doing this year is to re-organize the whole of the Apple and Pear Acquisition Scheme, in order to avoid a repetition of such an occurrence. .
– I lay oh the table - .
Tariff Board - -Report for the year 1939-40, together with summary of recommendations.
The report is accompanied by an annexure, containing a summary of the Tariff Board’s recommendations which have been finally considered by the Government, and setting out what action has been taken in respect of each recommendation.
As practically the whole of the Tariff Board’s recommendations’ included in the annexure as tabled are covered by Tariff Board reports which have already been made available to honorable members, it is not proposed to print the annexure. I move -
That the report be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Size of PRINT. ‘ ] -‘
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General : Does he not consider that the saving of paper secured in the recent production of telephone directories i3 more than counterbalanced by the strain imposed on the eyesight of telephone subscribers, by reason of the smallness of the print?
– I shall bring the honorable gentleman’s question to the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of the grave nature of the present industrial trouble at Port Kembla, and that it is likely to spread? Will the honorable gentleman immediately despatch to Port Kembla a. conciliation officer, to see if the trouble cannot be rectified and the mcn be induced to return to work?
– The matter referred to by the honorable member was, I under-: stand, dealt with yesterday by the In:dustrial Commissioner of New South Wales.
– He made, a bad job of it.
– As the matter arises under an award of the State Industrial Court of New- South Wales,- there is not; according to ray view, any justification at this stage for intervention by the Commonwealth Government.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the industrial tribunal created by the Government, on the advice of the Advisory War Council, has been instituted as a real attempt to prevent or settle industrial trouble in this country, or whether it is being used only as the Minister desires it to be used? Further, does the Minister realize that the industrial trouble at Port Kembla is already hampering the war effort, that it is likely to extend, and that the blame for the trouble is not all on the side of the men or anything like it?
– The regulations which embody the proposals adopted by the Governmentareat present in course of preparation.As soon as they are ready they will begiveneffective operation. I am well aware that the matters in dispute at Port Kembla are interfering with our war-time production. The facts there indicate that the men on strike are not prepared to work under an award of the full Industrial Court of New South Wales. This matter has again been brought before that tribunal by the Government of New South Wales and, as the men are assured of a fair and impartial hearing of. their grievance, no useful purpose would be served by imposing another governmental tribunal on them.
– On Thursday last I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs a question in regard to the tabling of the Townsend report on shipbuilding and in his reply he stated that the report had not yet been given full consideration by Cabinet. As it is now eight months since this report was presented to Cabinet, I ask the Minister to inform me why Cabinet has not yet given full consideration to it? What has been the cause of the delay ?
– I have no knowledge of what the previous Caibinet decided in connexion with the Townsend report, but I assure the honorable member that this Cabinet has not yet given consideration, to it.
– Will the Prime Minister inform mewhether inquiries are being made by the Government into the reported subversive statements made by Messrs, Robb, Marshall, and Sharland at a conference of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia held in Canberra last week? If no inquiries have yet been instituted doesthe Government propose to take any action in this connexion?
-My knowledge of the matters referred to by the honorable member has been derived only from the newspaper reports. If the alleged statements were made, the possibility of any ill effect therefrom has been grossly exaggerated. The honorable member may rest assured that there will be no danger of any dictatorship in this country so long as I remain Prime Minister. In the event of a change of Prime Ministers, I shall reconsider the subject.
– Is the failure of the Government to take heed of, and to make any inquiries into, the ‘ subversive utterances reported to have been made at the Returned Soldiers Congress by certain speakers, contrasted with the prompt manner in which it took action against other citizens for criticizing the Government, an indication of the exercise of political partisanship?
– The answer is in the negative.
– Was an officer of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch present at the Returned Soldiers Congress when alleged subversive statements were made, and were any inquiries instituted by that branch subsequent to their publication in the press?
– I shall have inquiries made, andfind out what the facts are and inform the honorable member.
-I ask the Minister for Labour and Industry whether, in view of the representations made to him last week by a deputation of mine workers which I introduced to him at Canberra, and. also those made to him yesterday by a deputation of mine workers, including representatives of the Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association, which interviewed him in Sydney,he has been convinced of the necessity to establish special tribunals with local boards in connexion with the coal-mining industry? If so, has he made any such recommendation to Cabinet, and does the Cabinet intend to do anything in the matter.
– I had hoped to bring this subject before Cabinet to-day, but unfortunately other matters engaged the full attention of Cabinet and it could not be introduced, lt is my desire to bring the subject under the notice of- my Cabinet colleagues at the earliest possible opportunity.
Effect of Budget Proposals
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) on Friday last asked a question as to whether retailers, in addition to passing on the increased sales tax, would be entitled to charge profit thereon. In reply to the honorable member, I point out that when the sales tax was first introduced in 1930 the Government of the clay did not see fit to impose any such restrictions on retailers. The practice then adopted of regarding sales tax as portion of the cost lias persisted through all the variations of sales tax rates that have been made during the last ten years. The freedom of retailers lias now been limited by a recent determination of the Prices Commissioner which provides that, for the time being, the normal gross profit margin may not be obtained on sales tax in excess of 10 per cent. Consideration will be given to special cases where this ruling may involve hardship.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked me on Friday last whether it was a fact that at the outbreak of the war Richard Allen and Sons Proprietory Limited bought up all available blankets and in a few weeks disposed of them to the Commonwealth Government at a profit of 10 per cent. I remind the honorable member that the powers of investigation granted to the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner under the National Security (Prices) Regulations are subject to an oath of secrecy, and that detailed information as to the trading operations of individuals and companies, obtained under the exerc’ 1 se of these powers, cannot bo divulged. In this care, however, I am able to inform the honorable member that the company named has no record of any sale of blankets to the Commonwealth Government nor has the Contracts Board any record of the purchase of blankets from the company.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether Cabinet has given any further consideration to the action of the Government of New Zealand in refusing to allow Australian citizens temporarily resident in New Zealand to return to their own country, in order that it may conscript them in New Zealand? If so, have any further representations been made to the Government of New Zealand on the subject? Has the Prime Minister seen .a report in the press to the effect that certain Australians are being permitted to leave New Zealand and return to Australia ? Can he inform me whether the report is correct?
– As I indicated to the honorable member when he asked me a question on this subject last week, I have sent a cablegram in regard to it to the Government of New Zealand. I am still awaiting a reply to it.
– I direct the attention of the Prime’ Minister to the fact that Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in Australia, made a statement recently at a meeting of the Millions Club, in Sydney, that Australians would have to spend less. In view of the provisions of the budget now before Parliament, I wish to know whether Sir Geoffrey Whiskard has made any representations to the Commonwealth Government with the object of bringing about deflation?
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce an amendment of the Repatriation Act to provide compensation for members of the Militia who may be permanently injured while serving in the Militia Forces, and also for the dependants of militiamen who may lose their lives while in the service ?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation, and furnish a reply to it to-morrow.
– In view of the urgent necessity to increase the amount of shipping available between Australia and Great Britain, and of a statement by the Premier of New South Wales to the effect that a large firm is prepared to commence shipbuilding work at Walsh Island dockyard immediately if the dockyard is reconditioned, and also of the fact that the Government of New South Wales is prepared to accept responsibility for the repayment of a special loan to recondition Walsh Island, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Commonwealth Government will agree to place orders for the construction of ships at Walsh Island if it be suitably reconditioned?
– The whole subject of the future use of Walsh Island dockyard is now under discussion between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it, is a fact that the King, when proroguing Parliament, expressed pleasure that despite the heavy preoccupations of war the Government: had found it possible topromote various measures for improving social conditions ? Will the Prime Minister say whether he intends to emulate the example of the Imperial Government, and, if so, what amending or additional social legislation his Government will introduce in this or any other session to relieve the unhappy lot of the common people?
– I am not able to answer as to what has taken place about that matter in the British Parliament, but I assure the honorable member that this Government will do its best to initiate and handle the business of the country according to its own programme.
– In view of the great incon- venience caused and. the comparative heavy financial costs involved to those living in country districts, will the PostmasterGeneral endeavour to formulate a. more equitable system of telephonic rentals and other charges together with an extension of hours for country post offices ?
– I shall place the honorable member’s request and observations before the Postmaster-General.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the Young Nationalists Association is an integral part of the United’ Australia party, that that organization held a conference in Melbourne in August and, according to the press, resolved -
– I did not know that such resolutions had been passed, but it is very obvious that that organization is a sensible body, because its requests and observations have all been taken into consideration in framing the budget.
– The late Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) advised me in July that the Civil Aviation Department had taken over the Bowen Aerodrome, and that certain lands had to be resumed and the runways extended. Is the Minister for Air able to say what has been done in this matter?
– I shall ascertain the position in regard to the Bowen Aerodrome and advise the honorable member.
– Where auxiliary forces of the Royal Australian Navy are employed on duties similar to those performed by members of the permanent forces, for example, dockyard police employed at naval establishments, will the -Minister for the Navy give consideration to a proposal to place members of the auxiliary forces on a similar basis, in respect of pay, to members of the permanent forces?
– I shall give consideration to that.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s published remarks on Armistice Day that the people of Australia are in great peril and that “ too many cannot or will not realize it “, will the Prime Minister take the people more into his confidence, lift some of the censorship restrictions and give effect to the opinion expressed by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) that, for democracy to function properly, the people must be told the facts?
– I think that my views on this matter are in line with those of my colleague the Minister for the Army. The Government does not refrain “from disclosing any facts connected with the war provided those facts are within its knowledge, except in circumstances in which disclosure of those facts may be of assistance to the enemy. A good deal of complaint from time to time about the shortage of news is against not the censorship here, but the volume of news from the other side of the world over which, of course, we have no censorship control.
– Does the Minister for Commerce intend to carry out the threat made by him before he joined the Cabinet that he would move in this House for the abolition of petrol rationing, or is the right honorable gentleman reconciled to the iniquities of the scheme now that he is a Cabinet Minister?
– If the honorable member makes inquiries from users of essential motor lorries he will find that the quantities of petrol now made available to them are much more liberal than they were in the past. He will also find that the Minister for Supply and Development has made a statement that the controlling bodies in the States are to give the greatest consideration to the needs of such petrol users.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development not think that petrol rationing is having an adverse effect on many persons engaged in small businesses and workmen who travel by motor vehicle between their homes and places of employment? Is he aware that repeated representations have been made by members of Parliament, and particularly by myself, in an endeavour to obtain an increased supply of patrol for miners who use motor vehicles to travel to and from their work? In some cases miners are allowed nineteen gallons of petrol a month, which is sufficient to supply their needs for only half that period.
– The effect of petrol rationing will be considered at the end of this year. In the meantime, in order to provide for individual cases of hardship, a forum has been established’ through which appeals may be made for increased rations.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the unemployment on the northern coalfields of New South Wales is just the same to-day as it was when the then Prime Minister visited there a couple of years ago, in spite of the fact that many men have enlisted? Is it also a fact that the unemployed comprise men who are either below or above the military age ? In view of the fact that the then Prime Minister promised two years ago that something would be done in an effort to absorb the unemployed there, will the right honorable gentleman make a statement now as to whether the Government, in applying the policy of establishing munitions factories in country districts, will immediately set up such a factory in the coal-fields district?
– As I thought I had told the honorable member the other day, that very matter has been under active discussion during the last week or two between myself and the Munitions’ Department.
– Early this year a tribunal sat in Brisbane to hear charges laid in connexion with the construction. of the military camp at Redbank. I understand that an officer of the AuditorGeneral’s Department has also made a report on the same subject. Will the Minister for the Army make this report available or, if he cannot do that, will he inform the House how that report compares with the findings of the tribunal ?
– I have not myself perused the report. I shall do so, and will then decide what can be done regarding it, having regard to the request made.
– Having regard to a manner in which the Prime Minister sought, during the general election campaign, to have a parallel drawn between his leadership in Australia and that of Mr. Churchill in England, will he now follow the example of Mr. Churchill and grant a substantial increase of oldage pensions?
– The honorable mem ber will not be surprised to know that his question involves a matter of policy, and it is not customary to answer questions of that kind.
– Has the Minister for the Army made any decision yet regarding the uniform and equipment to be provided for members of the voluntary units formed by returned soldiers?
– As the Prime Minister announced some time ago, consideration will be given to the equipping of this voluntary corps when the requirements of the Australian Imperial Force, the Air Force and the Militia have been satisfied. At the present time, I am discussing the matter with my advisers, and hope to be able to make an announcement shortly.
– Can the Minister for Air state whether any new air-training centres are to be established in country districts? I have in mind, particularly, the district of Mildura, which has put forward aclaim for consideration.
– The carrying out of the Empire Air Training Scheme requires the setting up of training establishments of various kinds in country districts in all States. New schools are being opened from time to time, and this will go on for some months yet. The possibility of establishing a school at Mildura has been brought to my notice, and is now under consideration.
1939-40 and 1940-41 Pools.
– Has the Government decided to make an extra payment of 6d. a bushel on last season’s wheat?
– Arrangements have been made by which the Australian Wheat Board will make a further payment of 3d. a bushel on all wheat included in No. 2 pool, viz., wheat of the 1939-40 harvest. This additional payment will make the total advances in respect of wheat in this pool 3s. 5½d. a bushel, less rail freight on bagged wheat, and 3s. 3½d. a bushel, less rail freight on bulk wheat. The payment will involve the distribution of a further amount of £2,450,000. Of the total wheat acquired by the board of the 1939-40 harvest, namely, 195,500,000 bushels, sales have been made of 154,000,000 bushels, leaving an estimated carry-over” as at the end of November of approximately 42,000,000 bushels. Thirty-six million bushels have been sold, but have not been shipped. Advances by the Commonwealth Bank to the wheat pool were £34,500,000 to cover payments to the growers for freight, storage and incidental expenses, including the administrative expenses of the board. The overdraft at present is approximately £13,000,000, which, of course, will be further increased by the additional payments which will now be made by the board to growers. The initial advance for wheat acquired for the present harvest, 1940-41, which will be known as No. 3 pool, will be at the rate of 3s. a bushel, less freight, on bagged wheat, with an appropriate adjustment for bulk wheat. At present, this is approximately l½d., so that the advance in the case of hulk wheat will be 2s. 10½d. a bushel, less freight. These advances compare with the initial advance of 2s. 10½d. a bushel, less freight, for bagged wheat, and 2s.8½d. a bushel, less freight, for bulk wheat of No. 2 pool, i.e. the 1939-40 harvest. These advances will entail the payment of more than £10,000,000. In addition, of course, further advances will he required by the board in order to meet freight, storage and other incidental expenditure.
– Can the Minister for Commerce state whether the advance of 3s. for the 1940 wheat crop is not at country sidings, or free on rails?
– That payment will include rail freight from the siding, but will not include other handling charges.
– It will be 3s., less freight?
– Will the Treasurer state whether he. has received a request from the Premier and Treasurer of Victoria that the Commonwealth should agree with the Government of Victoria and the Melbourne Harbour Trust to an arrangement under which each party should pay a share of the cost involved in bringing the Williamstown dock up to date? If no such request has yet been received, will he give it favorable consideration should it, be received later?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter, and will furnish the honorable member later with an answer.
– In view of the serious inconvenience caused by the parking of large numbers of cars for export on the Olympic Park, an area which has hitherto been used by the Athletic Association for its legitimate purposes, will the Minister for the Army take steps to have the cars parked elsewhere?
– Representations have alreadybeen made to me on this subject by the Prime Minister, and I have discussed it with the Chief of the General Staff. I appreciate the desirability of making Olympic Park available for use by the Athletic Association, and. I am trying to find some other suitable place in which to park the cars.
– Is there any truth in the press statement that the Government intends to send the Minister for the Army on a visit of inspection of the troops in the East?
– Some time ago I was advised by the then Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) that if certain conditions were complied witha wool appraisement centre would be established at Townsville. Have those conditions been complied with and, ifnot, what is the present position in regard tothe matter?
– I understand that the conditions which the Central Wool Committee desired the Townsville Harbour Board to correct have not yet been corrected.
Leakage of Budget Information
– In view of the serious leakages of information which permitted some wholesale warehouses in Adelaide to anticipate certain proposals in the budget, particularly those in relation to sales tax, and enabled warehousemen to advise customers to make purchases in advance of the delivery of the budget speech, will the Treasurer institute a searching inquiry to ascertain who was responsible for the leakages of information?
– I shall give the matter full consideration.
– Will the Minister for Commerce state why he did not carry out his promise to the electors that, as soon as Parliament opened, ho would move that the members of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, be democratically elected on the floor of this House? Will the right honorable gentleman also indicate whether his own appointment to cabinet rank in any way influenced hi? attitude in connexion with this matter?
-If the honorable member inquired from the leader of his party or other honorable members who were present at the conference of managers, he would know that I U3ed every possible influence I had r,o bring about the formation of a national government on the lines which I suggested during the election campaign.
– I have in my hand an envelope, which was forwarded to me sealed through the post. I understand that other honorable members received similar envelopes. The envelope bears a stamp which reads “lid. Postage Melbourne “ and contains printed matter. Being sealed, the Postal Department obviously could not ascertain the nature of the contents. In view of those contents in this instance I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to inquire as to whether the posting of this document is legitimate?
– The honorable member’s request will be acceded to.
– Is it a fact that, during the election campaign, certain officers of the Department of Information were made available to-assist Government candidates in various activities? Will this policy be repeated at the next elections, which may or may not .be soon?
– I share the honorable member’s lively anticipation- in respect of the furthcoming elections. I am surprised to be told- that any officer of the Department of Information was -engaged on party political work, and if the honorable member will be good -enough to give me particulars, I shall at once have the matter inquired into
– Can the Minister for the Navy confirm the press report regarding the capture by H.M.A.S. Australia at. Dakar early in September of a French cruiser and the destruction of a French destroyer? If the press report was correct, why was the information not disclosed by the Department of Information at. -an-. -earlier date? If it was withheld by the censor, how does the Minister account for the fact that letters to officers’ wives containing the information were printed before the news was released to the press ?
