17th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The Right Honorable John Curtin made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Fremantle, Western Australia.
Allowance to FRONT-T.INE Troops - Warwick Detention Camp - Military Police.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen the press statements in regard to the payment of an extra allowance to front-line troops who are actively engaged in operations against the enemy? If so, will he institute an inquiry with a view to the granting of a special allowance to such troops, and thus bring them into line with sailors serving on submarines who receive a special payment?
– I have not seen the statements, but I shall obtain a copy of them and have them fully considered.
– Has the Minister for the Army read a statement made in the Parliament of Queensland by Mr. Healy, M.L.A., and also a statement published in the press by the returned soldiers’ organization, about the alleged ill-treatment of men at the detention camp at Warwick? Has the Minister had an inquiry made regarding the allegation, and will he make a statement in the House on the matter as soon as possible?
– I read the statement published in the press and I also asked Mr. Healy to send me a copy of the Hansard report of his remarks in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland. I ordered an immediate investigation of the complaint, and I shall advise the honorable member as soon as I receive a report on the matter.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform the House what authority military police have to enter without warrant the homes of innocent civilians in the early hours of the morning? What protection does the Minister propose to give to women and children against those Fascist methods?
– As Minister for the Army I am not aware of all of the raids made by military police, but invariably they have reasons for making such raids. If it can be shown to me that such raids have been made in the early hours of the morning or at any other time without sufficiently good reasons appropriate action will be taken.
pig Meats - Release of Man-power from Army.
– Will the Minister for the Army confer with the Minister for Commerce and Agricultureconcerning the urgent need to increase the supply of pig meat? Will the Minister consider the advisability of releasing B class men from the Army to enable them to work in this important field of primary production?
– I am constantly conferring with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture on that and other matters. During the last year up to 30,000 men have been temporarily released from the Army. There is a mobile force of 5,000 men who are made available in different parts of Australia to assist in primary production. The whole subject of manpower has been closely investigated by the War Commitments Committee, whose recommendations are to be considered by the War Cabinet at an early date. The Government fully realizes the importance of the food front, as well as that of the other fronts, but it also knows that every country that is engaged in an all-in war effort is confronted with an acute man-power problem. If we tried to satisfy all the demands for labour in primary production and in other industries and drew the requisite man-power from the Army, it would be necessary to withdraw the Army from the battlefront. The Government is striving to make the best possible use of the available man-power, and to strike a fair and equitable allocation as between civilian employment and the fighting services, but the overriding consideration must continue to be the security of Australia and adequate reinforcements and relief for the men of the fighting services.
Supplies for Motor Launches
– Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping consider sympathetically the matter of permitting owners of motor launches and other smallcraft to use a small quantity of petrol, and thus place them on the same basis as owners of motor cars?
– The Liquid Fuel Control Board has been considering this matter during the last month. Its report is not yet to hand. I shall be pleased to consider the matter sympathetically when I receive the report.
– Can the Min ister for Commerce and Agriculture give any information concerning the length of time that usually elapses between the lodgment and settlement of claims for fertilizer, in View of the current report that certain farmers are unable to carry out their planting programme because of delay in obtaining supplies? If not, will he make inquiries in regard to the position ?
– The allocation and distribution of fertilizers are wholly in the hands of the State governments. I shall, however, inquire into the assertion of the honorable member, and supply an answer later.
– Li view of the vast importance of water conservation to the future welfare of Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior give early and favorable consideration to the. matter of implementing fully the first plans of the River Murray Waters Commission, which provided for the construction of a greater number of locks and weirs on the River Murray than was subsequently constructed? “Will the honorable gentleman also impress upon the commission the desirability of increasing the capacity of ‘the scheme to the limit recommended ?
– I shall immediately bring to the notice of the Minister for the Interior the representations of the honorable member, and obtain a reply for him as early as possible.
– Has the attention cf the Prime Minister been drawn to the statement published in the Daily Mirror yesterday, featuring the fact that seven coal-mines were idle on that day, that the Coal Commissioner had referred to the threat to transport, gas, electricity and other industrial sendees because of diminishing reserves of coal, and that, for a period within recent weeks, the position had improved, but had now grown worse? Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House as to whether or not the improvement mentioned was due to an appeal which, prior to the elections, the honorable member for West Sydney made to the coal-mining unions - to “give the boys a chance” until after the elections - and that, the coal-miners having complied with this request, the position will be allowed to revert to what it was prior to the elections?
– The series of statements which the honorable gentleman made contain some -generalizations ; nevertheless, they relate to a very . important aspect of the matter of coal production. It is true that the consumption of coal is at present exceeding the quantity produced. The statement of the Minister for Supply and Shipping concerning the urgency of achieving greater production was received by the coal-miners with, I consider, due realization of its import, and they have worked well.
– “Why has production decreased ?
– The present shortage is due to increasing consumption, as well as the use that is made of the total production in order to maintain war services in this and other countries. I am quite conscious that the quantity of coal at present being produced in Australia does not admit of the carrying out of all the purposes that are requisite to a maximum war effort. I have had the matter under constant review whilst remembering that we are now getting a larger quantity ‘than we have ever previously obtained. I propose to consult with those who are associated with the control of coalmining industries, both employees and employers, at the earliest opportunity, in order to discover whether or not a still greater output can he obtained by a further effort.
– “Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping inform the House whether the customary fortnight’s holiday is expected to be taken at Christmas throughout the whole of the coal-mining industries? Is the matter being investigated by the appropriate department? During that period, could the working hours of the miners be so rostered that coal production would be continuous? In the event of the coal required in essential industrie’s being rationed, will the rationing be carried out fairly as between the States, or will the interests of those States which are situated long distances from the source of supply be prejudiced ?
– The matter is being investigated, and it was the subject of a long discussion only this morning. The whale position with regard to coal supplies throughout Australia is such that the Government considers that the long break during Christmas should not be observed. In order that the matter may be discussed with the parties concerned, a conference is proposed to be held in Sydney on Monday next, and the appropriate Ministers will attend. Others interested in the production, of coal will also be asked to be present. The subject of rationing is continually being discussed between the Coal Commissioner and the members of the State committees by which advice on the matter is tendered from week to week. We hope that rationing will not be necessary, but, if it cannot be avoided, the object of the Commission will be to see that a fair adjustment is made as between all of the States.
– In view of the unsatisfactory production of coa.l, resulting in the curtailment of essential sea-vices, and of the conference to take place next week with a view to improving- the supplies of coal, will the Minister for the Army consider the employment of prisoners of war, including Italian prisoners, in the winning of coal?
– Italian prisoners of war in Australia are already fully occupied on necessary work and cannot be made available for other undertakings.
– Will the Prime Minister make a statement, in order to allay the anxiety in the minds of the Australian people that has been caused by press reports regarding the position of General MacArthur, CommanderinChief, South- West Pacific Area, particularly in view of Australia’s vital interest in the operations in that area, and the fact that Australian naval, land and air forces have been assigned to his command?
– I am unaware of any change in the status, authority or command of General MacArthur. As the Commonwealth Government is a party to the arrangements relating to the higher direction of the war in the South-West Pacific Area, no change could be made without its agreement. On an earlier occasion, I outlined these arrangements to Parliament; and I shall briefly refer to them again. The set-up in the SouthWest Pacific Area, and the boundaries of this region, were the subject of an agreement between the Governments of Australia., New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Netherlands, and they cannot be varied without the consent of the parties to the agreement. The appointment of General MacArthur as Commander-in-Chief was also made by the Governments concerned, and he operates under a directive, the terms of which were approved by the participating Governments. General MacArthur is responsible to the United States Chiefs of Staff at Washington, who exercise jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to operational strategy in the Pacific. The Combined Chiefs of Staff at Washington exercise general jurisdiction over global strategic policy. Proposals of the United States Chiefs of Staff for operations in the South-West Pacific Area, which are made to the President as United. States- Commander-in-Chief, are subject to review by him from the standpoint of higher political considerations, and to reference by him to the Pacific War Council in Washington when necessary. The council is presided over by President Roosevelt, and Australia is represented by the Australian Minister, who also has as adviser the head of the Australian Military Mission. The interests of the nations whose forces or territory may be involved in these military operations are further safeguarded by the power which each nation retains to refuse the use of its forces for any project which it considers inadvisable. In addition, local commanders have the right of communication with their Governments. The working of this, arrangement is further supplemented, by the closest co-operation between General MacArthur and myself as Prime Minister.
The appointment of Lord Louis Mountbatten as Commander-in-Chief of the South-East Asia Area does not impinge in any way on General MacArthur’s command in the SouthWest Pacific Area, nor does it subordinate the South- West Pacific to the South-East Asia Command. The eastern boundary of the latter coincides with the western boundary of the former. Lord Louis
Mountbatten was appointed to the command of the South-East Asia Area by Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt. This is their right and privilege, as they are supplying the forces for that region. The position is exactly parallel to that in the South-West Pacific Area to which Australian forces are assigned. The corollary to such an assignment of Australian forces was the establishment of the machinery for higher direction and command which I have outlined, and in which the Commonwealth Government has a voice.
The proof of the working of this arrangement is to be seen in the results achieved. The closest co-operation exists in matters of higher policy between Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt and the Commonwealth Government, and between General MacArthur and myself. In the field, the results have been equally satisfactory, thanks to the able leadership of the Commander-in-Chief and the commanders of allied naval, land and air forces, to the support accorded them by the Governments concerned, and to the gallantry of all of the Australian and American forces serving under them.
– Has the Prime Minister received a protest from the Premier of Western Australia against the introduction of daylight saving in that State? If so, is it a fact that the Commonwealth Government has decided not to introduce daylight saving in Western Australia, and will the right honorable gentleman review the Government’s decision regarding its introduction in other States, particularly in view of the protests made by representatives of primary industries in all of the States?
– That question is already on the notice-paper, and I have circulated an answer to it.
– The Prime Minister misunderstood my question on the noticepaper, because he did not answer the point I raised. I, therefore, repeat the question : Is it. a fact that the Government has decided not to introduce daylight saving in Western Australia? If so, will the right honorable gentleman indicate whether the Government is pre pared to review its decision regarding other States, particularly as the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) indicated, that some States were opposed to its introduction and that, primary producers’ organizations had also expressed opposition to it?
– I did not say that.
– The answer to the question upon notice is general and I am sure that it contains replies to the points put by the honorable gentleman.
– What about Western Australia?
– The answer is that the Government to-day decided to exclude Western Australia from the application of daylight saving.
– What about Queensland?
– The reasons have been set out in the circulated answer to the question on the notice-paper.
– In view of the many protests made by sections in Queensland, particularly primary producers and other industrial interests, against the introduction of daylight saving in that State, and also in view of the inconveniences caused under daylight saving, when the third meal is taken before the heat of the day has fully subsided, and difficulty is experienced in putting children to bed before dark, will the Prime Minister give the same consideration to the representations from Queensland as, evidently, he has given to those from Western Australia?
– The points raised by the honorable gentleman have already been considered by the Cabinet. The position is that in the eastern States electricity, power and light are derived chiefly from coal, and, at present, coal is in short, supply for all general purposes in those States. In Western Australia the position is not quite the same with respect to either supplies of coal or the use of coal for generating light and heat. All the points raised by the honorable member have been taken into consideration. I might add that among those who strongly recommended the re-introduction of daylight saving in Queensland for economic reasons was the Commissioner for Railways in that State.
– Just before the elections, the Prime Minister made a very important statement regarding the advisability of establishing an Empire Council. Will the Prime Minister seek an early opportunity to express those views to the House, so that this important subject may be debated?
-Several matters which are listed to come before the House will provide opportunities for consideration of the proposal to establish an Empire Council to which I referred in my speech. I agree that it was an important speech, and it had, I think, a most useful effect. I assure the honorable member that what he has suggested will be done as soon as possible.
” THE BRISBANE LINE.”
Report of Royal Commission.
Mr. CURTIN (Fremantle- Prime
Minister [3.0]. - I lay on the table the following paper: -
Alleged missing document relating to defence plans - Report of Royal Commission, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
– Has the Minister for War Organization of Industry received representations from organizations of graziers regarding the need to make available greater supplies of salt for sheep, especially in Queensland, where local supplies are insufficient for local requirements ? Will the Minister make a statement regarding the present position?
– I do not think that any representations on this subject have been made to me by bodies representative of graziers, but I have received several letters from individuals. I shall have inquiries made, and see whether anything can be done to relieve the situation.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent, before the AddreasinReply is adopted, the taking of all necessary steps for the introduction and passing through all stages without delay of a Supply Bill, Loan Bill, States Grants Bill and War Pensions Appropriation Bill, and the introduction and consideration of the budget.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the House regarding the scope of the deliberations of the joint parliamentary committee which is to be set up to review regulations made under war-time legislation ?
– The arrangements have not yet been completed, and the matter will be the subject of discussions between the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and myself.
Clothes and Boots
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs investigate the possibility of modifying the existing clothes rationing regulations in order to meet the requirements of certain districts subject to unusual climatic conditions? Will he, in particular, . look into the need for the liberalization of coupon rating for boots on the west coast of Tasmania, where the average life of a new pair of present-day boots is stated to be only a fortnight?
– The first part of the honorable member’s question referred to clothes rationing generally. If some specific evidence could be furnished I shall then have something definite to place before the Minister for Trade and Customs, who will be pleased to give the matter immediate consideration. I agree with the honorable member that the quality of some of the boots offered to the public in the past has left much to be desired. It was for this reason that the Government some time ago appointed a Controller of Leather and Footwear; he is now the Speaker of this House. The work that has been already accomplished in improving the standard of footwear is of immense value. At the present time, boots have to be branded, and certain designs are specified, while samples must be submitted to the controller. If purchasers believe that footwear has not been giving the service which it should they are expected to give particulars immediately to the controller so that the matter may be traced to the manufacturer. The Government is determined to prevent the manufacture of shoddy footwear of the kind which, in the past, was sold to the public. I regard the question asked by the honorable member as a very important one, and if evidence from her o”wn district bearing upon the matter is furnished, it will receive immediate attention.
Werribee Beef - Distribution or Beef
– Oan the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether it is a fact that the percentage of beef carcasses from the Werribee farm of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works that are infected with tape worm has risen to 60 per cent., and that such carcasses are rejected by the services, and for export purposes? Is it also a fact that 95 per cent, of the rejected carcasses are subsequently passed as fit for civilian consumption? If that be so, can the Minister explain how it is that meat which is condemned as unfit for consumption by members of the fighting services and the British public is regarded as suitable for consumption by Australian citizens?
Ma-. SCULLY.- I do not know whether the honorable member can vouch for the correctness of his statement. However. .1 am not at all satisfied with the position; I am employing experts to make a complete veterinary investigation.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet had an opportunity to inquire into the differential .treatment of New South Wales and Victoria in relation to the distribution of beef, to which I referred last week? Since I asked the question, I have been informed that the quantity of beef for civilian use has been further reduced owing to the fact that one-quarter of each beast is to be set aside for canning purposes. In order to give fair treatment to the public in the distribution of the limited quantities of meat now becoming available, does not the Minister think it desirable that a system of rationing should be introduced ?
