16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Control of Supplies
– Will the Minister for Commerce state what control the Government intends to exercise in respect of the meat industry? Has the Australian Meat Board been abolished? Is there any reason why that body should not he entrusted with the administration of all necessary control over the industry?
– A commission has been set up to control meat supplies throughout Australia, in respect ofboth civilian and service needs, and it will work in conjunction with State committees. The Australian Meat Board has not been abolished, and is still functioning. It is not considered essential, however, that the duties which the Meat Industry Commission will discharge should be entrusted to it.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the application of the principle of preference to unionists in the award of the Wheat Harvest Employment Commission is to be taken as indicating a general abandonment by the Government of the policy of preference to returned soldiers? Does the right honorable gentleman consider it to be consistent with the purpose of the National Security Act that the authority reposed in Ministers under that act should be invoked or employed for the purpose of establishing a prior right of employment for unionists as against ex-servicemen? Finally, will he say whether this action of the Government is to be regarded as indicative of government policy in the matter of priority of employment as between unionists and ex-service men after the war?
– Representatives of the employers and employees pressed the Government to constitute an authority under the National Security Act for the purpose of determining a standard of employment in rural industries. They did so because no such standard existed, and they complained that it was impossible for them to obtain rural labour in the absence of such a standard. The Government was aware that, for the last 35 years, the arbitration machinery of the Commonwealth was available for the fixing of a standard, but that it had not been availed of. Having regard to the problem of obtaining labour for rural industries in war-time, and because of the importance of ensuring that a supply of suitable labour should be available, it was considered that it. would be only fair that the labour which was sought should understand what were its rights of remuneration. Therefore, yielding to the representations of the employers and employees, the Government set up a conciliation committee under a chairman, and that committee has arrived at a decision. The Govern- ment has always made it a practice not to interfere with the decisions of arbitration authorities. The Government recognizes that whatever award or finding is made or reached by an impartial authority set up under the law should stand. I have not studied the award in question, and therefore am not able to state whether or not it conflicts with government policy.
– Will the Prime Minister state the intentions of the Government in regard to the business now before the House? What is to be the duration of the debate initiated yesterday? When is the House likely to be adjourned?
– As I said yesterday in the course of the statement that I made to the House, the Parliament was asked to meet on the 10th and 11th December in order to consider the state of the war.
– That object has been sidetracked by Government supporters.
– The House has before it a motion and an amendment. Honorable members have available to them every resource to deal with my statement, equally with any other statements, or with any matter which in their opinion has been omitted from my statement. I suggest that I should stand to the arrangement that I made. I shall ask the House, at its rising to-day, to adjourn to a date in January.
– In the circumstances, the House should not adjourn.
– I have been asked to state my intentions. I do not know what the intention of the House may be, but it will be revealed in due course. The Government desires the continuance of the debate to-day. If the matter be decided at the hour at which the House would normally adjourn, well and good. If not, it will still be within the competence of the House either to continue or to discontinue the debate, as it thinks proper. If I am able to give effect to my intention, I shall ask the House to adjourn to a date in January, and I shall propose that it be towards the end of January, in order that I may be enabled to have requisite legislative proposals drafted for the consideration of Parliament. I most certainly do not contemplate an adjournment until February.
– I present the fifth and sixth progress reports of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure.
– In accordance with the promise made during the debate on the Dairying Industry Assistance Bill, will the Prime Minister or the Minister for Commerce lay on the table of the House before it adjourns to-day the special report prepared by representatives of the dairying industry, upon which, according to recent advice by the Prime Minister, certain legislation is to be drafted for consideration by this House?
– The Minister for Commerce informs me that he will be in a position to lay this report on the table at a subsequent sitting. .
– Why not to-day?
– It is not ready for presentation.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether it is the intention of the Government to establish mutton dehydration plants in Western Queensland; if so, at what centres?
– It is the intention of the Government to establish dehydration plants in various centres in Western Queensland, which part of the Commonwealth, it is considered, has some of the most suitable places in Australia for the dehydration of mutton. Overtures made in the past by the honorable member led to an investigation being made by the Meat Commission, which has acquiesced in them and is now making recommendations to me; consequently, dehydration units will be established at those centres at an early date.
– Can the Minister for Commerce say what stage the negotiations have reached in connexion with the proposed establishment of a dehydration plant in the midlands of Tasmania for the: treatment, of. meat, vegetables, and fruit ?
– The matter is at present receiving the attention of a departmental committee. I understand that visits have been, made- by departmental, officers to Tasmania, and there will be. no delay in establishing such plants as are. found to be essential..
– Having regard to the fact, revealed by sworn testimony in. a Sydney court last week, that cooks in the employ of the Allied. Works Council are receiving as high a. wage as. £.42 a. fortnight, does the Government, intend to take steps to bring the emoluments of its non-combatant employees, more into harmony with those of the members of the fighting services?
– The matter of emoluments is decided on the basis of what, is considered appropriate for the. respective services rendered by the various categories of people concerned. I am personally considering the position generally in relation to the Allied Works Council’, and hope to be in a position to make, a statement shortly.
– It is- persistently rumoured in Kandos that a committee: of the Department of War Organization of Industry has: recommended the- closing down, of the Kandos cement works, -upon which a town, of 2,5.00: inhabitants depends entirely for the. continuance of. its hospitals- and other facilities. Will the Minister state whether such a recommendation has been made by a committee? Will, he personally, or the Production Executive of Cabinet,, make promptly the decision that any such recommendation shall not be given effect?
– A committee has inquired into this matter.. I am not yet in possession of. its report. When it has been furnished. I shall see that it is dealt with expeditiously and that the, honorable member is informed of the result.
– In view of the many allegations of maladministration, in connexion with: hirings in New South
Wales, what steps is the Minister for the Army taking to place the administration of this branch on a sound basis?.
– Some time ago, a justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria very generously gave his- services to the Department of the Army for the purpose of reporting upon various matters1. After a complete investigation, he laid down a scheme for the thorough re-organization of the Hirings Administration of the Army throughout Australia. In accordance with that plan, a Central Hirings Committee was appointed in Melbourne., and other committees were appointed, in each of: the States. A Compensation Board, presided over by a. police, magistrate and having on. it a. public accountant and a man well versed in- land valuation matters, has been set up in each State. Before it may be placed any dispute, in relation to a. decision of a hirings committee in regard to rental or compensation which, is not acceptable- to a person who rents of sells property to the Army. If the honorable gentleman has a definite complaint in regard to- the- administration of the Hirings: ‘Committee in Sydney, I shall have it thoroughly investigated… The Hirings Administration, is now under the chairmanship- of Mr. Ferguson, a prominent barrister, of. Sydney.
– But the- Hirings Branch will not carry out the instructions of the Minister !
– Has the Prime Minister noticed certain pictures appearing in a newspaper of enemy dead scattered over a battleground? Will he take steps to ensure that the bodies of the dead, whether of enemy soldiers or of friendly ones, shall not be exploited for the profit of newsmongers ?
– I was not aware of the incident to which, the. honorable member refers., but I shall have a look at the newspaper, and shall take whatever steps are necessary to prevent the improper treatment of such subjects.
– Is the Minister for the Army prepared to honour his promise to lay on. the table of the House, the- files relating to Mr. A. J. Mendes, of the Mayfair Hotel, Darlinghurst ?
– Tes, I shall make the file available.
– Is the Minister for War Organization of Industry a-ware of what appears to be a waste of labour and material in the preparation of signs and hoardings along railway lines advertising goods such as biscuits and boots which are in short supply?
– This matter was inquired into by my department some time ago, and action is now pending in regard to it. I point out, however,” that some of the hoardings, being the property of State railways .departments, do -not come under the jurisdiction of my department.
– Can the Minister for ‘Commerce state when payment will be made -of the promised compensation to wheat-growers in Western Australia who were compulsorily required to reduce their wheat .acreages by 33^ per cent.?
– Several days ago 1 signed a minute authorizing the payment of the .a mount. a greed upon to the Western Australian Government, which will, I presume, distribute the money forthwith.
– Can the Treasurer say what will be the position of former employees of State Taxation Departments who are now members of the fighting forces when they .return after the war expecting to get back their old jobs and find that income taxation ha3 been transferred entirely to the Common wealth?
– The uniform income taxation arrangement between the Com- monwealth and the States is a temporary one only, anc! the Commonwealth has taken over only such State employees as were immediately available. The position of State employees who are now in the fighting services is a matter for the consideration of the State governments.
– When the pioneers who first settled this country built the Parramatta-road. they set up milestones which have been left in position ever since as a memorial of those days. Recently, .somebody belonging to the Department of the Army employed useful man-power in cutting off the figures indicating the number of miles, and this was done even on stones in the centre of Sydney. Will the Minister for the Army find out who was responsible for this vandalism, and when he has done so, will he find for this person some more useful work ?
– An investigation will be made, and the information will be supplied to the honorable member.
– It was recently stated in the press that hundreds of persons, including a great many inspectors, were employed in the Department -of War Organization of Industry policing the numerous orders and regulations. Can the Minister for War Organization of Industry state just how many persons are employed in his department ?
– I cannot give the information offhand, but £100,000 was provided for the department in the Estimates, and, as most of that money will be expended in salaries, some indication is thereby. afforded of the number of persons employed. May I point out that, in regard to one operation alone - :bread zoning in Sydney and Melbourne - my department has been able to save £600:000, or six times the total cost of departmental administration.
– In view of the verdict of the High Court in the Tonking case, will the Minister for Commerce make available to the growers of apples and peaTs. whose fruit “was taken from them “under the acquisition scheme, receipts for fruit sold hy the board? If it is felt that the task ‘of tracing” each sale is beyond the present resources of the department, having regard to shortage of staff, will the Minister distribute among the growers of New South Wales the profit made by the Apple and Pear Board on the sale of their fruit?
– The matter raised by the honorable memberwill receive consideration. I remind, him, however, that the Treasurer would be very pleased to think that the Apple and Pear Board had made any profits. The fact is that its operations have shown a substantial deficit each year.
– Has the Minister for War Organization of Industry been able to learn what members of his staff were responsible for a leakage of information which led to a rush on the shops just before the rationing of handkerchiefs was introduced three weeks ago?
-Rationing is administered by the Minister for Trade and Customs, and, therefore, there could not possibly have been a leakage of information about the rationing of handkerchiefs from the Department ofWar Organization of Industry.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether it is true, as announced over the wireless about a fortnight ago, that the Government intends to acquire the whole of the oat crop this year?
– The acquisition of the oat crop has not even been considered by my department.
– I have been asking the Minister for the Army questions about soldiers convicted by court martial of military offences being incarcerated in civil gaols among criminals. I have heard from the relatives of, I think, five of those soldiers that they have been released, returned to their units, and given all their arrears of pay and a fortnight’s leave.
– How does the honorable member define “military offences”?
– They are offences against military law. Yesterday, I again brought this matter to the notice of the Minister for the Army, but I have on several occasions asked that all the papers in connexion with it be tabled. I should like to know now whether all the 57 men who have ‘been placed in civil gaols will receive treatment similar to that of the five who have been released, or whether each case will be considered on its merits ? I ask whether these men, if they are to remain in custody, will be transferred from civil gaols to military camps ?
– The honorable member mentioned this matter to me yesterday, when I promised to make inquiries and to furnish him with the information he required. I hope to be able to give him that information to-day.
– I ask the Minister for War Organization of Industry whether it is true, as reported, that some alteration is intended, or has been made, of the draft regulations relating to the employment of domestic servants, and whether we may reasonably hope for a modification of these mischievous proposals?
– Since the validity of the regulations which it was proposed to issue has been called into question, I do not see that any good purpose can be served by discussing whether they could be amended to make them any better.
– I ask the Minister for
Supply and Shipping whether it is a fact that power alcohol now being produced in this country is proving to be deficient in keeping qualities and unsuitable for use as motor spirit? If so, does the Government intend to take this fact into consideration before proceeding with the extensive programme of erection of power alcohol distilleries?
– The honorable member’s question has some foundation of fact, but the facts are not quite what he has indicated. It is true that in a part of Australia it has been found that, owing to climatic conditions, gumming and vapour locks are occurring in motor vehicles using power alcohol from the distillery in that area. Because of the dangers that would arise from using power alcohol under such conditions, the Army has declared that in certain areas no distribution of this liquid shall be permissible. At lower points in those districts power alcohol is still being used. In the southern and western States no difficulties arise.
High Court Judgment
– Has the AttorneyGeneral read the majority judgment of the High Court in setting aside on the grounds of a narrow technicality the findings in the case of Brewer and Ritchie, both of whom had been found guilty by the Canteens Board of Inquiry and a jury of having passed and accepted secret commissions? Will the AttorneyGeneral submit to Parliament legislation to amend the Secret Commissions Act retrospectively to cover this case and the cases of other gentlemen similarly placed in order that they shall be punished for their crimes?
– It is proposed to appeal against the decision of the High Court.
– Is the Minister for Home Security aware that there is still almost a total black-out in many parts of New South Wales, particularly the north coast, although on the north coast of Queensland the black-out restrictions have been considerably relaxed? Will the Minister discuss with the Minister for National Emergency Services in New South Wales the proposal of that Minister that in view of changed conditions the black-out shall be consider^ ably relaxed.
– Recently, on representations of the various State authorities, the opinion of the service chiefs was ascertained. The black-out or brown-out - the honorable member may call it what he likes - is operating on the coast at the direction of the people responsible for the defence of this country, and while they say it is necessary it will remain.
– I ask the Minister for the Army -
– The Department of the Army specifies the type of ammunition it requires and then places orders with the Department of Munitions. There has been a tremendous increase of the flow of 9 millimetre ammunition from the Department of Munitions to the Department of the Army, and the position is very much better to-day than it was two months ago. I am not conversant with all the technical details referred to by the honorable member, but I am not aware of any disability due to the supply of wrong ammunition. The latest assurances I have received are that the supply of 9 millimetre ammunition is quite satisfactory. If the honorable gentleman will give me the particulars afterwards, I shall be pleased to have them investigated. Censorship is not under the control of the Minister for the Army, and I do not know of any censorship order such as the honorable member indicated.
– In order that the House may proceed with the debate listed for to-day, I ask honorable members to put any further questions on the noticepaper. Such questions will be answered as promptly as possible.
Assent to the following bills re ported - Dairying Industry Assistance Bill 1942.
Statute of Westminster Adoption Bill 1942.
War Service Estates Bill 1942.
Debate resumed from the 10th. Decem ber (vide page 1731),. on motion by Mr.Curtin -
That the following paperbe printed: - “Review of War Situation. Ministerial Statement, 10th. December, 1942”.
Upon which Mr. Blackburn had moved by way of. amendment -
That all words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “this House, re-affirming the policy upon which the majority of its members were elected, opposes the imposition of: any form of compulsory service outside Australia and the Territories of the Commonwealth “.
. -Parliament has been called together on this occasion for the. specific purpose of hearing a report of the conduct of the war and a review of the international situation generally. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) made to the House yesterday an admirable statement on broad lines of the present position in this global war, particularly as it affects Australia. Recently I. visited the Milne Bay and Kokoda areas of New Guinea to gain first-hand knowledge of the progress of the Australian and allied sea, land and air operations, and I obtained an ineffaceable close-up’ view of the extremely difficult, conditions under which our fighting men are working in these combat zones. Shortly aftermy return from New Guinea, I made an inspectional tour of some: 7,000 miles, during which I visited and inspected all. the principal Royal Australian Air Force stations in western, north-western and northern. Australia. On these visits I obtained a full appreciation of the problems that have to be faced in our operational areas, and of allied operations in the outlying and strategic areas; immediately north of Australia. As Minister for Air. I consider it my duty to give to honorable members. a resume of my observations in the hope that it may inform them more fully on the war position in the immediate vicinity of the Australian mainland.
– Order ! So many honorable members are. conversing audibly that it is difficult to hear the remarks of the Minister for Air.
– We are more concerned to get a decision on the subject before the House than we are to hear the Minister, but, the Government seems: to desire to avert a decision. We shall not allow that to happen.
– The honorable member for Barker is out of order.
– The honorable member for Barker has not shown any enthusiastic desire to participate in this debate. All he appears to desire is to secure a vote on something that he does not wish to talk about. I desire to address honorable members on the subject which we were called together to consider.
– This is a great exhibition !
– As an exhibitionist the honorable member is a champion.
I wish to outline for honorable members the situation as I saw it in New Guinea and during my inspections subsequently in Australia. On my visit to New Guinea I was accompanied by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Jones; the Director of Civil Aviation, Mr. A. B.Corbett; the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) and Group Captain Cobby of the Royal Australian Air Force.
-. - Why did the honorable member for Henty go to New Guinea with the Minister?
– He is the chairman of the War Damage Insurance Commission and he visited New Guinea for the purpose of inspecting the war damage that has been done there. I believe that his visit will result in a more expeditious settlement of claims.
– How many claims have been settled ?
– The claims will be settled by the commission as promptly as. practicable. We were taken over areas which were extremely difficult to traverse. In some places almost impenetrable jungle faced us. I was surprised to find that so much “work had been done in some of the forward operational areas of New Guinea. In some places the jungle had to be cut through, and in others our men were operating in a morass. Just prior to my visit the allied forces had obtained aerial superiority over the Japanese, and, as that has been maintained, it proved of inestimable value in facilitating our advance. Although the position has improved there is no justification whatever for elation or over.confidence, for such might easily prove to be premature. The Japanese are a formidable foe. They will not accept defeat until they have exhausted every potential of victory.
