17th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to the statement by Mr. Wurth, Director-General of Man Power, which I have no doubt is official, published in to-day’s Sydney press, that the shortage of dentists for civilian requirements is due to enlistments? Can the honorable gentleman state how he reconciles it with a statement ina letter that I have received from Mr. Bellemore, Deputy Director of Man Power in New South Wales, that a certain dentist upon whose behalf I had made representations has been instructed to close his dental practice and report to the Army authorities? If the shortage of dentists for civilian requirements is as pressing as it is represented to be, will the honorable gentleman consider the release of a number of dentists whose services have, been requisitioned by the Army?
– “Whatever shortage of doctors, nurses and dentists there may be is due to the number of members of these professions who have entered the services. I shall make inquiries in relation to the second portion of the honorable member’s question.
– Has the Minister for Health read the press report of the serious shortage of nurses and, in some degree, of doctors throughout Australia? If the matter has not been brought to his notice, will he make inquiries in respect of the allegations ? If it has come before him, will he make in this House a statement concerning the steps that are being taken to meet the urgent and pressing needs of the situation?
– A shortage of nurses, doctors and dentists has existed since the commencement of the war. The Medical Co-ordination Committee, in collaboration with the Commonwealth health authorities, has the matter under constant review, and is doing its utmost to prevent mal-distribution of the short supply. Civilian requirements are kept continually in mind.. I shall make inquiries in order to obtain whatever information may be available for the honorable gentleman.
– -Recently. I questioned the Minister for Labour and’ National Service with respect to the employment of two youths aged respectively sixteen and a half years and seventeen years. The position offered . to one was that of a cadet in a Sydney newspaper office, whilst the other had been accepted by the Public Service Board for appointment as an apprentice to the electrical’ maintenance staff. The Man Power Directorate refused to permit either of the boys to take up the position offered to Mm. Will the Minister state what justification there is for this industrial conscription of young lads? Cannot some means be devised to enable such youths to found their careers pending their attainment of the age of eighteen years, when they become subject to the usual call-up ?
– The problem is a difficult one. Upon reaching the age of eighteen years, lads become liable to military service, and any training previously undertaken is interrupted unless it be established that the work they are doing, or the profession or craft they are following, is in a more essential category. Many boys aged sixteen and a half years have been given the work of filling cartridge cases. I have not yet been advised1 of the reason that operated in respect of the youth of that age whose case has been referred to me by the honorable member, but it will probably be that he is doing more essential work in the filling of cartridge cases than he would be doing were he employed in the Sun newspaper office.
– Is the Minister for Transport aware that the Victorian Railways Department refuses to accept empty egg cases for return to the consignors of eggs? Does the honorable gentleman realize that the “non-return of these cases must interfere very seriously with the supply of eggs to the metropolis and to the services? Will he take steps to remedy the position?
– I am unaware of the circumstances, but I shall make inquiries and, if action be required, I shall take it.
Commission - Discharged Servicemen
– In view- of the greatly increased work of the Repatriation Department as the result of the present war, will the Minister for Repatriation state whether it is proposed that further appointments shall be made to the Repatriation Commission in accordance with the provisions of the act as recently amended ? Will the honorable gentleman consider the appointment of an ex-soldier of the present war, as well as of a woman member ?
– The act, as amended, provides for the appointment of two additional members to the Repatriation Commission. The whole matter, including the appointment of a woman member, is under consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether it is a fact that of servicemen discharged on medical grounds approximately only 25 per cent, are entitled to medical treatment for the causes of their discharge? Does not the Minister consider that free medical treatment for a period of at least one year would be a proper feature of rehabilitation if the men discharged are to be given a full opportunity to become restored as far as practicable to normal health?
– I cannot say whether that percentage is correct or not. I shall make inquiries and give the honorable member the information he seeks. An attempt was made in the last Parliament to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act in the manner now suggested by the honorable member, but it was defeated.
– This is a new Parliament.
– Yes. I shall give the honorable gentleman’s suggestion consideration.
– When giving consideration to the provision of free medical treatment for ex-servicemen, will the Minister for Repatriation examine the British report in which a complete rehabilitation programme for all incapacitated servicemen is recommended? Will the Minister also examine the sections of the Canadian Act under which, I understand, free medical treatment is given to ex-servicemen ?
– My department has closely examined the British and Canadian Repatriation Acts and we have found that the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act is considerably in advance of them. However, the British and Canadian legislation contains certain sections that might, with advantage, be adopted here, and I shall examine them for the purpose of seeing whether they can be included in our act.
Empire Air Training Scheme - Circulation of Air Crews -Cambridge Aerodrome
– Does the Government intend, in view of Australia’s manpower problems, and the urgent need to train young men for air crews, to review the Empire Air Training Scheme?
Mr.DRAKEFORD.- The Empire Air Training Scheme is based upon an agreement between Australia and the other dominions and Great Britain. Any alteration of the agreement as it now stands must be considered in relation to the man-power of Australia, a problem which is now being investigated. A review of the scheme would necessarily involve Government policy, and I cannot make an announcement upon it in answer to a question.
– Will the Minister consider the circulation of air crews in the Royal Australian Air Force abroad so that those men who have been serving overseas for two years or more, and have operational experience, may have an opportunity to serve in the Australian theatre, whilst those in this theatre who wish to serve overseas may do so? During the last war, it was four years before men received Anzac leave to enable them to return to Australia. Men serving abroad in this war would greatly appreciate an opportunity to return.
– This matter has already received consideration, and some men have been brought back from Great Britain and other spheres of operation. However, the honorable member will understand that, in order to make a complete change-over along the lines he has suggested, a very heavy demand would be made on transport, and up to the present sufficient transport has not been available. As a matter of general policy, men must be required to serve where they can best promote the safety of Australia, but bearing that in mind, consideration is being given to the rotation of air crews.
– Will the Minister for Air cause an investigation to be made with a view to learning the truth or otherwise of rumours regarding a game of “ put-and-take played with so rough a a commodity as barbed wire used for the fencing of the Cambridge aerodrome ?
– I have not heard anything of this game of “ put-and-take “ but I shall have inquiries made to see if there is anything in the matter to warrant further action.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether it is a fact that the miners employed at the Burwood colliery, one of the largest in Australia, went on strike yesterday because they objected to beef rationing and daylight saving? Is it also a fact that altogether six mines are idle in northern New South Wales? If so, does the Prime Minister intend to enforce the regulations which were drawn up to end such stoppages ?
– I do not know whether the statements which the honorable member has put forward are correct. They may be; I shall find out. As was announced yesterday by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), I am holding a conference early next week with officers of the unions concerned, and at that meeting the requirements of Australia in respect of coal will be thoroughly reviewed. I regret these stoppages. They are detrimental to the war effort, but the men involved are Australian citizens and they have grievances. Some are legitimate; others are, I think, just excuses for other purposes which the men may have in mind. The problem of coal production is as acute in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America as it is in Australia. Coal-miners are engaged in a most hazardous and laborious occupation. This is not a matter for generalization, nor is it easy to decide how best to obtain increased coal production. If the problem were as simple as some honorable members seem to suggest, I am quite certain that increased production would be obtained.
– Then the members of the Australian Imperial Force ought to be allowed to strike. They also are engaged in a laborious job.
– I agree that the Australian Imperial Force has set an example in this war as it did in the last. I point out, however, that the same good example is being set to the coal-miners of Great Britain and of the United States of America by the armed forces of those countries. The honorable member is not helping to solve this problem by putting questions of this kind.
– It was reported in yesterday’s press that there are at present no fewer than six separate authorities engaged in the investigation of housing problems in Victoria, and that some witnesses have been obliged to repeat their evidence three or four times. Will the Prime Minister confer with the Government of Victoria with a view to reaching an understanding so that in the interests of efficiency and economy one, or at most two, authorities, may in future, concern themselves with this subject?
– I shall consult with the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction as to the best way in which to avoid overlapping.
– In reply to questions by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), I promised to make a statement in regard to the distribution of beef in Victoria and New South Wales. The information which the honorable member used as the basis of his questions is incorrect. Meat supplies in both States have been affected by the action taken to prevent the normal movement of beef south from Queensland, where it is urgently required to meet service and civilian requirements. In both New South Wales and Victoria service demands for beef in the fresh and frozen form, and for canning are extensive. Some months ago, it was foreseen that, unless action were taken to control distribution of beef in both States, difficulties would arise in fulfilling service demands, and particularly the demands of the canneries for beef for canned meat packs. In order to safeguard the position, an order was issued by the Controller of Meat Supplies, directing that, from the 10th May, 1943, one forequarter of each body of beef over 400 lb., slaughtered in or coming into the County of Cumberland, New South Wales, should be diverted to the canneries. A few weeks later, arrangements were made with certain operators in Sydney by which all service demands for fresh and frozen beef were met, and specific quantities set aside for reserves.
The position in Victoria did not develop acutely until later. It was found necessary to promulgate an order on the 21st June, 1943, under which canner cows were diverted to the canneries. This order was followed on the 16th August, 1943, by a further order in similar terms to that already operating in New South Wales whereby forequarters in the metropolitan area of Melbourne were diverted for canning. In order to help the position in Melbourne, forequarters in the Adelaide metropolitan area were diverted, transported to Melbourne and distributed to the canneries.
By arrangement with the trade in each State, the quota system of distribution was introduced on the 6th September, 1943. Under this system, which had been operating in Western Australia since March, 1943, the total quantity of beef coming into a particular area over a given period is determined. After making provision for service and other essential needs, which must be met from within the State, a percentage quota, in accordance with the consumption of beef during the basic period, is arrived at. Supplies are then made available by wholesalers to retailers for equitable distribution to the consuming public. The quota of beef for civilian consumption in both New South Wales and Victoria during this week has been 33-1 per cent, of the basic period. The forequarter beef, together with other classes diverted to the canners, is included in both .States in the 66$ per cent, which is required for service and other essential needs, including ships’ stores, hospitals, &c.
It is clear, therefore, that there has been no differential treatment in regard to the distribution of beef in New South Wales and Victoria. In New South Wales the operation of the quota system was impeded by the strike at the Homebush Abattoirs from the 3rd to the 13th September, whilst the position in Victoria has been made more difficult by the reduction of the number of trucks made available for the carriage of live-stock. Honorable members will appreciate that, in order to meet urgent and pressing demands made on short notice - demands which must be filled within the State from which delivery is to be made - there may be occasions when the quota will vary from State to State. Honorable members are assured, however, that every effort will ,be made to avoid differential treatment as between the States. As I mentioned yesterday, the rationing of meat is a matter of Government policy, and will receive consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is a fact that between 500 and 600 tons of lemons are being held up by manufacturers who are processing juice for the Army? Have statements been made that this hold111) is owing to either gross inefficiency or sabotage on the part of the juice manufacturers? If these are facts, will the Minister have immediate steps taken to investigate these matters in order to save both the growers and the Army from incurring this serious loss?-
– I regard the allegations made as being most serious. I shall immediately call for a report and let the honorable member know its contents when it is received.
– To-day I received a communication from the Chamber of Commerce, Maryborough, indicating that the area is seriously short of all foodstuffs except bread. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture take immediate steps to have the position investigated by officers of his department and authorize them to take any action they consider advisable?
– I am not aware that the position is as stated by the honorable member, but I shall have an immediate investigation made and advise the honorable member of the result.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that remarkable results have been obtained in Great
Britain from the use of lanoline extracted from wool scour in the manufacture of paints? Is there any plant in operation in this country to obtain this wool wax? If not, will the Minister ascertain whether such a plant could be established ?
– I have no knowledge of the information that the honorable gentleman suggests is available. If he will pass on to me the source of his information I shall be able to check its reliability, and in the light of the facts consider the second part of the question.
– I lay on the table the following report : -
Tariff Board- Report for year 1942-43, together with a summary of recommendations.
The report is accompanied by an annexure which summarizes recommendations by the Tariff Board and sets out the action taken in respect thereof.
Forestry Unit - Medical and Pharmacy Students
-Members of the Australian Forestry Unit in the United Kingdom expressed to me and other honorable members who visited England recently a strong desire to return to Australia to take an active part with their comrades in the war in the South-West Pacific. In view of the fact that those men have been away from Australia since an early stage of the war, will the Prime Minister consider acceding to a request for their return ?
– To answer the question would be to reveal information which should not be revealed. In another way I shall let members of the House know what is being done.
– Recently, the press announced that the Australian Forestry Unit, which members of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation visited recently in Scotland, was returning to Australia and that 120 of the men had married British girls. Will financial and other assistance be given to those brides for the purpose of enabling them to come to Australia as soon as possible after the departure of their husbands?
– The honorable member referred to the “departure of their husbands “. I am not able to give to the House any information which would reveal the movements of either ships or forces.
– The information has already been published in the press.
– The entry into this country of the wives of Australian soldiers is receiving attention. I have not the slightest doubt that the husbands will be most active in the matter.
– Will the Minister for the Army take a generous view of applications by members of the Australian Imperial Force who, having already given three years’ service, now desire to be released from the Army in order to complete a medical or pharmacy course? Such men were released during the last war, and I assume that it can be done again.
– I direct the atten tion of the Minister for Home Security to the fact that the serious shortage of timber supplies was recently accentuated by a disastrous timber fire on the Brisbane river. Owing to the extreme urgency of building up supplies of timber, will the Minister give consideration to supplying fire-fighting barges to the Brisbane Fire Brigade ?
– The Department of Home Security has supplied to the Brisbane Fire Brigade other valuable firefighting appliances, but the matter of barges has not been considered. I shall give the matter my immediate attention.
– When does the Minister for External Affairs propose to report to this House on his recent mission overseas ?
– I hope to have the opportunity to refer to the mission and also to certain general questions arising out of it during this sessional period.
– I ask the Minister for War Organization of Industry whether the Government has any policy for the compensation of small shopkeepers forced out of business by war organization ? Such compensation has been forecast in Great Britain by the President of the Board of Trade, and I think that something similar should be done here.
– That matter is being investigated. When the investigations are complete I shall take the matter to Cabinet. The honorable gentleman will understand that a matter of government policy is involved. I ‘therefore cannot give any indication what will be the outcome of those investigations.
– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 25, I lay on the table my warrant nominating the Honorable Joseph Palmer Abbott, Herbert Claude Barnard, Joseph James Clark, the Honorable James Allan Guy, William Joseph Hutchinson, George William Martens, Daniel Mulcahy, George James Rankin, Rupert Sumner Ryan and David Oliver Watkins to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to - ‘
That, during the unavoidable absence of
Messages reported transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c., for the year ending the 30th June, 1944j and recommending appropriation accordingly.
Ordered to be printed and referred to Committee of Supply forthwith.