– I am unable to confirm the report. I have read the press account with great interest. As Mark Twain said about the report of his death, it has some elements of truth in it, but, it is exaggerated. How much of the report is true I cannot disclose without stating the whole of the facts. The press account, however, does not state them.
– Will the Minister for the Army state whether members of the Government were consulted individually before it was decided to send a number of Australian soldiers to Greece?
– I am not aware tha t there is any truth in the report that Australian soldiers have been sent to Greece. Indeed, as the Prime Minister has said, the report is entirely without foundation.
– In view of the possible danger of information leaking into the press regarding movements, large or small, of Australian’ troops abroad, was the Minister for the Army correctly re? ported in a number of newspapers as having said that no major detachment of Australian troops had landed in “Greece, although it. was possible that a few Australian details -may have landed ?
– The report was not substantially correct. What I said was that there was no truth in the statement appearing in the press indicating .that a substantial Australian force had landed in Greece. I said it was however, possible that, without my knowledge, a few details may have landed in Greece for liaison work.
– In view of the great importance and influence which diplomatic representations have had recently on the alinement of various nations, what negotiations, if any, are taking place through the British diplomats in the Balkan countries and in that part of France which is not under the control of the enemy at the present time?
– To-morrow afternoon I hope to make a statement dealing largely with the subjectmatter of the honorable member’s question.
– In view of increased public interest in the Commonwealth parliamentary debates, will you, Mr; Speaker, give consideration to increasing the number of complimentary copies of Hansard issued to honorable members ?
– Yes, I shall be very glad to receive any representations that honorable members may care to make on the subject.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is charging a fee for canteen orders purchased for members of the fighting forces overseas? Will he consult the Postmaster-General in order to have this iniquitous charge removed, as its effect is to curtail the number of orders sent to the troops?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Postmaster-General and shall convey a reply to the honorable member in due course.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.
– In view of the fact that dependants of members of the Australian Imperial Force are allowed to send cable messages to their relatives serving overseas at a cost of 2s. 6d., why is not the same privilege extended to dependants of members of the Royal Australian Navy?
– I believe that the honorable member raised this matter on a previous occasion. I am inquiring into the subject. I have communicated with my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and I hope to be able to give the honorable member a satisfactory answer soon.
– In view of. the danger to Australian ports and harbours made apparent by the sinking, of two vessels in Bass Strait, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development take steps to expedite the commencement of production of mines with the plant now lying unused in the annexe to the Ford Motor Company’s works at Geelong?
– I shall convey the subject-matter of the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Supply and Development and shall furnish a reply in the near future.
– Some time ago the Minister for Supply and Development stated that underground storage tanks were being provided for petrol and other liquid fuels. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development inform the House whether that matter has been proceeded with and, if so, with what result?
– I shall have a detailed reply conveyed to the honorable member.
– In view of the fact that the Imperial Parliament recently held a secret sitting in order to receive information concerning events in the Middle East, will the Prime Minister giveconsideration to theholding of a secret sitting of this Parliament in order that honorable members may receive the same information ?
– As I said to the honorable gentleman the other day in response to a similar question, honorable members willbe informed if it is decided to hold such a sitting.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether the recently appointed business manager to the Army will have a voice in the selection of tenders for the erection of Army buildings and other similar work?
– One of the terms of appointment of the business manager - one which, in point of fact, was inserted at his own request - was that he should not have any interest either direct or indirect in contracts entered into after his appointment affecting construction work for the Army.
– Soon after he assumed his present, office, the Prime Minister indicated, in reply to a. question asked in this House, that he had resigned he many company directorships that he had previously held. In view of the heavy taxes which the Government proposes to levy upon the general community can the right honorable gentleman now give an assurance to this House and the country generally that he is not financially interested, either directly or indirectly, in any company which is carrying out defence work for the Government?
– The answer is “ Yes “.
– Can the Minister for the Army inform the House what rent is being paid for the use of the Rosebery racecourse, which, I understand, is rented at the present time by the Eastern Command, and at which only 120 men are stationed ?
– I am not able to give a detailed reply to the honorable member, but I shall make inquiries and convey an answer to him.
– Last week I made inquiries regarding the filling of the position of Director of Labour. I now ask the Minister for Labour whether the position has yet been filled and, if not, whether it is his intention to have it filled?
-The office of Director of Labour was one occupied in the Ministry of Munitions and related to the labour employed by that ministry. The question whether the position now vacant should be filled by a new appointment or not is one primarily for determination by the Ministry of Munitions. I shall have inquiries made of my colleague, the Minister for Munitions, in order to see whether I can give a more definite answer to the honorable member’s question.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for the Army on a matter which has been the subject of corre- spondence between the honorable gentleman and myself. Is it true that the Gillette Razor Company gave to the defence authorities, for use at Sydney Showgrounds Military Camp, a safety razor with a couple of spare blades, that this equipment is the only shaving material provided for the troops and that, if they desire to obtain new blades, they are obliged to purchase them from the Gillette Razor Company, which is the only manufacturer of that type of blade? Does the Minister for the Army not think that, in view of the ‘advantage thus accorded to the Gillette Razor Company, the troops should be supplied with open razors ?
– I have already given a reply by letter to the honorable member, and I can see no purpose in adding to it. It is the policy of the Army authorities, based- upon experience, that open razors should not be made available.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Sales Tax Procedure Act 1934-1936.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
(No. 1a) 1940.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1 ) . 1 930-1936, as amended by the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1) 1940.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Income TaxAssessment Act 1936- 1939, as amended by the Income Tax Assessment Act1 940.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The principal amendments to be effected to the Income Tax Assessment Act by the passage of this bill may be divided into two sections, the first relating to amendments implementing the Government’s proposals for additional revenue from individuals and companies, as outlined in my budget speech, and the second relating to the new methods to be employed in collecting the income . tax payable by salary and wage earners, by deduction from their salaries or wages.
The most important of the amendments relating to the increased: liabilities to be imposed on the taxpaying community is the reduction of the statutory exemption from £250 to £150. A statutory exemption is designed to afford freedom from income tax to those members of the community whose incomes are not sufficiently large to warrant their being called upon to make a contribution to revenue by direct taxation. The ideal of preceding governments has been to maintain the statutory exemption at as high a level as is possible, having regard to the needs of revenue.
The statutory exemption of £250, which has applied for many years, has had the effect, in conjunction with the liberal concessional deductions allowed, of keeping a very considerable section of the income-earning people of Australia outside the field of Commonwealth direct taxation. The allowance of a statutory exemption of £250 was part of a plan of preceding governments to place . the burden of taxation upon the shoulders of those best able to bear it. As a consequence of this and. other concessional allowances, approximately 70 per cent, of the total personal incomes, and over 80 per. cent, of the families of Australia, have, for many years, been practically freed of the obligation to make any contribution to Commonwealth revenue in the form of income tax. This was a splendid ideal in normal times, and it was only after very long and serious consideration of the subject that the Government reluctantly found itself compelled to modify the concession.
In reaching its decision, the Government has sought to avoid, as far as possible, any serious encroachment upon living standards, particularly in respect of the family unit. Even thought it is proposed that the statutory exemption shall be reduced from £250 to £150, a married man with two dependent children will not be called upon to pay Commonwealth income tax, unless his net income exceeds £300 - approximately £6 a week - which is far in excess of the basic wage standard.
The means of financing the tremendous obligations which the war lias imposed on the people of Australia have been explored in my budget speech, and, as honorable members understand, the Government proposes that £33,000,000 for a full year shall be raised by means of income tax from individuals.
In determining the incidence of this increased taxation, the Government naturally looked to the higher incomes, that is, to incomes over £1,000. It found that the. full amount of additional revenue to be raised could not be obtained from those incomes. At this stage, the Government is satisfied that the higher ranges of income cannot contribute more than an additional £10,000,000, making a total contribution to revenue of £20,000,000 by taxpayers in this group. Similarly, in the range of middle incomes between £400 and £1,000, the additional £6,000,000 which the taxpayers of this class are being called upon to contribute will bring the taxation of middle incomes practically to its maximum, that is, a total income tax contribution of £8,000,000.
The Government was accordingly forced to seek a contribution to its revenue from incomes in the lower ranges, which, as I have mentioned previously, represent approximately 70 per cent, of the total personal incomes.
In order to get the share of additional revenue required from incomes of the lower group, it has proved to be necessary to extend the field. of the tax by lowering the statutory exemption. This the Government has- done, but I assure honorable members that only in the face of stern necessity has this course been taken, a course which the Government considers to be inescapable. This matter is quite outside party political considerations ; it raises no question of thrusting unfairly a burden of tax upon any section- of the community, or of discriminating against one section in favour of another. If revenue is to be obtained in amounts essential for the successful prosecution of the war, it is plainly unavoidable that some greater measure of tax shall be borne by taxpayers in the lower income group.
To facilitate the collection of the tax from salary and wage-earners and, at the same time, to ease the hurden of meeting the payment of the tax in a lump sum, the Government proposes to introduce a scheme for the deduction of the tax from salaries and wages, and earnings of that character, by instalments spread throughout the year. I shall explain the operation of this scheme in a few moments.
Another important amendment is the withdrawal of the tax rebate hitherto allowed to individual shareholders in respect of dividends distributed to them by companies. Briefly stated, the rebate of tax which the law at present allows to shareholders is made at the shareholders’ rate of tax on property income, or at the company rate, whichever is the less. The allowance of a tax rebate is based on the conception that the assessment of the profits of a company, and the assessment of a shareholder on dividends paid out of those taxed profits, involve double taxation: in other words, the company is merely the machine by which the shareholders combine to earn profits, and the assessment of the profits of a company is really the assessment, of the income of the shareholders. Whatever merit be attached to the principle of the allowance of a tax 3’eba.te on dividends, the Government . considers that the concession which might be granted in normal times should be withdrawn as part of a plan to provide the funds so necessary for war purposes.
It is appropriate to mention that the allowance of. the rebate has operated in such a way as to confer unequal advantages upon shareholders in companies generally. Thus, whilst a company’s profits have been taxed at a fiat rate of 2s. in £1, a shareholder whose rate of tax was 2s. or more in £1- has received the full benefit in rebate of the tax paid by the company. But a shareholder receiving the same amount’ of dividend whose rate was less than 2s.- did not enjoy thefull benefit of the tax paid .by the company but only a rebate based on his lower rate of tax. The discrimination as between shareholders is more clearly revealed when one considers that one class of shareholder received a rebate of 2s. in the £1, whilst a shareholder whose income fell below the statutory exemption received no rebate at -all. The Government has given earnest consideration to views expressed in support of the retention of the rebate as well as to those advanced for its abolition, and has decided that the revenue demands of the moment- justify a discontinuance of the concession. The gain in revenue which will be derived from the abolition of the rebate in the case of individuals is estimated at £1,700,000 for this financial year.
The allowance of the rebate is being retained in the case of dividends received by resident companies from other companies in which they hold shares, as it is considered that the holding company is merely .the channel through, which profits eventually flow to the individual shareholders. To levy a tax upon the dividends received by the holding company without a corresponding rebate would have the effect of throwing an inequitable burden upon investors iu companies.
General consideration of the question of the allowance of the tax rebate has attracted attention to the anomalous situation that has arisen in regard to dividends paid, out of Commonwealth loan interest. “ The effect of section 4.5 of the Income Tax Assessment Act is that the part of a dividend paid out of Commonwealth loan interest carries a rate of tax of 16d. in the £1 as compared with the rate of 2s. in the £1 on the balance of the taxable income of a company. Previously the tax rebate has been allowed to companies at the rate of 2s. in the £1 on the whole of the dividend received by the company, resulting in a loss to revenue of 8d. in the £1 on the part of the dividend paid out of Commonwealth loan interest. Now that section 40 of the act is to be amended the opportunity is being taken to correct this anomaly by limiting the rate of rebate in the part of the dividend paid out of Commonwealth loan interest to ls. 4d.
The amending bill also provides for an alteration of the basis on which the further tax on the undistributed profits of public companies is to be levied. When this further tax was imposed in May last, provision was made for a deduction of an amount equal to 25 per cent, of the company’s profit after certain deductions had been made therefrom. This allowance was granted because the reservation of profits was considered necessary to meet expansion and contingencies and to cover expenditure not deductible for taxation purposes. In its search for additional sources of revenue the Government has given further consideration to the question of this allowance and has decided that it should be withdrawn. The view taken is that the allowance of 25 per cent, of adjusted profits is more than adequate for the purpose for which it was designed and the withdrawal of- the deduction still leaves a substantial pool of reserved profits after payment of the undistributed profits tax at the comparatively low rate of 2s. in the £1. The undistributed profits tax is levied after the allowance of a deduction for dividends paid within six months after the close of the year of income.
The Government has reconsidered the position of non-resident companies, particularly those in the United Kingdom which, owing to the present disturbed conditions, find themselves unable within the statutory period of six months to comply with the formalities necessary to the distribution of company profits. The Government has, accordingly, decided to extend the period to nine months in the case of non-resident companies.
A further proposed amendment relates to the special deduction provided by section 122 of the act for capital expended- by mining companies in plant and development of the mining property. The object of that provision is .to permit of the recoupment of capital expenditure out of profits during the estimated life of the mine. The practical application of the -provision, however, has disclosed that it is defective in that a.<full recoupment is not provided for in the section. The amendment is being proposed to cure the defect. ;
The act is also being amended to place a time limitation upon the operation of section 159 and the “ corresponding sections of the law which provide for the allowance of a rebate in the case of income doubly or trebly taxed in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the States. Those provisions apply to assessments- back to the financial year 1921-22 and, at the present time, an application for a rebate may extend retrospectively for nearly 20 years. It is proposed that an application for a rebate in respect of any assessment must be made within six years from the date when the tax on that assessment became due and payable. The period of six years is considered to give a reasonable opportunity for the lodgment of the application and the submission of the particulars required for the calculation of the rebate. It is most unreasonable that the Taxation Department should be required to attempt to calculate rebates after the expiration of more than six years from the time the assessments were made. In reaching this decision the Government has been influenced by provisions in the law of the United Kingdom which places a similar limit on application for relief granted in that country in respect of dominion .income taxes.
I shall now proceed to explain the scheme which the Government proposes to introduce for the collection of tax payable on salaries and wages and earnings of that character. The comprehensive legislative machinery necessary to give effect to the scheme will be found in clause 13 of the bill which consists of 23 proposed new sections. With the lowering of the statutory exemption a considerable number of taxpayers from the salary and wage-earning class will be brought into the taxable field ; and to ease the burden which would be imposed on them if they were obliged to meet the payment of’ their assessments in a lump sum, the Government has -decided to introduce a. scheme whereby the tax will be paid by instalments throughout the greater (part of the year.
The scheme has already been adopted for State taxation purposes in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Stated generally, the scheme for which the bill makes provision is an arrangement whereby the payment of income tax is effected by instalment deductions from the salary or wages of the employee, either by the purchase of taxinstalment stamps by the employer, or by means of cash-instalment deductions made under approved group schemes…
The deductions to- be made will commence on the 1st January, 1941, and will be on account of tax payable in respect of assessments for the current financial year based on income derived during the year ended the 30th June,. 1940. The deductions will be fixed amounts of instalments based upon salary or wages being received at the time the instalments are deducted. The basic deduction which it is intended shall apply is that relating to a person without dependants, and in the case of a married man with a dependent wife and children this basic rate is reduced by 4s. a week, in respect of each dependant. As the deductions are being made as from the 1st January next, it is necessary that the weekly instalment be based on an. amount that- will secure the payment of the tax in full before the 30th June next. Thus the deductions for this year will be spread over a period of only 25 weeks. For subsequent years it is proposed, that the deductions commence on the 1st August and continue over a period of 40 weeks. The statement “ A “ which has been circulated for the information of honorable members shows the weekly deductions which will be made on varying incomes ranging from £4 a week to £19 a week in the case of a taxpayer without dependants and taxpayers with one, two, three and four dependants.
It will be seen in the case of. a single man earning £6 a week that the weekly deduction is 12s. and in the case of a married man with a wife and one child 4s. A single man earning £10 a. week will have 30s. a week deducted, whilst the married man with dependent wife and child earning the same salary or wages will have 22s. a week- deducted from his salary or wages,, and so on. The maximum rate of deduction which is to be applied is 5s. in the pound a week.
To authorize the employer to make weekly deductions lower than the basic rate prescribed in the case of a person without dependants, the employee will be’ required to furnish a declaration in duplicate to his employer setting out therein particulars regarding his dependants. . On the information shown in this declaration the employer will reduce the basic deduction by 4s. a week for each dependant. The employer will retain one copy of the declaration and forward the duplicate to the Taxation Department:
Tax instalment stamps will be made available for sale at all post offices and other approved places as may he found necessary. Employers will be required to make the prescribed deductions from each payment of wage3, and to hand to the employee concerned a tax-instalment stamp or stamps equal in denomination to the deductions made. The employee will be required to affix the stamp to a page in his stamp book and to cancel, it by writing thereon his name or initials and the date. Approved stamp books published by a number of printing firms will be on sale at stationers’ shops and other distributing points at a nominal charge. Books for instalment stamps cost lid. or 2d. each and last for at least a year. The employee will he responsible for the safe custody of his stamps until such time as he presents them at the Taxation Office in payment of his tax.
When the taxpayer receives his notice of assessment he will forward the book of stamps , and the notice of assessment to the Taxation Department where the face value of the stamps will be applied in payment of his tax. If the value of the stamps is insufficient to pay the whole of the tax, any balance must be paid by the employee in cash, and where the value of the stamps exceeds the amount of the tax payable the excess will be refunded in cash immediately to the employee.
Employers of large numbers of employees who do not desire to use taxinstalment stamps may, with the concurrence of their employees, obtain the Commissioner’s approval for the formation of a group. Under this arrangement, the employer will make prescribed deductions on pay days and will pay the aggregate amountsdeducted to the Taxation Department at pre-arranged times. When the employee receives his notice of assessment he may either hand it to his employer who will vary the amount of the deduction to meet the tax by the due date, or the employee desirous of maintaining the confidential character of his notice of assessment may obtain from the employer a certificate of the deductions made. The certificate will then be presented by the employee to the Taxation Department and the necessary credit will be given to him for the amount of the deduction paid through the group. Adjustments for under-payments and over-payments will be made as in the case where tax-instalment stamps are used.
