16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W.M. Nairn) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr.FRANCIS.- Will the Prime
Minister make a clear statement as to his wishes and intentionsin regard to persons taking holidays at this time? Certain press statements have made it appear that he does not desire that any one shall take holidays, yet other Ministers have stated that that is not so.Is it his wish that women and children shall not have holidays at the seaside or in the country, or is the restriction confined to those who are engaged in industry?
– I ask that holidays be not taken, particularly by all of those who are engaged in essential services. Regulations have been drawn in order to deal with the matter. There has been no interference in respect of the holidays of women and children except insofar as their arrangements involve transportation by motor car, or by rail in such circumstances as would necessitate the maintenance of special holiday traffic facilities by the railway commissioners of, particularly, Victoria and South Australia. This cannot he done, because it is of great importance that transport which is dependent upon power from either coal or petrol shall be reduced to the minimum. Where it is needed for purposes of war or industry, it has to be supplied. I ask the Australian public to realize that any inconvenience which they are asked to experience at this time is imposed as a precaution against far worse inconvenience.
– Has the Treasurer yet received the unanimous report of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure, recommending that certain Commonwealth assistance be given in connexion with the construction of a road that is urgently needed to connect with defence industries at Granville? If so, will the honorable gentleman give early consideration to the matter?
– I have not had an opportunity to read the report, but shall do so, and shall give consideration to the recommendation.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to announce what action, if any, is intended in connexion with the proposal to institute daylight saving?
– I have listed this matter for consideration with the Premiers of the States on Friday.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen the report, published above the signature of the acting secretary of the National Roads and Motorists Association, that certain members of a military camp had travelled a long distance in military trucks and motor bicycles, involving the consumption of not less than 30 gallons of petrol, in order to have aba the?
– I have not read the newspaper report, hut the matter has been explained to me by an officer, and a report issued by the military authorities discloses that the newspaper statement is without foundation. I shall make a copy of that report available to the honorable gentleman.
Insurance Against Enemy Action - Storage Near Aerodromes
-Some time ago, I asked the Minister for Commerce whether he would take steps to have wool which is awaiting appraisement in brokers’ stores insured against war risk, but so far have not been advised that this has been done. Pending arrangements for such insurance, will the Minister take up with the Central Wool Committee the question of having a 1-lb. sample of wool drawn from each line as it enters brokers’ stores, such samples to be kept apart from the bulk stores in order that, should the stored wool be destroyed by enemy action, samples will be available for valuation for insurance purposes?
– The matter of the insurance of wool against destruction by enemy action has been under consideration, but so far a determination has not been made. Further consideration is to be given to it by Cabinet. I shall bring to the notice of the Central Wool Committee the suggestion of the honorable member, and request that it be adopted as quickly as possible.
– Can the Minister for Commerce state who was responsible for the erection of a wool store adjacent to the aerodrome at Mascot? Will he make representations to the responsible authorities with a view to ensuring that wool shall be stored in a place where it will be less subject to war risks?
– I lave already discussed with the Central Wool Committee the inadvisability of erecting any more wool stores in the vicinity of the aerodrome as, in my opinion, storage there is not in the best interests of the British Government, to whom the wool belongs. I am amazed that precautions were not taken earlier, before many hundreds of thousands of bales were stacked at such a vulnerable point. However, I assure the honorable member that I shall convey his representations to the Central Wool Committee, with a request that consideration be given to ensuring the safety of stored wool.
– Will the Minister for Transport favorably consider making some provision for the transport of unemployed persons to areas where there is abundant work in connexion with fruit picking, wheat harvesting, and the harvesting of perishable products generally? Will the honorable gentleman confer with the State railway authorities, with a view to providing return railway fares for those who are prepared to accept employment in areas where much harvesting and other work has to be done and labour is not available to do it?
– I shall be pleased to confer with theState railway authorities, as suggested, and shall advise the honorable gentleman of their reply so soon as I receive it.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is correct that members of the Militia Forces are now debarred from joining the Australian Imperial Force, but that the names of those who apply for enlistment are recorded on a reserve list? If so, is the honorable gentleman aware that certain members of the Militia Forces who endeavoured to join the Australian Imperial Force were turned away without having their names so recorded?
– Upon the advice of the Military Board, the Government decided - for the time being, at any rate - not to permit members of the Militia Forces, who were required to complete their training to leave those forces in order to join the Australia a Imperial Force, but that all of those who desired to join could have their names listed in the Australian Imperial Force reserve, as members desirous of joining the Royal Australian Air Force may have their names listed in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve. I am not aware that there has been any discrimination in this matter. If the facts are as stated by the honorable gentleman, I shall see that corrective action is taken. I am sure that any neglect to record the names of applicants for enlistment was not intentional. It is possible that, in the initial stages after Japanhad entered the war, a few applicants were not advised that they could join the Australian Imperial Force Reserve. For obvious reasons, it is necessary that members of the Australian Militia Forces shall complete their training in those forces; otherwise, applicants from country districts might have to be taken to the capital cities for medical examination, with the result that their training in the Militia would be interrupted and they would have to commence afresh when they were drafted into Australian Imperial Force camps. Probably considerable delay would occur before they were encamped, because of the difficulties which have been encountered as the result of the war with Japan. I shall give sympathetic consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member.
– - by leave - Cabinet decided last week that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) should visit Darwin in order to make a firsthand examination of the problems involved in speeding up the activities relating to the handling of cargoes in that port. The importance of this matter under present conditions hardly needs emphasizing. Owing to an unusual combination of circumstances, somewhat unusual expedients may have to be devised to meet the urgent requirements of the moment. For this reason the Minister for Labour and National Service has been given wide powers, not only to investigate the whole problem, but also to take immediate action to bring the cargo-handling facilities at the port up to the peak of efficiency. I have no doubt that he will carry this out with his accustomed vigour.
Word has now been received from my colleague that he will be unable to reach Canberra in time for the important industrial conference which was tentatively arranged for the 22nd December. As he is to take the chair at this conference, it has been postponed to Saturday, the 27th December. If necessary, the conference will run on over Sunday. The conference, which will be attended by a number of Cabinet Ministers, Commonwealth Arbitration Court judges, conciliation commissioners and representatives of employers and employees, has been called to consider means of achieving and maintaining maximum production in all branches of industry.
– In view of the paramount need to utilize all available labour in Australia, will the Prime Minister give an assurance, first, that the Government will fully and effectively utilize the labour of German and Italian prisoners of war held in this country; and, secondly, that it will requisition compulsorily the services of refugees from Germany and Italy and countries under their domination, as well as the services of other enemy aliens not liable to be called up under the provisions of the Defence Act?
– That matter is under consideration.
-Is it a fact that in pome States, particularly in Victoria, lathes formerly used for motor car repair work are now being used in the manufacture of munitions, and that this is one of the factors which have helped to reduce unemployment in Victor ia to a minimum ? Is the Minister for Munitions aware that in motor garages in the Newcastle and Maitland districts there is a large number of lathes not being used to their full capacity - more, perhaps, than in any other part of Australia? Will the Minister consider requisitioning these lathes in the same way that the military authorities have requisitioned motor lorries? Will he take steps to have the lathes concentrated in numbers under one roof so as to make for easier supervision and more economical production of munitions, while, at the same time, helping to solve the unemployment problem in New South Wales?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable members question is, “Yes “. As for the second part, I am grateful to the honorable member for having brought to my notice the possibility of obtaining an increased supply of machine tools in his district. I shall have an inventory made of the available lathes, and if they are not now being used upon essential defence work, action will bo taken so to use them.
Warning Signals - Illumination of Cities - Late Shopping - Road Lighting - Availabilityof Motor Vehicles
– In view of the repeated statements of the Premier of New South Wales that all air raid warnings sounded in New South Wales must be regarded as genuine, and having regard to the fact that, during the last few days, reports have been received that the sounding of sirens in some of the Sydney suburbs has caused distress to women and confusion to men engaged upon air raid precautions work, will the Minister for Home Security take steps to ensure that greater care is exercised in future by those installing or testing sirens?
– Everything will be done to prevent panic. When it is necessary to sound sirens for checking purposes, adequate warning will be given to the public.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether his request to shopkeepers throughout Australia to close their establishments at 6 p.m. on Friday is designed to conserve supplies of coal in the production of lighting power, or to prevent a glow from cities being a guide to enemy aircraft? Does the honorable gentleman realize that to some cities, such as those in Tasmania, the first consideration does not apply, as no coal is used in the production of lighting power? Therefore, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of dealing with the subject on a regional basis ?
Mr.CURTIN.- Whilst Hobart is lighted by electricity that is not generated by the use of coal, the illumination of the city at night against the background of Mount Wellington should be diminished as much as possible. Itis desirable that the Australian people should learn to adapt themselves to movement at night in circumstances quite different from those which we have hitherto known. In addition, there shoud be less inducement for large numbers of people to congregate at. night in city streets. Broadly speaking, having regard to certain other factors which I need not mention, it is quite a good thing that Tasmania, as well as every other State, should conform reasonably to a practice that has been prescribed in the interests of Australia.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Home Security been drawn to the fact that the municipal councils in the inner suburbs of Sydney have arranged for the considerable subduing of the power of the street electric lighting system, and that through those suburbs run main arterial and secondary roads which are lighted by what are called mercury vapour lights that are particularly brilliant and give a tremendous glow? Will the honorable gentleman inquire as to whether these particular lights are controlled by municipal councils or some other authority? By whatever authority they are controlled, will he see that action is taken to subdue their glow?
– The action taken since the declaration of war withJapan has been more or less ofan experimental nature. The Premier of each State isa deputy of the Minister for Home Security, and has made an examination of the matter raised by the honorable gentleman. Various processes are being tried such as extinguishing one light in three lights or two lights in five, damping down, and subduing by means of a covering. The matter will be discussed further on Friday, and it is hoped that a definite policy will ‘be evolved whereby the glow of city and coastline lighting may be reduced to a minimum.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will discuss with the State Premiers, at their conference on Friday, the advisability of making some rebate of motor licence charges to private car owners in order to help in assuring that a sufficient number of motor cars will be left on the roads to meet an emergency? In. explanation of my question I inform the honorable gentlemen that air raid precautions committees were promised some time ago that motor cars would be available, but some members of these committees, on making inquiries from owners, have been advised that the registration of their vehicles has been allowed to lapse so that those vehicles are no longer available.
– Among the subjects listed for attention at the Premiers Conference on Friday is the financial position of the States and of the Commonwealth. I shall include, as one phase of that review, the question of how far the States can go in helping to keep motor cars ready for use in an emergency. Whether this can best be done by a reduction of licence-fees I connot say. One of the reasons why the Commonwealth Government has not completely prohibited the use of petrol by the users of private cars is that it was anxious that ears should be kept in a usable condition.
Evacuation of Women and Children
– I have received a telegram from Darwin asking that preference be given on aeroplanes to women arid children wishing to leave the town. Will the Minister for the Army take this request into consideration? Is he in a position to make a general statement of policy regarding the evacuation of women and children from Darwin?
– Steps have been taken to evacuate women and children from Darwin; also civilian men whose presence is not regarded as necessary for the war effort will be removed, and in that way increased accommodation will be made available for those engaged on defence works, and upon the unloading of ships.
– by leave - I move -
That Order of the Day No. 2 (International Affairs - Ministerial Statement– Resumption of debate on motion to print paper) be discharged.
Order of the Day No. 2 relates to the debate on the ministerial statement made to Parliament by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt)’ on the 27th November. Since then international events have occurred which were the subject of another statement by -the Minister for External Affairs yesterday. I have discussed the matter with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden), who agrees with me that the order of the day should be discharged from the noticepaper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have received from the Tubercular Sailors and Soldiers Organization a letter which recites a number of instances of soldiers who, having returned from abroad suffering from tuberculosis, have been refused pensions on the ground that their complaint was not due to, nor materially aggravated by, war service. As these men were passed by military medical officers as fit for service abroad and some of them were abroad with the Army for twelve months before they were discharged, will the Minister for Repatriation modify the decision of the Repatriation Department which places on the men the onus of proof, and thereby accept on behalf of the Government some of the responsibility for their condition ?
– In the early months of the war, medical examiners took X-ray films of a number of soldiers before their departure overseas. These showed that several men whohad been accepted for military service were tubercular. Subsequently, these men were recalled to Australia.
– Some of them were absent for twelve months.
– The explanation is that difficulty was experienced in tracing them. Upon their return to Australia, they were again X-rayed, and those men whose complaint had, in the interval, become aggravated were granted compensation. Those who had not grown worse since their enlistment were discharged, but were not given any special consideration. After their discharge, they had the right to appeal to the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal
Mr.Conelan. - That is not worth a drink of water.
– I could do no more. The men asked me to approve of their admission to hospital for treatment until the appeals were completed, but they are not seriously ill. They have simply proved that they have contracted tuberculosis.
– Surely that is enough.
– Whilst I admit that it is serious, I point out that the men are not invalids. I could not order their admission to a sanatorium while the appeal was in progress. My powers in that respect are limited. Several honororable members have brought this matter to my notice, and the secretary of the Tubercular Sailors and Soldiers. Organization, Mr. Bentley Cooke, after discussing the subject with me, agreed with my attitude. Later he distributed a circular which asked, in effect, whether the Minister for Repatriation was bound to abide by the decision ofthe RepatriationCommission. I remindhonorable members that a Minister must abide by the law.
– Why not amend the act?
– I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that the act should be amended and that something should be done for these men. But until amending legislation is introduced, I shall abide by the provisions of the exist- ingset. In my opinion, the circular should not have been distributed.
– In regard to the forthcoming industrial conference, has the Attorney-General considered the wisdom of having judges of the Arbitration Court and conciliation commissioners participating in matters of industrial controversy with persons who may be interested parties before the court on some future occasion? Has that matter been discussed with the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, or is the participation of the judges to be confined to matters of procedure before the court?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has asked for the assistance of the judges, whose statutory duties include the process of conciliation in addition to arbitration. The Minister considers that from that stand point, the conference would be greatly assisted by representatives of the judges who, I understand, will attend. Their presence cannot possibly prejudice cases that may come before them in future.
Spring Hill Depot - Rust Affected Grain - Election of Representatives to Board
– As congestion may possibly be experienced by the railways system in the near future, will the Minister for Commerce order the immediate reception of bagged wheat into the Spring. Hill depot? In view of the fact that the silos have now been filled to the limit of safe storage capacity, will the Minister make available at concession rates bags which are now stored at Spring Hill, for the reception of the outstanding wheat?
– I shall discuss with the State Wheat Board the congestion that is occurring in the majority of the principal wheat centres, especially in New South Wales. The distribution of bags at concession rates is a matter that I shall refer immediately to the Australian Wheat Board, and I shall convey a reply to the honorable member as early as possible.
-I ask the Minister for Commerce whether certain arrangements, which he made recently in South Australia with regard tothe intake of rust affected wheat, included arrangements under which that wheat would be gristed as soon as possible so as to obviate the risk of its becoming insect infested?
– I have had a short discussion with Mr. Thompson, the general manager of the Australian Wheat Board, on this subject, but at the present time I am not aware of the intentions of the board. However, I shall again confer with Mr. Thompson in order to ascertain what is being done.
– The Minister for Commerce has stated that the Government proposes to allow wheat-growers to elect their own representatives to the Australian Wheat Board. Will the honorable gentleman indicate when the elections are to take place?
– I hope to review early in the new year the whole position in regard to the reconstruction of the Australian Wheat Board. The recent appointments are only temporary, the object being to give to the growers adequate representation for the control of this season’s crop. I shall bear in mind the representations of the honorable member, and hope to have the board reconstructed very shortly.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior take the necessary steps to ensure that all ministerial motor cars in Canberra shall be fitted with producer-gas units so that an example will be set to private motorists? In view of the petrol shortage will typists and other government servants be compelled to travel to and from the Canberra railway station by bus in the same way as honorable members travel?
– I shall place the honorable gentleman’s question before the Minister for the Interior.
Employees of Butter and Cheese Factories - Saw-millers - Reserved Occupations.
– I have received from the secretary of the Victorian Co operative Butter and Cheese Factories Association the following telegram: -
Butter and cheese manufacturers of Victoria greatly distressed over recent call-up. Staffs already depleted by men joined fighting services and others in camps, production at its peak. Essential that even uncertificated men be retained for impossible replacement. Three weeks ago I submitted to D. Cameron chairman New Priorities Board proposal that employees only be called up during low production period. His board sympathetic and has been negotiating with Defence Department. Cameron’s board inundated with complaints from manufacturers. Situation so serious would be grateful you request Prime Minister to immediately release those recently called up, relying on the fact that manufacturers keenly desirous of subscribing to national requirements and willingly will suffer lessened inconvenience slack production period - -Lowsby
Will the Prime Minister give immediate consideration to this problem in view of the fact that the dairying industry is at the peak of its production?
– That matter has been and is being considered. I shall ask the Minister for the Army to look into that particular case immediately.
– I have received the following telegram : -
Richmond Tweed Saw-millers desire you advise Government policy military service timber employees. Area officers commanding men proceed camp short notice. Mills supplying rifle furniture Air Raid Precaution butter boxes orders unable carry on due withdrawal men to camp. Is it intention withdraw key men from industry
Will the Minister for the Army confer with the Minister for Supply and Development in order to ascertain whether Australia is so short of timber that men cannot be withdrawn from this key industry if Australia’s defence needs are to be met?
