16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to announce, with deep regret, the death, on the 23rd April last, of the honorable member for the electoral division of Boothby (Mr. John Lloyd Price). I have also to inform the House that, on the 6th May, I issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for that division in the place of the deceased gentleman. The dates in connexion with the election were fixed as follows : - Issue of writ, the 6th May, 1941; nominations, the 14th May, 1941; polling, the 24th May, 1941; return to - writ, on or before the 14th June, 1941.
– It is with feelings of particularly deep regret that I refer to the death of one who was very highly esteemed in this House, Mr. John Lloyd Price, at that time honorable member for Boothby and Government Whip.
The sad news of Mr. Price’s death reached me while I was in the United Kingdom, and the passing of such a valued friend and colleague caused me very profound sorrow.
Mr. Price had served his country capably over a long period. His parliamentary career commenced when he was elected to the House of Assembly in South Australia for the division of Port Adelaide, at the State general elections held in 1915. He retained that seat until he resigned it upon being appointed Agent-General in London for the State ofSouth Australia in April, 1925, which post he held until April, 1928. Soon after his return to Australia in 1928, he successfully contested the Boothby seat in this legislature, and he retained it until his death.
The late Mr. Price was a loyal and sincere man. In the speeches that he made in this House he did not on any occasion descend to indulgence in personalities. He accepted interjections with unfailing good nature, and clearly enjoyed the goodwill of his fellowmembers.
In addition to being an enthusiastic representative of the State of South Australia, supporting staunchly any proposal designed to advance its welfare, the deceased gentleman was also a big Australian who did not spare himself in any way in the discharge of his public duties. Since the opening of the present Parliament he had occupied, with success and. I think, with satisfaction to all honorable members, particularly those who sit on this side of the House, the post of Government Whip.
The suddenness of Mr. Price’s death must have come as a severe shock to his wife and family. We thank them for the work that he did and the example that he set to others. We feel deeply for them. I invite honorable members to join with me in an expression of our sorrow and our sympathy. I move -
That this’ House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. John Lloyd Price, who at the time of his death was member for the division of Boothby in the House of Representatives, and was formerly a member of the South Australian Parliament, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion. I associate my colleagues and myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister, which, I am sure, express the view of (.very honorable member concerning the hi te honorable member for Boothby.
For 25 years Mr. Price was engaged in the service of the people of South Australia and, consequently, the people of the Commonwealth as a whole. The experience that he gained in the Parliament of South Australia qualified him to become an invaluable advocate for that State. In order that his qualifications might be suitably employed, the Government of South Australia appointed him to represent that State as its AgentGeneral in London. Doubtless the fulfilment of the tasks associated with that office enabled him to widen his outlook and deepen his understanding of the requirements of this country.
After his return to Australia Mr. Price, as a member of the Labour party, sought election to the Commonwealth Parliament for the division of Boothby, and his candidature was successful. He remained in this Parliament for many years, supporting the different governments that have since occupied the Treasury bench. We concede that in some cases the changing of a man’s opinions may - and in the case of Mr. Price was - a demonstration of his strength of purpose and his determination to do what lie thought was right in the national interest. We members of the Labour party view in that light the political severance of Mr. Price from ourselves. His action did not sever our friendship, aor did it lessen our esteem for him. We found, as did every other honorable member, that he was a very gracious debater. He could state his case without hurting the feelings of anybody. He dealt with public problems solely in the light of the public interest. I pay tribute to the work that he did, not only for South Australia but also for Australia as a whole. This is quite regardless, as it should be, of every party political consideration. His father before him had set the example of steadfast public service. I am quite positive that the son manfully and faithfully endeavoured to live up to the standard that had been set by his distinguished father. In this House he gave ample proof that he regarded himself as the trustee of a very proud name. As the right honorable the Prime Minister has said, his death came as a profound shock to all of us. I was in Perth at the time, and was deeply moved when the news reached me, because I had not realized that Mr. Price was not enjoying the best of health. We feel very deeply for his widow, as well as for his children, one of whom has distinguished himself in the service of the air arm of the Royal Australian Navy.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– The late honorable member will be long remembered affectionately by all of us, and we believe that his name will be kept in the hearts of the people of Boothby for many years to come.
– I associate the Country party, and myself personally, with the reverentexpressions of respect and sympathy that have been voiced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin).
I was not privileged to know the late Mr. Price for very long, but my acquaintance with him was sufficient to enable me to appreciate his work and to recognize his honesty of purpose. My party and I cordially support the motion conveying sympathy to those who have been left to mourn his loss.
– I wish most sincerely to endorse the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). The passing of John Lloyd Price was a great shock to me, as we had been fast friends for the last ten years. We had worked together, and travelled much together. Any one who knew John Price for as long as I had could .not fail to admire him both as a public man and as a personal friend. He loyally represented his constituency in this Parliament, and I am sure that the man who follows him will find it hard to live up to the standard which he set. No one could be more sincere and honest than he was. To know John Price was to love him. Therefore, I desire to associate myself with the Prime Minister and the other speakers, in extending to Mrs. Price our very deepest sympathy.
– Every honorable member of this House regrets the need for this motion.We all recognize the worth of the late honorable member for Boothby, John Price, who by his geniality endeared himself to every one. One of the greatest tributes that can be paid to any public man is to say that he was devoid of bitterness, and that can be truthfully said of John Price. There was no animosity in his make-up. I had ample opportunity to note his amiable disposition, his ability and his high personal qualities. He was full of human sympathy and understanding. As was pointed out by the Prime Minister, the South Australian Government recognized the worth and ability of John Price when it appointed him to represent that State as Agent-General at the heart of the Empire, and he discharged the duties of that position with outstanding success, and with credit to his State and to himself. Some years ago, while he was a member of the South Australian Parliament, and I was a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, we were elected whips of our respective parties. That brought me into close touch with him, and there developed between us a friendship which grew stronger with each passing year. We can ill-afford to lose men such as he during the anxious and perilous times through which we are now passing. I join with the Prime Minister in expressing my regret at his death, and in extending to his widow, and to the other members of his family, our sincere sympathy in the great loss they have sustained.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– I regret to announce that a former member of this House, the Honorable James Arthur Boyd, died in Melbourne on the 12th April last. Mr. Boyd was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria for the division of Melbourne from July, 1901, to December, 1908. He was an Honorary Minister in the Government of Victoria from February, 1907, to December. 1908. At the federal general elections of 1913, he was elected to this House for the division of Henty, and was re-elected in 1914 and 1917. Mr. Boyd arrived in Melbourne from Scotland as a lad, and ultimately established himself very successfully in the commercial and public life of this country. I was not, of course, associated with Mr. Boyd in either the Victorian or the Commonwealth Parliament, but I came into frequent contact with him both privately and when I was a member of the Government of Victoria. He possessed outstanding business ability, and was an indefatigable worker in any sphere to which his business or social interests called him. His work as a member of the Melbourne Harbour Trust is worthy of special mention among his many public activities in the State of Victoria. He was a man of great humanity, and his kindly and genial nature gained for him the affection and esteem of a wide circle of personal friends. To-day, we pay tribute to his memory, and to his service in the Commonwealth Parliament, and in other spheres of public life. To the members of his family who are left to mourn his loss we extend our deepest sympathy. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable James Arthur Boyd, a former member of the Victorian and Commonwealth Parliaments and State Minister, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.
– I associate members of the Opposition with the expressions of sympathy which have fallen from the Prime Minister. Mr. Boyd was a prominent Victorian citizen, who was active in many ways. He had an influence in business and in the life of that State which qualified him, first for membership of the State parliament, and afterwards to serve in this Parliament with great distinction. I did not know him personally, but his name and reputation were well-known to me. I am sure that those who were members at the same time as he can testify to his splendid personal qualities. His association with public life takes us back almost to the beginning of federation, when he was a member of the Victorian Parliament. That band of servants of the Australian public belongs to history; their number is gradually lessening, but the gratitude of the Australian people to them will endure.
– On behalf of the Country party I endorse the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and join with them in conveying our deep sympathy to those who are left to mourn the death of Mr. Boyd.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– It is with regret that I record the death, on the 8th May last, of Mr. Alexander Hay, a former member of this House. As a member of the Country party, Mr. Hay was elected to this House for the division of New England at the general elections of 1919, but was defeated at the general election of 1922. As captain, and later as major, he served with remount units of the Australian Imperial Force in the Great War of 1914-1918. Those who sat with him in the House of Representatives speak very highly of Mr. Hay. Charm of manner and a cheerful disposition were notable personal qualities which made him a popular figure in the Parliament of that time. He was widely and favorably known in New South “Wales. He . had been engaged in “rural pursuits in that State for practically a lifetime, and was an authority on the meat and dairying industries. I invite the House to record its appreciation of his public service, and its sympathy with his relatives in their bereavement. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. Alexander Hay, a former member for the division of New England in this House, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his relatives in their bereavement.
– Mr. Hay became a member of this Parliament almost immediately after the last war, in which he had served with conspicuous distinction. He was a valued member of the Country party, and his knowledge of rural pursuits qualified him to play an important part in its councils. Although I was not a member of this Parliament at the time of Mr. Hay’s association with it, those of my colleagues, who had the privilege of knowing him personally, have informed me that he had a charming, friendly and generous disposition, and they look back with considerable satisfaction upon his membership of this Parliament. I feel confident that his family will derive consolation from the knowledge that his memory is treasured with deep regard in this Parliament.
– At the request of the Leader of the Country party (Mr. Fadden), because of my long association with the late Mr. Hay, I desire to convey to the relatives of the deceased the sympathy of members of the Country party. I had the privilege of knowing Mr. Hay for many years, both before and during the last war, and he served in Parliament with me when I was a new member. As has been said he had a charming disposition. He was one of the most progressive farmers that Australia has produced. At all times, he endeavoured to introduce better methods of farming and stock breeding. He was associated with many public institutions other than Parliament, particularly with the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, and his extensive practical knowledge of agriculture and of pastoral conditions, combined with his deep understanding of finance, was of extraordinary value not only in settling men on the land but also in enabling settlers to remain upon their holdings. He maintained with distinction the high standards of a long family tradition of public service, which dates hack to the early days of the settlement of New South Wales. To his bereaved ones, we extend our heartfelt sympathy.
