House of Representatives
20 August 1941

16th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

– It is with much regret that I refer to the fact that on the 1st August the Honorable James George Drake, a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament and first Commonwealth Ministry, passed away in Brisbane.

Mr. Drake came to Australia from England as a young man. His early years in Australia were devoted to journalism, and subsequently he was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland. His parliamentary career commenced in 1888, when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly, Queensland, for the Division of Enoggera, which seat he retained until 1899, when he was appointed Postmaster-General and Secretary for Public Instruction, with a seat in the Legislative Council. In February, 1901, he resigned from the State Ministry and Parliament, and successfully contested the election for the Senate.

The late Mr. Drake held the portfolio of Postmaster-General in the Barton Ministry from February, 1901, to August, 1903. Later, he was Minister for Defence in the same Ministry for a short period, and became Attorney-General in the first Deakin Ministry which held office from September, 1903, to April, 1904. From August, 1904, to July, 1905, he was VicePresident of the Executive Council in the Reid-McLean Ministry. He retired from the Senate at the expiration of the second Parliament in 1906.

Subsequently, the deceased gentleman became Crown Prosecutor in Queensland, and held that position for eleven years. Although he had reached the age of 91 years at the time of his death, he retained an interest in public affairs almost to the last. This was perhaps natural in one who had been so prominently associated with the inauguration of the Commonwealth Parliament and Government.

From the point of view of the Commonwealth there will be a special feeling of regret at his passing, because by his death the last surviving link with the first Commonwealth Ministry was severed.

Members of the present Parliament, other than my colleague the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Hughes), will not have had any parliamentary association with the late Mr. Drake, but his capable work as a senator and Commonwealth Minister is on record. I move -

That this House expresses its profound regret at the death of the Honorable James George Drake, a former member of the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament and a former Minister of State, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.

Leader of the Opposition · Fremantle

– In seconding the motion, I endorse all that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said. It was a high honour as well as a very great responsibility to be a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament; and, after 40 years of federation. I believe it will be acknowledged that it was an even greater responsibility to be a member of the first Commonwealth Administration.

The late Mr. Drake was the first gentleman to hold the office of Commonwealth Postmaster-General, and, as the Prime Minister has said, he was also one of the earlier holders of the portfolios of Defence and Attorney-General. His period of service extended over the first two Parliaments, and ensured for his name an enduring place in the annals of this country. I, of course, was too young at the time to have any realization of the work which the late Mr. Drake did; but I have endeavoured to familiarize myself with what occurred at the foundation and during the early years of this federation, and I think it can be said that all of those who played a public part in that inaugural era were animated by a high conception of what they hoped would become a great nation. I feel confident that the late Mr. Drake played a very important part in laying the foundations of the Commonwealth, and gave liberally of his undoubted talents to the work that he performed. On behalf of the Opposition, I pay tribute to his career and his memory.

Treasurer · Darling DownsTreasurer and Leader of the Country Party · CP

– I associate the Country Party with the motion of appreciation of the public service rendered to the Commonwealth by the late Mr. Drake, and the expressions of sympathy with those who have been left to mourn his loss.

I had the privilege of personal acquaintance with the late Mr. Drake, and had many opportunities to partake of his wonderful hospitality and to gain an insight into his character. He was a most interesting man. I met him within the last twelve months, and although he had attained to the age of 91 years at the date of his death, the whole of his faculties were unimpaired and he maintained to the end a keen interest in political affairs generally.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

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Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

– Honorable members will have learnt with regret that Mr. John Dunlop Milien, a former member of the Senate and a close personal friend of many members and senators, passed away at Launceston on the 1st August last.

The late Mr. Millen’s parliamentary career commenced in 1919, when he was elected to represent Tasmania in the Senate. He was re-elected at the general elections of 1925 and 1931, and retired on the 30th June, 1938, having been defeated at the general elections held in the previous year. During his membership of the Commonwealth Parliament, he served on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts from 1920 to 1925, and the Wireless Agreement Committee during 1921-1922. He will be remembered especially for his work as chairman of the Royal Commission on National

Insurance, which functioned from 1923 to 1927.

The deceased gentleman had a wide circle of friends, particularly in this Parliament. He was always courteous, and the tolerance of his political outlook gained for him the esteem of those who were opposed to him. He was a man of real ability. For many years, the Commonwealth Government had the benefit of his services as one of its directors on the Board of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. I move -

That this House expresses its profound regret at the death of Mr. John Dunlop Millen, a former member of the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle- Leader of the Opposition). - All of us in this Parliament knew Mr. Millen very well. We admired his ability, and had a high appreciation of his sterling personal worth. He was a member of theSenate for eighteen years, and during that time was associated with the passing of many important pieces of legislation. He displayed a wide knowledge of Australia’s requirements, and brought to the consideration of the problems of the Commonwealth a well-trained mind, and natural gifts of a high order. The study and research which he devoted to national problems made him a most valuable member of Parliament. He was a man of liberal outlook. He gained friends easily and never lost them. This Parliament will remember him, and the Opposition pays tribute to his public service, and offers sympathy to his bereaved family.

Darling DownsTreasurer and Leader of the Country party · CP

– On behalf of the Country party, I desire to join in the expressions of appreciation of the public service rendered by Mr. Millen, and of sympathy with those whom he has left behind.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in then places.

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Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

– With regret I refer to the death in Melbourne on the 27th July of the Honorable the Reverend James Black Ronald, who was also a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament. Mr. Ronald arrived in Australia from Scotland in the year 1888. He was elected to the House of Representatives for the division then known as Southern Melbourne at the general elections of 1901. He was reelected in 1903, but was defeated at the general elections in 1906. It will be within the knowledge of many honorable members that Mr. Ronald’s public career was in some respects a stressful one. The strength of character displayed by him over a long period won for him much public support and sympathy. It is worthy of mention that one of Mr. Ronald’s sons was killed in the 1914-18 war, and that another son recently won the Distinguished Service Order with the Australian Imperial Force abroad. I move -

That this House expresses its profound regret at the death of the Honorable James Black Ronald, a former member of this House and a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.

Leader of Opposition · Fremantle

– There is nothing that I can say about Mr. Ronald’s membership of the first Parliament that does not apply to all of those who were members of that Parliament. He took a prominent part in social service in Victoria. He was a man of humane disposition and tenacious character.He sat in the first two Commonwealth Parliaments, and was afterwards, I understand, one of that little band of original members who foregathered in Melbourne each year on the anniversary of the date on which the Commonwealth Parliament was first opened. I pay a tribute to his work, and offer my sympathy to his family.

Darling DownsTreasurer and Leader of the Country party · CP

– On behalf of the Country party I desire to be associated with the motion of sympathy with those who are left to mourn the death of the Reverend Mr. Ronald.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

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Assent reported.

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Ministerial Representation in London.

Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

by leave - Honorable members are, in a broad sense, familiar with recent developments in the international field. All I desire to do to-day is to make some special mention of three zones in which we in Australia have a lively and special interest. The first is the Atlantic. Its principal feature, growing in importance every day, is the collaboration between Great Britain and the United States of America. Recently, the Prime Minister and the President had an historic meeting, in the course of which they had most valuable discussions, the full significance of which will probably only be shown in the future progress of events. They made to the world a joint declaration, the terms of which I shall read to honorable members, so that they may be incorporated in the records of this Parliament - .

First - their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other.

Second - they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressedwishes of the peoples concerned.

Third - they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live, and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.

Fourth - they will endeavour, with respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victorious or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the row materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity.

Fifth - they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic fieldwith the object of securing for all improved labour standards, economic advancement and social security.

Sixth - after the final destruction of Nazi tyranny, they hope to see the establishment of apeace which will afford all nations means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries and which will afford assurance that allthe men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.

Seventh - such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance.

Eighth - they believe that all the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea and air armament continues to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside their frontiers, they believe,pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armament.

This declaration sets out in plain language the fundamental aspirations of all the liberty-Loving peoples of the world. It is, so to speak, a declaration of human rights. Its moral effect, not only outside Europe, but also in Europe, will be enormous. It is a reminder to us that the new order for the world, of which we have from time to time spoken, is now in the making, and that the war must be regarded, not merely as a great struggle in which evil things must be overthrown, but also as something from which positively good things for men and women must emerge.

