16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle - Prime Minister). - It is with deep regret that I inform honorable members of the death of the Honorable John Joseph Daly, a former Senator and Minister of the Crown, who passed away at Adelaide on the 13th April, 1942. Thissad event has removed from his family and from a large circle of friends a comparatively young man, who, until his mortal illness, bad engaged in many spheres of activity.
Mr. Daly was elected to the Senate for South Australia at the general election in 1928. Immediately upon taking his seat., he was appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and held that office from June to September, 1929. He became Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister in charge of Development and Migration, and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, from the 22nd October, 1929, to the 3rd March, 1931. He was Minister for Defence from the 4th February to the 3rd March, 1931, and acted as Attorney-General from July, 1930, to January, 1931, during the absence at Geneva of the then Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan). He was a member of the Joint Committee on Public Works from April to June, 1931, and held the position of honorary minister from the 26th June, 1931, to the 6th January, 1932. Defeated at the general election in 1934, he held his seat, under the Constitution, until the 30th June, 1935.
Following a successful legal career in South Australia, Mr. Daly entered the wider sphere of federal politics, and at once took a leading part in national affairs. In carrying out the duties of the various ministerial posts that he held in the Labour Government of 1929-31, he proved an able administrator. For this work he had already received excellent training as a member of the South Australian and Federal executives of the Australian Labour party, as National President of the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society and in his active associationwiththe Australian Natives Association and the Irish National Foresters. I pay tribute to the service that he rendered to the Labour movement in Australia. To those of us who knew him, his death is a personalloss . His widow and family will find consolation in the knowledge that he rendered fine service to his country and earned the highest respect of his fellow-men. I move -
That this House records its sincere regret at the death of the Honorable John Joseph Duly,a former senator for the State of South Australia and a Minister of the Crown, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I associate the Opposition with the sentiments of respect and appreciation expressed by the Prime Minister. I had not the privilege of knowing the late exSenator Daly, but have been told by those who knew him intimately that he was a man of fine character, who rendered excellent service to this country. From the record recounted by the Prime Minister it is evident that, although he was privileged to serve in this Parliament for only a brief period, he nevertheless rendered valuable and conscientious service. I join with the Prime Minister in conveying sympathy to the members of the bereaved family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing intheir places.
– I present a petition from certain owners of small boats in the Division of Cook, praying that small boats taken from their moorings in the interests of national security, be kept in small depots, and that proper provision be made for their care.
Petition received and read.
-Will the Minister for the Army give further consideration to the matter, and make a statement to the House to-morrow?
– I was impressed by the suggestion of the honorable member, and will consider it. I hope to furnish a reply to him to-morrow.
– by leave- The experience gained in the Malayan campaign showed that small craft were of great value to the enemy, and that they materially aided his infiltration tactics. The best method of denying the use’ of such craft to the enemy was considered by the Army authorities in conjunction with the State War Effort Coordination Committee. The final plans, which were arranged with the State authorities, provided for the concentration of theboats in various localities under Army control so that, in the event of the necessity arising for their destruction, immediate action could be taken. It was not considered that the destruction could safely be left to individual owners, particularly in view of the conditions likely to prevail when the necessity arose ; moreover, the time factor in warning scattered owners precluded the adoption of such a scheme.
There are approximately 19,000 boats involved in New South Wales, in respect of which about 2,000 exemptions have been granted by State Fisheries Inspectors in the following categories: -
My department was given the duty of implementing the scheme, which is being carried out by Fisheries Inspectors in conjunction with the Maritime Services Board and the State police. A complete record hasbeen made of every boat removed from the control of its owner, and action is now being taken to supply owners with a receipt in the form of a card giving particulars of the boat in respect of which it is issued. It was most unfortunate that while the operation was in hand in the Hawkesbury and Georges rivers, floods occurred. I understand that these were the heaviest experienced for 60 years and that the consequent loss and damage to boats was considerable. An interim report in regard to this matter estimates that approximately 165 boats were lost or damaged beyond repair, and that 90 were damaged but are reparable. To what degree this loss was due to. the removal of the boats from the custody of their owners, cannot be assessed until the investigation has been completed.
The care and maintenance of these boats has been assumedby the Army, which, I understand, is now arranging for Volunteer Defence Corps maintenance squads to be recruited, as far as possible from boat-owners and boatshed proprietors whose boats have been removed.
The matter of compensation has two phases, viz. : -
The latter can, it is understood, be covered by insurance under the National Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations. The present regulations, however, whilst providing cover for boats which have been removed from the water and stowed on land, do not provide for those on the water or on the foreshores below high-water mark. I have discussed the matter with my colleague, the Treasurer, and arrangements have been made to amend theWar Damage to Property Regulations in order to permit the insurance of small boats which are not at present covered.
I have received several inquiries as to the payment of compensation to owners who have been deprived of the use of their boats. Honorable members will appreciate that there are various circumstances in which it has been found necessary, for the attainment of the full war effort, to interfere with the normal conditions of living and the means of livelihood of the greater part of the Australian people. Damage to or loss of boats which has been occasioned as a result of removal or during the course of removal, is another matter. This phase certainly will be the subject of discussion between the Minister for the Army, the Treasurer, and myself.
I have already directed that, subject to security, every consideration is to be given to boat-owners who undertake to provide proper precautions for the safe custody of their own boats. I am informed by the Army authorities that, in their opinion, this matter cannot safely be left to the individual owners, and that any extension of the exemptions already granted would defeat the principal purpose, which for security reasons requires the greatest possible immobilization of all small craft. In view of this decision by the Army authorities, responsibility for further direction in this regard must be accepted by my colleague, the Minister for the Army.
– by leave - Experience in the Malayan campaign showed that small craft were of great value to the enemy, if left available to him, and materially aided his infiltration tactics. It was felt that preparatory action, at least, should not be left until the actual threat developed. The army plan was to move the craft as far inland as possible, and concentrate them in order to simplify destruction, should that become necessary. The Department of the Army is not prepared to accept the responsibility for allowing pleasure craft and craft, used for hiring to remain in their owners’ hands, beyond the measures already indicated by the Minister for the Navy. If owners were allowed the custody of their boats several thousands of craft would be affected, and it would be impossible to ensure the denial of those vessels to the enemy in the event of attack against our shores. It is essential that this action he taken now, as it would be dangerous to wait until an attack was imminent before taking these precautions which are so essential for the safety of the nation as a whole. It is considered that the exemptions which have been granted in respect of boats used for essential service, as advised by the Minister for the Navy, are sufficient. The policing of security measures in regard to the exemptions will create considerable difficulty. At the present time, in New South Wales, about 2,000 boats are involved. Arrangements have been made whereby, if a person has a legitimate claim for the retention of his boat, he can submit his case to the Inspector of Fisheries, who is empowered to grant an exemption if he is satisfied that the case warrants such exemption.
– I do not question the necessity for the immobilization of small craft. Every body realizes the need for such action, and the value of it. I ask the Minister, however, whether he will set up a competent authority to deal with the immobilization of vessels, thus taking the matter out of the hands of the naval and military authorities who cannot be expected to understand the needs of industry along the coast? Will he see that justice shall be done to the thousands of persons who depend on these boats for a livelihood?
– My department has in this matter merely been carrying out the instructions issued by the Department of the Army, .but in doing so we have worked in conjunction with a co-ordinating committee appointed by the State authority. Having regard to this fact, I suggest that any further questions on the subject be directed to the Minister for the Army.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that, many of the boats have been pulled up more than 100 yards from the shore, and that at one point on the shore of Lake Macquarie, there is a congregation of more than 2,000 boats ? What consideration have the Minister’s advisers given to the suggestion of sailing clubs and fishermen at Lake Macquarie that the boats should be collected into groups, and the owners allowed to appoint their own supervisors? If the boats are allowed to remain as they are at present, not one of them will be of any use three months hence. It is not true that they are under shelter.
– I repeat that policy in regard to this matter of immobilization of boats is directed by the Minister for the Army. The Department of the Navy has merely carried out the directions of the Department of the Army.
– But I do not know where I am. He passes the buck to you, and you pass it back to him.
– That is not so. It is the Department of the Army which gives directions, and the Department of the Navy merely executes the orders. Therefore, all questions touching upon policy should be directed to the Minister for the Army.
– I ask the Prime Minister - whom I congratulate upon having been appointed a Privy Councillor - ‘whether he has received from a conference of producers’ representatives, which sat in Sydney, proposals for the creation of a national organization for the co-ordination and planning of rural production in war-time, and, if so, what action does he propose to take?
– A proposal has been received. It is now being considered, and a statement will be made later.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Attorney-General whether he is aware that Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited, and the management of that company, have been found not guilty on all counts before a Police Magistrate, a Supreme Court . jury, and the High Court, and this despite the full powers of prosecution vested in the Crown by this Parliament, which provided for the laying- of retrospective charges, and the placing of the onus of proof on the defendant? Will the Minister make a full report to the House on all the circumstances associated with the trial, and the failure of the Crown case? Will he inquire into certain evidence tendered at the trial, but not allowed by the judge, relating to a gramophone record purporting to be a record of an interview between a departmental inspector and the manager of Fostars? Will the Minister state whether the inspectors responsible for the laying of the charges are still in the employment of the Government, . and whether Inspector Gill has been restored to his former position as Chief Inspector in New South Wales ?
– I am aware of the decision of the court. As for the other questions, I shall request the SolicitorGeneral to furnish a complete report on the case, and I shall make the report available to honorable members.
– Will the Prime Minister arrange for the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for War Organization of Industry to make a statement or statements as early as possible next week setting forth the principles upon which available manpower resources have been, and are being, organized for war purposes?
– The Government has given the closest attention to this matter recently, apart from the general attention that it nas received, and a sub-committee of Cabinet has been appointed to furnish to the full Cabinet an immediate report upon the subject. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will await the submission’ of that report to the full Cabinet, and immediately it is available I shall arrange for a statement to be made to the House.
– When will that be?
– I have not yet seen the report, ‘but I shall ask the subcommittee to expedite its work.
– In view of the necessity to assist persons engaged in primary production to secure their labour requirements, and, at the same time, to meet call-up needs in the most economical manner, I ask the Prime Minister whether he will consider the advisableness of reviewing the existing conditions which are operating most inequitably in primary industries, so that the best arrangements possible may be made to ensure that the food needs of Australia may be met?
– Earlier to-day I intimated that a committee of Cabinet was reviewing the whole man-power position, I said that the report would be submitted to the full Cabinet as early as practicable. In the meantime the various related questions are being constantly reviewed by the appropriate authorities, and decisions made from time to time. It is a little too much to expect that they will give universal satisfaction.
– Some returned soldiers’ organizations, individual returned soldiers, and sections of <the press have referred to the inadequacy of the pay of members of our fighting forces as the result of the increase of the cost of living. Some quarters have suggested that, in order to overcome the leeway, married men should be required to make a higher allotment to their families. Personally I do not agree with that suggestion. I ask the Minister for Defence to examine the matter most carefully with a view to granting to members of the fighting forces an appropriate increase of remuneration in order to compensate for the increased cost of living. I also urge that any .increase should be given a general, application and should be extended to single personnel of the fighting forces, so as to .enable them to create a fund to enable them to marry.
– Order ! The honorable member should frame a question.
– ‘Since the Government took office, the pay and allowances of members of the fighting forces have been increased by from 12 per cent, to 20 per cent., according to the particular family unit. The “C” series index reveals that the cost of living in the six capital cities has increased, since the Government took office, by 5.3 per cent. Hence it would appear that the Government, during its term of office, has dealt with the increased cost of living insofar as it affects members of the fighting forces and their families.
– That is not the view of the housewives.
– When conditions warrant a review, the Government will be most happy to make it.
– Did the Minister for Labour and National Service, following his successful tour of the coal-fields, notice a press statement by Judge DrakeBrockman to the effect that he will not stand for the Minister acting as a Court of Appeal over him, and that if such a development occurs, he will walk out of the court? I ask the Minister whether Judge Drake-Brockman is the person who, at one period, was the employers’ advocate in the court over which he now presides; whether he was, at one time, the president of the Employers Federation; and whether he was, at another time, a Nationalist Senator in this Parliament? Has the Minister any evidence that the unions are perturbed by His Honour’s threat to resign and if so, will he consider the advisability of asking His Honour to remain?
– I understand that Judge Drake-Brockman has engaged in all the activities which the honorable member mentioned, and I am able to assure him that so far as I can gather, trade unionists would not be greatly dismayed if the judge walked out of this particular jurisdiction. Regarding the reported comments by the judge concerning my activities, and those of my colleague, the honorable member for Hunter, I have been advised that His Honour claims to have been misreported. I am of opinion that the employers’ representative on the Coal Reference Board, Mr. McNally, misinformed His Honour regarding what had occurred, and the remarks which I had made while attending the conference on the south coast. At the earliest possible moment, I shall submit to the House a prepared statement that will include my actual remarks at the conference on the south coast. I shall also endeavour to obtain a transcript of the remarks of His Honour, so that honorable members may be able to judge who was right and who was wrong in this matter.
– Did the Minister for Munitions issue an instruction to the Western Oxygen Company that no supplies of gas-welding materials were to be made available for the maintenance of agricultural machinery or any motor vehicle not engaged in an essential industry? If so, will the Minister take immediate steps to declare agriculture an essential industry, in view of its importance in providing food for the fighting forces and the civilian population ?
– I shall be glad to give consideration to the matter.
Use Outside CommonwealthTerritory.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that during the 7 p.m. news session on the 6th April, the national radio network broadcast the following announcement: -
The Government will send Militia troops outside Australian territory if necessary. A high government authority made this clear to-day. He said that the Supreme Commander in the Anzac area, General MacArthur, could send troops wherever they were most needed. The Australian Government had asked that all forces in the south-west Pacific should be under
General MacArthur’s control. Obviously that request included Militia as well as the Australian Imperial Force.
If so, will the right honorable gentleman inform me of the identity of the “high government authority” who made the statement, and the reason, if any, for his anonymity? Does the statement mean that the Government intends to conscript members of the Australian Militia Forces for service overseas? If so, will amending legislation be introduced into Parliament so as to enable this to be done?
– I have no knowledge whatever of any statement made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission or any authority said to have been vested in a government spokesman. I remind the honorable member that what the Government proposes to do is a matter of policy, and it is not thepractice fora Minister to declare policy by means of answers to questions.
-Has the Prime Minister, or any member of his Government, with his knowledge, or any person authorized by the Government, broadcast a statement which subsequently appeared in the press, that in any circumstances there would be a departure from the existing law relating to conscription for overseas service?
– The answer is “ No “
– Last Monday evening the Melbourne Herald published the following news item: -
Ashas been indicated Australian troops, whether the Militia or Australian Imperial Force can be sent overseas when this step is considered necessary for the successful conduct of the war. The Government view is that an amendment of the Defence Act is not necessary to permit this, and it seems determined to stand firm against all demands to amend the Act.
As it seems hardly credible that a wrong statement, without any foundation, would be made by a reputable newspaper, will the Prime Minister inquire into the origin of the announcement?
– I have no means of ascertaining the source of the information available to the Melbourne Herald, and I do not propose to employ myself in endeavouring to do so. However, I shall inquire into a similar announcement by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, because it is a government instrumentality. Frankly, I do not care what the newspapers say. The use of Australian forces, whatever their composition, involves advice from the High Command upon military strategy, and a statement of the forces that are required. Then Australia has a voice, just as has every other country, because the Government of the day decides the nature of the forces that will be assigned to the commander. That has been true since the outbreak of war, not only of this Government, ‘but also of every other government in the united nations. The Commonwealth Government has introduced no new policy in that regard. The statement that I made earlier about the complete cooperation and understanding between General MacArthur and myself is such that I know of no demand imposed by military necessity upon this Government, that it has not already satisfied.
– The Australian Broadcasting Commission has made the anouncement, which has been proved to be without foundation, that the Government of the day would, if necessary, approve of the use of the Australian Militia Forces for service abroad. As this Government instrumentality has stated that authority for its announcement rests in official sources, will the Prime Minister cause inquiries to be made in order to learn the source, and advise honorable members of it? Will the right honorable gentleman also cause inquiries to be made into the circumstances which enabled so important a government instrumentality to make an announcement which, whilst purporting to be official, was, in fact, untruthful, without a denial by the Government during a period of three weeks subsequent to its having been made?
– I am asked to inquire into the correctness of statements made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Australian Broadcasting Commission carries on its functions in accordance with the law which has operated in this country for some years. It has control of such news services as it broadcasts. The Government has nothing to do with the appointment of persons to the Australian Broadcasting Commission staff, other than the Commissioners themselves. What news gatherers it has, or how reliable or accurate they may be, is a matter entirely for the commission itself. No authorized statement has been made by the Government, and therefore no such statement could be made over the air, or by any other medium, regarding what shall be done with the Australian Militia Force0.
– Are we to understand that it will be possible for the Australian Broadcasting . Commission on future occasions to make what are announced as statements founded upon official information, and for those statements to go without denial even if incorrect?
– I did not know that the statement had ‘been made. Nobody told me. No one had brought it to my notice until the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) raised the matte.” in Parliament to-day. Abill is being introduced in the Senate in respect of broadcasting, and a report on the subject has been prepared by a parliamentary committee.
– That is not the point.
– The point is thatI am asked to inquire why a certain statement was made.
– And who made it.
– Who is the official spokesman ?
– I do not know who the spokesman is.
– No doubt the Australian Broadcasting Commission could supply that information.
– I do not know whether the statement was made in other than the Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcast.
– It was published in the press, but I am directing my inquiry to the announcement madeby the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– I shall endeavour to ascertain from what source the Australian Broadcasting Commission got its information.
– And inform the House ?
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House whether he has experienced any difficulty in obtaining from the management of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, for man-power purposes, lists of its employees? Will he also inform the House whether, because of the delay in obtaining these lists, he issued instructions for the prosecution of the firm? Can he inform the House whether these lists revealed the fact that employees, from the editor down to the political roundsmen, had been eligible for war service since’ the outbreak of war? Is not this the paper that has been publishing articles which castigated those who were not contributing to the maximum war effort? Will the Minister say whether Mr. E. G. Theodore, who is Director-General of Allied Works, and Mr. Frank Packer, who was recently appointed as his assistant, are respectively the chairman of directors and managing director of this so-called patriotic publication? Is this the same Theodore who recently made a statement in Queensland that men in the labour battalion would be subject to rigorous military discipline and that the severest penalties would be imposed on them for disobedience?
