16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Because of the increase of the cost of living since the rate of pension in respect of dependants of soldiers was fixed, “will the Treasurer, when framing the budget, . consider . the raising of the rate?
– The question touches a matter of policy, which will be considered by. the Government.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Power Alcohol - Report of Committee of
Inquiry, l7th May, 1941. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr.Forde) adjourned.
– by leave- On the motion for the adjournment’ of the House last Thursday, the honorable member for Melbourne (Air. Calwell) made certain, references to Nestle and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company (Australasia) Limited. I have received from the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator McBride) a statement .on tlie matter which. sets out that the factors which concern the Government are: - (1) The procuring of such requirements of milk as are needed, for the fighting services at home and abroad ; and (2) payment for such supplies at a rate which is determined as being reasonable.
In regard to the first factor, the Department of Supply and Development has already firm demands for S00,000 cases of tinned milk for delivery between August, 1941, and June, 1942. At present only two companies in Australia are capable of producing milk to the quality required for despatch to the fighting services overseas, namely, the Nestle company and the .Federal company. These two companies supply in accordance with their output; consequently the majority of the deliveries will come from the Nestle organization, which is the larger.
The Maffra company has not been able to supply milk to the standard required, although repeatedly requested by the Contract Board to improve the quality of its product with a view to the receipt of orders. 3JV determination has yet been reached in regard to the rate that will be paid for sweetened mill? required as from the 1st July, 1941. The whole question of the rates to bc paid for canned milk has (been under consideration by the finance branch of the Department of Supply and Development for some months, but what rate of profit shall be allowed has not yet been determined. The price, however, will be based, on actual factory costs, plus those margins which, in the opinion of the expert accountants attached to the department, may be regarded as satisfactory. The reference to « price of 25s. doubtless relates to a decision to pay this price for deliveries for the limited period between April and June, 1941.
It is interesting to note .that the lowest selling price for Nestle’s sweetened milk at the moment is 30s. a case, less maximum wholesale discounts of 10 per cent. and 2i per cent. It will be observed that, even- at 25s. the price to the Government would be very considerably less than the lowest price charged to the wholesale trade with the approval of the Prices Commissioner.
The tentative price which is being paid by the Government for unsweetened’ condensed milk. is IDs. a case, as against the lowest wholesale price on the open market of 26s. a case, less 10 per cent, and 2-£ per cent.
In regard to the appointment of Mr. Spencer, the position is that the extremely large requirements necessitate a complete and careful review of the capacity of industry. As only two companies are producing the quality of milk required, the greater part of the supplies being produced by the Nestle company, aird a.s Mr. Spencer has an unequalled knowledge of the manufacturing industry in. Australia, his appointment was an obvious corollary to the determination of the Government to ensure that the industry should be so. organized as to meet the demand. In order, however, that J ho dairying industry, which was equally concerned from the viewpoint of primary production, should be represented on this small advisory committee, the- Minister for Commerce was requested to appoint a representative of the Dairy Produce Board to work with Mr. Spencer ns a member of the committee. It is emphasized that the committee is purely an advisory one. It furnishes its advice to the Defence Foodstuffs Committee, which operates under the Minister for Supply and Development and, in cooperation with the ‘Contracts Board, is responsible for the placing of orders and the procuring of supplies of foodstuffs for the fighting services.
Sight has not been lost of the subject of fuel. The chairman of the. Liquid Fuel Control Board, has been called into conference, and through the local Dairy Produce Petrol Rationing Committee and the .State Liquid Fuel Control Board exercises control over war transport.
The opening of the Nestle factory at Maffra was in accordance with the determination of the Government to ensure that every effort would bs made to meet the requirements of the defence services. While this factory, which was capable of producing the large quantities of condensed milk so urgently needed, was lying idle, the Government could have been accused of inertia. Bearing in mind that the oilier factory at. Maffra cannot produce supplies of the required standard, , it is obvious that the step taken by the Government to ensure that the equipment available would be utilized in the production of milk for the defence services was the only one which could reasonably be taken.
The honorable member for Melbourne, mayrest assured that, in the first place, the Government will see that milk for the fighting services is provided. Secondly, it will see that the price paid for this milk is based on actual cost of production, plus the small margin which may be regarded as reasonable for supplies to the defence services. It is happy to utilize the services of the best brains in both the canning and production industries in order to ensure that Australia’s capacity to supply is mobilized to meet the extraordinary demands that are -being made upon it.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National. Service: Is it a fact that the head-quarters of the Department of Labour and National Service arc. to be transferred to Melbourne? If so, how does the honorable gentleman reconcile this action with the statement that he made, both in and out of Parliament, when appointed to this portfolio, that the head-quarters of the new department would be at the National Capital?
– It is not a fact that the head-quarters of the Department of Labour and National Service are to be transferred in the manner- suggested by the honorable member. From the 15 th July some additional officers of the Secretariat of the Department of Labour and National Service will be located at Melbourne. This step has been dictated primarily by the constant need for communication with the service departments and the Departments of Munitions and Supply. At present such relations are maintained only by unwarranted waste Of time and money, which results in a slowing of the war effort, and a drain on departmental efficiency. The transfer’ of these additional, officers from Canberra will react to the benefit of trade union officials, employers and other members of the public who are at present called upon to travel long distances for consultation with the department. Head-quarters will remain at the present Melbourne offices of the department, 4th floor, Royal Bank Chambers, but in view of the transfers of officers from Canberra, and of the expansion of the work of the department, particularly of the Welfare Division and the proposed Man-power Board, and because of the existing congestion in the Royal Bank Building, further space is being taken in Century House, Swanstonstreet. At the same time, but independently of these moves, the existing Munitions Employment Bureau is being moved from its’ present quarters to the ground floor of Vaughan House, corner of Queen and Little Collins streets. The present space occupied at Canberra will be filled by the expanded Reconstruction Division, to which additional appointments are being made. Honorable members are familiar with the arrangement now operating in Sydney where a branch of the department has been established. Some expansion of activities there also can be expected.
– Has the Minister seen a report in the Melbourne press, of a statement alleged to have been made by Professor P. H. Laby, concerning radiolocation of aircraft, and the closure of a radio research laboratory in Melbourne? If so, will he give the facts concerning this laboratory, and inform the House as to what Australian work is being carried out in association with the British authorities on radio-location, and the manner of its control?
– by leave - I have seen certain of the reports to which the honorable member doubtless refers, and regret that misleading inferences may be drawn from the remark alleged to have been made by Professor Laby. A Radio Research Board was establishedby the Council ‘ for Scientific and Industrial Research in 1927, its members being Professor - now Sir John - Madsen, Sir
Harry Brown, Professor Laby, and Commander Creswell. Mr. D. McVey has more recently taken Sir Harry Brown’s place, and Commander Newman now represents’, the Navy. Professor Laby resigned some days ago. Excellent research work has been carried out for many years, three-quarters of the cost being borne by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and one-quarter by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Universities of Sydney’ and . Melbourne generously provided accommodation. Some time before the outbreak of war, the British Government made available to the Commonwealth Government particulars of certain devices then undergoing development, and requested Australia’s collaboration in future work. These devices are of a secret nature, and no details’ can be published at present. It will suffice to say that a Radiophysics Board was set up to take charge of the work, its personnel being Sir . John Madsen, chairman, the Chief of . the Navy Staff, the Chief of the General Staff, the Chief of the Air Staff, the chief executive officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs. In the absence of Sir John Madsen, the duties of chairman are discharged by Professor F. W. G. White, of New Zealand, with which dominion intimate liaison has been set up, and is in this way being maintained and extended. Much research and constructional activity have followed. Close contact is ‘being established with appropriate authorities abroad. I regret that I cannot at this stage give the honorable member fuller details of an excellent example of Empire collaboration in science and radio-engineering.
Most of the trained personnel attached to the Radio Research Board, both in Melbourne and Sydney, has naturally and properly been absorbed by the war work of the Radiophysics Board, in whose laboratory, under the control of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research,- a staff of physicists is now employed. Facilities in other Common wealth and. State organizations are also heavily involved in the construction programme. The work of the Melbourne branch of the Radio Research
Board has for months past been carried out by only one investigator working in a room in the Physics Department. of the University. I need only say thatas the small staff of the Radio Research Board became absorbed in work elsewhere, the Council for . Scientific and Industrial Research sought advice from the Board, and from the Department of Defence Co-ordination regardingwar work which might be undertaken in Melbourne. No practical proposals were received. In the middle of June, the investigator resigned, in order to accept an industrial appointment, and early last week Professor La by informed an officer of the Council for Scientific . and Industrial Research that the room was being used by others, and that it would,be desirable either to lock up the more expensive apparatus under seal or to remove it. The latter action was taken. ‘ There has been no communication on the matter with the administrative authorities of the University of Melbourne, whose attitude has been consistently helpful and understanding.
– Yesterday, the Prime Minister, in refusing to make available the ‘file in connexion with the case of M r. P. R. Hentze, said that matters of national security were involved. I now ask him whetherhe is satisfied with the decision reached in that case, and whether he can point to anything on the file which affects national security?
– What I said yesterday, and what I repeat to-day, is that the file mentioned by the honorable . member was compiled by the security officers of the Commonwealth. It contains confidential reports from confidential source.?. It would be most undesirable in the public interest that filesso compiled should he made available for inspection except by those whose duty it is to pass judgment on them.
– In view ofthe fact that the damage clone to Nauru Island by an enemy raider has resulted in an increase of the price of phosphoric rock, and thus also of superphosphate, will the
Commonwealth Government defray the extra cost, seeing that it is due to enemy action ?
– This unavoidable increase of the price of superphosphate is being very carefully considered by the Government.
– Is the Minister for the Army prepared to make a statement regarding the equipment available to members of the Australian Imperial Force in Tobruk?
– In view of press statements on the subject of equipment I shall, later in the day, make a statement in regard to the equipment of the Australian Imperial Force in Greece, in the course of which I shall make some reference to Tobruk.
Camp at Cowra.
Mr.BREEN. - Can the Minister for the Army . state whether it is intended to abandon the recently constructed camp at Cowra for the accommodation of prisoners of war? What was the cost of constructing this camp?
– At present there is no intention of abandoning the camp at Cowra, which, I understand, will be used as a centre for distributing men to other camps.
– Will the Government encourage the formation of an organization comprising country garages and small manufacturers, whose establishments are equipped to make war requirements or producer-gas units? Has the Commonwealth Man-power and Resources Survey Committee made any recommendations to the Government regarding this matter? If so, will any practical scheme which is devised be put into operation as quickly as possible?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Munitions, and with the honorable gentleman who will be appointed Minister for Supply, and see that the honorable member receives an answer to his question.
– Is the Treasurer aware that an application was made by the Braybrook Shire Council early this year for authority to borrow £10,400 for the purpose of making land available for the erection of houses’ for munition workers in the Maribyrnong area? In view of the urgent necessity for providing adequate housing facilities in the district, can the honorable gentleman explain the reason for the delay in arriving at a decision about the application?
– If the application were from the local authority as such, it should be made through the appropriate State, and is a matter for decision by the Loan Council. I shall inquire into the subject and provide the honorable gentleman with a suitable reply.
– It has been put through the proper channels. Will the Treasurer treat the matter as urgent?
– Yes. I shall make inquiries this afternoon.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me how long the Prices Commissioner will take to investigate the allegedly excessive profits made by Australian Consolidated Industries Limited? Has a time limit been placed upon the investigation? When will the inquiry be commenced? What penalties, if any, can be imposed if the Prices Commissioner should find that the company has been guilty of profiteering?
– The period that will elapse between the time that the Prices Commissioner will begin the inquiry and the completion thereof, is not likely to be very long. A. good deal of preliminary investigation has already been undertaken, and in the main, that will be accepted. The same officers who worked under the Department of Trade and Customs will be employed to complete those inquiries. When the report is made available, the Government will consider the imposition of penalties, if penalties be necessary.
– Is the Government empowered to impose penalties?
– The Prices Commissioner is in a position to recommend, that . I declare the firm concerned, if necessary, and fix the prices of all its commodities.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs any additional information about the international situation other than what has been published?
– No. There is nothing to add to the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday.
Date of Prosecution
– Last week the AttorneyGeneral indicated, in reply to a question, that he hoped to be able to announce within a day or two the date on which prosecutions in connexion with the boot scandal would be heard by the High Court. When does he expect to be able to announce that information?
– The case against Fostar’s will be listed for hearing in the High Court as soon as the winter vacation of the court expires. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the hearing of the case will be commenced by the end of July..
– In view of the urgency of. prosecutions of firms charged with fraudulent practices or profiteering, will the Attorney-General ask the High Court Bench to curtail its winter holiday by at least a few months in order to expedite the hearing of the cases?
– I shall ascertain whether that is possible.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 10.30 a.m.
– Has the Attorney-
General received any information as to when the Royal Commissioner, who inquired into the Abbco bread case will complete his report?
– I desire to make a personal explanation on a matter in respect of which I have been misrepresented. Last week I addressed to the Prime Minister a question. From the right honorable gentleman and the Minister for the Army, evidently in collaboration, I received a reply. My question in effect was: Could not the buses that now ply from the West Maitland railway station to the Rutherford and Greta military camps be diverted to another service in order to save petrol?
– Does the honorable member claim that he himself has been misrepresented. ?
– Yes. I suggested that the railway service from Newcastle, which now terminates at West Maitland, should be extended to Greta. If that were done, I said, the buses could be transferred to take men from Swansea via Belmont to the John Darling, Burwood and Durham collieries. At present, the miners are either driving their own vehicles or travelling in hired cars to their employment, and my suggestion would result in the saving of a substantial quantity of petrol. To-day, I received from the president of the Miners. Federation the following telegram : –
Serious situation developed John Darling, Burwood..Rhondda.Bloomfield collieries with petrol rationing. Suggest Minister defer date allow present ration to continue until transport arrangements be made by the department for miners.
– I am still waiting to learn in what respect the honorable member himself has been misrepresented.
– I have been misrepresented, in that the published report of the reply to my question stated that I had said that the buses should be used to transport the miners from West Maitland to Greta. . That was grossly inaccurate, because miners do not travel to work from West Maitland to Greta. What I said was that, if the buses which, are carrying troops from, the West Maitland Railway Station to the camps were transferred to the mine-fields, the need for miners to use their- own motor vehicles in order to travel from their homes to the collieries would be eliminated. Will the Minister now consider that suggestion?
– I regret if any misapprehension has taken place. I shall be glad to place the honorable member’s representations before the Minister for Supply and Development in order to ascertain to what degree they can be acceded to.
– Will the Prime Minister be prepared to consider the desirability of extending to civilians affected by war conditions a limited moratorium in order to protect them from unfair pressure by creditors ?
– Several honorable members have directed my attention to that matter in the last few days. I now have it. under consideration, and I shall discuss it with Cabinet at the earliest opportunity.
– What action does the Treasurer propose to take, particularly in the next budget, to tax income from the £50,000,000 worth of bonds now free of tax and to deal with the income from other bonds the taxation of which is restricted ?
– The composition of the budget is under consideration, and all matters likely to affect the financial resources of the community will be taken into account..
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the Commonwealth and the States have reached an understanding as to whose responsibility it is to undertake the technical training of youths in order to accelerate the war effort? If it has been agreed that the responsibility is that of the States, will the Commonwealth provide sufficient finance with which to build and equip technical schools?
– The only responsibility accepted by the Commonwealth in consultation with the States is for the training of technical workers for the munitions industry, from which men under the age of 21 years are excluded. The Commonwealth finds the money with which to pay the men while they are being trained, for. certain equipment which is used in their training, and for the extension ‘of buildings in order to provide greater accommodation with which to meet the needs of an expanded training scheme. Technical training, as such, remains, and is accepted as. the responsibility of the State governments.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to the severe criticism by the Auditor-General of Queensland of the cost of tinned meats for Australian troops in Malaya and Singapore, which cost this country £40,000 more than similar goods supplied for the British troops cost the British Government? If so, what action is to be taken against the firm responsible?
– My attention has not been drawn to such criticism; but if the honorable gentleman will place his question on the notice-paper he will be supplied with a full answer.
Motion (by Sir Frederick Stewart) agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for an act relating to national fitness.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill makes provision to ensure the continuity and permanence of a movement with which I have been closely associated since its inception on a Commonwealthwide basis in 1939. I believe that there never was a time when there was a greater need in this direction than exists at present. We are expending a tremendous amount of money and thought in ensuring the fitness of our mechanical elements of defence, but I am old-fashioned enough to believe that, however efficient our mechanical aids may be, unless we also have a fit personnel in Australia, they will not avail ns very much. This is an age of machines and mechanized warfare, but behind the machines, in the shops and on the battlefield, there must be fit men and women to man them, and, above all, provision to ensure the continued fitness of the children and young folk to whom we will hand on that heritage for which we are now fighting. Whilst we are now preoccupied with national fitness in- order to survive, we must not forget the ultima’te goal of fitness in order to enjoy life.
The national fitness movement, as a truly national project, was begun in 1939 by Senator Foll, who appointed a council of persons selected on account of their association with sports movements in the, different States. A conference of State Ministers for Education, which met in Sydney, endorsed the movement, and the representative Commonwealth council met in January, 1939. The movement developed, and it was my privilege to be associated with the decision of the Commonwealth Government, in July, 1939, to provide a total sum of £100,000 to be expended over five years. The annual, allocation of this money was as follows : - £1,000 to each of the State governments for organizing purposes, and the following amounts to the universities : - Sydney, £2,000; Melbourne, £2,000; Brisbane, £1,500; Adelaide, £1,500; Perth, £1,500; Hobart, £1,000. The balance was left in the hands of the Commonwealth Minister for Health. State governments were invited to form State .councils. A State council was already in existence in New South Wales. The other governments followed the example of the New South Wales Government, and State councils were appointed on the following dates: - Victoria, the 10th February, 1939; Queensland, the. 12th ‘August, 1939; Western Australia, the 14th March, 1939 (approximately) ; South Australia, the 20th October, 1939; Tasmania, August, 1939 (approximately). The .Commonwealth money was allocated for two main purposes - (a) organizing expenses.; (b) subsidies to universities for the establishment of diploma courses. All States have appointed organizers, and all of the universities have accepted the conditions. In Queensland, New South Wales, Vic toria, and South Australia, diploma or certificate courses have been established. In Western Australia and Tasmania it was decided to provide scholarships for selected persons to attend courses at other universities. The movement has been enthusiastically taken up in every State. It has found expression in police boys’ clubs, the formation of municipal centres, country permanent camps, and summer schools for the training of group leaders, combined activities with such bodies a3 the Young Men’s Christian Association, &c, and the formation of a youth hostel association.
The enthusiasm with which the movement was adopted encouraged the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness, at its last meeting in November, 1940, to express itself in these terms -
While the success achieved in each State lias been noteworthy, it has recently become very apparent that the national importance and value of this movement lias not been adequately recognized or expressed.
The council expresses its strongly held opinion that there is an imperative and immediate need to use the vitality of this national fitness movement as one means for securing a high Ideal of national service. Central stimulus is necessary. Commonwealth direction . and encouragement is desired and expected, mid Commonwealth assistance must be given if the enthusiasm now available is not to reach iia maximum and then fade away to nothing.
Some satisfactory organization by which the Commonwealth gives evidence of its intention to foster this active enthusiasm is necessary if this movement is to be recognized as :m integral par,t of whatever form of organized national service is adopted. That it is a vigorous movement, and that it can be capitalized as a vehicle for carrying national efficiency and national unity to a high plane, should be recognized.
The council also expressed strongly its view that a central focus was essential for all purposes of co-operative action. The constitution of the council was changed subsequent to the third session : instead of being directly nominated by the Minister, the council is now composed of the Commonwealth Minister for Health, the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Director-General of Health, and one nominee from each of the State councils. The newly constituted council met on the 9th and the 10th May, 1940, and in November, 1940, held a very valuable joint session with the National Health and Medical Research Council.
This bill contemplates the maintenance and development of this national movement adapted to the needs and local enthusiasms in each State, in association with related activities’, and in close cooperation with the National Health and Medical Research Council. I have before me notes relating to similar acts adopted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand in 1939, and to a bill which recently came before the United States of America Congress. In these countries the movement has been enthusiastically furthered along parallel lines. The fund in the bill now before the House will consist at first of the £20,000 per annum allocated under the original grant, and any moneys later appropriated by Parliament . or gifts specially made for this purpose. In the United Kingdom, the grant approved under the relevant act amounted to £1.468,000 in 1939. On a population basis, the Australian equivalent would be about £200,000 per annum - ten times the present amount. I commend this bill to the favorable consideration of honorable members.
Debate (on motion by’ Mr. Forde) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 24th June (ride page 324), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That tha bill bc now read a second time.
– In his recent prospectus of tie contemplated strengthening of the national war effort, the Prime Minister intimated that the Government desired to increase the number of Ministers of State, and since then the right honorable gentleman has .brought down this bill. This measure proposes that there shall be nineteen honorable members associated with the Cabinet instead of the present number of sixteen. The Prime Minister directed attention to the fact that, whilst the Ministers of State Act provides for a maximum of eleven Ministers, the provisions of the National Security Act have been invoked since the outbreak of war in order to enable that number to be increased to twelve. As the result we now have twelve Ministers of
State and four Assistant Ministers, and the total amount voted by Parliament for distribution among Ministers of State for the current .year is £18,600. Thi3 bill provides that the total appropriation under the Ministers of State Act shall be increased by £2,650 in a full year, making the total amount available £21,250. It also proposes to amend the Act so that every member of the Cabinet shall become a Minister .of State. It must be obvious to every body, from the amount of money which we are asked to vote over and above that which the law now provides, that it is not intended that the salary already paid to any Minister shall be increased ; nor is it. intended that by the addition of three members to the Cabinet appointments shall be made which will correspond to three additional full Ministers. Each of the new Ministers will administer a department which, owing to the nature of its work, requires the constant supervision . of one man. Doubtless there will be a rearrangement of portfolios and ministerial responsibilities. The Opposition is agreeable to the passage of this measure. It recognizes that the economic functions of the State are constantly widening in scope, so that a great number of problems which were unknown prior to the outbreak of war now come before the administration and require ministerial supervision and direction, and the formulation of policy. Obviously our country is so vast and its conditions so different in various parts that although our population is only 7,000,000,. the responsibilities of government are as exacting as they would be if we had a population twice as large.