A f actor that has improved the Allied position in New Guinea is the increased transport facilities. I am glad t’hat larger numbers of motor vehicles can now be provided. Even so, the transport problems are extremely difficult in many places. Honorable gentlemen may be surprised to learn that in some of the areas which we visited “we were Faced with traffic blocks. One of these lasted for 40 minutes and others lasted for more than 25 minutes. They were due to the fact that the roads are mostly single tracks “which were converted ‘ into quagmires during heavy f alls of rain. Occasionally, the roads are completely flooded out. Nevertheless, magnificent work is being done by our transport sections. The Army has “warmly praised the Royal Australian Air Force for theeffectiveness of its system of dropping food supplies to men in forward areas. As one example of what is being done, our aircraft on one occasion made five trips to a forward area and dropped 2$ ions of supplies. In the earlier stages 60 per cent, of the food supplies dropped were recovered, but later 85 per cent, of the supplies dropped were recovered. A special recovery unit has been formed and it has resulted in a greatly improved rate of retrieval. As a .result of my observations and discussions with commanding officers on the spot I decided at once that a supplydropping squadron should be formed. This has immensely improved the position. It should be realized that in the jungle warfare in which our troops have to engage it is very important that advantage shall be taken of every possibility of success. It is necessary, also, to use sea, land and air transport in order to ensure that food supplies .shall reach our men. I found that quite a number of our soldiers were wholly dependent on the food dropped to them from the air. Consequently, it was essential that every effort should be made to facilitate the recovery of air-borne supplies. It was desirable, too, that all possible speed should be used to recover supplies and that steps should be taken to avoid breakages. Having regard to the strain placed upon the transport services, the progress made in establishing aerodromes, and in maintaining them in serviceable condition, has been very satisfactory. I was astonished at the amount of work that has been accomplished, and I know that a great deal more has been clone since my return to Australia. The best possible use is being made of the equipment provided for the troops. Especially good work is being done, too, in the provision of alternative aerodromes so that out planes may continue to operate under whatever conditions may arise. In the light of my experience I am satisfied that Port Moresby would be a difficult place for the enemy to take, though, of course, I am well aware ‘that this war has proved over and over again that places which were regarded as impregnable have proved to be far otherwise. Everything possible has been done to strengthen the defences of Port Moresby for the resistance of attacks bv sea, land or air, -whether made seperately or simultaneously.
I found the morale of the men to be very high. In places the necessity to increase the proportion of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet of the troops was clearly apparent. It is not always possible, in the forward areas, to provide as much fruit and -vegetables as could 1>e desired ; but everything that can be done to improve the diet of the men is being done. Some of them have been entirely without fresh fruit and vegetables for limited periods.
– They have been without bread also.
– That is so; biscuit is the main substitute for it. “Tinned M. & V.”, that is, meat and vegetables, is provided, but in some instances supplies have been temporarily inadequate. The officers are doing their utmost to improve conditions in this respect. As air crews are obliged to fly over long stretches of country under adverse climatic conditions, it is necessary that their diet shall be as balanced as possible. In one part of New Guinea, I inspected a very large vegetable garden. It was not located in the tropical jungle area and the rainfall was too concentrated to meet all round the year needs; so irrigation had to be applied. However, the fruit and vegetables grown in that area are of inestimable value in maintaining a balanced diet for the troops and in providing supplies of fresh food in areas that under other conditions could not be supplied. I was glad to observe that the officers in charge are doing their best to maintain living standards at the highest possible level.
General Morris, who is in charge of the administrative work in one area that I visited, expressed the opinion that we should endeavour to provide food supplies for the natives, who number approximately 500,000; otherwise, there might be a tendency for them, though this has not been observed at present, to look to the enemy for food supplies. In many places the areas from which the natives normally obtained their food supplies have been ruined as the result of skirmishes or battles. Portage by the natives is essential and we have had considerable help of this kind from them in jungle areas and in places where the terrain is particularly difficult. In some places our troops could not have got through except for the local knowledge and portage of the natives. General Morris considered that if radio assistance could be made available to missionaries it would enable them to maintain contact with the natives and the Administration. It would also help the missionaries to discover the areas to which the natives had retired after the invasion by the Japanese. I pay tribute to the splendid work and the loyalty of the great majority of the natives and to the value of their assistance in portage.
Conditions, of course, have been most unpleasant, to say the least of it, in the
Owen Stanley Ranges. In company with General Sir Thomas Blarney and General Allen, I met men who had assisted to stop the Japanese advance. It would be difficult to imagine more unfavorable conditions for operations. Although, on the day that we were in the area, there was no rain, heavy falls had been experienced the previous day; rain falk almost every day. I met men who had just returned, jaded and tired, from a four-days’ patrol, and it was quite clear to me, from their remarks and general demeanour, that they would have returned immediately to the areas from which they came if it had been necessary for them to do so. Many of these men had had very little experience in jungle warfare before arriving in New Guinea, and they had not had the advantage of a long period of training. There was only a “ jeep “ track to Owers corner, yet marvellous work had been done. The engineers in our forces had been employed in civil life, mainly in our railway and postal services, but since their enlistment they have done magnificent work, particularly in making it possible for us to take heavy artillery into the forward areas. This was most effective in stopping the Japanese advance and, ultimately, in enforcing their retirement. Being a mountainous area, the reverberations are so numerous and loud that one who is not experienced is almost inclined to think that a whole battery has gone into operation when one shot has been .fired. Apart from the accomplishment of destroying the defences of the enemy, this has had a very marked effect on his morale. The transport of this artillery to that location was a marvellous feat. So many shots had been fired when I reached there’ that the barrels of the guns had become worn out and others had to be fitted. Rain falls almost daily in the jungle area that we reached. Malaria is not rife in that particular region, but in other areas it is prevalent. Dysentery causes a lot of sickness among the troops, and flies are very troublesome. In forward areas, one found many deserted villages; but since the allied forces have advanced, many of the natives have been returning.
It will be admitted that Australians are always good toilers. This is well exemplified in the splendid work that has been done .by our men in the construction of roads in these difficult areas. White men have been turned almost into brown men by reason of the exposure to which they have been subjected. They are not only working willingly, but also doing as good a day’s work as could be expected of any men under such conditions.
No words of mine could give an adequate mental picture of Milne Bay with its decaying vegetation and perpetual slush and slime. Ingenious methods have been adopted, with the result that the landing grounds for Australian and Allied aircraft have been kept in an efficient state for use despite the fearful mud. It is common to see aeroplanes of all kinds, large and small, arriving on the airfields which have been laid down. American material has been largely used in that connexion, and American planes are flying everywhere. It is marvellous to see them entering and leaving the jungle. All sections of the Army that I met praised the effective co-operation they were receiving from the Royal Australian Air Force and the American Air Force.
Malaria was prevalent at Milne Bay; as many as 50 cases a day were reported at times. I do not wish to state the total number affected while I was there, but it was fairly considerable. Every effort is being made to combat the disease. Some idea of the rainfall conditions in this area may be gained from the fact that on the four days immediately prior to my visit 14 inches of rain had fallen. None fell on the day that I was there, but that was most unusual. The conditions are not only difficult but also distressing. Everywhere I found that the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Comforts Fund, and the Salvation Army are doing splendid work. A great deal of assistance is being rendered to the troops, and the men are freely availing themselves of it. Every one is loud in praise of the arrangements that have been made.
Following the appointment of General MacArthur as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the South-West Pacific, it became necessary to co-ordinate and combine the direction of the American Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, so as to ensure their smooth functioning and a united, concen trated effort against the common threat. Under the approved set-up, the control of the operations of the Royal Australian Air Force service squadrons and their respective head-quarters was passed to the Allied Air Head-quarters as from the 30th April, Royal Australian Air Force Head-quarters being responsible for all other matters, such as supply and maintenance of aircraft, equipment, stores, training, personnel, works, buildings, &c. Last February, War Cabinet approved of a very considerable expansion of the Royal Australian Air Force, and that is being implemented as rapidly as possible, having regard to the number of aircraft which becomes available from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and local production. There is a difficulty in that respect. The development of the squadrons which we consider are required in Australia depends very largely upon the procurement of aircraft from whatever source they can be made available. Whilst we have a most efficient air fighting force, particularly in the combined forces, nevertheless the development of our original plan would be considerably assisted if we could obtain aircraft from any source. An endeavour is being made to obtain them from every possible source. Already, a substantial proportion of the programme to which I have referred has been established. Many new units, formed with that equipment, are already functioning with considerable success, in conjunction with our gallant allies in the Air Force of the United States of America, in war operations in New Guinea and in northern Australia.
Since Parliament last met, I have had an opportunity to visit both theatres of operations in order to obtain first-hand knowledge of the conditions under which those personnel are operating, their difficulties, and their efforts not only to stem the advance of the Japanese but also to remove the potential threat against Australia.
I should like to take this opportunity to emphasise that, in my talks with a considerable number of these personnel, both officers and other ranks, I was greatly impressed by the high standard of their morale as well as by the splendid esprit de corps that exists among them, notwithstanding the trying climatic conditions, the difficulties of the terrain, and the unusual type of operations in which they are engaged. In northern Australia, the wish was quite commonly expressed by numbers of our personnel that their respective squadrons will be among the first to be called upon lo proceed beyond the boundaries of Australia to engage in active operations in the big advance to remove the Japanese from the islands -and other territories that they now occupy. I may add that all look forward to the time when they will be required to move forward to take a part in operations outside Commonwealth territory. Wherever .1 went, I found the members of the Royal Australian Air Force eager to learn what plans were being made to enable them to participate in a forward northward move.
The maintenance of our operational squadrons in northern Australia and New Guinea requires a most comprehensive ground organization of ancillary units. Mentioning a few of these as examples, I specifically refer to the operational bases from -which the squadrons function, the mobile wireless units, the wireless telegraphy stations, the mobile works squadrons, and the works maintenance units, which are charged with the responsibility for the establishment and maintenance of new landing grounds, landing strips, taxi-ways and encampments for personnel, repair and salvage units, and aircraft and engine repair depots which take care of the overhaul of service aircraft - which, as honorable members will fully appreciate, must be maintained at the highest standard of efficiency. A great deal has been accomplished in the direction of operational efficiency of aircraft, and the new developments in the advanced areas convince me that the joh is “we’ll in hand. Any person who has had anything to do with the matter will agree that the first essential for an air force is to ensure that the largest number of aircraft available shall be placed in commission as early as possible and shall be kept in operation continuously. I admit, and so will any one who has studied the matter, that it is impossible to keep aircraft flying all the time. When air forces are nearly equal in strength, a good deal de- pends on the serviceability of the aircraft. .Substantial improvement has been made .in recent times. Whilst not claiming that we should be content with the standard to which we have attained - we should endeavour to improve it to the utmost degree - nevertheless, in all the circumstances .it can be .regarded as .fairly satisfactory. Excellent work is being performed .by all units, the very satisfactory standard of the facilities provided reflecting the greatest credit on the personnel, particularly in view of the fact ‘that the territory in which they are operating was, until comparatively recently, virgin country. For example, I found in one area thai, a splendid airfield had been completed in virgin country within a period of eight weeks. Such an achievement would have been unthought of in the early .stages of this war. Similar engineering feats are being accomplished by these units in different parts of Australia. I -agree that they have the most modern equipment with which to do the work; but I doubt whether any other body of men could have done a better job in quicker time than was being accomplished by those whom I saw at “work and the result of whose labours I witnessed during my recent visit.
Our squadrons overseas in the United Kingdom and the Middle East also have achieved splendid results. Not only are our personnel manning those squadrons, hut, in addition, under the Empire Air Training Scheme, many thousands of fully trained pilots, air observers, wireless air gunners and air gunners have been made -available for service in all theatres of war. The results of this scheme have exceeded all expectations, and are evidenced by the rapidly increasing air striking power of the British Empire in all countries in which they are operating. Owing to “war developments in the Southwest Pacific area, our home defence squadrons have been given first call on air crew personnel trained in Australia. That is to say, the men who are trained here up to the operational standard are going into the different areas direct from Australia, without obtaining overseas experience. Nevertheless, there is a flow of men back from England, to rejoin Australian squadrons so as to participate
Apart from, the squadrons- engaged exclusively on war operations, a satisfactory number of reserve squadrons, formed from service types of aircraft in our training schools,, has been established. These squadrons- can be demobilized for immediate action, the organization, in that respect having been designed to cause the least possible interruption, to the training commitments and the- programme generally.
Man-power is,, of course, basically, an all-important factor in all military organizations. The efforts of the Department of War Organization of Industry have been of material, assistance in this connexion. That department has been a hie to release from unessential’ employment men who can be utilized in the air force, not necessarily in an. aircrew calling but in other callings. Without this assistance, the field of recruitment would have- been very restricted indeed. I realize that in the course of its- work this department must cause some inconvenience to people. But. wars cannot be fought without causing inconvenience; and sometimes they are fought in such a way as to cause considerable personal sacrifice to those who are operating in the civil zone. In Australia, all that has happened is that certain unessential industries have been called upon to yield men for the forces, in which sphere they can do very effective work in the defence of Australia and the advancement, of the
In respect of manpower generally, I think that I ought to say something, about what has been done by that section of the Royal Australian Air Force known as the Women.’s Auxiliary Australian Air. Force. In almost every place I visited. I took the opportunity to question the commanding officers and. others so as to obtain as accurate an understanding, as was possible of the work these women are doing. In some stations, though not in the most forward ones, girls are doing work which was previously done by men, and doing it most efficiently. I desire to pay tribute to them, particularly in view of the suggestions which have been made from time to time that their work has not been all that it should be, or that there was something wrong with their conduct or their discipline. So far as I have been able to learn, and I have not limited my inquiries to official sources, there is nothing wrong with their work or their conduct’; and they are releasing men who thus become available for service elsewhere. Australia is indebted to these women for the work they are doing, and I am convinced that their conduct and discipline are above reproach. I travelled many thousands of miles and. visited many stations, and never once did I receive an unsatisfactory report about the women from any commanding officer, whilst; the men who come into contact with them- in their daily work are unanimous in. praising them.
– They can displace many more men yet.
– Possibly, but a balance must be- preserved in these matters. If we- recruit too many women for- the services, we shall draw too heavily upon the supply of women available for other war occupations, particularly the production of munitions and other essentials. For instance, there are areas in Victoria and New South Wales where we cannot afford to recruit for the services because, if we did, it would be impossible to get sufficient labour for the treatment of essential foodstuffs without which we would not maintain our respective forces in the field.
Honorable members will be interested to know that the Royal Australian Air Force now has a strength 30 times as great as the pre-war establishment. All necessary steps are taken so to regulate the intake of recruits as to guard against excessive recruitment on the one hand, or a shortage in the various musterings on the other. Owing to the increased drain on the man-power of Australia, the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force was established, and women are now employed in suitable trade musterings, which are being extended from time to time. I have already spoken of the efficiency, enthusiasm and diligence of these women, and I am convinced that they are doing a splendid job. There may still be, of course some room for criticism, but we are creating a splendid force which is capable of rendering Australia most efficient and valuable service. Australia has reason to be proud of its Air Force. It is the policy of the Government to give Parliament as much information as possible about the services, and in pursuance of that policy I have made this statement. Honorable members will realize that certain matters cannot be disclosed without giving information to the enemy, but consistent with the maintenance of Australian security, information as to what is being accomplished will be furnished from time to time.
– The present campaign in New Guinea is similar in most respects to that which was fought in German East Africa during the last war. In both instances, the fighting has taken place through untracked jungle in tropical areas subject to torrential rainfall. In both areas malaria and dysentery are endemic. In the East African campaign, the wastage of troops from sickness was very high, and there were twice as many deaths from disease as from battle casualties. A great many of those who fell sick recovered, but the number of casualties through sickness was 30 times as great as the number incurred in battle. In one wet season of four months’ duration, the hospital turnover through malaria and dysentery equalled the total number of troops engaged, the rate being 250 a month of every 1,000 engaged. For the year 1916-17, the number of sickness casualties was 2,224 per 1,000. Most of the cases recovered, but such a high rate of sickness had a crippling effect on military action. If we are to be victorious in the Pacific, we must have sufficient men to go forward to take the places of those who fall sick and are evacuated. Honorable members must understand that when patients begin to recover from these diseases it is necessary to evacuate them to temperate zones. Otherwise they are subject to relapse. As we gradually drive the Japanese back from island to island towards Japan - which we must do if we are to make Australia safe - we shall be faced month after month with this tremendous wastage of man-power from sickness. Therefore, we should leave no stone unturned in our efforts to provide for the maximum reinforcement of our forward forces. It is evident that we are facing a foe of such a quality that we must oppose him with at least equal forces. Indeed, it has sometimes been necessary in order to achieve results to put in forces of three to one against him. Moreover, it would appear that the Japanese are not so subject to tropical diseases as are white men. Therefore, we must keep up the flow of reinforcements so that our armies opposing the Japanese will be always at least as strong as theirs. No sensible person wants the war to come to Australia. No one who saw in France during the last war the devastation caused by an invading army would wish anything of the kind to happen in Australia. The enemy must not merely be repelled from our shores, but must be attacked and finally defeated in offensives against Japan’s heart and nerve centres. If we do not accomplish this objective now when we have the assistance of other nations and smash Japan’s offensive power at its very core we may be in a much worse position in the future.
Australia is the most vulnerable of all the Pacific nations. It is the nation that would be most affected by a compromise peace. If Japan controls the East Indies, with a 2,000-mile front immediately north of Australia, or even if it holds Singapore as a jumping off point for attack, Australia’s permanent military expenditure will necessarily be enormous and the defensive measures that we shall be forced to take will tax our resources to the utmost. This must mean a definite degradation of the standard of living for generations.
Seven million Australians, no matter how valiant they are - and they have proved their valour in battle - are not sufficient without assistance to defeat 90,000,000 Japanese. Australia must seek the assistance of other nations who are concerned in the future of the Pacific and the destiny of the world. If we ask those nations for assistance we must be prepared to impose upon ourselves conditions of service at least as exacting as those nations impose on their citizens. Therefore I put it to honorable members that whatever their views may have beenbefore this critical position arose in Australia, they must face the facts of the man-power position and recognize that, because of the manner in which this war is being fought, we must be able to send reinforcements wherever they are needed. We can do that only by mobilizing 100 per cent, of the man-power resources of Australia.
– I approach this matter with a great deal of concern. My line of approach will be different from that adopted by other speakers. I shall not stone-wall, but I shall deal with the subject, and particularly the amendment, and express my opinion of why the amendment has been proposed. Strangely enough, the amendment is identical with the motion submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in our caucus, and there defeated by 37 votes to 13. It was defeated mainly because the majority of that caucus meeting believed that the question now under review is one for decision by the delegates to the Federal Labour conference, not the servants of the movement.
– Is it not a question for Parliament?
– The honorable member must realize that this is a day of party politics. He himself has his instructions from the executive of the United Aus- tralia party, and, if he is honest enough to admit it, he will continue to receive and obey those instructions. Why, only a week or two ago the honorable member and his colleagues were instructed to steal a plank of the Labour party’s platform, relating to banking, which he, as a social reformer, will undoubtedly accede to.