– Prompt consideration will be given to the contents of the telegram read by the honorable member. On the general subject of the call-up, the men who were recently called up were not men who were registered under classes II. and III. They were men of the Militia Forces who had already served and were on the strength of units or they may not yet have been allotted from class I. - i.e., single men up to 35 years of age. It is quite possible that many of those men had in the meantime gone over to war industries or reserved occupations, and on the particulars previously furnished they were called up for service. If it were known that they were in war industries or reserved occupations they should not have been called up. The instructions issued to Commands were that the Reserved Occupational Order bc adhered to insofar as conditions of leave and deferment of training applied for seasonal occupations or specified industries. Under these conditions exemption would be continued. An extension of this leave was granted to all men of the Militia Forces to harvest their .crops, and also in respect of many industrial employees, such as textile and timber workers and those engaged in defence contracts, the Army has been granting them leave because they were covered by the Occupational Leave Order. It is, however, whilst in the past very few men in certain trades had been called up, now that it has been decided to place the country on a war footing, it follows that more of the skilled tradesmen will be called upon. That is unavoidable if efficiency in the Army is 1,0 be obtained. The instruction issued to the Commands in regard to the Reserved Occupational Order has also been transmitted to Area Officers, and no difficulty should present itself in determining the claims of applicants.
– Has the Minister assisting the Treasurer yet completed his inquiries into what is known as “the DMT rate of cost plus “, which was instituted by the Director of Machine Tools, Colonel Thorpe, in certain machine tool shops? If so, will a report be submitted to Parliament? If not, will he in the meantime indicate that appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that there shall be no wrongful expenditure of public moneys in this matter?
– When war against Japan broke out I had to drop the inquiries which I was making into the cost-plus system in order to attend Cabinet meetings and give more attention to the Department of Home Security, whose work has increased by more than 200 per cent The inquiries which I started are being continued by an official of the Treasury. This morning I reported to the Minister for Munitions what that official had told me. I am confident that within the next few days action will be taken to minimize, if not. eradicate, many of the evils which have been discovered in the cost-plus system. Meanwhile I cannot make the report desired by the honorable member.
– In view of the geographical position of Newcastle, the vastness of its industrial area, the necessity for the quick movement of troops in that region, and the possibility of the evacuation of the civil population, will the Minister for Supply and Development take action to ensure that the pontoons which were ordered some time ago foi1 the construction of bridges across the Hunter River north of Newcastle shall be immediately delivered?
– The Department of Supply and Development has issued orders for requirements of this kind on numerous occasions without firm orders, because I believe that the circumstances make such action necessary. On every occasion when urgent orders have been submitted for pontoons, clothing or any other requirements, this action has been taken. I am prepared to follow the same course in regard to this matter.
Sit CHARLES MARR. - Is it a fact that the Minister for Commerce has been able to arrange for a rebate of 3d. a bushel on wheat supplied to poultry- farmers in order to help the industry in its present perilous condition? Further, is it the intention of the Government to appoint a federal control board to deal with the egg industry?
– I have made arrangements with the Australian Wheat Board foi- a reduction by between 3d. and 4d. a bushel of the price of truck lots of wheat supplied to poultry farmers. I have been taken to task by some sections of the wheat-growing industry for this action, and, in order to vindicate myself, I point out that previously the reduced rate applied only in respect of six-truck lots, and this gave the benefit of a rake-off to the middlemen. A federal advisory committee is in operation at the present time. Yesterday I appointed the representative of the Sydney Egg Board as chairman of this committee. I am considering the advisability of creating a federal board with greater powers than are possessed by this committee. I am giving consideration to the position of the poultry industry, and I shall do all that I can to improve the lot of poultry farmers.
Effect of War
– I ask the Prime Minister whether any steps will be taken to review the position of primary and export industries in view of the altered conditions caused by the entry of Japan into the war? I refer particularly to the granting of protection to these industries because of the likely loss of their export markets. Will production he continued along normal liners in all export industries?
– I said yesterday that we had reached a condition which necessitated a revolutionary alteration of the economic structure of the country. I wish to make it clear that all of the problems of civil adjustment will be regarded, by myself at any rate, as being subordinate to the major problem of organizing the defence of the Commonwealth in the light of our immediate situation. There will be, as I have said, some confusion, and I have no doubt that great losses will be suffered, not only by individuals but also by many groups of individuals. I should be misleading the people of Australia if I were to say to them that all such losses could be insured against. At the same time, I am not neglectful of the obligation which rests upon the Government to do everything, possible to make the burden of this war aslight as circumstances will permit. The review of the position of the primary producers will fit in with the general review of the whole economic situation. I undertake to look at the problem as fairly and as sympathetically as possible. But I shall not delude myself by saying that it must come first; it cannot.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The Prime Ministers answer to my question seemed to imply that I desired priority to be given to certain steps for the protection of the interests of primary producers, over the urgent needs of the war effort. That was far from my mind.
– I did not think that.
– I hope that neither the honorable gentleman nor the House gained that impression from my question. I merely asked that the matter be considered in conjunction with the general arrangement ofour war effort.
– I did not regard the honorable gentleman’s request as one for priority to be given to the problems of primary producers over the necessities of the war organization, and did not intend that that should be deduced from my reply; but, I considered that it was necessary to say to the country at large that there are problems of this nature which at the present juncture cannot be dealt with adequately by the Government because of its preoccupation with the conduct of the war itself. The economic changes that have had to be made were inevitable. I assure the honorable gentleman that I did not misunderstand his question.
– I ask the Attorney-
General whether any proclamation has been issued which may affect late shopping nights in country towns? If not when may we expect such a proclamation to be issued?
– Regulations have been gazetted fixing the closing hour for shops in country towns at 6 p.m., subject to the possibility of variation in certain regions. That regulation, when examined, will answer the honorable gentleman’s question.
– I ask the Attorney-
General whether it is a fact that coal miners throughout Australia have decided to forgo their usual Christmas holidays in order to build up our coal stocks? Further, is it true that, despite the fact that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) has amended the coal regulations, the mine owners are giving very little encouragement to this laudable and patriotic gesture of the miners and are again resorting to irritating and carking sabotage tactics by continually appealing to the Central Reference Board against decisions
– Order ! The honorable member may not make a speech.
– In view of these facts, will the Attorney-General consider amending the coal regulations again in order to prevent any appeals by the owners to the Central Reference Board upon questions of a purely local nature?
– It is true, as the honorable gentleman has said, that the coalminers have agreed to work longer hours, and the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner, Mr. Mighell, has expressed to the Government his great appreciation of their action. The Minister for Labour and National Service has already taken up the other matter mentioned by the honorable member. Under regulations recently issued, a general appeal to the Central Reference Board from local boards has been abolished. Local boards must now confine themselves to local matters. The question of jurisdiction is, therefore, the only question which the Central Reference Board can be called upon to review. Under the regulations, as they stood, it was found by my colleague that questions of jurisdiction were being raised in order to stop the proceedings of local boards. The Minister has now altered the regulations. In future it will not be possible to stop proceedings on a question of jurisdiction. If such a question be raised before a local board the proceedings will still continue, and the question of jurisdiction can be determined at the conclusion of the local board’ hearings. It is thought by the Minister that this will meet the needs of the case.
– What about the proceedings before Mr. Morrison?
– That, of course, is another subject. Mr. Morrison was appointed a conciliation commissioner in order to deal with holidays. He acted in this capacity because the chairman of the Central Reference Board, Judge Drake-Brockman, was ill. Regulations have been passed which will give Mr. Morrison’s decision the same effect as a decision of the Central Reference Board, and from it there will be no appeal.
Notification of Casualties
– On the 27th November I urged the Minister for the Army to order that the notification of fatal casualties among our troops should be delivered personally to the parents and family concerned, especially in country districts. I understood that the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Army, by nodding their heads, agreed that that should bo done. However, within the last few days I have received a letter from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) to the effect that my suggestion would be considered if the subject were reopened. The letter was apparently signed by a rubber stamp, so that I am not sure whether the Minister for the Army saw it. I ask the honorable gentleman whether he has yet done anything further in regard to the matter?
– Several methods of notifying casualties to the relatives of soldiers have been considered, and the method now in use was adopted by the Minister for the Army in the previous Government. A great deal of consideration has been given to this subject, and I am advised that experience has proved that the method now in use is the best in all the circumstances. However, I am prepared to reconsider the subject and I invite the honorable member for Wakefield to confer with me on the subject in my room at the conclusion of questions to-day. The honorable gentleman referred to the stamped signature on the letter he has received from me. I have to deal with the correspondence resulting from the work of six typists and three other officers, and if I had to sign, personally, every letter that goes out of my office I should have no time to devote to the large issues of policy and organization which come before the Department of the Army. Consequently I have had to delegate to some other individual authority to sign certain letters. I assure the honorable member that I have the very greatest sympathy with the bereaved relatives of soldiers.
– In view of the fact that conflicting and unreliable statements are sometimes issued to the press by command officers in various localities concerning defence activities, I ask the Minister for the Army whether he will consider the advisability of disallowing the issue of reports by these officers.
– Statements on matters of policy are made by the Prime Minister or myself. On occasions when statements have been issued by military officers concerning defence activities I have taken the matter up with the General Officer Commanding, but there have been very few instances of the kind. If the honorable .member will bring particular instances to my notice I shall have them investigated.
– Recently persons engaged in the building trades group constructing the Rocklea munitions factory in Queensland suggested, at a conference, that, with a view to expediting the work, a 60-hour week should be instituted. After discussion it was agreed that a f>3-hour week should apply in place of the previous 40-hour week. In view of the urgent necessity to complete the building of the Greenslopes Military Hospital in the shortest possible time, I ask the Minister for the Army whether lie will arrange a. conference of persons interested in this work in order to see whether an agreement can be reached for a longer working week so that the hospital may be completed at the earliest possible date for it is badly needed to replace wholly the present inadequate No. J 1 2 Australian General Hospital?
– I am aware of the deep interest which the honorable member has taken in the construction of the Greenslopes Military Hospital and I invite him to discuss the subject with me in my room after questions have been concluded.
– In view of the need to assist in every possible way the organization of the Home Guard, or the Volunteer Defence Force, which is composed largely of returned soldiers and other persons not altogether eligible for military service, I ask the Minister for the Army whether he will consider making additional equipment available, especially rifles and ammunition, and also provide facilities for target practice, so that this force may be brought to the highest possible pitch of efficiency? It. is essential that the detachments of the Home Guard located along the east coast of Australia, at such places as Southport, Tweed Heads and Grafton, shall be properly equipped with rifles and ammunition and given facilities for target practice.
– The suggestion of the honorable member is a good one. I have already issued instructions that continually increasing supplies of equipment, as it becomes available, shall be issued to the Volunteer Defence Force throughout Australia. The Government realizes that the members of this force are doing excellent work and are giving their services gratuitously. It desires, therefore, that all possible assistance shall be given to them in their training. The Government has decided to call up for full-time work for the duration of the war 5,000 members of the Volunteer Defence Corps.
-Will the Minister for Commerce endeavour to arrange for the rationing of superphosphate on the basis of the calendar rather than’ the financial year? Seasonal circumstances frequently result in a farmer sowing one year’s cereal crop in July and the succeeding year’s cereal crop in the following June. Under the present intention in regard to the rationing of superphosphate, sucha farmer would have to sow two years’ crops with one year’s ration, whereas if the calendar year were adopted as a basis the end of the rationing year would coincide with a seasonal period when there were no crop operations in Australia, and it would be much more convenient for the farmers.
– The procedure to be followed in relation to the rationing of superphosphate was discussed at length at the recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council. It was generally admitted that suplies of superphosphate could be rationed only through the manufacturers and distributors. The distributors have been ordered to makethe ration according to the quantity used in the previous year. I shall give consideration to the honorable gentleman’s suggestion, and do everything possible to overcome any anomaly that may arise, in order that the most equitable distribution may be made of the limited supplies available.
– In the last sessional period I asked the Minister for Supply to consider the advisability of bringing to Australia machinery from factories that had been closed down in England under the rationalization policy adopted bythe British Governmentat the outbreakof the war. As the situation is more serious now than it was then, will the honorable gentleman consider re-erecting somewhere in the neighbourhood of Lithgow a steel works which would help to eke out our supplies of steel should the operations at Port Kembla or Newcastle be interrupted, in view of the fact that the cartage of coal to Whyalla, in South Australia, would involve transport overa distance of approximately 1,000 miles?
– The Minister for Munitions has had this matter under consideration, and has submitted whatI regardas rather costly proposals. These arebeing considered by the Government, and a decision will be made in accordance with all the practical aspects of the case.
Payment of Accounts
– Is the Prime Minister aware that war production is being retarded in New South Wales because the Board of Area Management in Sydney, consisting of Sir Philip Goldfinch as chairman and other men of ability and experience, is unable to authorize the payment of accounts exceeding £2,000 in connexion with war contracts? Payments beyond that amount have to be authorized in Melbourne by the Director ofFi nance, who on many occasions delays the matter by from six weeks to two months. This restricts the operations of war contractors, because they have to pay cash for the raw materials that they obtain from the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and other concerns. Has the honorable gentleman seen the report and recommendation of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure in connexion with this matter? If so, will he consider enlarging the authority of the Sydney Board of Area Management, and authorizing progress payments to the smaller contractors in order that they may be enabled to make prompt payment in respect of wages and raw materials?
– I have seen the reportto which the honorable gentleman has referred. I also have some knowledge of the circumstances which he has related with a certain degree of emphasis. To the extent that changes have become necessary in view of the need for more immediate authority, the requisite action has been taken.
– In the early part of this year, I wrote to the Department of the Army several letters stressing the need for expediting the reconstruction of the rifle range at Coolangatta. This afternoon, I received from the officer commanding the Volunteer Defence Corps at Coolangatta, Mr. Stafford, a telegram stating that all of the necessary material has been on the groundfor some time, and that he understands that labour for the work is available in Brisbane. As there seems to have been an undue holdup of the work, will the Minister for the Army have inquiries made with a view to expediting it?
– Prompt consideration will be given to the honorable gentleman’s request, and he will be informed of the result.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in abillfor an act to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1940, as amended by the Income Tax Assessment Act 1941 and for other purposes.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from the 16th
December(vide page 1135), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That a war tax be levied and paid on the war tax income of every person (other than a company) whose war tax income as ascertainedin accordance with Part IIIb. of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1941 exceeds One hundred and fifty-six pounds.
That the rates of war tax be as follows : -
Provided that the rates of war tax imposed for the financial year which commenced on the first day ofJuly, One thousand nine hundred and forty-one shall be one-half of the rates declared in this resolution.
– by leave - I move -
That the motion be amended as follows: -
The’ amendment I have moved’ will give effect to a decision of the Government that personnel, of the fighting; forces,, in the lower ranks,, shall not be’ called upon to> contribute a. special waa.” tax. Accordingly, liability for waa- tax. will not. apply to a Member of the forces whose pay does noi exceed £200..
It is also proposed that the war tax shall not be imposed on the dependants’ allowances which are paid in respect- of tha wife and children and other dependants of a member of the forces. This; exemption will apply to all ranks and’ will be. expressed by way of amendment, to* the Income Tax Assessment Act. The amount of pay remaining te the soldier himself after allowances, have been deducted is. so small that it would be a grave hardship to impose a- tas. upon it, whilst, to impose a tax upon the allowances would be to create a. bad psychological effect. Therefore, the Government, after considering the matter this morning^ decided that the terms, of the resolution would have to be amended so as to exclude soldiers’ pay up to- £200. Certain anomalies have also been, created in respect of recent legislation, because the payment, of child endowment has, in. some instances-, created a new set- of conditions’.
Amendment agreed- to.
Mr. FADDEN (Darling. DownsLeader of the Opposition) [3.50). - It; is just about two and a half months, ago since the party which I led was displaced, and the Labour party took over the administration. Our Government was defeated because of the budget which it introduced. That budget, was formulated and presented to the House as a. measure designed to meet the situation then existing, and in anticipation of what the nation might be confronted with in the future. The Labour party strenuously opposed our budget, not on principle, but because,, so it said, we were treating harshly and unfairly those in receipt of low incomes. We, with a full realization. of the quantum of tax available from the lower ranges of incomes, sought toobtain from them, for the- financing, of this all-in war effort, a. just contribution. The taxable field which we proposed to tap amounted to £560,000^000, or 70 per cent, of the taxable capacity of the nation. That huge amount is made up of incomes below £400 a year. The only satisfaction which the- Opposition can have in the present measure is that the action, being taken by the Government to-day totally vindicates our policy which Parliament rejected less than three months ago. .1 do not know what the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles:) thinks- about it, having regard to the measure now before the House, and to the fact that the country was promised that the financial position would be reviewed early in the New Year1. Now the Government has brought down a measure which treats tint low incomes more harshly than we proposed to treat them. This measure provides that the whole amount shall be raised in the form of a; direct, tax, whereas we proposed that a. part of the money raised would be in the form of a post-waa?’ credit or, if you like, a. compulsory loan. The Government seeks* to obtain £24,500,000 in a foll financial year, of which £20,000^000 is to he provided by individual taxpayers, and £4,500,000 will represent a further infliction upon the already overtaxed companies. Where is- thi.? £20,000,000 to come front? This is the amount, which is to be assessed for a full year, not the amount which it is expected will be received in. this financial year. Honorable members should not be misled regarding the amount which will be available to. finance the war as the result of this. provision.. Of the £30,000,000, £11,800,000’ is to be raised from incomes of less- than £400 a year. This, represents 2.7 per cent, of the taxable income of £560,000,000, made up of incomes below £400 a year.. This amount of £11,800,000 can be compared with the amount of £7,750,000 which we proposed to raise under the system of post-war credits. Under that system the taxpayer would be- given, a credit, to be redeemed, after the- war, some-tiling that would assist him during the period of post-war reconstruction. Compare that with the straight-out taxation proposal;? of the present Government. Those in receipt of the lower incomes- are being asked to- contribute only 2.7 per cent, of a total of £560,000,000, and it must not be overlooked that that total is based, upon last year’s figures. It is an everexpanding total, and will increase as. war expenditure increases. Yet the Government, at i his ti mm- of national emergency, timidly asks those whose incomes make up a total of £560,000.000 to contribute only 2.7 per cent, of that amount. It must not be forgotten that those in the lower income ranges receive by far the greater part of the annual child endowment payments of £1.3,000,000. When their receipts from child endowment are taken into consideration, it is probable that they will not be required to contribute more than 1 per cent, of the total of £560,000,000. The Government is not taking a realistic view of the situation. It is even camouflaging its demands by placing a super-impost on incomes over £400 a year, the minimum contribution under this provision is 6d. in the £1 on incomes up to £300 a year, whilst on incomes over that amount the tax is ls. in the £1. This impost is in addition to the disastrously high taxation already collected on incomes of £1,000 a year and more. I hold no brief for the persons in the higher ranges of income, but I warn the Treasurer that the Government, in imposing this additional tax, will pass beyond the limit of safety. Already, salaries exceeding £1,500 per annum are so overtaxed that the Government has imposed a “ceiling” of 18s. in the £1. The Treasurer has omitted to explain whether that limit will l>e affected by the new impost. If the limit is to be raised to 19s. in the £1, the effect upon our economic life and the earning capacity of the nation will be calamitous. The Government has failed to tackle this problem fairly and honestly by taxing the lower ranges of income.
