17th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.- Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. FInER ( (Warringah) [2.30]..- I rise to a matter of privilege, and shall conclude with a motion. Yesterday, I asked the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) a question in relation to the agreement which has been made between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New Zealand. The matter directly touches the procedure and the authority of this House. I asked the right honorable gentleman to state whether or not the proposed tabling of the agreement was for the purpose of its receiving the ratification of this House; and, if not, why the Parliament had not been given an opportunity to express an opinion upon the subject-matter of the agreement before it had been made. This part of my question is the only one that is relevant to my point of privilege. The reply of the right honorable gentleman was, that it was not intended to submit the agreement to this House for the purpose of its ratification.
– Order 1 Under the Standing Orders, I must rule that the honorable gentleman would be out of order in making the motion he has forecast.
– I have not yet even stated my point-
-The relevant standing order provides that a member may rise to a matter of privilege “ suddenly arising “. This matter has not arisen suddenly, and in my opinion is not one of privilege. The Attorney-General has stated that he intends to submit to-day ‘a motion in connexion with the AustralianNew Zealand Agreement. It would be competent for the honorable member to raise this issue on that motion, and, if he so desired, to move an amendment to it. I, therefore, rule that he is out of order.
– Then I submit the following objection to the ruling: -
That the Billing of Mr. Speaker given on a point of privilege sought to bc raised by the honorable member for Warringah be disagreed with.
– The motion will appear on the notice-paper for to-morrow.
– As chairman, I present the report and recommendations of the Public Works Committee relating to the following subject : -
Additions to the Government Offices known as West Block, Canberra.
Ordered to be printed.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether or not his attention has been drawn to the statement by Mr. Hudson, Deputy Director of Rationing in New South Wales, that he proposed to launch a number of prosecutions against certain butchers for having made surplus meat available without the receipt of coupons? If such prosecutions have been launched, what is their number ? Will the right honorable gentleman also state how many thousands of carcasses of mutton fit for human consumption have been sent to boiling-down works instead of finding their way into the homes of the people because of the fear of such prosecutions being instituted I
– The statement of the honorable member is, in part, not accurate. As to whether or not Mr. Hudson has made the statement mentioned, I cannot say; but I assure the honorable gentleman that no person in Australia is entitled to be supplied with meat without the presentation of a coupon, unless he or she is resident in an exempt area. That is the law, and it will stand. No butcher is entitled to obtain supplies of meat in excess of what would be a reasonable quota for him to have in order to conform to the reasonable anticipations of his trade. In view of all that has happened, I suggest that those interested parties who seek to destroy meat rationing in this country had better give the matter further thought.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service make arrangements to ensure that adequate labour shall be provided for the sugar industry during the next crushing period, particularly at those mills at which adequate provision was not made during last season, namely, the Bauple Mill and the Moreton Central Mill at Nambour ?
– The Department of Labour and National Service is doing all that it can in the direction mentioned, and considers that the labour required in Queensland and the .Northern Rivers district of New South Wales will be obtained.
Improvement of Quality
– I ask the Acting Minister for Supply and Shipping whether or not the Government has refused permission for the production of improved qualities of woollens and worsteds ,by various Australian mills, for distribution in the Commonwealth? Further, has the Government given permission for the manufacture of 500,000 yards of this superior-quality cloth, for distribution in New Zealand?
– I shall have inquiry made into the subject-matter of the question, and shall later advise the honorable member of the result.
– Is the Government yet in a position to permit the manufacture of an improved quality of cloth for use in men’s suits instead of the present standard cloth?
– The standard single weft cloth at present being manufactured in Australia was introduced in order to make the best use of the man-power and materials available in the textile industry. Manufacturers have asked for permission to replace some of their output by a double weft cloth of better quality. The production of double weft cloth uses more labour than is required for an equivalent amount of single weft material, and the question is whether it is possible at the present time to make available the requisite man-power. The existing standard cloth is suitable for present war conditions and is, in fact, substantially better than 80 per cent, of the cloth produced in Australia .before the war. Nevertheless, the Government recognizes that the production of a cloth of better quality should be begun as soon as possible, so that the industry will be ready for rapid post-war expansion in competition with other countries. However, a stage has not yet been reached at which additional labour can be spared from other war-time tasks for this purpose. The Government will keep the matter constantly under review, and will give sympathetic consideration to the manufacturers’ request as soon as war conditions permit.
” AUSTERITY SUIT “.
– Can the Minister for War Organization of Industry say what has happened to what is known as the “ austerity suit “ ? Has it been sent to the Australian museum, or has it been pawned?
Question not answered.
Government Control in New Zealand - Coalcliff Colliery.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether the Government has considered the scheme introduced in New Zealand providing for government control of coal-mines - ia scheme which, according to the statement of the New Zealand Minister for Mines when he was in Canberra, has proved highly successful? Does the Commonwealth Government propose to follow the example of the New Zealand Government and assume control of coal-mines in Australia ?
– I know only in broad outline of what has been done in New Zealand in connexion with the control of coal-mines. Some of the details, which are themselves very important, I do not know. However, as has been already stated, it is probable that a bill will be introduced into this House shortly dealing with the coal-mining industry.
– Is it a fact that the general stoppage of coal production in the southern district of New South Wale» was averted by the intervention of Mr. A. C. Willis, chairman of the Central Coal Reference Board, three weeks ago, with regard to what is known as the three-lift pillar extraction at the Coalcliff Colliery? Is the Acting Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that the Coalcliff mine management has refused to carry out the order of Mr. Willis suspending the use of this dangerous system of extraction of pillars, particularly owing to the enormous quantity of dust created by three pairs of men working on one pillar? Since the refusal by the owners to obey the order of Mr. Willis, a statement has been made by him that if the owners will not work the mine he will recommend that some other authority be called upon to do so. In view of this and the fact that South Bulli miners to-day have stopped work in sympathy, and seeing that a general stoppage is likely to occur at the week-end, what action does the Government propose to take to ensure that the owners obey the order of Mr. Willis?
– I know that a stoppage of work was threatened on the southern coalfields some time ago, and it was a very improper threat. Mr. Willis intervened and an order was made, but difficulties have arisen in carrying it out. I understand that Mr. Willis is now conferring with all concerned. The fact that some other miners have stopped work to-day is to be deprecated. I shall look into the position, and deal also with the other matters to which the honorable member has referred.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs a question relating to the activities of the Prices Commissioner, who has been asking individual professional men - in this instance medical practitioners - what charges they make for certain services. Is this in accordance with the policy of the Government? If so, what is the policy, and how is the practice related to the war effort?
– The honorable member will understand that I have not at present the information necessary to answer his question, but I shall ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to prepare a reply.
Allowances to Dependants
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether, in determining the eligibility of the widowed mother of a soldier for a dependant’s allowance, payments in respect of a Commonwealth widow’s pension are taken into account? What amount of income is the widowed mother of a soldier allowed from all sources before the rate of her dependant’s allowance is affected?
– I hope to be able to supply the honorable member with this information to-morrow.
– Having regard to recent developments in the Pacific which give rise to a not unreasonable expectation that Nauru Island may be occupied before long by Allied forces, and in view of the prevailing shortage of phosphates, can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether anything is being done to prepare for the immediate installation of conveyor plant on the island when the opportunity offers ?
– It is impossible to answer the honorable member’s question, but I assure him that every avenue has been explored to obtain additional supplies of superphosphate.
Burial op Soldiers - ‘Civilian Clothing foe, Discharged Men - Use of Military Initials.
– I have here a letter from a returned soldier in which he states that it has come under the notice of old “ diggers “ that an order was issued by the Minister for the Army that the letters A.I.F. wore to be removed from the crosses over the graves of members of the Australian Imperial Force buried in New Guinea and on the mainland, and the letters A.M.F. substituted for them. I ask the Minister for the Army whether this is correct, and if so whether the order applies to other war theatres? What is the reason for this change which deprives deceased members of the Australian Imperial Force of this honoured symbol?
– No such order was issued by me. The matter was raised by some one who called to see me, and I said that I would have immediate inquiries made, and would furnish a reply later. I take it that the letters A.M.F. stand for the words “Australian Military Forces “, which include those ordinarily designated by the letters A.I.F. and C.M.F.
– Will the Minister for the Army make available to discharged soldiers a better class of suit than that now being issued ? When discharged men cannot get issue clothing to fit will the Minister see that coupons should be made available for the purchase of other clothing?
– Consideration will be given to the honorable member’* representations.
– Will the Minister say who gave the order for the substitution of the letters A.M.F. for the letters A.T.F., and will he inform the House whether the order is still being carried out ? Is it a fact that, in spite of protests by many soldiers in New Guinea against what they considered an improper action, all reports of such protests were prevented by the censorship from appearing in the Australian press? What was the reason for this censorship?
– I am not aware that there was any censorship of reports of objections by soldiers in New Guinea to this order, which was evidently issued by the military authorities. As I said previously, I am investigating the matter, and a reply will be given to the honorable iti ember later.
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to reply to the representations which I made to him on Tuesday last concerning the desirability of diverting to Wynyard and Smithton a share of the extra air service to he provided while the Bass Strait steamer service is not operating?
– I hope to be able to answer the honorable lady’s question to-morrow.
– by leave - On the 21st January, in this chamber, Ministers of State representing Australia and New Zealand, including the two Prime Ministers, signed an agreement under which the two countries agreed to consult and work together in all matters of common concern, particularly security and defence, civil aviation, post-war disposal of territories and bases, and the welfare of all Pacific peoples. The agreement was made subject to ratification by the full Cabinet of each country. The agreement was ratified by the Australian Government on the- 24th January and by the New Zealand Government on the 1st February. Therefore, it is now in full force and effect.
Yesterday, a question was asked in the House suggesting that, either prior to ratification by the Government or for the purpose of ratification by Parliament, the agreement should have been submitted to Parliament in the first instance. The point is interesting, and because of its importance I shall proceed to deal with it at once. Although the agreement is not called a “ treaty “, I shall discuss the matter upon the assumption that it is to be regarded as belonging to the same category of instruments. First, it is quite clear that the constitutional organ in British countries in which the treatymaking power resides is the King. In point of strict law, the domain of foreign affairs belongs to the King by virtue of royal prerogative, and treaty-making is of the essence of foreign affairs. The King gives authority to sign treaties and when the agreement is between heads of States the King ratifies it. Of course, the King in such matters does not act individually but upon the advice of his Ministers. Whilst the executive government can bind the country by treaty, it cannot always do so without the cooperation of Parliament, though this has often to be given after the treaty has been made or brought into operation. Broadly speaking, parliamentary action is required for any treaty which lays a pecuniary charge upon the people or which alters the lam of the land. Thus legislative effect was given to the treaties of peace after the last war because they affected private rights under the clearinghouse system of debt liquidation between nationals of the powers party to the treaties. In the few cases where the cession of British territory has been made by a treaty, the modern tendency is that Parliament should sanction what has been done by the Crown. I mention these exceptions to indicate that the present agreement with New Zealand is in an entirely different category from any of them. It really is an arrangement between the two Governments as to how an important part of their foreign and external relationships shall be conducted. No private rights of our citizens are affected. The law of the land requires no alteration. No charge upon the people is involved. No cession of the King’s territory is contemplated in any “way whatsoever.
I shall not weary the House with authorities establishing the rules that I have stated, but I quote from an observation made by the Privy Council in a recent Canadian case in relation to the Dominion of Canada -
Within the British Empire there is a wellestablished rule that the making of a treaty is an executive act, while the performance of its obligations, if they entail alteration of the existing domestic law, requires legislative action. Unlike some other countries, the stipulations of a treaty duly ratified do not within the Empire, by virtue of the treaty alone, have the force of law. If the national executive,- the Government of the day, decide to incur the obligations of a treaty which involve alteration of law they have to run the risk of obtaining the assent of Parliament to the necessary statute or statutes. To make themselves as secure as possible they will often in such cases before final ratification seek to obtain from Parliament an expression of approval. But it has never been suggested, and it is not the law, that such an expression of approval operates as law, or that in law it precludes the assenting Parliament, or any subsequent Parliament, from refusing to give its sanction to any legislative proposals that may subsequently be brought before it. Parliament, no doubt, as the Chief Justice pointed out, has a constitutional control over the executive, but it cannot be disputed that the creation of the obligations undertaken in treaties and the assent of their form and quality are the function of the executive alone. Once they are created, while they bind the State as against the other contracting parties, Parliament may refuse to perform, them and so leave the State in default.
This principle entirely disposes of any theory that parliamentary authority is necessary to give effect to the agreement. The Government has entered into certain obligations of an international character. These obligations are of importance, and it is right that Parliament should have the fullest opportunity to discuss them without any restriction. I entirely agree with the view that, wherever possible and to the greatest possible extent, the Parliament should be taken into the confidence of the Executive Government in all matters relating to the foreign affairs of Australia. Of course, the great bulk of the day-to-day decisions that have to be made in relation to foreign affairs cannot be discussed or even safely disclosed at the time. The practice I have adopted is to state to the House, from time to time and with the utmost candour and frankness the general lines of our policy.
– What is the value of bringing them to Parliament if Parliament is impotent to deal with them?
– Such procedure is of enormous value. It keeps Parliament informed of the progress of negotiations and the lines upon which Government policy is moving. If the honorable member will examine the clauses of the agreement published in Current Notes he will see that discussion on it will be of the utmost value in guiding the Executive as to the views of Parliament. He will find that the agreement is in strict accordance with statements that I have repeatedly made to the House as to general policy. In accordance with that established practice, it was, of course, arranged that the agreement should be brought before the Parliament with a view to the fullest possible discussion.
The rapidity with which agreement was reached on almost every item of a long agenda, dealing with matters of paramount importance to the two countries, was remarkable. This was, I think, partly due to the immense amount of detailed preparatory work performed in the Departments of External Affairs in both New Zealand and here. But no preliminary study and documentation, essential and effective as this work was, could in themselves have resulted in the statement made by the New Zealand Prime Minister at the opening public session of the conference that 75 per cent, of the Australian proposals could be agreed to without discussion and that of the remaining 25 per cent, the matters calling for discussion were largely concerned with detail. In my view this remarkable unanimity was due to the practical approach made by both Governments, to our geographical contiguity, to our common outlook as Pacific peoples, to our common kinship as British communities, and to the similarity, almost the identity, of our problems and interests over the whole range of external and foreign relations. ,
As the Australian Prime Minister pointed out at the final ceremony of signature, some degree of AustralianNew Zealand co-operation was attempted at least 50 years ago, for delegations came here from New Zealand in 1890 and 1891 to discuss matters of common interest. In more recent years, there have been many meetings dealing with specific subjects, such as trade, shipping and defence. Until recently, however, there has been no general conference dealing with the foreign policies, external political relationships, and the future security and well-being, not only of the two peoples, but also of the native races of the Pacific.
– There was an incident in 1915 on Gallipoli which was better than any of them.
– Exactly. That is the spirit of this agreement. That is the tie of kinship that is evident in both countries. It is the war, and especially the war in the Pacific, which has drawn the two countries so close together. They have now resolved to make a firm and lasting agreement to consult one another in all their important dealings with other Powers. The development of the war against Japan had revealed to all the exposed position of the two members of the British Commonwealth in the South Pacific region. It has simply forced the two countries to accept the overriding necessity for continuous and close cooperation between them in regard to all the interests they have in common. That co-operation has become increasingly evident in the course of the war. Although a beginning had been made before the Pacific war broke out, and there had long been contact between the defence services, as well as collaboration in Imperial defence, the range and complexity of mutual interests have been greatly increased of late. “Whilst this development helps to explain why a general agreement was reached so quickly, the dominating factor was the will to agree and the will to work together.
The agreement is much more than a narration of recent developments in foreign affairs. It is a document which expresses and summarizes our joint aims and objectives for the peaceful and prosperous development of the Pacific regions in which we are vitally concerned. It says, in effect, that Australia and New Zealand have taken to heart the bitter experiences resulting from the failure to achieve collective security and the international order which must be based on security. It says that Australia and New Zealand are resolved to establish in their part of the world- a regional system of defence and security. The two countries have undertaken to play their part in these great plans within the framework of a world security system, and by their initiative in making and publishing this agreement they have, I think, given a lead on certain vital aspects of international relationships in the post-war world.
In one or two quarters, there has been some disposition to suggest that the two Governments have attempted to exclude other powers with territorial interests from all participation in the affairs of the South .and South-Wast Pacific. This is not so. Indeed, on several occasions, any such intention was disavowed explicitly. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, for example, said of the agreement: -
It is directed against no other people. On the contrary, other powers are invited to adhere to the principles enunciated. It contains no secret clauses.
In another speech he said -
There was never any thought throughout the whole of the proceedings of scoring points against any other nation or community.
Our Prime Minister also made this clear. These were his words -
The policy which arises naturally from this agreement is neither exclusive nor monopolistic. If any or all of our other neighbours in the Pacific find themselves in general agreement with the principles we have publicly declared and if they accept the method by which we are attempting to apply these principles, they can be assured that we are eager to collaborate with them and enter into a more extensive regional undertaking.
Our intention not to exclude but to include other powers in the beneficent objects we have expressed, is illustrated in the provisions relating to native welfare set out in the agreement. Here we have tried to translate the general objectives of the United Nations into the field of practical politics. We have pledged ourselves to the full doctrine of trusteeship, and we have given it a positive direction, in relation to native education, medical services, encouragement of the civilizing work of Christian missions, and assistance to island peoples in their difficult task of learning to handle their own affairs. We have undertaken to’ set afoot international collaboration in these and other matters - including economic development - by means of an advisory regional commission, comprising’ all powers with responsibilities for the government ofisland territories in the Pacific.
– “Why was not the Netherlands Government invited to join the South Seas Regional Commission?
– The honorable member for Warringah has overlooked the fact that the proposed South Seas Regional Commission will exert its influence in an area far removed from all Netherlands possessions. But the Netherlands Government has been mentioned in connexion with the proposed conference which will be held at a later date. In respect of all its interests, territorial and otherwise, the Netherlands Government will be fully consulted.
In short, the agreement exhibits a constructive though not an aggrandizing approach. What we have done is to take the initiative; but it is an initiative aimed at sharing responsibilities with others as well as declaring our firm intention to play our proper part.
What we have said in the agreement about the post-war disposal of territories and possessions in the South and South-West Pacific we have said with the conviction that the time has come to speak frankly and to declare that our two countries, as the two main centres of civilization in these two areas, have a special responsibility to discharge. Equally we have an undoubted- right to speak, not only because our whole future - what the Prime Minister called “ the life-and-death interest of Australia and New Zealand “ - is involved, but also because of the leading and resolute part that the two countries have played ever since the outbreak of the present war in September, 1939.
We have not suggested that these territorial issues are for determination by Australia and New Zealand alone. We have stated temperately but frankly that all dispositions and changes should be made only with our concurrence and as a part of a general Pacific settlement. The making of the agreement between the two members of the British Commonwealth of Nations is a practical illustration of intra-Commonwealth cooperation. The arrangement is a striking exercise of these powers of full self-government in external affairs which are an indispensable adjunct to dominion status. Further, the strengthening of two members of the Commonwealth by their agreement to act together in their external relations should be a valuable contribution to the strength of the Commonwealth as a whole.
I make one other general observation on the agreement. In the view of both Governments, the time had arrived for making a beginning with plans for the future of the South Pacific. It is well to have clearly in mind the great change that has occurred in the past twelve months. In that period, we have gradually emerged from the days when there was little room for any thought except to stem the great southern thrusts of the Japanese. Then it was a matter of mobilizing everything for mere survival. During the intervening months, however, we have been entering a new phase, that of organizing victory and of ensuring post-war stability. In this, the United Nations have already made substantial progress, not only in the European theatre, but also to a lesser degree in the Pacific. The Cairo and Teheran conferences and the Moscow declaration all mark this stimulating development. At any rate, the Australian and New Zealand Governments believe that it is necessary to formulate plans for post-war arrangement in the Pacific lest the fruits of victory be lost.
The Australian-New Zealand Agreement foreshadows an organization for the welfare of the less advanced peoples in our part of the Pacific. This is an earnest of our joint intentions in regard to the native peoples committed to our care. “With our practical approach may be contrasted the Japanese promises connected with the so-called co-prosperity sphere. One of the effects of our agreement should be to renew hope to many oppressed peoples of the occupied areas. Their hope is well founded and should strengthen their resistance to the occupying enemy.
I wish now to review shortly certain features of the conference and of the agreement. Honorable members will remember that, in a general review of Australia’s foreign policy which 1 made to the House last October, I expressed my conviction that permanent collaboration between Australia and New Zealand was pivotal to our post-war Pacific policy. Shortly after, the Australian Government took an important step to cement the cordial relations between the two countries by the appointment .of an Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand, thus reciprocating the very welcome appointment of Mr. Berendsen as New Zealand High Commissioner at Canberra. For the important post at Wellington the Commonwealth Government selected a well-known Australian, the Honorable T. G. D’alton, who has been for many years a member of the Parliament and Government of Tasmania. Mr. D’alton, like Mr. Berendsen, brought to his task a wide and practical experience. I may add that he has been very successful in carrying out his mission in New Zealand, just as Mr. Berendsen has been here.
In order to carry into effect the Government’s announced policy of active Pacific collaboration, I issued early in December an invitation to the New Zealand- Government for a special delegation to be headed by the Prime Minister to visit Australia in the New Year. The New Zealand Government accepted this invitation in the most cordial terms and sent a strong delegation, headed by Mr. Fraser, Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs and Island Territories, and including the Honorable Frederick Jones, Minister of Defence and Minister in Charge of Civil Aviation; the Honorable Patrick Charles Webb, Postmaster-
General and Minister of Labour; and Carl August Berendsen, Esq., High Commissioner for New Zealand in Australia. At the conference which opened at Canberra on the 17 th January, Australia was represented by the Bight Honorable John Curtin, Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Defence; the Honorable Francis Michael Forde, Minister for the Army; the Honorable Joseph Benedict Chifley, Treasurer and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction ; the Honorable John Albert Beasley, Minister for Supply and Shipping; the Honorable Norman John Oswald Makin, Minister for the Navy and Minister for Munitions; the Honorable Arthur Samuel. Drakeford, Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation; the Honorable John Johnstone Dedman, Minister for War Organization of Industry; the Honorable Edward John Ward, Minister for Transport and Minister for External Territories; the Honorable Thomas George de Largie D’ Alton, High Commissioner for Australia in New Zealand, and myself.