– I move -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division I. - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances, £8,380 bc agreed to.
When I brought down the budget last year, Australia was still facing the threat of invasion. To meet that grave danger our fighting forces were mobilized to their utmost. All other considerations had to be put aside. The immediate danger to this country has now passed, but victory is yet to be won and nothing less than our utmost efforts will suffice.
It is essential, however, that our efforts be re-organized not only to take account of the definite limit to our physical resources but also to ensure such balance between our military and civil activities as will make a maximum contribution to the allied war effort.
As already announced, the Government intends to make an early and comprehensive review of the Australian war programme. This review will not result in any lessening of our efforts, but it will necessarily involve some changes in the order of priorities obtaining during the crisis period.
In these circumstances, I feel that it is appropriate to sketch the nature and extent of the physical effort we have already made, to indicate the type of problem which now confronts us, and to summarize the way in which our past efforts and present problems are reflected in our internal and external financial position
The use of man-power and womanpower is the best evidence of the magnitude of our war effort. Since the outbreak of war the total working population has risen from 2,750,000 to 3,370,000 persons, an increase of 620,000. This has been achieved by bringing into work 250,000 persons previously unemployed and 220,000 persons who do not normally seek work. The natural growth of the working population accounts for the remaining 150,000.
Of the present working population 1,370,000, or over 40 per cent., are now engaged in the fighting forces or in defence construction and the manufacture of munitions. In addition, a substantial number of workers is producing food, clothing and other essential suppliesand services for both our own and Allied forces. Including these, more than 50 per cent, of the entire working population is engaged in the war effort.
Nearly the whole of the remainder of our workers is engaged in essential work - feeding and clothing the civil population and producing the essential minimum of other goods and services. Inevitably the transfer of workers to the forces and munitions production has involved a great reduction of the civilian goods and services available.
This great diversion of the working population from civil requirements to war needs has about reached its limit. For some time past, the increased numbers available have been small, even with the most determined combing out of unessential industry. Supplies required for our own forces and Allied forces, for our commitments for food to Britain, and for essential civil needs are together getting greater than our capacity to produce them, and shortages of essential supplies have been developing in various directions.
It is for these reasons that we must now review the war programme as a whole, so as to take into account the limits of man-power and make sure that it is being used, not for good purposes, but for only the best possible purposes. We have mobilized almost our maximum manpower, and we must make certain that it is used to optimum effect.
Despite the fact that 30 per cent, of men formerly working on farms have joined the forces or entered other work, production of some foodstuffs has been maintained at satisfactory levels and in some cases increased beyond pre-war averages. Having regard to other impediments to production such as shortages of petrol, fertilizer and processed fodders, as well as the general transport and man-power stringency, this has been a great achievement.
But the position in recent months has engaged the earnest attention of the
Government, first, because production is hampered by indifferent seasonal conditions plus signs of fatigue and stress in some sections of rural industry, and secondly, because Australia is now being asked to provide more food for the United Kingdom and vastly more for Allied forces in and around Australia in addition to food for certain other theatres of war.
To meet this situation, the Government some months ago established a Food Control and Directorate of Agriculture under the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to take the position vigorously in hand.
It is clear that thorough-going measures must be taken, and already action is proceeding on a wide front through local organizations. Increased supplies of farm machinery are now flowing through. . Action is being taken to ascertain and provide as far as possible farmers’ exact needs for fertilizers and other essential materials. The two main impediments to expansion of production are transport, both road and rail, and man-power. Special attention is now being given to these. The overcoming of both is bound up with the re-alignment of Australia’s total war effort to accord with current strategic needs.
The drastic mobilization of our physical resources which I have outlined is reflected in the striking increase in our monthly rate of war expenditure. Last month the war cost £47,000,000, compared with £20,000,000 in the corresponding month of 1941 and only £11,000,000 in August, 1940. The current rate of outlay represents about half of the entire national income of Australia.
By the 30th June last the total cost of the war had reached £1,107,000,000. Of this expenditure, £363,000,000 was provided from taxation, £474,000,000 from loans, £11,000,000 from temporary use of Treasury funds, and the balance of £259,000,000 was raised by discounting treasury-bills with the Commonwealth Bank.
Within limits, a well-balanced system of taxationis the most efficient and equitable method of meeting the cost of the war. It makes a direct reduction of the volume of civilian spending and it leaves no war debts upon which interest and sinking fund payments have to be made in the post-war years.
This Government has imposed drastic war-time increases of taxation and in addition has introduced uniform income taxation which has preserved to the Commonwealth for war purposes the increased yields due to rising incomes. This year it is expected that total taxation receipts will exceed £270,000,000, compared with about £74,000,000 in 1938-39. In general the burden of Australian taxation is now as severe as in any other allied country.
In spite of the increased revenue obtained from taxation it has been essential to rely on loans to a considerable extent, and as a result debt incurred in respect of- the present war amounted to £731,000,000 at the 30th June last.
This increase of debt is building up a post-war obligation for the payment of interest. For the current year interest on these war loans amounts to about £20,000,000, and this must necessarily increase each year the war continues.
The new debt, however, is almost entirely ah internal one, and although the payment of the interest on it involves a transfer of funds within the community, it does not reduce the income of Australia as a whole.
In spite of the war-time increases, the burden of Commonwealth and State government debt is less now in relation to the national income than it has been for most of the last 20 years. Total interest payable here and abroad is now about 5 J per cent, of the national income, compared with 7 per cent, in 1935.
There can be no doubt of our capacity to pay interest even on a greatly increased war debt and to reduce it gradually by substantial sinking fund contributions. It will of course be necessary to maintain taxation at levels sufficient to meet these obligations together with our other essential post-war needs.
Treasury-bills account for £259,000,000 of the increase in our debt. This use of treasury-bill finance reflects the size of the abnormal governmental expenditures required by the demands of war. In spite of our great efforts by way of taxation increases and loan subscriptions, the use of treasury-bills to this amount has been unavoidable.
The danger of treasury-bill finance is that it builds up new purchasing power in the hands of the public at the very time when the Government is acquiring for war purposes an increasing proportion of the productive resources normally devoted to civilian use. The Government, however, has established direct controls to ensure that the excess spending power remaining in the hands of the public is . prevented from causing a continuous rise of prices and an inequitable distribution of the goods available for civilian consumption.
Coupon rationing of tea, sugar, clothing, household drapery and butter has been introduced. The distribution of many other commodities not suitable for coupon rationing has been regulated by the quota system. The Government will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that each member of the community is able to obtain a fair share of the essentia.! food and clothing available.
At the same time price control ensures that civilian goods available for purchase are sold at reasonable prices.
The price stabilization policy which I explained in my financial statement last June is a further development of the wartime control of prices. Until April, prices were adjusted only to cover increased costs. The price ceiling is a sign of the Government’s intention to control not only prices but also costs. The plan is now operating smoothly.
An important measure within the price stabilization scheme was announced on the 20th July. Owing to seasonal price movements and to difficulties connected with the transition from one type of price control to another, it was necessary to offset certain increases of prices. The need for such action had been anticipated when the ceiling was introduced, and the Government took the necessary steps immediately it was advised of the extent and nature of the rise. The price of tea was reduced by ls. 2d. per lb. to its pre-war level, and a standard maximum price for potatoes of 5 lb. for 6d. was declaredin all capital cities. Sales tax on clothing and textiles was also reduced from 12£ per cent, to 1- per cent.
The commodities were selected on three grounds. In the first place, the administrative problems can be handled easily through the Tea Board, the Potato Committee and the Sales Tax Department. Secondly, they were all commodities whose prices had risen markedly. Thirdly, and most important, they were universally consumed commodities which ensured that the reduction of prices was enjoyed by all consumers. By operating only on such commodities, we were able to secure the necessary reduction in each individual’s cost of living, even though
Ave operated on only a few commodities.
At the same time, special arrangements have been made to refund to employers the increased wage costs incurred by them, but which they cannot recover by price increases. This refund should be payable for only a limited period, as it is hoped that the cost of living will soon be restored to its level in the March quarter.
By imposing a price ceiling on the 12th April, the Government took responsibility for putting a limit on prices. That limit will not remain indefinitely at the present figure, but some limit there must be under the disturbed conditions of war and of the immediate post-war period. The importance of such control for preventing the inflation of prices always likely to follow the conclusion of war will be easily appreciated.
I said earlier that nothing less than our utmost efforts would suffice to’ carry this war to a successful end. There can be no relaxation on the home front because our operations in the field are going well. Even if there is some lessening of the demand for men and munitions, there is a greater demand for supplies of all kinds for our own and the allied nations. We cannot look for increased freedom to spend until after the war is won. Restrictions on consumption must be fully maintained and probably increased, and it must not be expected that they can be suddenly relaxed in the immediate postwar period. With the new assurance of ultimate victory, I hope we can submit to these necessary restrictions with patience and good temper, knowing now with certainty that the sacrifice will not have been made in vain.
The prosecution of the war has inevitably involved the Commonwealth in considerable expenditure overseas, both for the maintenance of troops and also for war supplies and equipment obtained from other countries. To the 30th June last, our total war expenditure overseas was £178,000,000. In addition we still have some heavy liabilities to the United Kingdom Government for war equipment and supplies in respect of which accounts have not yet been rendered.
Under the satisfactory arrangements made with the United Kingdom Government for the purchase of our entire wool clip, a major part of our export income has been safeguarded for the period of the war. Other export income has also been well maintained in spite of shipping difficulties. Imports for civil purposes have been severely reduced. In the aggregate, our overseas earnings in the four years now past have been more than sufficient to cover all overseas payments including war expenditure.
Accordingly, apart from the £12,000,000 sterling loan raised in London by the previous Government, it has not been necessary to borrow overseas for war purposes. This loan is now being repaid under the arrangement made with the United Kingdom Government by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) in 1941-42, which provided for its repayment when the level of our London funds permitted. After allowing for this repayment and the effect of sinking fund operations, Commonwealth and State overseas debt has actually been reduced by about £9,000,000 sterling since the outbreak of war.
It is impossible to forecast the future movements in our overseas . income and payments with any accuracy, but we may hope that the present satisfactory position will continue. If it should not, we shall still have the benefit of the arrangement with the United Kingdom Government under which we can draw on that Government for assistance to our London funds.
Lend-Lease and Reciprocal Aid. “When the President of the United States of America instituted the plan known as lend-lease he made a striking and far-reaching contribution to the cause of the Allies.
Under that arrangement Australia has received valuable assistance in the form of war equipment and essential goods. The first consignments were received in September, 1941, and since then we have continued to receive an increasing flow of goods. I am not in a position to quote values, but I may say that both the volume and the range of lend-lease goods are very considerable. For instance, they embrace such items as: - Aircraft and parts, armoured fighting vehicles, weapons and parts, ammunition, motor vehicles and petroleum products, machine and hand tools, radio and electrical machinery; and raw materials, including tin-plate, metals, woodpulp, chemicals and .minerals.
We are deeply grateful to the people of the United States of America for their splendid and generous contribution, which came at a time when our need was great. For our part we are happy to be in a position to give assistance in return - known as reciprocal aid - to the American forces in Australia and the South-West Pacific Area. This consists of food supplies, clothing, buildings, aerodromes, aircraft maintenance, transport, ships and shipping repairs, and many other items. ‘The aid we are now giving is assuming considerable proportions. The cost of reciprocal aid last year was £59,000,000 and this year it is expected to reach almost £100,000,000, or approximately one-sixth of our total war expenditure. The principle of lendlease and reciprocal aid is that each country shall make maximum contributions from its own resources. The resources of the United States of America greatly exceed those of Australia, and despite the many claims on the production of the United States of America, the lend-lease aid given to Australia has substantially exceeded the aid that we have been able to give in return. There is no adequate measuring stick to compare the contribution made by each country. Many forms of aid do not lend themselves to expression in money values, and it would be contrary to the spirit of lendlease that a money comparison should be made. Australia commenced to receive lend-lease aid in September, 1941, whereas for our part reciprocal aid did not commence until March, 1942. Since then reciprocal aid has increased rapidly, and our present rate of aid is one of which we can reasonably feel proud.
I turn now to the accounts of last year. Total expenditure last year was £670,305,000. Of this amount, war expenditure accounted for £561,743,000. When announcing the budget estimate of £440,000,000 for war expenditure last September, I warned honorable members that the figure might be exceeded. As our war effort gathered strength during the year, it became clear that the estimate would be greatly exceeded, and in the Financial Statement of last February I lifted the estimate to £540,000,000, and again in June to £560,000,000.
War expenditure in Australia absorbed £483,050,000, and overseas £78,693,000. On supplies and services for other governments, other than reciprocal aid, £25,879,000 was expended, but payments received during the year for current and past supplies exceeded this amount by £1,180,000, reducing the charge on the budget accordingly.
Revenue collections for the year proved to be £267,453,000, excluding the amount of £27,006,000 due to the States for tax reimbursement, or £17,772,000 above the budget estimate of £249,681,000.
After meeting non-war expenditure, including tax reimbursement payments to States, the revenue budget provided £158,891,000 towards war expenditure. To the balance of £402,852,000, public loans and war savings certificates contributed £215,357,000. The temporary use of treasury balances provided £8,420,000, whilst £179,075,000 was financed by treasury-bills discounted with the Commonwealth Bank.
Details of actual revenue and expenditure, compared with the estimates, are given in Table 1.
In November, 1942, £82,686,000 was raised for war purposes. In conjunction with this loan, the opportunity was taken to submit a conversion operation for the 3J per cent, loan of £22,700,000 which matured on the loth December, 1942. Conversions reached £21,777,000, representing 96 per cent, of the amount outstanding. The amount not converted, £923,000, is being met from the National Debt .Sinking Fund. The Third Liberty Loan in March last yielded £101,822,000. The total of £184,508,000 raised through the two public loans, together with the conversion of nearly £21,800,000, marks a new level in the efforts of the general public to meet the demands for war finance. Net proceeds of sales of war savings certificates and stamps totalled £9,158,000. Since its inception, this scheme has raised £35,529,000. National savings bonds bearing interest at 3 per cent, produced £9:39,000. Interest-free loans of £295,000, and gifts of £223,000 were also received. The aggregates from these two sources are £6,350,000 and £1,618,000 respectively. In 1942-43, total cash receipts from all loan sources, including advance subscriptions, were £215,357,000.
