House of Representatives
15 September 1944

17th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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– Can the Minister for Supply and Shipping arrange for a more equitable distribution of B batteries in country districts? Whilst we are assured that the supply of batteries is gradually increasing, the tendency of the city distributor is to dispose of his quota retail, rather than issue a proportion of them to country distributors, who are consequently unable to supply the requirements of country people.

Minister for Supply and Shipping · WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Battery production is controlled by the Minister for Munitions!, but the honorable member’s question is more concerned with their distribution. The Minister for War Organization of Industry has had in Queensland a direct representative dealing with the distribution in country districts of not only batteries, but also several other items. The point raised by the honorable member is worthy of immediate consideration, because the advantages enjoyed by people in the cities should not be greater than those that are available to people in country districts. I shall confer with the Minister for War Organization of Industry, with a view to the rectification of any anomaly.

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-I ask the Minister for Transport whether or not, despite the interstate travel prohibitions imposed on citizens generally, a party of scholars from Geelong Grammar School, Victoria, was allowed to travel by air to New South Wales for the recent term holidays, despite the statement by the honorable gentleman that interstate travel by school boarders for the Christmas holidays was prohibited? Did Australian National Airways fly a special aeroplane to convey these boys from Melbourne to Sydney? Ifso, why was the priority system to which the public must conform waived in relation to these public school boys? Will the Minister ensure that theboys, who are now in Sydney, shall not be allowed to return to Victoria in defiance of the “ border-hopping “ regulations ? Will he also take action against Australian National Airways if it be found that that company extended in this case a special privilege that is not available to priority passengers generally?

Minister for External Territories · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Air travel is under the control of the Minister for Air, the Common wealth Transport Board being responsible only for travel by rail. I shall obtain a statement from my colleague.

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– Is the Minis ter for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to make a statement in response to my recent representations to him concerning the desirability of reducing the coupon rating on dairy butter, or alternatively permitting the sale on a free market of the product of from two to three cows per farmer, with a view to conserving dairy herds and making more factorybutter available for export overseas?

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Following previous representations by the honorable member, I made investigations, but these could not be completed as the matter was one for the Rationing Commission. I am in full sympathy with her request, and realize the difficulty of the problem. Encouragement along the lines indicated would materially assist our export position. I shall go into the matter with the Rationing Commission, and do all that I can in the direction indicated.

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-Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a report in the Sydney press this morning that, at the end of this month, the Parliament is likely to begin a long recess? In view of the rapidity with which events are moving overseas, and also because of the prime necessity to maintain parliamentary control of executive legislation, will the right honorable gentleman give the assurance that there will notbea long recess?

Mr.CURTIN.- Yes.

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– Has the Treasurer considered’ the recent representations made to him for the removal of the ceilings on share prices, or the raising of them by at least 20 per cent., and is he in a position to make a statement on the matter?

Mr.CHIFLEY.-Representatives of the stock exchange have urged, first, the abolition of the ceilings, and, secondly, the lifting of them on a number of specified shares. It is considered that the ceiling price does not represent the fair market value of the shares. Having reviewed the matter, the most that I can promise at the moment is that some modifications will be made.

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– In view of the criticism that has been aroused by the announcement of the proposal to erect a new Arbitration Court building in Melbourne, ‘ will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior state exactly what is proposed, and when it is contemplated that the work will be commenced, so that the fears that have been expressed may be allayed?

Mi. LAZZARINI- The proposal to erect a new Arbitration Court building in Melbourne was submitted to and approved by the Public “Works Committee, and the preliminary work has been commenced. I shall obtain a full departmental statement for the honorable gentleman.


– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether he has read a criticism by the chairman of the Charities Board, Melbourne, of the Government’s intention to build a new Arbitration Court in Melbourne, wherein he points out the necessity for more hospitals? I have also pointed out that the money which it is proposed to expend on the new building would meet the cost of building 200 war service homes. In view of that, will the Minister ensure that this, at the moment, unnecessary building shall be deferred until the housing shortage is somewhat eased?

Mi. LAZZARINI - I have not seen the criticism referred to by the honorable member. This proposed work was approved by the Public Works Committee. Preliminary steps have been taken for the building to be commenced early next financial year. I shall direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior to the honorable member’s representations, hut I assure him that it is intended to go on with the building.

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– In view of the curtailment of rail services on account of the shortage of coal, and the consequent increase of the delay that has been experienced in obtaining supplies of tyres and spare parts for motor lorries, farming implements, tractors and the like, will the Minister for Supply and Shipping confer with the Minister for Munitions, with a view to determining whether or not the number of towns at which pools of these materials can be established may be increased, in order that those who need supplies urgently may be able to obtain them with a minimum of delay, Newcastle is the most northerly town in New South Wales at which a pool of tyres is established, and there is only one other place at which there is a pool for spare parts.Could not pools be established also at Grafton, Kempsey and Taree?


– The question raises two points. The first point is that we should utilize our shipping resources to a greater degree in order to offset the effect of the curtailment of rail transport; and the second point is, that there might be extra ports of call.

Sir Earle Page:

– I want extra pools of these materials to be established.


– That might be done if the ports of call were increased. I shall discuss the matter with the Director of Shipping and the Minister for Munitions.

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Retirement of Sir Owen Dixon

Prime Minister and Minister for Defence · Fremantle · ALP

by leave - I inform the House that Sir Owen Dixon is about to relinquish his post as Australian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in the United States of America, in order to resume his place on the High Court Bench. Sir Owen Dixon accepted this important appointment as Minister in 1942, at a time of critical importance in the Pacific War. For over two years, he has represented Australia with great devotion and ability. The Government places on record its deep appreciation of Sir Owen’s eminent and distinguished services to Australia, and tenders to him its gratitude therefor. The appointment of a successor to Sir Owen Dixon will receive the early consideration of the Government. In the meantime the Australian Counsellor, Mr. A. S. Watt, will act as Charge d’ Affaires.

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Penalties on Garage Proprietors.


– Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping state whether or not there have been any developments in the cases of garage proprietors who have had their petrol pumps sealed by the State Liquid Fuel Control Board, on account of the alleged acceptance by them of counterfeit petrol coupons. I am particularly interested in the case of Mr. Sheppard, of Burwood Motors, who has been so treated. Have any general plans been evolved for dealing with these cases more reasonably in the future?


by leave- The honorable gentleman has asked particularly about the action taken against Mr. Sheppard of Railway Parade, Burwood, in his electorate. I consider that I should give reasons for the revocation of the licence. On the 9th April, 1941, the licensee was found in possession of expired ration tickets, and attention was drawn to the necessity for his strict observance of the requirements in this regard. On the 27th August, 1941, the licensee was warned concerning the acceptance of incorrectly endorsed ration tickets. In January, 1942, an examination of four ration ticket envelopes surrendered to the pool revealed shortages of 2, 2, 26 and 16 gallons respectively. The licensee, upon being interviewed, denied any knowledge of the discrepancies, but an inspection of his stock disclosed a shortage of 2,566 gallons. On the 13th April, 1942, the licensee was called upon to show cause why his licence should not be revoked. In reply, he returned expired ration tickets for 915 gallons, and stated that tickets to cover the balance of the shortage may have been destroyed by employees. On the 13th May, 1942, a severe warning was issued. On the 18th November, 1942, a warning was issued concerning the acceptance of incorrectly endorsed ration tickets - forged tickets, containing on the back fictitious names and numbers. On the 3rd April, 1944, one forged 2-gallon ration ticket bearing a fictitious endorsement was surrendered to the pool. On the 2nd May, 1944, the applicant was interviewed, and an admission was obtained that licences wore not checked when sales were made to wellknown customers. On the 22nd June, 1944, the licensee was called upon to show cause why his licence should not be revoked. On the 4th September, 1944, the board refused to accept the explanation that had been made, and revoked the licence for fourteen days.

Mr Abbott:

– Ishe in gaol ?


