16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Iff. Nairn) took the chair at 9 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that a man named Anthony Vye Georgio Paddon was proceeded
Transfer of Officers to Stoney
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether a large number of Commonwealth officers resident in Canberra have been transferred to Sydney in order to do duty there’ in connexion with transactions under the LeaseLend Act of the United States of America ? Does the honorable gentleman consider that the transfer is fair to those officers ?
– The answer to the initial inquiry is “Yes”. The reason is, that the Government of the United States of America is rapidly taking control of all vital and essential commodities for export, and our setting up of an organization in Sydney is necessary in order that we may avoid delay in obtaining a fair proportion of those commodities that we need. Expeditious handling of the matter is essential in order to overcome any possibility of unemployment, due to our failure to obtain vital raw materials. The endeavour was made to secure the necessary accommodation in Canberra, but it was found that office, hotel, and housing accommodation was not available,and that there is not here a fieldin which the labour required for the work of this particular department may be recruited.
– Can the Minister for Customs state the number of families which it is proposed to transfer from Canberra to Sydney? What is to become of the houses they vacate in Canberra? Are they to be sub-leased to other tenants? How is the work whch those officers previously did in Canberra to be done after their transfer?
– This move represents an amalgamation of the Import Licence Section with the newly established Division of Imports Procurement. The officers previously engaged in the Import Licence Section will be transferred to Sydney. Arrangements regarding the disposal of their houses are in the hands of the Department of the Interior.
– by leave - I have to inform the House that , at the request of the Commonwealth, the Government of New South Wales has made available the services of Sir Percival Halse Rogers, a justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, to act as a royal commissioner to inquire into certain matters affecting public administration which were referred to in Parliament last week.
The commissioner will inquire into and report upon (1) the circumstances under which public moneys were used for or in connexion with the activities of the Australian Democratic Front, and to whom and for what purposes such moneys were paid; (2) By whom, to whom, for what purposes and under what circumstances payments totalling £300 were made in the month of March, 1941, to one J. Winkler, and what became of such moneys; (3) The circumstances attendant upon the making of trunk-line telephone calls from the rooms of the Minister for Defence Coordination at Canberra on Friday, the 12th September, 1941, and Saturday, the 13th September, 1941, and in particular whether in the course of such conversations or any of them there was any disclosure of the Government’s budget or financial proposals to any and what person; (4) what material the printers and/or publishers of the following newspapers, namely, the Advertiser, Adelaide; the Herald, Melbourne ; the Telegraph, Brisbane ; the Sun News-Pictorial, Melbourne; and the Courier-Mail, Brisbane, had before them when they published in their issues of the following dates, respectively: - the 18th September, 1941 ; the 19th September, 1941; the 19th September, 1941; the 20th September, 1941; and the 20th September, 1941, paragraphs referring to such trunk-line telephone calls, and from whom, by whom and under what circumstances such material was obtained.
A preliminary hearing of the royal commission will take place at the Supreme Court, Sydney, at 10.30 a.m. on Friday, the 3rd October, at which persons who desire to be represented before the commission should attend. Asthe Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) has announced, Mr. W. W. Monahan, K.C., and Mr. E. J. Hooke, of the Sydney Bar, have been briefed to assist the commission. It is anticipated that the taking of evidence by the commission will commence in Canberra on Wednesday, the 8th October, at an hour to be fixed.
– What is the reason for naming certain newspapers in the terms of reference to the royal commission, and omitting to name other newspapers which published identical matter ?
– The matter was placed in the hands of the SolicitorGeneral, who conducted an investigation in order to ascertain what newspapers were affected. If other newspapers published similar material they, too, will be included in the terms of reference. Inquiry is being made into that matter.
– Are the terms of reference sufficiently wide to allow the royal comission to hear evidence with respect to the reasons why the Government acted against the Communist party by means of counter propaganda? Will it be competent for the royal commission to call witnesses in order to disclose the nefarious activities of this organization in Australia, and to expose those responsible for them?
– If the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall bring it to the notice of the Attorney-General and the SolicitorGeneral.
– It has been under the notice of the Attorney-General for two years, and he ought to have done something in regard to it.
– He has been very active in respect of it.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service yet make the statement which he promised about a fortnight ago, regarding man-power and reserved occupations, especially with respect to rural industries?
– I intimated to the House la st week that I hoped to make this statement at an early date. I now hope to do so in the course of the budget debate. Last week, I mentioned the revision of exemptions which had been made in order to ease the labour situation in rural areas. I have since been in personal touch with the Premiers of all of the States, and have asked them to have a survey made urgently through the State Departments of Agriculture and other appropriate State instrumentalities, in order that the Commonwealth may be advised of their likely man-power needs in connexion with the forthcoming harvest. It has been represented to me that in some of the States, more particularly in Victoria and South Australia, the problem will not be met simply by retaining the existing labour in rural areas, but that such labour will need to be augmented in some degree if the harvest is to be garnered. I have informed the Premiers that, so soon as they are in a position to communicate their needs and to suggest ideas as to how the problem may be met, a conference of appropriate Federal and State officers will be arranged in order that necessary steps may be taken to overcome any labour shortage.
Assent to the following bills reported -
Raw Cotton Bounty Bill (No. 2) 1941.
Cable and Wire Bounty Bill 1941.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) agreed to -
That Government Business shall take pre cedence over General Business to-morrow.
Consideration resumed from the 25th September (vide page 581), on motion by Mr. Fadden -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division No. 1. - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances, £8,470 “ be agreed to.