– As the member for New England, which some years ago was represented by the late Mr. Hay, I associate myself with the expressions of sympathy to his widow and to the members of his family. The deceased rendered outstanding service to his country not only in the last war but also as a member of this Parliament.
He played a leading role in the development of primary industries, particularly the cheese industry, and to him must be given much of the credit for the opening up for settlement of land on the south coast of New South Wales. As was stated by the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), Mr. Hay’s associations with Australia, through his family, began in the roots of our history. The Berry estate, which hedeveloped on the South Coast and which he made a model for all dairy farmers to emulate, was one of the earliest settlements in Australia. With his demise, Australia lost a loyal, steadfast son.
.- My acquaintance with the late Mr. Hay extended over many years, not during the period when he was a member of this Parliament, but during the time when he resided in the electorate of Eden-Monaro. He descended from a pioneer family whose name will live long in the annals of our country. He established an enviable reputation for outstanding public service, and his passing will be regretted by a host of friends throughout Australia . As was pointed out by previous speakers, Mr. Hay was a progressive farmer and rendered conspicuous service to agriculture in Australia. To his widow and family, Iconvey my deepest regret.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members, standing in their places.
Sitting suspended from3.25 until 8 p.m.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
War Service Homes Bill 1941.
Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill 1941.
Pay-roll Tax Bill 1941.
Defence Bill 1941.
Commonwealth Public Service Bill 1941.
Crimes Bill 1941.
Acts Interpretation Bill 1941.
Child Endowment Bill 1941.
Raw Cotton Bounty Bill 1941.
Trade Agreement (Southern Rhodesia) Bill 1941.
Empire Air Service (England to Australia) Bill 1941.
Air Force Bill 1941.
Customs Tariff (Southern Rhodesian Preference) 1941.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1941.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill 1941.
Wine Grapes Charges Bill 1941.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1941.
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustments Validation Bill 1941.
Customs Tariff (Special War Duty) Validation Bill 1941.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Validation Bill 1941.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Validation Bill 1941.
Loan Bill 1941.
Berry Fruit-growers’ Relief Bill 1941.
– by leave - I have been a little exercised in my mind as to what should be the scope of the first statement I make to the House on my return from abroad, because, as honorable members will realize, the difficulty is very much more one of determining what to omit rather than of deciding what to include; but I think that it might be of value to honorable members, generally, and through them to the public, if I were to endeavour to give, as briefly as possible, some general account of the work which I have attempted to do while absent from Australia, and then to proceed to emphasize some of the outstanding impressions that I have formed during my journey. It has been a very long journey. It is, I think, exactly four months since I left Australia, and in the course of that time I have, as honorable members know, travelled in total 42,000 miles, about 36,000 of them by air. In the course of those travels I occupied about twelve days in the Middle East establishing contact with the Australian fighting forces, and spent in all between nine and ten weeks in Great Britain, attending meetings of the War Cabinet and dealing with a few score of other matters which were the subject of discussion between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United Kingdom. It has been an arduous journey and, of course, not without its hazards, but the experience that it has given to me is, I am quite sure, the most valuable experience of my life. The impressions formed have, I am equally sure, been of value to myself, and will also, I hope, be of value to this House.
Travelling around the world to-day is not the old orthodox experience that it used to be. You find yourself arriving in strange places. You find yourself making contacts with people in places that you had never expected to see. All the old routes of travel have been inevitably altered by the exigencies of war. Honorable members will perhaps most vividly appreciate the nature of this journey to accumulate information and to endeavour to see the picture of this war as a whole when I tell them that I jotted down this list of the names of some of the countries in which I was able to have some discussion and make some investigation : Netherlands East Indies, the Malay States, Thailand, India, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, the Sudan, Nigeria, Gambia, Portugal, Northern Ireland and Eire, the Azores, Bermuda, Canada, the United States of America, the Hawaiian Islands, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. And in the course of visiting those places it has really been possible to act as much more than a mere sightseer; indeed the opportunity for sightseeing has been extraordinarily restricted; but honorable members would be, as I was, astonished to realize in how many of those countries Australia has some specific interest and how importii nt to us are their policies and actions. In the Netherlands East Indies, for example, I had the opportunity of discussion with the GovernorGeneral as Chief Administrator of the Netherlands East Indies and the Governor of East Java, both men of outstanding intelligence, knowledge and experience. In the Malay States I was able to have some discussion on the spot with those responsible for the defence of Singapore, which is one of the great key strategic places of the world from the Australian point of view. In India I was able to make instructive contact with administrators in that country. In the course of passing through Iraq we flow over Basra, Kut el Amara and Lake
Habbaniyah. near two of which places there has been recent fighting. From Lake Habbaniyah we passed across the Transjordan mountains into Palestine and descended on the Sea of Galilee, a very strange and, to me, a very moving experience. In Palestine it was my good fortune to be able to spend some lengthy time in discussion with the High Commissioner, Sir Harold MacMichael, a very distinguished pro-consul indeed, and a man who was able to tell me illuminating things about the operations of the Palestine mandate and about local problems in that country.
From then on it was my privilege for twelve days to be in constant daily contact with the Australian forces. I saw the first Australian wounded in a hospital near Jerusalem. I saw thousands of Australian troops in review in camp near Gaza and the surrounding areas in Palestine. In Egypt - and by this time I was accompanied from day to day by General Blarney - I saw further Australian forces, including a great number of wounded. At Alexandria, I am happy to say, it was my good fortune to be able to visit several ships of the Royal Australian Navy, and I was with Sir Andrew Cunningham, who commands the British Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean and who is, I think of all the men I have met, the perfect type of fighting sailor. Honorable members will be glad to hear that in his company I was able to hear splendid things about the work done by the officers and ships’ companies of the Royal Australian Navy, who had served in the Mediterranean zone.
HONORABLE Members. - Hear, hear!
– Indeed, I can say this - and it is proper that we should have just pride in our Australians fighting for us - that the reputation of no people in the whole of the British naval forces stands higher than the reputation of those Australians who have served in this war. From Alexandria I went to Tobruk and then to Benghazi, because I desired, as honorable members would desire me to do, to visit, if possible, every Australian unit in the Middle East. It was a particularly interesting experience to go to Benghazi, because a battle in its vicinity had taken place only a few days before, and, indeed, some counter-action on the part of the enemy took place with some noisy results as I was shaving there next morning. The Australian troops right throughout these zones were, of course, weary. They had had much hard fighting and much hard travelling, but I found throughout the whole of them a uniformly cheerful, united and undaunted spirit. It was a complete spiritual refreshment to be in contact with thousands of those men, to have the opportunity to talk to them and to witness how, without any exception, their minds were turning back to their own people in their own country.
It has been said by those who love to create legends that the Australian soldier, though a good fighter, lacks discipline. That is a charge which has not been levelled against him by the enemy, but it has been levelled against him from time to time by those who are alleged to be his friends. It may be some answer to that thoughtless and foolish allegation if I say this : In Benghazi, an attractive Italian town of 60,000 people, with quite modern Italian buildings of excellent construction - and the Italians can do the work; one saw it all over Libya - the handing over of the town was conducted in front of the administrative buildings; the surrender was received by a brigadier of the Australian forces. The whole ceremony proceeded with the greatest discipline and with the greatest dignity. When I arrived in Benghazi two or three nights later there was no sign of any town fighting, or of any town sacked. There was no molestation of civilians. The Italian residents were just beginning to come out once more from their dwellings. There was one hotel open. I slept in it, or rather tried to sleep in it, and there I beheld the strange spectacle of several of the Australians, the conquerors, passing money across the counter to buy liquid refreshment from the Italian proprietor, the conquered. If there be need for an eloquent answer to the charge of indiscipline, this was the most eloquent: respect for the rights of the civilian, no attempt, whatever, to destroy any of the structural work of the Italian settlers. I record with very great interest, in this connexion, that the first damage done in the town of Benghazi was, in fact, done subsequently by Ger man bombers. Not only in Egypt and Libya did I find that the reputation of the Australian forces stood high; not only was it quite clear that the victories and demeanour of our troops had had a most stimulating effect on Egypt and also on the world at large, but also echoes of their conduct, and of their later actions in Greece, were to be heard all round the world as I travelled. In Canada, and in the United States of America, where one might have expected that perhaps mere distance would have somewhat blurred the outline and reputation of the Australian soldiers, I was repeatedly told with pride - not with a grudging sort of envy - that the Australian was the finest soldier in the world. The first campaign in Libya was, indeed, eloquent proof of it, for as honorable members now know, but as was not completely revealed until comparatively recently, the advance in Libya, past Bardia, Tobruk and Benghazi to Benini, was made against a vast army of probably at least twelve divisions of. Italians strongly entrenched and magnificently equipped with modern transport, by one armoured division and one infantry division, the latter being of members of the Australian Imperial Force.
From Libya I proceeded, by the rather devious route to which I have referred, to Great Britain. There it was necessary and proper that for nine or ten weeks I and those with me should share the experiences of the British people at this remarkable time in their history.
As I have referred to those with me I should like to say at once that we were understaffed. We had under-estimated the difficulties of getting even ordinary clerical work done in London in war-time. The result was that there fell upon Mr. F. G. Shedden, the Permanent Head of the Department of Defence Co-ordination, Mr. N. C. Tritton, and Mr. S. Landau, and upon that very fine Australian industrialist, Mr. John Storey, an immense burden of work. I should be lacking in my duty, as I should also fail in my pleasure, if I did not acknowledge to the House the really splendid work done by these officers in circumstances of very great difficulty.
In the course of these journeyings, during which we proceeded from Great Britain to Canada, from Canada to the
United States of America and from the United States of America through the Pacific to New Zealand, what were the principal things that, at this stage and in most general terms, I should like’ to emphasize to honorable members?