– A statement in regard to the distribution of meat in Victoria is now in course of preparation and I hope to present it to the House to-morrow.
The matter of rationing meat supplies will receive further consideration.
– Will the Minister for Transport consider giving to industrial workers, such as munitions workers, railway men, and miners, a No. ‘2 rail priority for interstate travel for annual holidays?
– I shall have the honorable member’s suggestion investigated and let him have an early reply.
– Can the Minister for the Army say how many Italian prisoners of war are held in Australia, and what is now to be done with them, having regard to the fact that an armistice has been signed with the Italian Government? What action is being taken to utilize .their services in the production of food?
– For security reasons we have not up to the present stated the exact number of Italian prisoners of war in Australia, nor their location. I am not able to say what will happen to them now, but their services are being fully utilized on public works and in the primary industries. Many prisoners ave employed in cutting firewood and growing vegetables in the vicinity of their own camps, and the wood and vegetables are being used in military camps in the States in which the prisoners are accommodated.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that on the arrival of the Glen Innes mail train at Tamworth, on Friday, the 17th September, soldier and civilian passengers were unable to obtain seats at the breakfast table because all available seats had been reserved for Italian prisoners of war? Further, is the Minister aware that the Italian prisoners of war travelled in firstclass reserved compartments, whilst soldiers and civilians travelled in secondclass unreserved carriages, and does he consider that that was fair ? As I understand that the action taken was in accordance with military orders, will the Minister take steps to see that it is not repeated?
– This is, the first time that I have heard the complaint to which the honorable member has referred. I shall have the matter thoroughly investigated, and furnish a reply as soon as possible. In order to assist in the investigation I shall be glad if he will let me have the newspaper cutting upon which he has based his question.
– Is the Minister in a position to make available to this House statistics relating to the numbers and nationalities of prisoners of war in Australia, together with a statement regarding their suitability for employment? Further, will he indicate whether the prisoners of war in this country are usefully employed or are merely being held in detention camps?
– Some time ago I visited all prisoner-of-war camps in Australia, and I am constantly in touch with the officer in charge of prisoners.
– How many prisoners of war are there in this country?
– For security reasons, the Government has not made public either the number of prisoners of war in Australia, or their location, but I shall consider the wisdom of makingthat information public. At the moment, I ask the right honorable gentleman not to press for a reply. I assure the House that prisoners of war are being gainfully employed either in growing vegetables or cutting firewood in the vicinity of prisoner of war camps. The Government is also utilizing their services on farms in certain closer settlement areas.
– In some instances requests to make available the services of prisoners of war for wood-cutting have been refused.
– I am informed that no additional prisoners of war are available for wood-cutting or for any other purpose. I shall give full consideration to the suggestions that have been made.
– Can the Minister repre senting the Minister for the Interior say whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that some public servants in Canberra have had to camp on the banks of the Molonglo River because they cannot get suitable accommodation elsewhere in. the city? Can he also say whether there has been any substantial increase of the population of. Canberra during recent months, and what action, if any, the Government is taking to provide suitable accommodation, at reasonable rates, for employees of the Government who are in receipt of low rates of pay?
– I do not know whether what the honorable member says is correct or not, but I shall refer his representations to the Minister for the Interior and obtain an immediate answer’.
– Can the Minister for
Repatriation say whether men who have been discharged from the fighting services and who were previously small shop-keepers or were in business on their own account are refused by the Department of War Organization of Industry the opportunity to set up in business again ?
– The Repatriation Department is doing everything possible to rehabilitate those people.
– But does it let them set up in business ?
– Yes; but, at present, there are other positions which those who are physically fit can fill. Still, we do not lose sight of the fact that if is necessary to rehabilitate them and to allow them to go back into ordinary business as soon as possible.
– Then the answer is in the negative.
– The Minister for Repatriation said in reply to the honorable member for Balaclava that the Department of Repatriation was. doing its utmost to rehabilitate discharged members of the forces. What is their position while they are waiting for rehabilitation or employment? Are they kept on the strength until employment is found for them?
– Men discharged from the Army are placed on sustenance until employment is found for them.
– Are they kept on the strength until suitable employment is found ?
– What does the right honorable member mean by “ kept on the strength “ ?
– Do they receive the same pay as they received as members of the forces?
– The scale of sustenance is laid down. They are kept on sustenance for three months.
– That is the point.
– In that time we are able to place them. Only the other day a newspaper said that of 9,000 discharged men only 285 had found employment. The reverse is the case. The newspaper responsible apologized for that statement. Nine thousand discharged men have made application, and for 7,000 of them positions have been found. Several hundred have found positions for themselves. At the end of the financial year only 285 had not found employment, but most of them had only recently made application. I assure the right honorable member that we find work for every man who is able to be employed. We have given discharged men sustenance while they have been waiting for employment.
– What is the rate?
– I cannot say offhand, but sustenance has cost £50,000.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation say whether any discharged man has been allowed to re-establish himself in business?
– We have not debarred any one who has previously been in business from setting up in business again provided he is not able to do other urgent work.
– Is it not a fact that a returned soldier cannot set up in business unless he obtains permission from the Department of War Organization of Industry, and that in many cases - I know of a number - returned soldiers have been refused such permission and have been called up by the man-power authority?
– No individual can start a new manufacture without a permit from my department. When such an application is made, the department considers whether the proposed new manufacture will be beneficial to the war effort as a whole. Should it not be so, the application is refused whether made by a returned soldier or by anybody else. That provision relates to new manufacture only and does not prevent any individual from setting up a new business. At the same time, however, certain controls prevent any person from entering upon the manufacture of certain articles whose manufacture has been entirely prohibited for the duration of the war. It would not only be unfair, but also against the interests of the nation, if permits to manufacture those articles, which are unnecessary, were given to returned soldiers or anybody else.
– Is the Minister for Munitions aware of the acute shortage of horse-shoes in country districts? If so, can he state what steps are being taken to remedy this ? Does he realize that in many districts, if the horses are not shod, food production cannot be maintained ?
– That matter has been brought to my notice, and my department has sought to provide the essential materials to enable the shortage to be overcome. If the honorable member will give me specific instances-
– I have particulars here of a man who has waited for six months and cannot get horse-shoes.
– I shall have that inquired into immediately in order to ascertain what merit there is in the claim.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs know that certain traders throughout Australia are openly defying orders made under the prices control regulations? Does he know that in Sydney tomatoes are being sold openly at 50 per cent, more than the fixed price ?
– I am not aware of what the honorable member has said; nevertheless, it may be a fact, because there are probably ways of evading any law ever made, and there are always people who refuse to obey the law. If the honorable member will supply specific instances, I am sure that the Minister for Trade and Customs will put his men on the trail immediately.
– With special reference to the evil of black marketing, I ask the Attorney-General whether it is not correct or compatible with British justice to impose penalties of a uniform character? By that I mean that in every case there should be a gaol sentence and not the option of a fine, as that makes for discrimination between the rich and the poor.
– Of course, discretion in that matter is vested in the courts. During the last Parliament we passed a Black Marketing Act, which provides for a minimum penalty of imprisonment. I then gave an undertaking to the House that that act would be invoked only in the most clear and most serious cases of black marketing. You have to discriminate between the very bad case and the bad case.
– There is discrimination between the wealthy and the poor.
– It is not so much discrimination between the wealthy and the poor as between the offences according to the degrees of seriousness. We have great difficulty in enforcing the Black Marketing Act, because the evidence is generally in the control of persons who themselves have taken part in black marketing. That is one of the difficulties implied in the answer given by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy).
Motions (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That the House will, at a later hour this day, resolve itself intoa Committee to consider the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
That the House will, at a later hour this day, resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Ways and Means for raising the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In Committee of Supply:
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That there be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the service of the year 1943-44 a sum not exceeding £25,961,000.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means, founded on resolution of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Beasley do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
– I move - .
That the bill be now read a second time.
Funds provided under Supply Act No. I will enable the services of the Government to carry on until approximately the 1st October. To cover the period from that date until the passing of the main annual appropriation, this measure provides Supply for two months. This Dill appropriates an amount of £25,961,000, under the following heads: -
The amounts included in the bill are based on the rates of expenditure for essential services approved in the appropriation for the year 1942-43. Except where some special necessity arises, the individual items making up this total represent not more than one-sixth of the appropriations of last year. In the first five months of the year, war expenditure, excluding special appropriations is estimated to amount to £243,000,000. To meet this expenditure revenue of £50,000,000 will be available after providing for other obligations. Of this amount, £30,000,000 was appropriated by Supply Act No. 1, leaving £20,000,000 to. be provided by this bill. Under the heading of “Treasurer’s Advance”, the sum of £1,000,000 is included in order to permit uncompleted civil works to continue and also to meet unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure.
– The Opposition does not object to the granting of Supply to the Government. No doubt, there will be a number of matters which individual honorable members willlike to discuss in relation to it. I do not propose to make any remarks at length upon the measure. The House has three opportunities for general discussion, first, on the AddressinReply, of which I have already availed myself ; secondly, on. the granting of Supply; and, thirdly, on the budget. I understand that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) proposes to bring down the budget to-morrow.
– That is so.
– I take no exception whatever to an immediate passage of the Supply Bill, because Supply must be granted for the next two months, and it is useless, in my opinion, to anticipate major financial discussion when we know that the budget will be introduced in this chamber to-morrow. But I suggest to the Government that, particularly having regard to the diminished size of the Opposition, we on this side of the chamber shouldbe given ample opportunity to examine bills and prepare our comments upon them. I do not apply that remark to the Supply Bill, because I agree with what has been done this afternoon, but I should like the Government to adopt, as far as possible as a normal practice, the granting of at least a week’s adjournment in relation to any bill that is more than a mere formality. I say this first, because the function of the Parliament in dis cussing bills is very important, and, secondly, because the factthat my colleagues and I are here in relatively small numbers means that individuals will have to do a great deal more debating than would normally be the case. The result is that we shall need time to consider these proposals and to furnish our minds in relation to them. If the Government brings down the budget to-morrow, the Opposition should have at least a week in which to consider it before the discussion is resumed. If the budget should give rise to financial measures that are themselves not formal measures, but measures of substance, they also should be introduced as soon as possible and made the subject of at least a week’s adjournment.
– The Government gives that assurance to the Opposition.
– I mention the matter at this stage because the practice that we adopt now will no doubt be continued for some time.
.- As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said, opportunities present themselves on the Supply Bill, the budget, or the Address-in-Reply, for honorable members to make comments of a general nature. As I have not spoken in this House for more than two years, and may not have an opportunity to speak on the budget, I desire to make a few observations on the Supply Bill, because they have a bearing on some of the departments for which the Government is seeking Supply. The Government was very successful at the recent election - perhaps embarrassingly so, having regard to the present number of its supporters. I hope that the Government will not grow careless of the future, and that its policy and administration will be not sectional, but will be of broad national dimensions.
I desire to refer to the subjects of immigration and aviation. Both are of great importance, and immigration has already been mentioned in the debate on the Address-in-Reply. As one honorable member informed the House last week. Australia’s position as the result of the declining birth-rate is becoming verymelancholy. The birth-rate is approximately one half of what it was in 1880. and if the present rate of decline should continue, the death-rate and the birthrate will be approximately equal in 1955. In other words, our population will then be stagnant. After the war, the first problem to receive our attention must be the migration of white people to this country. Years ago, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Hughes) issued the warning that Australia must “populate or perish “. Australia is a white British outpost near Asiatic hordes. We are holding our own with great difficulty. If we do not seek reinforcements from our own people, the time will come when our very existence as a nation will be imperilled, as it is to-day, and we may not then be so fortunate in holding our enemy at bay, as we are now doing. Therefore, the necessary planning must begin immediately, in Great Britain one sees, side by side with a wonderful war effort, every kind of planning in respect of housing, economic reconstruction, post-war trade, and so on. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), and members of the Parliamentary Delegation who visited Great Britain recently, will agree with me that Britain to-day has taken the lead in every sphere of government and defence. Britain will not suggest to us that Australia should take migrants after the war. It is for us to invite Britain to plan with us for the purpose of inducing people of British stock to settle in this country. In my opinion, past failures in immigration were largely due to the fact that the ‘problem of settling migrants in Australia was regarded as wholly one of establishing people in primary industries. We induced migrants to settle on the land, although many of them were unsuited for that kind of - work, and, in some instances, the land itself was too poor to provide them with a livelihood. By encouraging industrialization in Australia, we could attract some of the best artisans from Great Britain.
– Would that lead to centralization ?
– No. I believe in the decentralization of industry. The erection of munitions factories in country districts has shown -what can be done to decentralize industry throughout Australia. We, a ^nation of shop-keepers, as are the British, could, by the ‘indirect method of encouraging new industries and by expanding existing ones, attract from Great Britain artisans who would find in Australia congenial homes and greater^ opportunities for their children. Australia would benefit from such a blood transfusion, which is essential for our continuance as a nation. That is a long-range plan. Very early in its life, the Government should make to Great Britain a proposal for planning this form of immigration. I have attended meetings of the Empire Economic Union, at which many proposals have been put forward for post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation, but never have I heard a reference to migration. In the minds of British men and women is the thought that Australia does not want migrant.?.
– There was some truth in that before the war.
– In the minds of two out of every three British people is the belief that they are not wanted here as permanent residents. We must correct that erroneous impression .by showing them that they will be welcome here. By advocating a resumption of immigration after the war, I am not in .any way prejudicing the opportunities of Australian servicemen and servicewomen for obtaining employment. Our first obligation is to our own people. I suggest that Australian towns which bear the names of towns in Great Britain could adopt migrating families. In many ways, we could encourage people, so essential to our future, to settle here. An immediate start could be .made by suggesting to Great Britain that the migration of children to Australia be resumed. It was cut short at the time of the unfortunate sinking of the City of Benares, but ships still ply backwards and forwards between the two countries, and a quota of children could be brought out here on every one of them. I do not suggest that parents in Great Britain, although they are still subject to sporadic bombing attacks, will let their children go willingly, but there are available the orphan children of servicemen, and of miners who lose their lives in pit disasters, and there is also the Fairbridge Farm Scheme, which is one of the best in the world and could be considerably enlarged. The Commonwealth Government should therefore invite the
British Government to arrange to send 30,000 or 40,000 children to Australia, where they can at least get a better and more liberal supply of food than is available under present conditions in the Old Country. I trust that the Government will resolve on that as one of its immediate activities.
