17th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Review of Allocations
– I have learned recently that manyworkers in industry, some of them young single men, have volunteered for active service and have been accepted as A1 medically, but, because of the selfish attitude of their employers, have not been able to obtain the necessary release that would enable them to enlist. My inquiries satisfy me that these men are not so essential to industry as their employers contend that they are. On the other hand, some members of the forceswho have had active service extending over a period of three or four years cannot obtain their discharge from the Army, even though they may be B class or married men with domestic obligations. Will the Prime Minister have an independent survey made of the position, in order to ascertain whether or not it may be practicable to release from industry men who wish to join the fighting services, and thus enable them to replace others with long service who, because of their obligations, wish to return to civilian life?
– In the statement which I made to Parliament regarding the rebalancing of the Australian wet effort, I said that certain tasks had been given to the Defence Committee, the War Commitments Committee, and the Production Executive. The Cabinet, of course, has the final responsibility. The matters that are being considered include a revision of the list of protected industries. I shall endeavour to ascertain whether or not the examination should be extended so as to embrace a survey of the desirability or otherwise of associating, with the protection of an industry, a provision for selectivity in relation to thepersons who should be retained or released.
Propaganda : Broadcasting - scrutineers- absentee voters.
– Can the Treasurer inform the House of the total amount that has been set asideby the Government for expenditure in connexion with the presentation to the electors of the “Yes” side in the forthcoming referendum campaign? Can the honorable gentleman also explain why the normal parliamentary practice of obtaining the approval of the Parliament of a specific expenditure of this kind has not been followed?
– I can see no reason for assuming that the Executive of this Parliament is not justified in devoting a certain portion of Consolidated Revenue to the purpose of placing before the people matters which the Parliament has decided are of urgent national importance.
– All party propaganda could be charged to the treasury account for the same reason.
– I do not think so. Party propaganda embodies the question of entrusting the, government of the country to one party, whereas, in this case, the Parliament has decided that certain proposals are in the national interest.
– All that the Parliament decided was that a certain question should be submitted to the people.
– And that both sides of the question should be placed before the people.
-I have expressed the opinion that I hold. I am unable, at the moment, to state exactly the amount which may be expended by the Government in the presentation of the matter to the people, but I should say that it will be less than £50,000. That does not include the cost of the “Yes-No” pamphlet for which the Constitution provides, or the cost of taking the referendum. I have inquired of the Minister for the Interior, and understand that generally the cost of an election is approximately £100,000. The cost of the “Yes-No” pamphlet will be approximately £25,000, and the cost of presenting the question to the people on behalf of this Parliament
– What the honorable gentleman means is, on behalf of the Government.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– I do not think that it is.
– I am putting my view.
– It is a matter of the honest or dishonest use of public funds.
– Would the amount mentioned include the cost of pamphlets issued by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction.
– I believe that it would cover the cost of all pamphlets issued.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral yet in a position to give any information to the House in reply to the question I asked on Tuesday as to whether a broadcast made over a B class station last Sunday evening in favour of a “ Yes “ vote at the referendum, and subsequently disclosed to have been prepared by the Department of Information, constituted an infringement of either the electoral law or the Post and Telegraph Act, and whether it was broadcast without an announcement that it had been sponsored by any person or authority?
– I told the honorable gentleman that the information he seeks would have to come from the Department of Information.
– The Minister could have got that by now.
– I have asked for it, and when it reaches me it will be referred to the Crown Law authorities. I shall then look into the matter, but I do not think it would be right for me to give an opinion on a matter of that kind in answer to a question in the House, at any rate, a question without notice.
– On the 19th July, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) asked a question, without notice, relating to the appointment of scrutineers in connexion with the forthcoming referendum. I desire to inform the right honorable gentleman that, in accordance with the Referendum (Constitution Alteration)
Act, the appointment of scrutineers at a referendum is vested solely in the Governor-General, or any person authorized by him, on the one hand, and in the Governor of a State, or any person authorized by him, on the other. Either authority may appoint one scrutineer only at any one polling place or place of scrutiny. According to the official interpretation, the law would not permit of the Governor-General, or the Governor of a State, either by his own hand or through any person authorized by him, appointing two scrutineers, one representing the proponents and the other opponents, to act at any one polling place or place of scrutiny. The Government is of the view that the necessity for the appointment of scrutineers on behalf of the Commonwealth at the forthcoming referendum does not arise at the present time.
– In view of the considerable confusion that will probably arise in the minds of those who are unable to be in their own homes or States at the time of the referendum, will the Prime Minister cause the Chief Electoral Officer to make a clear statement of the position to the public, so that the votes of these people may be cast and not lost?
– I do not regard it as my business to give a direction to the Chief Electoral Officer in this matter. I am sure that he is anxious that observance of the compulsory provisions of the law shall be facilitated. I shall direct his attention to the observations of the right honorable gentleman, and I feel certain that he will make all the arrangements that he can to ensure that the utmost facilities shall be given to enable all votes to be recorded.
– Referring to the almost continuous broadcasts by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction in favour of a “ Yes “ vote at the referendum, I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the issues are extremely controversial, he will give the same opportunity, and the same time on the air, to those who favour the “ No “ cause?
Mr.CURTIN. - I do not know that the broadcasts which are being conducted by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction are of the nature indicated by the honorable member. I am not aware that the department itself is doing broadcasts for which the Government pays.
– It ought to bo called the “ Post-war Propaganda Department “. That is all it does.
– There has not been a department of state during the whole course of my political experience which, when it has reached the stage of justifying what it is doing, has not been charged with engaging in propaganda on behalf of the government that has introduced the scheme under consideration. I certainly hold the view that it is the business of the department to explain to the people what the plan or programme involves. If there were a department for the settling of returned soldiers on the land, I should expect that department to give the fullest information to all applicants for land.
– The right honorable gentleman is too innocent to be convincing.
– I shall look into the point put to me, and the House can trust me to ensure that the utmost impartiality will be shown.
– by leave - On the 18th July, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) referred in this House to the White Australia policy, which he said he did not consider should be so inelastic as to prevent men from China from studying at our universities, or merchants of certain approved types from coming here to carry on trade; he also said that this concession should also apply to British Indians.
Since 1912, there has been an arrangement between the Governments of the Commonwealth and China, under which bona fide Chinese merchants could obtain facilities to enter Australia for the purpose of promoting trade between Australia and China, and those who came here have been permitted to remain so long as they maintained their status and carried on a reasonably substantial overseas trade. Such merchants have also been permitted to introduce their wives and minor children, as well as assistants whose entry was warranted by the extent of the business transacted.
Chinese students from the age of ten years have been admitted to attend, not only universities, but also approved primary and secondary schools, and the general practice has been to allow them to continue their studies up to the age of 24 years, or in special cases even beyond that age if they have qualified for higher education. A similar arrangement has been in force since 1904 in respect of British Indians.