– He is not a social reformer.
– Well, he claims to be. As I said, this amendment is identical in terms with the motion moved at the party meeting by the honorable member for Melbourne. That honorable gentleman knows that the Prime Minister and his supporters in this House are here to administer the Labour platform, as it stands, against service overseas other than on a voluntary basis. We also realize as servants of the Labour movement that any man has the right in a constitutional manner to seek a change of the party’s platform. That shall be done only inside a duly constituted federal conference, not outside it. The honorable member for Melbourne says that the Prime Minister should have consulted his parliamentary party. Those of us who remember the last war remember that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) adopted that attitude and consulted the Parliamentary Labour party before he consulted the supreme authority of his party. What happened? That is history. We know that the right honorable gentleman tried in defiance of his party to get conscription approved by the parliamentary party and failed. He then again, in defiance of his party, took a referendum on the question. The Prime Minister to-day has reversed the process by going right to the constitutional head of his party.
– The- government behind the Government !
– The government behind the Government, if the honorable member likes to put it that way, but I ask him to be fair and not to try to score points to which he is not entitled. I should like to see the honorable member try to defy the executive of the United Australia party. What has happened to other members of his party in the past would happen to him. His head would go shooting down the chute. The Prime Minister adopted a very democratic attitude, and the supreme authority of the party is now asking the constituent bodies, the .State executives, to instruct their delegates to the federal conference. The State organizations of the party in New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia have already determined to instruct their delegates to the conference to adopt the motion which the Prime Minister, as a delegate from the Western Australian branch, submitted to the last federal conference -
That, having regard to the paramount necessity of Australia’s defence, the Government be authorized to add to the definition of the territories to which the Defence Act extends the following words : - “ and such other territories in the South-West Pacific area as the Governor-General proclaims as being territories associated with the defence of Australia “.
What is wrong with that? Some honorable members have tried to twist the expression “ the Governor-General proclaims “ to mean that this power of proclamation will rest with the GovernorGeneral, but that is not so. The Governor-General does not proclaim anything, except on advice from his Ministers. He cannot act in defiance of his advisers. Therefore, the Government, not the ‘Governor-General himself, will decide what territories shall be proclaimed as being associated with the defence of Australia. The federal conference in Melbourne decided, as I have indicated, to consult the branches of the Australian Labour party and to come to a decision on the Prime Minister’s motion at a further conference to be held on the 4th January. The honorable member for Melbourne opposed that. He was perfectly within his rights in doing so, as was the Prime Minister, as a delegate, in submitting the motion seeking an amendment of the party’s platform so that the Government would be free to proceed to amend the Defence Act in the direction indicated. Therefore, we find the honorable member for Melbourne, not satisfied with the way things are going, endeavouring to influence the decision of the State executives that have not yet decided the matter. He came into our caucus with his motion, and the Prime Minister ruled, as he was right in ruling, that this matter was a question not for the parliamentary party, but for the movement outside, of -which we are the servants. That is quite clear and quite logical. The honorable member cannot have it both ways. He said in 1916 that the right honorable member for North Sydney was wrong in going first to the parliamentary caucus. He says now that the Prime Minister is wrong because he has reversed the process.
I do not like to stand up here and - attack a member of my own party, but when he makes allegations against the Prime Minister who, as every body must admit, has had a jolly hard row to hoe, T must do so. This honorable member from Melbourne was instrumental in smashing this party in 1930, because he was on the federal executive which expelled the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), myself, and the whole of the New South Wales Labour party and Labour parliamentarians from the Australian Labour party. In what strange company we now find ourselves ! Incidentally, we find the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) and the honorable member for Melbourne, lying cheek by jowl. Yet the machinations of the honorable member for Melbourne and his colleagues on the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labour party were responsible for the honorable member for Bourke being outside the Labour party to-day! Truly, at times politics makes strange bedfellows ! I have nothing to say about the honorable member for Bourke, because he is outside the party. He acted within his rights in moving his amendment, but, when the honorable member for Melbourne, who claims to be a democrat, flouts the decision of his party and comes here to second an amendment moved by a member of this House who does not belong to the party, I am justified in expressing my opinion of him. The honorable member was, for reasons best known to himself, responsible for expelling from the party the man whose amendment he is now supporting. Other supporters of the Government have spoken, but they have not touched on this question, simply because they may be misunderstood. That is the real object of the honorable member for Melbourne. He is trying to have this party misunderstood. He is trying to land the members of this party in the position of voting against either a decision of the party or the existing policy expressed in the platform of the Australian Labour party. In other words, the honorable member has tried to place his own mates in a jam. If I had intended to adopt such an attitude, I should at least have had the decency to resign from the Labour party before acting. When I, and. some other honorable members, objected to the Premiers plan in 1930, we had the moral courage to walk out of the party room. But what did the honorable member for Melbourne do at that time? He acted as an intermediary between the Hogan Government and the Victorian Branch of the Labour party in endeavouring to bring them into step.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) is making misstatements concerning me. I did not at any time, or in any place, vote for the Premiers plan.
– There is no point of order. If the honorable gentleman has been misrepresented, he may make a personal explanation later.
– I repeat that the honorable member for Melbourne acted as an intermediary between the Hogan Government and the Victorian Branch of the Labour party in an endeavour to get the Hogan Government to accept the plan.
– That is not true.
– Moreover, the honorable member was a member of the Labour party executive at that time and supported the expulsion of some of us from the Labour party, simply because we considered that the plan was obnoxious to Labour supporters as it involved reduction of pensions and wages.
– The honorable member had been expelled some months before the Premiers plan became effective.
– The honorable member for Melbourne knew that the plan was under way but we supported the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in advocating another plan. However, the honorable member has shown that he is not prepared to take a knock inside the party room, for he is now supporting an honorable member who is not a member of the party to give his own mates a knock. He cannot deny that.
I wish to make my position quite clear. Some honorable gentlemen present may accuse me outside this House of being opposed to the policy of the Labour party in this matter. I am not opposed to my party’s policy. The honorable member for Melbourne has put his mates in a jam, well knowing that some of them still have to face their pre-selection ballots, whereas he has obtained his selection. He must have known that if he had not seconded the amendment it would not have been seconded by any other member in the House.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– Is it not true that the honorable member for Hunter was speaking from the same platform as Communists at a meeting the other night?
– I am prepared to speak at a meeting with any person who, in my opinion, is endeavouring to keep the country geared up to a war effort that will enable us to win. I cannot understand the ungrateful and narrowminded attitude of some honorable members who have taken all sorts of pains to” dissociate themselves from our ally, quite regardless of the magnificent fight which the Russian people have made against the common enemy.
I consider that this amendment is a blow aimed at the Labour party. In my view, the question at issue should be dealt with at a party meeting. It is in the nature of a party political quarrel. No member of the party with any common decency in him would have remained in the party if he had strongly disagreed with it on this issue.
– I agree with the Labour party’s policy.
– The honorable member desired the Parliamentary Labour party to decide the issue. He did not wish it to come before the outside authority of the party, which really is the representative body, because he believed that that outside body would support the Prime Minister. The honorable member feared that if the issue came before the Australian Labour party at a representative conference, his nose would be rubbed in the dirt.
– Why should not Parliament decide the issue?
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) knows well enough that all honorable members of this Parliament are bound by the decisions of their political parties. Surely the honorable member is enjoying himself enough without trying to “ buy into “ this fight! It is well known that the Labour party in this Parliament was seriously disrupted years ago owing to the breakaway of the New South Wales branch of it. For some years, we had two Labour parties in this House, each operating under a different leader and occupying different rooms. Who took the initial steps, and did more than anybody else, to weld the party together again? The Prime Minister. He first interested himself in the matter in 1934.
– The honorable member for Melbourne was the first one to take action.
– He had nothing whatever to do with it. The Prime Minister has been mainly responsible for cementing the Labour party of Australia into a solid body. The right honorable gentleman also has had a great deal to do with organizing this country for a maximum war effort. To-day we have an army of about 500,000, and our personnel engaged in direct war service, in munitions production and the like, and also in military operations, numbers about 800,000. Such a mobilization is a magnificent effort for a country with a population of 7,000,000. In fact, it is unprecedented in history. I read somewhere the other day that if Great Britain were mobilized on a similar scale, its army and war service personnel would number, on a population basis, between 10,000,000 and 12,000,000, whilst the United States of America would have 20,000,000 people in military service and 2,000,000 in its air force. We are justified in taking pride in our war effort. Although I am not a member of the Labour party executive, I advise my colleagues who have been honoured with such appointments to consider carefully all that has been done, and to bear in mind also the mischief that may be occasioned by any member of the party, who, for his own purposes, is doing his best to put his mates in a jam. The honorable member for Melbourne has proved himself to be an individualist. If he lived in the mining community in which I live, he would be given short shrift. He would be quickly labelled a “scab”, and his companions would refuse to work with him. They would not draw timber and let the roof fall on his head while he was at work underground, and they would not send him to gaol. Their method is to search out a man’s weakness and to inoculate pressmen with the virus. By this method the honorable member would commit suicide in his association with them for the purpose of getting cheap publicity at the expense of his mates. The fact should be remembered that the honorable member for Melbourne was a member of the executive of the Labour party in June, 1939, and he did not. squeal when the then Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) introduced an amendment of the Defence Act to provide that the Mandated Territory of New Guinea should be included in the definition of Australian territory.
To-day we are faced with the imperative need to defeat the Japanese. We must take the offensive, and we must bring all our forces into the fight. It will be useless for us to remain on the defensive. If we succeed in driving the Japanese out of Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea across the Dutch New Guinea border, it will be a good thing; but if, when that has been achieved, we find that we cannot use the combination of the Citizen Military Force and the Australian Imperial Force to press home the attack, we shall have to face the prospect of the Japanese reconstructing their forces in Dutch New Guinea and then returning to the fight with new vigor. We must recognize that the Australian Imperial Force and the Citizen Military Force are inextricably associated in New Guinea. These troops live together, train together, and fight together, and it would be ridiculous for us to attempt to separate them, if it became necessary for us to continue the fight over the Dutch New Guinea frontier. Honorable members know how necessary it is to have team work in a football or cricket match. If half the regular backs of the football team were taken out and strangers put into the team, victory for that team would be improbable, if not impossible.
We must bear in mind, too, that some time ago, in consequence of the activities of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), we sent an accredited representative of the Australian Government to the United States of America to act for the Commonwealth in co-operation with the United States of America for the defence of Australia and the whole of the Southwest Pacific area. The plans that are now being operated in our forward battle areas were no doubt agreed to at conferences which our representatives attended. It would be worse than ridiculous if we were to consent to by-pass Timor and send our troops farther away to the mandated territory, simply because our existing law makes it impossible for us to use Militia men in other than Commonwealth territories. We know that frequent air raids have been made on Darwin, and so long as we are forced to by-pass Timor, such raids will continue. Parts of the Solomon Islands, as well as Timor and Dutch New Guinea, are beyond the limits of Commonwealth territory as defined in the Defence Act. The Prime Minister recognizes the obligations under which we are placed. He realizes that the strategy agreed upon by the defence chiefs of the Allied Nations provides that the defeat of Germany must be the first aim. During the period devoted to the attainment of that objective, the South-west Pacific area is to be regarded as merely a holding front, with attacks on a limited scale. What is to be Australia’s position when Germany has been defeated and the whole might of the Allied nations has been concentrated in the South-west Pacific? The Netherlands people have lost not only their motherland, but also their colonies, because that nation stood side by side with the democratic powers. Are we to say, in effect, that there is an imaginary border in Dutch New Guinea, beyond which our forces shall not go? Are we to say to America, “ Thank you very much for your assistance in repelling the enemy from our country, but we cannot assist you to repel it from the Solomons, or, if need be, from the Philippines”? Is that the Austraiian attitude? Certainly not. I am an Australian, and am proud of the fact. The Australian has in his heart a deep sense of gratitude for any service rendered -to him, and is prepared to try to return it. Nobody will deny that the islands of the South-west Pacific lie within the defence area of this country. Would it not be far better to carry the battle to the enemy, as America did, instead of waiting until it had invaded our shores? Where would we have been to-day had it not been for the way in which the American fleet dealt with the -25 transports loaded with 85,000 Japanese 300 miles off Townsville ? Australia would have been invaded. We shall lay our country open to invasion if we say that Timor is outside the scope of our defence operations. The people of the northern and western portions of Australia are just as much entitled to protection as are those in the thickly populated centres of Sydney and Melbourne. Therefore, I say to our movement that neither the Prime Minister nor any member who sits on this side of the House intends to depart from our platform as it stands. If I were a delegate to a Labour conference I should be acting perfectly within my rights if I did as the Prime Minister has done. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for the right honorable gentleman. At one time he was described as a weakling and supporters of the Labour party said that the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), then Prime Minister, had him in his pocket. My leader’s retort was, “ Nobody has me in his pocket. If I am concerned with one thing more than another, it is my country’s welfare “. [Extension of time granted.] I have nothing but admiration for his courage, and for what he has done for Australia. I have never regarded him as a weakling. Deep in my heart I have a sense of gratitude for a good turn that he did for me when I was new to this Parliament. I opposed my
Government. It had not come to a decision on a certain matter, and that left me free to force it to redeem a promise it had made to the miners. It was suggested that the right honorable member for Fremantle, as a journalist, should be used in. order to try to break down the effect 1 had had upon the Government by reason of the publicity that had been given to what I had said. I refused to withdraw anything of what I had said, and the rejoinder of the right honorable gentleman was, “ I would not be a party to asking him to withdraw, because every word that he uttered was justified “. I do not forget such things. When I realized that he was in danger of defeat at the last elections, rather than that this party should lose a man of his ability and courage I was prepared to offer my seat to him. That was not a gesture of bravado; I really thought that he would be defeated in Fremantle.
Every body knows that air power and land forces are needed, in co-operation with naval strength, to dislodge the enemy from the bases he occupies off the coast of Australia. We have been entirely dependent on the American Navy, apart from our own small naval forces. The overwhelming majority of the land forces in this country are Australian, whilst the air force is approximately equally composed of Australian and American personnel. We are absolutely dependent upon America for equipment of many types, particularly aircraft, machine tools, &c. Although for security reasons all the information has not been disclosed, it is known that not only were we saved when the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway Island were fought, but also that to America is due the credit for the capture of the mother ship of the midget submarines which entered Sydney Harbour. It is well known that what was found in those submarines indicated the existence in this country of fifth column activity, by means of which the enemy was supplied with vital information. The coast of New South Wales has been shelled at Sydney, Newcastle and Kembla. At that time, when all had the jitters, we welcomed the help of America. We applauded the Prime Minister when he invited General MacArthur to establish head-quarters in Australia as the Supreme Commander of the South-west Pacific Area, and regarded that arrangement as a master stroke of strategy when it was accomplished. A few months later, we cheered the Americans who came here to help to defend our shores. It must be recognized that, if we expect to receive service we have to give service in return. We owe something to the Dutchmen who have done yeoman service in defence of this country. We also owe something to the New Zealanders who remained here after their return from Malaya and Singapore, and made this their operational base. By means of the assistance that we have received, we have been enabled to place this country on a proper defensive basis. Are we not prepared to help our own kith and kin in New Zealand ? Are wc to say to that dominion, “ We are very much obliged for the assistance that you have given to us, but our Defence Act does not permit us to extend our operations to an area in which we might be of assistance to you”? I am reminded of the man who, having had five or six drinks, leaves a company without returning the compliment by paying for a round. The Aussie says of such a man “ he has death adders in his pocket “. A variation of that would be to say to those who have assisted us, “ We are much obliged for the generous way in which you have treated us, but we are not prepared to ‘ shout ‘ in return “. That is not the outlook of Australians. Every body much recognize that, for the ultimate security of Australia, many sea-lanes have to be protected and kept open, because along them flow supplies and troops between America and Australia. Interruption of supplies cannot be permitted by the southward advance of the Japanese through New Guinea, the Solomons, New Hebrides, New Caledonia and Fiji.
Sitting suspended from 1.45 to 2.15 -p.m.
– Every body realizes that if the Japanese were to occupy some of the islands which lie along the sea route to the United States of America they would be in a position to interfere seriously with traffic to and from that country. Most of the forces in the Southwest Pacific are Australians. If Japan directs its full power against the Southwest Pacific area it is important that our forces should be mobile. The Navy and the Air Force may now be sent anywhere, but the greater part of our Army cannot. The Defence Act was passed in 1903, and though it has been amended from time to time, this limitation upon the use of our armed forces remains. Even the proposed amendment to allow our forces to be used in the Mandated Territories would still leave out many islands which it might be strategically important for us to occupy. After Germany is crushed, and it is possible for the allies to concentrate their forces against Japan, it is important that Australia shall be in a position to co-operate with the allies so that Japan may in turn be decisively defeated. If we fail to inflict such a defeat upon Japan, we in Australia, with our meagre numbers, will be in the same position as those small nations of Europe which live in fear and trembling alongside powerful and aggressive neighbours. The cost of armaments would continue to impose a crushing burden upon us, so that we should be unable to carry out the programme of social reform to which the Government is committed. [Further extension of time granted.] The Prime Minister does not propose to use Australian forces for any purpose other than to take possession of islands from which Japan might attack Australia. The area has been defined. It i3 not for me in open Parliament to indicate that area, but I can say that the Government does not propose to send our men to the continent of Asia. Members of the Labour party should understand that the real point at issue is whether or not Australia shall be placed in a position to fulfil its obligations in connexion with the defence of the South-west Pacific area in accordance with the agreement entered into with our allies. At the time when Australia was so grievously threatened, we sent our representatives to England, and the United States of America begging for assistance. We have received that assistance, and we are quite rightly expected to give something in return. The Government recognized this obligation, and agreed to participate in the defence of a certain prescribed) area. The question now is whether military service outside Australia shall continue to be on a voluntary basis if, for reasons of defence, it is deemed necessary to extend our operations to more distant parts. It is not logical to require every one to serve within certain limits, and to send only volunteers beyond those limits. If we were to accept that policy, now that we have taken the offensive against Japan, the result would be that our volunteers would be kept fighting continuously. What would be the public reaction if members of the Australian Imperial Force, who have already made great sacrifices, were kept fighting continuously until the end of the war, while others took little or no part in the operations? When our men returned to Australia from the Middle East, we were not able to give them the rest which they had so richly earned. They had to go straight to New Guinea to reinforce the Militia there. Some members of the Australian Imperial Force, who returned to Australia after two years abroad, were not even allowed to go to their homes.