In addition to the normal responsibility of government, there is at present a new and complicated responsibility in consequence of the war. As the war has excited many special problems which require quick action, it appears to the Opposition to be imperative that there should be not only a spreading of ministerial duties, but also a fixing of responsibility in respect of particular duties. I can understand the wisdom of abandoning the term “ Assistant Minister “ in favour of “ Minister of State “. There is no need for the country to pay excessively for this variation of administration, and the Government doe3 not ask for a large addition to the total Cabinet fund. The Prime Minister stated in his secondreading speech yesterday that it is not intended to increase the salary of any Minister who is now receiving the full ministerial emolument. The right honorable gentleman also said that of the three additional Ministers to be appointed one would deal with aircraft production. It may be asked: “Why aircraft production and not tank production?” Responsibility must be fixed for the production of particular items in our munition programme. I have no doubt whatever that it is intended that the Minister of Aircraft Production shall in fact be what we have hitherto known as an Assistant Minister, but that the responsibility in the total munitions programme for aircraft production shall be assigned to the member of the Cabinet to whom will be allocated this portfolio. Responsibility, it seems to mc, is a better term than portfolio, lt may well be. that in a little while, when the work of aircraft production is properly in train and has advanced sufficiently, a Minister will no longer be required to remain in charge of it. He may then be transferred to tank production. .
These are practical problems which, in their nature, suggest to us, first, that the strain on certain Ministers must be lightened so that their work may be clone satisfactorily; and, secondly, that the responsibility for certain phases of our requirements shall be assigned to and fixed by a particular Minister who will therefore be better equipped to answer questions in Parliament, and to deal with what has to be done, or with what i3 intended to be done in that particular direction, than the honorable gentlemen who have previously had to do some of the work I have in mind.
I regard this bill as a development of our governmental machinery for the purpose of making the war effort of the country more efficient. There does not appear to me to be any inten tion to establish, permanently, a governmental machine of this size. The rights of Parliament are being safeguarded and Parliament itself will still have the duty to determine the size of the Government from time to time, and the amount of financial provision that will ‘be necessary, for this measure is to continue in operation only for the period that the National Security Act remains in force, which, as honorable members know, will be for the duration of the Avar and twelve months thereafter. As the rights of Parliament are being safeguarded in this way, and a3 it seems to me that some additional Ministerial help should be provided, I shall agree to the passage of the bill.
. - I do not think that it will be considered out of place for me to observe that I shall not be satisfied with the Cabinet changes that are about to be made to meet the requirements of the country and to satisfy the clamour of the public for a greater war effort and an increased production of munitions unless the Ministers appointed under the provisions of this bill have at least some knowledge of the departments which they will be required to administer, and will also have sufficient strength of character and determination to do what the country demands shall be done. I have thought for a long time that there is too great a tendency on the part of the Government to delegate its powers and responsibilities to boards, commissions, committees and tribunals that are not directly responsible to the Parliament. If, therefore, the effect of this measure is found to be a restoration to the Parliament of the control it should exercise and a preventing of the delegation of parliamentary powers to outside bodies, its passage will have served a useful purpose. I do not make these observations in any personal sense, but I have noted, from time to time, that statements emanating from . Ministers tend, more and more, to be merely echoes of the ideas and determinations of interests, and frequently vested interests, that have been given far too much control, in my view, over the war effort of the country. The general public seems to be of the opinion that in many instances its affairs are not safe in the hands of the Government because of this delegation of responsibilities. If that policy be continued, the Government will soon be in the hands, not of the occupants of the treasury bench, but of people not answerable to Parliament and obscure from the parliamentary view. I, therefore, consider it necessary to say that if the Ministers to be appointed will undertake and discharge with determination and courage the work which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) indicated in his broadcast speech last week must be done, and if the effect of this bill is to restore to Parliament the measure of control that it should exercise oyer our war effort, then the situation will be more satisfactory than it has been; but if the Government continues to coast along in the manner that has marked its progress so far, the appointment of . two or three additional Ministers will effect no real change in the conduct of public business.
I am anxious that the power of government shall remain in the hands of the cabinet over which Parliament has supreme authority. I am. totally opposed to a continuance of the practice of delegating wide powers to boards, commissions and c’.her authorities not directly answerable to the Parliament. There has been altogether too much of this kind of thing. To-day important duties that should be discharged directly by the Government are actually in the hands of people beyond the reach of Parliament and not answerable to Parliament. That situation should be corrected, and if. it be remedied a better feeling will be engendered in the public generally, particularly the workers, many of whom are suspicious - in some instances more than suspicious - -of the nature of the control that is being exercised over them. If all of this be done it may !be said that the prospectus of the Prime Minister in this respect is heading in the right direction.
– I have no quarrel with the bill, which has been explained by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and has received the support of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). But I draw attention to the fact that when the present Government was formed seven portfolios were allotted to representatives of New South Wales, four to representatives of Victoria, two each to representatives of Queensland and South Australia, and one to a representative of Western Australia. .Tasmania was excluded. Those who represent Tasmanian constituencies have no desire to be parochial in their outlook. Lately the names of prospective additional
Ministers have been freely mentioned, and if the prediction is well-founded, Tasmania will once again be left out in the cold. If that is to be the case, I lodge a most emphatic protest against the treatment meted out to my State. Some mem’bers and senators from Tasmania have had very lengthy parliamentary experience. I see no reason why every State should not be represented ministerially in this National Parliament. I definitely assert that every State should have, such representation. When last year I sought election to this Parliament I made it a plank of my platform that I would support whatever government was returned only so long as it remained a national government. Is the present Government a truly national government, seeing that it completely ignores every claim by Tasmania for representation in the Ministry? If Tasmania is to receive no consideration I shall be obliged to return to that State at the week-end to ascertain exactly what stand I should take.
Mr. BRENNAN (Batman) [3.34’J. - The subject-matter of the bill is worthy of a little more detailed examination than, judging, by appearances, it is likely to receive.
I do not propose to follow the example set by the .honorable member for Denison (Mr. Beck),, by taking a purely local view; that does not interest me in the slightest degree. But from other points of view, the matter demands some consideration and criticism.
I think that we may well allow that, in the extraordinary circumstances in which Fate at present condemns us to live, the weight of work borne by Ministers must necessarily be greater than is imposed in normal times. But it is also fair to say thai those circumstances demand that sacrifices be made by all; and, by way of setting a good example, particu- larly by members and Ministers of this Parliament. It is not very long since, in a time of peace, substantial additions were made to ministerial salaries. I believe it was generally accepted in this House that the allowance of the Prime Minister in particular, at least when compared with the allowances enjoyed by other persons holding similar offices in different parts of the world, was not overgenerous. If I remember rightly, all honorable members agreed that his salary should be made more appropriate to the responsibilities of his position. I . had . no quarrel with that in normal times; but there is bound to be public reaction of a ‘ not altogether pleasant kind to the proposal that, while many of our people are making colossal sacrifices, even to the point of sacrificing their lives, Ministers of State should make their positions more comfortable by voting to themselves higher emoluments. We must make, at least mentally and silently, comparisons with the lot of others. Surely honorable members must recall the resistance offered by the Government to the efforts of the party of which I am a member to secure for pensioners, whose miserable sustenance barely enables them to keep body and soul together, a more just appreciation of their claims. We must surely recall, also, that that party took up a similar position with respect to the pay of soldiers on active service and their dependants, which is entirely out of proportion to the risks they are required to run and the sacrifices they are required to make. That we should have selected this time for a greater allocation of ministerial pay must, surely, excite a certain degree of (anxiety, and even of irritability, in the public mind. It would have been a very fine gesture if Ministers had said, not merely that they would not increase their allowances, but also that the taxpayer would not be asked to make a larger contribution to public revenues as the result of certain members of Parliament being raised to the status of Ministers for the purpose of doing the nation’s work. Committees, parliamentary and other, not one of which is entirely honorary but all of which are paid either directly or indirectly, are being appointed all over the place. This, to me, does not seem to set a. very inspiring example, nor does it seem to be entirely in keeping with the proclamation of Ministers that we are fighting for our lives. When men fight for their lives, they should not, I suggest, be so anxious about their pockets.
– We must always look for a purpose behind every policy. One can see two or. three possible purposes in the introduction of this bill.
There is no doubt that) in time of war, demands are made upon ministerial time which would not be made in time of peace. But it is equally true that certain departments, which are heavy to administer in time of peace, become very light in time of Avar. Having made a close examination of this proposal, it is my considered opinion that, rather than increase the number of Ministers in the Commonwealth Government, it would be better for the prosecution of the war and the defence of this country if their number were reduced. My candid opinion, which has the foundation of some close experience, is that already there are too many Ministers in- the Commonwealth Government, Under war conditions, only six portfolios can possibly occupy the full time of one Minister each. They are, the Prime Minister’s Department - that right honorable gentleman should have no other responsibility - the Army, the Munitions Department, the Treasury, the Department of the Interior, and that conglomeration of odds and ends, of waifs and strays, which has come to be known as the Department of Social Services.
– What about the Navy and the AirForce ?
– I have administered the Department of the Navy, and can tell the honorable member that it does not occupy the time of a Minister for one hour a day. ; Mr. Stacey. - What about the PostmasterGeneral’s Department?
– I was Postmaster-General for five months, and before two months had elapsed was yelling for something to do, because I could not keep myself busy. In administration, a Minister has to confine himself to essentials. Too much of the time of some Ministers, especially of certain service Ministers, is occupied to-day in adjudicating upon, and also interfering in, matters which should never come within the purview of a Minister. We have first to look at the principle upon which any matter is founded. I listened to tlie speech which the Prime Minister made last night. The right honorable gentleman introduced an entirely new conception of how- a British cabinet has to work. The press reports of what he said bear out what I thought that I had heard, consequently I cannot be in error. It appears that, in the new Cabinet, there are to be nineteen Ministers of State, twelve of whom will be fully fledged and will carry every feather they possibly can, whilst the remaining seven are to be full Ministers, but apparently on half-pay. I am strongly reminded of the saying that a man is in full-time employment, except that he is only half occupied. The statement of the Prime Minister, that certain Ministers will not attend Cabinet meetings unless they are requested so to do, involves a very important and a most regrettable departure from what, after all, is correct Cabinet procedure. The first thing a Cabinet must have is a composite mind. The phrase was, I believe, framed by a former member for “Wakefield, Mr. P. McM. Glynn. I ask the Prime Minister and his colleagues : How in the name of conscience can. any Cabinet have a composite mind, if all its members do not meet together and vote on the matters which come before it? Under this plan decisions will be made by one section of Cabinet only. They may prove good decisions, or they may prove, as a certain decision did during the week-end, to be politically unworkable. The rest of the Cabinet will then be called in, and we shall have further reversals of decisions of the kind which have distinguished this Cabinet ever since the outbreak of war. It is far better for a government to come to a decision that is only 60 per cent, right, and stick to it, than to make a decision, however right, and then abandon it. No government should conform to the wish of its opponents, whether political or military. It should make its decision, and go down on it if necessary. The present proposal reminds me very much of the state of affairs which obtain in Victoria., where there is a very able gentleman at the head of the Government. I have heard it said that he maintains his control of the Government and of Parliament because over 50 per cent, of the membership of his party is always in the Cabinet. Thus the decision of a party meeting can never be iri conflict with that of Cabinet. The Commonwealth Government has 36 supporters in the House of Representatives, and the Prime Minister would need to put only a few more of them into Cabinet in order to bring about a state of affairs similar to that instituted by that nimblewitted gentleman, Mr. Dunstan, in Victoria. I say this with great respect to those gentlemen who, to-morrow, will become half-fledged Ministers. Whoever may be included in the Ministry under the proposed rearrangement, it cannot work, for the reason that there stands between the Government and its objectives a- long succession of bottlenecks that will prevent any government from getting on with the job. Under these conditions, even a government led by the Archangel himself must necessarily spend a large proportion of its time in arguing, explaining, and in pleading with the institution known as the Advisory War Council. I do not wish to say anything against those members of the Opposition who sit on the Council, but it is a. long-accepted principle of British parliamentary procedure that men are either in the Government, and accept responsibility for its actions, or they are outside the Government, and make comments on what is done. There is no half-way house. Then, when the Government gets something past the Advisory War Council, it still has to deal with the Department of Defence Co-o’rdination, which has been responsible for nothing but delay and hesitation. There should bc direct contact between service chiefs and their -Ministers, and thus with the Government. Whatever is put up should go directly to the War Cabinet, and not through any other authority whatsoever. I desire to cast no reflection on the very able gentleman who directs the civil side - of the department, except to say that his abilities could be used to better advantage than in the Department of Defence Co-ordination.
I believe there is still in being what is known as the Department of Economic Co-ordination. I have never been able to discover just what it is supposed to co-ordinate, or what it is expected to do.
I do not want to discuss its activities or lack of thom, but I have seen one or two painful examples of waste of time and effort, and misconception of objective, on the part of the gentleman who is supposed to be at the head of that organization. My candid advice to the Government is that the sooner this monstrosity is abolished, the .better.
I have seen at close quarters the working of what is known as the Defence Board of Business Administration, than which no greater bottle-neck exists in Australia to-day. It would be a very good thing for Parliament, but not such a good thing, perhaps, for the board, if there were a close scrutiny of the things which have been done and left undone by that institution. We have been overburdened for a long time with a great number of committees and co-ordinators, and, apparently, the intention is to appoint still more committees. The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Frederick Stewart) this afternoon introduced a bill to provide for the setting up of a- National Fitness Committee. I have some good thoughts to express on that matter, but. I shall reserve them until the bill itself is being debated. We have already so many committees of one sort and another that they arc like clogs chasing one another in a paddock; they do not know what they are doing or where they are going. I commend to– the attention of the Prime Minister a statement of the Premier of South Australia which was published in the Advertiser of last Saturday. It dealt with the visit of two of his officers to Canberra last week to attend a meeting of a certain committee. The chairman of the cornmittee did not turn up at all. The deputy chairman stayed for only one and. a half hours, and then took, a ‘plane to Melbourne. The South Australian officers “mooned “ around here for two days, and then returned to Adelaide and reported that their time had been wasted.
– What was the designation of that committee?
– Heaven knows; I have forgotten. Let us consider the three new ministries which the Prime Minister proposes to institute to-morrow. In the first place, there is no earthlyreason why there should be. one Minister whose whole time will be devoted to aircraft production, any more than we should have a Minister whose whole time is devoted to shipbuilding, or tank production, or shell production. All those things are absolutely necessary, but not one argument was adduced by the Prime Minister to show why the production of aircraft should have been singled out for full-time ministerial attention. As a matter of fact, the production of aircraft is very much centralized in Australia, whereas the production of ships extends from Whyalla in the south right round the coast to Maryborough in Queensland. Surely it will not be argued that the Minister detailed to attend to the production of aircraft is going to sit in the factory all the time. He is not to be a factory manager. We do not select men as Ministers because of their knowledge of an industry. What we want, particularly in time of war, is a man who can make quick and accurate decisions, and one with sufficient driving force to see that those decisions are carried out, and the objective readied in a given time.
I now come to the matter of civil defence. I have never been able to satisfy myself that civil defence should be a federal responsibility. The State governments should play their part. Very shortly after the outbreak of war, South Australia was well organized for civil defence, though I do not think that, the other Governments moved so quickly. I suggest that there is going to be a frightful lot of overlapping and back-biting between the Commonwealth and the States over this matter. We had a foretaste of it when the Prime Minister was in England, and a statement was issued by the Government that a. document of 100 pages had been prepared on the subject, of civil defence, a document so secret that the Premiers of the States had never even heard of it. No such plan can be worth much if it is so secret that not even the heads of State governments can he told about it. There are certain advantages in time of war in placing things that matter in the hands of . one central authority, but it is possible to centralize activities too much, especially in regard to matters ‘where local action is required. We come now to the last of the new ministries. Apparently, it is to look into the future and prepare for events after the war.
– It is not proposed that it shall deal with post-war problems.
– Then I really do not understand what its purpose is, though I tried to follow the Prime Minister’s speech very carefully last night. Another matter which calls for attention is the everlasting conflict between Minister and Minister in the public press as to what is the policy of the Government, For instance, I do not know how the Government can expect satisfactory results from recruiting when this perpetual conflict between Ministers, is going on as to what is the true position in regard to the training and equipment of the Australian Imperial Force. Last Christmas the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) stated in Sydney that the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt was not properly equipped:. After that he flew away to Bardia, and I have no doubt that if he had stayed there until the battle was over, he would by now have been a lieutenant-general instead of only a lieutenant-colonel. When he returned he told- us that everything was satisfactory in regard to the equipment of the Australian Imperial Force. Later, when the Grecian campaign was barely over, the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Hughes) - who, no doubt, knows all about what goes on in the Army - said that the Australian Imperial Force in Greece was not properly equipped. It stands to reason that if our forces were not properly equipped in Greece they could not, after having suffered the reverses which they did, have been properly equipped in Crete. I put it to the Prime Minister that these matters must be taken seriously. The time has arrived when he should introduce a satisfactory arrangement under which only one statement would be made upon such subjects. The statement, which should be in accordance with the facts, should be issued only by the Minister with the authority to do so.
I do not desire to refer to any other matters of this description. If I began to do so, I could continue for at least half an hour ; but this is neither the time nor the place for it. I warn the Prime
Minister verycarnestly and sincerelythat the effect on recruiting generally must be particularly bad while this position is allowed to exist. The measures which should be applied to correct it are doubtless well known to the right honorable gentleman. If they are not to be applied, I fear that sooner or later an incident will happen, with such reper- cussions that we shall experience difficulty in dealing with it satisfactorily. : The proposal, -which was- outlined by the Prime Minister last night for the appointment of additional Ministers of State, involves certain departures from good, well-tried and acceptable principles. Like so many other administrative moves which have been made during the war, such as the establishment of a business board, the Advisory War Council, the Department of Defence Co-ordination and the important appointment of a Co-ordinator-General of Works, the present proposal is an experiment. In my opinion all such experiments will fail. Regarding. . the membership of governments, the only method which will get us out of trouble is that which may be best described in the words of the Chief of the General Staff in England, after the evacuation at Dunkirk: “Every man has got to be physically fit to do the job, and he has got to do it.” When that precept is accepted and fallowed, conditions- here will greatly improve. Alone in this chamber, I believe that the present proposal will not have the beneficial effects which the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and so many of his followers are confident will follow the passing of the bill.
.- I turned to Hansard in. order to count the number of Ministers in the present Cabinet; there are sixteen in all. As eleven is the maximum number of Ministers of State that can be appointed, it follows that five of. them must be assistant Ministers.
– Under the National Security Act the eleven Ministers of State were increased to twelve.
– Under this bill, it will be possible to have 23 Ministers. Of every three supporting the Government, two may be Ministers.
– Hie honorable member means that technically it would be possible to appoint Assistant Ministers, re-distributing the existing Cabinet fund to include them?
– If the policy of having Assistant Ministers were abandoned, it would be possible for one out of every two honorable members on the Government side to be appointed to the Cabinet. Whilst I feel a general reluctance to refuse to grant to the Governon en t any assistance that it considers is necessary, I very much doubt whether the present proposal Will help the war effort. In my opinion, it is undesirable to depart from the practice and the Australian tradition of having all the Ministers in the Cabinet, each with an equal voice in deciding policy. That has been- the tradition which we have followed, and except as to that small inner body which is called a “ War Cabin? t,” the practice has been invariably adopted. In the last Deakin Government, which was known as the “ fusion “ Government, Deakin did not hold the office of Minister of State. He was a Minister without portfolio; I do not know whether he was a Minister without salary. Executive -a.cts were notperformed in his name.. He did not accept a portfolio because he desired to devote his whole attention to thinking and co-ordinating, which are the great tasks of the leader of a. government. All of the persons who are sworn in as Ministers should be members of the Cabinet and have a voice in the making of decisions. If that is not to be the practice now, Cabinet should be smaller, and the persons who are not selected for membership of the Cabinet should discharge the duties of under-secretaries and be buffers between Ministers and members of Parliament. One source of trouble to all Ministers is ‘the manner in which they ore bombarded with letters by honorable members who either have not approached the department concerned, or’ are dissatisfied with the departmental decision.
– Would the honorable member require the under-secretaries to be honorary?
– No. . Provision should be made for their payment.
– That cannot be done without first amending the Constitution, because those gentlemen, not being Ministers of State, would hold an office of profit under the Crown.
– Assistant Ministers, though paid from the Cabinet fund, are not, in my opinion, Ministers of State. If the payment ,of parliamentary under-secretaries out of the Cabinet fund would be a violation of the Constitution,- the payment of Assistant Ministers and Whips out of the same fund must be a violation of the Constitution. There is no more difficulty in the way of Cabinet Ministers distributing a part of the moneys available- to them among undersecretaries, than there is in distributing it among Assistant Ministers.
– Each system is undesirable.
– .The Lyons Government tried the experiment of appointing parliamentary under-secretaries. I never understood why the system was abolished, because to me it seemed to be a great convenience to Ministers and to members .of Parliament. Large Ministries and numerous committees and boards tend to keep Parliament in the background. The Government manages to avoid summoning Parliament, or to complete its business in a very short time. If Parliament discharged its duties properly, those committees and boards, and an enlargement of the Ministry would be unnecessary. Treating Parliament as the horse, we cannot see the animal for all the harness that has been placed upon it in the form of boards and committees. Whilst new forms of harness and additions to the harness are constantly being devised, we forget that the real thing upon which Ave depend as the representatives of the people and the thoughtorganization and will-organization of the people, is Parliament. Changes, which are proposed from time to time, seem to be devised for the purpose of avoiding the convening of Parliament, and for keeping Parliament in recess. That is one of the disadvantages which arises from having the Seat of Government so remote from the large centres of population. The blame does not attach to
Ministers alone. Honorable, members assemble here unwillingly, and leave gladly.
– A horse that sat all the time would not be of much use.
– The more work under fair conditions that a horse has to do, the better for the animal. The more work that the harness has to do, the quicker it wears out. Whatever the Government . thinks is necessary to improve its capacity- for administering the affairs of the nation should be granted ; but I doubt whether the proposed increase of the “number of the Ministers of State will have that desirable effect.
– All honorable members will agree upon the necessity for increasing the number of Ministers of State iri order to enable Cabinet efficiently to perform the duties that devolve upon the Government in war time. Ministers are devoting to affairs of. State considerably more of their time than was demanded- of them in peace. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mi-. Beasley) rightly emphasized the need for criticism of inordinate delays which have occurred in making decisions, and of the delegation to boards and committees of responsibility that rightly belongs to Parliament. In this manner Parliament has virtually relinquished its control of finance. The Government should appoint a committee similar to the Finance Committee of the House of Commons, which subjects to vigilant investigation and scrutiny all matters concerning the raising and spending of funds in the United Kingdom. Far too many bottle-necks are retarding our war effort. Although Ministers may be overworked, the extraordinary delays that occur in replying to urgent communications andin making important decisions are inexcusable. As a representative of an electorate in New South Wales, I have had bitter experience in endeavouring to get boards and committees in Melbourne to make expeditious decisions. My subsequent remarks are designed to illustrate the necessity for a delegation of authority to make decisions in each State, instead of being obliged to await a decision from Melbourne. To my knowledge, at least ten firms in New South Wales are alleged to be manufacturing munitions, but their plant is practically idle. Last November, one of them was instructed not to accept any civil work in order to concentrate upon defence orders. Tq date, it has not received a single Government order. That firm has a plant valued at £100,000.