Of equal importance is the related subject of aviation. So far as distances go, the world has shrunk to very small dimensions. Aviation has, from its hazardous start of 30 yen rs ago, progressed to become the best means of transport, the most deadly weapon in war, and a most useful humanitarian agency, as is instanced by the splendid aerial medical service which it provides in Australia. In the same way that it relieves the isolation of people in our outback, it can do much to remove the isolation of Australia, which recently has been definitely drifting into a dangerous isolationism. If aviation, which in war contributes so much to the success of our common aim of beating the enemy, is to be utilized in peace for the common good, it must be an Empire instrumentality, with rates moderate enough to enable the “ Australian man in the street “ to see the rest of the world at a nominal cost, and the resident of the United Kingdom to come here and see the country on a short visit before he makes up his mind to migrate. What attracts the best in time of war, in peace should not be a private monopoly. Nominal fares, I am sure, can be obtained. Instead of costing £200 or £300, the trip should be within the reach of every one for £20 or £30. It does not matter whether that result is secured by subsidy, or by the Government going into business with private enterprise, because that kind of control is becoming more and more the rule in big enterprises. Great Britain to-day is seeking the co-operation of the Dominions in Empire civil air services. A reply was recently made in the House of Commons that the job would be gone oil with, but that one Dominion was not ready. I do not think that the Dominion referred to was Australia. I hope that the Government, recognizing that the time is ripe for a conference on Empire aviation, will immediately press* for it. The Minister has already indicated that the Government has something of that kind in mind. I hope therefore, that Australia will ask for such a conference, so that progress may be made in a service which was pioneered by the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and other Australians. Now the crossing of the Atlantic or the Pacific by air is a mere commonplace. The time of the trip could be cut down to 70 or SO hours. Rapid progress towards the calling of such a conference should be one of the prime considerations in the Government’s programme.
– And the design of the necessary aircraft would need to be put in hand very soon.
– Yes. In service craft Great Britain is ahead of every other nation, and could construct the necessary civil types also. If a suggestion from Australia is necessary to get the plans going, I hope it will be forthcoming immediately.
Whilst attending to the civil side, we must not forget the interests of our own Royal Australian Air Force in the matter of promotions, commissions and pay. Answering the question which I put to him the other day, the Minister has promised that, so far as he could work them out, these adjustments would be made retrospective where there had been oversights. I hope that will be done in a generous way. I know that many of these young Australians have been overlooked. They were some of the best of the Empire’s young men who converged upon the United Kingdom under the Empire Air Training Scheme during the battle for Britain. The Royal Air Force in defeating the Germans over Britain showed by its example that not only Great Britain but also Europe and civilization could be saved. The flower of our young nation’s manhood rallied to the Air Force, and while the Army and the Navy did their indispensable parts, the results of that great Empire air training scheme unfolded. To-day young Australians who played their part in that struggle are serving in hundreds of units of the Royal Air Force, as well as in their own squadrons, flying against the fiercest “ flak “ in foreign skies and defying all the defences that German ingenuity can devise. They are guiding their bombers over the Ruhr and other parts of Europe, holding their own in fighter sweeps along the Channel against the world’s best, and measuring up in enthusiasm and flying efficiency as second to none with any men that they meet in the air. It is wrong that some of these men, some of whom are commanding four-engined bombers, should still hold only the rank of sergeant, whilst they have officers in their crews. I instance the late Sergeant Middleton, who was posthumously awa-ded the Victoria Cross. I met him at a station in England, where I saw that he bad two decorated Royal Air Force officers in his crew. He was captain of a four-engined Stirling bomber, and had done 22 raids into Germany at that time. He asked me what was Australia’s policy on promotion, and I brought his case under notice. I do not. think it is the Minister’s fault, but it is the fact, nevertheless, that Australians have been forgotten in many of these squadrons.
– He was not forgotten.
– He was to this extent, that bo should have received his promotion long before. Any man who commands a four-engined bomber should hold a commission. A man must be at least a sergeant before he can be a member of an air crew. Therefore, if Sergeant Middleton remained a sergeant it meant that he had received no promotion. The lack of a commission prejudices these men if they are taken prisoner. In a prison camp a sergeant, like any other man in the ranks, is practically a slave, liable to work in a coal-mine or anywhere’ else, whereas an officer receives different treatment. I could quote a letter which I have received from a. group of mothers regarding their sons, not one of whom has been commissioned. For security reasons, I cannot give the details. Many of 1&ese boys are university students. They are of all types, and have shown their efficiency side by side with the best in the world. I know that the Minister has issued orders for removing the existing injustices and anomalies, but I want an assurance that it will be done. It is not a question of whether it should be done, but of how soon it will be done. If the Government will put aside some of the smaller domestic trifles that take up the time of the House, and concentrate upon big issues, realizing that one of the first priorities must be given to immigration, that an air conference which will ensure that Australia will play its part in post-war aviation must be held, and that justice must be done to the Royal Australian Air Force, it will do something that all of us will applaud.
– Whilst I agree that for security reasons honorable members cannot be given detailed information concerning the expenditure provided for in this measure, I consider that as a state of emergency no longer exists in this country, and, as has been stated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), there is not now imminent danger of invasion, the time has come for a review of the huge defence expenditure which we are still incurring by. adhering to .plans laid down when, danger to our shores actually existed. I am sure that many millions of pounds of war expenditure could be avoided and the money expended upon the manufacture of essential civilian goods, the supply of which has been curtailed or stopped owing to the pressure of war requirements. To that end also, there should be an immediate review of the man-power position in this country. When invasion threatened man-power was drawn heavily from almost every Australian industry, either to speed up war production, or to expand our fighting services. That urgent demand no longer exists, and I see no reason why more man-power should not be made available to certain industries which have been carrying on with seriously depleted labour resources. I refer particularly to primary industries. To-day farms running as many as 400 head of cattle are being carried on by only the farmers and their wives, with the result that the health of these people is being impaired seriously. Only last week I had two such cases brought to my notice. In one case the farmer had been ordered to undergo a major operation, but could not enter the hospital until he had secured the release of his son who has been engaged in a defence undertaking.
That case is typical of many. The Minister for “War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) will say that 30,000 men have been released temporarily to undertake work in the sugar industry and other industries, but I contend that the time has arrived when there should be a complete review of the Government’s man-power policy in relation to rural industries generally. Not only are primary producers to-day suffering serious loss because of the rapid deterioration of their properties, but also their health is being ruined. Girls working on farms are doing more work than they are physically fitted to perform. Many thousands of men in the Australian Imperial Force, the Militia, and the Civil Constructional Corps, are not doing useful work and would welcome a return to their former jobs on the land.
I urge that more information be made available :to honorable members in regard to the huge sums of money that are being spent upon defence projects in this country, such as the construction of strategical roads. No doubt many of these projects were embarked upon at a time when their use to counter enemy moves against this country seemed inevitable, -but the position has now changed, and I am confident that a review of our defence plans would disclose scope for many economies. A reduction of defence expenditure, and the release of man-power now tied up needlessly in defence activities, -would facilitate the reestablishment of some industries which have been forced out of existence. In Australian homes “the absence of many every-day requirements and ‘the rationing of certain goods make the task of mothers who have to care for families very difficult. A great majority of civilians :are making these sacrifices readily, but in view of the improved war position, we .should consider whether such .austerity is still necessary.
In view of the vastly improved shipping position throughout the world-, I urge also a review of import ‘ restrictions imposed by the Department of Trade and Customs. Surely the huge tonnage of shipping now being used to bring war requirements to this country could be employed to some degree a*t least, to bring certain civilian goods, the lack of which is causing inconvenience and distress in many homes.
– The honorable member will appreciate that the Commonwealth Government has not the final say in the allocation of the shipping available to the Allied Nations.
– I realize that, but many ships are being used to carry Australian products to allied countries; surely these vessels must have some cargo space available when they are coming to Australia. If a review of the labour position were to reveal that a portion of our man-power could be put to a better use than it has been during the past year, why not permit the restarting of some of our export industries which have been temporarily suspended ? After all, Great Britain, whose war effort and spirit of sacrifice are unsurpassed throughout the Allied Nations, is still able to export certain civilian goods.
Unfortunately, owing to lack of ‘information, honorable members do not know just where Australia stands in regard to essential defence requirements. I have no desire to seek information, which, if made public might be of some assistance to the enemy, but I point out that a curtailment of expenditure in general terms would not in any way reveal our plans to the enemy, because he would be unable to ascertain whether the reduction was being effected in the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force programme.
– I listened with interest “to the remarks made by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) concerning aviation generally and the “treatment of Royal Australian Air Force personnel overseas. I realize that as the honorable member has returned to this country fresh from service in Great Britain, he should be fully acquainted with the subject; nevertheless, I cannot allow some of his statements to pass without offering some correction or explanation lest a wrong impression be created. The future of civil aviation in this country has been under consideration ‘for a long time and views have been exchanged with other allied countries. In answer to a question asked in this House last week, I stated that a conference would be held very soon at which the whole subject would be explored with a view to determining Australia’s relations with the Mother Country, and with the other dominions. Australia will be represented at that conference. It is not likely that this Government would allow the interests of Australia to be overlooked ; on the contrary they will always he kept in the forefront. Everybody who has studied the matter knows that Great Britain is at a disadvantage because nearly all of its manufacturing capacity has been employed in the production of fighter, bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, whilst other countries that are better situated have been able to manufacture up-to-date passenger-carrying aircraft as well as bomber and transport types that are easily convertible. None of these matters has been overlooked; on the contrary, all of them have been watched very carefully. We realize that whatever steps we take must be in the direction of ensuring that the interests of Australia, and of the sister dominions who are in like circumstances because of their desire to assist Great Britain and the Allies, shall not be overlooked. I believe that the honorable member -for Balaclava referred to the Air Force as the best weapon of defence and attack. If it is not the best, it is at least the most modern. Aviation has proved most effective and humanitarian, -and has rendered a great service in Australia, particularly in connexion with the aerial medical service. I do not agree with the contention of the honorable member, that Australia, has adopted an isolationist outlook. If it be suggested that one dominion was rather reluctant to express its views’, I can state quite definitely that it wasnot Australia.
– I did not say that Australia was isolationist in that connexion. What’ I said was that we are drifting into a policy of isolationism generally:
– I disagree with the honorable gentleman. We are playing our part, very well in the endeavour to achieve victory for the Allied forces,, and in our general, outlook upon. world affairs as a whole. It has been suggested from time to time, and sections of the press have endeavoured to foster, the idea, that our airmen who are overseas have not been cared for or properly treated. On several occasions, in answers that I have given in this House, I have made it quite clear that the interests of these men are being watched. . I have supplied a number of statements to the press, and I cannot recall one occasion on which the full text was published. Maybe, shortage of space was’ responsible. Sometimes a garbled version was published, which gave rise to misunderstanding. Finally, I found it necessary to make in this House a statement which, I believe, clarified the position. A revision of the Empire Air Training Agreement that was brought down by a preceding government and assented to by this Parliament, was being considered. Many new phases were being raised; and this Government was” responsible for the propounding of proposals that were designed to ensure that the men would receive more favorable treatment under the new than they had had under the original agreement. I do not suggest that the representatives of other dominions were not in agreement with our proposals. But the view expressed in Great Britain, and published in the press, was that the British authorities did not consider that every member of a bomber squadron should, necessarily hold commissioned rank, any more than do the crews of vessels such as the “M.L.” boats that are in use in the Royal Navy. I cannot say whether or not that is the official view of the British Government. I believe the public ought to be told, that the ratio of commissioned’ officers to non-commissioned officers and other ranks is higher in the Royal Australian Air Force than in any other air force in the world.
– That is not right.
– What about. Canada ?
– I consider that the statement in regard to. Canada is. of’ very doubtful accuracy. I have endeavoured’ to ascertain the facts. Canada is a participant in the Empire Air Training Scheme, and must, comply with the conditions that a re laid down, in the agreement.
In the statement that I made to this House on the 30th June, I showed quite clearly what had been agreed to, not only by Australia but also by Canada. If Canada is doing more than that in its own country the difference does not apply to men who are serving overseas under the Empire Air Training Scheme. In the Royal Australian Air Force, the ratio of commissioned officers to rank and file is one to five. Does anybody know of a higher proportion in any other service? If he does, I should.be glad to hear of it.
– Does not the matter depend upon the nature of the personnel serving overseas?
– Members of ground staff, a3 well as air crew, are included. I refer to the total number of our men who are serving overseas where the ratio of commissioned officers to those of other ranks is one to five. Honorable members will agree that that is a very high ratio. On the basis of the total membership of the Royal Australian Air Force, the proportion is one to twelve ; and including those serving overseas with those who are in Australia, it is one to ten. It must be admitted that a very large proportion of those who are employed in the service are necessarily performing mechanical, transport, mess and various other duties. That being so, the ratio I have mentioned is very high. I am not suggesting that it is high enough. It is not my wish that promotion should be denied to any man who is highly qualified and has earned it. Provision has been made whereby the difference between non-commissioned and commissioned rank shall be bridged by recommendations of commanding officers. If persons worthy of promotion are not recommended for it, the fault lies with those under whom they are serving, whose duty is to make the necessary recommendation.
– That is the trouble; the recommendations have not been made, and the men have been overlooked.
– Provision has been made in the revised agreement whereby men who consider that they have been overlooked may make application for promotion; and if their applications are not granted, they have facilities for inquiring the reason.
– Does the proportion mentioned by the Minister apply to operational sections only, or to all categories ?
– I thought I had made it quite clear that I was referring to all sections, including ground staff, men engaged in transport, and mess men. The ratio in the whole of the Royal Australian Air Force is one commissioned officer to ten of other ranks.
– Can the honorable gentleman state what the ratio is in the operational sections?
– In the operational sections it is much higher. I have included the ground staff, in order that I might not appear to misrepresent the position. I have not attempted to withhold the facts, and I do not wish to cloak them in any way. I admit that a number of the men who are flying planes in operations are sergeants. The honorable member for Balaclava knows quite well that, after passing through various schools, the men are examined and that, according to the number of marks gained, 33-J per cent, of those who pass the examination can be given immediately the rank of pilot officer, even though they may be observers. The number of wireless air gunners given commissioned rank is somewhat lower. Previously, the limitation was 33-J per cent, upon graduation and 16$ per cent, after operations.’ Now, there is no limitation whatever; if the commanding officers under whom the men are serving consider that they are worthy of holding commissioned, rank, he may recommend them for promotion. Some time will elapse before every man has been raised to commissioned rank because of the need to await the recommendations of the commanding officers. Some men may serve in a squadron for only a short period and then be transferred to another squadron. I have not had any experience of the practice of commanding officers in such circumstances, but I should imagine that a man who had been recently transferred would not. receive immediately the recommendation of his new commanding officer, even though he had been recommended by bis previous commanding officer, because the former would wish to have first-hand knowledge of his qualifications. There are rather distressing cases of men having been sent to hospital, in consequence of which their papers have been delayed. Everything possible has been done to improve procedure in that respect. Many promotions have been made within the last six months as a result of persistent efforts by me, as Minister, and by .my department, but the leeway has not yet been made up. In addition, provision has been made whereby men who have given six months satisfactory service as pilot officers must, if they remain in the Royal Australian Air Force, become flying officers.
– In that respect the matter is all right. But the sergeants are the men who are overlooked.
– I have already dealt with that aspect of the matter. There is no limit to the number of men who can be raised to commissioned rank provided their commanding officers make the necessary recommendation. That applies in every country that is participating in the Empire Air Training Scheme. I wonder why, when the press was indulging in criticism, it did not refer also to the Army or the Navy.
– My complaint has nothing to do with the Army or the Navy.