– No; his licence was revoked. The great difficulty of administering the rationing system must be evident to honorable members. If things were allowed to get out of hand the whole system of control would break down, and themaintenance of effective control is so important to the economic life of the country, and to the prosecution of the war, that it is necessary for the board to impose penalties. The position in this regard is worse in New South Wales than in any other State. There has not been much trouble with counterfeit petrol tickets in Victoria. I have no desire that a retailer’s business should be closed or his standing in the community damaged without giving him an opportunity to disprove the charges brought against him. With a view to providing such facilities for defence those two proposals have been submitted -

  1. Resellers charged with offencesagainst the regulations being permitted to appear in person, accompanied, if they so desired, by legal counsel, before the full State board and given the opportunity to state the case in their own defenceto the board.
  2. The establishment of a reviewing authority, as recommended by the Regulations Advisory Committee. Under date the 27th July, we wereasked by the Attorney-General’s Department to state our views as to the most practicable method of putting this proposal into operation, insofar as it concerns this department. We suggested that, as any actions by this department relating to the granting of consents, licences or permits to carry on businesses will relate to automotive supplies, i.e.,liquid fuel and spare parts, any reviewing authority appointed to review our actions might also act in respect of the Department of Transport, since both departments act in collaboration to a large extent. A reviewing authority, if created will consist of three persons and we have proposed a magistrate as chairman with a representative of the department and a representative of the automotive industry.

I am disposed to recommend the adoption of both proposals so that persons charged with offences against the rationing regulations may appear before the board either personally or through their legal representative, or may appear before a reviewing authority set up for the purpose. I do not wish to destroy public confidence in the board which has,I believe, done an efficient job. As Minister in charge of this undertaking.I feel that it is my duty to uphold the board.


– I ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether he will give theHouse an assurance that no further petrol pumps will be sealed for alleged breaches of the petrol rationing regulations unless and until the persons charged with the alleged offence have had the opportunity to hear the charge and offer a defence before some kind of tribunal?


-I think that is a fair request. Consultation’ between legal officers, the Department of Supply and Shipping, and, the Department of Transport is necessary. We hope to complete the discussions quickly. Meanwhile I give the right honorable gentleman the assurance for which he asks.

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Minister for Aircraft Production · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– Can the Attorney-General say whether it is true that the High Court sittings listed to take place in Adelaide next week have been cancelled became of the refusal of High Court judges to sit up in the train or to fly to Adelaide? Will the Attorney-General make a statement on this matter next week? If the judges will not perform their duty will the Attorney-General see that others are appointed who will? Will the Minister also inform the House how often the High Court has sat in what may be calledthe outlying States during the last three or four years, and will he state the places from which litigants would have had to come to attend the sittings of the court in Adelaide, which are now to be held in Melbourne?

Attorney-General · BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I was not aware of the facts mentioned by the honorable member. I shall have immediate inquiries made, and a statement will be made later to the House.

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Broadcasting Facilities

Minister for Information · Melbourne · ALP

by leave - On the 1st September, 1944, the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) addressed the following question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General : -

Will the Minister obtain and furnish the House with the following information in respect of broadcasts over radio stations controlled by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in connexion with the referendum campaign: (a) The names of persons who made broadcasts over national and/or State broadcasting stations during the months of July and August; and (b) the dates upon which such broadcasts were made, the stations on which they were made, and the duration of the broadcast in each case?

I am now in a position to furnish the right honorable member with the following information, which has been supplied by the Australian BroadcastingCommission : -

Lists are appended showing the names of all representatives of the official “ Yes “ and “ No “ cases who broadcast in the national relay and State programmes. The stations relaying those talks were the commission’s usual national network, or, in the case of State broadcasts, the alternative metropolitan transmitter to which was linked all the regional s in that State. In addition to the talks by representatives of the official “ Yes “ and “No” campaigns, the commission arranged a series of debates on the referendum issues between speakers who are experts in one of the various problems dealt with in the referendum, both sides of the case being presented in each broadcast. A list is appended of these debates and speakers, which were given in both national and State programmes.

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Total time - 120 minutes. “No “ Campaign - 24th July- Rt. Hon. A. W. Fadden at 9.18 p.m. - 20 minutes. 27th July - Rt. Hon. R. G. Menzies at 7.20 p.m. - 15 minutes. 1st August - Hon.E. J. Harrison at 6.40 p.m. - 15 minutes. 3rd August- Rt. Hon. A. W. Fadden at 7.20 p.m. - 10 minutes. 8th August - Senator the Hon. G. McLeay at 9.18 p.m. - . 15 minutes. 10th August- Rt. Hon. A. W. Fadden at 7.50 p.m. - 10 minutes. 15th August - Rt. Hon. A.W. Fadden at 8.5 p.m. - 20 minutes, 16th August- Rt. Hon. R. G. Menzies at 7.45 p.m. - 15 minutes.

Total time - 120 minutes,

Queensland. “No “ Campaign - 25th July- Rt. Hon. R. G. Menzies at 6.50 p.m. - 8½ minutes. 1st August - Hon. G. F. R. Nicklin at 7.20 p.m. - 15 minutes. 8th August - Senator the Hon. H. S. Foll at 7.20 p.m. - 10 minutes. 12th August - Hon. J. McEwen at6.15 p.m. - 15 minutes. 15th August - Hon. J. Francis at 6.20 p.m. - 7 minutes.

Total time - 55½ minutes. “ Yes” Campaign - 27th July- Hon. F. M. Forde at 8.40 p.m. - 13 minutes. 28th July - Mrs. Robinson at 7.45 p.m. - 5 minutes. 2nd August - Senator the Hon. J. S. Collings at6.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 3rd August- Hon. W. J. Scully at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 7th August - Hon. A. Drakeford at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 9th August - Mrs. Bailey at 6.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 10th August - Dr. F. Louat at 6.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 11th August - Hon. F. A. Cooper at. 6.30 p.m. - 11 minutes. 1 5th August - Hon. J. Beasley at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes.

Total time - 59 minutes. “No “ Campaign - 3rd August - Rt. Hon. Sir Earle Page at6.52 p.m. - 7 minutes. 4th August - Hon. Sir Frederick Stewart at 8.45 p.m. - 10 minutes. 11th August - Rt. Hon. R. G. Menzies at 6.49 p.m. - 10 minutes. 14th August - Hon. R. W. D. Weaver at 6.49 p.m. - 10 minutes. 14th August- Hon. J. P. Abbott at 7.20 pm. - 7 minutes. 15th August - Hon. M.F. Bruxner at 7.20 p.m. - 9 minutes. 16th August - Hon. H. L. Anthony at 6.52 p.m. - 7 minutes.

Total time - 60 minutes. “ Yes “ Campaign - 27th July- Right Hon. H. V. Evatt at 8.45 p.m. - 10 minutes. 28th July- Mrs. Jessie Street at 7.30 p.m. - 5 minutes. 2nd August- Mrs. H. V. Evatt at 6.54 p.m. - 5 minutes. 3rd August- Hon. W. J. Scully at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 5th August - Dr. Frank Louat at 6.54 p.m. - 5 minutes. 7th August - Hon. A. Drakeford at 7.35 p.m. -5 minutes. 11th August- Hon. W. J. McKell at 7.20 p.m. - 10 minutes, 15th August - Hon. J. Beasley at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes, 16th August- Right Hon. H. V. Evatt at 8.54 p.m. - 5 minutes.

Total time - 55 minutes.

N.B. - The balance of five minutes was to have been occupied by Dame Mary Hughes on 8th August but Dame Mary was unable to broadcast on account of illness.

Victoria. “ No “ Campaign - 7th August - Hon. A. A. Dunstan at 7.20 p.m. - 14 minutes. 10th August- Hon. T. W. White at 7.20 p.m. - 11 minutes. 12 th August - Hon. T. T. Hollway at 6.20 p.m. - 9 minutes. 12th August - Hon. John McEwen at 7.20 p.m. - 10 minutes. 14th August - Hon. Harold Holt at 7.20 p.m. - 10 minutes. 15th August - Hon. J. McEwen at 7.20 p.m. -8 minutes.