The first I shall take is this: We democratic peoples of the world hare immense difficulties. We have passed through great trials. We shall probably pass through greater trials. But we are indeed fortunate that on each side of the Atlantic, in the greatest of the old democracies, Great Britain, on the one side, and in the greatest of the new democracies, the United States of America, on the other side, there should have been raised up for us two leaders of magnificent courage and most notable spirit. The leadership in Great Britain of Mr. Winston Churchill is, I believe, as dynamic a thing as the history of Great Britain can show. He is not only in himself the embodiment of the traditional spirit of Great Britain, but he has in him, in his spirit itself, a burning flame which will never admit defeat, and which can transfer itself to other men and women so that they are able to breathe freely once more, and again turn themselves vigorously to battle. In the middle of last year, when France had been ‘beaten back and Germany had invaded Flanders, when our own armies had been cut off for various reasons and driven back to Dunkirk, and when the evacuation from Dunkirk had taken place, there was a crisis which had no real precedent in the history of our race. At that time, when France was obviously beaten, and had practically fallen, there must have been many people in. Great Britain who were tempted, for the moment, to say, “ This is something we have never previously encountered. How can we possibly resist this? At that very moment the voice of Winston Churchill addressed them, and that voice has spoken ever since, week by week, to stir .the spirit of his countrymen. It is among the blessings of Providence that we British people of the world should have had such a great and burning spirit placed at the head of our columns. And, sir, of course, as I shall say in detail a little later, Mr. Winston Churchill has been indeed fortunate, too, because, being himself a, great leader, it has been his fortune to lead a great people - a people so great in such trials that I do not believe that anybody, not even those who knew them intimately before, could ever have realized that their greatness could reach such a pitch.
On the other side of the Atlantic, there is President Roosevelt. whose speech to the world to-day must have provoked in the hearts and minds of every honorable member the same deep feeling of gratitude, as it provoked in mine.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I had the privilege of seeing something of President Roosevelt - not enough, of course, because he is extremely occupied; but I had a lengthy and very heartening talk with him in Washington. Six years had elapsed since I had last seen him. He appeared, as any man must do in the circumstances of these days, at least six years older. He was more tired and more conscious of the burdens that rest on his shoulders. But if all honorable members could go through the United States of America as I have done and could sense the spirit that exists there, and listen to the burning words to be heard all over the country, they would realize that this President of the United States of America has not merely been an interpreter of what his people think, but has himself been a very great creator of public opinion and of international spirit.
The next thing I shall mention as a vivid impression, although it is not the most vivid, for I shall refer to that anon, is that the longer the war lasts and the more crises we encounter in the course of it, the more plainly it appears that this is a war in which the machine has attained a significance never known before. This is a war in which all preconceived ideas must be revised. It is a war in which the man in the f actory or in the workshop is as truly engaged as anybody else in fighting the battle. We British people are not inferior to the enemies. Neither in our cause nor in our spirit are we inferior to our enemies! In our skill, in our enthusiasm, and in our devotion, we are not inferior to our enemies. But we are inferior in our machines. For. years and years Hitler has been building his machines. He has prepared himself industrially and in every other way for this war of conquest. Because he has had six years’ start, and because every democratic country of the world, hoping against hope for something better, did not start so soon as our enemy to prepare machines, we have been forced to read day after day and week after week of gallant men being driven back, not by better men - God forbid - but by men better equipped, by men with more dive bombers, more guns, more armoured fighting vehicles, more of the modern mechanism of war. We shall begin to win the war only when we have been able, all over the democratic world, to marshal every last ounce of skill and all the strength we have, industrially, for the production of machines which will outnumber and overpower those of our enemy. I do not underestimate the difficulty of this task of outproducing an enemy who controls, not only something like 80,000,000 highly industrialized Germanic people, but who also has- at the moment as his unwilling serfs millions of skilled workers in Italy and Prance. We have a gigantic task in front of us. But that task must be performed unfalteringly, and performed without one moment’s regard for any private interest, if we are to reach the stage when the gallantry and valour of our men can be adequately supported by the machines that are placed at their disposal. Where.ever you turn in any part of the world, it is shown clearly that this war asserts itself more and more as a war in which all of the military advances of the enemy are due to dive bombers, tanks, submarines, and long-distance recon.naissance planes, which sweep from Bordeaux to “Bergen. These are all the instruments of man’s hand, and in the production of them our enemy, so far, is our superior.
But we must set against them the third thing I wish to mention, which is, that supreme and immortal thing, the morale of our British people. I do not think that any one, even if he were ‘to speak for five hours, could succeed in painting a really adequate picture of what this British morale - the morale of the people of the British Isles - has meant, means, and will mean, not only to them, but also to us. I say that because we must never forget that the battle being fought in Britain at this moment is being fought in the first line of our Australian defence. A great deal has been written, a great deal has been said, about how the British people are behaving under bombing from the skies, and under the hardships which are imposed by the German counter blockade and many honorable members may ‘have been tempted to say, “ This is mere journalism, a mere picturesque account of something designed to keep up the spirit “. I confess’ that, before I went there, I myself thought that there might be some element of simple propaganda about what I was reading. I was not there a fortnight before I realized that this is no propaganda; this is the merest and most moving truth. Life in a country subject to air-raiding is no happy experience.; it is a grim business. I do not think that I ever felt so saddened by anything as by the spectacle of men, women and children carrying their bedding down at sunset into the tubes so that they could be- precariously accommodated in the bunks along each of the railway platforms, that they might pass a troubled night with the tube trains swishing in and out and stirring up dust - indescribable conditions of discomfort. Yet for thousands of those people that is the regular routine. Whether there is an air raid or not, they move down to the tube platforms in the evening so that they may pass their nights in this extraordinary fashion. Yet, grim, grimy and depressing as were their lives, I found among none of these people the slightest hint that, in order to change all this for the ordinary freedom of living and, possibly, sleeping in their own homes, they desired to make terms with the enemy. They are prepared to live like that, to become modern Troglodytes, in order that they might not become modern slaves. Let me refer to one class of citizen in Great Britain, not enjoying -the limelight, not perhaps very much spoken about, but who, in my opinion, is just about the salt of the earth. I refer to the simple housewife, who has none of the exciting things in life to do, but whose battle it is to cope with the -rationing of food so that the men in her family are fed, who almost literally endeavours to spread out a little butter over a great deal of bread. The modern housewife in England to-day never knows but that when the air raid of the previous night is finished she will face the_cutting off of her gas or electricity, all the normal means of heating; but if she has to improvise to provide Hot meals for her husband and family, she never complains. And when night falls, and the enemy again comes over and drops his incendiary bombs, she herself goes out, because she is in that division, puts out the bombs, and goes back to her home and says, “ We had an interesting night; we got rid of four incendiary bombs in our street”. Then she takes up her household work. What that woman does is of the purest stuff of heroism. Where incendiary bombs fall in a raid, there fall also highexplosive bombs. .Where fires rage, there is the danger greatest. Yet in’ all these places you will find not merely the hardbitten, matter-of-fact man whom you would expect to see, but also women, young and old, moving about, driving fire-carts and ambulances, doing all sorts of work in the very presence of death; in fact, thousands of them have met their death in the doing of this great work. The air raid in Great Britain has been called with some flattering adaptation of the German tongue, a “ blitz “. People have become, in a sense, philosophical about the blitz. T do not mean by that that anybody likes a blitz. It is mere pretence for any one to say that there is anything else but momentary terror during the screaming descent of bombs from the skies and the shattering of homes and houses, in some places whole rows of houses; but the fact is - and it has been adopted long since in Britain - that for the most part you cannot legislate against a direct hit by a bomb. So, the householder who repairs to his basement - a basement that he has perhaps had strengthened a little to resist attack - knows quite well that, though it will protect him from flying fragments and the blast, it will not protect him from a direct hit. As night falls, there are millions of people in Great Britain who, without panic, without fear, say to themselves subconsciously and with cheerful resignation, “It might be my turn to-night”. But that, which might have been expected in some people to produce a dull, apathetic fatalism, has produced in the spirit of the British people only the liveliest confidence and the most resolute determination. And it is of some value to record - and I do it now - that not all the blitzes in the world have been able to eradicate from the British people that divine faculty, which is part of their invincibility, of being able to laugh. There is still rich humour to be found in Great Britain. I remember that on the night of the 16th April there was a particularly widespread and devastating attack on London from the air. A friend of mine who was caught in the blitz found himself in. a coffee stall, with its curtains draped around it bo that no light would show, inside were half a dozen of the ordinary men of London drinking coffee and one woman was singing “ The Lights of London Town”. More bombs fell, and explosions were echoing around. She was half way through her song when the curtains were opened and in stepped a characteristic London policeman, just as of old, except that now he wears a tin hat in place of the usual helmet. He put up his hand and said, “ Now then, not too much of that noise!”. That is one of many stories that this extraordinary experience has produced; but I enjoyed it because it is a great comfort to me and to many people to know that under these ferocious and inhuman attacks, the true juicy humanity of the British people has by no means been extinguished. There is another aspect of air raids on Britain which I mention, because I want, if I can, to bring home to the minds of honorable members just how deep a wound this kind of thing must make upon the life of a nation. In Coventry. Plymouth, Birmingham, Sheffield - in a dozen cities’ of England - where there has been tremendous devastation among the civilian people, the destruction of homes, and, unfortunately, a large roll of dead, so many people have at one time been killed, and in circumstances that made identification impossible, that there have been, as a common feature of life after air raids, large community funerals with hundreds of victims buried in a common grave. The first time I was told that hundreds of people in one town had to he buried in a common grave I thought I had found something which would plumb the very depths of human anguish. One would think that in these circumstances human sorrow would have been so great that it would have been supportable only by the knowledge that it was so widely shared. Yet in those towns, within a few days, a few weeks, the people were at their work, smiling, cheerful, and resolute. Almost every city I visited in the course of a week had had this experience. In almost every one of them aircraft factories existed on a grand scale. In spite of these experiences - and I say it with immense pride - during the period I was in Britain aircraft production established a record for all time. Not only does one see these things, not only does one learn to admire this cool and undaunted temper of the British people, but one also, if he is an Australian, realizes now little our life in this country has yet been altered by the war compared with what has happened to the people of Britain. Some of us have in the past complained that some inconvenience has come upon us because of the war, that we were not able to drive our motor cars so far as we used to, that there was some slight reduction of the size of the newspapers we read, that difficulty was experienced in raising extra capital to pursue some enterprise; but, in reality, if we compare our state with that of people abroad, we cannot honestly say that there has been any major interference with our lives. In Britain, the great newspapers of London come out day after day with four or six pages. In the whole of the south-east of England, in what is called the invasion area, people who all their lives have lived on the seaside or holiday trade, have suddenly found that the dreaded sign has gone up, that no visitors are allowed in that area, that the residents’ normal means of living have come to an end. Hundreds of thousands of people living in one place have suddenly found themselves living in another place, and thousands who, after many years of toil and saving had managed to accumulate the few sticks and stones that constituted a home have suddenly found, one fine morning, their homes gone and all their material lives in ruin behind them. We know nothing of these things; but if we are to play our part as we should in the deadly struggle we must get to know more about privations, and more about the alteration of our way of life in Australia than we have ever known before. There is no reason why we should permit ourselves to waste one shilling on one solitary thing that is’ not essential to the prosecution of the war. There is no reason why “we should engage in expenditure on civil production when the one thing that will determine whether or not we are to survive will be our military production. On that phase of the matter I have come back with a more vivid realization than I have ever had before of just what the cruel conduct and measures of war can mean to a beleaguered people like the people of Great Britain, and I should indeed be sorry if the many speeches which I had the privilege to make, I hope, on your behalf, to the people of Great Britain turned out to be mere pious expressions of generous sentiments. They were not pious expressions. We have done great things in this country - I proclaim that fact with pride - but we must do much greater things in the next twelve months. In the doing of those things we must also learn from the people of Britain another great quality which they are exhibiting to-day. They have not only energy, enthusiasm and zeal, but also patience. We shall need all the patience that we possess; and when I say patience I do not mean the dull patience of inertia. People sometimes say that they are patient when they merely mean that they are lazy. We cannot afford to have that attitude. We need to endure, because we cannot in Australia, any more than can the people of the United States of America, suddenly conjure up a vast production out of very little. Providing for war is a tremendous business. When I was in the United States of America, more than eighteen months after the war began, and after the urgency of this war had plainly communicated itself to the people of the United States of America, I still found that it waa necessary for them to say in a score of places : “ We have not really got going on that. We have been going through the foundational phase.” Production, as honorable members know, is inevitably a slow and difficult business. It is for us to have the patience to endure these foundational periods, and, at the same time, the energy to drive on so that these periods become as short as possible.