Inquiry by Mr. Justiceclyne.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether or not the terms of reference of the inquiry into the Australia First Movement confine the scope of the investigation to the activities of the members of the movement who were actually interned, or whether Mr. Justice Clyne is authorized to inquire into the activities of any other persons who were associated, either directly or indirectly, with that movement or the members thereof? Will the right honorable gentleman also consider widening the scope of the inquiry, so as to ascertain the identity of the real quislings who were prepared to betray Australia in the event of invasion by the Japanese ?
– The terms of reference of the inquiry contain six clauses. These concern primarily persons who were members of or were associated with the Australia First Movement in the early days of 1942, when the original internments were made. Therefore, I should say that, even on the strict wording, the terms of reference would cover matters such as the honorable gentleman has mentioned. The opening addresses at the inquiry suggest that it will be as broad and comprehensive as the honorable gentleman considers that it should be. In addition., however, the final clause gives to His Honour the power to investigate any matters which, in his opinion, should be investigated as being relevant to the scope of the inquiry. For both of those reasons, I consider that the objective of the honorable gentleman will be achieved under the terms of reference. The matter is one for His Honour to determine.
– Will the Acting Minister for Supply and Shipping instruct that the battery for crushing ore which for many months was unerected at Hatches Creek shall not be removed until the completion of the investigations that are now being conducted?
– I am sure that the honorable gentleman, and the House as a whole, will be glad to know that the Minister for Supply and Shipping has returned to Australia after a successful mission abroad. One of the first of my pleasant duties will be to pass on to him the request of the honorable gentleman.
– Owing to the very great difficulty which civilians who wish to leave Cairns by air have in securing a seat on the Douglas airliner, on account of the number of defence personnel and passengers possessing Government priorities who use that service, will the Minister for Air investigate the possibility of making Cairns instead of Townsville the northern terminus of the Empire flying-boat service, and of enabling ordinary civilian passengers to obtain priorities to travel by it?
– I am aware that there is a good deal of congestion in connexion with the air service between Brisbane and Cairns. I shall have the honorable member’s first suggestion examined, with a view to ascertaining whether or not the conditions will permit Cairns to be made the northern terminus of the flyingboat service. I shall also have the second portion of the question examined, with a view to seeing whether or not, if such a service were established, provision could be made to prevent ordinary civilians from being crowded out.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to a most violent attack, directed at Mr. Jackson, Commissioner of Taxation, published yesterday in the Standard, the official Labour newspaper, in which it was stated that Mr. Jackson’s encouragement of anonymous reports in relation to tax evasions staggers the Labour party, and that the Commissioner knows only too well that the Government has no sympathy with his view? Having resisted all attempts by the Opposition to have an instruction issued by the Government that this reprehensible practice shall cease, will the honorable gentleman now take action in accordance with the direction of its official journal ?
– I have not read the article in the Standard, which the honorable gentleman describes as an attack on Mr. Jackson, but I have heard echoes of an attack which the honorable gentleman himself has made. These caused me to become suspicious about the great solicitude that exists in certain quarters for people who evade their tax obligations to this country. Even though I have a tolerant mind, I have begun to wonder at the reason for this solicitude, because it would appear to be mostly on behalf of, not the people who are doing the hard work of this country, but those who are engaged in black marketing and other nefarious practices. As I said earlier this week, I offer no apology for any action that has been taken to compel tax evaders to meet their obligations. I do not propose to say anything to the Commissioner of Taxation about it, nor do I propose to interfere in any way.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health state the conditions applying to doctors who are using penicillin in the treatment of civilian patients, whether privately or in hospital?
– The position, as far as I understand it, is that a certain quota of the drug is available for civilian use, .but it can be spared only in critical cases.
– Or will 1be prescribed only in such cases.
– In cases where it is prescribed, the Commonwealth Health Department releases sufficient to meet the need. I cannot tell the honorable member how much it costs an ounce, or how much is charged for each injection, but particulars of that kind are available from the officers of the department in the various States.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give to the House with respect to the reports of an attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler ?
– I gave to the Leader of the Opposition and to the Leader of the Australian Country party the text of a broadcast from Berlin at 9 a.m. this morning, Australian time, and monitored by the Department of Information. Hitler was speaking and he said that the attack was not made by the enemy, hut by a small clique of traitorous criminals. Hitler emphasized particularly that the Army was not implicated. He said that the bomb landed 2 metres from him, and one friend was killed. The monitors attached a note to their transcription to say that, in their view, Hitler’s voice sounded weak and betrayed extreme excitement. That is all I know about the matter.
– Has the Minister for the Army read the report in the Sydney Morning Herald of a statement by the Minister for Supply and Shipping that rubber manufacturers will have to make more use of synthetic rubber for tyre manufacture and repairs? Is the Minister aware that the more extensive use of synthetic rubber by tyre manufacturers call’s for more man-power than is required in the plants operating with natural rubber? Will the Minister consider placing tyre-manufacture and rubber works on a high priority list, as far as releases of men from the Army are concerned?
– I have not read the report referred to, but I shall confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service with regard to releases of men for the manufacture of motor car tyres. That matter is normally dealt with by the Director-General of Man Power who makes recommendations that army personnel be discharged to enable them to work in an industry. I assure the honorable member that his representations will be fully considered.
– Can the Minister for War Organization of Industry say whether it is a fact that the large rubber companies are most reluctant to provide the plant and machinery necessary to make use of the synthetic rubber brought to this country from the United States of America, because of their fear that such machinery might not have much value after the war? My information is that these companies are not co-operating as they should to make use of such synthetic material as could be manufactured here. Will the acting Minister for Supply and Shipping take the t rubber companies “ by the ears “ and, if necessary, compel them to make use of the -synthetic materials which can be obtained from the United States of America, in order to provide some measure of relief to farmers and others who are now unable to secure transport?
– I do not know whether anything can be done to take the rubber companies “ by the ears “, but I do know that my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) has dealt with this matter in the United States of America, and that as a result of hia efforts several exports from Australia have arrived in that country. I shall consult my colleague regarding the honorable member’s suggestion.
West Wallsend to Cockle Creek Railway
– Will the Minister for War Organization of Industry inform the House whether his refusal to support the construction of a short length of railway between J. and A. Brown’s Richmond Main Railway and the West Wallsend-Cockle Creek Railway, was based on the fact that the Public Works Committee of the New South Wales Parliament had inquired into the construction of that line and had not been in favour of the proposal? Is ho aware that the State Public Works Committee has not functioned for about thirteen years, and that its inquiry into the construction of the line was made about twenty years ago? In view of the extreme danger of floods in the Hunter River cutting off coal supplies in time of war, will this proposal be reconsidered?
– I do not recollect the terms of the reply which was. given to the honorable member in relation to this matter, but it is clear that the construction of any railway in New South Wales is entirely the concern of the Government of that State, unless it be a project connected with defence. If it be u defence matter, it ought to be taken UT with the Minister for Defence.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether, at any time since he hae assumed office, he has received any complaints from companies, firms or individuals engaged in business regarding the censorship of their business correspondence, and the taking of extracts from that correspondence? If so, will he indicate the nature of the complaints received, and state whether these have been referred by him to the ‘Chief Post and Telegraph Censor for report, and have they also been referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Censorship ?