– What we have to consider in this budget is, in effect, the problem of the ways and means of war. I put it in that way because I think it is desirable that the whole world - and more particularly our enemies - should know that whatever may take place in this Parliament this week will not in any way affect the complete unity of the Australian people, or the determination of this Parliament as a united body to prosecute the war to a successful conclusion. We are here concerned with how we can best and most fairly organize the nation so as to secure the greatest possible degree of efficiency in the prosecution of the war, and in that way the more early attain victory. Ways and means of war involve a consideration of the relationship of people to one another, and of how we shall get those things which are requisite for the conduct of the war. The war is a physical thing. It is fought by fighting men, supported by the economic strength of the civil population. The fighting men have the first claim upon anything the country can do. The families of the fighting men have the first right to any special privileges that the country is capable of conferring in time of war. It is important that we should ever keep in mind the fact that no amount of legerdemain in the form of either fantastic theories of credit inflation, or of taking money from the poor, can add anything to the physical capacity of the country to wage the war. We cannot fight this war by inventing money; we can fight it only with guns and materials, with the physical things that soldiers and fighting men use, and we cannot add to the sum of those things by merely taking away from the lowest paid and most poorly circumstanced sections of the community that which is essential to their physical strength, and therefore to their morale. The Labour party regards this problem as one of social organization. When a government begins to tax incomes of £150 for the purpose of financing the war, it is beyond all doubt taking everything that the people in receipt of those incomes possess. Such persons are being called upon to give everything except their lives. Everything they have must go. Their standards of living go at once. They are the first victims of the sacrifices imposed by war. Our view is that, apart from the soldiers and their families, the persons on low incomes should be the last victims of financial policy.
It is no new thing for the Labour party to be in opposition to the financial policy of the Government. We were opposed to it a year ago. We have been opposed to it in principle for more than 25 years, and more particularly since 1924. Our conception of how to organize Australia socially and economically is different, apparently, from that of the Government, and different from the plan upon which this budget is founded, and upon which the last budget was founded. Let us consider the problem of the fighting forces. Without divulging actual numbers, I can say that there are about 400,000 men in the fighting forces of Australia to-day, and they have a great number of dependants. They are the men who are doing the real work of war. Behind them the workers are performing the task of providing the fighting forces with the equipment of war. The Government, since the war commenced, has made six proposals indicating its opinion of what is a fair thing to do for the fighting forces of Australia. As a matter of fact, in iNovember, 1939, in this very chamber, the present Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) contended that the Government’s first proposal was to pay to the soldiers 5s. a day, and a meagre 6d. for each child. I merely cite that example without regarding it as a proposal, because it was put forward by the present Minister for Commerce at a time when he was not a member of the Government. Thus, I shall disregard it, and discuss the proposal which the Government actually brought down on the 5th November, 1939. That proposal was to pay to the soldiers 5s. aday, with1s. deferred pay, 2s. 6d. for a wife, and 9d. for each child. It was not acceptable to this Parliament, and therefore the Government brought down its second proposal, which still prescribed 5s. a day and1s. deferred pay for the soldier, but raised the rates for his dependants to 3s. a day for the wife and 1s. a day for each child. Improved conditions had been extracted from the Government. In December, 1939, as the result of constant pressure from this side of the chamber, the Government brought own its third proposal, which was to icrease the deferred pay of the soldierto 2s. a day after embarkation. That was one more concession wrung from a government which, apparently, was not disposed to regard the soldiers as having the first claim on the financial resources of this country. A year passed; in November, 1940, the Government introduced its fourth proposal which provided for an increase of the child allowance to 1s. 6d. a day. The Government’s fifth proposal was introduced in December, 1940. It provided that the soldier was still to get 5s. a day, and 2s. a day deferred pay, the wife 3s. a day, and 1s. 6d. a day for each child, and, in addition, a wife with a child, or children, was to be given an extra 7s. a week. The sixth and latest proposal of the Government provides that the soldier shall be paid 5s. a day, with 3s. a day deferred pay after embarkation ; the wife is to get 3s. a day and1s. 6d. a day for each child; whilst a wife with a child, or children, is to receive 7s. extra a week, or if without children, she will get an extra 3s. 6d. a week.
– Child endowment operates in addition to those rates.
– Yes, as it doesin respect of the the rest of the community.
I t will be seen, therefore, that since men were first invited to volunteer for service in the fighting forces of a country which, if the fighting men are worsted, will be lost and its liberties destroyed, six successive steps have been taken by the Government, each of which has been taken, not as the result of its own conception of what is the fair thing to do, but as a grudging concession to either political opposition in this chamber or to public opinion in the country.
In the present proposals of the Government, as set out in the budget speech of the Treasurer, the soldier is still to get only 5s. a day in addition to his deferred pay. I shall take a wife with two children as the basis of my remarks in respect of allowances for dependants of soldiers because, having regard to the fact that child endowment operates in respect of the families of soldiers as for the rest of the community, that appears to be a reasonable basis. The wife of a soldier is to get. £11s. a week for herself and 7s. a week extra on account of having a family, and also 21s. for her two children. That makes 49s. a week. She will receive also 3s. a day allotment from her husband, making a total of 70s. a week. I emphasize that this woman’s husband is away with the fighting forces and that she is under the constant strain of great anxiety; yet she is to be paid £1 a week less than the basic wage! I put it as fairly and as temperately as I can that that is not the way in which this country should evaluate the services which the fighting forces render to Australia in this war. That is one of the cardinal objections to the budget which we on this side have. We say to the Treasurer that the £6,000,000 which he proposes to incur as an annual liability - to be redeemed in the future by some other government - is an obligation which should be met out of the present resources of the country and be paid now to the families of the soldiers.
– The whole of the £6,000,000?
– The Government is already committed to pay about £350,000 of that amount to the wives of soldiers us a charge on this budget.
– About £300,000.