I turn to the terms of the agreement, and the first aspect I mention is that of improved consultation. This i3 a difficult problem, as I have previously explained. It has frequently occurred, especially in the stress and emergency of war, that important decisions have had to be taken by the British Commonwealth without any opportunity of prior consultation or even exchange of views between Australia and New Zea- land. So far as these two Dominions are concerned, this position will now be remedied in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
Clause 5 of the agreement sets out that the two Governments have agreed “ to act together in matters of common concern “. This provision, and the machinery for consultation which we have now established at both Canberra and Wellington will ensure that, as far as possible, Australia and New Zealand will act in unison, especially in relation to the Pacific. If Australia and New Zealand can agree to act together on important matters, they will greatly strengthen their authority and prestige, especially in all matters of past-war international reconstruction which will arise for decision. The agreement and the machinery it provides will greatly assist in these objectives.
Secondly, in clauses 7 to 12, the agreement contemplates active participation by Australia and New Zealand in all armistice and subsequent arrangements. Both Governments ‘ agreed that their interests should be protected by representation at the highest level on all armistice planning and executive bodies, and that they should actively participate in any Armistice Commission to be set up. Our broad approach is that the final peace settlement should be made in respect of all our enemies, after hostilities with all of them have been successfully concluded. “We must avoid premature or piecemeal settlements which will tend to endanger a just and enduring world peace and which may even tend to prolong the war in certain theatres.
The Australian and New Zealand Governments will each shortly set up an Armistice and Post-Hostilities Planning Committee and will also arrange for the work of these committees to be coordinated with a view to the most effective presentation of their views. Some other members of the United Nations have set up machinery of this nature. It is now generally recognized that there were some hasty and unsatisfactory decisions reached at the Peace Conference of Versailles. In the future settlement of the present war, similar mistakes can and should be avoided.
The purpose of all Post-Hostilities Planning Committees is to ensure that full consideration shall be given, in good time and in an atmosphere of objectivity and reason, to the wide variety of political and security problems which will arise at the peace table.
The third main aspect of the agreement is that of security and defence. As already stated, the conference envisaged a general system of world security and within this framework the establishment of a regional zone of defence based on Australia and New Zealand and stretching through the arc of islands north and north-east of Australia to Western Samoa and New Zealand’s possessions in the Cook Islands. In this connexion I recall the Moscow Declaration of October, 1943, Article 4 of which sets out that the four signatory Powers - Britain, America, Russia and China - recognized - the necessity for the establishment at the earliest practicable date of a general international organization, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving States, and open to membership by all such States, large or small, for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Australia and New Zealand regard it as fundamental that they shall be associated in the preliminary planning and establishment of this international organization.
Turning to Article 5 of the Moscow Declaration, the four Powers also undertook, pending the re-establishment of law and. order and the inauguration of a system of general security, that they would - consult each other, and, as occasion requires, with other members of the United Nations, with a view to joint action on behalf of the community of Nations.
As regards this Article, the Australian and New Zealand Governments are at one in declaring their vital interests in the “ joint action “ which it contemplates. For that purpose they agreed that it would be proper for Australia and New Zealand to assume full responsibility for policing or sharing in policing certain areas in the South-West and South Pacific to be specified and agreed upon.
Both the Australian and the New Zealand Governments formally subscribed in the agreement to the undoubted principle of international practice that the construction of war-time installations does not in itself afford any basis whatsoever for territorial claims after the conclusion of hostilities.
Fourthly, the conference dealt with the post-war problem of international civil aviation. The portion of the agreement dealing with this problem, is of great significance. Post-war civil aviation is one of the major questions to-day, already great attention has been given to it. Most governments, including the Australian Government, have created special committees to deal with the matter. There have already been several informal talks on tie international plane. We fear that, if left inadequately controlled, civil aviation in the post-war period will provide a most fertile ground for misunderstanding, for intense competition and for international rivalries which, it should be the object of all countries to avoid. Moreover, Australia and New Zealand are countries which may be prejudicially affected because of their special position in relation to any future system of international airways. Realizing also that Australia and New Zealand can and should play an important part in any such international system, the two Governments had a most frank and profitable discussion. The subject was one which any country might approach with some trepidation. It is one on which wide differences of opinion might reasonably be expected. However, [ am especially pleased to record that complete unanimity on this difficult topic was reached by the two Governments. The decisions were not made in the exclusive interests of Australia and New Zealand, and I venture to suggest they may well prove of great value as a step towards a satisfactory international convention. (Briefly, the agreement contemplates international air trunk routes operated by an international air transport authority which is constituted of member governments and which owns all the necessary aircraft and ancillary equipment. The agreement also contemplates that these trunk routes shall themselves be specified by international agreement. “Within the framework of such an international trunk system both Governments’ support the right of each country to regulate all air transport services within its own national jurisdiction, including its own contiguous territories, and also the right to have Australian and New Zealand personnel, agencies and materials, employed not only on the national services but also, in fair proportion, on the international air trunk routes.
– How is it proposed to work out the proportions ?
– That is one of the difficulties, but the agreement provides - and this may he the solution - that in theevent of failure to reach a satisfactory international agreement to control international air trunk routes, in the way suggested by the two Governments, they will both support a system of international air trunk routes controlled and operated exclusively by governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations under government ownership.
Fifthly, the conference dealt with dependencies and territories. Under this head there are two clauses in the agreement to which I invite special attention. The first is clause 26, which provides -
The two Governments declare that the interim administration and ultimate disposal of enemy territories in the Pacific are of vital importance to Australia and New Zealand and that any such disposal shall be effected only with their agreement and as part of a general Pacific settlement.
The second is clause 27, which declares, in relation to all islands of the Pacific - that no change in the sovereignty or system of control should be effected except as a result of an agreement in which both Australia and New Zealand concur.
I have already commented on these two important clauses.
As I have said, an encouraging feature of the conference was the long and detailed discussion of questions of the welfare and advancement of the native peoples of the Pacific. In relation to those peoples, both Governments have a special concern and a very special responsibility. “We reached agreement that, in applying the principles of the Atlantic Charter to the Pacific, the doctrine of “ trusteeship “ must be fully accepted in regard to all colonial territories, and that the main purpose of the trust is the welfare of the native peoples and their social, economic and political development. “We realized that the future of these Pacific peoples cannot successfully be promoted without collaboration between the numerous authorities concerned, and we therefore agreed that we should take the initiative in establishing a South Seas Regional Commission, which would recommend a common policy for advancing the interests of the native peoples.
Nearly two years ago an Anglo-United States Caribbean Commission was set up, on a proposal from the United States - with the function of advising the Government of the United States and the Government of the United Kingdom on common problems of social and economic development.
Describing the work of the Caribbean Commission, in a speech in the House of
Commons in March of last year, the Colonial Secretary, Colonel Stanley, said -
In a short year it has made a valuable start and I hope we shall be able to evolve a technique of international co-operation.
It seems reasonable to expect that similar success will attend the establishment of the South Seas Regional Commission. We hope that, in addition to representatives of Australia and New Zealand^ the South Seas Commission will include representatives of other governments with territorial interests in the region. We have specially mentioned the French Committee of National Liberation, because we owe a peculiar debt to Fighting France, especially in relation to the early defence measures against Japan both in the New Hebrides and in New Caledonia.
We agreed that it would be the province of the South Seas Commission to recommend arrangements for the increasing participation of natives in administration with a view to the ultimate attainment of the right of self-government. Recommendations to be made would also cover arrangements for production, finance, communications and marketing, for the co-ordination of health and medical services and education, for the improvement of standards of native welfare in regard to labour conditions and social services, and for the encouragement of the work of Christian missionaries in the islands and territories of the Pacific.
In regard to the sixth main agendum of the conference - migration - both countries fully accepted the maintenance of the well-established principle that every government has the right to control migration in relation to all territories within its jurisdiction. Both countries agreed to collaborate generally and to render full assistance to each other in all matters concerning migration.
Finally, the agreement provides new and permanent machinery for collaboration and co-operation between Australia and New Zealand. This is designed to facilitate detailed collaboration in regard to defence, foreign policy, commerce between the two countries, and cooperation in achieving full employment and the highest standards of social security and in encouraging missionary work.
An important feature of this new machinery is the Australian-New Zealand Affairs Secretariat, which is already functioning at Canberra under the joint responsibility of the Minister for External Affairs and the High Commissioner for New Zealand. The Secretariat will take the initiative in seeing that effect shall be given to all the provisions of the agreement, and will ensure that the objectives of the agreement shall be pursued not only at conferences but also on a day-to-day basis. Further, the agreement provides for regular meetings of Ministers - at least twice a year - alternately in Canberra and Wellington.
The agreement has had a warm and an encouraging welcome on all sides, especially in the United Kingdom and also among the other United Nations. One of our primary aims, and on it we are firmly resolved, is to ensure the establishment of a proper system of security in the South-West and South Pacific Areas. This aim cannot be achieved by having - as was the case in the past - half a dozen separate authorities in an area the defence of which should be a joint responsibility - that is to say, a matter for joint consultation, joint collaboration, and the assurance of mutual support in times of crisis. It is to be noted that other international conferences that have been held during the present war, notably at Casablanca, Moscow, Cairo and Teheran, though held at earlier stages of the war, have been concerned, and rightly so, with analogous questions of post-war security.
As I suggested to this House in October last, the major problems of security, postwar development, and native welfare in the South Pacific, are proper matters for attention by all governments having territorial interests in the relevant regions. I said then that I proposed to take steps to obtain a frank exchange of views on these matters between properly-accredited representatives of the various governments of the United Nations concerned. The Australian-New Zealand Conference considered this proposal, and both Governments agreed that there should be a wider international conference of the character indicated. This conference will be called by the Australian Government so soon as it is practicable to do so.
It is my belief that a conference of this kind may help to shorten the war in the Pacific Its concern will be not only problems of security, vital as these are, but also all questions affecting the future peace, welfare and good government of the South-West and South Pacific regions. I lay on the table the following papers : -
That the papers be printed.
– Before the agreement was made, was there any communication with the Government of the United Kingdom in respect of any of the principles contained in it?
– The honorable gentleman can raise that matter during the discussion of my statement. I could not answer his question without disclosing communications relating to the whole subject of the conference.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia and His Majesty’s Government in the Dominion of Now Zealand (hereinafter referred to as “ the two Governments”) represented as follows: -
The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia by -
The Right Honorable John Curtin, Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Defence,
The Honorable Francis Michael Forde, Minister for the Army,
The Honorable Joseph Benedict Chifley, Treasurer and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction,
The Right Honorable Herbert Vere Evatt, K.C., LL.D., Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs,
The Honorable John Albert Beasley, Minister for Supply and Shipping,
The Honorary Norman John Oswald Makin, Minister for , the Navy and Minister for Munitions,
The Honorable Arthur Samuel Drakeford, Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation,
The Honorable John Johnstone Dedman, Minister for War Organization of Industry,
The Honorable Edward John Ward, Minister for Transport and Minister for External Territories, and
The Honorable Thomas George de Largie D’alton, High Commissioner for Australia in New Zealand, and
The Governmentof the Dominion of New Zealand by -
The Right Honorable Peter Fraser, Prime
Minister of New Zealand, Minister of
External Affairs and Minister of Island
The Honorable Frederick Jones, Minister of Defence and Minister in Charge of
The Honorable Patrick Charles Webb, Postmaster-General and Minister of Labour, and
Carl August Berendsen, Esq., C.M.G., High Commissioner for New Zealand in Australia:
Having met in Conference at Canberra from the 17th to the 21st January, 1944. And desiring to maintain and strengthen the close and cordial relation between the two Governments do hereby enter into this Agreement.
Definition ok Objectives of AustralianNew Zealand Co-operation.
Armistice and Subsequent Arrangements
Security and Defence
The two Governments support the principles that -
The two Governments agree that the creation of the International Air Transport Authority should be effected by an international agreement. 2.1. Within the framework of the system set up under any such international agreement, the two Governments support -
the right of Australia and New Zealand to utilize to the fullest extent their productive capacity in respect of aircraft and raw materials for the production of aircraft; and
the right of Australia and New Zealand to use a fair proportion of their own personnel, agencies and materials in operating and maintaining international air trunk routes.
Dependencies and Territories
Welfare and Advancement of Native Peoples op the Pacific.
The two Governments agree that it shall be the function of such South Seas Regional Commission as may be established to secure a common policy on social, economic and political development directed towards the advancement and well-being of the native peoples themselves, and that in particular, the commission shall -
International Conference Relating to the South-West and South Pacific
Permanent Machinery for Collaboration and Co-operation between Australia and New Zealand.
The two Governments agree that -
the co-ordination of policy for the production of munitions, aircraftand supply items, and for shipping, to ensure the greatest possible degree of mutual aid consistent with the maintenance of the policy of self-sufficiency in local production ;
The two Governments agree that the methods to he used for carrying out the provisions of clause 35 of this Agreement and of other provisions of this Agreement shall be consultation, exchange of information and. where applicable. joint planning. They further agree that such methods shall include -
The functions of the Secretariat shall be-
Ratification and Title of Agreement
Dated this twenty-first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and forty-four.
– I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that yesterday, in the course of his review of the war situation, the Prime Minister referred to the Australian-New Zealand Agreement, a statement regarding which hasbeen made to-day by the Minister for External Affairs. Will it be permissible under order of the day No. 1, relating to the resumption of the debate on the motion by the Prime Minister, “ That the paper be printed “, to debate the terms of the agreement?
– Yesterday, the Prime Minister made passing reference to the fact that the Minister for External Affairs would make a statement about the agreement to-day, but the right honorable gentleman did not in any way discuss it. Consequently, I think that any debate on the agreement would not be relevant to the first order of the day. The Prime Minister merely indicated that the agreement wouldbe referred to by the Minister for External Affairs.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether or not action has been taken by the Controller of Meat in Tasmania to make it an offence to sell lambs’ for other than export purposes? Is it a fact that similar action has not been taken in any other State? If so, why has it been found necessary to discriminate against Tasmania by prohibiting the sale of lambs in only that State?
– The reason for the action was merely to secure in Tasmania sufficient lamb for export. It was instigated by those engaged in lamb production, and the Meat Commission.
– Why limit it to one State?
– In the other States there are adequate supplies of meat, and certain grades of lamb, for other requirements.
– In view of the acute housing shortage, and the statement of the Minister for War Organization of Industry that building restrictions cannot be lessened at present, will the Minister for the Army consider the transfer of Army units from cottages in Sydney suburbs that have been taken over by the Army to other accommodation, in order that these cottages may be available for occupation by families?
– I shall inquire into the possibility of acceding to the representations of the honorable member. I have been informed that the military authority concerned decided that this was the most suitable use of the cottages for the purpose for which the anti-aircraft installation was made. It is the policy to vacate as far as possible private dwellings and educational establishments that can be returned to their original owners. The representations will have my sympathetic consideration.
– Will the Treasurer state whether, in connexion with the Government’s housing proposals, a system of decentralization will be adopted? May applications for housingbe made in respect of towns immediately outside the metropolitan areas, as well as other country towns? I have in mind the provision of housing in certain areas removed from the large industrial centres in the capital cities. To whom should such applications be made?
– It was made clear at the recent meeting of the National Works Council, when Commonwealth and State Ministers discussed the housing problem, that the Commonwealth Government, in allocating money for the provision of housing, would insist that consideration be given to country centres.
– Can the Treasurer either confirm or refute information that was telephoned to me from Sydney this morning, to the effect that officials of the Taxation Department in Sydney are instructing taxpayers that, commencing to-day, all payments under group systems are to he credited to the income tax for next year, and that, during the four years commencing on the 1st July next, under the pay-as-you-earn system, a taxpayer will he obliged to pay income tax for five years ? If that is true, what is the authority for it?
– I have not heard of this new phantasy, but I should imagine that no such orders have been given. I shall, however, inquire into the matter, and shall advise the honorable member of the result.
Supplies fob Sportsmen - Needs for Pest Destruction.
– Some time ago, I wrote to the Minister for Munitions requesting the release of ammunition for sportsmen,” because of its value in these days of meat rationing. In view of the very great public interest in the matter, has the honorable gentleman yet been able to give consideration to my request?
– I assure the honorable member that I have sought all the help possible for the release of materials in order that additional supplies of this ammunition might be made available. I am hopeful of an improvement of the position in the immediate future. The Department of Munitions recently released certain supplies of brass strip, in order that additional supplies of sporting ammunition might be produced.
– In connexion with the distribution of ammunition for the destruction of pests in the country, and in view of the long distances farmers and stock-owners have to travel to obtain supplies, will the Minister for Munitions endeavour to provide a store of the necessary materials, and place them in charge of responsible persons, including country storekeepers, so that supplies will be available as required?
– It is not easy to provide a store of materials that are in short supply, but I shall endeavour to relieve the position that obtains in all country districts. The suggestion by the right honorable gentleman will be placed before the department responsible for the distribution of ammunition, in order to see whether it can be adopted.
– In view of the recent widespread damage by bush fires in Victoria, which destroyed thousands of miles of fencing, can the Minister for Munitions give the assurance that adequate supplies of rabbit netting, preferably of the galvanized type, will be made available in sufficient quantities to meet requirements ?
– Everything possible is being done by my department to make available the materials that are essential for the relief of persons who are in distress in bush-fire areas. It is not always possible to provide materials of the quality desired, such as galvanized wire and iron, because of the urgent need for those materials in operational areas; nevertheless, we shall do our utmost to assist the people in the areas in which distress has been caused.
– As there is a serious shortage in Queensland of galvanized iron, piping for irrigation purposes, and as only a very limited supply of black piping has been made available, will the Minister for Munitions state whether a supply of galvanized iron piping will be released for this purpose? Will he also confer with the Minister for Transport in order to ensure that adequate provision shall be made for the transport of the piping when it is available?
– A serious shortage of certain materials essential to the process of galvanizing iron piping has occurred. Considerable demands have been made upon the resources of the nation for such materials as those mentioned by the honorable member. The first claim on them is that which comes from operational areas, because the requirements of the fighting forces have a higher order of priority than have those of civilians. Wherever supplies of piping can be made available in country centres for civilian requirements, or for State public works or other instrumentalities whose operations are of benefit to the community, the Government is seeking to grant the essential supplies; but large orders from operational centres must receive first consideration.
– In view of requests being received by honorable members for information pertaining to the repatriation of members of the services, many of whom have already been discharged, will the Minister for Repatriation make a statement at an early date indicating to what stage the Government’s repatriation proposals have been developed, with special reference to the provision of land and other facilities, so that these may be made available to discharged members of the forces ?
– Mr. Wise, Minister for Lands in Western Australia, has made a report on the land available for settlement throughout the Commonwealth, with a view to placing members of the services on it upon their return to Australia. Up to the present .time all that has been done has been to give a degree of assistance to some discharged members of the services. We have not yet formulated a comprehensive scheme of land settlement, and it would be impossible to put such a scheme into operation even if we had one, because we cannot provide the facilities which would be required. The man-power authorities are finding various occupations for members of the services on their discharge. The Government hopes to have a complete series of reports shortly from Mr. Wise. It intends to ensure that when returned soldiers are placed on the land they shall have a chance to make good, which was denied to the returned soldiers of the last war.
– Seeing that air crews are badly needed for the Royal Australian Air Force, and that the public is .being advised from hoardings and in the press that even men in reserved occupations will be released if they wish to enlist, will the Minister for the Navy see that young men occupying clerical positions in his department, who have been anxious to join the Royal Australian Air Force for a considerable time, are allowed to do so f I can give the Minister the names of some of these men if he wishes.
– I shall obtain a report on the matter.
– by leave - Last night, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) spoke of the need to provide an increased number of pickers for the Shepparton tomato crop, and suggested that, unless the labour was forthcoming, losses would occur. I have since had the matter examined. During recent weeks, 660 prisoners of war have been engaged in picking tomatoes in the Shepparton district. The prisoners have had to be transported daily a distance of approximately 25 miles. This, as can well be imagined, has involved the use of a considerable amount of transport. The transport has been provided by the Department of the Army, which has also undertaken the task of transporting meals to prisoners from their camps. Hot boxes have been used for this purpose. When it became evident last week-end that the labour force would have to be strengthened, negotiations were entered into for the provision of sufficient additional transport to enable a further 200 to 300 prisoners to be used. The Army authorities have agreed to provide this, and it is expected that all the pickers required will be on the job within the next few days. Shepparton’ growers responded magnificently to the Government’s request for greatly increased plantings of tomatoes, and the greatest care has been exercised to guard against loss. Commonwealth food control has established an office in Shepparton, and a day-to-day check of the labour position is made. Close co-operation between food control, . growers and processors will, I believe, ensure that the record output of canned tomato products aimed at by the Government will be achieved.
– In view of the danger which still exists from bush-fires, will the Acting Minister for Supply and Shipping give an assurance that applications for tyres and tubes for fire-fighting vehicles will receive favorable and immediate consideration ?
– This is one of the matters to which my colleague the Minister for Supply and Shipping attended personally just before his illness. He gave directions regarding it, and I am pleased to announce that those directions have been carried into full effect. Not only has the equipment been allocated, but it has also, I understand, been delivered to the areas where it is needed. If there has been any instance of failure to deliver, or if further supplies are needed, I shall have the matter attended to at once.
– In view of the fact that the Commonwealth is able to borrow money from the public at 31/4 per cent., will the Minister in charge of Repatriation give an assurance that the rate of interest will be no higher on loansto exservicemen who desire to purchase homes from the War Service Homes Commission?
– Consideration will be given to the honorable member’s proposal.
– Has the Minister for
Air a statement to make regarding the activities of the Departmental Committee on Civil Aviation? Will the committee’s report be tabled, and will honorable members have an opportunity to debate it?
– The report is at present being examined by a committee of Cabinet which will not be able toreport back to the Government for a considerable time.
– Is the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture aware that the subsidy paid to wheat-growers in respect to wheat sold to poultry-farmers and for stock feed is not sufficient to make up the gap between the price of such wheat and the ordinary price of wheat sold for other purposes ? Will the Minister increase the subsidy so that the cost of providing cheap wheat for stock-owners shall not be a tax upon the wheat-grower?
– I shall take the matter up with my departmental officers and with members of the Australian Wheat Board.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of a Joint Committee to inquire and report upon the advisability of basing the liability for income tax for each financial year on the income of that year, and that it had appointed Senator Keane and Senator Spicer to serve on such committee.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator A. J. McLachlan had been discharged from attendance on the War Expenditure Committee and that Senator Sampson had been appointed to serve in his place.