– Although not many years have elapsed since I assumed the office of Prime Minister, I have engaged in many activities during that period, and I hesitate to give an answer in the negative. Possibly some such communication has been addressed to me. I cannot recollect at the moment whether that is so, but I shall ascertain.
– If such complaints have been addressed to the right honorable gentleman, will they (be referred to the parliamentary committee ?
– If they are due to censorship, I ‘shall see that they are examined.
– Will the Minister for Information state whether it is a fact that the Japanese radio is urging a “ No “ vote at the forthcoming referendum ?
– It is a fact. I have a copy of the listening-post report on the broadcasts from Japanese-controlled radio stations. On the 18th July the Batavia radio station, in a talk in English, discussed the expenditure of money by the Australian Government. It made u number of serious charges against the Government, and referred to the gross misuse by it of constitutional powers which the people had cheerfully granted. The announcer then used the following words - “ Now the same government asks for additional powers. The answer must be an emphatic ‘ No ‘.” Honorable gentlemen opposite are welcome to their new ally.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral say whether it is a fact that clippings, dealing with political matters, from newspapers circulating widely throughout Australia are extracted by the censor from letters going outside Australia? If so, has this matter received attention from the Parliamentary Committee on Censorship, or is it proposed that it should ?
– This is the first I have heard of this matter, but the honorable member must be aware that, ever since 1939 - not 1941, when this Government came into office - censorship has been exercised, and it has been particularly strict in respect of overseas communications.
– Censorship has grown like the green bay tree during the last two years.
– I do not agree with that, and I would be quite prepared to debate the statement if Mr. Speaker would allow me. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was himself responsible for a decision extending widely the scope of the censorship. The interim report of the Censorship Committee, which the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has adopted, will, I believe, put an end to any abuse of the system, and the decision of the Prime Minister is being given effect. I have no doubt that, as ancillary to that decision, the matter raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) will be attended to.
– Is the Treasurer in a position to tell the House whether- an application received from the Sydney Turf Club to raise a sum of money for the purchase of certain proprietary racecourses near Sydney has yet been dealt with ? If not, can he say what advice, if any, has been received from his advisers in connexion with capital issues? Further, can he say what amount is proposed to be raised, and what is the suggested rate of interest?
– An application to acquire two race-courses near Sydney has been received from the chairman of the Sydney Turf Club. No amount of money was mentioned in the application. Naturally, inquiries will be made before the application is decided. The information which I have received, as the result of inquiries by the department, is that the amount required will be between £250,000 and £280,000. I have not all the particulars with me, but as the money required would be made available by means of bank advances, it would carry the rate of interest applicable to bank advances.
Treatment of Mentally Sick Soldiers
– Has the Minister for Repatriation seen an article which appeared in a Sydney newspaper published this week, in which it is stated that nothing more disgraceful has ever been disclosed in the history of the Government’s treatment of ex-servicemen than its callous and horrible treatment of mentally sick and “ bomb-happy “ soldiers? Is it the policy of his department, and of the Department of the Army - of which he must have some knowledge - that a man can be enlisted as sane, and discharged as insane, without the Government admitting or incurring responsibility, and that the Repatriation Commission can deny care, treatment, or pensions to a man whose enlistment papers necessarily show him sane and who is certified insane while in the Army? Does not the Minister consider that men who have lost their reason in various theatres of war are entitled to better treatment than is given to them?
– I have not seen the newspaper article to which the honorable gentleman refers, but I know that attempts are made from time to time to discredit the Repatriation Commission. That practice has been going on for some time; it commenced before I took over the control of the department. I say, definitely, that every care is taken of every serviceman who is in need of attention. Any ex-serviceman suffering from a war disability, or discharged as insane, is looked after by the department; no such person is denied treatment. I defy any person to show that the repatriation doctors are unsympathetic towards these men; I know them to be most sympathetic. The Repatriation Commission can hold up its head. As we hear a lot about preference to returned soldiers, I point out that every man in charge of repatriation matters is a returned soldier, and that every doctor and matron in every repatriation hospital has had war service. It is a dastardly thing for the honorable member for Wentworth to make such charges against a department which is doing such excellent work.
– Will the Govern ment consider making available free of charge carefully prepared post cards to be used by the relatives of prisoners of war in the hands of the Japanese. Up to date the preparation of such cards has been left to the Red Cross Society, the Prisoners of War Relatives’ Association, and other organizations and private persons. These organizations have designed and produced cards and envelopes for the purpose; but they do not conform to the requirements of the Japanese authorities, who demand that a space be left - generally on the left-hand side of the card or envelope - for re-addressing in Japanese characters all communications written in English. Moreover, the cards produced by these organizations are rather inadequate in size.
– I am glad to say that the matter to which the honorable gentleman has referred is already in hand. It is one of the matters to which I was not able to refer when I spoke earlier this week. The conditions under which prisoners in the hands of the Japanese live have been the subject of careful and prolonged examination. I do not know that we shall succeed in improving their conditions, but a concerted effort is being made to do so. The provision of suitable means of communication with them is one of the matters that have been given consideration.
– Is the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture aware that the meat works at Forbes and Orange are working at only about 50 per cent. of their capacity? Will the Minister institute an inquiry in order to ascertain whether large numbers of live-stock are being transported from areas served by those meat works to Sydney for export killing? Will he also consult with the Minister for Transport in connexion with the transfer of such live-stock to the metropolitan district?
– I am aware of the falling off of supplies to some country meat works. That is due, in part, to operators visiting country districts, and buying stock on the hoof and transporting it to the metropolitan centres for slaughter. The honorable gentleman has approached me on this subject on a number of occasions, and I am in entire accord with his desire to increase the killings at country abattoirs, but the whole subject is most difficult. I shall again consult with the State authorities to see whether sufficient live-stock can be provided to enable country abattoirs to be kept going continuously.
Suits tor Discharged Servicemen - 103rd Australian General Hospital - Permanent Soldiers in Air Force.
– Since the Minister for the Army announced that a suit to the value of £6 10s. will be issued to every discharged serviceman the public has been under the impression that that represented a substantial increase of value on the £2 10s. suit previously made available to such men. It now appears, from a letter which the Prime Minister had sent to an ex-soldier from Goulburn, as reported in last week’s press, that the increased value is only about £1, the explanation being that £2 10s. was the wholesale value of the suit previously given, whereas £6 10s. represents the retail value of the new suit. Can the Minister for the Army say what the position really is?
– In a statement that was published after the Cabinet came to a decision on this matter, it was pointed out that the suit to be given to a. discharged serviceman in the future would be the equivalent of a suit which he could buy from any retail store in Australia for £6 10s. It was also stated that until suits of the better quality were available, a voucher would be issued to a discharged serviceman which would enable him to purchase a suit to the value of £6 10s. in a retail store, and that, in addition, £1 would be allowed for a pair of boots, and £1 for a hat, making the total value of the outfit £8 10s. That statement was clear and definite, and left no room for misunderstanding. I understand that the manufacturers have delivered some suits of the new design to the army authorities, and they are available in 32 sizes, compared with eighteen sizes previously. I am assured that the new suit contains good cloth, and is in every respect equal to a suit which could be purchased in a retail store for £6 10s.