– I do not claim to have the intimate knowledge of the operations of the Sydney Daily Telegraph that the honorable member credits me with having, tout I am able to answer some of his question. It is true that the Department of Labour and National Service asked the daily newspapers to furnish information regarding their employees. That information was to have been supplied by 5 p.m. on the 16th March last. The Sydney Morning Herald supplied its list on the 18th March, hut innumerable requests had to be made to the Daily Telegraph for its list before it was supplied to the department on the 30th March. Early in the afternoon of the 30th March, I asked the Deputy Director of Manpower, New South Wales, whether the Daily Telegraph list had been supplied. When he advised me that it had not, I instructed him to prosecute the company for not having supplied information required by the department. Unfortunately, the com pany showed a great deal of anticipation, for, when the Deputy Director of Manpower returned to his office and before the prosecution could be launched, the information had been supplied to the department. The list supplied by the Daily Telegraph, along with lists supplied by other newspapers, contained the names of quite a number of men who would appear, from information supplied to us, tobe eligible for service. The Daily Telegraph is the journal which has been making a great deal out of talk of an all-in war effort. I understand that the two gentlemen named by the honorable member are, respectively, the chairman of directors and the managing director of Consolidated Press Limited, owners of the Daily Telegraph. I have insufficient information to answer the latter part of the honorable gentleman’s question.
– During his visit to the coal-fields, the Minister for Labour and National Service ascribed 80 per cent. of the trouble in the coal-mining industry to the pin-pricking methods of the coal-owners. Has the Ministerbeen informed that since then there have been two distinct breaches of awards by the monopolistic companies, the Australian Iron and Steel Coal Mines Limited and J. and A. Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Limited? The first-named company refused to pay yardage rates which havebeen accepted for years, and the second attempted to coerce a man named Mitchell to take the place of another unionist, thereby causing an inter-union dispute.
– Order ! The honorable member must not make statements.
– Is it not also a fact that the Minister instructed me to call a conference of the local Reference Board; of which Mr. Connell is chairman, on the dismissal of the man Mitchell, and that the Reference Board decided that he should be re-engaged at the mine ? Is the Minister aware that J. and A. Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Limited has refused to reinstate Mitchell in spite of the direction to do so from Mr. Connell? If these are facts, will the Minister and the Government display the same taste for the owners’ blood as they have shown for the miners’ blood?
– The matters mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter are now receiving our earnest attention. Through the honorable member, I asked Mr. Connell to call a conference of the local Reference Board regarding the dismissal of a nightwatchman named Mitchell. Mr. Connell decided that Mitchell should be reinstated, but he has informed me that he has been advised by the manager of the Stanford Main No. 2 Colliery that it was not intended to carry out the decision of the local reference Board. I have sent the following telegram to the manager of the colliery : -
Advised Connell chairman Local Coal Board that following hearing at which all parties were represented decision given ordering reinstatement of Mitchell nightwatchman as from to-night. Connell now advised that you have stated that this decision will not be given effect to. Serious view taken by me and should be pleased receive your immediate advice as to position.
I am now awaiting a reply from the management.
– Does the Treasurer propose during this session to introduce a bill for the creation of the long promised mortgage bank?
– Legislation is now being prepared covering the matter raised by the honorable member, and I hope to introduce it at the first opportunity.
– In order to enable fruitgrowers to draw up plans for the coming season, will the Prime Minister make an early statement of the measures the Government proposes to take for the control of the forthcoming apple and pear crop?
– I shall ask the Minister for Commerce to reply to that question immediately he reaches Canberra.
– I ask the Minister for Air how long it is proposed to humbug the thousands of air crew reservists who volunteered for labouring work after receiving a circular which invited them to make a special sacrifice in the war effort? If the handling of this problem is a fair measure of the Air Board’s ability to make decisions, will the Minister follow the example of the Minister for the Army, who dismissed the Army Board, and dismiss from office the venerable old gentlemen who constitute the Air Board.
– I am not aware that those who have offered for enlistment in the Air Force are being humbugged in any way. Many applications for enlistment, including that of the honorable member for Watson, have been made, and all these applicants have to wait their turn for call-up. Those who enlisted prior to the 31st December last have been placed on the reserved list, and those who have enlisted since that date are now serving in the Australian Military Forces. Whether that is a fair sample of the Air Board’s administration is a matter of opinion. The question of whether the Air Board will be abolished in the same way as was the Military Board will receive the consideration of the Government.
– The privilege of asking questions without notice has been granted to honorable members to enable them to elicit information. It should not be. abused by honorable members by utilizing the opportunity to comment on current affairs.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is the intention of the authorities, in the near future, to establish a military camp at Innisfail, Northern Queensland?
– In the interests of public security, it would not be wise to make any public statement in relation to the proposed locations of military camps.
Outback Deliveries - Issue to Internees
– Representations have been made to me that the operation of the regulation providing for the rationing of tea is causing difficulties in supplying outback settlements to which stores ara delivered infrequently or at irregular intervals throughout the year. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he will consider the advisability of allowing officers administering the tea rationing regulation discretionary power to deliver larger quantities of tea to stores in outback settlements ?
– Diversity of conditions is experienced in the distribution of tea supplies, and I think that the departmental officers should, in the exceptional circumstances related by the honorable member, make special provision for adequate supplies to be made available to distributors. I shall ask that the matter be dealt with without delay.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, whether it is a fact, as was stated in the press recently, that the ration of tea issued to each person in internment camps is 2 oz. a week, whilst the allowance to ordinary civilians is 1 oz. a week?
– I am not aware as to whether there is any authority for the statement, but I shall refer the question to the Minister for Trade and Customs and advise the honorable member of the result.
– As a first instalment of the new order to be established after the war, will the Government consider including in its , immediate legislative programme a Right to Work Bill?
– The report of the Social Security Committee has been carefully considered by the Government. It makes extended reference to the inability of men and women to obtain employment in normal times. The Government is not in a position to deal with the subject immediately, because it is fully occupied on other more urgent matters, but I believe that the honorable member is right in submitting his question and in suggesting that as early as practicable an effort should be made to make certain that an opportunity will be given to every man and woman to obtain employment. If that cannot be afforded, provision for the subsistence of the workless should be assured.
– In the last sessional period I asked the Prime Minister whether he would consider the advisability of holding a secret sitting of the Parliament. Has any decision been arrived at by the Government in connexion with this matter?
– I am not at present in a position to estimate whether there will be any justification for holding a secret session of the Parliament. I propose presently to deal with the existing state of the war as fully as can be done in this chamber. After debate on that statement honorable members may decide whether or not there are specific subjects on which they desire to be more fully informed. If those matters are communicated to me, I shall then consider how far the interests of the country and the responsibility of Parliament can be served by holding, not a secret session, but a private joint meeting of senators and honorable members.
” GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN.”
– Will the Prime Minister inform honorable members whether there has been appointed a “ government spokesman “ who is frequently quoted in the newspapers and on the radio as an officer possessing intimate knowledge of the Government’s plans? If so, will the right honorable gentleman give the name of the individual, or, if no person has authority to assume the title of “government spokesman”, will the Prime Minister take steps to apprehend as a fifth columnist any person claiming to act in that capacity? If no such individual exists, will the Government take action against newspapers and ‘broadcasting stations which quote such a fictitious person, in that way misleading the public?
-I am astounded that an honorable member, especially one who has been a Minister of the Crown, should ask such a question. Almost daily, for many years, reports have appeared in the Australian newspapers to the effect that it was understood that the Government, intended to take certain action.
– Yes, but the “government spokesman” has only been born within the last five or six months.
– My only comment is that the birth has not been registered!
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that last week in Sydney two important employers of labour, engaged on military work, were each fined substantial sums for breaches of the industrial award applicable to their industry? Is he also aware that numbers of similar prosecutions have occurred lately? Will the honorable gentleman invite the press to give t he same prominence to breaches of awards by employers as they give to alleged breaches of awards by employees ?
– It would be a sheer waste of time to invite those who control the press in this country to endeavour to deal fairly with the workers and with workers’ organizations, but I have made certain suggestions concerning what should be done. I am firmly of the opinion that action should be taken to ensure that greater publicity shall be given to breaches of awards by employers. These have occurred with great frequency, although the same amount of publicity has not been given to them as has been given to alleged breaches by the workers.
Review op War Situation.
– by leave - This day, a year ago, German armoured troops were occupying Athens. From the harbours of southern Greece the withdrawal of the last allied forces to hold a footing on the continent of Europe was nearing its end. The operations in Crete and Syria werestill to come, but, looking back on this period, it is now evident that the evacuation from Greece just twelve months ago was a portent of graver events. Within two months, Germany invaded Russia and before the year ended Japan struck as an Axis partner. Now, in April, 1942, we stand with the United Nations in a war encompassing the world. From confined campaigns within limited areas, the war has passed to an affair of wide-ranging strategy; of disposition of supplies and reinforcements covering two hemispheres ; and of vast but inter-related theatres of military activity.
This enlargement of the war, and the direct danger to Australia which has arisen with it, have compelled radical changes in our own war policy. To-day, after five months of war in the Pacific and our association with the United States of America as an active ally, the full scope and significance of these changes are becoming apparent. There can be no individual in Australia who is not now conscious, in some form or another, of personal limitations and restrictions imposed by the needs oftotal war. These limitations will certainly increase. The Government’s aim is to ensure that their incidence shall be fair and that the resultant freeing of national resources of labour and material shall be diverted rapidly, and with the minimum of waste and friction, to the prosecution of the war. There must be no misunderstanding about the heavy commitments which Australia’s part, as a major belligerent, will continue to impose upon us. No military improvement near our shores or distant from them, whether lasting or not, will immediately reduce them. Not until the final victory of the United Nations has been attained can we abate our effort.
When I spoke to the House a little more than a month ago, we lay under the shadow of the fall of Java. At that time, the Japanese advance southward was gaining momentum ; regular resistance in Malaya had ended; the Allies had lost valuable men, ships and aircraft; and the Japanese were in occupation of bases from which a fullscale attack on Australia was possible. On us the full weight of war was becoming manifest. Our forces have striven with great courage and energy to meet its impact. Australian and American airmen have carried out offensive operations. The Japanese have suffered losses in aircraft and shipping at their bases in New Guinea and elsewhere. They have been stoutly met in their raids on our advanced bases at Port Moresby and Darwin. Our advice is that the Japanese aircraft losses in these operations have been more than 130 bombers and fighters, together with more than 100 damaged.
It is most necessary to regard these facts in their proper proportion. Japan is still able, almost at will, to reinforce the Timor and New Guinea areas with men and aircraft. We have not, as yet, been able substantially to weaken the enemy’s position in the regions occupied, by it in the advance southward. The Japanese are still firmly established in New Guinea and other islands to the north and north-east of Australia.
Common sense dictates that we face the fact that Japan will do everything in an attempt to render Australia impotent as a base for an Allied offensive. The Go.vernrnent regards an outright Japanese attack on Australia as a constant and undiminished danger. As a part of this purpose, and in any event, the Japanese may seek to isolate Australia by cutting the sea routes whereby essential supplies reach this country. The recent Japanese occupation of bases in the Solomon Islands undeniably suggests that the Japanese are reaching out towards our sea-borne communications with America. Similarly, the presence of Japanese naval forces in the Indian Ocean means a direct and serious threat to our western approaches from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
These are’ contingencies which demand and are receiving the close and urgent attention of the Government and are, of course, apart of the grand strategy of the war. It will not be expected that I should canvass them in any detail. But I say, as the clear-cut determination of the Goverment and its advisers, that we shall yield no part of Australia to the enemy. We shall resist any attack he may make that has for its purpose the establishment of a foothold on our continent. No part of this nation could regard itself as a sanctuary once the enemy established himself at a focal point from which landbased bombers could move to the assault. <Since the last sitting of the House, there have been important developments in the arrangements for co-ordination of Allied organization and strategy for the conduct of the war. We may distinguish three main theatres: The Pacific; the Indian Ocean and the
Middle East; the’ European and Atlantic. The general strategical direction of the war is a problem of great seriousness. The offensives which have been effected by the enemy have tended to separate the war into zones which are assumed to be independent and separate. They are not separate and independent, and the present situation requires on the part of the United Nations a grand strategy of war relating all the theatres to a common objective.
The Pacific theatre, which” concerns Australia directly, is divided into two main areas, the Pacific Ocean area and the south-west Pacific area.
The south-west Pacific area includes Australia, but excludes New Zealand, which comes within the Pacific area. The separation of Australia and New Zealand was made for strategic and operational reasons, but this does not mean the absence of joint planning and coordination between the respective commanders. On the contrary,, these are an integral part of the whole scheme. There will continue to be the closest consultation and co-operation between the Australian and New Zealand Governments.
As has been already announced, General Douglas MacArthur assumed command of all Allied Navy, Army and Air Forces in the south-west Pacific area on the 18th April. The Commonwealth Government has assigned all combat sections of the Australian forces, sea, land and air, to his command. The directive to General MacArthur provides that the combined resources of our Allies and ourselves shall be devoted to the protection of the military regions of Australia as bases for future offensive action against Japan ; to the protection of lines of communication within the area; and the making of preparations to take the offensive against Japan. Under General MacArthur, the operational control of Allied land forces is vested in General Sir Thomas Blarney ; of Allied air forces, in General G. H. Brett; and of Allied naval forces, in Admiral Leary.
My former designation as Minister for Defence Co-ordination has been changed to Minister for Defence. This is a more appropriate description of my present functions in regard to defence policy and higher joint service questions. The change is also necessary in view of the wider scope of the functions under the new organization since I, as Minister for Defence, shall he the link between the Government and the CommanderinChief.
There has also been set up a Prime Minister’s War Conference, which is to consist of the Prime Minister, the Commander-in-Chief, and such Ministers and officers as the Prime Minister may summon to attend. The conference will deal with the highest strategical questions. In relation to Australian defence, the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Defence Committee will he the Government’s service advisory bodies.
For the higher strategical control of the war, the Pacific War Council was established in London some time ago. Concurrently with this, the Commonwealth and other Dominion Governments were given representation on the British War Cabinet. The Commonwealth Government held the view from the outset that a representative body should also be established in Washington. This was finally achieved last month, when a Pacific War Council - consisting of representatives of Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands East Indies, China, the United States of America and the United Kingdom - was set lip.
In view of the importance of maintaining close contact with the United States Chiefs of Staff and Combined Chiefs of Staff, the Government has taken steps to’ strengthen its service representation at Washington. Lieutenant-General E. K. Smart has been appointed Army representative, and has taken up duty at Washington. Naval and Air attaches to the Australian legation were appointed some time ago. The question of further strengthening the service staffs there is now under consideration.
The forces available for the defence of Australia have been strengthened. A substantial part of the Australian Imperial Force has returned, and has been strategically disposed. Experienced Australian Imperial Force officers have been added to Australian Military Force units, thereby strengthening our armed forces as a whole. Strong additional American reinforcements, well-equipped and including important ‘technical units, have arrived.
The equipment position has materially improved. The intensive efforts made to accelerate still further local munitions production, in order to equip our expanded forces, are bearing fruit. In addition to local production, supplies of tanks and guns are arriving from overseas in increasing numbers, and quantities of vital war equipment have been received from ships originally destined for the Netherlands East Indies.
Important additions to Allied strength in Australia have been supplies of modern American aircraft. This has made possible the reinforcement of our air bases in the north, with the results now being witnessed in the constant raiding of Japanese bases in New Guinea, New Britain and Timor. The possibilities of offensive tactics with growing air strength are seen in BrigadierGeneral Royce’s successful attack on the Philippines.
The presence of large American forces in Australia has created many administrative problems, and required the provision of- new machinery in order to secure full co-operation between us. It has been necessary to co-ordinate American service requirements in relation to works, movements, quartering and the like with our own. Much of this coordination has been done.
To enable the vast programme of works - American- Australian - to be carried out with expedition, a Director-General of Allied Works was appointed with wide powers over the execution of Commonwealth works, defence and civil, and .the allocation of men and materials. In order to ensure that works of urgency shall not be delayed by works of less importance, a Works Priority Committee decides the order of priority of works, under the direction of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee.
Modifications of the existing machinery for procuring overseas supplies of munitions to meet the new situation in this country are at present the subject of negotiations by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in America and the United
Kingdom. Machinery is at present under review for dealing with other aspects of combined Allied supplies.
The United Nations are confronted with a vigorous and well-planned Japanese drive into Burma. The object of this is clearly to complete the encirclement and isolation of the Chinese armies. At the same time, the Japanese hope to use Burma as a base for air and sea attacks upon India. The present military situation in Burma is undoubtedly grave. The allied troops have been fighting for some time now entirely without air support, and a large share of the fighting in these difficult conditions has fallen upon the Chinese. The performance of the Chinese troops has amply demonstrated the whole-heartedness of the Chinese Government in carrying out its undertaking to participate in the defence of Burma.
The Japanese advance into Burma has also brought into sharp relief the present position of India. It is to be deeply regretted that, in spite of the goodwill and sincerity of Sir Stafford Cripps, the recent negotiations with the principal Indian party leaders on the British Government’s proposals for Indian selfgovernment were not crowned with success, thus ensuring the fullest co-operation of the Indian people in the prosecution of the war. There is nothing to suggest, however, that the breakdown has, in any way, weakened Indian determination to resist an attempted invasion by Japan. The statements of Congress party leaders have shown clearly that Indian opinion is soundly anti-Axis.
Very little information has been received lately to enable an estimate to be made of likely developments in the near future on Russia’s western frontier. As a consequence of the thaw, following the exceptionally severe winter, operations in the last few weeks have been mainly local in character. On all important parts of the front, the Germans hold substantially the defensive lines which they established at the beginning of the year. Hut, by Hitler’s own admission, the German armies were severely disorganized by the winter campaign in Russia. There is some reason to believe that the German High
Command’s inability to rest battle-worn divisions and to build up reserves during the winter has involved a considerable postponement of the proclaimed spring offensive. The defeat of the Red Army remains an absolute necessity for Hitler. All the indications are that Germany’s main efforts are concentrated on this task. At the same time, an intensified war on shipping can be expected; notably, an unlimited campaign against the northern supply route to Russia.