Provision has also been made for the Commissioner to require employers to make deductions under group schemes in lieu of delivering tax instalment stamps to employees if, owing to special circumstances connected with the character of their employment, such an arrangement is considered to be desirable.
The Government considers that the benefits of the scheme should be afforded to taxpayers other than employees, and the bill contains a provision enabling such persons, if they so desire, to purchase tax instalment stamps from the authorized source. As regards these persons, however, the purchase of the stamps will not be compulsory, but the provision is made to assist those taxpayers who desire to set aside a certain amount of tax, from time to time, in anticipation of the receipt of a notice of assessment.
Taxpayers may at any time make application to the Taxation Department for a certificate exempting them from suffering further instalment deductions from their wages. These certificates will be issued in those cases where - (a)the assessed tax has been fully paid;
As soon as possible after the lodgment of annual returns, those of the employee class will be examined by the Taxation Department, and in the nontaxable cases, certificates of exemption will be issued to the individuals concerned, informing them they have no tax ‘to pay and authorizing their employers to refrain from making the prescribed deductions. This certificate will also entitle the taxpayers to a cash refund from the department of the face value of any stamps he may have in his possession.
The advantages of the scheme are summarized as follows : -
The system of payment of tax by tax instalment stamps and group schemes, which has been in operation for State taxation purposes in South Australia and Victoria for several years, has been a marked success. After investigation of the results achieved in those States, Western Australia and Tasmania introduced similar schemes as from the 1st July, 1940: The fact that the .scheme is already in operation in four States will enable the Commonwealth to superimpose the scheme for federal purposes with a minimum of inconvenience to employers, employees and the department concerned. . In New South Wales and Queensland the federal provisions will, operate independently of” the State systems although administered’ by. the one amalgamated Taxation Department.
To facilitate the operation of the scheme, it is proposed to amend section 204 of the. act to provide that income tax shall be due and payable on a date not less than 30 days after the serviceof the notice of assessment in lion of the specific period of 60 days at present allowed.
The operation of the scheme in those States where a. similar scheme is already functioning for State- purposes makes it very desirable that the Commonwealth and State tax should be made due and payable on the same day. The proposed amendment will enable this course to be followed:
I wish, however,- to make it clear that taxpayers outside these particular States as well as all taxpayers who do not come within the provisions of the scheme, will, as heretofore, continue to be allowed 60 days for payment of their assessments. The additional tax payable by private companies and the further tax on the undistributed income of public companies will, however, be payable .30 days after the receipt of the assessment.
There will be’ no disturbance of the existing methods of administration by the adoption of the proposed: scheme. It will be necessary, however;, to ‘provide for the Governor-General in: Council, to arrange with the Governors in Council of the States for agreements to’ be entered- into for the carrying out of the- necessary functions arising from, the new provisions. The preparation of these agreements will follow the passing of the necessary legislation.
At present in the States of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, State tax instalment- stamps are in use. The agreements with those
States will provide for the withdrawal of the State stamps on the 31st December, 1940, and .^commencing on the 1st January, 1941, the new stamp will come into circulation and will be used as a joint stamp for Commonwealth, and State purposes. The stamp will be accepted by the Commonwealth and State Governments in the four States mentioned as payment, in due proportions, of the taxassessed for Commonwealth and State purposes respectively. In the States of New South. Wales and Queensland, the stamp will be used- for Commonwealth purposes only during the period’ in which those two State- Governments retain their, existing systems of State taxation.
The principle followed in these two States is that of tax assessment and tax collection at the source in respect of the current year’s, income. The tax on income from employment is levied on weekly earnings and irregular wage- earners pay tax at the same rate as those in regular, employment. Tax contributions are, therefore, not equal: There is no complete recognition of the varying domestic ‘responsibilities of the taxpayers ; and the differentiation is made in the case of taxpayers in receipt of busi=ness or property,income where the assessment is based upon the’ income of. the immediately preceding financial year.
For the reasons mentioned, the Govern,ment. has decided to adopt the scheme in operation in the four States other than New South Wales and Queensland. The scheme adopted also has the recommendation of the conference of expert- taxation officers, held in Sydney in January this year.
Both the 1921 and the 1934 Royal Commissions on Taxation supported, the principle that in any system of payment of income tax by instalments collected at the source,- an adjustment of over and under payments in. relation to the- total income of the year should be made.
The comment of’ the- 19:21 Royal Commission on Taxation reads- as- follows : -
We have no hesitation in saying that the “proposal to tax wages at the. source cannot fairly be considered except in conjunction with the system of adjustments which will have the effect of finally imposing tax only to the extent justified by the total taxable income for the year.
The remarks of the 1934 Royal Commission on Taxation are -
Simplicity is not the only consideration and we are not prepared to recommend any method of collecting tax on wages at the source that dues not provide for any eventual adjustment of over or under payments.
Trafficking in tax instalment stamps is prohibited and is made an offence under the act and heavy penalties are provided in cases where a person is proved guilty of forging or uttering counterfeit stamps.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Scullin) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move - 1.That, in lieu of the tax imposed by the IncomeTax Act 1940, a tax be imposed upon incomes at the following rates: -
Division A. - Rale of Tax in Respect, of Taxable income Derived from Personal Exertion.
If the taxable income docs not exceed Three hundred pounds, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income shallbe twelve pence.
If the taxable income exceeds Three hundred pounds but does not exceed One thousand and five hundred pounds, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income shall be twelve pence and one twenty-fifth of a penny increasing uniformly by one twentyfifth of a penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds Three hundred and one pounds. and
If the taxable income exceeds One thousand and five hundred pounds, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including One thousand and five hundred pounds shall be sixty pence, and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of One thousand andfive hundred pounds shall be one hundred and twenty pence.
DivisionB. - Rate ofTax in Respect of Taxable Income Derived from Property.
If the taxable income docs not exceed Three hundred pounds, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income shall be fifteen pence.
If the taxable income exceeds Three hundred pounds but does not exceed One thousand and two hundred pounds, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income shall be fifteen pence and one-twentieth of a penny increasing uniformly by one-twentieth of a penny for’ every pound by which the taxable income exceeds Three hundred and one pounds. and
If the taxable income exceeds One thousand and two hundred pounds, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including One thousand and two hundred pounds shall be sixtypence, and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of One thousand and two hundred pounds shall be onehundred and twenty pence.
Division C. - Rates of Taxin Respect of Taxable Income Derived Partly from Personal Exertion andPartly from Property.
For every pound of taxable income derived from personal exertion, the rate of tax shall be ascertained by dividing the total amount of the tax that would be payable under Division A if the total taxable income of the taxpayer were derived exclusively from personal exertion, by the amount of the total taxable income.
For every pound of taxable income derived from property, the rate of tax shall he ascertained by dividing the total amount of the tax that would be payable under Division B if the total taxable income of the taxpayer were derived exclusively from property, by the amount of the total taxable income.
DivisionD. - Rates of Tax by reference to an Average Income.
For every pound of the taxable income derived from personal exertion by a taxpayer to whose income Division 10 of Part III. of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1940 applies,the rate of tax shall be ascertained by dividing the tax that would be payable under Division A upon a taxable income from personal exertion equal to his average income, by that average income.
For every pound of taxable income derived by him from property the rate of tax shall be ascertained by dividing the tax that would be payable under Division B upon a taxable income from property equal to his average income, by that average income.
Division E. - Rate of Tax by reference to a Notional Income.
For every pound of the actual taxable income from personal exertion of a taxpayer deriving a notional income, as specified by sub-section (1.) of section eishty-six of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936- 1940, the rate of tax shall be the amount obtained by dividing the tax that could be payable under Division A upon a taxable income from personal exertion equal to his notional income, by that notional income. (b)For every pound of the actual taxable income from property of a taxpayer deriving a notional income, as specified by sub-section (1.) of section eighty-six of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1940, the rate of tax shall he the amount obtained by dividing the tax that would be payable under Division B upon a taxable income from property equal to his notional income, by that notional income.
Division F. - Tax payable where amount would otherwise be less than Ten shillings.
Notwithstanding anything contained in the last five preceding Divisions, where the amount of incometax which a person would, apart from this Division, be liable to pay is less than Ten shillings, the income tax payable by that person shall be Ten shillings.
DivisionG. - Rates of Tax Payable by a Trustee.
For every pound of the taxable income in respect of which a trustee is liable, pursuant to either section ninety-eight or section ninety-nine of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1040, to be assessed and to pay tax, the rate of tax shall be the rate which would be payable under Division A, B, C, D or E as the case requires, if one individual were liable to be assessed and to pay tax on that taxable income. .
DivisionH. -Rates of Tax Payable by a Company.
Subject to the last preceding Division, for every pound of the taxable income of a company the rate of tax shall be twenty-four pence.
Subject to the last preceding Division, for every pound of that portion of the taxable income of a company which has not been distributed as dividends on which the company is liable, pursuant toPartIIIa. of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936- 1940, topay further tax, the rate of tax shall be twenty -four pence.
For every pound of interest in respect of which a company is liable, pursuant to sub-section (1.) of section one hundred and twenty-five of the Income Tax Assessment Act . 1936-1940 to pay income tax, the rate of tax shall be twenty-four pence.
That tax in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this resolution shall be levied and paid for the financial year beginning on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty.
That, until the commencement of the act for the levying and. payment of -income tax for the financial year beginning on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty-one, the foregoing provisions of this resolution shall also apply forall financial years subsequentto that beginning on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty.
It is my grave duty to introduce a resolution for the imposition of rates of income tax which will place . on the Australian taxpayer a very heavy burden indeed. Ido so with regret, but without apology.. Taxation is not popular even in the most enlightened communities, and no Government courts unpopularity by imposing unnecessary burdens upon the people. But this is no timeto count the cost of unpopular measures. The Government would fail in its duty to the people if it did not face the bitter facts of these times. We live in the midst of uncertainties, but one thing at least is sure - that there is no cheap road to success in war.
On the other side of the world men and women are at this moment buying’ liberty with. their blood. Their cause and ours are one, and for us in Australia the issue is simple. It is this: Must this war be won ? Everything that is good in our eyes is at stake. There can be no two answers. I repeat that there is no cheap road to victory. The way lies, in Mr. Churchill’s phrase, through “blood and tears and sacrifice “. We as a nation have taken upon ourselves the payment of a share of that price for liberty. We have assumed the duty of sacrifice. Having said that, I feel that no word of mine is needed to justify even an uncomfortable weight of taxation.
The income tax, as a means of raising money, has the great merits of equity and directness. Rates and incidence can be adjusted on the principle of ability to pay. Family obligations and other special calls on the individual can be sympathetically and justly treated ;. there are, in fact, special deductions provided for dependants, medical expenses, life insurance premiums, friendly society dues and so on.
It is natural, therefore, for the Government to resort to the income tax as one means of financing the war effort. As honorable members are aware, and as a glance at the tables which have been circulated will show, the same expedient has been adopted elsewhere. In both Great Britain and New Zealand the rates of taxation on incomes have been heavily increased. In Great Britain the standard rate of tax has been raised to 8s. 6d. in the£1, the scope of the surtax widened and personal allowance reduced. I need quote only a few examples taken at random of the results of these increased burdens on the British taxpayer. . Taxpayers on incomes as low as £125 are now taxable. The present effective rates on incomes of £200 from personal exertion and property respectively are1s.8d. and 2s. 6d. as compared with 6d. and10d. before the war. On £10,000 the increases are from. 8s. 5½d. to 12s. 2d. and from 8s. 7½d. to 12s 4½d. In New Zealand severe basic rates of income tax have been adopted and have been supplemented not only by a surtax of 15 per cent., but by a Hat levy of ls. in the £1 on the gross amount of all incomes. There are no exemptions. All over the Empire the story is the same; those peoples have taken up their burden. We will not wish to do less.
It is no part -of the present proposals to deprive the taxpayer of any of the concessional deductions which he has enjoyed in the past. So far as he can be protected from the effects of war-time taxation he will be protected. For reasons I have given at length in connexion with the Income Tax Assessment Bill, however, the Government has been forced, I need not say unwillingly, to lower the statutory exemption. The vast fields of income hitherto left untouched by the Commonwealth must be tapped if we are to finance and win this war. Commonwealth income tax has hitherto fallen very lightly on low incomes. I remind, honorable members that our collections from incomes below- £400 have yielded only about £100,000 a year. Yet it is the aggregate of the lower income groups which constitutes the great bulk of the nation’s income. The total personal incomes amount to about £745,000,000. Incomes of over £1,000 account for only about £S5,0000,000, or 11 per cent, of that total. At the other end of the scale the income groups under £400 receive no less than £517,000,000, or 70 per cent, of the total. The middle incomes account for £143,000,000, or 19 per cent, of the total.
When increased income tax becomes unavoidable, the accepted principle of “ability to pay” immediately suggests that the bulk of the increased burden should be thrown upon the higher incomes. But the capacity of income to carry increased Commonwealth taxation cannot be judged separately from the incidence of State taxation in the highest taxed State, which virtually sets the limit beyond which the Commonwealth cannot go. When the factor of State taxation is considered, it becomes obvious, upon examination, that the full weight of the increased Commonwealth taxation cannot reasonably be placed upon the higher incomes. While the greatest portion of the burden of this increased taxation will fall upon the wealthy sections of the com munity, it is unavoidable that the middle and lower incomes must be called upon to make further contributions and, under the present proposals, they will do so.
I again remind honorable members of facts- and figures that I have given elsewhere. The new rates are designed to produce £33,000,000 in a i( full year. Incomes over £1,000 will contribute £20,000,000, as compared with £9,800,000 under the present scale, and 1 £6,200,000 under the 1939-40 scale. Middle incomes - £400 to £1,000 - -will contribute £8,000,000, as against £2,000,000 under the present scale and £1,300,000 under the 1939-40 scale. The lowest group - under £400 - will be called upon to provide £5,000,000 as compared with £200,000 under the present scale and £100,000 under the 1938-40 scale.
There is, as I have said, no escaping the costs of the war that has been forced upon us. Nevertheless, the Government proposes, as a measure of relief to the community, to institute a scheme of payment at the source, the benefits of which will be felt by the lower income earners mo3t of all.
I turn now to the proposed scale of rates. The scale of personal exertion rates enacted in May last begins at 5d. in the £1 ; the proposed scale begins at ls. in the £1. This is a large increase, but it must be borne in mind that the various deductions so protect the taxpayer that the married man with one child, for instance, would not pay tax at the rate of ls. in the £1 on his actual income until that income is at least £400 a year. A single man without dependants will not reach the ls. rate of tax on his actual income until the income is rather more than £300.
The scale now proposed rises rapidly from ls. in the £1 on a taxable amount of £300 to 5s. in the £1 at £1,500. The excess over £1,500 taxable income is taxed at a flat rate of 10s. in the £1. The rate of increase has to be gradually slackened as incomes rise, or it would lead to aggregate Commonwealth and State rates of over 20s. in the £1. This is achieved by the limitation imposed by the flat rate of 10s.
The amounts of tax payable .to the Commonwealth at the new rates will be roughly comparable to the amounts of
State tax payable in the highest taxed States and will be, especially, in the higher ranges, much greater than the amounts of State tax payable in the lowest taxed States. The relation between State and Commonwealth totals varies, of course, at different levels. It will be seen from the tables that the State “taxes on a single man in the highest taxed State exceed the Commonwealth up to the £S00 mark. On the £900 to £5,000 incomes the Commonwealth taxes ave the heavier of the two. In the highest ranges, however, the State taxes weigh so heavily on the taxpayer as to preclude the Commonwealth from imposing on that .field taxes of even equal severity. Honorable members are aware to what degree the imposition of Commonwealth taxation can be impeded by the States.
The property scale has been determined on the same principles as were observed when the- original rates for 1940-41 were adopted. The more important personal exertion scale has been arrived- at with strict reference to the relative ability of different incomes to bear the taxation which the circumstances dictate; and the property scale has been derived from it by increasing the -rates- up to £1,200 by 2-5 per cent.
The minimum property rate is thus ls. 3d. in the £1; and applies to taxable incomes up to £300. The rate rises steeply thereafter, and reaches 5s-. at £1,200. A flat rate of 10s-. in the £1 is imposed on the excess of the taxable income over £1,200.
From that point the difference between the personal exertion and the property rates tapers steadily off as the income increases, but until the high levels of income are reached the property scale- remains substantially heavier than the personal exertion. The tapering of the scales, I may remind honorable members, is simply a recognition of the increasing, element of property in personal exertion in the higher ranges, and an attempt to put the relative weights- of taxation- on the two classes of income on the equitable footing that their similarity warrants.
As I have said, the proposed rates are severe, but if they are weighed against our danger and- our purpose; they will be seen in their true light as an honest attempt to face reality with clear eyes..
Some comfort of the negative kind may be drawn from the realization that we are not alone in our labours and sacrifices for the common good. The comparison of the income taxes levied in this country and in- New Zealand is illuminating. It will be seen from the tables that on the specified incomes the weight of income taxation is, except in a very few cases, heavier in New Zealand than it will be. in Australia even at the new rates. At the lowest levels there are very notabledisparities. Consider the taxpayer with; a dependent wife and one dependent child” on an income of £250. In New Zealand,, he must pay £25 in taxation; in the highest taxed State of the Commonwealth, at that level, he pays £7, and that all in State taxation. At £300, the same taxpayer in Australia will be required to pay in State and Commonwealth taxes about £15, which is exactly half of what hewould pay in New Zealand. I need not labour the point.