Commonwealth and States’ contributions for the redemption of public debt through the National Debt Sinking Fund continue to increase. During the year, £17,668,000 was provided, and it is anticipated that £20,720,000 will be available in the current year for this purpose. The aggregate debt of the Commonwealth and the States at the 30th June, 1943, was £2,006,000,000, being £1,107,000,000 for the Commonwealth and £899,000,000 for the States. The increase last year of £389,000,000 in Commonwealth debt was entirely due to the war. Cash resources available to the States were used for the temporary redemption of treasury-bills during the year. This, together with the operations of the sinking fund, brought about a reduction of £12,000,000 in States’ debt. No public loans were raised for the States during the year, and State loan expenditure was wholly financed from balances held by them.
Revenue from all sources for 1943-44 is expected to reach £312,087,000, which exceeds last year’s collections by £44,634,000. This large increase is mainly due to income tax. Including companies, income tax is expected to produce £160,233,000 this year, an improvement of £45,637,000 on last year’s collections.
A decline of £3,306,000 is expected in customs, as a result of the greatly reduced volume of civil imports. Excise is estimated to increase by £2,428,000, mainly on account of the increased rates imposed in September, 1942. The volume of sales liable to sales tax has been declining over the last two or three years as a direct result of war controls, and sales tax on clothing and textiles was recently reduced from 12£ per cent, to 7^ per cent, under the price stabilization plan. Because of these facts, it is anticipated that sales tax will decline by £3,346,000, compared with 1942-43. A full year’s revenue from the Commonwealth entertainments tax introduced last year will be collected this year, and as a result it is estimated that collections will exceed last year’s figure by £1,014,000.
From all sources, the anticipated yield of taxation is £272,767,000, which is £42,630,000 more than last year’s collections.
From sources other than taxation, it is anticipated that revenue will reach £39,320,000, or £2,004,000 in excess of last year. An improvement of the return from business undertakings is expected. Compared with last year, it is forecast that the Post Office will yield an additional £1,609,000 and the railways £883,000.
Revenue figures for the two years are shown in detail in Table 2.
Our statutory obligations to the States for income tax reimbursement grants amount to £33,489,000 annually. Last year, we collected on behalf of the States £7,058,000 of arrears of State income taxes, leaving £26,431,000 as the direct charge on the Commonwealth revenue. It is expected that £1,222,000 arrears of State income taxes willbe collected in the current year, so that the payments to the States on account of income tax reimbursement grants, to be provided by the budget, total £32,267,000, which represents an increase of £5,836,000 on last year’s figure.
We also have obligations to the States in respect of entertainments tax. In September last, Parliament passed the States Grants (Entertainments Tax Reimbursement) Act, under which the Commonwealth undertakes to make yearly grants to the States in consideration of their leaving the entertainments tax field for the duration of the war and one year thereafter. For 1942-43, the total amount paid to the States under this act was £574,341 ; this year, and in future years, the total amount payable will be £765,787. The grants are as follows : -
Thus, payments from revenue on account of both income and entertainments taxes amount to £33,033,000 for 1943-44. As this item is self-balancing in our accounts, I have left it out of the comparisons of revenue and expenditure of last year and this.
Estimated Expenditure (other than War), 1943-44.
For purposes other than the current war, expenditure this year is expected to reach £144,526,000, compared with an outlay for the year just ended of £108,563,000.
The National Welfare Fund accounts for a large part of the increase of £35,963,000 in non-war expenditure. Honorable members will recall that the fund was established as an integral part of the Government’s plans for the social security of the people. Into it will be paid each year out of general revenue an annual sum of £30,000,000, or onequarter of the total collections from income tax on individuals for Commonwealth purposes, whichever is the lower.
The first payment to the fund, estimated at £29,750,000, is due this year. This sum is a quarter of the estimated collections of income tax on individuals for Commonwealth purposes.
Expenditure on two social security projects which came into operation in July, namely, increased maternity allowances and funeral benefit for invalid and old-age pensioners, will be met from the fund. Maternity allowances are estimated to require £2,100,000, and funeral benefits £230,000 this year.
As a result of the 20 per cent, increase in war pensions recently approved by Parliament, 1914-18 war pensions will cost £1,090,000 more this year than last.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions.
Following the amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act last March, allowances for the wives and unendowed children of invalid pensioners became payable in July. The anticipated cost for a full year is £640,000. All payments under the Act are estimated to require £23,100,000, or £807,000 more than last year.
As compared with last year, child endowment, at £12,255,000, will cost £595,000 more this year. Most of this increase is due to the incidence of endowment pay periods.
Expenditure on widows’ pensions is greater than was expected when the original act was passed. Experience in New South Wales was taken as a guide, but because of the more liberal conditions of the Commonwealth scheme and other factors, the number of claimants has exceeded expectations and is still increasing. The estimated cost for this year is £2,780,000, or £421,000 more than the expenditure last year.
Special grants to certain States will be made in accordance with the tenth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission which has been tabled for the information of honorable members.
The Grants Commission assesses special grunts on the States’ budgetary results of the second year prior to that in which the grants are paid. In recommending the grants to be paid, however, the Commission takes into account the current requirements of the claimant. States. Thus, last year the Commission considered that the grants assessed for South Australia rand Western Australia would exceed their requirements by £670,000 and £170,000, respectively, and payment of these amounts was accordingly deferred until this year. They are included in the grants set forth below.
In view of the payment of these deferred amounts and of the probable revenue requirements of the claimant States during .this financial year, the Commission recommends that amounts of £250,000, £500,000 and £65,000 which form portions of the grants assessed for South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania respectively for 1943-44 .be deferred until next year. After making these adjustments, the actual payments recommended for this year, compared with those for last year, are as follows : -
The Government will shortly bring down legislation to give effect to the recommendations of the Grants Commission.
Details of other items of expenditure fire set out in Table 3.
At the meeting of the Loan Council held on the 15th July, 1943, a borrowing programme of £9,473,000 for State works was approved. This provides for a gross spending programme of £10,973,000, most of which is directly or indirectly related to the war effort. No amount has been included for the Commonwealth. Actual expenditure for all -governments in 1942-43 was £10,528,000, including £235,000 by the Commonwealth to provide grants to the States for farmers’ debt adjustment.
In addition to the governmental programme, £1,778,000 was approved for local and semi-government bodies.
Estimated war expenditure this year is £570,000,000, an increase over last year’s actual expenditure of £S,257,000. Australian expenditure is estimated at £500,000,000, and overseas at £70,000,000.
I have already mentioned it was necessary during last year to revise the budget estimate of expenditure for war purposes as men and materials were increasingly devoted to the war. Time may well prove this year’s estimate to have fallen short of needs.
Continuing the method adopted last year, expenditure for the Departments of Navy, Army, Air, Munitions and Aircraft Production and Reciprocal . Lend-Lease to the United States forces has been grouped in the “ Estimates of Expenditure “ and shown in one amount - viz., £502,S28,000. “Other War Services” amounting in all to £67,172,000 are shown in detail as usual.
Among these “ Other War Services “ appear the items primary production, and for the first time, price stabilization.
I have indicated that food production is engaging the special attention of the Government. I shall briefly mention some items which will involve expenditure from Commonwealth revenue during the current year :
In my June statement I described the Government’s plans for the dairying- industry. A subsidy at the rate of £6,500,000 is now being paid to the industry .under the Dairying Industry Assistance Act 1943. In the current year it is expected that £7,000,000 will actually be disbursed. This amount includes some payments applicable to 1942-43.
For the 1942-43 wheat crop the Government introduced the plan by which licensed wheat-growers were paid 4s. a bushel, bagged basis, at growers’ sidings for the first 3,000 bushels. For wheat in excess of the 3,000 bushels quota an advance of 2s. a bushel was paid. Although substantial unrealized stocks of wheat remain in the Government’s hands it is intended to continue the plan for the 1943-44 crop. As realizations are averaging slightly more than 4s. a bushel at ports, the Government faces losses on the quota wheat. An amount of £1,750,000 has been provided for the losses which will have to be met during the current financial year. In addition, £550,000 is required to provide compensation for compulsorily reduced wheat acreage in Western Australia during the 1943-44 season.
To increase the production of pig meats and eggs, the Government is purchasing wheat for sale as stock feed to producers at a maximum of 3s. 6£d. a bushel at purchasers’ sidings. This concession will cost about £500,000 during the current year.
An amount of £670,000 is provided under this heading to meet deficiencies upon the Nos. 3 and 4/ pools. The deficiencies arise from transport difficulties which have prevented the full marketing of the production.
The increased costs of obtaining and manufacturing superphosphate are being met by the Government. This is expected to require £1,100,000 this year. Nitrate of soda is also being made available to essential users at prices below actual costs.
As an important part of the plans for processing foodstuffs, the Government has successfully sponsored an expansion in factory capacity for the dehydration of fruit, vegetables and meat. About £450,000 will be expended during the year, mainly upon the purchase of plant to be hired to operators.
The total expenditure direct from Commonwealth funds on primary production arising out of war needs is expected to reach £11,S51,000 this year, as compared with an actual expenditure last year of £3,085,000. This, of course, does not reflect Commonwealth assistance to primary industries by way of marketing arrangements, &c.
Commodities which have already been the subject of subsidies under the stabilization plan_ are tea, potatoes, coal, vegetable seeds, linseed, milk for human consumption, and miscellaneous imports. The tea and potato subsidies will, it is anticipated, cost £4,500,000 this year. Expenditure under the plan on refunds of increased wage costs to employers is estimated at £1,500,000, about half of which, however, will be offset by savings on government contracts.
After reviewing all probable items, I estimate the total expenditure on price stabilization at £12,000,000 for the current year.
Pay of the Forces.
Since the last budget, the pay of the forces ha3 been kept under review. As from the 1st July, 1943, additional active pay at the rate of 6d. a day has been provided for army privates and lance corporals and equivalent ranks who have completed six months’ service with good conduct and have proved by test that they are proficient soldiers. Members holding lance corporal and lance bombardier appointments have been granted, in addition, an increase in active pay of 6d.
These active pay increases will involve additional expenditure at the rate of £1,800,000 per annum.
In March last, deferred pay was granted to members of the women’s services on an appropriate basis and made retrospective to the 7th December, 1941. The credits thus established approximate £750,000 per annum.
As an important contribution towards the budget for this financial year, the Government obtained the approval of Parliament in March last for increasing the rates and widening the field of income tax on individuals. Those increases take effect for the first time in the assessments for the present financial year. The yield this year is expected to exceed last year’s collections by £43,000,000. This will cover the requirements of the National Welfare Fund and will also make some provision for other expenditures. The latest increases will bring the yield of income tax on individuals for Commonwealth purposes to £120,000,000. In the last pre-war year the yield from this source was about £8,000,000. The total yield from all forms of taxation for Commonwealth purposes this year is estimated to produce £273,000,000. ‘
There is one matter which comes within the taxation field which may conveniently be mentioned here. I refer to the question of the burden of income tax on falling incomes. With the existing high rates of taxation, taxpayers whose incomes fall may find themselves in some difficulty. The Government is not unmindful of this problem. The solution is not simple and the Government is, and has been, for some time, closely examining all aspects of the matter.
I have reviewed the financial results of last year and the forecasts for the current year. The estimates of revenue and expenditure can now be summarized as follows: -
The anticipated payment to the States of £33,033,000 for tax reimbursement grants to which I have already referred is omitted from both the figures of revenue and expenditure I have just stated.
There are two aspects upon which I have something further to say. The first is war loan appeals. The response to our war loans is improving, but it still falls far short of what is necessary before Australians generally can be proud of their effort. .Subscribers to one loan last year numbered 455,000 - a record for Australia. In Canada, however, individual subscribers to one loan have reached 2,000,000. I shall not feel satisfied unless subscribers to our next loan exceed 750,000. In anticipation of the coming loan we have expanded our organization and it will make closer contacts with the various voluntary bodies throughout Australia. War loans are a means by which each person can take a share in the common struggle. It is the duty of every one to assist by personal subscriptions and by encouraging others to subscribe.
Total contributions to public loans, &c, last .year amounted to £215,000,000. For this year the gap between expenditure and revenue is £403,000,000. With the current level and volume of incomes, I see no reason why we cannot expect the public of Australia to subscribe to our public loans an aggregate of £300,000,000. That would enable us to reduce very considerably our dependence on treasury-bills.
It must be borne in mind that treasurybill finance piles up a body of excess spending power which threatens inflation unless consumption and spending are vigilantly controlled. It will be the accumulation of excess spending power at the end of the war which will make it necessary to prolong controls in the post-war period. The less the accumulation, the quicker controls can be removed and freedom restored.
The second matter is the urgent need to avoid unnecessary government ex- penditure. In the light of experience gained the Government will redouble its efforts to secure economies and to eliminate all wasteful expenditure. The financial proposals I have just summarized have been framed on that basis.
Mortgage Bank. lt is, I think, appropriate to mention here the new Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank, the act for which was passed during the last session of Parliament. The department commenced operations this week. The facilities provided by the Mortgage Bank Department for fixed and long-term loans at reasonable rates of interest should be of valuable assistance to rural producers, particularly in the period of reconstruction.
During the year the Government’s war-time control of banking proceeded smoothly. As a part of this control, honorable members will recall, each trading bank is required to deposit with the Commonwealth Bank a prescribed part of its surplus investible funds. In this way, the increased deposits coming to the banks as a result of war expenditure are prevented from being used as a basis for credit expansion. During the year, war-time deposits greatly increased. At the 30th June, 1943, the Commonwealth Bank held £101,000,000 in war-time deposits of the trading banks, as compared with £37,000,000 at the corresponding date in the previous year.
Early in 1943, the Government set up the Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction. The Ministry will, in collaboration with other Commonwealth or State authorities, be responsible for planning the transition to a peace-time economy, and devising measures for obtaining a high level of employment and economic security in the post-war years. In this work the’ rehabilitation of demobilized service personnel will receive particular attention.
As a practical means of planning a reservoir of work for the immediate postwar period and an orderly programme of developmental works, the Commonwealth and States, at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in July last, established a National Works Council. The Co-ordinator-General of Works will present to the Commonwealth Government at the earliest possible date a schedule, including both new works and maintenance projects that have been deferred during the war. This schedule will, of course, be discussed by the National Works Council to which I have just referred.
Commissions have also been appointed within the Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction to prepare plans for housing in the post-war period, and to deal with questions relating to rural reconstruction.
The acute shortage of dwelling accommodation, which is growing more serious with every month of war restriction, must be remedied as soon as our war commitments permit. The Commonwealth Housing Commission is already working to this end, and I hope to be able to make a more precise statement about the Government’s plans on this matter in the near future.
Although the immensely difficult task confronting the Rural Reconstruction Commission may take somewhat longer to complete, I expect to receive the commission’s interim report on plans for soldier settlement and necessary reforms to rural finance before the end of 1943. As the result of a thorough investigation now being conducted by the commission, the plans made for land settlement should avoid the grave errors which marred similar schemes after the last war.