– I have received from the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The man-power position in relation to primary industries “.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support ofthe motion,
– I have brought this motion forward to acquaint the Parliament and, through it, the people of Australia, with the appalling position of the primary industries of this country. For some time past the party with which 1 am associated has been mindful of the degree to which the important food front of Australia has been allowed to deteriorate because of the inaction of the Government. The unsympathetic attitude of the Government to Australia’s primary industries is not a recent development, nor is my party’s concern regarding it something new. In May, 1942, my colleague, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), moved the adjournment of the House to focus attention on the inevitable and serious decline of food production consequent upon the depletion of labour in rural areas and elsewhere, and other members of the Opposition parties supported him on that occasion. As emphatically as the forms of the House would permit, we brought to the attention of honorable members the decline of the food position, and we stressed that, ‘in our opinion, the Government was taking too confident a view of Australia’s food stocks. I shall enumerate some of the things which the Government has done in an endeavour to deal with the situation. It appointed Mr. F. W. Bulcock as Commonwealth Director-General of Agriculture ; it fixed production targets for all principal foodstuffs; it appointed Mr. J. F. Murphy, the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, as ControllerGeneral of Food; it established a food executive of four Ministers; it launched a “ grow-more-vegetables “ campaign; it appealed to dairy-farmers to increase production. Indeed, the Government has done everything except give stability to primary production. It has not only failed to provide for the welfare of Australia in war-time, but it ha3 also failed to establish a foundation for postwar trade in primary products. It has created a foodstuffs bureaucracy and has provided a glaring example of war-time control run mad. I pause here to instance what I have in mind. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), who is chairman of the Food Executive, has with him as colleagues the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman). They are at the top of the food control ladder. In addition to them there are, according to page 184 of the Federal Guide, a Controller-General of Food, an Administrative Assistant to the ControllerGeneral, a Deputy Controller-General of Food, an Executive Officer, an Assistant Controller-General of Food, a DirectorGeneral of Agriculture, and a Chief Executive Officer of the Directorate of Agriculture. There are also a Director of Food Manufacture, a Director of Service Foodstuffs, a Director of Finance, a Director of Civil Supplies, and a Director of Public Relations. Added to those there are a Deputy Director of Food Manufacture, an executive officer to that deputy director, a legal adviser, a chief technologist, and an economic adviser. There are also the Commonwealth Food Purchasing Board and the .Commonwealth Food Specifications Committee. After all those come the various controllers - controllers of meat supplies, dairy products, egg supplies, vegetables supplies, and potatoes and onions. Then there are deputydirectors of service foodstuffs associated with the Department of Commerce and Agriculture in the six States, an egg control organization with a controller, an assistant controller, and six State deputy controllers. It will be seen that there is no shortage of man-power to give effect to the bureaucratic control of primary industries. Such a state of affairs cannot be allowed to go unnoticed and unchallenged. I repeat that there is clear evidence that bureaucratic control has run mad during a time of war when, of all times, a commonsense policy, agreed upon in collaboration with the real producers of food stuffs, should be followed. The organization to which I have referred includes, in addition to senior officials, a host of other officers, both male and female. I emphasize that what the primary producer needs is not a multiplicity of authorities and costly departments such as I have outlined, but the application of a little common sense to the solution of the problems that confront him.
I invite the House to examine the man-power situation since October, 1943. During the closing stages of the sittings which terminated in that month the honorable member for Richmond raised questions in relation to rural man-power and the production of foodstuffs. On that occasion, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture announced that the ‘Government had decided to give urgent priority to the food producing industries in arranging the release of men from the forces, and to expedite the release of up to 15,000 men for return to the farms as permanent labour. I draw special attention to his use of the words “ urgent priority “.
Referring specifically to the dairying industry, the Minister on that occasion said that the Government hoped to place back on dairy farms 10,000 or 11,000 nominated men as quickly as possible. In the Darling Downs electorate, dairying is a highly important industry. That electorate is one of the most important dairying districts in Australia. I am repeatedly receiving letters seeking my assistance in obtaining the release of men from the forces to work on the farms, and I also receive numerous reports, of dairying herds being sold off and of rejected applications for the release of men to work on farms. I invite the Minister to inform the House of the number of men who have actually been released for work on dairy farms during the four months that have elapsed since he said that this matter would be given urgent priority.
As regards the dairying industry in particular, the latest monthly summary of this industry issued by the Commonwealth Statistician on the 2nd February contains some disturbing figures indicating the decline of factory production of butter.
Declining production tells its own sorry story of the failure of the steps taken by the Government to remedy matters, despite the unconvincing assurance by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in this week’s press that all is well. The Minister is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 7th February, 1943, as having stated that the improved position of primary industries had resulted from the active planning of primary production which war powers had made possible; it was a foretaste of what could be expected after the war! If this policy of bureaucratic muddling by the food control as it exists to-day is to be continued after the war it will produce a sorry state of affairs for Australia.
The back page of the Toowoomba Chronicle of the 29th January, 1943, consists almost wholly of advertisements of clearing sales of dairy herds, by farmers seeking to dispose of their properties. I cannot go into every one of them, but the following is typical: -
Under instructions from Mr. Morgan, who is forced to relinquish dairying owing to shortage of labour, we will offer by PUBLIC AUCTION on the above date, the whole of his well-known DAIRY HERD, SPRINGERS, HEIFERS, DRY CATTLE, BULLS, STEERS.
So it goes on. We have the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture telling the people that all is well and that primary production generally is increasing. If the Minister’s statements are correct, why are these established dairy-farmers being forced off their properties ? And why has production so seriously declined? The answer lies in the Government’s bungling of rural problems, including man-power. The Government has not carried out its own policy regarding the use of men, as I shall prove.
Going back to the 1st October last, we have the decision of War Cabinet that, up to June, 1944, 20,000 men were to be released from the Army in addition to routine releases and 20,000 men diverted from munitions and aircraft production. War Cabinet also reaffirmed its earlier decision regarding the release of 15,000 men from the services for rural work, to which I have just referred. This, in the words of the Prime Minister in this House on the 7th October, was “an urgent priority “. Notwithstanding these decisions, particularly the latter one to which I have referred, members representing rural constituencies continue to receive complaints and farmers continue to be forced to give up their properties because of man-power shortages.
So, we come to the 30th December, when the Controller-General of Food, Mr. Murphy, stated that the food control was impatient to get the men to work in rural industries but it realized the difficulties the man-power directorate and the Army had to face in dealing with applications for release. The ControllerGeneral admitted quite frankly that valuable production was being lost because of man-power shortages. Three months had then elapsed since War Cabinet’s decision had been announced. What had happened to the men who were to be released for rural work? What of the men who were to be specially released for dairy farms?
The Director-General of Mian Power, Mr. Wurth, was the next to throw some light on the highly unsatisfactory condition of rural man-power. The press of the 7th January reported Mr. Wurth as having said that it was estimated that since the war began, 40 per cent, of the men who left rural industries went into munitions and war industries, yet only 250 applications had been received for the release of men formerly employed on farms but now working in munitions. On the other hand, Mr. Wurth went on, up to the 31st December, more than 11,000 applications had been received for the release of specified experienced farmworkers at present in the Services. Applications were still coming in at the rate of 750 a week. Mr. Wurth made this very pertinent observation -
At this stage of the war, the production of foodstuffs, particularly dairy products, by experienced rural workers is of far more vital assistance to the nation than their individual production of munitions.
The Government and certain Commonwealth authorities would do well to bear in mind that sound and realistic statement of the Director-General of Man Power. On the following day, Mr. Wurth emphasized that easily the most urgent call upon man-power for the next few months would be the supply of labour for food production and processing.
Let us now examine the figures in relation to rural man-power. I will give the House a striking example of ministerial muddling and of inconsistency which calls for an immediate explanation from the Prime Minister. On the 12th January, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) said that since the beginning of the war 8,000 men discharged from the forces had returned to rural work. According to the Minister for the Army, the number of soldiers “ approved for discharge “ had reached 4,000 on the 31st December, and to the 15th January the figure was 5,121.
It should be noted, however, that the figures quoted by the Minister for the Army refer only to soldiers “ approved for discharge “. Although a soldier might be “ approved for discharge “ it does not necessarily follow that he will be engaged in rural employment within a reasonably brief period.
On the 13th October last, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture stated specifically in this House, when referring to rural man-power, that “ a large body of nominated labour would be returned for permanent work on farms “. On the 14th December, there appeared in several country newspapers a threecolumn advertisement headed in bold black type -
Immediate release of persons from the Army or elsewhere to help you to increase production can now be arranged . . .
The advertisement then went on -
Dairymen may obtain man-power they need either by (1) nominating persons previously employed by them and now in the Army or elsewhere for immediate return to their employment, or (2) indicating their willingness to employ any experienced person to help them to increase milk production.
– The Northern Star of the 14th December last. Then, in the country press of the 3rd February - I cite the Queensland Times - there appeared another three-column advertisement headed -
Underneath there appears the query -
The advertisement goes on to say in reply-
You can nominate persons previously employed by you and now in the Army or elsewhere for return to your employment. Or you can simply say that you are willing to employ any experienced person. If you can increase production, or need man-power to maintain production, apply immediately.
There is no ambiguity about either of those advertisements, which were issued by Commonwealth Food Control, or about the statement of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
Is it any wonder that members who represent rural constituencies are snowed under with requests and complaints as to the use of man-power. There is no co-ordination between the services and the people charged with the administration of man-power as to the use and balance of the manpower requirements of this nation. We have the muddle of Commonwealth Food Control inviting people to nominate men for discharge from the forces for service on farms and the services resisting applications. Is any one surprised that we are in our present position, and that our food production is declining to a dangerous degree? Only last evening the Prime Minister, referring to conditions of rural employment, especially in the dairying industry, said -
Apart from the general shortage of experienced labour, it has been found that many farmers are unwilling to accept other than nominated personnel which comprise predominantly sons and relatives previously employed on the farms.
The Prime Minister condemns producers for applying for the release of nominated personnel, whilst, at the same time, the Commonwealth food control authorities actually invite producers by public advertisement in the country press to apply for the release of nominated personnel. In view of such confusion and contradiction, is it any wonder that the foundations of not only war-time but also peace-time life in Australia are rapidly deteriorating? The whole position calls for thorough investigation and overhaul. I could furnish many additional facts on this aspect, but I do not propose to monopolize the time allowed for this debate and so deprive my colleagues of the opportunity to speak on this important subject.
According to the Commonwealth Statistician, male employees in rural industries decreased from 200,000 pre-war, to about about 120,000 in March, 1943. In the same period, farm-owners, lessees, and unpaid male relatives working on farms decreased from 300,000 to 240,000. [Extension of time granted.”] Contrast these figures with those relating to factory employment. Employees in factories rose from 54)2,000 pre-war, to 739.000 in March, 1943. The Government can no longer escape facing up to the man-power problem in rural industries. I agree that an increase of the number of factory employees was inevitable; but, at the same time, the facts emphasize that improvements in factory life have been effected very largely to the detriment of rural life, and at the cost of decreasing food production. The problem involves priorities. Surely, the food front is of sufficient importance to claim adequate priority treatment in order to enable Australia to make an all-in war effort in the interests of not only ourselves but also our Allies. Last evening the Prime Minister quite rightly stated that we have an obligation to assist in supplying the food requirements of our Allies as well as meeting the requirements of our own civilian population. Food production is tie basis of the problem, but the rate of production has been allowed to decline to a dangerous degree.
What a black outlook confronts us for 1944 ! However, it is not surprising that this problem has been bungled in so alarming a manner when we consider some of the utterances of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) who is in charge of food production. On the 1st June, 1943, the Minister said -
Australia’s food position was the best of any country and would show an improvement soon. Man-power and transport difficulties which had handicapped production and delivery of primary products were being overcome so far as was possible.
On the 22nd June; 1943, the Minister 8 aid -
The food position in Australia is essentially good. . . . No country in the world is in a better position than Australia in regard to food and I doubt whether any other country is in such a sound position. … The production of wheat is adequate for all purposes.
– Is that- not a fact ?
– If those statements by the Minister are correct, utterances made by the Prime Minister on this subject must be incorrect. The Minister continued -
The dairy farmers have maintained tha volume of production at a much higher level than is generally understood. . . . Egg production has increased greatly in Australia. . . These figures show an overall rise in the production of meat in Australia. . . .
Further statements made by the Minister were as follows : On the 31st August, 1943, he said-
There is plenty of meat for all. No ons need go short.
On the 8th October, 1943-
The nation had more meat than it knew what to do with.
On the 13th October, 1943-
Nothing has occurred to suggest a serious decline of production since this Government took office.
On the 19th November, 1943 -
Because of the huge carry-over of wheat, there is no possibility of a shortage in Australia for several years . . . There is more wheat in Australia to-day than ever before in its history.
Honorable members opposite ask: Are not these statements correct? If they are, the Prime Minister has made statements on the same subject which must be incorrect. On the 22nd December last the Prime Minister said that the estimated production of meat in 1944 would be about 25 per cent, below essential needs, that the leeway in egg production in 1943-44 would be 2,000,000 dozen, that the prospective deficiency in milk would be 153,370,000 gallons for 1943-44, and that the enormous demands for the forces for fresh and processed vegetables would not be met in 1943-44. Contrast what the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has said with the following statement which was made recently by the Commonwealth Statistician -
Butter production for last season was 170,000 tons, or 4,800 tons below the record out-put in the first war year. The production goal for this season is 175,000 tons. If this goal is to be reached production between October and June must be 14,000 tons greater than in the corresponding mouths of last season.
I also invite the House to compare the Minister’s earlier statements with that which he made on the 2nd December last, when he said - *
More milk, more eggs and more pigs are urgently needed. At all cost production must be increased. The greatest agricultural planning effort in Australia’s history is now being made in an effort to meet the demands of us for food for British people, Australian and Allied forces in the Pacific and for the home front.
As recently as the 18th January last, the Director-General of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock, predicted that some places would have shortages in some foods this year and that the outlook appeared to he that 1944 would be a difficult food year if Australia discharged its obligation to its Allies and Great Britain. Despite all that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has said, Australia has experienced butter and meat rationing; and I venture to predict that the Government’s bungling may lead to still further rationing of essential foodstuffs. The responsibility for that development will rest entirely on the shoulders of the Government.
The Country party demands the establishment of a single control on the food front. To-day, both producers and consumers are confused by the multiplicity of controls, lack of efficiency, the absence of co-ordination, and deplorable inaction. It is incumbent upon the Government in the interests of Australia, and in order to enable us to fulfil our obligations to the Mother Country and our Allies, to ensure that the present food problem shall be expeditiously remedied by placing it under the control of one competent Minister, and by enlisting the support of practical men with intimate knowledge of the great difficulties confronting primary producers.
– We should consider this problem calmly and seriously, because I agree with the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) that the matter is of the utmost importance. But we cannot examine the “ food front “ properly and fairly unless we also survey the demands upon man-power throughout the Commonwealth. This war is not a sectional affair. It harasses and inconveniences every section of the community, including the rural industries. An abundance of food would avail us little if we did not have equipment to wage the war. Without weapons, we would not. be able to carry on the struggle.
– And Australia could not carry on the war without food.
– The argument cuts both ways. I ask honorable members opposite to be patient while I examine the situation as a whole for the purpose of seeing whether the rural industries are receiving a fair deal. The total man-power resources of Australia are the fundamental basis upon which we must work. All males in Australia over the age of fourteen years number 2,830,000. Occupied in war work or serving in the fighting forces are 2,530,000 persons, leaving a reserve of only 300,000 males. Included in that number are many males who are still attending school or the university, and invalid and aged persons. “When all those factors are taken into consideration, honorable members will realize that only a very small pool of labour remains to be exploited. Our natural increase is 25,000 persons a year. The whole of the natural increase in the country districts, on attaining the age of eighteen years, is directed to rural employment. Honorable members must take also into consideration the fact that many men discharged from the fighting forces, such as welders and engineers, are directed to employment in munitions establishments.
– More persons are leaving munitions establishments than are entering them now.
– Some men are being discharged from the forces to enter factories, whilst other men formerly employed in factories are being drafted into the Army. Young soldiers are lent by the Army to primary producers, and when their services are no longer required, they rejoin their units, to continue training. From the outset the Government realized that sooner or later in respect of man-power Australia must come to the end of its tether. That position was experienced during the last war. To use an expression common in the country districts during the last war, “ There was not a man left in Australia able to carry a bag of potatoes “. So desperate was the position then that some people advocated the introduction of Asiatic labour. Australia has now come to the end of its man-power resources. Time after time industry has been raked over and combed out for men. When the need is urgent, labour must be transferred from one activity to another. I assure honorable members that the claims of the rural industries are not overlooked when the raking over takes place. For security reasons, I am reluctant to cite figures, and I hope that the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) will censor any statistics that may be of value to the enemy. Of the small reservoir of male labour in Australia, approximately 800,000 men are in the fighting forces. They are the greatest and most efficient productive units in the community. Physically fit, they are at the age when they are of most value in production. In this war, as never before in history, they are outstanding, not only because of their physical and mental standards but also because of their technical attainments. Scientific and technical units are associated with many branches of the fighting forces, and consequently industry has lost large numbers of welders, mechanics, radio technicians and scholars who have been withdrawn to serve in the fighting forces.
To be fair, we must examine the situation as a whole. Allowance must be made for wastage. Since the outbreak of war, 100,000 men have been discharged from the fighting forces for all kinds of reasons, and nearly 40,000 pensions have been paid by the Repatriation Department to wounded men and their dependants. To those people who so strongly emphasize the difficulties of the rural industries, as they have a perfect right to do, I say that nearly all of those men would be rejected by rural employers because they would not be physically capable of doing the work required of them. Those men are receiving pensions because they have lost a leg, an arm or an eye, or suffered some other disability that rendered them physically unfit to resume their former civil occupations. I venture to say that not 1 per cent, of them could do the work that primary producers would require.
– That is not so.
– I admit that some work associated with primary production might be found for a few of them, but the men whose services the primary producers now need must be physically fit and “ capable of carrying a sack of potatoes “. I know all too well what is required.
– The advertisements which the Government inserted in the press stated that men are wanted who can increase the production of milk.
– Honorable members opposite must not overlook the fact that Australia’s resources of manpower are not unlimited. When, men are discharged from the Army, the wastage should be made up in order to preserve .the stability of our armed forces. As every honorable member knows, the wastage has not been completely made up because of the demands of various industries, including the rural industries, for additional man-power.
– Did the Minister say that 100,000 men had been discharged from the Army?
– What I said can easily be proved.
– Are 40,000 pensions being paid?
– I made that statement.
– Figures cited by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) cannot be reconciled with those cited by the Minister.
– Recently, a booklet was issued to honorable members. It stated that to the 27th September, 1943, 32,000 pensions had been paid by the Repatriation Department to crippled returned soldiers and their dependants.
– Does that number include the dependants of soldiers?
– I do not contradict that. We must not overlook the background which I have outlined. People engaged in rural industry will not accept any type of labour sent to them. It has been found difficult to meet their wishes. An immense problem had to be solved only a month ago in the Shepparton district, and it was not believed that the man-power needed there could be supplied. A record crop of 4,000 tons of peaches had to he picked, canned, cased and sent away; yet the demand for labour was completely met. The growers in the district now have a surplus of labour, and have thanked the man-power authorities for what they did for them. Some thousands of hands will be wanted there in a week or two to deal with another crop, and that labour is already organized and ready to be put into the area.
– They telegraphed to me yesterday that they were 200 men short for their tomato crop.
– I can show the honorable member the report of a meeting, at which they passed a resolution thanking the man-power authorities for the way their problems had been solved.
The honorable member cannot have it both ways. As regards food production, let me give first the figures relating to permanent labour. They show that 13,207 men were recommended for release from the Army for food production. Of these, 5,181 were approved by man-power, 4,577 were refused, and 3,449 are pending. In addition, 1,050 men have already been released from munitions and other industries. Releases were to be made only for certain types of rural industry, namely, poultry, vegetable, meat and dairying. When the applications were received, special local agricultural committees were formed in the rural districts in order to save time. These committees on examining the applications, discovered in some instances that the labour was not required by the persons who made them. The system was simply being used as another way to get relatives out of the Army. Where the applicants could not show that they had work for the men to do, the applications were rejected. In other cases it was found that they were asking for the release of the men to do sections of rural work other than those specified. In many instances the soldiers themselves refused to return. As always, numbers of farmers’ sons have volunteered for the Army. They have got used to the service, have won stripes, and are hoping for promotion. When they are asked to come back they refuse.
– They would not amount to half of one per cent.
– I know better than to believe that. In many cases these men have said to me, “ I am sticking to my mates; I will not go back even to my own father’s farm. I am in this job, and only half way through it “. In all such cases the applications must be refused. In a number of instances the soldier has been traced, and it has been found that he has made no application for release.
The Women’s Land Army was organized especially to help the rural industries. Its present strength is 3,300. That is another source of labour for food production. There are 7,000 prisoners of war in Australia, and 1,000 more on the way; 2,600 have already been placed in farm work and the balance are held in various camps and are being employed on production projects. The placement of 5,000 prisoners has already been authorized. As regards internees, there are approximately 1,500 Italians in rural industries.
Early in 1942 all rural industries were closed against enlistments or transfers of employees from the industry. As a result, all natural increase, amounting to some thousands of persons, has been preserved to rural industries. There have also been routine releases from the Army, for example on medical grounds. A total of 2,500 men was discharged from the Army during the last three months of 1943, and returned to rural industry. Since the beginning of the war, approximately 20,000 discharged soldiers have been returned to it.
There is also available for food production temporary seasonal labour, derived from (1) the young soldiers pool, these men being used only in food production and then going back into camp again; (2) workers temporarily released from the Civil Constructional Corps; (3) temporary transfer of farm workers in off periods, when some farmers allow their hands to help neighbours; (4) the use of employees in secondary industries as seasonal workers; and (5) organization of holiday and week-end labour, including, for example, school teachers and university students.
I make with confidence the statement that not one crop of fruit, including grapes for wine, or of any other agricultural product, has been lost, destroyed or wasted up to now as the result of shortage of man-power. [Extension of time granted.] On the 25th January the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) criticized the DirectorGeneral of Man Power for making it widely known in country districts, by means of advertisements, that people could nominate relatives and others and get them out of the Army. I thought that that was the very thing that the farmers wanted done, and I did not expect the right honorable member to criticize it. Recently, as the result of criticism voiced in New South Wales, a special representative was sent to the Illawarra district, which is a good average farming area, to find out whether .there was any substance in the complaints made by dairy-farmers and others. The following report has been published amongst others in the Sydney Morning Herald: -
The 20th January was the last day for applications from Illawarra farmers for permanent hands. A special drive had been made to encourage applications for labour from farmers. But when the time expired the Agricultural Committee had from that great area only one. This was from an Albion Park farmer who wanted a man for six months. Generally speaking, dairy-farmers will not accept permanent hands. They want only experienced men and will not offer io 2s. a week for unknown help.