The Opposition has had very little opportunity to examine the new proposals, but it is noteworthy that whilst the lower ranges of income between £156 and £300 a year will be taxed at the rate of 6d. in the £1, a system of rebates will operate. For each dependant, a rebate of ls. a week will be allowed, which will substantially reduce the rate of 6d. in the £1. I am both surprised and disappointed that, in this emergency, the Government has failed to adopt the only honest course of imposing taxation upon an equitable and sensible basis. The Opposition does not desire unnecessarily to criticize the efforts of the Go- vernment to obtain money for the purpose of waging the war, and desires to assist the Treasurer in every possible way. But the fact remains that the previous Government adopted a realistic outlook in order to safeguard to the maximum degree our lives and our possessions. The present Government has neglected to take similar precautions.
I propose to examine the reason that the Treasurer gave last evening for introducing these taxation proposals at this juncture. Two months ago, the Government’s avowed policy was based upon extreme confidence. The Government had confidence that the people would voluntarily contribute to war loans and war savings certificates, and deprive themselves of luxuries in order to divert, their spending power from civil consumption to war activities. In a few weeks, the Government has discovered to its dismay that its optimism, as the Opposition prophesied, was ill-founded. The previous Government recognized that the nation cannot possible finance an adequate war effort by handing round the hat, or a “ tarpaulin muster “, and that Australians have to be compelled to contribute their just proportion to war finance. This is no time for appeals to the people voluntarily to support war loans. The peril demands immediate action, and the people look to the Government for a lead.
As only meagre information has been placed at our disposal, I have experienced some difficulty in preparing constructive criticism of the Government’s taxation proposals. In fact, the Treasurer has supplied to the House no worthwhile information to enable honorable members to estimate whether his proposals are sound. The honorable gentleman declared that approval of the new tax was being sought at the present juncture for the purpose of financing exceptional war expenditure that will be incurred by the entry of Japan into the conflict. According to his estimate, between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000 will be required in addition to the provision that the Chifley budget made two months ago. No data have been supplied to honorable members to enable them to gauge whether the estimated rate of expenditure is being exceeded, whether estimates of revenue are being realized, and whether the manpower and resources of the country are being adequately exploited. Personally, I doubt whether the budget estimates are being realized; hut, for the present, I shall assume that the Government requires an additional £40,000,000 or £50,000,000. The Treasurer is rapidly approaching the danger point in finance. Definitely, the Government must now realize, since the Labour party rejected the Fadden budget, the difference between responsibility and irresponsibility. Although the Fadden budget contained a gap of £122,000,000 between revenue and expenditure, the money could have been obtained by voluntary loans without disturbing the soundness of our economic structure. [Extension of time granted. J My plan also provided for the sensible use of bank credit. The Chifley budget, which was substituted for the Fadden budget, originally required the finding of £137,000,000 by voluntary loans, but in response to representations by the Opposition regarding anomalies in the lax proposals, the gap was widened to £139,000,000. I remind honorable member 8 that the previous Government, considered that the figure of £122,000,000 approached the danger point; the present Government i3 obliged to find an additional £17,000,000.
The proposed new tax will bring to the Treasury approximately £12,000,000 during the remainder of the financial year, leaving the Government still to find £5,000,000 to make up the leeway of £17,000,000. But the proceeds from” this tax will not contribute ls. towards the extraordinary expenditure of £40,000,000 or £50,000fi00 which the Treasurer urgently requires for the accelerated war effort. In my opinion, the Government is venturing far beyond the danger point and Australia will suffer severely from the effects of inflation. That could have been avoided if the Government had measured up to its responsibility by obtaining the money by equitable taxation, and by diverting money from Clv 1 consumption to war activities. Deposits in the savings banks have grown substantially since the outbreak of war and retail turnovers have increased. Those are danger signs, indicating that there is too much spending power in the community and that jio definite plan has been devised for diverting purchasing power from civil consumption to war needs. The Opposition recognizes that money must be found to wage the war, but honorable members on his side of the chamber must criticize the methods which the Government has employed to obtain the requisite finance. J still believe that, a method of compulsory saving must be introduced, because the burdens which the war imposes must be more equitably distributed than they ae at present. That implies that the loveir ranges of income must, in the circuns’ inces, contribute to a greater de, 0, than they are doing now. The .den budget, if it had been adopted .Id have honestly met the situation am, ‘ould have created a wise psychology ‘f saving among citizens, who would have accepted their responsibility to Australia by sharing in this great national effort.
.– When the Income Tax Assessment Bill was being considered by Parliament a few weeks ago, attention was drawn to the fact that at an early date the need would arise for a complete overhaul of our system of taxation. This had been brought about by continual amendments, some of them made under the strain of war-time conditions, that have added to the complexities of an already complicated taxation system. The proposal now before the committee is no exception. As the months pass, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) will find that those who advised him in the preparation of this measure did not give to its ultimate effects the consideration that it requires. In my opinion, honorable members must vote for the proposal because of the necessity to find thi’ money for war needs. The Treasurer told the committee last night that he was introducing this tax in this form because only something simple could be immediately brought into operation to meet, our urgent needs. He went on to say -
Wo shall have time during the next few months to consider any modifications which may ho desirable to fit it more harmoniously into our general financial structure, and make provision accordingly for 1042-43.
That, is the redeeming part of his statement, because those who advised him on thismeasure cannot have fully taken into account its inevitable repercussions. I donot mean repercussions in the sense of taxation. I do not complainof taxation,because whatever amount of money the Treasurerneeds he must have. But how to raise that money isanother matter. I do not refer to the quantum of tax, but I wonder whether those who have advised the Treasurer have taken into account the fact that this measure, like some of its predecessors, will have the automatic effect of reducingother revenues. I explain what I mean by saying that this tax will affect the personal rates of tax that will be paid by individuals. It commences at lower rates of income , and gradually rises until at £300 it becomes 13d. inthe £1. Persons earning more than £300 a year will pay 1s. in the£1 overand above the ordinary income tax.
– Not necessarily. The honorable member forgetsthe deduction for federal income tax.
– Yes. the right honorable member is right. I used the expression “12d. in the £1” because it is the expression used in the bill. The tax will be 1s. in the £1 adjusted by federal income tax. That will affect the revenue which the Government proposes to collect from the rax on the undistributed profits of companies, at all events, private companies which represent a considerable part of the tax-paying system. Private companies pay on their undistributed profits tax at the rate that would be paid by the individual. There is a ceiling rate which the Government was obliged to introduce in the last sessional period because it had to remove the inevitable anomalies which arose under the legislation. The effect of the ceiling rate will be that many companies will not pay the additional tax upon the undistributed profits because they have already come on the ceiling rate. The additional 1s. in the £1 adjusted by the income tax will bring nothing to the Government. We are leading one by one into these interminable complications. I do not rise to-day to be critical of the Government. I say that earnestly because it is not the time to be critical, although it is the time to be constructive. As I said earlier, the statement by the Treasurer that this tax will be reviewed before Parliament again met was the redeeming part of his speech. Apart from the fact that he has to raise an additional £25,000,000 of revenue, which makes this bill and a companytax necessary, he recognizes the necessity early : next yearcompletely tooverhaul the whole business of taxation,otherwise he will find asthe year 1942-43 proceeds that by introducing new taxingmeasureshe has partly defeated the purpose of the measures which he had previously introduced for the raising of revenue from companies.We have reached the positionwherethe taxon the individual and the tax on the companyare so tied together that theycannot be separated. Byraising £20,000,000 from one tax he will lose a considerable part of that sum which he would otherwise have collected by means of another tax. I drew attention to this fact whenas a member supporting the MenziesGovernment I was sitting exactly where the right honorablemember for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) sits. When that Government introduced the pay-roll tax Isupported it, but I made itclear that I did not like the tax in principle. It was necessary for me to support that tax in order to ensure that a system ofchild endowment would be introduced in Australia. I, however, directed attention to the fact that when the Government had raised £9,000,000 by means of the payroll tax, itwould introduce another deduction from the gross income of the taxpayer. In other words, a company paying £500 a year in pay-roll tax would deduct that payment from its income next year, and consequently the general income tax it would pay would be correspondingly less.
– That would have happened had the basic wage been increased.
– I am not assuming that the pay-roll tax and the basic wage have anything in common.
– They were very much allied.
– I had no reason to believe that theyhad anything to do with each other. I cannot assume that there would have been an increase of the basic wage but for the imposition of the pay-roll tax. I must assume that they have nothing to do with each other. I only know that the pay-roll tax is a part of the system of taxation. Hundreds of taxpayers would never have been affected by the increase of the basic wage even if it had occurred, so that my remarks are correct about them, even though the right honorable member for Yarra may be right in what he says. The fact remains that the Government is losing general income tax because of the new deduction for pay-roll tax. In the last sessional period I did not direct attention to this because it would have added criticism to the many other necessary criticisms of a constructive nature. When the Government increased the land tax I was not a party to objection to that increase, but as the Government increased the land tax so did it increase the deductions which may be made for land tax in the income tax returns of the same taxpayers. Most of the people who pay the increased land tax are those who pay the maximum rate of income tax of 16s. 8d. in the £1. The increased land tax applied only to the unimproved values of £20,000 plus £5,000 for statutory allowance, making’ an unimproved capital value of £25,000. It is reasonable to assume that the great majority who would pay increased land tax will pay income tax at the rate of 16s. 8d. in the £1. Therefore, the Government imposed an addition to the land tax of £1 and in many cases lost 16s. Sd. which it would have collected through the income tax system.
My object to-day is to impress upon the Treasurer the state of terrific complication which we have reached and the need for complete revision and overhaul of the whole system if the revenue is not to be seriously affected by the very measures which are being introduced at present. The Government finds when approximately half the financial year has passed that it must supplement the revenues for which, it budgetted in. November. If my recollection is correct, the Treasurer said when he brought down the budget that it might be necessary early in the new year to revise taxation. He is only a few weeks early, but important happenings have occurred since November. He has chosen to introduce a measure which conforms very closely to the unemployment relief taxes that were in operation in the States during the depression period. It is quite evident that this measure follows the principles which were adopted in the State emergency measures for the collection of taxes. Those State unemployment taxing systems were very successful. I am sure that the Treasurer hears me say that with great satisfaction. They were very successful as revenue raisers. They were not successful insofar as they did not cease to exist when the need for their application no longer existed when the special depression and unemployment conditions in respect of which they had been imposed had passed. The taxes continued and became a permanent part of the taxation system. For that reason, I should have been glad if the Treasurer had introduced into this bill a provision to the effect that it would expire automatically a certain time after the wa.r ended, in the same way as he graciously agreed to set a time limit to the war-time company tax after the bill proposing its imposition had returned from the Senate. If the tax be a wartime tax, when the war is finished the country may reasonably be expected to raise its revenue by ordinary methods of taxation and abandon the special measures introduced for the purpose of war.
I direct the attention of the committee to the fact that there are three essential features in respect of which this bill differs from the general income tax law. This is not an increase of the ordinary income tax. Honorable members must not allow themselves to be confused into imagining that it increases the ordinary income tax. This is a special tax computed in a different way. There are three essential differences in the method of computation. First, it commences from the lower ranges of income. Secondly, it does not grant the statutory and concessional deductions allowed by the general income tax law. Thirdly, it grants a deduction for dependants by way of a rebate of tax instead of a deduction from gross income. The Treasurer is right on the last point, because every one whatever his income, will receive ls. a week or £2 12s. a year for each, dependant.
– It works out about the same.
M,r. SPOONER.- No. There will be substantial differences. The Treasurer made that clear last night. A deduction of £50 for a dependant would mean to a man on a low income a less concession than it would mean to the man on a high income.
– That would be so if it were a graduated tax, but this is a tax on a flat rate.
– It is a graduated tax. It graduates from 6d. on the base income to1s. on incomes of more than £300 per annum.
– But the graduations do not rise as high as 16s.8d. in the £1.
– The man on £8 a week would receive twice the allowance that would be received by the man on £8 a week if the allowance for dependants were a deduction from gross income. That is an important consideration. The Treasurer,I believe, is right in adopting the flat rate principle for this purpose. I had endeavoured to make it clear that there are these basic differences between the war-time tax now introduced and the general income rax. This is a special tax. It is a tax with principles and a structure of its own. It is a tax for the financing ofthe war. The Treasurer may find it necessary as time passes to increase the rates of tax provided in this bill. Of course, that is a dangerous prophesy to make, but it is evident that this measure, operating on a system that relates peculiarly to wartime conditions and commencing with a very low rate of tax, may lend itself to future adjustment.For this reason it is all the more urgent that the tax be reviewed during the early part of next year, with a view to welding it into the general income tax system and removing the complications which will make administration unwieldy. Does the Treasurer realize what extra administrative work will be thrown on to the Taxation Department by this measure? The tax will involve the computation of new assessments by entirely new means, and this work will require an army of expert clerks, because juniors and beginners cannot be employed on such a task. The Taxation Department has not sufficient expert employees to spare for this new job. Already it m ust be very much behind with its work; this, of course, means that the Government is losing revenue. I ask the Trea surer to ascertain, for example, how many companies have not yet been taxed upon their undistributed profits in respect of the year 1939-40. The amount of unassessed tax, which should be in the hands of the Treasury at the present time, must be very large. I know of a number of companies which have not yet been taxed on their undistributed profits for that year. I know why these taxes are outstanding: The taxing system is so complicated that, before the Commissioner can assess the tax on a private company, he must wait until he can ascertain the personal rate attributable to the shareholders. [Extension of time granted.] The Taxation Department is obviously at a disadvantage, being understaffed and unable to cope with this work, which involves hundreds of thousands of pounds of Commonwealth revenue. This measure will throw on to its shoulders another complicated tax system requiring the employment of more expert officers. I doubt the wisdom of the proposal. However, I am not prepared to challenge the basic principle of the bill. The Treasurer must raise an additional £20,000,000. This is a means towards that end. I urge the honorable gentleman not to neglect this problem in the rush of other matters during the early part of next year. After a financial period has been commenced, it is easy to ignore the operation of the taxation system until a new period is imminent. During the coming year, the Treasurer will be almost overwhelmed by many complications, and those caused by this measure will not be the least of them.
I suppose that it would be fair and reasonable for the Opposition to say to the Government, with regard to this bill, “We told you so ; we told you that it would be necessary to impose some extra rate of tax upon lower incomes, partly for the purpose of raising revenue and partly for the purpose of reducing the amount of spending power in the hands of the public - a spending power which is causing an undue increase of the manufacture of non-essential goods.” In this regard, the position is no different now from what it was in October last. However, I do not propose to say this to the Government. Instead, I congratulate it upon what it is doing. I believe that it is doing ohe proper thing and that it has realized that it must, for the protection of the nation’s finances, impose some extra tax upon the lower rates of income. It deserves to be congratulated, therefore, upon having the courage to change its opinion. I believe that it will be necessary to impose even higher rates of tax on lower incomes in the future, not because anybody wants people to pay more tax, but because, having regard to the huge amount of public income and the cumulative effect of this increased spending power on the needs of the war industries, the finances of the nation must be stabilized.
I repeat that the Government is adding one more serious complication to the taxation system. “Unless this matter be taken in hand in the early part of next year, it may be a severe handicap to the Government in the conduct of the war. The financial problems of the Government in the year 1942-43 will bc considerably greater than they are now. In the early part of next year the Government will have to clear its decks and prepare its plans for the future. If this war demands anything, it demands an assurance that whatever funds the country needs must be obtained by some means. War finance is entirely different from any other form of finance. In peace time, developmental works arc carried out according to the money that is available. In war time, the Government has to decide what work must be done, and then take steps to secure the requisite revenue. The Government must straighten out our taxation system and bring this and other measures into a general scheme that conforms with sounder principles of revenueraising.