– The press has said that on return to Australia airmen have been demoted from acting ranks, but this ia the only country I know where air crew, having been recalled by the Government, have retained their acting ranks despite all precedents. That course is not followed in the Army and the Navy.
– It is in the Royal Air Force.
– It is an excellent system, but it did not operate in Australia until I took action to give effect to it. Many airmen are now retained in their acting ranks, notwithstanding that such ranks may be surplus to establishment. They may not even be in an operational area, but may be carrying on instructional duties.
– Are they being paid the rates appropriate to their acting ranks?
– Yes. I ask honorable members to refer to the statement I made in the House on the 30th June.
– If airmen hold acting rank for six months they are confirmed in that rank.
– ‘No. Such ranks may be surplus to establishment, but they will carry on at the pay appropriate to their acting .rank as long as they are engaged in flying duties.
– If they hold acting rank in the United Kingdom for six months are they not confirmed in it?
– I do not think so. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) made a statement te- that effect last year, and asked for information to be obtained on the matter. As far as I recollect his view was not confirmed.
– The treatment to which men are entitled in the Royal Air Force is more generous than the Minister has indicated.
– If that be so, I am prepared to have the matter reconsidered, but I make no promise. Members of the Royal Australian Air Force have not only been dealt with fairly, but they have also been shown all possible consideration by the present Government and by myself. That will continue. I assure the House that the Government has been looking after the interests of these men and proposes to continue doing so. Because of the excellent services which many of them have rendered while holding noncommissioned rank I hope that their commanding officers will recommend them for promotion and that consideration of the recommendations will not be delayed.
– Hundreds of them have been missed.
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will furnish the department with lists of the men whose claims have, in his opinion, been overlooked. Some sergeant pilots are actually senior in the service to pilot officers. That position arises as a result of the condition that 33-J per cent, of the trainees on graduation may be made pilot officers. Some men who fail to get commissions go to Canada as sergeants, and they are followed by men from a subsequent course who have graduated as pilot officers.. Until the whole scheme is. revised those conditions will obtain, but every effort has been made to place the scheme on a more satisfactory basis. Under the revised agreement the position is much more satisfactory than it formerly was. I can say with, due modesty that I have pressed for the improved conditions that have already been secured for the members of the service, and the Government should be commended for its action in the matter.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) has referred to the difficulties that confront the primary producers in Queensland and other States. He speaks with an intimate knowledge of the primary producing industries. The problems confronting the farmers in his electorate, which adjoins mine, have also to be faced by the farmers in my district. Among those who were the first to answer the call of the nation were young men from the farms and pastoral holdings throughout Australia. Until May, 1942, they were allowed to enlist in the Royal Australian Air Force, the Australian Im.perial Force, and the Royal Australian Navy, or .to go to the cities to enter munitions factories. Thus young men were attracted from the farms to the fighting services and the munitions works. Many more were being called up to serve in the Citizen Military Forces. No action was taken by the last Government to prevent the withdrawal of labour from primary industries. As the direct action of the present Government, after May, 1942, no further call-ups were made of young men engaged in essential primary industries. The Government has been sympathetic to the requests made for the release from the fighting- services of men previously engaged in essential primary production, but the problem is not so easy to solve as might appear on the surface. The young men who were most useful on the farms left the land at a time when their parents were younger and probably in. better health than now. The strain. which has been imposed on the parents has resulted in physical weakness becoming apparent. Many of the young men who went to the Middle East or New
Guinea, have become specialists, such as signallers, and have acquired noncommissioned, or commissioned rank. The Army released up to 30,000 in one year for seasonal work in primary industries, and a mobile force of 5,000 men has been made available for service anywhere in Australia. When an application is made for a soldier’s release, it is sent to the National Service Officer in their district. If the officer cannot attend to the matter personally, he has the assistance of the local stock and dairy inspector. The officer visits the farm, and confers with the parents. The recommendation goes from the National Service Officer to the Deputy Director of Man Power who forwards it to the military authorities. In many instances the National Service Officer recommends that the person concerned be not discharged on the ground that his release is not justified in all the circumstances. Invariably, when a recommendation against release is made, no discharge ‘ takes place. In some cases, the National Service Officer recommends the discharge, but it is found that the man, who is up in some forward operational area, or who is a specialist of some kind, such as a signaller, or who holds some rank, is doing work of such importance that his commanding officer cannot let him go. The qualities which made him so useful on the farm also make- him useful to his commanding officer. However, notwithstanding the difficulty in getting experienced men out of the Army; we are every week arranging large numbers of discharges, as well as temporary releases on compassionate grounds, or because men are needed to go back to the farms to produce food. I believe that something more will have to be done in that way, but it is not so easy as was suggested by the honorable member for Wide Bay, when he spoke of thousands of men in the Army standing about doing nothing, while those trying to carry on the- farms are being worked to death. There are committees in all States going through Army personnel with a fine comb, as it were, in search of men who are physically fit and capable of doing more useful work in advanced areas. It has been stated that many men in district pay offices should be up in the forward areas. The District Finance Offices have to be carried on. They are staffed by men drawn from age groups and medical categories that make them unsuitable or unfit for active service in forward combatant areas. I have had complaints of this kind investigated, and I have been assured by the Commander-in-Chief that the overwhelming majority of men in base establishments aTe B class physically. Many of them are suffering from disabilities as. the result of service at the front. “When it is found that, after treatment, they are restored to health, they are immediately placed upon more active work unless they are key men absolutely essential to the efficient running of the office. .All this talk about men standing around doing nothing is untrue, and most unfair. It is a disservice to the Army, although the honorable member may not have meant his criticism to have that effect. It is necessary to provide labour for lines of communication, ordnance stores, workshops and hospitals in various parts of Australia. “When one travels over the north-south road to Darwin, as 1 did recently, one realizes that very large numbers of men are needed in lines of communication areas and sub-areas. At intervals of every 20 or 30 miles one encounters great convoys of trucks, which are driven from daylight to dark. At the end of every day’s journey, these trucks have to be serviced, and the needs of hundreds of men who travel with them must be attended to. This work is necessary in order to maintain an army in the north of Australia. I am constantly in touch with General Blarney, who recently issued instructions that the Army must be re-organized, and that re-organization is now going on. Without giving exact figures, I can say that the number of divisions in the Army in Australia has been reduced. The equivalent of more than a division has been withdrawn to provide reinforcements for the gallant men who .are putting up such a wonderful fight in New Guinea, men who are of the type of those who emblazoned the name of Australia across the Middle East. The Government recognizes that the food front is very important. The War Commitments Committee, at the direction of the Government, has spent some time in reviewing the situation. After consultation with the Chief of the General Staff, with General Blarney and General Mar,Arthur. the Government will reach a decision which, we . hope, will enable it to do something more to relieve the struggling primary producers whose work is of the greatest importance, not only to the civil population of Australia, but also to our own armed forces and those of our Allies in the islands north of Australia. I hope that the War Cabinet will be able, within a few days, to consider recommendations of the War Commitments Committee. However, it is not possible to afford full relief to primary producers and other essential employers by simply opening the gates, as it were, and discharging thousands of men from the Army. To do so would be to destroy the Army’s striking power.
– Will the Minister admit that there are many men’ in the Army who are not doing a full-time job ? Is it not a fact that there are 2,000 surplus officers, for instance?
– I dispute the honorable member’s statement that there are 2,000 surplus officers in the Army. Officers are being retired daily from the Army on account of age and physical unfitness and the position is being kept constantly under review. Every contraction of the Army renders some officers surplus, but we are many thousands of soldiers below our war establishment, and great difficulty was experienced in :finding .sufficient fit men to reinforce the fighting divisions and give them leave. . Men who are not gainfully employed in Australia, and are physically fit, are being trained for active, combatant duties. As I have said, the Government hopes shortly to make a -decision which, will result in the primary producers receiving further man-power, but it has to be recognized that no country can engage in an all-in war effort without experiencing manpower difficulties. We cannot remove all those difficulties and at the same time keep our armed forces at the strength which is necessary if we are to play our part in this war .side by side with our Allies.
– I always listen to the Minister for the
Army (Mr. Forde) with a conviction that it is not necessary to travel the world in order to see wonders. The Minister is a verbal Niagara, pouring out a torrent of words, and nothing but words. When he paints a picture of everything being as it should bo with the Army, and when he speaks of combing fit men out of base jobs, I am convinced that he has been having his leg pulled by those who aci vise him. Of this, I propose to give some instances. The first case is that of a soldier for whose release I had been applying for some time, because he was urgently needed on a property where his wife and aged mother were trying to carry on, and where, in spite of their efforts, stock were dying in large numbers. When I applied to the Minister, I was informed that the Army authorities regretted that it was impossible to release the man, although, having regard to the unit in which he was serving, this seemed to me to be incorrect. I applied again, and received from the Minister a reply that it was impossible to -release the man - exactly one week after he had, in fact, been discharged ! It would appear that, in some instances, the Minister has not been correctly informed as to what has been going on in his department. No application for the release of a man in the Army is granted unless he himself submits to his commanding officer an application for release. I am advised that, at times, applications by soldiers for release from the Army are not forwarded to the higher authorities to whom the applications are supposed to go, and 1 suggest that the Minister should make inquiries into this aspect of the subject. I am forwarding to the Minister to-day the case of an officer who was in the Armoured Division, but because of an injury to his arm last February had to go to hospital; he has since been given a “ B “ classification, and told that he is not likely to be physically fit for front-line service. In civil life he was a primary producer, but he has been seconded to a butchering unit, although he knows nothing of butchering. While so engaged his property is going to ruin. Cases like that should be looked into. Experienced primary producers who are noS medically fit for front-line service are employed driving lorries in base areas when they could be much better employed in primary production. It is not sufficient to say that numbers of boys under the age of nineteen years who, because of their youth, are ineligible for active service in battle areas, can do the work that is required on the farms. Primary production cannot be carried on successfully by untrained men. It may be possible to make almost any man a successful process worker in a secondary industry within a few months, or even weeks, but not every Tom, Dick or Harry can be employed usefully on a farm. I ask the Minister to look into these matters and to satisfy himself that his subordinates are not at times misleading him.
The Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) had a good deal to say about the generous treatment accorded to members of the Royal Australian Air Force compared with men of the Royal Air Force and of the air forces of the other Dominions. Some time ago there was a newspaper controversy in relation to the treatment of men who had held acting rank in the Royal Australian Air Force for many months overseas. The Minister was urged to confirm these officers in that rank after their return to Australia, regardless of the strength of the Royal Australian Air Force at the time. Doubtless, the Minister has been advised by his subordinates that it is impossible to allow that to be done in every instance. When this matter was raised in this chamber some time ago I informed the Minister, on the authority of a wing commander in the Royal Air Force, that in that force a man who had held acting rank for six months was automatically confirmed in that substantive rank. At the time the Minister said, that he would make inquiries, and, therefore, I was astounded to hear him say this afternoon that he did not know whether or not the position was as I had stated. It would appear that the Minister is like a man who, when told that his wife is misbehaving herself, is not really anxious to learn the truth about her conduct. It may be that, in view of the attitude of some of his officers, the Minister has not been keen to learn the facts. Surely, there would not have been any great difficulty in obtaining from Great Britain information regarding the practice in the
Royal Air Force. I submit that in the treatment of our airmen, who almost daily are risking their lives on our behalf, the Royal Australian Air Force should not be less generous than is the Royal Air Force.
.- I could not allow this occasion to pass without referring to the subject which has been mentioned by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), particularly as I am the only member of this Parliament who has been trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme.
– I also have been associated with that scheme.
– That is so; but the honorable member has been a trainer, nor. a trainee. I am the only member of this Parliament who has been trained under that scheme, and, accordingly, I claim to have some knowledge of the views of trainees on this subject. On graduation the trainees are promoted - one-third to the rank of pilot officer and two-thirds to the rank of sergeant. How different is their treatment from that accorded to army personnel who have completed satisfactorily a period of intensive training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. Every such man passes out with a commission. Trainees under the Empire Air Training Scheme undergo a course of training, not only in flying, but also in various subjects related to flying. I cannot divulge details of that training, but I can say that, in addition to having to complete a certain number of flying hours, trainees undergo a course of instruction in navigation, engineering, and many other subjects. I do not say that on graduation every trainee should be given a commission as pilot officer, but it is anomalous that men who have passed through the same course of training, have slept in the same huts, eaten at the same tables at a number of different centres, and shared the same risks in the air, should be treated so differently on graduation. Why should two-thirds of their number be promoted only to the rank of sergeant and have to say, “ Good morning, sir “ to any man of the other onethird, who, as the result of passing the same tests, has been fortunate enough to be promoted to the position of pilot officer ?
– Does not the infantry man share the same risks as his officer ?
– I have not as much experience of infantry as the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) has had, but I know that the risks taken in air training are considerable. The men feel that possibly the best way to overcome this difficulty would be to make all appointments to the rank of warrant officer immediately on graduation. That would give every trainee experience in the sergeants’ mess. Then, after six months, the best of them would be promoted to a more senior commissioned rank, for a warrant officer is really a commissioned officer, because he can win the Distinguished Flying Cross, whereas the sergeant can qualify only for the Distinguished Flying Medal. The men feel that those who show the most prospects of leadership and have done the best in the course, should be promoted to the rank of flying office]’, the rank of pilot officer being eliminated. One,third of those who train as observers, navigators and wireless air gunners are promoted on graduation to the rank of pilot officer, but they are not pilots; they are certainly members of the air crew, but for them to hold the rank of pilot officer is misleading. In exactly the same way, it is misleading for members of the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Air Force to have such rank as that of squadron leader, and, in my opinion, the system should be changed. I seriously suggest to the Minister for Air that he should give to the ground staff and the members of the Administrative and Special Duties Branch the same designations as are given to officers in the Women’s Australian Auxiliary Air Force, namely, assistant section officer, section officer, flight officer, squadron officer, and so on. He should not allow them to be confused with the men who are really doing the job - flying.
– That has been well considered.
– I was court martialled for having been allegedly insubordinate to a squadron leader, but he was not a squadron leader in the flying sense, for he was an Administrative and Special Duties man with an office on the ground, and I do not know that he has been within 1,000 yards of an aeroplane.
The Minister should take flying rank from persons who take no part in flying. He should also differentiate between them in the same way as the Navy differentiates between those men who go to sea and those who do not; he should put distinguishing bands on their sleeves, red for the medical staff and white for the accounting staff. Nonflying members of the Air Force should be distinguished from the men who take the risk in the air.
– The honorable member is quite wrong, because those men in the Navy whomhe mentions do go to sea.
– Some do, but others do not, or, at any rate, do not take an active part in things done at sea.
– I would advise the honorable gentleman to take a trip on a warship.
– I concede that members of the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Air Force do fly from one station to another for courts martial, and take some risk then; but they do not continually expose themselves to the risk to which the flying men are exposed every hour and every minute they are in the air.
– Sea-going medical and pay staff take the same risks as anybody else takes on board ship.