No section of the community can escape the effects of the Avar and under the present proposals the income of companies will, also be called upon to bear an increased contribution to the revenue. The resolution provides for an increase of ls. in the flat rate of tax to be levied on the undistributed profits of public companies. The undistributed profits’ tax was introduced in May of this year and. has not yet been- applied. The tax, as -honorable members will recall, corresponds generally with the tax on undistributed, profits of private companies which has been in operation for many years. Under the law as it stands at present, a. flat rate of Ls. in the £1 is prescribed as the tax on undistributed profits as determined under the act, but a revision of that rate has become necessary to conform with the upward trend of the rates of tax on the incomes of. individual taxpayers. High individual rates and a comparatively low rate of tax on undistributed profits- would induce shareholders to leave their profits in the company, and so avoid the heavy rates at which they would have to- pay as individuals. I propose to the- committee, therefore, that the rate of tax on the undistributed profits of public companies be raised to 2s. in the £1.
The total income of companies which, is available for taxation is about £93,000,000, and it has been estimated that taxation, including State and overseas taxes, will appropriate some £32,000,000 out of that income. I need not enlarge -upon the important part which companies play in the industrial economy of the community, especially in war time. Obviously, they must not be subjected to a burden which will cripple them and hamner the conduct of the war. In the light of that consideration, I think honorable members will agree that at about fis. Sd. in tho £1 the taxation of companies approaches what may be regarded as the limit under present conditions.
I have dealt with first things first. My remarks so far have related to divisions A, B, and H of the resolution, which are the divisions which, will most nearly interest the community in general. I must now offer honorable members a word or two in explanation of the other divisions. These, however, represent no departure from provisions contained in similar resolutions of ‘previous years.
Division O provides the rates to he applied when taxpayers derive taxable income from personal exertion and from property. -In these cases the rate of taxon the separate amounts of each class of taxable income is ascertained as if the total income were derived wholly from personal exertion and wholly from property respectively. The effect of the application of division C is that the taxpayer pays tax on his taxable income from personal exertion and property at the rate attributable to his total taxable income. In other words, to illustrate with an example, if the total composite income were £5,000, made up of £3,000 personal exertion income and £2,000 property income, the rate a’pplied to both the £3,000’ and the £2,000 is the rate applicable to the £5,000.
Division’ D will operate when the averaging provisions of the- assessment act are applied! Those provisions are limited to the assessments of primary producers. To describe the working of the averaging system briefly I may point out that the rate of tax on the taxpayer’s taxable income is ascertained by averaging his taxable income over the year of income, and the four preceding years. The rate that is attributable to the amount of the taxpayer’s average income over the five-year period is the rate of tax prescribed by division D to be paid by a. taxpayer on his taxable income of the year of income.
In division E, an equitable basis is provided for the calculation of the taxpayable by a taxpayer who receives at premium upon the grant or assignment of a lease. These lease premiums as income are of the nature of commuted rent,, and, for this reason, the premiums are included in the taxable field by specialprovisions of the assessment act. The full amount of the premium is, however,, taxed, as income of the year in which it: is received, and it will be readily appreciated by honorable members that the graduated rate of tax would cause a taxpayer to pay a greater, amount of tax than he would be called upon to ‘pay if he received the amount of the lease premiumin the form of rent spread over the term, of the lease. This inequity is removed as; far as possible by the assessment act which provides for the premium to be taxed at the rate that would be payable on a notional income ascertained by dividing the lease premium by one-half of the number of years in the term of the lease. Any taxable income which may be derived by the taxpayer in addition to the lease premiums is aggregated with the lease notional income to determine the rate of tax payable on his total taxable income.
Division F provides for a minimum tax of 10s., which has been the minimum tax for many years.
Division Q prescribes the rate of tax payable by trustees in those cases where, under the provisions of the assessment act, the trustee is assessed on the whole or portion of the income of a trust estate. A provision of this kind is necessary to meet the ease where a trustee of a trustestate is a company, otherwise the rate of tax applied to the taxable income derived by the trust estate would be the company rate instead of the graduated rate -payable by an individual.
The third paragraph of the resolution.empowers’ the Commissioner to apply the rates of tax as set out in the resolution in those cases where it becomes necessary,. viz., in the case of persons departing overseas, to make assessments for the succeeding financialyear before the rates bill for the financial year 1941-42 is passed by Parliament.
It is expected that new rates’ of tax upon individuals will yield a total of £33,000,000 revenue for. the full year, of which £26,000,000 should be collected during the current financial year. To this is to be added £1,700,000 to be obtained by the abolition of the company rebate.
The revenue from companies to be derived at the 2s. flat rate is estimated at £8,800,000 for the full year, of which £7,800,0000 should be collected during the current financial year. The additional tax to be imposed on undistributed profits will yield £2,400,000 revenue in a full year, of which £2,000,000 should be collected in 1940-41:
Believing as I do that the nation is willing to take up the inescapableburden of the war, I commend the resolution to the committee.
Progress reported. reception to American minister in australia.
– It has been suggested that, in view of the reception which is to be given to the American Minister in Australia, the Honorable c. e. Gauss, the sitting might, with the approvalof honorable members, be suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 5.1 to. 8 p.m. g overnor-general’s speech.
Debate resumed from the 22nd November (vide page 142), on motion by Mr. Beck -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Govornor-General’s Speech he agreed to - mayitpleaseyour Excellency:
We, the House ofRepresentatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- The Speech delivered by the GovernorGeneral the other day was remarkable, not so much for the things that it said as for the things that it omitted to say. There was some mention of the war, a considerable amount of inspired propaganda, and a reference to industrial disputes in this country; but there was no reference to any ameliorative social legislation that would give to the great mass of people in this country - the real Australians - any reason to hope for an alleviation of their conditions. I shall not be able fro deal, in the time allotted to me, with all the sins of omission or commission of this Government; in fact, there is scarcely time for me even to adumbrate the subject. Unfortunately this Government won the last elections. It is a bad thing for Australia that a Labour government is not now administering the affairs of the nation. I make bold to suggest that, had the budget been presented a week or so before the election, and had the electors been supplied with the illuminating figures which were disclosed to us this afternoon, the members of the Government would have been in opposition to-day and the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Curtin), as Prime Minister, would have been putting into effect this party’s policy for the proper conduct of the war and for the enactment of all that legislation which this country needs if it is to be governed in the best interests of true Australians. For many years the United Australia party and its variable companion, the United Country party, have governed or misgoverned the country, according to the point of view of the observer. Many of the things that should have been done in the nation’s prosperous years were not attempted, so that to-day we find that, in contrast to many other countries, Australia has no record of progress in recent years, and no social achievement of which it can boast. It is a nation where great wealth accumulates at one end of the social scale and undeserved destitution at the other. Naturally, being a member of the Australian Labour party and holding its political philosophy, I dissent from the ideologies of the United Australia party; but at least I can give it credit for having some opinions and some philosophy. To the members of the United Australia party the capitalist system seems to be the best of all possible systems; in fact they regard it as the only practical system - one in. which the Government must allow certain people to keep money which they allegedly earn, but which in fact they make by exploiting: the people they employ or the consumers to whom they sell their goods. That is an understandable view and, although we oppose it entirely, we recognize that the United Australia party can support its case with at least some show of reason. But nothing can be said in praise of the political outlook of the so-called “ United “ Country party on social and political problems. As has been amply demonstrated already in this Parliament, the policy of that party is one of “ catch a3 catch can “. It does not agree with anything in the political philosophy of the United Australia party and it certainly does not agree with the Labour party’s views that the surplus value created by the wealth producers of the country belongs to those’ producers and not to those who happen to own the machines of production. It continues to exist as a party only by the exercise of a system of political blackmail. As the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has suggested, members of the Country party always have a nuisance value and, in addition, they have almost a preternatural ability to capitalize that nuisance value and obtain whatever positions are available without giving good service in return. That is a fact, and now that you, Mr. Speaker, have shed all your political prejudices and party predilections upon your elevation to the position of Speaker of this House and have begun to preside over our deliberations with charming impartiality, you will no doubt agree with some of the strictures that I pass upon your quondam friends’: No member of the Country party, in all the time that that organization has been in existence, lias done anything to win the respect or admiration of succeeding generations. It has left no legislative monument to its ability and no administrative record’ of which it might be proud. This country has reason to remember its
Barton, O’Connor, Reid. Deakin, Kingston, Fisher, Ryan, and many others.
- Mr. Speaker, I take the greatest exception to the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne.
– The honorable member foi- Melbourne is not out of order.
– Those gentlemen, all of them now dead, are remembered ; but I have no reason to believe that every member of the Country party will not be forgotten as soon as he leaves this Parliament.
– Again I object to the statements of the” honorable member for Melbourne..
– The honorable member for Melbourne will continue.
– I have no doubt that what I say is absolutely true, and: I am encouraged in that belief by the cheering chorus of support that 1” hear from honorable gentlemen who know a great deal about the political history of this country.
I said that it was a misfortune for this country that the Labour party did not win the election. The United Australia party, or its organization outside this Parliament, won this election - or rather stole it - by a series of activities of which it has no reason to be proud and which will poison the political atmosphere of this country if they be perpetrated at succeeding- elections.’ There were faked official statements- during the election campaign. There were statements about Australian forces going into action in Egypt,, and,, in addition, there was loaded propaganda’’ against the Labour party, designed to exacerbate the feelings of people whose loved ones were overseas. Then there were faked German broadcasts that were paid for by big busi-ness interests and broadcast almost continuously from the B-class stations, in Victoria at any rate, from morning to night in an endeavour to poison the minds of ‘ the people against the Labour party, which I remind honorable members is the only really Australian party - a party which has- never been under the painful necessity of changing its name-at election times in order to - escape the wrath of the people. Then there were those newspaper advertisements, those vile tilings stating that Labour fiddled while London burned. As a matter of fact, London was not burning at the time when the advertisements were published. Everything that could possibly have been done to snatch an electoral victory was done. The Prime Minister appealed for a great victory or a great defeat. Unfortunately he did not suffer a great defeat, but fortunately he did hot achieve a great victory. Thus we find this House in an unusual state with Government and Opposition equally represented.
I believe that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) honoured me. with an interjection a few minutes ago. The country has lost nothing “ by the honorable gentleman’s omission from the Ministry, and the United Australia party has gained nothing by his leaving the councils of the United Country party. I was about to suggest that the United Australia party organization did not burn this building. That is about the only thing that” it failed to do in emulation of the Nazis, who burned the Reichstag on the eve of the German elections of 1933. Mr. Archie Cameron. - The honorable gentleman’s words will never set this House onfire.
– I have not long been acquainted with the honorable member for Barker, but. when I first saw him I saw. his resemblance to something which at the. time. I could not place. Now it has dawned on me that he reminds me of. a tyrannosaurus-a carnivorous dinosaur of the Mesozic period. According to scientists it wasthe very last word in reptilian f rightfulness.
This Governmentis aGovernment of big business- aGovernment doing obeisance to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company ‘Limited, Australian Consolidated Industries Limited; General MotorsHoldens Limited,”’ the Colonial . Sugar Refining” CompanyLimited and other capitalistic groups. I represent the head-quarters’ of these groups, but I’ do not represent their interests. The Prime Ministerrepresents their interests. They are” rather discourteous to ‘ me:’ When’they’ want to “make representations’ to the Prime Minister they do not askme, ‘ as their representative in thisParliament, to introduce them; either they go straight to the Prime Minister’ or the Prime Minister goes straight to them. In either case he accepts their directions. What we heard in the budget speech the other day had no doubt been decided after consultation as an expression of the wishes of the wealthy interests of this country. The budget discloses that the wealthy interests are being well protected. I had hoped for the introduction of legislation in respect of child endowment, family allowances and marriage loans. In time of war, this Government has tremendous power to do much for either’ good or evil ; it could almost completely mould the future of this country. But obviously my hope for the introduction of social legislation along the lines followed in many other countries is a vain one. Apparently the Government does not intend to endeavour to ease the lot of the family man and the poorer section of the community. It is said that a new social order will follow the conclusion of the war. I do not believe that we shall have social justice from those who now sit in power, or from the financial interests which dictate their policy,either while the war is in progress or at its termination. It was said that those who fought in the last war did so in order to makethe world safe for democracy and a worldfit for heroes to live in; yet that conflict was succeeded by the worstdepression in history. We had the sad spectacle of many ex-soldiers, -who were no longer physically fit for . employment, having tolive on sustenance.In Melbourne, some of -them were even engaged upon the task of “decorating their own war memorials at sustenance rates of pay. Such a state ofaffairs is possible only under the system of capitalism. I have no.faith. in those who, because times are difficult and the future is uncertain, proclaim -their virtues, and show outwardly signs’ of repentance for their misdeeds. There is a very old saying -
The Devil was sick, the Devil a monk would be;
The Devil was well, the Devil a monk was he.
That applies particularly to. the real governors’ of this country, the modern money changers who sit in their temples of high finance in Pitt and Collins streets, and who have done so well for themselves while thousands of persons have suffered cruel hardships. The conditions of the people are becoming, not better but relatively worse. A statement that I prepared some time ago for a select committee of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria gives a summary of the output of factories and their value. It is an illuminating document, which shows that the workers are not receiving from industry to-day the percentage that they received a few years ago. For example, in 1924-25, the total value of raw materials, power, fuel, etc., in this country, was £233,000,000. Salaries and wages accounted for £S1, 000,000, whilst interest, profit, etc., totalled’ £65,000,000. The proportion of added value which wages bore to that total was 55.3 per cent:, whereas the figure in. respect of interest and profit was only 44.7 per cent. In the succeeding years the per1centage taken out by wages and salaries grew progressively less, whilst the percentage in respect of interest, profit, &c, inevitably grew progressively larger. In 1928-29, the respective figures were 54.3 per cent, and 45.7 per cent. In 1929-30 they were 52.8- per cent, and 47.2 per cent. In the depression year, 1932-33”, the withdrawal by wages and salaries was less than that of interest and profit, the respective figures being 49.8 per cent’, and 50.2 per cent. Only after the .basic wage was increased- a couple of years ago did salaries and wages begin to show a greater percentage than profit and interest. In 1937-38 the figures- were 52- per cent., and 4S-. per cent., and in 1933-^9 they were 52.4 per cent and 47.6 per cent. We who speak for the workers of this country can prove that in 1938-39 they received’ 3 per cent. less of the total value of production than they, received in 1924-25, and that interest and profit -accounted for 3 per cent, more, with the result that there lias been an accumulation of big incomes on one- side of the river and’ slums and poverty on the other side. This Government will do nothing to secure a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the community, without which there cannot be a healthy social life.
– The honorable member and his friends have shown no anxiety to accept the responsibilities of office.
– The parties of which the Government is composed made a- mighty effort to keep us out of power. If they had wanted us to win. the elections, why did they fight so hard to prevent our doing so? I have no doubt that the present, feelings of the’ honorable member are slightly different from what they would have been had- he remained in the Ministry. As the result of a series- of unfortunate accidents, another honorable gentleman was catapulted into tlie position of Treasurer, and the honorable member for Barker was left lamenting. I shall be glad to hear from some honorable member opposite in. due course,, the reason for the fact that the two “ tragic treasurers “ of this Commonwealth have come from the ranks of the Country party; the first was the gentleman who helped to precipitate the last unfortunate, and calamitous depression a decade- ago, and the present- one is an honorable gentleman of the same political persuasion who has produced a- budget equally deflationary in its effects, which will precipitate . another depression. I remind the -House that the ill effects of deflation,, as of inflation; are cumulative ; both deflation, and inflation can be equally disastrous to the community.
I have said that this Government has done nothing to. implement a scheme of family allowances, child endowment, and marriage loans. I have . instanced the conditions’ under which the great mass .of the people are sinking, because they do not receive their rightful share from the general well of production, and are therefore not able to provide for those who are dependent on them. There is in New South Wales a system of child endowment which was introduced by a Labour government and has been in operation since 1927. There is another scheme of child endowment or family allowance in the federal public service. One scheme has definite geographical limits, but embraces the whole of the community, whilst the other is- limited to one section of the community but extends throughout the length and breadth of Australia. There is no reason for failure to put into operation- a scheme embracing the whole- community. A perusal of the figures of the- Commonwealth Statistician; based on’ the 1933 “census, has shown me that, as the result of the’ operation of child endowment,’ New South Wales is in a better position to- meet the future heeds of the nation than is the State from which I come, which has no such scheme and is not so progressively minded as New South Wales, Queensland, and some of the other States, and has yet a good deal . té learn* in that connexion. According. to the- figures, of the Commonwealth Statistician, New South Wales compares’ very faVorably with Victoria hi respect, of’ the .’percentage of young people, .’ ranging” between “the ages of i week and “14” years, to the total population,” -the. respective figures being 29.1 per “cent’.! and ‘ 23.’.9’ per cent. Therefore’,’.” the”, birth rate has been assisted in New South’ Wales by child endowment, because it has enabled parents to make provision for; their children and has encouraged married couples to follow the divine ‘ and natural laws and do their duty to their country by having healthy. - families .who -will be the future defenders df ‘this country ‘ against any act of - foreign aggression. Child endowment can be ‘defended on many grounds.” It is - a” means of assisting parents to rear families, and it makes provision for: the defence of the nation against “future “ attack.’ The Right Honorable- R. G. Casey, introducing, into this : Parliament ‘ a bill” to establish national insurance, recited -a dismal tale in respect of the future of this country. He .’said that, .according to figures that had been .supplied to him by the . Commonwealth. Statistician : and by actuaries, who had .worked, upon them, -. the. population of . Australia would become .stationary by 1955, and. by 1970- would .have begun to decline. . That ki’nd-of dirge was preached in anticipation pf the- death of the white race in the. Pacific area. Although we ;are but 150 years old as a nation, (apparently we. are slowly- bleeding to death, and’ within -a 200-year period, this outpost of -white civilization in the’ Pacific will- have -almost entirely disappeared. Yet this Government’,’ which is -acquainted - with the facts, neither does nor suggests anything, but resists every attempt that we make on humanitarian and national grounds to establish a scheme of child endowment or family allowance, because under such a scheme those of their friends who benefited from the work of the community would have to pay. The Government is neither courageous nor wise enough to ‘take time by the forelock and do what should be done. It would appear that only one honorable gentleman opposite has’ interested himself in this problem; he is the septuagenarian Minister for the Navy (Mr. Hughes). He is the only one who has told this country that it must either populate or perish. We may learn something from our enemies in this connexion. In fact, we shall be foolish if we do not learn from them- anything worth while that they can teach us. A good deal of attention has been given in .Europe to, the encouragement of family life and the increase of the birth-rate. Family allowances were introduced by private enterprise in certain .European countries in the nineties of the last century. Strangely enough, the practice was adopted almost simultaneously in countries with such divergent policies as Germany and France, and it proved to be successful in serving the ends for which it was designed. It was only a very few years ago, however, that the Governments of” Germany, Italy, France and Russia tackled the problem in a ‘statesmanlike way, and commenced to do what was required to be done in the interests of their women and- children.