-I made a liberal estimate. The Treasurer now says that £300,000 of that £6,000,000 is to be met out of present revenues and paid this year. The budget contemplates that that amount, which represents the extra allowance to be paid to the childless wife of a soldier, is to be paid to her at once. I do not wish to be misunderstood. A sum of between £300,000 and £350,000 is to be paid out of revenue this year to the wives and families of soldiers. We submit that the whole of the £6,000,000, including the £300,000, should be paid to the soldiers and their families in the present year. We say that it is reasonable and proper to regard that payment as the primary obligation of this country, in addition to the other obligations that are recognized in the budget. The Treasurer properly makes no demur about many other items of expenditure which he says this country should meet this year, No other item of expenditure in this budget which all agree should be met in this year can be considered by reasonable beings to constitute a greater obligation than that of treating our soldiers and their families fairly. I decline to say, or to accept the argument if it be put forward, that this country cannot afford to pay £6,000,000 more to the families of the fighting services in this present year out of this budget. Honorable gentlemen opposite may ask where the money is to be obtained. I am not in control of the Administration, but I am certain that economies could be effected, taxes revised and adjustments made, which would enable at least £6,000,000 to be found. [ put it to the Government, and to the Opposition and the country, that we are really evading our obligations to the soldiers by saying to them that when they return from the war they shall be paid the £6,000,000 which is now promised in this budget. It is the constant practice of the Government when confronted with the argument that soldiers and their families should be treated more fairly than they are being treated to answer that argument by increasing their deferred pay. The Government knows that that practice does not increase the present resources of the soldiers and their families, or enable them to meet their present problems. It merely passes a liability on to posterity, and means that in the post-war period the soldiers will be included in the same category as bondholders or ordinary lenders of money. A soldier has a stronger claim on the finances of this country than has any money lender. I pass that aspect of the subject by saying that a budget which contemplates leaving the wife of a soldier who is fighting overseas with less resources than the basic wage on which to maintain herself and two children is fundamentally a budget which ought not to be acceptable to this Parliament.
I do not propose to indicate other items of new or additional expenditure that might reasonably be budgeted for. I merely say that the Labour party, if it held office, would feel an obligation to increase invalid and old-age pensions.
– The Labour party might feel the obligation to increase those pensions, but would it do so?
– Where would the Labour party obtain the necessary money ?
– I know that the granting of an additional ls. a week to invalid and old-age pensioners would impose upon the budget an extra burden of £1,000,000 a year. I say that quite frankly so that the country may fairly understand what is involved, and know that I am not entering an unrealisticworld.
– By what amount would the Leader of the Opposition increase invalid and old-age pensions?
– I would increase them immediately to at least 22s. 6d. a week.
– The original policy of the Labour party was to increase those pensions to 25s. a week.
– The Labour party, upon assuming office, would immediately increase invalid and old-age pensions to at least 22s. 6d. a week, and if I had charge of the Treasury I would ascertain how far, having regard to all the requirements of the country, I could go beyond that figure.’ I have said that I would find £6,000,000 for soldiers and their dependants. The granting of an additional ls. a week to invalid and old-age pensioners would increase the amount to £7,000,000.
– The Leader of the Opposition has criticized the Government for having increased the soldiers’ pay shilling by shilling. Tell us the whole story about invalid and old-age pensions !
– The Minister’s colleagues, with the assistance of all the experts of the Treasury, have been engaged for ten or twelve weeks in examining all the minutiae of the economic and financial resources of the country. Now I. am asked to answer offhand, where I would get this, and how I would do that. I say to the> Minister definitely that- at least I would provide £6,000,000 for the families of soldiers, and at least I would raise invalid and old-age pensions to 22s. 6d. a week. I would he ready to incur, in the present year, for those purposes, an expenditure’ of at least £7,000,000 more than the amount that the Government proposes. That is clear. I do not wish to hide anything. It would not be fair to the country for us to seek to dodge real issues. But those are two items which I would increase, as a part of the proper way in which to organize the social life of the country. And I would do these things on a basis of greater equity than is at present the case. However, the Government does not propose - to “increase invalid and old-age pensions and has adopted towards soldiers’ pay a different course from that advocated by the Opposition. When I ask for improvements of the general set-up of the community, the Government says in effect that there cannot be any.
The Government also declares that we must take from the community a very large sum of money. New imposts in th budget are to increase receipts from income tax by £5,500,000, whilst loans are to bring in an additional £25,000,000. Individuals will be so taxed that the Treasury will derive from them an additional £3,000,000 ; companies will provide an extra £2,500,000. Furthermore, persons and companies are to lend compulsorily to the Government £20,000,000, and £5,000,000 respectively. Those represent the new sources of revenue from the community which the Government contemplates. The underlying idea is that by compulsory loans the community will be forced to reduce expenditure upon ‘ civil consumption so that greater production will be made possible for war purposes. Even the lowest ranges of income are called upon to make what is called a “ national contribution “. I put it to the committee that Parliament, at this juncture, is not obliged to adjust differences which exist in State taxes unless that adjustment can be effected without impairing the physical standard of the community as a whole. The right remedy for having’ seven taxing authorities is to substitute one taxing authority.
– Give us the practical remedy.
– The Government, of which the honorable gentleman is the leader, is in charge of the country at this juncture. It could take the requisite steps, if it had the courage to do so.
– What steps?
– The steps to bring about one taxing authority in Australia.
– It is a very simple proposition.
– The Government declares that its proposal is based upon its desire to adjust what would be an unfair impost upon a citizen in one State compared with that borne by a citizen in another State, because of the fact that States have varying rates of taxes. How does the Government make this adjustment? It admits that the adjustment will not be permanent, but will remain in force only during the war. At the conclusion of hostilities, the Commonwealth will owe money to the citizen who lives in a lightly taxed State. He is placed in the same category as a soldier, who will receive deferred pay. Under the Government’s plan, irrespective of the State in which they reside, citizens will make a national contribution. But when the war ends, citizens in lightly-taxed States will have debts due to them by the Government, whilst citizens who are in receipt of similar incomes but who live in heavily-taxed States will not be similarly placed.