– Is the Minister aware that suits made of the standard cloth that is being used in army suits provided for discharged servicemen is being sold by tailors to civilians at from 15 to 18 guineas each?
– I understand that the material used in the manufacture of this £6 10s. suit is of the only kind available to the civilians, no matter what price they pay for tailor-made suits.
– ‘Can the Minister for the Army say what price is being paid by the Army or the supply authorities for the so-called “ zoot “ suits now being received ?
– I can see that the best thing will be .to set out fully in a letter all the information which the honorable member ‘requires.
– Will the Minister for the Army give an assurance that the building in which the 103rd Australian General Hospital at Baulkham Hills is situated will be made available as soon as possible to the organization from which it was taken over, so that the orphans, formerly accommodated there, and now distributed in several places, may be brought together again? Is it true that the Army proposes to take over another large hospital in another quarter, and if so, will he give approval for the transfer of the 103rd Australian General Hospital to the new premises?
– Consideration will be given to the representations of the honorable member, but the Director-General of Medical Services, Major-General Burston, told me a few days ago that he had received a letter from the executive of the Masonic order in Sydney stating that they were now prepared to allow the
Army to retain the 103rd Australian General Hospital for the duration of the war, and for six weeks thereafter.
– That cannot be so. I have a letter before me in which statements are made quite inconsistent with what the Minister has said.
– I have stated a fact. Major-“General Burston said that the Baulkham Hills Hospital was being used as an orthopaedic hospital, and that £80,000 has been expended upon effecting improvements.
– That was on the recommendation of the then Director of Medical Services, who is no longer director, and who now wishes the building to be vacated.
– Any . further representations by the Masonic order in regard to this hospital will be fully and sympathetically considered, as have all representations in the past.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army a question regarding the position of a man formerly employed as a sergeant in the garrison artillery. With the approval of the Army authorities, he joined the Air Force and is now serving with air crew abroad. His mother has written to me saying that he is disturbed because he has received an instruction requiring him to apply for his discharge from the “Army. His appointment in the Air Force is for the duration only, and if he were discharged from the Permanent Military Forces he would lose his permanent occupation, together with superannuation rights, Asc. I ask the Minister to see that in this and similar cases no soldier so circumstanced shall be required to apply for his discharge from the Permanent Military Forces, when, the effect of such an application would be to prevent him from returning after the war to his former occupation.
– If the honorable member will give me the particulars in regard to this case I shall have it sympathetically considered. I realize that if a man were permanently appointed to the Army, and were temporarily transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force for the duration of the war, it would be unfair to discharge him from his permanent position unless in this case there are special circumstances of which I am not aware.
– Can the Minister for War Organization of Industry say when supplies of galvanized iron for roofing purposes will be made available? Permission has been given in some instances by the authorities for the building of houses, and they have been completed except for the roof, but no iron for roofing purposes can be obtained. In other cases, contractors will not begin building operations because there is no prospect of their obtaining roofing iron, and they want to know what the position is likely to be before they enter into contracts.
– The control of corrugated iron rests with the Minister for Munitions, but I know that it is in very short supply at the moment, and it is unlikely that any large quantities will be made’ available in the near future. Those who need roofing materials have been advised to use substitutes, such as asbestos sheeting, rather than wait until they can get corrugated iron.
Debate resumed from the 20th July (vide page 357), on motion by Mr. Curtin -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Cur tin) and Mrs. Curtin upon their safe return from abroad. I was most interested to hear from the Prime Minister his account of the important discussions in which he took part, and I was glad to hear his assurance that the ties of Empire were never stronger than they are now. Once more, we have had demonstrated the value of the Empire, whose efforts during the early stages of the war made possible the victory which is now in sight. When I was in England, I had an opportunity to witness at first hand the trials which the British people were enduring, and to note the courage with which they met them. My colleagues and 1 were impressed with the endurance of the people, and we left with the conviction firmly rooted in our minds that the Empire, headed by Great Britain, must at all costs be preserved as a guarantee of future liberty. We should never forget that, during the early part of this war, Britain faced the enemy alone. At one time, there was not more than a fortnight’s supply of food in the country, and it was threatened at the same time from the air and from the sea. The submarine campaign was at its height, but the danger was eventually overcome. At this very time, too, ‘other countries in all parts of the world, including our own, were screaming to Britain for help. I do not know whether we realize the value of the effort which Britain made in the Middle East, or the importance of success in that campaign. Had the Germans got through to Irak and Iran, joined with the Japanese, and perhaps thrust north through Russia, nothing would have been left for Australia, and eventually the United States of America, perhaps, but to go down before the enemy. But for the efforts which Britain made then, the Allies would never havebeen in a position to win the war. I am glad that Australia was represented by the Australian Imperial Force in those vital battles in the Middle East. While I was in Great Britain, I was left in no doubt of the gratitude of the people to Australia and the other Dominions.
After the war, there will be many problems to solve, and Britain will have its full share of them. Britain, unlike ourselves, will have to rebuild its cities, and will also have to re-establish its finances. Before the war, Britain was a creditor nation, but it was compelled to dispose of its overseas assets in order to finance its war effort. Moreover, during the course of the war, such countries as Canada and India had become important, manufacturing centres. Therefore, Great Britain will be confronted with serious difficulties after the war, having regard particularly to the fact that its trade credits are depleted, whilst the Unitell States of America has now emerged as the leading ship-building country.Ifthe anxious times ahead of the Mother Country, all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations should display great generosity in their future demands upon the United Kingdom, particularly when such demands involve monetary benefit to themselves. Canada has set us an admirable example in this respect. During the war it has developed its industries to a remarkable degree. It has been able to obtain sufficient man-power for its agricultural and secondary industries: and so great has been its production thai it has been able to wipe out its debt to Great Britain since the outbreak of war. In addition, it has made a gift to the Mother Country of foodstuffs and war material to the value of £800,000,000, and these goods have been shipped in vessels constructed in Canada itself. Canada made that grant as a gesture of goodwill, realizing the grave economic difficulties confronting Great Britain, and the great sacrifices made by its people. Australia and the other dominions should try to emulate the spirit thus displayed by Canada towards the Mother Country. Only in that way can be ensured the preservation of the Empire to which we are proud to belong. I again express my pleasure at the sentiments towards the Old Country which were voiced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) in moving the Address-in-Reply Whilst Australia itself has contributed not a little to the war effort of the Allied Nations, we must realize that, in the not far distant future, Great Britain will be obliged to call upon us for further assistance. All of ais applaud the help given to the Allied cause by the United States of America. We must never forget, however, that the United States of America was enabled to render that help largely because of the orders placed by Great Britain for war material long before the United States of America entered the conflict on the side of the Allies, and before we heard anything at all about lend-lease. Up to that stage, the value of British expenditure and orders placed in the United States of America amounted to approximately £1,000.000,000. The United States of America was thus enabled to strike so effectively when it entered the war. I remind honorable members oppo- site that these great achievements were accomplished under a system of private enterprise. I emphasize that point, because Government supporters seem to believe that the war provides an opportunity to wipe out private enterprise in favour of government control in industry. When they remember the splendid record of the United States of America in providing the bulk of the requirements of the United Nations, let them also bear in mind that private enterprise was largely responsible for that success. Today unemployment is unknown in the United States of America. When I visited that country as a member of the Australian parliamentary delegation, I asked the general manager of one of the shipbuilding yards controlled by the great Kaiser organization what was going to happen to their employees after the war, and was informed that Mr. Kaiser had plans in hand for works which would provide employment for many more employees than were now engaged by that organization. I was told that he has prepared plans for the production of a car which will sell at from £80 to £100, and also a small aeroplane. I was also informed that the Kaiser organization employs a staff of scientists who are concentrating on the expansion of the work of the organization after the war. The lowest paid employee in the organization, an outside sweeper, receives £2 10s. a day. The Allied Nations owe it to themselves to do all they can to rehabilitate the countries devastated by war. With this end in view conferences of economists have been held at Bretton Woods, and plans now in hand provide for the creation of a fund for this purpose amounting to from £2,500,000,000 to £3,000,000,000. By such planning, the United Nations will avoid the chaos which otherwise will inevitably follow the war.