Further than this, the declaration contains its implicit warning to the Nazis and those who are united with them either in action or in spirit. As I see it, Britain and America have, though one is a belligerent and the other a neutral, entered into a great moral partnership by which theymake themselves in substance the joint champions of that way of life for which we in Australia stand. I doubt whether history affords any precedent for such an event.

Finally, it cannot be doubted that the results of the meeting will be to stimulate the supply by the United States of America to all those who are fighting the battle of freedom of those materials of war, the production of which was, at the outbreak of this combat, so far advanced in Germany and so much in arrears in the democratic world.

In the Middle East, the eastern flank of the Egyptian position has been, for the time being at least, secured by the victory in Syria achieved by mixed forces under the command of an Australian general, whilst the western flank still stands, thanks to the heroic defence of Tobruk.

Farther north, the Russian campaign is now in its ninth week, with the Germans still short of their main objectives.

It seems clear that the German time-table and strategy hare been seriously deranged. If the Russion forces can maintain their magnificent resistance for another month or two, the German invader will, by reason of weather and ground, experience even more difficulties. We must be cautious in forming estimates or making prophecies, because the German mechanized power is enormous; but we can say quite safely that already the campaign has substantially weakened the Germans’ hitting force and has so occupied Germany’s air force that widespread and successful bombing raids from Great Britain on a much greater scale than at any previous time have been rendered possible. The important thing for us is not comfortably to watch the progress of events in Russia, hut to use to the best advantage the breathing-space given to us by Russian resistance.

Honorable members will at once see that any early and extensive Russian successes in the Ukraine and south Russia generally will have a real bearing upon our own strategic position in the Middle East.

The importance of extended British raiding of Germany will appear if I say that during four nights in one recent week the Royal Air Force dropped 700 tons of high explosive and 70,000 incendiary bombs on industrial (plants and similar targets in north-west Germany, whilst in a single daylight operation against objectives near Cologne, over G00 aircraft, including fighters, were engaged.

In the Far East, the military occupation of French Indo-China by Japan has produced acute international complications. The move was regarded, both by the British Empire and the United States of America, as an unjustified act of aggression in a direction which was plainly of concern to both British and American vital interests. Countermeasures of an economic kind were therefore adopted, with substantial effects upon Japanese oversea trade. Subsequently, Japan has been in discussion with Thailand, the importance of which will be at once clear to all honorable members who glance at the map.

Whilst I do not desire to say anything that will impair the cause of peace in the

Pacific, I should be saying less than the people of this country feel if I did not point out that Australia regards Singapore and Malaya as a vital outpost of its own defence, and that whilst we are a friendly and peace-loving people, we do not propose to abandon any of our defences or avoid any sacrifice which their maintenance may render necessary.

It has been said by some spokesmen for Japan that their country is encircled by the A B C D powers - as I understand it, by the Americans, British, Chinese and Dutch. If this talk of “encirclement” is a mere reference to geographical position, then it is no better and no worse founded to-day than it was 50 years ago. But if it is intended to create the belief that the Americans, British, Chinese and Dutch are contemplating an encircling military movement against Japan, or any policy of aggression against that country, it can be said positively that this allegation is utterly untrue.

We remind Japan that it entered French Indo-China; it is Japan which has apparently formulated demands or requests to Thailand. It is Japan’s acts, not ours, that have created tension. If the tension is to be relieved as we all sincerely hope it will be, Japan has the means of relief to its own hands.

There is a long history, and indeed tradition, of friendship between Japan and Australia, but occasionally it is a good thing even for friends to talk plainly and honestly to each other.

My colleagues in the Cabinet have, as a result of recent discussions, asked me to pay another visit to London. Having regard to the balance of parties in Parliament, I have indicated that it would not be practicable for me to go abroad at present, except with the approval of all parties.

Therefore I propose to ask honorable members to attend party meetings at which the proposal can be discussed.

In the meantime, all that I need say is this: The war is characterized by extraordinarily sudden changes and developments. Less than three months have elapsed since I returned to Australia, but in that time we have seen the invasion of Russia by Germany, the conquest of Syria by British forces; the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China, with all the tension consequent upon it, and the momentous meeting between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States of America. Each of these events has a great interest and significance for Australia.

The events in Russia and the Middle East may well affect the whole strategy of the Middle Eastern zone; the occupation of French Indo-China, coupled with the subsequent discussions between Japan and Thailand are clearly of first-class importance to Singapore and Australia, to say nothing of the Netherlands East Indies. Both matters, taken together, raise questions as to the disposition, maintenance and equipment of Australian overseas armies. The meeting between the Prime Minister and the President has opened up a new vista of BritishAmerican collaboration, not only in the field of military supply but also in the economic field generally. In all these matters, it is, in the opinion of my colleagues and myself, of great importance that Australia’s voice should be directly heard in. the place in which the major decisions are inevitably made.

When I say this, I do not offer any criticism of the Prime Minister of Great Britain or of his War Cabinet. In my visit earlier in the year, I found them in the highest degree co-operative, willing to listen to the Australian view, willing to attach significance and weight to special Australian interests. But it is still true that each member of this British Commonwealth of Nations has its own method of approach ; its own point of view. The best results for the British Empire as a whole will be achieved by having matters of high war policy which concern any particular dominion discussed freely and frankly at the right place by an authoritative spokesman of that dominion. Experience has shown this, and I doubt whether anybody would deny it.

Nobody recognizes more clearly than I do the impracticability of a Prime Minister of Australia being indefinitely, or for a prolonged period, absent from his own country; but that limitation in point of time leaves the force of the general proposition quite unimpaired.

May I just add a few words about the suggestion which has been made in some quarters that an Australian Minister other than the Prime Minister, whoever the Prime Minister may be, can automatically occupy a seat in Mr Churchill’s War Cabinet. This suggestion lacks foundation. Honorable members will at once perceive that if one dominion can claim such a position as of right, so can all the dominions, and if that claim were granted the British War Cabinet would be very greatly enlarged.

In the course of the war, the British Prime Minister has made it clear that as a matter of courtesy between the selfgoverning portions of the Empire, any visiting Prime Minister will be welcomed at meetings of his War Cabinet. But there is no warrant for the belief that such a rule can be extended merely at the will of a particular dominion. I say nothing at this stage about the merits of dominions representation in the British War Cabinet. I merely point out that it is a problem as yet unsolved, the merits of which would normally no doubt be discussed at an Imperial Conference, if the holding of such a conference were practicable. If an Australian Minister who goes to London for purposes connected with the discussion of war policy and related matters is not to be a member of the War Cabinet, he will largely duplicate, without necessarily improving, the work of the High Commissioner.

In order that there may later be public discussion of this matter, if it be desired, I lay on the table the following paper : -

Recent Developments in International Affairs and proposal that Prime Minister should visit London - Ministerial Statementby the Prime Minister, 20th August, 1941. and move -

That the paper be printed.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.

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Mr. Menzies. - Yes

Mr SPEAKER (Hon W M Nairn:

– The question is -

That strangers be ordered to withdraw.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The strangers havingwithdrawn,


– I observe that senators are present. Technically, senators are strangers in this chamber, and whilst it has been the rule, as a matter of courtesy, to invite senators to remain during private sittings of the House, I should have the authority of the House to adopt that procedure again on this occasion.

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That honorable senators be invited to remain.

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– By a very old ruling of this House, members of the official reporting staff are officers of this House, and they are not covered by the resolution excluding strangers. That rule, of course, was passed in times very much different from the present; there was no war then. If I interpret the wish of the House correctly, there is no desire that the ensuing proceedings be reported, and, therefore, members of the Hansard staff need not remain in the chamber.

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -

That officers of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff withdraw.


– I am quite easy on this matter, but I want to understand what sort of a meeting we are to have. Is it to be a glorified question time, with the Prime Minister as the principal actor, or a discussion of the Prime

Minister’s statement in camera ? Whether the reporting staff should remain or not depends largely upon the answer to that question.

Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

.- by leave- What I propose is that Mr. Speaker shall suspend the sitting of the House of Representatives by leaving the chair. Then we may have a private meeting of the kind that we have had before, at which senators may be present and members and senators may discuss any of the matters covered by my statement. A joint private meeting would save time because I have made a proposal which involves consideration by the parties.Subsequently, when the House resumes its sitting, if a public debate is desired, it will be facilitated by the motion for the printing of the paper.