– Tu Queensland, for instance !
– In Queensland, and in some other States. As the Commonwealth does not tax an income of £100 a year, I shall take as the bedrock figure for purposes of illustration, an income of £150 a year earned by a person with no dependants. In that case, the national contribution would be £31 ls. from which has to be deducted Federal tax and State tax. In the highest taxing State, the latter sum would be £7, so that the national contribution would be £41s.
– What a terrible thing!
– This is an example of what the Government describes as “ equality of sacrifice “. A man who earns £150 a year and who has no dependants is to be called upon to pay, in this manner, nearly £1 a month.
– That is on a taxable income of £150.
– The proposition is simple. The national contribution is £111s. of which the highest taxing State receives £7 ; the taxpayer’s post-war credit will be £41s.
– The State Government will get £7 of the £111s.
– That is so. I have taken a case which, from an arithmetical point of view, is the worst example - that of a man without dependants in receipt of an income of £.150.
– Taxable income?
– No ; actual income.
– Actual taxable income.
– I put it to the committee that the State taxes which have been imposed upon those in the lower ranges of income during the past ten years have, in themselves, been a great deprivation to those taxpayers. They have been excessively severe; but they were imposed for the purpose of getting this country out of a previous crisis. The poor had to carry the burden of that struggle. Why must £41s. be taken by the Commonwealth in addition to State taxation from a person receiving only £150 a year ?
– Because we want to finance and win the war.
– No ; the Government gave a number of reasons. One was that it wished the people to spend less money. When we come to incomes in the range of £800 to £2,000 a year, however high the tax. however great the national con tribution, there is no obligation on persons in those categories to suffer anything that can be described as in the nature of deprivation. So far as equity of sacrifice is concerned, there is a vast difference between the burden placed on the man with an income of £150 and the man on a much higher income because, after meeting the whole of what is called the national contribution, the latter has suffered no deprivation in respect of food, housing and the ordinary amenities of life. The only restriction he has suffered is in respect of his investible margin.
– What does that mean; does it not mean unemployment?
– I am now dealing only with what is called equality of sacrifice for the purposes of war. I have described war as a physical thing, and I also describe sacrifice as a physical thing. . That kind of budget which obliges one family to go without boots and does not oblige another family to go without boots does not impose equality of sacrifice, and. demonstrably, to impose a national contribution on those in receipt of incomes below £300 a year is to cause absolute deprivation of some of the essentials of life. But it does not mean the same thing to those in the higher ranges of income. What happens to the man with an income of £300 per annum who desires to send his son to a university or to pay for some other form of training? Possibly the son has enlisted in the armed forces and the father hopes to set aside something for the boy on his return. He cannot continue paying the insurance premium on his own life in order to provide capital for the son when he returns; but the man who has an income of £2,000 or £3,000 a year could do so.
– The son would have his deferred pay.
– I am not denying that the deferred pay would be useful, but I am insisting that £6,000,000 could be more usefully expended now in order to maintain the standard of life of the dependants of the men in the fighting forces. We are fighting this war with physical things - with guns, with materials and men; we are not fighting it with money. It is all very well to say that the contribution of £33 from an income of £250 can be paid. Of course it can be paid; but the man who pays it cannot retain the same outlook on life as that of a man who, with an income of £3,000 a year, has to pay £1,543. The latter would still have nearly £1,500 left. We are told that there is to be equality of sacrifice, but will there be equality of purchasing power in these two men ? If both have to look for a house and one has £1,500 after he has paid everything and the other has only about £220 after he has paid everything, who will get the house ?
– What about the man on £1,000 a year?
– The national contribution of a taxpayer in. receipt of £1,000 a year is £282. That still leaves him with over £700. No physical hardship is imposed on the man with an income of £700 or even £500 clear of national contribution. We may deprive such a man of an opportunity to invest for his old age; we may deprive his wife of the opportunity to give all sorts of entertainments in her home; we may rob this country of a great deal of fashionable glamour; but we are not imposing any physical hardship on a man or woman when he or she is left with a net purchasing power of over £500. The children- of such people will not be stinted of bread or the other requirements of existence. But when we step down into those categories of income receivers below £300, having regard to their obligations and the fact that so many of them are soldiers, we arc not really diverting civil consumption to military purposes, but are greatly endangering the physical capacity of the country to withstand the demands of the war, for the majority of the workers in the factories and the majority of the men in the fighting forces are in receipt of less than £400 per annum. I remind the committee that the Dominion of New’ Zealand had a system of compulsory loans, but that in the last budget presented to the New Zealand Parliament there is no continuation of that policy. I find that the
Leader of the Opposition, who holds views- opposed to those of the Labour party, congratulated the Government on having abandoned it.
– New Zealand has not abandoned taxation.
– I quite understand the necessity for taxation for the purposes of the war. however high it must be. But this is not a system of taxation ; it is a system under which certain persons will pay £44 per annum as a national contribution. When the war is over, the Government will repay £25 to some persons in some States and £8 4s. to some persons in other States. I do not believe in this system of compulsory loans which will bring in a total in the present year of only £25,000,000. Receipts from the sale of war saving certificates have reached a considerable sum each year. I warn the Government that the policy of compulsory loans, if adopted, will probably dry up that source. Thousands of people in Australia regularly contribute from their incomes for war saving certificates. The Government cannot expect not to lose money from that source if it imposes a national levy of the sort contemplated. In two years the sale of war saving certificates has brought £23,00,000 into the Treasury.
– Not a very good effort for two years.