The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), who was recently described by the press as the Minister for the suppression of Information, endeavoured to frighten the people by painting a picture of a depression far more severe than the last which he said would occur in this country should the Government’s referendum proposals be not agreed to. By indulging in such propaganda, the Minister does not do justice to himself or to his party. The last depression occurred when i Labour government was in office in this Parliament. It would be as illogical to say that, because of that fact, the Labour Government was responsible for the depression, as it would be to say that this Government could prevent a depression in this country should conditions throughout the world which existed during the .last depression be repeated after this conflict. We must remember that the last depression was world-wide. To-day, however, the United Nations are prepared to pool their resources in order to prevent another world-wide depression; and we can best help to prevent another depression from occurring in this country by playing our part in the plans now being devised with that end in view by the United Nations.
Many factors operate to retard the development of Australia. Unlike Canada, we have not wiped out our national debt by production. Unfortunately, grave blunders have been made on our food front, resulting in severe handicaps being placed upon our primary producers. Owing to the shortage of man-power, many farms ha.ve gone out of production. Many old settlers, because of their patriotism, have done their best to carry on in the absence of sons and daughters who have joined the fighting services. However, the ‘task has proved to be too much for many . of these people. Some of them have endeavoured to sell out, but have been prevented from doing so. Surely, in such circumstances, it would be wiser to allow these old people to make way for younger settlers. Our production of foodstuffs has fallen also because of the difficulty being experienced by primary producers in obtaining new machinery and spare parts for old machines. On one farm, to which I accompanied the members of the British and Canadian delegations, which recently visited this country, the farmer had been obliged to purchase a new junior rotary harvester at a cost of £182 because he had been unable to obtain spare parts for his old machine at a cost of £5. One can readily imagine the loss of production resulting under such conditions. The members of the British delegation expressed astonishment that this farmer was unable to obtain the spare parts he required. They pointed out that in Great
Britain a primary producer,, who required spare parts for an old machine, had only to communicate with his business house which immediately made the parts if they did not have them on hand. The British Government’s primary consideration was to keep machines running. Blacksmith shops which are absolutely essential to the maintenance of primary production arc being forced, by lack of labour, either to curtail their services or to close down. In my own electorate there is a smithy which will close within two or three weeks unless I am successful in obtaining the release from the Army of the son of the smith, whose arm is crippled; the son, a skilled blacksmith, ];as been a batman in the Army for two or three years. Almost any one can be a batman, but there are few blacksmiths. If this smithy is . dismantled, as is threatened, the producers of butter, maize and other essential commodities in the district will not be able to keep their horses shod and will be seriously hampered in their efforts to assist this country’s battle on the food front. Food production is also seriously impaired by two factors operating to the detriment of garages in rural districts. Those garages have not sufficient labour to keep essential farming vehicles and plant in running order, and many of them suffer a second disadvantage in that their quotas of oxywelding gas are too low or, in many instances, almost non-existent. It is strange that many old-established firms are on very low quotas, whereas some newly established ones are on high quotas. 1 support what was said by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) about the excessive use of motor vehicles by the Army while the farming community cannot get tyres and is provided with insufficient petrol. Many Army vehicles ought to be stripped of their tyres to enable primary producers to put them to much better use than would appear to be the case with the Army. Primary producers are forced to allow their motor vehicles to remain idle because they have no tyres and are trying to take their produce to the railway on vehicles drawn by horses, for which they cannot even now get shoes that will fit. Even if that be impracticable, it seems that no reason exists why the farmers should be deprived et’ lyres. For one thing, stores are bulging w.ib. huge stocks of tyres. Moreover, the tyres on tens of thousands of idle vehicles which were commandeered by the Army when invasion threatened could be distributed to the farmers. Another illustration of the almost countless difficulties under which primary producers are labouring is contained in the following letter which I received yesterday from the secretary of the South Burnett District of the Queensland Dairymen’s Organization, an association which spreads over all the dairying districts of Queensland : - 1 have very definite evidence that mainten ance of primary production in this district is being menaced by the inability of farmers to maintain supplies of trace chains essential for all cultivation work by horse-drawn implements; in fact they cannot even obtain “split links “ to join together the chains which break because of ordinary wear. I can assure you that this i9 a very real difficulty, and my organization would appreciate the making of strong representations by you to the proper authorities.
I have made representations to the Minister. Trace chains are as essential to horsedrawn vehicles as are engines to motor vehicles. Fishing boats and nets are rotting while their former owners are making fruitless efforts to obtain their release from the Army, where they are doing nothing of value, so that they may return to their former occupation in order to aid in the production of a commodity which, if provided in sufficient quantities, will not only increase the range of food available to the Australian population, but also, by reducing the local demand, will enable the despatch of increased quantities of meat to Great Britain. Fish is a food, the growing of which costs nothing. The only requirements are men, boats and nets. The boats and nets are available - indeed they are rotting through neglect - but the men are not. I commend to the attention of the Ministry the suggestion that the food situation would be materially aided if fishermen doing little or nothing in the Army were allowed to return to their avocation.
If a serviceman is in any one of five categories laid down by Government order, neither the man-power authorities nor the Army may release him, regardless of how urgent the need for his release may be. That order would .be all right, but for the fact that on several occasions the Minis-
Mr. Bernard Corser. ter for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) caused to be placed in the newspapers throughout Australia advertisements of this character -
Man-power foe Dairy FARMS
Release of persons from the Army or elsewhere to help increase production can now be arranged.
