16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Army been directed to a statement in this morning’s press that Mr. McEvoy, the managing director of Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited, has denied the allegation that his firm used a counterfeit government stamp on military hoots, and’ demands a public inquiry ? Is it the intention of the Minister to grant such an inquiry, or to institute a prosecution immediately?
– I have read the report referred to by the honorable member. The intention of the Government is to take whatever steps it is advised are necessary.
– Will any inquiry which the Government may hold into the hoot scandal be made retrospective to cover the period when Mr. S. G. Gill, who was then the chief boot inspector of the department in New South Wales, was compelled to leave the Commonwealth Public Service because he refused to pass boots which were not up to specification?
– As I indicated on Wednesday, inquiries are proceeding with every despatch. As to the steps to be taken apart from any action against individuals, that is a matter which will depend largely on the advice tendered to the Government, and the result of the inquiries. I propose to seek an appointment on Monday next with the Deputy Crown Solicitor in Sydney, and the police officers who are conducting the inquiry, and the request of the honorable member will then be given consideration.
– Will the Assistant Minister for Commerce state the reason why only one representative of Tasmania has been appointed to the Apple and Pear Marketing Board, in view of the fact that Tasmania produces 60 per cent, of the apples exported from Australia ? Will he also state why Western Australia and Victoria have each two representatives and Queensland, South Australia, Tas mania and New South Wales one each, and why the representative of Tasmania occupies only a minor position?
– The honorable member has not correctly stated the facts. The Commonwealth Apple and Pear Marketing Board consists of one representative from each State of the Commonwealth. In addition, there is a chairman and a deputy chairman, whose appointments were made without regard to State boundaries at all. It happens that the chairman comes from Victoria and the deputy chairman from Western Australia. Each State has equal representation on the board.
– Will Western Australia and Victoria have two votes each?
– The chairman and the deputy chairman are not representatives of the States.
– In view of the many rumours and reports about a recent meeting of the United Australia party, will the Acting Prime Minister say whether it is a fact that the Government has “ murdered “ its child endowment scheme ? If it is not a fact, will the Government introduce the scheme this session, next session, or at any time during the life of the present Parliament?
– The child endowment scheme is robust and healthy, and will be introduced.
– In view of the great inconvenience and expense incurred by taxpayers owing to the closing of the taxation office in Northern Tasmania, will the Acting Prime Minister confer with the Premier of that State with a view to reestablishing the office ? Failing the setting up of a branch office, will he urge the establishment of an office where taxes may be paid, and information in regard to taxes given?
– I shall give consideration to the matter.
– With a view to removing the slight , discontent which exists in connexion with the Commonwealth Shipbuilding Commission, and because of the important part played by boilermakers in the construction of ships, will the Government consider adding to the commission a member of the Boilermakers Society of Australia ?
– The subject-matter of the honorable member’s question has been fully considered by the Government. The policy of the Government as to the personnel of the commission will not be departed from.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development say whether all of the ships to be built under the Government’s programme for ship construction, for which £6,000,000 has been allocated for the construction of nineteen ships, will be steel vessels, or whether any of them are to be -wooden ships?
– I can speak of the matter only in general terms. The object, I understand, is to build, approximately, 10,000-ton liners of a certain speed, and the vessels are to be constructed of steel. I shall ascertain whether any provision has been made for the construction of vessels of lesser tonnage or of wooden ships, and the information will he supplied to the honorable member.
– In view of the fact that buyers have stopped buying President plums, a variety suitable for making prunes, will the Minister for Trade and Customs consider modifying the regulations relating to the export of dried fruits?
– The matter will receive consideration.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General statewhether the annual report and balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be made available to the House before the proposed bill relating to the activities of the commission is introduced ?
– The PostmasterGeneral advises that the annual report and balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be laid on the table of both Chambers on Wednesday next.
– In view of the small amount being expended in Western Australia on defence works, and in connexion with the war generally, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development request that steps be taken to see that, in future, Western Australia receives a greater share than it has in the past of the work offering ? Will the Minister also consider the advisability of establishing munition factories in that State?
– I shall be glad to bring the subject-matter of the honorable member’s question before the Minister for Supply and Development.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army regarding the operations of “ moncy-skinners “ “who intrude into army contracts. My question relates to a large number of contracts for army requirements. It is alleged that, owing to the Contracts Board requiring a percentage guarantee - I think the minimum amount is £500 - in respect of every contract let, a large number of small contractors are not able to provide this sum of money, and have had to resort to the assistance of financiers who charge exorbitant rates of interest. The fact is-
– The honorable member must ask a question.
– Will the Minister inquire immediately whether the operations of these financiers are bringing about an increase of the prices which tenderers submit to the Contracts Board in order to meet these exorbitant rates of interest? I also ask the Minister to inquire from the Commonwealth Bank whether some system of finance could be arrangedwith the bank for tenderers who are carrying out army contracts.
– The matter raised by the honorable member falls within the province of my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Development. I shall discuss it with him, and endeavour to have a complete answer given to the honorable member.
– Is the Treasurer aware that many residents of this country, who have qualified for a contributory old-age pension from the Government of the United Kingdom, have not received the pension from Great Britain for the last nine months? In view of the hardship entailed, does not the Treasurer think that the British Government should be communicated with by cable, in order to ascertain whether the Commonwealth Government could act as its agent in this matter, in the same way as it acts as agent in respect of the payment of Imperial war pensions?
– On Wednesday, I answered a question on similar lines which was addressed to me by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins). The matter is now receiving the attention of the Government which has been in communication with the Government of the United Kingdom with a view to adjusting the anomaly.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs take an early opportunity to make a statement to the House on the latest transactions between the Government and Truth newspapers with reference to a certain newsprint ration; and in doing so, will he tell the House frankly whether any financial considerations are involved between the Government and any of these newspapers? In short, will he make a general statement on the subject, and tell us whether he now regards matters between him and some of the Sydney daily newspapers as “ square “ ?
– I shall give full consideration to the questions raised by the honorable member, particularly the last request. If the Government is of the opinion that such information should be made available I shall supply it.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House why the undertaking given, during the passage of the recent sales tax legislation, that the Government would annul the provision whereby children’s medicine is subject to sales tax, and dogs’ medicine is not, has not been carried out?
– I cannot remember whether such an undertaking was given. A promise was certainly made that the whole principle and incidence of the tax would be reviewed by a select committee of this Parliament. Consideration is now being given to the personnel and terms of reference of such’ a committee, which I hope, will be active in the near future.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that during 1940 the British House of Commons sat upon nine days in January, fourteen days in February, fourteen days in March-
– Order ! Honorable members are entitled to make statements only insofar as may be necessary to explain the questions they intend to ask. The honorable member may not make a long preliminary statement when asking a question.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that during 1940 the British House of Commons met upon 141 days, while during the same period the Australian House of Representatives met upon 43 days? Can he explain why the British House of Commons meets so frequently and why the Australian House of Representatives meets so infrequently?
– I am not aware of the number of days upon which the British Parliament has sat, but I can appreciate that it would need to sit frequently, having regard to the fact that Britain is in the throes of a war which is partly being fought in the United Kingdom. If this country be not properly defended and looked after the Australian Parliament may need to sit upon 365 days in the year.
– Can the Attorney-
General say whether it is the intention of the Government to make an early amendment of the moratorium regulations covering members of the Defence Forces? In view of the altered situation in regard to military trainees, the serious loss of income suffered by them, and the doubt as to whether they are covered by the existing moratorium provisions while they are not in camp, will the Attorney-General give special consideration to their position with a view to protecting their property?
– This matter has received very careful consideration by the Government. We have drawn up provisions which we believe will adequately cover the points raised by the honorable member, especially those referring to the obligations of service men, and it is hoped that the amending provisions will operate at a very early date.
Additional Office Accommodation - King George V. Memorial
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior lay on the table of the House the departmental files and papers in connexion with the proposal to erect administrative offices on the site of the future permanent Parliament House at Canberra, and also the report, if any, of the National Capital Planning and Development Committee on this matter? Further, as the duration of the present sittings may be short, will he lay those documents on the table before the House adjourns for Easter?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for the Interior. I understand that, in accordance with the usual practice, the papers will be laid on the table of the House.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister had an opportunity to peruse the article in this morning’s Canberra Times headed, “ The City Plan, Mice and Men “ ? If so, can he say whether the charge of “ nibbling “ at the Griffin plan is justified? If he has not seen the article, which is an indictment of the present Government and its predecessors for departing from the Griffin plan, will he read it and make a statement onthe subject later?