The allied shipping position is a matter for anxiety. Since the beginning of the year, losses have again been heavy, largely owing to the concentration of enemy submarines off the east coast of North America. A serious feature is the relatively high proportion of tankers among the vessels sunk. Australia cannot hope to escape some of the consequences of this, in that only the most essential overseas supplies can be conveyed to this country. Shipping is a crucial problem in the strategy of the United Nations, and its importance is deadly clear. It is gratifying that some of the most damaging of the recent British air attacks on Germany have been directed at submarine yards and factories engaged on the manufacture of submarine equipment. Other results of the air offensive from Britain have been equally important. Australian, Canadian and New Zealand bomber crews, products of the Empire air-training scheme, are taking part in the raids in increasing numbers. This air offensive, and the amphibious raids conducted against German-occupied territory, have not only inflicted great material damage but also have enforced immobilization in the Low Countries, Norway and western Germany, of very substantial German forces and equipment necessary to give security at all points that might be threatened.
That Germany needs a decision this year is indicated by Hitler’s recent speech to the Reichstag. Hitler’s request for absolute powers, in order to compel Germans to perform his conception of their duties, or to dismiss them for alleged failure to do so, indicates a condition in Germany which his already enormous powers are inadequate to remedy.
In considering the possible future moves of the Axis, an important political factor is the attitude of Vichy France. In Laval’s return to power, a new signpost is raised in Europe. His policy is clear; it is to collaborate with Germany for an Axis victory. The extent and rate of Laval’s collaboration have yet to he seen. It may be that the state of French popular opinion will compel him to move cautiously. However, the situation contains serious possibilities, affecting the utilization of the French navy and North African ports in the interests of Germany. An outstanding danger is that a change in French policy might facilitate the use of Madagascar by the Axis. Such a development would be regarded by Australia with deep concern, in that it would vitally affect our communications via the Cape and the Middle East. In the Pacific there are indications that, in order to regain control of territories which have rallied to Free France, Vichy would not hesitate to place the United Nations at a further disadvantage as against Japan. It is, for example, noteworthy that Vichy has protested to the United States of America against the landing of American forces in New Caledonia. This affects Australia, and the Commonwealth Government cordially welcomes the presence of American forces in New Caledonia. Their arrival signifies in striking fashion the importance attached to this island in allied strategy lying as it does directly across the vital supply route between Australia and North America. From the beginning, the Free French administration in the island has received the co-operation of Australia, both economically and in defence. The further steps that have now been taken «to increase the security of the island have been executed with the full agreement of all the parties concerned.
In view of the changes in France, there may be some conjecture as to the relations of Australia with Vichy, the more so since South Africa’s recent severance of diplomatic relations with Vichy. In fact, Australia has no diplomatic relations with Vichy France, although there is a Vichy consular representative here. Any alteration of this arrangement would naturally be a matter for consultation and general agreement with the United States of America and the governments of the British Commonwealth. Both Canada and the United States of America still maintain full diplomatic relations with Vichy France.
I mention certain other aspects of Australia’s external relations. First, I express the great pleasure felt by the Commonwealth Government, and this Parliament, at the arrival here of the first Netherlands Minister to this country, Baron van Aerssen Beyeren, who presented his letters of credence to the Governor-General on the 17th April. Various Netherlands forces are regrouping in Australia. A Netherlands East Indies Commission has also been set up in Australia, to deal with matters affecting the Netherlands East Indies Government and to provide for refugees from the Indies in Australia.
On the 17th April, I announced that the King had been pleased to approve of the appointment of Sir Owen Dixon as the new Australian Minister at Washington. I am confident that Sir Owen Dixon will worthily continue the part played ‘by the late Minister, Mr. R. G. Casey, thus maintaining the traditional cordial relations between Australia and the United States of America.
As honorable members will recall, the Commonwealth Government has been desirous for some time past of establishing direct relations with the Soviet Union. The initiative in this respect has been taken by the Commonwealth Government, and we are now awaiting the views of the Soviet Government as to the most appropriate and desirable form of reciprocal representation.
I summarize the war position by a brief reference to each theatre : -
In Europe, the return of spring will, after the thaw on the eastern front, restore freedom of movement to the German and Russian armies, and a great clash is impending. The Royal Air Force is maintaining an intense attack by day and night which is holding to the west extensive German air and ground defence forces. In addition, it is disrupting production, and imposing a severe test on public morale in these regions.
In the Middle East the position is static, but any attack there would, no doubt, be synchronized with any movement against Russia.
The battle of the Atlantic is still causing large losses in shipping.
The Japanese have advanced deep into Burma, and now threaten the supply route by which the allies have been sustaining the Chinese in their prolonged and gallant resistance.
The southward Japanese advance has, for some time, not proceeded beyond the main centres of Timor, New Guinea, and New Britain. The attacks on Australian territory at Darwin and Port Moresby have been confined to air raids. It would be imprudent for me to speculate on the probable next moves of the enemy, or on the plans of the allied forces to frustrate them. I should like to say, however, that I am in the closest contact with the CommanderinChief of the south-west Pacific area, General MacArthur, and that everything within his resources is being done to defend Australia as a base for operations.
As things stand, operations mean the holding of this Commonwealth, for, if it be not held, all talk of using it as a springboard for an offensive becomes meaningless. The task that confronts us is the most formidable the nation has ever faced. Its magnitude is not a matter for statistics. It calls for everything the nation can do. Anything less than that would amount to criminal folly on our part, and a base desertion of the cause to which we are pledged, and of the united nations to which we belong, and which look to us no less than we look to them. I lay on the table the following paper : -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, the 29th April, 1942. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden) adjourned.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider the abolition of all exemptions from military service, so that every man of military age may be called upon to serve in the Navy, Army or Air Force, or in some industrial capacity, thereby ensuring, as is proper in a democracy, that the same conditions shall apply to those in sheltered industries as to members of the fighting services?
– The exemption list is reviewed from time to time, and the honorable member’s suggestion will be kept under consideration.
– On Monday last, in the police court at Cobden, Victoria, a man aged 35 applied for exemption from military service on the ground that, as his wife was in ill health and he was the father of eight children, all of whom were under 14 years of age, his recruitment would inflict great hardship upon his dependants and himself. The Magistrate, Mr. E. J. Nicholas, P.M., dismissed the application. Will the Minister for Labour and National Service immediately issue instructions that this man shall be exempted from military service and, if necessary, enlist in his stead the magistrate whose decision outraged public opinion?
– For some time I have been dismayed ‘by some of the conflicting decisions that have been given by magistrates who dealt with applications for exemptions from military service on the ground of hardship. At present, I am closely examining the matter. Although I was not aware of the particular case to which the honorable member referred, I shall make inquiries immediately and advise himof the action that the department proposes to take. Regarding the method of dealing with applications for exemption on the ground of hardship, the honorable member is aware that the decision rests, not with the Department of Labour and National Service, but with the magistrate. As I have already indicated, the present system has resulted in conflicting decisions and has given rise to a completely unsatisfactory position. The whole matter is now being reviewed and I hope to inform the House very soon of the Government’s proposals.
Requirements of Commander-in-Chief.
– 1 ask the Prime Minister whether, in Ohe assignment which, we believe, has been made to the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces in the south-west Pacific area the Commonwealth Government has undertaken to satisfy all demands that he will consider necessary for the defence of this country and its territories and to the launching of that offensive which the Government has committed itself to assist ?
– I do not propose to inform the House what particular forces have been assigned to the High Command.
– I did not seek information about the forces; I asked about the powers.
– As to the powers, General MacArthur is the CommanderinChief. Each government is called upon to assign to him the forces that it is prepared to make available.
– I do not like the word “ assign “. It smacks of insolvency.
– Whether or not the honorable member likes it, that is the term which is used. We have played our part, and I do not propose to describe it in detail. In the very nature of things, the land forces will be more considerable than would be the case if we possessed greater air or naval strength. The matter of the composition of the total forces depends upon their strength or weakness. The answer to that depends upon the amount of aid that can be made available in order to improve inherent weaknesses in Australia. I wish that General MacArthur had available to him all that lie would like to have.
– Is there anything the Government is going to refuse to him?
– There is nothing he would like to have, which is in the capacity of the Australian Government to give to him, that it has not already given to him.
– Can the Minister for Defence say whether there is a shortage of cloth for uniforms, either for officers or for other ranks; if so, is it due to a strike of textile workers? Are officers wearing uniforms made from English cloth? If so, can it be said with truth that supplies of Australian cloth are denied to them for any reason whatsoever?
– Questions relating to matters of routine administration connected with the fighting services may be addressed to the Minister for the Navy, the Minister for the Army, or the Minister for Air, as the case may be. I deal only with the higher direction, and with the interlocking of those services with the Commander-in-Chief.
– No shortage of material for uniforms, either for officers or other ranks, has been brought to my notice. However, I shall make inquiries.
– Can the Minister for the Army say upon what basis the recent exchange of prisoners of war was made with Italy? Was the state of health of the prisoners taken into account, or was length of service the determining factor? Will the Minister state upon whose recommendation the release of Australians was made, and what was the reason in each case?
– I shall obtain the information, and supply it to the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of a statement at a meeting of the Sheepbreeders Association in Sydney this week that primary industries were in a serious position through lack of man-power, and that the food supplies of the community were endangered? What action does he propose to take to remedy this unsatisfactory state of affairs?
– As the Prime Minister has stated, a sub-committee of Cabinet has been appointed to make a complete survey of the man-power position, and the allocation of man-power to meet the needs of the primary industries will be taken into account.
– The trouble is that the seasons will not wait for the inquiry.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that a serious strike occurred last week in the Labour Corps at Tocumwal and that the Censor’s office in Sydney refused to permit the publication of the facts? Why does the Censor allow the press to “ play up” strikes of coal-miners and munition workers whilst refusing to allow any reference to a strike among members of the Labour Corps?
– I have no knowledge that a strike occurred among members of the Labour Corps at Tocumwal, but I shall make inquiries and inform the honorable member of the result.
– Will the Minister for Air
Bay whether it is a fact that Cabinet decided recently that members of the Air Cadets Training Corps were not to wear uniforms other than badges and caps? Is he aware that the public has subscribed a sum of money to provide such uniforms for the members of the No. 84 Squadron Air Training Corps and that the decision of Cabinet prohibits the supply of the necessary material? Does lie not consider that this decision will discourage the cadets, and will have a bad effect upon recruiting?
– A. decision was made not recently but some time ago not to grant a request for the provision by the Government of uniforms for the Air Cadets Training Corps. I know of no ruling to prevent the wearing of a uniform, or apparel that could be considered a uniform, if it were purchased by members of the corps. The cadets are permitted to wear badges.
– Why does the Government refuse to grant that permission if the cadets undertake to enter the Royal Australian Air Force on attaining the age of 18 years?
– Statistics which have been supplied to me, disclose no evidence that recruiting is discouraged. Boys are eager to joint the Air Cadets Training Corps, notwithstanding the alleged disadvantages to which the honorable member for Wilmot referred.
Commonwealth CONTROLCONSOLIDATION of Legislation.
– The Sydney Morning Herald on the 9th April last published a report that the Commonwealth Government contemplated taking over all existing social servicesWill the Minister for Social Services inform me whether that report had official authorization and, if so, can the Minister give’ more detailed information to the House about the proposals?
– Although no official authorization was given for the report, I believe that that is the way in which things are drifting.
– The Minister for Social Services earlier this day gave notice of his intention to introduce four measures for the amendment of existing social service legislation. Will he consider the advisability of introducing a comprehensive measure consolidating all such legislation for the convenience of both the public and the Parliament?
– I have already considered this matter, and so soon as the parliamentary drafting staff is free from the preparation of other urgent measures that are to be placed before the House, 1 shall have drafted for submission to the Parliament a bill to consolidate Commonwealth social security legislation.
– Will the Minister for Home Security inform me whether the Premiers Conference reached a decision regarding the retention of the brown-out in capital cities? Did the Minister receive from some States representations for the discontinuance of the brown-out? In view of the many serious accidents that have occurred during the brown-out, does the Minister propose to modify or discontinue it ?
– The Premier* Conference discussed with the Service Chiefs various problems associated with the brown-out, but as those conversations were confidential, I am not able to disclose any decisions that were reached. I received no representations from the States for the discontinuance of th« brown-out. My department has no evidence that a serious increase of accidents has occurred since the introduction of the brown-out. In fact, statistics show that, in the City of Melbourne, accidents have decreased during the last three months, and my department is obtaining figures from other capital cities. While those who are responsible for the defence of the country believe that no modification should be made, the brown-out will be retained.
– I ask the Minister for Home Security whether the lighting in Canberra is directly under his control and whether there is any point at this stage in enforcing a complete black-out in the Capital City?
– ‘The control of lighting in the Capital City is under the administration of the Minister for the Interior, to whom I shall be pleased to submit the honorable member’s question.
– During the last sitting period I asked the Minister for Home Security whether he would take steps to co-ordinate the black-out and brown-out regulations in New South Wales and Queensland, particularly in their application to Tweed Heads and Coolangatta, towns on the Queensland and New South Wales border. The honorable gentleman assured me that consideration would be given to the subject. I ask him now what steps he has taken to give effect to my request. 1 was in the locality a few days ago and apparently nothing has been done. When does the honorable gentleman intend to take action to introduce uniformity in this matter us between Tweed Heads and Coolangatta? Is he to be considered the paramount authority in this matter, or are the State authorities paramount?
– The honorable member is fond of raising the issue of paramount authority. That is a matter for Cabinet determination. “Until Cabinet alters the decision made by the previous Government that decision will remain in force. A model order covering masks for motor vehicles and other matters associated with vehicular lighting was forwarded to each State Premier on the 18th March, with a strong recommendation that appropriate action be taken to promulgate it under National Security (General) Regulation 35a. Numbers of amendments were suggested by the States and, at the conference of officers held in Melbourne last week, agreement on major points was reached, but certain drafting amendments were left to the technical officers to conclude. These were considered at a conference m Melbourne yesterday. The report of those proceedings has not yet reached me. I hope that the model order will shortly be promulgated. The extension of the brownout arrangements in Queensland was not determined pending the promulgation of the model lighting order.
– Has the Minister for the Army any information regarding survivors of H.M.A.S. Perth? Reference has been made to this matter iu the newspapers.
– Speaking from memory, I believe that there is no official information, but I shall make inquiries and inform the honorable member this afternoon of the result.
– by leave - In November, 1941, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) announced the establishment of the Production Executive of Cabinet to supervise the industrial aspects of the war effort, and the Department of War Organization of Industry became the secretariat of the Production Executive. On taking over the portfolio, I had found that my department, despite its existence for five months under the previous Ministry, had no office, no staff, and no departmental organization. In consequence, it is only during the months since November of last year that the work of the Production Executive and of my department has gone effectively ahead. Even by the end of February, despite all our efforts to retrieve the time lost during 1941, it had proved impossible to push the work on beyond the early stages of development. We had secured the active co-operation of employers and of the trade unions in the preparation of plans for the re-organization of industry on a war basis; we had built up a departmental organization capable of handling the problems raised; and we had made some contribution to the release of resources urgently needed for war purposes, by prohibiting the manufacture of certain products obviously unessential in war-time. In fulfilment of the responsibilities of the Production Executive in the administrative sphere, machinery to co-ordinate the work of the production departments had been introduced, and plans had been formulated for a uniform man-power authority for the Commonwealth. All these were important achievements. But already the work that was done two months ago can be seen in true perspective as no more than preliminary to the thorough-going reconstruction of industry which is now under way.
This reconstruction is dictated by the exigencies of national survival. Social and political objectives have no part in it, except to insist that unnecessary sacrifice be avoided. We have here, not the promised land of post-war reconstruction, but. the wilderness of total war. Moreover, the pressure of events has forced us to crowd into a few weeks activities which might well have been the work of many months. I must ask honorable members to keep these facts in mind as I review the course of our policy and actions.
The task of war organization has two principal aspects, in both of which substantial progress can be reported. In the first place, there is the specific duty of setting in motion a transfer of the nation’s resources into those uses in which they will go furthest towards victory. For this duty, my department is immediately responsible. Some important, measures we have already put into effect; others we are holding in readiness for operation at the proper time; and detailed plans now nearing completion will ensure over the next few months an increasing flow of man-power, materials and productive equipment into the main Stream of the war effort. In the second place, the task of war organization raises more general questions with which my department is concerned as the secretariat of the Production Executive. These broader questions are derived chiefly from the obligations imposed on the Production Executive to maintain a general review of our war commitments in relation to our productive capacity, and of the activities of the various departments concerned in fulfilling those commitments. In this aspect, attention has been chiefly concentrated on problems arising out of the growing difficulty of fitting war commitments and essential civil needs into the one limited capacity, and on the implications for our war economy of substantial accessions in Australia of strength from allied sources.
For reasons of national security, it is not possible to give to the House a complete account of this second aspect of war organization. But I propose to outline briefly what we have done in the first aspect, that of diverting all available resources to essential purposes. It became clear at an early stage that no single method of achieving this diversion would be suitable in all circumstances. We decided, therefore, on three methods, which would allow a choice of technique according to the conditions of the industry and the urgency of the demand for the particular resources involved. These methods may be labelled ‘briefly rationalization, prohibition of production, and prohibition of employment.
Rationalization is the method which promises eventually the most satisfactory results, though on a comparatively longterm basis. The opportunity exists, by this means, to release very great quantities of man-power and other resources from non-essential employments with a minimum, of hardship to the community. As soon as we considered the problem, we realized that the co-operation of industry itself, both employers and employees, was indispensable if successful results were to be achieved in double-quick time. Accordingly, representatives of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and of Commerce were called together and informed of our plans. Each section of industry was asked to make a comprehensive survey of its activities, and to submit rationalization plans to my department as soon as possible. I am pleased to say that our proposals were unanimously endorsed by the representatives of employers and employees, and that, this co-operative attitude has ‘been maintained generally throughout the de- partment’s work. Up to the present, more than 200 plans have been submitted to mv department, where officers with wide experience in business and industry are available to deal with them. These plans cover the activities of nearly 90 different industries, ranging from soap-making to cycle manufacture and from flourmilling to insurance. In some instances independent rationalization plans have been submitted by trade unions, and in many more cases the department has widened the scope of its information by discussing its problems with trade union officers as well as with employers. The department’s procedure is to collect submissions on as representative a basis as possible from within the industry. These submissions are considered by the department, and discussed informally in detail with the interests involved: An official plan is then evolved, and referred to an industry review committee consisting of equal numbers of representatives of employers and employees. After any necessary changes have been (made, the plan is forwarded to the Production Executive for approval before being put into effect. All this procedure is essential if the completed proposals are to take account of conditions within the industry and of their implications for the work of other departments. All the plans are pushed on from stage to stage as quickly as possible, but the problems, both of policy and detail, are such that overnight results are out of the question. This is a good reason for using methods other than rationalization in many instances. Nevertheless, some important rationalization plans have already been completed, and have been, or are being, put into effect.