Those advertisements, inserted by the Commonwealth Food Control, appeared early this year. Later, the Army had to counteract their effect. Later still, those whose applications for release had been rejected were told to apply again. I made unavailing efforts to discover from the Army whether that advice came from it. Last week, we had an official statement that the whole matter of man-power is to be reviewed. This week, I directed the following question to the Minister for the Army: -
In view of the recent further announcements that more liberal assistance is to be extended to the dairying industry by releases from the Army, can the Minister for the Army say if, to make this possible, the Government is moderating existing sets of directions which to-day render impossible such releases and necessary assistance?
The Minister was good enough to tell me that the matter was under review. We must be told whether the categories of men whose release was forbidden earlier are to be altered. It is of no use to say that 50,000 men will be released, thereby raising the hopes of the farmers, without action also being taken to make their release possible. It is necessary not only to say that the prohibition orders are being altered, but also to alter them. Needless anxiety and suffering have been caused to primary producers, particularly dairymen, by the vexatious announcements made from time to time that men will he released, when men are not released. I do not mind spending time over and over again on behalf of the farmers, but I do resent the loss of time caused to those whose applications for the release of their sons or other relatives to help them to carry on are either interminably delayed or refused. I know of many primary producers at the end of their resources of health whose applications for release of labour to assist in their efforts to produce essential foods have been turned down, notwithstanding that those applications have been supported by medical certificates, often in respect of not only the husband, but also the wife. No one can say that it is just that they should he deprived of the labour necessary for them to carry on merely because their sons happen to be what the Army describes as “ specialists.” Many of those specialists are motor drivers and mechanics whose retention was necessary when invasion threatened, but is not necessary now (because thu Army has trained thousands of them. All these matters require full investigation. A specialist in his own trade would be of greater value in carrying on that trade than as a batman in the Army. The Government should not be influenced by the fear that a return of men from unessential occupations in the Army to essential occupations in civil life would rouse further criticism by enemies like McCormick who run certain newspapers in the United States of America. Such men as McCormick have been enemies of the British Empire for twenty yearsThey have fed on German funds expended by Germany in an endeavour to keep the United States of America and Great Britain apart. “Why worry about what McCormick says when we know that the great majority of people in the United States of America are influenced not by what he thinks or says, but by what their renowned President, who stands with us and the rest of the freedom-loving world, says and does?
When we think about post-war problems, let us not selfishly confine our attention to our own problems. They will be far less than those of Great Britain, France and the rest of Europe. The important thing for us to remember is that the solution of this country’s difficulties lies in a greater population and increased settlement. On that point it is interesting to read what the American Minister to Australia, Mr. Nelson T. Johnson, had to say after a recent visit to the Northern Territory. It is reported in the following newspaper paragraph : -
There is the solution of Australia’s population problem. Let the young people go there and make a fortune in building the city.
There, too, would be a market for the produce of secondary industries, rails for the lines, engines to pump water, carts to make feeder communications, refrigeration for all homes.
We must devote our attention to the problem of settlement in the spirit of
Mr. Johnson’s remarks. Further settlement of Australia must be undertaken in the proper way. Hydro-electric schemes must be undertaken so that cheap power shall be available. Production must be scientifically controlled and settlements must be provided with amenities approaching those of the cities.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I consider that it is my bounden duty, and I am sure that my constituents so regard it, to express to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) their appreciation of the statement that he delivered to the House and for the able manner in which he represented the Commonwealth during hh trip abroad. The Prime Minister has been under an exceptional strain for several years. When the Labour Government took office this country was in dire peril. It is true that we had begun to mobilize our man-power and resources, but that effort was accelerated under his powerful direction. He has done a magnificent job.
Consequently, I was surprised to hear some honorable members opposite speak of his mission as if he had been on a pleasant holiday or picnic. The majority of honorable members realize the dangers that were associated with his mission. 1 have said on many occasions that if the Prime Minister went abroad to negotiate on behalf of Australia he would be a credit to himself and to the Commonwealth. I have learned on good authority that he created an impression more lasting and more favorable than had any previous representative of Australia. When he was given the Freedom of the City of London he delivered an address which created a profound impression throughout Great Britain and Allied countries - an address which will live long in the annals of history. Unfortunately, some honorable members who have spoken in this debate have not given to the Prime Minister credit for what he has done on behalf of Australia. They criticized his speech on the ground that it was confined to generalities. What else could they expect? We did not expect the Prime Minister to tell us details of the secret conversations which he had with Mr. Churchill and the Prime Ministers of other dominions. If the right honorable gentleman had done so he would have betrayed the Allied Nations, because he would have conveyed to the enemy information which they desire. I am satisfied that while John Curtin is leading Australia we need not fear the future.
Some honorable members complained that the Government had not revealed its plans for the post-war development of Australia. Personally, I am satisfied that the Government is planning wisely for the future. Of course, the moneyed interests in Australia are anxious that our slogan shall be “ Business as usual “, because they are concerned only with filling their own pockets. Perhaps the greatest problem awaiting solution is that of monetary policy. I sought election to the House of Representatives because I wanted to support the Labour Government and the policy of the Australian Labour party, which is the only worthwhile policy for Australia. I am confident that the Government will do its job satisfactorily in the interests of the whole of the people.
Some honorable members criticized the action of the Government in holding a referendum at this juncture. The Labour party made it perfectly plain on the hustings that if it were returned to office one of its first acts would be to submit to Parliament a bill for the alteration of the Constitution. The Government has honoured that promise. I, for one, would have been disappointed if it had not done so. I am confident that when the referendum is held on the 19th August, the people, by an overwhelming majority, will grant to the Commonwealth the proposed additional powers.
Several speakers, in the course of this debate, have emphasized the necessity for an interchange of diplomats and public servants between Australia and other countries. That is a fine objective. If that policy be carried out, we shall be able to get a better appreciation of one another’s problems. Before we can understand the views of other people, we must live with them. The adoption of this proposal will be one of the most effective means of bringing about friendly relations between various countries.
– I approve of the mission of the Prime
Minister (Mr. Curtin) abroad, and agree that he should make other visits overseas in future. I do not believe for a moment that the right honorable gentleman would let Australia down. Obviously, the report of his mission, which he delivered to the House last Monday, is inconclusive in many ways. I realize that he was not able to convey to the House decisions on all matters that were discussed, but I propose to mention two notable omissions from his speech affecting rural Australia. Although the primary producing industries are the foundation of Australia’s economic set-up, the right honorable gentleman omitted to refer to our future markets and to make a definite statement about manpower. I was interested in a. reply which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) made to a question relating to the dairying industry. He attributed the record low production to drought conditions. That statement was not correct. The Minister included Queensland in his remarks, but that State has enjoyed the best dairying year since 1917. Prom August until the end of February, it had rain and heat, just when they were required. Admittedly, conditions were inclined to be dry towards the fall of the season, but that would not have had such a serious effect on production if man-power had been available to the industry. The Minister for Agriculture in Queensland, where a Labour Government is in office, complained very vigorously a. few days ago about the shortage of man-power in the industry, and gave the following information about the releases of army personnel : -
Mr. Williams also pointed out that although fewer releases had been recommended for the dairying industry in Queensland than in any other State, the population engaged in dairy production in Queensland exceeded that in any other State, and also that of all States, Queensland’s percentage of volunteers from the rural districts for the armed forces was greatest. That, perhaps, explains why so few releases have been granted in Queensland. There is no better soldier than, the country volunteer. Men who have enlisted from rural communities have proved their worth over and over again on the field of battle. Because they are volunteers, naturally most of them are in operational units, and of course, the Army authorities are reluctant to release them. I think that explains in a few words why the dairying industry in Queensland is at such a low ebb. No less than 100 farms have gone out of milk production in one district alone, whereas one man released from the Army to work on each of those places would have enabled them to continue. I cannot see any immediate solution of this serious problem, because even if man-power were made available now, it would be impossible to get those farms back into production immediately, as dairy stock has been either sold or mated with beef cattle sires.