– I have not seen the article referred to, but I shall peruse it.
– Can the Assistant Minister representing the Minister for the Interior say what authority granted permission for the erection of the monument to the late King George V. on a site in front of Parliament House, which, under the Griffin plan, is reserved for other pur poses? I understand that Ministers have denied responsibility for its erection there? Did the Historical Memorials Committee suggest its erection in that position ?
– I anticipated that a question would be asked on this subject, and have prepared a statement upon it, which I ask leave to read. [Leave granted.’]
Early in 1936, a sub-committee of Cabinet, consisting of Sir George Pearce, Senator A. J. McLachlan, and Messrs. T. Paterson and J. A. J. Hunter, submitted a report recommending as follows : -
These recommendations were approved by Cabinet on the 10th March, 1936, and action was taken by Senator Sir George Pearce, on behalf of the Prime Minister, to invite three Australian sculptors, namely, Messrs. G. Rayner Hoff, Paul Montford and W. L. Bowles, to submit designs embodying the features mentioned above, and on the understanding that an architect would be associated with the sculptor in the execution of his design, the total cost of which was set down at £20,000. A. fee of 150 guineas was approved for payment to each of the sculptors for his preliminary design.
The three sculptors concerned agreed to the proposal, and the Cabinet subcommittee arranged for the appointment of a technical committee of advisers to select the most suitable of the designs when submitted for the memorial, namely, B. J. Waterhouse, Esq.,
At this stage it was pointed out to the Prime Minister’s Department that all action in relation to national memorials was governed by the provisions of the National Memorials Ordinance 1928-31, under which all such proposals were required to be referred to the Canberra National Memorials Committee, whose approval is required. The responsible Minister (the Minister for the Interior) is required by the provisions of the ordinance to determine in accordance with the recommendations of the National. Memorials Committee.
Upon being advised to this effect, the Prime Minister’s Department handed the administration of this matter over to the Department of the Interior, and the Minister duly referred it to the National Memorials Committee. The committee consists of the following: - The Prime Minister (chairman), the Minister for the Interior, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, the Secretary to the Department of the Interior, the Assistant Secretary (Civil Administration), and two members appointed by the GovernorGeneral, namely, G. V. F. Mann, Esquire, of Sydney, and Professor Ernest Scott, of Melbourne (now deceased). The committee met on the 20th May, 1936, and forwarded the following resolution to the Minister for the Interior : -
That this committee approves that a group of statuary be erected in Parkes-place to symbolize the reign of the late King and his association with the Commonwealth Parliament.
The proposal was explained by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) in Parliament on the 17th August, 1936. The designs from the three sculptors were duly received, and were considered by the Technical Committee of Advisers. That submitted by G. Raynor Hoff, of Sydney, was finally Accepted on the advice of the committee, and a contract was arranged under which Mr. Raynor Hoff undertook to execute his design for the sum of £19,444. Mr. Raynor Hoff’s design provided for an architectural portion, comprising a platform in granite and freestone, a pylon providing bases for a bronze figure of King George V., and an equestrian figure of St. George in stone. The base of the pylon is to be treated with lettering and bronze medallions featuring the establishment of federation and Australia’s part in the Great War. The final details of the contract had hardly been arranged with Mr. Raynor Hoff, when he died suddenly. After arranging for the position to be investigated by the Technical Committee of Advisers, the Government approved that a commission to complete the memorial in’ accordance with Mr. Raynor Hoff’s design be given to Mr. J. E. Moorfield, sculptor, of Sydney. Mr. Moorfield had been associated with Mr. Raynor Hoff in the preparation of the design, and had been engaged by him in the draft contract to carry on the work, in the event of Mr. Raynor Hoff’s death. Mr. Moorfield agreed to accept the commission and carry out the contract at the price and under the conditions arranged with the late Mr. Raynor Hoff. The State Government agreed to grant Mr. Moorfield leave from his duties at the East Sydney Technical College to admit of the contract being carried out. Provision is made in the agreement for an architect to be associated with the sculptor, and for this purpose Mr. Harry Foskett, of Sydney, was selected, as he had previously been associated also with the late Mr. Raynor Hoff. Funds have been voted from year to year by Parliament to meet the progressive requirements of the work, and on several occasions full explanations of the scheme have been given in both Houses.
The present position is that the subcontract for the architectural portion of the memorial is now approaching completion and the design for the statue of the King has ‘been approved and cast in plaster, but, owing to the war, its transfer to Great Britain for casting in bronze has been deferred. The carving of the equestrian figure of St. George in stone is approaching completion in accordance with the clay model whichwas approved in the terms of the contract. The Technical Committee of Advisers has been retained to assist the department during the continuance of the contract, and it reports to the Minister regarding various incidental matters that arise, in collaboration with departmental officers. The site for the memorial is on the main axis of the city of Canberra. From an aesthetic point of view, it would have been difficult not to have located it on the main axis, in view of the decision to place it in front of Parliament House. In regard to the transverse axis, its position had to be considered in relation to the roads in the Griffin plan, and especially in relation to the permanent layout for the public buildings, including the permanent Parliament House and the administrative offices.
– As I informed honorable members previously, I had called for a report from the Inspector-General of Administration in respect of the Abbco bread contract. I hoped that I would have had the full report in my possession by this time; however, the InspectorGeneral of Administration has informed me that it is impossible to furnish anything more than an interim report for the time being, but he hopes to make a full report available within a few days. In the meantime, I lay on the table the following papers: -
Abbco- Bread contract - Report by the InspectorGeneral of Administration, Department of Defence Co-ordination, 12th March, 1941.
– In view of the importance of this matter; will the Acting Prime Minister ask the Minister for the Army to read the interim report to the House ?
– No ;: I shall not.. The Minister for the Army is already overworked, and if honorable members are too lazy to read the report for themselves they do not deserve to know what it contains.
– I am advised that copies of the report are being made, and will be available to honorable members within a few minutes.
– As the report on the Abbco bread case is of such great interest to honorable members generally, and no motion that it be printed has been submitted, will the Minister for the Army ask leave to have the report incorporated in Hansard? Alternatively, will the Minister read the report to the House?
– The report is so long that I am not prepared to read it to the House, but I am quite agreeable that it be incorporated inHansard.
– Frequently, after leave has been given to incorporate reports in Hansard, the Principal Parliamentary Reporter is confronted with difficulties which honorable members had not foreseen when they gave leave. However, the question is one. for the House to decide.
– I rise to a point of order. All we know at the moment concerning this document is that it deals insome way with the Abbco bread contract. I submit that it is quite out of order for the Minister to ask for the incorporation in Hansard of a report of. whose contents no indication has been given to honorable members.
– I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the correct procedure is for the Minister to move that the report be printed. In doing so, he may read it; it would then be incorporated in Hansard.
Motion (by Mr. Spender) proposed -
That the paper be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Archie Cameron) negatived -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– We are asked, in effect, to examine this paper, although we have not had an opportunity to study it. If the debate had been adjourned the motion would have been placed upon the notice-paper, and we possibly would not reach it again this session unless the Acting Prime Minister (Mr.Fadden) saw fit to allow us to do so. The House desires to have the document read; then, having heard its contents, honorable members wish to discuss what is revealed in it.
– I desire to clarify the position. Two days ago, I indicated that I hoped late this week to receive a full report upon the matter. So far, that report has not come to hand; but I considered that there was sufficient meat in the interim report temporarily to satisfy honorable members. The Government does not desire to burke a discussion of the contents of the report at the earliest possible moment.
– I rise to order. I should like you, Mr. Speaker, to . inform me whether the Minister’s speech, this being his second essay, will close the debate.
– Yes. When the mover replies, he closes the debate upon the motion.