I now turn to something which I have drawn from the whole of my experiences and the discussions which I had on my journey about the progress and the gravity of this war. The year 1941, which is now almost half-gone, is in my opinion, and I believe in the opinion of most observers, the most fateful year in our history. I hear some cheerful and good-natured people occasionally say, “Don’t you think it will be over by Christmas ? “ The fact is that, in the absence of a miracle, 1941 will be a year in which the British people all over the world will struggle and struggle to avoid defeat ; and when we have avoided defeat, as we shall in God’s good pleasure, we shall be building our strength for the ultimate assault that will bring us victory. But let us have no illusions about some quick and miraculous delivery from these difficulties. We have before us in this year some of the greatest trials that we have ever had to endure. The people of Great Britain have no illusions about 1941. They are not pessimistic; but they have no illusions on the matter. They have only a dogged determination, and a great and shining faith in ultimate victory.
What is the war fabric of 1941? First, I want to say something about what is, perhaps, the most crucial element in that fabric, that is, the defence of Great Britain itself, and in particular the defence of Great Britain against direct attack from the air. Towards the end of last year Great Britain was subject to daylight raiding, which, I remind honorable members, in its very nature, unless successfully opposed, can be of a most deadly character, because every bomb dropped in daylight may be aimed, and many may find their mark. The damage to production, if daylight raiding had continued, might easily have turned the scales against us, because
Great Britain and its factories are a concentrated mark compared with the enemy’s works, which are distributed over the length and breadth of Europe. But, fortunately for us, and thanks to the Royal Air Force, daylight raiding came to a bloody end. It has never been resumed. And when it failed the enemy resorted to night bombing, not on some casual and sporadic scale, but of such magnitude that, when the sirens blow and bombers come over, yon may be sure that there are in the sky 400 or 500 machines doing their work. Night bombing has been facilitated in the most devastating degree by the collapse of France and the overrunning of the Low Countries. When the enemy now decides to raid London, all he has to do is to send bombers out of scores of centres in the low countries or in France, not many miles from London. He may use medium bombers or relatively short-range machines. Indeed, on an ordinary night his machines can go to London and return, and after reloading again proceed to London, thus doing two tours of duty in the one night. On the other hand, if the Royal Air Force decides to dive deeply into Germany it must send heavy bombers, machines with long endurance because they must go longer distances, but longer distances lessen the bomb load which they are capable of carrying. So, in this matter of night bombing honorable members must not expect in a great hurry that Britain will be able to attack the enemy as extensively as he is now attacking us. The main thing in the battle for Britain is ,that the attacks of the enemy be defeated, and in that direction, work is being done in Great Britain which I believe is most remarkable and increasingly successful. Britain is defending itself against the night raider with the balloon barrage which keeps the raider up; and anti-aircraft fire which also keeps him up, and also, I am glad to say, not infrequently brings him down, because the record of the anti-aircraft gun in Great Britain is much better than many people think. But, above all, the answer to the night raider is the night fighter. The fighter has so far been operated mainly by the pilot, whose eye-sight has been specially trained for this work. indeed. be is known affectionately at home as “ cat’s eyes “. This man goes up questing in the darkness, sometimes through the searchlight of his own defences and sometimes in risk of his own fire, but always looking for his mark, and, every now and then, bringing the enemy down. In addition, Britain has scientificallyequipped aircraft, the result of much brilliant research by British scientists. They have, by their own means of detection, been able to pick out the enemy, and bring him down. Each month the number of night raiders shot down over Great Britain substantially increases, and 1 believe that if the ratio of improvement in the night-fighting defences of Great Britain continues at the same rate as has been the case during the last ‘ three months we may anticipate that before this year is out Britain will have brought this menace to an end as effectively as it brought daylight raiding to an end.
I think that I should point out that air attacks on Great Britain are of four principal kinds. First, the enemy has quite legitimately attacked war factories and dockyards, and the like, in order that he may break up production. He has done that, and he has very frequently reached his mark. We do not, for obvious reasons, announce from day to day what the enemy has done in any particular direction, but it would be foolish to pretend that he has not very frequently reached his mark in his attacks upon objectives of that kind. I, myself, have been in one vast works which, in one place or another, has been hit over one hundred times by bombs, and yet one almost needs a microscope to discover where the damage had been done. The reason for that is that among the workers in these factories is that indomitable spirit to which I referred. A roof is blown off a portion of a vast workshop, and within two or three weeks it is restored. The motto of those workers is, “ We do not waste time on this sort of thing “. If a. roof is blown off it is restored as quickly as possible; if a wall is knocked out it is rebuilt just as quickly; and if machinery is damaged it is repaired as rapidly as possible. “ What hours do you work?” What does that matter! The hours being worked in Great Britain to- day in the factories of national importance are beyond anything anybody would have dreamed of a year, or two years, ago as being reasonable. That does not mean that these people have abandoned all their dreams of industrial conditions. Of course not; I hope that they will never do so. But it means that they know, in common with the whole of the 45,000,000 people in Great Britain, that this is a time when one thing only will save their country from the enemy, and that is unremitting toil, and an unlimited capacity for seeing the job through.
The next objective of attack by airraiders on Great Britain is the ports of Great Britain. I remember that not very long ago the theory was advanced that, if certain ports in England were closed, the import traffic of England could not be handled. Had I been told that the port of London could become a mere coastal shipping port, that the eastern ports of England could be bombed out of international trade, and that the great ports of the west coast, like Liverpool and Glasgow, could survive night after night of bombing, and the business of feeding and supplying England with its requirements could still go on, I would have hesitated to believe it. But it is now true. The enemy has struck heavily at the ports of Great Britain; yet in spite of that, by another miracle of improvisation, the supplying of Great. Britain proceeds. Goods come into the ports from America, and from distant Australia and New Zealand. The world’s traffic, however attenuated and distorted it may be, goes on, and the work of maintaining this magnificent population proceeds amain. The enemy has made deadly attacks on British ports, but he has not . succeeded in achieving his objective.
The third kind of attack he has made is, oddly enough, on the business centres of cities. I was astonished to discover, in places like Coventry, Plymouth, and Swansea, how he appeared to have concentrated his attack upon the ordinary shopping streets, just as though in Sydney, instead of searching out military objectives and factories, he concentrated his bombing on George, Pitt and Castlereagh streets, and in Melbourne on what is known as “ the block “, bounded by Collins-street, Bourke-street, Swanston- street, and Elizabeth-street. In all of those British centres that I have mentioned you may see great gaping wounds in the central business areas. When the enemy did that, he thought to himself, “ That will confuse the population; that will upset business ; that will disorganize community life “. All that it has produced is a series of placards on the ruins, announcing that business as usual is being carried on four blocks away, at such-and-such an address. At Plymouth, where I had the privilege of finding myself during a blitz, the enemy, with blazing fires to direct him, with the whole of the countryside for a distance of miles so brilliantly illuminated by fire that one could have read a newspaper, continued to concentrate his attack upon the ordinary commercial and shopping streets. On that night he did not drop one bomb on a military objective, he did not drop one bomb on the dockyards, but concentrated his attack with the object of destroying street after street of shops and offices. He had the supreme privilege of destroying the ancient church in which Brake used to worship, and of removing some of the ancient landmarks, but he did not affect production or the activity of war by one iota.
The fourth kind of attack that he has made is the calculatedly indiscriminate attack on residential areas, an attack obviously designed to blast the morale of the ordinary citizen. All that I need say about that, sir, is that every time the hammer-blow falls on the spirit of the British people that spirit becomes tougher; it does not break.
In respect of each of these four kinds of attack I believe that the position for 1941 is this: Great Britain will not be defeated from the air, although its ordeal, which, it cannot be doubted, will continue during this year, is so great that it has to be seen to be believed.