– I should have preferred the Government to adopt a method of raising this revenue other than that which it has selected. However. I realize that the revenue is needed, and that the Government in its wisdom considers the method provided in this bill to be the most suitable one. Therefore, I believe that the Parliament must authorize its proposals. As the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner) has pointed out, this measure will necessitate the creation of additional administrative machinery. The Taxation Department is already seriously overloaded with work, and the collection of revenue is therefore being delayed. However, there is an even more serious aspect of the matter than this. The production of munitions, which is vital to our war effort, is being held up because of the fact that the skilled cost investigators and qualified accountants who are needed by the Munitions Department are not available to it. The complicated system of munitions production which has been instituted in Australia, including the cost-plus method, requires the employment of capable accountants. However, the Taxation ‘Commissioner pays higher fees to these men than are offered by the Munitions Department, and therefore he secures the services of most of those who are available. Also, many qualified accountants are engaged by taxpayers in order to work out income tax returns. The Munitions Department needs these nien more urgently than does the Taxation Commissioner or the taxpayer. But. it cannot obtain their services, and, accordingly, payments to war contractors are being delayed and the production of munitions is being retarded unduly. This difficulty can be overcome only by causing the Commonwealth Bank to function as it was intended to function - by using the national credit and simplifying financial procedure. At this grave time, we are called upon to pool the lives of the community. Therefore, we should pool all of our resources, even to private wealth and private homes. Some people may have more than others, but what does that matter when everything we have is at stake? If we should be defeated we should all be in the same plight. Speaking on the subject of man-power, the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price) said that he would be ruthless, and he asked the Government to be ruthless. But I nm sure that, on a question of the taxation of wealth, he would favour only a very small dose of ruthlessness. There cannot be any small doses of that medicine, because sooner or later all of the resources of the nation will have to be thrown into the common pool, and national credit will have to be used in order to simplify our financial system and speed up the operation of our war industries. Profits and personal gain should not be considered at this time. If we should he defeated, all profits would be worthless. All that is needed by the people to-day is a sustenance allowance, so that everybody may be made available to perform service for the nation in whatever sphere of activity they can do so. Many business men, primary producers and others, are struggling to pay income tax assessed on their income for the year 1940-41. Their incomes have fallen considerably this year, and they have not sufficient means to pay their taxes and yet continue to operate efficiently. People who are working in non-essential industries should be made available for war work. The nation is in the position of a ship in distress and waiting for somebody to come to its rescue. The munition workers and other members of the civil population will come to the rescue of Australia in the event of invasion. If that happens, those people who participate in the rescue of the ship of State - the fighting men, the munitions workers and others - will be entitled to participate in the distribution of the national wealth so salvaged, just as the rescuers of a ship would be entitled to participate in its salvage. Provision should be made for the billeting of munition workers. Soldiers have frequently been billeted in private homes. To-day we have an army behind the lines - it has been termed “ an army in overalls “ - and we should make provision for billeting them. It is too late now to talk about the provision of a proper housing scheme for them. Many munitions workers are working twelve hours a day. They have to leave home at about 5 a.m., and do not return until 9 p.m. Their efficiencyis being undermined because of the long hours of travelling between their homes and the factories. Many of them could be usefully employed during much of the time which is wasted in travel. Because of petrol rationing, it is impossible for many workers to get to work expeditiously. The Government should make an immediate survey of the accommodation available for munitions workers; Owners of houses should be asked to supply details of the unused accommodationin their homes. All such accommodation should be available tomunitions workers in the localities in which they are engaged.
We are somewhat in the position of persons caught on an ice floe and trying to escape to safety. If they remain on the floe until it breaks up, they must necessarily sink; if they try to step off gingerly, keeping one foot on the floe and trying to put the other foot somewhere else, they must also inevitably perish. If we attempt to patch up the present capitalist economy by orthodox methods of finance, and to keep our feet on the old order, which is breaking up like the ice floe, we shall find ourselves in an impossible position. In order to extricate ourselves we must take courage and jump with one bound into a new and better order, so that we may develop a more co-operative civilization in which a new monetary system will provide for our needs.
.- It is a matter for great regret that on the day following the endorsement by this Parliament of the declaration of war on Japan and certain other countries we should be considering taxation measures necessary to implement the national policy in a House in which hardly any of the members of the Ministry are present. Having caused members of the Parliament to reassemble from the four corners of the continent, the Government surely should do them the courtesy of listening to the views that they are expressing. These views will naturally show wide divergences of opinion, but, nevertheless, they are worthy of close attention by the Government. I regret, therefore, that I, as some other honorable members have done, have to address practically empty benches. I make these remarks so that they may be recorded in Hansard, for I regard the situation as a reflection upon the Government and upon the parliamentary system on which we rely.
– There are nearly twice as many Government supporters as opposition members in the chamber.
– Does not the honorable member for Richmond realize that the circumstances of the last two or three weeks have caused an enormous increase of the work of Ministers ?
– As, after the close of the present sitting, Parliament may not meet for two or three months, it is highly desirable that the Government should give close attention to the views that honorable members are now expressing, for these views are closely related to the war effort ,and to the financial policy of the country. Whether the views of honorable members are sound or not, it cannot be denied that they are representative of the opinions of a considerable section of the Australian people.
With the passing of the war into this new phase there has come a call for the Administration to exhibit a degree of courage perhaps never previously shown by an Australian government. We all should be prepared to abandon our old party shibboleths and endeavour unitedly to face the new situation that confronts us. One of our urgent needs is to organize the resources of the country so that a maximum war effort may be exerted.. Taxation measures in war-time should be designed not only to raise money but also to divert spending from non-essential to essential needs. If money alone were necessary, it could be provided by various methods advocated by different schools of thought, but money in. itself means very little. As an agency for the war-time organization of the country, however, it means a. great deal.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) referred to the insufficiency of trained accountants to assist in our waa* industries. He spoke truly when he said that the Government was not able to obtain the services of .sufficient skilled accountants. Why is this so? It is because of the attraction of jobs in civil industry. The greater the demand for civil goods, the greater is the call upon skilled labour for the production of such goods. One of the purposes of war-time taxation, therefore, should be ro discourage the demand for nonessential civil goods.. Everything possible should be done to divert our activities to war production. Is the Government fully alive to this need, and, if so, to what extent is it fulfilling its obligations 1 Let me direct the attention of honorable gentlemen to some remarks, made on this subject in an address which Dr. Schacht, as president of the Reichsbank, delivered on the 29th November, 1938, before the Economic Advisory Booard of the Deutsche Academie. He said -
Simply expressed the problem was as follows: The credit money made available for the armament programme produced a demand for consumption goods, in so far as it was paid out in the form of wages and salaries.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).I cannot see the applica tion of the honorable gentleman’s remarks to the motion before the committee.
– I am pointing out that taxation measures in war-time should be examined in order to ascertain whether they will be effective, not only in providing money for war purposes, hut also in diverting money from the production and purchase of non-essential civil goods. We ought to aim to use all of our materials and labour for war purposes. Germany did this, and, in many respects, that country provides us with an object lesson in the organization of a nation’s resources for wai’. Dr. Schacht went on to say -
The armament manufacturers deliver military goods which are indeed produced but not consumed. This leads to two conclusions: First, care must he taken that in addition to armament production, .a volume of consumption goods is produced which is sufficient for the needs of the population, including all those working for re-armament; -and, second, the less is consumed the .more workers can be allotted to armaments. This, however., leads to greater consumption and thus to increased labour requirements on the part of the consumption goods industries. Thus, the standard of Jiving and the extent of re-armament stand in inverse .relation to each other. The less T consume the more I save, and the more I save the more I can spend on -armaments. This means that armaments, in the final analysis, can be financed not through money creation but only through .savings.
Taxation is, of course, another means of saving in order to .secure money for government expenditure. There is, therefore, a vital .connexion between the Government’s taxing proposals and its scheme for the war organization of industry .and armament. I look upon the post of Treasurer in -war-time as being comparable to that of the Minister for the Army, the Minister for the Navy, or the Minister for Air. If the Treasurer fails in his duty to provide money for war purposes, the service Ministers must fail in their duty to provide equipment. Consequently, the duty to organize the country for war falls very heavily upon the Treasurer.
Whilst I” congratulate the Government upon having introduced this measure to provide for a relatively small addition to the war taxes of the country, I must say that I do not think it goes far enough to meet the present difficult conditions. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and some of his colleagues who have had experience of government financial difficulties must also be of this opinion.
The greatest obligation that rests upon the Government at the moment is to keep our financial structure sound and to prevent, as far as possible, the development of an inflationary condition. This bill will nor, do very much in that connexion. The Government should take all necessary steps to withdraw surplus spending power from the community and to divert all of our energies to war production. During the last year or two between 200,000 and 300,000 additional persons have been found employment in war industries and businesses engaged in the production of civil good3. This has resulted in an extraordinary expansion of the spending power of the community. Unless the Government takes the situation in hand at once it will find that in the not distant future, perhaps about the middle of next year, we shall be in a spiral from which we shall not be able to extricate ourselves. [ commend to the Government the adoption of a policy similar to that of the Government of Canada. The effect of this would be not only to yield a substantial increase of revenue from taxation, but also to seal wages and prices in order to stave off inflation. Par too little has been done in this regard in Australia up to date. The present measure may be regarded as an indication that more severe taxation has yet to be imposed. If the Government dawdles, and plays with. the situation, as I sometimes fear thai it will, this country will not be able to do itself justice in the fight that lies ahead.
– Is not taxation growing fast enough to please the honorable member ?
– The taxation in certain fields - the company tax, for instance - has reached such a point that some companies which produce civil goods are practically being forced out of existence. On the other hand, the vast field of spending power represented by those who receive incomes of less than £400 a year has scarcely been touched. The Government ought to take its courage in its hands, and deal with the problem from the standpoint of national interest rather than from a political point of view. It is all very well to say that we are going to make a 100 per cent, war effort. I applaud the speech made over the air recently by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), but I look for deeds rather than for words. If the gallant words of the honorable gentleman and his Ministers are not supplemented by such action as will organize the resources of this country as they could be organized, the Government will fail lamentably in its duty to the nation. I hope that, in the new year, further measures will be brought down .to increase the range of taxes, by embracing the field referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, namely, the £560,000,000 field represented by persons receiving under £400 a year. That field must be attacked. There is no courage in taxing the higher ranges until they are wiped out, simply because few votes are involved. [Extension of time granted.’] The Government is required to exhibit that courage which the people of Australia demand of an administration in existing circumstances. It will not be exhibiting courage if it avoids the severe taxation of those whose votes it might, alienate. I am confident that the working man in the factory, the farmer, the business man, and the high magnate are prepared to do everything possible, and that whatever demands may be made upon the working classes will be cheerfully met, in view of the existing situation. I urge upon the Government, and the Treasury in particular, to regard itself not so much as a taxing machine but rather as an instrument for the organization of our resources. Those resources can be organized. Vast numbers of individuals, and vast quantities of material, can be released from civil industry, if appropriate taxation measures be taken. If the purchasing power of the community in respect of civil needs were diminished by millions of pounds, that amount could be devoted by the Government to wartime production, and those individuals who have been accustomed to produce china jugs and nicknacks for the bedroom, the drawing room, and the kitchen, could be more usefully employed, whilst the materials used in the manufacture of those goods could be devoted to war purposes.
I have endeavoured to touch upon the broad principles raised by the occasion, rather than to deal with this measure in detail. “We have to view the whole of our war effort in broad outline; the small details do not matter very greatly. This country will have to put forward a tremendous effort for the organization of our resources. The Prime Minister has expressed that view. That will not be the result if the Government fails to do those things which would make for an all-in war effort. I submit these views with possibly not much hope of their being adopted at the moment. I believe that within the next twelve months the existing circumstances will compel whatever government is in office to do very many unpleasant things, and to tax right down to the bottom of the scale. Every person in this country ought to be required to make some direct contribution to the Commonwealth for defence purposes, and I believe that all would be willing to do so, just as in New Zealand all of the people, from the charwoman to the company director drawing very large fees, are required to pay a flat rate.
– “What about pooling the whole of the resources of the nation ; the nation taking over the whole show?
– I am prepared to support any measures which will assist us to meet the enemy at the gate.
– That i3 too vague.
– What the honorable member for Batman suggests is to throw the whole of the economic resources of this country into turmoil. This, instead of assisting us in our fight, would cause disorganization, as it did in Russia 27 years ago. Any new state of society must await the termination of the conflict; not until then can we embark upon wholesale re-organization. I sincerely hope that the Government and its supporters will give some thought to the need for diverting vast .numbers of individuals from the production of civil goods into war channels. I reiterate that that can be done only by rationing, allocation, or conscription for industrial purposes. One of the most potent means is the taxing machinery. I suggest to the Treasurer, and to others who are responsible for the Government’s financial policy, that this is a major matter, which they must consider - how they can best serve the country at the present juncture by the organization of its financial resources through the taxing machinery.
.- One is reluctant to speak at length upon this particular financial measure. It h obvious that the Government is faced with the responsibility of raising further money. But it is not inopportune to draw attention to the fact that the Government has adopted many of the principles advanced by the last Government, which Labour sternly resisted when in Opposition. Nor is it inopportune to refer to the speeches made by, for example, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) - who, in his first speech upon finance, enunciated the most amazing ideas as to how money could be procured through the Commonwealth Bank - the Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini) - whose ideas upon finance hardly square with anything that the Government has brought forward to date - and the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman), who from time to time has delivered lofty lectures upon the subject. The Government has shown that it learns very slowly. It is clear that in the seat of responsibility it has realized, even though belatedly, that before a war can be properly financed it is necessary to apply taxes to the lower ranges of income. Only on the 1st October of this year, the Prime Minister, then the Leader of the Opposition, said, “ When a government begins to tax incomes of £150 for the purpose of financing the war, it is beyond all doubt taking everything that tlie people in receipt of those incomes have”. Honorable members will recall that that was an occasion when the budget proposals of the then Government were challenged, because the Opposition considered that to adopt them would mean disaster to the people. When I said that that was purely a political pretence adopted in order to enable the Opposition to gain power, my statement was hotly resented. Yet now we find that those very things which we were told would bring disaster upon’ the country are being done by our opponents after only ten weeks in office. What reason is advanced by the Government for this voile face? It is, that meanwhile expenditure has increased by £40,000,000. We were entitled to receive, in general outline, particulars as to how that increase had occurred, but not one word upon the subject has been vouchsafed. If it be right now to go into the lower ranges of income, as I claim that it is. it was right ten weeks ago.
– Has not the position changed in the last ten weeks?
– It has, by reason of the fact that Japan has come into the war. Rut I have always assumed that we were putting forward our maximum war effort long before then. The suggestion now advanced is of no moment; it simply indicates that the Government bit by bit has adopted the financial policy laid down by the present Opposition when it was in power. Examples of this tardy realization of inescapable consequences are to be found in the recent statement of the Prime Minister regarding reduced spending - ia suggestion advanced some months ago by the Government of the day - the use of women in war, and now the taxing of lower incomes. Thus the Government, which, ten weeks ago, was accused of introducing a rich man’s budget, has been vindicated by the acts of those who then resisted its proposals. I let the matter pass with the comment that the members of the present Ministry have always been apostles of easy finance. Some members of the Government have made speeches which cannot bo reconciled with what is now being done. For example, the Minister for Home Security has made some stirring speeches indicating bow the Commonwealth Rank could advance money and the poor could escape taxation. We listened patiently to a lot of such drool and drivel. Now, those men are silent. It seems to me that the Government is dealing with this matter in piecemeal fashion. Finance is just as vital a part of the war organization of this country as are the fighting services. The financial programme of the Government gives no evidence of co-ordination with the general war effort. What lead, for example, has been given to the people in respect of luxury goods? We have been told for weeks past by the Prime Minister that the purchase of luxury goods should be avoided. The question arises, what are luxury goods? Has any lead been given by the Government in this regard? None whatever, and the reason is that the Government is reluctant to face the sectional opposition which it would meet were it to say that goods of this or that class must not be purchased. However, it must face the situation eventually.
How are we to achieve the real purpose of war finance, namely, the diversion of effort from peace to war activities? The Government has imposed very heavy taxation on incomes of more than £1,000, and particularly on those between £1,500 and £2,500. I make no plea for the nian of property, who must necessarily contribute to the defence of the country in accordance with hi* ability to pay. He has a greater stake to defend than has the man without property, but I appeal to the Government, when considering further taxation measures, to make them bear some relation to the amount of wealth which the taxpayer possesses. Any one who examines the Government’s taxation proposals will admit that they bear very heavily on the professional and executive classes. We say that this is a land of opportunity in which a boy with no money behind him may, in the course of years, advance himself and accumulate property. That is an essential feature of democracy, and young men should be encouraged to advance themselves in this way. However, a professional man cannot, by virtue of his position, accumulate substantial resources. As his income increases, lit* properly and necessarily incurs commitments. He purchases a home in keeping with his income, and he takes out insurance policies for the protection of his wife and family in the event of his sudden death. Thus, when heavy taxation is imposed on him, he has not the same resources to meet it as has the man who has a similar income from property. I am not criticizing the Government captiously, but I do suggest that, in respect of the professional and executive classes, consideration should be given to the recurrent commitments of those who do not possess property.
At a time like this, it is necessary to take steps to avoid the dangers of inflation. I define inflation as the result of over-spending - spending which is excessive in relation to the available supplies of goods and services. Additions to the volume of credit for heavy war expenditure or for financing the Government’s book deficits so as to balance budgets, are fruitful causes of inflation. I do not say that the mere increase of credit necessarily constitutes inflation. I liken it rather to inflammable material; if proper control is not exercised, then the result is fire. There is danger of spontaneous combustion if credit is extended beyond the point of safety. I suggest that inflation can be avoided in three ways: first, by increasing the volume of goods, but honorable members will agree that we have long passed that position. The volume of goods for ordinary consumption is diminishing, and must continue to diminish the longer the war lasts, [f it does not, then the war effort will be retarded. The second method is by a reduction of spending which, in turn, involves price control and rationing. Already we have price control; the next step, which is one of great importance, is the introduction of rationing. The third method to avoid inflation is the direct control of money by taxation and public borrowing. These, however, arc not selective. They constitute a blunt instrument which cuts across the purchasing power of the community, but which is not sufficient in itself. The introduction of a selective method is necessary to control the purchasing power of the community. Therefore, in addition to taxation and public borrowing, there must also be rationing. Rationing itself may be considered under two headings: First, curtailment of civilian production directly by order, and by means of priorities ; and, secondly, by the direct rationing of the consumer in respect of both essential and non-essential goods. The Government has not. yet evolved any proper scheme for dealing with these matters. I know the Prime Minister has said that they are under consideration, but the time is overdue for action to be taken, lt is impossible to make the necessary war effort in the time at our disposal unless rationing be introduced immediately, and the purchasing power of the community controlled in this way.
The Opposition does not resist this measure, but we believe that it is insufficient to tax lower incomes at the low rate proposed by the Government. Unless the rate bc increased, and unless a rigid system of rationing be introduced, the threat of inflation which now faces us will become a reality, with disastrous effect upon our war effort.