Total time - 59½ minutes. “ Yes “ Campaign - 26th July - Senator the Hon. R. V. Keane at 7.21 p.m. - 6 minutes. 28th July - Miss Jean Daley at 7.30 p.m. - 6 minutes, 31st July - Mr. Alexander Wilson at 7.21 p.m. -6 minutes. 2nd August - Hon. A. A. Calwell at 7.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 3rd August- Hon. W. J. Scully at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 5th August- Mr. A. W. Coles at 7.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 7th August - Hon. A. Drakeford, at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 8th August - Mrs. W. Barry at 7.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 11th August - Hon. J. Cain at 7.20 p.m. - 10 minutes. 15th August - Hon. J. Beasley at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes.

Total time - 58 minutes.

Tasmania. “ No “ Campaign - 2nd August - Hon. H. S. Baker at 6.20 p.m. - 11 minutes. 4th August - Hon. D. Sampson at 6.30 p.m. - 10 minutes. 7th August - Dame Enid Lyons at 6.20 p.m. - 9 minutes. 10th August - Hon.A. Lillic at6.20 p.m. - 10 minutes. 14th August - Hon. J. A. Guy at 6.20 p.m. - 10 minutes. 15th August - Rt. Hon. R. G, Menzies at 6.30 p.m - 8 minutes.

Total time - 58 minutes. “ Yes “ Campaign- 28th July - Joyce Eyre at 6.30 p.m. - 5 minutes. . . 31st July - Mr. Piggott at 6.20 p.m.4½ minutes. 3rd August- Hon. W. J. Scully at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 5th August - Mr. Currie at 6.5 p.m. - 5 minutes. 7th August - Hon. A. Drakeford at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 8th August- Hon. E. Dwyer-Grey at 6.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 9th August - Hon. J. Beasley at 7.35 p.m. - 7 minutes. 11th August- Hon. R. Cosgrove at6.30 p.m. - 8 minutes. 12th August - Senator N. E. McKenna at 6.10 p.m. -5½ minutes. 15th August- Hon. C. W. Frost at 7.30 p.m. - 10 minutes.

Total time - 60 minutes.

South Australia. ” No “ Campaign - 7th August - Hon. A. G. Cameron at 7.45 p.m. - 15 minutes. 10th August - Hon. C. L. Abbott at 9.15 p.m. - 15 minutes. 14th August - Senator Hon. G. McLeay at 7.45 p.m. - 15 minutes. 10th August- Hon. T. Playford at 7.30 p.m. - 15 minutes.

Total time - 60 minutes. “ Yes “ Campaign - 27th July - Hon. N. Makin at 7.20 p.m. 10 minutes. 28th July - Mrs. Carlisle McDonnel at 7.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 31st July- Mr. J. E. Maycock at 7.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 2nd August -Captain C. Chambers at 9.15 p.m. - 5 minutes. 3rd August- Hon. W. J. Scully at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 5th August - Hon. A. W. Christian at 7.15 p.m. - 5 minutes. 7th August - Hon. A. Drakeford at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes. 8th August- Mrs. R. Williams at 7.20 p.m. - 5 minutes. 11th August - Hon. R. S. Richards at 7.20 p.m. - 10 minutes. 15th August - Hon J. Beasley at 7.35 p.m. - 5 minutes.

Total time -60 minutes.

Western Australia. “ No “ Campaign - 8th August- Hon. L. Thorn at 10.15 p.m. - 9 minutes. 9th August - Hon. N. Keenan at 10.17 p.m. - 10 minutes. 10th August- Hon. A. F. Watts at 6.0 p.m. - 11 minutes. 11th August - Hon. Ross McDonald at 10.15 p.m. - 11 minutes. 14th August - Hon. H. B. Collettt at 10.15 p.m. - 9 minutes. 16th August - Hon. H. A. Leslie at 10.30 p.m.-9 minutes.

Total time - 59 minutes. “ Yes “ Campaign - 27th July - Hon. A. Eraser at6.30 p.m. - 10 minutes. 28th July - Mrs. Deane at6.30 p.m. - 7 minutes. 3rd August - Dr. Frank Louat at6.0 p.m. - 5 minutes. 4th August- Hon. W. J. Scully at 10.36 p.m. -6 minutes. 7th August - Hon. A. W. Wilson at 6.0 p.m. - 5 minutes. 10th August - Hon. A. Drakeford at 10.25 p.m. -6 minutes. 11th August - Hon. J. C. Willcock at 6.0 p.m. - 9 minutes. 15th August- Hon. J. Beasley at 10.30 p.m. - 7 minutes.

Total time - 55 minutes,

Queensland. 5th August: “Should Canberra Govern the Outer States?”. For - Mr. T. Moroney. Against - Mr. Charles Porter. 12th August: “Organization of Marketing “. For - Mr. J. Neumann. Against -Mr. T. A. Hiley.

New South Wales. 9th August : “ The Referendum - Its Effect on Centralization “. For - Mr. D. J. A. S. Campbell. Against - Professor F. A. Bland.

Victoria. 2nd August : “ The Referendum “. For - Sir Frank Clarke. Against - Mr. Gilbert Jenkin. 9th Angust: “ Aspects of the Referendum “. For- Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C.

Against - Mr. Harold Holt.

Tasmania. 30th July: “Vote No, Vote Yes, What are You Voting For?”. For- Mr. W. T. Dowsett. Against - Professor J. Elliott. 6th August : “ Employment and Unemployment”. For - Senator N. E. McKenna. Against - Mr. H. S. Baker.

South Australia. 31st July: “Does the Common wealth Really Need Further Powers?”. For - Mr. A. B. Thompson. Against - Mr. A. J. Hannan, K.C. 4th August: “Is the Referendum Necessary?”. For- Dr. Charles Duguid. Against - Dr. Grenfell Price.

Western Australia. 8th August: “The Yes and No of Referendum “. For - Mr. P. J. Trainer. Against -Mr. C. G. Dudley. 15th August: The Yes and No of Referendum “.’ For - Honorable A. R. G. Hawke. Against- Mr. A. F. Watts.

On the 1st September, 1944, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) addressed the following questions to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral : -

Will the Minister provide a list of persons who were allotted time on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s stations to state the “ Yes “ case and the No “ case respectively from the commencement of the recent referendum campaign (a) in national broadcasts, and (b) in State broadcasts from national stations?

What total period of time was taken by each speaker?

By which authority were speakers chosen ?

What principle was observed in the choice of speakers?

What principle was observed in determining the period of time allotted to each speaker?

If the commission did not make these arrangements entirely at its own discretion, were any ministerial directions given on this matter ?

Is the same general procedure on the points enumerated above to be followed on the occasion of a general election?

I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information which has been supplied by the Australian Broadcasting Commission : - 1 and 2. The information desired is shown in the answer to the question asked by Mr. Fadden.

With regard to part6 of the question, no ministerial direct ion was given to the Australian Broadcasting Commission in connexion with the matter.

Leader of the Australian Country party · Darling Downs

. -I move -

That the paper be printed.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– I wish the Leader of the Australian Country party would not be frivolous. He is taking up valuable question time.

Mr Holt:

-i rise to a point of order. Has it not often happened in this House, that when a Minister has read a statement by leave, either the Minister himself or an honorable member has moved that the paper be printed?


– It is true that sometimes when a Minister has obtained permission to make a statement, the Minister himself or an honorable member has moved that the paper be printed. The present situation, however, is entirely different. At least two honorable members asked questions regarding a matter in which all honorable members are, I chink, interested. The Minister asked permission to relate to the House what will, in fact, appear in Hansard in reply to the questions. Seeing that the Minister’s statement will, in any case, appear in Hansard, it was unnecessary to move that the paper be printed.