The next battle of 1941 is what is called the battle of the Atlantic. That battle has been made easier for the enemy by reason of the German control of European ports. The battle of the Atlantic, which, in the last war, was a process of attacks upon merchant ships by submarines, has now broadened in scope and has had brought into it new and terrible weapons and combinations of weapons. No longer does the U-boat go out prowling on the high seas to see whether it may, by chance, encounter a merchant ship or a convoy. To-day, the German is using all of the resources of science to achieve combined action between the long-distance reconnaissance plane - notably that manufactured by the Focke-Wulf organization - and the U-boat, each guiding, instructing, directing and helping the other to find its prey. These two instruments work side by side, in conjunction with the long-distance raider - the battleship, the battle-cruiser, the armed merchantmen - prowling the seas.
The President of the United States of America, in the notable speech that he made to-day, mentioned - as members will recall - the appalling rate of destruction of shipping caused by these combined means. We cannot shut our eyes to it. The people in Great Britain are certainly not shutting their eyes to it. There, a special organization has been set up for the sole and express purpose of fighting the battle of the Atlantic. This task engages the attention of the Prime Minister himself every day. It was my privilege, on various occasions, to attend a meeting of that body, and to take some part in its discussions - not a very useful part, because they were dealing with technical matters, but nevertheless a very interesting part - and I can say that there is no placid attitude towards this battle. These agents of death are themselves being attacked, and I believe most confidently that, by the time this year is out, we shall have found that the battle of the Atlantic is being won, and well won.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– Two aspects of it involve the United States of America. The first of them is the remarkable and dramatic decision of the President to institute an Atlantic patrol by the fighting forces of the United States of America. This Atlantic patrol is, I believe, one of the most remarkable happenings in this war. In plain English, it means that we have had added to the eyes of our Empire the eyes of this great and friendly power on the other side of the Atlantic - a thousand American eyes - in searching out this menace of the raider and reporting his presence. That has meant, from a reconnaissance point of view, the concentration of our own resources in a much smaller area of ocean. The resultant relief to British naval forces, and to British longdistance aircraft, is immense. Of course, the smaller the area we have to comb, the more closely can we comb it; and the greater the activity of the Atlantic patrol of the United States of America, the greater are the chances of success in the detection and destruction of the enemy who is prowling round looking for our ships. .
The second aspect which concerns the United States of America is one which was significantly stated only to-day by President Roosevelt when he said, in substance, that America proposed to see that the goods arrive. That statement is of enormous significance, because, as honorable members know, the United States of America had already passed its LendLease legislation, and had already laid the foundations for a changed system of supply under which many, possibly most, of the goods that the British people obtained from the United States of America for purposes of the war would still be theoretically the goods of the United States of America but on loan to the British people for their use. While I am at some pains not to say anything which may appear to be an attempt to usurp the rights of the . American people to speak for themselves, I have no hesitation in saying that I should misjudge the spirit of those people were I to imagine for one moment that they proposed to have goods manufactured in their own factories and paid for by their own taxpayers wantonly destroyed by the enemy before they reached their destination. The President of the United States of America has made it quite clear by his speech to-day, by his adherence to the ancient principle of the freedom of the seas, that the United States of America is determined not only to help but also equally to see that its help arrives.
For all of these reasons I feel great confidence that this crucial battle of the Atlantic, like the battle for Britain, will be in course of being well won by the time this year is out.
But, sir, when we have dealt with these two great theatres of war and we turn to the next great theatre - the Middle East - we encounter a mass of difficulties and contingencies which can by no means admit of the same relatively succinct dismissal. I said something at the beginning of this speech about the first battle of Libya. It is, unfortunately, true that, so grievously was the German capacity of speed of movement miscalculated, that while we were looking elsewhere, so to speak, he arrived at the gates. of Benghazi, attacked it, and rolled us back through Libya to Solium. That battle has to be won. It is a battle which, if it be lost, may be decisive in respect of the Suez Canal; and if it be won, I believe that it can be equally destructive of the German position in North Africa. But its difficulties are not to be underestimated, above all by one such as I, who have participated in discussions on this matter in London, and have seen the various battle orders and dispositions of material. We have on our hands in the Middle East - a tremendous task in the winning of the battle of Libya. I am happy to say that reinforcements, not only of men but also of much-needed material, have been so great, even during the period that has elapsed since I left London, that I, for one, approach the prospects of that battle with a considerable degree of confidence.
But while all of this is going on we have this desperate struggle in Crete. We have the enemy astride Greece, and able to use air bases in the Dodecanese Islands. This enemy, who has unequalled equipment of carrier aircraft, is in a position, with the tacit or overt connivance of the Government of Vichy, to take his troops into Syria, and from Syria to constitute a real menace to our oil resources in Iraq and Iran, and consequently to the whole efficacy of the European blockade. In addition to that, if the enemy gets a foothold in Syria, then Palestine, the east bank of the Suez, and the whole of our position in the Middle East will be threatened on two fronts. I do not contemplate all these possibilities unmoved. Above all, we must not expect that some power other than ourselves can deliver us from these, dangers. In my opinion, it is idle to imagine that by some wave of the hand America will be able to supply vast and decisive quantities of war material in the Middle East. We must ourselves, as a British Empire, be prepared to take great risks in that theatre, and we must prepare ourselves for great dangers. But I believe that if, in every British community, the utmost concentration be made, and the greatest willingness to take risks be assumed, we can maintain our position in that theatre of war, which, I believe, is one of the three vital theatres for the world at the present time.
It is perhaps appropriate that I should pause in my survey at this point to say that one of the great features of this campaign in Libya is the magnificent defence of Tobruk. It was my privilege to see Tobruk and to note the nature of its defences. When I remembered them, their widespread character, and the enormous perimeter that would have to be defended by those who were withstanding the assault, my heart rather failed me for the moment as to the possibility of a sustained resistance by forces which included so many of our own men. Yet week after week this magnificent resistance has continued with great success, with undiminished cheerfulness, and, I believe, with every prospect of ultimately turning out to be a part of a general movement which will defeat the enemy in the Tobruk-Bardia-Sollum area. I took the liberty a little while ago to send a message to General Morshead, who is in command of Tobruk, telling him that, while many things were happening in the world to-day, he and all those serving under him must have satisfaction in knowing that their splendid work is being followed with pride by everybody in Australia. The defence of Tobruk is one of the great epics of this war.- All this nest of problems in the Middle East is in a sense, one of the sequels of a combination of two circumstances - our defeat in Greece and the passing of large German forces through Sicily into Tripoli and along the North African coast. There are some aspects of each of these matters which I shall ask leave to discuss with honorable members on another occasion, because it is not feasible to discuss all the strategic or technical aspects of such a problem in public.
But I do say now that the Greek campaign was. one which engaged the most earnest attention of those who were charged with the responsibility of government in each of the related countries. The decision to go into Greece was one which had military aspects, and, in the highest sense of the term, political aspects. I may say at once that each step that was taken was, in fact, taken on non-political military advice. The Cabinet at home had the advantage of the considered views on the spot of Sir John Dill, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and General Wavell. In addition to that, the political considerations - and again I use the word “ political “ in its highest sense - were, I believe, overwhelming. I do not need to recount even the salient features of this amazing incident; but Greece, attacked wantonly by Italy, which desired a cheap prize of war, had not only resisted the Italian, attack, but had also actually begun to bundle the Italians out of Albania. Just as the Italians were about to be thrown into the sea, their master, the German, came along and said, “ This has gone far enough. We do not mind you being humiliated because we ourselves will probably humiliate you before we have finished with you, but we cannot have you thrown out of this war “. So the Germans came into Bulgaria and to the very gates of Greece. They stood at the gates of Greece and demanded entrance and surrender. Did the Greeks say to us, “ We shall refuse to surrender if you help us?” Not at all. The Greeks said, “Whether you help us or not, we shall never surrender to these people “. They presented to the world the most astonishing spectacle in its history, one of the smallest, worstequipped, tiredest and weakest powers’ standing up gallantly to resist the greatest military power in modern times. I do not believe, nor does any honorable member, that we as a British people could have slept easily in our beds again if we had, in that supreme moment, said to the Greeks, “ Eight your own battles ; we shall pass by on the other side “. When I relate those circumstances, I do not merely mean to convey to honorable members that this was some splendid but fruitless gesture towards the Greek people. It might easily have been a most successful gesture towards them. The moment the British Empire decided to help Greece by force of arms, and to put troops into that country, there might well have happened one of the great things that occasionally occur in the history of nations - other nations, inspired by this action, might have come into line. The formation of a real Balkan front was by no means impossible. Indeed, at long last, Yugoslavia itself came into line. Prince Paul, who had given to his people an uncertain and pathetic lead, an honest, well-meaning, weak and ill-prepared lead, was swept aside, and the Serbs themselves decided to resist; but by that time it was too late. The people were divided, and, because of that, the Germans were able to overrun their country.
The plan, broadly, for the defence of Greece was one which, in itself, contained great merit. . The Empire forces were to dispose themselves on the Aliakmon line - largely made up by the Aliakmon River; the right flank was to rest on the slopes of Mount Olympus, and the left flank more or less on the east of the Monastir Gap. Further north the Greeks had a force of some divisions fighting in the Rupel Pass, and they were to delay the enemy while another Greek division came back from Thrace past Salonika and took up its position on the Aliakmon line. While that was going on, the Greek army in Albania, of twelve or fourteen divisions, was to side-slip from its position there and take up a position on the Monastir Gap with its left flank lying further back on the shores of the Adriatic. There the Greeks would have occupied a position of great natural strength in mountainous country where the usefulness of the dive bomber and the tank is limited. Behind that line were the various airports and bases at Athens at which a substantial air force might be deployed, and we could have anticipated offering a first-class resistance to the German attack. But two unfortunate things happened concurrently. They were very natural things, no doubt. The first of thom was that the Greek army, which was supposed to move from Albania to take up its position on this line, did not move except too slowly and too late.