.- This new taxation measure was an unexpected as was the meeting of Parliament itself. It was thought when the budget was presented a little while ago that there would have to be a review of financial measures about February or March, but the plans of the Government and of the country have been changed overnight. If there has been a change in the outlook of the Government, in some particulars, as has been said by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), that also can be accounted for by the change in the world situation. When we met last, we did not anticipate being called back for Christmas, but Japan has upset our calculations. I only hope that we shall prepare to upset Japan’s calculations. The honorable member for Warringah drew attention to a statement, by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that if there was to be an. increase of expenditure, the House should be given particulars. T have no doubt that, the Treasurer will give facts and figures in due course. I imagine that any one experienced in administration, as is the honorable member for Warringah, would have realized at once some of the broad reasons why expenditure must be increased.
– I do.
– It was admitted by the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) that, when he presented his budget, the Estimates were conservative, and would have to be reviewed at an early date. Now we have evidence thai they were more than conservative - they wore very conservative. It was not expected that so much would be expended on munitions. It was not thought that we could spend so much money in that way, but production has been stepped up considerably in recent weeks, and that has necessarily increased expenditure beyond the estimate.
Then, again, although very little was said about it by either the present Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) or the last Treasurer (Mr.Fadden), every one who has examined the position knows that we were to receive substantial assistance in the form of essential war equipment from the United States of America under the lease-lend arrangement. The assistance that was expected will not now be fully realized and a further strain will be thrown on the budget. Those are matters which should have been obvious to the honorable member for Warringah. Then there is the extra expenditure incurred almost overnight on air-raid precautions work, and this will run into a very large sum. This must be added to the unexpected, or, at least, unprovided for, expenditure. There is also the cost of calling up extra men since Japan entered the war, in order to provide for the immediate defence of the country. Money must be found to pay, clothe and equip those men. Thus, a tremendous increase of expenditure has had to be provided for in the twinkling of an eye. With commendable celerity, the Treasurer has grappled with the problem. This proposal is probably the first of a number of everincreasing burdens that must be imposed because of the changed situation resulting from the entry of Japan into the conflict.
The honorablemember for Warringah made some constructive remarks - and constructive suggestions should always be treated with respect and consideration - regarding the relative position of those with incomes derived from property, and those with incomes derived from personal exertion.I agree with the honorable member that there is a difference between their respective capacities to pay. A man who has an income from personal exertion only, and another who has an income in addition to considerable assets are, for purposes of taxation, in vastly different categories. But I remind the honorable member that the Government in which he was Treasurer considerably reduced the margin of the rate of tax between income derived from personal exertion and income derived from property. Our taxation laws have always paid due regard to the fact that incomes derived from property should bear a considerably heavier impost than incomes derived from personal exertion. That principle has been maintained throughout the years but two or three years ago, that margin between the rate applicable to substantial income from property, and the rate applicable to a similar income from personal exertion, to which the honorable gentleman referred, was narrowed.
– Only in respect of the very high incomes. I referred to the middle ranges of income.
– It was in respect of the very high incomes that the honorable member suggested that we should pay special attention to the capacity of the taxpayer who derives income from property.So already a change has come over the scene. The outlook of the honorable member has altered.
-he admits that he has changed his mind.
– Consistency is a very doubtful virtue, as members of the Labour party have discovered.
– I am not endeavouring to drive home any point about a change ofmind ; but, in my opinion, there are two ways in which we can reach the point to which the honorable member for Warringah referred. I agree that the matter has to be considered, especially when we are imposing abnormally high taxes for war purposes, because the capacity of the man who possesses assets is greater than that of the man whose income is derived wholly from personal exertion. Even ifall of the income of the former were absorbed by various taxes, he could still carry on - admittedly not very comfortably - by drawing upon his “ fat “. But in a taxation measure, the only practical way in which to express that principle is by imposing upon the person who derives income from property a higher rate of tax than that which applies to income from personal exertion. Otherwise, if we did as the honorable member suggested and related the taxation to the wealth possessed, we should in reality impose a wealth tax. I do not think that it would be in order at this juncture to discuss a tax on wealth, but I should gladly participate in what would certainly prove to be a very interesting discussion upon the subject if ever it is mooted.
– We are doing it indirectly.
– We are taxing wealth in only one respect, namely by the land tax. So far as we apply it to income tax, it relates only to the upper strata of income. The combination of Commonwealth and State taxes may, on the last few pounds earned by a man in receipt of a very high income, exceed 20s. in the £1.
– My contention relates to persons who earn between £1,000 and £2,000 a year. As the result of increasingly abnormal taxation, the burden becomes disproportionately heavier upon an income derived from personal exertion than upon an income derived from property.
– I agree without qualification with that statement. The only way in which to meet the position is to increase the rates on income derived from property compared with those derived from personal exertion, thereby returning to the principles of taxation which existed several years ago.
The contentions of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) were supported by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and by the honorable member for Warringah. The burden of most of their remarks was that the Government was not receiving sufficient tax from the income groups below £400 a year. They pointed out that those groups represent an annual income of £560,000,000 ; the total income received by private persons, apart from public income, is £800,000,000 a year. According to the honorable member for Richmond, the Government is somewhat belatedly making a very slight move to tax those groups. I remind the honorable gentleman that receipts from taxation borne by persons in those groups represents nearly £12,000,000 a year. We have become so accustomed to talk in astronomical figures that we refer to a tax which yields £12,000,000 as being a mere trifle. But the contribution which each individual makes to that sum from his small income represents to him a substantial amount.
The honorable member for Richmond laid stress on the importance of an “ allin” war effort. From the charwoman to the big company, he said, all should make sacrifices. That principle is accepted by the great majority of the people; but if we analyse the real meaning of sacrifice, we must ensure that no section of the community has more meals a day than another section. There is a minimum below which we cannot descend. However much we speak of sacrifices, rates and percentages, we should not reduce one section of the people below the living standard whilst others continue to live in most comfortable circumstances. If we advocate allround sacrifices, we must examine not how many millions of pounds are drawn from any one group, but how much is left to each individual after he has paid his tax. That is the crux of the matter.
The Leader of the Opposition declared that persons in the income groups below £400 a year will contribute in taxation only 2.7 per cent. of their income. Percentages are most misleading. What contributions do these individuals make, and how many of them are in each group? The great majority of the people are to be found in those groups. And what do we mean by “ taxable capacity “ ? The taxable capacity of a person is the amount that he can pay after he has a basic living. I am not prepared to say what that is, but we have established a certain standard in Australia by the basic wage. If the small income-earner be compelled to come below what has been for years the minimum living standard, does that represent equality of sacrifice? In order to pay his tax, he may have to sacrifice a portion of a meal each day - a potato, or a slice of bread. But the well-to-do sections, after paying their taxes, are still able to afford sumptuous repasts.
I mentioned that the combined earnings of the groups in receipt of less than £400 a year total £560,000,000 per annum. One-third of that figure is represented by the incomes of persons in receipt of less than £200 a year, which, is below the basic wage. Are those people to bc taxed? Honorable members opposite may declare that in an ‘ all-in “ war effort, all should make some contribution. If it is to be an “ allin “ war effort, let all individuals and companies pool all their earnings and assets ! To describe as inequitable the fact that one person pays tax at the rate of 16s. 8d. in the £1 whilst another pays at the rate of ls. 4d. in the £1 is to disregard the real position. The man who pays at the rate of 16s. 8d. in the £1 may have a net income of £3,000 a year, whilst the poor man, as a result of being compelled to make his contribution, might be obliged to forgo a meal each day. (Extension of time granted.] The following table shows the different groups and the amount of tax that each of them pays : -
As I stated earlier., honorable members opposite describe as inequitable the fact that the group whose income exceeds £1,000 a year contributes £32,650,000, whilst the group whose income does not exceed £200 a year contributes only £1,000,000. That’ is not the standard by which this should be .measured. If all individuals and companies were to pool all of their possessions in order to defend their hearths and homes in Australia, we should have to draw from that pool in order to keep each individual fit for the purpose of performing his daily tasks. That is practically all that is left to those groups, which are now being assailed on the ground that they do not make an adequate contribution to the war effort. Later we may be obliged to reduce this standard. Speaking for my constituents, I say that they will face cheerfully any tightening of the belt provided that everybody else’s belt is brought to the same notch. That is the test. I grow weary of hearing continual attacks upon the Government on the ground that it lacks courage, because of the enormous voting strength of the groups, to impose upon them a reasonable tax. I am concerned not about votes, but about empty stomachs. I shall not say that what we are doing to-day will starve them; but what we are doing is not pleasant to me, and it would not have been done but for the exigencies of war. I admit we have reached the ceiling on some incomes, but not all of them. The middle and upper incomes are heavily taxed, but the earners still have more to live on than the poor. I agree that they have more commitments, but commitments are not a means of livelihood. There is a minimum. I ask honorable members, in fairness, to keep that in mind when they talk about the all-in sacrifice. I join with other honorable members in the proposition that we have to make whatever sacrifices are necessary, and I will stand up to it in my electorate, regardless of votes, if sacrifices are shared equally by all and are proved to be essential to the safety of our country.
.- I agree with the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), to whom I listened with great interest, that the maximum effort means a maximum contribution on the part of the taxpayer, but it is the duty of this Parliament to ensure that the burden on the taxpayers is equitably distributed. The figures given by the right honorable member for Yarra were interesting, but I suggest that a better way in which to approach the consideration of this proposed war tax is by comparing the figures set out in the first table supplied to honorable members by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). That table shows that a taxpayer without dependants in the highest-taxed State will pay in war tax £6 10s. from an income of £200, £9 14s. on £250, £13 18s. on £300, £16 14s, on £350, and £18 18s. on £400. Those payments are heavy, but it must be borne in mind that the Government in the highest-taxed State also imposes heavy taxes, starting at £7 per annum on £150 and rising as follows: - £200, £11 4s.; £250, £21 16s.; £300, £33 12s.; £350, £45 10s.; and £400, £57 10s.
I am ata loss to understand why the Treasurer estimates that in the current year he will receive from this tax only £8,000,000, whereas the estimated annual revenue is £20,500,000. This tax is to operate as from the 1st July, 1941, but the tax which is to be paid this year is levied on income earned in the year ended the 30th June, 1941. Before the end of the year the Taxation Department will issue assessments not only of income tax, but also of the proposed war tax.
– It is admitted that, although the tax will be payable, it will not be collectable.
– The only trouble is that the departmentmay find trouble in issuing assessments.
– And, in some cases, in collecting the money.
– Itake it that the war tax assessments will be issued concurrently with the ordinary income tax assessments, and I shall be surprised if those assessments are not issued before the end of June.
– The tax will be imposed, technically speaking, at half the rate for the year and half the year’s revenue will be collected.
– Will the State income tax and the development tax be deducted before the war tax is assessed?
– But the ordinary federal income tax will be a deduction.
Mr.Chifley. - Yes.
– I should like to be enlightened as to the proposed increase of the company tax by1s. in the £1.
– The company tax is not now before the Chair.
– The Treasurer announced the proposed increase last night when he was introducing the new proposals and some discussion has taken place on the proposal to increase the company tax. I submit that in discussing taxation one cannot separate the taxation of companies from the taxation of individuals. I should say that the Taxation Department has taken into consideration, in arriving at its estimate of receipts from this proposed tax, the fact that the imposition of other taxes will mean that the money in the hands of the taxpayers will be lessened. The effect of double taxation of the company and the shareholder will be that the shareholders will not have the income that they previously had to be taxed on.
– It is obvious that if money is taken in one way-
– It cannot be taken in another way. I realize that the Government must have revenue and that in trying to devise means to raise that revenue the Treasurer and the taxation officials have been confronted by many problems. Early next yearParliament should be given the opportunity to review the whole financial and taxation policy of Australia, not only Commonwealth and State but also municipal. Anomalies, injustices, and burdens increase in proportion to the number of taxes imposed. The Treasurer’s table shows that a man on £500 a year in the highest taxed State will pay in Federal and State taxes and the war tax £105 6s. as against only £78 in the lowest taxed State. In order to overcome such anomalies as that a more scientific and simpler system of taxation must he applied. If that were done the Taxation Department would have reason to be grateful. I appreciate the difficulties that taxation officials experience owing to the problems which arise under the multiplicity of taxes now in operation. The community would also benefit from a more equitable distribution of the burden of taxation. This war will cause drastic alterations of our monetary system. Those alterations should be brought about in a well-ordered fashion, but whether they are, or whether the problem will be intensified, will depend on the consideration which we are prepared to give to the matter. Since the war began Parliament has been called upon to pass hurriedly devised taxation measures, but has not had the opportunity to consider the whole principle of taxation. That opportunity must be provided.
.- The taxation to be raised will be paid out of either the accumulated wealth or property of the taxpayer or his current income. By most people it will be paid out of current income. The great number of the people who are to be increasingly taxed under these proposals have no accumulations of wealth from which to pay taxes. They have no savings. Their savings have been canalized, one might say, in insurance policies, and in provision for the education of their children and so forth. They will pay their tax out of their current income. That is an important fact which we ought to remember. It should be possible for any country to devise a scheme whereby people could pay their income tax out of their income, as and when t’he.y earn it, instead of being called upon to pay a lump sum. Australians are in general allowed to pay by instalments, but, they have no right to that concession. We should base our income tax system on the payment of amounts week by week, fortnight by fortnight, or month by month, as the taxpayers’ incomes are received. If we curtail the civil employment of people in the way that has been suggested, we shall curtail their ability to pay income tax. As war employments and war activities increase, so civil employment and civil activities will diminish. But what are we going to do about those who are displaced as the result of this change? It is true that our young men will be absorbed in the defence forces and receive service pay. Their places will be taken to some degree by older men, but to a far greater degree by young women. Many of our older men will be displaced from employment altogether, and will therefore have no opportunity to earn income. If there is to be a diversion of capital and labour from civil employment to war employment, a vast number of people will be left without the means of living. They will also be without the means of paying income tax, but the fact that they will have no means of living is far more important than that. This country must face this problem. For the duration of the war, we should place everybody in the community beyond the fear of want. Every person should be placed on the “ strength “, to use a military term, and should be maintained. In the early part of next year, this country will face a period of unemployment and industrial crisis comparable with that which it had to face in the early stages of the war of 1914-18.
– Is the honorable gentleman referring to the displacement of unskilled persons, whose services will not be required in defence industries?
– Yes, and also to a number of skilled persons who will not be absorbed. Certain skilled occupations are of no use to the defence effort. Not all weavers and spinners, for instance, will be absorbed in defence industries, and ageing law clerks will not be absorbed.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member’s remarks are wide of the motion.
– I am trying to discuss this measure as other honorable members have discussed it. I did not originate this line of discussion, but if you, sir, are not prepared to extend to me the indulgence that you extended to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), I must defer to your ruling. I have never led an insurrection against the Chair in my life.
– I was not in the chair when the honorable member for Warringah made his remarks.
– If the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) believes that it will be easy to get this income tax from the community under the conditions that will prevail next year, he is gravely mistaken. It will be very difficult to get any income tax from a large number of people, not only working people, but also other persons with small incomes. I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Warringah. I have pointed out before that the effect of taxation and of government policies has been to curtail the opportunities of a large number of people to earn income, to destroy the businesses of small tradesmen, and to take away their prospects of security.
– I congratulate the Government rather than condemn it, although it has left itself open to much criticism. I do so because it has courageously changed its attitude towards a matter of policy over which it defeated the previous Government. This change of attitude shows that when the Labour party assumed office and realized to the full the danger with which Australia is faced, it was not afraid to make a volte face and do the correct and proper thing. The Government made a great sacrifice in doing this. I know that, although Australia is in jeopardy, when the people learn to-morrow that a Labour Government has imposed an extra tax upon small incomes, many ardent Labour supporters will be severely shocked. Less than three months ago, even the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and his colleagues criticized .the Fadden, Government, and succeeded in defeating it, because it proposed to impose heavier taxes on the lower incomes. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) submitted a good defence of the Government’s change of attitude. He made an excellent contribution to this debate, as he does to any debate in which he participates, but the fact remains that Labour has abandoned principles which have been implicit in its policy ever since the party was formed. I am afraid that, at the next elections, many of its hitherto enthusiastic supporters will approach the polling booths in a new frame of mind. The Government has shown a high degree of courage, for which wo praise it, but for which many of its supporters will condemn it. Tn spite of its stand, I consider that it has not acted so wisely as it might have done. It would have done better if it had adopted the proposals submitted by th( former Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), because these would not have fallen so heavily upon the working classes. The previous Government proposed to collect large sums from the lower income groups, but much, of this money would have been treated as loans to ,be repaid after the war. Disagreeable as these imposts would have been, they would have been more acceptable to the people than the present proposal, even though it may be a more honest form of tax. I should not carp at the rate of tax proposed. The contribution of £20,000,000 a year that will be made by the lower income groups under this tax will exceed the amount of income tax paid by all taxpayers two brief years ago. The increase is indeed a severe one. One of the excuses offered by the Treasurer for the imposition of this tax was that we arc now at war with Japan, but three months ago the Fadden Government anticipated this in its budget proposals. Before the war is over, the Government will doubtless be obliged to submit proposals for a higher rate of tax. The people of Australia will meet their obligations. We cannot afford to lose the war, because it involves everything which we own and hold dear. I shall not grumble at the weight of the burden which I shall have to bear, and I know that my fellow Australians will not complain. But the people want to prevent wastage of government money. I do not now refer particularly to waste that has occurred under the administration of this Government, because much extravagant expenditure occurred under previous governments. It has been evident in every military camp throughout Australia. I hope that the Government will ensure that such waste shall not continue.