The Tariff Board has already submitted to the Government a number of reports on the post-war prospects for secondary industries. A special planning commission is being set up to advise the Government on the basis of these reports, regarding the executive action needed to ensure that the productive capacity created by the expansion of war industries “will be effectively converted to the service of the people of Australia.
The work of all reconstruction agencies is being co-ordinated through the Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction which operates in consultation and collaboration with other Commonwealth bodies and, where necessary, with those of the States.
Among the lessons that this war has brought home to all Australians is the urgent need to increase the population. For Australia’s future defence and to safeguard its position as a Pacific power a much larger population is needed. A larger home market would benefit both our primary and secondary industries and encourage the development of those now types of production which go to make up a high standard of living. Our aim must, be to ensure social and economic conditions which will foster a vigorous growth from our own stock and, supplementing this domestic growth, will encourage an inflow of suitable migrants.
Four years of war have but strengthened our determination to complete the task of defeating our enemies. We have entered the fifth year of hostilities with a much improved’ outlook. The threat of invasion has now been removed, thanks to the superb courage and devotion of our armed forces and those of our Allies.
There are still two powerful foes to be defeated, and the war must be carried into their territories. In these circumstances, there can be no relaxation in the part we all must play. Whatever changes must of necessity be made in our war activities, there, must be no lessening of our total effort. We must continue to accept further sacrifices until the evil forces which have caused this world tragedy have been completely overthrown and the people of all nations can settle down to a long and just peace.
The following papers were pre sented : -
The Budget 1943-44. - Papers presented by the Honorable J. B. Chifley, M.P., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of the budget of 1943-44.
Ordered to be printed.
Message recomm ending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s Message) :
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That it 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 sums for the purposes of financial assistance to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, and to repeal the Tasmania Grant Act 1943.
Resolution 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.
This bill has a twofold purpose. First, it implements the recommendations contained in the tenth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission for the payment during the current financial year of special grants totalling £2,470,000 to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Secondly, the bill provides for the repeal of the Tasmania Grant Act 1943. That act, which was assented to on the 29th June, 1943., authorized the payment of £200,000 by way of further financial assistance to Tasmania during the financial year 1 9412-43. The grants recommended by the commission for payment this year, and those paid last year, are -
In assessing these special grants, the Commonwealth Grants Commission has followed the same general principles as in past years. Briefly, the fundamental principle followed by the commission is that special grants are based on the principle of financial needs and therefore are determined by the degree of help considered necessary to enable a claimant State, by reasonable effort, to function at, a standard not appreciably below that of the non-claimant States. The commission’s methods of assessing financial needs are based on comparisons of the financial position of the States, and involve the financial relations between the Commonwealth and1 the States.
The commission’s methods of assessing special grants take into account the effects of Commonwealth war policy. As the finances of the non-claimant States have been in a very prosperous condition since 1.940-41, mainly because of the effect of Commonwealth war expenditure, the commission compares the financial position of the claimant States, not with the surplus budget standard derived from averaging the budgetary results of the non-claimant States, but with a balanced budget standard. I am in complete accord with the commission’s principle that it would be inappropriate to regard a surplus budget standard, which arises mainly from the stimulus of war expenditure, as a reasonable Australian standard for the calculation of special grants. There is no justification for making to the claimant States special grants which will exceed their actual financial needs.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission bases its assessments on the budgetary results of the States in the second year prior to that in which the grants are paid. Therefore the assessments for 1943-44 are based on 1941-42, the latest year for which complete information was available. In recommending the payments to be made, however, the commission takes into account the present day needs of the claimant States. Thus the commission has recommended that portion of each of the assessed grants for 1943-4’4 bc deferred until next financial year. Whilst the figures of payments which I have mentioned exclude amounts of £250,000, £500,000 and £65,000, payment of which to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania respectively has been deferred until next year, the figures of payments include “ amounts of £670,000 and £170,000, payment of which to South Australia and Western Australia respectively had been deferred from last year.
I shall now give a brief explanation of the commission’s assessments for each State, with particular reference to the difference between the grants paid in 1942- 43 and those recommended for 1943- 44. The principal feature of the commission’s calculations this year was a decline, compared with 1940-41, in the average severity of taxation in the nonclaimant States in 1941-42, in relation to that in the claimant States.
In 1941-42 South Australia enjoyed a surplus of £1,290,000 after receiving a special grant. This involved a considerable improvement in the budget position of the State relative to the balanced budget standard adopted by the commission, and die grant assessed for South Australia this year was £4S0,000, or £740,000 less than the grant calculated for last year. Including an amount of £670,000 deferred from the last year, the amount payable to South Australia this year would ha e been £1,150,000, but the commission considers that the State will not require the whole of this amount to meet its revenue needs this year. Accordingly, an amount of £250,000 is being deferred until next year, leaving an amount of £900,000 to be paid to South Australia this year.
In 1941-42 “Western Australia just balanced its budget after receiving a special grant. Because of that State’s increased severity of taxation relative to that of the non-claimant States, the grant assessed for “Western Australia this year was £1,180,000, or £210,000 more than that assessed last year. After including an amount of £170,000 deferred from last year, the amount payable to Western Australia would have been £1,350,000. As the commission considers that a grant of £850,000 will suffice to meet that, State’s requirements this year, an amount of £500,000 is being deferred until next year.
Tasmania just succeeded in balancing its budget in 1941-42 after receiving a special grant of £520,000. The grant assessed this year was £785,000, or £210,000 more than that assessed and paid last year. The increase is due mainly to a large favorable adjustment on account of relative severity of taxation in 1941-42. From the evidence available at present the commission considers that an amount of £65,000 may appropriately be deferred until next year, and recommends that a grant of £720,000 be paid to Tasmania this year.
In past years, the Government has always accepted the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, whose principles and methods of assessing special grants produce reasonable results, having regard to the needs of the claimant States and the health of the federation as a whole. I am satisfied that the grants recommended for payment to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania should be sufficient to meet their financial needs in the present financial year.
As I have already mentioned, this bill also provides for the repeal of the Tasmania Grant Act 1943. I shall now give honorable members a brief outline of the events which render this action necessary. In September of last year the Government of Tasmania advised the Com- monwealth Government that it considered the special grant of £575,000 provided for in the States Grants Act 1942 inadequate in view of the deterioration in the budgetary position of that State since the 30th June, 1942. The Tasmanian Government therefore requested an unconditional payment of £200,000 by way of additional Commonwealth assistance. The Commonwealth Government referred this request to the Commonwealth Grants Commission which, in an interim report on the 25th January, 1943, deferred its recommendation until later in the financial year when Tasmania’s current financial needs could be better assessed. In its final report dated the 16th April, 1943, the commission recommended that an advance payment of £200,000 be made to Tasmania, such advance to be deducted from the special grant in 1944-45 in order to preserve fully the relativity- in the commission’s method of assessing special grants. On being informed of the commission’s recommendations, the Tasmanian Government lodged an application with the Commonwealth Grants Commission under section 6 (1) of the States Grants (Income Tax Reimbursement) Act 1942 for an . increase of £200,000 in the income tax compensation authorized by that act. At the same time, the Commonwealth Government was informed that this application was made without prejudice to the advance already recommended-, ‘but that if the application for increased income tax compensation were successful, the advance payment of £200,000 would not be required. The commission’s report on this further ‘application, which was received on the 20th June and immediately tabled in Parliament, recommended that no increase of income tax compensation be paid to Tasmania in the financial year 1942-43. The Commonwealth Government adopted the commission’s recommendation and advised the Tasmanian Government on the 25th June that it was introducing the Tasmania Grant Bill 1943 in Parliament that day to give effect to the commission’s recommendation for the payment of an advance of £200,000. That bill became law in time to make, the payment of £200,000 before the close of the financial year, but the Tasmanian Government declined to accept the payment, giving as its reason that acceptance would involve a corresponding reduction of the special grant which would be recommended in 1944-45.
As I have said, the commission assesses special grants on the budgetary results of the States in the second year prior to that in which the grants are paid. Thus Tasmania’s financial position in 1942-43, which caused the Tasmanian Government to make an application for further financial assistance in that year to the amount of £200,000, will form the basis for the commission’s calculation of a special grant for 1944-45. The drift in the State’s finances in 1942-43 will therefore bc automatically reflected in the grant for 1944-45. Unless, therefore, the £200,000 which the commission recommended were treated us an advance to be deducted from the grant to be paid in 1944-45, Tasmania would receive £200,000 more than the amount considered necessary to meet its financial needs. That is to say, unconditional payment of £200,000 would have involved duplication of Commonwealth assistance to Tasmania in respect of 1942-43. As Tasmania declined to accept the payment of £200,000 as an advance grant, it is necessary to cancel the authority for payment of that grant, and provision is therefore made in this bill for the repeal of the Tasmania. Grant Act 1943. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to - That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for thu purpose of a bill for an act to authorize the raising and expending of a certain sum of money.
Resolution 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.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain a loan appropriation of £200,000,000 for war purposes and also to authorize the raising of an equivalent amount of loan moneys to finance war expenditure. The subject of war finance and our anticipated expenditure for the present year has been covered very fully in the budget and, therefore, I do not propose to traverse that ground again at any length. “War expenditure for 1943-44 is estimated to reach £570,000,000. Of this amount it is anticipated that approximately £167,000,000 will be met from revenue, leaving a balance of £403,000,000 to be provided from loan. The balance of loan appropriation available at the 30th June, 1943, was £183,000,000. This amount, together with the provision in this bill and the revenue appropriation, should enable us to carry on until May next. Before that date a further war loan appropriation will be sought from Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Spender) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 28th September (vide page 109) on motion by Mr. Chambers -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech be agreed to -
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.
– Following the excellent example of preceding speakers, I shall confine my remarks to those problems which appear to me to be outstanding, and with which this Parliament will have to deal in the not distant future. Concerning the war, I shall do no more than make the briefest and most general remarks. Ever since the great victory in Tunisia, the tide of war has flowed in our direction.
The position in Europe to-day is one which we can regard with some degree of complacency. The one thing certain is that that great enemy which but a short time ago threatened to overwhelm us is now on the defensive. Germany’s hopes of world conquest have been shattered, and although it is still powerful and capable of prolonging the struggle for some considerable time, the end cannot be doubted. Germany must, in the end, be defeated. How long it will be before that end is reached no man can say. But unless and until Germany has been defeated, the war in the Pacific will not begin in real earnest. A stern, long drawn out struggle stretches before us. Japan is powerful. Its resources on land and sea and in the air are practically unimpaired. It will fight stubbornly, fanatically for every yard of ground it now holds. I do not, however, doubt that in the end we shall conquer. When the end comes Ave shall be confronted with great problems. Some, indeed, will force themselves upon us before the end is reached. One of them is daily becoming more acute; I refer to the food problem. This is already giving us some concern, but before we can hope for victory over Japan we shall have to provide for the American and British forces, who, when the war in Europe is over, will help us to win the war in the Pacific. Now that we are assured by the high military authorities that we are no longer in clanger of invasion we can safely withdraw from 50,000 to 100,000 men, now in our military forces, for absorption in our primary industries and, perhaps, in some of our secondary industries or what may have been called nonessential industries which are sadly in need of man-power. The first great problem that will confront us when the war is over is the rehabilitation of the members of our fighting services, and the creation of avenues of employment for the hundreds of thousands of persons who are now working in our munitions factories. His Excellency has directed our attention to this vast and complex problem, and we arc assured that the Government has it constantly under review and is making plans to ensure that the change over from war to peace shall be made smoothly and effectively.
The first problem to which I wish particularly to direct the attention of honorable members relates to the population of this country. It may be considered under two heads, “ migration “ and “ the birth rate “. In dealing with all post-war problems we must remember that we are signatories to the Atlantic Charter. The solution of any of the problems that confront us now or that will confront us hereafter must necessarily be adjusted to the terms of that charter, and to the treaty of peace which will be fast-rooted in its provisions. We may be quite sure that the post-war world will not permit a country with an almost stagnant, population of 7,000,000 to slam its doors upon the peoples of the overcrowded countries. We shall have to consider this problem in relation to our White Australia policy, with which it is intimately associated. Our choice lies between providing facilities for the admittance and absorption of migrants of a suitable character, and the throwing aside of all barriers so as to allow the nationals of the overcrowded East to come into this country.
Migration is one of the problems which will have to be faced,, but migration of itself is not enough. We are confronted with a powerful and resolute enemy. We must not for a moment hug to our breasts the illusion that Japan will fall like a ripe plum into our mouths if or when Germany is beaten, or collapse because the morale of its people cracks. The fight against Japan will be long and stern, and we dare contemplate nothing short of complete and final victory. We can see our enemy, we feel his blows, and we can take such measures as are open to us, with the assistance of our Allies, to meet and defeat him; but there is another enemy, unseen, and perhaps even more deadly than Japan. It is not hyperbole to say that Australia is bleeding to death. The figures show very vividly that this is no exaggeration of the position in which we find ourselves. European settlement in Australia is now a little more than 150 years old. For a long time our progress was painfully slow, but later, as a result of the discovery of gold, the country leapt ahead There have been periods of depression during which the growth of the community lagged, but over a period of fifty years and more it made great progress. I propose to take a comparatively recent period in order to illustrate the point I wish to make. At the beginning of the 25 years period from 1909 to 1933, the birth-rate, by which I mean the gross reproduction rate, was 1.781. This highly satisfactory rate of increase was due to natural fertility and migration which reached its peak in 1910-19113, when it began to fall and, except for a brief recovery during the post-war years, it went on falling until, in 1933, the figure stood at 1.052, a decline of 41 per cent. In 21 years the rate declined from a figure characteristic of a rapidly increasing population to one which was too low to maintain even a stationary population. In 1932, the rate was 1.03, a figure at which fertility and mortality were in equilibrium; and it still oscillates around that point. However, those figures do not set out the position fairly, because not only is the population stagnant, but its composition has changed. There are now proportionately more old people and fewer young people. At the beginning of the period under review children under ten years numbered 118.1 per 1000 of the population, while in 1933 the figure bad declined to .SI pei 1000. This illustrates very vividly the effect of a declining birth-rate. The decline has continued despite efforts from time to time to encourage a higher birthrate or, at all events, to check a further decline. Laws applicable throughout the Commonwealth have been passed - family endowment, a means of encouraging large families which naturally suggests itself, may be cited as typical of this class of legislation. Notwithstanding the adoption of these measures, however, the decline of the birth-rate has notbeen materially checked. Every effort made by such countries as Germany and Italy to increase the birth-rate by providing marriage loans, and by making special provision for the purchase of furniture, &c., in order to encourage family life, has failed. We must face the fact that, basically, the problem of the declining birth-rate is not economic. The economic factor is at best subsidiary, as is proved by the fact that the fall in the birth-rate is greater in the well-to-do districts than in the working-class suburbs of our great cities.