– I do not want to be diverted from the points that I am endeavouring to emphasize. I suggest that the Minister for Air at the next conference held to consider the Empire Air Training Scheme should make a proposal that, instead of trainees being appointed as sergeant pilots and pilot officers at the end of their training, the rank of sergeant pilot and pilot officer should be abolished, and that, on graduation, all trainees should be made warrant officers. Then, after six months, all those who have proved most satisfactory, say, about one-third of them, should be automatically appointed to the rank of flying officer; the others should be promoted in accordance with the existing agreement.. I also suggest that the Minister very seriously consider the advisability of taking away from members of the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Royal Australian Air Force the flying ranks that they improperly hold. He should also cause differentiation to be made in the insignia those men wear. The practice adopted in that respect by the Navy should be followed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I am sorry to have to speak again, but I must, because the Minister, in his reply, indicated what he intended to do. I am quite with him in that regard; but I assure him that he is not correct when he says that matters are as they should be.
– I did not say that.
– Well, the position is bad. I say that advisedly, because for three and a half years I have been with the men- concerned. I have official correspondence to show that the Flying Training Command in Great Britain has written to our own head-quarters here saying that our men have been overlooked. The reason is that the Australian method is different from that of other dominions. Our system was instituted before the present Minister took over the Department of Air, but it is a fact that Australia has a system different from that of the other dominions. Trainees from other dominions and Great Britain, whether they be pilots, observers or gunners are automatically promoted from the rank of sergeant to that of flight sergeant at the end of six months, but trainees from Australia must be recommended by their commanding officer for promotion. That provision is contained in a special regulation. The result is that the Australians have been forgotten. They are distributed over hundreds of British units embracing every command - Fighter, Bomber, Coastal, Ferry and Flying Training Command. Many Royal Air Force commanding officers did not know of the existence of this special Australian regulation, and, consequently, our nien have been overlooked in almost every instance. I visited 50 or 60 Royal Air Force stations. On almost every one of them I found sergeants complaining of having been v overlooked. They do it very nicely, for they are not. in the position of industrialists who are able to stage sit-down strikes. Every day these men risk their lives uncomplainingly. They have brought this matter forward through, proper channels, hut with only partial result. The commanding officers do not know the Australian procedure. It could be said that primarily the fault lies with the commanding officer, but ultimately the fault is with Australia. Thousands of good men have been “ done down “ for thousands of pounds of pay. I spoke moderately before; I speak emphatically now because these men do not receive their due. Many have been killed holding ranks less than their just due, and their relatives have not received what they should receive. Men in captivity are being treated as rank and file although many of them should have been commissioned officers. Although the Minister has brought in amended regulations, what is required is a definite order that these men who have been neglected shall receive their due. There should be no cheeseparing in the matter. The men should be treated generously. I could give many specific instances to bear out what I have said. For instance, I cite the ease of a sergeant .gunner with whom I wa3 on a raid only a few months ago. He was on his thirtieth raid, which completed his tour of operations, entitling him to a period of rest. He was still a sergeant. Those are the facts, regardless of the reasons. I also met a man who was reverted to his basic mustering after he had done 1,000 hours of operational flying. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) has told us of the dangers involved in flying in ordinary training exercises. I am now speaking of actual operational flying. These men are thousands of miles from this country, and have no access to any person who can help to redress their grievances. I was one person to whom they could put their complaints; and I should not have brought -the matter up if it had been adjusted. I do so now in the fairest way. I ask for a promise from the Government to give these men their due. The existing practice in regard to continuing acting rank, which the Minister mentioned, has been introduced belatedly. Men like Truscott, Brennan and Bungey, great fighter pilots, suffered the humiliation and ignominy of losing their acting rank, although it was later restored. I do not blame the Minister for the fact that that action was taken belatedly.
– I remedied that anomaly.
– It arose under a ruling by a previous government.
– I am giving facts. I do not condone a wrong, no matter who was responsible for it. It is incorrect to say that in the Empire Air Training Scheme Australians enjoy equal opportunities of promotion with Canadians and New Zealanders. The Canadians press their demands more persistently. They are now asking that all pilots and observers be given commissions. Whether that request will be granted I do not know. In the last war all pilots were commissioned. I agree with the honorable member for Watson that the system of commissioning air personnel could be greatly improved. At present, for instance, only one-third of the members from each dominion in a course are eligible to receive commissions. However, when men who were in the same course are crewed up in the same bomber in Great Britain, those who did not receive commissions might find themselves subordinate to men from other dominions to whom they were superior in school. That is the kind of anomaly of which I complain. Things are not right with these young men who are the flower of our nation, and have achieved splendid records in the skies of Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. I ask the Minister to take a generous view of their claims and to give them retrospective ranking with corresponding pay. He will thus adjust a grievous wrong.
– I am prompted to speak further on this matter, because from the remarks of the two previous speakers it would appear that I should defend something which. personally, I cannot defend. The suggestions made by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) have been considered. However, prior to the Curtin Government assuming office, a system had 1>een established whereby applications were invited for the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Royal Australian Air Force, and in the advertisements an undertaking was implied that successful applicants would be commissioned as pilot officers, flying officers and flight lieutenants. That system was put into operation to such a degree that nearly every member of Parliament, and many other people, wrote to me recommending personal friends for appointment to those positions. In fact, one-third of my mail was of that character. The Government has reviewed that system. I point out to the honorable member for Watson - -I need hardly point it out to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) - that all men engaged in flying duties wear the wings badge which distinguishes them from officers engaged in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch. That badge indicates that the wearer is a flying man. It is a definite distinction. I doubt whether it is wise to go into this subject again. In such matters a layman like myself must be guided by experts with special knowledge. The honorable member for Balaclava is a wing commander in the Royal Australian Air Force and, holding that rank, he must have some influence in the force. If th<> anomalies he mentions existed in Great Britain, I am astounded that some responsible officer did not bring them under my notice.
– I regarded the subject so seriously that I asked for a ministerial inquiry into it.
– If the honorable member made such a request, it did not reach me. The honorable member also raised the subject of promotion from the rank of sergeant. That matter is governed not by regulation but by the agreement made between the Dominions and Great Britain, which lays down a system, of time promotion for air crew non-commissioned officers. The effect of that provision is that all sergeants in all air crew categories will automatically receive promotion to flight sergeant after six months and to warrant officer after a further twelve months in the rank of flight sergeant, subject only to their service being satisfactory. Moreover, 10 per cent, of flight sergeants may be promoted to warrant officer after nine months in the rank of flight sergeant, and in addition special provision has been made for the rapid promotion to warrant officer of sergeants selected as captains of flying boats or four-engined aircraft.
– What is the date of that agreement ?
– It came into operation on the 1st May of this year.
– That is the point; all the men for whom I am appealing were omitted before that.
– The present Government cannot accept responsibility for that fact. The original agreement was laid on the table of this House, and endorsed by honorable members. I do not know whether honorable members knew the full details of that agreement, but it was generally accepted as a sound scheme which would provide reasonable treatment for air force personnel. I saw certain defects in the agreement, not because I had any special knowledge of t’he subjects, but because my attention had been drawn to those defects. I realized that some of the provisions were not fair. A directive was given to our representative at the conference which considered the revision of the Empire Air Training Scheme, and the amended agreement is the result of that conference. I have supplied a copy of it to the honorable member for Balaclava since he returned from overseas, so he must be familiar with its contents. I ask honorable members to study a little more closely matters of this kind before they begin to criticize those administering the agreement.
– I am trying to point out that the previous regulations left anomalies unremedied for two years, and I now ask the Minister to make amends to those men who suffered under those regulations.
– As Minister for Air, I shall see that the provisions of the Empire Air Training Scheme, to which Australia is a party, shall be adhered to. If I, on my own initiative, were to depart from the agreement, I should not be showing a proper sense of responsibility. Any other grievances which on examination prove to be well founded will, as far as possible, be remedied. More than anything else, I desire to make it clear to honorable members that whatever defects existed before, many of them - I shall not say all of them - have been remedied as the result of the action taken by the Labour Government at the last conference of parties to the Empire Air Training Agreement. The honorable member for Watson suggestedthat the matter might with advantage be raised at the next conference, but the next conference will not take place until 1945. That is a long time ahead.
I have explained the difference between Royal Australian Air Force personnel doing special and administrative duties and those engaged on flying duties. I am glad to see that two honorable members are wearing the “ wings “ of a Royal Australian Air Force pilot. That distinction can be earned only after considerable study, and incurring certain risks. I trust that the distinction that exists between, air crew personnel and those who keep their feet on the ground will be retained, and that air crew personnel willalwaysbe recognized as a different body from the administrative section, although the latter is rendering valuable service.
Bill agreed to and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
Thatit is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for war pensions.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Lazzarini do prepare andbring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to provide the sum of £10,000,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the payment of war pensions. The bill is similar to that periodically submitted to Parliament for the purpose of appropriating an amount from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for payment into a trust account to enable pensions to be paid at rates already approved by Parliament. The balance of the appropriation now remaining is sufficient only to meet pension payments to the end of October. Expenditure on war pensions during the present year is estimated at £11,036,000. The expenditure last year was £9,008.000. The additional expenditure is due to the 20 per cent. increase of the rate of war pensions recently approved by the Parliament, and an increased number of pensioners arising out of the present war.
Although Parliament is being asked to provide £10,000,000, which is the usual amount appropriated;, this sum will not be withdrawn from revenue immediately. Revenue is drawn upon only for payment to the trust account as required in order to enable pension payments to be made as they become due. This measure has no relation whatsoever to the rates or conditions under which war pensions are paid, but merely authorizes the provision of funds for the purpose.
.- I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether this bill affords honorable members an opportunity to discuss pension rates.
– The honorable member would not be in order in discussing at length pension rates and conditions under which pensions are payable.
– The honorable member will have that opportunity when the General Estimates are under consideration.
– Information supplied to me suggests that war pensions are paid to only approximately 25 per cent. of the total number of personnel who are discharged from the services on medical grounds. Apparently, a considerable proportion of those discharged on medical grounds do not receive a war pension or medical benefits. In fact, medical benefits are available only to personnel who receive pensions from the Repatriation Commission. The fact that 75 per cent. of the personnel discharged on medical grounds do not receive any medical benefits whatsoever is in contrast to the system in operation in Canada where, I understand, free medical treatment for a year is given to personnel who are discharged from the services on medical grounds. I do not know whether the Minister for Repatriation (Mr.Frost) will desire to comment on the statistics which I have given, but if they be correct, it appears that there remain some features of rehabilitation that should be included in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a secondtime.
.- I should like the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) to comment upon the statistics that I have just given.
– The honorable member will have ample opportunity during the discussion of the General Estimates to refer to that matter.
– I know what will happen when the General Estimates are introduced. Honorable members will be asked to endure an all-night sitting, and probably only half an hour will be allowed for a discussion of repatriation problems.
– The Labour Government will not follow the example set by anti-Labour governments.
– Occurrences of that kind happened with almost uncomfortable frequency in the last Parliament under the Labour Government, and I have no doubt that the same practice will again be followed when the General Estimates are introduced.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).Order! The honorable member is not in order in discussing pension rates at this juncture.
– Mr. Speaker permitted me to refer briefly to matters that I considered were of considerable importance. On the facts which have been represented to me, only one-quarter of the men discharged from the services on medical grounds are able to receive medical treatment for the injuries or ailments that led to their discharge.
– Order ! This bill merely provides a certain sum of money for the payment of war pensions. The honorable member is not in order in discussing the rate of pensions, or the conditions under which pensions are payable.
Bill agreed to and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 24th September (vide page 66) on motion by Mr. Chambers -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to -
May it Please your Excellency :
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- In view of certain remarks made with regard to the problem of reconstruction, I decided to say a few words on the subject during this debate. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said, we on this side of the House have a “cloud of witnesses “, which reminds me that on the other side of the House there are some teeth missing from the jaws of the Opposition. The thought was borne in on me as a new member that there might be a very definite reason for this, and that is the urgent importance of reconstruction, for which the Government has a 100 per cent. mandate. This vital question has been mentioned in its various aspects by other honorable members, but there is one aspect of it which appeals to me and will, I think, appeal to the House generally when I have discussed it. I refer to the ideal behind the realism of reconstruction. We have before us blueprints, specifications, suggestions, and ideals that will, after this war is over, give us a certain scheme of reconstruction. We know that there are certain things to be done, and certain formulae to be used to bring those results about, but even before this there must be a realincment in our minds as to the ideal behind reconstruction. We want a resurrection for the peace in relation to not only the realities of bricks and mortar but also the spirit of Australianism. This Parliament has been presented with the tremendous task and responsibility of replanning. Australia, not only in terms of material gain and advantage, but also in terras of its historical and cultural background. That is how I approach the nub of this situation.
We have in this country after 150 years of settlement all sorts of material development which has helped us to obtain a position of prosperity and success amongst the nations, but on the other side we have very little of the true Australian cultural background that wc should have after a century and a half of existence as a nation. Any country which is not busying itself with telling the world the story behind its progress and what it has achieved and which is not writing the sagas of its heroes- and the travails of its pioneers, is recreant to a certain extent to the greatest duty of nationhood.
I see in- reconstruction a chance to rebuild what we have allowed to slip past us. If we look back to the history of Australia Ave find in the 90’s a resurgence brought about by the Labour party and its vigorous spirit of revolt against injustices within the limits of legalism. There was then a rearing and rampant and glorious spirit of young nationhood which produced the prophecies of Lawson and the songs of “ Banjo “ Paterson, the sagas that we sang, the humor that we loved, against the delightful background of Australianism. But there has been a lull between the 90’s and 1943. We have made no progress, and our children, instead of looking back at the past, want to know something about the eightcylinder job on the road, or the triple-engined bomber in the sky.