– That being so, 1 ask leave to read thedocument. [Leave granted.’] The report, which is addressed to the Minister for the Army, and dated the 12th March, 1941, is as follows : -
Pursuant to War Cabinet minute of the 5th March, 1941, and your verbal instructions of the 7th and 11th March, 1941, I have advanced my investigations in connexion with this subject to a stage sufficiently to be able to supplyyou with the following information : -
With regard to the propriety of accepting this further tender for the supply of bread from the Abbco company, there is nothing to indicate in the files that anyserious consideration was given ‘to the Abbco company’s previous misdemeanour, except that in the letter written by the District Contract Board, Sydney, to the Contract Board, Melbourne, dated 19th July, which referred to the penalty of £1.438 15s. imposed on the Abbco Bread Company for having supplied bread under contract deficient in weight. This P.S. was attached to the letter referring to the recommendation for acceptance of R. J. White’s tender. White, as already mentioned, fell down on his obligation. There is nothing otherwise to show any concern in giving a contract to the Abbco company at that period.
I am inclined to believe that the intention of clause ( 1 ) of specifications was so designed as to cover quality, and not refer to weight.
Clause (3) refers to the type of loaf being 4 lb. in weight.
Clause (5) apparently appreciates the likelihood of a variation in the weight of bread at time of delivery, in that it asks for each loaf to weigh 4 lb. or as near as possible.
The Abbco Company was convicted on a State charge that they had manufactured bread of an incorrect weight per loaf. It is claimed, however, by the Army that we only pay for the quantity ofbread received byweight, although I have not up to the presentbeen able to sight documentary evidence to satisfy myself that this is so. These investigations are still being pursued. I am unable to state whether or not the Army received its correct quantity of bread by bulk weight.
It further refers to the weight of each loaf being either 2 or 4 lb. as near as possible. This amendment certainly confirms my interpretation of the original specifications where the Army were mostly concerned with the quality in clause (1) and approximate weight per loaf in clause (5).
I have to state that the Abbco Company have not supplied any bread to the department since the termination of their contract on the 31st October, 1940. Instructions have been given by the Contract Board that should they at any time submit the lowest tender, the matter is to be referred to the Board before acceptance.
In regard to ordering bread, the practice in the past has been to use the telephone the night before. 1 have been unable to find any documentary confirmation of such telephonic communication. I consider that bread should be weighed in bulk and that only such bulk weight be paid for. The system of “ stab “ checking is unreliable. I propose to draw the Minister’s notice to further matters on completion of securing the necessary evidence and perusing the documents coming to hand.
Bankrupted 25th September, 1934: not yet discharged; has not applied for discharge.
Trading, in partnership with Margaret Shirbin, as Herbert Rigney & Co., 160 Castlereaghstreet, Sydney, as general brokers - in reality, money-lenders. He was originally in partnership with Mr. Shirbin, who put £2,500 into the business. Rigney put in nothing, but did the work. Shirbin was a sleeping partner. When Shirbin died, Mrs. Shirbin carried on the partnership and put in another £500.
The bankruptcy order was on direction of Chartres Trading Company -
Most of these assets were in the form of book debts which were regarded by the court as irrecoverable.
The joint account has paid 8d. in the £1.
Mrs. Shirbin applied for and was granted her discharge on 26th September, 1938.
Extract from Official Assignee’s report - “The cause of bankruptcy would appear to be losses incurred in carrying on the money-lending business, due, in my opinion, to a large extent, to incompetent management, lack of knowledge of trade results and excessive drawings.” “ That the bankrupts have brought on and contributed to their bankruptcy by culpable neglect of their business affairs.”
I wish it tobe understood that this is in the nature of a preliminary report, and 1 am making every endeavour to get a verification of documents and statements so that something more conclusive can be forwarded to you in the course of the next few days. You will appreciate that many files and reports have had to be considered and assimilated, and a plan developed to check the same. It has entailed considerable investigation by my staff in Sydney, and much telephonic communication over the three days which have so far been occupied in gathering data. (Sigd.) M. D. Davies,
As instructed I proceeded to the above contractors’ premises at 1000 hours on Tuesday morning the 11th inst., and remained there until the balance of bread for issue was weighed by inspectors from the Weights and Measures Department. The result, according to the Officer-in-charge, from the said department, was as follows: -
Total number of 4-lb. loaves weighed = 3282 - 13,128 lb.
Deficiency in weight, 360 lb.
I would point out that the last lot of bread was weighed for delivery to the D.I.D. Showground. This bread being just baked, was warm and practically all over weight. Bread amounting to 1947 lb. for the R.R.D. Section, Showground, was delivered prior to the arrival of the Inspectors in question.
I would also point out that any deficiency was made up by the contractors.
Dated at Sydney this fourteenth day of June, 1940. (Sgd.) C. R. Bray, Lieut.
Head-quarters, 12th Supply Personnel Company,
Chapel-street, Marrickville, 10th March, 1941.
As requested, I am hereunder setting out a recapitulation dealing with events leading up to, and action taken thereafter, in connexion with the Abbco Bread Company’s court proceedings.
I made my first issue from the District Supply Depot, then stationed at White Bay, on the 12th February, 1940. For the first month period Lieutenant R. E. Callaghan, one of my officers, carried out the inspection and test weight checking of bread at Abbco bakery. From time to time it came under my notice that certain master bakers had a grouse against the contractors, and also heard of several allegations. As Supply OfficerinCharge, I deemed it a duty that I should personally control the acceptance of bread, and I then personally visited the bakery daily, for the purpose of making or supervising a test check, and whenever the test check revealed that the weight of loaves was short in all cases extra bread was demanded and supplied by the contractors. Furthermore, I arranged with the contractors to daily bake between 200 and 300 lb. of bread of the loaf type specified by the Defence Department in order that no delay would be caused in cases of short weight, and also in order to satisfy supplementary indents received from units, as on occasions I found it necessary to accept fancy type loaves in order to satisfy my demands. Furthermore, I have instructed my bread issuer to, at all times, attend the bakery and check the weights as loaves were taken from ovens. For your information I attach hereto copy of his report, under date 14th May, 1940 (copy marked “A”).
On attached you will also note specimen “B” under date 4th June, 1940, which seta out the poundage of bread and distribution thereof, which was received in lieu of short weight on a basis of reckoning each loaf at 4 lb., also specimen “C” under date 11th June, 1940, showing extra bread received, which was in excess of amount reported as short weight by weights and measures inspectors.
As from 12th June, 1940. the day after the check weight by inspectors, the total quantity of bread has been weighed, and you will note from specimen “ D “ that 16 lb. extra was claimed.
I would also mention that Captain Adams, the Senior Supply Officer of the 2nd Division, has, as far back as April-May, 1940, discussed with me the possibilities of making bread a loaf, and not a poundage, issue, as on one occasion in particular, during the latter pare of April or early May, he complained that after his bread issuers had completed the divisional issue, reckoning each loaf as 4 lb., he found that a surplus of between 40 and SO loaves existed. This, I would point out, was caused by the issue of extra loaves in order to satisfy my test check result as during that period 10 per cent, of the loaves taken at random from the conditioning racks were weighed, average weight accepted, or extra bread demanded. You will note that the weights and measures check was not made until the 11th June, 1940.
Court Case. - I was subpoenaed by Abbco Bakery to appear at the Glebe Police Court, and before doing so I interviewed Captain Head of the Army Legal Section for the purpose of ascertaining my position as an army officer. He explained same and also advised me that privilege could be claimed in certain instances. I did so, and immediately the Magistrate appeared to treat me as a hostile witness. I stated during my evidence that I was there under subpoena. Furthermore, I had difficulty in satisfying the prosecutor, who was the weights and measures inspector, that I was entitled to pass credit for approximately 2,000 lb. of bread delivered to the Detail Issue Depot at the R.A.S. Showground without having to inspect same. This quantity of bread, in order to suit the military requirements, was delivered between 7.0 a.m. and 7.30 a.m. by the contractor, and was received and checked by a responsible officer who was the active Supply Officer for the Metropolitan District. It was on receipt of his receipt that the said amount was passed.
I consider that the Magistrate’s report to the State Minister that my main concern was to cover up the neglect of myself and staff was most unfair, as at all times my paramount concern has been to police the conditions of military contracts, and I say, without hesitation, in Addition to my seniors, every officer. N.C.O. and soldier who has been under my command since the commencement of White Bay Depot, would bear me out in this regard. Also, an unbiased opinion from the various contractors I have dealt with, would no doubt make such an admission.