The Prime Minister’s; policy speeches of 1937 and 1940 explicitly accepted on behalf of the Australian Labour party the responsibility for the adequate defence of Australia against any aggressor. At the present time, this obligation includes the defence of certain islands within the Australian defence area, but outside the limits prescribed in the Defence Act. The Prime Minister now seeks from the Labour movement authority to amend the Defence Act so that the power of the Commonwealth may be equal to the strategic demands of the situation, and so that Australia may honour its commitments to the Allied Nations. The Labour party amended its defence policy in 1940, when the following resolution was carried : -
Having regard to the gravity of the world situation and the imminent danger to the Commonwealth of Australia, the Empire, and the allies, this conference of the Australian Labour party definitely declares as their policy -
Complete and indissoluble unity with the allies in the war.
The entire resources of Australia (which includes all productive and financial organizations) to he under the control of the Commonwealth Government for national service in the urgent and -adequate defence of Australia and .the prosecution of the war.
How can that policy the applied if we are not free to send our troops to attack the J apanese in islands which are adjacent to Australia, but outside the limits prescribed by the Defence Act? The amendment before the House was moved by a man who is not prepared to accept the decisions of the party to which he formerly belonged, and seconded by another man whose one purpose is to injure his colleagues, knowing that many of them will soon have to face pre-selection ballots. He himself does not have to run that gauntlet. I appeal to members of the Labour party not to vote with those who wish to destroy a Prime Minister who has shown great gifts of leadership, great courage, great love of Australia, and high devotion to our democratic principles.
, - This debate arises out of a statement on the war situation read to this House yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). With that statement I have no disagreement. It indicated what may be considered in the circumstances to be a very satisfactory war situation, especially if we take into account what the position was when the Government took office fourteen months ago. Actually this debate has now been extended by an amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) and seconded by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). I cannot understand why it is that members of the Opposition say that Parliament is the place to discuss this issue, and yet raise so much abjection to the extension of the present debate in order to cover the very subject upon which every person in Australia is asking for guidance and enlightenment - the question of whether Australia’s war effort can be improved by widening the field of compulsory military service, or whether the interests of this country can be better served by continuing to follow the voluntary system of enlistment for overseas service. Some honorable members have departed from that question and have suggested that Australia is not appreciative of the efforts of the Government of the United States of America and the forces of that country to render aid against the Japanese in this theatre of war. No member on this side of the House has ever indicated any lack of appreciation of what the Americans have done. But simply because the United States of America has adopted a form of compulsion never previously adopted in this country, for the purpose of obtaining its troops, there is no reason why we should follow the same method to obtain our troops. If that were a logical argument, some of the new-found friends of the Soviet Republic * who sit opposite would be advocating the introduction to this country of the Soviet principles of government. I remind them that I was one of the few members of this Parliament who believed that Russia was justified in attacking Finland; but most members of this Parliament were ready to fight Russia in the interests of Finland. To-day, they refer to the Russians as “ our heroic allies “. I have always referred to them as such. But there are people occupying high positions in this country and abroad who ever since the outbreak of war have endeavoured to switch the war in order to make it a war, not against Nazi Germany and Italy, but against the Soviet. So, when we sit down to examine these facts, I say to honorable gentlemen opposite, who contend that, because the United States of America has conscript troops in this theatre of war, we should conscript our own forces, that they could by the same reasoning argue that, because Russia is our ally, we should adopt immediately in this country the Soviet principles of government. The United States of America, Russia, Australia, and the rest of our allies, are united in one cause, but how each government should meet its commitments or obligations is a matter entirely for that government. So we should not be led away by this talk that, because we have conscript American soldiers in this theatre of war, Australia should conscript its citizens.
Could the war position be improved by the Opposition parties again forming a government? They were in office for two years of war and had the advantage of having an absolute majority in both Houses of the Parliament. The Labour party took office fourteen months ago in spite of being in a minority in both Houses. Contrast the position of Australia fourteen months ago, when we were almost defenceless, with the position today. The Labour party has achieved such a remarkable success in improving this country’s defences that to-day Australia is generally recognized to be stronger than it had ever been before. That is attributable to the realistic manner in which the Labour Government tackled the problems with which it was confronted. Honorable members know full well that when the Labour party took office the position was desperate. No honorable member will deny that. This country was practically defenceless despite the fact that war had been in progress two years. The Opposition parties were then in power. We were defenceless to such a degree that there was a plan in existence which, if put into effect, would have meant the abandonment of the whole northern part of Australia. I was criticized on a previous occasion for making that statement. I repeat it. If Opposition members of the Advisory War Council spoke their minds, they would admit that the High Command was so alarmed by the situation shortly after the entry of Japan into the war that it prepared plans for the abandonment of the whole of north Australia from Queensland to Western Australia. Honorable gentlemen opposite know that that was the position. The High Command was talking about defending the southern industrial areas. It had already given up the possibility of successfully defending northern Australia. That position has been changed, by the use, not of conscript soldiers, but volunteers.
– Does the Minister say that that was brought up before the Advisory War Council?
– No; I said that it was in the knowledge of the council that such a plan existed. The High Command said that, with the equipment and materials available, it would be impossible to defend large and important areas of north Australia. We have changed that by a voluntary method. Not one member of the Opposition has yet advanced any argument to show that the voluntary system has failed. Has the voluntary system failed? Has Australian manhood refused to come forward to defend this country? Is it not a fact that the Opposition submitted a motion in this House in May last for the merging of the forces? The Prime Minister then said that such a step was not necessary. There were, in this country, large bodies of volunteers that could be sent to any theatre of war. There were more troops in Australia than any government would send beyond its boundaries. >So there must be some other reason why the Opposition wants to extend the principle of compulsion. Conscription has always been dear to the hearts of the anti-Labour forces. In the last war we experienced an attempt to impose conscription for overseas service, and, without relating all the events connected with that matter, I content myself with saying that, eventually, it was twice submitted to the people of this country and twice turned down. The Australian nation has always held up as one of its causes for pride the fact that we were able to go through that war and make our contribution without having to apply conscription to our manhood. I say this to honorable members on the Government side: The records of Ilansard show that, when the then Government, which was composed of the parties now in Opposition, submitted an amendment of the Defence Act to extend the definition of “ Australia “ to include our Mandated Territories and other territories, the Labour party divided this House on the question, and to a man voted against any extension of the field of conscription. It might be said that, since we have been in power, we could have attempted to repeal that amendment; but the Government could quite logically argue that it has not the numbers to do so. We have had to accept the law as we found it. The Opposition says that it wants to help the war effort. Irreparable damage will be done to the war effort if the field of conscription be extended.
I agree with what the Prime Minister said when he opposed the motion of the Opposition in May last - and in that was supported by every other member on this side - that no question that could ‘be raised in this country was more likely to divide the nation than the question of conscription for overseas service. Therefore, the Government opposed the merging of the two forces. Is anybody foolish enough to believe that the position is any different to-day, or that we could amend the Defence Act to extend the field of compulsory military service without dividing this nation from top to bottom? Further, if the Opposition achieved its objective, and if the federal conference of the Labour party, which will meet in January next, altered its policy so that the Government could amend the Defence Act to provide for the merging of the forces or the extension of the field of military service, such a stop would not help to improve Australia^ war effort.
We have two forces to-day - a volunteer force, the Australian Imperial Force, and conscripted soldiers serving in the Militia. If one talks to men who have come back from fighting fronts where both forces are in operation, one finds that undeniably there is considerable friction between them. The Australian Imperial Force men refer to the Militia as “choco” soldiers. So strongly has this feeling developed between the two forces that I understand that in certain areas separate picture shows have to be provided, because volunteers and conscripts cannot be trusted to go to the same theatre together without coming into conflict.
– That is an argument for merging the forces.
– For merging them as volunteers. The honorable member’s interjection is pertinent. If we merge the forces, we shall not remove that division. The honorable member will not deny that there is friction between the two forces?
– Not that I know of.
– If we merge the forces, we shall still have that division, because the soldier in the Australian Imperial Force will still want a distinguishing badge to show that he was a volunteer, whereas the other man was a conscript. There can be no denying that there is friction. The lack of co-ordination will continue. The only way in which these forces can be effectively merged is by allowing the merger to be voluntary.
– Thousands of eighteenyear olders have not been allowed to join the Australian Imperial Force.
– That is exactly the point I was going to make. Members of the Citizen Military Forces, instead of being encouraged to join the Australian Imperial Force, have been discouraged. That was admitted by the Prime Minister, according to certain extracts from the speech delivered by him at the conference of the Australian Labour party, which were placed on record by the honorable member for Melbourne. It was argued by the Prime Minister at that conference that the transfer of the militiamen to the Australian Imperial Force was being discouraged because “ we want to retain the Militia units intact”. So it cannot be charged that the people of Australia are lacking in patriotic sentiment or outlook or are hanging back in the traces, not wanting to do their bit in defeating the Axis powers. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) prides himself on the fact that he was a volunteer soldier in the last war and was not compelled to serve. It is generally recognized that men who volunteer to fight for their country or for any other cause are better .fighters than are men who are compelled to fight. If we can get by voluntary methods the forces that Ave require for action against the Axis Powers we shall have a better army than if we have to rely on conscripted men. It cannot be denied that desertions are rife in the Australian forces to-day. Absence without leave has become a serious problem which must be given special consideration. This indicates to me that a most unsatisfactory state of affairs exists, and that applies not only to the Militia Forces but also to members of the Australian Imperial Force.
– No, it does not.
– One fact must be kept in mind. Important as numbers are to a nation waging a life-and-death struggle against its enemies the morale of its troops is most important. It should be kept as high as possible. This can be done only by giving our forces the best possible conditions. That is the secret of the success of the Russian soldiers in the Red Army.
– At any rate, they are conscripted men.
– The Red Army soldiers have not yet been asked to fight beyond Russian territory. The morale of the Russian Army is high. Certain members of this Parliament predicted at the time Russia was invaded by Germany that the Russians would not be able to maintain the fight against the Nazis for more than three weeks. What have these military strategists to say on that subject to-day? The Russian Army is prepared to make the most extraordinary sacrifices because it is defending Russian territory against an invader. The Russion soldiers may be conscripts, as the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has said, but I believe that there would be very few defections from the Russian Army if it were converted to a volunteer force. It would still continue to fight as valiantly against the Axis forces. At least the Red Army knows what it is fighting for. But what is the position in this country? The right honorable member for North Sydney has said that this Government is seeking to enforce socialism, but is there one honorable gentleman opposite who believes that when our men return from this war they will be prepared to accept things as they are? We have been told that plans must be prepared for a new order, and a good deal has been said about the Beveridge plan in Great Britain. I do not believe that honorable members opposite can escape from the conviction that there is no substitute for a new order on a socialistic basis. Many thousands of the men who are to-day defending this country are being told that one condition of the new order will be that they will be allowed the privilege of contributing from their hard-earned wages towards an unemployment or old-age pension. Honorable gentlemen opposite favour compulsion for military service but for nothing else. They have accused this
Government of endeavouring to introduce compulsory unionism. We have sought to introduce compulsory unionism only when voluntary methods have failed. Unscrupulous employers have coerced their employees in order to prevent them from joining trade unions. They have conscripted their employees out of trade unions. We desire, in such circumstances, , to make” trade unionism compulsory, but only, I reiterate, because voluntary methods have in some cases failed.
It has been said that some of us wish to stop our Militia from fighting with the Australian Imperial Force when they pass over an imaginary line in New Guinea. Such a suggestion is absolutely ridiculous. No one with an atom of faith in the Australian soldier would think for a moment of advancing such a proposition. The men in our forces want fair treatment. They want some assurance that the powers that be will give them an adequate reward for their services after they return to this country.
The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) spoke in a broadcast the other day about the need for a new social order. Subsequently a statement of his was published in the press protesting against any interference with private enterprise or any endeavour to eliminate the profit motive from industry. Let us face the facts. Unless we make radical changes it will be impossible to ensure our soldiers fair treatment on their return from the war. Take our loan position as an illustration of the impossibility of the present situation. We have a mounting national debt and a decreasing population. Obviously, therefore, our annual interest commitment must press more heavily upon our people. Is it to be imagined for a moment that if people are allowed to continue to engage in industry without restriction as to profits they will not exploit the public? It is inevitable that radical changes will be introduced in Australia after the war. Every honorable member is prepared to admit, privately, that great difficulties will face this country when the war ends. Thousands of our people will be thrown out of their employment in war industries. There is ample ground for concern about what will be done with the huge army of unemployed that will have to be provided with work after the war. All that honorable gentlemen opposite have to say about that problem is that they will give the working people the opportunity to lower their living standards a little during their working days so that they may contribute to a fund from which they may be provided with a pension while they are unemployed, or when they reach old age. The Australian public will not be satisfied with any such proposal and will not regard that as an adequate recompense for our fighting men.
There is no difference of opinion in this Parliament about the imperative need for us to defeat the Axis Powers, nor is there any difference of opinion on that subject in the ranks of the Labour party. No member of the Australian Labour party is attempting to escape his responsibility and obligations in relation to what has been called global strategy in this war. The difference of opinion in this party is as to the method that should be adopted. One section, which I believe to be the overwhelmingly greater section, considers that voluntary methods should be adhered to, but the other section which has been unduly influenced by the specious arguments of members of the Opposition and by the press barrage has been won over, unfortunately, to the belief that it is necessary to conscript the remainder of our manhood for service in what has been described as the North-west Pacific area. No one can say how that area may be expanded from time to time to meet varying circumstances. I believe that we must overthrow the Axis Powers, but there is a physical limit to what this country can do. At present the standards for entry into the forces have been lowered so much that it is possible for a person with one eye to qualify for certain categories. Moreover, boys of tender years and the only sons of families have been forced into the fighting services. Every honorable member knows how the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) not long ago vehemently protested to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) against the action of the military authorities in sending untrained boys into battle areas.
-What did the Minister for Labour and National Service do to stop such action?
– I am pointing out that the honorable member has scarcely ceased from asking questions of the Minister for the Army on this subject so that he may send replies to his constituents in order to lead them to believe that he is sincere in his actions.
– What has the Minister done to stop it?
– I am perfectly satisfied that the honorable member for New England would be quite prepared to send boys of 16 years into military areas.
– No one except a fool would suppose such a thing.
– The fact remains that during the years that the previous Government was in office immature youths without adequate training were sent to battle stations, and they were sent without proper equipment! The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), in his contribution to this debate, told us how the war should be fought; but I remember that when travelling to England some time ago he called in at Singapore and, on the briefest of investigations, advised the Australian Government that Singapore was impregnable and would never be taken. So much for the honorable gentleman as a military strategist ! How can we be expected to put any value on views which he advances ? We know very well that one division of Australian troops abroad was compelled to surrender because it lacked the equipment with which to fight. That was the situation which confronted this Government when it assumed office. At least it can be said for this Government that it has never sent men into action without giving them a fighting chance to hold their own against their enemies. During the two years which honorable members opposite were in control of the country’s affairs, with a majority in both Houses of the Parliament to support them, they shipped out of Australia even such war equipment as could be manufactured here in those days, and when the threat of invasion came upon us the situation was such that the High Command had to agree that, in certain circumstances, there would be no alternative to the abandonment of a large portion of northern Australia to the enemy. Yet honorable gentlemen opposite are saying that a Labour government cannot govern this country and cannot provide for its defences. Honorable gentlemen opposite failed dismally to provide for the adequate defence of the country during the first two years of the war; yet we are now expected to listen to their advice.
If the Opposition is prepared to conscript men, why is it not prepared to conscript wealth?
– “Wealth has been conscripted already.
– If honorable gentlemen opposite believe that wealth has been conscripted, why do they object to the Labour Government proceeding with its plans on that subject?
– Why is this Government opposed to the raising of compulsory loans?
– If the minimum were made high enough to ensure that the lower-paid workers who are already making disproportionate sacrifices in the war would not be compelled to contribute their money to the compulsory loans I would support that policy to-morrow. By all means let it be applied to the wealthy supporters of the Opposition. Honorable gentlemen opposite desire that the workers of this country who are giving their services in a magnificent way in industry, but who before the war were able to make only a bare living and were in fact living from hand to mouth week by week, shall be obliged to contribute to war loans. Nowadays these same workers are working much longer hours, but are still able to earn only sufficient to live. They have voluntarily accepted longer working hours and are in fact working 12-hour shifts and undergoing a severe physical strain in order to help the war effort. The difference between their circumstances now and what they were before the war is that now they are obliged to work twelve hours a day to earn sufficient to live, whereas then they had to work only eight hours a day in order to earn enough money to live. “The workers are already making great sacrifices so that aircraft, munitions and war equipment shall be made available to the fighting services. They have willingly accepted the severe restrictions that have been placed upon them. But what is the attitude of the Opposition? When this Government attempted to apply a policy of limitation of profits they resisted it.
– Who dropped the scheme ?