I can best describe the progress that has been made in this direction by giving the House some examples of the results which particular rationalization schemes can produce. I must emphasize, however, that most of the plans I shall mention have yet to receive the consideration of the Production Executive, and in many cases important difficulties have still to be cleared up- Accordingly, none of the details 1 mention should he interpreted as a final commitment to any particular course of action. It has been found that one’ of the most important sources of industrial waste from a war-time viewpoint is the production within an industry of a multiplicity of varieties, articles of every size, grade and colour, varying in degrees of usefulness from staple necessities to the objects of passing fancy. By insisting that an industry should concentrate on a minimum number of products of standard design, we can often achieve great increases in the simplicity and efficiency of production, and avoid throwing away resources on things that can well be done without in war-time. The confectionery industry, for example, used to produce many hundreds of varieties of chocolates and sweets; these numbers can without hardship be cut by 90 per cent, or more. The confectionery firms have already gone a long way towards standardization, and plans are now afoot for further reductions. .This will enable manufacturers to concentrate on staple lines suitable for the services and essential civilian needs, and effect important economies in man-power, paper, packaging, and in the use of imported cocoa beans. Many other industries could be named as instances of the wide scope for rationalization of this kind. Pharmaceutical products, bicycles, cosmetic and toilet preparations, radio sets, building materials, smallgoods and clothing of all kinds - these are a few examples, and in respect of each, our rationalization plans provide for the appropriate degrees of standardization, though problems of detail remain to be settled.
This aspect of rationalization is by no means always a negative one. In some industries the objective is not merely to eliminate unnecessary articles, but also to ensure that the industry shall attend fully to the production of articles which are essential. This must be done irrespective of the relative profitability of alternative lines. In one industry, for example - that of woollen and worsted textiles - investigation revealed that firms were producing classes and grades of material for civilian purchase which bore little relation to the real needs of the community. Thus, when my department took up the question, there had been no production for three months of greys and blues for boys’ wear. With the cooperation of the manufacturers and of the Textile Workers Union, we were able to allocate production in suitable proportions to a number of standarized lines which are essential. The executive control necessary to ensure this was delegated by the Production Executive to the Department of Supply and Development, which had substantial dealings with the industry in connexion with service requirements, and already the manufacturing programme is operating to schedule. Another example of positive rationalization is provided by the boot and shoe industry, in which plans are now well advanced to ensure that manufacturers shall devote their capacity to a minimum number of utility types for the services and essential civil requirements. In this case, special attention has bad to be given to ensuring that children’s shoes shall be produced in reasonable quantities. In both these instances rationalization has been designed, not to divert resources from the industry, but to ensure that the resources employed in the industry shall be used to make the things we really need. It is not surprising that anomalies of the kind revealed should occur, since, however good a manufacturer’s intentions may be, he cannot always be aware of changes in the production programmes of other manufacturers. A. general oversight of the industry, such as is provided by our rationalization inquiries, is necessary to detect the anomalies as they arise.
A different type of rationalization, often associated with, but sometimes independent of, plans for the elimination of unnecessary varieties, is that which provides for the concentration of output in a smaller number of factories or other productive units. If, for example, a particular plant is specialized to the manufacture of a variety considered to be non-essential, then some degree of concentration is already implicit in the elimination of that variety. This is a special case ; but in every instance in which an industry, for whatever reason, is obliged to curtail its total output during the war, it is necessary to inquire carefully whether the spreading of the restricted output over the existing number of plants will mean a waste of resources. This is a very probable result if a considerable number of plants are all working well below capacity. If, on the other hand, production can be concentrated in a limited number of plants all working at or near capacity, important economic? may be achieved. Output can be concentrated in the most efficient plants; the cost in resources of producing each unit of output is generally lower as capacity output is approached; key-workers, foremen and managers are released for urgent tasks ; and floor space can be used for war or other essential purposes. In planning for concentration where it promises such benefits as these, my department is not unmindful of the need to provide for the possibility of future necessary increases in the scale of output, and to ensure that production shall be located with an eye to the saving of transport and the dangers of destruction by enemy attack.
In all proposals for concentration of production, the fate of enterprises ousted from the industry is a matter of concern. In this connexion, we are examining the policy adopted by the United Kingdom Board of Trade, which protects as far as possible the interests of suppressed firms by arrangements for the pooling of profits in one form or another, so as to minimize the advantages of the firms kept in production. Profit adjustments should at the least provide for the maintenance of the machinery and other equipment of suppressed firms where more essential use3 cannot be found for it. It should be remembered that concentration, by reducing costs, will itself often provide extra profits from which provisions of this kind can be made. Moreover, in some instances firms forced for national reasons to leave one line of production can transfer their attention and much of their equipment to some form of essential production.
There are very difficult problems in this sphere, not all of which have yet been solved. But in some industries where obvious waste would otherwise result, plans for the concentration of production are being thoroughly worked out. One of these is the flour-milling industry, which has a total gristing capacity of nearly twice the quantity of flour that is likely to be needed for a long time to come. Another is the dry-cleaning industry, in which concentration is supported by trade associations and trade unions. In this case, the special objective is to avoid the waste of cleaning solvent, which is in very short supply, since some types of plant are much more wasteful than others. In respect of motor-garages and service stations, we have plans under way which envisage the concentration of tools and skilled labour, according to a zoning plan, in units which will provide for the repairs and servicing of essential vehicles and undertake munitions production. The industries manufacturing windmills, bicycles, and electrical appliances provide further instances of the many industries in which possibilities for concentration are being given serious consideration. Another fruitful field for concentration is that of wholesale and retail distribution, and this is not being neglected.
The rationalization plans for the banking system, now well advanced, include provision for a special form of concentration. This is to be effected by closing one or more bank branches in the many localities in which banking facilities are greatly in excess of the community’s needs. This planned concentration of branches is essential if the banks are to carry on their necessary activities while meeting the demands of the Services for man-power. But I am afraid that I must repeat the statement that I have had to make on more than one occasion in the past: to date, no branch of any bank in Australia has been closed in terms of plans formulated by my department. It is true that the banks have closed some branches in towns where only one bank was in operation, but this was done without my sanction. My department at once took the matter up with the banks, which have now undertaken that no further branches will be closed pending the completion of our rationalization plans. They have agreed, in addition, at my request, to provide at least agency facilities in localities left without banks by unauthorized closings.
In some cases it is possible to arrange for the concentration of some of the activities of industry without sinking the identity of individual firms or concentrating the whole of the productive process in a few firms. An obvious example is that of the delivery systems which have been organized by the master drapers in the principal cities. Another instance, in which it is hoped to effect concentration of this kind, occurs in the flour-milling industry, in which there is a possibility of some sort of central organization to control the business of selling flour as distinct from milling it.
A third broad class of rationalization is designed to ensure the utmost economy in transport facilities and in the labour and fuel used in deliveries of all kinds. I need not describe at any length the measures taken by my department in this regard, since typical arrangements are already in operation and have been given wide publicity in the press. The retail delivery of all commodities other than milk and bread was covered by an order gazetted on the 10th April. This prohibited retail deliveries throughout the Commonwealth, except where the weight of the commodity to be delivered is more than 4 lb., or its length more than 3 feet, and then delivery may be made only once a week. A special exception was made in respect of meat, which may not be delivered if the consumer lives less than 1 mile from the nearest retail butcher’s chop, but which may be delivered three times weekly if the distance be more than 1 mile. Provision was made also to meet the needs of hospitals, restaurants, boarding-houses and other large establishments. In relation to milk and bread it appeared undesirable to apply such drastic restrictions, and accordingly arrangements are being made for zoning systems in the principal metropolitan areas. The administration of those systems is being delegated, as far : as possible, to existing State authorities. As examples of the saving of man-power which zoning schemes of this kind can effect, I cite an estimate that bread zoning in the metropolitan area of Melbourne will release about 500 carters. I nm not unmindful of the economies that zoning will secure and have taken steps to see that the Prices Commissioner is kept informed, so that all cost reductions will be passed on to the consumer in the form of reduced prices.
But our attention has not been confined to saving labour and transport in retail deliveries. The rationalization plans for all industries ensure that, wherever the opportunity exists, all unnecessary crosstraffic and transport of every kind will be eliminated. Sometimes transport from one end of the continent to the other can be avoided by a few relatively simple adjustments of markets as between manufacturers. It would be pointless to quote examples of rationalization plans which devote attention to this sort of economy, since it is a feature of the vast majority of those which my department is handling. In this aspect of our activities we are working in close collaboration with the Department of Land Transport.
Two industries deserve separate reference, although in these our rationalization inquiries have only just begun. These are the wool and the meat industries, which my department is examining at the special request of the Central Wool Committee and the Australian Meat Board. It is intended to evolve rationalization plans for the pastoral industry in all its aspects, right to the killing and processing of meat and the transport of wool to the spinning factory or the docks. Spinning and weaving are, as previously mentioned, covered by other rationalization plans. The wool and meat plans, when complete, will ensure that the manpower engaged in two of our greatest industries will be concentrated where it will be of mast use. Moreover, our inquiries will enable us to advise the man-power authorities with respect to the appropriate policy to be pursued in the granting or the withholding of protection and the reservation to man-power within the industries.
The account that I have given of rationalization plans now in progress should provide honorable members with a general picture of the activities of my department at the stage which we have now reached. There is, however, a problem, on which I have not touched, which is common to many rationalization schemes, and has made necessary much careful thought. This is the implication of rationalization plans in relation to brands and trade marks, and to the goodwill which is associated with them. If rationalization is to succeed, it cannot be prevented from affecting the use of brands and trade marks. Elimination of these, to some degree at least, is almost always implied by the elimination of fancy and luxury varieties of products. It is difficult to find a place for the fine distinctions between products signified by many brands and trade marks when an industry is devoting its whole capacity to the production of a few standardized lines for essential purposes. If, moreover, some firms are required to specialize in service requirements while others supply essential civil needs, there is an element of inequity in the arrangements, for they enable the firms supplying the civilian market to gain a definite advantage in keeping their names before the public. Or again, if production be concentrated in a few firms to serve the overriding needs of the present, it would not be equitable to allow these enterprises to acquire a permanent goodwill out of the nation’s misfortunes. These facts, together with the consideration that brands and trade marks in themselves use up valuable resources in printing and packaging, must give rise to the query whether competitive product.markings oan be permitted to continue in those cases where a standardized product would obviously promote both efficiency in production and equity as between producers. This does not. mean that we are planning a general offensive against brands and trade marks; but it does mean that I shall not, hesitate to move, in every case, for the most effective rationalization plan, irrespective of the interests of particular firms in productmarkings of one kind or another. As the Prime Minister said in a recent forceful statement, we cannot allow 40 different brands of toothpaste to stand in the way of releasing men and materials for the war effort.
If my review of our rationalization plans does nothing else, it should at least show the difficulty of the problems involved. Whilst I have no doubt that in all cases effective solutions can be found, it is of no use to pretend that this can be done with all the speed that the present emergency demands. Accordingly, we have made use of the two other methods of diverting resources to essential purposes which I listed earlier, namely, prohibition of production, and prohibition of employment.
The great virtue of the outright prohibition of the production of specified articles is the speed with which the restriction can be imposed. It is, however, only practicable to issue a general prohibition if the community can clearly do without further supplies of the products concerned. Nevertheless, three orders have already been issued, covering a substantial range of non-essential articles, and further orders may be expected in the near future. These orders will embody the results of a comprehensive departmental inquiry which will enable us to extend the range of prohibition to the full limit within which the technique can operate satisfactorily, and at whatever speed may be dictated by the growing demands for labour, materials, and other resources employed in the industries affected.
The order which prohibited the manufacture of a large number of cosmetic preparations is & good example of the relationship which may exist between rationalization plans and prohibition orders. In that case, the co-operation of the industry had been secured in formulating rather drastic rationalization plans, and discussions were still proceeding when it was learned from the Medical Equipment Control Committee that the restriction of cosmetic production was an urgent necessity in order to conserve scarce supplies of oils and chemicals for medical purposes. It was found that the majority of the prohibitions or restrictions desired by the Medical Equipment Control Committee were already incorporated in the industry’s tentative plans for rationalization. Prohibition orders were therefore issued in order to effect urgent economies pending the completion of plans for the full rationalization of the cosmetics industry.
Some of the early prohibitions were applied to non-essential production in only South Australia and Victoria, but plane were made to extend the prohibitions to other States as soon as it became clear that the man-power shortage, already obvious in South Australia and Victoria, had become more widespread. Tasmania and Western Australia have now been brought within the scope of the prohibitions. The date of the extension to any State has been, and will be, governed by reports from the Minister for Labour and National Service, and other sources on the employment situation in each State.
Every precaution is being taken to ensure that . man-power and equipment released from non-essential uses by prohibition orders will be utilized to the fullest possible extent for essential purposes. Employers are required to notify my department of the exact types of labour which are released when production ceases. This information is passed on to the Director-General of Man Power, whilst the men and women displaced are being told to report to the appropriate national service office. In addition, details of the machinery, equipment, and floor space that can be made available are circulated to all production departments, who can then determine what use can be made of them. There are, however, difficult problems involved in making sure that the man-power and other resources set free shall be used in the most effective way. I shall have something more to say about that in a moment.
Recently, control over building operations throughout the Commonwealth, with certain exceptions, was transferred to my department from the Treasury, which had been exercising a degree of control arising out of its regulation- of capital issues. Control by my department will involve a special type of prohibition of production. Civilian building operations will be regulated according to principles which will take full account of the need for building labour and materials for essential purposes, including the needs of the services, the housing of munitions workers, and the construction of air-raid shelters.
In some industries, it is impossible to use the method of prohibiting production, 6ince their activities cannot be dispensed with altogether, whilst rationalization plans would take too long to complete or would be impracticable for some other reason. In cases of this kind, we can produce another weapon from our armoury. This is the use of an order prohibiting the employment of certain types of labour in specified industries. By this means, we are able to concentrate our diversion of man-power directly on labour of those types that are most urgently required, whilst care is taken to ensure that the industry has available to it expedients which will enable it to carry on well enough for war-time needs. This technique for withdrawing labour directly from less essential activities was first introduced in South Australia. The need in that State is for a large number of females to staff munitions factories, and it has been decided that retail shops could release young women in considerable numbers without destroying the retail facilities needed by the public. Accordingly, arrangements have been made, in collaboration with the Director-General of Man Power, to require females of specific ages employed in retail shops to register with the National Service Office. When the registrants have been examined, the employment by retailers of female assistants in the specified age groups will be prohibited unless a special permit be granted. Similar steps are being taken in Victoria and Tasmania; and the same method will no doubt be used to divert labour to essential activities in other States as it becomes necessary. We envisage the extension of the method to many more classes of labour. It is perhaps necessary to stress that this technique for displacing labour directly is no different in basic principle from rationalization or prohibition of production; all three release resources which then become available for other purposes.
I have given to honorable members an’ outline of the methods we are using to divert every passible item of resources from non-essential activities, and of the measures we have introduced to that end. Not every one will agree with every action that has been taken. But I hope that no one will dispute the urgency of the task, or the need for tackling it without prejudice or sentiment. In the circumstances in which we are placed, wo cannot afford to permit a single non-essential activity to compete with the war effort and our other urgent needs. But merely to release resources from non-essential employment is not enough. There is the further problem of making the most effective use of the resources released. It is with respect to man-power that this problem arises at present in its most acute form. It is all very well, for instance, to prohibit, as we have, the production of fancy leather poods. The next step is just as important : We must ensure that the men and women released from the production of leather goods find their way, either directly or indirectly, into munitions factories or into vegetable production. In considerable degree, the difficulties of this step are lessened by its very urgency, since the demand for even unskilled types of labour in many areas is already almost insatiable. Nevertheless, problems on a significant scale must frequently arise. Here there is need for the highest degree of co-operation with other Commonwealth departments. It may be that the labour released by my department’s activities is not suitable for munitions production or farming. This position may be met, to a degree, by training schemes organized by the Department of Labour and National Service. To some degree it may be necessary to organize the transfer indirectly. The men and women from the leather-goods factories may go to other essential industries where they can replace employees who are more suited Jo, r*r can be more quickly trained for, munitions or vegetable production. Problems of this kind are the immediate responsibility of the Director-General of Man Power, whose organization has only recently been built up, but must prove indispensable in arranging for the efficient utilization pf the resources which my department salvages from the rubbishtip of non-essential production. The machinery for the closest co-operation between my department and man-power authorities is being rapidly developed. This is necessary, not only in order to handle problems of the kinds that I have mentioned, but also to ensure that manpower policy does not clash with rationalization schemes in process of introduction by -my department.
– Is all the assistance desired being given ?
– Yes. I am as prepared as is any person to recognize that, unsettled problems and difficulties remain, both in the release of resources, which is my department’s special province, and in the utilization of resources for essential purposes, with which my department is .concerned only as one of a number of departments. But this is merely to say that much remains to be done ; it does not detract from the work that has been done.
Moreover, the task of war organization, in its broadest aspect, is so gigantic, and the movement of events so rapid, that what in normal times might seem to be mountains now justly appear as no more than molehills.
I lay on the table the following paper -
Activities of Department of War Organization of Industry - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden) adjourned.
– In view of the desire for an expanded use of man-power, and the calling up of those whose services can be utilized, will the Prime Minister take into consideration the high taxation imposed on the people of Queensland under an unemployment relief scheme, and the recent statement of the Treasurer of that Slate in which he claimed that 12,000 persons are still unemployed within its boundaries? Will t lie right honorable gentleman see that action shall be taken which will have the double-barrelled value of providing work and of affording relief from the iniquitous taxation I have mentioned?
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the policy of the Australian Labour Party embodies the subject of unification? Was this matter put to the recent Premiers Conference, at which the Commonwealth endeavoured to induce the Premiers to support its proposal for uniform income taxation throughout Australia? Did the representatives at that conference consist of a greater number of Labour Premiers and Treasurers than of members of other political parties? If so, what action does the right honorable gentleman -propose to take in order to implement Labour’s policy in respect of unification ?