– A very good effort, indeed ! The Prime Minister knows that war saving certificates purchased voluntarily have yielded £11,500,000 per annum. At the very best, he proposes by compulsion to obtain £20,000,000 per annum from the people.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition think that the purchase of war saving certificates has affected the standard of the living of the people?
– No, I do not believe that voluntary contributions in any way affect the standard of life of the community, because those who find that they have the money to spare give it, believing that to be their duty. The people of Australia have subscribed money. It must be borne in mind that, apart from the subscriptions to war saving certificates, the public of Australia has subscribed to the ordinary loans. The Prime Minister cannot tell me that there have not been very many subscriptions of small amounts to loans.
– There have been.
– Does the honorable gentleman then think that his compulsory savings plan does not threaten, not only sales of war savings certificates, but also the subscription of small amounts of from £50 to £100. to wai1 loans? This is a free country, and its people voluntarily come to its aid with their resources of manhood and wealth. Does the honorable gentleman, not think that he is proposing acceptance of a system which will not yield much more than the voluntary system? The honorable gentleman wants to equate, as he thinks he can, the purchasing capacity of people on the same income in different States. He wants to correct the problems of federation in order to have a more effective war campaign. He gains nothing by that effort; on the contrary he espouses a principle which can be suspected of being a preliminary step to the application in a larger measure of that very principle to the defence of the country! Having instituted compulsory savings, the Government would say, “ Wo have com.pulsorily called, up loans. Why not compulsorily call up men for service overseas ? “
– Hear, bear!
– I fully expected the honorable member for Barker to say that, but this Government has professed time and time again to be opposed to the honorable member’s ideas.
– This Government will have to come to that decision.
– Well, I do not intend to help it to come to it by accepting the principle at this stage. It is not conscription to borrow from the public, because loans really put the assets of the rich into safer custody than would be the case if the Government did not become responsible for the ultimate repayment.
The Prime Minister has said that even with the voluntary loans, and even without doing justice to the soldiers, he is still dependent on central bank finance. He has made with the banks what he calls a’ firm agreement under which they are to accept the decision of the Commonwealth Bank about the use of certain deposits. I point out that what has happened in this country since the war began is, by and large, that the Commonwealth Bank, functioning as a central bank, has advanced accommodation to the Commonwealth Government. As the result, the Commonwealth has paid money to the manufacturers who have paid it to the workers, and that money has filtered to the trading banks, whose investible funds have become available for the purpose of earning interest. Now, that fact is accepted by the Government as being true, because that is why this “ firm “ agreement has been reached. I find that in the year 1940-41 the trading banks’ advances decreased by £17,000,000 and that government and municipal securities rose by £24,000,000. What has happened is that the trading hanks have lent less to the public and more to the Government. That may be considered, the proper thing to do. but what has happened? On the 30th June, 1940, the interest-bearing deposits of the trading banks amounted to £268,195,000 as against £268.408,000 on the 30th June last. But deposits not bearing interest have jumped from a total of £170,000,000 to £189,000,000. Thus, the banks have an additional £17,000,000 of funds on which they do not pay interest, and they have an additional £24,000,000 worth of government securities on which they are earning interest. I simply cite those examples. I say to the Treasurer and to the country that I cannot agree that because there has been an issue of credit by the Commonwealth ‘t to the Government, therefore, a new field of profit-earning should he opened up for the private trading banks. Without divulging anything which I believe that I ought not to divulge, I say frankly that the amount of national credit which the banking system, including the Commonwealth Bank, has made available to the
Government for the prosecution of the war during the last two years is itself complete proof that everything the banks said - and, worse, everything they did - when the Labour Government was in power from 1929 to 1931, was motivated not by sound banking practice, or by consideration for the national interest, but solely by the desire to destroy a government that they did not like. Where was the money to come from? That was the cry. It all had to come from the people.
– “ Real “ money !
– Yes, “real” money; we heard of it until we were sick of it. In those days, you could not issue credit to the nation through the banks in order to employ people at useful work; but as the honorable gentleman says, there is £60,000,000 of it in this budget? For what? To provide work for the people of Australia, or to produce assets for the future of this country ? In the sense that an insurance policy can be construed as an asset, we should say “ Yes “ to that. If we like to regard anything done for the safety of the country as part of an insurance programme, I should say “ Yes “. But the banks could not provide such money in order to construct water supply systems, or health services for inland cities, or in order to develop Australia’s wealthproducing capacity, when thousands of our men were unemployed and uncounted capital resources were idle in this land, and people were hungry because they could not get jobs of any description. With memories of those times I say that, despite the things the banks now unsay and the opposite courses they are now ready to pursue, simply because a government of the type they like is in power, this Opposition is not prepared to permit the credit of the nation, however it is made available, to become a source of parasitism for sectional private interests. Therefore, one fundamental objection which we take to this budget is that it places the national credit at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government in such a way as to permit a third party to make a profit out of it. We submit that nothing requires doing in respect of the management of national credit for the purpose of prosecuting the war which the Commonwealth Bank itself is not entirely competent to do. The honorable gentleman’s “ firm agreement “ is not worth the paper on which it is written, because the Commonwealth Bank Board itself is too responsive to the interests that I am now criticizing to handle this matter as it should be handled. The honorable gentleman and, I think, his colleagues, know of recent discussions which certain of my colleagues have had with representatives of the Commonwealth Bank Board. I say nothing about those representatives except this - and I say it after a great deal of reflection - I do not consider that Sir Claude Reading’s conception of how this country can be best served is in the best interests of Australia as a nation. I shall make no further reference to the Commonwealth Bank Board.