East Sydney

– Before we dispense with the Hansard reporters, there are one or two matters which should be satisfactorily cleared up. When we had other joint private meetings of members and senators no records were kept of the discussions ; on later occasions statements were made in the House that certain members and Ministers had said such and such at the private meetings, and those statements were contradicted. No one could establish what had, in fact, been said at those meetings. Further, if we are to listen to statements from the Prime Minister and members of the War Advisory Council, are we to have the whole of the supporting evidence placed before us ? If the Prime Minister makes a statement that a certain state of affairs exists, are we to have the whole of the documentary evidence placed before us, so that we can be in the same position as are members of the Advisory War Council to arrive at determinations? Otherwise there would be no sense in continuing this discussion. I want to know as much as possible of the evidence which is before the Government and the Advisory War Council. Having excluded strangers in order that momentous questions may be discussed and confidential matters mentioned, every member of Parliament should be in a position to examine the evidence that the Government possesses. I ask the Prime Minister whether, besides being told what Ministers want to tell us, we shall see what evidence is available ?

Mr Menzies:

– I do not think that anybody will expect me to put before all the members of the House the secret cables which have passed between the Governments.


– Why not?

Mr Menzies:

– At any rate, I do not intend to do so.


.- Is it not desired by the Prime Minister and by all members of the House and all senators that the whole of the circumstances of the recent Cabinet decision to invite the Prime Minister to go abroad should be investigated in private? We cannot deal with this matter efficiently unless we have a record of the proceedings and of statements that are made. As a member of the Advisory War Council, I consider it my duty at some stage, subject to parliamentary privilege and in camera, to disclose the facts as I believe them to be to the members of this House and senators. I do not want to be confined to statements at a party meeting. The matter is too important to be discussed merely at party meetings, yet too confidential for open debate. Certain statements have been made and reasons given by the Prime Minister to-day in open sitting. He made some statements which he does not allow us to qualify. Is there to be no opportunity at some time to deal with them?

Mr Menzies:

– Yes.


– Very well, it should be in this meeting. Is it not desirable that a record should be kept of what is said, so that everything will be there for honorable gentlemen to determine what the merits of the proposal are? I am comparatively inexperienced in this Parliament, but I do not want the position to be so managed that at the end honorable members and senators shall not have been given the facts so far as national safety permits. They ought to know the facts upon which Cabinet’s decision was reached.

Mr Menzies:

– Such facts will be given by word of mouth, not by Hansard.


– They can be given by word of mouth. If the Prime Minister agrees to the present proposal, I am content, but it would be of assistance to honorable members to have the Hansard staff present.

Leader of the Opposition · Fremantle

– I see no necessity whatever for the Hansard staff to be present, unless it is intended that the Hansard report shall be circulated to the community at large. That is the whole point. Are we to take a record for the purpose of circulating what is in it or merely for the sake of destroying it?

Dr Evatt:

– And to enable us to refer to it.


– When?

Dr Evatt:

– During this debate.


– Nothing said to-day or quoted to-day would be available to honorable members in the form of a Hansard report, until much later than to-day. By that time probably the private sittings would have terminated, and parties would be engaged in determining what they should do about the proposal that has been submitted by the Government. The only proposal is that the Prime Minister shall go abroad, and that can be discussed in public with the Hansard reporters present when the House resumes its ordinary procedure. It is very desirable that every honorable member here, who is responsible for making decisions in this matter, should be as fully equipped as possible to make those decisions on their merits. I, therefore, believe that Ministers and all honorable members who have information to impart owe it to their fellow counsellors to impart it to them. But this is a time of war, and the subjects that will be under discussion relate to the safety of the country and the relationship of this Government to other governments. In the very nature of things, it is impossible to state these matters in this place if they are to be subsequently quotable to the public at large. These matters do involve other governments as well as our own Government. They represent proposals which may be put forward for the concurrence of some other government and, if that other government did not concur, it would be utterly mischievous to ourselves to have known the fact that such proposals had been made by us. We have to exercise a sense of proportion in respect of what shall be said here and what shall be said at large. I see no occasion for Hansard to be present except for the purpose of taking such records of what is said in this place as are to be used by the people of Australia at large in judging us.

Mr Rosevear:

– How much of what is said here to-day will limit the right of honorable members to discuss the proposal publicly ?

Mr.CURTIN. - There will be no limitation except so far as an honorable member may say, “ I do not think I ought to use that as a reason for what I did”.

Mr Rosevear:

– It is a method of “gagging “ Parliament.


– I have put up with it for some time, and while this country is in danger, I shall still put up with it

Government Members. - Hear, hear!


– We have a responsibility to make a decision and in order to make that decision I hope to be fully informed. When I have to justify that decision I have to make an estimate of what I think, in the public safety, I should make known to others who query my decision. We are not babies! We have a responsibility to come to a right decision. We, not the people, are charged with the government and safety of this country. All that we can do is to discharge our duties as best we can. I quite agree that in the past a good deal has been said in private which might well have been said publicly. That may happen again on this occasion. I am quite ready for a private meeting at which Hansard will not be present.


– The points raised are rather important. We have to bear in mind that the whole of the proceedings now proposed are irregular. There is no standing order which governs them. There is no obligation on the Government to disclose at one of these private meetings or in open Parliament, anything which, in its judgment, it considers should not be disclosed. Whether these things are recorded or not, the responsibility and initiative in this matter still rest in the hands of the Government. I am not able to see what would be the use of taking a record of something which, ‘by its very nature, cannotbedivulged. I do not know what use such a record wouldbe to any honorable member. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) referred, with perhaps some justification, to certain incidents at an earlier private meeting, and I hope that there will be no more incidents of that kind; nevertheless, we cannot get away from the fact that Ministers are responsible for what they say. Naturally, in a place like this, and in secrecy, Ministers may be tempted or prompted to say things which would not be said in open debate. I cannot see the usefulness of Hansard remaining here. I am still very doubtful of the usefulness of secret meetings. They begin nowhere, go nowhere, and end nowhere, and the decisions which this country so badly needs will not be arrived at by these methods.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from3.55 to 10 p.m.

Recording of debates resumed.

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Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That strangers be admitted.

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Service Pensions - Assistance to

Russia - De-population of Country Towns - Transport Drivers - Housing of Munitions Workers at Castlemaine - Distinguished Flying Medal : Posthumous Award - Employment of Discharged Soldiers - Army Promotions - Darwin : Accommodation of Troops; Air Raid Precautions; Housing ; Town Planning - Regional Planning - Power Alcohol.: Distillation from Wheat - Moratorium for Primary Producers - Gunner Lance Carroll - Work on Waterfront: Case of Mr. Englart - War Service: Reserved Occupations - Volunteer Defence Corps.

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr.BARNARD . (Bass) [10.1].- I bring to thenotice of the Government an anomaly affecting service pensions. I have been informed : by a constituent that his service pension, which was granted to him at the old-age -pension rate, has not been varied in accordance with the recent increase ofthe old-age pension rate. He still receives only 42s. a fortnight. He wrote to the Deputy Repatriatien Commissioner in Hobart, but was informed that no increase could be allowed. As this class of pension was provided for burnt-out soldiers at the oldage pension rate, it should have been subjected to the recent adjustment of 6d. a week. I hope that the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation will bring my representations before Cabinet, and have the anomaly removed as soon as possible.


– The request is reasonable. I am sure that the Government will comply with my request, and therefore I content myself with bringing the matter to its attention.


.- I ask the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement, as early as possible, upon the amount of assistance which the Australian Government proposes to give to Russia in the common fight against Nazi tyranny. Can Australia supply Russia with any surplus products, such as wheat, wool and lamb? Have any representations been made to the British authorities in order to secure ships to transport these goods? The Government should do all that lies within, its power to help the Russian armies, which are resisting, against great odds, the invaders of their country. Has the Prime Minister been approached by the British authorities with regard to the sending of diplomatic representatives from Australia to Russia, or the opening of trade discussions with the Russian people? I shall be glad if the right honorable gentleman will supply to the House this and any other information that may be in his possession.

Mr Menzies:

– No doubt the honorable member will allow me to give such answers as I can to-morrow.