Mr Archie Cameron:

– Does not that apply to every statement regarding which a motion is made that it be printed?


– I think the position is quite clear. The Minister did not table a statement. He merely obtained leave to recite certain questions and the answers thereto.

Mr Menzies:

– Buthe did obtain leave to make a statement.


– Yes. I have been considering this matter for some time. The Standing Orders provide two methods by which honorable members may address questions to Ministers - upon notice, and without notice. There has developed a practice whichI think is capable of abuse whereby Ministers obtain leave to make lengthy replies involving debatable matter. The Standing Orders strictly lay it down that in the asking of questions debatable matter must not be introduced. It follows that in the answering of questions debatable matter should not be introduced. The House itself is responsible if it gives permission for such statements to be made. However, on many occasions questions are answered in a way which I think takes up too much of the valuable time allowed to honorable members for asking questions. The questions and answers read to-day by the Minister for Information would in any case have appeared in Hansard even if they had not been read. My view is that the House should be very careful about giving permission for the making of statements which in any case would appear in Hansard, if the normal procedure were adopted.

Sir Earle Page:

– Would it be competent for the House to give leave for the making of a statement such as that made by the Minister for Information with the condition that the statement be printed?


– I do not think so. Unless the Minister tabled a statement, I do not think an honorable member could move that it be printed. On this occasion, the Minister recited to the House a number of questions and the answers thereto, the subject of which is of general interest to all honorable members. There might be other questions asked and answered of interest only to the questioner and a constituent but not of general interest. There are, however, many questions of interest to all honorable gentlemen, and it is perhaps useful that Ministers should read the answers in order that honorable members may hear them instead of having to await the publication of Hansard to read them. Nevertheless, I think that the answering of questions by means of statements made by leave is overdone.

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Labour Req uiremen ts.


– In the absence of the Minister for Labour and National Service, I ask the Prime Minister whether an endeavour will be made to provide the extra hands needed on the sugar-cane fields and in the sugar mills in certain areas where considerable loss and hardship are being felt. I specifically bring to the Government’s notice the needs of the mill areas of Nambour, Bauple, Maryborough and Gin Gin.


– The honorable gentleman’s representations will be referred to the Department of Labour and National Service and replied to some time next week

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether a decision has yet been reached regarding the tax liability of Mr. Owen, the inventor of the Owen gun, and whether the Prime Minister will submit to Cabinet the matter of making a suitable reward to Mr. Owen for his services to Australia.


– There is a question about that matter on the notice-paper. The matter of a reward is entirely for Cabinet to decide. Whether Mr. Owen has paid his tax, and what his tax should be, are not matters for ministerial determination.

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-I desire to make a personal explanation in order to clear up a misunderstanding which may have arisen from an interjection which I made yesterday during the speech of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) on wheat acquisition. My remark may have conveyed the impression that the wheat is not acquired and that the property right remains with the growers. I wish to make it clear that the wheat is acquired and that it thus becomes the absolute property of the Commonwealth, but as the payments made to the growers from time to time are advances against the ultimate return, the wheat-grower retains financial interest in. each pool until the final payment is made on realization.

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– In the absence of the

Minister for Air, I ask the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for

Defence, whether he has read the report in the Canberra Times of the speech delivered in this chamber last night by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) regarding aircraft production in Australia, in which the honorable member is reported to have said -

We were trying to build Lancasters ostensibly to convert them to freight planes, but this was a waste of time. All that was needed for first-class mail was about 100 Douglas aircraft, which could be purchased overseas cheaper than they could be built here.

Will the right honorable gentleman order a ministerial inquiry into the whole matter of aircraft construction and the waste of man-power involved therein, particularly in regard to the Lancaster bomber programme and the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines?


– No, I will not.

Mr Abbott:

– The Government will still allow the waste?


– This is a matter which ought to be made clear to the country. The allegations implied in the question, if answered, would introduce a debatable subject.


– Yes.


– I submit that in the circumstances I should be given leave to explain the facts of the Lancaster bomber programme.

Leave granted.


– The Government of the United Kingdom has been most anxious that Australia should embark on the construction of Lancaster bombers for the purpose of enablingus to service such aircraft, and have the requisite resources to provide spare parts for contingent operational activities. As the result the Commonwealth Government has embarked upon a Lancaster construction programme of limited dimensions. There is no misuse of man-power. Whether there is waste of man-power or not is a matter which I cannot completely answer, for it may happen that the war will end before the Lancasters being constructed in Australia have been put into operation. But the war may not end, in which event, the foresight of those who have decided that this programme is a justifiable and proper step to take will be vindicated. The Spitfire, which performed almost incredible achievements in defence of the nation is, having regard to the stage of the war, comparatively a useless type of aircraft.

Mr White:

– Not the Mark 8 Spitfire.


– I referred to the Spitfire that was first evolved. It was an interceptorfighter. Well, the enemy is not at present engaged in operations which make it necessary for their aircraft to he intercepted. They need an interceptorfighter of their own now. That is the position. What Australia has done in respect of aircraft construction before and since I became Prime Minister has been done on the best advice available, and that advice is based on the knowledge of the Allied Governments. It is very easy for people to’ walk about, observe, and think they know what is going on. J. listened to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) last night. I wish him well .in his operational career. We hope to see him back with us. But I submit that the Minister for Air knows very much more about the operations of the Royal Australian Air Force than does any officer who is serving in it.

page 890

BUDGET 1944’-45

hi Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 14th September (vide page S60), on motion by Mr. Chifley -

That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and Allowances, £8,480”, be agreed to.

Darling Downs Leader of the Australian Country party

– The budget speech and the accompanying budget papers are the most important documents that are presented to Parliament each year, (because they survey the nation’s economy and expenditure. One cannot find fault with the principles upon which the budget is founded, because they were bequeathed to the present Government. ‘ They consist of three ingredients which the previous Government regarded ‘as the basis of sound finance in respect of indispensable war expenditure. Those elements are: Firstly, taxation according to the capacity of the nation to pay; secondly, public loans, when receipts from taxation fall short of expenditure, and thirdly, bank credits, when the combination of the first two elements is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the nation. Obviously, those principles have been embodied in this budget, and I make no- complaint about them. But one must analyse the. details of the use of those elements.

War-time experience has demonstrated that the mobilization of our resources for total war has not suffered one iota by lack of money. In principle, every war- time budget has been relatively simple. The Treasurer has estimated the amount that he proposed to raise by taxation. To that sum he added the estimated capacity of the voluntary loan market for the ensuring year. The balance, or “ gap “ between revenue and expenditure, has been met ‘by central bank credit. The budget this year follows the same pattern. Estimated expenditure is £653,000,000. Taxation and other receipts are estimated to produce £325,000,000, or not quite 50 per cent, of the contemplated expenditure. The remaining 50 per cent, must be supplied by loans and bank credit. Any deficiency in public loans. must necessarily be supplied by bank credit. Of course, the ideal way in which to finance a war-time budget is on the basis of “ pay-as-you-go “, namely, to secure ‘all the revenue necessary by way of taxation and other similar receipts. But, because of enormously increased expenditure, this method has to be supplemented, and the second and less satisfactory, method of public loans has been used. During the last financial year net subscriptions from public loans and the sale of war savings certificates totalled £265,000,000. According to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that is a record. However, that fact should give the honorable gentleman no cause for self-satisfaction. Indeed, it is rather disquieting when compared with certain other record increases since the outbreak of war.’ The note issue has increased by £135,000,000, or almost 600 per cent. Deposits with the trading banks have risen by £220,000,000, and deposits with savings banks have increased by £227,000,000. In addition, the Commonwealth Bank holds £185,000,000 of special war deposits by th« trading banks. The inference to be drawn is that the people of Australia have preferred to place hundreds of millions of pounds of excess spending power in bank deposits rather than lend the money to the Government. The result has been a greater use of the third and most unsatisfactory method of finance, namely, treasury-thills or government I O Us, which amounted, on the 30th June last, to. the colossal sum of £343,000,000, an increase during the last twelve months of £S4,000,000.