My bread issuer, Sergeant B. Benjamin, was subpoenaed by the Weights and Measures Department, and he reported to me that Mr. Allen, of that department, who was the prosecutor, approached him stating, “You can go home. I do not want you. “ This was after, according to Benjamin, he had refused to have a drink with Allen. I asked Benjamin why he was not called as a witness and he said to me that the gentleman with Mr. Allen knows me, and I said, “ Who is he ? “, and he replied, “ A chap by the name of Mahr, a brother of Gar’trell White’s manager. “
The present contract is held by Gartrell White Limited, and the period of same is from 1st November, 1940, to 30th April, 1941. Bread has not been received from the Abbco Bakery since 1st November, 1940. 1 am also attaching for your perusal a statement from Lieut. Callaghan. I would mention that a check was not made by myself or staff on the day check was made by the Inspectors. I gave instructions to rely on their figures. (Sgd.) H. J. Rigney, Major, O.C. 12th Supply Personnel Company.
P.S. - I am also attaching for your perusal a copy of Lieut. Bray’s report. You will note that the loaves fresh from ovens were overweight, which is an indication that some lost weight quickly. - H.J.R.
14th June, 1940.
Captain J. J. Rigney, M.C., Supply Officer, District Supply Depot, White Bay.
I, the undersigned, LieutenantR. E. Callaghan, desire to make the following statement: -
The morning after a complaint was received from the Second Divisional Army Service Corps Unit at Liverpool, I attended the factory and made a very extensive test check of the average weight of loaves awaiting issue and I found that in the majority of casuseach loaf was slightly over weight.
To satisfy the officer-in-charge of the Supply Column, I also made certain checks in his presence and satisfied him that the correct weights were being received.
In all cases when the bread was being weighed it had been baked several hours and was only slightly warm and quite fit for human consumption. (Sgd.) R. E. Callaghan, Lieutenant.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Dumping at Moore Park : Photograph in Sydney “Daily Telegraph”: Ministerial Statement - Marketing Control - Distribution to Children.
– byleave - On the 11th March, the Sydney Daily Telegraph published an illustration headed “ Apple Pie Order and having under it the following descriptive matter : -
Lorry load of apples being tipped into the rubbish dump at Moore Park yesterday. Minister for Lands (Mr. Yeo) in Parliament last week threatened the Council with loss of control of the park if the tipping of market waste there did not cease.
The illustration and the words accompanying it conveyed the impression that at Moore Park there was a huge dump of apples, and that a lorry load of apples was being tipped into the dump. Knowing that, up to the present, only relatively small quantities of apples have gone on to the Sydney market, and those of high quality, the Commerce Department instructed the Apple and Pear Marketing Board to investigate the matter. An officer of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board in Sydney, Mr. Hewson, communicated with the chief photographer of the Daily Telegraph, who informed him that he had not taken the photograph, but that, at the earliest possible opportunity, he would make contact with the staff photographer who had taken it. About an hour later, Mr. Hewson rang the chief photographer again, and was informed that the staff photographer concerned had stated that the load contained apples. The matter was also taken up with the staff of the municipal council, and it was ascertained that the man who took the photograph did so in defiance of the officials at the dump at Moore Park. The photographer trespassed on the site of the dump without a permit. The officers on the spot endeavoured to check him, but he took the photograph in defiance of them. The photographer knew when he took the picture that the clump contained very few apples indeed. Mr. Hewson interviewed the chief cleansing staff officer, Mr. Bryant, and also the foreman cleansing officer of the city markets, Mr. Hackett, both of whom stated that the load shown in the picture had contained a very small proportion of apples.
Mr.Ward. - What else was in the load?
– I point out that a huge quantity of fruit and vegetables goes into the Sydney markets daily, and that there is always a proportion of waste which has to be removed and dumped. Some of that waste is fruit that has gone bad or, for some other reason, has become unsaleable. The market overseer (Mr. George Boyd) informed Mr. Hewson that the proportion of apples in rubbish bins this year had been very much smaller than usual. I am in a position to inform the House that only very small quantities of apples have been taken from the markets to the dump at Moore Park. Apples rejected for fruit fly or codling moth are destroyed by boiling at the municipal destructor. I give the House this information to indicate that the photograph published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and the captions above and below it, convey a misleading impression. Apparently that was deliberately done for reasons best known to the newspaper itself.
– The explanation given by the Assistant Minister is all right so far as it goes, but will the honorable gentleman assure honorable members that apples are not being allowed to rot under the trees in New South Wales because, under the apple and pear acquisition scheme, fruit which does not come up to certain requirements cannot be marketed?
– Every effort is being made by the Apple and Pear Marketing Board to obviate loss of fruit during the coming season. It must be recognized, however, that the board is confronted with a difficult task in disposing of 11,000,000 cases of ordinary good apples on a market which, under normal conditions, has taken only 6,000,000 cases. Consequently, fruit of inferior quality which, in normal flush seasons, does not return the price of marketing, cannot find a market in the present circumstances.
– Has the Assistant Minister noted a report in this morning’s press to the effect that the Labour Government of New Zealand is providing an apple a day for every child attending schools in the dominion? Will the Commonwealth Government consider following that worthy precedent, and so ensure that apples will be given to school children throughout Australia in preference to pigs and cows?
– The Government and the Apple and Pear Marketing Board are endeavouring to provide for as wide a distribution of apples as possible, and consideration is being given to the suggestion which the honorable member has just made. One of the difficulties in relation to the matter is that the present method of distributing the fruit is almost as great as the cost of producing it, and it is necessary to overcome the difficulty in connexion with distribution costs. Favorable consideration is being given to the proposal.
– Canthe Assistant Minister for Commerce say whether it is a fact that the Premier of New South Wales was prepared to meet the transportation and distribution costs of supplying apples to school children in certain districts of Sydney, but was unable to secure the fruit that he required? If so, why was the fruit not available ?
– A considerable quantity of fruit has already been delivered to the Government of New South Wales for the purpose mentioned, but at the present time there is no glut of apples on the Sydney market, although, possibly, the market will be glutted within a short time. So far, apples have not come to hand in excess quantities.
-Four hundred cases of apples were destroyed in one orchard.
– If the order has not been supplied in full, it is because apples of the standard grade arranged with the New South Wales Government were not available.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next at 3 p.m.
Absorption into Industry.
– As special committees have been established in all States by theReturned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia to advise the Government concerning the employment of men returning from the war, will the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) give an assurance to the House that soldiers will be kept on army strength when they return until such time as they have beenproperly absorbed into industry ?
– That matter is now receiving consideration. I have had discussions with representatives of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, and when I am in a position to make a statement on the subject I shall do so.
– la the Minister for the Air aware that relatives of members of the Royal Australian Air Force killed in flying accidents while undergoing training here have to pay the cost of the transport of the bodies from the scene of the accident to the place where the relatives desire interment to be made? Will the honorable gentleman take steps to ensure that in future such costs shall be borne by the Government, and that refunds shall be made in respect of such charges already made against relatives?
– The substantive statement in the honorable member’s question is inaccurate. It is not correct to say that relatives of airmen killed in accidents in the course of their training are obliged to pay the cost of the transport of the bodies from the place of the accident to the place where they desire burial to be made. It is the practice of the Air Force to arrange that young men who die while in the service shall be buried at an appropriate place adjacent to the place where death occurred. The Royal Australian Air Force provides two firstclass return fares for relatives to attend the place of burial, and also bears the whole cost of the burial conducted in an appropriate manner. It occurs in certain instances, however, that the relatives desire the burial to be made near the deceased’s own home, or near the home of a relative. In such circumstances, it has been the practice of the Air Force, at least since I have been administering it, to allow the relatives towards the cost of such burial the cost that would have been incurred in removing the body to the place of interment intended by the Air Force, the cost involved in the actual interment, and also the amount of the two first-class return fares which would have been allowed the relatives if interment had been made at the place chosen by the Air Force authorities.
– On Wednesday I asked the Acting Prime Minister a question concerning the Townsend report on shipbuilding, but the honorable gentleman’s reply - that the report was being con sidered by the Shipbuilding Commission - showed that he misunderstood my question. I now ask the Minister for Trade and Customs when the report was handed to the Government, and when honorable members may expect to receive copies of it?