Eden Monaro

– I bring to the notice of the Government a matter of great importance, not only to my electorate, but also to every other rural electorate in Australia - the effect of war-time activities upon country towns. These towns have suffered considerably owing to the loss of many young men who have either enlisted in the armed forces or improved their lot by moving to the cities and undertaking munition and other wartime work. This problem should be viewed seriously. I have seen shop after shop vacated in country towns. In Queanbeyan, in my electorate, there are about 80 empty houses. In one town which I visited a fortnight ago there were 30 or 40 empty shops. The man-power of these places has been drained into the cities. Some people consider that this movement of population is inevitable in war-time. I disagree with them. The Government could do a great deal more than it has done in order to help rural communities by encouraging the establishment of small industries. The Man-power and Resources Survey Committee is considering this problem, but the collation of evidence and the preparation of reports is a slow process. By allowing the drift to the cities to continue, the Government is creating difficulties that must be overcome after the war. When peace returns we shall have great difficulty in bringing our young men back to the country. Before then they will become city-minded and will grow to like the bright lights. There has been much talk about this problem ; the time for action is long overdue. For the last twelve months the Government has been promising to establish a munitions factory in- Goulburn, the “fourth most populous town, in New South Wales. It has great industrial facilities and plenty of homes are available there for workers. Nevertheless, the plan has not gone beyond the stage’ of discussion, although T have consulted Ministers and written letters to them on the subject. In the meantime Goulburn, and many other country towns, are suffering from economic starvation. I speak for the whole of Australia. As a member of the Parliamentary Committee on the Apple and Pear Industry I have travelled widely in recent months, and I have seen the devastation caused in country towns by the departure of their young men. We want to win this war, but we are neglecting to take precautions against conditions that will cause us trouble when we have gained victory. In Melbourne recently I saw evidence of the severe shortage of homes for munition workers. The same problem exists in Adelaide and other cities where our munition industries are concentrated. But still the Government encourages outvoting men to desert their homes in the country. In company with a number of honorable members opposite I visited Russia a few years ago. Even then the Russians had realized the danger of concentrating their important industries in Moscow and Leningrad. They planned to build their factories in remote areas. It is obvious now that they followed the right course. If the Germans capture Leningrad and Moscow they will not have captured industrial Russia. That country will still be able to live on its resources in the rural districts. A different state of affairs exists in Australia. A few bombs dropped on ‘Sydney and Melbourne could blow our key industries to glory. Something should be done to safeguard the nation and, at the same time, to help our country towns. The Government should not wait to receive the full report of the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee before it takes action. Scores of towns throughout Australia are in need of assistance. “We cannot help every one of them, but we can keep the people country-minded, and give the best of our country centres a chance to flourish and develop when the war is ended. If the Government takes the right steps now, it will have less troubles to face when the war is ended.


.- I direct attention to several matters that are exercising the minds of some of my constituents. I refer first to the treatment that has been meted out to certain members of the armed forces who are serving as transport drivers. Last December I wrote to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) on this subject, and I have written to him upon it on at least three occasions since then.

Mr Paterson:

– T also have written to him on it.


– I have received acknowledgments of my letters, and have been informed that a decision on the subject would be made as soon as possible, of which I would be notified. I have not yet received word of any decision. From December to August is a long time for a matter like this to be under consideration.

These transport drivers believe that they were promised an additional ls. a day or that, at least, a promise to that effect was implied. The matter is urgent and I hope that the Minister for the Army will make a decision on it forthwith.

The next subject to which I refer concerns the urgent need for additional housing for persons employed in munitions works at ‘Castlemaine, Victoria. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) sent an officer to Castlemaine to make a report on the subject. At present the munitions workers in that very old town are living under housing conditions that are totally unsatisfactory. I know that housing is a vital question in the Maribyrnong district, but it is not less urgent at Castlemaine, where many of the houses are old and dilapidated. The need may be even greater at Castlemaine. I ask the Minister to make available to me the report of his officer on this subject. The need for prompt action is acute, and I request immediate attention to the subject.


.- Honorable members may have seen in the press last week reports to the effect that an Australian air gunner serving in a British squadron was mortally wounded while taking an important part in an air action and did not disclose how dangerously he was injured. He died after landing. He was a member of an air crew trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme. It was reported that he was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Medal. The award was not granted, however, because the medal is not awarded posthumously. The Victoria Cross, as honorable members are aware, is awarded posthumously. I ask the Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen) whether he will make representations to the British authorities with the object of removing the limitation on the award of the medal so that the relatives of men who die after having earned the decoration may have what extra consolation a posthumous award may give.

East Sydney

.- I support the request of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) that military transport drivers shall have restored to them the specialist rate of pay of which they were recently deprived. The honorable gentleman said that there had been an implied undertaking that this specialist rate would be paid. As a matter of fact many transport drivers were receiving the extra ls. a day, but it was subsequently taken from them. I know of men working at the transport depot, Addison-road, Sydney, who were receiving the extra shilling and were afterwards deprived of it. This caused great dissatisfaction, as well may be understood. From inquiries I have made, I have learned that transport drivers in the Royal Australian Air Force have been receiving the extra amount for some time. I hope that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) will see that military transport drivers are granted this specialist rate to which they consider they are entitled.

Another important subject which requires urgent consideration from the Government is the re-absorption into industry of many men who had been discharged from the Army. These men enlisted but, through no fault of their own, did not leave Australia. They were received as medically fit and were afterwards discharged as medically unfit. The Repatriation Department will not even register them for employment on the ground that it has to deal only with men who had been abroad and had received a satisfactory discharge. Some of the men to whom I refer were kept in camp for twelve months or more before being discharged. They were willing to go abroad and expected to do so.

Dissatisfaction is also increasing on account of the treatment that some exsoldiers who have returned from this war have received from the military authorities. The practice is to grant them sustenance for a period of three months - I speak subject to correction as to the term - and, if they have not been found employment by the expiry of their sustenance period, to advise them to register at the State labour bureaux. Any honorable member who has had experience of State labour bureaux in the last few years will know that many thousands of registered men have been waiting for years for employment and have not been able to obtain it. It is remarkable that a Government which makes so many statements about the necessity to employ all the labour available in connexion with the life and death struggle in which the nation is engaged should allow any manpower to remain unused. In fact, people who are unemployed are not even granted proper sustenance although, according to press advertisements, we must “ fight the enemy in the kitchen “, and eat as much lamb, fruit and dairy produce as possible. The present position is anomalous and the Government should correct it at once. It is not possible for me to give the names of my informants on these matters, for members of the Defence Forces are not permitted to approach members of Parliament on such subjects ; but the Government may take it for granted that complaints of this nature, which members of the Opposition bring under notice in this House, are based on information furnished by members and exmembers of the fighting forces. In my opinion, it is quite wrong that the members of the forces should be liable to punishment if they approach members of Parliament on such matters. The proper thing for them to do is surely to bring their grievances to the attention of their parliamentary representatives.

Another subject which calls loudly for attention is the method by which promotions are made in the Army. This is causing grave discontent in Sydney and, I have no doubt, in other capital cities and elsewhere in Australia. We hear in Sydney about “social pets” being shepherded into “ Romano’s “ or “ the Prince’s Own “ or some other fancy regiment. These social pets are then sent to various military schools, where they receive some training. Afterwards they are sent out as officers, taking precedence over men who have had years of practical experience in the military service. The system is all wrong. I do not know what the present position is, but at the outbreak of the war an instruction given was that no man over the age of 27 years was to be granted a commission. The result of that instruction was that men who served in the last war and were comparatively young when the war ended, have been denied promotion to commissioned rank. As these men not only served in the last war but also joined up with our Militia Forces in a voluntary capacity years ago and maintained constant touch with military activities, it is most unfair that they should be superseded by carefully selected social darlings who have joined the fighting services within the last few months. The whole procedure is causing dissatisfaction and rightly so. It would cause dissatisfaction anywhere. The entire administration of these matters is faulty. A few days ago I read in the press that an officer returning from Darwin had said that the men there were enthusiastic and happy, but I, and no doubt many other honorable members of this Parliament, have received letters from members of the forces in Darwin, complaining of the conditions, and claiming that accommodation and the food are not everything that could be desired. I realize that at times difficulties arise for which nobody can be held directly responsible, but it is the duty of the military authorities and the Government to remove as quickly as possible any cause for complaint among our troops in the northern areas. I bring these matters under the notice of the Minister hoping that he will give to them his immediate attention. We do not know how infrequently Parliament will meet and these matters are urgent.