The basic causes of the fall of the birth-rate are psychological; they are moral, if you like to put it so, and the remedy is to be sought in a reorientation of outlook, ideals, and the concept of life. We are now engaged in a life and death struggle. We are fighting not only for liberty, but for survival. We are fighting that we and our children after us may, as a free people, hold Australia. We are not fighting that alien people may take the land for which our men are now dying. To ensure that we shall preserve this country for ourselves we must populate Australia with Australian people. Amongst the remedies for the falling birth-rate the provision of suitable homes for the people is of first importance. Housing on a grand scale is a problem to which this Government should immediately give its earnest attention. Some of the States are preparing plans for the erection of suitable houses on a liberal scale, but the problem of population is national, and this Government, which has received a mandate from the people to carry on this war and to bring about measures of’ social security compatible with our concept of the new order can direct its attention to no problem with greater benefit to the people than that of providing suitable homes for the people. Quite apart from the fall of the birth-rate there is a vital need for homes for the people who are away now fighting for Australia, or who are tirelessly engaged in carrying on war work. We owe to the men and women who are now fighting and working for victory that when the war is over they shall be suitably housed. I do not merely mean places where men and women can sleep and eat, but homes where the cult of family life is possible. It is only on the basis of family that any enduring civilization can be reared. The civilizations of ancient Rome and Greece withered and decayed, not because they were overwhelmed by enemies, but because the crop of men had failed. But, in any case, homes for the people are essential, because homes are the environment in which character is moulded. The nation depends on the character of its people, upon their physique, and upon the ideals they cherish, and it is in the home that the character of our men and women is moulded. So homes for the people are essential, not only as a means of bringing about that change of outlook of men and women “which is essential if we are to encourage a higher fertility, but also because of its reaction upon the psychology of the people. Home life profoundly affects the outlook of married people. A home suggests in its very nature that it is a nest. The need for children is obvious. A home is not a home in the true sense of the word without children. I put it to this House, and to the country, that suitable homes for the people must be provided. Slums must be demolished. I read somewhere the other day that there were no slums in the Australian cities, but that is not’ so, for, unfortunately, some of our cities, Sydney and Melbourne in particular, have slums that are a disgrace to the Australian people. I cannot speak with such intimate knowledge of some of our other capital cities as I can of Sydney and Melbourne, but I say emphatically that some of the slums in both those cities are a disgrace to our people. We - are not, as are people in many countries, hampered by lack of space; we are citizens of a great wide land in which there is ample room for suitably housing a far greater population than we now have. The materials are ready to our hand - I do not deny that for the moment we lack manpower - and it needs only organization for us to have roomy and convenient houses, with gardens as places where children can be reared - homes, not flats, over the portals of which may well be inscribed “ No children admitted “. I, therefore, lay very great emphasis upon the need for effective measures to deal with the problem at the very earliest possible moment.
As to migration, if we want suitable migrants we must create conditions that will attract them. People talk lightheartedly about bringing tens of thousands of migrants into this country immediately. It was my privilege to be a member of the Government during the period when the greatest number of migrants that has ever entered this country came here. They entered the Commonwealth at the rate of between 24,000 and 30,000 a year, and never in our his-, tory has that number been exceeded, except during the gold rush in the early fifties. We shall have to consider the economy of this country, and its capacity to employ large numbers of immigrants. To induce them to settle here, we must create conditions not only to attract the kind we want, but also to absorb them; and this of course is possible only by the expansion of primary and secondary industries.
I now desire to make some observations upon world peace, and the Atlantic Charter upon which that peace will be founded. Without peace in the world, talk of social security is idle. The Atlantic Charter postulates that there shall be freedom from want, freedom from fear, and liberty of speech and of religious beliefs. When victory has been won, these freedoms are to be the common heritage of all men. We are to have all four; no country has ever enjoyed them before. Australia, perhaps, has approached nearer to the goal than any other nation. For the greater part of its existence, Australia has had freedom from fear, and fear of want has been less here than in most other countries. Freedom of speech and of religious belief has been woven into the pattern of our lives. But we are among the most fortunate of nations. Freedom from fear of war is impossible without the creation of an organization that will ensure world peace. Plans for world peace are not new. At intervals during the last six centuries schemes for ensuring world peace have been submitted for the consideration of the rulers of nations and, in some instances, they have been adopted. But all of them have failed. World peace is not to be obtained, as some people imagine, without paying the price. Freedom from fear and freedom from want cannot be obtained by communities which imagine that the new order means a condition in which they shall hold out both hands to receive, while giving nothing in return. Heavy and obvious responsibilities devolve upon the citizens of every country that is a signatory to the Atlantic Charter, because it levels, in one comprehensive sweep, all those barriers of distance, race, varying sta ml a rel s of living anil forms of government by which nations have been divided, and beckons mankind under a bond of common citizenship to join this new order. Freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom of speech and religious belief - these things are easily said ; but in order that we may have world peace, without which none of these things i3 possible, there must be an organization to ensure it. Of course, the radical cure for Avar is a change of heart. That is also a cure for all our domestic ills. There would be no want, trouble or poverty in society if we were to pattern our conduct on the basic truths of the Christian religion. But man, while mou tiling his faith, has not patterned his conduct on those principles. I find in the Atlantic Charter a terrifying resemblance to the Covenant of the League of Nation.?. More than a quarter of a century has passed since that covenant was first formulated. It contained nothing new. [Extension of time granted.’] It was a restatement of principles that had been put forward by the Holy Alliance, the Quadruple Alliance and St, Augustine long, long ago. But, all the world believed what President Wilson said. His fourteen points, upon which the covenant was founded, had captured the imagination of men in every land. The world hung upon his lightest word, and thronged in vast multitudes to hear him. Even Caesar was never received as President Wilson was in Rome. People ‘believed that a new order had come, in which men would live together in peace and happiness all the days of their lives. War w,a« to be for ever banished, and peace resting on the basic principle of social justice, was to endure for ever. The League failed, though not because of any defect in the organization. The instrument itself provided for the settlement of disputes- by arbitration, and that was not a new idea. It is true that some of the disputes were not justifiable. Such disputes brought the present war to the world. But there was to be at the back of the League of Nations, adequate armed force. President Wilson was emphatic about that. The League failed, not because of any defects in the instrument that created it, but be cause, the nations that composed it would not honour their obligations. They desired peace, but would not pay the price of peace. If the Atlantic Charter is to banish war, it must impair our sovereignty. It will take from us the right to determine our own destiny. We shall have to adjust our economy and our mode of life to fit into the new order. Of course, we do not know to what degree the peace treaty will give effect to the generalizations embodied in the Four Freedoms. Et will be impossible to ensure peace in the world unless the peace-loving nations are willing to abandon so much of their sovereign powers as will permit disputes among them to be settled by peaceful means. In short, the charter proposals aim at establishing the rule of law throughout the world. But the rule of law is dependent upon adequate force. Without adequate force even domestic peace is impossible. Consequently, the Atlantic Charter visualizes an armed force which a central authority may direct and control. It will be the duty of the signatories to the charter - and Australia is a signatory - to maintain such armed forces as the central authority, however constituted, may direct. In the very nature of things, there will need to be searching inspections from time to time to prevent lawless nations from disturbing the peace of the world.
But the effect of the Atlantic Charter will not stop there. The charter will have a far-reaching influence upon our economy. We have been told that under the new order there must be no unemployment. Everybody must have a job and most people are to be provided with pensions when their working days are done. In short, largess is to be distributed with a prodigal hand. But it must be realized that schemes of social security can be provided only from the wealth of the community. This is a question, not merely of money, but of goods and services. I have on many occasions made my attitude towards money perfectly clear. Money must be the hand-maiden of industry ; it must aid, and not hamper, production. The goods and services available for all the needs of the community, including, of course, social services and pensions of all kinds, depend upon the wealth produced by the community. That applies to every section of the community. In the happy days that are now receding farther and farther from us, it was the habit of governments to tax the’ rich in order to provide funds for their schemes of social security, hut this source of revenue has now been reduced to a mere trickle. From what the Treasurer has told us this afternoon, a rich man will soon bc rarer than a white crow. Therefore the cost of social services will have to be provided by the workers. If freedom from want were to be applicable only to Australia it would be a simple matter, for Australia produces an abundance of food and raw materials which provide not only sufficient for its present population but also substantial quantities for export. But as freedom from want is to apply not only to Australia but also to every other part of the world its achieve-‘ ment will impose upon us, and upon every other country similarly situated, the duty and responsibility of contributing towards supplying the needs of the people of other nations. We are told that to-day 17,000,000 people in Bengal are on the verge of starvation. Hundreds of millions of people in other parts of the world have a standard of living far below our own - a standard which we call a bare subsistence level. It is our duty, therefore, and it will be to our advantage, to do everything .in our power to improve the standard of living of these people. This is a responsibility which we cannot escape, but it is also an opportunity we ought not to ignore. We are advantageously situated, geographically, to provide many of the things which the people of the overcrowded East will desire if their standard of living be raised.
The new order concerning which we hear so much is not new, for when I first entered public life I was one of its banner-bearers. If any man had suggested to me in those days that the new order was not just round the corner I should probably have brained him. When T look back and contrast the conditions of those days with those which existed just before the war, I realize that we “have come far along the road; but many a Mount Pisgah still has to be climbed before mankind reaches its goal. Some people seem to visualize the new order as a Utopia in which men will go to their work decked with garlands and singing joyous songs, and in which the hours will be few, and the task light. But as I see it, the future holds other things in store. For us, there can be no new and better order without hard and more efficient work. This applies to industrialists as well as to their employees. All inefficient methods in both primary and secondary industries must be scrapped. The policy of economic nationalism under which we and other nations have lived and tinder which our industries have been built up is doomed. The objective of that policy was to make a. nation self-contained - to sell everything and buy nothing. Speaking in the 1932 Assembly of the League of Nations, I referred to this policy in terms which honorable members will agree have special application to our present circumstances. I said -
Economic nationalism, which is imperilling international relations, is fast-rooted in world economic conditions, that grip the nations in a vice and make its abandonment impossible. The struggle for markets, already acute, will grow more intense, and in a very short space of time, unless an international agreement, involving revolutionary changes in our economic system, is arrived at, the strain will reach breaking point.
No single factor has conduced more to the making of this war than has
the policy of economic nationalism. Both primary and secondary industries, but
particularly secondary industries, have been developed under high tariff walls, which
will now be levelled to the ground.
Some of them are doing that now. We are able to sell steel at competitive prices against the rest of the world. But some of the industries of this country have boon coddled until they are content with out-of-date methods, and machinery that is far from being efficient.
– The right honorable gentleman will not deny that the steel industry in Australia received a lot of government assistance, which enabled it to become efficient.
– I am sure the honorable gentleman will agree that under the Atlantic Charter the world will not permit high tariffs. Maybe the nations will not agree to the charter. If they do not, there can be no world peace. We have shown ourselves to be a resourceful, an energetic, and an adaptable people, and we are as well fitted as any people in the world to hold our own in the new order, provided we adopt up-to-date methods. We are called upon to abandon the narrow, parochial outlook, the policy of isolation. We ought to enter the new order as banner bearers, not be dragged into it reluctantly as though we were a backward people. We have led the world in many social and economic reforms. In peace and in war, we have held our own. We must be citizens of the world, but we must not be less citizens of Australia. Love of country is not incompatible with that internationalism of which I speak. What is the secret of Russia’s magnificent resistance, of its sacrifices, of its successes ? The Russians have an abiding faith in, and love for, their fatherland. There are some people who say that the great victories won by the Russian people are due ro their political creed. But that is not so. The Russians believe in Russia and have always been ready to fight and die in its defence under any form of government. They proved that long ago, for after all what has happened to Germany happened to Napoleon. The deathless courage of the Russian people and their scorched earth policy overwhelmed Napoleon as it has Hitler. The Russians have demonstrated that love of country is not incompatible with that policy of internationalism which Lenin preached, but in which, perhaps, Stalin does not believe. We too must cultivate a love of mir fatherland, Australia. There is no such love now. But we must not stop here. We are here to-day after over four years of war safe and free, not only through our own valour and sacrifices, but also because we are partners in the great Commonwealth of British Nations. Whatever happens to the new League of Nations, this league of free nations, the British Empire, will not fail. It has not failed in the two greatest wars in history. It has not failed in the past, it will not fail in the future. The best citizen is the man who is the best husband and father. Love of home and family is not incompatible with good citizenship; and love of Australia, and belief in the Empire, are not incompatible with citizenship of the world. We have great opportunities as well as great responsibilities. We must prove ourselves worthy of them.
.- Although it was intended by the Opposition that I should not be returned as the member for Hume, the electors of that division decided otherwise, and returned me with an overwhelming majority after a lapse of twelve and a half years in their representation by a Labour man. I attribute my return as a Labour representative to several factors. First, honorable members who to-day occupy the Opposition benches failed to measure up to standard in the conduct of the affairs of this nation in the days of peace as well as in the hour of crisis. After the last world war, which was to be a. war to make the world safe for democracy, the seeds of another conflict were allowed to germinate. After the war of 1914-18 there was a boom for a few years; then followed the period of “ bust “, with the result that hundreds of thousands of men and women were denied the right to live. They tramped the roads in a vain search for work, and at night they slept under the bridges. In time of peace the present Opposition, which was then in power, demonstrated that it was unable to cope with the situation. Then, in - this national crisis which has overtaken us, it again demonstrated that it was not to be trusted with the government of the country. When Australia was threatened, the non-Labour parties failed dismally, and the affairs of the nation were handed over to the man who I believe is the greatest statesman this country has ever produced, the Right Honorable John Curtin. At the recent election the people expressed their confidence in him by returning the Labour party with an overwhelming majority. The people have spoken, declaring in no uncertain way that the Opposition has not, in their opinion, the capacity to govern. The Labour party has always risen to the occasion, and I am convinced that the best thing that could happen to Australia was the return of a Labour majority. With Labour in power we shall march forward to a better and brighter future.
However, a national parliament which lacks control of finance and land is not an effective instrument of government. I submit that the Commonwealth Parliament should assume supreme control of land and all other national resources, including money. Founded on the nation’s wealth and national resources, the Commonwealth Bank is the key to national progress. It follows that the national wealth becomes the bank’s capital asset. The creation of national credit should be its sole prerogative, and this authority should be held inviolate. The manipulation of credit by private banking corporations and financial institutions must i-.e prevented. Founded on the wealth and national resources of Australia, and supported by the careful husbandry of its citizens, the nation’s bank will never close its doors while the rain falls and the sun shines. Unlimited finance can be made available without the creation of an intolerable debt structure. If the affairs of the bank be wisely and economically administered, it must go on all the time increasing its capital assets.