When I say that, I offer not one word of criticism of the Greeks. The fact is that they were greatly moved by two considerations. In the first place, it was not very agreeable for them to withdraw before an enemy whom they had been driving ignominiously before them. There was an understandable reluctance to do that. Secondly, the Greek army had become tired. Its means of transport were almost non-existent, and for it to move into the appointed place at the appointed time became a physical impossibility. While that delay was occurring, the division took place in Yugoslavia, the Serbs were thrust aside, and a German column swept down through the Monastir Gap almost to the Adriatic. The Greek army found itself between the Germans and the Italians with its communications cut and in such dire circumstances that it had ultimately to surrender. By that same movement of the German forces our own left flank on the Monastir Gap was exposed, and it became necessary to withdraw the Empire forces over 100 miles to the Thermopylae line. This withdrawal was conducted with immense distinction by General Blarney, thu General Officer Commanding the Australian Forces, and was, I believe, one of the epics of the war. But, of course, it had this additional result: Not only had we lost our Greek allies in large measure, not only had we been compelled to conduct this rearguard action in most difficult country, but also by the very fact of withdrawal to the Thermopylae line, we had inevitably exposed the air bases in Athens to short-distance bombing by enemy aircraft.
The next move was that the Royal Ai Force was driven out of Greece and had to take up its position in Crete. From there its fighters could only cover the southern extremities of the Peloponnesian isthmus. The greater part of the country was incapable of being covered bv air force fighters, with the further ghastly result that the embarkation of troops had to be conducted without air protection and subject to extensive air attack and all the limitations imposed by a great loss of shipping caused by the unrestricted activities of German dive bombers. Remembering all that, I say, with great reverence, that I thank God that 80 per cent, of the troops who went into Greece in those circumstances came out again. Measured by one standard, that was a disaster to our arms. lt opened doors which we have not yet been able to close. It opened doors which may yet lead to other doors which will, in their turn, open. But for myself, greatly as I felt my own responsibility in the momentous decision that had to be made regarding that campaign, I say without hesitation that, though my heart is full of sympathy for those persons who have in their own homes paid the price of this venture, as their leader, I have no regrets that the people of Australia were associated with one of the most gallant actions in the history of modern war.
So far I have spoken of the Eastern Mediterranean, but we have problems in the Western Mediterranean also. I had an opportunity in Lisbon to converse with informed persons regarding the position of Portugal and Spain. I am not going to assume the role of prophet by trying to tell honorable members whether Hitler will make a final demand on Franco, and go into Spain and seek to invest Gibraltar, but I do know that we would be wrong in assuming that some simple conquest by Germany must always be an unmixed blessing to that country. Spain is sloWly recovering from its civil war. There is in Spain at this moment a vast amount of actual starvation, and an almost complete disorganization of production. There are in every town and in every country village people who are suffering and embittered. But they are a proud people, and Germany must consider long and carefully before making a move against Spain. No doubt Germany could occupy the country by sheer force of arms; but this would involve it in the task of feeding the Spanish population as well as in taking all the necessary steps to deal with the active resentment of the people. All the best information is that the Spanish people want peace, and though Spain may be in no position to stop Germany from invading the country, the hesitation of the Germans so far is in no way difficult to understand.
All these possibilities combine to make the next six months a vital period in our history. We would be a foolish people, indeed, if even for a moment we permitted ourselves to dismiss these dangers as something having no real importance for us. If ever the British people faced a danger of the first magnitude, it is at this moment. If ever we had cause to remember that when we entered this war we risked not only a little of our comfort, but also our very independence, it is now. This war was not lightly entered upon by the British people. It certainly will not be lightly abandoned by them, but between entering upon it and the winning of the final victory there will be - there must be- dangers and sacrifices to be faced of a kind unequalled at any time in our history.
Has all this any particular lesson for us? What have we in Australia to say about it? I found in every country I visited a very great respect for what Australia is doing in the war. There were many occasions when I felt vastly proud to be associated an my own fashion with the war effort of Australia, but I at no time felt tempted, even for a moment, to believe that I could afford to say, “All right, we have done well. We have now reached the ultimate point “. I believe that we have done well. I believe that some fine foundations have been laid, that we have some remarkable achievements to our credit, but these are merely the foundations upon which we must build industriously and urgently for the next year, the next two years, the next three years - for however long this emergency may last.
Are we perfectly equipped for that task? I said the other day, when I returned to Australia, that I felt sick at heart at having to come back to play politics, and when I say that I hasten to add that I am offering no criticism of any party. I am not concerned to criticize any party. I am not concerned to get into debates with individuals, to make charges or to hear counter-charges. The fact remains that I come back here to politics. I do not mean that I believe that there are great chasms dividing the people of Australia in their attitude towards the war. Of course there are not. If one thing is clear it is this - the same spirit animates every party in Parliament, a common determination to win the war. That is a matter of the spirit, but the spirit, while it is a great and glowing thing, is not all. I said before that we might have all the spirit in the world and lose the war unless we have machines, and we must have the proper machinery for an effective attack upon this problem. I do not care what it is called, or what form it takes. I had a strange’ feeling when I was returning to Australia and read, when I was within a few days’ travel of the Australian coast after my stirring and heart-searching experiences in Great Britain, that there was a by-election .in progress in Australia, and that if it were won by one party things would go on as usual, but that if it were won by the other party steps would be taken to unseat the Government. “We cannot go on in that fashion.
– The Government would have been automatically removed if we had won that election.
Mir. MENZIES. - I beg honorable members that they will not impute to me any desire to criticize the effectiveness of the co-operation which I have received from the leader of the Labour party. I have always acknowledged the value of that co-operation. I have at all times paid tribute to the attitude of my opponents. However, the welfare of Australia is just as important to me as is the welfare of Great Britain to the Prime Minister of that country, and I cannot begin to imagine how the Prime Minister of Great Britain, with his vast responsibilities, would be able to carry on if, during every by-election in England, he had to pause and say, “ We had better pay close attention to this because, unless we win it, we shall be out of office, and there will be a change-over”.
– The right honorable gentleman’s party played all the lowest tricks in the pack during the Boothby campaign.
– I am sorry to hear interjections of that kind because, if they prove anything, they prove that the realities of this war have not yet struck home. For nine or ten weeks I found myself in a country which, though conscious in the homes of its people night by night of the terrors of war, was actually in no greater danger than is this country, and there no political party has abandoned its identity, though all are co-operating in a National Government. There are still Conservatives and Liberals and Labour men, and I found them all animated by a common determination to preserve the freedom of their people. Men in responsible positions in England could never properly understand why we in Australia, at this supreme moment in our history, were prepared to go on with the marching and counter-marching of politics. I do not care how friendly the game may be, the meeting of crisis after crisis in Parliament must necessarily distract the minds of the country’s leaders from the duties which at this time should be paramount. I beg of honorable members, and of every rational citizen, that we put all these things away, that we forget these differences, and get on with the one thing which counts, so that, when this war is over, we shall have an Australia of our own in which we can, in peace and order and decency, resume the mock battle of politics. I lay upon the table the following paper : -
Prime Minister’s Mission Abroad and War Position - Ministerial Statement by the Prime Minister, 28th May, 1941. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I intend to-morrow to arrange with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) for the holding of some form of private meeting of senators and members so that certain matters to which I have alluded, and others which have not yet been touched upon, may be made the subject of a fuller statement. Such a meeting might very well take place immediately after the House resumes to-morrow.
– The statement which we have just heard from the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) does not, of itself, present a complete account of all that I think is properly due to the House in order that it may discharge fully its duty to the country in this time of war. Before I resume the discussion on the statement I suggest that the right honorable gentleman may properly, and indeed, must fill in a number of gaps, and, perhaps, answer a few questions.
– I have only to sayand I say it very respectfully, but none the less definitely - that I am not conscious of having engaged unduly in what is called ordinary politics. When the right honorable gentleman reviews what has taken place in this country I do not think that he can fairly lay that charge against me. When he went away I said that he would be dealt with by an Opposition that had its own sense of high duty to the country, and I now submit that during his absence from Australia everything possible was done to ensure stability of government in this country.
– It was a most ungracious statement.
– Notwithstanding that there are political parties in this country, I claim that the war has been prosecuted to -the maximum of Australia’s capacity, and I doubt if any great improvements could have been made upon what has been done by the Government working in collaboration with the Opposition. I refuse to engage in reflections which suggest inadequacies that could be overcome by political devices, although I agree that improvements could be effected by certain administrative changes. I say frankly that I have been in association with Ministers who have given their maximum service to the problems confronting Australia. The Advisory War Council and the Government have grappled with problems in a. way which I believe has been as satisfactory as was possible in the circumstances. During the absence of the Prime Minister abroad the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), who served as Acting Prime Minister, set a standard of service to Australia and of association with Parliament which I greatly admire. In relation to the prosecution of the war I believe that during the past four months there has been a vigorous development of the policy for which the Prime Minister himself stands. I shall not, nor will my party, engage in idle, cheap or miserable political disputation. I say that to-night because I think that I should say it to-night. We have a job to do, and that job will be done, because I have not the least doubt that the people of Australia, whatever their political allegiances, are determined that it shall be done. I say to the right honorable the Prime Minister that, in whatever capacity he likes to deal with me, he will find that I cannot do more than I have endeavoured to do during the months that have passed to render faithful service to my country. That is true also of my party as a party. Finally, I say let us unite upon the things in regard to which we can unite. In this Parliament there is no division as to the necessity to prosecute the war to the utmost. There is no partisanship in regard to the justice of our cause. There is, I venture to say, complete agreement on the part of all who represent the people in this Parliament that all that can be done should be done as effectively and as speedily as possible. We are agreed that time is of the essence of the contract. As the right honorable gentlement has said, this is a year of fate. I suggest that he should put aside political catch-cries, in which event we shall put aside all political partisanship.