– The subject of unification was not brought before the recent Premiers Conference; consequently, any policy in relation to it was not discussed at that conference. What was discussed was a proposal formulated by a special committee appointed by the Commonwealth Government, in a report to that Government, for a uniform income tax law for Australia for the period of the war and one year thereafter. I need not go into an account of what the proposal involved in all its aspects. The Premiers would not accept the proposal of the Commonwealth, which now intends to submit to this Parliament legislation to give effect to it.
– Honorable members will recollect that on the 5th March, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), I undertook to make a detailed statement regarding excess profits made by contractors in respect of the use of machine tools hired by them from the Commonwealth. I hari already announced that the methods of determining the costs under the system had been revised, that it was no longer possible for excess profits to arise, bm that past payments had still to be examined in order that adjustments, if any, should be determined. Investigations, consequently, have been directed to a number of contractors in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, in order to determine whether there have been undue profits, as alleged. These investigations are not yet complete, but the results so far support the contention that some contractors have made excessive profits, and that this condition of affairs profit through the utilization of junior labour, whereas the rate of payment was based on the assumption that adult labour would be used. The investigations disclose that whilst four firms in New South Wales and South Australia have obtained excessive profits under the machine-hour rate as compared with the standard costplus conditions, three firms working extensively under the machine-hour rate in Victoria have charged a negligible percentage more than they might have claimed under the standard cost-plus conditions. The details are as follows : -
Upon completion of these investigations claims will be formulated for refunds from those contractors who are considered to have made excessive profits. As stated, the trouble arose from the fact that, whereas the machine-hour rate was fixed upon the assumption that adult labour would .be employed - and many of the manufacturers did use adult labour - some manufacturers were enterprising enough to discover that junior labour could be employed upon what was generally accepted to be the function of skilled labour. The mistake was that they did not realize that what might be accepted as business acumen in peace-time became indefensible when it arose from the dire need of the community in war-time. The revised machine-hour rate now being applied for small manufacturers of tools and gauges should be effective in preventing a recurrence of excessive charges. Recently, the machine-hour rate was amended to provide that the amount allowed as a part of the cost of the manufacture of small tools and gauges should not exceed the rent payable. In practice it was found impracticable to apply this rule, owing to variations of time worked in successive weeks. It is now considered that the most effective method of obviating the possibility that a contractor might make a profit on the rental of machine tools hired to him for the production of small tools and gauges would be to reduce the rent to a nominal amount and to allow nothing in costs for use of the machine tools. This will reduce the cost of small tools and gauges, and simplify the determination of the price to be paid.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the curtailment of the railway services in New South Wales has caused the overcrowding of trains, with resultant serious inconvenience to country travellers? Has he been informed that the Government of New South Wales proposes further to reduce rail services? As the coal mines are now fully engaged in production, will he ask the Government of New South Wales to refrain from giving effect to that proposal ?
– Rail transport in this country cannot be maintained upon the ordinary basis of meeting public convenience. The very great use of transport facilities in Australia for military purposes makes inescapable interference with and dislocation of the normal requirements of the civil population. Whilst I am aware of the conditions that the honorable member described, I see no way of obviating them.
– In view of the great interest that the workers have in the production, distribution and consumption of foodstuffs, why did not the Government appoint to the Australian Food Council a representative of the Labour movement, industrial or political?
– Apparently the honorable member has not kept abreast of the activities of the Australian Food Council, the purpose for which it was established, and the various advisory boards which assist it. An advisory board in each State will submit to the council information upon which it will base its decisions, and to each of those advisory boards, a representative of the trade unions has been appointed.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that the British Shipping Commission, which, is controlled by the overseas shipping combine, has directed that no commercial cargoes, other than those authorized by the Department of Supply, shall be permitted to travel on ships returning from Australia to the United Kingdom? As the shipment, of
British exports to Australia, India and other dominions is permitted, and British manufacturers are, with an eye to post-war trade, expanding their industries, will the Minister ascertain the reason for this discriminatory treatment against Australian commercial cargoes?
– The control of shipping is vested in the Navigation Department, which is controlled by the Minister for Commerce. I shall be pleased to bring to his notice the observations of the honorable member, and ask him to furnish a reply.
– On the 25th March the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) asked me whether, in view of the County Court decision in Victoria that National Security (Contracts Adjustment) Regulations do not apply to leases, consideration would be given to the advisability of amending the regulations so us to include leases, mortgages and contracts under seal. I am now in a position to inform the right honorable gentleman that the regulations have now been amended. Statutory Rules 1942 No. 162 remove any doubt that may have arisen from the decision of the County Court.
– Will the Minister for the Army consider the advisability of increasing the pay of lance-corporals by at least1s. 6d. a day? At present, these men are fully employed in doing the work of others whose remuneration exceeds that of a lance-corporal by 50 per cent. Will the Minister also increase the standing of a lance-corporal?
– Consideration will be given to the suggestion of the honorable member.
– Can the Prime Minister indicate what will be the sitting days of Parliament, during the present sessional period, so that private members may make their arrangements accordingly?
– It is proposed to sit to-morrow and Friday of this week, and Wednesday. Thursday and Friday of next week. I shall consult the Leader of the Opposition as to whether we shall sit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the week after that, and thus have what is known as a long week-end which would afford an opportunity for certain honorable members to visit their homes. In my view, this sessional period will last a month.
– In the absence of the Minister for Social Services, I ask the Prime Minister whether, since it is the Government’s intention to increase the rate of the invalid and old-age pensions and, I presume, still allow such pensions to be subject to cost-of-living adjustment, he does not consider that the pensions payable to returned soldiers, who defended their country in 1914-18, should also be increased and made subject to cost-of-living adjustment? If not, why does the Government differentiate between returned soldiers and invalid and old-age pensioners?
– The practice has been for service pensions to be upon the same basis as invalidand old-age pensions. I understand thatthat practice will be maintained. With regard to the other aspects of pensions, I would remind the honorable member that the pension payable to soldiers for disabilities that they have suffered has no connexion with the cost of living, because it has no relation to the earning capacity of the pensioners.
Educational Attainments and Business Capacity of Applicants - Skilled Tradesmen
– Will the Minister for Air issue an instruction to the Air Board that all questions relating to the school at which an applicant for admission to the Air Force was educated shall he deleted from the enlistment form?
– The questions are asked by the interviewing board; they do not appear on the application form.
– Will the Minister for Air direct members of that board to confine such questions to the educational attainments of the applicants, and so obviate the possibility of the misuse of authority in- determining priority of appointment of applicants for enlistment in this arm of the services?
– I am not prepared to give an answer offhand on this subject. The question of what school an applicant for admission to the Air Force had attended should have no bearing on whether or not he should be accepted. I shall do my best to prevent this matter having any undue influence on a candidate’s application, but if the applicant claims to have attained a certain standard of education without supplying evidence which may or may not decide the question of his suitability, it may be necessary for the board to seek further details. The subject must be carefully considered from all angles, and I promise the honorable member that I shall look into it further.
– A question which I wish to direct to the Minister for Air is based upon the case of a man who, for the last twenty years, has been conducting a business with an annual turnover of £200,000. This man applied for a position on the administrative staff of the Royal Australian Air Force, and, in spite of his proved capacity as a business mau, he was asked what school he had attended. I ask the Minister what relationship there is between the school a man attended and his proved capacity to manage a business, especially as, possibly, all he would be called upon to do in the Air Force would be a clerical job? ls the “ old school tie “ still permitted to exercise influence in the Air Force?
– From what the honorable member has said I should say that the applicant to whom he refers has been asked the same question as is asked of all candidates for special and administrative jobs. Of these there are more than 20,000, and some of them must necessarily be disappointed. Whether it is right to ask what school was attended is a matter of opinion - I have my own opinion - but it is the policy applied. The applicants have to appear before a board of interviewers which consists of three people, who record their views as to applicants’ qualifications. Those views are taken into consideration when appointments are made. I can quite understand that many people who, in former life, have earned big incomes, are disappointed. It seems to indicate that all applicants are examined thoroughly and that appointments are made regardless of previous earnings.
– But why are applicants asked what school they attended?
– In order that their educational qualifications may be ascertained.
– Last Monday theSydney Daily Telegraph published a letter written by Corporal Smart, who stated that -
While industry is being starved for want of skilled tradesmen, the Royal Australian Air Force is using all classes of tradesmen for fatigues and general messing around. I am a carpenter-joiner and spend most of my time doing jobs which any labourer could do.
Will the Minister for Air say whether that allegation is correct? If so, will he ensure that such a condition of affair? shall not be permitted to continue?
– Although I have not seen the letter to which the honorable member referred, I have heard statements from time to time that skilled tradesmen are being utilized in the Royal Australian Air Force in occupations which do not give to them an opportunity fully to use their skill. At present, an investigation is being made for the purpose of ascertaining whether there are surplus men in the Department of Air, and whether men are correctly posted. The object is to ensure the employment of the men in the occupations in which their services will give the best return.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that at a referendum the people of Canada have voted overwhelmingly in favour of conscription? In view of the fact that in Great Britain, the United States of America, New Zealand and now Canada, male citizens can be required to serve in the military forces either at home or abroad, will the Prime Minister take steps to bring Australia into line with the other united nations?
– The question which the Canadians decided was not that there should be conscription. The law <>f Canada ha.; not been altered and no proposal has been made to alter it. The
Canadian people were asked by referendum to decide whether the Government of Canada should be released from its pledge that it would not introduce a measure for conscription, but there is no change of the Canadian law.
– But there will be.
– The position is that the Government of Canada now has a free hand with respect to its pledge to the people. This Government has a free hand. This Parliament is master of the law and, as law is a question of policy, 1 need say no more.
– Does the Prime Minister recall the circumstances of the shooting a month ago of certain Chinese seamen aboard a ship in his own electorate of Fremantle? Will he furnish me with an account of the facts? It seems to me on the face of it to have been a deliberate, cold-blooded assassination.
– There was nothing cold-blooded and no assassination. [ shall quite readily let the honorable member know what happened, but I see no purpose in having a controversy about it in this Parliament, nor is there any need for a public statement. I am quite sure that neither ourselves nor the Chinese Government would be pleased about it.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he will ensure that young men aged eighteen years who are called up for military service shall be placed in reinforcement camps and given reasonable training ‘before being sent to operational centres at which possibly they would be faced by war-tried troops?
– That is the existing practice.
– That is not the existing practice, because young men hav( been sent direct to battle stations. I have received a number of letters of complaint about it.
– I repeat that what was suggested by the honorable member for Bendigo is the existing practice, as the result of a definite instruction given by me. It is true that certain men between the ages of eighteen and nineteen were sent to distant battle stations some months ago. They have now had about four months’ training. Some units to which young men had been recruited in Victoria and, I believe, other parts of the Commonwealth, were moved to other States. Many parents thought that the boys were being sent to the islands to the north of Australia, or to Darwin. In fact, one unit was sent to a most delightful place in Western Australia, and another to one of the most favoured spots in southern Queensland where, I am assured, they are living under the .best conditions and are receiving expert training.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that recently young men called up for military service were sent to Port Moresby without receiving one day’s training?
– I am not aware that any soldiers were sent to Port Moresby with one day’s training. Instructions were issued by the Chief of the General Staff to despatch immediately certain units to Port Moresby, and those units comprised men of all ages. They all were in need of more training, when they left. They have blended together very well, and have now become a very formidable force.
Sales of YEARLINGS.
– In view of the numerous warnings that have been given to the public about the curtailment of luxury spending, and the prohibition of the manufacture of goods classed as luxuries, I ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been directed to the fact that on two days recently £35,000 changed hands in Sydney at the racehorse yearling sales? Does the Government consider money expended in that .way to be luxury spending? In view of the fact that throughout Australia at this time of the year approximately £200,000 changed hands at the sales of yearling racehorses, what steps does the Government propose to take towards limiting this luxury spending ?
– I am not aware of what takes place at yearling sales, but the regulations can be enforced against such exchanges if the Treasury considers restriction necessary. The requisite power in law to prevent certain transactions from being carried out is already in existence, but the Department of War Organization of Industry has been concerned up to the present mainly with the diversion of labour to essential war services, and to ensuring that there shall be requisite production for military and civil purposes. Action already taken has complicatedthe supply to the civil community of many commodities, as well as the curtailment of trade in some respects. I shall look carefully into the relationship of the sales of yearling racehorses to the whole subject of curtailment of luxury spending.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform the House whether an aliens tribunal recently visited Tatura, in Victoria, and for several days solemnly listened to applications from Japanese internees for release from the internment camp? Is the Government seriously considering granting freedom to Japanese internees, or is it just trying to turn the Spender farce into a tragedy?
– I am not aware of all of the sittings of the aliens tribunals, but I remind the honorable member that the tribunals, which were established by a former government, act in an advisory capacity only and that the Minister uses his discretion in dealing with the recommendations submitted.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce whether he will make a statement to the House at an early date concerning the completion of the operations of various wheat pools and present a financial statement concerning each pool.
– I shall bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and have the information supplied to the honorable member if it is practicable to do so.
– Will the Minister for the Navy inform me whether it is a fact that the canteen at Flinders Naval
Base is controlled by private individuals ? Is he aware that the naval ratings there have to pay very high prices for such commodities as the canteen offers for sale? Will the honorable gentleman take into consideration the desirability of providing naval canteens under similar conditions to those in force in the Army so that naval ratings may secure their needs at reasonable prices?
– I shall give consideration to the question.
-Will the Minister for
Transport inform me whether he is the supreme authority in transport matters or whether the State Ministers are supreme? I ask the question because certain munitions workers in the coalmining districts are being required to make a round journey of approximately 90 miles by bus and train to and from their work because the South Maitland Railway Company has refused to run a train to connect with the government railway service. Munitions workers at both Rutherford and Newcastle are involved in this matter. I ask the Minister to take action to remedy the situation.
– The Commonwealth authority is supreme. I am not aware of the circumstances outlined by the honorable member in relation to the munitions workers, but I shall make inquiries and take steps to ensure that such workers in the coal-field areas enjoy the same transport facilities as are available to munitions workers elsewhere in New South Wales.
– In order to assist the Government to dodge applying Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77. embodying National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations, I ask the Prime Minister to ascertain whether the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) appeared at a Wheat Board meeting the other day with a letter authorizing him to represent the Minister for Commerce at all meetings of the board and at various committees?
I.f so, is there some fine point of policy behind this move, and has it some relation to Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77!
– I shall endeavour to ascertain exactly what occurred in relation to the matter. Until the honorable member asked this question I did not realize that the purpose of the barrage of questions to-day was to assist the Government. As honorable gentlemen know, the purpose of questions should be to elicit information. Now that I have been informed of the true reason for the asking of so many questions to-day I ask honorable members to put the remainder of their questions on the notice-paper.
– Earlier to-day I gave notice of my intention to move for the disallowance of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 146, covering National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations. It appears from the list of papers just presented (vide page 640) that, I was premature in giving my notice. I now ask leave to give notice of my motion again.
– I rise to order. It is time that the procedure concerning the disallowance of regulations was clarified. Will you, Mr. Speaker, be so good as to indicate the course that should be followed? As I see it, regulations become operative from the time they receive the signature of the Governor-General and appear in the Gazelle, but apparently the Government suits its own convenience in relation to motions for the disallowance of regulations. In some cases it is prepared to accept motions for the disallowance of regulations before the regulations have been tabled, and in other cases it is not prepared to accept such motions unless the regulations have been actually tabled. I had a personal experience in this matter which occurred while the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) wa.« absent from Australia, which I shall discuss with him on another occasion. My request at the moment is that the procedure be clarified. I consider that assoon as a regulation has been published in the Gazette it should be competent for any ‘ honorable member to move in the House for its disallowance. I should like whatever authority deals with the matter to give some clear definition of our rights.
– There is no difficulty for the Government in this matter, whatever may have been the practice of previous governments. Unfortunately, the tabling of regulations is done when the House assembles, and a large number of regulations is tabled when the Clerk intimates that “ the following papers are tabled “. He did that to-day, subsequent to the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) giving notice of his motion, hence the reason for the right honorable member now asking for leave to give notice of it afresh. As a matter of fact there is no regulation gazetted by this Government which, at this moment, has not been tabled. This is the first time in the history of this Parliament that that has been the case.
– I move -
That the intervening business be postponed until after Order of the Day No. 1 - General Business
This Order of the Day is a motion by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) for the disallowance of the amendments of the National Security (Man-power) Regulations made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 102. Debate ensued upon that motion, but a decision was not reached. As the law stands, it is imperative that the Parliament shall determine a motion of this description; otherwise, the regulations in question would lapse. I, therefore, propose that each of these various motions for the disallowance of regulations shall be taken in its order and decided before the House is asked to deal with the next motion. I am now asking the House to dispose of a motion that it has before it which seeks the disallowance of particular regulations, before dealing with the next proposal of an identical character, and to dispose of all of them in the order listed, so that there will not be half a dozen incomplete debates, thus creating a position which would involve the automatic discontinuance of regulations which a majority of the House did not desire to disallow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion to Disallow Regulations
Debate resumed from the 27th March (vide page 542) on motion by Mr. Spender -
That the amendments of the National Security (Man-power) Regulations made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 102, be disallowed.