It was my fortune three years ago to he associated with a select committee of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria on child endowment. A questionnaire submitted in 1938 to the Consuls of various nations during the investigation that was made by that committee resulted in the gathering of some most interesting information. Professor A. Lodewyckz, of the University of Melbourne, also furnished information to the committee through an article in the Economic Record which indicated some important trends. He pointed out that one of the chief preoccupations of National-Socialist Germany wa3 population. The decline of the German birth-ra-te-from- the beginning of this century until 1933 had been catastrophic. Professor Lodewyckz made the following observations on the subject:-
However,soon after theNational Socialist party took office early in 1933, energetic measures were adopted in an endeavour to stop the downward trend. These measures may he gummed up under the following four headings: -
Direct financial advantages to large families and to newly-married couples.
Reduction of unemployment.
Intensive propaganda aiming at a new outlook on population problems amongst the whole people.
Stricter enforcement of the law prohibiting the practice of abortion.
The resulthas been a substantial increase in the birth-rate. The numbers of birth’s registered for the years 1933 to 1937 are as follows: -
It will be seen that about 300,000 more children arc born in Germany to-day than during the last few years before the National Socialist party took over the reins of government. So that, assuming that the figures for 1 938 are about the same as those for1936 and 1937, during the five years 1934-38 German mothers have given the Fatherland 1,500,000 more children than would have been the case if conditions as prevailed before 1933 had continued.
The record of Australia in relation to the birth-rate is such as to demand serious consideration. Our birth-rate fell from 4.3 per 1,000 of the population in 1862 to 1.7 per 1,000 in 1937. The effect can be expressed in another way: In 1911, when Australia had a population of roughly 4,500,000, more children were born than in 1938, when our population was approaching 7,000,000. This problem cannot be ignored, and we cannot procrastinate in. dealing with it: if.’ we wish to continue to progress as a white nation. Several State governments and. I am glad to say, also- some municipalities, have done something to cope with the position. As the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) well knows, the Melbourne City Council has done a great deal of good work in this connexion, although only 10 of its 33 members belong to the Labour party. The council has improved the conditions of mothers and children by establishing a number of public health centres and kindergartens throughout the areas under its control.I am sure that what has already been accomplished in this regard will be an inspiration to the council to do more in the future. With the help of the Commonwealth Government, the council has established a. child welfare centre in my constituency of Melbourne, and good results have been achieved by it. It is also subsidizing many denominational kindergartens. But a great deal more must bo done in this way if the nation is to prosper. Surely it is not too much to ask that steps should be taken to do for Australian women and children at least as much as was being done before the war for the German women and children-. [ Leave to continue given.] I thank honorable members for their courtesy.
Family endowment allowances need to be supplemented’. I favour, as a complementary measure, the granting of marriage loans. The young people of this country cannot marry at as early an age as is desirable from a national point of view unless they be granted some financial assistance. In 1939 action was taken in France to give financial aid to young married people, but, unfortunately for that country, it was too late to be of much value. Long before the outbreak of war schemes had been put into operation in Germany and Italy to assist newly married couples. Arrangements were made in . those countries for interest-free loans of from £100 to £200 to be made to young married couples. It was provided that 25 per cent, of the. loan should be cancelled if, in the first year of its currency, a child was born. The remainder of the loan was canelled progressively as additional children were born, and it was completely liquidated by the time the fourth child was born. No such government scheme is in. operation in Great Britain, but. the employers of that country have done a little better in this regard than the employers of Australia have done, for in certain areas around London, and in other parts of England, private schemes provide for the payment of allowances varying from 5s. to1s. a week in respect of dependent children. In one case £10 per annum is paid as a child allowance. Apparently the employers of Australia have not been sufficiently educated on this subject to take any such ‘action: At any rate they have not’ been sufficiently patriotic to realize that their ‘ failure to disburse- a certain amount! of money in child allowances must, in tlie long run, act adversely in respect of both themselves and their “children.
I consider.it proper to chide the Government on its failure to. allow the maternity allowance, colloquially known as the “ baby bonus ‘’, to be paid in all cases. The allowance is payable to-day only in respect of .births in families where the income does not exceed £4 a week, That limitation is a negation of the intention that led to the introduction of this legislation. The Fisher Labour Government, which introduced .the maternity allowance, intended that it should have general application, .but owing to the crass stupidity of certain persons in influential circles at that time the scheme was attacked as “ a sop to profligacy “. It was also condemned by other unfortunate epithets, and denounced as a measure which would result in the breaking of the marriage tie. As a matter of historical fact, the maternity allowance is known to have been of very great assistance to the mothers of this community from the very inception of the scheme, and it is regrettable that a government which saw fit to make substantial remissions of land tax should have revised the conditions applicable to the maternity allowance in such a way as to make it appear to be a charity and not a right. The mothers of this country are entitled to the maternity allowance, even more than the judges on our High Court bench are entitled to their pensions. A judge should be able to accumulate during a long life at least enough wealth to enable him to spend his declining years in case. It cannot be suggested that he would need a retiring pension as much as a mother may need an allowance at the time her children are born.
I appreciate the fact that other honorable members may wish to participate in this debate, feeling it to be their pleasure and honour, if they are members of the Opposition, to direct attention to the short-comings of the Government. I shall therefore confine my subsequent remarks to one subject.
During the election campaign we saw many pictures in - the newspapers and elsewhere of Mr. ‘“Winston Churchill, the Prime ‘ Minister of Great Britain, in juxtaposition to Mr. Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia. In association with- these pictures were slogans exhorting the people to vote for our great Empire leaders. In passing, may 1 say that as the campaign progressed towards its conclusion the pictures of Mr. Churchhill showed him as becoming more ali( more stooped- - presumably because he was required to carry the Prime Minister of Australia, as wall as the burdens which were properly his own. It was not pointed out that the views of the- Prime Minister of Great Britain were in direct conflict with those of the’ Prime Minister of Australia on the important subject of land taxation. I do not see. any indication in the budget, nor was any statement made in the Prime Minister’s policy speech, that the Government intended to call upon large land-holders to bear their fair share of the burden of financing the war, I remind honorable members that under the system of graduated land tax formerly in operation, two-thirds of the impost fell upon the owners of. big city properties, for the tax was levied only, on holdings of an unimproved capital value in excess of £5,000. The farming community contributed only a small proportion of the tax, for only farmers with properties of an unimproved capital value in excess of £5,000, and on which improvements to the value of from £2,000 to £3,000 had been made were liable! Mr. Winston Churchill has very definite views on the subject of land monopoly, and he is reported to have said -
Land monopoly is not tlie only monopoly which exists, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies - it is a perpetual monopoly, and is the mother of all other forms of monopoly. Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is the original source of all wealth, which is strictly limited in extent, which is fixed in geographical position - land, I say, differs from all other forms of property in these primary and fundamental “conditions. The landlord watches the busy population making the city larger, richer, more convenient, more famous every day, and all the while sits still and does nothing. Roads are made, streets are made, railway services are improved, electric light turns night into day, electric trams glide swiftly to and fro, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains - and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of these improvements iseffected by thelabour and cost of other people. Many of the most important are effected at the cost of the municipality and of the ratepayers. To not one of those improvements docs the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land issensibly enhanced.
But the Commonwealth Government does not appear to consider it necessary to call upon the owners of valuable city properties to contribute towards the cost of conducting the war. It chooses rather to increase the rate of sales tax and also the rate of income tax on people with small incomes, and in this way to impose a very much heavier burden upon those in the community who are rearing families. If the bombs of the enemy ever fall on this country, the fifth columnists will not be found in the ranks of the Labour party. If the enemy ever attacks this country, disloyalists will not be amongst the working class. If attack is made upon this country, from either the air or sea, or, if ever an invader should succeed in landing in this country, the Australian prototypes of Captain Ramsay will not be found within the ranks of the Labour party.
– Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- Every honorable member of this House is anxious that this war should be won, no matter what the cost. We are all agreed on that, but we on this side join issue with the Government on the method of financing the war. The Government still holds to the old orthodox methods, to the antiquated, outmoded and ineffective financial system, whereas we believe that the costs of the war should be funded on credit monetized through the Commonwealth Bank when that bank is restored to what it was when first’ brought into being at the instance of the great O’Malley. It may be said that this cannot be done, but I say that it can be done and that eventually it shall be done.In the prospectus of the newly formed Bank of England in 1694 this statement was made -
This bank shall have profit or interest on moneys which it shall invent out of nothing.
The Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) a few days ago said, “ You cannot get rabbits out of a hat”, but whether you can or not the fact remains that financiers to-day get “ dragon’s teeth “ out of ledgers. Largely, the factors leading to war are the present outmoded economic and financial systems. It is said that the banks cannot create money, but Mr. McKenna, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and chairman ofthe Midland Bank said in 1934 -
I am afraid that the ordinary citizen will not like to be told that the banks can, and do, create and destroy money.
Later, in the same address he said -
They who control the credit of the nation direct the policy of the government and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people.
We pride ourselves on being a democratic self-governing people whereas we are nothing of the kind. We are ruled by the big financial monopolies, and I charge the Government with being their agent. Rothschild, the founder of the famous banking family of Europe, said -
I care not who makes the laws so long as I control the credit.
The time has arrived when we should adopt a different financial system. The present system starves us in the midst of plenty. We have more wheat, flour, butter, cheese, and other necessaries of life than we need, but we cannot get them to the consumer, because money, consumption credit, is lacking. If we do not change that system ourselves, that system will be changed: for us.
The Bank of England, a private bank, sponsored a loan of £50,000,000 to Germany early in 1939 and Mr. Montagu Norman, the Governor of the bank, said -
We will have to give Germany a loan of £50,000,000. We may never be paid back, but it will be a less loss than the fall of Nazism.
Who started this war? The fifth columnists are not with us here. The fifth columnists are the great banking interests. I venture to say that had it been possible to take a referendum eighteen months ago not more than 1.5 per cent, of the people of Europe would have voted for this cursed thing called war; 98.5 per cent, would have turned it down. But, because 1.5 per cent, wanted war, we
Lave war. Why? Because they wanted to profiteer on the lives of the people. We have- to change the system and we can do it very easily. I commend to the attention of honorable members clause 504 of the . report of the Monetary and Banking Commission, which says that the Commonwealth Bank can supply credit without, interns*. We must fight this war with Hitler’s own methods. He does not go cap in hand to borrow £2S,000,000 - or even £38,000,000 or £4S,000,000. He takes what he needs, and we shall have to do the same, through the Commonwealth Bank. Sir Denison Miller who financed the last war - the war to make tlie world safe for democracy - provided £320,000.000 through the Commonwealth Bank and after the war said that he could find another £320,000,000 for the arts of peace if it were necessary.
I do not subscribe to the proposal for the formation of a national government. It sounds well to say, “ Form a national government to win the war “, and it looks all right, but let us examine it analytically. In my opinion the proposal for the formation of a national government would be nothing more than a trick whereby the Government parties would implement their policy and have the Labour party take the responsibility. The Labour party cannot join with the Government parties. Our party and theirs are as opposite as the poles. The Labour party is intensely constructive; the Government parties are not. The Labour party is dynamic and the Government static. Labour is progressive and the Government stagnant. The Labour party sets out to give a fair deal and equal opportunity to all, but the Government parties stand for the privileged class. The two cannot join. The Labour party believes that there is no wealth but human life, and the Government that a certain privileged class has the right to profiteer. That class is still profiteering and, in case I should be charged with exaggeration, I point out that on the 31st January this year, less than five months after the declaration of war, there were 107 additional millionaires in England. No wonder the people there changed their Prime Minister. Now, I do not want to say any- 1/;-. Baker. thing about Mr. Chamberlain. It would be out of place to do so. De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Say nothing but good of the dead. He did his best, but he was a victim of circumstance. Well, . they changed their Prime Minister to Mr. Churchill and members of the. Labour party were brought into the cabinet and given carte blanche. They are doing remarkably well in winning the war, but we of the Australian Labour party cannot form a union -with the parties opposite. You cannot amalgamate two incompatibles, or reconcile two elements which are irreconcilable, and the Labour party cannot join with the Government parties to form a national government.
The Government is a conglomerate consisting of the United Australia party and the United Country party. I suggest that they be called the benighted party - a doubly benighted party. I shall give to the House something appropriate to the occasion. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) in his letter of resignation from the Country party, said that there were within that party everlasting- intrigue and manoeuvring for party advantage. If that be so, hew could we of the Labour party go in with a lot like that? It would be like trying to mix oil and water.
We are strongly opposed to petrol rationing, because, to’ save the small amount of £4,000,000, we Jose something like £40,000,000. That is being penny wise andi pound foolish, and it throws out of gear the highly important transport industry. That policy is a great mistake.
Tlie wheat industry is in a hazardous position. The 70,000 people- engaged in it owe £150,000,000. The wool-growers are in almost the same plight. They owe £170,000,000. The tree is known by its fruit and the party by its work. How, therefore, could we join with a party which has muddled up things so badly?
,- Although I appreciate the courtesy of honorable members in giving new members precedence in this debate, I did not intend to speak, desiring to reserve what I had to say for the budget debate. I am fully in accord with the sentiment expressed by the mover of the AddressinReply, the honorable., member for Denison (Mr. Beck) that we are here to get on with the joh, and the budget is, I should say, the -job that we have to do. For some reason, of which we on this side have a fair idea, the Government doe3 not now seem to be so anxious to go ahead with the budget as it wa3 before.- As we are not getting on with the job, it is an appropriate time for the House to consider something in the way of constitutional reform, particularly reform of the procedure of this House in order to make it more workable. The best way to do that is to ensure that members on the Government side have a job to do. Judging by the debates and question time, all the activity seems’ to be on this “side and all the apathy on the other.’ Perhaps that is right, because the Government parties represent people of wealth whereas werepresent those people who have wrongs to be righted. Perhaps we might take advantage of the array of legal talent now in the House to achieve something in the way of constitutional reform. I remind honorable members that we have with us the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Evatt), who made a notable sacrifice by stepping down from a lucrative position on the High Court Bench in order to serve his country in this House. I hope that an early opportunity will be taken to utilize his services. One way in which that could be done would be by setting up a committee to deal with constitutional reform, with the idea of making Parliament more workable. Let us follow the example of legislatures in other parts of the world, particularly in the United States of America and New Zealand, where every member of the rank and file participates in the administrative, as well as the legislative, work of parliament. In tho,e countries, private members assist the Ministers in their administrative duties. We should adopt more extensively the committee system, particularly for the handling of regulations issued under the National Security Act. At the present time, these regulations are turned out like sausages from a machine, and by the time they come under the notice of honorable members it is too late to do anything about them. They should go before a committee for consideration before they become law.
I also maintain that the plank of the Labour party’s platform, which provides for the recall should be adopted, so that every member of the House would be at all times subject to the will of the people. Then, if. a member were not doing his job, he could be immediately recalled. Those members who did their job properly could be given a longer term of office, and in this way we might avoid recurring and expensive general elections.
I hope that the Minister for’ the Interior (Senator Foll) will honour his undertaking to amend the Electoral Act in respect of election expenses. The Minister stated that the act, as at present framed, is farcical and hypocritical, in that it requires members of Parliament to make a palpably false declaration regarding their election expenses. This applies particularly to some honorable members on the other side of the House, who incur tremendous expense in paying for huge advertisements, and the erection of great electioneering hoardings. Obviously, their expenses run into thousands of pounds, instead of the amount of £100 which is the statutory limit. In these matters we should seek to set a higher standard. We should, in fact, set an example to the rest of the community.
The budget which has just been introduced is the most calamitous, deflationary and destructive budget ever brought before Parliament. The Speech of the Governor-General, and now the budget, indicate clearly the Government’s state of mind, which is purely negative. There is nothing constructive or creative about the Government’s programme; it is entirely lacking in vision and inspiration. It is the expression of capitalistic economy and orthodox finance. The taxation proposals are directed against the low wage-earner and the small proprietary companies, but monopolistic concerns, the holders of unearned increment in land, the owners of watered stocks, and those in receipt of inheritances, are left practically untouched. That shows just where the Government stands. The scheme will break down under its own weight, and under the huge weight of debt. The purchasing power of the people will vanish. The national debt is at present £1,300,000.000; before the war is finished, if the Government continues its present loan policy, the national debt will be £3,000,000,000’. Half the national income is absorbed in defraying, the cost of the present Avar, and of the last Avar; if we continue on the present lines’, soon the whole of our national income will be absorbed for Avar purposes.. Then the people -will bo aroused, and some better financial system will take the place of that now in operation. Sooner or later ,the Government will be forced to use the credit resources of the nation, both in war-time and in peace. The old order of capitalist economy is doomed. Even now its supporters are like the Christmas poultry, which, know subconsciously that their fate is sealed, and live in dread of the fatal day. The attitude of the proponents of orthodox finance reminds me of the attitude of the orthodox members of tin, medical profession who, more than 200 years ago,, denounced Dr. Harvey for asserting that the blood circulated throughout the body. He was universally condemned, and died in poverty, yat within twenty years of his death his discovery wa.s accepted by every one. I believe that what is now propounded by some of our more advanced economists, and by Senator Darcey will, before long, he the generally accepted economic system in all enlightened countries. The honorable member for Denison said that the people of New South Wales must have taken leave of their senses to vote as they did in the recent election. He reminds me of the man m the lunatic asylum who thought that every one else was as crazy as himself, and invited them all to come inside. When the honorable member has been here a little longer, and has thought a little move on this subject, he W111 realize that true sanity is to be found on this side of the House.