Boiled down, the basic differences between our views and those of the Government are that the Government does not treat the soldiers fairly; that it does not treat persons on the lower ranges of incomes fairly; and that it does not, having regard to the economies of Australia, treat the management of national credit in a truly national way - that, whereas we regard the budget as an accountancy of human values, the Government looks at it as an accountancy of material values. We do not object to the highest possible degree of taxation of all whom such taxation will not involve in any physical deprivation.
– A general phrase ; what does that mean?
– Let us say the greatest possible taxation of incomes of £500. or £600, and over. When the honorable gentleman was Treasurer, he tried to catch me on this same point. He then said that it was not possible to do anything, but he moved step by step towards the very proposition I had then made. I have not the least doubt that before this war is over, no person with an income of £1,000, £1,500, or £2,000 a year will be said to have that income as his personal right. If we are to fight this war collectively, we must have some application immediately of what people are describing as the “new order”. But there is nothing of a new order in allowing people at the top of the income scale to meet all of their financial contributions to the war without having to go without anything requisite to their subsistence. The honorable gentleman sometimes talks about non-essential industries. If we are dealing with essentials, and we are obliged to restrict civil consumption, we must not allow the restricted supply of civilian goods to be the subject of competition between a man who has £1,500 to spend and another who has only £150 to spend. The correct way in which to treat that problem is by rationing.
– That is precisely what the Government is doing.
– It is the very reverse of what the Government is doing. Obviously, if one man with a wife and three children has £1,500 to spend after he has met all of his obligations under these schedules, and another man with a wife and three children has a margin of only £220, there is no equality of competition in the market for services or goods as between those two persons. The honorable gentleman has put forward a budget of taxes as though that could establish some equality of sacrifice of purchasing power for an everfalling supply of commodities. Let it be made certain that the man receiving £1,500 a year can get no more loaves of bread, no more suits of clothes, and no more wireless sets than the man earning £250 a year. That is the right way to tackle our economic problems - on the basis of reasonable justice and equal opportunity for all. We are opposed to the budget because of the principles upon which it is founded and the plan that has been formulated in order to carry it out. For this reason I move -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “while agreeing that the expenditure requisite for a maximum prosecution of the war should be provided by Parliament, the Committee is opposed to the unjust methods prescribed by the budget, declares that they are contrary to true equality of sacrifice, and directs that the plan of the budget should be recast to ensure a more equitable distribution of the national burden.”
– I cannot accept the amendment in its present form. May’s Parliamentary Practice lays down, and the practice has been followed consistently in this House, that no amendment may be moved which is not relevant to the grant under consideration. Each resolution for a grant of money is by a distinct motion, which can be dealt with only by being agreed to, reduced, negatived, or withdrawn. It is further laid down by May that the committee can attach no conditions or expression of opinion to a grant. The proposed amendment is therefore not in order, and I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that, in order to effect his purpose, he should move that the amount be reduced by a nominal sum.
– Then I move-
That the first item be reduced by £ 1 .
I do so for the following reason: -
That, while agreeing that the expenditure requisite for a maximum prosecution of the war should be provided by Parliament, the Committee is opposed to the unjust methods prescribed by the budget, declares that they are contrary to true equality of sacrifice, and directs that the plan of the budget should be recast to ensure a more equitable distribution of the national burden.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank and Statement of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department, as at 30th June, 1941; together with Auditor-General’s Reports thereon.
Arbitration (Public Service) ActDeterminations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1941 - No. 24 - Australian Journalists’ Association.
No. 25- Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia, and others; Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union; and Commonwealth Naval Storehousemen’s Association.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 160.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Labour and National Service - G. G. Firth.
Postmaster-General - B. M. Kennelly.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 224.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes -
Narrabeen, New South Wales.
Point Lonsdale, Victoria.
National Security Act -
National Security (Exchange Control) Regulations - Orders -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of lights and traffic (6).
Control of Overseas Postal Communications (Prisoners of War).
Control of Photography.
Taking possession of land, &c. (32).
Use of land (9).
National Security (Internment Camps) Regulations - Camp Rules (3).
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Order - Prisoners of War Camp (No. 1).
New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1941 -
No. 15 - Workers’ Compensation (No. 2) .
No. 16 - Treasury.
Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 235.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1941 -
No. 7 - Inflammable Liquids.
No. 10- Church of England Trust Property.
No. 11. - Juvenile Offenders.
No.1 2 - Child Welfare Agreement.
No. 13 - Industrial Board (No. 2).
No. 14 - Scat of Government (Administration).
No. 15 - Canberra Community Hospital (No. 2).
Regulations - 1941 -
No. 6 - (Leases Ordinance).
No. 7 - (Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance).
No. 8 - (Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance).
War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 237.
House adjourned at 4.16 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Royalty Payments on War Materials.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount has been paid or agreed to be paid by the Government in respect of royalties on war materials(a) to local interests, and (b) to overseas interests or their Australian agents?
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - l.-
Australian Defence Canteens Service.
Central Canteens Control Board.
HonorableE. W. Holden, M.L.C.; A. H. Outhwaite, Esq.; G. J. Coles, Esq.; Deputy Quartermaster-General; The Reverend R. Ambrose Roberts; Lieutenant-Colonel W. S. Hosking, D.S.O., M.C. (Director).
New South Wales.
H. P. Christmas, Esq.; Lieutenant-Colonel E. T. Penfold; T. Kelly, Esq.; G. F. Bevan, Esq.; J. I. B. Dickson, Esq.
G. J. Coles, Esq.: Major-General G. J. Johnston, C.B., C.M.G., C.B.E., V.D.; E. Alex Cato, Esq.; T. J. Luxton, Esq.; J. R. Fullarton, Esq.
Lieutenant-Colonel J. W. Turner, V.D.; LieutenantColonel C. G. Farmer, M.C.; P. A. Driscoll, Esq.; R. S. Davidson, Esq.; J. Smithies, Esq.