– Will the honorable member give to me privately the name of that firm?
– Yes. I have unsuccessfully invited Ministers to visit it. One of the Service Ministers sent his private secretary to the factory. 1 refuse to be treated in that manner. I told the Minister point blank that he was pre- . pared to inspect a plant only if a press photographer were in the vicinity to take his picture, and arrangements had been made for a band to welcome him with music. The railway establishment at Chullora, which is engaged upon war work, is operating far below full capacity. When the Prime Minister increases the personnel of Cabinet he should delegate to Ministers .authority to make prompt decisions. The shop steward of one of the biggest unions in the country used these words to me in reference to works in New South Wales: “I would be more honest with, myself if I went to the works once a fortnight to draw my salary, instead of going to them every day and doing nothing”. He asked me to endeavour to obtain for him a transfer to another munitions factory, where he could perform some honest work in the
– That is correct; I know the man.
– No honorable member desires to increase the burden of responsibilty, worry and care that is now borne by the Prime Minister. When the right honorable gentleman ‘ was doing a. good job of work abroad, the .Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) ably discharged his duties here. I have never appealed to him. to make a decision without a decision being made promptly. His- decisions have not always been to my satisfaction, but, at least, he has decided one way or the other and not vacillated, and for that I give him credit.
In New South Wales we have handed” ourselves body and soul to General Motors-Holdens Limited, in respect of the supply of munitions. The management of General Motors-Holdens Limited at the Pagewood’ “works is the only medium’ in New South Wales for placing with other firms orders- for munitions, whereas the Minister for Munitions should be the only person empowered to make decisions relating to the distribution of munitions work. I inspected the factory which was directed to cease civil production and concentrate on war orders, and learned that it was to have undertaken the manufacture of 40,000 parts for a certain war article but could not do so because of its inability to obtain the raw material, which, under the sub-contract, had to be supplied by General Motors-Holdens Limited. I ascertained at Pagewood that General Motors-Holdens Limited could not supply it because that company itself could not obtain raw material which was to have been supplied in the forms of forgings by a firm in Queensland and castings by a firm in New South Wales. I traced the matter further and found that those two firms had the same excuse, namely, that they could not obtain raw- materials. If we appoint more Ministers and more committees, . for the Lord’s sake let them do something, even if it is something’ wrong, instead of referring everything to . Melbourne for decision. Melbourne is such a bottle-neck that, in spite of the fact that the Eastern Command in the Army is supposed to possess delegated authority, that command cannot appoint a corporal or a sergeant without the authority of Army head-quarters.
I am not criticizing for the fun of it; it breaks my heart at times to see what is going on. I have a keen desire to help the Government, the War Cabinet and the Advisory War Council to prose-‘ cute the war. To that end, I suggest that the new Ministers appointed should relieve, some of - the existing Ministers of a part of their burden, and that some of the present Ministers, notably the PostmasterGeneral, whose post, I agree with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), himself a former Postmaster-General, is a sinecure, should take over additional administrative responsibilities. I concede that Senator McLeay, in addition to being responsible for the administration of the postal department, also leads the Senate, but the Senate does not sit much and, moreover, the post office, as all former PostmastersGeneral will agree, is a business undertaking, which almost runs itself.’ In view of the fact that Parliament sits infrequently, I am inclined to agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that every member and senator- should as a gesture to the public accept a reduction of his parliamentary allowance to £500 a year. Other than that every member of Parliament ought to be prepared to do a job of work in our war effort. We cannot do much in Parliament, but we could do- a great deal as members of committees associated with the war effort. I am constrained to” say, however, that the handing over of the authority of Parliament to boards and committees is altogether wrong. For instance the Board of Business Administration, which is supposed to do this, that and the other -
– And what is more does it, as the honorable member would know, if he knew anything about that board.
– I do know that the board has deferred decisions which ought to have been made urgently. I know, moreover, that officers of the defence forces, who were requested by our commander in chief overseas to send materials urgently to the . Australian .. troop’s, and went out of their way to comply with the request, lost their’ jobs for having done so without reference to the board. . ‘
– The honorable member uses language in the plural, but he is thinking of one particular case which I invite him not to pursue too far.
– I know the officers concerned. The principle is entirely wrong. If Parliament cannot trust Ministers of State to make decisions about the purchase of minor requirements, instead of referring the matters to boards’ and committees for decision, the Ministers ‘ should not be in office. Decisions must be made promptly by Ministers if we are to get on with the job of winning this war.
– That cannot be done unless the Minister who makes the decision has the backing of the Prime Minister.
– I have no reason to doubt that Ministers are backed in their decisions by the Prime Minister.
– This is the first time that I have heard it suggested that the Prime Minister does not back up his Ministers. The Prime Minister is generally blamed for backing them too much.
– The Prime Minister is loyal to the men whom he has appointed as Ministers. Another reason for my dislike of the principle of appointing boards and committees to deal with matters of policy is provided by the personnel of the Shipbuilding Board, not one member of which is experienced in shipbuilding, whereas I can name several men whose experience would make them invaluable members of the committee.
– But many of them have an axe to grind.
– It is for the Government to ensure that men with an axe to grind are not placed in the position of being able to do so.
– Has the honorable gentleman ever heard of a man named Barton ?
– I do not know the gentleman.
M r. Be as ley. - He is a hack who is always appointed to committees.
– What about Sir Ernest’ Fisk ?
– I can say nothing but good about Sir Ernest Fisk, who is one of the brainiest, men in the Commonwealth. Provided that members of the Ministry make decisions, and make them properly, I have no objection to conceding the Prime Minister’s desire for further Cabinet assistance.
.- My leader has said that there ought to be nineteen Ministers of State; I accept his judgment upon the matter, and propose to vote for the bill. But I consider that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) probably erred when he included in the measure a clause limiting its duration to the period of the war and six months after its conclusion. If there be justification in time of war for a Cabinet of nineteen Ministers, there will be justification for a Cabinet of similar size in the period of reconstruction which will follow the war.
– The honorable member is probably right, but. I believe that Parliament ought to have the opportunity to deal with that matter when it arises.
– If the intention is to terminate this legislation, as is now proposed, in order that Parliament may reconsider the position, I do not offer any objection; but, if we are to have anything of a new social order after the war, nineteen Ministers will not be too many to consider the various phases of our social and economic. life.
– Personally, I agree, but my view is that Parliament should have the chance to deal with that matter when it arises.
– In that case I shall not strongly disagree with the Prime Minister. Possibly, before the war ends, we shall have in operation, in addition to child endowment, which will begin on the 1st July next, a social benefits system on the lines of that operating in New Zealand. I hope that, as the war progresses and as the needs of the community become better understood by the- Commonwealth Government, it might even be possible for the Commonwealth to take over the railways systems of Australia.
– What about socialism in our time?
– I have lived long enough not to be too optimistic about the amount of socialism that we shall get in our time, but I hope for an instalment of it which will emulate New Zealand’s performance. We shall certainly be nearer to socialism if we have a scheme enacted by this Parliament which will provide for all the social contingencies and vicissitudes to which humanity is heir.
A great deal of important legislation is held up because there is no opportunity for members to give their full consideration to it. A comprehensive bill to deal with all phases of life insurance and to protect, holders of policies, both ordinary and industrial life is, for instance, long overdue. Some States have such legislation and others have not. New South Wales, for instance, the biggest State, from the point of view, of population, has no protective insurance legislation at all. I hope that when nineteen Ministers are appointed, the Prime Minister will be able to direct one of them to prepare an insurance bill which should be passed by this Parliament with very little discussion if it follows the lines of the report of the Victorian royal commission. That commission was unique in that every recommendation made by it’ was given effect to by the Victorian Government within several years of the presentation of its report-
Reference has been made to the numbers of boards and commissions which are operating under the laws of the Commonwealth Parliament. I asked a question on that- matter on the 23rd May last, and I have just been supplied with the reply. The portion of that reply germane- to this debate is that there are 74 boards and 4 commissions now functioning under Commonwealth legislation. It may be possible for the new Ministers to take over from some of those boards, which should then be disbanded. I am not in a. position to criticize adversely, but there is evidence that whilst some of them are doing good work, the functions of others would be better vested in Ministers of the Crown directly responsible to Parliament.
A few weeks ago, at the invitation of the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator McBride), I went through the munitions factory at Maribyrnong with the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman )) the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod), and Senators Cameron and Keane. A good deal of criticism has been levelled at bottle-necks which allegedly exist in that’ establish^ ment and at its failure to produce all the -munitions of war that it ought. Much of the criticism is not justified, if it is directed at the officers whom I had the pleasure to meet. There are difficulties, of course, and I do not gloss them over. I found, for instance, that in one section with a staff of 1,600 men there had been 1,300 changes in eight months.’ Many of the men engaged there had been lured away by luxury trades or had resigned on the grounds of ill health or for some other reasons and were now in what might be termed nonessential industries. They were either first-class technicians or had added skill. Some of them had actually been trained under the Commonwealth technical training scheme at public expense and had been put to making munitions .subsequently, but had accepted offers to go elsewhere. I do not, of course, blame people for accepting better offers of employment, but private enterprise should not be allowed to affect adversely the war issue.
– Did the whole of the 1,300 go out of munitions production?
– In eight months 1,300 of a staff of 1,600 men changed.
– They did not all go out of the munitions industry.
– I do not know how many went . into other branches of the munitions industry or how many went into the luxury trades, but at the Maribyrnong factory, where there are 20.000 hands, there are in this one section 1,600 more or less highly .skilled hands. In that section a high degree of skill is required. I am not in a position to, say whether the plant of that establishment can be duplicated immediately in order to provide employment for the 1,300 who have gone, but there is plant in Melbourne on which those people could be employed in making munitions because that plant is already - making something .which, perhaps, is not necessary in time of Avar. An additional Minister would be able to iron, out that difficulty, and, generally, the increase of the number of Ministers may enable the Government to tackle more effectively problems which, confront the community in the matter of adequate supplies of equipment . for the defence of this country and for the assistance to the British Commonwealth of Nations against ‘ nazi-ism and fascism. I hope that the Government
Wi 11 seriously consider increasing the size of the Parliament. In my opinion it is necessary not only to have additional Ministers in order to transact the business of the nation, but also to have a greater number of members of Parliament in order that greater attention may be given to- the needs of individual electors.
Some electorates in the most populous States- of’ the Commonwealth embrace from 61,000 to 75,000 voters. The introduction of child endowment will make the lot of- the average member of this Parliament considerably harder than it is at present. I have the privilege and the honour to represent what is probably the poorest constituency in the Commonwealth. The passage of social legislation of any kind affects my electors very much, and they come to me for advice upon these things and all manner of problems. I suggest to the Prime Minister that the population of any Commonwealth electorate should not exceed 40.000. If that were so, honorable members would be able to give a great deal more attention to the needs of individual constituents than they are capable of giving at the present time. In the Parliament of New South Wales there are fifteen Ministers and the Legislative Assembly has a membership of90. In Victoria there are twelve Ministers, and the Legislative Assembly has a membership of 65. In this Parliament, where the House of Representatives has a membership of 74, we shall have nineteen Ministers when this bill is passed.
– The nineteen Ministers will include a number of senators.
– The figures for the State Parliaments which I have cited include those Ministers who sit in the Upper Houses. I believe that there are two such Ministers in New South Wales, and four in Victoria. It is anomalous that the Parliament of the Nation should consist of 36 senators and 74 members of the House of Representatives, whereas oneState Parliament has 60 members in its Upper House and 90 members in its Lower House. Therefore, I suggest that the Government should give earnest consideration to increasing the size of this Parliament, so that the views of democracy may be voiced more effectively than they can be by the small numbers that we have at the present time. When this Parliament met in Melbourne the mosaic of the main hall of Parliament House embodied this inscription : “ Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” That seems to be of the essence of democracy. This
Parliament is far too small to carry out effectively the onerous and increasing duties which are cast upon it.
– I have no objection to increasing the number of Ministers if the war-time situation demands it, but I am concerned at the statement that all of the proposed nineteen Ministers will be full Ministers of State. I should like to know whether the full Cabinet will deal with all matters directly connected with the war.
– There will be a War Cabinet.
-We require concentration of effort to-day, and if there is to be an enlarged War Cabinet the conflict of opinion which will inevitably arise will cause even more delay than occurs at the present time.
– That will be obviated, because there will be -a War Cabinet as there is at the present time.
– War service Ministers should be relieved of ordinary governmental responsibility.
– That is the intention.
– I do not share the confidence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that, upon the termination of the war, Cabinet will revert to normal size. I believe that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) need not worry on this account. The honorablemember for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has referred to the cost of appointing additional Ministers. I point out that, in addition to the extra, allowances for Ministers, there will be further expenses for secretaries and typists. I am glad to have the assurance of the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) that the War Cabinet will not consist of nineteen Ministers, because that would cause undue delay in dealing with war-time emergencies.
.- I do not claim to be in a position to judge whether or not the amount of work now being performed by Ministers has become so great as to warrant the appointment of additional Cabinet Ministers. Obviously the Prime Minister and his colleagues are better able to do so than I am. Appearances are oft-times deceptive. At any rate, . the appearance of members of the Cabinet does not suggest that they are being overworked. I should like to be assured that this hill is not designed merely for the purpose of appeasing a few discordant Government supporters instead of for the purpose of easing the responsibilities which are at present imposed upon members of the Government. I agree with the views of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) in relation to the numerous committees, and their staffs of secretaries and typists, which are to-day travelling all over the country. They are like a plague of locusts. At times it is very difficult to determine the particular functions of these committees. They are given various designations, but sometimes we wonder whether they also are not appointed for the purpose of appeasing some of the critical members of the Parliament, in order that the Govern- ‘ ment shall not be subject to too much questioning in the Parliament. If Cabinet Ministers are as greatly overworked as has been stated., it is remarkable that they can find time to attend to so many social activities. Although we are told that we are now engaged in an all-in war effort, it seems that every time that a rifle is turned out at a new small arms factory or a small torpedo boat is launched at one of our shipbuilding yards, there is need for a celebration on the part of all hands and the cook - and by “ cook “ I do not mean the man who does the actual constructional work - so that they can partake of the good things provided by the Government in order to mark the passing of. another milestone in its career. Celebrations have been held for the opening of the new wing of a hospital, the extension of a munition annexe, and the first day of production of a munition factory. Prom these activities we gain the impression that, instead of being overworked, the Ministers have an abundance of time to spare from their duties. I. should like to be assured that this is not the case. The honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) said that I stated in this Parliament that the allowance paid to honorable members should be limited to £500 a year. I said more than that. I contended that the income of every member of the community, irrespective of its source, should be limited to £500 a year for the duration of the war at least.
– That is a fair thing.
– Yes. It would be unfair to restrict the parliamentary allowance of honorable members to £500 a year without restricting outside sources of income, because the parliamentary allowance is mere pin-money to some honorable gentlemen, who receive large sums annually by virtue of their occupancy of company directorates and their shareholdings in wealthy firms. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) recently made a speech in which he condemned the increase of the number of men engaged in postal services. He said that at this timewe should not be talking about the extension of such services. These men are performing useful work. But he has no objection to an increase of the number of Cabinet Ministers. I agreewith the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that even if there is extra work to be done by the Cabinet, members of this Parliament should hot expect extra payment for performing it. Has the Government not been lecturing theworkers’ about the need for an all-in
Avar effort and sacrifices by every member of the community? In this bill it proposes that approximately £3,000 a year shall be added to the cost- of Government. That figure does not include the enormous increase of expenditure mentioned by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) whichwill be incurred by the appointment of additional ministerial secretaries, typists, messengers, &c. If it be necessary to appoint additional Ministers, let the members of the Governmentshow that their actions are as good as their words and accept additional duties in an honorary capacity. The Prime Minister and his colleagues could accept a little less remuneration in order to spread the present ministerialallowance over the new Ministers.
– Does the honorable gentlemanwant people towork for nothing ?
– No. I have always advocated in this Parliament that people should be given decent livingwages. Apparently the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) believes that there should be one economic law for Cabinet Ministers and another for pensioners. He says that 21s. 6d. a week is enough for any pensioner, irrespective of how high the cost of living may soar. But, in his view, the remuneration of Cabinet Ministers is an entirely different matter, and they -must receive special payment for their services.
– There will be no extra remuneration of present Ministers. The honorable gentleman is misleading the House.
Mr.WARD. - One of the great troubles of this country is that the real wealthproducers receive the lowest return for their services, whereas those who do the least work receive the greatest remuneration. How can the Treasurer justify his contention that 21s. 6d. a week is enough for a pensioner to live on, even with the increased cost of living, and at the same time say that the number of Cabinet Ministers cannot be increased unless Parliament is prepared to provide for the : new Ministers a salary over and above what. they receive by way of parliamentary allowances? Members of Parliament receive an allowance for their services as such, and in view of the appeals that members, of the Government have made to other people- from time to time to make sacrifices in . order to assist the nation’s - war. . effort, I submit that . -honorable members, whether they are . chosen as members of the Cabinet -or . not, should . be - . prepared to give their full, . time to the services of . the country without additional remuneration. It cannot be said. that men in receipt of a salary of £1,000 a year are working for nothing. Apparently the Government desires to increase the size of the Cabinet in order to appease certain discordant elements inits own ranks. It, seems that the thing for a member of the Government parties to do in order to secure a position in the Cabinet is to embarrass the Government. Certain honorable gentlemen have made nuisances of themselves on various committees, and the committees on which they have served have made reports which have embarrassed the Government. The members of these committees have then asked that the reports should be printed and their recommendations implemented. This has been unpalatable to the Government which is, therefore, proposing that, the size of the Cabinet shall be increased in order that such discordant elements may be absorbed. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) knows very well that the way to get into the Cabinet is to become a discordant element. He did so and obtained a portfolio. But because he remained a discordant element he soon found himself out of the Cabinet again.
– His trouble was that he resigned from one party and was not sure whether he was eligible to join any other party !
– That may be an added reason why the honorable gentleman is to-day outside of the Cabinet.
The Labour party is of the opinion that if additional cabinet Ministers are needed they should be appointed; but I suggest, that the Government should abandon its proposal to increase the total amount of the Cabinet fund. The proposed new Ministers should be prepared to act without additional remuneration. The Government will not be justified in dipping into the public purse for an additional amount of nearly £3,000 in order to provide added remuneration for the three new cabinet Ministers it is proposed to appoint, particularly as, in my opinion, the appointments are to be made mainly in order to appease certain discordant elements among its supporters. Unless the provision for an increase of the total amount of the Cabinet fund is eliminated from the bill the Government will lay itself open to severe criticism. The people of Australia are intelligent. They have acquired the habits of reading and of reasoning, and they are not, therefore, likely to accept the very weak argument which the Prime Minister has advanced in support of this bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time; and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 24th June (vide page 328), on motion by Mr, Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- As this will probably be the last occasion before the introduction of the budget that honorable members will have to engage in a general discussion of matters of concern to their constituents, I wish to direct attention to a proposal I made in March last that a select committee should be appointed to inquire into the increased cost of superphosphate. The superphosphate position in Australia is becoming desperate, due to the lack of shipping and the destruction of certain works at Nauru. The greatly increased cost of superphosphate is also adding considerably to the difficulties of producing many primary products which are just as essential to our war effort as are munitions. I therefore sincerely trust that the Government, will take the first opportunity to announce that it intends to act as the Government of New Zealand has done in connexion with superphosphate, and that it will carry the additional costs at present being imposed on users.
I regard it as the responsibility of the Government to do everything within its power to develop possible sources of supply of superphosphate within Australia. At Dandaragan, in Western Australia, about 100 miles north of Perth and 22 miles from the railhead at Moora, there is a bed of copralite underlying which is a stratum of highly impregnated phosphatic rock. The copralite bed is approximately 3 feet deep and the impregnated rock approximately 7 feet deep. The bed stretches for a distance of about 22 miles, but its width is as yet unknown. The Government of Western Australia is at present testing these resources, and in the near future it may - require some assistance from the Commonwealth Government to assist it to make further investigations.
Adjacent to this locality are more than 40 caves, known as the Namban Caves, which also deserve the closest investigation. Some of these were examined in 1908 by Dr. Goeizel, a noted Norwegian geologist, who stated in his report that the caves contained thousands of tons of guano. These potential resources also should be examined. Another form of phosphatic rock, or guano, is known to exist on numerous islands lying off the coast of Western Australia from Esper ance to the Kimberleys. It may be news to some honorable members that up to 1904 a total of 120,000 tons of what was at the time the richest grade guano in the world had been exported from these islands to Germany, the United States of America and Belgium. Between 1S76 and 1SS6 a quantity of 23,177 tons of guano on which royalty was paid to the Government of Western Australia was shipped abroad from Browse Islands, 40 miles off the Western Australian coast near Derby. It is known, however, that for every ton of guano that was legitimately removed, possibly three or four tons was. stolen. On this no royalty was paid. I have been privileged to visit this locality. I have also visited the Lacepede Islands, from which 37,226 tons of guano was removed between the years 1876 and 3879. No doubt since then the deposits have been replenished and large quanti-ties of guano could be obtained from this source to-day. Between 1S83 and 1915, 56,000 tons of guano was removed from the Abrolhos Archipelago, and approximately 20,000 tons was also removed during the same period from the Montebello, Barrow, Bernier, Dorrie, Dirk Hartog, Bedout, Carnac, Beagle, Jones, and Stewart Islands, and from the Black . Hawk Beef. All of these islands are along the north-west coast of Western Australia, but substantial deposits of guano are also known to exist to the south-west, near Esperance, in the Recherche group of islands and elsewhere. Some of these islands have been denuded of their supplies of what is known as “live” guano, but others could still be exploited. All of them, I believe, would yield large quantities of “ dead “ guano, which under existing conditions could be used with advantage in the manufacture of fertilizers.
– -For what purposes would such fertilizers be suitable?
– Ground guano is not a quick-acting fertilizer. Unless it could be used on peaty soils or soils with a considerable acid content it would undoubtedly be slow in dissolving. If it could be treated with sulphuric acid it could be used as an ordinary superphosphate.
– Would it be. suitable for top dressing?
– I am informed that it gives its best results in its fifth year, but if treated with appropriate chemicals it could be used and would act like ordinary superphosphate.
The shoals of the Ashmore Islands, which lie between Australia and the Timor Sea, and which, as honorable members are probably aware, were being considered for use as landing grounds for aeroplanes, are rich in certain chemicals, as they contain 3 per cent, nitrogen, 2 per cent, potash, and 37 per cent, tricalcic phosphate. These deposits are only about 300 miles from the north-west coast of Western Australia.