There has been some exterior force keeping back the cultural development of Australia. I attribute it to our national neglect of the Australian author, who is anxious to tell the story of Australia. There is no full appreciation of Australia in its cultural activities, and there is a certain loss of essential balance. I think the reason behind that is to a certain extent commercial. The Australian author is anxious to tell, his story to the world, -but the Australian bookseller is anxious to sell books by British. American and other authors. In the race between art and commerce I need, not tell you which must win. The situation as I see it is one to which we must give consideration. We have, functioning under the Commonwealth Government, a literary organization which could assist in the development of the Australian writer. I am not concerned so much with the intermittent writer as I arn with, the writer whose ability is such that in normal circumstances he should be making enough money in his own country to enable him to work on the job that he loves best. So far the Australian writer has existed on dole conditions doing the job he loves best, and no one worries about him. That is due to the fact that by spending a. £5 note a commercial publisher in Australia is able to obtain an overseas story by the latest airmail, published on news or book print, which is in very short supply now. the result is that the Australian writer is neglected. There is a simple answer, which has been discussed by various writers and. artists, and that is the introduction of some sort of quota far the Australian writer. There are at least 15,000 circulating libraries in Australia. If a quota system were adopted by which at least two books by Australian authors, approved by the Commonwealth literary fund, had to be acquired by each of those libraries, a market of roughly 30,000 books would lie at once created. I venture to say that no Australian writer - not even a writer of what may he called an Australian classic which has been published overseas - has ever approached within “ coo-ee “ of that figure. I contend that a kind of spiritual quota could ‘be imposed upon the generosity of the Australian public by asking people interested in our literature to put into these libraries at least two Australian books. That would give to Australian writers at least sufficient money to enable them to remain independent of outside help. Surely when consideration is being given to post-war reconstruction, it is little enough to ask that the writers of Australian novels should not be forgotten. Not only has it been left to other countries to discover our great writers and authors, but also our artists have had to go abroad before being recognized. For instance, the originator of the “ Felix the Cat “ animated cartoon, Pat Sullivan, was allowed to live in poverty in Sydney. Subsequently he went to New York where his idea was taken up immediately, and became the standard work for copyists, many of whom have since made fortunes. His idea for “ Felix “ was born while he starved in an attic and watched the antics of a cat. Other famous people whom we have sent abroad include Helen Simpson, the brilliant Henry Handel Richardson, and others whose work we now regard as Australian classics. They do not live at home ; they received no encouragement here. In our plans for post-war reconstruction, some provision should be made for the encouragement of Australian talent, so that our own authors and artists will be able to earn a reasonable living. They ask for nothing more than a chance to sell their wares. To-day they are earning less than the basic wage, but such is the persistence of art, and in some cases of genius, that they are prepared to carry on in these unfortunate circumstances. In dealing with our cultural background, serious consideration must be given also to the problem of radio entertainment. Unfortunately, our script writers to-day are being commercialized by business interests. They are not permitted to do the jobs that they would like- to do. For instance, many of them would like to put more Australian plays on the air, but the sponsors of the various sessions say that they want such and such a programme, which, in most cases, is a replica of something that they have heard from an American station. The result is that the task of the Australian script writer is reduced to more or less routine work, and no facilities are offered to him for the expression of Australianism. Another serious matter is the fact that classical works, such as those of Shakespeare, Dickens, Dumas and Victor Hugo, copyright upon which has expired long since, are being dramatized for broadcasting. Such works are broadcast in serial form, some of them taking as long as twenty weeks to complete, and no money is paid for their use. Their preparation for radio broadcasting is a routine matter, as “ tailoring “ requires only a few minutes, and no incentive or opportunuity is offered to local script writers to develop their own original ideas. In my opinion, the users of such scripts should be penalized on a copyright basis. For instance, £100 could be fixed as the fee for the use of one of the great masters for dramatization over the air, and the money put into a fund to be used to encourage our own writers in Australia. There is another important consideration relating to the development of our cultural relationships: I should like to see established a college of culture or an organization of artists, authors, politicians and others who desire to reward Australian talent, to replant the tree which flourished in the nineties of last century, but which has since wilted. We must remember also that the evils of commercialism can keep Australian talent down. The pressure of overseas commercial interests is working in various ways. It is being applied strongly in journalism. Overseas comic strips are better known in this country to-day than are the characteristic Australian features. Apparently no one has thought of going to a newspaper editor and saying that the kookaburra would be a fine subject for a comic strip. Just prior to the war, syndication had grown to such a degree that it was menacing the livelihood of local artists and writers. On one newspaper alone, syndicated features, including comic strips and novels purchased in bulk, werecosting £20,000 a year. That sum represented a complete loss to Australian writers and black and white artists. The answer to the problem lies in engendering in the public mind a new outlook upon literature and upon the future of our country generally. It is with some diffidence that I speak upon this matter at this stage. I should have preferred, as the Leader of the Opposition said, to remain amongst the “ cloud of witnesses “ rather than to aspire to the publicity of an opening address, but consideration of the whole subject of post-war reconstruction has presented me with an opportunity to bring this important matter before the House. The solution as I see it is also to establish an organization to give an impetus to our own literature and to make a genuine effort to bridge the gap between the Australian writers and artists who want to do a job and the people of Australia who want them to do that job.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to S p.m.
– When I was returning from Adelaide to New South Wales a few days ago I heard a sweetly sounding silver voice through the air which indicated to me quite clearly that I was either in Sydney or in the bush. As it was Sydney on that occasion, I take the opportunity to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on at last being firmly seated in that green leather upholstered seat which you will now occupy, no doubt, for the duration of this Parliament. We had the benefit of your guidance in the office of Speaker during the last few days of the Sixteenth Parliament, but I make it quite clear that if I had my way you would have been there nearly three years earlier. Certainly you would have been put there in October, 1941. But we will not go further into that matter at the moment.
We have before us for discussion to-night the Address-in-Reply to the Speech which His Excellency th Governor-General delivered in the Senate chamber last Thursday.
– What about a word on the big open spaces opposite?
– It is one of the fortunes of political warfare that at present the benches on this side of the chamber look, in some ways, like the Nullabor Plain, but the honorable member should realize that the grass will grow again, and that there will be apples in Eden once more, though I do not think that he will be here to eat them. One is entitled upon an occasion like this to refrain from dealing, in an intense fashion, with the direct political issues which no doubt in due course will press themselves upon u3, and to say a few words about things that happened just before the elections, things that happened during the elections, and things that have happened since the elections.
One thing that has happened is that we now have a woman member of this House. On a previous occasion I have expressed myself on this subject, but I wish to say now that there is no person in Australia better qualified, or better deserving, to be the first woman member of this House than the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). Honorable members know something of my views on this question, and they will not misunderstand me when I say that I welcome the honorable member and will give her any assistance that such a rough diamond of the male sex as myself may be able to give to her.
– The honorable gentleman said that the women ought to remain in the kitchen.
– The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) would ako fit in very well there; in fact he would make an excellent impersonation in such a place.
Speaking generally concerning the great number of new recruits who have been projected into the benches opposite, I do not exactly agree with the comment made last week on the subject by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). I will go a little farther back into history. I recollect reading somewhere in my school days - I think it must ‘have been in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar - a few lines about “ sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights “. I have never seen a better collection of tall, thin and goodlooking men enter Parliament as the result of one general elections.
The next matter to which I turn relates to the loss of certain members of the last Parliament. I say, with a feeling of very deep regret, that I miss from the benches opposite me the form and face of the previous honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). I say quite openly that the United Australia party of Victoria did not display much sense in advising electors to place Mr. Blackburn last in their order of preferences. I do not know Mr. Blackburn’s successor. I have not yet met him, but, in any case, I would say that if he is half as good a nian as his predecessor he will be a credit to this Parliament.
– What did Mr. Blackburn do to deserve this?
– I did not always agree with the views expressed by Mr. Blackburn in this chamber, but, in my opinion, he was one of the ablest, and also one of the straightest, men who has sat in this House.
– Yet he was always opposed in his electorate by the United Australia party.
– Order !
Mi-. ARCHIE CAMERON.- I wish to hear the interjections, Mr. Speaker, because I desire to make it clear that, in my view, the former honorable member for Bourke was one who gave of his very best to this Parliament. It is an interesting commentary upon the attitude and methods of the Labour party that, for a very small offence indeed,, it refused to find room within its ranks for a man of the type, intelligence, courage and capacity of Mr. Blackburn.
We see before us to-day not only a new Parliament but also a new Government. ‘et, not so very new after all, for only one alteration has been made in its personnel. In tendering my congratulations publicly to- the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), and in expressing the hope that I shall not do him any damage by saying that in the last Parliament it was said that I was the only friend he had, I point out that in spite of that fact he is’ now in charge of a department which he and I have both said on other occasions should not exist. I have never observed a very marked streak of humour in the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), but on this occasion he must be credited with unconscious, if not conscious, humour in having placed him in charge of the Department of Information. In fairness to his colleagues, and to the Labour party in general, I believe that the first work the new Minister should do is to issue a brochure of the kind that has frequently emanated from the Department of Information on all sorts of unwarranted occasions. This one should bear the title, “ Labour ministries and how to get into them “. It should contain a foreword written by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard). I am sure that such a publication would be of very great interest to every member of the Australian Labour party.
– That might involve divulging caucus secrets!
– I hardly heard that interjection. The “walkietalkie “ was not very loud. The battery must have been just about run down through playing Auld Lang Syne for so long.
Under present conditions, whatever our side in politics may be, we are entitled to expect that His Majesty’s Executive will successfully grapple with the problems of the clay, but I wish to make one or two observations concerning an extraordinary situation which has existed since just before the general elections until this moment. It relates to the position of the Minister for Transport and Minister for . External Territories (Mr. Ward), whose presence I miss from the chamber at the moment. It is not often that a cabinet can go to the country with one of its senior Ministers suspended, like Mahomet?s coffin, between heaven and earth, be returned, and for the caucus subsequently to reelect the member concerned to the new Cabinet. The Prime Minister has virtually taken the attitude that whatever happens he will not grumble, and that he will accept with the resignation of a martyr whatever result may come from the little ballot-box in the party room. He will nurse his feelings and be forgiving whenever that may be necessary. I have not yet had an opportunity to read a certain document that was laid on the table of the House to-day, but I could not help asking the Prime Minister yesterday whether there had been an accident in the allotment of portfolios when the honorable -member for East Sydney was given the portfolios of the Minister for Transport and Minister for External Territories. Practically all of our external territories are occupied to-day by the Japanese. We hold authority over only a very small area of our normal external territories. Again I am not sure whether it was conscious or unconscious humour on the part of the Prime Minister which caused him to give the honorable member for East Sydney charge of the departments of Transport and External Territories. I do not suggest that a gentleman of the capacity of that honorable member cannot manage these departments, but I asked yesterday whether he could not be sent on a visit to inspect the territories under his control. I do not think it would be difficult for the honorable gentleman to arrange such a trip, for he can accomplish almost anything. I consider that he would be able to get into and out of anywhere. I understand that Nauru is our most distant external territory, but he could get there all right. 1 believe that he would be able to present, even to the Japanese, an acceptable letter of introduction. It would most likely be one of Richard Casey’s misdirected letters. If the Japanese tried to keep the Minister there I believe that it would be quite within his capacity to produce a copy of the Bill of Rights and to plead parliamentary privilege in order to get away again. I have a strong suspicion that when all of us come before the Archangel Gabriel, when the trumpet sounds, and are called upon to give an account of our doings, the Minister for External Territories will produce a copy of the Bill of Rights, plead parliamentary privilege, and thus be the only one among us who will escape the consequences of his deeds.
From -afar I watched the composition of the present Ministry with great interest. Without doubt some honorable gentlemen who are well qualified to be in the Ministry have been left out of it. Of these the first I shall mention is the honorable member for Ballarat. It will no doubt be fresh in the memory of that honorable member that on a certain occasion about three years ago, when I was in his electorate with one of my senior officers, I said that if we were able to form a national government I would want the honorable gentleman as my assistant Minister.
– And I said that you would have had Buckley’s chance.
– I regret that I did not get the honorable gentleman as my assistant. In my opinion he is one of the honorable members opposite who would have done a very good job as a member of the Ministry and I regret that one who has given such good service to his party, and who has shown ministerial capacity as a member of a Victorian government, remains only a private member of this House.
– The honorable gentleman is now damning for ever my prospects of attaining ministerial rank.
-the honorable gentleman did not have any prospects -to damn, but on some future occasion things may alter.
I refer now to another honorable gentleman of some experience who, in the last Parliament, held the responsible position of Government Whip. I am quite sure that that honorable gentleman did not wish any changes to be made by caucus, for he travelled by train all the way to Adelaide from Queensland in order to make sure that the newly elected members of the caucus would not make any changes. I consider that the honorable gentleman’s colleagues were rather rough on him for, in effect, they said of him, “ Too good for Whip ; not good enough for Minister “. So we see the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) still sitting on a hack bench. I am afraid that he is likely to stay there for a long while.
I notice that the next honorable member opposite to whom I wish to refer in relation to ministerial appointment is at the moment sitting on the treasury bench where he has no right to be. I refer to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein). I am sure that the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) must feel the lack of that honorable member’s assistance in his departmental administration, and I am perfectly certain that the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) was itching to make way for the honorable member for Watson, but caucus did not .select him for ministerial office so he, too, must wait until some future date for the right to sit on the front bench and hope that some happy circumstance may yet place him there.
The last honorable gentleman to whom I shall refer in this connexion is the new arrival from Denison (Dr. Gaha). I listened with a good deal of interest to the speech which the honorable gentleman made last Friday afternoon. I am afraid that not many of the points that he raised would find a sympathetic reception in the party to which he belongs. I understand that he, too, was a volunteer for ministerial office. It is wonderful how the volunteers are rejected over there. I say to him that three more speeches such as that which he made last Friday afternoon will result in his being either in the Cabinet with the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) or over here with me. This newly elected gentleman - who cannot plead, as can so many who come here, childish innocence of federal politics - whom I have seen in this chamber as one of His Majesty’s Ministers of State from Tasmania, in which office he had a long experience, had the temerity last Friday afternoon to speak against the League of Nations. I have been guilty of doing that for years past. I do not believe in the League of Nations, and never have. The honorable gentleman, with blasting criticism, withered what the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has adopted as his own subject - the four freedoms. He said the most scathing things about them. What he also said about the post-war period is exactly what I said during the election campaign.
– That is why the honorable gentleman was nearly defeated.
– Why, then, if the honorable gentleman made similar statements during the election campaign, did he get away with them? The honorable gentleman needs to take a day off in order to consider the position very carefully. I have no objection to what he says or does. Let him think like a socialist and talk like a tory as long as he likes; I shall enjoy the spectacle. I am not without hope that he will enthuse or inject - he being a medical man, I suppose that I may quite rightly use that term - into the party in which he is now a very distinguished and, I hope, a very useful member, some perception of the realities of the situation as he quite obviously sees them himself.
– Is the honorable gentleman inferring that he has infected me with his ideas, or that I have infected him ?
– Any honorable gentleman present, who was a member of a previous parliament will assure the honorable gentleman that I. am quite incapable of being infected with anything; none has ever seen me with a cold or with influenza.
Something has been said about the attitude of the Opposition. My right honorable friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has referred to the “fighting Opposition”. I hope that that will be borne out in fact; because it has been my considered opinion - and I say this publicly for the first time - that there was not very much fight in the Opposition during the last couple of years. That fact grieved me very seriously.
– How could honorable members opposite fight when they were angling for a national government?
– It would seem that we did not use the right bait. I trust, very seriously that a good deal of fight will be put up by this side of the House. For a long time during the life of the Sixteenth Parliament, I believe that the Opposition has a case to put forward ; but, because of the conditions under which it was working, because of that terrible reign of King Compromise, that case was never put forward, and we reaped the harvest which, no doubt, we sowed. Therefore, if the right honorable gentleman is prepared to go ahead with the policy of a fighting Opposition he can rely upon having me with him at all times. I hope that that will be the attitude which we shall adopt. There is one other aspect upon which I want to comment.
– Only one?
– I shall take one at a time. Unlike my honorable friend, when I come to my bridges I cross them. The matter that I have in mind is what I regard as the very useful separation of the two parties that sit on this side of the House. An operation, has taken place, and the two Siamese ladies are now acting independently.
– -With which one is the honorable member associated now?