One of the greatest difficulties is to attract people to these branches of rural production, because no protection is offered to employees in regard to wages and conditions. Vegetable growing is outstanding in that regard. In New South Wales, there is a Wages Board determination covering this industry, but it operates only within a radius of 40 miles of the Sydney General Post Office, with the result that whereas vegetablegrowers on one side of the line are obliged to pay award rates, growers on the other side can pay whatever wages they choose. In the other States there are no awards covering vegetable growing at all. I have asked the Victorian authorities to make a common rule covering the whole of that State in order to make vegetable growing more attractive to employees. I have also asked the Australian Workers Union to cite a claim in the Arbitration Court covering all sections of this industry which at present are not covered. It is hoped that by these means more voluntary labour will be forthcoming.
There are many important lines of rural production which are not covered by awards. For instance, there is no cover in the poultry industry, which is becoming quite big, or in certain sections of the meat industry. There are no awards covering the growing side of flax production, although the factory side of that industry is covered. A similar position exists in. the tobacco industry. Then, of course, there is the vegetable industry in which there is no cover at all. Until reasonable wages and conditions are prescribed for these activities, it will be most difficult to obtain voluntary labour for them.
– The condition to which the Minister refers existed before the war, and labour was always obtainable then.
– That is quite true, but at that time 20 or 30 per cent, of our people were unemployed, and were willing to take jobs for whatever wages they could obtain. That is not the position to-day, and we hope that such a deplorable state of affairs will never occur again. The only way in which we can get a proper balance of labour between the various industries, and make the avenues of rural production to which I have referred attractive to employees, is to prescribe awards for them. I offer that advice to members of the industries concerned.
The total number of applications that have been made to the man-power authorities for the release of men is 21,000. Of that number, recommendations for release have .been made by the man-power authorities in 17,000 cases, but only 51 per cent, of the recommendations have been approved. That seems to indicate that in order to secure the release of 20,000 men applications will have to total 40,000 or 50,000.
It has been claimed generally that there has been a falling off in the production of foodstuffs. I deny that statement. Generally speaking, there has been a great increase in the production of food, as is shown by the following figures: In 1939 the area harvested for vegetables was ‘218,000 acres ; in 1942-43 that figure had risen to 330,600, and the goal for 1943-44 is 467,800 acres. Associated with the production of vegetables is the supply of tins for canning. Prior to the war, approximately 40,000 tons of tinned plate was used annually to produce 300,000,000 cans for the canning of fruit, vegetables, &c. In 1943, the tinned plate used for this purpose was 90,000 tons and the number of cans had risen to 630,000,000. This year it is expected that 1,100,000,000 cans will be produced from 150,000 tons of tinned plate.
– That merely indicates that more food was canned, not that more was produced.
– We cannot make the cans quickly enough to cope with the food that is being processed. It takes a considerable amount of labour to make such a huge number of cans. Obviously, we cannot nave all our available labour in the primary industries. The number of vegetable dehydrating plants now in full operation is 23, and the number of males employed is 430, and females, 750. [Further extension of time granted.) Since the end of 1942 there has been a substantial increase of the number of dehydrators. and the number of persons employed in this work. The output from dehydrating plants in 1942-413 was 1,000 tons of dried vegetables from 8,000 tons of fresh vegetables. Since then, output has expanded approximately ten-fold. The number of dehydrating plants for the processing of mutton has been increased, and two additional plants are now being completed. Extra labour has been absorbed, and output during the last season has increased by upwards of 100 per cent. During 1942-3, 400,000 tons of apples was dehydrated, compared with 750 tons before the war. Plans for 1943-4 provide for the dehydration of 8,000 tons. The dehydration of other foods, such as fruits and milk, has also increased, requiring an intake of extra labour.
In canneries, 3,400 males and 4,500 females are employed, and a further 1,000 men and 3,000 “women will be required during the next few weeks. In the Goulburn Valley, which is the largest canning centre in Australia, managers of factories have intimated that the additional labour required for the canning of pears and peaches is in sight. The Goulburn Valley canneries have processed 8,400 tons of apricots, thus exceeding the target set by Commonwealth Food Control. This represents approximately 8,000 tons more than last year’s pack. It is estimated that 69,000 tons of tomatoes will be processed in Australia this year, a figure greater than any previous year’s production, and substantially higher than last year’s figure. Of this total, 55,000 tons will be processed in Victoria. Growers’ organizations, during the last week, indicated their pleasure at the way in which the man-power requirements had been handled. A record number of operatives is needed to process this year’s record canned fruit pack, and the fact that latest reports indicate that food processing targets will be reached shows that the man-power position is being greatly strengthened, despite the small reserve pool possessed by the nation. It must be remembered that, in addition to the processing already mentioned, we are this year canning a record quantity of vegetables. The output will be 125 per cent, higher than last season, as a result of production planning and increased provision of man-power.
The needs of the rural industries must, of course, be met. They are being met now, and they will be met in the future. Upon that I stake my reputation for honesty. The problem will never be solved ; it really comprises a; series of problems. Next week, for instance, there may come a sudden demand for labour for the harvesting of a crop. That demand will be met, but the week after that a similar demand will arise in respect of another crop. We can never say that we are on top of the situation, but each crisis will be met as it arises. I point out, however, that there is need for labour in other industries, also. Nearly all the troubles that have occurred in other industries are due to the shortage of manpower. Here is a list of the unfulfilled labour demands from various industries -
UNFULFILLED LABOUR DEMANDS. Permanent labour requirements (excluding requirements for the services and for aircraft production, ship-building, ship repairs, and certain types of munitions) -
Seasonal labour (rural and food processing)
Included in the permanent labour requirements shown above are such requirements as the following: -
I ask those engaged in rural production not to consider their own industries only, but to consider Australia’s needs as a whole. I admit that without food it would be impossible to maintain our war effort, but other things are also essential to the war effort. We must endeavour to strike a proper balance. The Government is at present going through every institution it can think of, taking out the odd man or woman who can be put to better use elsewhere. I do not deny anything that has been said by honorable members opposite, nor do 1 make any apologies for what has been done. All sorts of ruthless things have been done by the man-power authorities. Husbands have been parted from their wives, and sons from their mothers. In some instances, they have been sent to work at the other end of Australia. We know that all sorts of inconveniences have been imposed upon the public, but we should ask ourselves what would have been the alternative if this had not been done. We must put up with these troubles. Let us not think that we can at this stage return to our peace-time luxuries. To do that would be to show a yellow streak. It is the duty of my department to meet all requests for labour as well as it can, while at the same time reducing public inconvenience to a minimum. However, it is impossible to avoid all inconvenience and discomfort, and if we are to win the war we must put up with those same disabilities.
.- I support the motion by the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) for the adjournment of the House in or’der to discuss a -matter of urgent public importance, namely, manpower for rural industries. I listened to the speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) with much interest, and .never before have I heard a Minister of the Crown support so enthusiastically a motion by a member of the Opposition. He reviewed industry after industry, and showed beyond doubt that the primary industries are in a very serious position because of the shortage of man-power, and he expressed the hope that, in the dim and distant future, it might be possible to offer them some assistance.
I desire to pay tribute to those men who were employed in the rural industries at the outbreak of war for the way in which they voluntarily enlisted in the fighting forces. Nevertheless, when the Government became panicky after the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour, a disproportionately large number of men were called up from the rural industries, despite the heavy enlistments which had already taken place. The entire position in regard to man-power in the rural industries has been bungled by the Government, with the result that production has seriously declined. Numerous appeals have been made by Ministers for increased primary production, but nothing effective has been done to make more labour available for this purpose. This nation must have three armies. There must be the fighting army, consisting of the very best of our manhood. Then there must be an army of skilled artisans to make the munitions which are needed by the fighting men. Thirdly, there must be a vitally important army which honorable members opposite seem to overlook; it is the food-producing army, which has been totally neglected by the present Government. Organizations of primary producers all over the country have tendered to the Government advice which it has completely ignored. A joint all-party parliamentary committee on rural industries, of which I was chairman, appointed by a former government and continued by the present Government until the last elections, made unanimous observations and recommendations to the effect that, if action were not taken to provide a sufficient number of men for the food-producing army, this country would become short of foodstuffs. That prediction has since been verified. Within the last two or three days, the Government has been castigated by the gentleman whom it appointed to the position of Commonwealth Director-general of Agriculture - Mr. Bulcock. According to the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 8th February, this gentleman said -
The federal authorities last year overlooked the fact that food production was essential.
He went on to say -
The lack of man-power was one of the outstanding grievances of the farmers employed in the dairying and vegetable industries.
– Mr. Bulcock has denied having made that statement.
– Apparently his denial is due to second thoughts. Everybody knows that, whether or not he made the statement, it is absolutely correct. The Government is still “fooling” the producers. As the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr Fadden) has said, one cannot pick up to-day a newspaper published in a country town which does not contain a series of advertisements announcing the sales of dairy farms. Our very best dairy herds are being disposed of, many of them for slaughter and some for transfer to other properties, because there is not sufficient man-power to enable their present owners to carry on, and certainly not sufficient skilled manpower to produce the crops that are needed. We are about to face a severe winter without any reserves of fodder, because man-power has not been made available for its conservation. In consequence, our cattle and our dairy herds will not have nearly sufficient feed, and production will decline still further. The primary producers are being hoodwinked by the advertisements published “by the man-power authorities calling upon them to make early application for the immediate release of persons nominated by them to assist them in their operations. Applications were made, and in almost every instance it met with a refusal. The same newspaper which published the statement of the DirectorGeneral of Agriculture, also contained the statement that it had been found impossible to release the men who had been nominated. If the promise implicit in the advertisements is not to be honoured, they are merely a waste of time and money. The dairy-farmers are not alone in their troubles, because the dairy factories also are “right up against it “ for labour to process the milk and cream that they receive. Factory managers and executives are having an appalling time in attempting to deal with the production that is coming to hand. Queensland is fortunate in having had an extraordinarily good season, but that cannot be said of the rest of the Commonwealth. The position in the dairy factories is a cause of considerable anxiety to every factory manager. There is not sufficient man-power to produce butter, and the pasteurized milk which factories are being asked to provide for the forces bi their neighbourhood. Some managers have advised me that their men are working 80 hours a week.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- As a preamble to what I have to say, I read the following statement, made before the war, by the economic adviser to the Department of Agriculture in the United States of America -
Tens of millions of employed workers and millions ot farmers are receiving niggardly incomes far lower than industrial resources properly organized could provide for them. Twenty-five million people are living on the bare edge of destitution in the United States of America.
The report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat-growing Industry, set up, with. Mr. Gepp as chairman, by the (party which now sits in opposition, contained the following paragraph: -
If you took all the farmlands of Australia and you marketed them at their market value and you took all the plant and the stock that was on them and you marketed it also at its market value you would then only have enough money to pay 18s. in the £1 of the farmers’ debts.
That is the state of affairs which prevailed when the present Government assumed office. It had the task of organizing an army for war, and the munitions factories that were needed to supply those armies with the essential impedimenta of war. A typical farmer of that day, in a letter to a newspaper, made the following statements -
It must be admitted that a state of bankruptcy has been forced on farmers through price controls that drove many off their holdings into munition factories and other war-time industries. . . . Young men and young women can hardly be blamed for looking for congenial employment in secondary industry where award wages are given, not under “coolie” farmer conditions.
Any reasonable being who understandsthe Australian food-producing industries realizes that that epitomizes the truth concerning the shortage of man-power on the farms. Any fair man will admit that a farm cannot be either established or re-established in one year. The Taxation Commissioner allows for a period of five years, during which the income of the farmer is averaged, and this average is regarded as a fair indication of the state of prosperity on the farm. Having regard to the limited period during which the present Government has held the reins of office, it cannot be held responsible for the state of affairs that prevails to-day in the farming industry, any more than a person could be blamed for the existence of his progenitors. If responsibility can be sheeted home to anybody for the present conditions, it clearly fall’s on the shoulders of those who had control of the Treasury for generations prior to the outbreak of the war. Napoleon said that an army marches on its stomach, and that is equally true to-day when the nations are mobilized on an army basis. Every man and woman in every belligerent community is as much a soldier as are those in the front line. Therefore, the nation must concentrate on the task of stepping up food production asmuch as on the actual fighting and the provision of the impedimenta of war required by those in the front line. That has not been done in the past, and the present time is opportune for us to bend our energies to that task. The primary industries will never be placed on a properly based economy unless that be done. When cheap labour was readily available on the farms, and more food was being provided than there was money to pay for it, because of the prevalence of unemployment, we were too prone to neglect the food front. Surely we should now concentrate on the solution of the food problem rather than criticize the present Government, which cannot, fairly be held responsible for the root evils from the effect of which the country is now suffering.
The labour structure has been discussed to-day. When Australia was first settled, great areas of farming land were given to various companies, not for the purpose of developing the country, but to- enable those companies to make profits. As the nation gradually conceived the idea of building up a white race with high standards of living, it saw that the lands which had been given away would have to be taken hack from the private companies, and utilized in closer settlement blocks on the basis of family units. No provision is made for a weekly, fortnightly or monthly payment of wages to the members of the family unit, and no provision can be made for the transport of labour from centre to centre, or from one village or hamlet to another, as required. No extra accommodation, apart from that needed by the family unit, could be provided for extra workers, even if they could be obtained. Therefore, if any member of the farmer’s family is taken away, that worker cannot be replaced. Two-thirds of the members of the farming community in Australia fall within the category of farming families who provide their own labour. If we took from the munitions factories, and particularly from the Army, all those persons who have left the farms in order to serve at the front, there would be no Army. We cannot hope at the present time for a permanent solution of problems of primary production, but some attempt is being made to step up food production, having regard to all of the difficulties that confront the Government. Constructive rather than carping criticism is expected from honorable members opposite, whose political policy in past years was largely responsible for the present unsatisfactory conditions in the primary industries.
– I cannot agree with the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen), who declares thai the present Government is in no way responsible for the present difficulties with regard to primary production. These difficulties are mainly attributable to lack of man-power. The man-power problem has become particularly acute since the present Government assumed office, but I do not blame the Government for that. M]an-power had to be obtained for the fighting services and for the munitions factories. Nevertheless the man-power troubles have been increased rather than reduced by reason of the administrative methods of the present Government. I followed with considerable interest the apology of the Minister for Labour and National (Service (Mr. Holloway), in referring to the man-power difficulties confronting Australia to-day. There is a shortage of man-power in three directions. We need it for the Army, the various war services, and the food front, and each of the Ministers controlling those respective activities naturally tries to get whatever man-power he can for the efficient conduct of his own department. Despite the difficulties experienced by the present Government, certain of its supporters claim that more food, such as cheese, eggs, milk and butter, must be made available. In his speech last night the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) referred to the importance of maintaining food supplies, not only for the people of Australia, hut also for Great Britain and our Allies and for the people of other countries. Whilst the Prime Minister claims that men must be made available for the production of essential foodstuffs, another Minister, who has much to say regarding the way in which man-power is being distributed, remarks* “ Sorry, but I cannot agree to all this. I want these men, too “. So this tugofwar goes on with very little benefit to primary producers. The man on the land has been asked to produce, in maximum quantities, all kinds of foodstuffs. I may be asked to increase my production of meat, and my neighbour his production of milk, but when we make application to the authorities for the release of manpower to enable us to carry on our activities, we almost always get a negative reply. Frequently a primary producer nominates a relative or a former employee, but sooner or later, and mostly later, a reply comes to hand that the services of the individual concerned cannot be made available. It is all very well for members of the Government to tell us, as they have done yesterday and to-day, that, of 15,000 applications for release 7,000 have been granted. Where have the 7,000 men gone? I know of more than 100 applications, but I know of very few releases. Applications are made through the man-power authorities, but almost always a reply comes through some other channel, frequently the Army, that the person concerned cannot be released. The Government cannot continue to speak with two voices on this subject. It must decide whether it will release men for rural industries or whether it will not do so. It must, in short, decide between guns and foodstuffs. If it will do so, the people generally will know where they stand.
Not only the quantity of labour, but also the quality of it, is a factor. If even a limited number of skilled men could be made available in certain industries a great deal of the present difficulty could be avoided. I shall refer briefly to the position of the meat market in Victoria during the past five months. Most honorable members who represent rural constituencies known what occurs at the peak of the fat-lamb season. The stock must be handled within a given .period. Yet it was of no use to send fat lambs to Melbourne because the market was congested. The meat works had on the hooks all the meat they could manage. One consequence, particularly in the southern parts of Victoria, was that fat stock which was being held for market gradually lost its condition, with great loss to the owners. The position has improved somewhat lately, but the congestion is still serious.
The difficulties in this industry are due largely to the fact that too few slaughtermen and slaughtermen’s assistants are available for work. I believe the situation could be improved if the authorities exercised a little more foresight. Those who have been advising the Government must accept the blame for a good deal of the trouble which has occurred. Even if only about 200 slaughtermen had been released at the right time the difficulties could have been alleviated. The fat stock could then have been handled, whereas it has since deteriorated seriously. I suggest for the earnest consideration of the authorities, and particularly the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), that sufficient labour should be made available to the meat works to deal with stock which is ready for market. The position can be retrieved to some degree, and it should be .retrieved. The whole trouble is attributable, in the last resort, to errors made in dealing with man-power. The Government must make up its mind whether it needs guns or butter. Unless it does so the present intolerable state of affairs will continue.
Many dairymen will be unable to carry on for long under the existing conditions.
We should not forget that the war has been in progress for about five years. Men who were approaching the end of their working life five years ago are now unable to do the same amount of work as they could do then. Their services must be reinforced if the same rate of production is to be maintained. In fact, many of the older men need to be replaced by others who are ‘physically able to do the work that needs to be done. Unless additional man-power be made available we shall not be able to maintain our present production of butter and other foodstuffs and so provide for the needs of our kith and kin overseas, to say nothing of our own essential requirements.
– I listened with deep interest to the speech of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). As the representative of a large primary producing district, I have the greatest sympathy for that large body of very fine people who are engaged in the primary industries of this country. They have done splendid work throughout the war period. Everybody admits that. I believe that they will continue to perform useful and essential service in the hard days ahead of us. No one will deny that in common with other employers of labour in Australia they have experienced an acute shortage of man-power. In the difficult days through which they are passing, the Government is endeavouring to cushion the hardship, and I believe that my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), showed clearly in his speech this afternoon that the officers of his department are dealing with their problems most efficiently. Unfortunately, no complete solution to our man-power troubles can he found until the war ends. As long as fighting continues we shall be faced with manpower difficulties. This is true of every nation engaged in this great conflict. When the Curtin Government assumed office it found that large numbers of young men engaged in our primary industries had enlisted, and that many more desired to enlist. The Government realized, however, that a strong food front must be maintained and in May, 1942, it granted a blanket exemption to all young men engaged in primary industries.
– Only after the adjournment of this House had been moved twice !
– I have the greatest respect for the enthusiasm of the honorable member for Richmond, but I must tell him that his moving of the adjournment of the House had nothing whatever to do with the Government’s decision, which had already been made. Prisoner-of-war labour, as the Minister for Labour and National Service has pointed out, is being used to-day to a greater degree than ever before. The Commonwealth Government has received thousands of prisoners of war into this country at the request of the British Government, and it regards itself as the custodian of these individuals. Their services are being used in the most advantageous way possible, having regard to national security. As additional suitable prisoners of war become available they, too, will be put to work on farms under the terms of the Geneva Convention dealing with prisoners of war. Time will not permit me to give either the numbers of such men, or other details concerning them, but they are distributed equitably through the several States and are employed on dairy farms and other rural holdings. Generally, from one to three men are employed on a farm, and by adopting a zone system we have been able to reduce to a minimum the personnel required to guard them. That has provided a substantial measure of relief. In addition, the completion of a large number of defence projects in Australia will make further men available. The Government has decided to release approximately 25,000 men who have been serving with the Allied Works Council. Some of them will go into primary production. After the War Commitments Committee had given close consideration to the whole man-power problem, the Government decided on the discharge of 20,000 men from the Australian Army, at the rate of 2,000 a month, and a similar number from munitions establishments. Those discharges are now taking place.
– What is the total number ?
– In three months 10,000 employees have been released from munitions factories, and more than 7,800 men have already been released from the Army. These are in addition to the normal routine discharges numbering 5,000 a month, also some 25,000 are being discharged from the Allied Works Council. The target is 65,000 releases from the Army, munitions factories, and the Allied Works Council.
– -Where have they gone?
– I could let the honorable member know where those released from the Army have gone, but preparation of the information would be a stupendous task. Men released from the Army are carefully watched by the man-power authorities. Generally, a man is released on the application of a farmer, usually his father or his former employer. The man-power authorities check whether the released soldier goes back to the farm. Should he do so, and then leave the farm he again comes under the control of the man-power authorities who notify the Army authorities. I do not say that the system is water-tight, because I realize that if a man leaves a farm there will be a period during which it may be difficult to locate him. However, I have the assurance of Mr. Wurth, the Director-General of Man Power, that he is getting the wholehearted cooperation of the Army authorities to make these releases a success.
– The Minister must know from his experience in his own electorate that there is something wrong with the figures given by the Prime Minister in regard to releases of men from the Army.
– There is nothing wrong with the figures.
– Probably not so far as the electorate of Capricornia is concerned.
– The right honorable member does me an injustice if he suggests that I would agree to the release of men to work in Capricornia, and not elsewhere. I assure Aim that no man is released from the Army unless the Deputy Director-General of Man Power recommends his release. Each case is referredbytheManPowerdirectorate totheArmyauthoritiesbecausethere arecertaincategoriesfromwhich releasesarenotmade.Thosecategories weredecidedupon,notbyme,butby WarCabinetontherecommendationof ThewarCommitmentsCommittee,which hasinmindthewholeman-power problem.Onthatcommitteearerepre- sentativesofthethreefightingservices, theDeputyDirectorofManPower,the Controller-GeneralofFood,aswellas represenativesoftheDepartmentof Munitions. In its wisdom, that committee decided how many men could safely bemadeavailablefromtheArmyandhow manyfromthemunitionsestablishment. Obviously,theWarCommitmentsCom- mitteehasatitsdisposalmoreinforma- tionthanisavailabletoprivatemembers ofParliamentandcitizensgenerally. Thecommitteeknewwhatactionwascon- templatedbytheAustralianArmyand thefightingservicesgenerallyforaspeci- fiedperiod,aswellasthecommitments oftheMunitionsDepartment.Withthat informationbeforeit,thecommittee decidedthatitwouldbesafetomake availablefromtheArmy,2,000mena monthfortenmonths.Ihavebeen intheclosetconsultationwiththe Adjutant-Genral’sBranchoftheArmy, theMinisterforLabourandNational Service (Mr. Holloway) and the DirectorGeneral of Man Power, in order to make a success of the scheme. I pay tribute to the Adjutant-General’s Branch of the Army, particularly to Colonel Parkes, for the whole-hearted manner in which it has endeavoured to make a success of the scheme.