The deposits that I have mentioned have so far been exploited only in the interests of overseas concerns, and the great bulk of the guano taken from them has been shipped to foreign countries. I sincerely trust, however, that the time has come for considerable activity in these areas in the interests of our own producers. The Commonwealth Government should assist the Government of Western Australia to explore these deposits in the national interest. Royalties amounting to more than £50.000 have been paid on guano, aggregating about 120,000 tons, which has been removed from these areas, but it is estimated that probably three times that quantity has been stolen from the deposits.
Another essential in the manufacture of fertilizers is potash, and I understand that large deposits of alunite and potash which are known to exist at Lake Campion, in Western Australia, are now being tested. Alunite is a basic mineral from which aluminium may be manufactured. I understand that the company interested in these deposits intends to erect a large treatment plant at Lake Campion in the near future. I appeal to the Government to do everything possible to enable the company to secure at the earliest possible date the plant and machinery it requires, for such action will lead to the production of potash, which is of vital importance to Australia at present. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) drew the attention of the Government to iron-ore resources in Queensland. I direct its attention to similar resources in Western Australia. The great deposit of iron ore at Yampi Sound where, it is claimed, there is 98,000,000 tens above water level, is well known. But that is not the only considerable occurrence of iron ore in Western Australia, At Walgie Mia, in the centre of the State, it is estimated that there is 27,000.000 tons above the level of the ground. Iron from this field was the first to be worked in Australia; it has been worked there by the natives ever since white people came to Australia, and has found its way through the north of Australia and through Queensland. A little lower in the State there i3 Gabarrintha, near Nannine, with a couple of million tons; Mount Gibson, near Yalgoo, with 10,000,000 tons ; and Tallering Peak, near Mullewa, in the vicinity of which there are also very extensive coal and manganese deposits which, I understand, are essential to the manufacture of steel and iron. If it be the policy of the Government to assist de-centralization and the spread of industries in other States, I hope that it will give consideration to these enormous undeveloped resources in Western Australia.
– There are other iron bodies further south.
– There is another enormous body near Clackline, 51 miles from Perth, from which 50,000 tons has been taken. In fact, the State of Western Australia is one great mass of iron ore. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated that the iron ore deposits of Australia have very limited extent. That is what has been reported in the past; but those of Western Australia have been largely overlooked, and a genuine attempt has not been made to assess their magnitude. In fact, it could not be assessed, so enormous are they.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) urged that, in view of the need for economy in time of wai’, the Government should set an example by economizing in the cost of its administration. I agree with him. The office of the High Commissioner in London is at present costing this country £S3,000 per annum. Four years ago, the cost was only £5.1,000, and I believe that five years ago it was only £40,000. It has been growing at the rate of nearly £10,000 a year, until today it is costing as much to run as is the
Government of Western Australia. There are in England six agents-general, each with a staff. I have yet to learn that the High Commissioner and all of those agents-general are essential in the present time of war. When migration to Australia was being promoted, and loans were being floated in ‘ England, there may have been some . justification for the presence of these’ gentlemen . there, but I can see no justificationnow.” I appeal to the Government to overhaul the office of ‘the High Commissioner in order to see what men may be- released for other services, and to devise means. whereby the cost of the office may be. reduced. ,
For the last ten- years, the unfortunate primary producers have been struggling against adverse seasons and prices. Today, they have little or no security. Either the Government must ‘ grant a subsidy in respect of superphosphate, or the wheat-growers will have to be guaranteed a higher price than they are receiving for their product. I should prefer the subsidy. Growers must also be given some security of tenure. But before that is attempted, action will have to be taken in’ respect of their secured debts and the burden of interest rates, which have been, pressing so heavily that a large number of them have had to sacrifice their insurance policies and any savings which their families may have made. Their position has gradually deteriorated to the point at, which they have no equity in their properties and are merely caretakers for the financial institutions which have first mortgages over their holdings. I ask the Government to bring up to date immediately the report of the royal commission which inquired into the wheat industry four years ago. That would not be a big task, requiring the appointment of another royal commission. There are statisticians in the different departments which could complete it very quickly. There would then be a basis upon which a payable price could be fixed. It would be found that wheat, which is essential to the promotion of our war effort, is not being produced profitably even at the present price of 3s.10d. a bushel. Every day, men are leaving their farms. The rural areas are being denuded of their population. In many country towns in Western Australia 75 per cent, of the stores are empty. A state of decay is fast setting in. Such conditions should not be allowed to exist. I heard the Prime Minister recently give to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) the undertaking that he would view the matter as one of seriousness and urgency.
– And sympathetically.
– And,I hope, sympathetically. I appeal to the right honorable gentleman to take action as quickly as possible.
It is contemptible that candidates for election to this Parliament should canvass the votes of unfortunate- invalid and old-age. pensioners with the promise of an increased pension, I urge the Government to treat these people as the workers are treated, by appointing a tribunal that will adjust pensions according to the standard of living enjoyed by every other section of the community, and thus place pensioners beyond the influence of politicians. It is high time that a system was devised which would remove pensions from the arena of party politics.
Recently I asked when a munition factory would be built in Western Australia, and yesterday received the reply that it would be completed and in production in nine months. I appeal to the responsible Ministers to endeavour to reduce that . time by one-half. Nine months is a long time to look ahead, when Australia is so seriously in need of arms and ammunition. I sincerely hope that when the building is completed the machinery will be speedily installed and will immediately begin production. There are no big building contracts in Western Australia, as ‘there are in the eastern States; consequently builders should be available. If they are not, they could be withdrawn from private construction and engaged on this more important work. I also, maintain that the tools that are needed to turn out small arms could be made in like manner. I urge the Government to give Western Australia an opportunity to contribute to the manufacture of small arms in this country.
.- I wish to bring before the House and the Government a vital and urgent matter which has affected the country areas of Victoria for the last twelvemonths. The aggregation of population in the cities must eventually affect the whole of the economy of Australia, city and country alike. In every centre which has a population of from’ 10,000 down to 6,000 persons, there is a large number of empty houses, and the business community is keenly feeling the effect: One of the principal reasons for the loss of population by country areas is the establishment of industries in the cities. I- agree with the observation that Australia may yet- he a theatre of war; consequently, action should be taken immediately to establish, war industries in country centres, and thus afford- relief to the over- burdened cities. The human erosion at present occurring in the country must have an adverse effect on our economy. The position can and must be altered. I have taken to Melbourne deputations from every large town in my electorate, but invariably we have come up against a blank wall. The honorable member for Parkes (‘Sir Charles Marr) complained that when he asked a Minister to inspect a certain factory, the Minister sent his private secretary. The honorable member was fortunate to get even that much- attention. “When wre make representations to the authorities, we are told that something will be done, and! then three, or four months goes by before anything happens. Then we may be in> formed that, if there is an extension of industry our representations will receive sympathetic consideration. We some- times he.ar about the apathy of. the people towards the “war effort, but the people in the country are heart-broken at their treatment. They do not. ask that shells be made in country, centres where there are no precision instruments, but they do suggest that forging work might be done in factories, which for years’ -have been engaged in the production of. agricultural implements. I have been through munition factories in Melbourne, and have seen men engaged on forging work which might well be done in the country. I know of one man who wrote to- the Department of Supply asking for blue prints ‘ of i gas producer units,, he haying heard that the Government wanted them constructed in quantities-. The department wrote back saying that it did not think that the work could be done in the country. I do not know whether those in charge of the department believe that people in the country are not intelligent enough- to do work of this- kind. Apparently there is a prejudice against country people. This undue concentration of .population in the cities is creating all sorts of problems. In Melbourne there i3 an acute housing shortage, and the workers are being’ forced into slums. Very little has been done so far in Australia in the way. of air-raid precautions organization, and if ever our cities are bombarded from the air. or. from the sea, the situation will be much worse because of the concentration of population. Perhaps the concentration of- industry was iii some degree necessary at the beginning of the war, but there is no reason to-day why it should be continued. In the technical school at Stawell there were twelve idle lathes which are now worked only one shift a day in the training of young men. ‘ I suggest that the work should be increased to two shifts a day, and also that an annexe for the production of munitions be established there. In the same town there is a factory building which was offered to the Government for the making of munitions, but the offer was refused. The effect of all this on the morale of. the people is very serious1. Theyfeel tha.t they are not wanted when all their offers to assist are turned down. They cannot put any money into war loans, but they could work if the opportunity were given to them. This problem of decentralization has been in the forefront of. politics for .many years. W e are told that it is more economic to produce in the cities, but that is not so, because rents for factories are much lower in the country than in the metropolitan areas. Recently, I asked the manager of a woollen mill in a country town whether he. was under any disadvantage as compared with mills operating in the city. He told- me that he was: not, because even the higher rail freights which , he had to pay were more than compensated for by lower rents.
The flax-growing industry has now been established in various parts of Victoria, and in my district flax fibre mills have been set up which treat the flax- to approximately the same stage as wool when it is scoured. However, a private firm is now erecting a spinning and weaving mill in Collingwood, of all places - perhaps the population of that . suburb is not dense enough already - and the final processing of the flax will be carried on there. This should not be permitted. New industries of that kind should have to obtain a licence from the Government, which would then be in a position to insist that they be established in country districts. Thus, the entire processing of flax, from the dressing of the fibre right through to the making of canvas, would be carried on in the areas where the flax is grown. An additional . advantage would be that the workers would be housed in the country under ideal conditions. Recently I read a report is sued by the Political and Economic Planning Committee in England to the effect that it is not economic to have great concentrations of industry in the cities because traffic and housing problems are thereby created. Even in Melbourne munition workers have, in some instances, to travel over twenty miles to their work, and they are receiving special petrol allowances because of this. There are many thousands of skilled workers in the country who are at present making no contribution to the war effort.
I hope that the recommendations of the Power Alcohol Committee will be adopted. The committee has found that with wheat at 3s.6d. a bushel, power alcohol can be produced at a cost of 2s. a gallon. I submit that distilleries for the production of power alcohol from wheat, should be established in the wheatgrowing areas. If certain interests have their way the distilleries will, I know, be placed in the cities, but that tendency should be resisted. We should endeavour in every way possible to decentralize our activities. Melbourne is the only port in use between Adelaide and Sydney. I live 60 . miles from a port, but my wool is railed 200 miles to Melbourne. Why are these things permitted to go on? I have here, sheaves of letters from municipal councils, and associations of various kinds throughout the country, urging me to remind the Government of the need to set up industries in country towns, in order to prevent the drift of population, and to save established industries from ruin. If the present drift be not stopped very soon, we shall have a tremendous problem on our hands, and the whole economy of Australia will be disturbed.
Sitting suspended from 5.28 to 8 p.m.
– The Government should immediately inquire into the necessity for establishing industries in country centres. This matter is too important to disregard. If technical officers conduct the investigation, country towns from which the populations are now drifting will be saved.
Farmers awaited the Prime Minister’s speech last week with keen interest. Many of them expected to hear a declaration that the Government proposed to nationalize finance and important industries such as coal, iron and steel. Unfortunately, their hopes were “speedily shattered. Practically every primary producer requires relief from the burden of interest. The serious position in Western Australia, which the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) described, is typical of the plight of the farming community throughout the Common- . wealth. Recently, the representative of a large insurance company informed me that farmers were securing loans by offering their policies as security. That illustrates the desperate position of the farming industry.
The treatment meted out by the Government to primary and secondary industries is inconsistent, and the farmer realizes it. Many manufacturers are producing war materials on a cost plus basis; they are guaranteed their profit over and above the cost of production. Such a system is wrong; it outrages my Scottish sense of fairness. The higher the cost, the greater the profit, even if the manufacturer goes slow on the job. Regarding the acquisition of wheat or wool, however, primary producers are not consulted and have only minor representation upon the controlling bodies. Farmers are practically bankrupt. Most of the money in circulation is concentrated in the great cities. Denied of relief from the burden of interest, farmers ask hopelessly “ Does it matter what becomes of us?” They are resigned to the fact that sooner or later, they will lose their properties. Discouraged by seasonal setbacks and trammelled by financial fetters, some of them have already abandoned their holdings. Although one-half df the wheat harvest is absorbed in the payment of interest, no attempt has been made to control tlie exorbitant rates. Personal experience has taught, me the impossibility of farming profitably when the property Is subject to a ‘mortgage bearing 6 per cent, interest. In my opinion, interest rates should be controlled by the nation through the. Commonwealth Bank, but as a first step, the institution must be restored to its original position. The granting of long term loans at low rates of interest is necessary for the purpose of rehabilitating primary producers. Fore1 closure on a practical farmer is unnecessary because his asset - the land - offers excellent security. Until interest rates are reduced, however, even the “best farmers will encounter difficulties. T,he Commonwealth Bank should take, over all mortgages and grant to the farmers a measure of relief- by charging only 3 per cent. That would represent a first step towards alleviating their lot. Men pay mortgage interest upon every acre. Now, the. Government has restricted, the acreage that farmers may sow. Such a policy, in my opinion, goes against all laws of nature. In my first speech in this chamber, I warned the Government that presently a shortage of- wheat may occur.
The present position indicates that’ my prophecy may shortly be proved. At any time, wheat is an asset. It can be exchanged for money, or for other commodities. The last thing that- the Government should, do is to restrict acreage under production, unless, at the same time, it takes the logical course pf reducing interest rates. Unfortunately, no such suggestion has been made. When hankers, oppose my contention, I reply that I object to their . denying to me the right, after refusing to grant me financial accommodation, to ask the Commonwealth Bank to take over my sound security. The people are clamouring for reform of the great interest “ racket “.
Comparatively few fanners are debtfree. Those who are in that position are able to make a profit by selling wheat at the present price of 3s. 10d. f.o.b. Others, like myself, are compelled to take a risk -with the season and almost overstock their properties in order to meet the tremendous interest bill. That condition of affairs is general throughout the primary industries. Reform must be introduced in a sensible manner. My proposal does not involve “wild cat” finance. I do not criticize the existing banking system; I merely object to the form of control. At any time the banks can, at will, create, a boom or a slump. Financial stability must be ensured by restoring to the national institution control of the banking structure. It is not in the interests of a country to harass its producers, but the Commonwealth is dominated by great banking institutions, international in their ramifications and interlocked with all. of our heavy industries.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), urged that economies should be- effected in the Post- in assterGeneral’s Department. Why the honorable member singled out. that department, I do not know. My experience is that any citizen who can extract money -from the department is pretty clever. Probably the honorable member contemplated a- reduction of staff. The department, which’ is making a profit of £3,000,000 a year, is used first, to produce revenue, and secondly, to render . service to the community. As in our grandfathers.’ day, many country districts receive only, two mails a week. When they apply foi’ an additional mail a week, the department refuses the request on the ground- of economy. The excuse is that all available finance must be diverted to the war effort. At my home I receive mails every Friday and Monday. Persons residing in metropolitan areas have two or. three. deliveries a day. Although life and business now are vastly different from what they were 40 years ago, the mail service has never changed: War or no Avar, the Post Office should render better service to country residents.
T,h’e department indulges in petty and vexatious “economies. A clerk informed me that he would use a iiib for. twelve months, and when he applied- for. another, he would be asked to explain what he had done with the old one. The honorable member for Wakefield is on unsound ground when he charges, the Postal Department with not being economical. Contractor officers are employed under conditions of “ sweated “ labour. . They are obliged to work long hours. A justifiable complaint by country residents relates to the opening of rural telephone exchanges. .Telephone services between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. :will not foe- provided unless the revenue fi-om the exchange reaches a certain figure. Many districts with small populations cannot conform to that requirement. To-day, the drift from country districts to the cities increases that difficulty. When a’ country dweller arrives home at 6 p.m., he is unable to make a call unless he pays an opening fee. of ls. 6d. That is unfair. The postal department should not inconvenience the population simply iri .order to make bigger profits. To economize at the expense of country people is unjust. Surely a request for three mails a week for outback centres is not asking too much!
From time to time, the Prime Minister has made oblique reference to the coming “ new order “. If the Government be sincere, now is the time to initiate reforms. When the war is over, the right honorable gentleman’s promise will probably be forgotten. Under the present, social order, which the Government supports, a huge interest bill is accumulating which, at the conclusion of hostilities, the creditors will expect to be met. There will be a lowering of the standard of living if they have their way. Through this Parliament the people will have to control the key industries and, above all, finance. It will be our duty then to clear from the cities the terrible slums in which the children are reared under conditions which to me, as a man who has spent his life in the open country, are revolting. I have seen fruit rotting on trees barely twenty miles from Melbourne, and the children of industrial suburbs going without. A system which allows that sort of thing to continue is indefensible. Even those who would try to uphold the present system must give way; they must recognize that they would benefit from a new system, and that if the present system be continued, they will go down when it founders, as it must. Unless the Government seizes the present ‘ opportunity to bring about urgent reforms, there will be such a reaction against it at the next election, even among the primary producers, who for. years, have foolishly supported it,, that-it will -be overwhelmed by Labour, -which - will take office pledged to give effect to the measures which the people not only, need, but- also demand.
.- I take the opportunity presented by this discussion on Supply to bring to the notice of the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) an anomaly which is seriously affecting our war effort. The anomaly exists in the coalmining industry of Queensland, and so serious is it that I shall devote my whole time to it, to the exclusion of a number of other subjects about which I could usefully speak. The Government is organizing an all-in effort in the production -of war materials - an effort to ensure that there shall be no waste energy, no duplication of effort, and no overlapping of undertakings. . As part of its war organization, the Government established a Coal Board, presided over by Mr. Justice Davidson, and consisting of representatives of the mine-owners, miners, transport and other organizations, the function of which is to organize the production and distribution of coal in Australia. When addressing the Central Council of the Miners’ Federation at Newcastle recently, the chairman indicated that there was an acute shortage of coal in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, and that the States of Queensland and New South Wales could produce sufficient coal to meet their own requirements. The essential services and heavy industries of Victoria and South Australia were dependent on coal supplies being shipped from New South Wales at the rate of between 70,000 tons and 80,000 tons a week, whilst 2,000 tons a week was needed to meet Tasmania’s requirements. Mr. Justice Davidson appealed to members of the council to see that there was continuity, of production on all the coal-fields, and emphasized the need for every ton of coal produced, and the necessity to have the coal ready when shipping space was available. Efforts are to be made by the Coal Board * to build up coal supplies and dumps in certain special areas and country towns as a reserve in order to safeguard against interruption of the war effort. The Treasurer and the Blouse need not be reminded of the difficulties which confront this country because of the great shortage of shipping. Nevertheless, in spite of that shortage, the statement of the .chairman of the Coal Board that Queensland can produce all its own coal requirements, and the urgent necessity for greater supplies of coal to be produced in New South Wales for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania in order to meet their war requirements, large quantities of. coal from New South Wales are being shipped to Queensland. What would be an economic blunder in peace-time is an unforgiveable sin when we are at war. When essential industries in the southern States are crying out for coal, a criminal waste of labour, time and shipping space is allowed to continue. Queensland possesses not only an abundance of excellent coal, but also competent mine-workers ready and anxious to supply coal to the State. But the miners of Queensland are working only part-time in some mines - in many instances, only a few -days a week. Intermittency is the rule rather than the exception. If Queensland were allowed to supply its own coal requirements, ships carrying coal to Queensland could be diverted to the southern States, and Queensland miners would have the opportunity to obtain more regular employment. The existing state of affairs indicates gross mismanagement and. lack of proper supervision. What is the Coal Board doing? Little credit is reflected on its management of the coal industry. Is the Government satisfied with’ the position? The Government must call for a- report from the Coal Board and require it to take such action as will ensure that the mismanagement and criminal waste shall be discontinued. If reserves of stocks of coal be necessary to the safe conduct of all industries connected with essential war services, and the production of munitions and all other war equipment, then let the coal industry work full time and give employment to the unemployed mineworkers and reopen idle mines.. I urge the Government to treat this matter as urgent and take steps to ensure that the Coal Board does the job of work for which it was created. The facts which I have placed before the Treasurer were mainly taken by me from the Queensland Times, Ipswich, a newspaper which has always had the highest possible reputation for straightforwardness- and honesty in journalism.
– It circulates in my electorate.
– And throughout mine. The greatest confidence can be placed in the accuracy of its reports. The Coal Board must either do better and stop this colossal waste, or be dispensed with.
.- I listened! with interest yesterday to the speech of the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price), and’ whilst I’ compliment the honorable member on his maiden effort in this House, I confess that I was surprised at some of his remarks, particularly those about what he -was pleased to describe as “ the destructive criticism of members of the rank and file in this House”. If the honorable member runs true to form .and is as outspoken in this House as he. was’ before he was elected, he will not be a “ yes “ man. The rank and file members are the watchdogs of the. people. Ministers are too busy to be able to watch for details and only the rank and file members are able to be sufficiently observant to perceive and have rectified things which should not go on. Millions of. pounds is being expended on annexes and in subsidies without binding agreements or sufficient governmental supervision. Only yesterday, I directed the attention of the Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen) to the fact that hundreds of skilled men are engaged- at the Richmond aerodrome on. menial work. An aircraftman told me that there were one thousand skilled men in the Air Force at Richmond aerodrome, with only five aircraft to overhaul; and that’ they were disgusted at being paid, as skilled workers for doing virtually nothing. The last, war provided- a classic example of the need- for strict supervision of- governmental expenditure. For nearly a year during that war, a military officer named Major Howell-Price drew pay every week for a non-existent battalion. He collected about £100,000, and it was only because be over-reached himself in his private life that he was discovered. Discovery of that sort of thing is the job for the members of the rank and file.
Provision is made in this bill for the granting of supply for the carrying on of the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a fine institution which is doing a wonderful work on behalf of this country. Honorable members are aware of the scope of its investigations. What concerns me now is the fact that, of the. £60,000 which is to be voted to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the first two months qf. the next financial year, only £500 is for. unforeseen and urgent investigations. To allocate £500 for the investigations of inventions likely to bo of use in the war effort is more discouragement than encouragement to men who are studying new devices or inventions. Officials seem to be apathetic towards inventors. I can appreciate the reason for that, because I myself usually shudder when an inventor comes to me with some new scheme. Although many inventions arc cranky, they are like gold-mines in that one in a thousand may prove to be extremely valuable. A new invention may be of sufficient importance to revolutionize industry -or warfare. Each one may contain .the germ of an idea which will be a boon to mankind. A resident of my electorate invented an aerial ‘mine. When he submitted it to the Government he was given no encouragement and no official investigation was made. He also invented a torpedo deflector, and this time he was so discouraged that he finally obtained permission to send the particulars of the contrivance to the United States of America at his own expense. There might not have been any value in the invention, but the man was sufficiently enthusiastic to spend his own money on its construction and development. Another man evolved a system for producing a new form of power, but after considerable correspondence had been exchanged between him and one of the Commonwealth departments he decided to “patent it at his own expense. Such people should not be expected to finance their own inventions ; many of them are not in a position to do so. The Government should establish a department for the purpose of encouraging inventors and testing their devices. In addition to the discouraging official attitude, there is also a suspicion that vested interests are standing in the way of promising inventors. A process for manufacturing an explosive was developed by a government .official, Mr. Creswick, to whom I referred in this House last week. The process was tested and a favorable recommendation was made by a committee of experts, but a period of four months elapsed before the Ministry of Munitions adopted it. Apparently the reason for the delay was that officials of Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited are in charge of this department, and are looking for processes which can be used profitably by that company. When the process-was finally adopted by the department, it was treated as a modification of the “Swindon” process, which had nothing to do with the invention. Imperial Chemical Industries Limited is associated with the Swindon works in Great Britain, and apparently its officials hoped to appropriate the process for the company’s benefit after the war. However, I am pleased to say that following my protest to the Minister for Supply the’ company has now admitted that it has no claim on the invention. Inventors who have devised processes for the production of aluminium have been discouraged from proceeding with their researches. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) mentioned one instance; then there is the case of Dr. Bradfield and that of two technical college boys who devised a process for aluminium production. It seems that vested interests stood in the way of the development of that process,- because the Australian Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited has been given a virtual monopoly of the production of aluminium in Australia.