W. J. Craig, Esq.; Captain Albert Mitchell; F. C. Hopkins, Esq.; A. B. Newell, Esq.; A. J. North. Esq.
Australian Canteen Board for the Middle East.
Brigadier D. D. Paine; Lieutenant-Colonel W. Kirkhope; Captain N. D. Carlyon; J. Payne, Esq.; R. N. Wilkinson, Esq.
As prescribed in the Australian Military Regulations members of these boards do not receive remuneration for their services. The military officers called upon to serve on these boards in addition to their other duties do not receive any additional remuneration for so doing.
l asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Acting Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Will he supply the following: (a) salary received by Sir Clive McPherson as (i) chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, and (ii) chairman of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board; and (b) salary and allowances received by Mr. F. Cullen as (i) a member of the Australian Wheat Board, and (ii) a member of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
McPherson is as follows: (i) as chairman of the Australian Wheat Board - a salary of £750 per annum; (ii) as chairman of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board - a fee of £500 per annum. Sir Clive McPhersonhas indicated that for the duration of the war he will not draw any salary or fees. (b) The salary and allowances payable to Mr. F. H. McC. Cullen are as follows: (i) as a member of the Australian Wheat Board - a fee of £55s. a day for attendance at meetings of the board, travelling allowance at the rate of £2 2s. a day when absent from home overnight in connexion with attendance at board meetings or whilst engaged on Australian Wheat Board business: (ii) as executive member of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board - salary of £1,000 per annum, travelling allowance of £1 10s. a day when absent from Melbourne overnight in connexion with attendance at board meetings or whilst engaged on the board’s business.
Impressment of Rifles.
r. - On the 24th September the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) asked the following question, without notice: -
Is the Minister for the Army in a position to make a statement regarding the recent announcement that . 303 rifles were to be impressed from members of rifle clubs? What is the present position, and what is the attitude of rifle clubs in the matter?
I now inform the honorable member that directions to commands to implement a recent War Cabinet decision to provide for the impressment of . 303-in. rifles are in the course of preparation. These will be issued in the near future. The War Cabinet decision was to impress all . 303-in. rifles with the exception of the following : (a) Those held by persons for the purpose of earning their living (e.g., buffalo-hunters) ; (b) Match rifles which it was agreed at a conference between General Brand and the AdjutantGeneral would include only those rifles of service pattern which had been imported into the country for match purposes.
The matter of impressment of rifles and the method of implementing it have been discussed with the chairman of the Commonwealth Council of Rifle Associations, who is in accord with the arrangements. In addition to the above, the secretary of the Victorian Rifle Association has been co-opted to assist in working out the details of impressment.
r. - On the 25th September the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) asked, without notice, whether in view of the hardship suffered as a result of petrol rationing by persons whose means of livelihood are dependent on motor trucks, instructions would be issued to the State Liquid Fuel Control Boards that truck-owners should receive a more liberal allowance, and also if inquiries would be made as to whether the large number of motor vehicles to be seen at golf courses and beaches at the weekends are not using petrol for pleasure purposes.
The Minister for Supply and Development has furnished the following reply : -
Sufficient petrol is made available to meet the minimum requirements of all essential services. On the production of satisfactory evidence as to essentiality of a service and the inadequacy of an existing ration, State Liquid Fuel Control Boards are empowered to grant an increase. Private users are granted an arbitrary ration equivalent to approximately 1.000 miles’ running per annum, and their allowance varies from 2 to 6 gallons a month According to the horse-power of the vehicle.
– On Thursday, the 25th September, the honorable member forBass (Mr. Barnard) asked the Minister for Transport a question, without notice, concerning therates of secondclass fares for sea transport between Tasmania and the mainland.
On inquiry, I have ascertained that the Acting PricesCommissioner recently approved an increase of the fare by 5s. for the journey by sea between the mainland and Tasmania to offset higher costs that have been borne by the company as a result of the war. Many methods of securing the increased revenue were examined, but the increase of second-class fares was, in all the circumstances, considered the most satisfactory.
Service Men and Members of Parliament.
s. - On the 28th August, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked the following question, without notice: -
Is the Prime Minister aware that the commanding officers of various sections of the defence forces have issued instructions to all members of those forces that they must not take grievances to members of Parliament; is the Prime Minister aware that those instructions mean that service men have no appeal to other than those who inflict punishment upon them and that the men have been denied their civil rights; if the men have no appeal to their local members, to whom can they appeal ?
I have now been advised that the position in the three services is as follows : -
Navy. - Under regulation 123 of the Naval Forces Regulations, naval personnel are forbidden to take their grievances to members of Parliament. The King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, Article 10, which are applicable to the Royal Australian Navy, provide a means for naval personnel who have grievances to represent their complaints to superior authority. Briefly stated, a naval rating may make a complaint to his captain. If he is not satisfied with the decision of his captain, he may request that his complaint be forwarded to the rear-admiral commanding, and if still not satisfied, he may request that it be forwarded to the Naval Board, of which the Minister for the Navy is president.
Army. - On the 9th June, 1941, a Military Board circular was issued to commands drawing attention to the fact that from the number of representations made to members of Parliament or directly to high Army authority, it appeared thatmembers of the Military Forces, particularly those who have not served previously, were ignorant of the procedure by which they might seek redress of any grievance. This procedure, as laid down in Military Regulations, provides that if a soldier considers himself wronged, he may complain in succession to (a)his company, &c., commander; (b) his commanding officer; (c) his brigade commander; (d) his formation, &c., commander; (c) if out of the Commonwealth or on war service in the Commonwealth, the officer in chief command of the force to which he belongs; and (f) the Military Board. Commands were instructed that regulations in regard to the redress of grievances were to be explained (not merely read) to all members of units at frequent intervals and that members of the Military Forces were to be informed not only of their opportunities, but also of the delay which must arise if they attempted to secure redress in unauthorized ways and that they were committing a breach of military custom and regulations if they did so. It was further instructed that each commanding officer, when bringing under notice the provisions of the regulations, should make it clear that members of the forces will not be penalized in any way as a result of lodging a genuine complaint or grievance in the proper manner.