The Government’s attitude towards the
Avar is also negative. All the time Ave seem to be waiting for some one else to move. We are waiting to see what Germany Will do, what Italy will do, and what Japan will do- I maintain that it is for us to take the initiative, and to plan a campaign that Will bring victory to us. The Government seems to expect that the war will be over in- a year or two> Tout how can it be sure of that? The Go- vernment does not appear to visualize the possibility that the Avar may go on for a much longer period. We know that fifteen years was occupied in ridding Europe of Napoleon, and we should recognize that it may take as long to clean up the mess that Hitler has made. And Ave have to deal, not only with Hitler, hut also with the whole philosophy for which he stands, and the system which supports him. wl th its tentacles spread throughout the world.
We should, even at this stage, define our peace aims. Mention has been made of the fact that in Great Britain member.? of the Labour party participate in the Government. That fact was considered by the Labour party here when proposals were put forward for a national government. I point out, however that a divergence of opinion has arisen in Great Britain recently. Mr. Ernest Bevin, Minister for Labour in the British Government, has emphasized the need to plan for peace. He said that our purpose should be to achieve social security, but immediately he made that statement others, who are politically opposed to him, took him to task. They made it clear that his opinion was not to be taken as the opinion of the War Cabinet, and that it was not desirable to talk about peace, and the conditions that would! follow the attainment of peace, until Britain looked like winning the Avar. I disagree entirely with that. Now is the time to define our Avar aims, to give the people a lead, to give them inspiration, and to give them something to fight for. Let me quote the advice given by the Government’s own guest, Mr. Noel
Coward, who, I understand, has come here at the Commonwealth’s expense to teach us about winning the war. In a recent broadcast, he said -
The hour has struck for a co-operative human civilization. This is no longer Britain’s war. or even a new war; it is a continuation’ of. tlie struggle between two cultures. It is two views of life battling for the development of mankind.
I do not think it is necessary to point out which view is held by honorable members on this side of the House. Mr; Coward went on -
We have two aims - to win the Avar, and to win the after-war. I am certain that” this war is not to be won by force alone. It is to be won by belief in a Christian and- democratic way of life, and by courage - not ordinary courage, but moral courage, ami personal initiative to use it.
Perhaps it would have been better if Mr. Coward, instead of lecturing the people of Australia, had lectured the Government of Australia on its duties. We should not leave this problem to others to solve. Only recently, the secretary of the Local Government Association of New South Wales said-
Wc are visualizing Australia as a great nation after the war, and we believe that to prepare for it now is as essential as the immediate task of winning the war.
We should not leave matters of this kind to the local bodies; they should be taken up by the Government itself. The Prime Minister has pointed out that there are. some difficulties in the way of Australia’s acceptance of representation on an Imperial War Cabinet, but I see no obstacle in the way of the Commonwealth’s participation in an Imperial War Conference representative of all sections of the ‘British Commonwealth of Nations convened to lay down definite plans for the conduct of the war and the terms and ideals of the peace. Such a conference might properly be held in Canada which may be regarded for the time being as the centre of the Empire. India, which is playing its part so well in the Empire war effort and, for obvious reasons, Eire, should be invited to send representatives to such a conference. I go further and suggest that the United States of America should be invited to send a representative in the capacity of an observer. To such a conference it may be possible for each of the Dominions to send representatives, not only of the Government, but also of the Opposition.
Australia might very well follow the lead given by Canada in regard to aviation. Under the Empire Air Training Scheme 80 air schools have been established in Canada. In addition that dominion is building 100 naval vessels and IS large merchantmen for Britain. What is there in the Governor-General’s Speech or the budget speech to show that Australia i3 playing its part in the Empire war effort as the sister dominion of Canada is doing? The Fisher Labour Government laid the foundations of our Australian Navy, and had successive governments continued to add to our naval strength and maintained the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, the position of this country would have been very different from what it is to-day. .The present Government has acknowledged that it has no shipbuilding policy and has refused to use its efforts to induce the New South Wales Government to re-open the Walsh Island Dockyard. > i
– It was not the fault of the Commonwealth Government that Walsh Island Dockyard was closed down.
– It i3 obvious that the States can do nothing in this direction without the assistance of the Commonwealth, and I have not heard it suggested that the Commonwealth Government has offered to subsidize any of the States for the encouragement of the shipbuilding industry. For the last 25 years, anti-Labour governments have been in office in the Commonwealth and State spheres ; they have sown the wind and we are now reaping the whirlwind.
Never was a time more appropriate than the present for the putting into effect of a sound migration policy; but the present Government has no plans in this .direction. Tho first line of defence in any country is a virile and healthy population. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Hughes) has often said that the best immigrant to this country is a young Australian. What has the Government done to provide subsidies for mothers as an encouragement to parenthood? The totalitarian countries, realizing the need for encouraging the natural growth of the population, have subsidized motherhood. No matter how much we may disagree with them in most things, we have to admire their attempts to provide for mothers and young children. Only a few days ago I read in the press that of 112,000 children still in London, 92,000 are without any form of education. It was said that more than 100 schools have been bombed, and that many of these children .ha ve been described, as London’s “ dead end kids “. They are being bred into strange and dangerous ways of life in the new underworld beneath London’s streets. They do not go to school, but during the day they watch like gangsters over their families’ shelter pitches. Their only playgrounds are the escalators and platforms of tube stations and the clingy corners and holes of ordinary shelters below the streets. Surely provision should have been made in the budget to ‘bring as many as possible of these children, to this country. We know of the dangers o of steamer travel during these anxious. days, but the alternative to offering them shelter in the Dominions is to allow them to continue a perilous existence which will inevitably result in their ruin. These children might very well become the young Australians of the future. The United States of America might be asked to assist in their transport to this country. Even Hitler himself, bloodthirsty though he i3, might be willing to allow the children to come here unmolested. We should also offer shelter to the unfortunate children in occupied Prance, Belgium and the Netherlands, who are still subjected to the horrors and dangers of war. The unfortunate children of these countries look to- Australia as a haven of refuge. Under the benign influence of our glorious sunshine they would quickly be restored to health and happiness.
No reference was made in the Governor-General’s Speech to a national health and pensions scheme. I had a great deal of admiration for the attitude taken by the present Prime Minister when, as a. member of the Lyons Ministry, he resigned his Cabinet post because of the failure- of the Lyons Government to give effect to its promise to introduce a national insurance scheme. The right honorable gentleman is now at the helm of the ship of State and is in a position to give effect to his pledge to bring about such a scheme-. But what do we find? In spite of the- fact t-hast the machinery for the carrying out, of a health Baja pensions scheme is already in existence,, not one word is said about it by the present Government. When the experts advising the Lyons Government pointed out that to give effect to the scheme it proposed would require an expenditure of £2,000,000, they were told that” the Government had not the money to go ahead with- it. Although that Government could not find £2;000,000 for the health of the people, in a year or two- its successor in office committed this country to an expenditure of £400,000,000 for war purposes. The standard of health of the people of any country is the measure of its real wealth. In planning for the future we have to bear in mind what happened after the last war. The loss of life in that great conflict was greatly exceeded by the loss of life as the result of the epidemics of pneumonic influenza, which raged in -many countries soon after the war was over. The Government should subsidize the medical profession, to instruct the people in better ways of living and in improving their diet. The Estimates this year provide £20-,000 for a physical fitness campaign. Thai is a mere bagatelle. According to experts, Australia requires an expenditure of £20,000,000 a year for the provision of homes for the people and for slum clearance. The whole of that money could be provided by the Commonwealth Bank at a very low rate of interest. According to the London Economist, it “costs only one-half of 1 per cent, for the book-keeping and clerical work associated with the provision of credits, and if the Commonwealth Bank charged* 1 per cent, on advances for housing it could make 100 per cent, profit on- the deal. But people who want; homes are prepared to pay a much, higher rate of interest for home building. In New South Wales to-day people pay as much as o or 6 per cent, on advances for home building. The profit of from 4’ to 4^ per cent, which the Commonwealth Bank . could make on advances for home building could be utilized for the development of tourist resorts, of which there is such a diversity in this country and these could be thrown open to the people to enable a healthy, sturdy race to be built up in Australia.
In merely proposing to set- up costly industrial tribunals the Government shows- no initiative in its industrial policy. Conciliation committees serve a very useful purpose, but if the Government wishes to prevent strikes -it must first go to the root cause of industrialupheavals. I propose now to quote from an article which appeared in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald under the heading “ Strikes in Time of Waa1. Some Causes and- Remedies. “Workshop Nerves, War Strain”. The writer, an industrial authority, says -
Union officials claim that the pressure has been so great on the war workers that it is humanly impossible for them to keep going. Many, they say, have reached the stage of collapse. ‘1 heir nerves have become frayed and on the slightest pretext they are prepared to down tools. Strikes to them now mean a welcome holiday which they can enjoy in the certain knowledge that when the strike concludes their job will be still awaiting them. Because of the shortage of skilled labour they have become indispensable for the first time in their lives.
Only a few days ago the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) condemned the workers at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow for going out on strike as a gesture of sympathy with a man who had been dismissed. Although the .honorable gentleman is in charge of. the administration of the conciliation committees, he castigated the strikers as irresponsible before he ascertained the facts of the case. Mr. Martin, the Minister for Local Government in New South Wales, after inspecting slums and humpy camps at Lithgow, recently, said -
There are certainly some rotten houses here. It is shocking that people should have to live in stables.
He saw slums a few yards from the chief thoroughfare of Lithgow, at Oakey Park, and at the Woollen Mills Terrace, and visited a camp of bag humpies at the Pine Forest. .1 also refer honorable members to a letter written by none other than the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), who seconded the Address.inReply published in the Sydney Morning Herald not long ago. The honorable gentleman wrote -
The whole community should be indebted to the Sydney Morning Herald for the articles, photographs and leading articles entitled “ New War-time Slums “, published recently in your journal.
I do not propose, to say anything with regard to Glen Davis, as that is in a somewhat different category from’ Lithgow, insofar as there may bc some differer.ee of opinion as to where responsibility lies. But there can be none as to Lithgow. Responsibility lies in the -hands of the Federal Government. There appears to be a failure to understand that the munition workers .of Australia in a total war arc just as important as the soldiers. They are the “civilian fighters” in our war effort. Not for one instant would the public have tolerated the housing of our soldiers in the various camps under such appalling conditions as you disclose. Yet these mcn and women of Lithgow are performing a function not one whit less important than the soldiers. Just as wars are won on the battlefront, so they are lost on the home front by the failure to produce adequate munitions, the discontent of the people, and the loss of morale in the nation. lt would be interesting to know whether- any recommendations ha ve been made to the ‘Commonwealth Government in the past, few months to meet this’ situation, and if such recommendations have- been made why they have not been implemented. If they1 ‘were made, then whoever is responsible for the failure to carry them out should be discharged from public office. It was because of such matters that some of us stood at the last election eoi that Our voices might be heard in Parliament.
I hope that honorable members on this side of the House will be aware of something more substantial than the voices of Ministers in regard to this problem. We want to see. something concrete done immediately for the unfortunate people who are living under the conditions I have described at Lithgow and other places where ‘ munitions work is being carried out.
Australia was once considered to be leading the world in regard to industrial legislation, but to-day it is far behind other countries. That is due, no doubt, to the fact that anti-Labour governments have been in office for most of the last quarter of a century. When a Labour government held office for a short time the country made great strides under the stimulus of good industrial legislation. To-day, legislation in Venezuela provides that all persons in public and private employment, with the exception of a few categories, shall be granted one day’s holiday pay for every month of employment. In Chile, most manual workers enjoy up to sixteen days annual leave on full pay according to the time they have worked during the year. Similar privileges exist in Finland, Latvia and Peru. But in New .South Wales, only 239 of approximately 500 awards include holiday provisions. The Government shouldgo right to the cause of these industrial troubles in order to find a solution of the problem. On the one hand, hig profits are being made; on the other, an exhausted working class is suffering because of the absence of proper industrial legislation. Those elements are likely to cause trouble at any time, but they are much more menacing in time of war. There is only one effective way to overcome the difficulties I have outlined. That is to give to the workers a voice in the control of industry and a share in its profits. When big munitions contracts are banded over to private enterprise, the workers who are carrying on in those industries should share in their profits. The Government has the power under the National Security Regulations to provide that workers’ in each industry engaged in munitions production shall have the right to elect their own representatives to the boards of directors of the companies concerned. Co-operation in industry and other avenues of life is essential in a soundlybased democracy. Co-operative farming is a subject I commend to the earnest consideration of members of the Country party. Instead of asking for subsidies for primary industries those honorable gentlemen should investigate the cooperative farming schemes that are being conducted successfully in other parts of the world, particularly in the Scandinavian countries. A solution for the problems of primary production can be found in those schemes.
I urge the Government to take immediate action to improve housing conditions, because the need for reform is pressing. I direct attention to the first report of the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board of Victoria on the conditions that exist in certain Victorian cities. That report was on similar lines to the report made by the Housing Board of New South Wales, which stated that in the metropolitan area of Sydney alone there were 30,000 sub-standard houses not even fit for animals to live in, much less human beings. [Leave to continue given.] The report of the board appointed by the Victorian Government stated -
Theboard records its horror and amazement at the deplorable conditions under which these thousands of men. women, and children are compelled to exist.
That statement referred to the inhabitants of over 7.000 houses in Melbourne. The report continued -
Hundreds of houses contain small rooms, low and water-stained ceilings, damp and decaying walls, leaking roofs and rotten floors. Many are badly lighted, rat and vermin infested, and without proper ventilation. Inadequate sunlight, dampness, and lack of drainage render these shelters (which are not worthy of the name of dwelling) veritable plague spots, and heavy toll is being taken of the health of the occupants, particularly of the women and children.
I am, sorry that I have to refer to these gruesome details, but I am impelled to do so by a recent statement of the former Minister for Social Services (Sir Frederick Stewart) -
I am pleased to notice that the conscience of the community is being aroused by the press campaign for better housing. This will make it easier for us to handle the question. I intend to use my position to see it done. If I am to remain Minister for Social Services, I am not going on vacation for the duration of the war.
I am more concerned about arousing the conscience of the Government, because the conscience of the community has become almost numb owing to the lack of attention to this grievous problem. Statements such as that made by the Minister sound all right, but we want action taken in order to destroy the evil. I refer again to a section of the report made by the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board of Victoria -
These houses, in many cases, are erected on “ pocket-handkerchief “ allotments of inadequate depth and with meagre frontages to lanes, rights-of-way, so-called “places”, alley ways and even in wide. streets, and are literally falling to pieces owing to neglect, decay and old age. Land has been so avariciously used in some instances that two or three houses have been erected on an area which was originally intended to be the back yard of a house facing a major street …. In addition, the rents of these so-called houses are being progressively increased to such an extent that many families, in order to pay the rents demanded, have been reduced to a state of semi-starvation. In some slum areas children are fed by church organizations while charitable institutions are called upon to supply family necessities where the income of the family is insufficient to procure them. Failure to pay the rent inevitably ends in eviction of the family and the consequent heartbreaking struggle to find another shelter …. Hidden behind wide spacious streets there are slum pockets which are hot-beds of depravity and disease. In many houses, dilapidation of structure is such that bugs and other vermin cannot be eradicated. These houses are infected to such an extent as to be unfit forhuman habitation. The ravages of vermin on the occupants cause indescribable physical discomfort and distress, particularly to infants and little children. Many prefer to sleep out of doors, on verandah floors, and in backyards rather than endure the distressing torment of vermin in the house. The rat menace is also prevalent in all of the congested areas, particularly where factories and’ stables have been established in the vicinity of houses. Residents complain that they aire unable to combat this nuisance, which is being aggravated by insanitary conditions in the vicinity. Lack of facilities for food storage in these low-grade houses exposes food to constant contamination by rats. Housewives are driven to storing food-stuffs in well-secured bags suspended from ceilings in kitchens and wash-houses. Many men, a largo number of whom arc returned soldiers, have expressed very forcibly the resentment and indignation they feel at being housed in such, miserable hovels. The burden falls most heavily on those least able to bear it. The women, who are unable to escape from their sordid surroundings despite their intense and heroic struggle to maintain a state of cleanliness, and the children, suffer most. These unwholesome conditions sap the physical fitness of the children and develop their .mental processes along lines of abnormal quickwittedness in the lowest ideals. In these areas there are thousands of children who are condemned by the circumstances of their environment to worse than physical death - to slowwarping influences of poverty, to filthy conditions, and to other evils and dangers which it is easier to imagine than enumerate . . .
The board very appropriately concluded its report with this comment -
A Christian system cannot be reconciled with a society that continues to tolerate these appalling conditions.
.- My presence in this chamber is an indication of the awakening of wheat-growers to the fact that the Labour party’s policy is designed to help them. I trust that I shall be able to do something to alleviate their condition. I know all about the business of wheat-farming, for in my earlier days I was a farm labourer, and since then I have had a good deal of practical experience as the holder of .a closer settlement block. There was a time when I thought that the “ boss “ was a capitalist. Unfortunately, he thought so too ; but now I know that he was working for the international financiers.
I desire to bring under the notice of the House the appalling conditions which exist in the wheat belt of Victoria, particularly in the northern part of my electorate. A recent issue of the Melbourne Ago contained the following : -
Farmers have become so involved financially that many aire unable to pay their municipal rates. The shire council, however, was obliged to send out final notices threatening legal proceedings. At the meeting of the council yesterday sixty letters were received from farmers stating that they could noi meet the rates. Of these the following was a typical example: - “Every previous year I have paid my rates when due, but this year I am not in a position to pay them; in other words, I am ‘broke’. Would you be considerate enough to hold them over until next year, or at least until after next harvest - that is if there is any - when I will do my best to meet them. I would appreciate this ‘ consideration, but if you cannot meet me with this request, all I can say is go ahead and take whatever legal pro.ceedings which may lie in your power, because all the legal proceedings in the world cannot make nic pay if I have not got it. If gaol is the only option, I am afraid that is what it will have to be “.