At the present time we have all the finance necessary. Our industries are supplying all the essential requirements of the nation. The’ highly organized and well-equipped Civil Constructional Corps could be switched practically overnight from war-time to peace-time activities. It is only necessary to provide a concrete plan to enable this organization to go full steam ahead after the war, so that people may enjoy real freedom, owing fealty to none for the first time in the history of this country. To-day, the tide of opportunity is at the flood. We must either. ride on its crest or be submerged by it. I appeal to this Parliament to make a beginning now ; delay will be fatal. Any loss of time in changing over from wartime to peace-time activities would assuredly result in dislocation and chaos, whilst unemployment would become an almost insoluble problem. By a decree of the Commonwealth, all land, whether alienated or not, should be taken out of the control of the States and placed under the control of the National Parliament te be held in trust for the people on one title only - perpetual lease. Already thousands of acres have been resumed for defence purposes. Why should not all the land be resumed in the interests of national security? The day of large holdings has definitely passed. Unless we ourselves are prepared to subdivide the large holdings and decentralize our population, some foreign power will assuredly do those things for us. When resuming large holdings, the Government should exempt those used for the breeding of stud stock. Rather than enforce disintegration by extra taxation, the Government should reduce taxes on those properties in order to encourage greater effort. Pure stock is vitally essential.
I come now to another important problem facing this country, that is the greater use of water, the great giver of life. It is of paramount importance that Australia shall be ribboned with waterways, even to its dead heart, by diverting the water that now flows down our great rivers to the sea. Should there exist in Central Australia a large enough depression below sea level, then, I say, turn the ocean, the mother of rain, into it and create new life there.
I have heard honorable members talk about the need to increase our population. I have lived in a country area all my life. I remember that about twenty years ago when one went into an agricultural centre one saw dozens of horses lined up waiting to be shod. One saw teamsters on the road. One heard horses hooves beating along the highway. But to-day all those things have gone. We are living in a new age and a new world. Things have changed. The country centres have lost all their horses and replaced them with machines. With the horses many other things have gone, and the country areas arc worse off as the result. Before the war there was a constant drift of young men and women from the rural districts to the cities. With the advent of war, the country areas have been stripped bare of men. As a business man, I know how hard it is for the country to struggle on when deprived of those who have provided us with our bread and butter over the years. ‘Centralization of our industries in the great cities of the Commonwealth is the curse of the Commonwealth. That brings me to the reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to marauding raids. We must realize what a fatal effect a marauding raid would have on our secondary industries, concentrated as they are in the metropolitan areas. That is a condition which must be changed through the application of a vigorous policy of decentralization. We must ensure that secondary industry shall be spread through the Commonwealth, not confined to a couple of big cities. It must be our policy to place in country towns such industries as clothing factories, knitting mills and abattoirs - all the industries that can be developed away from the seaboard. We shall not be able properly to populate this country until we direct our attention to decentralization of industry and until we break up the large estates through the existence of which our country towns are landlocked and cannot be expanded. In a part of my electorate on Saturday lust I was talking to a former grazier, a mam who has lived all his life on the land, and he told me that in- the town of Harden there were men each holding 40,000 acres adjacent to the town. He also said that no man in that area ought to be on the land if he could not make a decent living out of 1,000 acres, which, he claimed, would return, at the very lowest, £1,000 a year. Why should a few people hold this country so tightly as to stop its progress? This country’s advance has been retarded for many, many years as the result of the policy that has been applied. If, at the outset, we had applied the policy which I am now advocating, instead of having only 7,000,000 people, Australia to-day would have 70,000,000 people.
These large estates must be broken up so that our towns shall no longer be landlocked. In the Hume electorate there is not one town that is not landlocked, although it is perhaps the most fertile electorate in Australia. There is hardly anything that cannot be produced in Hume. We have beef, wool, dairying, maize, millet, fruit and tobacco and great resources of timber. From the agricultural point of view it is considered to be one of the best and safest electorates in Australia. I hope that while I am member for Hume I shall be instrumental in bringing about great progress in that electorate. Until the Curtin Ministry took office not one war industry of any kind had been set up in it, because the parties then in office knew that the establishment of war industries there would result in an influx of people who would vote their representative out of Parliament. They took a sectional view instead of a national view, but, while I remain in this chamber, I shall deal with all problems, not sectionally, but from a national point of view.
In the post-war reconstruction period I shall want to see an extension of electricity mains to rural areas. The farmers throughout this country should have all the facilities that we can give them. They should be able to turn on the electric light with as much ease as we can in this city of Canberra or in many country towns. We should be able to give the farmers power to operate milking machines, bath heaters, and stoves. When this war ends there will be plenty of skilled tradesmen to do the work that will be necessary to improve the amenities of the farming community, and it will be the duty of this Government and of the people of Australia to ensure that their services shall be used for that purpose. There are many other directions in which the lot of the country dweller must, be improved. In particular, I refer to roads. During the electoral campaign, I covered my vast electorate three times and found that as the result of a diversion to war of labour from the various shires in the electorate the roads have got into a deplorable state of disrepair. When the war ends, there should be plenty of work for the demobilized servicemen and the surplus munitions makers in rebuilding country roads so that they will compare in quality with those which exist in this city. I. subscribe to the policy that brought about the construction of the excellent roads in the Australian Capital Territory, and I earnestly hope that similar roads will be built for the purpose of enabling primary producers to transport their produce from farm to railway. In addition, I advocate the construction of a road linking Canberra with the Hume Highway near Albury. This route, which was surveyed some years ago, obviates the necessity for travelling via Yass, and reduces the distance to Albury by 40 or 50 miles. As the road would be of strategic value, I hope that the Government will undertake the work.
At the recent general elections, the people of Australia expressed their unshakable confidence in the capacity of the Labour party to prosecute the war to a successful conclusion, and to solve the problems of post-war reconstruction. I am sure that the Government, at the expiration of its term of office, will receive another overwhelming vote of confidence. After the war the problem of re-employing men and women of the services will be tackled boldly, and I express the view that no soldier should be discharged from the Army until a position has been found for him. Every Australian able and willing to work should have a job. That is his birthright in this wonderful country.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) emphasized the necessity for a realistic approach to the problems of peace. I have every respect for the right honorable gentleman, although I do not always agree with his deductions. If we are to derive the benefits of a new order, we must not approach the matter from the standpoint of self-interest, or be swayed by passions. Some people already believe that the principal preliminary to peace, namely, the winning of the war, has already been achieved, and all we have to do is to wait for the cheers that will celebrate victory. Being a realist. I am not impressed with that view. The statement of the great Russian ambassador, Litvinoff, before the outbreak of war that “ peace is one and indivisible “, should be considered deeply by honorable members. The corollary is that a military victory will not bring permanent peace, because there can be no great military victory without a correspondingly great defeat for the opposition. The history of the world provides no instance of final peace having resulted from great victories. In our own generation we have witnessed the consequences of the great military victory of the last war. For four years the world was deluged with blood, and great cities and the fair countryside were laid waste. In the post-war era occurred a world-wide depression, causing a breakdown of human morale, disillusionment and want of faith. All those evils follow in the wake of war. They are the aftermath of victory, and we must not overlook them when we are considering the new order. I well remember President “Wilson’s Fourteen Points. They were very similar to the Four Freedoms contained in the Atlantic Charter. After the last war we spoke of the “ selfdetermination of nations “, and the c: right of all countries to a place in the sun “. Men acted, before and during the last war, precisely as they acted before and during this war. Therefore, it is logical to infer that they will do after this war the same things as they did after the last war if it concludes with a military victory for the United Nations. We should examine the statements that have been made by our statesmen, disregarding for the time being the utterances that have emanated from the spokesmen of our enemies, for the purpose of obtaining a plain statement of fact that will not confuse the man in the street. After all, the average citizen will have to pay for this war in blood and treasure. T am impressed by a statement published in the Sunday Express by Mr. Ralph Assheton, financial secretary to the British Treasury. It reads -
We are constantly being told that we are fighting this war for freedom and for liberty. It would be a sorry thing for Englishmen to find that they had conquered the foreign foe only to find their freedom taken away from them by an excess of State interference and bureaucratic control at home.
It is the fashion to suggest that the State should plan and make itself responsible for «very aspect of human activity. This conception is, I believe, a wholly false one. State planning leads inevitably to certain evils against which we in this country have fought hard for many hundreds of years. It leads to the evils of tyranny, bureaucracy and monopoly. Another great danger is that State planning causes great uncertainty, and uncertainty is more damaging to trade and commerce than anything else.
We can only conclude from that statement by a representative Englishman, who holds a high place in the financial economy of the country, that a military victory is visualized which will commit us to a future in which the conditions will not be very different from those of the past few hundred years.
The following is an extract from a recent issue of
No insight is needed to see what British foreign policy should be - the policy indicated by the world’s balance of power. The alternative to the balance, which England alone can hold, is either the conquest of all Europe by one power or a state of anarchy.
That excerpt indicates the view of a considerable section of public opinion in. England. I could quote other similar excerpts from pamphlets and journals on current affairs which have been published in Great Britain, but I shall refer now to a declaration that has been made on behalf of the United Nations which are «n joying the benefit of the lend-lease legislation of the United States of America. The governments signatory thereto declare -
Each government pledges itself to employ its full resources, military or economic, against those members of the Tripartite Pact and its adherents with which such government is at war.
Each .government pledges itself to cooperate with the governments signatory thereto and not to make a separate armistice or peace with its enemies.
Does not that policy imply adherence to the old order of the balance of power in Europe? The United Kingdom Government is a signatory to that declaration for a reason. Probably, it fears that a military victory by any one nation might be manoeuvred in such a way as to monopolize political power in continental Europe and menace the balance of power. The principal representative of Imperial England has declared, in effect, that he will not preside at the dissolution of the British Empire; yet the spokesman of the United States of America indicates that America is hoping to see a new world order emerge from the terrible and disastrous cauldron of war.
The issues are so confusing to a plain man like myself that I consider the time to be ripe for spokesmen of the opposing factions, to use a colloquial expression, to “ come clean “ and tell the people their real motives. The world has been at war for more than four years. Thousands of lives have already been lost and if the war continues much longer, millions will be lost. Europe has already been devastated from end to end, for the juggernaut has rolled over its finest countries. The war has reached down into the Pacific and threatens to bring destruction to many other parts of the globe. Apparently the time has now come when the active participants would like temporarily to withdraw behind their battlements to recover from their exhaustion, to gain a little breathing space, and to gird up their loins for a fresh attack. In these circumstances, has not the time arrived for reasonable people to intervene? I realize that sometimes when people intervene in a dispute they become embroiled in it, but at other times they are able to bring about a cessation of hostilities. In the circumstances in which we find ourselves, the benefits likely to be gained from the intervention of representatives of the common people are far greater than the risks likely to be taken by a continuance of the war. I therefore urge that steps be taken to ascertain, in some reliable manner, the views of the common people.
This is all the more necessary because we have now reached a state of affairs when the mobilized man-power of the world has become strained to such a point that the famine conditions which prevail in India may be experienced in other countries. Every nation is to-day reaching out towards food production targets, but the tasks that are being faced appear to be impossible of achievement unless man-power can be diverted to food production. Those who control the war machines of the various countries tell us that man-power cannot be released from the services and that all the men available are necessary to carry on the war. If such a state of affairs continues for much longer a military victory for either side will mean nothing, because the world will have been brought to a state of starvation. Unless we are careful there will be a dissolution of the present order, such as occurred in the days of the Roman Empire, and we shall revert to the conditions of the dark ages from which we may not emerge for many decades. A realistic approach to presentday conditions is to look not for a new world order but for a means by which the war may be stopped as soon as possible.
Silting suspended from 5.51 to 8 p.m.
It would be strange indeed were I not to-night deeply conscious of the fact, if not a little awed by the knowledge, that on my shoulders rests a great weight of responsibility; because this is the first occasion upon which a woman has addressed this House. For that reason, it is an occasion which, for every woman in the Commonwealth, marks in some degree a turning point in history. I am well aware that, as I acquit myself in the work that I have undertaken for the next three years, so shall I either prejudice or enhance the prospects of those women who may wish to follow me in public service in the years to come. I know that many honorable members have viewed the advent of women to the legislative halls with something approaching alarm; they have feared, I have no doubt, the somewhat too vigorous use of a new broom. I wish to reassure them. I hold very sound views on brooms, and sweeping. Although I quite realize that a new broom is a very useful adjunct to the work of the housewife, I also know that it undoubtedly is very unpopular in the broom cupboard; and this particular new broom knows that she has a very great deal to learn from the occupants of - I dare not say this particular cupboard. At all events, she hopes to conduct herself with sufficient modesty and sufficient sense of her lack of knowledge at least to earn the desire of honorable members to give her whatever help they may be able to give. I believe, very sincerely, that any woman entering the public arena must be prepared to work as men work; she must justify herself not as a woman, but as a citizen; she must attack the same problems, and be prepared to shoulder the same burdens. But because I am a woman, and cannot divest myself of those qualities that are inherent in my sex, and because every one of us speaks broadly in the terms of one’s own experience, honorable members will have to become accustomed to the application of the homely metaphors of the kitchen rather than those of the operating theatre, the workshop, or the farm. They must also become accustomed to the application to all kinds of measures of the touchstone of their effect upon the home and the family life. I hope that no one will imagine that that implies in any way a limitation of my political interests. Rather, it implies an everwidening outlook on every problem that faces the world to-day. Every subject, from high finance to international relations, from social security to the winning of the war, touches very closely the home and the family. The late King George V, as he neared the end of a great reign and a good life, made a statement upon which any one may base the whole of one’s political philosophy, when he said, “ The foundation of a nation’s greatness is in the homes of its people “. Therefore, honorable members will not, I know, be surprised when I say that I am likely to be even more concerned with national character than with national effort.
Somewhere about the year 1830 there began a period in Australian history which for me has always held a peculiar fascination. I should like to have been born at about that time. I should like to have been alive in the days when bushrangers flourished, when life was hard and even raw, when gold was discovered, when the colonies became States, and when all of the great social and political movements were born which so coloured the fabric of Australian life; because, during all those years very much of what we now know as the Australian character was formed. It was during those years that we learned those things which still characterize the great bulk of our people - hatred of oppression, love of “ a fair go “, a passion for justice. It was in those years that we developed those qualities of initiative and daring that have marked our men in every war in which they have fought - qualities which, I hope, will never be allowed to die. We are now on the threshold of such another era, when further formative measures will have to be taken; because we are to-day an organized community which no longer exists purely upon the initiative of its individual members, and if we would serve Australia well we must preserve those characteristics that were formed during that early period of our history.