The production of butter in Australia has reached a record low level. Whilst E agree with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), that to some considerable degree that has been caused by the drought conditions in the southern States, there is no doubt that lack of man-power has been an important factor. The production of butter and cheese must be increased. I commend the Government’s decision to give to the dairying industry first priority for Army releases, but I am afraid that if those releases are to continue on their present basis, the benefit to the dairying industry will not be very great. Of the 20,000 soldiers already released, only approximately 4,000 have gone into that very essential industry. The trouble seems to be that the recommendations of local committees composed of practicalmen who know just what labour is required on the various properties in their district, are ignored or overridden by meddlesome intervening bodies which give contrary advice to the man-power authorities. The result is that men whose services are not really essential are released, whereas others who could be of some real assistance are retained in the Army. Had the 20,000 men already released been selected carefully and distributed in the proper manner, food production would be in a much better position to-day.
I shall deal now with the serious threat to the wool industry created by the increasing competition of imported synthetic fibres. There is a question on the noticepaper regarding this matter, and I trust that it will elicit some fuller information. However, the Government should make a full statement on this all important matter. The value to Australia of the wool industry under the Empire wool purchase scheme is estimated at £338,000,000 or approximately £70,000,000 a year ; but what will be the effect upon this industry of the increasing importation of synthetic fibres ? I remind honorable members of an exhibit recently shown in the King’s Hall of this building. The exhibit included a chart which showed that whereas sales of clothing made from wool were more or less stable, sales of clothing manufactured from imported synthetic materials were soaring, and that, in the past twelve months, sales of garments made from synthetic clothes exceeded sales of woollen goods. A second chart showed that whereas the price of woollen clothing was more or less stable - that is to be expected because the selling price of wool under the imperial wool purchase scheme is constant - the selling price of clothing made from synthetic fibres had decreased considerably. So much so, in fact, that if the public were to purchase solely on the basis of price, the imported synthetic article would be selected every time, despite its inferior quality. I should like to know why the Government is subsidizing the importation of synthetic clothes at rates of from 2s. 5d. to 2s. ll£d. a square yard? Surely the Government must realize that the expansion of trade in artificial fabrics will have a detrimental effect upon our greatest industry. A deterioration in the position of the wool industry would effect not only wool-growers themselves, but also all other employees engaged in the industry, including drovers and shearers. Why pay manufacturers a subsidy on the production of artificial fibre while we are storing up large quantities of wool from which articles of a far better quality could be made? I am seeking an answer to that question, and at the same time protesting at the continuation of this policy which is so detrimental, not only to the wool industry itself, but also to our whole economic set-up.
I was informed by a man-power official in Brisbane that first priority in manpower releases for rural work was held by the dairying industry, second priority by the cattle industry, and third priority, by vegetable growing. I asked him what place the pastoral industry held, and he said that that industry was not in the picture at all. That, exactly, is the position - the pastoral industry is not in the picture either for Army releases or for prisoner of war labour. It has been denied prisoner of war control centres. Apart from some temporary releases for drought-stricken areas, this industry has not received any assistance, regardless apparently of how desperate the need for labour may be. A person running a pastoral property may become ill and unfit for work, but consideration will not be given to the release of Army personnel to take over his duties. Is this treatment to continue? I am offering this criticism in the hope that the Government will remedy this position.
– Hundreds of releases have been made in respect of pastoral properties throughout Australia. Technically, cattle-raising is a pastoral pursuit. It may be that the formula for releases in Queensland is somewhat different from that applied to the other States, but I know that even in Queensland releases have been made for the wool industry, although possibly not so freely as one would have liked.
– Man-power authorities in Brisbane informed me that the sheep pastoral industry was not in the picture at all for Army releases. Apparently that is the policy of the department. I trust that in the review of Australia’s man-power allocation - I regret that the Government has not given honorable members an opportunity to discuss the matter more fully - the factors which I have mentioned will be taken into consideration, and that servicemen available for release will be more carefully allocated to essential industries. My complaint is that, in the past, released service personnel have not been distributed according to the recommendations of practical men.
I have already received a protest from the Gayndah butter factory against any move to re-introduce daylight saving, because of its adverse effect in rural dis tricts. Ordinarily, the farming community works from daylight to dark. That is especially true under war-time conditions, but with daylight saving, these people have to rise before daylight and start their work by lamplight. The difficulty has been aggravated by tb<refusal of the Queensland State Government to alter the commencing time of schools. Women, who have to assist in the dairy-yards, are obliged to get their children out of bed at an hour earlier than is good for their health and away to school. I know that this protest is justified, because I am familiar with the conditions under which these people work. It is because another section of the community is not doing its job that the farming people have to suffer in this way. Again I urge that in the interests of country people, daylight, saving should not be re-introduced.
I appreciate the opportunity I have had to make these remarks. Whatever I have said has been actuated by a desire to improve the position. I hope that when the House next meets, we shall haw a statement of policy in relation to the two important matters, the omission of which from the Prime Minister’s speech I have criticized, and that we shall have an opportunity to discuss them.
– in reply - I do not intend to do other than what it is in my heart to do; that is, to express to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), and other honorable members, appreciation of the thoughtful and helpful speeches that have been made on the matters that were set out in my statement to the House. It is perfectly true that that statement left unsaid much of what honorable members would doubtless like to have been told. I make no apology for that; because it has not been practicable, in connexion with the problems that have been dealt with in the debate on the Address-in-Reply, or, indeed, in connexion with the matters with which I dealt while I was away, to d© more than give a general indication of the trend of thought and activity. But I wish it to be particularly known that, while I was away, I did not enter into any secret commitment. I say that because
L am not alone involved. I would have allowed the remark to pass, but for the fact that there might be an implication against the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Prime Ministers of the other Dominions. We had consultations in order that we might inform the mind of each other in regard to our respective points of view. We considered that we were interpreting the views of the countries which we represented, rather than out personal views, so that, in the f formulation of policy, each government would be better equipped to act in concert with the other Dominions and, in particular, with the United Kingdom.
There are three observations which I should like to make. The first is, that a world organization will be an invaluable contribution to the removal of the causes which lead to war. The next is, that the British Commonwealth must present towards that world organization the spectacle of a unified entity in matters of the highest import. That does not mean that we have to integrate our governments, nor does it mean that we have to present the spectacle of an absolute Empire bloc against the rest of the world. The Dominions, rather than the Motherland, have the largest interest in authoritative declarations whereby the British Prime Minister may speak for the Empire n? a whole.