That indeed expresses the general conditions of these men.. The farmer and the business man are beginning to realize that they are dependent, on each other. These workers are coming closer together, and the recent election results show that, they look to Labour for an alleviation of their circumstances. They know now that the Labour party has a policy which will help them. In lie past the policy has been misrepresented, with the result that the farmers have been misled into placing their trust in governments which have not kept, their promises. In this connexion, supporters of the Country party are most blameworthy, because representatives of that party have made promises on the hustings, only to abandon the farmers later. In 1934 the farmers were told that a Labour government would rob them of their savings, lt. is true that their savings had been taken from them, not by the Labour party, but by financiers who have charged them high rates of interest. High interest rates are the biggest burden that the farmer has to bear. No bells will ring throughout the Wimmera when the farmers there learn that an advance of 3d. a bushel is to be made on the wheat grown last year. Wheat is an asset to any country which possesses it. Australia should be glad that it has stocks of wheat on hand; many other countries would like to have them. Honorable members may think that it is an exaggeration to say that Australia may suffer from a shortage of wheat, but I remind them that during the last war wheat was imported into this country. Any government consisting of practical men would have regard to the country’s food reserves in a time -of- crisis, and keep two years’ supply of wheat “on hand. It is possible for Australia to be blockaded and for aeroplanes to set fire to standing wheat crops. Although production has already been restricted by drought, the Government advises farmers” to restrict their output still further. That may be sound advice, but if the Government were to carry its logic further, it would advocate a reduction of interest rates. Why is interest regarded as sacred ? Tho granting of a moratorium has been, suggested, but that would be merely a palliative and not. a solution .of. this problem. A reduction of interest charges would. be equivalent to an increased price . for wheat. The Labour party’s policy includes the establishment of a mortgage, branch of the Commonwealth Bank which would take over the mortgage of a farmer who was paying a high rate. of interest. To-day, .a farmer who goes to a private bank for an advance of only £20 or £50 does not get even a kind look.. The private banks should be told that as they have refused to make advances on wheat, which is a national asset, the nation will take over the . wheat of .the farmers and hold their land, as security. If that were done, the farmer need pay only 3 per cent, instead of 6 per. cent, interest. That would be equivalent, to an additional 6d.. a .bushel to the farmer for his wheat. This, is no “wild cat” proposal. Adverse seasons have .forced many farmers to leave their holdings in the Horsham district. Business people can no longer give credit to the farmers, with the result that many of them are leaving for the cities. The concentration of war industries in the cities is not only dangerous because of the possibility of attack by an enemy; it is also having a serious effect on the development of country districts. The following letter from the Horsham Town Council emphasizes this point: -
I am directed to inform von that at the last meeting of the council a resolution was passed deploring the fact that all the important war industries are being centralized in the capital cities. Apart from the fact that this action will spell disaster to country towns, we feel that it is not in the best interests of the national effort. One has only to consider what is happening in ‘Europe to realize that it would be a comparatively easy matter for an enemy to bomb our principal war industries out of existence situated as they arc in a few towns only, all located on the coastline.
The drift of country people to the metropolis is alarming, and is so serious that unless checked it must ultimately end in a major disaster.
The council trusts that you will urge upon the Government the wisdom’ of altering this state of affairs.
It should not be necessary for mc to direct the attention of the Government to this matter. The drift of large numbers of people from country districts to the cities is an economic loss to Australia as a whole. These men, who are as much skilled workers as are skilled tradesmen in our cities, are out of their proper element as residents of cities. Their skill is in agricultural pursuits. I fear that if considerable numbers of farmers be driven off their holdings there will be an aggregation of land in big estates. After the war, land values may rise because of a demand for land for the repatriation of soldiers. That may be the motive underlying the policy that is in operation to-day. Should this drift to the cities continue, it will constitute a major disaster. Far better to tackle this problem now than wait until too late! The only logical thing to do is to give assistance to the farmers now, through the Commonwealth Bank, in order that they may carry on. I sincerely trust that the mistakes in connexion with the repatriation of soldiers which were made after the last war will not be repeated when this war is over. It was the squatter who was repatriated. The only man who received a rough deal was the digger, and that experience is likely to be repeated unless, as I hope, a Labour administration be in office at the conclusion of the present war. Many persons have the idea that land settlement is a failure. I should like to disabuse their minds of that notion. Despite the losses on soldier settlement, to which attention has been directed in reports of the Auditor-General, many sons of farmers, as well as returned soldiers, will have to be settled on the land; but a balance will have to be struck between secondary and primary settlement, and a different basis will have to be adopted from that which now prevails. Up to a few years ago, nien were sent out into the Mallee, where they never had a chance, and the hearts of the young wives who accompanied them were broken;, there was no rainfall, roads had not been made, and the railway was miles distant from, their holdings. Yet, about 50 miles away, where I live,, some of tlie finest country in Victoria is carrying only a few bullocks, and it is well served by railways and bitumen roads, and., best of all, it has an assured rainfall. The gallant men and women who went into the Mallee country received no reward, but were starved out. The values of the good land are too high. That is the curse on Australia. Land values in this ‘Country are higher than in any other country in the world. I am not advocating confiscation. I believe that every man should receive justice. Never in my life have I received anything for which I did not work, and I have been robbed of most of what I have earned. I maintain that what I create should be mine. The man who neither tills the soil nor shears, a sheep, who could not tell the difference between a comeback ewe and a shorthorn bull, reaps the bulk of the harvest, because hie holds the mortgages. Two years ago, I had to shear 900 of a total of 1,100 sheep before I shore one for myself, and the price of wool was 2d. per lb. below the cost of production. The farmer will never secure stability except through the medium of the Commonwealth Bank, and from a Labour government. Mortgages on land are a fruitful field of investment. On our wheat lands alone, they represent a. total of £150,000,000. That is why the cost of production is so high, and a loaf of bread is so dear. The mortgages on our wool lands total £170,000,000. I do not want stability at boom prices, -nor does any other farmer. Four years ago, I received for wool 26d. per lb. Two years later, I received only 15d. per “lb. for a better class of wool. We have to go out into the world and fight for a market for every commodity grown in Australia with the exception of wool, and even then sell at a loss. The growers have to he paid a bounty in order that the banks may receive their interest, and the revenue from which the bounty is paid is provided by the worker. Buyers from every nation are supposed to bid against each other for our wool, but they have a “ring” and will not do so. Sometimes we receive the cost of production, and at other times there is a very steep rise. With a stabilized price, I would be in a position to discharge my mortgage liability within 10 year3, and my neighbours would be in a similar position. The mortgage-owning industry is the greatest in the world. No man could dispute the moderateness of a stabilized price of 18d. per lb. The discharge of my mortgage would be as great a calamity to the money-lending industry as the death of the whole of my flock would be to me. Control is exercised through the medium of prices. The question may be asked: “Why is the price of wool allowed to rise; why not keep it at a low figure”? At an average price of 12£d. per lb., the return is l&. per lb. over the cost of production. According to my understanding of the position, if the price of wool remained at too low a figure for too long a period, even this Government, which is the friend of the money lenders, who own not only the mortgages on our land., but also the bonds of Australia, would have to default or face collapse. Not many persons know that wool has the greatest effect on our internal economy, and that a rise of Id. per lb. represents in the aggregate between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000. An advance of from Gd. to 8d. per lb. would bring into this country’ an additional £20,000,000, and when “that result had been achieved the price would begin to recede. When wool was at a high price, I made it my business to ascertain the statistical position. I thought that it was very scarce, but I found that that was not the case. When the price wa.3 very low I thought that there must be a surplus, but I found that, there was a shortage. Let us reverse the position. If Australia had to purchase wool from Italy or any other country, would our buyers be permitted to obtain supplies at a low price? They would not. But the Australian Government has allowed foreign representatives’ to buy our wool at a low price. We are exporting wool in the grease to-day, even though shipping space is scarce. Wool will be the foundation of Australia’s future prosperity. When I was overseas, I saw thousands of foreign nationals who obtained a livelihood from Australian wool. -In many factories in manufacturing cities such as Lille, Roubaix, and Tourcoing, in northern France, thousands of persons are engaged in spinning Australian wool.. Foreign buyers are compelled to come, to Australia for this important commodity, which is one of our. greatest national assets. Unfortunately, we have not made enough of it . in. the past. We have even allowed ourselves to be robbed in respect of the prices paid for it.
At the conclusion of the war, we must be prepared ..to divert to peace-time occupations large numbers of men whoare now employed in munitions factories or who have been fighting oversea, and land settlement will be one of the principal means of absorbing this manpower. In planning ahead in respect of land settlement, the Government must avoid the unfortunate mistakes that hav-j been made in the past. The greatest mistake was that State governments were intended to carry the financial burden, but the money lender was far too shrewd to advance capital to them. As the States did not possess rich sources of revenue such as customs and excise, the Commonwealth was obliged to guarantee bonds issued in respect of the purchase of land. In addition, intending settlers competed one against the other for the purchase of blocks at inflated values. That error also must be avoided. I suggest that the Commonwealth Bank should purchase the estates at a fair .valuation. From the amount paid in land .tax, a just value of the land may be ascertained. A block should then be allotted to a settler on a leasehold, basis, the title remaining with the nation. By that means, the Government would stabilize land values and blocks would not be disposed of at exorbitant prices. Although some persons may complain that, even under such a scheme settlers will be competing with each other for the acquisition of blocks, such a view is erroneous, because no money lender will make advances on the security of a leasehold property. My plan will give to a genuine settler an excellent opportunity to become independent.
– The squatters .in Queensland do not like such a plan.
– The* squatters should not growl, because they made their money from leasehold property in Queensland. The manner in which people are gulled over the ownership of land is amazing. The fallacy originated in our forefathers, particularly those who dwelt in Scotlanl and Ireland-, where the landlords owned them, body’ and soul. They made it their life’s ambition to own a little patch of land. To-day we know that it is not the ownership but the use of the land which is so important, because we are on earth for only a relatively short span.
Perhaps honorable members will be interested to hear me recount my experiences as a settler. They afford an excellent illustration of how futile is the expectation of the average settler some day to own his block. I had confidence in myself, in the land which I had selected, and in the scheme of settlement. It was the system that was wrong. When I pastured 420 sheep on an area embracing 1.200 acres, 100 of them died, and I nearly died with them. For fifteen years I was battered and bumped by misfortune. The honorable member for Ballarat (Air. Pollard), when he sat in the Parliament of Victoria, undoubtedly saved a num.l-.cr of us. Others became dispirited and broken-hearted, and drifted away from the land. For myself, I never like to give up once I have begun a job and f :>r fifteen years I fought to live. Although I was earning money, and was improving the place, I never, because of the mortgage, saw a penny that I earned. The money was always paid from the wool firm to the Closer Settlement Board. I had virtually to beg for food, as I had no money with which to purchase it. In truth, I had to fight for everything.
A rural rehabilitation plan was inaugurated in 1937, and I had an enlightening conversation with a valuer upon my financial position. He informed me that I had paid off the sum of £2,000. I retorted ; “ I did not pay the money ; you took it.” I had to laugh, when he told me that the principal had been reduced by £32. I cried, “ Hurrah ! The property will be mine in 1,500 years “. The original value of the block was £3,300. When I returned from the war, I was practically penniless, but I liked the appearance of the land. Although it was a wilderness, I was confident that I could convert it into a profitable farm. Only 100 years before Major Mitchell had passed by the site and the land had belonged to nobody. Subsequently a generation of squatters possessed it and paid, probably, 10s. an acre for it. In those days, it carried bullocks and a few sheep, but the rabbitsmultiplied so rapidly that the land was fast deteriorating. As the next generation attained manhood, room had to be found for us, and the price of the land became £3 2s. 6d. an acre. Interest upon the capital outlay amounted to £180 a. year, although the land, as I stated, was a wilderness. It was utterly impossible for me to make a success of the venture. With those experiences so vivid in my mind, I emphasize that the Government must avoid a repetition of similar mistakes. .
Australians abhor dictatorships. Respect for our parliamentary institutions is inherent in us, because they protect our liberties. Even I, a settler, am entitled to seek election to this chamber, and I shall always boldly support that principle of freedom. Whilst Australians have no sympathy with dictatorships, there is, unfortunately, in the Commonwealth the dictatorship of finance. That must be abolished without delay. In the past, although we produced a surplus of wool, wheat, butter, and fruit, we could not feed our people and they went hungry because they had no money with which to purchase the necessaries of life. To-day, the Commonwealth is appealing for the services of young skilled men to manufacture munitions. Out in the bush, I have seen many fine types of lads who, because they were unable to find employment, have been forced to beg. for bread. They learned the rudiments of various trades from the technical schools. They are an asset to the country; they, not the money lender who denies them the right to live, to marry, and to raise a family, represent the real Australia. It is tragic to think that our social conditions are retrogressing, as young men dare not marry because they lack security of employment. For that reason, a Labour government is essential to the welfare and progress of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Dedman) adjourned.
Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia : Alleged
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
.- I have on many occasions in this House pointed out that certain powers now possessed by the Government as the result of legislative action by this Parliament are being exercised for what I regard as political purposes.
This morning I brought under notice again certain utterances of delegates to the Federal Conference of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia at Canberra last week, and the replies given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to my questions were quiteunsatisfactory. The right honorable gentleman endeavoured to dispose of the matter by some casual observations, but he was eventually obliged to agree that an inquiry should be made. It seems rather remarkable that whilst action has been taken against workers who quite legitimately criticize the Government, apparently no action is to be taken against individuals who expressed views that are evidently acceptable to the Government concerning the establishment of a dictatorship in this country. Why should the workers be gaoled for their justifiable remarks while these other persons are allowed to retain their liberty, although their remarks as reported are undoubtedly subversive? The reported remarks of Mr. L. A. Robb, in particular, and also those of Messrs. Marshall and Sharland, were of such a nature as to be described by the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of New South Wales as “ closely approaching treason “. Men who make observations of that kind should promptly be dealt with under the power which the Government undoubtedly possesses.
There is ample cause for complaint, also, concerning the manner in which the Government is administering the
National Security Regulations in regard to internments. On a previous occasion, I asked whether certain persons who had been interned had subsequently been released and later, following action by the officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, had been returned to the internment camp because incriminating evidence had been found upon them. I requested that the papers “in relation to these cases should be made available for the perusal of honorable members. I wish to know the names of the persons who made representations to the Government for the release of these individuals. I have been informed that representations in respect of a certain case were “made by a one-time member of the Cabinet. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask that members of the Parliament should be afforded facilities to examine the papers in such cases as these. It could hardly be suggested that, by examining the papers, we would be doing something that might assist the enemy. I take it that the only reason for exercising of powers of censorship is to prevent the dissemination of information that might be helpful to the enemy.
The members of the Labour party believe that the censorship power is being used for political purposes. In support of this contention, I bring to the notice of honorable members the fact that although the Honorable Herman Homburg, member of the Legislative Council of South Australia, has been interned, all information on the matter has been censored. This person is not a member of the Labour party. He belongs to the Liberal-Country party, which is the South Australian equivalent of the United Australia party, He was at one time Attorney-General of South Australia. His half-brother, Mr. Fritz Homburg, was interned and released on appeal. Mr. Fritz Homburg’3 son-in-law, whose name is Klawinkle, was also interned. He appealed, but although his appeal was dismissed, I am given to understand that he has been released. I wish to know who made representations on behalf of these people? This information is necessary in order to assist us to determine the degree to which political considerations are entering into the administration of certain important powers granted to the Government under national security legislation.
Why does the Government permit the censorship power to be exercised in such a way as to prevent the publication in the daily press of information on -these important public matters? It was never intended that the power should be exercised in this way. The individuals to whom I have specifically referred have no associations whatever with the Labour party. We are entitled to know whether “ Fifth Columnists “ are at work and so imperilling the safety of the country. There can be no justification for the use of the censorship power to prevent the publication in the press or by wireless of information on these subjects. Although Great Britain is so much closer to the scene of the conflict in Europe and is, in fact, embroiled in it in almost every imaginable way, information about the internment of prominent persons is not withheld from the press. Not long ago, Captain Ramsay, a member of the British House of Commons, was interned, but the information was not suppressed. It was, in fact, broadcast to the world. I can see no reason why the censorship power should be exercised in Australia to prevent the general public from learning what is happening. Why, for instance, should the public be denied the knowledge that a member of the South Australian Parliament had been interned?
The specific questions I am asking require clear answers. We wish to know who is responsible for the censorship of this information, and also what persons in the community have been endeavouring to secure the release of these internees. It may be assumed that persons are not interned unless there is some evidence against them. I believe that the Commonwealth Investigation Branch has, on many occasions, been prevented, by the political influences exerted by government supporters, from taking action which it desired to take. There is more than a suggestion of political colour attaching to the administration of a good many of our national security regulations. What has the Government to say on these various matters? I submit that there is no need for the censorship of information concerning the internment of prominent persons or for declining to1 give the names of individuals who are apparently making representations, with some degree of success, for the release of certain internees. The Government cannot throw aside its responsibility in these matters. The Labour party, and also the people at large, wish to know who are the guilty parties in respect of these various matters.