– Let us look at the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition. One of his arguments against the limitation of profits was that it would destroy incentive. I should have thought that the national danger was sufficient incentive to anybody to do his best. Evidently a large number of the business community whom he represents does not consider that the national need is sufficient incentive to them to do their best. Another argument was, that it would affect contributions to war loans, patriotic funds, and charitable institutions. Adopting that logic, the burglar before the court could plead for the dismissal of the charge laid against him on the ground that he would donate some of the loot to the local hospital. When the right honorable gentleman speaks about our heroic Russian allies, he does not say that socialism in that country is a terrible thing; because it is not politic to make such statements to-day. If the war were to conclude in the near future many of those who sit in this Parliament would be anxious to prevent Russia from having any voice in the framing of the peace terms. They are merely trying to make use of Russia. The Russians are putting up a gallant fight. Let us not imagine that the Russian diplomats, and others who lead that nation, are not aware of the situation. In this Parliament, when the war commenced, Russia was accused of being an ally of the Nazis because it had made an ordinary trade pact with Germany. The attempt was made to induce the Australian Government to join in any attack that might be made by the Allied Nations against Russia, because that country had said that, of necessity, it had to take certain of the territory that was then occupied by the Finns. The valuable contribution to the controversy made by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) will be readily remembered. He said, “ What does it matter to us whether Germany or Russia wins; Britain is pledged to fight the winner ? “ According to the honorable member, after we have disposed of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and Japan, we must turn out attention to the defeat of the Soviet Republic. My opinion, which I believe is shared by a large number of other people, is that had it not been for the valiant efforts of the Soviets and their Red Army, the war would have been decided long ago against the United Nations. The Soviets saved the situation. The Russians are makin.u; sacrifices in their fight for a cause, and their morale is high. The Australian soldier is asking what his reward is to be when the conflict is over. The Leader of the Opposition became alarmed at one or two actions of members of the Ministry, and said that they constituted an effort by the Government to introduce socialism while the war was on. What a “ terrible “ thing it would be if socialism were introduced at any time! Eventually, the stage must be reached when the people of this country will demand that our great industrial undertakings shall be socially owned and nin in the interest of the nation, not in the interest of a few individuals. The Leader of the Opposition regarded it as a dreadful thing that any indication should be given of the Government being socialistically inclined. The Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) has been one of the most misrepresented Ministers in the Cabinet. Attempts have been made to injure him. When the big retailers believed that their opportunities for the exploitation of the public at the Christmas period were to be affected, they immediately called a meeting of protest, whipped up support through the daily press, and, beginning with ridicule, tried to turn the Minister’s colleagues against him. [Extension of time granted.”] Subsequently, another attack was made upon him by the Leader of the Opposition because he had had the audacity to interfere with trade marks. As soon as there was an attempt to interfere with trade marks, this right honorable gentleman, who to-day advocates the conscription of man-power for overseas service, said, “ We must protect the liberties of the people. This interference by a socialistic government with the right of private enterprise to have individual trade marks cannot be countenanced. This is an attempt to introduce socialism.” I have read somewhere that the right honorable gentleman had confused trade marks with Karl Marx. Honorable members opposite want an all-in war effort. How is that to be achieved unless we face realities, and say that that must apply to everything? In industry to-day, men are working long hours, producing the material things that are needed in order that this country may be successfuly defended. I believe that if the people of Australia were given the opportunity to decide whether or not our major war industries should be nationalized by the Government, with an entire elimination of profits, so that the men who slave at machines would know that all their efforts would benefit the nation alone, there would be no doubt as to what the decision would be. Those who support conscription must prove that the voluntary system has failed. One of the arguments is, “ If you send the volunteers away, you destroy the Australian military machine “ ; that is, if the units of the Australian Imperial Force are taken out, anil those of the Militia are left behind. I do not accept that argument; because I am firmly of the opinion that the men would willingly volunteer if the Parliament of this country would do what I believe to be absolutely necessary. What member of the Opposition has suggested that the scope of the Repatriation Act should be widened? I know that there are men who, when it suits them, talk about what they would do for the returned soldiers. It cannot be denied, however, that the Parliament as a whole has been very lax in its efforts to widen the field over which the Repatriation Act shall apply, and to liberalize its provisions. What happened to men who returned from the last war ? The honest men - the great majority of them were in that category - who felt well enough to engage in civil employment, did not immediately apply for a pension. In later years, when their health had failed and they could no longer carry on without a pension, they bad the greatest difficulty in convincing the Repatriation Department, because of the lapse of time from the date of their discharge from the Army, that their disabilities were due to war service. Experts, medical and other, aro employed by the Repatriation Department, with the result that these men find it increasingly difficult to establish their rights. In my opinion, if, after medical examination, a man is accepted for service in the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force, even though a mistake may have been made by the doctor who examined him and he may previously have suffered, or at the time of his enlistment was suffering, from - some disability, his claim later to a pension should not be prejudiced ; the Government, having accepted him for service, should take full responsibility for any future ailments as well as for the maintenance of his dependants. If such a policy were adopted, very few would hesitate to volunteer for the defence of this country; and the Militia would, if given the opportunity, transfer to the Australian Imperial Force almost to a man. There is also great need for improvement in the administration of the Array. Certain members of the officer class tyrannize, ill-treat, and drive the men into going absent without leave and even deserting. These things must be corrected. I say to the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), that one such man was a member of the Nazi organization of which he himself was a member a few years ago. Members of the forces consider that there is need for all-round improvement in connexion with their treatment in the Army, and the treatment of their dependants. I have in my electorate a man, who for five months was engaged- at the siege of Tobruk. When he returned to Australia he was suffering from a war disability and applied for a pension. The Repatriation Department had him examined, and decided that, as he was suffering from duodenal ulcers, which in its opinion were not due to war service, he was not entitled to a pension. Liberalization of the Repatriation Act is needed. Whenever an attempt is made to liberalize the benefits of repatriation or of invalid and old-age pensions, honorable members opposite begin to talk about the cost to the nation, and say that the additional benefits cannot be afforded. The honorable member for Wentworth, in these days, struts round like a prize peacock. He spends an hour in front of the looking glass every morning, in order to assure himself that his uniform is properly creased. When I look at him, I compare his appearance with that of . the members of the forces in New Guinea. He has been a member of every non-fighting army, including the New Guard, and is still a member of a non-combatant force. These gentlemen opposite - I am obliged by parliamentary procedure so to designate them - have done no more than talk. The honorable member for Wentworth was a member of a government on one occasion, but did not make any attempt to liberalize the provisions of the Repatriation Act. He has never made any mention of the conscription of wealth. The ‘Opposition are delighted because they believe that they are leading the Government step by step to the acceptance of the policy that they espouse, which is complete conscription of every Australian citizen for service anywhere, without any promise, other than in vague generalities, of any improvement of their condition when the war is over. The people are rather suspicious of their motives. One of my colleagues, in the course of his contribution to this debate, said it was believed that large numbers of black people and of other coloured races were to be brought into Australia to perform certain labour services. I do not know whether that is true or not. I am not raising the question merely out of racial prejudice; but I do say that the Australian public would be alarmed if there were any likelihood of a repetition of what occurred during the last war, when on one occasion there wamention of Australian soldiers being shipped away to fight on foreign battlefields while simultaneously other ships lay in the harbour, filled with coloured labour awaiting the opportunity to be placed in Australian industries. These are matters that we have to face. I want the Axis nations to be completely defeated, and the Soviet Republics to have a good deal to say in the peace negotiations. It is not sufficient for me to know, and to say to the Australian people, that I am satisfied at socialism having been established in the Soviet Republics. .1 am happy to know that the Russians were able to effect such great changes; that thousands of the Australian public now realize that they have been misled by anti-Labour propaganda, which placed before them all sorts of distortions of what was happening in the Soviet Republics. A good deal of that misconception has been swept aside. I am happy to know of the great changes that have been effected; but I am not content to believe that they will be confined to Russia. I want changes ,to be made in this country. I want to be able to say to the Australian soldiers, “Go forward, and when this war finishes, there will be more than merely talk of giving you a fair deal “. Guarantees must be given. When the men come back from the war, they must have a guarantee, not of doles, but of just treatment. After the last war, when an unscrupulous landlord wished to evict a tenant who could not pay his rent, he did not ask whether the tenant was a returned soldier, and anti-abour governments allowed returned soldiers to be evicted and walk the streets without either doles or pensions. Let those who advocate conscription tell us first what they propose to do in regard to wealth. If this is to be an all-in war effort, why should the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the Australian Glass Company, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited and the many other monopolies be allowed to enrich themselves out of the sweat and sufferings of the people? Honorable members opposite say that we should drive the manhood of the country into the Army, and tear them away from their homes to fight in any part of the world, but in no circumstances must we lay hands on private enterprise or upon profits. I have often been amused when honorable members opposite charged the Labour Government with trying to put Labour’s policy into effect while the war is on. Whose policy do they expect us to apply? If they expect us to apply the United Australia party’s policy, they are doomed to disappoint- ment. We are a Labour Government, and have a record of fourteen months’ service of which we have reason to be proud. I urge members of the Labour party not to besmirch that record by departing from our traditional policy. The manhood of Australia has responded voluntarily to the call to defend the country, and the Militia should be given the opportunity to volunteer for overseas service. No one has a right to ask for conscription unless he can show that the voluntary system has failed, and that cannot be shown.
– As I propose to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), I wish to state my reasons. The amendment does not arise out of anything contained in the ministerial statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). The effect of its introduction, if not its object, is to prejudice the consideration by the forthcoming Labour conference of a proposal that the existing law should be modified in order to permit the use of the Militia in territories which are not under the political control of the Commonwealth, but which are contiguous to Australia and the occupation or defence of which by land, sea or air may be vital to the physical defence of Australia and its territories.
Every one knows that this issue will soon be determined by the duly constituted authority of the Australian Labour movement. It is an authority elected in a democratic way, and is representative of the Labour party in every section of the Commonwealth. By the policy or principles there laid down the Labour movement will be bound. At the present moment, four of the six Labour executives which will be represented at the conference have reached general decisions which will guide their delegates to the conference. Presumably any doubts and difficulties which beset any member of the Labour movement to-day will be resolved by the decision of conference.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) has complained at the delay that may be involved. There might be something in this argument in different circumstances, but the military position to-day deprives the argument of any validity whatever. At no existing point of combat where Australia as are engaged to-day does the present law impose the slightest impediment upon unity of command, unity of action, or unity in action. The demand is - “one army”. I say that, in New Guinea and Papua to-day, there is one Australian army under one command; and, further, one AustralianAmerican army and air force under one command. Unity there is not a question of argument or politics. It is a fact. If any one has. any doubts about it, ask the Japanese.
The crucial question is whether we should amend the Prime Minister’s motion for printing - a motion endorsed by his Cabinet and the Government party - and convert it into the declaration laid down by the honorable member for Bourke. Members on the Government side of the House cannot agree to the amendment. Indeed, it has been decided both by Cabinet and by the party to oppose any amendment to the Prime Minister’s motion. Why? Because at the present juncture such amendment is intended, not to assist the Government or the Labour movement, but rather to embarrass and prejudice the decision of the conference. All that is very plain.
It has been said that the declaration is in accordance with the policy of the Labour conference. That is true, but it is absurd to suggest that Government supporters are bound to support any amendment of a motion like the Prime Minister’s merely because it is based on the Labour platform. If that were so, a Labour government could be destroyed at the will or caprice of any honorable member, even an honorable member who does not belong to the Labour party.
Further, it is now proposed to modify to some extent the existing Labour policy, having regard to the overwhelming necessity of ensuring the physical defence of Australia during the crucial months that lie ahead of us in the war against Japan. I emphasize that, because the proposal is not general, but is strictly limited to areas which are integral to the defence of Australia itself. The danger that threatens Australia to-day is still a real one, and the war against Japan to-day is undoubtedly a battle for
Australia and Australian territories. Unfortunately, it is still regarded by some as a secondary segment of the total war. For instance, there are influential writers in the United States of America, like Hanson Baldwin, who has actually laid it down that the territorial integrity of Australia and its territories is not of decisive importance, because, if they are overrun, they can be recaptured later. That is Baldwin’s argument. Such an argument is abhorrent ‘to us all. Whatever Baldwin and others may think or say, Japanese attacks or heavy landings upon the continent of Australia would threaten this nation and this race with ruin and degradation unspeakable. _ The Labour party has always approved of the principle of compulsion in order to save Australia and its territories from such physical assaults and occupation. The question is: How should that objective be applied ? The development of aerial warfare has made it perfectly obvious that the 3-mile limit of Australia and its territories cannot possibly be regarded as confining or bounding what may be called the Australian defence zone. If, for instance, we decided to use compulsion to raise a militia air force solely to defend Australia and its territories, it seems plain that the airmen defending our territories would have to operate many hundreds of miles outside territorial limits for the purpose of attacking the enemy and defending Australia. The assaults of our airmen upon Timor have greatly helped to save Darwin.
It is not equally obvious, but it is equally true, that it is wrong to lay down as an absolute, rigid and unamendable dogma the declaration of the honorable member for Bourke that, in no circumstances whatever, no matter what danger is threatening , the shores of Australia or its territories, must our Militia ever venture outside the 3-mile limit. But, of course, that is the very question which will shortly be determined by the Labour conference. I regard the amendment as an attempt to take the business of government out of the hands of the Government, and in that way to remove the Government from office. I regard it as calculated to embarrass the full and free consideration of this question by the proper authority of the movement, to the principles of which Government members have subscribed. Whatever mistakes the Government has made, I believe that its efforts during the last fourteen months have greatly helped to convert Australia from a position of relative defencelessness into an infinitely more secure position. I believe that the continuance in office of the present Government is necessary for the defence of Australia and its territories. The amendment is aimed against the Government, and is in conflict with the decision of the Cabinet and the party. For that reason I shall vote against it.
.- .Before this debate concludes, I wish to refer briefly to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (MrBlackburn). My advice to the members of my party is to stand by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Government, and not to let the business of the House be taken out of the hands of the Government by an honorable member who is not a member of the Government party. The amendment was moved after careful planning to embarrass the Government, and to prevent the full and free consideration of this question by the properly constituted authority of the Labour movement, to the principles of which Government members have subscribed. There is nothing in the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) that could not be supported by every member of this Parliament, irrespective of party. The question of service outside the provisions of the present Defence Act has been dragged in by the hair of the head, as it were, to embarrass the Government, and to embarrass honorable members. If the amendment be agreed to, it would have the effect of jeopardizing the impartial consideration at the forthcoming Labour conference of a proposal that the existing law should be modified in order to permit the use of the Australian Militia Forces in territories adjacent to the present territories of the Commonwealth, the defence of which, by sea, air or land, would bo vita] to the physical defence of Australia and its territories. Furthermore, the amendment was moved by a nonGovernment member to embarrass the Prime
Minister in one of the gravest war periods of Australian history. It was moved to embarrass a man who has, during his leadership of the Commonwealth Government for the last fourteen months, done magnificent work in organizing Australia for a maximum war effort, and I, as the deputy leader of this Government, have no hesitation in saying that I refuse to be a party to embarrassing a man with such a great record, a man with an unblemished record as an industrial Labour leader for the last 30 years.
The statements made by me in October are in no sense inconsistent with the views expressed in proposals put forward by the Prime Minister,, or with the policy of the Labour party. They expressed an attitude in which the Prime Minister, Cabinet and the members of the Government entirely agreed, and still agree. They do not indicate the existence of disharmony or friction within the Government, as some seek to prove they do. The Labour party has, for many years, been opposed to general conscription for overseas service in European countries, and is still opposed to it. By that term is meant conscription for service anywhere in the world - which is the sense in which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) has used the term, and still uses it. The Labour party has pledged itself to devote the entire resources of the nation to the defence of Australia and the prosecution of the war, and it is in furtherance of that pledge that the Prime Minister’s proposal was made. During its term in office, the Labour party has applied itself with unsparing energy and complete realism to carrying out the policy laid down, and Australia is far stronger and more secure to-day because of those efforts.
With the same realism the Labour party has accepted the fact that the effective defence of Australia must embrace a large region beyond the actual boundaries of the Commonwealth and the territories under its control. The Prime Minister and other members of the party have long emphasized the strategic importance of the islands and seas to the north of us, and now that they are occupied by the enemy, we have accepted a full share of the responsibility for liberating them. In the higher counsels of the United Nations, the Australian Government has insisted that this South-western Pacific area must be regarded as a major war zone. It is a corollary of our attitude that we must be prepared to assist to the very utmost of our ability. It is in pursuance of that objective that the Prime Minister recently proposed to amend the Defence Act. But he is very far from proposing general conscription for overseas service. The amendment put before the conference simply means that the Militia Forces, termed the Citizen Military Force, may be used at the discretion of the Government, and subject to proper safeguards, outside the strict legal limits of Australia and its territories. It does not mean a merger or fusion of the Australian Imperial Force and the Citizen Military Force. That would not be possible without imposing upon members of the Citizen Military Force full liability for service anywhere in the world, a step which would be contrary to a fundamental principle in the defence policy of the Labour party, and contrary also to the deeply-felt con’victions of a very large section of the Australian people. We as a Labour party are, however, committed to the policy of maintaining an adequate supply of reinforcements and equipment to the Australian Imperial Force in the Middle East as long as they are there.
During the last twelve months the policy of the Government has been to concentrate all possible forces within Australia and the immediately adjacent territories. For that reason a portion of the Australian Imperial Force was brought home from the Middle East. When the Japanese were hammering at our gates and threatening at any moment to invade the continent itself, it would have been madness to pursue any other course.
Events in the past few weeks and the good news from the various fronts have gladdened our hearts; but there are grave and troublous times ahead. A heavy defeat has been inflicted upon the Japanese in the Solomons area; further successes have attended the efforts of the forces in New Guinea; and these two events have changed the strategic picture in this war zone. But make no mistake, the Japanese will strike back. In Egypt a great battle has been won ; Rommel, with the remnants of his army, has been driven back to Tripoli, whilst the great combined operation of British and American forces nave placed North-west Africa in our control. There are now excellent grounds for hoping that before long the entire north African littoral will have been wrested from the enemy. Meanwhile, our Russian allies have inflicted a catastrophic defeat upon the Nazis in South-eastern Russia. We must, however, be prepared for further reverses and greater sacrifices. For that reason we cannot afford to allow the Japanese to remain in the islands to the north of Australia, planning for the most favorable moment to strike again.
The proposal by the Prime Minister falls very far short of that ‘Unlimited power to draft compulsorily men abroad to fight in distant wars which the Opposition has been urging, but which the Labour party has adamantly resisted for many years. Such a power for general conscription for overseas service is unnecessary ; it has, in fact, utterly no relevance to our present problem in the Southwestern Pacific area, and to bring it forward now is merely to create confusion and engender deep bitterness.
There has been some criticism of the Prime Minister for having put his proposals to a Federal Labour conference. I do not support that criticismIn view of the fact that continued co-operation of the Labour movement is essential to the achievement of a 100 per cent, war effort, the Prime Minister sought approval of his proposals at a conference representative of the great working class of Australia which he attended, not as Prime Minister, but as a delegate from the State of Western Australia. He thus put the question to a properly constituted Labour conference. This conference meets very irregularly, and as the attempted carrying out of any such measure without full co-operation of the Labour movement would have probably seriously impaired the national wai effort, the Prime Minister very wisely first sought support of the movement he represents in Parliament.