The easy but dangerous method of utilizing central bank credit to cover up financial shortcomings is affected ‘both by the amount of money obtained by taxation and loans, and by the means adopted to eliminate wasteful and extravagant expenditure. Therefore, I propose to analyse each of those matters for the last financial year. Income tax receipts, including war-time company tax, rose from £141,000,000 in 1942-43 to £183,700,000, an increase of approximately 30 per cent. This increase would have been much greater if outstanding arrears of tax had been collected. Commonwealth, income tax outstanding on the 30th June, 1942, was- about £13,000,000. During the next year, it had risen to £1S,700,000, whilst for the last financial year nearly £33,000,000 was outstanding. No doubt the Taxation Department has been greatly handicapped by man-power difficulties, but the position has been accentuated by the complicated calculations involved in the adoption of the “ rebate “ system. Even .allowing for an increase of national income it must be obvious that an appreciable amount of the increase of 30 per cent, in income tax collections is due to the premium of 25 per cent, paid by taxpayers as the result of the introduction of the partial “ pay-as-you-earn “ system. The “rebate” system in assessing the tax payable is wasteful, because it entails avoidable calculations involving extra man-power; and it is illusory because it does not confer so great a benefit on the taxpayer as is generally understood. When the system was introduced by the Income Tax Assessment Act .1942 I opposed it.

I have prepared a schedule comparing the taxes payable in various grades of income under the two systems.

page 891



  1. If allowances for dependants were fixed at amounts deductible in the income year 1940-41, and if such amounts were deductible in arriving at the taxable income of a taxpayer for income year 1942-43, in lieu of the present rebate system; and
  2. Under present law for income year 1942-43.

– The bases of comparison are the same.

Mr Scullin:

– They are incorrect.


– That has to be proved. Under the old system, a taxpayer with a gross income of £300, and with ‘ a dependent wife, paid almost exactly the same amount of tax as under the “ rebate “ system. With a ,wife and one child, he pays £1 ls. extra under the “ rebate “ system. However, if he. has a wife and two children, he pays £6 19s more tax under the “rebate” system, and if he has three children, the increase of tax payable is £11 18s. In the last two cases, child endowment of £13 and £26, respectively, is payable. But the figures indicate that the family man earning £300 a year is subsidizing his own child endowment to the amount of £6 19s. a year if he has two children, and £11 18s. a year if he has three children. A taxpayer with a gross income of £400, and with a wite, benefits under the “ rebate “ system to the amount of £3 Ils., and a man with a wife and one child, to the amount of £1 ‘7s. But the man with a wife and two children pays £9 16s. more tax, and a man with wife and three children pays £17 10s. more tax, thereby subsidizing to those amounts the child endowment payable to them. The other grades of income cited show a similar result. My reason for compiling the table is to expose two things. First, the complicated method of rebate requires the employment of substantial staffs in the Taxation Department. Secondly, the system does not achieve the end which, I believe, the Government sot out to achieve. In view of these disquieting results, I consider that adjustments should be made by reverting to the .previous system of deductions for dependants. The result should mean more generous treatment of the family man with more than one child. That consideration would be amply justified, because the war has demonstrated the grave danger to Australia of its small population.

The introduction of a rebate for dental expenses, as well as the increase of the rebate for medical expenses, is a reform long overdue, as such provision, up to the present, has been found to be quite inadequate. In this connexion it is interesting to note that in the United States of America a deduction up to $2,500 is allowed for a married couple, or the “ head of a family “, whilst the allowable deduction in the case of other taxpayers is $1,250. Medical, laboratory, surgical, dental and other diagnostic and healing services, as well as medical and dental supplies such as artificial teeth and limbs, are covered by the allowance.

I wish ‘now to refer to the proposal outlined by the Treasurer for dealing with deferred maintenance expenditure, and expenditure on alterations to plant and machinery. The necessity for some provision of this nature was stressed by me in this House as far back as the 19th November, 1941, and I referred to it again on the 29th September, 1942. An allowance for deferred maintenance expenditure will affect primary as well as secondary industries. Most farms to-day are in a state of neglect, due to lack of man-power and materials, and are badly in need of repair. Fences have deteriorated, farm buildings are in a state of disrepair, and farming machinery has not been maintained in good order because of the impossibility of obtaining replacement materials and parts. In fact, much farming machinery will have to be written off as a loss, because tractors and other similar equipment have gone beyond the stage when the effective repairs can be made. As a result, many farmers and other rural producers hold credit balances in cash, when, normally, they would have expended such moneys on replacements and improvements.

Mr Makin:

– Was provision for deferred maintenance in the right honorable member’s budget of 1941?


– The subject was in mind and it was intended to take administrative action. It must be remembered, however, that when my budget was introduced in 1941, Australia was not at war with Japan. I made the suggestion originally in November, 1941. It would be a short-sighted policy to regard as income the whole of the surplus cash held by farmers, since it represents a proportion of the capital assets, which have deteriorated greatly during the war, and will need to be replaced when the necessary materials are again available.

The retention of our position among the nations of the world in both the industrial and primary producing spheres demands that some provision be made now for deferred maintenance. The remedy proposed by the Treasurer is in the nature of a post-war credit without interest. I fail to see why a taxpayer should be compelled to lodge with, the Government a non-interest bearing deposit in cash equal to the cost of deferred maintenance, as a first essential to enable him to claim the deduction from his taxable income. Many farmers who are struggling to pay off mortgages on their properties will be loath to deposit cash with the Treasury without interest, when they have to pay interest to the banks for the money deposited. Others, again, will not take advantage of the provision, because they will not understand its complicated nature. While the principle is sound, the proposed method of implementation is unnecessarily complicated. We should strive for simplicity in our taxation laws. It seems to me that some other equitable method could be found which, whilst achieving the same desirable objective, would be easily understood by the average taxpayer, and would not render it necessary for him to deposit cash with the Government. I shall have more to say on this matter when the relevant measure is before the House.

Mr Chifley:

– If the money be not deposited as proposed, it might be expended in other ways.


– That may be a factor in the situation, but other factors also must be considered. I shall submit a formula to the Treasurer in this regard which I hope he will find satisfactory.

In his 1943 budget speech the Treasurer said -

With the current level and volume of income, I see no reason why we cannot expect the public of Australia to subscribe to our public loans an aggregate of £300,000,000.

He added that subscribers to the next loan should exceed 750,000. Comparing the facts with this forecast, we find that public loans and war savings certificates contributed only £265,000,000 to war finance for the year. Thenumber of subscribers to the Fourth Liberty Loan of £125,000,000 was only 568,000, and it fell to only 453,000 for the First Victory Loan of £150,000,000. More liberal support should have been forthcoming from the public, especially in view of the record increases of bank deposits and of the note issue, and of the need to guard against inflation. Some large contributions to these loans are of a non-recurring nature. For instance, the War Damage Fund contributed advance subscriptions of £2,350,000 to Commonwealth loans last year. That trust fund now has more than £14,500,000 invested in Australian consolidated and Commonwealth Government stock, so that the amount subscribed to the loans by the general public was even less than was indicated by the Treasurer’s figure.

Without doubt, the vast majority of Australians prefer to place their surplus moneys on deposit in the savings banks and trading banks rather than to entrust them to the Government by way of loan. Unfortunately, the extent to which loans fail to produce results has to be made up by bank credit, with its attendant inflationary tendencies. There must be a realization by the people, however, that the maximum possible support must be given to the loan-raising programme of the Government by the people who have the wherewithal to make contributions. A far greater number of people should contribute to our loans in the future.