– I am here j 119 t for the time being, no doubt in a position similar to that, occupied by the honorable gentleman on Friday afternoons - the self-appointed member for Canberra. The only thing that I regret - I say this publicly, whatever my colleagues may happen to think about it - is that the Opposition has not seen fit to terminate the very unsatisfactory state of affairs that exists in regard to the Advisory War Council. We cannot possibly have a true, untrammelled fighting Opposition so long as that alliance, or that link-up, continues to exist. I was hoping, when these two young ladies decided no longer to be Siamese twins, that they would leave the Sultan’s harem and get out on their own. I am not without hope that that will take place in due course. We cannot be a fighting Opposition, we cannot present to the Parliament and the country the case which our diminished numbers permit us to present, so long as we are linked in a questionable political manoeuvre of that description. It is no more than a manoeuvre. No member of the Advisory War Council can say that that body has ever mattered a snap of the fingers to the conduct of the war. Therefore, it is better to dispense with this pretence, to drop this sham, and get down to a sane system of party government. The people have said clearly and without equivocation that they have entrusted the government of the country to the Australian Labour party for at least the next three years. Let us accept that, and take everything that goes with it.
I can find very little in the Speech of the Governor-General upon which one can comment at this stage. Paragraph 13 of it makes a rather cryptic reference to “a comprehensive review of the nature, extent and balance of Australia’s war effort “. I am. afraid that I do not quite understand what that means. For the time being, I am prepared to allow the Government - our numbers oblige us to do so - to produce its policy. We shall then judge exactly what it means. No man with any perception, no matter upon what side he may sit, what corner he may happen to occupy, or what “ cave “ opposite he may happen to live in - one of these days another “ David “ and “ Solomon “ will arise on the other side - can fail to recognize that there is a good deal wrong with the man-power position in Australia, at the present time. I am not apportioning blame at the moment, but am simply making reference to the fact that there is a good deal wrong with a number of our organizations, both military and civil. There are a lot of men and women who are not being as usefully employed as they could be. There are a lot of men, particularly, who are not accepting their responsibilities as coalminers, munitions workers, and in other capacities. I do not want to go deeply into the coal position at the moment, because I believe that it should form the subject of a substantive motion before we go very far, unless the situation improves considerably. But I do say that we cannot possibly have an all-in munitions production, we cannot move our troops, transports and supplies, we cannot keep things up to the civil population, unless we understand once and for all that the basis of our economy is coal production. We must have that. There is no doubt that the situation on the coal-fields leaves very much indeed to be desired. I trust that, the Prime Minister will take a grip of the situation. I was very glad that, following once more in my footsteps, as so many other Labour Ministers have done, he placed naval ratings on board ships and thus set them, moving, as I had occasion to do in 1940.
– What is the view of the honorable member in regard to the nationalization of the coal-mining industry ?
– I am opposed to it. I expect that the honorable gentleman, never having studied the matter, is in favour of it.
– I did not have any doubt as to what the reply of the honorable member would be.
– To four or five questions, the honorable gentleman can expect a “ yes “ or “ no “ from me without any equivocation. From quite a few honorable gentlemen on the other side, he cannot get that. I leave the coal position with this further slight reference - that if this great new order of which so much has been spoken is to eventuate, its foundation, too, will be very largely a coal production foundation. Being one of the critics of the new order, in somewhat unmeasured terms at times- r
– And the old order.
– There is a lot that is right in the old order. I told my electors during the recent campaign that the best advice I could give to them was that which General Paul Kruger gave to the Boers from exile in Switzerland - Take the best from your past and build on that. No saner advice could be given to any country.
– The honorable gentleman is a little luckier than was Paul Kruger.
– That may be. Somebody had to escape; otherwise, the honorable gentleman would have been looking upon a complete desert over here. I tell my friends opposite - men like, the good member for Corio (Mr. Dedman), who is a great exponent of the new order - that on the way to the new Jerusalem they will find a lot more Calvaries than they anticipate, and it will be much easier to get to them than to the new Jerusalem. Human nature -cannot be -changed overnight, or entirely as the result of having passed through one huge world revolution such as that through which we are passing to-day. Mankind under the skin, in the pocket, and at heart, will be very much the same after this war as before it. I have heard one or two fantastic suggestions concerning what is to be done when this war is over. I have heard gentlemen say, no doubt with 100 per cent, belief, that members of the forces are to be kept in camp until jobs have been found for them. I tell the Prime Minister that if he tries to do that he will not make a very great success of it. I know a little about such things. I , believe that my honorable friend from Ballarat would not care to be entrusted with the task of trying to keep the troops in camp inside their own -country when the war is over.
– It was “ Artie “ Fadden who suggested that scheme.
– I am not responsible for what that right honorable gentleman has said in that regard, any more than I was responsible for his assuming so efficiently the role of the Lady Jane Grey of Australian politics; it was not upon my advice that he did that.
The Prime Minister since the general elections - I grieve very greatly that he did not do so during the election campaign - has made some reference to an Empire Council, or some form of Empire Government. I should like the right honorable gentleman to expand on that, and tell us exactly what he means. I do not know whether I am wrong; but I was deeply interested when J read the press reports of a speech that was made by the Attorney-General after he came back from England, and just before he became ill. I do not know whether the Attorney-General was reported by the journalist who usually reports the remarks of the Minister for Transport and External Territories, but apparently he was mis-reported. I read into the report that during his term overseas the Attorney-General had given -to Mr. Attlee a good description of what was likely to happen at the general elections in Australia, and had told him how foolish he was to be mixed up in a national government. Having given his statement to the press, and having said what he did about private enterprise, which, no doubt, was wrongly reported., the AttorneyGeneral was at some pains to make his friends in Sydney think that everything was as it ought to be, instead of as it appeared to be according to the press. As it is unfair, however, to shoot a rabbit squatting, I shall not criticize the Minister in his absence, for he is no doubt engaged in attending to important matters of state. I had expected him to proceed to Moscow. I do not know why he did not go there.
– It is a very cold’ place.
– He would have been assured of a warm welcome had he been the head of a trade union delegation. I doubt whether he would be acceptable in such a paradise unless he were the accredited head of such an organization. I should like him to expand on that matter on another occasion. I had nothing particular to say when I rose to speak, but the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply is one on which honorable members are entitled to say a little of what they think of the policy advanced by the Government. As legislative measures are brought before the chamber and Ministers commit themselves to specific undertakings, I hope that I, following the lead of the Leader of the Opposition, shall be able to make useful contributions to the debate*.
Mr. BURKE (Perth) [S.34J.- -The recent general elections, as a result of which the Government has attained a greatly increased majority in this Parliament, have, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out, definitely settled certain issues raised in the last Parliament. They have, in effect, provided an endorsement of the policy which the Government has pursued during the last 22 months, and a mandate for it to carry on throughout the period of the war, and we hope also during the yea:rs of peace that will follow, the work that it has taken in hand. One of the most gratifying features of the election campaign was the increasing interest, which J believe is general throughout Australia, in the educational policy, of the governments of the Commonwealth. There has been a growing demand that the Government should accept greater responsibility than in the past for the educational services of” the nation. The people are thinking more than ever before of the great possibilities of education that will meet the needs of the people. I found that the electors were obviously giving more attention to the social evils prevalent in our midst and to the social services required.
During the course of this debate the need for wider constitutional powers for the Commonwealth Parliament has been stressed, and at an early date increased powers- should be sought. I have no doubt that the people would agree to give increased powers to this Parliament to deal with the problems that have already arisen, and. the. new problems that the peace will, bring. Owing; of course, to-‘ the reactionary nature of some of the upper Houses of the parliaments of the States, the last request that wider constitutional powers be granted to the Commonwealth Parliament was refused. The request submitted to them was that for a limited period certain, increased powers should, be bestowed upon, this Parliament, and in that period the people could have judged whether the granting of those powers was justified. The State governments having rejected the proposals, or having mutilated them, beyond recognition, the Commonwealth Government has no alternative but toappeal, to the people for the wider powersthat will certainly be required when the war is won.
The declining birth-rate of this countryhas been discussed in this debate. Thatsubject cannot be separated from consideration of the economic circumstances of the country. An increase of the birthrate is indicative of progress and a declineof that rate shows retrogression in national life; we cannot alter the position, with regard to the birth-rate merely- by making speeches or by imploring parents to raise large families. In Western Australia there is a genial gentleman who, when speaking on any subject; seizesthe opportunity to deplore the falling, birth-rate, but throughout his public life he has not taken any steps- to offer an incentive to parents to rear more children. The size of families will be determined largely by the economic circumstances of the people generally. One of the best means of increasing the birth-rate would be to provide all workers with, reasonable rates of wages. At the present time the wages on which people are expected to raise families offer no inducement to them to increase the birth-rate. This is one of the most important issues to which any government could direct its attention. The health of the people is also another important factor. The previous Government prepared, social legislation which we hope will to some degree contribute to an increasing birth-rate. Far too little attention has been paid in. the past to the health of the people. They must receive adequate health and. medical services. In the past- mothers have had to submit to a great deal of domestic drudgery, but they should be relieved of most of it by the general use of modern scientific inventions. Another reform that is urgently needed is the provision of adequate housing for the people. Even before the war the need far increased housing accommodation in Western Australia was great. Since the war a considerable drift of the population to the cities has occurred in Western Australia, and there has been a similar trend throughout the Commonwealth. The population in the metropolitan electorates in Western Australia has increased by thousands, with the result that the seriousness of the housing problem has been greatly accentuated.
According to the Governor-General’s Speech the Government is considering the number of men in the Army who could advantageously be released for essential work elsewhere. Many men are needed for primary production and for other purposes. A large number could be usefully employed in house construction, because the shortage of houses is a grave disability. If the workers are expected to increase the population by raising larger families than in the past, they must be assured that they will- not be faced with the difficulty that has confronted them in the past. Economic depressions have been experienced far too frequently. Boom periods followed by disastrous slumps have left many- people idle, causing them to tramp the country in search of employment, although vast national works were waiting to be undertaken. The Labour party declares that never again shall a man-made depression ravage the life of the nation. Stress has been laid upon the need for a large population in Australia to enable the people to retain this country. In Germany women are required to bear children in order to provide the fighting men of the future, and that is said to be their sacred duty. Although we employ different language, the people of Australia are asked to raise larger families than in the past for a similar reason. When the subject of the birth-rate is debated we are usually reminded that Australia needs an increased population in order to hold this country against the teeming millions of other lands. In other words the people are asked to produce more children so that the fighting services may be adequatelymanned. There is little inducement for parents to raise larger families than in the past if they fear that there will be a devastating war every 20 or 25 years. Australia should co-operate with other nations in an effort to ensure that wars shall not take place in future. We should aim to develop this land, with its almost unlimited resources, not merely so that we may hold it against a possible invader, but so that we may develop to the full its economic and cultural possibilities. We should endeavour to work in harmony with other nations, instead of being constantly at one another’s throats. In my opinion, we tend to view these matters in a wrong light. We seem to be under the impression that the people of other nations envy us our possession of this country, and seek to deprive us of it. I believe that other people are no more anxious to leave their own country than we are to leave ours. They have the same natural love for their native land that we have. International ill feeling is the outcome of that mad scramble for markets which forces governments to become rivals. I join issue with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) who said that he would have nothing to do with the League of Nations. I believe that his reasoning was fallacious. There can be no doubt that if peace is to be preserved there must be a council of nations, some authority which will possess the virtues without the inherent defects of the League of Nations. Such a league should, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, include not only the United Nations engaged in this war, but all nations which desire freedom, and which are prepared to submit their differences to arbitration instead of attempting to settle them by war. If the league is armed with the necessary authority it will be able to enforce its decisions against any country which violates international law, and thus peace can and will be maintained.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said that the Government had a heavy obligation and also a great opportunity. With this I agree. It has a heavy responsibility to the people of Australia. We are in the midst of a terrible war, and we hope that the victory which we believe to be in sight will not be long delayed. We trust that the sacrifices and sufferings which are necessarily involved will not be too great. When the war is over the Government will be faced with the responsibility of planning the peace in order to ensure a standard of living which will encourage a higher birth-rate. The country must be adequately populated so that we may develop its natural resources, and the peoples of other countries also must be assured of the same measure of economic security which we demand for ourselves. In this way, such devastating wars as that through which we are now passing will no longer take place.
Mr. SPENDER (Warringah) [S.50J.- 1 congratulate the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) upon having made a splendid speech, and it does not detract from the merits of that speech that I, while finding myself in agreement with his ideals, am unable to approve the means by which he seeks to realize them. It is true that the last war was fought to save the world for democracy, and it, is true that a generation later our young men are going to battle again, for the same cause. It does not follow, however, that humanity has learned anything that will prevent another war in the future. While I admire idealism, I think it would be wise for us to place our feet on the rock of realism. When this war is over, and Japan defeated, it does not necessarily follow that aggression and tyranny will not again raise their heads. It is right that we should seek to preserve this country for our people, and to lay the foundations of the peace which will ensure economic security for every one, hut side by side with that there must be preparation to meet, any possible aggression in the future.
The honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) made an important contribution to the debate when he directed attention to the vital statistics of Australia. If I, in addressing myself- to this subject, confine my remarks to migration, I shall not be repeating what has been already sit ld. but shall. I hope, be able to throw some additional light on the matter. It is idle to suppose that the White
Australia policy will not be subjected to severe pressure after the war. I have no doubt, that it will be the subject of attack even by those nations which are now fighting on our side, and we shall be placed on the defensive in respect of it. We must be prepared to justify ourselves before the bar of world opinion. We cannot hope to obtain by natural increase only the population which Ave need in Australia. A much larger population is necessary, not only to ensure material prosperity, but also to ensure national security. It took nineteen years for the population of Australia to increase from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000, and twelve years to increase from 2,000,000 to 5,000,000, hut it took fifteen years to increase from 6,000,000 to 7,000,000. I maintain that it would be a mistake for us to rely solely upon some such body as the League of Nations to guarantee our national security in the future. While my mind turns to a league of nations as the final objective towards which humanity must direct its steps, we must base our policy upon realism. Therefore, one of our first duties after the war should be to ensure that our population is increased so that we may be able to work out the social order we want free from the danger of aggression.