.- At some time in the remote past, when the House last met, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) moved for the disallowance of these regulations. The regulations, of which those now under consideration are amendments, were contained in Statutory Rules 1942, No. 34. I had the advantage of hearing the honorable member for Warringah, and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), debate the subject. It appeared to me that the address of the honorable member for Warringah was distinguished more by loudness than bv logic, whilst the address of the Minister for Labour and National Service completely satisfied me of the appropriateness of these regulations. Really, therefore, there is very little that [ need add to what that honorable gentleman said. The point that has induced me to support the Government in respect of these regulations is that, although an employee might be suspended - not dismissed - under the original regulations, such action could be the result only of serious misconduct. The Minister seeks to have the words “except for serious misconduct “ excised from the regulations, I. believe quite rightly, inasmuch as the right of the employer is merely to suspend, whereupon the case of the employee is considered by the Director of Manpower or such person as he nominates for that purpose; and if the suspension be not accepted, there may be an appeal to the appropriate committee for further inquiry. It appears to me that that covers the ground very well, and that the employee should not be put in the position that he may be summarily dismissed for what, in the first place at all events, only the employer could determine was serious misconduct. Unquestionably, the employer has that power and the sole exercise of it. He may suspend on his own judgment of what is meant by “ serious misconduct “. Although it is true that in such circumstances the worker may appeal, the fact is that he is suspended, and for what the employer regards as serious misconduct. Although the interpretation of “ serious misconduct “ may eventually come before an independent and unprejudiced tribunal, the fact is that up to that point at all events, it has already been decided by the employer. Therefore, inasmuch as, in any circumstance, the employee can be suspended, which is a complete safeguard against any evil influence he may have, and the employer on the other hand has the right to be heard by two tribunals in the last resort, that ought to satisfy the employer. He ought not to ask to have the power to declare publicly, in respect of a protected industry, that an employee has been suspended for serious misconduct. That, I think, is a stigma upon the employee which, upon inquiry, he may be found not to deserve. The rights of the employer are amply safeguarded by the provisions of the regulations. It has to be borne in mind, as the Minister well pointed out, that we have wrapped up in all these regulations industrial conscription. I do not pretend to like it. I do not pretend that, if it stood alone as an isolated example, or as introducing the baleful principle of industrial conscription, I would support it; but, inasmuch as it is the generally accepted principle, at least the justice of the Minister’s amendment is established. The worker may not leave the work where he is employed in a protected industry, and he cannot find a job in any other place. By common consent, be is working subject to the principle of industrial conscription. He gives up much voluntarily in a protected industry, and, because he gives up much, it should not be rightly said of him that he has been suspended on his job for serious misconduct, which, in the final analysis, might turn out not to have been anything of the kind.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), in moving for the disallowance of the amendments of the National Security (Man-power) Regulations made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 102, explained that the Opposition was not acting from any desire to embarrass the Government, but because it considered that the Government’s proposal relating to the suspension of an employee who had incurred the displeasure of his employer would not give the results sought; that it would, in fact, cause inconvenience to the employee himself, and promote inefficiency in the management of the establishment in which he was employed. At that time, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), who replied for the Government, suggested that the regulations be given a fair trial. He pointed out that the Government had, under a process amounting virtually to industrial conscription, restricted the right of the employee to move freely from place to place, and that the Government was of the opinion that some restriction should also be placed upon the normal freedom of the employer to dismiss an employee. Obviously, if you prevent an employee from moving about in search of better wages or more congenial work, and require him to accept that condition as a part of the regimentation of industry for war purposes, then the employer must also accept some limitation of his right to dismiss his employees for what they might regard as trivial reasons. With this proposition the Opposition agrees, but it says that he Government has, in fact, under these regulations, failed to achieve its objective. lt has caused the employee much inconvenience, and perhaps hardship, and has made it extremely difficult for an employer to maintain discipline in his factory or workshop. An employer is deprived of his right to dismiss an employee even for serious misconduct, the only right remaining to him being the power of suspension. If in his judgement the employee has committed an act of serious misconduct, or has, over a period, committed a series of acts which together amount to serious misconduct, he may under the regulation do no more than suspend the employee. He must then notify the Director-General of Manpower of the suspension, and subsequently the man-power authorities will investigate the facts, and decide whether or not the suspension was justified. If it is decided that the suspension was justified, the employee is in fact dismissed. If, on the other hand, the Director-General finds that the suspension is not justified, the employee is to bc reinstated, and is to be paid his wages as from the time of his original suspension. If the Director-General finds that the suspension was justified, the employee is, as I have said, dismissed, but in the meantime, before the decision is given, the employee just waits about, sometimes for a period of several weeks. During this time he is not able to take any steps to secure employment elsewhere, because, in the event of a favorable decision, he will be expected to return to his previous employment. Moreover, when a man is suspended, the whole workshop is immediately in a state of excitement while the other workers speculate on what will be the result of the tussle between the boss and the employee. I can cite instances in which the work in a factory has been seriously interfered with as the result of such a controversy, and the employer has found, even when his decision has been upheld, that he has been the loser because of the time he has had to devote to the matter, and because of the general upset of factory routine. So far as the employers are concerned, the regulations work unsatisfactorily. The Minister asked that the regulations be given a fair trial. Well, several’ weeks have elapsed since he made that request, and I tell him now that the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, which are entitled to speak with authority for a wide range of employers, maintains that the regulations are having an adverse effect - that they are not producing the result which the Government seeks, and that they are imposing hardship upon both the employers and the employees.
– How many appeals have been made against decisions of the manpower authorities?
– My information is that the appropriate machinery for hearing appeals has not yet been set up.
– That is not true. The facilities have been provided, but there have been no appeals.
– At the time when my information reached me, no Local Appeal Board had been set up in New South Wales. The Opposition suggests that, instead of the present arrangement, the employer shall retain his normal right of dismissal, but that the employee, if he considers that the dismissal was not justified, shall have the right of immediate appeal to the Director-General, who will then investigate the matter and give a decision,
– That is the position now. The honorable member is merely seeking to substitute the power of dismissal for that of suspension.
– In practice, it would work out very differently. Under the system which we suggest, the employee, if he were satisfied that he had been dismissed on reasonable grounds, or if for any reason he did not wish to go back to the job, would immediately begin to look around for another position. He cannot do that under the present regulations ; he must wait about in idleness until the decision is given.
– -Such matters are dealt with promptly.
– The instances which have been supplied to me by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures indicate that the contrary is the case. If an employee believes that he has been unjustifiably dismissed, he should have the right of immediate appeal, but if he does not want to continue in that job he should be able to take the dismissal as final and seek work somewhere else with the approval of the department. It is quite understandable that, in some instances, such feeling may develop between the employer and the employee that the employee, even if he thinks that his dismissal was unreasonable, will still be unwilling to continue in the job. He will prefer to leave it and seek employment elsewhere. I have been supplied with three typical cases which illustrate the points I have been making. They are not the only cases which could be cited, nor are they hand-picked. They are as follows: -
The regulations strike so deeply at the authority of the company to run and control its own works, that the assistant general manager and works manager have had to throw aside work on important defence production problems to deal with what would be normal routine work for the foreman and/or industrial officer.
The Regulation (16a (5)), which compel* the employer to reinstate the employee in the event of the Director-General deciding against the employer, places the employer in an untenable position so far as his authority and control of the workshop are concerned. Immediately a suspended employee is reinstated, the managerial authority becomes a joke in the workshop and shop discipline goes out the door.
We recently had a case wherein the DirectorGeneral ordered the reinstatement of a suspended employee. The whole works were agog as to the outcome of the dispute - the employes became unsettled and left their machines to talk about it and much time was wasted.
The management did not want the dismissed employee back and he did not want to come bark : nevertheless, the regulation insists he must be reinstated. Fortunately, he found another job and the matter ended there. If this employee had returned, our foreman (who suspended him) threatened he would walk out. as his authority in the works could have been undermined and his position untenable.
– I have not the name of the firm, but. I have no doubt that the chamber can supply the information if the Minister wants it.
– The unrest among the employees would be just as great where the employer had the right of dismissal and the employee the right of appeal, as it is now when the employer has the right of suspension only.
– I admit that that is true in principle, though perhaps the unrest would not be so great in fact because the time involved would be shorter. I am citing these instances, not in order to bolster up my own case, but in order to indicate the views of the employers.
The next case supplied to me is as follows : -
Tt may be assumed that the basic reason for industries being declared “ protected “ industries is to ensure, as far as possible, that the essential product or service, should be efficiently and expeditiously supplied for defence purposes, up to the maximum capacity limits of the factory producing them. It seems, however, that the achievement of this primary purpose is being seriously impaired by the impracticable and hampering conditions imposed on factory management by the regulations and the interpretations placed on them, in the control and direction of the labour engaged in the industry.
In a recent case where an employee refused to carry out a customary portion of his work, his employment was suspended and it took over three weeks before it was determined, under Regulation 16a, that he should not have been suspended and, therefore, had to be paid back money amounting to over £30 for three weeks of idleness.
In addition, time was taken up in supplying the department with the statement of the reasons for the suspension.
Then an investigation was made at the factory by two departmental officers and eventually a decision given by the department that the employee’s refusal did not constitute “ serious misconduct “ and therefore did not warrant suspension.
In another case an employee twice by carelessness, if not deliberately, caused considerable loss and waste of material in process and was advised that as he was unsuitable he would he transferred to another section of the establishment and was instructed by his foreman to report to the factory manager.
This he failed to do and instead of transferring, as instructed, he left the works and reported to the department that his employer had disrated him.
The employer was advised by the department that, firstly, there could be no suspension without permission; secondly, that the regulations did not permit such changes of status without giving the employee a week’s notice terminating his employment in one grade before he could be paid the rate in the new grade and then only with the department’s approval.
Obviously such are impossible conditions for the efficient working of a body of men numbering 1,000 or more whose services in an emergency must be, through breakdown, sickness, or absences to that extent, interchangeable.
The third example furnished by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures is as follows: -
These facts illustrate the cumbersome nature of the regulations and the procedure which had to be adopted by employer “ C “ before suspending an employee.
In regard to this employee, the employer alleges: - “This man has been a source of trouble since his employment with us, which commenced on the 30th March, 1942.
He has repeatedly demanded his clearance from us, and has as often been advised of the correct procedure.
Although a reasonably good welder, his efforts and remarks suggest an almost sinister meaning.
From reports, he has also aroused the tempers of the other welders by his statements and actions.
He claims that “ while we were prepared to keep him here and pay him, he was quite satisfied to sit down all day “.
Another serious complaint we have to make was his faulty workmanship, which he claimed was the best he could do, and that “ if we were not satisfied we knew what to do “.
We are quite satisfied that this bad workmanship was intentional.
After completion of a job he claimed that he was free from duty until the next job was brought to him, and that it was for his foreman to report to him, not him to his foreman.
The foregoing may be summed upas follows: -
Refusal to carry out instructions.
Persistent interference with other men at work.
Threats of formulating a strike, &c.
This is what the employer did: - 6th April, 1942. - Wrote to Local National Service Officer and asked for inspector to come out and look into the case. 7th April, 1942. - Inspector called and interviewed employee, who worked reasonably well for a while. 15th April, 1942. - Telephoned National Service Officer re this employee’s continued unsatisfactory conduct. Telephone call followed up by letter setting out the facts. 16th April, 1942. - Employee finally suspended and facts placed before Deputy Director of Man-power by letter. 20th April, 1942. - Received letter from Deputy Director confirming suspension.
I repeat that these cases are given as merely typical of the general experiences of employers at present.
Mr.Ward. - In those cases the employer himself was mostly responsible for the delay, because he did not use his power of suspension.
– That may be so. I am notarguing that the department is slow to take action, butthe time of responsible executives and Government officials is taken up unnecessarily in dealing with matters which normally are dealt with between the foreman and the employee. Without any desire to embarrass the Government in any way, I say that it is significant that a responsible body of employers point out these facts, and claim as a result of experience that these regulations are not working satisfactorily. At the same time, they make a counter proposal, which I think every fair-minded person will agree is quite reasonable, that the employer should retain his normal right of dismissal but that the employee who believes that his dismissal is unjustified should have the right of appeal. Because of the atmosphere that develops as the result of such incidents, the employee, in many cases, would rather work elsewhere.
– Will the employee be ti bie to work anywhere else?
– Under the regulations as they now stand, he is not at liberty to do so until his case is dealt with; but under the proposal which we submit he could work elsewhere if he so desired. I remind the Government that the right of dismissal is strictly limited because it is confined to cases of serious misconduct. All honorable members arc aware that an employer might consider him justified in dismissing an employee for many offences which may not amount to serious misconduct. Another aspect referred to by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) in moving for the disallowance of these regulations, is that an employee who desires to move from place to place should have the right of appeal from the decision of the Director-General of Manpower should the latter hold that the employee has not a right of movement.
– The employee has that right now.
– Then, our proposal is, that he should have the double right of appeal, and, further, that no limitation should be placed upon the right of the employer to dismiss an employee, except the limitation, which in itself is very strong, that dismissal should he allowed only in cases of serious misconduct. The Opposition believes that amendment of these regulations along the lines suggested would give better results for .both employers and employees.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has put forward what would appear to be a reasonably good case for disallowing these regulations. He has argued that the normal routine of industry would operate if the employer were allowed the right to dismiss, and the employee were given the right of appeal to a tribunal. He overlooks altogether the purposes for which the regulations were framed. They do not apply to a normal state of affairs in industry. The essence of the regulations is we have set up what are called protected industries; and the paramount obligation in respect of industries of that class is that the employee has no right to leave his job. He must not dismiss the employer by vacating the factory. That is a very serious inroad upon the rights of employees.
– We admit that.
– Its justification is the tremendous duty that in the (Government’s opinion the nation must accept, namely, that all should do their utmost to maintain production in defence industries. It is in order to avoid dislocation and disturbance in industry, and to prevent the worker from using the bargaining capacity which the present situation enables him to assert by going to another place of employment where he would, perhaps, receive a higher rate of wages, that the Government has adopted these regulations and a number of others. They deprive the worker, who, for centuries has had the worst of the bargaining between the employer and himself, of the opportunity to take advantage of the new state of affairs in which the competition for goods exceeds the capacity to supply them, and rival employers in the carrying out of defence works must outbid one another for labour, particularly skilled labour. The Government considered that in the interests of our defence, such competition must not be allowed. Consequently, it took away from the worker the right to leave his job, that is, the right to advantage himself by transferring to another employer. . That is a fundamental interference with the rights of the employee. It is argued that the employer should still have the right to sack a man who has no right to leave his job. That means that so long as the employer wants to keep that man in his employ, the latter has no possibility of ceasing to be his employee; but at any time the employer wants to get rid of him, all he has to do is to charge him with serious misconduct. Some of us know a good deal about factory routine, and the practice, particularly in large establishments, of spreading the management through a vast number of foremen and superintendents who have no direct personal intimacy with either the employer or the employee as such. I know from experience, and it is the experience of all who are conversant with industry, that it is the easiest thing in the world so to order conditions in a factory as to insult the men who are called upon to carry outeven routine functions. So, we seek to protect the workers, who have lost their own protection, against the boss, and against trumped up, or unjust charges of these too exacting authoritarians who believe that the factory belongs to them merely because they are the agents of the employer. These are defence industries and factories, and at this moment they are not the personal property of the boss. The employer is but the agent of the Government to produce for the fighting forces the equipment which the nation needs. “We have dragooned the employees to stay put, and we think that it, is fair that the employer should act reasonably and justly towards the men who have no remedy now against the discipline which the employer might normally impose upon them. At such a time, the employer has the function of management to discharge; and there may be instances where a workman is behaving badly. Do we ask the factory to continue with such a man at his lathe or bench? No. The regulations provide that the employer may suspend him, that is to say, the employer may order the man out of the factory, not at an hour’s or a week’s notice, but instantly; and the man must go. Then the employer must report the matter to the Deputy Director who at once decides whether or not the suspension was justified. If the Deputy Director decides that it was justified, the suspension becomes the equivalent of a dismissal, and no further dispute arises.
– Serious misconduct is the hurdle.
– The employer may say that the man has committed serious misconduct. Is the employer always right? The employee has the right of appeal. Whereas the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) says that the man should be put out of the factory with the fact of suspension recorded against him, the honorable mem ber for Fawkner claims that he should go out of the factory with the stigma of dismissal upon him. That is the difference between the two propositions - these regulations on the one hand, and the proposal advanced by the honorable member for Fawkner on the other. In actual practice the regulations work fairly. The Minister has stated that no appeals have been lodged by either employers or employees against any decision of the Deputy Director. There has not been one single appeal. It may be true that the honorable member for Fawkner has received letters from the Associated Chambers of Manufactures. They are couched in general terms. I, myself, have received such communications. But the specific instances in the factories have come before the Deputy Director, and he has dealt with them. I do not believe that there have been long delays. The instances cited by the honorable member show that the employer has not asserted his right to suspend. I go back to my fundamental premise. We are no.t living in a normal age. It is all very well to talk about the established functions of the employer, and how these are being discharged. Normally, I should say, “I shall not interfere with them “. However, the fundamental deprivation in this matter is a deprivation of the rights of the employee. He is the man who, compared to the employer, has no rights. Before he may leave his job, he is required to apply for permission to transfer, and the application must be approved. The purpose of the regulation is to ensure that, broadly speaking, the application will not be approved, because in order to secure stability in industry, the man must remain in his present position. I am prepared, and I am sure that the Minister is willing, to review the regulation in the light of further experience of its working. We recognize that, associated with war industries are problems which call for regular investigation and for the adaptation of the regulations to changing conditions.
– Why did the Government permit other factories to entice men away by offering higher wages?
– The purpose of the regulation is to prevent that practice. That situation prevailed before the gazettal of the regulations. Now, they prevent the workers from leaving their employment because of the declaration of “ protected “ industries.
– Then a worker cannot obtain elsewhere a job carrying higher remuneration?
– No ; and he cannot leave his employment without the permission of the Deputy Director of Manpower. In those circumstances, the Government contends that the employer should not be given the facility that some would probably exercise, whereby the foreman would impose upon a particular workman a too-exacting kind of discipline. The foreman may, for some reason, have the worker “ set “ ; we know that kind of thing occurs. The foreman trumps up charges of serious misconduct against the worker. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) appears to consider that that would warrant the dismissal of the employee. The Minister disagrees.
– That is not a fair interpretation of the position.
– That is the effect of the regulation, because the man would leave the factory with the stigma of dismissal upon him. The Government submits that the efficiency of industry is not impaired as the result of the regulation.
– Would the Government be prepared to consult with the Boards of Area Management which control the factories? The employees are represented upon those bodies.
– Yes, the Minister and I are prepared constantly to review the matter.
– The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the regulation works smoothly, every one will be satisfied.
– That is so. The Government does not contend that everything in industry is working perfectly at this stage, because it is not; and we know that the imperfections are not to be laid at any particular door. Taken by and large, the regulations have achieved their purpose. They have put an end to the capacity to entice workmen from one factory to another, by the offer of higher wages. They have also deprived workmen of the right to use their bargaining capacity for the purpose of obtaining: higher wages. Employees are compelled to “ stay put “ in their jobs. By those means, the regulations have given stability to the industries engaged in the production of the sinews of war. Thatis an important achievement, and the Government is loath to disturb it at this juncture.
– Have any appeals been, lodged to date?