As a matter of fact, I am not at all sure that the figures submitted by the Treasurer do not put a more rosy complexion on the picture than is justified by the facts. In order to make an analysis of the true position for myself, and particularly to ascertain the degree to which the Commonwealth Bank had subscribed to public loans during the last year, I asked the Treasurer, last week, to obtain certain information for me. I regret to say that my request was treated most cavalierly. I do not blame the Treasurer on this account, but obviously some of the honorable gentleman’s officials have been at fault.

Mr Chifley:

– The information furnished to the right honorable member came from the officials in the Commonwealth Bank.


– I do not desire to be misunderstood on this subject. If what the Treasurer has said by interjection is true the position is aggravated from my point of view. I have held high positions in this country, and even though I may not have occupied them for very long, I consider that I am entitled to be treated with far more courtesy and consideration than I have received in connexion with this request for information.I asked the Treasurer -

What proportion of the respective sums of £199,723,109 and £223,348,548 disclosed in the balance-sheets of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as at the 30th June, 1943, and the 30th June, 1944, as Commonwealth Government securities including treasury-bills, represents treasury-bills?

The reply I received was -

The following answer has been supplied by the Commonwealth Bank: - “ The total of treasury-bills held by all departments of the Commonwealth Bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank as at the 30th June. 1943, was £246,335,000 and at the 30th June, 1944, was £314,750,000.”

Could any sensible and discerning person regard that as an answer to my question? I askedwhat proportion of an amount of £199,723,109 referred to in the balancesheet of the bank for the 30th June, 1943, as Commonwealth Government securities, including treasury-bills, represented treasury-bills. The reply I received was that the amount of treasury-bills held by the bank at that date totalled £246,335,000. A similar question concerning the apportionment of an amount of £223,348,548 brought the answer that the total amount of treasury-bills held bv the bank at the 30th June, 1944, was £314,750,000. I shall not submit to such offhand treatment. As the representative of an important electorate in the Parliament, I am entitled to more adequate answers to the questions that I ask. Pending the receipt of additional information, I shall make the best analysis possible on the meagre information that is available to me. The answer to the question I asked was so ridiculous that I must put it on one side and abstract such information as I can from the bank’s balance-sheet and make my own deductions. If these are not correct I shall expect an authoritative statement from the bank on the subject. I do not suggest, in the circumstances, that my figures will be accurate, but they are the best that I can submit. According to the bank’s balance-sheet for the year ended the 30th June, 1943, Commonwealth Government securities, including treasury-bills, totalled £199,723,109. The balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Savings Bank for the same period shows an item described solely as “ Government Securities “ - that explicit statement is made in the balance-sheet - £153,951,134. The two amounts total £353,674.243. I am leaving out the Note Issue Department, because, obviously, it is not included in the totals shown. In the light of these figures, the reply given to my question is not frank; it dodges the issue. Similarly, I have taken figures from the balance-sheet of the bank for the year ended the 30th June, 1944. The result: is that the Commonwealth securities held on that date exclusive of treasury-bills, were £.142,422,807. The figures reveal therefore, that there has been an increase of the bank’s holdings of Commonwealth securities excluding treasury-bills of £35,083,564. Does that represent the amount which the Commonwealth Bank has subscribed i o Commonwealth loans ? In other words, have we “ had our legs pulled “ when we have been led to believe that the loans have been oversubscribed?

Mir. Chifley. - No bank, Commonwealth or other, exclusive of savings banks, has made any contribution to Commonwealth loans.


– I have given the aggregate of both- £35,000,000.

Mr Dedman:

– What would the right honorable gentleman expect the savings banks to do with their deposits ?


– I am not criticizing the use of their funds, but am endeavouring to arrive at the true position, which has not been disclosed in the budget speech or in the answers that were given to the questions which I asked. I want to ascertain the degree of movement towards disastrous inflation.

Mr Chifley:

– The right honorable gentleman is not suggesting that any bank credit was used in the filling of Commonwealth loans?


– No; I should be sorry to think that that had been done.

Mr Chifley:

– It has happened.


– These figures, which are all that are available to me, disclose an increase of £35,000,000 in government securities. The Parliament should know what that represents. Let us look at the savings bank accounts. They contain the item “ Commonwealth Government Securities”, but no indication is given as to whether or not these include treasury-bills. They have increased from £153,951,000 to £233,824,000, an increase of approximately £80,000,000. I should be interested to learn whether that increase represents contributions to Commonwealth loans or to treasury-bills. The committee is entitled to have that information.

Mr Chifley:

– Why would the savings bank want treasury-bills when it can invest in Commonwealth loans at a higher rate of interest?


– I do not know. But I shall show that the Treasury has not invested all its trust funds in Commonwealth loans and thus obtained a higher rate of interest. Treasury-bills discounted by the Commonwealth Bank for the Government for war purposes had reached the sum of £343,000.000 at the 30th June, 1944. More than 99 per cent, of this astounding total had been raised since June, 1941. The Treasurer admits that the total increase of treasury-bills for the year was £S4,000,000, but a careful scrutiny of the budget papers reveals that it was much greater than that. At page 94 of the budget papers there is the item “ General Trust Funds “ of which £3S,706,000 is invested in treasury-bills. A corresponding item for the previous year was £21,488,000. Therefore, last year more than £1.7,000,000 of the general trust, funds was invested in treasury-bills, apart from the £S4,000,000 discounted by the Com mon wealth Bank. The remainder of the general trust funds has been invested in Australian Consolidated Stock at £4 per cent., £3 17s. 6d. per cent., £3 7s. 6d. per cent., and so on. The Treasurer has asked why the Savings Bank Branch of the Commonwealth Bank shoud lend money at £.1 5s. per cent, when it could obtain £4 per cent.; yet .he himself will use during the current year trust funds amounting to £64.000,000 for a return of £1 5s. per cent.

Mr Chifley:

– But some liquidity may be needed in regard to trust funds.


– I am not dealing with the legality or otherwise of the transaction. There have been misuse and abuse of trust funds, and an extremely unfair and undue silence in connexion with them in the budget speech and other information placed before this committee. When they are withdrawn, the Treasurer substitutes for them an IOU, which is renewed annually. The National Welfare Fund also is utilized in the same way, £25,500,000 having been applied last year in establishing financial equilibrium at the Treasury. The total amount standing to the credit of the fund is only £25,525,000. Therefore, to-day there is a liquidity - as the honorable member has been pleased to describe it - of only £25,000 in a fund that was raised specifically, by means of higher taxes, for national welfare requirements in the future. Trust funds totalling approximately £43,000,000 were replaced by treasury-bills, the total issue of which at the 30th June, 1944, it is admitted, was £343,000,000. ‘ In addition, treasurybills amounting to more than £50,000,000 are held by the States. The Commonwealth Bank Board has sounded a note of warning, and has feebly emphasized the gravity of the position in relation to treasury-bills, in this statement: -

Treasury-bills discounted by the bank for the Government for war purposes at the 30th rune, 1044. had reached the total of £343,000,000. Although this figure is not disproportionate with that of other countries engaged in the war, it represents the amount by which Government expenditure exceeds the funds obtained by revenue and public borrowing. Continued reliance on this form of finance adds to the excess spending power already in the hands of the public, and therefore increases the problem of its control for war.

The Treasurer also has emphasized that aspect of the matter in his budget speech. Let us analyse the position. If the Commonwealth Bank Board regards in that light the issue of treasury-bills amounting to £343,000,000, how should it and the Treasurer view the fact that under this allegedly temporary method of finance the amount outstanding in treasury-bills is £457,000,000?

Mr Chifley:

– The right honorable gentleman’ should be careful as to how he criticizes the Commonwealth Bank Board, because he may have to make an explanation later.