An examination of the Government’s proposals shows that a man earning £40,000 a year will bc obliged to contribute through Commonwealth and State taxes, an amount of £36,000. Most of the persons who receive such high incomes derive them from property, which is also subject to municipal rates, so that, after paying all rates and taxes, they are left practically penniless. I do not know what powers the Treasurer may have in this regard, but he should investigate the incidence of municipal taxation. Many municipalities have made very little contribution to the war effort. There are some outstanding instances, of course, but they are not numerous. We have heard a great deal about the combined incidence of Commonwealth and State taxes, but most honorable members have lost sight altogether of the high rates of municipal tax which prevail throughout the Commonwealth. Whilst we all agree that the highest income earners should make the largest individual contributions to the war, we should study closely the effect of existing heavy taxation upon them. What does a man who earns £40,000 a year do when he is obliged to pay Commonwealth and State taxes amounting to £36,000, in addition to municipal taxes? He must curtail his expenditure, so he dismisses members of his domestic staff. He may have in his employ a motor driver who is over military age. He will discharge that man. He may have other servants who have been with him for almost a lifetime. He will discharge them. He will be obliged to reduce his standard of living, and as the result a number of unfortunate people will he thrown out of employment. This bill has been drafted to meet a war-time emergency. It is panic legislation. I hope that the Treasurer will heed my remarks, and also pay attention to the many letters which have been published in the newspapers recently. Some of these letters point out that, under existing rates of tax, the spending power of a man receiving £5,000a year is reduced to less than that ofa man receiving £4,000 a year, whose net income, in turn, is reduced below the level of that of a man receiving £3,000 a year. These anomalies should be investigated by the Treasurer. I am sure that the Government did not intend to put a man in receipt of a high salary in a worse financial position than that of a man earning a considerably lower salary. I have criticized the Government, but, on the whole, I believe that it has risen to the occasion. When the Labour party was in opposition, many of its members made irresponsible utterances, but to-day they are behind the scenes and they realize what is expected of them. So far asI can see, they are doing their job well. Many people believed that the Labour party’s attitude towards the war-time needs of the country was twelve months behind that of the united parties on this side of the House. To-day the disparity has been reduced to three months, because the Government is adopting proposals which its predecessor made three months ago. If it continues at this rate it may become more advanced in its views than the parties on this side of the chamber. I hope that it will maintain this progress. I believe that honorable members who support the Government are as loyal as are honorable members of the Opposition, and I believe that Ministers may be trusted to prosecute the war effort to the best advantage. One of the most bitter political pills that they have had to swallow is this increase of the rate of tax on the lower incomes, and they deserve to be congratulated upon their courageous acceptance of the situation.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Holloway do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 6.17 to8 p.m.
– It is not usual for me to debate bills which I am supporting. I generally confine my remarks to those occasions on which I find myself out of agreement with what is being proposed. But this is not an ordinary occasion. Certain special circumstances about to-night’s meeting of the House call for comment.
We have had many taxing measures placed before us since the outbreak of the war in 1939. Not a great deal was said about the taxing measures consequent upon the budget of 1939, but the budget of 1940, introduced after a general election, provided for certain increases of taxes, especially in relation to lower incomes, which were debated at some length. On that occasion the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) succeeded in inducing the Government of the day, wrongly, I think, to adopt what has become known as the compromise of 1940.
It is interesting to observe how the attitude of the Labour party has changed on these subjects within a very few months. The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Perkins) said this afternoon that honorable gentlemen opposite were about twelve months behind the times all the time. Having this in mind I shall refer to some observations made by the present Prime Minister when hp was Leader of the Opposition in 1940. In discussing the budget on the 28th November, 1940, he said -
Wars are not fought with money. Asa matter of fact we shall fight Hitler not with
cheque book, not by printing notes, not by the wizardry of book-keeping, but by maintaining the physical strength of the people of this country and of all the countries on whose side we are righting.
After discussing, a number of other subjects the honorable gentleman observed -
It is on this very substantial field of State taxation on the lower ranges of income that the Commonwealth Government now proposes to superimpose a great deal of new taxation. It proposes to do this directly and indirectly. It proposes to reduce the exemption from £250 to £150 and also to increase heavily the burden of indirect taxation.
Later the honorable gentleman referred to certain estimates of the yield of revenue anticipated from Federal trespass in certain fields of taxation and observed - 1 am not surprised that that table is correct because the whole theory is that if the Treasurer is in difficulties and has to get the money he can get it only by bringing into the field the great number of those who have previously been outside it. You cannot go up; you have to step down.
It is interesting to note that the Prime Minister is beginning to realize the force of some of his own statements.
We debated another budget in October. 1941. This contained important proposals for substantial increases of income tax, and the. introduction of a system of compulsory savings. It was in consequence of those proposals that a change of government took place. I should not be allowed to quote from the Hansard report of the current session of Parliament in order to direct attention to certain statements by the present Prime Minister but I have available to me a pamphlet entitled Digest of Decisions and Announcements. a.nd Important Speeches by the Prime Minister (Hon. John Curtin). It cannot be said that in making the statements published in this pamphlet the Prime Minister was not in a position to realize the extent to which he was committing himself and his party, for, Heaven knows, he was aware of the situation which faced us. One statement that the honorable gentleman made - and this is from his broadcast summary of the 1941-42 budget - was as follows: -
The new budget, however, contains many new and important features which give effect to Labour’s views. It provides for increases in soldiers’ pay and in old-age pensions; it distributes the burden of taxation over those bust able to hear that burden; it relies on the voluntary principle for loans; it proposes to draw upon central bank credit to fi iia 1, CE expansion of production.
The honorable gentleman made other remarks along these lines, and finished that aspect of the subject by saying - no doubt for the benefit of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) -
It pledges the Government early next year to introduce legislation for a mortgage bank.
Another notable observation which the honorable gentleman made on that occasion was -
In accordance with this principle- that is ability to pay - the essential living standards of the basic wage family can and will bc maintained under the Government’s plans. Happily we have abundant supplies of food so that no one need suffer privation of any of the things necessary to maintain the bodily health and strength of our people.
Those statements were made six weeks ago. If there were any doubt as to the intention of the Government to proceed along those lines it was removed by a statement of the honorable member for Wimmera, who, in addressing himself to the subject of the taxing of lower incomes, said that it would not add one iota to the success of our efforts to wage the war. I do not raise these issues in any spirit of vindictiveness or with any desire to delay the passage of essential legislation.
We are living in very serious times and one of the most serious things about the meeting of this House to-night - and I make this statement deliberately - is that a goodly number of honorable members o? the House have already left Canberra to return to their homes.
– Only from the Opposition side of the House.
– I do not, care to which side they belong. I say that any member of this Parliament who, for private reasons, has left his duties here and gone to his home is, in my opinion, no better than a man who in battle “ rats “ on his cobbers in the firing line. I am dealing with facts and not with persons. We were called here to deal with certain essential business under conditions that are such that no Minister can say at what moment a wireless message may be received which may involve this Parliament in the consideration of certain other very important subjects. Considering the pains to which some honorable gentlemen went to secure election to this Parliament the least they could do, in the circumstances which now face us, is to remain here to see their job through. I do not care who the members are who are absent from the chamber on this occasion. I consider that their names and actions should be published throughout the length and breadth of Australia and, particularly, in their own electorates.
In 1940 the then Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) suggested that the income exemption should be reduced to £150. The present Government has now reduced it to £156, which is only £6 above the figure to which honorable gentlemen opposite refused to agree in December, 1940. They also refused, six weeks ago, to accept the compulsory savings plan. Whilst I was not particularly enthusiastic about that plan, believing that straight out taxation was a better method, I was not willing to make a row about it. I say that the opposition to, and condemnation of, that proposal by members and supporters of the present Government was unjustified in view of the need to obtain revenue. In any case honorable gentlemen opposite have now to face the necessity to impose additional taxation on people in the lower income ranges. They would not do this three weeks ago, but circumstances have altered so that they have now been obliged to adopt this procedure, even though their leader stated only twelve months ago that wars were not fought with money.
Honorable members who are now supporting the Government have changed their minds on many occasions since the outbreak of war. I do not wish to discuss these changes at any great length, but we have to recognize that there are serious problems ahead of us. I believe that it will only be by the combined efforts of honorable gentlemen on both sides of the House that these problems will be solved. The Government, wrongly, I think, has decided to take a certain course and it must accept the responsibility for its decision. I know that many people will say that we should not argue about these things at present, as we know that serious times are ahead of us, but, in my opinion, sooner or later, the fact will inevitably be brought home to the people of Australia that on too many instances the taking of the steps necessary for the winning of this war have been left to honorable gentlemen with a very inadequate conception of how wars should be fought and won. There will have to be a stocktaking in this country, and the reckoning will have to be faced with courage. This is one of the occasions on which some of us who have held executive authority in Australia during the war - my own term of office was not very long - and who, as members of previous governments, know something of the problems that have to be faced, should be called upon for help. The previous Government was never given an ounce of help, or a farthing’s worth of assistance by some honorable members. Its efforts were hindered, hampered, and pushed aside on a number of occasions. Sometimes it was to blame because of its lack of punch. Nevertheless, those conditions did prevail and in the circumstances I think it only fair that that side of the case should be stated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from the 16th December(vide page 1135), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the rates of income tax … be increased . . .(vide page 1135).
.- I should like to learn from the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) whether the rate of1s. will apply generally to both private and public companies?
– The condition with respect to the deduction of federal income tax will not apply in this case ?
– That is so.
– The provision in regard to the deduction of State income tax and State development tax will apply?
– Not only companies but also, indeed, a number of private persons, will be greatly embarrassed, particularly this year, by having to meet this heavy impost. The incomes of private individuals and the profits of companies will have been considerably reduced by reason of the fact that they have had to meet heavy income tax assessments. Many of them will not have the means to meet this additional call, and naturally will have to adopt measures to acquire it. I have heard it stated that a limitation has been placed on banking institutions in regard to the allowance of overdrafts for the purpose of making income tax payments. Some persons or companies may have considerable assets, but no funds upon which they may call. How are they to meet their income tax, if their arrangements with respect to bank overdrafts are to be limited?
– As the result of the policy of the private banks, the Commonwealth Hank has given some indication of what is regarded as proper circumstances in which overdrafts may be granted. I have no information in respect of the particular matter raised by the honorable member, but I shall make inquiries regarding it from the Commonwealth Bank.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Frost do prepare and bring in abill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) will find, as he examines this measure, that it is in the nature of a mathematical illusion.
Under the company tax, as it is constituted to-day, company profits are dealt with in three ways. The first part of the profit goes in the payment of company flat rate tax, the second part in payment of dividends, and the third part is what is called the undistributed profit. In 1940, this Parliament adopted the principle of taxing dividends in the hands of the shareholders, without allowing a rebate of the tax that had been paid by the company. Consequently, the position now is that the first part of the company’s profit is absorbed by taxation, the shareholder pays tax on the dividend that he receives, without rebate from the company, and the company pays on the undistributed profit. Under these conditions, when the Government increases from 3s. to 4s. the flat rate of tax on the company, it increases the amount absorbed by flat rate taxation and reduces the amount that can be collected from dividends or undistributed profits. If the Treasurer asks his officers to investigate the matter, he will be satisfied that this measure will not produce the additional revenue of £4,500,000 which he anticipates. I agree, however, that the application of the1s. in the £1 as a flat tax immediately will mean its collection before June, 1942. Were the tax levied on the dividend in the hands of the shareholder, it might be collected a year later, because the personal assessment of the shareholder would not go out for some months. Wore the company to pay on the undistributed profits, in all probability it would still be paid before June, 1942. I make this observation in furtherance of what I said on an earlier measure this afternoon, namely, that the combined effect of all of the amendments made to the taxation laws during the last year has been to bring them almost to a ridiculous stage, and that therefore the case for a complete overhaul of the position is now stronger than it has ever been previously.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Billbrought up by Mr.Chifley, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
Honorable members have already been advised of the purpose of this measure, and have also been given a broad statement of its provisions. In general outline, persons in receipt of an annual income of over £156 ,are now being called upon to make a special contribution to aid- the country in the prosecution of the war effort. The nature of the tax is denoted by the title to the principal part of the bill, that is, “ war tax “. The tax will be levied upon all persons, other than companies, resident and non-resident, who derive a war tax income, and the ordinary machinery of the Income Tax Assessment Act will be used for the purposes of the assessment and collection of the tax. Whilst no liability will rest upon a person whose income does not exceed £156, the tax is to be levied upon the total income when it exceeds £156. To meet cases in which the income is slightly in excess of £156, there is a saving provision in the taxing act which ensures that the tax will be not greater than onehalf of the income in excess of £156. The liability for war tax is to be based upon the same amount of assessable income as for ordinary income tax purposes. Income which is assessable for income tax is to be liable to war tax, and income which is exempt from income tax is likewise to be exempt from war tax. At this point, the basis of the war tax differs from the ordinary income tax in that deductions of a concessional nature which are allowed for income tax purposes are to be excluded from the calculation for war tax purposes. The general conception of the measure is that the war tax should be levied on the income of a taxpayer actually available to him for his expenditure. The deductions to be excluded are State income tax, rates and taxes on nonincomeproducing property, subscriptions to trade associations and trade unions, charitable gifts, election expenses of members of Parliament, expenditure of a capital nature allowed to primary producers on wire netting, and other improvements to pastoral properties. Other deductions which it is proposed not to allow are those for wife, children under sixteen, mother, medical and funeral expenses, life insurance premiums, contributions to pensions funds, losses of prior years, and the statutory exemption. A deduction will, however, be allowed in respect of the Commonwealth income tax payable on the income on which the war tax is levied. In providing for this deduction, the Government has taken the view that Commonwealth income tax absorbs so much of the income of the individual to-day that the liability for the war tax should be determined only after allowance had been made for the Commonwealth tax payable on that income. The bill recognizes the domestic responsibilities of a taxpayer by the allowance of concessions in respect of dependants. These concessions will take the form of an annual rebate of tax of £2 12s. for each dependant, irrespective of the amount of the taxpayer’s’ income. The dependants in respect of whom the rebate will be allowed are wife, dependent mother, and all dependent children under the age of sixteen .years. One-half only of these rebates will be allowable in the present financial year, as the tax will be in operation for only six months of this year. For this reason, also, the rates of tax to be applied in the current year are only one-half of those specified for a full year. A provision has been included in the bill which will have the effect of exempting from both ordinary income tax and the special war tax the dependants’ allowances paid by the Commonwealth in respect of the wife, children and other dependants of members of the fighting forces. These allowances are not received by the members of the forces, and it is inappropriate that they should be taxed as his income. The bill also contains a concession to members of the forces by limiting liability to war tax to those of the personnel of the forces whose war tax income exceeds £200. I commend the bill to honorable members.
.- The House should take note that this bill introduces a new principle in respect of State income tax and State development tax, in that those taxes are no longer an allowable deduction, whereas federal income tax is. I am at a loss to know why the Treasurer has done this. The disallowance of this deduction will seriously affect those on higher incomes, and will place some taxpayers in an embarrassing position.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly). A taxpayer is entitled to the same consideration in respect of tax paid to a State as in respect of tax paid to the Commonwealth. In neither case is the money expended for the benefit of himself or his family; it becomes a part of the revenue of the Government. Tax paid to a State should be an allowable deduction, just as is tax paid to the Commonwealth. I regard the Treasurer’s proposal as an interference with State rights.
– in reply - My personal view is that no deduction should he allowed in respect of tax paid to a State. It is recognized, however, that Commonwealth income tax on the higher incomes is a very severe impost.
– That is true also of the income tax imposed in some of the States.
– Yes, but it is not true of all of the States. The Government was influenced by the fact that Commonwealth taxation on the higher incomes is very solid, and it believed that some concession was justified.Were it not for that I, personally, would have advocated that no deductions should be allowed at all, though in saying this I am not speaking on behalf of the Government. This tax is designed for a specific purpose, namely, the financing of the war. The responsibility for financing the war rests on the Commonwealth Government. It is true that the burden is borne by the people, but the Commonwealth Government is their agent. Whether it be for air-raid precautions, or for anything else connected with the war, everybody holds out his hand to the Commonwealth Government.
– The varying methods of State taxation constitute a very big obstacle.
– That is true.
– Why not abolish the
– I hope that the people, as a result of this war, will recognize the importance of the role of the Commonwealth Government in providing for defence of the country, and in organizing the nation for war purposes. In many respects, the State Governments are a hindrance rather than a help. I do not say that in a spirit of captious criticism, because some of the State Premiers have shown a keen desire to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government, but the State parliaments are imbued with a spirit which makes their members constantly afraid that the Commonwealth Government is trying to steal away their prestige and their privileges.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (War tax).
.- This measure provides that a rebate shall be allowed in respect of a spouse or female relative having care of the taxpayer’s children under sixteen years of age if the spouse or relative is wholly maintained by the taxpayer, and if the income of the spouse or relative does not exceed £50. However, if the taxpayer’s mother is wholly maintained by him, rebate is allowed irrespective of the income earned by the mother. Why is this distinction made? Again, why has the amount been fixed at £50. when the Government itself has indicated that it proposes to increase the amount to £63 in respect of old-age pensioners? Further, does the rebate apply only in the case of the taxpayer’s mother, and not in the case of the taxpayer’s father ?
– A mother might be in receipt of some income which properly ought not to be taken into account.
– But it is proposed to allow the rebate in one case, and to refuse it in another.
– That is true.
– Seeing that the usual memorandum has not been circulated setting forth the differences between the act as it now stands, and as it is proposed to be amended, will the Minister repeat what he said in his second-reading speech regarding deductions which will not be allowable for war tax purposes, but are normally allowed for income tax purposes?
– The deductions to be excluded are State income tax, rates and taxes on non-income producing property, subscriptions to trade associations and trade unions, charitable gifts, election expenses of members of parliament, expenditure of a capital nature allowed to primary producers on wire netting, and other improvements to pastoral properties. Other deductions which it is proposed not to allow are those for wife, children under sixteen, mother, medical and funeral expenses, life insurance premiums contributions to pensions funds, losses of prior years, and the statutory exemption.
– Will this tax be taken into account in arriving at the maximum tax of 18s.?
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Mr. JOHNSON brought up the second and third progress reports of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure.
Ordered to be printed.
Sitting suspended from8.44 to 9.27 p.m.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or requests : -
War Tax Bill 1941.
Income Tax Bill(No. 2) 1941.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1941.
Motion (by Mr.Curtin) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) might indicate when the House will be called together again or, at least, the maximum time for which the House will be in recess. The public looks to Parliament for expressions of opinion and a long recess with the international situation as it is would not do justice to Parliament itself.