Northern Territory

– I should like to direct attention once .again to a matter which I raised in this House more than a year ago, namely, air raid precautions in Darwin. I have been prompted to bring this matter under notice at this stage because there is now a Minister for Home Security. The Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) will recall that last session he promised that Darwin would not be forgotten in the Estimates. When that assurance was given, I imagined that adequate money would he made available for the provision of air raid precaution shelters in Darwin, which is admirably suited for tunnelling because the land rises sharply to 100 feet above sea-level, but the last paper which I have received from Darwin reveals that there is considerable dissatisfaction there. Although blackouts are being imposed at regular intervals there is not sufficient money available to carry out all the air raid precaution work that is necessary. It must be remembered that unlike other Australian cities, Darwin is on the edge of the foreign world. Apparently, some honorable members have a poorly developed geographical sense. I consider that it is a matter of grave urgency that money should be made available immediately for this important work-

I am glad to see that the report of the city planner of Brisbane, Mr. Mclnnis, on the town planning of Darwin has already been bound - I obtained a copy to-day from the secretary of the Department of the Interior (Mr. Carrodus) - but I regret that there has been apathy on the part of the Government towards providing money to implement the recommendations contained in that report. Mr. Mclnnis is one of the few people in this country who have the distinction of being a member of the Town Planning Institute of London. When I saw Mr. Mclnnis recently, he said that he wished to thank all officers of the department who had assisted him, but as there was no town council in Darwin, he did not expect that anything would be done. I urge that the old Darwin town council be reconstituted so that civic pride may be engendered and planning carried out in that town which is the gateway to Australia. No doubt honorable members read in the Sydney Daily Telegraph last week a scathing indictment of workers’ housing conditions in Darwin written by a man named Eager. His view strongly supports a speech made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) shortly after he relinquished the post of Minister for the Interior, deploring the lack of a housing scheme for Darwin on the lines of schemes operating in the States. I admit that government officials in Darwin are well housed and well catered for. but we have been remiss in providing houses for people on the lower rungs of the social ladder.

Obviously, a town-planning scheme is something which cannot be undertaken and completed immediately, but at least a start should be made on the civic square. Unless the Government takes that plan seriously, nothing can be done. Planned development is handicapped because no town council exists, and I urge the reconstitution of the old body as the first step. My remarks to-night were inspired by a statement by the honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) which appeared in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald. I am pleased to see that Dr. Evatt is another man in this House who is not afraid to use the word “planning”. There is some hope that my dream of a national planning authority will come true.When I first mentioned the word “planning” in this chamber, I was looked upon as a Communist. I have in front of me a volume entitled Town Planning for Australia, by George A. Taylor. In the Library there is a considerable quantity of literature on town planning, chiefly American, I admit, but it puts the whole case, and honorable members would be well advised to study it. It emanates mainly from the National Resources Committee of America, and it should be the Bible for planning in this country.

The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Perkins) struck a note which I have been sounding for three or four years, namely, that light industries should be established in country districts. Before the war, I brought this matter under the notice of the then Treasurer (Mr. Casey), as did several other honorable members. Mr. Casey said “ How can it be done? There is no money available “. Since the war started there has been plenty of money available, but not one thought has been given to the planning of the country scientifically, and region by region, so that our light industries would not be eventually congregated entirely in the capital cities. That problem finally gets back to the national planning of the whole country in regions. We must be regionalists, and plan along the lines which I was the first to advocate in this House. Now my views have been supported by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and by the honorable member for Barton. If I have an opportunity to-morrow, I shall elaborate upon these matters, and shall quote from one of the leading authorities in the United States of America, Charles K. Merriman, a member of the NationalResources Committee. We planners know that nothing can be done in the direction of national planning until the fingers of this Government are bitten by the economists who have been chosen to guide our planning. It is not the function of economists to plan ; they are the stumbling block to-day. That is essentially the functions of scientific persons - engineers, surveyors, architects, town-planners and sciologists. At least seven persons are needed to make a true cross-section of the people’s interests. I welcome the published remarks of the honorable member for Barton, and those voiced this evening by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. I trust that real planning will be the vogue in this Parliament, and that a truly economic survey will be made of our continent, with a view to our becoming thoroughly acquainted with its natural resources and utilizing them in such a way that they will meet the needs of a much larger population than we now have, in particular those of the members of the Australian Imperial Force who return from abroad ; for, believe me, they are going to control the destinies of this nation, and it is our duty to plan for them.


.- 1 enter an emphatic protest against the treatment that is being meted out to soldiers who have returned from the present war. In Brisbane to-day are men who have been invalided back to Australia. I have in mind a married man who relinquished his position in order to enlist. He was in camp in Australia for seven months before he was sent overseas, and reached the rank of sergeant in the 2nd Field Company. He was abroad for five months, for a considerable portion of which period he was in hospital, and was then returned to Australia as medically unfit. He applied for a pension, but the Repatriation Department refused to grant it. He was given sustenance for himself, his wife, and three children for a fortnight, and was then offered a job at the Stanley River dam with the hammer and gads, work which would severely tax the capacity of a man in the best physical condition. After two days, he collapsed, and was returned to hospital in Brisbane. He again applied for a pension, but it was refused a second time. I took up the matter with the Repatriation Department, and was advised that his condition was not attributable to, or aggravated by, his military service; yet before going overseas he was examined by two medical officers attached to the Repatriation Department, and was also X-rayed! He may have had some disability which had lain dormant for a number of years; but surely it cannot be argued that a recurrence of the complaint is not attributable to, or aggravated by, his war service! When a man is prepared to make the sacrifice of serving his country overseas, and is returned to Australia because of illness caused through no fault of his own, surely it is not too much to ask that he be given a war pension ! The promise made in the last war, that this country would be fit for heroes to live in at the termination of the struggle, is once again being made; yet men invalided back to Australia are being denied a pension. Can we wonder why the Department of the Army is not getting the number of recruits desired? The refusal of pensions to men who have made great sacrifices, which have resulted in their being unfit to resume their former occupations in this country, must tend to induce young men to refrain from volunteering for service overseas. It is time that the Government saw that any man who has been sent overseas in the interests of his country, after having been pronounced fit as the result of a thorough medical examination, is given a war pension, in circumstances such as I have described.


.- 1 draw the attention of the Government to the proposal to establish distilleries for the distillation of power alcohol from wheat. I understand that the Department of Supply, or a committee acting under its authority, has decided that a distillery with a capacity of 3,000,000 gallons shall be established in each of the four major wheat-growing States. Investigations that I have made convince me that it would be possible to erect a larger number of distilleries, each with a capacity of 1,000,000 gallons. I therefore suggest that the Government consider seriously the establishment of three such distilleries in each of the major wheatgrowing States. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) has argued in favour of the establishment of war industries in country districts, in order to obviate the centralization of our manufacturing resources along the coastline. The establishment of three distilleries in New South Wales, and each of the other major wheat-growing States, would be a more economical proposition, and would still the clamour of different wheat-growing centres in the respective States. The existing tension would thus be eased in the north-west, the central west, and the southern divisions of New South Wales. Furthermore, the heavy demand for water supply, which would be made by a distillery with a capacity of 3,000,000 gallons, would be reduced by at least one-third. My electorate possesses every facility needed - for example, coal, electric light, and water - yet, I understand that, should there be only one distillery in New South Wale3, that great north-western wheat-growing area would have very little chance of securing it. Power alcohol having been manufactured, it could be distributed far more economically if my suggestion were adopted. I urge the Government, before a final decision is made, to investigate the possibility of following my advice, thus appeasing those interests which are clamouring for the establishment of distilleries in different parts of the States.

Minister for Air · Indi · CP

– I am not familiar with the circumstances of the case to which the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has referred, but it has been reported in the press that a young Australian airman lost his life recently, in operational services with the Royal Air Force, in circumstances of exceptional gallantry. It was reported that, before he died, he was recommended for an honour. I believe that it was the Distinguished Flying Medal. I am not aware whether such honours may be awarded posthumously, but I shall take the matter up, and make recommendations, if necessary, along the lines suggested by the honorable member.