– What is challenged is the accuracy of the figures stated by the Prime Minister. He said that 40 per cent. of the applications for release had been approved. The Minister for the Army must know from his own experience that that information is wrong.
– The Prime Minister’s figures were right. They were up to a certain date. I have figures covering an additional week. The discharges from the Army between the 1st November, 1943, and the 5th February, 1944, total 7,506.
– Out ofhow many applications?
– The checked applicationsreceivedatLandHeadquarters total17,569.Someapplicationshavenot yetreachedthatsection.[Extentionof timegranted.]Inaddition,3,158recom- mendationsforreleaseareinprogress. Asmembersmaybeabletorefertonum- bersofmenwhohavenotbeendischarged althoughtheirreleasehasbeensought,I repeatthattherearecertaincategories fromwhichmencannotbereleased.These includeunitsservinginNewGuinea,re- inforcementsenroutetoNewGuinea, andotherswhichIhavenottimeto mentionnow.Thesecategoriesfrom men may be discharged are -
The Director-General of Man Powerwill continuetodoeverythingpossibletopro- videlabourforprimaryindustriesand otheressentialundertakings.Inaddition tothemenwhohavebeendischarged fromtheArmy,munitionsfactories,and theAlliedWorksCouncil,increasing numbersofprisonersofwararebeing utilizedonAustralianfarm.Thereare alsotheordinaryroutinedischargesfrom theArmy,numberingabout60,000a year,aswellasthenaturalincreaseof theruralpopulation,whichisbeingre tained in rural industries.
– The number of such workers is decreasing.
– In addition, the present Government organized the Australian Women’s Land Army, which now comprises 3,239 members. There are also 980 members of the Australian Women’s Land Army Auxiliary. I mention, too, that the demand for labour by primary industries is not constant throughout the year. Before the war between 40,000 and 50,000 seasonal workers derived a living from employment in primary industries.; but the demand for workers in other essential war industries has attracted some of them away from rural industries.
We are passing through- a. most difficult period, but I point out that the war commitments are not static. There are certain objectives which have to be attained by the Services. I want to hold out some hope for the primary producers that there shall be improvements, but to open the gates and, let 200,000 men out of the fighting services haphazardly would be disastrous to the war effort. The scheme is selective and it ensures that men released shall go back to primary industries. I believe we should continue this all-in war effort. With my knowledge of what Australia is committed to in the future, I know that a let up at this juncture would prove that the Government and the people of Australia were recreant to the trust reposed in them.
.- The very strong case made out by the Leader of the Australian. Country party (Mr. Fadden) has been replied to in part by two Ministers, and I think those who have listened with unbiased minds,, must agree that there has been a most ineffective reply to his case. We know that there are difficulties. We know the structure of administration is. so enormous that it. is not possible to avoid some mistakes. We know the changing circumstances of war are such, that it is impossible to avoid recasting policy. But we deal with a state of affairs as pronounced by the Government itself. The Government, has said through the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), Ministers and a hundred controllers, of this, that and the other, that food production has now come to be of a very high order of priority. We accept that. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr: Holloway) has told us of the difficulties of the total labour position. He has quite unnecessarily pointed out to us that there is no unfathomable pool of labour from which to draw. The Government itself has determined, as a matter of War Cabinet decision,’, that one of the principal pools from which labour is to be drawn to meet this present-day food shortage, is the Army itself. That is something newly urged now from the Government side;. It was urged a long time ago, goodness knows, from this side. Since then, it has been decided by the Government that the Army is to be regarded as! one of the principal pools from which labour is to be drawn for this purpose. I intend to examine the administration of manpower, and I do not propose to be sidetracked by general statements made by Ministers. The Minister for Labour and National Service dazzled us with an array of statistics proving that far more carrots are, being grown to-day than ever before, that far more apples are- being dehydrated than ever before, and that far more tins, are being, made, for canned peaches, than ever before. True! I heard a similar argument two years ago when we directed attention to the mounting problem in the coal industry. The Prime Minister and others replied to our charges as they have replied to-day, namely, that more coal was being mined than ever before. Why would not more coal be mined now than ever before? Why would not more peaches be canned than ever before? Why would not more bullets be made than, ever before ? Those are needs for which the circumstances of war have brought a new demand. Our argument is not that production is less than before, but that it is less than is needed. That is the point. Production is less than is needed for our own purposes, for our Allies, and for our British kinsfolk. The Ministers consistently evaded that point as the Government always has evaded the point that less coal is being produced than is needed.
Finally, we have forced the Government to face the relationship between food production and labour to produce food. The Government has come round in due course to what we urged, and has agreed that the Army is to be combed, and that certain men are to be drawn from the Army over a certain period. Well, I have heard total figures read in this chamber. I live in the centre of and represent one of the most intensive food-producing areas in this country. I live, as honorable members know, in the midst of an irrigation area, the principal vegetable production area of Australia, the principal canned fruit production area of Australia, and one of the principal dairying areas of Australia. So I find myself the recipient of hundreds of letters soliciting my support for the release of men from the Army to go to work ora: farms of those kinds. I have first-hand experience. As this debate was coming on to-day, I looked at the records I have by me at this very moment of results of applications for release which have passed through me. I am one of the channels for applications in this regard. Here is no genera] statement but a list of the last 28 decisions communicated to me by the Army. The applications were in respect of seventeen members of the Australian Imperial Force and eleven members of the Citizen Military Forces. Not one of the former was released and four men of the Citizen Military Forces were released. I shall give to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) the names, numbers and units of every man to whom I refer, so that he may check them with his own records. That is the answer. What is the use of reading general figures to me when that is my own experience? How does that come about? Heaven knows it is bad enough that only four out of the last 28 men in respect of whom application for release was made through me were released, but not one of the men who volunteered into the Army and who is the object of an application for release, has been released. Why? Because it is a policy decision of the Army that those units for which men volunteered are substantially excluded from releases. So we find, in my experience, that substantially only men who were conscripted into the Army are being released. Men who enlisted early, more than four years ago, when they saw their country was in danger, are not eligible for release.
– That is not true.
– It is a fact. Compare my list with the departmental list and see whether it is not true. That is the answer. I can give a hundred instances of the indefensible way in which this policy is being administered. I have an application from the father of a soldier whose name and number I shall give to the Minister for the Army. His application was refused. He renewed it through me. It was refused. He renewed it again and again it was refused. He then wrote to the Prime Minister and hey presto! his son was out of the Army before you could snap your fingers.
– His release must have been directed by the Director-General of Man Power.
– I will give the Minister the name and number of the man concerned.
– Probably his unit had changed its location.
– Nothing had changed except the political direction of his application.
– That is all nonsense.
– I have stated the facts. The Minister can refute them in this House if he is able.
– The Army discharges only those recomended by the man-power authorities for discharge.
– I cite the case of a neighbour of mine who went to the Boer War and the 1914-18 war, and whose two sons went to this war. One of his sons, who was in the Air Force, was killed in a raid on Berlin, and the other son was a member of the Australian Imperial Force. This father was a fruit-grower and his son applied on the 1st November not to be discharged from the Army, but to be given leave for a period of three months in order that he could help on the orchard to pick peaches and apricots. He received no answer to his application. He came to me, and I wrote not only to the Minister for the Army, but also to the Minister for Labour and National Service, and exhausted: all the channels which my experience prompted me to explore. Finally, when I despatched three telegrams in rapid succession to the Minister for the Army, three months after the son had made his application, a colonel rang me up to say, “ That fellow cannot be released because he is in an A.I.F. unit which is resting on the Atherton Tableland “. Why could not the father and his son have been given that information immediately after the application was made, instead of three months later, when the fruit was falling to the ground? Another case which I have in mind concerns a neighbour of mine. After pitiful letter-writing backwards and forwards about that case, I was told that the man in question had been discharged three months after he had made his application, and that just prior to his discharge he had been sent to Darwin, where he stayed for only one day. [Extension of time granted.] I could cite similar cases concerning farmers within a stone’s throw of my own farm. In one case all the ablebodied members of a family were released from the Army because they were not members of any of the excluded units. At the same time, their nextdoor neighbour, an orphan girl, came to me and asked why her brother could not be released, and the reason I received was that he was in the Australian Imperial Force.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 257b.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to alter the Constitution by vesting in the Parliament certain additional powers until the expiration of five years after Australia ceases tobe engaged in hostilities in the present war.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 9th February(vide page 22), on motion by Mr. Curtin -
That the following paper be printed: - Review of the War - Ministerial Statement, 9th February, 1944.”
– Last night, we had the pleasure of listening to a speech by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) on the progress of the war. I am sure that he will not consider me offensive if I say that the speech did not tell us anything new. It could hardly be expected to tell us anything new, for the very good reason that those matters which are susceptible of public disclosure are disclosed from time to time, and those matters which do not lend themselves to that treatment can hardly be dealt with in public statement in Parliament. But the speech did serve as a reminder to us of recent events and of present issues in the war. I shall say a few words to-night about one or two of them.
What is needed most of all in a consideration of the war is a balanced and realistic view of current events. It is very easy for the public, and for us who are not in that sense the public, to run to exaggerated views, to underline victories so that the ultimate victory seems to be quite obvious and easy, or to underline defeats so that the whole sky seems black. One of the great tasks of the men whose duty has been to lead public opinion in the course of this war, has been to preserve balance, to exercise judgment, and to assist people to see the war picture clearly and as a whole. War, and particularly this war, usually appears to give rise to a great mass of propaganda. The longer I live in the world of propaganda, the less respect I have for propaganda, because propaganda is always exaggerated. It provides the very poorest basis for judgment. When I was listening to the Prime Minister last night and particularly to the very just statement that he made about the part played by Great Britain in this war and how the British people saved the world in 1940, my mind ran back a little. It is quite true that in 1940 and up to the middle of 1941, the British people saved the world in the course of saving themselves. Incidentally, whenever I use the words “ British people “ I refer to all British people throughout the world.
I believe that the historian will say that the great crisis in this war came when the maximum forces of the enemy were being deployed against the minimum forces available to mankind. That is why the year 1940-41 will always remain as a crucial period in this war, and be remembered as a period in which the British people not only saved Europe by their example, but also saved the world by their efforts. Yet I recall very clearly that during that very period before the middle of 1941, my colleagues and I, some of whom are still here, incurred the bitterest criticism because at that particular time of crisis we not only maintained but also built up the strength of the Australian Imperial
Force in the Middle East. I recall very vividly, and it will he agreed that I do not commonly go back to these affairs of the past, that at that time it was said with bitterness, and by some people who now pipe another tune, that we had taken the gravest risk with our own country because we had built up in the Middle East in that magnificent adventure which the British people conducted there, Australian forces which might otherwise have been available for the defence of this country.
We have become familiar in the last two years with talk about a second front, I remind honorable members that in 1940 and 1941 there were two fronts in the world, and the British people maintained both of them. At that time I heard no demand for the opening of a second front from some of those extraordinary Australians wb.o, in fact, did not become vocal in favour of this war until the middle of 1941. It will be to the imperishable credit of the British people, and notably to the Government and people of Groat Britain, that in that period they maintained against .a host of enemies, two fronts on which their own people, their sons, and kinsmen from the British Empire, fought. If Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, to name the three Dominions that were vitally concerned with fighting in the Middle East, had not felt that that theatre, whatever it might involve to them at home, was vital to the winning of this war, who can say that the second front would have been held at that time, and who can say that Great Britain would have had the supreme and immortal honour of saving the world? I recall that because there are people in Australia who, as I say, spoke then as they do not speak now. I recall it because I want to emphasize to. all honorable members that if we are to have a just conception of this war, we must not merely take a day to day view of it. We must take a balanced view of it, and we must view whatever Australia is doing, whatever Canada is doing, or whatever any other country is doing in the light of a world problem, and in the light of a struggle which is not the struggle of a few weeks or a few months’ duration, but is the struggle of years. May I apply that to the position which we see to-day ?
As I have said, a great deal of talk occurs about a second front, and the Prime Minister has indicated that some second front will at an appropriate time and in an appropriate place be opened. The Prime Minister could not say more than that. But I should like to say something about a second front in Europe. I hope that no second front, third front or fourth front will be opened by the arguments of non-combatants. I profoundly hope - I most sincerely pray - that if the time comes when the forces of democracy are to be thrown against the fortress of Europe from the sea, it will be by the judgment of soldiers and at a ripe time, and not by the. judgment of those who look on at these things from a great distance. It is very easy to form some partial view, some obvious and therefore frequently inaccurate view, about the developments in Europe in the last twelve months. I believe that in the last twelve months we have seen happen not only in Europe, but also throughout the world, miracles beyond the imagination of men two years ago. But they have not happened by mere accident. In the last few months, everyone has been delighted at the news of Russian advances, great Russian victories, and the rolling back of German forces. I now address myself not so much to honorable members as to casual people who, I am afraid, do so much of the world’s thinking. Casual people have said, “ Well, of course the Russians have the Germans on the run, and this is the psychological moment for opening a second front “, I ask why the Russians have the Germans in retreat? Does anybody imagine that this occurred irrespective of the rest of the happenings in Europe? Does anybody suppose that the air superiority enjoyed by the Russians at this very moment on the Russian frontier has no relation to the unceasing hammerings that have been delivered on the west of Germany by British, including Dominions, and American air forces?
I speak on this matter ns an outsider, as a person who merely draws inferences from most patent facts. But the inference that I draw ‘is that there has been an enormous diversion of German air power from the west to the east and that what has been done in the west has afforded1 a most powerful sustenance to our magnificent Russian ally. Does anybody suppose that the difficulties that our troops have experienced in Italy are unrelated to what happens elsewhere ? One can only conclude that Germany, attaching great importance to keeping Allied forces in tie south of Italy, and not admitting them to the north of Italy, has powerfully reinforced its troops there. As to France, one does not know anything. One needs only to imagine things to realize that in occupied France, in momentarily defeated France, Germany must have vast forces and long prepared and powerful defences, and above all of necessity, an area to be defended against invasion which must be limited by the capacity of the. invader to put protective fighter aircraft over his invading forces.
I mention all that because if there is one thing that people- ought to understand and one thing that the Prime Minister would want the people of Australia to understand, it is that the invasion of Europe from the west, so far from being almost a formality which will prelude the defeat of Germany, will in fact be the greatest and most hazardous stroke in the history of war. If anybody has the idea that all we have to do is to look at the calendar and say, “ The wise men state that we shall win in Europe in 1944, and therefore victory will be ours in a few more months I say to him, “ You are wrong ; that is not the attitude which will win this war The attitude which will win this war is the attitude of a man who realizes that this stroke upon Europe, whenever it is delivered, and wherever it is delivered, will involve the British and American peoples in casualties, risks and hazards compared with which the whole of the casualties sustained by Great Britain and the United States of America in this war to date will become relatively small. We are not approaching, something which in the homely phrase of our American Allies, is “ a push-over “. We are approaching a great crisis in which only supreme power, backed by supreme courage and delivered with supreme vigour, will bring us victory. So I repeat that we are not approaching a year in which we just prepare ourselves to receive the garlands of victory. We are approaching a year which will be, of all years since 1940’, the most crucial that we have confronted in this war. That we shall succeed nobody will doubt, and nobody can doubt.
I had the great privilege of being in England in the early months of 1941, when as yet, apart from a few expatriated people from the smaller countries of Europe, we had no allies. It is one of any imperishable memories that at that time not only did I, as somebody living in relative security, have no doubt about victory, but also those people who lived in the midst of danger and death had no doubt about their victory. Of course we have no doubt, but we shall do well to remind ourselves, as our people all over the world will do well to remind themselves, that in this colossal assault at arms which is to come the soldier is entitled not merely to ask, but to demand of the civilian that he accept sacrifice, not as a form of words, but in reality. Every man who is to sail the perilous seas off the coast of Europe, who is to land on the coast of Europe, who is to die on the coast of Europe, has a right to say to every civilian person in our country, and in every other Allied country, “ I do not want fine words; I say to you that if your idea of sacrifice is getting exorbitant sums of money, is doing less work when you have a chance, is making and concealing better profits if you have a chance, is evading your taxes, is going into the black market, is engaging, in strikes or lockouts, or any of those other villainies that can be perpetrated in time of war, not only by bad people, but by thoughtless people, I hope you will correct it “. Because the invasion of Europe, this great coming crisis in the war, will be not only an invasion of a powerfully defended country, but an invasion still more of our whole civil life and means of living. We must understand it in that sense if we are to respond in full measure to the responsibility that we have in this struggle.
I turn from that to our own theatre of war, the war in the Pacific. In relation to that theatre I want to say one or two words. They may be regarded as words of criticism, or as words of suggestion; still, 1 shall utter them. I have never swerved from the belief that in the long run Japan is going to be defeated at home, that Japan, this enormous octopus that bestrides the Western Pacific - if an octopus can be said to bestride anything - is never to be defeated merely by nipping off a tentacle here and a tentacle there. Japan must be struck at home, and in the heart. Therefore, I have always believed - and I speak as the veriest amateur, with all the qualifications that are to be imposed on that status - that Japan will ultimately be defeated by a pincers movement, one portion of which comes from China and the other portion from the sea. I find it difficult to envisage some strategy that ultimately defeats Japan which does not include some great move that opens up Burma, that forces a way for powerful troops and powerful air forces into China, and which in doing that not only relieves those magnificent Chinese people who have done and suffered so much in this war, but also gives us bases from which we can roast these foes of ours in their paper houses. So China and the high seas, and, on the way to China, Burma and the high seas, are of tremendous importance.
I am not satisfied that our part as Australians in that war and in that programme is yet conclusively outlined. I am not satisfied - and I speak with all hesitation about matters to which some of the best brains available have been directing their attention - that the policy which appears to be a policy of jungle concentration of our best fighting men time after time, fighting disease as well as Japanese, is sufficiently related to the ultimate long-range plan for defeating Japan at home. I do not feel convinced about that, but what I do know is that it is not a matter for me to determine. It is a matter which the Prime Minister would himself unhesitatingly say is not for him as John Curtin to determine, but one to be determined by the bestmilitary brains that we have. On that subject, I could wish that we were not displaying such an amazing facility for losing some of our best military brains. I know nothing of these things or of their background, but I do know that in the
Middle East, where Australians fought great campaigns, commonly against great odds, there were men not old, but in the full flush of vigour, who achieved great repute as leaders and as staff officers, and one after one they seem to go. I am not happy about that. I am not happy to think that the victor of Syria, General Lavarack, should be abroad in some post. I am not happy to think that General Rowell, a brilliant staff officer, should be abroad in some post. I am not happy to think even that my distinguished and most learned friend, General Herring, than whom no man could be better qualified to be a Chief Justice, should be away from the Army and sitting on the judicial bench. I am not happy about General Mackay being away in India. I should be happier if I thought that the gallant leader at Tobruk, General Morshead, one of the men in this war whose name has stirred the imagination of people, was somewhere or other where his abilities could be used. We need every good military brain that we have, if the part that Australia is to play in this war is to be fully envisaged and competently performed.
It is impossible for normal persons, who merely look, and see, and think, to understand why it is that in this part of the world we must use and re-use, even if it is to the point of extinction, the three precious divisions of the Australian Imperial Force which, came back to us from abroad. I know that things are said about numbers. My friend the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) is never weary of telling us how many hundreds of thousands of people have enlisted in the armed forces, and at one stage was never weary of telling us how many people in the Militia had volunteered for service in the Australian Imperial Force. But I do know that it is an open secret that these great divisions of the Australian Imperial Force are being used again and again and again. It is not to the point for me to be told, as I undoubtedly can he told, that they are reinforced from time to time, that many of the men who served in them so magnificently, many of the men who have died in them, had been militiamen who transferred to the Australian Imperial Force. The fact still remains that you have three great Australian Imperial Force formations, famous, I am happy to say, all over the world, formations the very mention of whose name can secure applause 12,000 miles away from this country, and time after time these men go back, their survivors go back, their veterans go back, into the jungle where they fight not only Japanese, but also hardships and fever, and all the rigours »f war. There are many people in Australia with a passionate interest, a deep personal interest, in this matter, who are saying - and I suggest to the Minister that he should not ignore this - “Why is it that the fighting for this country has to be done by these magnificent veteran series of formations time after time, until in the long run we reach a point where there is no veteran, but only reinforcements?”
One of the ineffable tragedies of this struggle is that a few men in the world must apparently do so much. I was impressed and moved by a statement made to me the other day by my friend the honorable member for Balaclava, who speaks with an intimate knowledge not only of the Air Force, but also of the Army. He referred to the men who go abroad as members of an air crew, who fight over Europe, going out* on sortie after sortie, night after night, to bomb some fresh German city, who encounter German flak and German night fighters, tour after tour on duty, so that one of them may say, “I have twenty times flirted with death over Germany, and when I have been there so many more times I shall have finished a tour of operations “.
– That is’ not new to this war.
– Of course it is not new to any war, but my friend the honorable member for Ballarat will not quarrel with me, because I know that he agrees with me, when I say that the supreme tragedy of this business is that some few people should have to work and fight to exhaustion and destruction, while so many others regard war <as an occasion for ease and profit.
– What is the right honorable member’s remedy?
– My remedy in the case of the Australian Military Forces is plain enough. Not very long ago this country had very large Militia forces; so far as I know, at this very moment it still has “ substantial Militia formations, and I say quite plainly that in these campaigns - the most strenuous of all campaigns, in which, as I have said, the enemy is not only the weapon but also disease - we should not be concentrating our attention, time after time, upon the men who serve in the Australian Imperial Force. At this very moment every one of these campaigns is going on in an area in which every soldier who wears the Australian uniform can be required to fight. We have not gone beyond the line prescribed in the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Act. When I heard the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) in a most vigorous and compelling speech this afternoon talking about the difficulty of having soldiers released from the Army, I was reminded that the word “ No “ is most frequently spoken when the soldier concerned is in the Australian Imperial Force. It is just another indication of the fact - I say this to the Prime Minister with all gravity - that we are overworking, overstraining, and overtesting, these few men of the Australian Imperial Force - these three divisions among the hundreds of thousands of men who are wearing the King’s uniform.