.- While it is fresh in our minds, I desire to refer to an incident which happened in this chamber earlier to-day. I refer to the taking of photographs from the gallery. I have drawn attention to this matter on other occasions, and I hope that whoever was responsible for granting permission to take the photographs will take cognizance of what I am saying. On previous occasions this privilege has been abused, and this Parliament and the democratic system under which we live have been ‘brought into disrepute. This afternoon, while we were engaged in a solemn remembrance of a former colleague, the clicking of a camera in the chamber was decidedly unseemly. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that before permission is again given for the taking of photographs in the chamber, the consent of members be obtained.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) a matter to which I referred in August last, when I asked whether the Government intended to make provision for men serving in the second Australian Imperial Force, as well as those serving in North Australia, to be classed as returned soldiers and given the same privileges as returned soldiers of the first Australian Imperial Force. At that time [ was informed that the Government was considering the matter, and that I could rest assured that the claims of the men now serving with the forces would not be overlooked. I have in mind two men who have returned from serving with the Australian Imperial Force abroad; one was invalided home in December last, and the other in April of this year. ‘ They were told that if they reported to the Northern Command at Brisbane employment would be found for them. They reported as directed, and applied for positions for which they were well qualified, but they were informed that they could not be appointed because they were not returned soldiers. I immediately approached the Northern Command as well as the Public Service Inspector. The latter informed me that he himself was experiencing difficulty in the matter, as lie could not class these men as returned soldiers. Up to the time of my leaving Brisbane for Canberra, they had not been successful in their application. This matter is causing dissatisfaction to not only members of the Australian Imperial Force but also the general public. Moreover, it is affecting recruiting. The Government has failed to keep its promises to the men who enlisted.
– I have just had handed to me a note which states that the whole question of employment for returned soldiers of the present war, including the availability of positions in the Public Service, is being considered by a Commonwealth committee which is functioning in association with the Department of Labour and National Service. In this connexion the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States are in consultation with a view to formulating a uniform policy. Pending agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, the Commonwealth Government has arranged that so far as employment in the Commonwealth Service is concerned preference will be accorded to returned soldiers of the present war.
– In view of that decision, why were the men to whom I have referred refused employment in the Government service?
– I shall have inquiries made.
– It is time that something was done in this connexion.
– The matter of placing returned soldiers in employment does not come within the administration of my department.
– As I stated previously, the two men were refused employment by the department controlled by the Minister. I protest against the failure of the Government to give effect to its promise to find work for such brave men as these.
Recently, complaints by two storekeepers, Mrs. Sparks and Mr. Male, of Kelvin Grove, Queensland, were brought under my notice. A warrant officer, who was employed in the pay section of the Northern Command, had been in the habit of purchasing goods from them. A few days before Easter, this officer, dressed in uniform, called on the storekeepers and proceeded to pay his account with Commonwealth military cheques. I understand that they were marked “ pay office “. When the cheques were presented at the bank, they were returned to the storekeepers, who had already given, to the warrant officer sums of money representing the difference between the value of the goods purchased and the amounts for which the cheques were drawn. These are not isolated cases ; there are a dozen similar instances. Subsequently, the discovery was made that the warrant officer had forged the names of officers authorized to sign the cheques. When the matter was brought to the notice of officials of the Northern
Command, he was discharged, but no further action was taken against him. As the result of complaints from the storekeepers, the Criminal Investigation Branch in Brisbane began investigations and discovered that the warrant officer had a criminal record. Detectives traced him to Victoria, but the Criminal Investigation Branch contended that the Commonwealth, not the Queensland Government should defray the expense of sending police officers to Melbourne to bring him back in custody to Brisbane. That claim is not unreasonable. I am of opinion that the Commonwealth should recompense the storekeepers who accepted in good faith Commonwealth cheques in his possession.
– At the moment I do not see that the Commonwealth is responsible for reimbursing the storekeepers, but if the honorable member will supply me privately with the man’s name, I shall examine the facts.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister’ (Mr. Menzies) a matter of grave and urgent public importance relating to Australia’s war effort. Earlier this evening, the right honorable gentleman expressed disappointment that he should be obliged, on his return to Australia, to indulge in what he described as “ playing politics “. My revelations will cause him much more concern than that. In the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, there is a book entitled Days of our Years, in which the author contended that because of certain sinister factors the duration of the last war was prolonged unnecessarily by at least a year. He described how, in 1914 and 1915, the armament rings of Great Britain and Germany traded with one another in war equipment. British soldiers were being killed with bullets made by British armament manufacturers, and German troops were being shot down with ammunition manufactured by German armament rings. That shocking occurrence is now being repeated. It was one of the factors which brought about the fall of France, during the present war, because captains of industry on the French side of the Ruhr were trading with captains of industry on the German side.
This matter is of such importance that not a moment should be lost in bringing it to the notice of the Prime Minister, because the information was disclosed during his absence abroad, and he may not be aware of the facts. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 17th May, 1941, appeared the following item : -
An indication that Germany is short of at least two metals is provided by the news that the High Command recently offered a prize of about £1,000 to any one who could invent a new system for the storage of electricity.
Evidently Germany is short of the lead required for batteries - and batteries are an essential feature of the mechanized war machine.
Years ago, Edison tackled the problem of the storage battery from the angle of reducing its weight. He produced a battery with plates of iron, nickel peroxide, taking the place of lead peroxide, and caustic potash replacing the acid.
Why does not Germany make use of this ready-made alternative? The answer is that Germany probably is also short of nickel.
There is another answer. Germany is receiving supplies from Australia. Recently, the British Consul in San Francisco, when investigating the leakage to. Germany of quantities of lead, traced it to Japan, which obtains supplies from Mount Isa, in Queensland. Whilst dealing with this subject, I desire to quote from an article which appeared on the front page of Smith’s Weekly on the 3rd May last. It read -
” Smith’s “ Went Aboard and Saw It.
Can It finally FindIts Way Into Germany?
Last week, a Japanese ship loaded a cargo of Australian lead and Australian wool in Sydney.
By the Department of Commerce, Smith’s is informed that the embargo on export of non-ferrous metals is partial; they may be shipped under licence. To where? To whom? Who decides?
If it is a Cabinet matter, parliamentary representatives of the people will have to deal with it immediately the Federal House meets.
It will come as a shock to the public that a cargo of lead is discovered on a Japanese freighter.
There will be a strong political criticism upon the discrimination in favour of an “ Axis “ partner in the matter of licences.
Japanese manufacturers may, of course, re quire it for the purpose of manufacturing it into ornaments or toy soldiers. Then, again, they might not.
Four workers on the waterfront telephoned Smith’s to state that the lead was being loaded on the Japanese ship.
Smith’s reply was that it seemed incredible. “Rot ! “ said one man. “ It’s been going on for months past. Why don’t you send somebody along to see ? “
So Smith’s sent a man along. He saw. We were convinced.
We were more than convinced. We were amazed - and puzzled.
There was lead - tons and tons of it - going aboard that Japanese steamer. Australian lead for Japan.
Smith’s deems it its responsibility to inform
Australians of what is happening. The people will await with legitimate curiosity the answer of the Federal Government.
– I know that it is a regular practice. Approximately £2,000,000 worth has been exported since the outbreak of war. The article continues -
Smith’s man got aboard the Japanese steamer. He was told, following the telephone calls from the waterfront, to see what he could do about getting aboard.
How he achieved it is his own secret, but he got aboard and saw plenty.
He brought back plenty of evidence that he had been aboard - including the captain’s autograph.
This Japanese ship was alongside a Sydney wharf.
From the wharf she was loading her cargo of 8,000 bales of wool.
From an Australian ship tied up alongside her, she loaded 400 tons of lead in bar form.
Bulk of the lead was stowed in the lower hold - below the cargo of wool.
But the strangest thing Smith’s man found was that many bars of lead were stowed under the bed in the captain’s cabin.
Now, why would bars of lead be stowed under the captain’s bed and why should it have been loaded from an Australian ship - on the side farthest from the wharf?
All these overseas ships are, of course, subject to customs examination.
Their manifests of cargo are known to the federal authorities.
Federal Government officers know that the cargo of lead was aboard the Japanese steamer.
Australian fathers and mothers of sons at Singapore will want to know why.
Smith’s man who went aboard wandered all over the ship. He counted more than 1,000 bars of lead. He did not know nor couldhe estimate the weight of each bar - but that number was visible to him in his inspection. The balance was hidden under another cargo.
In the following issue Smith’s Weekly traced the lead from the Mount Isa works to Queensland ports where it was loaded into Japanese steamers, and pointed out that 2,000 tons of the metal- £1,000,000 worth a year - was being shipped every month.
– The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) replied and said that small quantities of lead were going to Japan.
-Yes. I went to the Parliamentary Library in order to obtain a copy of the issue which contained that article, but found that it had disappeared f rom the files. It had been surreptitiously taken away by some person, because the Librarian has no record of its removal. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) may smile.
– The honorable member does not suggest that it was removed from the file for any sinister purpose. Copies can be bought all over the place.
– I suggest that it has been removed by some interested person in an attempt to cover up the facts. At any rate, the Acting Prime Minister admitted that shipments of lead are going to Japan. Three Ministers in the week after that article was published made statements, but immediately the censorship was clamped down not only on Smith’s Weekly, but also on every other newspaper, in order to prevent the publication of any reference to the export of any metals from Australia. I challenge the Minister for the Army to deny that. That is political censorship, and I hope that the press will have the courage not to sit down under it. Members of the Cabinet are implicated in this transaction.
– Is the honorable member making a charge against a particular Minister or against a number of Ministers? The honorable member should name whom he is charging.
– I shall name the Ministers, one of them at any rate. The name of the other may be disclosed later.
– Why not name both if there are two?
– One is a director of Mount Isa and is pecuniarily interested in the export of cargoes of lead which will probably be manufactured into bullets and munitions for use against our soldiers in Libya and other places and to mutilate the masses in Great Britain.
– That Minister has made it quite clear that not one pennyworth of lead from the company in which he is interested has been sold to J apan.
– We demand a complete inquiry. Why the censorship? Why has a full investigation not been inaugurated by the Government?