– Who said that?
– It was stated in the financial columns of a recent issue of the Sydney Sunday Sun that there existed an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Australian Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited which gave the company the exclusive right- to supply the Commonwealth with aluminium.
– That is entirely wrong.
– Then what is the position ? Is there any agreement between the Government and that company?
– No. That story is like the honorable member’s story of an agreement with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation.
– But the Australian Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited has an agreement with the Government* for the exclusive production of aluminium for aircraft construction.
– That is not correct.
– The honorable gentleman might be good enough to tell me. the facts.
– I shall state the facts with regard to other statements that the honorable member has made.
– The honorable gentleman might tell me why a certain device produced by an engineer named Wales in Melbourne was held tip by the Department of Supply and the Contracts Board for twelve months. The Department of the Army had requisitioned every one of these devices that could be supplied:
– What invention is this?
– Wales’ differential, a device that would prevent breakdowns of armoured motor transport. The Treasurer .will know something about coal-oil production. In December last I referred in this House to the fact that the honorable gentleman had refused the registration of a certain company which wished to proceed with the production of oil from coal at Berrima. He told me then that he agreed with the recommendation of certain officials to the effect that the company, should not be registered. Nevertheless the people concerned,, including a blind’ expert who had spent years of his life investigating processes for extracting oil from coal, waited in Canberra and as a deputation interviewed the Treasurer. This interview took place on the last day on which Parliament met last year. After hearing the facts the Treasurer decided within five minutes to grant registration to that company. In all fairness I must say that when he learned the truth, the honorable gentleman did not hesitate to reverse his earlier decision. These things show that there are vested interests behind, the scenes which, for selfish reasons, are trying to prevent the exploitation of certain devices that could be of great benefit to our war effort. Only a few months ago an Australian invention was employed ‘ against us by the enemy. The inventor was not encouraged when he sought to .develop that weapon in Australia, and eventually, by some means, i,t fell into the hands of our enemies and is now being used against us. There is the classic example of the Lewis gun, which, was a British invention. Because the inventor received so much discouragement in his own country, it Avas finally manufactured hy Germany during the Avar of 1914-18. I draw attention to these facts in order that a change of attitude to- wards new inventions should be brought about. Another case that I have in mind relates to the production of fly oil by -a subsidiary of the company which is manufacturing coal oil and by-products at Berrima, to which I referred earlier. This concern has learned that certain residues left after oil has been extracted from coal can. be used to repel blowflies from sheep. I have’ before me a news item of recent date, which states -
A reward of £10,000 may be offered for a solution of the blowfly problem, tlie sheep industry’s worst enemy, as the result of a decision reached to-day at tlie annual conference of. the Council of the United Graziers’ Association of Queeusland.
I understand that the. blowfly pest means a loss to the W001 industry of this country of about £3,000)000 per annum. The company at .Berrima wished to establish a small company with a capital of £2,500 in order to develop this fly-oil project. In view of the national importance of the scheme, one would imagine’ that no obstacle would be placed in its way, But the registration of the company was delayed by a Commonwealth, department. However, a former member of this House and exMinister of the Crown, Mr. H. V. C. Thorby, became interested in the scheme and- went to considerable trouble to test the oil. Be Avas. so satisfied with it- that he undertook to purchase the whole output of the proposed new firm on behalf of a number of important graziers. When he heard of the attitude that had been adopted by the department towards the registration of the company, he came to Canberra and interviewed the Treasurer and departmental officials.
– He did not interview me.
– He interviewed somebody connected with the Treasury. Within half an hour, he was able to leave with the approval for the registration of the company in his pocket. Mr. Thorby has been associated with grazing interests for many years and he knows their needs.
Large sums of money are being expended by the Department of Munitions without agreements being made in order to protect the people. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation is controlled by theBail lieu group, and there is not one government representative on its board of directors. Yet the Commonwealth has supplied it with nearly £1,000,000, and there is not even a. formal agreement in existence to safeguard the people’s money. Then there is the Newnes-Glen-Davis shale-oil concern, which was subsidized in the first instance by the Commonwealth. Nearly. £250,000 of extra money has been handed by the Government to that concern, without any formal agreement being made, or Parliament being consulted, and without any independent government representative being appointed to the board of directors of the operating company in order to protect the public purse. Some time ago, I asked for details of the amounts which have been made available by the Commonwealth to the companies that have erected, with government assistance, approximately SO munition annexes since the outbreak of war. . Those particulars, showing the terms on which the money
Was advanced, have not been supplied to me, and I assume that no formal agreements have been made. Not only should agreements be signed, but also men independent of the companies . concerned should be nominated as directors by the Government in order to watch the interests of the people.
Not so much money as in former years is to be provided for the Department of Health this year. The total appropriation for the department is £27,750. A mere matter of £20,000 is to be expended on the national fitness scheme. In view of the importance of national health, that is a paltry sum. The Minister for Labour and National Services (Mr. Holt) said the other day that investigations had proved that the working of employees for long periods of overtime lowered their efficiency. He added that consideration was being given to the desirability of reducing overtime on munitions production to the greatest possible degree. Rut there are other factors to be considered. The Government should also pay attention to the rest and comfort of munition employees between working times, but it has no scheme for the housing of munition workers. Last December the Minister for Health and Social Services (Sir Frederick -Stewart) announced that in the near future he would bring down a comprehensive housing scheme for munition workers and others, but, nothing has since been heard- of it. It is a sorry state of affairs when munition workers have to live under conditions which oblige thorn to use beds in relays because sufficient accommodation is not available for them in the centres where they work. Last year Australia spent more than £36,000,000 on intoxicants, and more than £25,000,000 on tobacco. I do not wish to moralize, but it is surely amazing and a travesty on our ‘financial system that we can find- over £60,000,000 for liquor and tobacco- the former goes down the sewer, and the other goes up in smoke - and not a penny for. housing facilities for munition workers and the community generally! It must bo remembered, too, that the houses would remain after the war while nothing remains of the liquor and tobacco. The Government could. easily provide £20,000,000 for a housing programme by drawing upon the credit resources of the nation, through the Commonwealth Bank and without the necessity for any further taxation.
I regret also that although wo have been nearly two years atwar the Commonwealth Government has so far declined to undertake the responsibility of the technical training of youths. If the war lasts for several yearswe shallbe in urgent need of the services of the youths who to-day should be undergoing technical training, for theywill have to play their part in providing munitions for the fighting forces. Complete facilities should be available in our technical colleges for the thorough training of youths.
It lias been said that the State governments should undertake this responsibility, but the .plain fact is that the State governments cannot find the money for the purpose. Thousands of applicants for technical training are being turned away from our colleges because facilities are not available. Neither the building accommodation nor the equipment available is adequate for the calls being made upon them. There is also a serious shortage of machine tools in the munitionmaking industries. This is so serious that the authorities have actually seized the technical equipment of many of the colleges. They have gone farther in some instances, for .they have also commandeered the machines made by the boys to replace the original equipment taken from the colleges. It is time, that the Government realized its obligations in this matter and accepted complete responsibility not only for the technical training of youths, but also for the provision of adequate equipment and accommodation. Only by training our young people shall we be able to maintain a strong, healthy and virile community and so ultimately win the war.
.- I should not have participated in this debate but for certain remarks made by the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price). I compliment the honorable gentleman on the. clear way in which, from his point of view, he .put the case for the Keynes plan; but I consider that his remarks should not be .allowed to pass without a definite declaration that the Labour party will emphatically resist any attempt to apply the plan to Australia. Mr. Keynes is, essentially, a capitalist economist. He was described by the honorable, member, for Boothby as a. liberal economist.
– I said he was a radical.
– Liberal and radical mean exactly the same thing in the political sense. The old Liberal party of Great Britain was called the radical party. The people who label themselves liberal or radical and yet continue to maintain that the present system of society should be preserved arc a greater danger to the community than people of the old conservative type. These so-called liberals say, in effect: “If you alter the present system of society in this little way and that little way, you will make it amenable to the people at large”. I do not believe it. I do not believe, either, that under the capitalist system of society we can ever rid the world of war. I declare, with a full sense of responsibility, that I do not believe that we can win the war under the capitalist system. To achieve victory we shall have to resort, in a very large degree, to socialism.
While the Keynes plan may have had some merit in relation to Great Britain it has no merit .whatever in relation to Australia. An economic plan which may suit one country may be entirely inapplicable to another. Certainly the economic conditions of Australia arc entirely different from those of Great Britain. According to the honorable member for Boothby, Mr. Keynes argued, first, that since the outbreak of war the supply of food and services to the community of Great Britain had been decreased. I say emphatically that no such decrease has occurred in Australia. In this country 75 per cent, of the commodities which the working class usually buy are available in greater quantity now than they were before the war, because ships arc not ‘available to export them. I have in mind such primary products as butter, meat, dried and canned fruits, wheat and wool. In fact, I could include the majority of the items of the cost of living regimen. So the first premise of the Keynes plan in relation to Great Britain is entirely false in relation to Australia.
The second premise on which the plan is founded is that the purchasing power of the people has increased owing to Government spending for war purposes. To some slight degree that contention may be true in respect of Australia, but, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has pointed out, the Government has failed to expend about £36,000,000 of the moneywhich it has obtained from the public for the prosecution of the war. Assuming that that money had not been obtained by loan or by taxation, it would, in the ordinary course of events, still have been in the hands of the community. A man who has lent, say, £1,000 to the Government for war purposes, would, in the ordinary course of events, have invested it in housing or in some other way, and thus the money would have remained in the hands -of the community and have been available as purchasing power. The same argument may be used in relation to taxation. So, it may be said that the second premise of the Keynes plan does not hold to anything like the same degree in Australia as in Great Britain. :
For these reasons, I contend that it would be utterly wrong for the Commonwealth Government to apply the Keynes plan in this country. If the plan were adopted here the result would be that every section of the people engaged iri primary production would find itself faced, with absolute ruin. Things are bad enough as they are, but if the Keynes plan were adopted all. the primary producers would be in the same position as the apple and - pear growers are in.
What is the position in respect of the apple and pear industry ? The Government, by a process of rationing and price fixation, has prevented the full supply of apples and pears from being dade available to the consuming public; and. we have had the spectacle . of ‘ thousands of eases of perfectly good apples and pears being ploughed under the ground. Rather than allow the community at large to enjoy the benefit of’the bountiful supply of apples and pears which nature and’ the work of the orchardists have made available, the Government has practically ordered the destruction of the fruit. Every section of primary producers would find itself in the dame position as the apple and pear growers if the Key nest plan were applied in this country.
I have a further objection to the plan which may be associated with the statement, made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his speech last Tuesday week to the effect that we must mortgage the future of this country. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) dealt at some length with that aspect of the subject and I shall not enlarge- on it except to say that the Keynes plan and the Prime Minister’s statement that we must mortgage our future both constitute a subtle attempt on the part of anti-Labour interests to inveigle the public into believing that this war may be p”aid for by a future generation. I have said previously, and I repeat now, that the real cost of this war must be borne by the present generation. It will be through the sweat, toil, blood and sacrifice of the people of today that the war will be won. No hocus pocus, whether associated with the Keynes plan or with the Prime Minister’s statement, can blind us to this basic fact. The plain truth is that the. Keynes plan is an endeavour to lead the public, into believing ‘ that by some process of monetary manipulation future generations may be left to pay for. the war. This is. an additional reason why I oppose the plan.
I call the attention of honorable members to the following extract front an article by Mr. Isles, which appeared in The Economic Record for December, 1940 :-
Tlie difference in the direct rs iti fi pcs which would lie imposed by thu Key dch plan and the tax method is. of course, largely illusory. Under the Keynes plan the individual would be called upon to lend to the Government much the same amount as under the tax’ method he would be called upon to contribute in taxation; and after the war he would lie repaid out of taxation or out of a capital levy.
Those remarks substantiate my ease. One of the objections to the original Keynes plan - for the plan was changed after its original conception - was that as these compulsory savings of the public would be made available after tlie war for spending it would lead to inflation. It was an after thought by Mr. Keynes that the capital levy should be introduced. in order to make the plan palat- able to the workers of Great Britain. Last night when I mentioned this aspect of the subject to the honorable member for Boothby by way of interjection, he replied that we could deal with that when peace was secured. I shall not discuss the merits or demerits of a capital levy. Tlie whole question arose for discussion in Great Britain during the last war, when an immense body of public opinion was in favour of a capital levy, but immediately after the war all thought of it was abandoned; consequently the redistribution of wealth which was so vitally needed, and would have alleviated the position in Great Britain^ was never effected. Without agreement with respect to the principle uponwhich the money advanced should be - repaid, the Keynes plan would not be complete..
The other method by which. this . writer on economics . proposes- that the . money should be repaid, is. taxation. If taxation were imposed for its. repayment after the war, the bulk of it would, be paid by the workers,; because, previous to. the-, outbreak’ of the present war, 80 per- cent, of the amount raised by taxation in this country was contributed by means of indirect taxes, the bulk of which falls on the workers. Consequently, under the Keynes plan the workers are asked to agree to an immediate sacrifice, and are promised repayment after the war; but they themselves would be taxed in order to make that repayment. For the very strong reasons I have given, I reject any idea the Government may have in mind for the imposition of this plan on Australia. I warn the Government that any attempt to impose it will be resisted to the utmost by the Australian Labour pa rty.
I said in my earlier remarks that Keynes is a capitalist economist, and that I do not believe that this war can be won under the capitalist system. Radical changes in our economy will have to be made before this country can put forward its best war effort. The Prime Minister proposes to take certain action in order to mobilize the resources of this country. As a matter of fact, some steps have already been taken, . although not in a very drastic form. The effect of the Government’s fiscal measures ever since the outbreak of the war, and of its petrolrationing scheme, has been to force certain people out of their peace-time employment and into Government employment, either in the making of munitions or as recruits to one or other of the fighting services. Up to date, that has been the whole of the reason for the Government’s programme. It proposes to accelerate and aggravate that, form of economic conscription by certain means. In the situation in which this country finds itself to-day, it is vitally necessary that men shall be transferred from their peace-time occupations to some form of war service; but the method by which the Government, has done that in the past, and proposes to do it in the future, is to my mind entirely inequitable. Take the position of the proprietors of motor garages and service stations. The result of the petrol-rationing scheme has been to force a very large number of these individuals out of their ordinary means of existence, and in many instances the whole of the equity they had in the goodwill of the business has been . lost. They have sacrificed the whole of their means of livelihood. It is true that, if the Government’s programme has operated correctly, they have probably been absorbed -in other branches of industry. But is it fair that one section of the community should be forced out of its ordinary means of livelihood, while other sections continue to enjoy their peace-time means of livelihood, in many cases with increased profits? As the Government proceeds with this programme, which I. can best describe as the complete rationalization of industry, certain professions, trades and kinds of business must be diverted from their ordinary peace-time operations; and as that occurs, certain other sections of the community will gain thereby. There is absolutely no equity in such a programme. Take, for example, the curtailment of the building industry. A large number of men is engaged in that activity, including architects and other professional men. What is to become of all -the architects in Australia when the building programme is reduced to zero? All cannot be employed in “Government enterprises; consequently, many men with high professional qualifications will be’ forced out of employment. A whole range of business men will lose their ordinary peace-time employment and will be left without any goodwill or equity, while other sections of industry, such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the breweries, the entertainment industries, and industries that cater for recreation, will increase their profits.
– And General Motors-Holdens Limited.
-And General MotorsHoldens Limited.
– Cameron. - The honorable member appears to be constructing a neworder.
– I am merely pointing out that the programme envisaged . by the Government would be grossly inequitable in- its incidence on the community at large.
The sales tax has been increased on a very large number of items, with the result that the purchasing power of the community has been lessened. A small one-man business which, prior to the imposition, of the sales tax, was just able to make a living, for the proprietor,-, is to-day closed down because of decreased turn-over, whilst firms like Coles and Woolworth’s - I am sorry that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) is not present to hear what I have to say - may well be the gainers by reason of that fact. Consequently, the Government could make the burden equitable throughout the community only by determining that, for the duration of this war, profits, interest, or rent shall not accrue to . any . individual but shall be taken by the Government. I cannot see how this war can be won with a continuance of the capitalist system of production, because that system . maintains that rewards must be paid in the form of interest, rents and profits.
– Would the honorable member put in concentration camps all the persons he had ruined ?
– The system operated by the Government which the honorable member supports is at present ruining thousands of businesses. It has helped to build up a series of monopolistic concerns, and at the end of the war, ‘if, its programme be continued in its present form, there will be no one-man businesses but only huge integrated concerns like Coles, Woolworth’s, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and the brewery combine. For ‘ that reason the Government should decide here and now that, for the remainder of the war, it will not agree, to the payment of any rewards by way of interest, rent, or profit.
– What about the man who has retired from business life?
– I would make an exception in his case. Any person who is incapable of work should be permitted to retain income derived from interest, rents or profits. The fundamental truth is, that this war will be won by hard work, not by the receivers of interest drawing from the pool maintained by the rest ofthe community. I am not proposing the ruin of any person who at present receives income from rent, interest or profits; if physically incapable of earning an income otherwise, he would continue to receive sufficient’ for a. comfortable existence, but if capable of doing , a job of work, it would be far preferable to compel him by fiscal measures to help to win this war than to impose, the Keynes plan and ruin thousands of primary producers, simultaneously reducing the standard of living of the workers of this country.
I have said much more than I had intended to say in regard to finance, but I felt that I could not allow the opportunity to pass without challenging the statements- of the honorable member for Boothby. In my opinion, the wealthy section of the community is not contributing to this war nearly so much as it . should I- recently asked the Treasurer a series of questions, and the answers I received showed that in Australia 57 per cent., of the money necessary to prosecute the war has been obtained from loans, and only three-tenths of 1 per cent, of the amount expended has been obtained in the form of free gifts by the wealthy section of the. community. This is a disgraceful state of affairs. The Treasurer would not say how much had been contributed by the private trading banks. The other clay, according to a report in a Melbourne newspaper, the Treasurer made the fantastic statement that those persons who had contributed gifts for war expenditure should be asked to make no claim in their taxation returns for a remission of tax in . respect to those gifts. In other words, those members of the community who had been generous enough to give freely were to be asked to give a little more, whilst others, who had not seen fit to make any contribution at all, were not to be asked to give anything. That is the most ridiculous suggestion that I have ever heard.
I listened with very great interest to the complaint of’ the honorable member for Wakefield. (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) about the increasing of the number of persons employed in the postal department, from 24,000 to 28,000. I wonder whether he is aware that, in the banking services of the Commonwealth, 24,000 persons are employed to-day. When we compare the very great service rendered to the community by the Post Office with the very poor service rendered by the banks, we must, agree that there are far too many persons engaged in the business of banking in Australia. Colin Clark, one of our most noted Australian economists, has written a book entitled Conditions of Economic Progress, in which he examines the national income and the productivity of different nations and of various sections of the community within each nation. At page 183 of this book he has the following to say about those engaged in the business of finance in Australia : -
Australia has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest proportions of population engaged infinance.
On the following page he sets out the figures as follows : -
Then follows information regarding a number of other countries in which the percentage is somewhat less than 2 per cent.
– Then there ought to be a larger number of persons in Australia who understand something about banking.
– The trouble is that those engaged in banking are in it for their own private profit, and they want to delude the public regarding their particular way of living. The United States of America and Great Britain provide financial services for countries other than their own. Central banking and international financial activities shift between London and New York. It is obvious that there is some reason why those two countries should have a large percentage of their population engaged infinance but it is ridiculous that Australia, whichhasno international money market, should have so large a proportion of its population engaged in such undertaking. The productivity of those engaged in banking in this country must be very low, indeed. If the Go- vernment has in mind the nationalization of industry in order to force out of their peace-time employments men and resources that ought to beemployed in the war effort, the very first industry that ought to be nationalized is banking. As a matter of fact, I have made a study of conditions in regard to banking in this country. I was informed by one of the leading bankers in Melbourne that, if banking in Australia were nationalized, 0000 men could be freed for other work. The Government wants man-power. Well, here is a way in which it can obtai n an additional 6,000 men. They could be employed in producing munitions, or they could go to swell the ranks of our fighting services. I suggest to the Government that, before it takes any steps to force one-man businesses out of existence, it should nationalize the banking services of the country, thus releasing man-power and resources for more urgent work. I use the word “resources” because it has come to my mind that the Government recently commandeered the greater part of the London Stores building in Melbourne. The Government is short of office accommodation; so I suggest that, it should take over some of the bank buildings that would become available if banking services were nationalized.
-Hughes. - What about the post office? Does the honorable member agree’ with my argument in regard to it?
– Bearing in mind the . extensive and efficient service which the post office renders to the community, it is obvious that the productivity of’ the 28,000 employees of the postal department must be ten times as high as the productivity of those engaged in private banking.
– Do ‘the honorable member’s remarks ‘apply also to other financial institutions, such as the insurance companies?
– In my opinion, the insurance companies are just as bad as the banks. The record of the Government in regard to restrictions on the use of petrol is very poor, and it has made no adequate effort to increase the production of liquid fuel within Australia. It is proposed to erect new distilleries costing over £4,000,000 in order to manufacture alcohol as a substitute for petrol. Whilst I believe that existing distilleries should be fully utilized - and I know that some have not been used during the past two years for the production of power alcohol - and that- surplus primary products should, where possible, be turned into power alcohol, I say that a programme which envisages- the expenditure of £4,000,000 on the erection of special distilleries for this purpose is absurd. What will happen to them after the war? Obviously, there will be no surplus products to operate on. The Government would, do far better to expend this money on the production of oil from coal’ and shale. I am aware that I may be trespassing on the preserves of some New- South Wales members in bringing up this matter, but it is a subject of such tremendous importance that I must say something about, it. A company which has taken a. lease of shale deposits at Baerami, in New South Wales,’ has conducted a series of experiments to prove that its process for the extraction of oil from shale is very much better than that in operation at Newnes. The Government has sunk a considerable sum of money in the Newnes enterprise, which’ is run by a private company. My information is that the Government has discouraged and cold-shouldered the company which is exploring the deposits at Baerami.