– The right honorable gentleman might say a few words about the tributes that have been paid to the fighting efficiency of the Militia.
– I am glad that the Prime Minister has made that interjection. The right honorable gentleman has reminded me of the tributes that have been paid to the fighting qualities of the Militia. If anybody imagines that I am saying that the Militia does not want to fight, let him forget it; if anybody believes me to be saying that no Militia units have fought in this war, let him forget it. But I do say, and it cannot be contradicted, that by far the bulk of the fighting of this war, both in the Middle East and in New Guinea, has been performed by those three Australian Imperial Force divisions.
I have said that it is impossible for normal persons to understand why 30 much fighting should be concentrated upon one set of men. I am not saying that they are braver men; I do not wish to say anything that would create distinctions, because Ibelieve that every man who wears the uniform of this country is prepared to do everything that he has in him to do for this country. I believe that there are thousands of men spoiling to do something for their country; but I still say that it is impossible for normal persons to understand why it should be thought that because certain divisions are seasoned, they alone, or almost alone, must go on being seasoned in such strange country, month after month, year after year. I say also that it is not possible for normal persons to be proud of the contrast that exists between these men of whom I have spoken - the men of the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Imperial Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force, who, in the finest and most continuous spirit of sacrifice, repeatedly have faced death, hardship and disease on the sea, in the air, in the jungle or in strange countries - and that wretched minority of individuals, who, at a time like this, when as a nation and as a people we all are on trial at the bar of history, so disfigure the life of Australia by thinking that they are entitled to say, “ Let us call it a day”, “Let us go on strike’’, “Let us knock off work “, “ Let us grab while wecan “, or “Let us go on the black market “. Of course, they are a minority. If I thought they were not a minority, I, like other honorable members, should not waste five more minutes in this House. I believe in the Australian people ; Ibelieve that, we are an honest people and I believe that as a people we have courage and a sense of responsibility. [Extension of time granted.] I reserve the utmost contempt for these relatively few people in Australia who show such a shabby indifference to the fate of their own country, and such a shabby sense of irresponsibility towards those hundreds of thousands of men and women who, thank God, are to be found in this country, and whose one ambition while this war lasts is to be able to say, “ I shall do nothing, and I shall claim nothing which would disqualify me from saying that I come of the same race that fought in the skies over Great Britain and New Guinea, in the desert and the jungle, or on the deep seas of the Mediterranean”.
.- Sometimes I feel a sense of amazement at the fact that when discharging our duties, as we do, in this, the most highly protected industry in theCommonwealth - and it is our first consideration to make it a highly protected industry - we show such extraordinary knowledge of the technique of war, and such relatively little concern for obligations which rest upon us to examine causes, motives, and tendencies in war. After listening to the eloquent speech of the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) I have gathered that about some things he is unhappy. He is unhappybecause a number of distinguished personages in high positions in the Army have been moved from apparently more responsible positions to less dangerous ones. I am unhappy that persons of much lower rank and of considerably less consequence, as private soldiers in the Army, have found it so difficult in the past to impress their superiors that they should be in a position to make such a happy choice as has fallen to the lot of those distinguished gentlemen to whom the right honorable gentleman referred. I shall be unhappy so long as this horror, which we call by the polite name of war, continues. I trust that I shall bear my sorrow with decorum, and in an apparently pleasant manner, but I am afraid that I shall continue to experience a large measure of unhappiness while the war goes on. That surely is human nature; it is a sentiment which can be shared by the lady and all the gentlemen who discharge their duties in this Parliament, the first and greatest of the protected industries.
I do not wish to make an elaborate speech on the technical method of winning the war on a first or second front. I do not propose or desire to set myself up as anauthority on the conduct of war. Frankly, I am not a militarist. I have been a member of this Parliament for some years and during that time I have frequently expressed views in regard to the conduct of the war, and the ending of the war, which have been unpopular. I can recollect at least three wars in which Australia has taken an active part, ,but I do not profess to be a technician. I do not profess to know whether it is practicable or impracticable to open a second front in Europe. I desire merely to use this opportunity which has been given to us by the deliberate action of the Prime Minister himself, to say a few words upon some phases of this war as they appear to me. Like other honorable members, I come fresh from the electorate, and the one kind of courage which I think honorable members should possess in a high degree - it is the only kind of courage that is expected of them - is to say the things that are in them to be said; to repeat without fear or favour, the things they submitted to the electorate which returned them. If a man has not that kind of courage he is out of place in this Parliament.
I have been reminded by the useful »nd informative speech which the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) delivered yesterday of one or two things which I desire to say and to have printed in Ilansard, with all the risks that are entailed in having one’s opinion recorded in Hansard in a time of war.
First, I wish to say that there is a singular lack of authoritative opinion, on a matter of great interest and importance which I have not heard referred to in government circles, but which was mentioned in the press on the 2nd, the 3rd and probably the 4th December last. Honorable members will recollect that, in late November, three distinguished national leaders met at Cairo. I refer to President Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. In a somewhat vague and inconclusive way, we were led to believe that discussions took place, and decisions were made, concerning the war in its relation to Australia. There was a discussion of things that were to happen to the Japanese Empire before the Allied Nations were done with it. An extension of war aims was forecast, but the Australian Government was not mentioned, nor was General MacArthur. The report to which I refer seems to have originated in an American newspaper, but it was also given great prominence in the Australian press. It was represented in certain sections of the press that a joint statement had been made by the three distinguished gentlemen whom I have named. It is to be noted also that the statement got past the censor, which gives it added importance. The substance of the statement attributed to this distinguished triumvirate was, in its general effect, that Japan was to bc brought to its knees by unrelenting pressure from the land, sea and air, and that the war aims were to go far beyond the defensive purposes which we had in view at the time war was declared. If I understand the statement correctly, Japan was o be stripped of territories which it had acquired with our acquiescence. It was also to be stripped of islands in the Pacific which it had seized or occupied since the first world war, and of all territories stolen - that was the word used - from the Chinese. Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores were to be restored to China and Japan was to be expelled from all territories which it had taken by violence and greed. Mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, that territory was to become free and independent. Apparently we were so annoyed, and justly annoyed, with Japan’s treacherous attack, not on Australian, but on American territory, that we intended to give full play to the lust for revenge. It seemed that many of the things which Japan had done, with either our expressed approval or our silent assent, had become hideous in our eyes. As one who has come fresh from the electors, and who is conscious of the responsibility that devolves upon him as a member of this Parliament, I take leave to say that I would not sacrifice one Australian mother’s son to secure the freedom of Korea - not one! Korea was subject to Japan for years before the last war, and tie members of the British Commonwealth of Nations were well, aware of that fact. I think it can be said safely that the great majority of the 25,000,000 people of Korea do not like the Japanese. I would not expect them to like the Japanese. I do not like them for the same reason. The Korean” are possibly a simple and primitive people who would be satisfied to “carry on their affairs in their own ways. They naturally do not like the imperialist ambitions of the Japanese war lords any more than I do. But there is no proof that they would like the oversight of the British Commonwealth of Nations any better than they like Japanese dominance. There is certainly no proof that they would welcome us coming to them with the gift of their independence in our pockets.
Mr. Rankin interjecting,
– If I had the advantage of hearing what the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) said I might be tempted to indulge in some disorder on my own account.
– And thereby get into trouble!
– I have no doubt that I should be subjected to effective correction. But as I do not know what the honorable member said nor, as one of my colleagues near me remarks, does any other honorable member, it would be difficult for me to make an effective reply.
The whole unpleasant incident, with its spread-eagleism, its imperialism, its vengefulness, and its recklessness calls aloud to high heaven for repudiation, going far to misrepresent the defensive nature of the war that we are fighting, and the purposes that we have in view. I do not believe that these distinguished gentlemen ever made such statements, because I think that while none of them, with the possible exception of Chiang Kai-shek, has given conspicuous support to the democratic theory of government, all these gentlemen are quite familiar with the constitutional position of the British. Commonwealth of Nations. Certainly, none is charged with the responsibility for the safety and good government of Australia. Under the Statute of “Westminster, that belongs to the Australian Government. Indeed, whether the statute had been passed or not, the responsibility would still have so belonged; because, after all, the adoption of the Statute by this House, so ceremoniously and, I consider, wisely carried through by the Minister for External Affairs as a senior Minister in the Government, was merely matter for lawyers to peck at. T should say that this attitude of leaning on the Mother Country is one of the most potent reasons for the neglect, by gentlemen who are now safely in Opposition, of the defences of this country, and their embarkation upon Imperial schemes which far transcend their responsibility and our means. The cachinnation of the honorable member’ for Bendigo is intended to convey the idea that he is amused; but I, at all events, am not convinced that he is. It will be remembered that this war, in its origin, was declared by Mr. Chamberlain to be, so he thought, a last resort for the protection of Europe, and especially of Poland, against the hosts of Hitler. While Poland was reeling under the blows that were directed at it ‘from the west, it was set upon by the Russian armies from the east. This, whilst a practical issue of great importance, also created for our friends in Britain an embarrassment which had its conclusion in the authoritative statement on behalf of the British Government, that we had guaranteed the integrity of Poland, not against the world or even against any other country, but only against Germany. Thereafter, the question ceased to be one as to whether or not Poland had been outraged, but only as to who had outraged it. Meantime, the right honorable mem’ber for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), who preceded me this evening, made the public declaration that Mr. Chamberlain had declared war; “ and therefore “, he said, “ Australia is at war with Germany”. The real importance of that statement lay in those words, “and therefore”; that made a short cut possible for the right honorable member for Kooyong. It relieved him of much wobbling uncertainty as to whether he was against or for the adoption of the Statute; he no longer had to decide that very difficult question. I must say, if I am challenged, that the then Opposition did not display much interest in the matter; it accepted the position mildly, even without discussion. The position in relation to Japan, however, was different. The Australian Government declared war on Japan. The question does not now arise for discussion as to whether it acted- rightly or wrongly. I am merely putting the point that Australia, took a different stand in regard to Japan from that which it had taken in regard to Germany. Since our declaration of war on the Japanese Empire, our armies and those of the United States of America have been carrying on the conflict with such help as Britain, with its manifold difficulties, has been able to give to us. I must say that the United States of America and Australia have done remarkably well. It may be said that we have followed along conventional lines. At all events, this country has been successfully defended.
I have mentioned what occurred at Cairo, and the newspaper versions of it - especially the particular version that was published in America and republished in Australia - because in my opinion the time has come when the Government ought to give consideration to the definition of our war aims. It is not sufficient to say that our aim is conquest. The instance I have cited proves that it is not sufficient or satisfying to say “victory “. Something more is due to those who are required to put their lives to the hazard; something more is due to those who die. It is very difficult for a nation that is fighting a defensive war to raise the question of the terms of peace, to define its war aims. The psychological aspect of the matter has to be considered. [Extension of time granted.’] I admit the difficulty. It was particularly difficult when - and this was our position some few months ago - we were really getting the worst of the encounter and were threatened with still worse to come. In such circumstances, it would be very difficult to raise the question of stating the terms of peace. But that condition has passed. We now have the authority of the Prime Minister for the statement that we are no longer fighting a defensive war but are proceeding to fight an offensive war to a successful conclusion. But the instance I have cited makes it evident that there is still more than ample room for difference of opinion as to what we are actually fighting for. Generally, since this Government has been in power, events have moved to our advantage. I have been willing to concede, and apparently the electorate as a whole agrees with my view, that in the defence of this country the Government has done a good job. But now the question is one of defining our terms, the balance apparently having swung definitely in our favour, great and menacing though the difficulties ahead may be. After all, those difficulties depend largely upon what our war aims really are. My war aim has always been the defence of Australia, not solely or’ wholly by military measures, let me hasten to add, but also by measures designed to create international goodwill and to anticipate by that method the threat of war. That has always been my view. We have a precedent for defining our terms in the splendid declaration for peace made by the Australian Labour party in the course of the last war, and made, significantly enough^ at Perth, the home city of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). That declaration should be an inspiration to us now. It should be remembered that the Australian Labour movement was not in its origin and inspiration a militarist party. It was, and, I hope, still is, the contrary. The Australian Labour party came into being to fight an enemy within the gates. It fought that enemy with courage and success, and has overthrown it. I would ask the Australian Labour party, when it speaks, and rightly speaks, of the imperishable names of those who have given their lives for their country, to remember also that something is due to those who suffered, and in some cases died,i for loyalty to the Labour movement. Remembering that, and remembering that the Australian Labour party is not a militarist party, remembering also_ that the enemy which it has overthrown is not dead, but is alive, awake, alert and awaiting his opportunity, I ask the party to be true to its best traditions. Its ideal was peace with other nations. Its ideal was the right to take its part in the government of this country. The founders of the Labour movement said that, if we do that in this vast continent, we shall have discharged in full measure our duty for the pacification of the world as well as our duty to our own country. I would say of those men who have suffered for the Australian Labour party: “Let their names not be dishonoured “. Let us not be guided by hatred or ill will,, but with minds still fixed, as those who went before us had their minds fixed, upon justice to all. Let us seek to define anew the aims for which this war is being fought so that we may end this dreadful scourge at the earliest possible moment.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) discoursed in an interesting way on international affairs and drew attention to many pointers on international movements to-day. He concluded with an exhortation that we should render all possible assistance to Great Britain. I think even the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) would not deny that that is so. He has made reference to his policy being one of peace. ‘That was the policy in Norway, but nobody in Norway to-day can raise his voice in a legislative hall to speak of peace. The -only Norwegians who fight to-day are those on British soil. They fight because Britain protects them, as it has protected itself and civilization. With the sentiments of the Prime Minister we are much in agreement. It is good to know that the right honorable gentleman can lift his eyes beyond domestic affairs, and beyond an isolationist policy, which in fact has supporters in this country, to greater things. Shortly, he will go -overseas. I believe that there his perspective will be still further enlarged, and that his great eloquence will be heard. He will meet men who will, I think, bring to his mind, even more rapidly than it is coming today, the fact that our safety is dependent on the safety of the British Empire. Even if our population were doubled we could not defend ourselves. Recognition of that fact is given in the agreement recently reached between Australia and New Zealand. But does anybody suppose that, a regional agreement of that kind is sufficient for our defence? It is a grand gesture, and it is good to see that we have unity of purpose with our sister dominion. After all, that unity was consummated in 1915, when the word “ Anzac “ was created. The biggest problem that confronts us is the victorious conclusion of this war. That transcends all else. We must not be diverted from our objective. But I am afraid that in Australia we are apt to lose our sense of perspective. I have been back in Australia for only a few months, and I find that apart from men and women in the
Services there is a great deal of unreality in Australia. We hear about troubles on the industrial front that should not exist; all our energy should be exerted in the direction of bringing the “war to a swift conclusion. Are not 20,000 of our own men prisoners of war in the hands of a barbarous race? We must completely defeat that nation, and see that it does not again have an opportunity to commit atrocities upon civilized people.
Germany, to-day, is suffering .heavy punishment. It took up the sword and it shall suffer by the .sword. Day and night bombing of German -cities has continued throughout the year. The Royal Air Force has carried out night bombing raids of a magnitude which could hardly have been imagined even at the beginning of the war. Although any human being must regard the destruction of cities by bombing raids as a hideous form of warfare, that was the weapon which the Germans chose. They tried it on Great Britain, which, unarmed and alone, came into the war of its own free will on our side. It defeated Germany in the skies when a handful of fighter boys outclassed the much-vaunted Luftwaffe, which could not compete with us in quality of aircraft or personnel. Under cover of the wings of the Royal Air Force, Britain re-organized and reformed its defence forces, and thoroughly mobilized its industries for war. The continuous bombing of Germany has had a greater effect on the morale of the German people than has been brought to our notice in the press. Bomb tonnages perhaps convey little to the lay mind. Neither London nor Coventry, in their worst blitzes, received as much as 500 tons of bombs in one attack. Although 80 per cent, of the houses in Coventry were either shattered or utterly destroyed that city never had more than 450 tons of bombs rained upon it at one time, yet nightly, some German cities receive in half an hour at least 1,000 tons of bombs dropped with precision. In the early days of bombing Germany the aim was more or less haphazard, but now, with the aid of the Pathfinders and split-hair navigation, our bombers, flying through the marker beacons of the Pathfinders, are discovering their objectives and destroy- ing the cities of the Ruhr. In the winter nights they are going even farther afield, as Mr. Churchill warned the Germans they would do. And the fires smoking in Berlin will be the funeral pyre of Nazi hopes. Do honorable members realize the full significance of that? It is easy to talk in a Parliament in Australia, in great safety and shelter, but. Great britain has lost some 50;000 lives through bombing and over 60,000 of its people have been injured. If, instead of some of the precious Australian lives that have been lost in New Guinea and elsewhere, our cities had been bombed so that there would be evidence of it,, as evidence of bombing is available in London and all the provincial towns, I do not think there would be so much unreality as exists in this country.
Great Britain is heavily rationed. Of its adult population of 33,000,000, 22,000,000 are in full-time work in the services, with practically everybody else in the Home Guard and in the Air Raid Precautions and other services. Two out of every three Britishers between the ages of 34 and 65 years are doing full-time work. Three out of every four boys between the ages of fourteen and seventeen years, and nearly the same number of girls, are doing war-time work. In the ordnance factories only 7f per cent, of the workers are skilled men, as many as 70 per cent, being women and the others unskilled men.. They work 56 hours a week, and only one in 50,000 is ever punished for absenteeism. That is a valuable lesson for us in industry on the home front. I am sure that the Minister for “War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) will agree with that. This spirit was born of the fact that the people suffered in common, whereas here the sacrifice has been unequal. The men of the Australian Imperial Force who fought in the Middle East, in Greece, and in Crete, and who arc now fighting in New Guinea, have borne the bulk of the sacrifices, while the majority of our people, who take no risk and who sleep in their beds of a night, have been called upon to make few sacrifices. Service is a personal thing which must be rendered individually. It does not consist in spending money or in making speeches.
That is why I say that when the Prime Minister goes to Great Britain he will see much to enlighten him. Members of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation who visited Great Britain had their eyes opened and, no matter to what political party they belonged, they came back with their hearts full at the spectacle of service - quite apart from sacrifice, because that is- taken for granted - which they witnessed.
The task immediately before us is the destruction of the arch enemy, the Nazis. In this we are fortunate in having with us our great English-speaking allies, the people of the United States of America. During 1943, the Royal Air Force dropped 136,000 tons of bombs on Germany,, whereas- the total weight of bombs dropped on Great Britain during the whole period of the German air offensive against that country amounted to only 65,000 tons. Included in the Royal Air Force, and with it engaged in the offensive upon Germany, are many Australian squadrons. More than 50 per cent, of air crews now in the Royal Air Force have been drawn from the Dominions under the Empire Air Training scheme. Thus, night after night, the attack continues on those German cities which are the centre of war industries.. In the day-time, the American Air Force takes up the task, and in massed formation, protected by their own fighters and by fighters from the Royal Air Force, they fly deep into Germany. It must be remembered that the air casualties there are a great deal higher proportionately than in any other theatre of war. We should also remember that the bombing of Germany, and the destruction of its war potential, has been just as much responsible for the neutralization of the Luftwaffe as the attacks of our own fighters. The continual attack has drawn German fighters away from the Russian front. The Russian Army could not have achieved its victories were it not for the masses of aircraft and tanks which were sent to Russia from Great Britain at a time when Great Britain itself was hard pressed at home. At the same time, Great Britain organized the Empire Air Training Scheme, which is perhaps the most powerful weapon forged in this war. Even during its period of greatest distress Great Britain sent us Beaufighters as well as Ansons for training to help in our fight against the Japanese. At the same time, Britain was sending convoys of war material to Russia under the protection of the Royal Navy. We all recall the story of the fearful trips by convoys to northern Russian ports. When I make this reference to the work of the Royal Navy I am not looking particularly at the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) who said things about that Navy which I am sure he does not now believe.
– I never at any time in my life said one word in disparagement of the British Navy.
– There is something in Hansard on the subject, but I accept the honorable member’s word. An Austalian squadron flew to Russia, where it fought side by side with Russian fliers, and when our men returned they left their aircraft with the Russians. An immense quantity of aircraft and tanks for Russia was also sent through Persia from Great Britain and the United States of America.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to those people who, all along, have been clamouring for the opening of a second front. I heard some of them in Great Britain. There are people who scribble on walls who seem to think that they know more of military strategy than do the trusted leaders of the fighting services. The second front will be opened in due course. As a matter of fact, I call the war in the air against Germany, a second front, and the war in Italy a third front. I wonder whether honorable members realize how difficult the war in Italy really is. The Russian front has never been static because it is so extensive. There the Germans can withdraw huge distances without seriously hampering their defence, but in Italy we are fighting on a peninsula larger but in some respects similar to the Gallipoli peninsula. There has been fierce and bitter fighting in Italy against the Germans who, operating at the end of shortened lines of communication, are able to throw in picked troops in defence of the front which they have established. It would be foolish for us to assume that the war is as good as won. There are many grim and sad days still ahead of us. Some people thought that Turkey was our ally but although four years- have elapsed since the outbreak of die war, no one yet knows what Turkey will do. I think that I made a prediction here on the subject at the beginning of the war. Great Britain is still the spearhead of the attack against Germany, but ultimately the great masses of men and material required to win the war must come from the United States of America. Germany is working upon interior lines, and hitherto this fact has always given Germany victory at the outset of its campaigns. Now, with the advent of aerial war, Germany is finding that those who fight on external lines from the air have the advantage, because their factories are far beyond the range of German bombers, whereas we can reach every part of Germany with our air attack. The fact remains, however, that Germany has masses of men waiting for further offensives, and therefore we must think of those men who are to engage in the final assault upon the German Army.