I firmly believe that this Government has done a great work for Australia. Much remains to be done. I am fully conversant with the important social legislation of immense value to the people that is now in contemplation. For that reason there should not he a change of government at the present juncture. Besides completing the job of gearing Australia up to a 100 per cent, war effort and winning this war, the Prime Minister and the Government have to face the period of post-war reconstruction. It is essential for the people of Australia that there shall be a Labour government in office during that period, and it is therefore of the utmost importance that nothing shall be done to wreck the present administration which is led by one of the greatest Labour leaders Australia has ever had, a man who has an unblemished record of 30 years of service to Australia and to the Labour cause.
For these reasons, I appeal to all members of the Government party not to allow themselves to be sidetracked by an amendment moved by a non-Government member of the Parliament, cunningly worded to embarrass members, and if possible to wreck the Government. The clear duty of Government members to-day is to stand behind the Prime Minister and his Government by supporting the Prime Minister’s motion which was endorsed by Cabinet and by the Federal Parliamentary Labour party.
Motion (by Mr. Morgan) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. W. M. Nairn.)
Majority . . Nil
Question so resolved in the negative.
– We have just witnessed one of the most extraordinary scenes that this Parliament has presented for a long while.
Motion (by Mr. Rosevear) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. W. M. Nairn.)
Majority . .2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each honorable member by telegram or letter, such date and hour to be not later than Wednesday, the 27th January, 1943, at 3 p.m.
– This motion should not be agreed to by the Opposition. I do not see how any self-respecting Opposition couldaccept it after the exhibition staged in this House during the last 24 hours. Parliament was summoned to hear a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) on the war situation. I do not think that there was one fact in the Prime Minister’s statement that had not already been published in the press.
– That is not correct.
– I rise to order.I submit that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is not in order in reflecting upon the proceedings of the House.
– The honorable member would certainly not be in order in reflecting on either the proceedings, or the decision, of the House.
– I am referring to the proceedings which led up to the decision.
– The question that was before the House earlier this afternoon has been decided and the honorable member for Barker may not now refer to it.
– We are now considering when Parliament shall next meet. In view of what has happened in the last 24 hours I submit that this meeting of the Parliament was called under false pretences. I do not think that ten minutes of the time we have spent here in debate in the last two days has been devoted to business properly related to the prosecution of the war. I have a list of subjects which could be debated with advantage to the country. We are approaching the Christmas season when goodwill should prevail, and I suggest that now would be an appropriate time to discuss the administration of the honorable gentleman who has come to be known as the Minister for the disorganization of war industry. The maladministration of the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) could also be discussed with benefit to the whole community. I think, too, that we could examine with advantage the administration of the Department of Labour and National Service. These subjects are quite apart from the war situation. If Parliament adjourns until the 27th January next it will mean that it will have been in session for only two short periods between the 1st October and the end of January, notwithstanding the fact that there are many important subjects to which it should be devoting its attention. When the Prime Minister was in Opposition he expressed very strongly the view that Parliament should meet at least one week in each month to consider war measures. That was at a time when the country was not exposed to a fraction of the danger which faces it to-day. If the right honorable gentleman considered it necessary to hold such frequent meetings of Parliament in 1940, he must surely agree that the need for such meetings is ten times greater to-day. Particularly is this so, in view of the trend that certain events have taken. I do not know whether or not I shall have support for the attitude that I adopt; but I do want it to go out to the country that I am not in agreement with the manner in which this Parliament is being conducted. I do not concede that sufficient time is being devoted by Parliament to the discussion of urgent matters, nor do I consider that during the last few hours it would have been right for the Opposition to intrude in a debate which had been taken completely off the original track, not because of any desire on our part, but on account of a certain disturbance within the ranks of our friends opposite. That was their affair, and we gave them the floor to themselves. The Government, in decency at least, is bound to have sittings next week for the consideration of matters that concern the Opposition. Government members have had their say, and at the decisive moment were not game to face up to the barrier.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) in regard to the adjournment of the House. We listened yesterday to the speech of our leader (Mr. Fadden) in reply to the statement read by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). One of the chief themes of the statement was that there should be no delay in putting to the Parliament of this country the alteration of the Defence Act which the Prime Minister had forecast. He is reported in the press as having said that the matter is urgent and should not be delayed. Unfortunately, it is to be delayed until at least the 4th January. That, in my opinion, is not a reason for the adjournment of this Parliament to a date 23 days later, and 47 days from to-day. During the course of his statement, the Prime Minister drew attention to the fact that there is considerable activity in the island of Timor.
– On a point of order, I ask whether the honorable member is in order in referring to the debate that has just been concluded?
– I am referring not to the debate that has been concluded, but to the necessity, mentioned by the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet outside this House for an alteration of the Defence Act.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member is referring to the subject-matter of the statement made by the Prime Minister. Is he in order in doing so?
– An honorable member may not reflect on a previous decision of the House, but he may refer to what has previously taken place in order to show why there should not be an adjournment until the end of January.
– With all these points of order, I am beginning to feel like a hedgehog. Evidently, what I am saying is not palatable to certain honorable members opposite. But the people of Australia are entitled to have the truth from this side of the House, if not from elsewhere. I was proceeding to say that under the proposed arrangement this House is to be adjourned for a period of 47 days. Time marches on, and so do the Japanese. If we could have the assurance that they would restrain their efforts and would not enlarge their occupation of Timor - to which the Prime Minister referred - we might feel happier in dealing with the matter of reinforcing our troops by the removal of the existing statutory restriction on the use of the Citizen Military Force. It is utterly wrong, and is unfair to the people of Australia. The very existence of this Commonwealth may be jeopardized by the Parliament being kept, in recess, and not being allowed to do what it ought to do to place the defences of this country in a proper state. 1 do not know what the position is in regard to sea power on the Australian coast. We have been informed that certain Australian troops are fighting as guerrillas in Timor. It may be necessary to land further troops on the island. If we have sea-power to protect them on the journey, why should we allow the Japanese occupation to continue, when sooner or later it may mean a repetition of the bloody experience on Guadalcanal? Wc can realize the difficulties that will face Australian troops who may have to attack that island if it is heavily occupied. It is utterly wrong for this Parliament to close its doors for 47 days, and to delay implementing action which the Prime Minister told the Labour Conference in Melbourne is urgent and demands immediate attention. I plead with the right honorable gentleman to allow the Parliament to meet not later than the 10th January.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable members for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and New England (Mr. Abbott). Drawn from all quarters of the Commonwealth, honorable members have been brought here unfairly, because the statement which the Prime Minister made yesterday could easily have been printed in the newspapers. It did not contain anything which would unable this House to register an opinion on any subject. There are very many matters concerning the community which to-day demand attention by this Parliament. The honorable member for Barker has referred to the administration of various departments, including the Department of War Organization of Industry - which, rightly, or wrongly, according to the point of view of the Minister, or of others, is completely disrupting the life of the community. We recognize that the life of the community has to be disrupted by war, but, we also believe that there has been a lot of interference, merely for the safe of interference, with the lives of citizens, by bureaucrats and others who do not understand their jobs. The community has no protection except through the parliamentary institution. During the last two days, we have not been afforded an opportunity to ventilate in this House what we believe to be the views of our people. If Parliament is to go into recess for 47 days, at the end of that period from three and a half to four months will have elapsed during which there will have been no opportunity to discuss vital matters which affect the lives of the community. Those of us who have been drawn from distant places, particularly those who have come from Western Australia and Queensland, ought to be permitted to bring forward next week matters that are vital to the lives of our citizens. I protest very strongly against the treatment that has been accorded to us during the present sittings. We have not had an opportunity to discuss any of the matters which, when we were called together, we expected to be able to discuss. The calling together of Parliament in such circumstances can be regarded as nothing less than farcical. These sittings have not provided the means of expression which Parliament is expected to provide. We have merely heard ventilated the grievances of members of the Government party. We were urged by honorable members opposite not to intervene in the dispute. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) appealed to us to allow his party to settle the matter among themselves. Honorable members on this side refrained from intervening to any great degree.
– That is not the reason for the Opposition having refrained from taking part in the debate.
– We were prevented from voicing an opinion during the later stage of the debate because we were gagged. If the Prime Minister and the Government want co-operation from honorable members on this side, he ought to accord to lis the privilege of discussing matters that are affecting the lives of the community. It is now proposed to defer for another six weeks the opportunity to do so. During the last twelve months, upwards of 500 regulations have been gazetted, every one of which restricts, prohibits, compels, industrially conscripts, abolishes the use of pink icing on cakes, closes down businesses and so on; in fact, does everything which the bureaucratic advisers of the Minister for War Organization of Industry can think of. But for the fact that a free press took up this battle, which Parliament ought to have taken up but could not take up because it was misled, the position would have been infinitely worse than it is. In fairness to members who have come long distances, and after having been here for only two days, will have to return to Western Australia without having done anything to meet the wishes of their constituents who are demanding the consideration of such matters as the harvest award, the Prime Minister should consent to the House meeting next week. If that be denied, we’ ought to meet much earlier in the new year than the 27th January. Unfortunately, we have to await the decision of the Labour Conference, which is to be given on the 4th January. That conference is the master of not only the
Labour party but also honorable members who sit on this side of the House, because, as representatives of the people, we are powerless to act until it has given its decision. That being the position, the date of the resumption of the sittings ought to be a week, at the most, after the conference has been held. Probably, by that time certain honorable members may be fortified with a little courage to determine how they shall vote.
– I am naturally pleased to observe the beginning of an awakening interest on the part of the Opposition in a matter which I have ventilated more than once in this chamber. As you will be thankfully aware, Mr. Speaker, I have frequently voiced an opinion that, particularly in times of stress and anxiety, Parliament should meet more regularly and sit more diligently, by that means keeping 5n touch with the Executive, and, if possible, preventing it from falling into those errors into which it has on more than one occasion fallen because it has declined to co-operate with the elected representatives of the people. We have listened to an interesting statement by the Prime Minister, and I have no desire to say anything about it at this stage, the more so as I have had to listen twice to it being read, although I was already familiar with its contents. The Government, if I might venture a word of criticism, is under something of a misapprehension in assuming that honorable members desire to be called together merely for the purpose of hearing carefully prepared statements by one or more Ministers. That is not the function of Parliament. The function of Parliament is to be deliberative and a little inquisitive, and I am disappointed that we were not permitted by the Prime Minister the slight relaxation of asking questions on one of the two days upon which Parliament was suffered to meet. Even on the second day we were adjured to cut our questions down in order that the House might enter upon the debate on the motion that the paper be printed. I take leave to doubt whether the discussion that ensued on the motion would have evoked much interest had not the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) moved an amendment which certainly had the effect of arousing a good deal of public as well as private interest. I should like to impress upon the Government that there are many matters about which there is a good deal of anxiety. For instance, there is much dissatisfaction with the action of the Government in closing up small businesses. The businesses of poor people are the last that should be attacked by a Labour government. They should be carefully considered in relation to proposals for the organization of industry for war purposes, and should not be closed unless that course is really necessary. There is also the matter of domestic workers which might usefully be considered.
– The House is not yet discussing the ordinary motion for the adjournment.
– That is a pity, because I should like to mention, among other matters, the activities of the Civil Constructional Corps of the Allied Works Council. Unfortunately, the Government has followed the bad example of its predecessor by meeting Parliament as little as possible. It is too much to ask us to believe that all the wisdom of Parliament Ls centred in the Government. So far from that being true, I believe it to be a fact that, if Parliament had been in regular session, the Prime Minister would not have fallen into that grave error of procedure which has precipitated an angry debate in this House, and which threatens to undermine the most cherished plank in the Labour platform.
.- The most important matter bound up with the question of when the Parliament should re-assemble is the reinforcement of our troops. The Prime Minister has said that it is essential that our forces should be merged so that the Militia may besent to serve overseas, and the House, by its overwhelming vote on the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), has given the Prime Minister a mandate to proceed with his proposal. It is bad enough that the Prime Minister, because of his party affiliations, should have to consult an outside body, but I take it that no matter what that body does, the Government will now proceed with the amendment of the Defence Act, in view of the practically unanimous opinion expressed by the House to-day. I urge the Government not to wait until after ‘the Labour conference on the 4th January before preparing its legislation. It should be in a position, as soon as that conference has concluded, to call the House together so as to place its legislative proposals before it. Delay in this matter may cost many valuable lives. I urge the Prime Minister to give an undertaking that Parliament shall meet not later than the 10th or the 11th January.
.- I regret that this session has been so short, and I appeal to the Prime Minister to call Parliament together again at the earliest opportunity. We have been here for ‘two sitting days only. On the first day we were prevented from asking questions, and on the second day question time was limited to 40 minutes, of which Ministers took up a good part. Parliament could usefully spend the whole week reviewing the activities of the Department of Commerce.
– Does the honorable member wish to remain in Canberra over Christmas ?
– If there is business to be done I am quite prepared to remain here, though, naturally, I should prefer to spend Christmas at home. Other matters which might well be discussed include rationing and censorship. There has been continual interference with the various branches of the Department of Commerce, which is carrying on a number of huge commercial enterprises. It cannot expect to do its work usefully if the personnel of the various authorities under its control is being constantly changed. Persons are being appointed to these authorities who completely lack the confidence of those who know them best. Beer rationing is causing much concern in Western Australia. Many small country hotels receive a ration of only 90 gallons a month, although they are required to pay a licence-fee of £50 a year. On the other hand, city hotels are allowed to sell enormous quantities of liquor. Parliament should be called together as soon as possible if chaos is to be avoided.
Parliament should take a firmer stand in regard to many matters. There has been too much government by regulation of matters which should be decided by Parliament.
– in reply - The motion which I have moved fixes a maximum duration of the recess, namely, not later than the 27th January, and that means that Parliament may be summoned at an earlier date if the business of the Government is ready. If I were to fix a definite date for the meeting of Parliament, the Government might not be ready on that date, but Parliament would still have to meet.
– Will the Prime Minister give an undertaking that Parliament will be summoned when the Government’s legislative programme is ready?
– I give an undertaking that, as soon as legislation is ready, or if an emergency arises, Parliament will be called together. I make that statement with perfect genuineness. The corresponding motion I submitted at the conclusion of the previous sessional period had no limiting date in it, but I did say that I considered that the House should meet before Christmas for the purpose of considering the war situation. In pursuance of thatundertaking, and because the great change that had taken place in the global struggle, particularly in North Africa and in New Guinea, was so vitally related to the responsibilities of honorable gentlemen in connexion with the war, I considered that my duty was to summon Parliament, and I did so. It is not my fault if honorable gentlemen have not availed themselves of the opportunity which the submission of the statement yesterday provided. Of course, it is not proper for me to debate what happened; but I submitted that statement so that there would be the widest opportunity to discuss matters that were relevant, not only to the actual conflict, but also to the economic and other aspects of the organization for the conduct of the war. I did hear some very valuable speeches, and I acknowledge that the Government is indebted for them. It hopes to profit by them.
I consider that the proposal which I have made for the special adjournment is, in all the circumstances, reasonable. Parliament will meet not later than the 27th January, and, should our legislation be ready earlier, or should an emergency arise, I shall ask Mr. Speaker to summon honorable gentlemen accordingly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Valedictory - Business and Conduct of Parliament - Squadron-Leader Gorrie - Army:Compulsory Service outside Australia - Repatriation : Case of R. S. Owen: Adjustment of Pensions - Allied Works Council: Relations with Australian Consolidated Industries Limited : Employment of H.C. Matthews - Dairying Industry - National Housing Scheme - Superannuation Pensions : Cost of Living Adjustment.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to say to honorable gentlemen that I am indebted to the House, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden), and my colleagues, for the aid that has been given to me in the conduct of the affairs of the Australian Government during a year of unprecedented difficulty. I accepted the responsibility which a vote of the House conferred upon me a little more than a year ago - I shall always acknowledge my duty to the House - and I have endeavoured with all that I have to discharge that responsibility in such a way that the security of this country shall be maintained and the war prosecuted to a successful conclusion. I know of no safety for Australia until the war has been won. The earlier that we can bring complete victory the better the guarantee we shall be able to give to those who will come after us that our country shall be a good one and our people happy. No man could have carried those responsibilities without great assistance. I am grateful for the invaluable help that has been given to me. I express to honorable gentlemen my sincere wish that the recess will be useful for them, and that, as far as circumstances allow, they will have a merry Christmas. The new year, I know, will not be happy, but I know that it will be a victorious one.
– I am sure I can speak for the Opposition when I express my appreciation of the way in which the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has carried out the onerous duties of his office. I join with him in the hope that Christmas will be as merry as honorable members can make it for themselves, and that the new year will be made happy by victory for the allies and a just and righteous peace. I convey to you, Mr. Speaker, and the staff of Parliament, our best wishes. I pray that the coming year for the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), if he remains in office, will give him a lighter task than he has had and a brighter outlook. I fervently hope that victory will soon be ours, so that we shall be able to embark on a policy of post-war reconstruction which will enable us to give to those who, by their sacrifices, have made it possible for us to be here all that a grateful nation can bestow.
– I tell the Government that the small number of occasions on which this Parliament is meeting and the very little that is being done here in the way of effective debate or decisions in regard to certain matters will have a repercussion at the next general elections. I am not concerned with the party aspect; but there is a growing feeling in this country that the Parliament is not functioning well. The events of the last two days will help that feeling to grow considerably.
– Any one would be justified in thinking that these sittings had been in progress for six months, by the appearance of the Opposition benches. They have been empty for the greater part of the time we have been here.
– I say to the honorable the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) that it is not very pleasing for the people of this country to see a government, in time of war, charged with the security of the continent, when a small but very necessary alteration of the method of handling our forces has to be dealt with, appealing to certain irresponsible bodies outside for authority. When the matter of the alteration of the Constitution again comes before this chamber, the Opposition and honorable members generally will be bound to see that there shall be put into the Constitution a section which will prevent any member of Parliament from seeking or accepting instructions from any authority outside the Parliament. That is long overdue. There is talk about this country being a democracy. How can it be when the Government is pledged to an irresponsible dictatorship composed of people, many of them unknown, who would not have a hope in life of winning a seat in Parliament, even if they had six party labels instead of one, but who are in a position to hold up the effective prosecution of the war in this part of the world ? The reputation of Parliament in the eyes of the people will not be enhanced by the exhibition we have seen in the last two days, with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) acting with all the wind, noise, sparks, and dust of a dry thunderstorm in the desert. When it came to a vote it was found that there was not one drop of rain in all his storm.