I have been delighted, since I came here, to find the almost unanimity that exists in respect of the need for social service and in respect of many of the other problems that have been discussed in this chamber. In the matter of social security one thing stands out clearly in my mind. Such things are necessary in order that the weak shall not go to the wall, that the strong may be supported, that all may have justice. But we must never so blanket ourselves that those fine national qualities of which I have spoken shall no longer have play. I know so well that fear, want and idleness can kill the spirit of any people. But I know, too, that security can be bought at too great a cost - the cost of spiritual freedom. How, then, may we strike a balance? That, it seems to me, is the big question for us to decide to-day. There is one answer. We know perfectly well that any system of social security devised to-day must be financed largely from general taxation. Yet I would insist that every person in the community in receipt of any income whatsoever must make some contribution to the fund for social security. I want it to be an act of conscious citizenship. I want every child to be taught that when he begins to earn, then, for the first time, he will have the first privilege and right of citizenship - to begin to contribute to the great scheme that has been designed to serve him when he is no longer able to work and to help all of those who at any period of their lives may meet with distress or trouble. In such a scheme, I believe, there should be pensions for all; there should be no means test; those who have should contribute according to their means. But every one, however little he or she earns, should contribute something, be it only a three-penny stamp, as a sort of token payment for the advantage of Australian citizenship. In passing, let me say this: There is one reform, at least, that could be applied to our present pensions system, which would have the greatest effect in making a little brighter the lives of those upon whom the years are already closing in. I consider that every pensioner should have his or her pension posted to him or her in the form of a cheque. At the present time any pensioner who so wishes has the right to have the pension sent in that way, but few pensioners are aware of it. If that were done, I believe that not only would congestion in post offices be relieved, but also that a small contribution would be made to easing the burden of those who have come to old age or illness.
I am delighted that the honorable member for Denison Dr. Gaha should have secured the honour of having introduced to this chamber, in this debate, the subject of population. Other members also have seized upon that subject, apparently with a very great deal of pleasure, and have dealt with it at some length; but to the honorable member for Denison go the honours. I, like him, have pondered on this subject - not with my feet upon the mantle-piece, but knee-deep in shawls and feeding bottles. I have pondered it, surrounded by those who, by their very numbers, have done quite a good deal to boost the population of Australia. I believe that I have at least tried out some of the theories which would make for a better population, and that I know some of the difficulties that present themselves to any person who, in these days, desires to rear a family. One honorable member has spoken of the need for a greater population for reasons of defence. That, of course, is something that has to be considered. But there has also to be considered the fact that, unless we fill this country we shall have no justification in the years that are ahead for holding it at all.
Another honorable member spoke of the need for decentralization. On the north-west coast of Tasmania, which is a part of the district that I represent, there is, I believe, the best example of decentralization that is to be found anywhere in Australia; but I do not want the House to believe that that is why eleven members of the Lyons family were born at Devonport. I consider that something more than decentralization is necessary if the population of Australia is to be increased. It would be well to go back a little while and look for the reasons for the decline of population during the last 50 or 60 years. Two main reasons are ascribed, the first the growth of industrialism and the changed conditions resulting therefrom. Population became urban instead of rural, and the conditions in which children were brought up became less and less suitable. People were crowded. Housing was inadequate, and the large families went to the wall. The incidence of disease increased, and industrial disease came with the development of new occupations. The workers were unmercifully exploited. State paternalism became necessary, and even in State paternalism certain reasons for the decline of family life can be found. At the other end of the social scale other reasons can be found for the declining birth-rate. New inventions, and the provision of luxuries, provided new ways of spending incomes and leisure. There was less domestic help to be had. Finally, people began to think that the woman who became the mother of a family was something of a lunatic. About 30 years later she began to be regarded as something of a criminal lunatic. In the end the belief developed that it was a social virtue to produce fewer and fewer children. Where such a state of affairs exists, it is a matter of courage, even of hardihood, to have a family of more than two or three.
Still another reason for the declining birth-rate is sometimes advanced, a reason belonging to the moral rather than to the economic sphere. It is to be found in that strange reluctance to reproduce themselves that has overtaken the peoples of the past in the final years of their decline. That is a picture which none of us cares to contemplate. I agree with the honorable member for Denison that we cannot hope, merely by economic measures, to increase the birth-rate. Certain things are necessary to be done in order to ease the burden on families, but they must be looked upon only as measures of justice to those who are prepared to face their responsibilities. We need maternity and nursing services; we need some kind of domestic help service; we need better houses. But those things cannot in themselves revive the falling birth-rate. We must look to the basic wage, which at present provides for the needs of three children for every man who receives it; yet how many thousands of men in this country have no children at all? How many have fewer than three - yet the three notional children of the man who has not any militate against the success in life of the children in other families of six and seven and eight. The basic wage is meagre enough in all conscience - too meagre - but it should be estimated upon the needs of a man and his wife, or of a man who must provide later for a wife, and the children should be provided for by an extension of the child endowment system. Let the man’s wages be a direct charge upon industry, but the children should be a charge on the whole community. If we hope to increase the birth-rate we must look to a resurgence of the national spirit, a resurgence of national vitality. We must look to a new concept of the dignity and worth of the family in the social order. I agree with Paul Bureau that the family is the matrix of humanity, the secret laboratory in which every unit of human society is prepared, organized and maintained, and if that laboratory is disorganized or chaotic, the most serious disorders in social life must be expected.
Let us pause for a moment and think, of the time when the war shall end. Many speakers in the course of this debate have said that they believe that the war will end during the life of this Parliament, and all too many people hope and believe that by the attainment of victory we shall step straight into the golden age. Nothing could be more foolish, because the golden age will arrive only when you and I and everyone else have made some contribution towards it. We shall have to plan for it, and work for it and sacrifice ourselves for it. We speak of the men corning back, who must be kept on Army rates of pay until suitable work can be found for them. It sounds easy, but it is very, very hard. First of all, what is suitable work for each of these men? It will not be sufficient merely to let them go out and take any kind of work. The employment offered them must provide a reasonable prospect of congenial occupation, perhaps for the greater part of their lives. And they will not want to stay on at Army rates of pay. They are young, eager and impatient, and they will be heartily sick of everything to do with the Army and with war. We must have patience for them. We must be prepared, particularly the women, to hold in stability those who have come back still in the grip of the restlessness engendered by war. Those who return will be, for the most part, in the age group of 20 to 30 years. They must be trained to a trade or profession. Our present apprenticeship cannot provide for their needs, and will have to be re-adjusted. Here, I believe, trade unionists can and will make a great contribution to national re-construction by considering and planning suitable alternatives to the laws which at present mean a great deal to them.
Almost every honorable member who has touched on this topic has spoken on housing. I, too, believe in a scheme of national housing. I believe that it will help in the re-absorption into industry of discharged men, but. I believe also that we face a grave danger that the housing scheme will be overloaded with unnecessary costs. We have in Australia what I call a bricks and mortar complex. We cannot carry on any activity without housing it in a palace. We want in the homes that are to be built something less than is provided in some of the houses that I have seen designed. We want good walls and strong foundations; we want good fittings, but we do not want something that will cost more than is necessary. Permanency in a cathedral is a wonderful thing, but no one wants a house to last for 300 years. We need houses with sufficient space, so that the housewife can work in comfort. There must be space for the children to move about, and there must be sufficient space about the house so that it will not readily become a part of a crowded slum.
There was a reference in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to an overhaul of the man-power situation. I hope that when the Government gives this matter its attention, it will re-adjust what I might call man-hours. At the present time, there are thousands of women in the services and in munitions factories. By a slight re-adjustment of hours, it should be possible for them to receive some training that would fit them for civil life, particularly in the domestic sphere where I hope most of them will eventually find their place. Each week they could receive one or two hours’ training in domestic science in canteens attached to munitions establishments, hospitals or military camps, so that when the men come home, torn, worn and wrecked, as many of them will be by their war experiences, they will have women to meet and greet them who will not be immediately harassed by a lack of knowledge of domestic work, and the running of happy homes.
Now let me turn just for a moment to the international sphere. I have heard expressions of opinion that have surprised and even hurt me, and I have heard some that have cheered me greatly. Some honorable members have assured us that there can never be any hope that mankind will escape the horror of war that descends upon the world every now and then. Others have assured us that by international co-ordination we can usher in very quickly the reign of peace for which we all long. I stand somewhere between the two schools of thought. Because of what has happened to me in this war I have become disillusioned. For years I went about the world preaching the gospel of peace and friendship and co-operation. I believed with all my heart in disarmament, but I can never again advocate such a policy. I believe that we must arm ourselves to meet whatever danger may threaten us, but I also believe that we must co-operate with all those forces of good that are working for peace, and with all those people who have a will to peace, so that we may do whatever lies in our power to preserve peace in our time. However, it is not sufficient merely to co-operate, nor should we limit the sphere of goodwill. Surely we can see that if Germany should rise again in Europe, Japan will rise again in the east as surely as the sun itself rises. The other evening I, in common with many other honorable members, saw a film dealing with the war in Europe. There was one scene which portrayed the evacuation from Dunkirk. We saw how the German army flowed across the Low Countries and over northern France, and how the small British army was squeezed into an ever-decreasing compass, until finally it was compressed into the small area immediately around Dunkirk. Then the picture showed a mist on the water, and the voice of the announcer said this: “ And then out of the mist there came a strange flotilla - warships and fishing smacks, and craft of all kinds filled the sea. It was the sea-going English come to rescue their own “. And I felt, as I believe every other person felt who saw the picture, that this indeed was one of the greatest moments in the history of our race. I thought then, as I think now, that we should not fail occasionally to pause and look back upon the great moments of our past. We go along, thinking always that we progress, but sometimes we have to pause and take stock. I think that every Australian should pause now and again and say to himself, “ Only 150 years ago this land was wilderness. Now we have great cities, wonderful feats of engineering and beautiful buildings everywhere. And this is still a land of promise “. We cannot afford to neglect some recognition of our past, even though we gaze into the future.
Now, honorable members will forgive me, I know, when I say that I bear the name of one of whom it was said in this chamber that to him the problems of government were not problems of blue books, not problems of statistics, but problems of human values and human hearts and human feelings. That, it seems to me, is a concept of government that we might well cherish. It is certainly one that I hold very dear. I hope that I shall never forget that everything that takes place in this chamber goes out somewhere to strike a human heart, to influence the life of some fellow being, and I believe this, too, with all my heart that the duty of every government, whether in this country or any other, is to see that no man, because of the condition of his life, shall ever need lose his vision of the city of God.
– We who have sat in this chamber to-night have participated in one of the historic episodes of our Commonwealth Parliament. For the first time, as the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) has said, a member of her sex has stood as an equal in this chamber and addressed herself to the problems of the country. It is proper that I should say one or two words about the importance of this occasion. Our predecessors in this place and in other parliaments have struggled to give to women the right to vote and to sit as elected representatives of the people. We know that their struggles were met by the same degree of hostility as has marked almost every great change which has been contemplated in the affairs of men. The struggle for the enfranchisement of women, and for the right of women to sit in legislative assemblies, belongs indeed to the great struggle for freedom and free institutions which has marked the evolution of our race. I have no ‘doubt that the first advocates found themselves in what could’ well be described as an unimportant minority, but gradually they won adherents and, in the course of time, the laws were changed, the franchise was widened, and women were given the right to vote and to sit in Parliament;’ but right is one thing and opportunity to exercise it another. It remained for the Seventeenth Parliament to assemble before, in either House of this Commonwealth Parliament, we’ found women elected as representatives of the people, and now in each chamber of this Commonwealth Parliament a woman sits, sits not because she is a woman, but because she has been elected by the people of Australia. That this great event in the development of Australian citizenship should occur during the greatest war that our country has ever waged is, I think, not a mere accident; it occurs because women, as women, and men, as men, have come to look at problems as problems. I have no doubt whatever that the electors of Darwin elected their representative because they believed that of the candidates offering she would make the best member, and I would respectfully say that that was the view of the people of “Western Australia also in making their selection of senators for that State. We do not any longer sit here as men, nor does the honorable member for Darwin attempt to suggest that she sits here as a woman: we all sit here as persons upon whom our fellow citizens have imposed a duty by preferring us to others who offered at the polls. It is, as the honorable member for Darwin has said, a very great responsibility that devolves upon her shoulders. I have no doubt that all the women of Australia will read what she has said to-night. I very respectfully offer my congratulations to the first woman who has had the honour to sit in the House of Representatives.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
.- I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) in offering my congratulations to the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) on her very fine speech. I commend her especially for the confident way in which she spoke after having spent only a few days in a place which is calculated, at least on the first occasion on which one speaks, to give one a feeling of nervousness or stage fright. We have heard a stirring address. In joining with the Prime Minister in offering the honorable member my congratulations I do not necessarily mean that I agree with all she said. For instance, I have never regretted not having been born in 1830, for I prefer to live in this era.
One would, not expect the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to contain definite proposals. Naturally, it dealt in general terms with the important and immediate problems that confront this nation, in common with all the democratic countries that .are engaged in this frightful conflict. . But the Speech does refer to some very urgent matters, foremost are those relating to the winning of the war, but in the second place the Speech dealt with the steps that we must take to prepare for the peace.
It pointed out- the clear determination of the Government to use all our resources in prosecuting the war until it has been won. That was the primary consideration which was before the people when the Government was appealing to the country just a few short weeks ago. The Speech then goes on to deal with Australia’s part in the post-war world. I have come to the ‘conclusion that we, keeping in mind Australia’s geographical position in the Pacific, can never hope to return to aloofness of pre-war days when we participated only very slightly in world affairs, for I believe that Australia has grown up as a nation and that in the future we shall have to take our place in the councils of the Pacific. We shall 11(3+ very definitely to keep before the rest of the world the fact that we are a Pacific power and have the right to sit on all councils dealing with Pacific matters.
Proceeding further, the Speech says -
Provision will be made for certain social services without which any scheme of reconstruction will be in vain.
That paragraph has been canvassed by several honorable members during the last few days and I desire, for a little while, to direct my remarks to it. I find myself to some extent in agreement with what the honorable member for Darwin said on this matter, but I do not go the whole distance that she went, because I do not believe, as she does, that, whatever the income of the individual, all should give something, however small, “ even if it is only a threepenny stamp “. I do not subscribe to that view, and very many people of this country are of my mind. In the last couple of years, as chairman of the Joint Committee on Social Security, I have had the pleasure of examining a very representative cross-section of the people of this country on the question of social security - the provision in the post-war world for the care of the less fortunate people in the community. It is perfectly true that the cost of social security in the final analysis must be borne by the community, whether it be met by those on the lower salary range or on the higher salary range or by direct or indirect taxation. The Joint Committee on Social Security unanimously recommended that social services should be financed on the basis of the ability of a person to pay for them. I am gratified to know that the Government has accepted that principle in formulating its plan of social services, and I hope that its proposals will be submitted to the Parliament in the near future.