– No appeals have been lodged against the decisions of the Deputy Director. Therefore, I submit that the proof of the pudding is in the eating and that the regulation is justified.
Question resolved in the negative.
I move -
That the National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations under the National Security Act, made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77, be disallowed.
Honorable members will recall that these regulations were discussed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) a few weeks ago upon a motion for the adjournment of the House, but the motion did not enable the chamber to express its opinion of the regulations. I am now asking the House to disallow them. These regulations, taken in conjunction with recent amendments, empower the Minister or a person authorized by a Minister to direct any resident of Australia -
As a result of the recent amendment, the statutory rule also compels a person to do, or to refrain from doing, such acts or things as are specified in the direction. No principles are laid down in the regulations for the guidance of the Minister. The granting or the withholding of directions is a matter which the Minister may decide for himself. In this respect, the regulations differ from any other laws that have been made. I say “ laws “, because in that term I include acts of Parliament and regulations which are made under the authority of an act of Parliament and have the force of law.
The essence of a law is that it should be a rule of conduct and should lay down principles for the guidance of the people who have to obey it. In addition, the matter should apply to people generally. That need not be every person in the community. The people concerned may belong to a particular class, but the laws should apply to those persons generally, everybody will have a fair opportunity of knowing the obligation that the law imposes upon him. These regulations are made by the Executive under parliamentary authority, and should comply with that principle, but Statutory Rule No. 77 does not observe it. All other regulations make some attempt to do 30 because they contain expressly, or by implication, principles upon which the Executive must govern its conduct. The regulations contained in Statutory Rule No. 77 are the only ones that do not even attempt to comply with the principle. Some regulations which formally comply with this principle are nevertheless arbitrary practice; but Statutory Ride No. 77 makes no pretence at being anything but arbitrary in form or substance.
Statutory Rule No. 77 empowers a Minister to give such directions as to a man’s performance of service or acts, or abstention from acts, or use of his property as the Minister may think fit. It is true that this House received a promise that the Prime Minister himself will ‘be the person who will grant authority to do these things and that if oral authority be given to any person, the right honorable gentleman will shortly afterwards confirm it in writing. But the fact remains that the Prime Minister may do these things at his own discretion; no principles have been laid down in the law for the purpose of guiding his conduct. I was deeply impressed by this passage which appeared in the daily press last Monday -
At the end of the meeting, Goering read a decree giving Hitler, regardless of any existing law, decree or personal right, power to compel any officer, soldier, official or civilian to do his duty by all means. The decree provides for the imprisonment of those who place private interests before single-minded duty. Members approved the decree by rising in their seats. “ I demand obedience of the whole nation both at the front and in the rear “, Hitler said. “ There is no well-earned right to leave or holidays. There are only duties and obligations. I myself have no time for a holiday; I have scarcely had a holiday since 1933.”
When that news was published, every one seized upon it as evidence of the rapid deterioration of the morale of the German Reich, but the decree invested the leader of the German nation with the same power as Statutory Rule No. 77 has already granted to the head of the Commonwealth Government. If it be a mark of decadence in Germany for the Führer to be vested with absolute power to give such commands as he chooses, it is also a mark of decadence in the Commonwealth of Australia.
These regulations have acquired a fictitious popularity with the extreme Right and the extreme Left. Elements who form the extreme Right content themselves by saying that, after all, the regulations are being used, or threats have been made to use them, against no one but the workers. The extreme Left comfort themselves wath the thought that if they wait long enough, the regulations will be used against owners of property. Recently, in an article in the Melbourne ^Labour Call, the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) explained that the regulations would enable the Government to take a person’s property without paying for it. He pointed out that, at present, the property-owner was sufficiently strong to resist any attempt to confiscate his property, but that these regulations would empower the Government to seize property without granting compensation. When the Minister for Aircraft Production wrote that article, he could not have known that the Prime Minister had made a pronouncement on government, policy regarding it. The right honorable gentleman had assured the House that property could not and would not be seized without compensation. He expressed the view that even if the Government desired to confiscate property, it was bound by section 51 (xxxi) of the Commonwealth Constitution, which provides for the acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws. I believe that the honorable member for Warringah (Mir. Spender), and I know that the Attorney-‘General (Dr. Evatt), agreed that these regulations did not empower the Government to acquire property without compensation. At any rate, the Prime Minister made it perfectly clear that the Government would not attempt to do so. Therefore, those people who believe that the Government will, under these regulations, ,be able to seize property, are following an ignis fatuus which will lead them into a quagmire.
– By ignis fatuus, the honorable member doubtless refers to the Minister for Aircraft Prod’uction?
– No, I do not think he is a fire. I contend that people who believe that Statutory Rule No. 77 will enable the ‘Government to seize, say, the property of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited without paying for it are misled. The ‘Government has no intention of pursuing such a policy. The statement has been made that the regulations have already been made to mobilize the full resources of the nation for the purposes of the war. The Government has promulgated many regulations’ as for instance the Economic Organization regulations. We have man-power regulations and the Emergency Control regulations. The last, in time of danger in any part of Australia, give great powers to the military. The Government has the inherent, the prerogative right, if the country is sustaining actual invasion, to take property without paying compensation in order to resist invasion. We have built up these ‘regulations until the Government has the fullest power it could possibly require to control at the present time the labour and property of every individual, except that if it takes property, it must pay compensation. It has more power over labour than over property. The point of difference between those regulations and Statutory Rule No. 77 is that when the Government made the regulations dealing with man-power and economic organization it laid down generally principles for the guidance of the Executive, upon which the Executive has to act; but this statutory rule does not attempt to lay down principles for the guidance of the Executive, which is left free so far as the rule is concerned to do as it likes.
There is no need for the rule unless the Government wants to be invested with arbitrary powers. I am not in favour of investing any one with arbitrary powers, not even my honorable friend, lie Minister for Labour and National Service, than whom I know no one in whom I have greater confidence. I am not even in favour of having arbitrary power myself, because I believe that for any one to have arbitrary power is inconsistent with freedom. The evil of despotism is that it rests upon the good will or the had will of one person, who can say : “ This I will ; this I command : let my will stand as the reason “. The regulation gives the Government arbitrary and uncontrolled power, subject only to the Constitution. It has, in fact, been put to use. It was used against the coal-miners, with an assurance that it would not be used or threatened to he used against men who were on strike with the approval of their unions. It was said that it was used against the. coal-miners because they were disregarding their union and their officers. We have seen its use threatened, however, against the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the members of which struck work with the approval of their union. Threats of that kind have aroused the anger of the unions; and the Prime Minister, in an attempt to retrieve the position for himself, admitted that the regulation was playing its part in multiplying disputes. I quote from the Argus of Saturday, the 18th April -
Mine-owners had no right to exploit the nation’s obligation to get coal by taking advantage of workers in forcing changes from existing practice, Mr. Curtin said to-day.
He had been informed by the president of the Southern District Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation, whom he regarded as a reliable and patriotic unionist, that the cause of the Wongawilli mine being idle on Wednesday was a refusal to make certain payments, thereby trying to break down a condition operating at the colliery since 1939. The president had said the miners believed the management in that district was trying to take advantage of the war and the Government’s regulations to deprive members of many hard-won conditions. The district president had also said that southern district reference boards had been held up because employers’ representatives had failed to appear. One case had been held up for three mouths.
The Prime Minister is prepared to accept the statement of that president that the Government’s regulations were a contributing cause of the disputes on the coalfields. Any one who understands the temper of the Australian workers well knows that if we threaten to use penal power against individual workers, their union, no matter what it may think of the act against which the penal power is to be used, will take sides with them. Any one can foresee that, and the Minister for Labour and Nacional Service knows it perfectly, as does every one with industrial experience. More than twenty years of my life I have spent as an adviser of trade unions, and I am familiar with their problems. I know what their reaction is to threats against individual members. I assert that this regulation has made the conditions in industry worse; it has tended to create disaster where there was no disaster before, and has tended to make unions take sides with their recalcitrant members. I have suggested a way of dealing with these problems, but that is not relevant to this motion. On this occasion I would remind the House of how the Government dealt with Statutory Rules Nos. 76 and 77. Statutory Rule No. 76 says that a person deriving profits from the carrying on of a business shall not part with such assets as will preclude his paying to the Commissioner of Taxation so much of those profits as are in excess of an amount equal to 4 per cent, of the capital employed in the business. The capitalists, who were opposed to that being, done, induced the Government to agree that Statutory Huie No. 76 should not be brought into operation until a date fixed by resolution of both Houses - and that means never.
It is obvious that one treatment is being meted out to the capitalist and another to the worker. In those circumstances, how can we expect any one to obey the Government ? A government that does- such things will not obtain obedience from any one for very long. I. am expressing my opposition to the rule, and I hope the House will disallow it. I shall not speak longer, because I spoke at length upon the subject on a motion for the adjournment of the House. I want the House, however, to realize that it is being asked to approve or disapprove of a regulation vesting in the Government arbitrary, dictatorial power to discriminate between people, in whose exercise the Government has no guidance except its own arbitrary will. That, I submit, is the objection of principle to the regulations.
– I second the motion. Although I have never belonged to the Boy Scouts movement, I think this is possibly one of the occasions in my life when I have, perhaps subconsciously, obeyed the scout’s dictum to do one good turn a day. When I look across the House and see the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), for the second time during the period that he and I have been in this chamber, expelled from his temporal and spiritual home, the Labour party, I feel that I should come to his assistance and support him. With his usual eloquence, good sense and sound logic, he has put his case against Statutory Rule No. 77. I have not studied the rule as much, perhaps, as some of my friends have, but I have neverthless noticed one or two things about it.
Before I proceed to discuss the regulations contained in it, I wish to make some general observations upon what I believe to be the principles that should govern the making of regulations under the National Security Act and certain other acts. The purpose of the regulations is to give effect to the National Security Act, and any regulation made under Statutory Rule No. 77 or amending Stautory Rule No. 169, should first be intelligible to the recipients of it. Secondly, the regulation should be capable of achievement by the person to whom it applies; and, thirdly, it should be capable of attaining the object which the Minister, or his satellite, or substitute, sets out to achieve. Furthermore, the regulation should be a timely regulation - that is to say, the recipient should have time to do the things that the Minister or the substitute thinks he should do.
To my mind there is something familiar in this rule. My thoughts went ‘hack to the Crimean War, and Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light
Brigade. What the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) tells us is, “ Theirs not to reason why, theirs not to do justice”. I am rather taken aback - I will not say shocked, because shock might kill me - that the Labour party should have brought in a rule of this description and should expect Parliament to adopt it. I am obliged to ask whether the real objective is a national or a party one. There is too much party flavour in the National Security regulations that have been placed on the table of the house during the last few months. There is too much of a tendency - it is more than a tendency, for it appears to be a deliberate policy - to achieve certain objectives of the Labour party under the pretext of giving effect to war-time organization and administration. In that, of course, I do not agree with the honorable member for Bourke.
– Forget that!
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) might like to forget it, but his memory is too good for that. There are other members on the Government side of the House who would like to forget many things,but there are in Hansard passages that cannot be expunged, passages of which nasty fellows like me will remind government partisans from time to time. This rule, which is the subject of the motion, cannot be considered by itself, but must be read in conjunction with Statutory Rule No. 169, which is an amendment of regulation 4 of Statutory Rule No. 77. I think that rule No. 169 is even more remarkable in some of its provisions, and in some of the powers it gives to the Minister, than even the parent regulation. The children are becoming more hideous the more numerous they are.
Now let me consider the individual regulations under the rule. The purpose of regulation 3 is -
To enable the Commonwealth, during the present war to use, for the public safety and defence of the Commonwealth and its Territories and the more effectual prosecution of the war, the services and property of all persons and companies within Australia and its Territories.
That is all very well on the surface, but the regulation does not say what it means, nor does it mean what it says. It does not give to the Minister power over the services of all the people in the country. There is a definite limit imposed in section 13 of the National Security Act, and until that section is expunged, regulation 3 of Statutory Rule No. 77 cannot mean what it says. So far as concerns the prosecution of this war, the organization of forces and the placing of the armed forces of this country in the places where they can do most damage to the enemy, the regulation does not mean what it says, and, therefore, should not stand. Regulation 4, which has been amended, says - (1.) A Minister, or any person authorized by a Minister to give directions under these regulations, may direct any person resident in Australia -
Any regulation which delegates the authority of a Minister of State is bad. A Minister of State takes a certain oath to administer the laws of this country in such a way that all subjects of the King shallbe on an equal footing. To delegate that authority to an unknown person who is not under that obligation is absolutely wrong. The person to whom authority is delegated might be any sort of person. For instance, the Minister for Labour and National Service has rather unorthodox tastes in regard to the appointment of persons, and he might appoint Miss Cashman to direct all sorts of things. God only knows what a gentleman who could appoint her as the employers’ representative on a wages board could do ! He might even appoint a well-known former member of this House, Mr. Garden, to give oral instructions. An interpreter would be needed to accompany him, because he speaks a dialect intelligible, perhaps, to the Minister for Labour and National Service, but to no one else.
– I thought the honorable gentleman was Scotch, too.
– I am highland Scotch. Remembering an important appointment by a previous
Minister last year, and not being sure whether the Government is serious, I say that it is possible for Lieut.-Colonel Jim Gerald to be given the job of giving instructions under these regulations.
– Lieut.-Colonel Jim Gerald was appointed by Lieut.-Colonel Spender.
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) is also on the Advisory “War Council. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) said that no man in the history of this country had been clothed with the powers contained in these regulations. This is a very serious matter even in time of war. Time after time we have been told in this chamber that certain extra powers were necessary, but that they would be the very coping-stone, and that no more would be necessary. Particularly in view of Statutory Rule No. 169, some unknown gentleman might be appointed to give orders and directions under these regulations, and we might not even know that he had been appointed. The fact that his appointment must be notified in the Gazette is nothing. The Gazette, which is published in Canberra on a Thursday, might not arrive in Perth until a fortnight later. Arrangements can be made by telephone for certain people to do things under these regulations, but my constituents in South Australia and the constituents of other honorable gentlemen in Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania might be receiving orders from some persons whom they would have to take on trust. Their only means of checking the authority of those persons is laid down in Statutory Rule No. 169, and the Gazette might not come to their possession for a fortnight. That is extraordinary. There is a procedure under which orders are given - that is quite well understood - but it is not carried out here. The power to give oral orders, notwithstanding that they may be confirmed in writing afterwards, is a dangerous power to give to unknown and unauthorized people in this country. The regulations should not stand.
Statutory Rule No. 169, which amends regulation 4 of Statutory Rule No. 77, says that any person who may be appointed by the Minister may order a person - to do or refrain from doing such acts or things as are specified in the direction.
That is either a written or verbal direction. It is a very difficult thing to accept, especially when one reads further on and finds -
Where any direction given under these regulations is published in the Gazette, the direction shall be deemed to have been sufficiently served upon, or brought to the notice of all persons concerned or affected thereby.
I do not think that there is anything more sweeping than that in Germany, or even in Russia. Before and since the war broke out, the right honorable member forFremantle, as Leader of the Opposition, sought to curb the powers of the Executive to make regulations. I said time and time again that for the Labour party to occupy the treasury bench it would completely have to reverse its attitude to the war. It has done so, but there was no need to go so far as this. Everything necessary to be done could be done without these regulations. From a Gazette notice it is only a step further to say that the direction shall be deemed to have been sufficiently served upon or brought to the notice of all persons concerned or affected if it is nailed to the door of a church. A lot of people would not see the notice if it were placed there. The Government may amend the regulations again and say that the notice shall be sufficient if it is nailed to the door of Parliament House. A lot of people would not see it there. It could be nailed to the doors of the Trades and Labour Council chambers. How could the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) and I be expected to see it there? These matters must be dealt with reasonably, sensibly and practically. The Gazette is not a widely-read journal, but the things which appear in it vitally affect the lives, fortunes and futures of the people, and there should and can be a much better and more practical method of giving instructions and orders to people affected by the war-time necessities of the Government of the Commonwealth. It is up to the Government to provide it.
I have noticed the peregrinations of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) on the coal-fields. I saw that he was to arrive in Melbourne the other day and did not arrive, and that he was to arrive there later and still did not arrive. As every dairyman knows, you have to go for the cows yourself; they seldom come home. Here is a case where the cow did not come home and the dairyman did not go to get it. They were brought together by accident rather than by design in this city a day ago. While the Minister for Labour and National Service was producing on the coal-fields the harmony which one quite expects to follow in his train, and was saying that so far as he was personally concerned Statutory Rule No. 77 would not be applied to the workers of this country, the Prime Minister had already been to the Trades and Labour Council and said that the trouble on the coal-fields was owing, not to the bosses, but to the other side. I did not hear that on the wireless, but I read it in the press, and it was not repudiated. We have the head of the Government and the other extremity of the Government talking at cross-purposes on what is a very important subject. If the honorable member for Bourke looks at the table he may see Tovarich Ward. I may see Fuehrer Ward. What we see is not the same in name, but it is in effect. There is an old Chinese proverb which talks about that which has the teeth of the tiger and the tail of the rat. There again it is just a pointof view. I say very seriously and deliberately that these regulations should not be allowed to stand. They are regulations for which this Government will be extremely sorry. They will not produce peace and harmony in this Parliament, in the country, or in the Government. I had occasion the last time we sat to refer to the conflict between the opinions expressed publicly by the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Prime Minister. That conflict of opinion has broken out again over these regulations. The Prime Minister intends to administer them as all regulations should be administered, without fear or favour, affection or illwill, or goodwill for that matter, to all classes of the community, irrespective of rank, wealth, title, or anything else. The Minister for Labour and National Service cannot accept that policy. We see the unwelcome spectacle of a responsible Minister at variance with the head of the Government on what must be a part of the major policy of the Curtin Government. That is something which will be raised, no doubt, at a meeting to-morrow which I am debarred from attending. The honorable member for Bourke spoke about this regulation being in the uncontrolled discretion of the Prime Minister. No member on this side has any fearof the discretion of the Prime Minister - but we do fear the uncontrollable discretions of the Minister for Labour and National Service. Therefore, we say that these regulations must go.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– The Prime Minister promised that these matters would be disposed of.
– I said that I wanted the business determined in the order in which it is listed on the notice-paper. A motion for the disallowance of a regulation has been moved and seconded.
– And supported on both sides.