The sooner Germany is defeated the sooner will Mr. Churchill’s promise be honoured, and the total resources of the Allies turned against the Japanese, whose attack has for so long been held up by the Americans and ourselves. In the Japanese we are facing an enemy of a type even more barbarous than the Nazis, an enemy who has gained great efficiency with weapons, and who is quite ruthless in his treatment of those who fall into his power. I do not wish to say anything to harrow the feelings of those whose relatives are in Japanese hands, but these things have already been fairly well publicized through reports from the United States of America and elsewhere. Japan, by striking treacherously at the United States of America and temporarily immobilizing that country, and by striking against Singapore, conquered an Empire three times greater than the original Japanese territory. The Japanese now have under their control some 30,000,000 former British subjects. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that to attack the Japanese, island by island, and position by position, must be very costly. Nevertheless, it is grand to see that our nien have gained the upper hand, and wherever they meet the Japanese man for man are able to defeat them. However, we must compare numbers, and remember that we are 7,000,000 people pitted against a nation of 80,000,000. Therefore, we are grateful for American help, and are glad that a strategic offensive has developed, in the Mid-Pacific. The attack on the Marshall Islands, if successful - which it will be - and when further extended, will give us bases and air strips from which it will be possible to bomb Japan. The strategy of the Japanese has been sound in peace as in war. . The seizure of . Pacific islands and of Asiatic territory was for the purpose of protecting the Japanese homeland from attack, and we are still fighting on the fringes of the territory that the Japanese have conquered. However, the offensive in the Marshalls will enable the Allied forces to attack Tokio itself, and that will be the quickest way in which to bring this barbarous nation to its knees.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the splendid work of the Australian Imperial Force, and made some reference to its leaders. I shall not comment on this, but refer to the Air Force and offer the helpful suggestion to the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) that some revolutionary appointments could well be made in the Royal Australian Air Force. We have an excellent Air Force, but it must be remembered that an air force is different in one important respect from an army or a navy. If a general suffers defeat in command of his division he is penalized. It is the same with an admiral of the fleet or a captain of a ship, but in the air force it is the air crews, including officers who command squadrons, wings and groups, who bear the brunt. I say this without any desire to detract from the importance of the duties of staff officers and higher officers in the Air Force who must also know their work thoroughly. In the Royal Australian Air Force there are only two officers of the rank of Air Commodore or higher who are not members of the permanent forces. I should like to see the way open for the appointment to the higher posts of men who are not members of the permanent Air Force. In the Army, such members of the citizen forces as Lieu tenant-General Sir Edmund Herring, Lieutenant-General Sir Leslie Morshead, and Major-General Savige, of this war, and General Monash, our great leader of the last war, and several others, rose to positions of high command. I suggest that among the thousands of men in the Royal Australian Air Force, so many of whom have served with distinction, there are many deserving of promotion to the higher positions. We have been told that there are 15,000 Australians serving in air crews abroad, and that is the equivalent of three divisions of infantry, because members of air crews are all fighting men.
– It is the equivalent of even more than three divisions.
– Well, add another 5,000. I know our total figures generally, but cannot disclose them. But with ancillary troops that is the equivalent of about three army divisions. Men who started their Air Force career with the classification of AC2 are now commanding fighter wings in Great Britain or leading some famous bomber squadrons. And in the Royal Air Force they have been given higher commands than they would have received in the Royal Australian Air Force. I suggest tha.t citizen airmen should receive at least as much encouragement as is given to citizen soldiers and younger men of both categories encouraged. As the figures have been given in the press there is no harm in saying that the casualties in each major air operation are about 5 per cent, of those taking part. That means that, on a law of averages, a man becomes a casualty after not more than twenty operations. On two occasions ,in this House I have asked that a definite policy on rotation of service be decided on. I believe that there is something in contemplation, but I do urge that our young airmen who are scattered throughout the world should know where they stand. Just as in the last war, men had some idea of when they would be eligible to return home, so now men should know that after a certain period they will have the opportunity to remove to another front. In advocating that, I realize that it may not always be possible to remove men at any predetermined time, or in large numbei’3, but I do urge that a definite plan be laid down, and that the men be advised of it. I speak feelingly on this subject because I know the views of the men, and also ‘because I have received many letters from their relatives about it.
I return to the Prime Minister’s speech in which he exhorted us to do our best for Great Britain. This is a matter for reciprocal action. In my opinion, it is fatal to believe that a desirable future can be built on new foundations without taking into account what has been done in the past, and what is now taking place. If the British Empire were scrapped, civilization would go with it. At the present time Nazi-ism is crumbling to pieces, and Communism is becoming democratic. As members of the British Empire we have not governments of coercion, such as those which rule under Nazi-ism or Communism, but a democratic system of government embodying tolerance and justice. We have regarded the blessings which we enjoy much too cheaply because here we have not had to fight for them. There is danger in being too internationally minded. It is true that we should strive to live in amity with other nations, but it would be a grave disaster to civilization should Great Britain and the United States of America drift apart. There may be little differences which divide the peoples of those countries, but those differences are as nothing compared with the great principles which unite them. The two great English-speaking peoples must hold together. It is too little realized that the British Empire is a league of nations in existence, not merely on paper. It has existed for a long time. If one said much about the British Empire in times of peace one would be branded as a jingo. I agree that a man who merely makes speeches and waves flags is a jingo. Actions should back his words. There is no need to apologize for the British Empire. It has saved the world. When war came it went to the rescue of the victims of aggression. The League of Nations was a “paper” league, and was not capable of doing anything because it did not have a strong right arm. The honorable member for Batman (Mi-. Brennan) would have Great Britain disarm. He admitted that when he went to Geneva Australia had disarmed. Where would we be to-day if Great Britain had remained on that basis ? I repeat that there is great danger in thinking internationally. Although I admit that that kind of thinking is right taking a long view, we must keep our loyalties right. Our first loyalty is to Australia. We must see that this continent, which we obtained under the cover of the British flag, and which we have developed well for a century and a half although it is not yet sufficiently peopled, is safe from aggression. Even taking into account the fact that Australia contains much useless country, a population of two persons to the square mile compares unfavorably with the 44,000,000 inhabitants of Great Britain, or the teeming millions in parts of continental Europe and many Asiatic countries. For that reason we must stand together as a family, and realize that Great Britain is necessary to us not only in times of war but also under peace conditions. Some time ago I had the privilege of hearing an oration by Field-Marshal Smuts - a man who once fought against the British Empire - in which he said, “ This is the British Empire’s glory - to have stood in the breach and to have kept the way open to man’s vast future “. We must never forget what the world owes to the British Empire. When the armistice is signed, a difficult period of negotiation will begin. All sorts of difficulties will then have to be faced ; and that is why we cannot to-day formulate the aims for which we are fighting.
– Why not?
– At this stage we do not know what difficulties will arise in Europe. Other nations will probably ask that Great Britain will adjudicate between them. Mr. Herbert made an amusing forecast of what might happen after the war, when the defeated Germans and other defeated peoples ask Great Britain to take the chair at the International Commission to decide national boundaries, fix reparations, and the like. According to Mr. Herbert, the British Foreign Minister might then say, “ We will not take any part in the proceedings. We are interested only in winning the war. You can settle the rest among yourselves “. That reply would cause great discomfiture to other nations. Great Britain’s help is essentia] in the world to-day. I speak earnestly, because the dangers from within the Empire may be nearly as great as those from without if we do not support the high principles for which the Empire stands. Recently, when there was a good deal of criticism of British policy, Mr. Churchill said, “ I have not become the King’s first Minister in order to preside at the liquidation of the British Empire”. I do not apologize for returning to this subject which, in large measure, has been forgotten. It affords a subject for urgent study.
– It is in conflict with the Atlantic Charter.
– No. There is nothing in the Atlantic Charter that is incompatible.
– What about selfgovernment for India?
– India’s problems are probably unknown to the Minister for Transport and External Territories (Mr. Ward). I know something of the difficulties confronting those who would do the best for India. I know, too, of the devotion of many Indians to the British. India’s problems are largely internal, and are no more easily adjusted than are the problems which Australia has to face in dealing with its coal-miners and its stevedores. If the Minister were to bring forward a proposal for the selfgovernment of Papua after the wai’, or if the honorable member for Batman wished to arrange cultural relations with the Hottentots, thousands of supporters for such policies would be found. Does any one ever suggest the formation of a society to praise the British Empire? Yet that Empire could fall to pieces jas far as they are concerned. We should thank God that such great men as the present British Prime Minister have come forward to lead the nation, and that other great men direct the destinies of the nations with which we are -allied. I shall conclude by referring to the declaration of President Roosevelt, “Mr. Churchill and Marshal Stalin at the recent conference held at Teheran. The mention of Marshal Stalin should please the Minister for Transport and External Territories. I remind him that I have lived in Russia and know something of what has taken place in that country, whereas he has probably gained a wrong impression from some of the books which he has read. Russia is fast becoming a democracy. When Mr. Molotov visited London he was escorted to a number of places including Marble Arch. The Minister may know that that area is similar to the Sydney Domain in that at both places demagogues stand on soap-boxes and tell the crowd how to set the world right. Mr. Molotov hearing one soapbox orator addressing a crowd, asked, “ What is that man talking about ?” The reply was, “ Communism “, He then asked what the man was saying, which was interpreted: “He is attacking the Government” Mr. Molotov laughed and said, “ We would shoot him in Moscow. We allow no opposition there “. [Extension of time granted.] The declaration which the three great leaders to whom I have referred subscribed at Teheran was as follows : -
We shall seek co-operation and active participation of all nations, large and small, whose peoples in heart and mind are dedicated, as our own peoples, to the elimination of tyrrany, slavery, oppression and intolerance. We will welcome them as they may choose to come into the world family of democratic nations.
To that declaration I would add my own : “ Great Britain has all the machinery, for Britons have been trained in diplomatic work. Its leaders have negotiated with all the nations of the world. The British Empire, comprising a quarter of the world, has been held intact and in peace over the years, and British administration has set an example of good government to the world. It is up to the Prime Minister of Australia when he goes abroad to lift up his voice and say so”.
– I shall not take up the time of the House in trying to outdo those members of the Opposition who pose as strategists in the present global struggle, but I compliment the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) on having so clearly shown that, because the position of the Allied Nations has so improved as te visualize victory, we should now turn our thoughts to what is to come after victory has been achieved. Honorable members opposite, in their usual flagwaving speeches, would try to make us believe that those who previously controlled affairs in Great Britain and Australia made no mistakes and did not neglect to prepare defences.
The terms of peace are very important. The workers of this and other countries are anxious to know what is to come after peace. It is significant that honorable gentlemen opposite and their confreres overseas, the conservative element in Great Britain, when they were in real peril and when it seemed that the Nazi hordes were likely to succeed unless they were able to arouse the enthusiasm of the people to oppose the Nazis, told us that when the war ended we were to have a new order and that there would be no return to the evils which existed before the war. But, as the fortunes of war have changed and the prospect of victory for the Allies is brighter they now forget the promises they made and say, “We must prevent any radical changes. All we desire after the war is that there shall be greater and greater opportunities for private enterprise “. Unless socialism is established throughout the world at the end of this war, many millions of men will have died in vain, because, without socialism, it is inevitable that there shall be a further conflict. Surely the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) is fully aware of the fact that already, even before victory is assured to the United Nations, commercial interests are manoeuvring for advantage, one against the other. Capitalism breeds war. Capitalists produce not to supply their own people, but in order that they might sell their goods in a profitable market. Therefore, as soon as the war ends, the enormous industrial development which has taken place in every country, including Australia, whose industry has developed to a stage never previously contemplated, will, unless industry is socialized’ throughout the world, be used in a spirit of bitter competition which inevitably will bring the nations once more into conflict. The Australian capitalists will be looking with envious eyes on the markets of the world because they know that our secondary industries are capable of producing much more than, having regard to present living standards, we can consume locally. Great Britain is no different from any other capitalist country in that regard. Lest honorable members should misunderstand me, I point out that when I criticize Great Britain I do not criticize the people of Great Britain. They have been wonderful fighters for democracy and have taken a leading part in the struggles over the years for the maintenance of the people s rights and liberties. I refer to the ruling class, the people responsible for the degradation amongst the common people of Great Britain. We must not be unmindful of the fact that under the system of private enterprise, before war absorbed them, there were millions of unemployed in Great Britain. The same state of affairs existed here. Among the first volunteers into the Australian Imperial Force, were men who had been denied a living in their own country and who sought in the Army a better standard of living than they had been able to obtain in days ‘of peace. So, when this war finishes, one thing we must ensure is that there shall be no more exploitation of the people.
The honorable member for Balaclava referred to the part that Great Britain has played in this war. He said that it rushed to the aid of the victim. I take it that his reference was to Poland. He did not tell us why Britain did not rush to the aid of other victims of the Nazis. He did. not tell us why it did not rush to the aid of Czechoslovakia when Russia was prepared to do so. We know why. It was because the British conservative interests did not trust the Soviet. They were even prepared to risk the safety of Europe, the safety of Great Britain and the safety of the world itself because they were afraid of the Soviet power. Those are facts. If the controlling interests in Great Britain and Prance could have been assured that the advance of the Nazis would be to the East against Soviet Russia, the conservative elements in Britain and Prance would have been prepared to stay out of the conflict and allow the Nazis and the Bolsheviks to fight it out. Those facts must he faced. Honorable gentlemen opposite are of the same type as the individuals in this country who, at the termination of the last war, said that it was a waa1 to end all wars. The end of that war was only an armistice. The end of this war will also be only an armistice unless socialism is established throughout the world. It will be an armistice only until the conflicting vested interests in the capitalist countries can develop strength to fight another war which will bring about the destruction of many more workers. When we say, “What are we fighting for?” we must remember that millions of workers throughout the United Nations are asking the same question. All are agreed on the imperative need of securing victory over the Nazi aggressors, but all likewise desire to know what is to come after victory is secured. Those who listened to the speech of the Prime Minister must have been impressed with at least one thing, namely, that the defence of this country and the Allied cause in this theatre of war were immeasurably strengthened from the moment that the Labour party took office. The Australian people, who know that, want more than victory, they want the fruits of victory. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), who talked about industrial stoppages and compared strikers with the traitorous black marketers, amazed me by his effrontery, for the black marketers are the supporters of the Opposition parties. The lawyers of this country, of whom he claims to be proud to be one, go into the courts and defend the black-marketers. There have been industrial stoppages of great magnitude in Great Britain. Surely the honorable member, who applauds the efforts of the British people in defending themselves and making possible the defence of democracy throughout the world, would not charge the British people with being disloyal. There have been industrial upheavals involving millions of workers in the United States of America. Honorable gentlemen opposite have nothing to say about that. The people can rest assured that these armchair critics and those old ladies who criticize the workers at tea-parties but never make an honest contribution to the war effort of this nation must recognize that the defence of Australia and offensive action against the enemy could never be possible without the support of many thousands of Australian workmen. To condemn them without examining and trying to remove the causes of their troubles is wrong. It is of no use blaming this Government, for it is administering a country where capitalism prevails and where all the machinery, including the legal machinery, is directed towards the preservation of private property and profits. It is because the privileged people want to retain their hold on their privileges that they are not prepared to make any sacrifices and protest against every restriction imposed. They talk about the failure of the workers to co-operate, but it is not the workers who complain about restrictions such as the rationing of meat and other products. There may have been certain grumblings concerning the application of the scheme ; but there is hardly a worker in this country who complains after the facts have been explained to him. The opposition to such measures comes from supporters and friends of honorable members opposite such as members of the Master Butchers Federation. They . are afraid of government control. They say that rationing is a step towards the introduction of socialism, and, therefore, they must resist such control with all their power. Consequently, they are prepared to go to any lengths in order to defeat the Government’s ends even though they damage the nation’s war effort. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), who is in control of rationing, has produced evidence that these men were even provoking industrial stoppages in order to prevent the application of meat rationing. Honorable members opposite speak a>bout giving all aid to Great Britain. With those sentiments all honorable members concur; but I recollect that shortly after the outbreak of war honorable members on this side, including the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), the ex-member for Bourke and I pointed out that it was unwise to denude this country of its man-power because by doing so we were actually rendering a disservice to the Allied cause. At that time honorable members opposite were clamouring for the despatch overseas of a number of divisions of Australian troops. We then pointed out that the most effective role Australia could play in the war was that of the great supplier to the Allied nations, and that we should devote our efforts to building up supplies to that end. That view has been proved to be correct.. It was clear that we could render far more effective help to our Allies as a supplier of food rather than as a supplier of military forces.. Honorable members opposite now charge the Government with bungling the manpower problem, whereas had they paid heed to the views we expressed at the time to which I refer, this country would not to-day be denuded of man-power. On the contrary, our agricultural industries would now be able to produce to their maximum capacity and fulfil the needs of Allied nations, and we should not have the present chaotic state of affairs under which we are obliged to seek the discharge of men from the armed services to remedy the shortage of manpower in those industries. When honorable members ^opposite make such charges they should remember that the governments which they supported were responsible for the policy which drained rural industry of its essential man-power, and, despite our representations on the matter, refused to abandon that, policy. The Labour Government took office in 1941, and within a few months, after examining the position, we diverted to rural industries the man-power which was denied to them by our predecessors, and we took steps to protect those industries from further depletion of their manpower resources. Honorable members opposite are so illogical that they want everybody in the armed services and at the same time they want to see everybody employed in industry. They want to burn the candle at both ends. Obviously, it is impossible to have all our man-power in the armed services and in industry at the same time.
I point out to the honorable member for Balaclava that one of our great disadvantages in the present conflict has been the fact, that the native peoples over whom we had control - and I now refer to Great Britain - were not so enthusiastically pro-British as one would imagine after experiencing many years of the alleged benefits of British colonial administration.
– Where did that happen ?
– In the Malay peninsula. Some doubt also exists as to the loyalty of great numbers of Indians to the British cause. In Malaya, troops had to be withdrawn from the firing line in order to discharge cargo from ships because native labourers at Singapore deserted. In spite of the “ hifalutin “ talk of honorable members opposite, the natives saw no reason to be enthusiastic in defending a form of government which had kept them in a state of illiteracy and semi-starvation.
– What nonsense!
– The honorable member who has told us that he knows much about India probably saw that country from the inside of an officers’ club. I. do not deny that, whilst the honorable member has been in India I have never visited that country, but, recently, when I discussed this subject with a member of our air force upon his return from Burma, he told me that it was an absolute disgrace to find some fashionable hotels in Calcutta serving meals up to fourteen and fifteen courses whilst within eyesight of those hotels poor unfortunate natives were dying of starvation by the thousand. Is it not a fact that cocktail parties were continued even when the enemy was getting dangerously close to Singapore? I have heard it said that the military caste in that theatre of war spent the bulk of their time at such parties, and were in a semidrunken state, when they should have been attending to their military duties. To-day, unfortunately, as the result of that outlook some of the best of our manpower are now languishing in prisonerofwar camps. I draw attention to the remarks of honorable members opposite because I am genuinely anxious to witness the defeat of the Nazis and Fascists. I want the workers of this country and of other countries to reap the full benefits of victory. Honorable members opposite know as well as I -do that to-day a move is on foot to lower, or to abolish, Australian tariffs. The free trader abroad will applaud that policy because it means the destruction of Australian industries. They recognize the difficulties inherent in international capitalism. I want to see our factories remain in production. I was very pleased to read the pronouncement by the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin), supported by the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron), that the factories which have been built up with public revenue should be retained after the war not only for the manufacture of munitions and defence equipment, but should also be used to their full capacity to provide the everyday needs of our community in order to .maintain for them a higher standard of living. However, the moment statements of. that kind are made, honorable members opposite point to them as evidence that the Government wishes to introduce .socialism. What is so dreadful about socialism? I wonder whether honorable gentlemen opposite recognize that the wonderful achievements of the Soviet in this conflict were not made possible by private enterprise at all, but simply because private enterprise does not exist in the Soviet Union. Russia’s power has been built upon the basis of state-owned industries. The Russians were realistic. They foresaw the dangers that lay ahead and prepared to combat them. But had Russia depended upon private enterprise it would have proved just as soft a proposition for the Nazis as it proved in the conflict of 1914-18. In that war, Russia was the weak link in the Allied chain; to-day it is the strongest link because it has government industries, which have been located throughout the country on a plan designed to benefit the nation and not any particular capitalist whose one desire is to exploit the people. The Russians regarded the nation’s good as the predominant factor and, consequently, they established their most important industries far in the interior. They -were put there because the Russians were realists and prepared against the inevitable Nazi onslaught.
Honor.able gentlemen opposite declare that the .removal of private enterprise would destroy initiative and cause a country to stagnate. More progress has been made in Soviet Russia in 25 years, having regard to the backward and illiterate state of the people at the commencement of the regime, than has been achieved by any capitalist country in ten times that period. Consider the difficulties that the Soviet had to surmount ! Russia had very few technicians and secondary industries and, in addition, had to contend with the opposition of a ring of capitalist nations that were determined to prevent the success of socialism. To-day those people cannot do without the assistance of the Soviet. But they are afraid of the Soviet, and of the final outcome of the war. They are endeavouring to .save as much of Europe as they can for capitalism, because they believe that if Russia becomes the predominant power in Europe, the predominant economic system of Europe will be the same as that in operation in the Soviet Republics. Therefore, both American .and British imperialists, although they have their differences, have something in common in the fact that they are alarmed at what the success of the Soviet armies may bring.
I do not know whether a second front in Western Europe .’is advisable. That problem I leave to military experts to determine. But there has been a widely shared opinion not only in Australia but also in other countries that certain of the United Nations tend to try to withhold their strength, and to build it up while allowing the Soviet to bleed itself white, so that when the conflict terminates they will be the strongest military influence at the Peace ‘Conference.
We in this .country must ourselves prepare to give to the workers of Australia some reward for their efforts. During this war we have learnt many things. One thing which must be apparent is the enormous capacity of this ‘country to provide its people with a much higher standard of living than they .previously enjoyed. Although nearly one-half of our active adult population is in the fighting forces or in munitions establishments, we have been able to preserve our living standards .and make a valuable contribution to the supplies required by the forces of the United States of America. So it must he evident that when our troops are demobilized and armament employees return to peace-time activities, there is no reason why our people should not enjoy a much higher standard of living than they had before the commencement of hostilities. But what do the opponents of the Australian Labour party propose? They evidently visualize that when the war ends there will be large-scale unemployment. If they do not believe that, why do they talk about preference to returned soldiers? If employment is to be provided for every one who is able to work, why is there any need for preference for any particular section? There is no need for preference if employment is to be provided for all. When the last war concluded, we had capitalism in this country. Honorable gentlemen who represented in the Parliament of the Commonwealth in 1918-19 the same political thought ‘as the opponents of the Australian Labour party represent today, initiated preference to returned soldiers. What did that preference mean? Many returned soldiers became recipients of the dole or engaged in most menial occupations, so that preference became only a joke - a very tragic joke - because the returned men were forgotten by the very people who previously had boasted about what th«y would do foi them. That kind of preference is useless to returned soldiers.