– What ground has the honorable member for saying that ? The company has been given authority to raise capital, and every facility has been placed at its disposal;
– Yes, . ‘but. too many restrictions were imposed.
– The company’s only complaint is that it could not persuade the Government to put public money into the venture.
– Well, the Government would be better advised to put its £4,000,000 . into the enterprise for extracting oil from shale at Baerami than in wasting it upon the erection of, distilleries for the manufacture of power alcohol.
– That is a matter for expert opinion.
– One of the best engineering firms in Australia, Julius Poole and Gibson, has vouched for the accuracy of the experimental tests made by the company operating at Baerami, and stakes its professional reputation on its assertion that the proposition is sound. This firm states that, given the necessary encouragement by the Government, the company could produce 30,000,000 gallons of petrol, a year from these deposits.
-The firm of engineers mentioned by the honorable member is an interestedparty in the development of the field.
– It is not an interested party. The record of the Government in relation to not only this company, but also the whole subject of the extraction of oil from coal, is bad.Instead of spending money upon the erection of distilleries, which, possibly, at the conclusion of the war, will be so useless that they will be sold to a big combine for an old song, the Government should assume control of and operate these deposits. According to advice which was tendered to the Government by Mr. Holmes-Hunt, formerly Director of Substitute Fuels, this process involves a certain amount of risk on the part of the entrepreneurs. In no sense was that gentleman an expert engineer, but the firm of Julius Poole and Gibson has the highest engineering credentials, and stakes its professional reputation upon the ability of the company, given the necessary encouragement, to produce oil ‘economically and in substantial quantities. The Government should alter its policy regarding the production of petrol, substitutes, so as to encourage the extraction of oil from various . deposits of shale and coal throughout Australia.
Although I- do not oppose the bill, I do not support it with any great degree of satisfaction. In my opinion, we cannot win the war so long as a government which pursues capitalistic method a remains in office. In expressing that view, I voice not only my own opinion, but also that of the Victorian., section of the Australian Labour movement. At its annual conference recently: that body carried a comprehensive resolution, part of which 1 shall read to honorable members in order to show that I am not alone in declaring that the war will be lost unless the Government departs from capitalist methods of production. [Leave to continue given.]
The resolution stated, inter alia -
Whilst recognizing that German Nazi -ism is responsible for commencing the war, conference also recognizes that the basic causes of war are inherent in the international capitalist system, of which GermanNazi-ism is the most barbarous form. Wars cannot be ultimately abolished without the abolition of the international capitalist system and- the establishment of international peace is impossible without the establishment of socialism.
For that reason, I shall welcome the time when, the Labour -party will possess sufficient numerical strength to overthrow the present Government.
.- In my considered opinion, the present system of petrol rationing is most inequitable, because it omits to take into account the difficulties of outback settlers who are compelled to rely for their transport upon motor vehicles. Residents of remote districts situated many miles from railway sidings or termini should be granted a more generous allowance than they receive at present. Some time ago in this chamber, I referred to the wastage of petrol as a result of the over-use of ministerial motor cars. Too much petrol is still being consumed in that manner. In addition, on the Sydney Harbour every day motor speed-boats flit about like fireflies or humming birds.
An Honorable Member. - The idle rich !
– Yes. People in outback centres have no transport conveniences such as trains, trams or boats. Doctors, clergymen, dairymen, wheatgrowers, wool-growers, cattlemen, fruitgrowers and travellers arc unable to perform their daily tasks unless they are granted an adequate supply of petrol. In my opinion, they should not be stinted. The possibilities of not only molasses, but also coal, shale, wheat, potatoes and other sources, should be examined and developed. Recently, a person ‘ whom I consider to be a reliable authority informed me that twenty lorries loaded with soldiers left Victoria Barracks, Paddington, for Ingleburn Camp. When the officer in charge arrived at his destination, he discovered that he had left the identification papers at the barracks. Thereupon the twenty loaded lorries returned to Paddington, the officer obtained the missing papers, and the column returned to camp, a total distance of approximately 80 miles. That is not a Gulliver tale; it is not a fiction of De Rougemont. I do not think, that even Dumas pere could have imagined such a happening.
The following letter from the secretary of the Lavellebranch of the Queensland Dairymens Organization illustrates the necessity for the granting of a more liberal supply of petrol to persons residing in remote areas : - 14th May, 1941.
I have been instructed by the above organization to ask you to support us in the following: - We have approached the Liquid Fuel Board. A copy of letter which I enclose will explain matters in full, also the following that dairymen be allowed to hold our tickets till such time as we can purchase in drums (bulk). Dairymen with milking machines would be able to save petrol by having our supplies carted by our cream carrier on his return.
The Government should give special attention to this matter.
I protest strongly against the restriction of the acreage that may be sown for the production of wheat. Only those farms whereon wheat has been grown for the past four years may be registered, and, in future, the acreage for production will be limited to the average acreage over the last four years. “Some farmers, after applying for registration, proceeded to plant their crops; but two or three months later they received notice that their application had been rejected. Those men now face ruin. The Government should take action to alleviate their lot.
Queensland produces insufficient, wheat to satisfy the needs of its population. In 1933-39, 465,000 acres was under crop; and the yield totalled 8,852,763 bushels, an average of eighteen bushels an acre. In the following year, 300,459 acres was sown, yielding 6,594,915 bushels, an average of18. 3 bushels an- acre. Queensland contends that it should be permitted to sow at least 500,000 acres of. wheat. Another objection to the present system is that only those farms which are at present registered for wheat production can in future be used for that crop. Such a short-sighted policy overlooks the fact that some young men will desire to become wheat-farmers, whilst many returned soldiers from the present war will probably wish to engage in the industry. Such persons will be unable to obtain a holding, unless they go cap in hand to farmers who possess large registered areas. Possibly they will have to pay an exorbitant price for the land. Thus another monopoly is being brought into existence. .
The restriction of wheat- production in Australia is absurd. Following this world-shaking war, especially since Russia became a participant, Europe will experience a terrible famine. At the conclusion . of hostilities, the date of which, we hope, is not remote, hundreds of millions of people will be starving. Australia will have to rally to. their assistance, because we cannot let them die of hunger. Bearing in mind that responsibility, I contend that the Government should establish three years’ reserve of wheat. Our wheat is stored in grain sheds alongside railway lines. If enemy bombers come to this country they will move inland by following the rivers and railways, and in that event they will certainly bomb our grain sheds, which are mostly constructed of galvanized iron and would be more easily hit than the proverbial haystack. Wheat should be stored in underground silos of reinforced concrete rendered airtight. Proof that we are in danger of restricting our wheat-growing is afforded by the fact that, whereas in 1939-49, 195,000,000 bushels of wheat was harvested in the Commonwealth, in 1940-41 the harvest amounted to only 63,000,000 bushels, a shortage of 132,000,000 bushels in one year, in the face of which this Government, is so short-sighted that it is restricting the. acreage to be sown with wheat. That is tragic. It is a Frankenstein development which will surely destroy the Government.
Pigs were selling well until some clever price-fixer, probably a middleman or some one even higher in the buying game, stampeded the pig-raisers by announcing through a willing press that pigs weighing more than 120 lb. would not be accepted by the British market. The pig-raisers took that as the gospel truth.
– That was the gospel truth at the time. It was only as the result of the efforts of the Commonwealth Government that that restriction was removed.
– Prices . collapsed in spite of the Commonwealth Government, and pigs sold at2d. or 3d. per lb. That was another De Rougemont- story told by the exploiters in order to profit at the expense of the. primary producers. The Commonwealth Government stands all the time for the exploiters. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) said that we could not win this war under the capitalist system. Of course we cannot; neither can we win the peace under that system.
– The restriction on the weight of pigs was imposed bythe British Government.
– We were told that it was imposed by the British Government.
– I am telling that to the honorable member now.
– Wait till I finish. I read once that all business is robbery and that the more successful a business is the greater the robbery. That statementis truer to-day even than when it was written 50 years ago, because at the very time that the weight of pigs for the British market was restricted, the people of England were rationed and allowed ‘ to eat meat only one day a week. Their troubles whether a pig weighs 120 or 140 lb. ! What stuff they tell us! Thus the pigraisers were ruined.
-Hughes. - On the honorable member’s premise that the bigger the business the bigger the robbery, what has he to say about the Post Office and the Commonwealth Bank?
– There is no robbery in the Commonwealth Bank, and certainly none in the Post Office. Those enterprises are social activities and we want to bring other enterprises into line with them. There is nothing wrong with the Commonwealth Bank except that the “ Tragic Treasurer “ hamstringed it in 1922 and changed it from what we wanted it to be, namely, the people’s bank to the bankers’ bank. The Labour party will restore it to the position of usefulness which its founder Mr. King O’Malley intended it to occupy.
Tlie honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price) gave his blessing in full measure to compulsory saving according to the Keynes plan. I shall read what the Queensland Worker had to say about compulsory saving in its issue of the 17th June -
Menzies and Fadden, wi th practically the full strength of their army of half-baked expert economists, their antediluyian bankers, and their troglodite political camp followers, are out hot-foot after the working-class standards of living in this country, and they are being cheered and sooled on with all their offensive effrontery by all classes of exploiters and their propagandist agencies.
The Monopoly Press, in spite of the alleged rationing of newsprint, is never nt a loss to find unlimited space for the boosting of more of less snide schemes, which have long since been- familiar in Germany and in Nazidominated countries, for the filching away of working-class standards, and which, be i.t said to our shame, arc now being applied to the heroic workers of Great Britain, even’ to the point of starvation.
Professor Julian Huxley, writing on the subject of “Health for Ali,” in the January issue of Picture Post, save that ‘of every ten people in Britain, at least four are - undernourished, and of every ten children about seven are under-nourished.’ Of working-class mo tilers, he says, half are. in a definitely bad state of health, and only about a quarter arc really well.”
Yet this very day we have had put before us a bill to deal with national fitness. No national’ fitness could be got through the Keynes plan or through the capitalist system which starves women -and children. The system must be changed and it will be changed without the leave of this Government, for it is -breaking down from its own rottenness. The article in the Worker continued -
In this connexion, too, it is no.t infra dig to point out that the total profits of 323 companies publishing accounts in Britain in 1941 had up to March 15 accumulated £74,241,000 as against £70,409,000 in 1939; many of these were after income tax and other taxes had been, deducted.
All that happened under the nice capitalist system about which we heard so much from the honorable member for Boothby. It is useless for the Treasurer to protest that a compulsory savings scheme is not a stunt to tax the workers, or for the alleged experts of the ‘Tory press to hold up its hands in horror at a suggestion that it is. The Worker continued -
It is sufficient to know that his proposals are to be based upon the Keynes plan and to contemplate the unhappy position of tlie slowly starving British workers to realize that it is just another low-down shot at the living standard of the people.
I have not the- time in which to read the whole of the article, but I commend it to honorable members. How much could the man on the basic wage have taken from him as a compulsory loan when he already cannot maintain his wife and- children in the face of ever-rising prices? The compulsory savings scheme is merely another device to make the worker pay for the war as well as fight.
I am much perturbed at the threat to close down non-essential industries. In that policy there is danger.. It will lead to unemployment and misery. It is another attempt to ..develop economic conscription. If non-essential, industries are. to be closed down I trust that private banking will be regarded as a nonessential industry and that under national security regulations the private banks, those caterpillars of the Commonwealth, will be closed down. I see no greater reason to close down a garage than to close down a private bank; indeed, I see much less.
I now approach the subject of the pressure which is being brought to bear on our young men to enlist. Men in the militia camps are forced to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force.
– Moral, industrial and brutal! The other day I received the following letter about an address which was delivered by a man named Smyth, who might more properly be described as “ Schmidt “ .-
You may be interested in .the enclosed press report of an address delivered by Dr. J. Smyth on the 11th instant and which was reported in the Warwick Daily News of the 12th June, 1941, of the following day. It was delivered at a “ send-off “ to some recruits. Not only did it offer an insult to main’ Australians, but in true Nazi fashion it belittled Parliament, parliamentarians and religion. The speaker is a local doctor who secured his title “ Major “ in the last war.
This is what the gallant major said about the young men -
They are hiding behind something, whether it is the claptrap of some lily-livered politician or some church-produced military genius of such a high standard that he says,
Don’t go away from Australia to defend Australia, but do it on her own door mat”.
I do not know whether that gallant ma jor was, as Disraeli said, intoxicated by the exuberance of his own verbosity or in some other way, but, certainly, he was not in his right mind. There is too much of the bludgeoning of young men to go to war. To any young man who has reached the age of reason and can see his way and where his duty lies, I say, “ Go, boy. and we hope that you come back I lift my hat to you;”but there is no law to compel men to go, whatever theconscriptionists on the other side of the House may think” to the contrary. This Government is conscriptionist, but it does not dare to come out into the open and say so, although two or three of its supporters who have no finesse are more outspoken. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings !
I now come to the subject of apples and pears. I have received the following letter from Mr. Warwick Piddington, secretary ‘ of the Goondiwindi District Hospitals Board : - 4th April, 1941.
Some time ago when all the publicity was being given out that the Apple and Pear Acquisition Board would supply “apples and pears” free of charge for the fruit to public hospitals, I made an application to them’ to be supplied. After a long delay, possibly caused through my addressing the letter to Canberra, I received the following reply: -
New South Wales Apple and Pear Acquisition Committee. 4th Floor, Daking House, Rawson-place, Sydney. “ 24th March, 1941.
I acknowledge your letter of the 7th instant addressed to the Apple and Pear Acquisition Board, Canberra, and -wish to advise that fruit is made available to hospitals and similar institutions free of charge, but the cost of cases, packing, freight and cartage must be borne by the recipient.
Unless special permission is given the fruit must not bo re-sold, but must be consumed by the inmates of the institution, in your case the patients of the Goondiwindi Hospital.
Trusting this information will be sufficient for your requirements.
Immediately on receipt of this letter I wrote stating that I would pay cost of packing, freight, cartage and cost of case and requested they send to ‘ Boggabilla. Railway Station “, Boggabilla, a. weekly order comprising - 1 case eating apples,1 case eating pears ( weekly ) . 1 case cooking apples (fortnightly).
In my letter I accepted their instructions that the fruit would only be- served to patients and staff of the institution and same would be honoured to the last letter.
After a, lapse of eight or ninedays and no answer being received much less fruit, I wired Sydney and asked when it was likely that the fruit would be received, I received the following reply:- “Refer your order to Queensland committee Box621J, Brisbane.
A Mr. Donaldson, State Secretary for Queensland, was immediately called on the phone, and he gave me to understand the situation as follows: - “No surplus fruit in Queensland, cannot take labour away from other jobs to pack fruit for hospitals, only surplus now is practically in Tasmania..”.
The press of Australia must be making reckless statements that the surplus fruit is being fed to pigs, is . being ploughed into the ground to make manure, &c. Their statements as to the good that is being done by supplying hospitals and charitable institutions must need looking into,- our order to receive the benefits of the surplus for the sick and nursing staffs has met with nothing but evasion.
All through the New England District great belt of apple and pear bearing country, it would only be a few miles to rail them to Boggabilla.
I will look to you sir. to see that if it is possible that fruit can be supplied to this hospital you will do so.
It’s no doubt a. tragedy that offering to pay the expenses of fruit cartage, packing and case, the fruit cannot be given to help sick children who need it so much, but according to press reports dumped to pigs.
I again took up the matter with the Assistant Minister (Mr. Anthony) whom I am glad to see present in the chamber. Prom him I received the following reply : - 14th May, 1941.
Further in reference to your personal representations on behalf of Goondiwindi District Hospital Board (Mr. Warwick Piddington,
Secretary), in regard to the supply of apples and pears for use in the institution, I wish to advise that I have received the attached letter from the Apple and Pear Marketing Board.
You will note the board’s advice that, with the exception of fruit infected with fruit fly and codling moth, all Queensland supplies have been absorbed, and that there is no surplus that would enable distribution on a large scale to be made to hospitals, &c.
Additional costs involved would preclude any possibility of fruit being brought from the southern States for free distribution.
When I received that letter I felt that it was at such moments as these one needs minties-. I became inspired, and re-wrote the above letter as a very rough parody on Mark Antony’s Oration. Perhaps the Assistant Minister (Mr. H. L. Anthony), would like to hear it. With apologies to Shakespeare, here it is -
Friend, Warwick Piddington,
Lend me your ears
I mean to bury apples, not to make them
Available to patients needing them.
Midst plenty, scarcity must be maintained.
The apples that men grow are not to eat;
They shall be dumped, or given to the pigs;
So, let it be with- pears.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker) on his eloquent speech, and particularly his literary peroration.
Under the Prime Minister’s Department I notice the item, “ High Commissioner’s Office, London “,- in respect of which it is proposed to appropriate the sum of £14,370; and under the Department of External Affairs appears the item, “High Commissioner’s Office, Canada “, in respect of which we are asked to vote the sum of £2,980. I suggest that in the presentation of Estimates in the future,, these two items should be grouped under either the Prime Minister’s Department or the Department of External Affairs. Probably, it would be more appropriate to group them, under the latter department; because in the course of time, no doubt, we shall be asked to appropriate sums in respect of High Commissioners to South . Africa and- a High Commissioner to New Zealand, and provision will probably ‘be made in the next Supply Bill, or in the budget, for an Australian legation in China, and, perhaps,, in other countries. I notice that the Australian Legations in America and Japan are provided for under the Department of External Affairs.
I direct the attention of the House to the flagrant and disgraceful manner in which the Parliament and people of Australia’ are treating the. aborigines’. Even during my short experience in this chamber, I have heard many questions directed to the Government on this matter. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) particularly, has inquired about the Government’s intentions towards the Half-caste aborigines, and full-blooded aborigines who do not follow a nomadic existence but live as best they can according to civilized’ standards. A body known as the Aborigines UpliftSociety makes strong appeals from time to time for justice to the aborigines. In a document Headed, “Do you know? “, that organization raises a number of points to the discredit of the white -race, and reveals injustices which this generation should remedy by treating the remnants of an unfortunate people with a better sense of justice than we have hitherto displayed.
– We should treat them as human beings.
– That is so. To-day, however, we sometimes- treat them as though they had no reason to exist at all. It, seems to be fashionable in some quarters in this country to wish that the aborigines would die out in order that we could aid ourselves of the trouble of looking after them. That, feeling, arises from a troubledconscience because of our sins against these people. The black crimes of the early settlers of this country in regard to the murder of aborigines constitute- one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of any country. The pamphlet issued by the Aborigines Uplift Society makes the following points : -
Do you- know -
That the aborigines -once owned the whole of Australia, that it afforded them a full living, and they were expropriated wholly without their consent or compensation?
That no regular provision was made for the despoiled natives, -who were left to die by starvation, or killed off when they resented their . despoiling. That the natives so killed off included women and children?
In parts of Australia to-day white men still despoil black women, and the white man’s Government does not always do all that it might do in order to protect . these women.
But aborigines, no matter how cultured, civilised and educated, cannot obtain these services. Aborigines who are earning wages are compelled to pay Income Tax, Unemployment Tax and all other taxation. Therefore they are compelled to pay for social services for others, but cannot enjoy them themselves.
– There is no worse chapter in German history.
– I agree that nothing that has been done by our enemies in this war or in the war of 1914-18 can equal the callousness of the treatment that the white race has meted out to the unfortunate aborigines of Australia. The Aborigines Uplift Society’s plea continues: -
Do you know all this?T hen there is but one honorable course open to you. You must discharge your full obligations to the native race by (1) Giving your support to the movement that seeks full amelioration for natives. You must support the plea “Justice for Aborigines “. Your support must be financial, for the land you occupy is not rightfully your own, and you must pay. for it to the rightful owners. You can do this by supporting the movement that seeks a full Australian status for aborigines.
It is incongruous that Ave should provide in our recently passed child endowment legislation that aboriginal women shall have the benefit of endowment if they are living in civilized conditions, whilst the same mothers are not entitled to receive the maternity bonus. When an aborigine becomes old, after having paid income tax, unemployment relief and other taxes while he was in employment, he is not able to obtain an old-age pension; nor can he always have the benefit of sustenance payments when he happens to be out of work.
– That does not apply in Western Australia.
– I do not charge every State with having done these inhuman things, but the legislation enacted by this Parliament withholds invalid and old-age pensions and the maternity bonus from the aborigines. It would be a simple matter, even in time of war, for this Government to introduce a bill which would enable half-castes, . threequartercastes, and even full-blooded aborigines living in civilized conditions to secure equal benefits with the white race. It could do so within the next week. The people of New Zealand did not treat the Maoris so badly as we treated our aborigines, although there are some black pages in the history of the white man’s dealingwith the Maoris. The Maoris have demonstrated their capacity to earn a living under civilized conditions andto lead a good moral life. Their fighting capacity has been proved beyond any’ doubt in this Avar and the Avar of 1914- 18, and, incidentally, Australian aborigines and half-castes arewelcomed into the Australian Imperial Force. But if they do not happen to be granted a war. pension on their return they are not qualified, under existing legislation, to receive an old-age pension from the country forwhich they fought.
– They have all of the obligations and none of the rights of thewhite people.
– If theywere numerically strong they could achieve something for themselves. The condition of the aborigines stresses challengingly the fact that in our present materialist system of society the only people, to obtain justice are those who are strong enough to be dangerous to, those who would refuse them justice. Nobody in this country gets justice for the sake of justice alone. So we ought to put our treatment of the aborigines on a much higher moral plane than it has been heretofore. I ask the Assistant Minister’ (Mr. Anthony) to bring this matter before Cabinet at its next meeting. The Government could give us an opportunity to deal expeditiously with amending legislation which would commend itself to the ideals of justice and fair play, which are surely held dear by honorable members of this House, in the same way as we dealt with the child endowment legislation. If any honorable member wishes to investigate the truth of the statements which I have made, he’ has ample opportunity to do 80 in the Government offices of this nation. I have not mentioned in detail the shocking manner in which the aborigines were deliberately exterminated in Tasmania ; nor have I ‘dealt with the other ‘ occasions when . human . ghouls who wanted particular land poisoned natives with strychnine or killed them in other ways. I have not ransacked the pages of history in order to provide itemized evidence of the charges that can be successfully laid against the white race, but as a nation we must accept responsibility for all that has been done by our forebears. If we arc genuinely repentant for those sins of certain of our earliest citizens, we should take an early opportunity to demonstrate our sincerity. . So far as my own family is concerned,, and there are four generations in some branches of it Australian-born, I am proud that none of my relatives- had any hand in any of the disgraceful episodes to which I ref erred.