.- We have heard a good deal about the new order that will emerge from the present titanic struggle. I am pleased to notice that the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) is in charge of the House at the moment, as I desire to make an appeal on behalf of men who are struggling in the rural industries. I refer particularly to sheepgrowers, wool-producers, cattle-raisers, fruit-growers, dairymen and wheatgrowers. I propose to read extracts from a letter which is a sample of dozens of letters that every member who represents a rural electorate gets. This letter, which was addressed to me, is dated the 28th July, and states -

I take the liberty to write to you, sir, in support of the proposed inauguration of a general federal moratorium. In doing so, I beg to submit particulars of my own case and that of my neighbour. I am a grazier with a life’s experience on the land. I came out here with a family of four in 1928 from New South Wales. I had previously drawn a block of 16,700 acres, in 1925, and shortly after bought sheep and started wool and sheep raising. The country was virgin and heavily timbered and pear infested, with no improvements except being half enclosed with fencing. In 1927 I erected a house, wool shed, and yards, and subdivided and completed the 14 miles of dog and rabbit fence. The first two years, 1927 to 1928, I made a profit.

The local bank manager then induced me to mortgage the property to buy more sheep, which I purchased at a cost of 21s. a head, in 1928. The first clip from these sheep and those I already had struck the wool slump in 1929, and for the following ten years there were only three years that wool reached a payable price. This was accompanied by droughts, epidemics, and the failure of the artesian bore to supply water I was depending on. I then had to borrow £500 to put down three tanks. This was borrowed from the Lands Department, not from the bank.

Since the British wool purchase scheme started . I have shown a profit and pulled round. I have improvements to the value of between £4,500 and £5,000 and 3,000 sheep. I myself, and my wife, son and two daughters have all worked on most economical lines and most efficiently. I forgot to mention that three of us worked on the pear poisoning for three years before the advent of cactoblastis. The bank’s security has never been jeopardized. Shortly after war was declared the bank gave me notice of foreclosure.

In many other cases the private banks gave notices of foreclosure as soon as war was declared. The letter continues -

I was forced, at great expense, to go to Brisbane twice to engage a solicitor and counsel to defend my case, &c, under the Mortgagors’ Relief Act. As a result, there have been two Supreme Court hearings of the case, and the matter now stands adjourned until the 9th October. The other day my solicitor wrote and said I had exhausted my rights under the act, and that I am only protected up to the time of the next hearing. I am quite at a loss to know why. Although the judge stopped the bank taking my place, he ordered me to advertise it at £5,300, a ridiculously deflated price. In 1940, my property was valued by the country valuer of the Primaries’ Wool Firm at £8,390, hence, if my place is sold at £5,300, I shall be a heavy loser and get nothing out of it.

It is apparent to me, by this result of my case, that the Mortgagors’ Relief Act is not any use at all, and is all in favour of the big man (the financial institutions). My debt to the bank, mostly accrued interest, is about £3,700; thus, they had a long way to go before their security was endangered. My clip, in December next, I expect to realize £1,000, and that will then reduce my liability. I shall then have a further increase of approximately 500 or 600lambs. In short,I am being butchered in cold blood, with the shadow of foreclosure hanging over me. This bushranging onslaught by the bank will deprive me, my wife, son and two daughters of a living and a home, and force us off with nothing.”

Such treatment is comparable with the days of Pharaoh and out of step with the supposed regime of justice and security. We, as Britishers, expect better than what we are getting from a judicial tribunal permeated with city influences and prejudices. All we ask for is justice and security. It is farcical to hear cases like this on affidavits and with closed doors. I contend that the only way we can get a fair deal is through a general moratorium for rural as well as secondary industries.

There was no justification for the bank’s onslaught, as the revenue from wool and agistment has kept the place going right through the depression and has paid all yearly interest, rates, wages, netting and loan charges, but they are not satisfied with the 8 per cent. interest I paid at the start and 6 per cent, now - no, they want the property as well to hand over to some favoured client. My solicitor told me that there were hundreds of cases such as mine going through the Brisbane courts (with closed doors), hence, the public and press know nothing of this. A fellow grazier who drew his 15,000-acre block the same day as I drew mine has gone through the same vicissitudes as myself and has been harassed by his bankers and forced to put his place on the market for a quarter of its value, but, in the absence of finance and want of confidence, and owing to the financial crisis, there are no buyers. He has now enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He has a wife and three young children. Surely such cases as these should be protected by a general federal moratorium.

The position of the writer of that letter is typical of that of scores of others who are struggling on the land to-day. The banks are merely foreclosing, and if they get what is owing to them they are quite satisfied. I appeal to the Treasurer to do all in his power to provide some relief for these unfortunate men. If there is one section of the community which needs protection more than another, it is the primary producers. I hope that my appeal will not fall on deaf ears. I suggest that a moratorium under the National Security Act should be put into operation as soon as possible.

PostmasterGeneral · Hume · CP

.- I shall be pleased to bring under the notice of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) the remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) concerning town-planning matters at Darwin, which I know has been a subject dear to the honorable member’s heart ever since he has represented that electorate. I hope that even if the commission appointed for that purpose is not functioning at the present time, a tribunal will be set up that will put into effect a necessary town-planning scheme for Darwin. I trust that when the honorable member for the Northern Territory is happily able to relinquish his military uniform, and return once more to civil life, the work that will by then have been done in Darwin will command even his admiration.


– I desire to make an appeal to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) on behalf of a universal trainee, Gunner Lance Carroll, serving with the 9 th Field Regiment. He is a student in accountancy about to sit for his final examinations. I understand from his father, who is a school-teacher, that he is a very able student. At his father’s request I made application to have Gunner Carroll transferred from the unit with which he was serving to the District Finance Office. The finance officer informed me that Gunner Carroll, and any other accountancy students, would be welcome additions to his staff. However, the adjutant of the 9th Field Regiment said that Gunner Carroll could not be released, because, in his opinion, he was a key man. This is what the adjutant wrote to me in reference to the application : -

Re Gunner Carroll

The Commanding Officer has considered the transfer of the above gunner and regrets he is unable to accede to your request as Carroll is a key man in this unit’s organization. (Sgd.) R. G. Styles, Ag. 9th Fd. Rgt.

After that, I had a conversation with Carroll and his father, and found that the duties upon which this supposedly key man was employed were such as any one else in the unit might well have been able to do. In a letter to the adjutant, I referred to the matter in these words -

To say that he was a key man was absurd for the following reasons: -

1 ) He is supposed to be a key man of wireless signallers; he has no stripes and juniors have been promoted, but not Carroll.

He has done no wireless work for a fortnight (with exception of one day only ) . Others can easily do the work.

He has been employed in cutting wood.

Unloading gravel.

Guard duty.

Mess orderly.

Detailed to burn putrid rubbish.


– Yes, it was accepted as true.

Mr Rankin:

– Why shouldn’t he take his share of fatigues?


– He would be rendering far better service if engaged in the work to which he is accustomed. This regiment is commanded by LieutenantColonel Anderson, the brother-in-law of Sir Bertram Stevens. It will be remembered that he enjoyed very rapid promotion. It was he who recommended the dismissal from the Army of three subalterns, mainly because they were alleged to be fraternizing too much with the men. Representations were made to the Minister, and the men were re-instated. I do not know whether the Minister is satisfied with this man, who, I understand has taken the stand that he will not accede to any requests made to him through a member of Parliament; indeed, he regards it as “like their hide” to trespass on his domain. It would be a good thing if a regulation were drafted to protect those persons in the Army who make representations through their federal members.

Mr Spender:

– Whilst I do not encourage persons in the Army to make direct approach to me, or to their Parliamentary representatives, I have never permitted any one to be penalized for doing so.


– Well, these three men who approached the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) and myself have definitely been victimized since they rejoined the Army. They were not restored to their seniority as was promised, and other men have been promoted over their heads. I again remind the Minister that some men in the forces are being employed on work to which they are not accustomed, while there is other work to be done upon which they could give better service. This position could be remedied by a simple administrative act.

Recently, a gentleman by the name of Englart, a waterside worker in Brisbane, had hia licence under the National Security Act withdrawn. Some comment was made on it in Parliament, and the case was heard before an appeal tribunal. This man is a returned soldier with a wife and seven children, so it can he easily understood that he was not likely to have much money to spare. Nevertheless, counsel who was examining him before the tribunal asked him, among other things, how many war savings certificates he had purchased, this being regarded, evidently, as a test of his loyalty. He was also asked whether he had seen a procession of soldiers passing down the street, and when he said that he had, he was asked quickly, “Did you cheer?” What kind of mentality is possessed by counsel who asks questions of that kind, or by the members of the tribunal who listen gravely and determine, according to the replies to such questions, whether a man shall have a licence to earn his living? It is disgraceful that such things should happen, and an investigation is called for. I implore the Minister for the Army to investigate the matters which I have mentioned, and I hope that he will be able to bring order out of the chaos at present associated with universal military training.