– It is not criticism of the Commonwealth Bank Board. I have criticized it only on account of the unfair way in which it has answered my questions. I am sure that the honorable gentleman will agree with me in that respect. The board held a far tighter rein on the Government that I led than it. has attempted to hold on the present Administration. Apart from the £343,000,000 worth of treasury-bills discounted, by the Commonwealth Bank for war purposes, £43,000,000 trust money was converted into treasury-bills, and £21,000,000 had accumulated up to this year, representing the use of trust funds in previous years, namely, £64,000,000. In addition, according to the Commonwealth Bank Board, treasury-bills amounting to £50,000,000 are outstanding on account of the States. Thus, the grand total of treasury-bills is £457,000,000. The board states that substantial cash resources of the States are continuing to accumulate, and have now reached a total of £41,000,000. The board is of the opinion that arrangements should bc made immediately for the permanent redemption of a substantial proportion of the bills that are held on behalf of the States. I have said more than once in this chamber that if the Commonwealth observed strictly its legal obligations under the financial agreement, the States would be compelled to redeem treasury-bills amounting to £17,000,000. Instead of doing that, the Government apparently intends to let the States “get away with it “, by bringing down a bill to validate the illegal short payments that, have occurred during the last ten years. There are certain, irregularities in State finances which as yet are undisclosed, namely, the cloaking of revenue deficits by means of loan funds, whereby excessive payments have been made by the Commonwealth to the National Debt Sinking Fund. This and certain other irregularities will have to be probed before Commonwealth finances can be made to suffer by validating the transactions of the National Debt Commission.

Mr Chifley:

– All of these existed when the right honorable gentleman was Treasurer.


– But I was never advised of the illegality. I do not blame the honorable gentleman, and never have done so. He and I are blameless in the matter, because we were not advised of the illegality prior to the 1943 Report of the National Debt Commission. The point that I make is that the honorable gentleman, having now been advised of the illegality, the responsibility rests on him to put the matter right, which cannot be done by allowing the debtors to escape from their obligation. The States have accumulated funds totalling £41,000,000. The war is being waged by the Commonwealth Government, and its responsibilities are quite onerous enough without allowing the States to escape from a just contribution to the successful waging of the conflict and the establishment of the country on a proper post-war reconstruction basis.

I sum up by saying that in order to meet last year’s expenditure the Treasurer, as financial head of the Commonwealth household, paid his way for the equivalent of approximately five and a half months. For the next four and a half months or so he carried on with borrowings from his neighbours, the people of Australia. When these two sources had dried up, he bridged the next five weeks with what has been described as a temporary overdraft from the bank, namely, treasury-bills. He completed the remaining three weeks of the year by opening the baby’s money box - the

National Welfare Fund and the General Trust Fund - out of which he took £43,000,000 in cash and left in its place I O Us. I do not wish it to be inferred that my submission is that there has been illegal use of trust funds.I have ventilated the matter solely for the purpose of placing the true position before the committee, particularly in relation to treasury-bills. The possible inflationary effects should be disclosed. I am not endeavouring to assist the people who have money: they should contribute adequately to the loan requirements of the nation. Only if those who have the wherewithal contribute adequately and expeditiously to Commonwealth loans, will the trend of inflation be arrested and the value of their money be maintained. That is a common-sense proposition, quite apart from patriotic considerations. I have often had to bear odium for what allegedly occurred during the famous five weeks that I was in office, but thank goodness I cannot be charged with having used trust funds in the way thatI have described, namely, the substitution of temporary I O Us, annually renewed. In the first period of this Government’s tenure of office, which ended on the 30th June, 1942, the amount rose from £10,692,247 to £12,488,000. In the following year, it was further raised by £9,000,000, bringing the total to £21,488,247. [Extension of time granted.] At June, 1944, the amount had increased to £38,706,000 in addition to which £25,500,000 was taken from the National Welfare Fund. During Labour’s period of office, therefore, trust funds amounting to, approximately, £54,000,000 have been used by this Government.

I submit that the budget does not reveal the actual position in regard to treasury-bills. The value of treasurybills in circulation at various dates was as follows : -

That, however, does not toll the full story. I have here a graph which shows how the amount fluctuates throughout the year, always being lowest, at the date upon which the budget is prepared, and rising sharply thereafter.

The amount shown in April, 1942, was £81,000,000, at which it stayed practically stationary until the 30th June, the date up to which the budget figures are prepared. By March, 1943,. the amount had increased to £269,000,000, but by June it dropped by £10,000,000 to £259,000,000. After the budget had been presented, the figure rose quickly again until it reached £403,000,000 by the next March. By April, it had come down to £373,000,000, in May it stood at £347,000,000, and in June, 1944, it had been reduced to £343,000,000. During the last two months the amount has increased by £22,000,000, from £343,000,000 to £365,000.000. I have a shrewd idea of how the figure is reduced each year just about budget time.

Mr Chifley:

– The right honorable gentleman does not suggest that I go around fixing the figures. There is an inflow of income at that time.


– There is an inflow of something else, too, but the Treasurer does not want me . to say what it is. It is not mere coincidence that each year the amount has declined about the 30th June, and has afterwards increased again. This has happened every year since the present Government has been in office.

Obviously, the ability of the Government to keep down the value of treasurybills in circulation and to prevent inflation is dependent upon wise expenditure. Just as a sensible housewife, who wants to keep her husband out of the bankruptcy court, must live within the family income, so must a government, which, after all, represents an aggregation of householders. There should be a thorough, national stocktaking, a complete review of national expenditure in the light of changing war conditions. Commonwealth war expenditure this year is expected to be £39,000,000 less than the amount actually expended last year. This was only to be expected, but the Government and the Parliament should not too readily assume that that is all that could be saved. “We should see that we are getting full value for our money.

There is, however, one very important aspect of war expenditure which calls for comment. Notwithstanding the changed war situation to which I have referred, no attempt has been made to review certain war-time activities. “ Other war services “, as distinct from expenditure by the service departments, are estimated to cost £81,000,000, as compared with £74.000,000 last year.” Whilst the Treasurer explained that the major items in this expenditure are interest charges, price stabilization, and subsidies for primary production, he was silent as to why expenditure grouped under “ Other war services “ should be higher.

Speaking on the last budget nearly twelve months ago, I warned the Government of the imperative necessity to eliminate waste. The Government, however, does not appear to have heeded my warning, because almost weekly we have evidence of expenditure which could well bc eliminated altogether, or drastically curtailed.

Australia has now been at. war since 1939. In the meantime the war machine has developed considerably, and is now working smoothly. Consequently, the time has long passed when extravagance and waste associated with the conversion from peace to war could be justified.

Take the ‘Department of Labour and National Service. ‘ This year, the estimated salaries, and payments in the nature of salary, to the administrative staff of that department is more than £159,000 higher than the actual expenditure last financial year. Similarly, the estimated total expenditure is £192,616 higher than last year. Expenditure this year on the Man Power Directorate is “estimated to show an increase of £28,599. In the Department of War Organization of Industry, salaries, and payments in the nature of salary, are estimated to be £55,000 higher than last year, whilst the estimated total expenditure of the department is £134,500 greater than the actual expenditure last year.

Last financial* year the Food Control Branch of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture cost £253,500. This year, it is estimated to cost £370,000, or £116,500 more than last year. In addition, provision is made for a further expenditure of £40,000 on a publicity campaign for increased food production.

The activities of these Commonwealth departments must now be viewed in the light of the existing war situation. While, naturally, there still remains the need to carry on several of the functions of this department, it is difficult to understand why it should be necessary to incur heavy additional expenditure this financial year on, for instance, temporary and casual employees.

So far as the Man Power Directorate is concerned, there is every justification for saying that, instead of its expenditure being increased this year, it should be more than halved. The directorate was established to divert Australians from civilian to war-time employment where their labour would be of the greatest value to the nation’s war effort. Its work was of tremendous importance, but the task is practically completed. During the referendum campaign, some federal Ministers were emphatic that man-power control would not exist in. post-war years. The Prime Minister spoke of a nation-wide but decentralized employment service which, he said, would replace the present man-power compulsion. It is obvious, therefore, that there is little need to continue the expenditure of public money on this organization now, and most certainly no need for it in the post-war years. There are in the several States Departments of Labour and Industry which, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service, should be able to deal with the manpower matters that now remain to be handled.