Private enterprise cannot provide full employment for all the people, because under the system that tolerates private enterprise profitable markets must be secured. Some conservatives claim that the Government can expend money for the purpose of absorbing those persons that private enterprise cannot employ, but that would be only a temporary expedient and would eventually defeat itself. As capitalism earns profits, it wants to invest them. When extending its industries, capitalism finds that it must seek greater opportunities in markets. So eventually the contradictions in capitalism itself bring about a condition of affairs that make inevitable the unemployment of a large section of the people.
We can do a great deal to develop not only the Commonwealth but also its territories which are so important to us ; but if we leave that development to private enterprise the country will be in a backward state many years hence. The Government must proceed with policies Tor housing and feeding the people and assuring for them social security. That is what socialism aims to give them. The only people who lose anything under socialism are those who have been living in idleness and who have been exploiting the rest of the community. If they only realized it, they also would not lose under socialism because they would have to work and that would improve their state of health. Because of idleness and over-eating, many of them suffer agonies for years. So even they would obtain some benefits under socialism.
Many people are opposed to radical changes of the economic system because they are misled by the opponents of the Labour party. Our opponents declare that the interests of the people will be best served by the maintenance of the present system. Why are the people invited by our political opponents to invest, in war loans ? Why are our opponents so happy when very large numbers of people lodge their subscriptions? The explanation is that they want to create the necessary interest among the workers in the maintenance of the existing order. They are encouraged to take out a small insurance policy or to build up a little account in the savings bank. What is it that the workers do? They attempt to accumulate a small “ nest-egg “ to provide for a “ rainy day”, because they know that while private enterprise has complete control of this country, there will be many rainy days for them at unexpected periods. They create their “ nest-eggs “ because they are looking for a measure of economic security. They cannot obtain complete economic security under capitalism. Even some of the bloated capitalists who sit opposite me, do not enjoy absolute security under capitalism because they may, at any time, make a bad business investment and find that they have been ruined by the machinations of some other group of capitalists. So they themselves have no security, and no worker can get security under capitalism. That can only be guaranteed to them when they have true democracy in a country, and the only way to have true democracy is by establishing socialism. I hope that in the international “ washup “ at the end of the conflict the powers that are working for radical changes will have a strong enough voice to see that they are effected. There has been a remarkable change of front on the part of many radical reformers of the past, belonging to political organizations that came into being for the purpose of destroying capitalism, but now talk of cooperating with capitalism in order to make it work more effectively. I hope that they will find themselves in the minority. I think that capitalism i3 doomed. Whilst it continues, it must bring only misery and degradation to the people of the world generally. I hope that workers everywhere will be rewarded for their sacrifices by having established throughout the world ari order of equity and justice for all, which can be secured only by establishing socialism.
Debate (on motion by Sir Earle Page) adjourned.
ORDER oi? Business - AdelaideMelbourne Express - Mr. S. M. Falstein, M.P. - Administration of the Fighting Services.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
I wish to inform honorable members that it is intended at the termination of the sitting to-morrow to adjourn the House until the following Wednesday. The sittings next week, therefore, will be on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and it is proposed to adhere to that arrangement for the following week also.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) whether the speech just made by one of his Ministers, not from the treasury bench, but from a seat behind it-
– Order ! The honorable member for
Barker must know that on this motion he may not review a debate that has taken place earlier in the sitting.
– I want to know whether I am in order.
– The honorable member can ask that question to-morrow. He is not entitled to do so under this motion.
– I desire to bring before the House the Gilbertian position which exists in connexion with the service on the overland railway between Adelaide and Melbourne. South Australia is at present permitted to send across the Victorian border an express of only five coaches. We have an engine of sufficient capacity to take eleven coaches to Melbourne, but we are not allowed to use it. We can have the use of only one Victorian engine between Serviceton and Ararat, and that is why it is possible to use only five coaches. On that express the South Australian Railways Department is allowed to attach only one sleeping car. Although the South Australian engine could haul eleven coaches to Melbourne, the Victorian railways authorities refuse to allow a second engine to be put on between Serviceton and Ararat. The Victorian railways authorities are using the South Australian express as an intermediate train between Serviceton and Melbourne, which is a great injustice to South Australia. Whilst the Victorian Railways Commissioners adopt that attitude owing to the coal position, the Spirit of Progress is permitted to haul from nine to ten coaches from Melbourne to Albury, and that express runs nonstop. That is an unfair discrimination against South Australia. Another injustice to South Australia is that the Ballarat refreshment-room has been closed on Sunday evening, the reason given being that the staff needs rest, but at the same time the dining-car is still used on the Spirit of Progress between Melbourne and Albury. Surely if one staff needs Sunday rest, so does the other. I trust that the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) will have an investigation made, in justice to South Australia, which has been called the backward State, and has had many unfair criticisms directed against it particularly concerning the overland express from Adelaide to Melbourne. The fault, however, does not lie with South Australia. Victoria is prepared to give sufficient accommodation to travellers between Melbourne and Sydney via Albury, but will not grant the necessary facilities on the Serviceton to Melbourne section of the overland line between Adelaide and Melbourne. I urge the Minister to make a thorough investigation into this unjust position.
.- I feel that I am under a duty to honorable members and to my electors to make a short personal statement. I have been subjected to violent and most unfair criticism, and it is only right that I should be heard. The recent press comment in regard to my transfer to the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve, and particularly the base motives attributed to my action, warrant, I feel, some amplification of the statement made by the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) in this House yesterday, for which I have to thank the Minister. To understand my position entirely, it should be remembered that I enlisted in January, 1942, barely a month after Japan had struck at Pearl Harbour at a period when this country was in a serious plight and striving to mobilize so much of its fighting power as could be gathered hastily. My service followed the normal channels, and I completed my training with credit, I hope, to the party and the electorate which I represent in this Parliament. After qualifying as a pilot and again successfully contesting the elections, I asked several times for an operational posting. The matter was discussed by me with close personal friends, including Ministers and rank and. file members of the Parliamentary Labour party. I was informed by the Minister for Air that for certain reasons no opportunity would be available to me to serve operationally for a long time. After I had pointed out to him that unless my work in the Royal Australian Air Force was to be operational in character it would hardly be of sufficient importance to justify my neglecting my parliamentary duties he, together with other members, advised me to seek a transfer to the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve, and he gave me to understand that this would be approved. In due course I applied for transfer and on the 31st December last I was handed a document from the Royal Australian Air Force certifying that my transfer had been effected from the 1st January, 1944, and up till this moment I have no information that my status is altered. When, however, I was given to understand that I would receive an operational posting immediately on the conclusion of this period of the session, T applied at once for cancellation of my transfer to the reserve, and I welcomed the opportunity of flying in the sphere for which I have been trained. I may add, finally, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has given me his personal word that statements concerning myself which have appeared in a section of the press as having been made by him are malicious fabrications. As I said at the outset, this statement is made out of a sense of duty, and I ask all honorable members to accept my assurance that everything I have said is spoken with the utmost frankness and sincerity.
.- 1 congratulate the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) upon his decision to ask the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) and the Air Board to permit the withdrawal of his application to be placed upon the reserve of officers, and to ask that he be posted to an operational unit. I am sure that all honorable members will join with me in that regard, but it seems only right that some reference should be made to what has been an unhappy incident in this Parliament and in the Royal Australian Air Force, namely, the enlistment of the honorable member for Watson, and his subsequent service. I recall that when I was Minister for Air, the honorable member for Watson publicly stated that he proposed to join the Royal Australian Air Force and approached me with a request for an opportunity to enlist in a non-combatant section, namely, the Administrative and Special Duties Branch. The honorable member’s age precluded him from eligibility for such service, and subsequently, he enlisted in a combatant section. The honorable member carried out the course of training for air crew set down under the Empire Air Training Scheme, and in accordance with the formula of that scheme, he was one of those who subsequently received a commission - it is the practice to commission approximately one-third of the trainees’ who secure categorical selection as pilots upon the completion of their training..
– For outstanding qualities.
– For outstanding qualifications, particularly characteristic of leadership of men. I know of no other instance in the history of the Empire Air Training Scheme in which a trainee who has been subjected to disciplinary action of the kind which fell to the lot of the honorable member for Watson, has been commissioned immediately upon the completion of: his training. There is provoked in my mind, and in the mind of the public of this country, a feeling that in this instance preference was accorded to a member of Parliament. As, in accordance with the terms of the Empire Air Training Scheme, a limit is placed upon the proportion of trainees to whom commissions may be awarded upon the completion of training, the commissioning of one man must automatically exclude the commissioning of another. For that reason I think that a statement should be made by the Minister for Air, indicating that no preferential treatment was given to a member of Parliament merely because he was a member of Parliament.
– The honorable member knows that such a matter, does not require a statement by the Minister.
– I know that it has been said that the honorable member for Watson obtained his commission because he did particularly well in his examinations during his training. The Hansard records will show that oh several occasions I explained in this House that it was the view of the Air Board and of the Department of Air that the results of written examinations could not be taken as a criterion in the selection of trainees to whom commissions should be granted-, and the records of the Department of Air will show that I have written many letters to parents of trainees giving that explanation. The son of my closest colleague in this Parliament was the twentieth enlistee in the Royal Australian Air Force under the Empire Air Training Scheme. He topped his school, and came second in the whole of his course, but was not given a commission. I have had to explain that there were many others who- had achieved similar high standards in examinations; but had not received commissions. The criterion in the commissioning of men in the Royal Australian Air Fbr.ce is their conduct during training, and the qualities of leadership which, they inspire in those with whom they work, and whom they lead. It would be an ill day for the Royal Australian Air Force if the impression were to be permitted to remain that- preferential treatment may be accorded to a member of Parliament.
– The honorable member knows that that did not happen in the case of the honorable member for Watson.
– In my own course there was a trainee who was subjected to a period of disciplinary action for absence without leave, and yet received a commission at. the completion of his training.
– Is the honorable member for Indi suggesting that the commission which was granted to the honorable member for Watson in the Royal Australian Air Force was given to him in any irregular circumstances?
– I have asked the Minister for Air to make a statement on the matter, and I have proceeded to say that in my experience- the commissioning of a man who has been subjected to disciplinary action of the type which fell to the lot of the honorable member for Watson is unprecedented. There was a case some time ago concerning a very competent and very gallant young airman named Fuller, who in the course of his training at Wagga performed a feat unprecedented in the annals of aviation, by landing two twin-engined aircraft “ pick-a-back “. He was not commissioned, notwithstanding the brilliance of his course of training. Many questions were asked regarding the failure of the Air Board to grant a commission to Fuller, and the explanation given was that the feat was performed in the course of some breach of discipline. It appears that the airman concerned had broken some disciplinary instruction whilst engaged in formation flying, and therefore he was regarded by those in authority as being ineligible for a commission. I still say that it would clear up the many doubts entertained by the public in regard to this matter if a statement were made by the Minister for Air in the terms that I have suggested.
– I regret that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) has chosen to make statements here which I must challenge. I refer particularly to his statement -
I was informed by the Minister for Air that for certain reasons no opportunity would be available to me to serve operationally for a long time.
No such statement was ever made by me to the honorable member for Watson.
– The statement was like it and to that effect.
– The honorable member is already qualifying what he said. He did see me with regard to what would be the likely posting he would receive after he had passed his examinations. He discussed the matter with me, as he had discussed it with other Ministers. I told him that there were only two courses of action he could take. Either he could go on with the duties he was trained for, or he could go on the reserve where he could carry on with his parliamentary duties, which would not be interfered with, if he thought them most important. Such a remark could hardly be turned into the statement that I have quoted, which the honorable member attributed to me but which I deny having made. I had nothing whatever to do with where he would be sent when he completed his operational training. I give the House my assurance that at no time have I interfered with regard to where any man should go. I believe that that is a matter for the Air Board and staff to decide and not for a Minister to dictate. If any approach had been made to me at any time as to where any serving member would be sent I would take the same attitude. To do otherwise I would regard as an unwarrantable interference with a course which is the Air Board’s responsibility. Later the honorable member for Watson said -
When, however, I was given to understand that I would receive an operational posting immediately at the conclusion of this period of the session I applied at once for cancellation of my transfer to the reserve and I welcomed the opportunity of flying in the sphere for which I have been trained. 1 hear an honorable member interjecting, but I do not wish to be thrown off my course. This is a matter of very grave importance and the House is entitled to know the truth in regard to it. The honorable member for Watson did see me and ask me for an assurance that he would be given a certain kind of posting, but he knows as well as I do that I took the same attitude that I have always taken. I refused to give him any assurance whatever as to whether he would be given a particular posting. That would be determined after he had completed his preliminary training. That was the natural course and, as I have already said, I absolutely refute the statement of the honorable member that I said that, for certain reasons, no opportunity would be available for him to serve operationally for a long time. The only basis that the honorable member can have for making such a statement is in his own imagination. I am sorry to have to say that the statement of the honorable gentleman is entirely incorrect and he knows it as well as I do. I regret that the statement was made in the House, but I must clear myself in regard to it.I know, and every other honorable member of the House knows, that when the upset and trouble began with regard to the honorable member for Watson I felt it my duty as Minister to make it quite clear that I never interfered with discipline or duty. If a member of Parliament enlists in the forces he must be subject to the same discipline as other personnel, and can claim no benefits as a member of Parliament which are not available to other persons in the community. But neither should he suffer any disability. Any direction I have given has been a verbal direction that any member of Parliament should be given the same consideration, and the same freedom of action in uniform, as any other persons in the community, to attend to his parliamentary duties. More than that I have never done, nor do I propose to do more while I hold the rank of Minister.
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has made some reference to the commission given to the honorable member for Watson. I have the details in regard to that matter before me. They indicate that, on examination results, the honorable member for Watson thoroughly earned his commission in every possible way. His marks show that he was above the average in many subjects and gained average marks in other subjects except one in the initial stages of his training. I know that suggestions have been made publicly that he was given his commission because he was a. member of Parliament or associated with a particular party. There is not a particle of truth in such statements. I did not know whether he would be given a commission or not. A body of men has been appointed to deal with these matters, and that body awarded the honorable member his commission. Reference has been made to some disciplinary action. Whether the penalty in that case was right or wrong is not the responsibility of the Minister but of the Air Board, and I suggest that an attack on the honorable member on that ground is entirely unwarranted. Whether this has any relation to the Empire Air Training Scheme or not I do not know. A man who may have committed some error in the early stages of his training should not have to continue to suffer all the way through, and I would have no hesitation in indicating that that is my view. So far as I am concerned, the honorable member’s commission was given on the basis of his marks and his character, and the ability he showed during his course of training. He carried out his duties in a capable way.
– He did a brilliant course.
– That is a matter of opinion. It seems that several honorable members wish to interpolate remarks, but they may make their own statements. I will not accept interjections from any one. I have before me the figures in relation to the honorable member’s examinations, and they are open for any one to see. The honorable member’s course was a good one. Whether it was brilliant is largely a matter of opinion. There are some subjects in respect of which I have no doubt he wished he had done better, and no doubt the examiners also would like to have seen better results. Here are a few facts in regard to the honorable gentleman’s history since he has been a trainee of the Royal Australian Air Force: -
In December, 1041, Mr. Falstein made application for appointment to a commission in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch. He was informed that unless he was medically unfit to serve as a member of air crew he could not be considered since he was of air crew age. On 13th January, 1942, Mr. Falstein made application for enlistment as a member of air crew, and on 16th January, 1942, he was examined and classed medically fit. He was thereupon enrolled in a reserve.
On 18th July, 1942, Mr. Falstein was called up for service and enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force with the rank of AC2, Group 5, Aircrew Trainee. He was posted to No. 2 Initial Training School, Bradfield Park, to undergo recruit training and initial training in certain elementary ground subjects ag a member of air crew.
I do not need to go into the details of the honorable member’s training at various establishments, but the fact ii that he passed his examinations and qualified on the 25th May, 1943, as a pilot. From then on he performed duty as a staff pilot for a certain number of hours. I do not propose to set out the particulars in this regard but as a staff pilot he obtained leave, from time to time, in order to attend to his parliamentary duties. If there was any crime in my suggesting that he should be given the same amount of leave as any other honorable member in uniform, then I accept the responsibility for it. Beyond that I have taken no action, and I say quite emphatically that the statements which the honorable member for Watson has made to-night, and which I have quoted, are entirely unwarranted. He had no ground whatever, in the conversations he had with me, to make such statements. Our conversations were along the lines of the difficulties he experienced and of the ways open to him to meet them. I repeat that I told him that there were. two courses open to him - either he could go on with the duties that he had been; trained for, or could transfer to the reserve of officers where his position as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force would not interfere with his parliamentary duties. He made his choice and he should not now try to put the responsibility on some one else for the action he took. I absolutely decline to accept any responsibility, and I. say most emphatically that his statements to-night, which I have quoted, were unwarranted. He has tried to deduce from my remarks something that I did not say in any way, and he is entirely unjustified in doing so. I am sorry to have to say this, but such statements will not be allowed to go uncorrected.
– in reply - There appears to be a disposition on the part of some persons to comment about the administration of the Services. I have this to say, that whether these remarks relate to the Army in respect of promotions, retirements or transfers and appointments, or whether they relate to the Air Force, there is no ministerial or political interference with the routine organization upon which those Services have been established. I make it very clear that if there should be any suggestion that a promotion had been effected^ or had not been effected which would have been effected under normal, circumstances, because some Minister has exercised some influence, I should regard it not only as a reflection upon the Government and a disservice to the country, but also I should say that when those suspicions are entertained the reflection is upon the administration of the Service itself. The suggestion is that in some mysterious way either the Minister or the Air Board has agreed to a promotion which ought not to have been effected. The Minister has said that he had nothing whatever to do with it. I know enough about the administration of the Royal Australian Air Force to say that I am quite satisfied that the Air Board would not, for any reason other than its own - judgment of its duties, make any posting, promotion or- appointment, or grant a commission. I know that that is true also of the Army. We are at a stage when, whatever be the motives that induce these personalities in respect of what Ministers or officers do in this Parliament, we do an entire disservice to the fighting strength of the country by indulging, in them. There are members of Parliament who have rendered great service to the fighting services. Certain of them are on the retired list. Some have considered that, having regard to all the circumstances, they should do something in addition to serving their electorate in this Parliament. That is a matter for them to decide. I have only to say that, if their constituency elects them, that is the business of. their constituency. The Government will see to it that no member of Parliament who is serving in the ranks will be either prejudiced or advanced in consequence of his membership of the Parliament. The service of members of Parliament in the fighting forces is not peculiar to this country. In Great Britain, a large number of the members of the Parliament have served not only in the administrative sections of the Services but also actually in action. I regret that one member of this Parliament,, whom I count as a friend and whom I am sure we all admire, is not in his place to-night because, while on active service, he became a prisoner of war. What members of Parliament do in relation to serving in the Services is, I submit, primarily their business and next the business of their electorates. It is the function of the Services to welcome them to serve in whatever way there is use for them. Dragging the Services into a political argument about what happens to them while they are in the Services is, I submit, bad politics. It sets a low standard on the controversies which are legitimate in this place ; and in the last analysis, I venture to say, it is so bad from the standpoint of discipline and the administration of the Services themselves that we who have some responsibility to the country as a whole ought not to indulge in it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Repatriation Commission - Report for year 1942-43.
Commonwealth Railways Act - Report on CommonwealthRailways Operations for year 1942-43.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act; - Nineteenth Annual Report of the Dried Fruits Control Board, for year 1942-43, together with Statementby Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Order - Use of land.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Statement of Australian Banking Statistics for the five quarters ended 31st December, 1943.
Australian Broadcasting Act - Eleventh Annual Report and balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for year 1942-43.
Taxation - Twenty-fourth Report of Commissioner, dated 1st November, 1943, together with Statistical Appendices.
War Service Homes Act - Report of War Service Homes Commission for year 1942-43, together with statements and balance-sheet.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n. - On the 9th February, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr.
Sheehy) asked the following question, without notice: -
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs ask that gentleman, in his capacity of Minister in charge of rationing, to confer with the repatriation authorities with a view to having surgical boots made available coupon-free to persons discharged from the forces suffering from foot disabilities?
On behalf of the Minister for Trade and Customs, I submit the following reply: -
Where they are the regular footwear of the wearer surgical boots are subject to coupons. In such cases the wearer has no coupon expenditure for ordinary footwear, and is therefore at no disadvantage in regard to coupons compared with other citizens. In cases where the use of surgical footwear is temporary and in addition to ordinary footwear the person concerned may, on application to the Deputy Director of Rationing,, be given a coupon permit to cover the purchase of the surgical footwear
On the 9th February, the honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked the following question, without notice: -
Will the Minister representing the Minister in charge of rationing consider the introduction of the British system under which rationing is based upon the cash value of the meat rather than on quantity? Many bush workers rely largely upon supplies of corned beef, which is comparatively cheap, and under the system which I propose they would be able to get larger quantities. The system would also encourage the use of mutton as compared with beef.
On behalf of the Minister for Trade and Customs, I submit the following reply : -
In planning meat rationing full consideration was given to the British system under which rationing is based upon the cash value of the meat rather than on quantity. Conditions existing in Australia are vastly different from those in the United Kingdom, and a system of value rationing would have been much more complex and involved more interference with existing trade practices than the system which has been introduced. It would have necessitated, among other things, the fixation of uniform prices for meat throughout the whole of Australia, the registration of consumers with a particular butcher, the issue of cards to consumers for the recording of purchases, and the provision of rationing officers in every town, village and suburb to whom requests for transfer of registration would require to be made.
It is significant that neither the United States of America nor Canada adopted the system of value rationing, even although they had the example of Great Britain before them.
Regarding the comment of the honorable member that under value rationing bush workers would be able to get larger quantities of corned beef, I would point out that under the system adopted meat is placed in four groups and that by purchasing meat in Group D, which includes boned brisket, both fresh and corned, also forequarter of mutton, a consumer may obtain 4 lb. per week. Under tha present system of rationing the amount of beef which a butcher can obtain is limited to a certain proportion of his total purchases.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Does a vacancy exist in the. position of clerk to the Divisional Returning Officer for Wilmot. If so, who is at present carrying out the duties, and when will the position be filled?
– A vacancy does exist in the office of clerk to the Divisional Returning Officer for Wilmot. Mrs Winifred Thelma Bailey, temporary clerk, is at present carrying out the duties under the immediate direction of the Divisional Returning Officer. It is anticipated that notification of the provisional promotion of an officer to fill the vacancy will appear in the Commonwealth Gazette next week.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
It may be mentioned that the head-quarters of the Division of Franklin were established many years ago at Hobart, which is outside the division.
n asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– -The answers to the honorable member’s questions are a* follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 February 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1944/19440210_reps_17_177/>.