Air Force. - Instructions arc in existence forbidding members of the Royal Australian Air Force to take grievances to members of Parliament. The importance of an adequate system for the ventilation of individual or collective grievances, and the need for the existence of satisfactory machinery to give effect thereto, are, however, fully appreciated. An elaborate process has therefore been provided in Air Force Regulation 153, which provides that if an airman considers himself wronged,he may complain in succession to (a) his flight commander; (b) his squadron commander; (c) his commanding officer; (d) the air or other officer commanding the command in which the airman is serving: (e) if outside Australia or on war service in Australia, the officer in chiefcommand of the force to which he belongs; and (f) the Air Board. In addition, a member of the Air Force may make a complaint to an inspecting officer. Regulation 153 further provides that any authority to whom a complaint is madeor referred shall not attempt to prevent or dissuade any airman from carrying his complaint to a superior authority in accordance with the regulation and that each authority mentioned shall cause the complaint to be investigated and if it appears that the airman has suffered a wrong, shall cause the wrong to be fully redressed, if full redress is within the power of the authority, or, if investigation or full redress is not within the power of the authority, shall refer the complaint to the next superior authority in order that it may be investigated and redressed as far as possible. It will be seen that, whilst members of the forces arc forbidden to take their grievances to members of Parliament, adequate provision has been made whereby they may have their grievances fully ventilated.
n asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Defence Forces: Dependants’ Allowances; Accommodation at Darwin; Leave ; Commissions ; Allowances to Members of Parliament; Australian Imperial Force Enlistments.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Will he take appropriate steps to ensure that deserted wives and dependants of members of the fighting services will receive their allowances as of right from date of enlistment and not ii.t the discretion of such member?
– The purpose of dependants’ allowance is to meet current maintenance expenditure, and the question of payment to deserted wives involves the investigation of so many complicated questions of fact that it would not be a practicable arrangement to pay allowances from the date of enlistment as the honorable member suggests. The regulations provide that a claim by a deserted wife and dependants for allotment from the pay of a member of the Military Forces shall be subject to investigation as to the merits of the case. If claim is upheld an allotment is enforced by the prescribed authority. Payment cannot be made retrospective until the position of the soldier’s pay-book is ascertained as he may have received pay himself at his full drawing rate, and in other cases an allotment may have already been paid on his behalf. Dependants’ allowance is payable only from the date from which an allotment operates.
d asked the Minister for the. Army, upon notice -
What are the terms under which the Department of the Army is leasing part of Vestey’s meat works at Darwin for the accommodation of Australian troops?
– An area of approximately 210,000 square feet has been occupied for the past two years under a lease which now operates from month to month. Compensation was at the rate of 5.8d. per square foot until the 30th June last. The question of rate and terms to operate from 1st July, 1941, is at present the subject of negotiation between the Department of the Interior and Australian Investment Agency Proprietary Limited, Sydney.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Has the Government yet come to a decision in respect to the granting of leave to members of the Militia «nd Garrison Forces serving at tropical operational stations such as Darwin. Cooktown and Port Moresby. If so, what decision has been arrived at?
– In addition to local leave, members of the Militia (including Garrison units) are granted leave at the rate of 24 days per annum on the conclusion of their tour of duty.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– I appreciate the honorable member’s desire to satisfy himself that equal opportunity to gain commissioned rank is afforded to all members of the forces according to their qualifications, and I am in accord with this principle so far as it is practicable. For some arms of the Army, certain definite qualifications are required, and persons possessing the necessary professional or technical qualifications are appointed to commissions in such arms as Field Engineers, Ordnance Workshops, Australian Signals, Army Service Corps (technical appointments) and Army Medical Corps, with little or no previous military service. I assure the honorable member that the matter raised by him is constantly under attention to ensure observance of the principle of equal opportunity, but as it is not apparent that any useful purpose would be served by submitting to the House the list he suggests and as a considerable amount of research would be involved in its preparation, I am unable to accede to the honorable member’s request.
r. - On the 24th September, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) asked the following questions. upon notice: -
I now furnish the following replies : -
There arc at present no members of the Federal or State Parliaments serving in the Naval Forces.
Mr. T. D. Oldham, M.L.A., Victoria, who is a member of the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve, was mobilized for service :i£ paymaster lieutenant on the 2nd September, 1939, and was demobilized on the 30th November, 1939. The total amount credited to Mr. Oldham during his period of service was £126 15s. 2d., and his rates of pay and allowances were as follow: -
Mr. G. A. Morris, who, until his defeat at the recent general election in Queensland, was a member of the Parliament of that State, was mobilized as a member of the Royal Australian Fleet Reserve on the 31st August, 1940, in the rating in which he formerly served in the Royal Australian Navy, viz., sick berth chief petty officer, and is still so serving.
The amount of pay and allowances received to date by Mr. Morris in respect of his service in the Naval Forces is approximately £302. Deferred pay standing to his credit is approximately £40. His present rates of pay and allowances are as under -
As far as can be ascertained, there are only two members of the Royal Australian Air Force who are also members of the Federal or State Parliaments, viz. - Wing Commander T. W. White, who is federal member for Balaclava. and Flight Lieutenant C. V. W. Brown, M.L.A., Queensland. The amounts paid to these officers and their rates of pay are as follow: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 October 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19411001_reps_16_168/>.