.- Is the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) in a position to announce when a revised list of reserved occupations will be issued ? I understand that a special committee has been investigating this matter for some time. It has been suggested that the existing list of reserved occupations has been based on the British precedent rather than on Aus tralian necessities, and that the basis hu not been in the best interest of reinforcing our troops overseas. I realize that a thorough investigation is not an easy task, but I hope that the Minister will soon be able to announce when the revised list is to be made public.


.- There is a good deal of discontent among members of the Volunteer Defence Corps in this country, particularly in New South Wales. Many of these men are of the opinion that their services are not wanted. In some units consisting of about 150 men only three or four rifles are available. This is a serious matter. Some of these men travel up to 15 or 20 miles on bicycles in order to undergo training. I recently interviewed some of them who held high rank in the last war, and they are becoming dissatisfied. They are anxious to secure uniforms, but their chief concern is in respect of rifles. I believe that there are thousands of rifles in this country in the possession of private individuals.

Mr Spender:

– I have impressed all rifles of .303 calibre which are held by private individuals.


– I am glad to hear that. It may be that men for home defence will be as necessary as are men for service overseas, although I hope that that will not be so.

I agree with the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) that instead of establishing one distillery in each State for the production of power alcohol from wheat, it would be better to have three distilleries in each State. In New South Wales, distilleries could be established in the north-west, the central west, and the southern districts. The establishment of power alcohol distilleries in these districts would enable a more equitable distribution of power alcohol to be made when manufactured. There will be great dissatisfaction throughout the country if only one distillery is set up in each State. If the production of power alcohol were spread in this way, some of the difficulties associated with water supplies for the purpose would be diminished. The establishment of distilleries should bear some ratio to the amount of wheat available and the quantity of power alcohol to be consumed. I ask the Minister to give this matter further consideration before it is finally decided to establish only one distillery in each State. It is distressing to gee producers being driven off their properties at such a time as the present. We are in danger of losing the very things for which we are fighting. I support the appeal by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker) for a moratorium that will enable farmers, graziers and others, who are in debt, to remain on the land.

Minister for the Army · Warringah · UAP

– The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) referred to the treatment of members of the Volunteer Defence Corps. These men fill an important place in Australia’s defence scheme, and no one realizes more than I do the difficulties under which they work. I have endeavoured to assist them by authorizing Militia units to make available to them certain equipment wherever possible. I have also endeavoured to arrange for a number of officers of the Volunteer Defence Corps to attend command schools for purposes of instruction. Moreover, I have encouraged the taking into camp with Militia units of members of the Volunteer Defence Corps so that they can have direct training with such units and ako have access to equipment. The problems associated with these men have not been lost sight of, but the honorable member for Riverina will realize that until further equipment comes forward, I cannot do more than encourage these men to continue with their tactical exercises, despite the difficulties associated with lack of equipment. Recently, I issued an order for the impressment of all .303 rifles held by private individuals. That order should overcome the - difficulty in some degree. I am not at liberty to say how many rifles we are producing in this country, or the number of men who are going overseas, but the problem is a very real one. The production of rifles is being accelerated, as indeed is the production of munitions generally, and it is hoped that the present position will soon be remedied. As to uniforms for these men, I announced recently that uniforms should commence to become available from about the” beginning of October. I assure the honorable member that I have at all times been sympathetic with the claims of the Volunteer Defence Corps, because I realize that its members will discharge important functions in the event of certain contingencies arising.

Mr Pollard:

– Does the Minister think that the issue of uniforms to these men is justified?


– I do. These men are part of the Army organization.

Mr Pollard:

– I am a member of the Volunteer Defence Corps, and I know that many of the men associated with that body regard the issue of uniforms as a waste of money.


– That ie not the view of the men generally, and it is not my view. These men are members of the Army, and they should be recognized as such by being clothed in a proper uniform.

The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked when I expected to be able to announce a revised list of reserved occupations. This is a matter which normally comes under the Department of Labour and National Service. A special Man-power and Resources Committee on which the Services are represented has considered it. It is true that, the present list is based on the English system, as it was thought that that system could be adapted to the needs of this country. Experience has shown, however, that a large number of occupations should not come within the category of reserved occupations. This is a matter which bears on the problem of enlistment. I shall ascertain when an announcement on the subject can be made.

Replying to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), I do not know the details of the case of Gunner Carroll, but I shall examine them and come to a decision upon it. Regarding the general problem, the fact has been revealed to me that since the Department of the Army has been calling up universal trainees many devices have been resorted to by eligible men in order to avoid active military training. For example, persons who are supposed to be studying accountancy enter upon a. business course for which they pay five guineas for the year. They then claim that, being students of accountancy, they should be exempted or given clerical positions. Of course, I do not assert that this is applicable to Gunner Carroll.

Mr Falstein:

– He has been an articled clerk.


– The District Finance Officer may require the man. If he were discharging the duties which have been enumerated by the honorable member, I should say offhand that his proper place is where his services can be best utilized. However, the claims of the Army, which are for fighting men, are paramount. In my view, the Army must have priority. However, I shall examine the matter and convey my decision to the honorable member.

I regret that the honorable member referred to the Englart case, because I do not think that a mere scrappy reference to what cross-examining counsel said can truly reflect upon the tribunal or sufficiently test the method of crossexamination. I do not justify the crossexamination, which on the question referred to was puerile; but then, many counsel have engaged in cross-examination which I regarded as puerile. That, however, does not affect the efficacy of the legal system under which we are working. The same comment will apply to the remarks of the honorable member.

Mr Falstein:

– That cross examination was by counsel for the Crown.


– I am aware of that; I agree that it leads nowhere as affecting national security, to ask such questions.

Mr Falstein:

– Those questions are commonly asked before the tribunal.


– That may be so, but one finds that in cross-examining, counsel have an almost stereotyped approach. One as limited by the nature of the counsel available. It does not reflect upon the tribunal, which consists of Mr. Justice Phillips (chairman), a former judge of the Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Henchman, and another. Irrespective of what crossexamination may be indulged in, those gentlemen are able to sift and weigh the evidence.

I am glad that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) acknowledged the difficulties of the position at Darwin. Whilst no one would say that Darwin is the best station to which troops could be sent, the honorable mem ber will recollect that, at the end of February, a state of tension existed. Accordingly, the Government decided to despatch to Darwin certain men of the Eighth Division. We were confronted with the major problem of providing accommodation quickly, and at present the troops are accommodated in tented lines. To meet the wet months, I have already issued instructions, which are in the course of implementation!, to have pre-fabricated huts sent there. It is hoped and expected that, by the commencement of the wet season, the men will be accommodated in those huts, which will protect them from the weather. From time to time, I have made statements about the steps which are being taken to meet problems arising from diet conditions. First, this matter depends upon the transport available. In certain months, we can bring over the desert road supplies of fresh vegetables; but failing that, our efforts are restricted by shipping and refrigeration space. On the Adelaide River, we recently established a market garden which to date has proved satisfactory. The Director-General of Medical Services has kept a careful watch over the health of the men. Sickness among the troops at Darwin is only 2.5 per cent., compared with the normal rate in the tropical areas of 3 per cent. I have taken the opportunity to discuss conditions with men from the ranks who returned from Darwin recently. Whilst they agree that those conditions are not the best, I am glad to be able to say that they made no complaints, but considered that they were getting, in view of all the circumstances, a fair deal.

The treatment of returned soldiers is normally the responsibility of the Department of Repatriation, but it directly affects the Department of the Army because, to the extent to which returned men are not given a fair deal, my ability to obtain recruits is prejudiced. I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Repatriation in order to see to what extent and how quickly relief can be given to appropriate cases.

The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) referred to the necessity for granting special allowances to transport drivers. I have no explanation for the lengthy period that my department has taken to arrive at a decision, but I shall endeavour to reach one this week.