– The Townsend report was made to Cabinet, and was intended for Cabinet only. Cabinet has given consideration to the document, and I have no doubt that it will later be made available to the Shipbuilding Commission. If the honorable member desires further information concerning the report, and will .put a question in explicit terms on the notice-paper, I shall endeavour to furnish the information he desires.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service noticed in this morning’s newspapers a report of comments attributed to Judge O’Mara in connexion with the metal trades case now before the court? Does the Minister think it necessary to make any statement on the judge’s comments? Does he consider that the refusal of the judge to hear the engine-drivers and firemen’s case has any relation to a statement made by the Minister concerning extra payments that are being made to men engaged on defence work and the manufacture of munitions?
– by leave - I have noticed the report of the remarks stated to have been made by Judge O’Mara in court yesterday. I regret that the judge has apparently seen some discourtesy from myself to him in the failure to notify him formally of a conference which is to be held in Sydney next Monday. I need hardly give an assurance that no such discourtesy was intended by me. The facts in regard to the matter are these: At the last two meetings of the Trade Union Advisory Panel consideration was given to the desirableness of holding a comprehensive conference of representatives of the employers and employees in the metal trades and of the Ministry of Munitions and my own department. It was considered that in order to impart a greater degree of stability to the metal trades, it should be possible to make general arrangements on certain matters to meet the circumstances of the war period, but that the matters involved were such as the court could not or would not deal with. They included the restriction of the movements of skilled workers from one workshop to another, the fixing of maximum marginal rates, the placing of some restriction upon the right of employers to dismiss skilled workers unless such dismissal were subject to confirmation by the Dilution of Labour Committee, and the supervision of the influx of labour into the metal trades. It was considered desirable that a representative conference should discuss these matters with the object of reaching an agreement. It was quite clear, however, that such an agreement would not be practicable unless some consideration were given to certain other outstanding matters in relation to the metal trades. Obviously, for example, if the fixation of a maximum margin were discussed, it would also be necessary to discuss marginal rates. Two or three other matters, such as annual leave, crib time, shift allowances and the like, which have been causing some difficulty in the metal trades, should also be discussed. The judge himself suggested that the employers and employees should endeavour to reach an agreement on these matters, and he has recently adopted some agreements reached at conferences between employers and employees in the ironmoulding, ironworking and certain other sections of the iron trades. The information which reached me was that such conferences as had been held had, in some respects, proved inconclusive, largely because they were not sufficiently representative of all the employers and employees in the metal trades. Following the discussion that took place with the Trade Union Advisory Panel, it was decided that a conference should be held on Monday next, at which all sections, and particularly the States concerned, would be fully represented. Although matters relating to the metal trades award may be discussed by the conference, it is not intended that the conference should take authority from the court. The Government is in- terested in this matter, not only as the chief executive of the nation, but also as an employer of labour on a large scale and the purchaser of goods produced by the metal trades. The letter setting forth the matters to be discussed by the conference was not sent out by me. It was prepared in the department on the general instruction that I gave. Therefore, I am not in a position to refer to the matters to which the judge alluded. He had a telephone conversation with me, and my impression was that he was satisfied that the subjects to be discussed by the conference did not concern matters with which he would have to deal, and did not cut across the matters to go before the court. If any misunderstanding had arisen, as appeared from His Honour’s statement as reported in the press, I think the appropriate way to overcome it would have been for him to have discussed the matter with me as he did on a previous occasion. So far from wasting time, as the judge appears to have suggested, I believe that the conference will save a considerable amount of the time of both the Court and the employers and employees in the metal trades. It is my confident hope that the decision, which I am sure the conference will reach, will go a long way towards promoting improvement in the trades vitally concerned in the production of munitions.
– In view of the serious allegations made against certain army officers of failure to check the weights of food supplies for the defence services, will the Minister for the Army arrange that the senior cook of all cook-houses is supplied with scales and given authority to check the weights of all meat and other supplies after the cook has been furnished with the numbers on strength each day?
– Consideration will be given to the matter.
– Will the Minister for Commerce consider the desirability of washing and carbonizing as much as possible of the Australian wool clip, so as to conserve shipping space and provide employment in country centres where there are unemployed?
– The chairman of the Central “Wool Committee has informed me that the committee is encouraging the scouring of wool to the greatest possible extent.
– Will the Minister for the Army state whether it is a fact that Major-General Mackay has been decorated for his activities in the Middle East campaign; if so, has the Government been advised by the army chiefs whether decorations for gallantry are to be awarded to other ranks who took part in the capture of Tobruk and Bardia ? Are not soldiers other than Major-General Mackay worthy of recognition, or does the Government .consider that that officer captured these towns “ on his pat “ ?
– I regret the form in which the question was framed. His Majesty was pleased to confer a distinction on Major-General Mackay in recognition of his service in Libya, and 1 do not think that any honorable member will criticize that recognition. In due time recommendations will be made in respect of other officers and men who took part in the campaign, and no doubt they will be implemented.
– Does the Minister for Commerce intend to place a representative of the leather exporters on the Hides Industry Board?
– Consideration will be given to the matter.
– Over a year ago investigation was made of sites suitable for an aerodrome in the Tully district. As I understand that a site has been selected about two miles north of Cardwell, will the Minister for Air state whether anything has been done in regard to the construction of an aerodrome there ?
– I shall have full inquiries made into the matter and furnish a reply to the honorable member.
– In view of the shortage of copper in Australia to meet local requirements, and the fact that there are several copper mines that could be reopened with government assistance, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, state what is being done by the Government to encourage an increase of the local production of copper?
– Several questions, have been asked regarding copper production, and I shall suggest to the Minister for Supply and Development that he furnish me with a general statement for submission to the House.
– In view of the disclosures made of the business antecedents of Captain Rigney and the possibility of men holding positions in the Army where they might be tempted to engage in corrupt practices, will the Minister for the Army state whether any test of the character and business antecedents of such men is made before they are appointed? Is there any means by which the military intelligence branch might be used in investigating the character of proposed appointees?
– When I learned that Captain (now Temporary Major) Rigney was an undischarged bankrupt, I asked for a report as to what check was made of the business antecedents of men appointed to positions in the Army. I have not yet received the report. I do not think the view should be taken that merely because a man has been made a bankrupt he cannot be trusted to discharge the duties of a public position. Some cases of bankruptcy arise in circumstances entirely free of any suspicion of criminality. I have indicated that, pending completion of inquiries, I had Major Rigney put off duty. I have had placed before me all the papers relating to his bankruptcy and I shall peruse them.
– In view of the statement that an official appointed by the Commonwealth Government has visited many towns in Australia to investigate the housing shortage, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development state whether that official will visit Port Kembla and Wollongong, where the housing shortage is acute?
– I shall have the question submitted to the Minister for Supply and Development.
– Has the Assistant Minister for Commerce considered giving assistance to Tasmanian fruit-growers many of whom suffered total loss of their crops as the result of frost and wind storms?
-Consideration has been given to the matter, and I believe that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) was advised that assistance could not be given under the conditions which operated.
Mr.RIORDAN. - I ask the Minister for Customs whether the Government intends to introduce a tobacco rationing scheme. If so, will the Minister see that the scheme does not limit the activities of manufacturers who use mainly Australian leaf and that it will ensure the expansion of the industry rather than any contraction?
– A tobacco rationing scheme is already in existence, and a circular dealing with the subject has been made available to honorable members. I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s request.
Mr.RIORDAN.- Can (the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether, under the tobacco rationing scheme, the interests of the growers will be protected ? In view of the Government’s desire to preserve dollar exchange and obviate the rationing of tobacco within Australia, does the Government intend to assist the expansion of this industry?
– A conference of growers and manufacturers was held some time ago in an attempt to arrive at a price basis which would be acceptable to both sections of the industry and encourage growers to increase production, but it broke down. However, following representations made to me by growers and manufacturers, a further conference will take place in Canberra shortly when another attempt will be made to devise a scheme which will be mutually beneficial.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whetherany action of his, or of his department, has been responsible for stoppage of supplies of tobacco and cigarettes to the canteen of the men’s committee at Holden’s munition works in South Australia? Formerly supplies were made available to a private individual, but I understand that, since a men’s committee has taken over the control of the canteen, supplies have been refused by wholesale firms.