Time and time again, it has been pointed out that this country has so mall a population that we have to take steps to increase it rapidly. I am quite in favour of the steps to that end that are being taken. But it would be false optimism to consider that there is likely to be a rapid increase. The shipping to bring people here, and the places whence they are to come, are considerations which have to bc taken into account. The problem of our security would not be fundamentally changed by an increase of population from 7,000,000 to 10,000,000, or even 12,000,000, in a reasonably short space of time; we should still rest on the postulate that without friends, allies and associates, we could be attacked by a superior force, and, perhaps, overrun. Therefore, whilst a world organization can do a great deal to remove the causes which lead to war, we have had the experience that nations have gone to war without what those governed by goodwill and reasonable intelligence would regard as adequate justification; that is to say, the causes which lead to war were not present. When the known causes which led to war have been removed, it can be said that a contribution has been made to the peace of the world; but that in itself would not constitute a guarantee of peace. Therefore, a concert of nations of like minds must be maintained. In that connexion, the observations of the Leader of the Opposition were most pertinent. The very case that he put - that is to say, the indispensability, in any conception of world organization, of a real membership with entire goodwill, not a mere formal membership of certain great powers - appears to me to be beyond argument. We generally address our minds to that problem in these days by saying that the sort of association which war has evoked must be maintained in the period after the war. But we would, I consider, humbug ourselves if Ave did not realize that the problem is one which requires careful management. All the time, it needs the most sober statement, and most certainly makes it necessary that the smaller parts of the British Commonwealth, however much they can offer their own views, must offer them with discretion and in the light of such other discussions as are proceeding. There is nothing easier than for a Prime Minister to make a speech on foreign affairs which is bound to cause difficulty and misapprehension somewhere. Therefore, when heads of governments discuss the problem of the concert of nations, they cannot always put forward with emphasis the particular views of their own countries, not because those views may not be justified, but because the bald statement of them in another part of the world, speaking a different language and probably facing different problems, may be entirely misunderstood. Therefore, our view has to be developed. We would first impart it to the British Commonwealth, the members of which would impart it to their ambassadors, and these would endeavour to develop a friendly acceptability of this view. We cannot by a crude and blatant declaration solve the problem of getting other countries to understand our point of view. All of these considerations properly impose a certain degree of restraint upon the heads of governments.
A similar difficulty has no doubt been experienced by my predecessors. I make no apology for my inability to be as candid in public places in regard to certain problems of government, as one can be about certain other problems of government. I shall do my best to promote the splendid suggestion of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), in regard to the youth of Europe. They, at least, are guiltless of any contribution to the frightful catattrophe of world war. Animated by the impulse of humanity as well as by knowledge of the value which that impulse will be to ourselves, we can promote as far as possible the plan which the honorable gentleman has suggested. That is true also of the orphan children of the United Kingdom, except that our impulse is stronger in respect of them. Recently, a realization of their tribulations has been borne in on us even more poignantly than it was formerly. If one could add to the admiration which lovers of freedom everywhere in the world have for the people of Britain, it would appear that now is the appropriate time, in what looks like the stage leading to the successful termination of the struggle, when they are being called upon to bear an especially heavy punishment. For that, we feel regret, and extend our sympathy ; but our sympathy must be practical. That is why, in my statement, I indicated the nature of what will be a very great burden upon the people of Australia in the years to come. In addition to resolving our own problems, we have to share in resolving the problems of the world. We have accepted the obligation of making a very substantial contribution to the relief and rehabilitation of the countries that have suffered.
I do not wish to say more, other than that I believe that, however disappointed some honorable members may be with what I have said, the country as a whole has benefited by the debate which the House has just concluded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I inform the House that the AddressinReply will be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General, at
Government House, at 3.30 p.m. to-day. I shall be glad if the mover and seconder of it, together with other honorable members, will accompany me to present it.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve the agreement for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration between the Commonwealth of Australia and certain other Nations and Authorities, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read the first time.
Motion (by Mr. Frost) - by leave - proposed -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-36, it is expedient to carry out the. following proposed work, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to the House the result of its investigations, namely, Erection of a hostel at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
Debate (on motion of Mr. Archie Cameron) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Mr. CURTIN (Fremantle - Prime
Minister and Minister for Defence) [12.44].- I move-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
I expect that the House will next meet in the last week of August, because the Supply which the Parliament has providedwill expire on the 30th September. As soon as may be practicable after the House meets, the budget will be introduced.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. CURTIN (Fremantle - Prime
Minister and Minister for Defence) [12.45]. - I lay on the table the following paper : -
Censorship - Interim report of the Committee of Senators and Members on Censorship, dated 14th June, 1944.
The Government has approved the recommendations that have been made in the report, and instructions have been issued to the Commonwealth departments concerned to take the necessary action.
I have had consultations in respect of the general work of the committee, and have come to the conclusion that the remainder of the inquiry should be conducted judicially. Accordingly, I intend to take steps to that end as soon as possible.
Mr. CURTIN (Fremantle - Prime
Minister and Minister for Defence) [12.46]. - In accordance with a statement which I made earlier, in response to inquiries that had been made by honorable members who had written to me, I now lay on the table of the House the following paper: -
Employment Policy - Paper presented by the Minister of Reconstruction to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, May, 1944.
– I shall gladly do what I can to give effect to the suggestion of the right honorable gentleman. Our own plans for post-war reconstruction, which aim at full employment, with rising standards, are well advanced. I am quite sure that a consolidated and an uptodate statement of policy would be useful to honorable members. I trust that I shall be able shortly to lay before this Parliament a document broadly comparable in scope with the British White Paper.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act - Nineteenth General Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes - Port Pirie, South Australia.
National Security Act -
National Security (Emergency Supplies) Regulations - Rules - Queensland.
National Security (General) Regulations - Order - Requisitioning of property other than land.
National Security (Meat Industry Control) Regulations - Order - Meat (Controlled area) (No. 1).
House adjourned at 12.48 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as. follows : -
t asked the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) 1st April, 1942 to 31st December, 1943, 29,485,000 bushels; 1st January, 1944, to 30th June, 1944, 16,826,000 bushels. (6) 1st April, 1942, to 31st December, 1943, 2.153,000; 1st January, 1944, to 30th June, 1944, 878,000. (c) 1st April, 1942, to 31st December, 1943,64,000; 1st January, 1944, to 30th June, 1944,623,000.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Will he indicate the result of the 1942 season under the apple and pear acquisition scheme by supplying -
As the Minister responsible for declaring the profit payable to growers, when does he propose to make such profit available?
– The operations of the 1942 season’s apple and pear acquisition pool resulted in a loss of £286,521 to the Commonwealth. The matter of the compensation payable to apple and pear growers is before the High Court and consideration of the question of further payments has been deferred pending settlement of the case.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 July 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1944/19440721_reps_17_179/>.