I was greatly interested to hear the expression of the woman’s view on the provision of homes for the people. This subject was also thoroughly investigated by the Joint Committee on Social Security, which recommended the establishment of a housing planning authority to prepare the blueprints for a vigorous programme of home construction after the war. That recommendation has been given effect, and the planning authority is now at work. Housing must be undertaken in the post-war era for two reasons. First, it will provide employment for a large number of workmen. Secondly, it will relieve the present acute shortage of accommodation. Honorable members will be interested to learn that the Government saw fit to appoint a woman to the housing planning authority in order that the housewife’s view shall not be disregarded in the preparation of plans of dwellings. In the past we have neglected that aspect in home construction. Men have the requisite knowledge of design and construction, but the advice of a woman is needed in determining interior design. Homes should be substantially built, have an attractive external appearance, and be fitted with many labour-saying devices in order to lighten the duties of the housewife.
I had intended to place on record figures relating to the birth-rate and death-rate, but as the subject was dealt with extensively by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) this afternoon, I shall not repeat the information. The figures do not make an attractive picture. “We must populate this country more rapidly than we have done hitherto. That prompts me to discuss the type of persons whom we need. Naturally, Australian babies are the best immigrants, but we have neglected the opportunity to increase the Australianborn population by our failure to devote sufficient attention to the care of children. The infant mortality rate is too high.
We lose too many children in the first year of life. The Joint Committee on Social Security took a great deal of evidence on ante-natal and post-natal care, and the subject forms a part of the report which the committee submitted to the last Parliament. I hope that the subject of health and its effect on the birth-rate and population will be further investigated during the life of this Parliament, so that positive recommendations may be made for arresting the decline. The committee had sufficient evidence to satisfy its members that much remains to be done in regard to ante-natal and post-natal care of the mother and infant. Members of the Opposition are heard advising the Government what ought to be done. For 25 years the United Australia party held office almost continuously but neglected this important social service. When infants were dying because of lack of proper nourishment, although that nourishment was available, anti-Labour governments declared that no money was available to sustain them. The unemployed were given the dole, and were expected to provide from that miserable pittance proper nourishment for themselves and their children. The mock heroics in which members of the Opposition now indulge are not convincing. We cannot dissociate them from their failure, although they controlled the legislative machinery of this country for a quarter of a century, to improve tie antenatal and post-natal care of mothers and children. Now that the Labour Government has a majority in both chambers it should boldly tackle this problem and enable Australia to take its place among the most progressive nations in the matter of social welfare.
Too many of our young people succumb to the ravages of tuberculosis. I direct
attention to a report published in the Sydney
With nowhere else to sleep, a Balmain wife and her two young children share the same bedroom1, in which the husband lies dying of T.B.
In another industrial suburb a mother and young family lived in close contact for weeks with the father who was in the last stages of cancer.
These two cases were referred to yesterday by Matron M. Boydell, of the Sydney District
Nurses’ Home, Glebe, when referring to the “hardship and suffering” caused through the acute hospital bed shortage.
I refer to those cases to emphasize not the acute shortage of hospital accommodation, but the necessity for taking proper care of our children. The death-rate, due to neglect to treat tuberculosis in its early stages, is appalling. That is one reason why our population has not increased as it should have done. Having investigated problems of health for eighteen months, I believe that tuberculosis, if properly combated, could be almost eradicated from the community in 25 years. I emphasize the necessity for granting financial assistance to the dependants of bread-winners who are undergoing treatment in sanatoriums, because peace of mind is almost essential to the recovery of a patient. At the conclusion of the war, the Government should build more sanatoriums for sufferers from tuberculosis. In addition, provision should be made for X-raying people in order to detect whether tuberculosis is present. If treatment can be commenced in the early stages of the disease, the patient has an excellent chance of being restored to health. lt is interesting to study the social welfare policies of other countries. This afternoon the right honorable member for North Sydney described what had been done by Italy and Germany to encourage family life, and the bearing of children. I shall refer briefly to what has been done in Sweden. An article appears in the International Labour Review of June, 1939, entitled “ A Programme for Family Security in Sweden “. The author, Alva Myrdal, is a very eminent woman, who has written extensively on this subject. She has described the inquiries that have been undertaken in Sweden into proposals for increasing the birth-rate, and improving the living conditions of the people. The article states - l t thus became apparent that if - children were to continue to be born, in a country on its way to democratic equalization, some important modifications had to be made in the social system and, the structure of social reforms. The aim of these changes must be to allot to children a greater share in the resources of the nation. Part of the economic burden of bringing up children had to be transferred from the responsibility of the individual family to that of the community.
The Joint Committee on Social Security was convinced that the nation must accept a greater responsibility for the care of infants. The article continues -
A network of mothers’ and infants’ health centres was next proposed. In spite of the progress of pre-natal care during the last decades, large sections of society were still neglected in this respect. The health of many women was unnecessarily endangered by defective pre-natal medical supervision. In particular, public sentiment was aroused by the great disparity in infant mortality between different social and economic classes. It was clearly indicated that the lives of thousands of infants could be saved every year - for their families and for the nation - if all infants were given the same medical care as was available for those of families in the richer classes.
The article describes as follows the action that was taken : -
The plan for the organization on a national scale’ of mothers’ and infants’ health centres was adopted by Parliament at the 1937 session which Kas become known as the “ mothers’ and children’s Parliament”. Establishment of the centres is in progress, but has been delayed in some provinces because of the requirement for authorization of the State grant that a complete plan for future work throughout the province must be submitted and approved. Access to the health centres is available without charge to all social classes.
The writer then proceeds to deal with the maternity allowance provided under the Swedish legislation. I disagree with those provisions because they apply a means test, it is something to know that definite action was taken on the subject. The Swedish programme also provided for children’s pensions. In this connexion the article stated -
The first recommendation covered the eases of orphans and children of widows or of invalid fathers. In all these cases the incomeearning capacity of the main supporter is permanently lacking: hence an allowance with the character of a pension was justified. It was proposed to institute monthly State pensions, to be handled by the local pension boards which’ had been set up to deal with other national pensions. Like these other pensions, the children’s pensions should not be subject to arbitrary decisions; they should be considered a civic right in specified circumstances - namely, where family income is below a certain fixed amount, varying for different regions in accordance with their position on a cost of living scale.
It is impossible to say what the effects of the Swedish legislation have been because the measure was passed only in 1937, and since the outbreak of the war in 1939 very little information has been obtainable by us on the subject. The article from which 1 have quoted also deals with marriage loans, nutrition, health supervision and reduced medical costs for children, education, pre-school institutions and recreational facilities, employment of married women and adaptation of the reforms to urban and rural conditions.
Reference is also made to the highly controversial subject of the sterilization of the unfit, and that will have to be considered sooner or later by every country which desires an Al population. I believe that the extracts that I have made from thiswell-written and highly informative article will prove of interest to all who desire to know what social service measures are being taken. The approach to the subject in that interesting country, Sweden, gives us food for thought.
The necessity to increase our population has been referred to in the course of this debate. I believe that the solution to this problem is largely economic. We must not only increase our birth-rate, but we must also ensure that provision shall be made for the financial assistance of parents. Families should not have to suffer avoidable financial embarrassment. It is essential that adequate housing shall be provided for the people and that they shall be assured of decent living conditions. We must tackle the slum problem, for slum areas are undoubtedly breeding places for disease. Tuberculosis, in particular, should be tackled in its early stages. We should provide adequately for maintenance of sufferers from tuberculosis, and where necessary build sanitoriums where treatment can be given at every stage of the disease. People who suffer from tuberculosis at an advanced stage should be treated in appropriately equipped institutions, and those who suffer from the disease in its early stages should be taught in suitable institutions how to care for themselves, so that they will not he a danger to other people in the community when they resume their normal life in their own homes. The Social Security Committee inspected many institutions for the care of tubercular patients. I have in mind in particular an institution at Woorooloo, in Western Australia which is under the supervision of an excellently qualified medical practitioner who has brought to his work a keen enthusiasm, and a wide general knowledge of the subject which he has acquired in other countries. The inmates there do a certain amount of work of a suitable character which is designed to fit them to become useful members of society upon their discharge.
The subjects with which I have been dealing come to my mind as parts of the social security programme that we must apply in the post-war world. We have been able to finance the gigantic cost of the war, , and I believe that if we have the will to do so we shall be able to finance the important social service projects that should be put in hand for the benefit of the people in the post-war years. Money is not the most important consideration to-day; man-power and materials are of greater significance. But if the four freedoms concerning which we speak so much are to be translated into terms of daily living, we must provide the men and materials necessary to establish institutions of the kind to which I have referred. I am sure that our people will desire to provide conditions under which Australians will be able to develop healthy bodies and virile qualities of citizenship. If our hopes for the postwar world are to be realized we must put all possible preparatory work in hand immediately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
– I shall ascertain when it will be convenient for His Excellency, the Governor-General, to receive the Address-in-Reply and honorable members will be informed accordingly.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or requests : -
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1943-44.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1943.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonweal th Grants Commission Act - Report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission on applications made by the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania for financial assistance in 1943-44 from the Commonwealth under section of the Constitution.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -
Newcastle, New South Wales.
North Adelaide, South Australia.
Land Tax Assessment Act - Applications for relief dealt with during 1942-43.
National Security Act -
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Order - Aliens (Queensland curfew).
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations - Orders - Military powers during emergency (3).
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Cinematograph films censorship.
Control of -
Overseas postal communications.
Traffic at ports.
Press and broadcasting censorship.
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulation s - Orders -
Prisoners of war (Pay arrangements) (No. 4).
Prisoners of war (Payment) (No. G.I.A. 1).
National Security (Rationing) Regulations Orders- Nos. 29-31.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 237.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act. and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - National Memorials Ordinance - Determination regarding the nomenclature of public places in the Canberra City District, together with Plan (dated 23rd July, 1943).
House adjourned at 9.10 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Prime Minister,
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -.
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
s asked the Minister for Defence,
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction,
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Coombs, H. C- M.A., Ph.D. (Econ.), permanent First Division officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, with’ seventeen years’ Commonwealth and State administrative and departmental and banking experience, Western Australian State Service, Commonwealth Bank, formerly economist to Commonwealth Treasury and Director of Rationing Commission.
Research and other Sections -
Crawford, J. G. - B.Ec, permanent officer of the Rural Bank of New South Wales, on loan to the Commonwealth Public Service, with thirteen years’ banking, administrative and departmental experience.
Palethorpe, N. B. - Temporary employee, eleven years general newspaper, publicity and departmental experience.
Curtin, P. W. E. - Ph.D. (Econ.), permanent Third Division officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, with fifteen years’ research, administrative and departmental experience with State and Commonwealth Public
Service, taken over from Reconstruction Division , Department of Labour and National Service.
Firth, G. G. - B.Sc. (Econ.), permanent Third Division officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, with five years’ general research, administrative and departmental experience, taken over from Reconstruction Division, Department of Labour and National Service.
Rudduck, G. - B.Arch., registered architect, A.R.A.I.A., A.R.V.I.A., Haddon scholar, 1941, head of School of Arch., Melbourne Technical College, with eight years’ practical experience as departmental and private architect, on loan to the Commonwealth Public Service.
Judd, P. R. H. - B.A., B.Ec, permanent officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, with fifteen years’ research and departmental duties with Commonwealth and State Public Service, taken over from Reconstruction Division, Department of Labour and National Service.
Tange, A. H. - B.A., on loan to Common- - wealth Public Service, twelve years’ banking and Commonwealth Public Serv.ice experience, taken over from Reconstruction Division, Department of Labour and National Service.
Bunning, W. R. - Registered architect, A.R.I.B.A., A.E.A.I.A., A.A.S.T.C., temporary employee with nine years’ general architectural experience in private practice and with Commonwealth Public Service.
Oldham, J. B. R. - Temporary architect, with eighteen years’ general experience in private practice and with Commonwealth Public Service, also experience in design of Australian Pavilions, New Zealand and New York World’s Fair.
Dorrian, P. A. - B.A., permanent Third Division officer of the Public Service, with fifteen years’ Commonwealth and State Service, general administrative and departmental experience, taken over from Reconstruction Division, Department of Labour and National Service.
Crisp, L. F. - B.A. (Rhodes Scholar), permanent Third Division officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, with three years’ research and administrative experience, taken over from Reconstruction Division, Department of Labour and National Service.
Mendelsohn, R. S. - Muster of Commerce, on loan to the Commonwealth Public Service, with twelve years’ banking and Commonwealth Public Service experience, conducted investigations into Australian housing conditions for Department of Social Services, released from Australian Imperial Force for duties in this department.
Knott, J. L. - Permanent officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, with seventeen years’ administrative departmental and secretarial experience, including Private Secretary to former Minister for Trade Treaties, Secretary to Australian Delegation to Eastern Group Conference, Delhi, Secretary Army and Munitions Co-ordinating Committee and Secretary Government Munition Factory Board.
Gould, T. - B.Sc.Agr., permanent officer of the New South Wales Education Department, on loan to Commonwealth Public Service, with three years’ teaching, extension and general practical agricultural and departmental experience.
Dean, C. L. - Permanent Third Division officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, with four years’ general departmental experience with Department of Commerce and Rationing Commission. Administrative Section -
Cameron, A. A.- Permanent Third Division officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, with 21 years’ general administrative and departmental experience, formerly Senior Clerk, Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.
Grant, Mrs.F. M. - Permanent officer of Commonwealth Public Service, with thirteen years’ permanent and temporary service, private secretary to various Ministers and officers of the Parliament, formerly Secretary to Rationing Commission.
Smith, E.J. J. - Permanent Third Division officer of. the Commonwealth Public Service, with nineteen years’ staff accounts and general departmental experience, taken over from Reconstruction Division, Department of Labour and National Service.
Gould, G. R. - Temporary employee with many years’ organizing and commercial and departmental experience, former employee of Department of Aircraft Production.
Commissions of Inquiry -
Brownlie, R. W. - Permanent officer of the. Agricultural Bank of Western Australia, on loan to this department as Secretary to the Rural Reconstruction Commission.
Phillips, Mrs. W. - B.A., temporary employee, previously employed by Commonwealth Bank, Statistician for New South Wales and Rationing Commission.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1943/19430929_reps_17_176_c1/>.