– No action by either myself or the department has caused the conditions mentioned by the honorable member. The rationing arrangement that was agreed to, and has since been implemented, was based, I understand, on the quantity of tobacco and cigarettes supplied to retailers in September, 1940. That is purely a rationing scheme under the control of those who are distributing the supplies.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the House if members of the Advisory War Council were admitted to any meeting of the War Cabinet or if there was a joint meeting of the War Cabinet and the Advisory War Council. If so, is this practice to be continued and can he indicate to honorable members the purpose of such a meeting?
– That question should be directed to the Acting Prime Minister, who is not in the chamber now. I do not propose on my own responsibility to attempt to deal with the honorable gentleman’s question.
Compensation for Injuries - Deductions from Pay.
– I ask the Minister for the Army if theRepatriation Commission has ruled that dependants of members of the Australian Imperial Force who have been killed or injured in Australia while on leave are not eligible for pensions. If so, does the Minister approve of this injustice? If he does not approve, will he see that the anomaly is rectified immediately?
– The question should be directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, who is not present at the moment. I shall discuss the subject-matter of the question with him.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that members of a small mechanized unit of the Australian Imperial Force were paid ls. a day extra because they held motor transport drivers certificates and that later, when an order to cancel the allowance was given, deductions were made from their pay in order to recoup the excess expenditure? Will the Minister prevent any further deductions from the pay of men who are now overseas? I shall be glad to provide the honorable gentleman with any information in my possession.
– I am not aware of the facts that the honorable member has mentioned and I should like to have them. On occasions, through mistakes or excess of authority, deductions have been made from the pay of men in the Army or the allowances of their dependants. The attitude which I have adopted in respect of these matters is that, if money is paid to a man in excess of what he is entitled to receive, and if he is unaware that he is receiving excess payments, no deductions should be made. If the honorable member will provide me with the facts in his possession and they are found to comply with those conditions I shall direct that no further deductions shall be made.
– About two weeks ago I received a 90-word telegram from a Melbourne journal called the Radio Times complaining bitterly that the premises of the newspaper had been raided, and that the whole of one week’s issue had been confiscated. Will the Attorney-General state why this was done ?
– I am not aware of the facts to which the honorable member refers. If he will let me have particulars I shall inquire into the complaint at once, and supply an answer to his question.
– The development of technical education is being delayed in the various States, because of lack of finance. The States cannot provide for the expansion needed, because the cost would amount to millions of pounds. There appears to be a difference of opinion between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments as to which authority should bear the cost of technical training, both for youths and for men wishing to enter the munitions industry. I ask the Minister for the Army whether the Government will settle this problem without further delay, because it has already considerably prejudiced our war effort.
– I do not know whether the question as generally stated by the honorable member can be decided without delay. The development of technical education, purely as such, is primarily a matter for the States. The Commonwealth has been endeavouring to give as much assistance as possible to the States in view of the value of technical education to our war effort, and has made contributions already in respect of capital and other expenditure. I shall be glad to discuss this matter with the Minister for Labour and National Service, and ascertain whether a fuller statement can be made in answer to the question.
– Is it a fact that an organization known as the League of Young Democrats has been suppressed? If so, why?
– I do not know whether it is a fact.
– Will the right honorable gentleman inquire into the matter ?
– The honorable member speaks with a degree of certitude. I know nothing of this organization.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen in the newspapers a report in which Mr. Reginald Denny, an official war correspondent in the Middle East, stated that he saw Lady Blarney going about with a Red Cross badge on? Can the Minister say whether the wearing of a
Red Cross badge by Lady Blarney indicates that she will take charge of, or be attached to, the proposed contingent of Red Cross women canteen workers of which the Minister, on his return from the Middle East, said-
– Order ! Speeches are not permissible when asking questions.
– The Minister said that such a contingent would be a good thing and would have a softening effect on the troops.
– Order! The honorable member must not attempt to disobey the Chair.
– If that is the only reason that the Minister can give for sending a contingent of Red Cross canteen workers to the Middle East, does he not think that it contradicts the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when he arrived in England, that he had a message from the Australian troops that, although grim and battle-stained, they still had their tails up?
– Order ! The Minister need not answer that question.
– Is the Minister in a position to say from whom Lady Blarney received the legal advice which enabled her to flout the wishes of the Government?
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development whether it is a fact that the price of flax is fixed by a committee on which the growers of flax have no representation ?
– I do not know, but I shall have inquiries made.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether the Tariff Board has completed its inquiries into the granting of assistance to the shipbuilding and fishing industries? If he has not . yet received the board’s report, can he indicate when he expects to do so?
– I am not able to say whether or not the inquiry has been completed, but, so far, I have not received the report of the Tariff Board. I shall have inquiries made, and should I find that the investigation has been completed, I shall ask that the report be expedited.
– I desire to base a question on an extract from the Economic News of July, 1940.
– The honorable member may not read more than a brief extract.
– The extract is as follows : -
In 1938, a ring was formed which promptly quoted a delivered price of 90s. On the 13th October, 1938, the State Price Fixing Commission reduced the price to 85s. Still not content, the brick manufacturers applied to the Commonwealth, and, in November, 1939, were awarded a price of 95s. 6d., thus making Brisbane bricks the dearest in Australia (except for those produced at Canberra). This tenderness of the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner towards a grasping monopoly
– The honorable member must ask a question.
– In view of the statement contained in that publication, and in view of the fact that the price of bricks in Brisbane is higher than elsewhere in Australia, will the Minister for Trade and Customs take steps to have the price restored to the pre-war level, and prevent any undue increase?
– I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s request.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know, Mr. Speaker, whether you are calling honorable members in the order of their rising. On half a dozen occasions I have seen one honorable member receive three calls, whilst others have not had one.
– The rule I have endeavoured to follow is that of giving the call to each honorable member in the order of his rising, and not to give a second call to any honorable member until other honorable members who have risen have received their first call. To the best of my recollection the honorable member for Dalley has had at least two calls.
Payments to Growers: Stabilization Scheme
– Can the Minister for Commerce give any indication as to when further payments may be expected by growers in respect of the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 Wheat Pools ? When will the Minister be able to make a general statement as to the progress being made in the implementation of the Government’s plan for the stabilization of the wheat industry, particularly those matters relating to the restriction of acreage?
– I understand that a final payment in respect of wheat in the No. 1 pool is to be made immediately. I shall ascertain exactly what the position is with regard to the other pools, and the information will be conveyed to the honorable member. As to the restriction of acreage, the Wheat Stabilization Board is accumulating all possible information on the matter, and hopes to be in a position to complete it in a few weeks.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House state whether the Government intends to give honorable members of this House an opportunity next week to discuss publicly the affairs of this country?
– I cannot, of course, give that assurance, but, as far as my voice counts for anything, the honorable gentleman may rest assured that that opportunity will be afforded. Beyond that I cannot go.
– Will the Minister for the Army give consideration to the granting of leave to members of the garrison forces at three-monthly intervals, in order that they may avail themselves of the travel concession granted by the Government of New South Wales?
– I appreciate the difficulties of garrison troops, stationed considerable distances from their homes, who frequently cannot avail themselves of their leave. Discussions which took place recently have resulted in the granting of the concession referred to, as far as New South Wales is concerned. I am looking into the matter, and am sympathetically considering whether I could, in effect, aggregate the whole of the leave which these troops receive over the year, and divide it into four quarterly periods, in order to enable them to visit their homes, in accordance with the concession granted by the New South Wales Government.
.- I move-
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1936, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Canberra, Australian Capital Territory - Erection of Abattoirs.
It is proposed to erect an abattoir and by-products plant on a site more conveniently situated than the present structure is with respect to stock routes, rail trucking yards, water and electricity services, and of a design that will allow for extension of all facilities for slaughtering, refrigeration and byproducts treatment. The general estimate of the cost of the proposed work is £55,000, but a detailed estimate cannot be made until all specifications have been decided. The present abattoir, which is inconveniently situated, was established in the early days of settlement in the Australian Capital Territory. Improvised extensions have been made from time to time until the site and buildings are now considered to be unhygienic, and are greatly overtaxed for work and ‘ the accommodation of products. Over a period of six years, the revenue of the present business has exceeded expenditure. It is considered that, with increased facilities, the relation of revenue to expenditure will be on an even sounder basis. I lay upon the table plans &c. in connexion with the proposed work.