Darling DownsTreasurer · CP

– The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) and the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry), as enthusiastic representatives of wheat-growing districts, advanced a claim for the establishment of power alcohol distilleries in their electorates. They are not the only members representing wheat-growing constituencies who consider that their districts have prior claims. The Power Alcohol Committee was the most efficient body that the Government could secure to examine the ramifications of this complex problem, and, acting upon its report, the Government decided to establish distilleries, paying full regard to all conditions, with particular attention to the economics of the proposal. Whilst honorable members may contend that the production of 8,000,000 gallons of power alcohol should be divided among three or six distilleries, the economics of the position require that the conversion of wheat into liquid fuel shall be effected with a minimum of cost. The committee, in its wisdom, considered that the greatest possible economy could be achieved by the concentration of the production of the 3,000,000 gallons in one distillery unit. However, the representations of the honorable members will be brought to the notice of the Minister for Supply (Senator McLeay).

The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker) and the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) recommended the introduction of a general moratorium. Considered superficially, such a measure appears simple, but the Government has not neglected this important subject. The Finance and Economic Committee, which advises Cabinet upon such subjects, considered that the time is not opportune for a general moratorium, and that much harm would be done to our internal and external economy by its application at this stage. If honorable members will bring to my notice specific cases of hardship or lack of consideration on the part of the banks which are unduly pressing their clients, the matter will be thoroughly investigated and expeditious remedies will be provided.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 26


The following papers were presented : -

National Security Act -National Security (Prices) Regulations -

Declarations Nos. 52-62.

Declaration (Papua) Nos. 4-5.

Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 181.

Arbitration (Public Service) Act- Determinations by the Arbitrator,&c. - 1941 -

No. 16 - Amalgamated Engineering Union.

No. 17 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service; and Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.

No. 18 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.

No. 19 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union ; and Australasian Society of Engineers.

No. 20 - Amalgamated Engineering Union; Australasian Society of Engineers ; Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen; Australian Workers’ Union; Boilermakers’ Society of Australia; and Electrical Trades Union of Australia.

Canberra University College - Report for 1940.

Child Endowment Act - Regulations - Statu tory Rules 1941, No. 180.

Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -

Civil Aviation - N. H. Cranstoun, A. F. Ison, J. Shaw.

Labour and National Service - T. C. Graham.

Customs Act - Proclamations prohibiting the Exportation (except under certain conditions) of -

Beeswax: Calcium Silicide (dated 2nd July, 1941).

Rubber Tyres and Tubes, used; Rubber Waste (dated 2nd July, 1941).

Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 153, 154, 155, 163, 165, 166.

Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 152.

Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act- Return for year 1940-41.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired - For Defence purposes -

Albany, Western Australia.

Balmoral, New South Wales.

Bankstown, New South Wales.

Braybrook, Victoria.

Busselton, Western Australia.

Carnarvon, Western Australia.

Cunderdin, Western Australia.

Greta, New South Wales.

Maribyrnong, Victoria.

Orange, New South Wales.

Parkes (near), New South Wales (2).

Pat’s River, Flinders Island, Tasmania.

Pontville, Tasmania.

Queenscliff, Victoria.

Rocklea, Queensland.

Swanbonrne, Western Australia.

Townsville, Queensland.

Villawood, New South Wales.

Williamtown, New South Wales.

For Postal purposes -

Irvinobonk, Queensland.

Melbourne, Victoria.

Motor Industry Bounty Act - Return for year 1940-41.

Motor Vehicle Engine Bounty Act- Return for year 1940-41.

National Security Act -

National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations- Order - Aliens Restriction (Fishing Vessels and other Small Craft).

National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -

Control of lights.

Control of Overseas Communications (otherwise than by post).

Control of Overseas Postal Communications (No. 1).

Control of Overseas Postal Communications (Prisoners of War) (2).

Inventions and designs (173).

Prohibited place and protected area.

Prohibited places (22).

Prohibiting work on land (3).

Protected area.

Taking possession of land, &c. (65).

Use of land (21).

National Security (Medical Co-ordination and Equipment) Regulations- Order - Control of Medical Equipment (No.1 ) .

National Security (Prices) Regulations -

Orders Nos. 327-417.

Orders (Papua) Nos. 5-9.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 148, 147, 149, 150, 151, 159, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 178, 177, 178, 179, 184, 185, 186, 188, 190, 194, 195.

Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules, 1941, No. 187.

Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 128, 129, 143, 164.

New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1941 -

No.1 - Forsayth Prize Fund Trust.

No. 2 - Motor Traffic.

No. 3 - Limitation (Emergency Provisions).

No. 4 - Workers’ Compensation.

No. 6 - Appropriation (No. 2) 1940-1941.

No. 7 - Customs.

No. 8 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

No. 9 - Mortgagors’ Relief.

No. 10 - Police Offences.

No.11 - Stamp Duties.

No. 12- Supply 1941-1942.

No. 13 - Customs Tariff.

No. 14 -Land.

Northern Australia Survey Act - Aerial, Geological and Geophysical Survey of Northern Australia - Report of Committee for period ended 31st December, 1940.

Papua Act - Infirm and Destitute Natives’ Account - Statement of Transactions of Trustees for year 1940-41.

Papua and New Guinea Bounties Act - Return for year 1940-41.

Raw Cotton Bounty Act- Return for year 1940-41.

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Regulations - 1941 -

No. 4 (Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance).

No. 6 (Advisory Council Ordinance).

Ship Bounty Act - Return for year 1940-41.

Sulphur Bounty Act- Return for year 1940-41.

Supply and Development Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 161, 182.

War Service Homes Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 162, 183.

Wine Export Bounty Acts - Returns (2) for year 1940-41.

Wire Netting Bounty Act - Return for year 1940-41.

Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 167.

House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.

page 27


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Discharged Soldiers: Vocational Training

Mr Bernard Corser:

r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

Will provision be made through the Repatriation Department for the training, as marine wireless operators and mechanics, of discharged wounded soldiers of the present war, as was the case during 1914-18?

Mr Holt:
Minister for Labour and National Service · FAWKNER, VICTORIA · UAP

– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer : -

The Government is already giving consideration to a scheme of vocational training for discharged incapacitated soldiers, and any such scheme should afford Opportunities for training in the callings indicated and in such other trades or callings as offer permanent employment. The particular department which will administer the scheme has not yet been determined.

Mr Morgan:

n asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the cement combine is New South Wales used its influence to close down a rival newconcern, the Atlas Portland

Cement Company, which would have helped to reduce the price of cement by £1 to £1 10s. a ton and so save millions of pounds in the cost of the war; if so, will he inquire into the circumstances?

  1. Will he inquire if there is in existence a secret price list to which members of the cement combine must adhere or incur heavy penalties to the combine?
  2. Will he refer the whole question of cement prices to the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner for appropriate action?
Mr Harrison:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Inquiries will be made.
  2. Yes.
  3. Cement is a declared commodity under the National Security (Prices) Regulations; no increase in pricehas occurred since the outbreak of war.

War Savings Certificates

Mr Barnard:

d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What was the total amount of war savings certificates purchased in Australia to the 30th June last?
  2. How much of this total was subscribed through (a) the Commonwealth Bank, and (b) other sources?
  3. Are agents for the sale of these certificates paid commission; if so, what is the amount?
Mr Fadden:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. £22,954,600 (face value). 2. (a) £8,384,700; (b) £14,569,900.
  2. No.

Wheat Industry: Assistance to Settlers in Marginal Areas.

Mr Marwick:

k asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice-

  1. What amounts have been paid to the State authorities in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for the rehabilitation of settlers in the marginal areas ?
  2. What numbers of settlers have been rehabilitated in those States (a) within the marginal areas and (b) by removal to other districts?
Sir Earle Page:
Minister for Commerce · COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. The amount paid to the States to the 30th June, 1941, was: New South Wales, £143,150; South Australia, £190,000; Western Australia, £65,000.
  2. South Australia - Rehabilitated in marginal areas with increased areas, 86; rehabilitated in marginal areas with financial assistance, 43; removed from holdings, 91; removed to other districts, nil. Western

Australia - Rehabilitated in marginal areas, 412; removed to other districts, 37. New South Wales - Rehabilitated in marginal areas with increased areas: cases approved,74; completed, 2; assisted to transfer from marginal areas, 84; assistance approved, but not yet paid, 47. Besides the above, 206settlers in New South Wales were assisted to transfer from marginal areas from State funds.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 August 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.