– What about the Opposition? Was it not bound by a caucus decision?
– 1 was not present at the last meeting of the Opposition parties. I have yet to see the party meeting which can tell me how I shall vote.
– Why does the honorable member attend the meetings, if he does not intend to be bound by their decisions ?
– Meetings are held so that there can be discussion. I have even discussed things with the Minister for Repatriation; but the fact that I have discussed things with him has never bound me. It is one thing to discuss and another for a man to surrender the right to express his opinion and to use his best judgment on affairs. If there is anything in the theory of responsible government, it is not responsibility to parties that ultimately matters - it is the responsibility of the individual to the electorate he represents. He is responsible to the people who put him here. That is what matters.
– In other words, the main thing is votes.
– It is only by votes that we get here, and are able to stay here. There are many of us who do not care twopence whether we are here or not and, being one of those, I intend to stay here only as long as the electors want me to. Every now and again we have an election for this House. The way in which this place has been conducted in the last 48 hours makes me say that the name of this chamber should be changed from the “ House of Representatives “ to the “ House of Delegates There is a vital distinction between a representative and a delegate.
– What is it?
– I do not want anything from the dry thunderstorm represented by the honorable member for Melbourne. His place is in the Yarra after to-day. There is a vital difference between a representative and a delegate.
– What is it?
– When you select a delegate he is instructed to do a certain thing. That is not the position with a representative. Representatives are not people who say, “My party right or wrong. I have no opinions of my own. I go with the majority.” It reminds me of a story that was going the rounds here yesterday morning - you probably heard it, Mr. Speaker, at the breakfast table - that, of the ‘52 members in attendance at the Labour caucus, thirteen were one way and thirteen the other, and the other 26 were waiting for that fellow “ Majority “ to arrive so that they could make up their minds. If our parliamentary institution is to be continued - and there is no guarantee that even if we win the war it will be continued in its present form - there will have to be an alteration of its practices. We hear a good deal in these days about the new order, although I must confess that I have very little faith in it and do not expect to have any faith in it in the future. We need a new order in this Parliament, with a new sense of responsibility and a new capacity for tackling the problems that come before us. We need to exercise our votes and not act as though we were damp squibs. Our parliamentary institution does not belong to days of antiquity. It has been developed by the British peoples who have done their best to engraft it on other countries. They have experienced some failures in this regard. If certain activities of an organization in New South Wales continue, we have no guarantee whatever that our parliamentary institution will be regarded as sacrosanct in the peace settlement. In fact, it may be vitally changed in character even if it survives. I say this not because I wish to bury the Parliament as the Minister for War Organization of Industry has so successfully buried our old friend Father Christmas, but because I believe that unless we give more earnest consideration to the conduct of the country’s business our parliamentary institution will be destroyed. Among the people whom I have met in the last twelve months, not, in the main, people in my own electorate, I have sensed some doubt of the value of our parliamentary institution to the country. People do not think that they are getting from it what they are entitled to expect. They seem to consider that there is too much backscratching and too much give and take. Certain matters which should be brought into the light of day are hidden from the light. Subjects which should be debated in this chamber are not debated. The sittings of the Parliament are too few in number, compared with those of the British House of Commons and the American Congress. There is a tendency for subjects which are discussed in Washington and London not to be discussed here. I can tell the Prime Minister privately what they are. Our people cannot understand why reasons can be given and discussed in the Congress of the United States of America and the Parliament of the United Kingdom for certain administrative acts which, on some plea or other, cannot be given and discussed in this Parliament. For some reason a censorship is being exercised in this country in relation to both the Parliament and the press.
Having brought these matters to the notice of the Prime Minister and being perhaps somewhat of a pagan, I may now wish the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues as merry a Christmas as is possible in the circumstances, though I do not suppose for a moment that it will be unalloyed joy. I hope that before very long we shall be able to discuss, in this chamber, subjects which it seems impracticable to discuss on this occasion.
.- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) likened me to a dry thunderstorm. I return the compliment and liken him to a rainbow because he comes out when the storm is over. The honorable gentleman had opportunities during the last two days to make his position clear on the issues which were before the House, but he did not take advantage of them; yet as soon as honorable members had reached a decision on these matters, he clamoured for permission to put forward his view. He was remarkably silent on the whole subject while it was before the House, but now he is vociferous in telling us that he should be allowed to compare the form of conscription which he desires to impose with that which has been advocated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). Why did not the honorable member put his case when the subject was before the House ?
However, the honorable member was on firm ground when he complained about the infrequency of the meetings of this Parliament. Rather belatedly, he has drawn attentionto the fact that the Parliament has been assembling too irregularly and too seldom to meet the needs of the country. He has compared the irregularity of the meetings of this Parliament with the relative regularity of the meetings of the British House of Commons. I have been doing so for the last two years.
– So has the honorable member for Barker.
– I also drew attention some time ago to the fact that the American Congress met for eleven and a half months during 1941. In fact, Congress members refused to go home while there was business to do. It seems to me that the members of this Parliament are too prone to delegate their authority to ether people. Some honorable members actually inquire, on the first day they reach Canberra, when they are likely to be able to leave again for their homes. There is a disposition on the part of honorable gentlemen to shirk their responsibilities and to delegate their duties to the Executive. They desire others to do both their thinking and their acting for them. That is the kind of conduct that will develop the Fascist tendencies to which (he honorable member for Barker has referred. I hope that he will try to influence the leaders of his party not to acquiesce in proposals for infrequent meetings of the Parliament. Parliament goes into recess too quickly and remains in recess too long. The present Prime Minister acquiesced in a similar policy when it was practised by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden). There is plenty of business for us to do. The Government should do its best to bring into effect, more fully, the policy of the Labour party.
– A lot of us have business to do in our electorates.
– No honorable member works harder in his electorate than I do, and I do not make that statement vaingloriously.
– Self-praise is no recommendation.
– I can say truthfully that I work hard in my electorate, but I am prepared also to work hard in this Parliament. The Government is nol doing all that it could do to put the policy of the Labour party into operation. It takes too much notice of the probable attitude of the Opposition to proposals that could be brought forward. I consider that it should introduce its legislation and place the responsibility on the Opposition for rejecting it. Obviously the Opposition will not agree to measures which will really benefit the workers of this country.
I wish now to refer to replies I have just received to question which I placed on the notice-paper some considerable time ago concerning Squadron Leader Gorrie. I was obliged to listen to a cheap lecture by ‘the Prime Minister when I last referred to this subject in the House. The right honorable gentleman deplored my action in referring to it in Parliament. At that stage I was not in possession of all the facts concerning Squadron Leader Gorrie, but I knew enough about him to justify the asking of my questions, and to request an inquiry into how a person of his character had secured admission to the Royal Australian Air Force, seeing that a person could not obtain a position as a stoker or a seaman in the Royal Australian Navy if he had been convicted of even so comparatively minor an offence as, for example, the stealing of a bicycle at the age of thirteen years. The replies that I have received to my questions undoubtedly justify my attitude, for it is admitted that Squadron Leader Gorrie was convicted of having used threatening words to another person. I have information too, that that person even to-day bears on his body ‘the marks of kicks he received from Gorrie. Apparently the Air Board has not been able to secure that information, or it has not desired to obtain it. I am also informed that a person who had an altercation with Squadron Leader Gorrie was assaulted by him, and that Gorrie was fined for the assault. The Prime Minister obviously desired to dodge answering my questions, notwithstanding that Gorrie provoked the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) to action which caused him to commit a breach of the Air Force Regulations.
– In fairness the honorable member should read out the conviction against Squadron Leader Gorrie.
– Now that the Prime Minister knows the type of man who caused the honorable member for Watson to a et as he did, I cannot understand why he refuses to lay on the table of the House the papers concerning Gorrie so that honorable members may judge for themselves whether he is not tempermentally unfitted to command other men.
The Government must, by now, realize that this is so.
Mr.Curtin. - It does not.
Mr.CALWELL. - I asked, in my series of questions, whether the Prime Minister and the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) were still satisfied that Gorrie was a fit and proper person to be an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. The reply was “ Yes “.
– Hear, hear!
– That is because they do not wish to be embroiled in a struggle with the tall “ blue orchids “ of the Air Force, notwithstanding that Gorrie has brought the reputation of an honorable member of the Parliamentary Labour party into question.
– That is utterly untrue. Having calumniated Gorrie, the honorable member for Melbourne is now calumniating me.
– As I have exhausted the resources at my command, in an endeavour to secure a measure of justice for the honorable member for Watson, because of the treatment he has received at the hands of Gorrie, I suppose I must leave it at that. I have made my protest as vigorously as possible, and I do not believe that it can be said that I ran away from the subject, any more than it can be said that I ran away from the subject that was discussed earlier in this House to-day.
In that connexion I believe that honorable members opposite were hoping that a means would be provided to enable them to scramble back into office. They desired that certain members of this party who were opponents of conscriptionas proposed by the Prime Minister, or as proposed by the ex-Prime Minister, would cross the floor of the House and so possibly bring about a double dissolution. They hoped that in a snap election they would be able to assume office. Having made my position clear on that subject in this House, I shall transfer the fight tothe conference of the Australian Labour party. I know full well that five years hence no person at present sitting on this side of the House who votes for conscription will still be a member of the Parliament, because the Labour movement will certainly have replaced him by an anti-conscriptionist.
Like other members of this party I was elected on a definite platform. The members of the Labour party who elected me know that I am pledged to give effect to the Labour party platform. Because of the deplorable experience that attended the election of the first members of the Labour party to the Parliament of New South Wales in the nineties, the Labour movement was compelled to insist upon its candidates signing a pledge. That pledge has been a feature in Labour party politics ever since. I believe that the Labour movement will continue to enforce a pledge on its representatives. Therefore, we are responsible, first to those who select us to stand for election to this Parliament, and then to the constituents whom we are elected to represent.
– On many occasions, whichever suits us the best.
– The honorable gentleman can speak for himself.
– I can speak for others also.
– I hope that he will do so, and that he will not be silent upon this issue if he feels so strongly about it. He was silent while the debate on conscription was in progress during the last two clays.
.- On a previous occasion, I mentioned in this House the case of Sergeant Owen, of the 2nd-3rd machine gun battalion. In my absence, as I had left the chamber just prior to the termination of the last sittings, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) made a reply to my representations.
– I notified the honorable gentleman that I intended to reply to him on the adjournment.
– The honorable gentleman knew that I had to leave. I have not since had an opportunity to make any further reference to the matter. The only part of my statement that was not correct, was that this young fellow had been sent from Caulfield Hospital. Actually, in the first place he went from Heidelberg Hospital. He was a very efficient machine-gunner, and a sergeant in a machine-gun corps. He was discharged owing to war injuries, but the departmental statement said that it was largely psychological. He had his shoulder-blade broken by a bomb explosion. I knew him before, and I have seen him since. His arm is practically useless. He receives the magnificent sum of 10s. 4d. a week, and his young wife receives 4s. a week. Any argument is used in an attempt to build up a case against the soldier. The men who are returning from the Middle East are not getting a fair deal.I regret to have to repeat that I believe that the members of the appeal boards consider that it is their job to see, not that the men get justice, but that as few as possible of them obtain pensions.
– All the members of the board are returned men.
– I am not concerned about whether or not they are returned men. That conviction has been forced upon me by my personal experience in bringing forward cases both prior to and during the present war.
I have in mind another case. I do not wish to mention the man’s name, but I am prepared to give to the Minister a letter that I have received from him. He is a young officer, who went to the Middle East with the Australian Imperial Force, and remained there for two and a half years. When he returned to Australia he was discharged as medically unfit. In spite of the rigorous examination to which members of the Australian Imperial Force are submitted prior to enlistment, he has been informed that he is not fit to carry on in the Citizen Military Force, let alone to go into the field in such places as the Middle East and New Guinea. He has a wife and three young children. Although the authorities do not contend that his unfitness is due in any way to his own fault, they are not prepared to grant him a pension. He has a small property, on which he lives, and from which he made a very small income last year. He inquired of the Repatriation Department whether there was any possibility of getting a loan to assist him for the time being, and was informed that no fund was available from which that might be made. No provision has been made for the granting of loans to men who have returned. So far as I can see, this war will continue for another two, three, four or five years ; I can see no indication of an early ending. Are these men who have wives and young families to wait until the war is over before any attempt is made to assist them? The system is entirely wrong. I do not blame the Minister. A bureaucracy has been built up which is not doing the job for which it was established.
– It is doing the job it was appointed to do - denying the soldiers their rights.
– I very much regret to say that I agree with the honorable member. This young man came from Queensland. In spite of the rigorous examination to which he was subjected before being accepted for service, he was told upon his return that he was not fit to do any job of soldiering. Why? Because of the rigours of service, the climate in which he served for over two years, the stress placed on his nerves, and his physical condition generally. Yet he is told that he is not entitled to anything; he is not even able to obtain a loan that would assist him to rehabilitate himself !
I assure the Minister that I have seen Owen, and can say that his arm is useless for heavy work on a farm.. He might be able to do a job in an office. This is where the system is at fault. That boy ought not to have been sent back to his farm to struggle to make a living, thus perhaps losing all chance of recovering from the disability to his arm. He should have been given a position in Victoria Barracks, in one of the big departments, or with the Allied Works Council, as a clerk. That would have enabled him to keep himself and his wife in comfort, and have given him an opportunity to recover his health.
Another matter that I wish to bring forward concerns the Allied Works Council. A man whom I have known personally for many years, served in the last war. He has an excellent character, and is of a very good type. He tried to join the Australian Imperial Force, but as he could not pass the medical examination he was rejected. He obtained employment with Australian Consolidated Industries Limited as a labourer, but the work was too heavy for him and his health failed. He then interviewed the employment officer at Maribyrnong munitions establishment, and was promised that he would be placed in a very much higher class job, that of a first-class storeman, provided he could get a clearance from Australian Consolidated Industries Limited. He appeared before a medical board, and was discharged as being unfit for the work he was performing, but he could not obtain a certificate from the doctor until he had threatened to approach the Returned Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Imperial Association, of which he was a member. On Monday, the 12th October, he was called up by the Allied “Works Council and told that he must be prepared to go to Alice Springs on the Wednesday, despite the fact that the medical board had stated that he was unfit for a labouring job in Australian Consolidated Industries Limited. It was not until the 4th December that he was allowed to accept the engagement he had been offered in a munitions factory; consequently, he was unemployed for a month. I have made inquiries from the management, and have learned that he has given every satisfaction. For a month he was not allowed to accept this position, and was continuously under the threat of being sent off at any minute to Central Australia. Australian Consolidated Industries Limited is being run for private profit, and there appears to me to be a sinister connexion between the two organizations when a man is threatened if he shows a desire to obtain a higher position in a government munitions factory. This is a matter that should be investigated. It would also be a good idea if inquiry were made as to the source of supply of a very large sheet of copper, with which to make a boiler for a hot water service in a log cabin for a gentleman who is the managing director of another big private company engaged in the production of munitions. That material was obtained when copper was urgently required for the driving bands of the shells that our fighting forces are using. The name of the man whose case I have ventilated is H. C. Matthews. He was a sergeant in the British Army during the last war, and for a fairly lengthy period subsequently served in the Indian Army; after which he came to Australia. He is an excellent citizen, whom I have known personally for quite a long time. Apparently, if one attempts to leave the service of a proprietary concern which is out to make profits, one is threatened with compulsion to serve in Central Australia or the Northern Territory, irrespective of the condition of one’s health.
Because I had hoped that a vote would be taken on the previous motion, I did not speak to it. I agree with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) that, at the present time, this country is being run very largely from outside this Parliament, and that the parliamentary institution is being brought into disrepute in the eyes of the people.
-Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to resume the discussion of a subject upon which a determination has already been made.
– I was referring to the remarks of the honorable member for Barker, and not actually to the debate. I wish not merely to state that I support him, but also to quote the opinion of certain persons of standing who are outside Australia. Mr. Noel Monks, the war correspondent of the Daily Mail, who was recently in Australia, said in a message from New York that during his visit to Australia he had gained the impression that the trade unions were running the war and were not making a good job of it.
– Order i That debate must not be resumed.
– I urge the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) to reconsider his attitude towards the dairying industry, particularly in view of the outcry from the responsible bodies which control the industry. They are up in arms against the shabby treatment which the farmers have received. They have been told that an amount of £2,000,000 is to be made available this year as a subsidy to an industry, the costs of which have increased tremendously. The money is not to be distributed on a flat rate basis, but is to be expended in those areas which have suffered from drought.
– Is the honorable member sure of that?
– Well, this Government is an adept at changing its mind, and perhaps it has done so in this respect. I maintain that the money should not be distributed as a dole. The dairying industry should not be dependent upon the good will of the Government, or of one member of the Government, for the reception of even this paltry assistance. The money should be given to it as a right.
– The Government which the honorable member supported did nothing for the dairymen.
– When we were in power, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) and his colleagues squealed about the high price of butter. Apparently, he has not sufficient intelligence to realize that costs associated with the industry have increased enormously during the last twelve months. Dairymen are entitled to the same favorable treatment as is accorded to industrial unionists, to secondary industries and, indeed, to such favoured primary industries as sugar and dried fruits.[Extension of time granted.]
All pensions payable by the Commonwealth have been increased except those of returned soldiers, and it is time that this anomaly was rectified.
– The service pension is adjusted according to the cost of living.
– Well, that principle has not yet been applied to war pensions. Some of the recipients of war pensions get only a few shillings a fortnight, and their pensions should be adjusted according to the variation of the cost of living.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has again referred to the record of Squadron Leader Gorrie, but in making his charges he failed to place on record beside the questions which he asked, the answers which were given to them. I propose to do that now, so that the questions and the answers will appear side by side for all to see. They are as follows: -
Question 1 : Is ita fact that Squadron Leader Gorrie was convicted at Paddington Police Court on a charge of assaulting and kicking one Norman Smith?
Question 2: Has Gorrie also been convicted on a charge of absconding from bail?