– in reply - I recall, and I hope that honorable members do, that not so many days ago I informed the
House that when the situation made a meeting of the Parliament desirable Parliament would be summoned immediately, notwithstanding that I had indicated that we should re-assemble not later than March. I cannot imagine this House remaining in recess in present circumstances until March. I say quite frankly, Parliament will be convened with due regard to the necessities of the situation, and after consultation with the Leaders of the Opposition parties. I remind the House that my own view of what the Government owes to Parliament was stated long before I became Prime Minister. Parliament has the same duty to the country as the Government has to Parliament. I am anxious to discharge my duty to Parliament, and therefore I shall not keep Parliament in recess. But we intend to conduct the war. At this date I could only guess when Parliament would be called together. The dangers of the situation are such that I certainly shall ask the Parliament to participate in the deliberations as to how best they can be overcome.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Australian Consolidated Industries Limited: Construction of Horse Boxes - Queensland Coal-mining Industry - Fighting Forces: Badges for Relatives and Rejects - Blackout in Country Towns: Friday Night Shopping - Life Assurance of Soldiers - Australian Capital Territory: Discrimination against Australians - Bren Gun Manufacture - Wales Differential Device - Encouragement of Australian Inventors - Petrol Conservation - Labour for Rural Industries - Oil Production - Compulsory Military Service: Effect upon Industries - Plight of Primary Industries: Order of Priority for Supplies: Kerosene.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- On the 27th November, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked for an inquiry “ as to whether Defence J ob No. P.240 at Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, at Waterloo, Sydney, concerning the making of a rotary swaging machine to be used in manufacturing shells, held up on Thursday of last week because a blacksmith was too ‘busy making fittings for horse-boxes to take Reading and other racehorses to America.” I now inform the honorable member that the swaging machine was not being made in an annexe, but in the workshop of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited at Alexandria. It was being made by Australian Consolidated Industries Limited for the use of Plumb’s Limited to swage short ends of bars used for fuze stampings which otherwise would have been wasted. Australian Consolidated Industries Limited finished their part of the swaging machine three weeks ago, but it is not yet in use, because its completion is held up pending delivery of a steel ring ordered on the 8th October from Courtney and Bohlsom. There is only about fifteen minutes’ blacksmithing work in the whole job. At no time has Plumb’s Limited failed to supply all annexe requirements of fuze stamping. It is added that the horse boxes referred to were completed six weeks ago.
.- Repeated appeals have been made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and other Commonwealth Ministers for increased output of coal in Australia, and to that end the Menzies Government appointed a coal commission to supervise the acceleration of production, transport, distribution and allocation of coal to the various war industries. The regulations have been amended by the present Government, but so far as Queensland is concerned that commission has proved utterly useless. The Queensland coal mines could increase their output by thousands of tons of coal a week, but at present the men in most of the mines are working only part time. Other mines are closed down for lack of orders. Nothing has yet been done to increase the output of the mines that are in production and to re-open those which are closed down. The coal-owners of Queensland are not only willing but also anxious to mine more coal so that Australia’s war effort shall be improved. The industry is asking the Government to ensure that a market is provided for the coal they can produce.
Queensland is divided into three coal-mining areas. In the north, from Mount Mulligan to the Collinsville district, the industry is able to supply the trade in that area, and the miners are working full time. The central district extends from the Styx to the Blair Athol district. The Styx mine, which is owned by the Queensland Government, is operated for the full five days a week. In the central district, the Cambria mines are working fairly regularly. The Windsor mine has not been operated since the 24th October last, and is wanting orders. The Blair Athol mines have been working intermittently. The Burrum, Howard and Torbanlea district mines are practically closed down until after the holidays, owing to lack of trade. Previously they were working only intermittently. In the West Moreton district, which is the largest district in Queensland, the mines are working only intermittently, and have been operated on that basis since they supplied from three to four months’ stocks to all the big Queensland industries, including the railways, the gas companies, the Brisbane Electric Light Company, and the Brisbane City Council. .Some of the large mines have already closed down for the Christmas holidays, and it is not known when they are likely to resume operations. The Darling Downs mines, on the OakeyCooyar line, work only about twelve to sixteen hours a week. Tannymorel and Injune work on an average four days a week. In view of the fact that the southern States are crying out for coal - apparently they will use only Maitland coal - the Coal Commission, which was appointed to control the industry, should not allow the position to be controlled by the consumers, but should decide what coal they may and may not use. On several occasions, the circumstances of the industry in Queensland have been brought to the notice of Mr. Mighell, the chairman of the Coal Commission, and, although he has been sympathetic, he has always stated that the proposals of the Queensland industry could not be considered on account of the cost of production, freights, and shipping difficulties. He has said that any method of bringing coal from Queensland to the southern States, other than by sea transport, would be too costly, and that the claims of the Queensland industry could not be considered.
Recently, the industry received a telegram from the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) asking it to produce more coal, as the various industries needed an increased supply of coal. It is clear that the Prime Minister has not been apprised of the position in Queensland, where both the mine-owners and the miners are anxious to do their best to produce coal. Up to the present time, not one ounce of Queensland coal has been taken to the southern States. All of the mines of southern Queensland, from which 60 per cent, of the coal of the State is produced, are working only intermittently. At the New Chum colliery, 110 men have been working only two days a week. The mine has been closed down since the 5th December, and the men are still idle. The mines in southern Queensland could produce 3,000 tons, or more, of coal a week. As the mines are idle, the employees, particularly those who have no family obligations, would be quite prepared to go south in order to assist in the production of coal. The Coal Commissioner should organize this. As I have already said, the mines in the Howard district, because of lack of orders, are closed down over the Christmas holidays, and for an indefinite period thereafter.
The industry has asked the Coal Commission to allow Queensland to supply all railway trade from West Maitland to South Brisbane and from West Maitland to Wallangarra. New South Wales railway officials have told the commission that they will not use Queensland coal. Honorable members are aware that the Kyogle-South Brisbane railway is one towards the cost of which the Commonwealth pays substantial sums annually. Queensland and New South Wales have met their share of the cost of this railway. The Commonwealth has had to meet not only its own share but also that of all of the other States which would not, for the time being, stand up to their own obliga tions. Accordingly, the Commonwealth should see that Queensland coal is used on this railway.
– Is Queensland coal suitable for railway purposes?
– Yes. It is the only coal used on the Queensland railways. In my State, the trains are run to time, but the train on which I travelled through New South Wales in order to attend the present sittings of this Parliament was four and a half hours late on its arrival in Sydney. The Prime Minister, or the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley), should not hesitate to declare that the coal produced in Australia shall be distributed where it is required, since it is essential to the war industries. The coal mines in and around Sydney should supply the coal required in southern New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, whilst Queensland should be permitted to provide the coal needed in northern New South Wales. The coal supplies of Australia should be properly organized, and the work of organization should be carried out by the Coal Commission, yet not an ounce of coal from Queensland is used in connexion with the war effort.
As thousands of coal miners are working only part time during the present national crisis, it is clear that the coal resources of Australia, particularly those of Queensland, have not been utilized as they should be. I appeal to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Supply and Development to see that the coal resources of Queensland are properly utilized, particularly as the mine owners and the miners are anxious to render the best possible service to the nation. The Coal Commission should be called upon to say why it has not organized the industry so that coal supplies for northern New South Wales are obtained from Queensland. The standard gauge railway from Kyogle to South Brisbane has been showing a considerable loss, and, as the Commonwealth is responsible for a considerable part of the financial outlay incurred in its construction, it should have a voice as to whether the utter disregard of Queensland’s interests should be continued. In the interests of the war industries and of the mine owners and miners in Queensland, I appeal to the Government to call upon the Coal Com- mission to investigate this matter immediately, so that an all-in war effort may be obtained by the proper development of the coal resources of Queensland.
– I wish to refer to a matter which, although it may appear to be of slight importance at this time, is of great concern to the people whom it affects. Although special badges are provided for wives and mothers of members of the Australian Imperial Force, Tasmanian women have for some time had difficulty in obtaining them. Some of them have had to wait for months after making application, and others have not received badges yet. I know of a mother whose two sons joined the Australian Imperial Force; one of them was killed. So far, she has been unable to obtain a relative’s badge. The badges are not expensive, but the wives and mothers of soldiers place a high value on them. The unfortunate ones see other women wearing badges, and, naturally, they desire the same privileges. Distinctive badges should also be provided for men who have offered themselves for service with our armed forces but have been rejected on account of physical defects. Unless such men are provided with a distinctive badge, they will have the “ bone “ pointed at them by perhaps wellintentioned but misguided people. It may be said that they can produce rejection cards, but these cannot be worn like a badge. I have already communicated with the Minister for the Army on this subject, and I hope that he will heed my representations. I suggest to the Prime Minister that this form of recognition is due to wives and mothers of soldiers who are serving their country and to men who have offered to fight but have been rejected.
.- I take this opportunity to refer to the discontinuance of the late shopping night in country towns. Every honorable member will agree that nothing that is necessary for the security of the nation and the furtherance of our war programme should be left undone. But I do not agree, and probably many other honorable members do not agree, with the imposition of this restriction upon country towns.
– Does the prohibition exist in inland towns?
– I wish that point elucidated. The restriction came into force only last week, and there was a great deal of confusion. Some business establishments remained open, and others were closed. The discontinuance of the late shopping night will make a big difference to the lives of country people, for whom it has become a sort of social institution, as the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) must be aware. It provides an opportunity for town people and farmers to meet, and business houses benefit from it. I shall support any measure that is in the interests of national security, but I cannot see any wisdom in preventing night shopping in small country towns which are miles away from any place where there is likely to be a raid. The restrictions will cause economic and social stagnation. Already our rural districts are bearing the full brunt of the war. Scores of thousands of country men have enlisted andthere has been a general migration of workers to the munitions industries in the cities. There are empty business premises in almost every country town. This new restriction will drive another nail into the coffins of these districts. I should agree to the enforcement of this regulation if the Prime Minister or any body else could prove to me that it was necessary. It has been said that the restriction will effect a saving of coal as the result of the decreased use of light and power. But the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has just pointed out that not one ton of coal saved by this means in Queensland and northern New South Wales would be diverted to the war effort. In the town of Murwillumbah where I live-
– That is on the coast.
– It is about 20 or 30 miles from the coast.
– If every town from Torres Strait to Sydney were illuminated, we might as well erect electric signs for the guidance of the enemy.
– I concede that the restriction may be necessary in coastal districts, but it is not necessary elsewhere.
– Why not?
– Moscow is not blacked out completely. Even up to the present time, lights are shown in that city and total blackouts are enforced only when there is an air-raid alarm. I see no occasion for causing despondency amongst country people by this means. I do not question the necessity for blackouts when danger exists, but towns that are distant from the coast should not be deprived of their late shopping nightMany towns are electrically lighted by producer-gas driven plant. Therefore the elimination of the late shopping night will not effect any saving of coal in those places. I have no desire to embarrass the Government, or to criticize any action which it has taken in the interest of national security, because I realize that it has to contend with many difficulties. But I wish to dispose of anomalies and unnecessary restrictions that have been placed upon country people who are already suffering grave disadvantages as the result of the war. The Government might consider the establishment of special zones-
– It is better to be overcautious than careless.
– But we need not get into a funk.
– Supposing a raid took place to-morrow?
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister.
– It is not without significance that a former Minister for Defence (Mr. Spender) does not agree with the honorable gentleman.
– The former Minister for Defence has not touched on the point which I am stressing. Before the Prime Minister agrees to the total elimination of the late shopping night in country towns I ask him to satisfy himself that some good purpose will be achieved thereby.
.- L ask the Government to give special consideration to the position which has arisen in connexion with life assurance policies recently taken out by members of the Australian Imperial Force. I have here a letter from a young man who, with others, took out a group life assurance policy at his place of employment. The policy contains a provision that should he die as result of service outside Australia and New Zealand, or within six months after the termination of that ser vice, whether his death be the direct or the indirect result of that service, all that will be paid to him will be the amount of his premiums together with compound interest at 3£ per cent, per annum. It is further stipulated that should he enlist for service overseas he will be fully covered if he pays a premium of which the company approves. The society in question states that the premium in respect of persons who have enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force shall be an advance of 150 per cent.; that is to say, the premium will be two and a half times as much as the present premium. This is a matter to which the Government should give attention. I do not propose to mention the name of the life assurance company, as other companies may have similar provisions. I shall send the letter to the Prime Minister in the hope that the Government will give a ruling in regard to such cases.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) with regard to the abolition of the late shopping night in country towns. I was prompted to ask a question of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to-day in connexion with a proclamation which I understood was to be issued. Although special precautions may be necessary in towns near to the coast, the position in inland towns, particularly in agricultural areas, is different. Especially at this time of the year considerable hardship and inconvenience may be caused to people in country districts if they are not permitted to purchase their week’s provisions on Saturdays between the hours of, say, 6 o’clock and 8.30 in the evening. Many of these people work the whole of the Saturday morning, and sometimes into the afternoon, and by the time they return to their homes and are ready to go into the town, it is sometimes too late for them to finish their shopping before six o’clock. Most workers in the country work late in the summer in order to harvest as much of their crops as possible.
– There is no late shopping night in Queensland.
– The interjection by the Leader of the Opposition is a complete answer to the honorable gentleman’s representations. There are States larger in area than New South
Wales, and containing big agricultural communities which have no late shopping night. A late shopping night is not necessary.
– I disagree with the Prime Minister.
– There is no reason why the Commonwealth Government, in exercise of its national security powers, should abolish the late shopping night.
– I am not concerned that Queensland has abolished the late shopping night, but I am concerned with any interference with the general course of business in country towns, and with the usual and customary freedom of people to purchase their goods on Saturday evenings. I hope that consideration will be given to this matter, so that people in the country districts of New South Wales particularly, who are feeling the effects of business stagnation because of the exodus of people from the country to the city and the call-up of men for military service, may not suffer unnecessary hardship.
.- At the request of members of the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party I bring to the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior the action of his department in transferring a man named Evans from one position to another in the territory, thereby causing him a loss of 9s. a week, and replacing him with a person of foreign birth, who is now a naturalized British subject. It is felt by the persons concerned that during recent months there has been some discrimination against Australians in the Australian Capital Territory. Their views on this subject were expressed by Mr. A. E. Gardiner at a recent meeting of the Advisory Council of the Australian Capital Territory. Mr. Gardiner brought before the Council particulars of a contract for the felling of pines at Mount Stromlo, which was given to a naturalized British subject in preference to an Australian. The discussion in the Advisory Council showed that the difference in the amount involved was only Id. a tree. Mr. Gardiner alleged that the department had an anti-Australian bias. I bring these matters forward at the request of people who feel strongly and who are entitled 144 j” to have their views placed before the Government, and I ask the Minister to investigate them.
.- I have no desire to add to the difficulties of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) in connexion with Friday night and Saturday morning shopping. I know that the honorable gentleman has sound reasons for the action that he has taken. One of these, I understand, is the desire to give people some appreciation of the need for self-denial in these perilous times. I agree with that objective. In Hobart, however, we have no Saturday morning shopping, and now we shall have no shopping at night. All of our shopping is done in a five-day week. The decision, in this regard, cannot be varied by the Commonwealth Government. An alteration of the State law would be required to permit shops to open on Saturday morning. The Labour Government, which has just fought an election campaign on this issue and others, holds the view that Saturday morning shopping should not be permitted. Another difficulty arises in this connexion. In most of the mainland States hotels close at 6 p.m., but in Tasmania they remain open until 10 p.m., and with this I agree. It looks, therefore, as if people are to be forced out of the shops into hotels. In all the circumstances I ask the Prime Minister to give some further consideration to the desirability of treating this subject on the reasonable basis that. I suggested this afternoon.
.- I take this opportunity to refer to several matters that I brought under the notice of the previous Government. I do not hold this Government responsible nor, for that matter, do I particularly blame the previous Government for what has happened. I hope, however, that the subjects to which I refer will be given close attention by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin).
The first matter relates to the production in a certain factory of Bren gun parts. The facts in this connexion have been given to me by a skilled worker who was engaged on this job. His signed statement on the subject reads as follows : -
Part of tripod of Bren gun: When this particular piece is out of gauge it must throw the whole Bren gun out of alignment. There is an allowance of .009 in. tolerance, and this job is .010 in. out of gauge. The management knows this, but is going on doing it. I, myself, was put on the job, and when 1 found the error I informed the foreman of the matter and told him if this kind of thing was allowed to go on I would leave the firm; but they just took me off the job and put another employee on the same job, and it is still wrong. If this kind of thing is allowed, where are we going to end? This firm is working on a 10 per cent, basis over all costs. They have an inspector employed by the firm in the annexe, but he has to do as he is told. Their inspector wanted to stop this particular job, but he was not allowed to stop it.
There are also five turrets, seven profiles and a number of milling machines which are never used; yet the Government urges the speeding up of munitions while these machines are idle. Whenever there is a military inspector present they put labourers on any one of these machines until the inspection is over, and that is the end of the so-called war production.
I conveyed this information to the Government on the 19th November last, and have received a formal acknowledgment of my letter; but I trust that a thorough inquiry will be made into the allegations, for it would be tragic if the members of our fighting forces were furnished with defective Bren guns.
I direct the attention of the Prime Minister also to what I regard as unsatisfactory government action in respect of the Wales differential device. This equipment was designed by an Australian engineer of considerable experience in order to overcome what is known as single-wheel spin, which is a major defect in conventional motor vehicle equipment. The Wales differential was brought to the notice of the Army authorities two years ago, and, after exhaustive tests, was accepted as satisfactory. I understand that engineers of experience connected with General Motors Limited and also the Ford Motor Company are enthusiastic about the device. The Army authorities were so satisfied that they requisitioned a supply of this equipment through the Department of Supply and Development. I am informed that an order for 800 Wales differentials was submitted to the Board of Business Administration for endorsement. The board referred the matter to the Central Inventions Board, which also expressed satisfaction with the equipment. Yet, because the British army authorities bad not proved the worth of the invention and, I suppose, had not had the opportunity to test it, the Board of Business Administration declined to endorse the order. Seeing that we now have to rely on our own devices, and inventive ability in matters of this description, I hope that the decision of the Board of Business Administration will be reviewed. I do not know Mr. Wales personally, but I have corresponded with him. His differential was brought to my notice through certain other inquiries that I was making. I am quite satisfied that Mr. Wales is an engineer of ability and that his invention should be given the most careful consideration.