– The purpose of federation was to do away with artificial boundaries between States, yet around Canberra to-day there is drawn a line more inviolable than the State border between Victoria and New South Wales. No milk or meat is allowed to be imported into the Territory, notwithstanding the fact that all meat killed in New South Wales must be passed by a State inspector, and again by a Commonwealth inspector before it can be exported from Australia. Having passed that test it may be sent to any State of the Commonwealth, or to any part of the world, but it may not enter the Australian Capital Territory. That sort of thing defeats the purpose of federation. I am very pleased that this proposal is to be examined by the Public Works Committee before the expenditure is incurred. I do not think that this is a particularly desirable industry to establish in the Federal City. There are plenty of others of a less obnoxious character which might be introduced. We know from experience that the meat sold in Canberra is not so good as it might be, and one reason is that meat from outside the Territory is not allowed to enter. We should endeavour to make Canberra part and parcel of Australia. By sweeping away border restrictions of the kind to which I have referred, we would get better commodities at lower prices. I thank the Minister for ensuring that this work shall not be undertaken without an inquiry.
– I approve of the submission of this proposal to the Public Works Committee for inquiry and report. I am disappointed that the proposal to erect two secretariats on Capitol Hill is not also being referred to the committee, and I shall later move an amendment to have that project included in the reference. We have seen too many buildings erected in Canberra without reference to a committee of any sort. The proposal to erect these secretariats has been condemned by the press throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and by town-planning organizations everywhere. All such organizations, and all honorable members of this House, are entirely opposed to the erection of buildings on sites that are not in conformity with the Griffin plan. I have before me leading articles from prominent journals throughout Australia, as well as from the Canberra Times, all condemning the proposal. I have asked questions in the House regarding the erection of the King George V. Memorial. I find it very hard to understand the reason which actuated the Government in erecting this memorial on a spot where it will interfere for all time with the outlook from the steps of Parliament House, and where it must necessarily spoil the aesthetic perspective of Parkes-place.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– All honorable members agree that the erection of up-to-date abattoirs in Canberra is long overdue. In respect of that proposal I support the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins). I hope that the Public Works Committee will deal expeditiously with this reference, and that modern abattoirs will be erected here in the very near future.
Before the sitting was suspended I suggested that the Government might agree to include in this reference to the Public Works Committee its proposal to erect temporary secretariats on Camp Hill, and I intimated that I intended, at the conclusion of my speech, to move an amendment along those lines. I am aware that during the luncheon hour inquiries were made as to how I can be prevented from taking this, course. The Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act provides that any honorable member may move to refer any work estimated to cost more than £25,000 to the Public Works Committee for investigation and report. Should you rule my amendment out of order, Mr. Speaker, I shall follow the alternative course of moving a second motion at the conclusion of this debate. In 1938 the Government of the day announced that no work would be undertaken in Canberra after that date without being first referred to the Public Works Committee, or some other appropriate body for investigation and report. This Government and its predecessors have, from time to time, referred what might be described as comparatively unimportant works to the Public Works Committee. The Government’s proposal to erect temporary secretariats on Camp Hill is not only very important but also represents a serious departure from the Griffin plan.
– Is the honorable member proceeding to discuss the Griffin plan?
– I propose to discuss the construction of abattoirs in Canberra in relation to the Griffin plan. This proposal represents a departure from that plan insofar as the proposed site is concerned ; but the site chosen is adjacent to the area reserved in the Griffin plan for abattoirs. The Griffin plan should be the Government’s bible in respect of the development of Canberra. That plan is not the concern of any particular department; it belongs to Australia as a whole, so far as the development of the National Capital is concerned. One consideration in referring the erection of abattoirs to the Public Works Committee is in order to ensure that the health of the community shall be completely safeguarded. From the health point of view alone, how much more imperative is it that the erection of offices in which public servants will be obliged to work should be similarly investigated? Some time ago I had occasion to object very strenuously in this Parliament to the erection of the Canberra High School on a portion of the site reserved in the Griffin plan for the National University. And in order to proceed with that work the department closed a portion of a road. I again emphasize that any proposal which involves a departure from the Griffin plan should first be submitted to this Parliament. Should Parliament concur with any such proposal, well and good; but Parliament has not been consulted in respect of the Government’s proposal to erect temporary secretariats on Capitol Hill.
– The honorable member must reserve any observations he wishes to make with regard to the erection of secretariats until a motion in respect of such work is before the House.
– I take it, Mr. Speaker, that you are anticipating the motion which I propose to move?
– I am not anticipating the honorable member in any way whatever. The honorable member must now address himself solely to the motion before the House.
– Is not a motion of this description capable of amendment, Mr. Speaker?
– The honorable member can move an amendment provided it be relevant to the motion.
– In order to obtain your ruling on the matter immediately, Mr. Speaker, I move -
That the following words be added to the motion - “ and the secretariats near Capitol Hill “.
I submit that the motion is broad enough to embrace other works in addition to abattoirs.
– The honorable member’s amendment is not in order. The motion before the House represents a substantive proposal to refer to the Public Works Committee a certain work, namely, the erection of abattoirs in Canberra. The amendment moved by the honorable member is an entirely separate proposal and must, therefore, be submitted as a separate motion. If a proposal dealing with the erection of secretariats can be considered in conjunction with the motion now before the House, we might just as well admit other proposals, such as the construction of aerodromes at Alice Springs or Darwin. In that case there would be no limit to the debate. I rule, therefore, that the amendment is not in order as it is not relevant to the motion. The debate must be confined to the motion.
– Would not the honorable member for Parkes be in order in moving an amendment that the letter “ s “ be added to the word “ work “ ?
– Section 15 of the Public Works Committee Act provides that a Minister, or any member of the House of Representatives, may move that any work estimated to cost £25,000 or more be referred to the Public Works Committee. Under that provision the honorable member for Parkes may, at the appropriate time, move that the erection of secretariats near Capitol Hill be referred to the Public Works Committee.
– I accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker. However, I ask the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) whether, after the motion now before the House has been disposed of, he will accept a motion to refer the construction of the secretariats near Capitol Hill to the Public Works Committee?
– I shall be prepared to give consideration to the honorable member’s request ; but I point out that it can in no way affect the debate on this motion which must proceed.
– I cannot accept that assurance, because it is too indefinite. Unless the Government is prepared to include in this reference to the Public Works Committee the proposed new secretariats, I shall vote against the motion. The present proposal is fraught with considerable danger, and I intend to make a fight to ensure that no further departures are made from the Griffin plan. For too long has the National Capital been the plaything of politicians, and I refuse to allow the Government further to trifle with the matter. Parliament is asked to refer to the Public Works Committee a pettifogging job, but important buildings the estimated cost of which is £80,000 and which are said to be temporary are not referred to that body. Obviously, that position should be rectified. Furthermore, I reject the statement by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) that the proposed new secretariats, if erected on the foundations which have been laid near to Parliament House, will cost £80,000, because the secretary of the Department of the Interior has already informed me that the cost would not exceed £60,000. I cannot accept the intimation of the Acting Prime Minister that my proposal must take its chance. I shall fight for it to-day. If my proposal be not included in the motion, I shall vote against it.
– Why does not the honorable member move a separate motion ?
– The honorable member for Parkes knows very little of parliamentary procedure if he is not aware that such a course is open to him.
– I know sufficient about parliamentary procedure to be aware that the Government controls the business paper. From long years of association with this institution, I know also that the Government would place such a motion, if I were to submit it, at the bottom of the notice-paper. In the circumstances, I decline to take the chance. I ask the Acting Prime Minister to give me a definite assurance that if the House now agrees to the motion to refer to the Public. Works Committee the erection of the abattoirs in the Australian Capital Territory, he will accept a motion to-day from me also to refer to that body the matter of the erection of the new buildings.
– I am prepared to accept a motion to that affect, but the House will decide whether it should be carried.
– I am content to leave the matter to the House. Having obtained that assurance, I now withdraw my opposition to the motion.