I endorse the strictures of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) on the plan devised by Mr. J. M. Keynes, the English economist, for financing the British war effort on principles that have won acceptance in capitalist circles of Great Britain. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will not be foolish enough to try to foist the Keynes plan upon the Australian public. Mr. Keynes was described by the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price) as a radical, but he is radical only in name. Actually he is one of the old liberal school of economists which wishes to make capitalism work if possible. I know from my reading of the history of what we know in this country as “ the battle of the plans “ that during the depression Mr. Keynes was one of a group of leading English economists and financiers who signed a letter to the British press in which it was . urged that Australian securities . should be removed from the protection of the British Trustee Act. Mr. Keynes had lost interest in Australia, and did not care what happened to our securities. At that time Australian £100 stock was selling for £80 on the English market. I believe that the price fell as low as £70. In New York, Australian stock fell to an even lower figure. By urging that our stock should be removed from the protection of the British Trustee Act, Mr. Keynes showed that he was no friend of this country, and I shall strongly suspect any plan that he may put forward for our acceptance. The policy of the Labour party for financing the war is well-known and may be easily understood. If any honorable member desires to increase his education without expense he may apply to me for a copy of the constitution and platform of- the Australian Labour party, and I shall, supply it to him free. That offer is also extended to the Assistant Minister (Mr. Anthony).
– I shall be glad to receive a copy of the document.
– I have no doubt that the Assistant Minister would greatly benefit by a perusal of it.
– I am willing to exchange a copy of the platform of the Australian Country party for a’ copy of the platform of the Labour party.
– I do not think that that would be a fair exchange in any sense. I have no doubt that the Labour party will be in charge of the affairs of this country before many years pass and Australia will then become a better country.
I now wish to refer to certain methods of salesmanship that are being adopted here to the detriment of young white Australians which, call loudly for remedial action by the Government. Young men are being led by advertisement and other propaganda to believe that by accepting engagements to sell goods for particular firms, they will be able to carve out for themselves a niche in the commercial life of this country. It appears to me that the firms which I have in mind, and to some of which I shall specifically refer, are endeavouring to establish themselves by the adoption of some of the most objectionable, get-rich-quick methods in practice in the United States of America. Our present system of unrestricted production for profit is leading some manufacturing companies and warehouses to adopt all sorts of devices for increasing the consumer demand for certain goods and for the outwitting one another in sales methods. M.any firms now sell direct, to the public by means of travelling agents, and some of them manage to put all the burden of losses on their salesmen. The modus operandi is described in an advertisement which appeared in the Melbourne Age on the 14th May of last year. It read -
Wanted to start by Mar. 15, energetic, dependable man, to’ take oyer established round of customers, handling food, toilet and medicinal products, on a- profit-sharing basis. Customer introduction, training and assistance supplied. No deposit required. Character references needed. Preference given to married men. Apply Telson Manufacturing, Rooneystreet, Burnley.
In the same column the following ad vertisement appeared : -
Is your present income sufficient to meet all your wants? If not, would you like to become established in a business of your own which can yield profits of £1 a day and more? Lack of capital need not deter those interested f rom obtaining details, which will be supplied.
Country applicants write for particulars.
When the prospective salesman made contact with one of these organizations he is supplied with a guarantee form which, in the case of the Telson Manufacturing Company Proprietary Limited, reads as follows : -
In consideration of the Telson Manufacturing Company Proprietary Limited a Company duly incorporated in the State of Victoria (hereinafter called the Company) at any time or times hereafter granting and extending unto………….. of………… . (hereinafter called the Buyer) credit for goods, I the undersigned do hereby unconditionally promise ensure and guarantee at all times due and punctual payment at Melbourne Victoria of any indebtedness to the Company not exceeding the sum of twenty-five pounds (£25) hereafter incurred and owing by the Buyerby reason of the sale to him by the Company of goods and payment of transport charges, if any; and I do hereby waive notice of any agreement between the Company and the Buyer and of delivery of goods to the Buyer and of any fault or delinquency whatsoever of the Buyer and all other notices of whatsoever nature and do consent to any and all extensions of time of payment by the Company.
This undertaking shallbe a continuing guarantee and shall remain in force for and cover all liabilities, not exceeding the sum of twenty-five pounds (£25) owing . by the Buyer to the Company at any. time during a period of one year from the date hereof without respect to residence or location of business of the Buyer.
These conditions were drafted, no doubt, by some slick lawyer, to absolve the company from any responsibility whatsoever. The young men are required to secure two guarantors before they are engaged by the company. The guarantee form provides in this connexion -
I hereby consent and agree that the Company may at any time it may see fit prior to the expiry hereof limit suspend or resume or discontinue the extension of credit or sales to the Buyer. 1 also agree that it shall not be necessary for the Company to first exhaust its remedies against the Buyer before proceeding to collect from me.
It then sets out -
It is understood and agreed that there are no conditions or limitations to this Guarantee except those written or printed herein at or before the execution hereof and that after execution, no alteration change or modification hereto shall be made except by consent of both parties in writing and that the terms and conditions hereof are and shall be binding upon my heirs executors or administrators and that any notices in any way affecting the rights of the Company must- be delivered by registered mail to it at its office at Melbourne, Victoria. .
During the depression years, I signed one such guarantee for a young married man with a family whom I knew, and his father also signed. The young man tried, very hard to sell. his wares, but eventually found that he was not earning a living and sent the goods back.” The company decided what it would accept and what it would not accept, and what it would place to his credit and what it would reject. It rejected quite a number of things it should have accepted, but as the guarantee gave it full discretionary power, its word was final and the young man’s father and I had to pay the balance. The depredations of that company are widespread, and as I indicated previously, there are two other companies - J. R. Watkins and Company and W. T. Rawleigh and Company Limited. The Telson Manufacturing Company Proprietary Limited has a nominal share capital of £25,000 in £1 shares. J. R.Watkins and Company has amongst other capital preferred capital stock of $2,500,000, comprising 25,000 $.100 shares. It did not even trouble to change its money from dollars into pounds sterling or Australian pounds. It is an American company, and yet its activities are entirely in Australia. A fixed dividend of 7 per cent, is paid on preference shares. W. T. Rawleigh and Company Limited has capital stock of $50,000, comprising 500 $100 shares. The directors of the Telson Manufacturing Company Proprietary Limited are Gibson Battle (12,497 shares), Irwin Hinds (1 share), Clarence Taylor (1 -share) and Bazil Caldwell (1 share), making a total of 12,500 shares. Gibson Battle has a capital of £20,000 in £1 shares, comprising 1,500 £1 preference shares, 6,000 £1 ordinary preference shares, and 12,500 £1 ordinary shares. The directors of Gibson Battle are Clarence Taylor (39 preference shares and 32;3 ordinary shares), Bazil Caldwell (34 preference shares and 366 ordinary shares), Harold ‘ Douglas Giddy (6,00.0 ordinary preference shares and 2,200 ordinary shares), Richard Raymond Hinds (1 ordinary share), and Irwin Hinds (1,427 preference shares and 1,940 ordinary shares). The totals- of these holdings are 1,500 preference shares, 6,000 ordinary preference shares, and 4,830 ordinary’ shares. The offices of the company are situated at 28 Rooney-street, E.l, Victoria, and84 William-street, Cl, Victoria. The secretary, is Ronald Francis Murray, of 143 Thomas-street, Hampton. The Harold Douglas Giddy mentioned in that list is identical, I believe, with Harry Douglas Giddy who is a member of the firm Wilson, Danby and Giddy, of Melbourne, and is the . opposite number in Victoria to W. J. Smith, of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited in Sydney. This same Harry Douglas Giddy, who has everything fixed by law so that he cannot incur any loss at all and has exploited so many young Australians by refusing to pay the basic wage, is a director of the Herald and Weekly Times Limited, the National Bank of Australasia Limited, and the Metropolitan Ice and Fresh Food’ Company, and if he is not actually a member, he is closely associated with the directorate of the Australian Newsprint Mills Proprietary Limited. Apparently, he is a man of the Wendell Wilkie type, who is getting very rich quickly, and is becoming associated with quite a lot of big organizations, such as private banking interests and monopolistic newspaper groups, which are operating to the detriment of the people of Australia.
-. - He is the “giddy” limit.
– As the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) says, he certainly is the “ giddy “ limit, and in addition to that, or perhaps -because of that, he is probably a- prospective candidate for the United Australia party endorsement at some future date. The second company which I mentioned, J). R. Watkins and Company, has on its directorate, Ernest Leon King, Florida, United’ States of America ; Grace Watking King, Florida, United ‘States of America;. Durrand Charles- Alexander, Minnesota, United . States of America; Ralph Goodrich Boalt, Minnesota, United States of America ; and William Benson Watkins,. Minnesota, United States of America:. The Victorian agents since 1934 have been Norman Richard Edmonds until 1933, William’ Drewe Cherry until 1939, George Alexander Gardiner until January, 1940, and John Saville Eastwood from ‘April, . 1940. Eastwood is a former employee of ‘the Commonwealth Public Service. He left the Taxation Department to make more money outside by receiving big fees for showing taxpayers how to dodge their responsibilities in regard to income tax. He was able to do that through knowledge he ‘acquired while he was in the employ of the Commonwealth Government. Eastwood is also the Victorian manager of the company, and is located at 292. Exhibition-street, Melbourne. The company was formed in 1929 to export, sell and make Dr. Ward’s remedies, &c. The main office is overseas at No. 7 West 10th-street, Wilmington City, State of Delaware, County of Newcastle, United States of America. I ask the Assistant Minister to request his colleague the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) to examine just what sums J. R. Watkins and Company is allowed to remit to the United States of America out of its ill-gotten gains made at a time when we want to build up our dollar reserves in order to prosecute a more vigorous war effort.
With regard to the insurance business, in which in some of the States, men still work for less than the basic wage when they cannot secure new business, much remains to be attended to by this Parliament before we can say that a fair deal is being handed out to those who give their labour and ability in an attempt to earn a living. If it be not constitutionally possible to remedy this position by legislation, it should be possible, to effect some change by means of a national security regulation. This Parliament should emulate the Parliament of Queensland, where sellers of insurance are in such a position that they can form trade unions and get a determination of their conditions by the Arbitration Court, In Victoria the big insurance companies have signed an agreement with, the Treasurer of that State that they will pay the basic wage to the insurance agents, the remuneration to be determined over a quarterly period. I believe that most large companies are honouring that promise, not only in Victoria but also in other States. The position is unsatisfactory, however, in the absence of legislation. If the Government will bring down the necessary measures next week the Opposition will assist to pass them into law immediately. The longer this matter is delayed the greater will be the stigma resting on this Parliament for failure to pass the remedial measures required.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Scully) adjourned.
Imperial Force: Equipment in Greece, Crete, and Libya - Potato Prices - Nutriment Contentof FLOUR; - Quality of Bread.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I again mention the case of Phillip Raoul Hentze, which I have been endeavouring to ventilate, and wish to impress upon tlie Government that I am not at all satisfied with the present situation regarding this matter. When I first addressed a question about it to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), who happens to be a brother-in-law of this ex-internee, I was given an assurance by the Minister, which was unsolicited by me at the time, that I should be given permission to peruse the file relating to- the matter. The Minister no doubt was endeavouring to create the impression that the file contained nothing which could not be disclosed to any member of this Parliament. I waited for some days, and then asked whether the file was available. That question was again directed to the Minister for the Army, but. he did not reply. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) came to his colleague’s assistance, and said that his attention had been drawn to the question asked by me and. to the reply given by the Minister for the Army and that he had decided that the file should not be made available to me’. Evidently the latter Minister was looking for a way out of the difficulty in which he found himself, and sought the aid of the Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister himself stated,., in reply to my question, - that it’ and the .reply given by the Minister, for the Army had been brought to his attention by that Minister.
T claim that an unsatisfactory state of affairs obtains with, regard to, not only this ‘ case, but also many others, and the people of Australia must be greatly concerned at the action of the Government “in claiming that national security is involved when members of the Opposition attempt to. secure’ information upon such matters. In what . way is national security involved when a member -asks to be allowed to peruse a “ file Concerning a matter about which he has asked” a question in the House? If my information be correct - and I have no reason to think otherwise - this file should contain information from the military intelligence authorities as to why in the first place Hentze was arrested and interned. I take it that those authorities did not act without some evidence to support their action. Having become satisfied that they had sufficient evidence on which to act, they interned Hentze, who, on the admission of the Minister for the Army himself, va3 subsequently released, after the Minister had been telephoned and had said that he knew the man. I think that members of this chamber will not be satisfied that all that the military intelligence authorities would want to know from the Minister would be whether he knew this man; they would certainly wish to know what he knew about him. I desire to bc informed as to what information they had to warrant his internment in the first place, and what additional light the Minister was able to throw on the matter which subsequently led to his release from internment. If the military intelligence authorities had information that Hentze had been in constant communication with prominent Nazis in Germany, would the national security be endangered by the Government admitting that fact?
After his release, Hentze was placed in an important position. I directed a question to the Minister for Commerce (.Sir Earle Page) with regard to the position be occupied, and asked whether it provided him with facilities to know the movements of Australian shipping. I was then told that the committee of which “Hentze was a., member - the Wool Appraisement Committee - is not one that would know of the movements of shipping, as that would be a matter for the Central Wool Committee. That is merely a quibble, for, as a member of the Wool Appraisement Committee, Hentze would be in touch with the Central Wool Committee, and it is quite possible that be would be moving in quarters where he might, become aware of Australian shipping movements. .1 am not here to judge this man. I did-not accuse him. All that I say is that the Military Intelligence must have had some evidence on which to act. Having acted, I want to know why its decision was reversed and Hentze was permitted to take up an important position on a committee and was thus provided with opportunities to secure valuable information in relation to movements of Australian shipping. These are matters which must be cleared up. Unsolicited, . the Minister for the Army gave me the assurance that the file would be available for my perusal. That undertaking has since been withdrawn by the Prime Minister. I repeat, that I want to know why such an air of secrecy surrounds this ‘ matter, and why members of this Parliament cannot be trusted to peruse a file with sufficient intelligence to decide how much of its contents could be made public. I do not know of one honorable member who, having viewed the contents of a file, would be so foolish as to disclose any’ information gained from it, publication of which would be of advantage to enemy countries. By referring to national security on every occasion, the Government is adopting convenient means to prevent the ventilation of many matters in this Parliament with a view to having the searchlight of public opinion thrown on the public actions of certain prominent men. If no member of’ the Government has anything to hide, let us see what the file contains: Let us examine the recommendations of Military Intelligence, and the evidence upon which they were based. Let us also see what evidence was subsequently secured which led to the release of Hentze. Although the Government may have sufficient numerical strength in this House to prevent either me or any other honorable member from having access to this file, I am perfectly satisfied that, if public opinion outside of Parliament could be tested, the fact would become apparent that its action in this matter has not the approval of the Australian comniunity generally. Therefore, the Government should reconsider its decision. If it fails to make the file- available, I can only conclude, as will many other Australian citizens, that it has something which it wishes to- cover up. If it has nothing to hide, I am entitled, as a member of this Parliament, particularly in view, of the assurances given by the Minister for the Army, to request that the file, be now made available.
.- The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) asked me this afternoon a question relating to the equipment of Australian troops. I indicated to him that I proposed to make a statement later in the clay in respect of the campaign in Greece, in view of the suggestion repeatedly made that the Australian troops were badly equipped, or very insufficiently equipped, in the operations in that area. Some of the statements that have been made, particularly if taken out of their context, are apt to leave in the minds of the people the impression that the Australian forces in Greece were called upon to fight only with . rifles against mechanized forces. Such statements can only have, and to my knowledge “ are having, an unsettling and disturbing effect upon the relatives of men who are serving overseas, as well as those who have enlisted to go overseas. Indeed, I am satisfied that they have had some adverse effect upon the recruiting of men for the Australian Imperial Force. It is well, therefore, that the House, and the public through the House, should be informed of the real position with respect to the equipment of our troops in Greece.
Before agreeing to dispatch Australian forces to Greece, the Commonwealth Government, in its communications with the British Government, laid the greatest emphasis on the requirement that our troops’ should be equipped to the maximum scale. The Prime Minister personally did so in London. Advices received from General Sir Thomas Blarney indicate that there has been substantial compliance with the requirements of the Commonwealth Government. It must be remembered at all . times that the Australian troops, sent to Greece were infantry troops. It should also be remembered that numerically they were greatly less than had been intended for those operations. This, as honorable members will . recall, was duo to the sudden need to meet the thrust of the Germans in Libya, a thrust which, it has been, clearly acknowledged,’ was unexpected by the British High Command.
The forces intended, to be sent to Greece were considered by . the highest military advisers of the British Government, in view of the nature of. the terrain in which they were called upon to operate, reasonably’ sufficient for the function which it was intended they should be called upon to discharge. This was their considered judgment, arrived at with a knowledge of the kinds of forces which Germany had at-, its disposal. It is proper, I think, to say at this stage that there can be no doubt that probably the most vital factor in. the defeat of our troops in Greece wasGermany’s overwhelming superiority.in the air.
Upon that I have no desire to add to what has already been said.’ ‘
To sum up : The plan was to hold a strong defensive line, through which there was only a limited number of entrances. “For this task, General Sir Archibald. Wavell and Sir John’ Dill,- Chief of the Imperial General Staff,” who’ were on the” spot when the decision was made,” ex- . pressed the view -that’ the” infantry divisions, together with the ‘ artillery and armoured support “they were to receive, “were sufficient to give; them “a reasonable fighting chance ‘to accomplish the task assigned to them. It is quite impossible, as honorable members will, I am sure, agree, to ask more in terms of battle possibilities.
Honorable members, in considering such statements as have been made alleging lack of equipment, will, I know, keep in mind the circumstances I have related. The real question is, whether our troops were, as an infantry division, properly equipped. As to this, the Government must depend upon the advice it has received from General Sir Thomas Blarney, General Officer Commanding the Australian Imperial Force, in the Middle East. Upon him, I am sure honorable members will agree,, complete reliance can be placed. The information received by the Government is that the condition on which it was stipulated our troops should be employed was, in regard to all essential equipment, fulfilled. In respect of such vital items as 25-pounder artillery and anti-tank 2-pounder guns, they were completely equipped. There were small deficiencies in certain items, which General Blarney makes quite clear were in no way sufficient to support the suggestion that our troops were not well equipped. As to the extent to which the issues of certain other items of equipment were less than full war establishment, our official advices reveal that, in the view of Sir Thomas Blamey, these were immaterial, mainly because of the nature of the country in which the operations were conducted:
Honorable members will realize that I am not free to deal in detail with each item of equipment. It is sufficient, in the light of what I have said, to give, as I have, the general summary of the man whois in charge of these forces and to say that, except in a few instances, our “troops in Greece were fully equipped.
The question of the honorable member for Cook was specifically directed to the operations “at Tobruk. One of the most important features of the campaign has been the gallant defence of Tobruk, where all the attacks of the enemy have so far been frustrated. The importance of Tobruk cannot be too greatly stressed as it’ offer’s a constant threat, to the enemy’s long line of communications, and he has been compelled to establish a strong force in order to keep the garrison from counter attack. All thatI desire to add at the moment is “ that, according to a despatch from” General Blarney which has only just come to hand, no anxiety as to the position there is felt.
I do not propose to add to what has been said by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as to the reasons why the file in respect of Mr. Hentze has not been made available. But in order to clear up certain misapprehensions I point out first that Mr. Hentze is not, as I understand it. a member of the Wool Appraisement Committee.. He is a minor employee of that body - an appraiser. Secondly, the Wool Appraisement Committee itself has, I believe, no association whatever with the Central Wool Committee in respect of shipping movements. With even greater emphasis it can be said that a minor employee of the Wool Appraisement Committee has no knowledge in respect of shipping. Thirdly, I am correct, I think, in saying that since the outbreak of war no recommendation to any Minister has been made for the reinternment of this man, although the war has continued for nearly two years. His internment was a matter of only two or three hours’ duration. I further say, in fairness to the man whose reputation and loyalty are at stake, and will be tested by the method referred to by the Prime Minister - reference to the chairman of the Aliens Tribunal, who will be asked to consider in detail the whole file, in order that the action to be taken in respect of this man may be determined - that he has on’ more than one occasion endeavoured to have himself . accepted for service overseas. This cannot be said of certain . persons who challenge the loyalty of other individuals.
– Perhaps his. offer to enlist was- like that of the Minister himself in the last war ; it was too late to enable him to get away. In this war the Minister has appointed himself a lieutenant-colonel.
– I have never referred to the fact that I was a member of the Australian ImperialForce in the last war because my service was only a matter of days. I do not think that the honorable member for East Sydney had the courage to enlist at all.
– The- Minister showed wonderful anticipation on that occasion.
– If the honorable member challenges: my association with the Australian Imperial Force in the last war, I dismiss it, because I have never . claimed more than that as a young man I did offer, myself for service overseas. I welcome the opportunity given through the reference to the chairman, of the Aliens Tribunal, to have determined whether or not there is any foundation for the allegations which have been made.
– Honorable members on ‘both sides of the House have asked questions, in regard to the control that may be exercised over the ‘ price of potatoes. The Commonwealth Prices Commissioner has made a special attempt to handle this vexed problem-, and because of the interest- that has been shown by honorable members generally, I now desire to say that owing to an enormous surplus, estimated to be approximately 100,000 tons, the potato market has been demoralized and the prices to growers are now generally unprofitable. In order to meet this position, of which there were indications, early in the year, the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner convened a conference of growers and merchants in. ‘Melbourne onthe 23rd February. He proposed, as a solution of the problem in the current year, the control of exports of- potatoes from Victoria and Tasmania. This conference, and a later one held in Brisbane in April, failed to arrive at an acceptable solution of the current year’s problem, although proposals for. future control, were discussed. Following these discussions, the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner proposed a scheme under which inferior grades would be kept off the market, the . grading for
No. 1 quality tightened up, and a very low price fixed for rejected potatoes. He discussed, these proposals with representatives of the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board in Canberra shortly after Easter. Meanwhile, the Acting Premier of Victoria, had written to the Prime Minister urging that the - National Security Act should be used to fix potato prices at a reasonable level. The Acting Premier pointed out. that there were prospects of record crops in Victoria, and that unless supplies to the market were regulated and prices fixed, potato-markets would be glutted, prices would fall to unpayable levels, and many growers of potatoes would be ruined. I discussed this matter with Mr. Hogan, Minister for Agriculture in Victoria, in Sydney on the 16th April. I informed him that any action that the Commonwealth could take under its Prices Regulations would depend upon, the co-operation of the States in controlling deliveries to the market. In order, to secure the co-operation of the States, the Deputy Prices Commissioners in Victoria- and New South Wales entered into discussion with the Departments of Agriculture, whilst the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner visited Tasmania, and’ on Saturday, the 10th May, conferred with the Potato Marketing” Board there, and addressed a large meeting of potato-growers at Burnie. The Marketing Board submitted a proposal to the Prices Commissioner along- the lines that the Commissioner had already discussed with me. The Commissioner intimated his readiness to secure agreement among the States to implement such a scheme, -and emphasized the necessity for controlling deliveries to the market if a reasonable price were to be obtained.