Much has been said about the need for migration, but no migration policy has ever been evolved. During the election campaign, I heard the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) say that the Labour Government intended to apply a vigorous migration policy as soon as the war was over Perhaps it would be pertinent to ask who is in charge of this matter, and what, in fact, is the Government’s migration policy? How many migrants does the Government believe can be absorbed, what machinery is being established to encourage migration, and to establish migrants when they come here? It has been said that after the war there will he a superabundance of labour in Australia. I. however, believe that if a policy of economic expansion is applied there will more likely he a shortage of labour after the war, and therefore, for that reason alone, we should attract, to Australia as many people as possible. Before we do that, however, there should be a change of heart in ourselves, leading to a change in our attitude towards immigrants who come here from foreign countries. Whence may we expect to attract migrants? Do we imagine that we shall attract very many from Great Britain? I think I am correct when I say that in England and Wales at the present time there are about 41,000,000 people. In 1876, there were 24,000,000, and yet the number of young people in 1876 was approximately the same as now. That is characteristic of most of the western and north-western nations of Europe. Their natural reproduction rate has steadily declined. Therefore, it is idle to suppose that we can increase our population substantially -by bringing in immigrants of British stock. In the United States of America, not more than 30 per cent, of the -population is derived from British stock. Where, then, are we to get our people from? The answer is that they must come - if we seek them in sufficiently large numbers - very largely from eastern European .and Mediterranean countries. I repeat that, if we really want more people, we must change our attitude towards immigrants from foreign countries. We must encourage such people to become Australians, and to fit into our way of life. They must not be subject to the gibe that they were originally aliens, as is often the case now, even after immigrants have been here for years. It is of no use for us to speak of ‘the need for migration if we are to continue criticizing migrants and placing restrictions in their way when they come to Australia. I hold no brief for those who fail to observe our laws or to fit into our way of life,’ but when immigrants -evince a desire to become good Australians they should not be subjected to abuse on the ground that they are ‘not Australians. When that sort of thing happens, is it any wonder that immigrants tend to herd into colonies, especially when Ave make no attempt to welcome ‘them or to educate them to become Australians? Recently, I read that the New South Wales Branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial Teague of Australia carried a resolution urging that, for 30 years after the war, no person coming here from an enemy country should be entitled to own property. I do not believe any one, upon reflection, will regard that as a wise policy. I believe that the Russian approach to the problem is fundamentally sound. The Russians maintain that the rising generation can be weaned away from the errors of naziism and fascism. I believe that the young people from European countries, particularly orphans, constitute a promising source of new population for Australia, and this applies even to those from enemy countries. If
Ave mean to tackle seriously the -problem of migration, machinery should be set up now, and put into operation immediately after the Avar, to attract to Australia people from all parts of Europe.
– Does the honorable member favour the establishment of a ministry for migration?
– Immigration is a matter of .such importance that it should not be the responsibility of a Minister who already has his hands full, such as the Prime Minister, the Minister for External Affairs, or the Minister for Post-Avar Reconstruction, but -should be entrusted to a Minister whose chief concern it will be. In my opinion, that means not only that certain machinery should be set up, but also that men and women should be trained to go into various European countries after the war to induce immigrants to come to Australia. I believe that the greater the population of this country the more, secure will its people be, and the greater their material prosperity. I do not see any signs of an active immigration policy on the part of the Government. It is true that the Minister for External Affairs said that a migration policy would be pursued, but I look to the bare bones of that statement being covered with flesh; the migration policy of the Government should be enunciated, and the Parliament should have an early opportunity to debate it. In my opinion, there are two dangers against which we must take precautions. First, we should be careful not to segregate or permit the ‘segregation of immigrants of alien nationality in any particular part o’f the Commonwealth. There i= urgent need for a new approach to the subject of migration; we should try to educate migrants ‘to become Australian citizens in the truest sense, so that they shall ‘be blended into the life of the community. Unless that Ire- done, any migration policy will be fraught with serious dangers. The second thing against which we must guard is the establishment of foreign newspapers in Australia-. I am not at all opposed to the development of the culture of any other country by means of the literature written in the language of that country,, but if we are to have a blending of the various people who may come here into true .Australian citizens, il is important that the dissemination of news shall be in the English language. If we have a proper outlook in this matter, I believe that- we can lay the foundations of a sound migration policy, f should like to see- a Minister appointed to have the specific responsibility of dealing with migration- matters, and that he will surround himself with advisers who will be able to say where the most fruitful fields foi- obtaining migrants are. I urge that trained men and women be sent to those- areas immediately hostilities cease with a view to inducing migrants to come here, and, in particular, I hope that young- people from other countries will be brought here, and that the Commonwealth wilT accept the responsibility for them until they reach maturity. It is useless to talk about migration and leave matters there; we need to set before us an objective, and’ to work to reach if. T welcome this opportunity to express my views on this important topic. The speeches during this debate, particularly those of the new members who have spoken, have shown that the object of all parties is much the same, and therefore I hope that at an early date the Prime Minister will make a pronouncement as to whose responsibility immigration matters will be, and that, an opportunity wall be afforded the Parliament to debate this vital subject.
.- During this debate a good deal has been said on the subject, of immigration. Although not opposed to migrants coming to Australia, I believe that the time is n’ot yet ripe to embark on a wholesale policy of migration. My reason for saying this is that throughout the Commonwealth there is- a shortage- of houses for the people already in this, country. As the war position improves it may be possible to embark on. a comprehensive housing programme. If migrants are to come to Australia I. prefer that they should come from the British Isles, but I should be the last person who would’ ask people to come here from any other country and share houses in slum, areassuch as exist in parts of Woolloomooloo. 1 repeat that, in my opinion, the time is not ripe for large numbers of persons to migrate to Australia. Instead of the Commonwealth incurring a financial responsibility in respect of every migrant who may come to. Australia, I prefer’ thai the maternity allowance should be raised to £20, because, undoubtedly, the best migrant is the Australian-born child. For that reason, I believe that child endowment should be extended to cover every child, born in- this country. At present, the only way in which child endowment can be paid in respect; of a child whose mother is a single woman is for the child to be placed in an institution, in all sincerity I say that in no case is child endowment more needed than in respect of the child of the unmarried mother. Whilst, the provision of hernes is important, it is useless to provide homes for the people unless at the same time some guarantee of continuity of employment i& given., so that people may. he- able to meet’ their commitment); in respect of their homes* After the war of 1914-18 many men. who had fought in Gallipoli, Flanders and. elsewhere,, set out to purchase homes* but when the depression came they were turned out of those homes and their furniture placed in the- streets. Old-age pensioners, who have done much for the development of this country, are entitled to be provided with homes at moderate rentals so that they can spend the- evening of life in some measure of comfort At present many of these pioneers are forced to live in houses with internal walls made of hessian covered with paper ; and even for these- places they have to pay excessive rentals. We must attend, to the needs of the people already in this.- country before we embark on a policy which will bring- people, here from other countries. What is needed is a comprehensive- housing scheme- which will be acceptable to the- people of this country.
.- 1 listened with interest to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, particularly to paragraph 15, in which His Excellency said that Australia was now .free from the danger of invasion. That statement must have brought a great measure of relief to every one in this country, particularly the mothers of young children. Not many months have passed since, for the first time in the history of this young country, the blood of Australians was spilled on their native soil in defence of their home-land against an aggressive enemy. Had the enemy been successful in invading Australia this National Parliament would not be in session to-day, but the people of Australia would have been at the mercy of the war lords of Japan. That the danger of invasion has been removed is a matter for thankfulness ; the people of this country owe a great debt of gratitude to their leaders in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, as well as to the Government which, during the most critical period in Australia’s history, wisely guided i«b destiny. On the 21st August the people did express their confidence in the Government which had led them through the ordeal; in effect, they said, “Well done; carry on and complete the task “.
I was pleased to see in paragraph 26 of the Speech, a reference to post-war reconstruction. Like the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke), I consider that one of the main tasks of this Government is to carry on the good work which has been started by the Minister for Wau- Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) in regard to education. I hope that sufficient money will be provided to enable any child in the community who has the ability to proceed from a primary school to the university without any break. That is not so to-day in the case of children of farmers or workers in secondary industries. Many parents with children capable of benefiting from a university education have to ask themselves whether they can afford to be without the wages which their children would earn if they went into employment instead of continuing their studies, to say nothing of whether they can afford to pay university fees as well as board and lodgings while their children are receiving higher education. Unfortunately, many young people to-day are deprived of the higher education to which they are entitled. I hope that the Minister and the Government will be able to realize that it is the responsibility of the National Parliament to ensure that all those children whom nature has endowed with intellectual worth shall be gathered together and trained for the benefit of this country.
Also in regard to post-war reconstruction, we must realize that there is a likelihood of an early end to hostilities. It is the responsibility of each of us, particularly those charged with the administration of this great country, to ensure that the promises made to the men in the armed forces and to the army in overalls shall be carried out to the full. We well remember what happened after the war of 1914-18, which was to have been a war to make Australia a land fit for heroes to live in. After that war we had a few years of normal life, and then we had another war, an economic war, when many Australians went short of the necessaries of life, not because goods were rationed, but because money was rationed. The Government led by the right honorable member for Tarra (Mr. Scullin) endeavoured to arrange for the issue of additional currency to assist in providing work for the unemployed and to re-establish the wheat, industry, which was in a state of chaos. But when the right honorable gentleman asked for the money he was told by the representatives of international finance that Australia’s ability in that respect had reached saturation point. Then we had a. visit to this country from three eminent gentlemen representing international finance. They gave certain advice to the political leaders; their prescription to cure the economic ills of this country was the Premiers plan, which, among other things, provided for a 20 per cent, reduction of wages. We had great masses of the people unemployed at that time. When their position was referred to, we were told by our visitors that we would always have unemployed, and that those men, young and old, some of them veterans of the 1914-18 war, were in reality a class of unemployables. Then the scene changed : we passed from economic war to physical war, this war of violence which we are fighting to make the world safe for democracy. We find that many of those men who were branded as unemployable, men who were not wanted on the voyage of life, are to-day having homage paid to them as the heroes of Tobruk. Economic and financial booms and depressions are manmade, and no one will deny that the. depression mentioned was imposed on this country by international financiers. It is, therefore, the responsibility of this Parliament to ensure during its lifetime that those man-made conditions shall not be re-imposed on us. That involves ensuring that the promises made to our men shall be honoured. We can make a start in that direction by placing on the statute-book legislation to provide that any man who offers himself for work and is compelled to stand idle in the market-place because no man hath hired him shall be provided with full maintenance for himself, his wife and his family. There are two principles on which there shall be no compromise. The first is the right to work and the second is that the conditions of work shall be prescribed by the trade union in each particular industry.
We hear much talk about immigration. I realize that it is the obligation of this country to carry a greater population, but before we can take many migrants, we shall have to re-organize the whole of our rural industry, for we cannot feed people with the nuts and bolts of secondary industries. Re-organization of rural industry will be one of the tasks for the post-war period that will absorb much of the labour that will be released with the termination of hostilities.
Another post-war national undertaking must be the continuance of the shipbuilding industry. We will not allow the shipping acquired during this war to be disposed of as was the Commonwealth Line of Steamers after the last war. We shall need the ships now in service and other ships which we shall build in our own shipyards to carry our products to the markets of the world and to bring back whatever raw materials we may require. We must ensure that the shipbuilding industry shall be owned and controlled by the people.
I was glad to hear the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) deal with the necessity for a comprehensive housing scheme. In supporting his remarks generally, I direct the attention of the Ministry to the fact that stocks of seasoned timber are becoming low. Action will need to be taken to ensure that a shortage of seasoned timber for home building shall not create a bottleneck in the housing scheme, for which blue prints have already been drawn. Other necessary projects are the standardization of the railway gauges, water conservation and water reticulation. Those undertakings will help to absorb the labour that will become available when the war terminates. Finance for such undertakings must be provided through the Commonwealth Bank. It is the duty of this Government to ensure that the bank shall be placed in the position it occupied when it was established during the regime of the Fisher Government. We should abolish the Commonwealth Bank Board and appoint a governor whose responsibility it will be to recognize that we must provide sufficient finance to carry out any scheme which this Parliament decides shall be carried out. The Government must recognize that the whole economic system of this country, based on the scarcity of the essentials of life, has been a failure. We must recognize the influence of science on production. By its application to the means of production, we shall be able to produce an abundance of the essentials of life, and we must design an economy so as to make it possible for the whole people to benefit from the gifts of providence and the fruits of science.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Guy) adjourned.
Raid by Military Police.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- This afternoon I asked the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) on whose authority military police invaded the homes of private citizens in the early hours of the morning without warrant. My question arose front the fact that at 2.45 a.m. on Sunday, the 19th September, the private home of a constituent of mine in Maroubra was raided by military police. It became necessary for the occupant to summon the civil police, in order to prevent the forcible entry of the military police. This particular person, who is a well-known Sydney accountant, was at home with his wife and two daughters. His only son is a wireless air gunner in the Royal Australian Air Force. Apparently no other reason than spite could have caused this particular raid. I put it to the Minister that this kind of thing cannot be allowed to go on, certainly not under a Labour government or any government which is aiming to fight the war on the basis of the ideals of democracy. I should like to know from the Minister who were the military police that executed the raid, who authorized them to make the raid, and the source of the information and the particulars of the information on which it was determined to make the raid. The householder in question is a. Mr. Ransome, of Maroubra, who is a natural-born Australian. There is no reason why such a raid should have been made and why he, his wife and family should havebeen subjected to such treatment. Unless something satisfactory is done by the Minister and the persons culpable are punished, I shall have something more to say about it in the House.
– in reply - I have listened with interest to the complaint made by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein). I am not aware of the circumstances under which military intelligence officers or military police went to the home of one of the honorable member’s constituents at 2.45 in the morning, but I have called for a report, which will be given to the honorable member as soon as it is received.
– When will it be received? A report six weeks hence will be useless; I expect a report this week.
– I should say that the report ought to be here within the next 48 hours. It is most unusual for military police to raid a house at that hour with out some very good reason. I am equally anxious to get the report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator,&c. - 1943 - No. 28 - Federated. Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -
Mile End. South Australia.
Welshpool, Western Australia.
Medical Research Endowment Act - Reports by National Health and Medical Research Council on work done under the Act during 1941 and 1942.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of -
Machine tools (No. 2).
Prohibited places (2).
Prohibiting work on land.
Taking possession of land, &c. (377).
Use of land (15).
National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations - Order - No. 41.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, Nos. 235, 230.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Aet - Regulations - 1943 - No. 4 (Education Ordinance).
War Service Homes Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 238.
House adjourned at 9.29 p.m.
The following answers to questions werea circulated: -
uy asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Before taking action to give effect to the decision of the Government to reintroduce daylight saving, will he give serious consideration to a proposal to make it apply for the four months from the 1st November to the end of February instead of the proposed six months, in order that the inconvenience caused to the farming community generally will be minimized?
– Full consideration has been given to the question of the reintroduction of daylight saving, having regard to all the factors involved, including information received from State governments and government instrumentalities throughout Australia.
The most important factors which moved the Government to its decision to reintroduce daylight saving were the necessity for the saving of coal and electrical power and the possibility of increased primary production. Daylight saving doubtless involves certain disabilities but it is thought that most of these are capable of adjustment. The period fixed for the operation of the scheme on this occasion, viz., the 3rd October, 1943, to the 26th March, 1944, was selected with a view to obtaining the maximum advantage during the summer months of the benefits and economies to be derived therefrom. Subsequently it was decided that, owing to the distinctivener of Western Australia in relation to the other States and the time factor already operating there, the application of daylight saving should hot extend to that State.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he give consideration to a suggestion thata committee of practical men be appointed to investigate and report upon a scheme of guaranteed prices for primary products, similar to the scheme in operation in the United States of America?
– The Rural Reconstruction Commission appointed by the Government in December, 1942, has taken evidence on this subject and will deal with the matter in its report. It is not considered necessary at this stage to appoint any further committee to consider the matter.
Mr. L. L. Hill.
s asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s questions: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 September 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1943/19430928_reps_17_176/>.