.- I make a strong protest against the action of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) in resolutely refusing to invoke Commonwealth powers to intervene in the unfortunate industrial dispute at Port Kembla. I regret that the Minister has attempted to shelter behind the plea that the Commonwealth Government should- not interfere with the finding of a State court or with the actions of a State tribunal. In so serious a matter the Government must not stand on courtesy to any court. We have been told that the resources of Australia must be mobilized 100 per cent, in order to enable us to face dangers in the near future. It. has been said that, an enemy is practically at our door. Yet, at a time when prices are rising a State industrial court has reduced the wages of workers at Port Kembla by approximately 10s. a week. [Because of such hoplessly incompetent administration trouble is threatening throughout industry. Nevertheless, this Government sits by, refusing to take any action whatever to bring about a settlement of the dispute at Port Kembla, because it knows that when the matter is dealt with fairly the workers will be found to be right andthe employers wrong. I protest most strongly against that attitude, particularly at .a time when the Government has just announced proposals for the prevention of industrial disputes, through the establishment of conciliation machinery which will enable justice to be done between the worker and his employer. I am sick and tired, of reading reminders in the press to the workers that there is a war on: The boss also must be reminded of that fact. To-day, however, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and other big concerns absolutely refuse to make public details of profits obtained through the watering of stock. The dispute at Port Kembla has arisen solely because the State Industrial Court has taken up the attitude that it will reduce wages in spite of the fact that prices of commodities are rising; and this Government refuses to do anything in the matter. It is about time that this Government declared emphatically that it will ensure that justice shall be meted out to the employee as well as to the employer, and that when the employer comes into court he shall be reminded as well as the worker that there is a war on. The Government should make it clear that when it asks the workers to give of their maximum effort in industry, it will demand an equal measure of service from the employers. I have read a report in the Sydney Morning Herald that men in many industries are working 50 and 60 hours a week, and are doing so willingly in the national interest. In spite of those facts, this Government is not prepared to allow the men involved in the dispute at Port Kembla to invoke the machinery which it is setting up for the prevention of industrial disputes, simply on the plea that it would be discourteous on its part to go over the head of a State tribunal.
– What is the nature of the dispute at Port Kembla?
– The grievance of the men is’ based on the fact that despite the issue of an award prescribing increased rates of pay, thereby postulating the necessity for such increases in a time of rising prices of commodities, the rates of pay of certain workers at Port Kembla have been reduced. How can any industrial tribunal, in a time of rising prices, increase the rates of pay of certain classes of workers and, at the same time, decrease the rates for other classes? Such inconsistency cannot be justified on any moral or economic grounds. The Minister for Labour and National Service said that the Government would not intervene in this dispute because it was not prepared to interfere with an award of a State court. All I can say is that if decisions of State courts threaten widespread disputes in industry, this Government will be obliged to interfere with them. It has a responsibility in this matter. I say here, and with the greatest regret, that this trouble threatens to extend very widely on the south coast. If the metal manufacturers or electrolytic companies should attempt to carry on with scab or free labour in the mines which are electrically equipped, it must obtain its current from the government power house at Port Kembla. If that be done the men will declare the latter works black, and thus the trouble will spread. Whilst this Government loudly proclaims that the resources of the country must be organized 100 per cent, in the prosecution of our war effort, it is prepared to allow to continue the present situation which has been created by a judge who does not really know anything about the industry. In these circumstances the men are being constantly harassed. If the Government sincerely wishes to maintain industrial peace in this country, it must make up its mind immediately that even-handed justice will be meted out as between employer and employee. By regulation, power has been given to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to prevent any of its employees from leaving their present positions in order to accept jobs elsewhere. I know of 20 or 30 men who are obliged for this reason to remain at Port Kembla, although they are given only three or four days’ work a week. The company “ compels them to stand by, although they -could immediately secure full-time jobs, with overtime in many cases, in Sydney, if the company would give them a permit to leave Port Kembla. In war-time it may be necessary for the company to have these men standing by at Port Kembla, but if that he the case, the Government must face the . situation squarely and do the just thing by these men by seeing that they are paid a full week’s wages. The men would then have no cause for complaint. However, under present conditions, the workers, not only at Port Kembla but also throughout the Commonwealth, are becoming restive; if justice ha not done by them a national industrial upheaval will take place. The Government proposes to appoint special tribunals which will be enabled to anticipate disputes, and thus prevent trouble from actually occurring. If the men know that the conciliation com- missioners to be appointed will be prepared to approach their grievances with an open mind, and have sufficient experience to appreciate the justice of their claims, they will co-operate fully in the maintenance of peace in industry. This Government will be guilty of a national crime if it continues to sit by twiddling its thumbs and refusing to do anything to prevent this trouble from extending in industry. It is time that the Commonwealth swept aside the old tribunals, and implemented machinery whereby disputes in industry could be dealt with expeditiously. The men must be assured that so soon as trouble threatens they can immediately place their claims before a tribunal. They are dissatisfied with the present hoary system of Commonwealth and State Arbitration Courts which take months to consider disputes. I know of no worker who is not prepared to give of his best in the national interest in order to prepare the defences of this country. This Government should emulate that spirit which has been exhibited by the workers throughout industry as a whole. Unless it does so industrial trouble will constantly recur. I appeal to it to send an official immediately to Port Kembla in order to investigate the grievances of the men. I guarantee that if the official be fair-minded, the trouble will be settled within 24 hours. As the representative of the men involved in the dispute, I give that guarantee unhesitatingly to the Government. On the other hand, I warn it that, if such a course be not followed, the trouble will spread. Greatly as I deplore the dispute, I must insist that the men are not responsible for it. The men feel that they have nobody to hear and settle their case on its merits. Because of that, this trouble exists to-day.
.- On the waterfront an injustice is being done to many men who have served shipowners for a great number of years. At Townsville, for example, there are men who, having worked on the wharves for 30 years, were refused the renewal of their licence when they applied in June. No reason whatever was given. Two of the men are over 50 years of age and are not capable of getting other employment. The Government cannot show that they are other than good Australians, although they were not born here. As a matter of fact, they were born in Germany, and in the last war they experienced the same trouble through jocularly exclaiming “Hoch, the Kaiser”. Now, they have said, just as you and I or any other person might say, in a joking way, “ Heil Hitler”. I have heard returned soldiers say that. There is nothing more against them than that, or, if there is, the department should say so. When I applied to the department for a further investigation of their case I got the stereotyped reply “ The matter has received the fullest consideration, but it is regretted that no alteration can be made to the previous decision “. The same miserable excuse is always made about other things, naturalization for instance. The number of men among the working class engaged in subversive activities is small, but there are many men among the friends of the Government who should be in internment camps. There is not one black mark against, the character of these men who have been excluded from the wharves, and, therefore, from their means of livelihood. They have no police record and they have been good citizens for 30 years in one city. What has occurred in Townsville has also occurred in other ports. The treatment of these men is inhuman.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) mentioned a case of a man in South Australia who was interned. I know men in Sydney who were interned allegedly because they were supporters of the Fascist regime in Italy and because they had incriminating documents in their possession when they were questioned. To-day those men are enjoying freedom. When those men were interned they did not know why and, having been interned, they do not know why they are now outside. If their internment was a mistake they should have been told so. One man whom I have known for five or six years was interned. Yet to-day he is at home with his family at Bondi. I do not object to that, but his people want to know why he was interned. It is not fair that they should be kept in the dark. If this Government wants peace and the workers to do the right thing, as they desire, it will treat them as men.
– in reply - The speeches of honorable members will be brought to the notice of the Ministers concerned.
– Will the Government allow the press to publish the internment of Homburg or will the Government continue to suppress it?
– I have told the honorable member that his speech will be brought before the notice of the appropriate Minister for action. I am not the responsible Minister. . .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1940 -
No. 28 - Australian Postal Electricians Union.
No. 29 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers Union.
No.30 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers Union; and Commonwealth Naval Storehousemen’s Association.
No. 31 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks Association.
CommonwealthRailways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways Operations for year 1939-40.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 250.
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Fifteenth Annual Report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, for year 1939-40, together with Statement by Minister regarding operation of Act.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 252, 253.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 284.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired -
For Defence purposes - Darwin, Northern Territory.
For Postal purposes - Mitcham, Victoria.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of highways.
Prohibited places (10).
Prohibiting work on land.
Taking possession of land, &c. (53).
Use of land (5).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos.
249, 250, 251.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 255.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances of 1940 -
No. 3 - Interpretation.
No. 4 - Advisory Council.
Petroleum Oil Search Act - -Statement of Expenditure from 28th May, 1930, to 30th June, 1940.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1940 -
No. 18- Public Baths.
No. 19 - Inflammable Liquids.
No. 20 - Court of Petty Sessions.
Regulations- 1940 - No. 7 (Police
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Statementof Receipts and Expenditure for the Australian Capital Territory for year 1939-40.
Spirits Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 248.
House adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
l asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - .
n asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the quantity of sulphur imported’ during the year ended the 30th June last, stating separately, if practicable, the quantities imported (a) for the manufacture of fertilizers, and (b) for other purposes?
– Imports of sulphur for the year 1939-40 amounted to 105,345 tons, valued at £470,887 sterling. There is no record of the quantities used respectively for the manufacture of fertilizers and for other purposes. It has been estimated recently, however, that a very large proportion of Australia’s consumption of sulphur is used in the production of sulphuric acid, of which upwards of 90per cent, goes into the manufacture of fertilizers. prosecutions for profiteering.
d asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Sinking of the H.M.A.S. “ Goorangai “.
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Who are the owners of the vessel which collided with the mine-sweeper off Queenscliff last week, and was this vessel under government charter at the time? .
– The owners are the Melbourne Steamship Company Limited’. The vessel was not under government charter at the time.
Employment in Munitions Works.
r. - On the 21st November the honorable., .member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked me a question, without notice, as to whether I was aware that it was’ most difficult for applicants for employment ‘to obtain access to munitions annexes because of military guards, and in view of this, whether arrangements would be made’ to set up a central office in Sydney where employers could engage labour. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that nothing is known of this difficulty. A Central Munitions’ Labour Bureau has been established in Sydney in charge of the Area Controller of Labour at the Department of Labour, A.P.A. Buildings, Martin Place.
r. - On 21st November, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) asked me a question, without notice, a.3 to whether it was a fact that the Department of Supply had let a contract to a Japanese manufacturer in Japan for the supply of 40,000 gross of army buttons, when there were Australian manufacturers who had the labour and idle machinery necessary to fill such a contract; also what other contracts badbeen let to Japanese manufacturers.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the Minister for Supply and Development has furnished’ the following reply to his questions : -
The position is not as represented by the honorable member. Austraiian capacity is fully utilized. Tlie order to Japan represents 8 per cent, of orders placed with Australian manufacturers and are for moulded buttons for which Australian capacity is limited. The casein hutton is not suitable for all purposes and metal shortages create difficulties. It was necessary to get some Japanese buttons to keep clothing manufacturers supplied and produce finished goods in time. Button manufacturers are booked with orders for some months ahead. All known potential commercial button manufacturing capacity is used, but information on any other resources of any substance would be welcomed.
Other contracts have been made for Japanese cotton cloth in similar circumstances to supplement Australian and other Empire supplies urgently required. .
r. - On the 21st November the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked the following question, without notice: -
Will the Minister for the Army inform me who is responsible for approving of sites for military hospitals? I also wish to know who was responsible for choosing the site for a military hospital at Greenslopes? Who cancelled the approval and who subsequently reapproved of the site? Who was responsible for giving wrong levels in relation to this site?
I ani now in a position to inform the honorable member’ that the Department of the Army is the responsible authority for approving of sites for military hospitals. The approval of the site at Greenslopes has not been cancelled. A sketch plan of Greenslopes was obtained from the War Service Homes Commission during the preliminary inspection of the site. On a new survey being made, this plan was found to be inaccurate) due mainly to the fact that since the original plan was drawn subdivisional roads had been constructed and the area regraded to some extent. An amended design and sketch’ plans for tlie hospital to be erected at Greenslopes are now being completed.
r. - On the 21st November, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked me a question, without notice, as to whether documents would be made available relating to the setting up of a cartel for the control of oil and petrol in Australia, and whether the arrangements which had been made in this regard were acceptable to all distributors.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the Minister for Supply and Development has furnished me with the following- information in this regard :-
The oil companies cartel is a voluntary and private arrangement between all importing companies approved by -my predecessor and myself. I shall be pleased to furnish all documents connected with it for the confidential information of tlie honorable member or any member of the- Advisory War Council. While there have been difficulties in reconciling, various commercial interests these have been, overcome by conference and conciliation, and’ all companies are now in agreement on the terms of the cartel. The cartel establishes- a system by which the companies can increase 6 tonks and achieve greater economy in- their nacs of .tankers and storage tanks, and in- distribution, and through which increased quantities of indigenous fuels can be absorbed’ and economically distributed. It is a form of rationalization appropriate to the times,- and its operation will lie carefully’ watched in tho interests of all parties including the consumers. Trices are determined by the Prices Commissioner.
r.- On the 21st November, the honorable member for “Wilmot (Mr. Guy) asked me a question, without notice, as to why flux-growers have no direct representation’ oh’ the Flax Production Committee.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the Minister for Supply and Development has furnished the following reply to this question : -
The main functions of the Flax Production Committee are to collect the straw and process it, leaving tlie actual production side to the States. Ohe committee maintains the closest contact with State Departments of Agricuture in the three States concerned, which in turn are directly in touch with growers. The committee is essentially a manufacturing body, and it is nol, therefore, considered necessary to provide for direct representation of primary producers on it.
Export of Scrap Metal.
r. - On the 21st November, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked whether it was a fact that National Oil Proprietary Limited, the company concerned in the development of the Glen Davis shale oil project, . had disposed of 32 miles of railway track, . and that this was being shipped to Japan as scrap iron.
The Minister for Supply and Development has provided the following reply to the honorable member’s questions : -
National Oil Proprietary Limited, the company formed to develop the Glen Davis shale oil project; considered that it would be more economical to pipe petrol from (i-‘en Davis to Newnes Junction than to rehabilitate the 32 miles of railway line, which would be extremely costly, and to extend the existing line from Newnes to the Capertee Valley. The pipe line is now hearing completion. In these circumstances, the railway track is of no value in connexion with the .Glen Davis undertaking, and the company has. therefore, disposed of it. The proceeds will continue to be assets used in the enterprise. The purchasers have not yet taken delivery of any of the rails, and I am informed that they will eventually be used on constructional wort in Australia and within the Empire.
I hare no- information concerning the disposal of disused locomotives from -this portion of New South Wales, except that those at Newnes continue to remain the property of National- Oil Proprietary Limited.
Repairs to Military Boots.
r. - On the 22nd November the honorable member. for Hunter (Mr. James) asked the following question, without notice -
Will the Minister for the Army inform me whether it is a fact that boot repairs for troops in various military camps, extending from Greta, in tho coal-fields districts, and through Maitland to the Queensland border, are all sent to one big firm in Sydnev, Joe Gardiner Limited? Does not. the. Minister consider that it would be fair to give opportunities to local boot repairers, adjacent to the various camps, to tender for boot-repair work !
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the arrangement for the repair of army boots in the Rutherford-Greta area is that primarily the work is done by boot repairers in the army organization. When, owing to extensive training, such as long marches, &c, the quantities for immediate repair are beyond the capacity of such army tradesmen, the work is done by contract under arrangements made by the New South Wales District Contract Board of tie Department of Supply and Development. The present contractor’s are Messrs. A. Hyland and Messrs. Will Wearwell. As regards the Tamworth area, arrangements to institute a similar system were completed recently, and it is expected that operations will commence this week.
Latrobe Shale Oil Fields.
s. - On the 22nd November the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr, Guy) asked me a question, without notice, as to whether the Commonwealth would take steps, in conjunction with the Government of Tasmania, to develop tho shale oil fields at Latrobe. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that since 1932 the Commonwealth Government, has actively identified itself with an investigation of these deposits, and made available a sum of £6,200 for’ this purpose. It was found, however, that the shale was of such inferior quality as to preclude the development of the deposits for the production of oil. The oil ‘yield is only 27 gallons to the ton of shale with a high sulphur content, as compared with Newnes and Glen Davis shale,’ which yields over 100 gallons of oil to the .ton, almost entirely free from sulphur content.
Rose Bat Airport
n. - On the 22nd November, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. .Falstein) asked the following question, without notice -
Will the Minister for Civil Aviation state whether it is a fact that mechanics at Rose Bay Air Port have to sleep on their benches because they start work at such a time in the morning that transport facilities ure not available to them.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that certain marine staff (coxswains and boatswains) are required to commence duty at 2 a.m., on three mornings per fortnight. Their work consists of setting down flares, and policing the water area prior to departure of the trans-Tasman flying boat at 4 a.m. Owing to transport difficulties, staff arrive at the Rose Bay Airport by the last tram and wait about until required for duty. The matter of providing a resting room for the staff is now under consideration and estimates are now being prepared.
Precision MACHINERY in- Rural Districts.
– Oh the 22nd November the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) asked me a question, without notice, as to whether any survey or investigation had been made of the availability of precision machinery and other suitable plant in rural areas or areas removed from vulnerable places near the seaboard, for the manufacture of units of equipment essential to the defence programme.
I arn now in a position to inform the honorable member that the Minister for Supply and Development and Munitions has furnished the- following reply to his question : -
A Commonwealth-side survey of precision’ machinery bus already been made with a view to making the fullest use of the whole of our resources, and active steps are being taken to obtain full advantage of tlie results of tins survey.
n. - The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked me last Friday what steps could be taken to ensure that retailers would observe the price adjustments necessary on account of the budget. I may point out for the information of honorable members that price investigations are conducted as an ordinary routine matter by staffs of the Deputy Prices Commissioners in the States and Territories. Many complaints are received from the public, and these are thoroughly investigated, but apart from these, test checks initiated by the Commissioner and his deputies are made from time to time on selected commodities and the investigations cover all classes of traders from manufacturers to retailers. The investigation officers are clothed with powers to demand the production of all documents relating to the goods under investigation and to inspect records of costs and selling prices of old and new stock, which, under the National Security (Prices) Regulations traders are obliged to preserve. As an example of this procedure I may add that within eighteen hours of the announcement of the budget increases the deputy commissioners in all States, acting on instructions from the Commissioner, had in hand a comprehensive investigation of stocks of certain commodities on which substantial increases in taxation were provided in the budget’ proposals, and had made arrangements for a test check on prices.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 November 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1940/19401127_reps_16_165/>.