Mr.Curtin. - It is extraordinary that the head of the Government should be expected to continue this debate without having had an opportunity to consider the two speeches which have been made to-day in regard to this matter. I am ready to go on if necessary, but I remind honorable members opposite that when I made a statement on the international situation this afternoon the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) asked for an adjournment of the debate andI granted his request. Apparently honorable members opposite are prepared only to deal with matters in the manner that pleases them and when it pleases them. If they want to tip this Government out, or to tip me out, then let them do it.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. W. M. Nairn.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Since the war began we have heard repeated requests to conserve paper and I. wish to bring to the notice of the Government several publications which have come to me from various sources and which, although excellent journals, represent a distinct waste of paper and effort at this stage. The first is Wake’s Winter 1942, a very fine production which, no doubt, serves a useful purpose in normal times when private firms are seeking business. The next is the Model Trader, Easter 1942, published by Grace Brothers of
Sydney. Honorable members will notice that this also is a publication of a high standard, dealing mainly with ladies’ clothes. The next publication, dealing with ladies’ hate, was circulated by Wayne Wentworth, of Clarence-street, Sydney. Probably at present it would not be possible for a woman in Sydney to purchase the advertised hats. From Sydney comes an elaborate book advertising Farmers’ annual sale . I am not concerned with the number of sales held by this firm each year, tout I am perturbed about the quantity of newsprint used in advertising the sales. Rockman’s Introduction to Autumn illustrates on the cover a woman’s coat, and in its twenty pages it deals exclusively with ladies’ wear, while David Jones’ catalogue supersedes all others both in size and in the quantity of paper used. It is a well-produced book containing 120 pages, and its production must have involved much labour and expense. Fostars’ autumn-winter shoe catalogue is another excellent production, while Winns’ catalogue - also published in Sydney - contains 62 pages. The next interesting but not elaborately printed advertising medium I produce was published by the Myer Emporium Limited. I have before me twelve publications, some of which were received through the post and others were gathered from various sources, all in Launceston, Tasmania. The question of the right of firms to advertise goods in order to effect sales is not seriously involved, because, in most cases, sales are limited to the quantity of goods in stock.
Frequent appeals have been issued by the Government in recent weeks asking the public to save money by refraining from purchasing luxury goods. By appealing to people to spend money on non-essentials at present, the advertising firms are ridiculing the Prime Minister’s plea for economy and simplicity in attire, and what they are doing is directly contrary to the wishes expressedby the Prime Minister and members of the Government in broadcast talks and through the press. By using paper supplies for unnecessary advertising, while the newspapers are being rationed, the firms concerned are defeating the sole purpose for whichare rationing has been instituted, namely, the conservation of essential supplies. The process involved in printing and circulating advertising material is using up man-power which could be more profitably devoted to war work. The expenditure involved may be a means of boosting costs in order. <to defeat the Government’s restriction on profit, or to prevent the Government from reaping any advantage by way of increased taxes. The public is also being deprived of a reduction of the price of goods sold by these firms. I emphasize these points because some firms appear to be using their profits in this way in order to defeat the object of the rationing that has been imposed. In the evening news session on the radio to-night, it was stated that the Myer Emporium Limited had made excess profits last year in the vicinity of £250,000. I suggest that any firm which exceeds 66 per cent, of its pre-war advertising costs should not be allowed the advantage of that expenditure as a deduction for taxation purposes.
Another important factor to be considered is that the circulation of unnecessary mail clogs the service rendered by -the depleted mail staffs and prevents the rapid circulation of more essential mail matter. Most of the circularized advertising booklets emanate from Sydney, and have ‘been circulated in Tasmania as well as in other parts of the Commonwealth. The advertising is unnecessary and undesirable, and prompt action should be taken to prevent its continuation. It defeats the Government’s object of curtailing the purchasing of non-essential articles, and it is unwise to permit the circulation of catalogues, the sole object of which is to urge the people to buy. If goods are in short supply, unrestricted advertising increases the demand and tends to raise prices. In any case, there is no need to advertise goods which are available in limited quantities only. I trust that the Minister in charge of this phase of the Government’s war activities will take appropriate steps to discontinue the prevailing practice.
.- I feel it my duty to bring to the notice of the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Beasley) the fact that some serious allegations regarding the administration of the Commonwealth Police at Canberra are causing grave disquiet, and it is stated that the police force as a whole, a fine body of men, is becoming demoralized as a result. These allegations, details of which are widely known throughout the Australian Capital Territory, include charges of improper conduct of a most serious character. I am not disposed at this stage to place on record all the details which have come to my notice, hut if the Minister desires to inquire into the matter I suggest to him that as a starting point he should call for a full report on the sale by the police of unclaimed goods on the 9th August last, and ‘that he should inquire whether any other goods were then submitted for auction by the police, and, if so; on whose account and under what circumstances. If, on investigation of this one matter, the Minister feels justified in making further inquiries into police administration, I suggest that he, pursuant to his power under the police ordinance, should order the appointment of a board of inquiry. If such a board is appointed a number of persons will come forward with evidence, indicating a most undesirable state of affairs. If the Minister accedes to this request for an inquiry I submit that, in order that there can be no suggestion of hiding the facts, he should obtain the service of a senior officer from the police force of one of the States to conduct an investigation. I suggest this course because when a former Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) once called for a report by the present chief officer of police on allegations against a sergeant, the report supplied was so misleading that the Attorney-General had ultimately to appoint a special inquiry, presided over by the late Sir John- Quick, in order to get to the truth of the matter.
I also direct the attention of the Minister at present in charge of the House to a gross misuse of powers by the Censorship Department. On the 4th August, 1941, a talk for broadcasting purposes by an organizer of the Australian Workers Union in Victoria over station 3KZ, Victoria, was submitted to the Victorian Censor No. 8. It consisted of a leading article which had been published in the Queensland Worker. The censor passed it with the deletion of one portion only - a reference to the fact that Senator Leckie, who was a Minister in the Government of the day, was the father-in-law of the then Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). In the view of the censor, it was considered detrimental to the war effort of Australia to broadcast the fact that Senator Leckie was the father-in-law of the right honorable member for Kooyong. I have before me the original copy of the talk bearing the deletion marked and initialled by the censor. The same Victorian CensorNo. 8, in a most capricious way, has since prohibited a talk that was proposed to be broadcast over 3KZ on Sunday next dealing with the proposed rationing of clothes. It is common knowledge that rationing of clothes is to be introduced, and that it will be followed by the rationing of many other articles in common use. On the 7th April, 1942, the Queensland Worker published a three-column article setting out many absurdities in the clothing rationing scheme, and referred to a proposal to allow five bathing suits a year for each woman. Surely, that must have been a mistake. On the 28th March, the Age published an article under the heading, “ Cost of Women’s Clothing “, and if the public did not know previously, it certainly knew after that date that a clothing scheme was soon to be brought into operation. But because a speaker desired to broadcast a talk over a Labour broadcasting station, in a session sponsored by the Australian Labour party, the party’s viewpoint on the rationing of clothing, the censor, in his wisdom, decided on the prohibition of the talk in its entirety. He did not condemn any particular section of the talk on the ground that it was objectionable, but simply decided that the talk should not be delivered. I have a copy of the proposed talk before me, and it bears the censorship stamp with the words, “ Publication Prohibited. VPC 8-24.4.42”. I desire an assurance from the Minister that the censorship powers possessed by the department will not continue to be so abused. Recently, I made representations to the Acting AttorneyGeneral on behalf of the editor of the Radio Times, Melbourne, because he claimed he was being persecuted by the Victorian censor. I have since ascertained that a subordinate officer in the Censorship Department directed the attention of the Chief Censor to the fact that, in contravention of the regulations, certain information had been conveyed to me, and suggested that the persons concerned should be brought to account for conveying to a member of Parliament the fact that he had been told not to do certain things. I deny the right of any censor to persecute persons who bring to the notice of a member of Parliament any misuse of censorship powers. I shall be glad to have the assurance of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), not only that these matters will be investigated and explained in due course, but also that protection will be afforded to the persons who have directed my attention to them. I have not stated how these documents came into my possession, and that may offer some protection to the persons who originally submitted the articles concerned to the censorship authorities in Victoria.
I now direct attention to the fact that American soldiers are better dressed than Australian troops. They have fine-fitting, well-made uniforms of first-class material. They all have a good appearance, and they take a pride in their uniforms. The Australian soldier, however, is usually supplied with a uniform that fits only where it touches and does not permit his personality to express itself as he would like.
– It fits well, except for the tunic and the trousers.
– And in some cases the boots and hats are not exactly wellfitting. If the Americans can fit their troops with good, comfortable uniforms, surely the Australian authorities can do the same for our troops! When I look at some of the uniforms worn by Australian soldiers I have not the slightest doubt that they were cut out with a knife and fork. I do not know who makes them, but I know that there is differential treatment as between our army men and our air force men. Thirty-six fittings are provided in Royal Australian Air Force uniforms, but only 22 in Australian Imperial Force and militia force uniforms. There is no reason why air force men should be betterclad than our soldiers, who also should have the choice of 36 fittings. I am assured that if a certain size does not fit a man in the Australian Imperial Force or militia forces he is merely given the nearest size. That uniform may fit him around the neck, but it may be too long in the sleeves, with the result that he has to take it to a female relative to have it altered. I understand that the Americans, in addition to having regular fittings, also have normal, small and large sizes within each fitting so that the quartermaster is able to ensure that every man is satisfied and well-clad. I do not believe that the American Government is paying more for its uniforms than the Australian Government is paying for our soldiers’ uniforms, nor am I certain that our air force uniforms are more costly than those issued to the army. At any rate, there is no reason for discrimination ‘between forces. I hope that the Minister for the Army will ensure that the men under his control are as well fitted out as the Americans and our own air force men. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin), who is also taking an intelligent interest in my dissertation, knows that naval men have much less reason for complaint about their uniforms and equipment than have our soldiers.
, and we were intrigued by his graphic descriptions of the journals that he said were sent through the post by big Sydney emporiums in order to advertise their wares to the affluent people of Tasmania. His suggestion that, at a time like the present when it is necessary to conserve paper supplies and labour, this form of advertising should be curtailed is worthy of sympathetic consideration. It will be brought to the notice of the appropriate Minister.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked that an inquiry be held into the administration of the police force in the Australian Capital . Territory. I shall bring his representations to the notice of the Minister concerned with a. view to having an investigation made.
The honorable gentleman also spoke of the grass misuse of the powers of the censorship authorities. There are several phases of censorship. Communications censorship is controlled by the Department of the Army, but the branch to which the honorable member referred is subject to the direction of the Prime Minister’s Department. I shall see that his complaints are referred to the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, the honorable member should not lose sight of the fact that articles may be published in newspapers without falling into the hands of the enemy, but when they are broadcast over wireless systems they may be heard by the enemy in territories to the north of Australia. That fact was probably taken into consideration by the censorship authorities when they permitted the publication of certain statements in the newspapers but banned the broadcasting of them.
– Does the Minister consider that a reference to Senator Leckie’s relationship to a former Prime Minister would have a disastrous effect upon our war effort?
– No. I do not consider that the publication of that fact could have done any harm, but other matters which have been referred to in the newspapers might have been of advantage to the enemy if they had been broadcast over the air. The honorable member also asked that protection be afforded to persons who had brought these matters to his notice. Nobody wishes to victimize anybody who has supplied information to the honorable gentleman. I have no knowledge of the sources of his information. He seems to be-
– Well-informed always !
– He seems to be very resourceful, sometimes to the annoyance of some honorable gentlemen who wish to leave- as soon as possible after the motion for the adjournment of the House has been moved. I have known him to rise at 1 a.m., with a bundle of papers in his arms, and become eloquent. He is indefatigable, and he airs his grievances even at the risk of incurring the displeasure of some of his colleagues. I assure him that there will be no victimization of any person who has supplied him with information which may lead to the better administration of a Commonwealth department.
I was interested to hear his comments about the uniforms of Australian and American soldiers. We all admire the men of the American Army whom we have met in Australia. The honorable gentleman himself accompanied me on a visit of inspection to some of the American army camps in this country. We were both greatly impressed with their uniforms, the quality of their boots, their general smartness, their physique, their behaviour and their high standard of discipline. Both the officers and the men take pride in their appearance, and I have no doubt that we can learn many lessons from them. It is desirable that we should, consistent with economy, improve the type of uniform supplied to Australian soldiers. The quality of the material is excellent, but some of the uniforms do not fit very well. I shall not make any extravagant promises now, because I realize that, with the huge forces thatwe have under arms to-day, the cost of issuing new uniforms would be tremendous. However, the honorable gentleman’s suggestions will be considered sympathetically if and when the Government decides upon an improvement of the uniforms of Australian forces. All of the matters which have been raised on this motion will he given close consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 121, 158.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1942 -
No. 13 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 14 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No.15 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; and Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
Audit Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 184.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointment of K. A. Davies, Department of the Treasury.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942. Nos. 167, 174, 182.
Customs Act -
Proclamation (dated 8th April, 1942) prohibiting the Exportation (except under certain conditions) of Cotton, absorbent and manufactures thereof; Glass, laminated; Salt.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 148.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 136, 166, 179.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired -
For Defence purposes -
Bairnsdale, Victoria (2).
Botany, New South Wales.
Cheltenham, South Australia.
Forbes, New South Wales.
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Mudgee, New South Wales.
Muresk, Western Australia.
North Stockton, New South Wales.
Rutherford, New South Wales.
South Melbourne, Victoria.
Wellington, New South Wales.
Welshpool, Western Australia.
For Postal purposes -
Adelaide, South Australia.
National Security Act -
National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations - Order - Exemption.
National Security (Emergency Supplies) Regulations -
Declaration - Prescribed Goods.
National Security (Firearms and Explo sives ) Regulations - Order - Prohibiting possession of firearms and explosives.
National Security (General) Regulations -
By-laws - Controlled area.
Control of -
Imported Spun Cotton.
Inventions and designs (103).
Prohibited places (5).
Protected areas (2).
Requisitioning of -
Property other than land (4).
Taking possession of land, &c. (255).
Use of land (59).
National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders-
Protected undertakings (28).
National Security (Prices) Regulations -
Declarations Nos. 71-92.
Declaration (Papua) No. 7.
National Security (Prices) Regulations -
Orders Nos. 490-650.
Order (Papua) No. 11.
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations -
Prisoners of War Correspondence (2).
Prisoners of War (Pay Arrangements ) .
Rules - Camp (6).
National Security (Supplementary) Regu lations - Order - Supply of banking statistics to Treasurer.
National Security (Timber Control) Regulations - Orders - Control of Timber ( 5 ) .
National Security (War Damage to Property ) Regulations - Order - Public Authority.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 135, 141, 142, 143,l44, 145, 145, 147, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 175, 176, 177, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 195.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942. Nos.180, 181, 183.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Regulation - 1942 - No. 4 (Building and Services Ordinance).
Women’s Employment Board - Correspondence in connexion with appointment under National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations, ofMiss E.I. Cashman as special representative of Employers.
House adjourned at 9.57 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n-Hughes asked the Minis ter for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Inspection of Munitions Factories.
Mr.curtin. - Onthe 26th March, 1942, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked one the following questions, upon notice -
Is it a fact that officers of the Inspection Branch of the Business Board are prohibited from entering Government munitions factories, private munitions annexes and aircraft production factories; if so, what are the reasons?
Will he give directions that will permit the officers mentioned being allowed to make inspections to protect the expenditure of public moneys ?
I am now in a position to furnish the following answers: -
It is not one of the functions of the inspection staff of the Board of Administration in the Defence Division of the Department of the Treasury to make inspections of munitions factories, private munitions annexes and aircraft production factories. Inspectors inthis branch are concerned solely with inspections of establishments directly connected with the Departments of Navy, Army and Air.
In the event of any special investigations being considered necessary arrangements could be made for an officer of the board’s inspection staff to carry out the duty, if his qualifica tions and experience rendered him suitable.
y asked the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Security Act known as the National Security (Minerals) Regulations, giving power to the Commonwealth to take possession of any oil shale lands. These powers will be used where ever necessary in the national interest, but the powers will not be used unless the necessity arises.
Fair Rents Regulations : Application in Victoria.
l asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers: -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the scarcity of newsprint and the urgent necessity to conserve paper and to safeguard public funds, will he give the necessary instructions immediately to cease the issue of the pamphlet entitled Digest of Decisions and Announcements and Important Speeches bp the Prime Minister?
Mr. CURTIN. - No. It is considered that these pamphlets, containing as they do information of general interest and value to the public of Australia, more than justify the small amount of paper used and the slight cost involved.
Transport of Soldiers on Leave.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that the Tasmaman Government Transport Department refused to allow a train to be delayed a few minutes at Burnie recently to permit members of our fighting forces returning from the Middle East and on limited leave to transfer from a ship to the train, en route to their homes?
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n-Hughes asked the Minis ter for the Army, upon notice -
How many persons in Australia have, since the 1st November, 1941, been exempted, on the grounds of conscientious belief, from naval, military, or air force service (a) combatant and non-combatant, and (b) combatant?
– The following information has been supplied by the service departments in regard to this matter: -
Navy. - No cases of persons being exempted from naval service on the grounds of conscientious belief have been noted in the Department of the Navy.
Army. - Between the 1st November, 1941, and the 31st March, 1942, the following personnel were exempted from military service on the grounds of conscientious belief: - (a) From combatant service, 75; (b) from combatant and non-combatant service, 10; total, 85.
Air Force. - As all service in the Royal Australian Air Force is on a voluntary basis, the question of exemption from service on the ground of conscientious belief does not arise.
ARMOUR fob Soldiers.
L asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Has consideration been given by him to the provision of light armour us a protection for the bodies of Australian soldiers, and, if so, with what results?
– This matter has been considered. Various suggestions have been submitted both for adoption in Australian and other armies, but to date no satisfactory device has been produced. The matter is still under investigation.
Operations of Leases.
y. - On the 26th March, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) asked me whether, in view of a County Court decision given in Victoria that the National Security (Contracts Adjustment) Regulations did not apply to leases, consideration would be gives to the advisability of amending the regulations so as to include leases, mortgages and contracts under seal. 1 am now in a position to inform the right honorable gentleman that the regulations have since been amended (Statutory Rules 1942, No. 162) to remove any doubt that might have arisen from the County ‘Court’s decision in this matter.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 April 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1942/19420429_reps_16_170/>.