I ask the Prime Minister also to be good enough to cause an investigation to be made into complaints of a lack of encouragement to Australian inventors generally. Considerable doubt still seems to exist concerning the actual procedure that has been laid down in connexion with inventions. Apparently, the Central Inventions Board has been abolished and inventions must now be submitted to the Service Departments. I have received a letter, however, which suggests that the new procedure is not at all satisfactory. For obvious reasons, I shall not give names in this connexion, but the writer of the letter, after referring to his own unsatisfactory treatment by the department, stated -
While I was standing around all that time. I came in contact with many disgusted people who were trying hard to place valuable ideas at the country’s disposal. Amongst them was a man by the name of Andrews, who had an idea for steering an aerial bomb. I thought it was a splash idea and was very sorry to hear him say that as he had such a rotten spin from his own people he would dispose of it elsewhere. I have recently wondered if Japan got it.
– Does the honorable gentleman suggest that the inventor made his invention available to Japan?
– The uncanny accuracy of the Japanese in reaching their targets from the air suggests that they may have some device of this character. We all know that several British inventions were somehow secured by Germany during the last war, and it would be deplorable if that kind of thing happened on this occasion.
I now direct attention to the following letter which I have received from Mr.
I have recently been interviewed by one of my constituents, Mr. Walter Roy Hayes, of 73 Myall-street, Concord West, who is an exforeman engineer of Garden Island Naval Depot.
He informs me that over twelve Months ago lie submitted to Mr. Urquhart, Armament Officer, Garden Island, a model of his invention which he claims revolutionizes the lifting of planes, boats, &c, from the water to shipboard and vice versa.
When the model was first submitted, he states that it was acclaimed as the ideal idea for the work which it is intended to do and from the explanation of its working which he furnished to me, I am convinced that there is a deal of merit in the proposal.
During the twelve months, he claims that no effort has been made to try out the idea and in spite of the fact that he has made written application for the return of his model, he has been completely ignored by the Department of the Navy.
He also informs me that other interests arc desirous of trying out the idea but he has refrained from giving permission pending some decision from the Navy.
I would be pleased if you would make Borne inquiries on his behalf and ascertain what steps if any the Naval Board proposes to take in this matter and impart such information to Mr. Hayes.
I am enclosing a sketch and a .brief summary of the idea.
Trusting you will’ make some inquiries.
If honorable members are interested in the sketch plan I shall be pleased to submit it to them.
– Has the honorable member brought this invention to the notice of the Minister for the Navy?
– Then why mention it now?
– I read Mr. Carlton’s letter in order to show that Australian inventors have been discouraged by departmental officials. The whole matter was dealt with fully in the following leading article which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald recently:– lt is not enough, however, to set up machinery which will give a fair and enlightened test of any new device offered to the services. lt may often happen that an inventor has not worked out his idea completely or has applied it inaptly. In either case the gonn of some useful notion might be passed over if its assessment was left simply to one of the Services or the Munitions Department. It is to be hoped therefore that, in making the very necessary changes in the Array Inventions Board’s system, Mr. Forde will not overlook the need to have some central clearing-house for ideas, so that the inventive powers of the community may be exploited to the fullest possible extent.
I ask the Prime Minister to refer this matter back to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The examination of Australian inventions should come within the jurisdiction of that body which has an appropriation of £400,000 for research purposes. I ask the Government to give every encouragement to Australian inventors.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable members for Hume (Mr. Collins) and Richmond (Mr. Anthony) regarding the lifting of the ban on late shopping in small country towns. Most of the country towns in Western Australia are very small. Many of those which are situated a couple of hundred miles inland do not contain more than six or seven shops. I would not suggest for one moment that they be given special consideration if I thought it would endanger the lives of people living in inland areas. Most of the country towns in Western Australia are separated from each other by great distances, and within the last twelve or eighteen months it has become customary for three or four outback families to share a truck to transport them to town in order to get their week’s supplies. Many of the trucks are fitted with producergas units. I appeal to the Prime Minister, who has an intimate knowledge of the conditions that exist in Western Australia, to permit the shops in these small inland country towns to remain open one night a week.
I appeal to the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) to exercise more rigid control over the utilization of petrol. Petrol is being wasted in Sydney to an astounding degree. During my recent stay there I visited Bondi, Coogee and Manly by tram, bus or ferry on a Sunday, and saw thousands of cars coming and going to those beaches, or parked at the beaches all day long. If a business man is discovered to be using his business ration for pleasure purposes, his licence should be suspended and his car taken away from him. It is ridiculous that people should be given a ration of 25 or 30 gallons a month and permitted to use it for pleasure without hindrance.
– That has been “ spragged “ to-day.
– I am glad to have that assurance. In Western Australia one licensed motor vehicle in every eighteen is fitted with a producer-gas unit. In Victoria the proportion is one in forty ; hut in one State it is as low as one in 150. That is a disgraceful state of affairs after two years of war.
– There were 200 licences for business purposes withdrawn to-day because it was discovered by the department that they were issued in respect of vehicles which were not other than pleasure cars. The withdrawal of licences will be continued wherever we find justification for it.
– Even though the position in regard to petrol stocks may be good to-day, we do not know what it will be next month.
– That applies also to the goods being sold in shops.
– I appeal to the Prime Minister to give consideration to the needs of those who live in the outback of Western Australia., where, as the honorable gentleman knows, the danger of an air raid is remote.
.- T draw the attention of the Government to the need for taking suitable action to marshal available labour and direct it to those points where it is most needed at present. I refer particularly to the shortage of labour for the harvesting of wheat and fruit crops and other crops of a perishable nature. In the past, there has been a lamentable lack of organization of this kind despite the fact that there is still a large number of registered and unregistered unemployed in certain areas. Many of the unemployed are not able to afford to pay rail fares to the places where they are needed and as a consequence, there is a very grave shortage of labour for harvesting purposes, particularly in the grape and dried fruits industries. This is an important matter to the growers because these crops must be harvested quickly at the right time. Appeals have been made to me to do what I can to have all available labour utilized to the best advantage. It would be helpful if a conference of Commonwealth and State authorities were held with the object of arriving at an agreement under which fares may be advanced to approved unemployed appli cants to travel from their homes to those places where work is available. If the crops of these commodities are garnered they will provide for our internal requirements and for the supply of our troops overseas and, at the same time, will enable us to build up reserves of foodstuffs.
I propose now to refer to the conservation and production of oil in Australia. I do not need to stress the fact that we do not know how long we can carry on with the supplies that are available and those that we can get from outside sources. It has been brought home to us to-day that we should have taken more active and positive steps in the past to develop industries for the extraction of crude and fuel oils, and petrol and power alcohol from the products which we have in abundance in Australia. Some steps have been taken for the development of oil shale deposits, but a considerable source of supply is still untapped in the brown coal deposits that are to be found in many parts of Australia, particularly in Victoria, where it is said there is an almost unlimited quantity, which would last for perhaps hundreds of years. A few years ago, officials representing the Government of Victoria made investigations in Germany and discovered that petrol and other classes of oil of various’ degrees of crudity could be produced from brown coal. Germany was, in fact, supplying at that time 50 per cent, of its normal requirements from this source. The recommendation was made that steps should be taken to give to Australia a degree of independence of imported supplies, but so far as I know nothing substantial has been done to that end. Even now, the Government would be wise if it were to set in operation some degree of development of these resources. The processes are well known, to experts. At one stage, it was stated that for quite a reasonable outlay on plant and machinery, some of which would have to be imported, refined petrol could be produced at a cost of ls. a gallon. I suggest that experts in the Department of Supply and Development should confer with the Victorian officers who have gone into the matter, and with the Premier of that State, who still has in his possession much data concerning the investigations that were made.
I have received a number of telegrams concerning the hardships that have been caused in connexion with the recent call-up of men for the Militia Forces. The matter that these messages contain makes it appear that area officers and others who are responsible for marshalling the men are exercising their prerogative rather inconsiderately in some instances. Men have been taken from actual harvesting operations, and everything has been left at a complete standstill. I do not say that this condition is widespread. But apparently the number of cases of hardship is considerable. I realize fully the importance of having our manhood trained, but I consider that some consideration should be shown in the particular cases that I have mentioned. I ask the responsible Minister to issue the instruction that dislocation of industry shall be avoided where possible.
To-day, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) whether, in the general planning of the intensified defence effort which is absolutely imperative to-day, a review would be made of the future of the primary industries. With the limited shipping available, and the losses that have been and may be sustained, we cannot continue to send from Australia many of our exportable products, and they cannot be allowed to accumulate without an outlet. Consequently, we have to make up our minds whether we intend to permit production in excess of what may be regarded as normal requirements, paying some producers guaranteed prices and allowing others to take their chance and eventually to seek Commonwealth aid. It would be appropriate if, in the general scheme, a review were made as early as -possible in the coining year, so that some indication might be given of the degree to which those who are engaged in the different industries should carry on their operations. In the conditions with which we are now faced, it may be necessary to take drastic steps for the safeguarding of the men who are engaged in those industries, because we cannot permit persons whose principal source of livelihood has been dislocated to be subjected to action for dispossession of what they now hold. This raises the question of a moratorium. The Prime Minister assured me to-day that whatever steps are necessary will be taken, and I emphasize the matter now merely because I realize its importance.
.- The Government ought to consider very seriously what order of priority should be given to various forms of primary production. Primary industry is suffering, and will continue to suffer, because of the shortage of labour, kerosene and fertilizers. Primary producers in my area share my concern in regard to the future. Many farmers are wondering whether it will be worthwhile to break up land this year in order to plant such crops as flax, peas and other vegetables. The Government should decide the quantity that is required of various primary products in addition to what may be termed the staple products, wool, butter and wheat. I urge the Government to stipulate some order of priority, in order that farmers may know what quantity of flax they will be required to put down in the coming season, and what assistance they may expect to receive from the Government in respect of labour and supplies of kerosene and fertilizer. The matter demands immediate attention.
– in reply - All of the observations made by honorable members who have just spoken will be seriously considered. In respect of the matter raised by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) I am confident that Queensland can produce more coal than that State consumes. However, the problem is one of distribution and transport. To whatever degree we may increase the production of coal in New South Wales, such coal would be available in that State only unless we can also increase shipping facilities for its distribution to Melbourne and Adelaide. Therefore the problem involves a review of factors other than simply the production of coal in Queensland for distribution in New South Wales and the production of coal in New South Wales for distribution in other States. It is a problem of shipping and transport generally. I have already reviewed this matter, and find it diffcult to see how we can resolve our shipping difficulties more effectively than is being done at present. The supply of Queensland coal for use on the Kyogle railway line would simply mean increasing stocks in New South Wales.
Tie matter raised by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) with respect to group insurance policies carrying a loading in the event of a holder of a policy dying outside of Australia and New Zealand, thus involving members pf the Australian Imperial Force, will be carefully considered. I am satisfied something should be done about it.
Several honorable members referred to what they described as a. lack of necessity to gazette, in the way in which it was gazetted, the regulation relating to trading after 6 p.m. That regulation was drawn in its present form in order to enable the Minister to exempt certain zones; but we hold that the proper authority to make a recommendation regarding the exemption of zones is the premier of the State concerned. Basically, this country, for some time at any rate, must learn to do with less night illumination. That is clear.
– Hear, hear !
– It is all very well to talk about such action being necessary in coastal areas only. In many instances, certain existing facilities make it extraordinarily difficult to decide what is a coastal town. I do not divulge information of use to the enemy when I point out that certain important centres in Australia are 200 or 300 miles inland. If those centres are to have anything in the way of night shopping light, with street illumination and probably some industrial activity going on as well, their location will be shown by a distant glow. Should there exist between the coast and those particular places certain lighting that could be avoided, we shall be failing to take the maximum degree of precaution.
– The towns to which 1 referred are lit up at night irrespective of shopping nights. No blackout has been ordered. I am concerned about the closing of shops.
– The Government has made a pronouncement regarding what should be done, and it has gazetted regulations which involve a variety of factors. First, we wish to reduce the temptation to the public to congregate in the streets at night. We also desire to reduce the consumption of coal. In addition, we wish to reduce the expenditure by the public on these commodities. One might ask, “why do that?” The answer is that factories must work to produce these commodities; and we cannot be certain at present whether those factories should not concentrate on building up reserves, rather than that there should be a total consumption of such foods. Even in this great food-producing country there is hardly a commodity which does not require some container to permit of its distribution from centres of production to centres of consumption. Consequently, a great variety of factors must be taken into account in dealing with the consumptive facilities of a population which is distributed so widely as is the case in Australia. Late shopping does not apply to food shops, but all of the articles retailed by grocers and drapers require packing cases for their transmission from the centres of production. We must go carefully, for instance, in regard to nails. That is an extraordinary thing to have to say. However, the butter people are calling out for more nails for the construction of butter boxes and, at the same time, our war industries require for their purposes the basic material that is used in the manufacture of nails. This is only one instance of the need for a survey of basic materials which from now on must be conserved for the manufacture of war equipment. The Government has made its declaration, and is resolved to stick to it. That applies also to holidays. The Commonwealth Government can only lay down general policy. I realize that precisely the same conditions do not exist in every part of this country. What the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) says, for instance, is quite true. There are only six shops in certain country towns; and the honorable member says it would be reasonable to allow those six shops to carry on as usual. At the same time there may be only, say, eight or twelve shops in other towns. The question is then asked why we cannot allow eight shops to carry on when Ave allow six to carry on as usual in one town, and why Ave cannot allow twelve to carry on when we allow eight to carry on. We must draw. the line somewhere. We are either going to do this thing properly or not; and the Government is determined that, because the war is our first consideration, inconveniences which must arise from the inevitable anomalies involved in overnight revision of our social structure, must, so long as they are imperative, remain. Consequently, the Government intends to stand by what it has already done. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) said that we must not interfere with the usual and customary freedom of the people. With great respect I say to him that we cannot maintain the usual and customary freedom of the people unless we first make certain that this country shall be governed in the future by the people who now govern it. On that basis the maximum of precaution and organization that this Government can devise will be undertaken, and the Government will stand by its decisions. In any case, it is safer to take too much rather than insufficient caution.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) mentioned certain matters in relation to the Department of the Army, the Department of Munitions and the Department of the Interior. They cited specific cases, and I shall be glad to look into them.
The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) referred to the position of the primary producers, and mentioned articles that are in short supply. I can only repeat what I have said before, namely, that the Government is wholly conscious of the importance of the primary industries. We know that they are suffering because of our inability to get our products to the consuming countries. Where possible, certain adjustments are being made. As for the moratorium, honorable members will realize that that is a matter of major dimensions, but the views which they have expressed will be considered very carefully.
We have had to stop the practice of mixing kerosene with petrol, a practice which developed because of the restrictions imposed upon the use of petrol. Every gallon of kerosene imported necessarily took the place of a gallon of petrol, because both are brought to this country in the same sort of containers. We have had to stop the use of kerosene as a blend with petrol in order to con- -?
– Can it not be made available for the harvesting of essential crops ?
– We are doing that.
– The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) gave a general reply this afternoon regarding the effect on industry of the calling up of men for military service, and I refer those honorable members, who spoke on the subject to-night to the Minister’s remarks.
I thank all honorable members, and particularly the Leader of the Opposition, for the assistance given to the Government in the work of Parliament yesterday and to-day. I do not feel in the mood to repeat the felicitations expressed prematurely a fortnight ago, but I do hope and pray that Christmas will be as good as we can make it; certainly, that it will not be so bad as our enemies seek to make it. 1 trust that, whatever the future, we shall face it with unstinted industry, undaunted valour, and unconquerable will.
– by leave - I endorse the sentiments which the Prime Minister has just expressed. Like him, I hope that, before Parliament is called together again, the dark clouds of war will have passed away, and that commonsense, understanding, and national goodwill will prevail. I hope that we shall continue to enjoy the privilege of free and constitutional government, and that we shall retain the freedom which is symbolized by the Union Jack. I join with the Prime Minister in wishing to yourself, Mr. Speaker, and to the staff of the Parliament, the compliments of the season, and I trust that our Christmas will be as merry as the circumstances permit.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Eighteenth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by Board of Commissioners, dated 11th December, 1941.
National Security Act-
National Security(Exchange Control) Regulations - Order - Sterling area.
National Security (Shipping Requisition ) Regulations - Resolutions by Shipping Control Board (2).
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m., until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker and to he notified by him toeachmemberbytelegram orletter.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library the report of the engineer who recently investigated the hydro-power position in Tasmania?
– The report referred to was obtained confidentially, and in the circumstances it is regretted that it cannot be made available as requested by the honorable member.
l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Metropolitan Press : Profits and Prices.
n. - On the 19th November, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked me the following questions, without notice: -
Has the Prime Minister yet received a report from the Prices Commissioner following upon that officer’s investigation into metropolitan press profits and prices? If so, will the report be made available to honorable members?
I desire to inform the honorable member that investigations into the finances of newspaper companies following upon adjustment of prices and advertising rates made after the introduction of newsprint rationing on the 1st July last, have been proceeding. The Prices Commissioner has taken the period of three months which ended on the 30th September for the purposes of his review. The investigation is still in progress. The investigations of the Prices Commissioner are carried out under conditions of secrecy, and it will not be possible, therefore, to table his report. If possible, however, the general results of the inquiry will be made available to honorable members.
y. - On the 29th October the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked the Treasurer the following questions, upon notice: -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 December 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19411217_reps_16_169/>.