The Commissioner again discussed this problem with me, and I concurred’ in his recommendation that a . conference of representatives of the Agricultural Departments of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and the prices authorities should consider ways and; means of’ controlling, the market in the interests of the growers. At this conference, which was held in Melbourne . oh the 2nd . and 3rd’ June, discussions were highly satisfactory, and in spite of- the enormous surplus disclosed in the latest estimates of the crop, a workable scheme was evolved.
On reviewing stocks available, it was foundthat the elimination of the inferior grades for human consumption would not be sufficient, and that it would be necessary to restrict deliveries, even of No. 1 grade, if reasonable prices were to be obtained. The objective was not a high price, but one that would not involve producers in heavy financial losses. The scheme outlined by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner involves the following steps: -
Surplus potatoes could be sold as stock feed at whatever price the market would permit. It was quite clear that it would “be futile to fix a minimum price for potatoes without regulating deliveries, and the action proposed would regulate deliveries and secure better prices for the growers without imposing exactions upon consumers. The response of the States to these proposals was as follows : - New South Wales agreed for the first time to eliminate all but No. 1 grade from its domestic market. Victoria agreed to cooperate fully in the scheme by using its own National Security Act in conjunction with the plans of the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner. Tasmania has unfortunately rejected the scheme. It was submitted to the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board, which unanimously rejected the plan on the ground that it was too late in the season to implement it, and that more than one half of the Tasmanian crop had already been marketed. That view was endorsed by the Minister for Agriculture in Tasmania, and has been maintained in spite of urgent requests by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner and the Victorian Government to the Tasmanian authorities.
Despite this reverse, the Prices Commissioner was still prepared to set up an authority to operate a scheme provided Tasmania would not be actively opposed to it. As a result of a. telephone conversation between the . secretary of the Prices Branch and the Minister for Agriculture in Tasmania it was found that the Minister was opposed to the establishment of a separate authority in Tasmania. In these circumstances, any action taken by the Commonwealth would be against the wishes of. the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board, and the Minister for Agriculture, and would lead to a great deal of controversy at a time when government authorities were under great pressure on account of war work. In all the circumstances I have reluctantly decided that, in the absence of co-operation from Tasmania, the . Commonwealth cannot proceed further with the scheme. No one regrets that decision more than- I do, because the plight, of growers, not only in Victoria and- New South Wales, but also in the back districts in Tasmania, is very serious. The whole plan was devised to help those growers, and the fact that Tasmania . had already marketed: more than one half of its crop for the year could hardly be advanced- as an argument against seeking to protect the interests of growers who still have potatoes to market and- who are bound to experience unremunerative prices while the present glut of potatoes continues. If Tasmania is prepared to reconsider its decision the Commonwealth will be prepared to go on with the scheme as originally planned. I am. sorry that I have to speak at length on this matter, but it is incumbent upon the Government to explain the plans put forward by the Prices Commissioner from time to time with the idea of overcoming the difficulties that have been experienced in the past, and those likely to be experienced in the future. I again urge the Tasmanian Government to reconsider its decision. The plan has been explained to the growers of the three States concerned, and it is not outside the- bounds of possibility that Tasmania may yet agree to come in.
– What period , of grace does the Minister propose to give the Tasmanian Government?
– I suggest that the Tasmanian Government ought to be able to notify us of its final decision within a few days. If it does not agree to cooperate, the Commonwealth must step out of the scheme.
.- On Thursday last, I discussed the subject of white bread, and referred to the widespread practice of millers in extracting vital nutriment from flour. The Minister for Health (Sir Frederick Stewart) said, that a. report had been presented by. the National Committee on Nutrition, and, in view of that ‘ report, no action was contemplated at present. The Minister subsequently wrote to me, enclosing a copy of a report which had been issued to the press. In view of the way in which that report has been misrepresented in the press, I propose to read it to-night. About two years ago I had the privilege of listening to an address by an eminent,’ physician in. which he stated that white’ bread constituted, a menace to the health of the community. He pointed out that in one country legislation had be.en passed to enforce the use of wholemeal bread, and that within a. year thedeathrate in the country had been reduced by 50’ per cent. It is important, particularly during time of war, to give attention to the health of the community, including that of the members of tie fighting forces. ‘ This matter becomes, -therefore, one of urgency. The report to which I have referred states -
It would.be unwise and premature to come to a decision regarding proposals for the fortification, with vitamin B1, of Australianmade bread, pending completion of the investigations now being made by the special committee appointed for this purpose by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
I am not concerned now- with the fortification of white flour, but with the extraction of the nutriment from flour, because of the greed of the millers. The report proceeds - “ Important factors to remember are - firstly, Australian wheat is considerably higher in vitamin B1- than wheat from any other part of the world; secondly,there is, at present, no evidence that the Australian community is suffering from even a partial vitamin B1. deficiency, or that it is necessary or desirable to fortify Australian flour; and, thirdly, millers and makers are cooperating actively in the scientific investigations, now being made, and there should be no difficulty in securing the uniform adoption of any recommendations of the committee.
The National Health and Medical Research Council, which is a thoroughly representative Australian body, considered this matter at its recent meeting in Canberra, and arrived at the following, conclusions : -
If there is no reason for complaint, why is there this growing agitation for the adoption of the British practice? Not only has it been adopted in Great Britain, but it has also been adopted in the United States of America, South Africa, the Netherlands, and even by our enemy, Germany. ‘ Hitler sees that the German troops get bread of the best quality. The report- continues^-“ “ The .council wishes , to draw attention to the investigations it” initiated last November into the problem of the vitamin Bl content of the Australian diet. At. the time it was realized that at least twelve months would be required for this work, and in view of the nature of the investigations results cannot bc expected before the next meeting of the council.
Those conclusions differ from those contained in a booklet entitled Diet and Nutrition for the Australian People, compiled by the Nutrition Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and published by Angus and Robertson Limited in conjunction with the Commonwealth Department of Health. On page 6 of the booklet the following statements appear : -
We have the evidence of many statistical and public health experts that the increase in the number of hospital patients is traceable to malnutrition. This increase in hospital populations is often mistakenly used as evidence of our advancement in medical care for the sick. Naturally, it is a sign of failure in the simpler aspects of living well. The high cost of increased hospital service might well be looked upon as a matter for adjustment in terms of better nutrition and health of the population. This country led the world in its social legislation when it attempted to fix a basic wage for -workers. As is well known, this wage is based upon a hypothetical family of two adults and three children. The dietary scale which was made the basis of the wage calculation in .1911 was drawn up in the absence of knowledge of vitamins. It was, however, revised by the Piddington Committee in 1!)20 when our dietary ‘knowledge was further advanced, and as yet even this scale * has* not been made the basis of wage decisions . . .
This, in effect, amounts to a failure to apply correctly the principle of the 1011 act which aimed at the establishment of a healthy, happy, efficient, and contented populace.
Dealing with white bread the Nutrition Committee reported -
To take bread alone we find that from 1840, when wholemeal bread was the staple food of Britons, an average daily consumption of 21 ounces ensured the intake of 000 units of vitamin B. To-day the smaller consumption of white flour freed of most of its source of vitamin B, provides only 120 units daily. It is more than probable that the “ purification “ of flour by modern refined milling baa played a large part in reducing the role of bread as a staple food.
Honorable members can see that modern milling processes and the greed of the millers have greatly reduced the value of bread as the staple food of the community. To show that eminent men in the community are aware of the position I propose to quote from an article which appeared recently in Smith’s Weekly. It is to the credit of that journal that it is prepared to conduct such a campaign to bring the facts of the matter prominently before the people. No newspaper would stake its reputation on such a matter if it were not certain of its grounds. The article reads: -
Gross exaggeration and misinterpretation by daily and weekly newspapers of a recent Australian National Health and Medical Research Council report has widely publicized the idea that “ Australian white bread is the best in the world “. Millers and bakers, who have been selling nutriment-robbed white bread to the public for ages, have been basking in the sunshine of such praise. But Professor Young, Professor of Bio-Chemistry Melbourne University, and one of the notable scientists who produced the report, has told Smith’s that the statement has not the slightest foundation in fact. “ The National council investigated some grades of Australian wheat,” said the professor, “ and found the vitamin B content to be very high, judged against world standards. If all of the wheat went into flour that flour would be as rich as any in the world and the bread made from it would be in the same position. Therefore, Australian bread made from white flour is probably as poor as that produced anywhere in the world “. Professor Young believes that malnutrition among poorer people who use white bread as their main item of diet, is due to lack of nutriment in the bread. He advocates general use of wholemeal, bread which contains all the nutriment of the wheat berry, including the germ. “ But, in the milling of white flour, most of the vitamins are taken out and also much of the mineral content. At most, only traces of vitamins are left in the white flour, nutriment is in the bran and pollard, which is used for feeding . pigs and fowls. Professor Priestly, Professor of Biochemistry, Sydney University, and many other famous Australian scientists agree. But I am strongly against the introduction of artificial vitamin B1 into white bread to bolster it up “, said Professor Young. “ A strong move is being made ‘by certain people to interest the Commonwealth Government in such a project. For one thing, it is not logical and it is artificial. Most important is the fact that . six types in the vitamin B series are taken away from white flour. They work best as a team. Restoring vitamin B1 and not B2, B3, and so on, would achieve little.
Solution to the whole problem of giving the people nourishing bread, does not lie in bolstering white flour with synthetic vitamins, but in turning the whole of the rich wheat berry into wholemeal flour and making bread from that.
Millers and bakers would object to that for technical and other reasons. But whether they do or not, the fact still remains that wholemeal is vastly superior to white bread.
It is idle to say that poor people can get the nutriment from other foods which they don’t get from bread. Recently, I made a test of my own diet. I eat anything I like which is more than a poor man can do. AndI found that the nourishment I was getting was dangerously near the borderline of poor nourishment.
England has been forced to legislate to make millers and bakers leave the nourishment in flour.
The Commonwealth Government must take similar action. Our nation is under a tremendous nervous and physical strain - particularly among workers who are working round the clock. Everything possible must be done to maintain health standards. Yet the main item of diet for the working class is nothing more than inflated paste.
The National Health Council has long urged the Federal Government to do something about lack of nourishment in bread, without result. We can no longer delay. Give the people a, bread that is a food.
I urge the Government to look very carefully into this matter. Even in Canberra we cannot get wholemeal bread. I havehere a sample of so-called wholemeal bread procured from the parliamentary dining room which on examination is found to be merely -coloured white bread. It is said by experts that bread of this kind undermines the cells not only of the body but also of the brain. I trust that this matter will be inquired into immediately. The Government should compel the millers to process flour in such a way as to ensure that the people receive the greatest nutriment from it.
– As indicated in the letter which I forwarded to the honorable member a few days ago, this matter has been under the constant attention of the health advisers of the Government who are much more competent to assess the merits of the issue than either the honorable member or myself. The Government is prepared to follow the recommendations of its technical advisers regardless -of whether they do or do not benefit those people to whom the honorable member has referred.
– I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance on the subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes -
Bathurst, New South Wales.
Pearce. Western Australia.
Port Melbourne (near), Victoria.
House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development,upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers : -
s asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The names of the members of the federal and State Parliaments serving with the Military Forces since the declaration of war and the amounts of pay and allowances received by each such member are as follows : -
The Attorney-General has supplied me with the following answer to questions Nos. 5 and 6 : -
Last year, the National Security (Industrial Peace) Regulations were made with a view to removing certain limitations on the jurisdiction of the court and to enable the court to deal with industrial disputes more expeditiously. Three additional Conciliation Commissioners were also appointed and, since then, delays as to war-time industries have been reduced to a minimum. The National Security (Coal Mining Industry Employment) Regulations have removed any cause for complaint so far as the coal-mining industry is concerned. The Central Reference Board constituted under these regulations and of which His Honour Judge Drake-Brockman is chairman is dealing with disputes on the coalfields as they arise. The machinery for settling disputes has never worked so expeditiously as at present.
d asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
Public Service: Appointments; Seniority of Members in Defence Forces.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he give consideration to setting up an independent tribunal to hear appeals against staff-appointments to, and promotions made in, the Commonwealth Public Service?
– It is not considered that a special tribunal is necessary for the purpose mentioned. All appointments, other than of permanent heads of departments, to the Service are made by, or on the recommendation of, the Public Service Board. The great bulk of appointments are of candidates from competitive examinations, appointed in order of qualifying. Promotions are provisional in the first instance and notified in the Commonwealth Gazette. Selection is in the hands of the department concerned, with the right of appeal from officers to the Public Service Board, which has no part in the original selections, and which gives the final decision.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
War-time Boards and Commissions.
s.- On the 28th May, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: - 1 and 2. The information desired by the honorable member is set out in the following statement. Where no remuneration is shown, the work is being done by Government officials in connexion with or in addition to their normal duties, and - in the case of other personnel - in an honorary capacity. 3. (a) 74, (6) 4. 4. (a) Nil, (6) Nil.
Boards, Commissions, etc, Appointed 23rd September, 1940, to 28th May, 1941.
Royal. Commission on Abbco Bread Company Contracts,&c.
Royal Commissioner. - Honorable A.V. Maxwell, a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
Air Compensation Board. (Constituted under the Defence Impressment
Order made under the National Security (General) Regulations.)
Wing Commander W. S. Armstrong.
Flying Officer W. B. Forster-Joy.
Committee on Apple and Pear Industry.
Honorable J. A. Perkins, M.P. (Chairman).
Honorable Sir George Bell, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D.
Honorable R. T. Pollard, M.P.
Senator J. McLachlan.
Senator J. M. Fraser.
Alex. Wilson, M.P.
Automotive Engineering Panel.
Commonwealth Coal Board.
Mr. Justice Davidson . (Chairman).
Honorable T. Armstrong, M..L.C.
Central Reference Board (constituted under the National’ Security (Coal-mining Industry Employment) Regulations) -
His Honour E. A. Drake-Brockman, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D.
Special representative of employers -
James Johnstone -£ 2 50 per annum.
Special representative of employees -
Charles Nelson - £250 per annum.
Other representatives of employers -
William Francis McNally.
Other representatives of employees -
George William Sweeney Grant.
Henry Charles Morton.
Harry Dent Johnson.
Charles Ebenezer Mundy.
Thomas Bassett Ward.
Harold Ashton Fountain.
Robert Corry Pinkerton.
Hugh Henry Sutherland.
Local Reference Boards -
Newcastle District - ‘
James Connell (Chairman) - £650 per annum rising with annual increments of £25 to £750 per annum - also acts as Chairman, Maitland Board.
Representatives of employers -
James Johnstone, see Central Reference Board.
Robert Wallace Davie.
Representatives of employees -
James Simpson. ‘
Thomas Rutherford. i
Thomas Bassett Ward.
Henry Charles Morton.
Harry Dent Johnson.
Coal-mining Industry - continued.
Local Reference Boards - continued.
Maitland District -
James Connell (Chairman) - see Newcastle District.
Representatives of employers -
James Johnstone, see Central Reference Board. i
Nathaniel Jocelyn Clark. n.,
Robert Wallace Davie.
Representatives- of employees -
John Kellock. ‘ ‘
James Simpson. ,
Thomas Bassett Ward.
Henry Charles . Morton.
Harry Dent Johnson.
Southern District, New South Wales -
Frederick Charles Hickman (Chairman) - £500 per annum.
Representatives of employers -
William Francis McNally.
Representative’s of employees -
Ernest Richard Browne.
Charles William Cooper.
Henry Charles Morton.
Charles William Laing.
Western District, New South Wales -
Roy Campbell (Chairman) - £262 10s. per annum.
Representatives of employers -
David Wilson Robertson.
Representatives of employees -
Bernard William Cunningham.
Thomas Hugh Schroder.
Roy Da vies.
Thomas Bassett Ward.
Henry Charles Morton.
William Harold Fitzpatrick.
George Austin Mooney (Chairman). Representatives of employers -
John William O’Donoghue.
Representatives of employees -
George Hargreaves. -William Peter Evans.
George Edward Cross.
Francis Edward Walsh (Chairman)- £2 2s. for each sitting of board.
Representatives of employers -
John Fulton Walker.
Sydney Lyle Trewick.
Representatives of employees -
Albert Edward Phillips”.
Frederick John Elson.
Martin Michael Miller. ‘
Coal-mining Industry - continued.
Local Reference Boards - continued.
James- Purcelli Clark. (Chairman) - £2 2s. for each sitting ofboard.
Representatives of employers -
John- Duncan - Meish McGeachie.
Representatives- of employees -
William Henry, Rees.
Walter Alfred Scales.
William Peter- Evans:
George Edward: Cross;
Copper and Bauxite. Committee.
Sir Colin Fraser (Chairman).
M. J; Martin.
A. J: Keast.
J.” M. Newman.
Dr. H. G. Raggatt.
Board, of - Inquiry, into Hire-purchase and Cash-order Systems.
H. W. Chancellor (Chairman)..
Honorable. J. B. Chifley, M.P.
Man-power and Resources Survey Committee.
Honorable E. S. Spooner, M.P. (Chairman).
J. P. Abbott, M.C., M.P.
Honorable E. J. Holloway, M.P.
J. S. Rosevear, M.P.
Commonwealth Marine War Risks Insurance Board.
Honorable Sir-. Owen Dixon, K.C.M.G. ( Chairman ) .
W. C. Balmford.
Professor D. B:. Copland, C.M.G.
W. R. Richards.
H. C. Martin.
R. E. Banks.
H. W. Williams.
H. D. Brehaut.
S. H: Dods.
L. D. Wright.
S. H. Witt.
Paper Industry War-time AdvisoryCommittee.
Northern section -
H. J. Hendy (Chairman)..
P. R. Wilkins (Secretary).
A. D. Stewart;
J. R; Firth.
G. H. Booth.’
E. W. C. Hughes-.
Southern section -
A. P. Kennan (Chairman).
A. S. Rundle- (Secretary).
D. W. Thorpe.
Paper Industry War-time Advisory Committee - continued.
Southern section- - continued.
J: R. D. Martin.
J: B-. Frame..
W. A. Jack.
F.’ R. Lindsay.
H. G: Brain..
R: Morris: (The various sections of the Paper Industry which nominate representatives- of the Advisory Committee have the right to change their representatives. )
Australian Shipbuilding Board.
The honorable F. P.Kneeshaw,. M.L.C. (Chairman).
Engineer Admiral. P. E. McNeill; C.B.
S. W. Griffith.
Shipping Control Board.
Honorable. Sir Owen Dixon, K.C.M.G. (Chairman).
J.’ L. Webb. “
D. J. Pilmer (Chairman).
E. J. Bowater.
A’. W. Fairley.
R. P. Allen.
S. W. Gadsen.
F. B. Spencer:
Australian Tobacco Board.
To represent the Commonwealth Goverment -
J. A. Tonkin (Chairman).
Torepresent the growers- of Australian tobacco leaf -
E. A. Atherton;*
B. M. Wade.*
F. B. Darling.*
To represent manufacturers who use Australian . tobacco leaf -
C. W. Hyde.*
F.. W. Brown.*
R. C. Best.*
To represent persons engaged in the business- of selling Australian tobacco leaf -
T. A. M. Fancourt.*
J. L. Bower.*’
T. S. Ware.*”
Tobacco Manufacturers’ Advisory Committee.
R. J. A. Massie.
G. C. A.Bernays.
C. W. Stericker.
W. J. Burke.
R. A. Holland” (Chairman).
B. N. Paton:
G. C. Ellis.
Western Australian War Industries Committee.
Senator theHonorable H. B. Collett, C.M.G., D.S.O. V.D. (Chairman).
Senator the Honorable J. Cunningham (acting in absence of Mr. Curtinon Advisory War Council work).
Professor F.R. E. Mauldron.
Wheat Industry StabilizationBoard.
Sir Clive McPherson, C.B.E. (Chairman). J.F. Murphy, C.M.G. - allowance £500 per annum.
Patriotic fund boardshave been established in the various States and certain territories. The personnel of these boards includes officers ‘ of the staff of the Repatriation Commission.
s. - Yesterday, the honor able member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asked the following question, without notice: -
Is it a fact that the parents of refugee children, who have been sent to Australia from Great Britain, are being charged 10s. a week for the children’s upkeep in this country in spite of the fact that many of the people who have adopted these children have not asked for any payment, and have received none? If this be so, to whom is this money being paid? Is it being paid to any one in Australia, or to any organization in Great Britain?
The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following reply: -
The children- referred to by the honorable member came to Australia . at the. invitation of the Commonwealth Government in response to a widespread desire expressed. by the people of Australia to extend hospitality to them for the duration of the war. They are not refugee children; they are our guests, and are accommodated in private households in the various States of the Commonwealth. The whole of the cost of the maintenance of the children is borne by their Australian hosts. No contribution towards their maintenance is made by the parents of the children.
In the United Kingdom, the Children’s Overseas Reception Board was established by the United Kingdom Government for the pur- pose of administering the scheme at that end. The United Kingdom Government undertook to defray the whole of the cost involved in sending the children to Australia and will pay the cost of their return to Britain. Parents in the United Kingdom were required to pay to the Children’s Overseas Reception Board a weekly contribution towards the cost. No portion of these contributions is paid to the Commonwealth or to any person in Australia.
National Service of Members of Parliament.
r. - On the 20th June, the honorable member for Parkes (Sir
Charles Marr) asked the following question, without notice: - 1 ask the Minister for the Army whether, under the National Emergency Regulations, members of Parliament throughout Australia are exempt from national defence service? If so, will the honorable gentleman consider the amendment of the relevant regulation so that all members of Parliament will be eligible to serve, either in the Militia Forces in Australia or overseas?
I now inform the honorable member that under section 61 of the Defence Act members of Parliament are exempt from military service in time of war. There are, however, no restrictions upon voluntary enlistment of members of Parliament for Australian Imperial Force, or for light horse regiments in the Militia. Members may also offer services for fulltime duty for home defence. In view of this provision, the matter has not been dealt with in National Security Regulations.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Is it intended to pay pensions in respect of the death or incapacity of any person rendering military service under Part IV. of the Defence Act 1903-39, where such death or incapacity is caused by an injury sustained byhim during his period of service or by a disease contracted by him during that period?
– Persons serving under Part IV. of the Defence Act are not eligible for pensions, but are paid compensation in accordance with section 57 of the Defence Act and the Military Financial Regulations. As mentioned recently, the question of compensation to members of the forces not covered by the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act has been examined by an inter-departmental committee, and the matter will shortly receive the consideration of the Government. ‘ _
NEW ‘Guinea: Development: Petroleum Deposits.
n asked the Minister dealing with External Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - *
Man-power and ‘Resources Survey Committee.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-. - The answers to- the honorable member’s questions ‘ are as follows-: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 June 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410625_reps_16_167/>.