.- I support the motion to refer to the Public Works Committee for inquiry and report the proposal for the erection of abattoirs in the Australian Capital Territory. It is the established practice to refer works of that character to the committee.
– It is not the practice to do so.
– Although the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act makes provision for the procedure, governments in the past have ignored it. I regret that the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) was ruled out of order, but I am gratified to learn that the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) is prepared to accept from him a specific motion relating to the new secretariats. That will be discussed immediately the House disposes of this motion. I do not propose to delay its passage, because I believe that the principle is sound. My only regret is that governments in the past have not seen fit to submit various important works to the authorized body for inquiry and report. The little knowledge that honorable members possess about such proposals is gleaned either from the press, or from personal observation. Unfortunately such works have been undertaken with little regard for the carefully devised Griffin plan. When departures from it are made, as has been done in the case of the King George V. Memorial, which is now being erected in front of Parliament House, the Federal Capital will, instead of conforming to a definite plan, “ just grow, like Topsy “. I congratulate the honorable member for
Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) for bringing this matter prominently before the Government, which should result in the proposal being referred to the Public Works Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
. - by leave - I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1013-1936, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Erection of temporary office buildings near Capitol Hill.
As I have already mentioned, I am a great stickler for the observance of the Griffin plan, and I have always been consistent in my advocacy of the necessity to refer to the Public Works Committee for inquiry and report all proposals for the erection of Commonwealth buildings, the estimated cost of which will exceed £25,000. Parliament appoints that committee specifically to investigate such works, whether temporary or permanent. The estimated cost of the proposed new secretariats, which are said to be of a temporary character, is £80,000. Does any one in his wildest dreams believe that two such structures could be justifiably classed as temporary?
– They will be there for a. generation !
– Without seeking in any way to influence the Public Works Committee, I shall be greatly disappointed if it does not investigate suitable sites for the new secretariats, and ensure that they conform to the Griffin plan.
.- I second the motion. As one who has taken a keen interest in the growth and development of Canberra, I am gratified to see that the Government, even at this late stage, has agreed to accept a motion to refer to the Public Works Committee for inquiry and report the erection of the new secretariats near Capitol Hill. The construction of temporary offices on that site will definitely contravene the Griffin plan, and I am at a loss to understand why the Government desires to erect them on the site selected for the permanent Parliament House. The proposed new buildings will he constructed of brick and should be of service for possibly a century. They would be an eyesore and even worse than the eyesore which has been created in front of this building by the erection of the stonework for the King George V. Memorial. Honorable members have only themselves to blame for what has occurred in that respect, because insufficient interest was taken when I and other honorable members suggested that the proposed memorial was in the wrong form and place and would be a waste of money.
– Is the site wrong?
– Yes ; the site, the type and everything about it is wrong. The money to be expended on it would be much better employed in the building of a hospital, and I am certain that his late Majesty would have favored such a monument. The scenic value of Capitol Hill will be impaired if the proposed buildings are erected on the site suggested. I hope that when this matter comes before the Public Works Committee, it will carefully examine that aspect of the matter.
Greater attention is long overdue to the need to erect offices for public departments in Canberra, because it is essential that within the shortest possible time the remainder of the departments should be brought to Canberra so that this city will be the national capital in fact and not only in name. Associated with the whole project is the fact that not very far from Parliament House £52,000 worth of concrete foundations have remained unused since 11)27. From time to time, consideration has been given to building on those foundations. At one stage they were strengthened in anticipation of being utilized, only to be abandoned again. I inspected the foundations yesterday and beneath a litter of weeds and rubbish saw where they had been strengthened. The Public Works Committee, no doubt, will also consider that aspect, and I hope that, as suggested by the honorable member for Parkes, something will be done to utilize those foundations. The £80,000 which the Government proposes to expend on offices near Capitol Hill should be diverted to the construction of the first section of the permanent administrative building originally contemplated. If that were done, the money that would be required to provide foundations for the building near Capitol Hill would be saved and, to the extent of that saving, additional office accommodation could be provided.
Recently, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that certain buildings had to be erected in Melbourne for defence purposes and that it was necessary to transfer staffs from Canberra to Melbourne where they were needed in the service departments. When the Prime Minister left Australia, the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) said that certain buildings had to be erected in Sydney. The meetings of the War Cabinet were then transferred from Melbourne to Sydney. The game of draughts goes on. The value of Sydney or Melbourne as an administrative centre seems to depend on the outlook of the Prime Minister of the day. Honorable members should raise their voices against a policy which ignores the National Capital. Canberra was established as the National Capital, and it should be accepted as such. Cabinet should meet here. Not until then shall we have a true national outlook. When the former member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) was Minister for Civil Aviation, he said that the head-quarters of the department would be established at Canberra, but, before he had time to give effect to his policy, a change of Ministers took place with the result that the Department of Civil Aviation remained in Melbourne. The development of Canberra should not depend on the whim of individual Ministers. I could emulate the honorable member for Parkes and refer to press reports, but it is not necessary for me to do so. I am glad that the Acting Prime Minister agreed to the motion being moved. I am confident, that the Public Works Committee will, in due course, report to Parliament that it is undesirable to depart from the original Griffin plan or to mutilate the proposed site for the permanent Parliament House. I have no doubt that the motion will be carried.
.- I strongly oppose the departure from the Griffin plan in the proposal to erect temporary secretariats costing approximately £80,000 on the site reserved for the permanent parliamentary building at Canberra. The department charged with the task of carrying out the Griffin plan has failed in its duty in not referring this proposed work to Parliament for approval. I commend the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) for having brought this matter under the notice of honorable members. The tendency of some departments to ignore their obligations to this Parliament must be curbed. Earlier during the debate I asked that the files in connexion with this proposed work be placed on the table of the House, and the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Collins) undertook to make them available, but so far I have not seen them.
– The files are being procured.
– I want to know who is responsible for recommending this departure from the Griffin plan without the consent of the Parliament. We have in Canberra an advisory body, the National Capital Planning and Development Committee, on which a number of leading architects serve in an honorary capacity. When chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works I was empowered by the Parliament to take a seat on the National Capital Planning and Development Committee, and during my term of office I was able to gain the highest possible appreciation of the value of the helpful advice it gave to the department. It has been stated in the press that this proposed departure from the Griffin plan has been strongly opposed by the National Capital Planning and Development Committee. If the newspaper report be correct, honorable members should be informed why its advice has been ignored. I join with the honorable member for Parkes in urging that the proposed work be referred to the Public
Works Committee for investigation and report. The commencement of the construction of the National Capital of Australia in 1913 was marked by a number of ceremonies, and the foundation stones of a number of proposed new building were laid ; but so far as I know, apart from the Institute of Anatomy, the Patent Office, and a small section of the National Library, only temporary buildings have since been erected.
– A very good method was followed in connexion with the building of the National Library. The complete plan was adopted, but only a small section of the building, sufficient to meet present requirements, was completed.
– That is so. I am also reminded that I, with other honorable members on this side of the House, when sitting in Opposition, forced the Government of the clay, of which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) was a member, to adopt that course. In introducing the Public Works Committee Bill in the House of Representatives in December, 1913, the then Prime Minister, the Honorable Joseph Cook, said -
We are spending in public works every year from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000; and Parliament, I am afraid, is not so well informed as it ought to be regarding the expenditure of this money and the projection of the various public works. Every one knows that we pass bills through this chamber, sometimes, in circumstances which do not permit of full and detailed investigation of the projects to which they relate; and, consequently, I fear that Parliament occasionally knows very little of the actual details of the expenditure of large Bums of public money. It is in order to remedy that defect, as well as to ensure a more efficient spending of the money, and the wiser disposition of our public works policy, that this committee is proposed. Experience, both in Victoria and New South Wales, abundantly justifies this proposal. I do not hesitate to say that, in the State of New South Wales, a similar committee has saved the country millions of money …. The function of the committee is to be the “eyes and ears of Parliament “ …. so that Parliament may assume its responsibility with an enlightened mind and judgment.
A brief examination of some of the savings made by the Public Works Committee will show the wisdom of having a statutory body vested with power to examine proposed public works. The following is a list of defence works upon which various Public Works Committees have reported and recommended reduced expenditure : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 March 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410314_reps_16_166/>.