Question 3: Has the Minister any information regarding other convictions against Gorrie ?
Answer: Yes. On the 6th November, 1933, at the Paddington Police Court,he was convicted on a summons issued by one, Norman Leslie Smith, for using threatening words to him in a public street and fined £5 with £311s. costs, in default 18 days’ imprisonment.
Question 4: Has the Minister any information concerning Gorrie’s association with convicted persons?
Question 5: By what means and through what channels was Gorrie made an officer of the Royal Australian Air Force?
Answer: Squadron Leader Gorrie was appointed an officer of the Royal Australian Air Force through the normal channels, namely, by means of application, interview board, and officers’ training course.
Question 6: Who constituted the board that made Gorrie an officer of the Air Force and did the board have full particulars of his court appearances before making its recommendations ?
Answer: The officers constituting the interview board were Flight Lieutenant Mitchell, Flying Officer Ross, and Flying Officer Sheehan. In accordance with normal practice, a report was obtained from the Police Department, New South Wales, at the time of Squadron Leader Gorrie’s appointment, but it was certified “ No record “. It has, however, only recently been ascertained that records of convictions on private informations are not held at the Criminal Investigation Branch, which maintains records only of police offences as distinct from convictions on informations laid by private individuals.
Question 7: Are the Minister and the Prime Minister still satisfied that Gorrie is a fit and proper person to be an officer of the Royal Australian Air Force?
Question 8: Will the Minister now lay the papers concerning Squadron Leader Gorrie on the table of the House?
Question 9 : In view of all the now known circumstances of the case, is the Minister still satisfied that the honorable member for Watson (A.C.2 S. M. Falstein) was treated fairly by the court martial that sentenced him to 28 days’ detention?
I should very much rather not have had to answer that last question. I do not think that I ought to have been placed in the position of having to answer it, but I was given no choice. I may say that Falstein has not given any further trouble. Like some others, he made one mistake which can be attributed to youth and inexperience. Since then, his behaviour has been excellent and altogether to his credit. I regret that this matter should be dragged up in a way that must cause him embarrassment, if not distress. A Minister of the Crown takes an oath to do his duty and, so far as I am concerned, I shall attempt to do my duty without fear or favour. I shall not under pressure do things which I believe to be unjust, whether the pressure be brought to bear by the honorable member for Melbourne or by anybody else. In this 1 am not indulging in mock heroics: I expect that every Minister of the Crown will act in the same way. All possible precautions are taken in the Air Force to learn whether an applicant for entry has a criminal record, and, from the information furnished by the police, it was learned that Squadron Leader Gorrie had no such record. He was charged with assault, but he was not even convicted on that charge. There are probably men in this House who have had fights in the past, and if they were not fined they were lucky. After the charge of assault had been dismissed, that of using threatening words was proceeded with against Squadron Leader Gorrie. He was in Queensland and had instructed some one to appear for him. Neither side appeared, and his bail was estreated. No conviction was entered against him, nor was he proceeded against on a charge of absconding from bail. One of the principles of the Labour party is that no one should be persecuted because he has made one mistake. I know that men have been excluded from the Royal Australian Air Force and from the Navy because of one mistake in their past, and I do not agree with that action. However, there was nothing in the record of Squadron Leader Gorrie to justify his exclusion from the Air Force. Some of the allegations made to me personally against him have been found to have no foundation whatever. I have here a lengthy statement covering the whole matter, but I do not intend to inflict the details of it, nor do I think it is desirable that all the particulars contained in it should go into the official record of the proceedings of this House. I regret very much that the honorable member for Melbourne should have persisted with this charge. In justice to Mr. Falstein, let me say that he has not attempted to follow up the matter. That is being done by one who ifr. Drakeford. feels that he must pursue his .vendetta until he obtains what he calls satisfaction. The only satisfaction he will get from me is the truth, and I have given the truth now. I do not propose to lay all the papers on the table. Personal files of thi3 kind contain particulars of parentage, condition of health and details of that kind which should not be disclosed in regard to any one.
I dissociate myself emphatically from the reflections which the honorable member for Melbourne has chosen to make upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), who has not come into this matter to any extent, and mainly when I was absent. It is my opinion that Squadron Leader Gorrie is a fit and proper person to be an officer of the Air Force, and there is nothing in his record which would prevent him from giving good service as a member of the Air Force. The criticism of the Prime Minister on this subject is entirely unwarranted, and I, as a Minister and fellow member of the party, repudiate them completely. The remarks were in bad taste and should never have been made.
– On the last day of the last sessional period, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) mentioned the pension of a certain discharged soldier. I told him then that I should reply to him on the motion for the adjournment. I did so, but he was not here. The honorable member said that this man had received no treatment from the Repatriation Department when he was in hospital, and had not had a fair deal. I obtained a complete report on the case and found that this man received electric treatment and massage for a considerable time. He was to have been discharged from the Army on the 1st January last, but the Repatriation Department applied for him to be retained in the Service until the middle of April. The Repatriation Department was most sympathetic towards him. When he left hospital, he was medically examined and given a pension of 10s. 4d. a week. He was put to farm work, which he said he could do. I impress upon the honorable member for Bendigo that the members of the Repatriation Commission, the repatriation tribunals, and the repatriation doctors, are all returned soldiers who, I am sure, would have no reason to try to reduce a soldier’s pension below that to which he was entitled.
The honorable member complained that repatriation pensions were not raised in accordance with the rise of the cost of living, and contrasted those pensions with the invalid and old-age pension’s, the rate of which varies according to the rise or fall of the cost of living. The only repatriation pensions which do vary according to the variations of the cost of living are the service pensions, lt was this Government that inserted that provision in the Repatriation Act. The honorable member said that all repatriation pensions should be on that basis. We investigated the other pensions, and found that 83 per cent, of the recipients were working. Now, if the cost of living is to be used in the assessment of pensions for war disabilities, there will have to be a means test, and we have ascertained that, under a means test, at least 50 per cent, of the pensioners would lose their pensions. Those pensions are given in respect of war disabilities. Men who have lost an arm, a leg or an eye are drawing pensions, but have gone back into employment of one kind or other, and some of them are drawing salaries of £15, £16 and £20 a week in addition to their pensions. No one could say that they are not entitled to draw their pensions, because the pensions are a small recognition of the country’s debt to them for the physical sacrifices they made. A means test would deprive them of their pensions. We do not want that. I shall look into the other matter raised by the honorable member and inform him at the earliest possible date of the result of my investigation.
.- I am glad to see that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) is present, because the matter I intend to raise is important. On the 20th May last, the Joint Committee on Social Security submitted a report in which it, amongst other things, recommended the immediate appointment of an authority to undertake the planning of a national housing scheme in cooperation with the State authorities. I understand that the Government is about to set up an authority under the Department of War Organization of Industry, and that it has in mind the appointment of a particular individual to whom I shall refer in a moment. I realize that it is entirely within the province of the Prime Minister to decide for himself the question of what department shall handle this matter; but I feel some concern that this authority which, presumably, will finally deal with the whole problem of housing, should be placed under the control of the Department of War Organization of Industry. For one thing, the department is, as its name states, the Department of War Organization of Industry. Housing would more rightly come under the control of a department of reconstruction. My second reason for concern is that the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) is a very remarkable man. He is remarkable because it appears that everything he has taken up so far has got more or less into a mess. The Minister, or his advisers, or both, work too much in the clouds of theory and far too little on the stony ground of practice to be able to provide houses for the people. I ask the Prime Minister to consider whether the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Social. Security for the setting up of a department of reconstruction would not in itself be much better. That department would control, amongst other things, this matter of housing. I understand further that the gentleman the Government proposes as its adviser on this matter is a Mr. Gawler, an architect of Victoria. I have nothing against Mr. Gawler at all, and I believe that he is a very capable gentleman, with a great knowledge of housing; but I suggest that, if the facts are as I have stated, it is expecting far too much of any one, whoever he may be, to be able to present a report on a subject which is so extremely complex. Housing is not a matter of laying bricks one on top of the other, putting in some doors and windows, and covering the lot with a roof. To provide for a large number of people in a large number of places is far more than that. It includes demolition of slum areas, replacement of sub-standard houses, housing for the indigent and the earn ers of low incomes and pensioners, and a great deal more in addition, for it includes the provision of housing centres, satellite towns, and the decentralization of our population away from the great cities where the people are concentrated at the moment. The whole of this means an enormous plan. It must fit in with reconstruction and with primary and secondary industries and, to a degree, public works. I therefore suggest to the Prime Minister that one man will not solve this problem and give us results. We need a committee of, say, three, consisting of experts on the various aspects of this problem of not only the provision of houses, but also, and above all, the provision of finance. I therefore ask the Government to give this matter further consideration before it comes to a decision.
.- I support what has been suggested by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan). Nothing should be done in this matter without careful consideration of the reports of the Joint Committee on Social Security and careful consultation with the members of that committee, particularly the chairman and the secretary, who have acquired a great knowledge of this and kindred matters. A great deal more attention should be paid to the reports of that committee. I have no egotism in saying that, because I have played a very minor part in its work. But a great deal of valuable work has been done, and the opinion of the people who have considered the committee’s report is that those compilations are extremely valuable and contain recommendations much more appropriate to Australian life than does the Beveridge report. I notice that the Government has announced that it has a programme of social security. I do not know whether that programme is founded on the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Social Security, but I suggest respectfully that the Government has not had the opportunity to inform its mind to a state equivalent to that of the members of the committee, and is not likely to have a programme better than that of the committee.
It is requested by the superannuated servants of the Commonwealth that their superannuation in the lower ranks should be increased commensurate with the increased coat of living. I know that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) has been recommending to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that those receiving four units or less of superannuation should have their superannuation increased in accordance with the rise of the cost of living in the same way as invalid and old-age pensions are increased. The present rate of superannuation should be irreducible.
– in reply - I shall give careful consideration to the representations made by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) and the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). Belatedly, but quite truthfully, I take very much pleasure in thanking you, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the rest of the House does, for the manner in which you helped us during our deliberations. I extend to your personally, and I ask you to convey to all the staffs that serve you, our best wishes for the Christmas season and the coming year.
– I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) for the kind remarks about myself. I also thank the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Prowse) and his deputies for their co-operation during the year. We all have a special indebtedness to the staffs, because we know that they are working under extremely difficult conditions owing to enlistments. I also express my appreciation for the support which honorable members have given to. the. Chair throughout the year. I hope that this year will be followed by a year of great success for our nation and our allies.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 416, 440, 441, 476.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1942 -
No. 34 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union and others; Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association;
Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia; Commonwealth Naval Storehousemen’s Association; and Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 35 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.
No. 36 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 37 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 38 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 39 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 40 - Postal Overseers’ Union of Australia.
No. 41 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 42 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 43 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
Australian Broadcasting Act - Tenth Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for year 1941-42.
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Report by Auditor-General upon accounts of Trustees of Fund, for year 1941-42.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 462.
Repatriation Commission - Report for year 1941-42.
Canned Fruits Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 433.
Citrus Fruits Bounty Act - Return for year 1941-42.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments of M. E. Flower, J. I. Price, L. W. Southwell, N. G. Turner, Department of Defence.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 465, 466.
Commonwealth Shipping Act - Commonwealth Shipping Board - Cockatoo Island Dockyard - Balance-sheets and Liquidation Accounts, together with Auditor-General’s reports thereon, for years ended 28th February, 1941, and 28th February, 1942.
Customs Act - Proclamations prohibiting the Exportation (except under certain conditions ) of -
Beer (dated 2nd December, 1942).
Bentonite; Drugs and chemicals (dated 29th October, 1942).
Cane and rattan; Dextrine; Waxes (dated 9th October, 1942).
Grass tree gum (dated 13th November, 1942).
Yarns of silk or synthetic fibre; Piece goods wholly or partly of silk or synthetic fibre; Wearing apparel including footwear and head wear; Handkerchiefs; Articles of household drapery of cotton, silk or synthetic fibre; Waterproof sheeting; Oil baize and oil cloth other than linoleum; Window blinds, and awnings (dated 14th October, 1942).
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutorv Rules 1942, Nos. 417, 477, 506, 507, 508, 521, 522.
Entertainments Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 421
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, Maternity Allowance Act, Child Endowment Act. Widows’ Pensions Act - First Report by Director-General of Social Services, for year1941-42.
Judiciary Act - Rule of Court, dated 13th October, 1942.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired -
For Commonwealth purposes -
Berowra, New South Wales.
Cowra, New South Wales.
East Maitland, New South Wales.
Essendon, Victoria (2).
Greta, New South Wales (2).
Lidcombe, New South Wales.
Lorn, New South Wales.
Merredin, Western Australia.
Midland Junction, Western Australia.
Mile End, South Australia.
Northfield, South Australia.
Nowra, New South Wales.
Parkes, New South Wales.
Preston Point, Fremantle, Western Australia.
South Fremantle, Western Australia.
St. Mary’s, New South Wales.
West Maitland, New South Wales.
Windsor, New South Wales.
Wollongong, New South Wales.
Wolseley, South Australia.
For Defence purposes -
Rhodes, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (Army Inventions) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (3).
National Security (Cash Order and Hire Purchase Agreements ) Regulations - Order - Maximum hiring period.
National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations - Order - Share prices.
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations - Orders - Military powers during emergency (3).
National Security (Emergency Supplies) Regulations - Rules - Queensland ( 4 ) , Victoria.
National Security (General) Regulations -
Bread control (South Australia).
Control of -
Canned pineapples and pineapple juice.
Clothing ( Feminine outerwear ) , ( Knitted outerwear ) ( 2 ) , (Knitted underwear), (Male outerwear), (Shirts, collars and pyjamas), and (Women’s, maids’ and children’s hosiery).
Production and distribution of footwear.
Second-hand jute goods.
Wholesale cream distribution (Victoria) .
Ice industry (New South Wales).
Machine tools requisitioning.
Navigation (Aquatic racing on Sydney Harbour), (Brisbane River and Moreton Bay - Small craft), and (Small craft).
Prohibited places (5).
Prohibiting work on land (12).
Prohibition of non-essential production.
Restriction of cherry packing.
Restriction of employment in retail shops (Adelaide).
Taking possession of land, &c. (1,005).
Use of land (45).
Orders by State Premiers - Queens land (8), South Australia, Tasmania (6), Victoria (2), Western Australia (2).
National Security (Interment Camps) Regulations - Order - Internment camp.
National Security (Landlord and Tenant) Regulations - Rules - Australian Capital Territory.
National Security (Land Transport) Regulations - Orders -
South Australia (Nos. 5-9), Western Australia (No. 4).
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations - Order - Liquid fuel (Alternative fuels).
National Security (Man Power) Regulations) - Orders - Protected undertakings (171).
National Security (Munitions) Regulations - Order - Railway locomotives, rollingstock, plant and equipment.
National Security (Potatoes) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 8, 9.
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Declaration No. 108.
Orders Nos. 769, 791-869, 871-875.
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Orders -
Prisoners of war camp (2).
Prisoners of war correspondence.
Prisoners of war (Pay arrangements).
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations -
Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank, Commonwealth Savings Bank and Note Issue Department, as at 30th June, 1942; together with Auditor-General’s reports thereon.
Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank.
Provision of first aid facilities.
Orders by State Premiers - Queensland (2), South Australia, Tasmania (2), Western Australia.
National Security (War Damage to Property ) Regulations - Order - Public authority.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 413, 418, 419, 420, 422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 434, 435. 436, 437, 438, 442, 443, 444, 445, 446, 447, 448, 449, 450, 451, 452, 453, 454, 455, 456, 457, 458, 459, 467, 468, 469, 470, 471, 472, 473, 474, 475, 480, 481, 482, 484, 485, 486, 487, 488, 489, 490, 491, 492, 493, 494, 495, 496, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 502, 503, 510, 512, 513, 514, 515, 516, 517, 518, 519.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 414, 509.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 511.
Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1942, No. 483.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 439, 504.
Rabbit Skins Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 432.
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Report for year 1941-42.
Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1-9) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 478.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances - 1 942 -
No. 18 - Cemeteries.
No. 19 - Liquor.
Regulations - 1 942 -
No. 11 (Building and Services Ordinance ) .
No. 12 (Motor Traffic Ordinance).
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the Australian Capital Territory for year 1941-42.
War Service Homes Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 463.
War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1 942, Nos. 460, 461.
House adjourned at 5.45 p.m. to a date and an hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, such date and hour tobe not later than the 27th January, 1943, at 3 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circu lated : -
i. - On the 1st October, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked the following question, upon notice: -
How many passports have been issued in the last twelve months to women enabling them to leave Australia, and for what reasons?
The following information is now supplied in answer to the honorable member’s question: -
The total number of women who received passport facilities during the twelve months ended 30th September, 1942, was 2,089. It is not practicable to give detailed reasons, but it may be mentioned that the great majority of these women were not domiciled residents of Australia, and were granted passport facilities to enable them to return to their home countries or to join husbands abroad. It is the rule not to grant passport facilities for domiciled British residents of Australia to leave this country unless they are proceeding abroad on business of national importance or for very exceptional personal reasons. Each case coming within the latter category is very carefully considered on its merits.
y asked the Minister for Com merce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the urgency of the need to bring the Repatriation Act up to date in order to meet present war conditions, will he inform the House of what action has been taken in connexion with the first report submitted to the Government by the Committee on Repatriation Legislation ?
– The first report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Repatriation already has been considered by Cabinet. Owing to the extensive nature of the report, it was decided to appoint a cabinet sub-committee, consisting of the Minister for Repatriation, the Minister for Social Services, and the Treasurer to give further consideration to it. It is anticipated that the sub-committee’s recommendations will be submitted to Cabinet at an early date and, as I have indicated previously, it is hoped that the necessary legislation will be brought down as soon as possible in the New Year. In the meantime action has been already taken by the Government, so that no member of the forces in the present war is suffering any disadvantage by any delay in further amending the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act.
l asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
In accordance with normal practice, a re-
Sort was obtained from the Police Department, Few South Wales, at the time of Squadron Leader Gorrie’s appointment, but it was certified “ No record “. It has, however, only recently been ascertained that records of convictions on private informations are not held at the Criminal Investigation Branch, which maintains records only of police offences as distinct from convictions on informations laid by private individuals.
y asked the Minister for War Organization of Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 December 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1942/19421211_reps_16_172/>.