– I shall investigate wherever investigation is needed.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will want to know more about the facts and why one of his Ministers is implicated. That Minister is a director of the company concerned. No member of the Government or of this House who is implicated in a transaction of this kind and knows what is going on is fitted to be in public life. The Minister, who is a director, must be implicated, because he must know what the company is doing. The other Minister concerned, a highly-placed member of the Cabinet, is a shareholder in the company. I shall not mention his name, because it may be possible for a shareholder not to know what his directors are doing. But how could any member of the Government fail to know what was going on? We know that Japan is a member of the Axis and that it has a pact with Russia which in turn has a trade pact with Germany. There is a direct link, and Germany is in short supply of lead. Obviously, it will obtain lead from Japan and indirectly from Australia, Although Smith’s Weekly was prevented from publishing further facts about this matter, it came out with a further article in an issue of the 24th May -
Sydney Morning Herald recorded last Saturday a shortage of lead and nickel for electric batteries used in mechanized units - tanks, &c. Smith’s still awaits a satisfactory statement from Senator Foll, Minister for Information, director of Mount Isa, about the lead its correspondents traced to Queensland ports from Mount Isa mine. So does Australia. Must the return of Mr. Menzies, who retired from his directorates, be awaited? Or the meeting of the Federal Parliament?
– I understand that the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) has statedthat not one ounce of lead from the mine with which he is connected has been shipped to Japan.
– By action through the Department of Information, Senator Foll attempted to “blanket” the press by causing a certain censorship instruction to be issued. He also, I understand, sought practically to bribe the newspaper. The Department of Information causes advertisements to be published in the press from time to time at the expense of the taxpayers, and certain advertisements were sent to this newspaper, which was asked to publish them at a price. To its credit, the newspaper refused to do so, and the advertisements were returned to the department. I trust that the Prime Minister will give some attention to these serious matters instead of trying to play the game of politics.
– It is not so much which mine the lead may have come from as the fact that it is permitted to leave Australia at all.
– That is so. I wish to know why this lead was permitted to leave Australia at all. We shall probably need all the lead that we can produce, as well as all our other vital material, for the manufacture of war equipment. Why should Australian lead be sent to Japan or any other foreign country? Why does not the Government purchase the product of this mine? Irrespective of profit considerations, that policy should be considered.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I shall not attempt to reply in detail to the allegations made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), for I have not the full information before me. I wish, however, to reply to one or two of his statements. The honorable gentleman askedwhy certain lead was permitted to leave the country, and he then associated a member of the Government with a statement that a section of the press was being “ blanketed “ for its criticism of government policy in connexion with the export of lead. The honorable gentleman also made a statement which I know to be untrue that the Minister had, in effect, attempted to bribe the press in order that he might get “ on side “.
I am not acquainted with the exact position concerning the export of lead from Australia, but I believe that the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) made a public pronouncement on the subject shortly after the publication of the article referred to by the honorable member. However, I shall bring the honorable gentleman’s remarks under the notice of both the Minister for Information (Senator Foll) and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Harrison).
– I believe that a Minister issued a statement that the lead was not being used by Japan for war purposes.
– I cannot commit myself in that connexion, for I am not aware of the facts. I am sure, however, that the whole situation will be described with much more exactitude than that of the honorable member for Reid. A very different picture will be drawn for us than that outlined this evening. The honorable member is apparently quite ready to accept as truth anything that he may read in the newspapers. I assure the honorable member that I shall bring his statements under the notice of the Minister for Information, who I am certain will have a complete answer to them. I understand that the Minister has already made a statement that not one ounce of the lead produced at the mine in which he is interested has been sold to Japan.
-Will the Minister recommend the Government to appoint a select committee to inquire into the subject ?
– I shall not. If the Government appointed all the select committees asked for by honorable members there would be no war effort in Australia.
I dismiss with contempt the allegation that a member of the Ministry tried to bribe the newspaper to which reference has been made by making advertisements available to it.
– Does the honorable gentleman deny that the newspaper refused to publish the advertisements?
– I am quite sure that when the facts are stated the Minister will be completely exonerated.
– Subsequently a censorship was imposed and no comment was possible concerning the export of metals.
– A censorship instruction was issued covering a great many subjects on which the publication of news was considered to be inimical to the best interests of the country. The export of lead was only one of them.
– I take it that the Minister would not approve of the censorship being used to prevent criticism of the export of lead to Japan?
– Not as such. Actually . the censorship instruction covered a number of matters, the details of which I am not able to give at the moment as I have not a copy of the instruction before me. However, I can assure the honorable member for Reid that his statements, which, no doubt, were made with a due sense of responsibility, will be brought before the Minister concerned. I am confident that upon examination they will be found to be quite baseless.
.-I draw the attention of the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) to a very serious position that is developing in the Botany district in consequence of the failure of the Central Wool Committee to allocate sufficient supplies of wool to that area for scouring and carbonizing. This policy is causing considerable unemployment locally. It has been stated that there is no agreement with the Central Wool Committee on this subject, but I have before me a report which states that the Central Wool Committee has agreed to make available sufficient wool for scouring and carbonizing to permit of existing plants being worked at capacity. That being so, it is hard to understand why, in the last four weeks, 400 men have lost their employment in this industry. I shall be grateful if the Minister for Commerce will make a statement to the House on this subject. I can understand workers expressing resentment at losing their employment when they know that ships are leaving this country loaded with considerable quantities of greasy wool. I understand that only to-day a ship left
Australia with 9,000 bales of greasy wool on board. That wool should have been scoured and carbonized here.
.- The wool which leaves Australia in the greasy state is the property of the British Government. The Central Wool Committee has been using its best endeavours to have as large a proportion of the wool as possible scoured and carbonized before it leaves Australia. If the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) will furnish me with the names of firms which are short of wool for scouring and carbonizing I shall make representations on the subject to the Chairman of the Central Wool Committee to see if the position can be remedied.
– The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) referred to the taking of photographs in the chamber this afternoon. Through inadvertence, applications for permission to take the photographs were not referred to me. Having regard to the misuse made on previous occasions of photographs taken in this chamber, I agree that the taking of such pictures should be subject to close scrutiny. I have therefore given instructions that, in future, cameras are not to be used in this chamber unless application in writing is first made and permission obtained.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
National Security Act - National Security (Rabbit Skins) Regulations - Notice - Suspension of regulations.
Nauru - Ordinance - 1941 - No. 1 - Cemeteries.
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941,Nos.68, 106.
Arbitration (Public Service Act) - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1941 -
No. 6 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 7 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.
Commonwealth Bank Act -Treasurer’s Statement of combined accounts of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank at 31st December, 1940, together with certificate of the Auditor-General.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Interior - K. C. McKenzie, D. D. Smith.
Labour and National Service - D. V. Youngman.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1940.
Customs Act -
Proclamation prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of Ores and Concentrates; Metals and Metal Manufactures; Drugs and Chemicals; Miscellaneous (dated 13 th May, 1941).
Regulations-Statutory Rules 1941, No. 84.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 109.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 89.
Defence (Visiting Forces) Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1941, No. 105.
Estate Duty Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 78.
Immigration Act - Return for 1940.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired -
For Commonwealth Bank of Australia purposes - Melbourne, Victoria.
For Defence purposes -
Adelaide, South Australia.
Cheltenham, South Australia.
Cootamundra, New South Wales.
Duck River, Tasmania.
Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales.
Essendon (near), Victoria.
Geraldton, Western Australia.
Midland Junction, Western Australia.
Mount Gambier, South Australia.
Mount Gambier (near), South Australia.
Northam, Western Australia.
Parkes (near), New South Wales.
Pierson’s Point, Tasmania.
Port Melbourne, Victoria.
Somers, near Balnarring, Victoria.
For Postal purposes -
Bald Hills, Queensland.
Cremorne, New South Wales.
Liverpool, New South Wales.
North Essendon, Victoria.
National Security Act -
Butter and Cheese Acquisition Regulations - Order - Acquisition.
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Orders -
National Security (Exchange Control)
Regulations - Order - Sterling area.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of Photography.
Inventions and designs (50).
Pilotage Exemption (Transports).
Prohibiting work on land (2).
Protection of Shipping (Degaussing Equipment ) .
Protection of Shipping (Paravane Equipment).
Taking possession of land, &c. (36).
Use of land (4).
Wireless Operators and Watches in Australian Ships.
Wireless Transmitting Apparatus (Possession).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 62, 63, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75. 76, 77, 79, 80, 85, 86, 87, 88, 90, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 110, 111.
Nationality Act - Return for 1940.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 81, 82.
Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 83.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1941 - No. 3 - Scaffolding and Lifts.
Wine Grapes Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 101.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l asked the Minister representing the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
How much of the total loan raisings of the Commonwealth Government for war purposes (including war and works loans) consists of (a) loans at interest, (b) loans without interest and (c) gifts?
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In order to encourage the capitalist clan generally to make some sacrifice for the all-in war effort, will heindicate the names of those persons or firms that have contributed £500 or more, showing the exact amount in each instance, as (a) gifts and (b) loans without interest, to the several war loans floated to date?
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Canberra ;Transfer of Public Servants ; Housing.
l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many public servants have been transferred from Canberra to (a) Melbourne and (b) Sydney to suit convenience of Ministers?
– No officers have been transferred from Canberra to suit the convenience of Ministers. Transfers to Sydney and Melbourne of officers engaged in war work have been made necessary by departmental requirements. The Department of Social Services has been established temporarily in Sydney because of the lack of suitable accommodation in Canberra. A return was submitted to Parliament by me on the 1st December, 1939, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) giving details of officers transferred to Melbourne after the outbreak of the present war. Further particulars will be obtained for the information of the honorable member for Melbourne.
l asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
War-time Boards and Commissions.
l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 5. An undertaking was given that in order to permit of an Investigation of questions which have arisen in respect of central bank credit and subsequent control the Advisory War Council would confer with the Commonwealth Bank.
So far only one meeting has been held, at which the Advisory War Council discussed matters with the Chairman of Directors and Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. A further conference was to be held some weeks ago but was postponed owing to the illness and subsequent death of the Governor of the bank. It will now be arranged as early as possible.
l asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers: -
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1.Isit intended to transfer the headquarters of the Commonwealth Bank from Sydney to Canberra?
– Section 21 of the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911-1932 provides that the head office of the hank shall be situated in such place within the Commonwealth as the Board thinks fit to appoint. The bank considers it essential that the head office should be located in one of the leading commercial centres and it is not proposed to transfer the head office to Canberra.
alwell asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 May 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410528_reps_16_167/>.