The improvement of the war situation must materially affect the future of the Department pf War Organization of Industry, which also shows a substantially increased expenditure on salaries of temporary and casual employees. The main activity of this department has been the marshalling of civilian resources for war.

Many of its activities have merited the strongest criticism, which I have not failed to offer whenever occasion demanded. It has imposed unnecessary and harassing restrictions upon industry, and has done much to destroy individual initiative and enterprise. In my opinion, the war has reached a stage at which this department’s expenditure should be drastically curtailed instead of being increased.

In making these suggestions, I do not want it to be thought that 1 am advocating that our war effort should be relaxed. On the contrary, I have consistently advocated 100 per cent, war effort until the total defeat of our enemies has been accomplished. At the same time, we must not ignore the fact that there is a Department of Post-war Reconstruction, for which £150,000 has been provided for administrative costs alone, compared with an expenditure of £66,788 last year. Its total expenditure this year is estimated at more than £1,000,000, compared with £109,000 in 1943-44. Provided it is controlled by and staffed with practical men, instead of a host of theorists, this department should be fully competent, to handle all our post-war problems.

I ask the Prime Minister to order an immediate review of the staffing and cost of the Department of Labour and National Service, the Man Power Directorate, and the Department of War Organization of Industry, with a view to a severe pruning of Estimates for the current year. [Further extension of time granted.]

There should be a thorough combing out of several war-time departments and Commonwealth war-time instrumentalities, with a view to effecting economies in expenditure and the more effective utilization of the man-power so employed.

Members of this House are at a disadvantage in debating the budget without having available to them the report of the Auditor-General on last year’s financial transactions. I have repeatedly directed the attention of the Government and the Parliament to the Auditor-General’s trenchant criticisms of waste and extravagance, particularly in service departments. No doubt, when we do receive the Auditor-General’s next report, a similar state of affairs will be revealed. It is grossly unfair to Parliament and to the Australian taxpayer that such a condition should exist year after year. I have yet to find out what action the Government has taken to deal with those responsible for the inefficient administration and laxity to which the AuditorGeneral has referred. We have a war expenditure committee but, in my opinion, too many of its inquiries - mostly for security reasons - areheld in camera. Parliament bears but little of its investigations and recommendations.

It may be opportune, now that the urgency associated with many war works has disappeared, for the Government to reconstitute the Public Accounts Committee in such a way that it would be able to have the advice of the best brains of industry and the assistance of expert costing and investigating accountants. It is too late for Parliament to do anything after hundreds of thousands of pounds have been wasted. “We must guard against a repetition of wasteful expenditure.

As for the Food Control Branch of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, my view is that it is time the Government put an end to the activities of this overstaffed and costly organization. This food control bureaucracy reeks of incompetence, bungling and muddling which would not be tolerated other than by the present Administration and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Curiously the Estimates leave this Parliament and the taxpayers completely in the dark as to the extent of this organization. All that is disclosed is that, compared with 1943-44, this year’s estimated expenditure is out of all proportion to the value of the service given.Whilst primary producers, especially dairy- farmers, have been given a raw deal by the Government and thousands of applications for the release of essential labour for food production have been refused by the Army, the Government has gone merrily ahead building up a huge food control staff. The Government has gone to insane lengths in developing this branch of the Commonwealth service.

Another matter calling for comment is the absence from the budget of any detailed information about the staffing and expenditure of the Allied Works Council. Apparently the expenditure of this huge instrumentality is included in one group in the Estimates. In 1942-43, expenditure of the Allied Works Council was approximately £58,000,000. The taxpayers shouldknow what was the expenditure last financial year and whether any amount has been set down as estimated expenditure for the current year.

This is all the morenecessary when it is recalled that in his 1942-43 report, the Auditor-General commented upon the lack of control over the ultimate extent and final cost of many Allied Works Council projects. I ask the Treasurer to submit to Parliament a complete schedulegiving the expenditure of the Allied Works Council last financial year, the estimated expenditure this year, and the number of staff employed and the salaries and wages bill for 1942-43 and 1943-44. The people should no longer be kept in the dark about this huge organization which has done a wonderful job, but at an enormous expense. If the expense is out of proportion to the value received, remedial steps should be taken. This is the time for rigid economy. The Government should put its house in order in view of the rocky road to inflation which we arc travelling.

It is greatly to be deplored that the budget does not contain any financial allocation for a matter of such major importance as immigration. Itshould be apparent toevery thinking Australian that immigration is a basic necessity not only for Australia’s post-war rehabilitation but also for its security. Yet, the Government has been dilly-dallying with this all-important matter and, if it does not get a move on, the war will be over and we shall find that immigration is still at the “ consideration “ stage. Great Britain has a population of more than 46,000,000 people, the United States of America 131,700,000, and Canada 11,500,000. We have the relatively small population of 7,200,000. Consequently, now, not six months hence, is the time for the Government to make a realistic approach to the task of attracting to this country large numbersof the right types of people. Planning for large scale immigration involves many considerations but, it would appear, this Government is by no means alive to the magnitude of the task that lies ahead. If it were, we should by now have had some concrete evidence, instead of ministerial statements and “ considerations “ by subcommittees of Cabinet. Within the past week or so, we have been told that Canada is conducting an energetic drive for postwar migrants from Britain. At the same time, the retiring Agent-General for

Victoria, Sir Louis Bussau, is telling us that he found that the view of hundreds of people of all classes with whom he talked in the British Isles was that : “ You don’t want us in Australia ; you want Australia for yourselves”. If that is the view of British people who are thinking about the prospects of migration to Australia, it is most regrettable. We should do everything possible to encourage immigration instead of discouraging it.

But, what is the attitude of the Government? In October,. 1943, nearly twelve months ago, the Cabinet appointed a departmental committee to report on various phases of the subject of migration.A month later, this committee appointed sub-committees to report upon all aspects of our migration problems. Five months passed before anything more was heard of the Government’s so-called immigration policy. The Prime Minister said he would liketo see 200,000 Americans come to Australia, and similar numbers from Great Britain and several other Allied countries. Notwithstanding the appointment of this committee, the sub-committee, and the Prime Minister’s declarations, the Government has failed to make any financial provision to set in train a worthwhile immigration scheme. Thousands of citizens of the United States of America have had opportunities to see the potentialities of this country. No doubt many of them are anxious to settle here. It is no infringement of national security to predict that before the war ends, many from the United Kingdom may be in Australia. But, unless the Government wakes up and, instead of having committees working in. the background and Ministers making statements, comes out into the open with a clear-cut policy, we shall lose what chance we have of attracting very desirable citizens from overseas. Unless the Prime Minister or the Treasurer reveals what policy, if any, the Government has, the Government will be open to the charge of adopting a “keep-out” attitude to intending immigrants. At the same time, the Government must not lose sight of the need for a more scientific spread of our existing population.

Equally regrettable is theabsence from the budget of financial provision for the exploratory development of post-war export markets. There is no necessity for me to emphasize that in pre-war years our overseas exports of primary products were the main factor in maintaining our national stability. With the outbreak of war in 1939, many important markets were closed to this country and. a scheme for the war-time marketing of primary products was brought into existence by the then Government. It is, however, appropriate that the Government should take immediate steps to examine the future of rural industries in the post-war years. Whilst the period immediately preceding the cessation of hostilities will present no difficulties as regards finding markets for our primary products; because the people of war-devastated countries will have to be fed, we must face the position that will arise when ordinary trading conditions are restored. Consequently, it is imperative that Australia shall have long-range plans for the marketing of our rural products. On this subject, however, the Government has had nothing to say. It has not provided finance to put a scheme in train, and I warn Parliament and the nation that unless there is an end of this state of lethargy, our primary industries will be in a chaotic condition a few years after the war ends.


.- Two factors have to be taken into consideration in the consideration of this budget, first, the state of the war and the imminence of peace and, secondly, the result of the recent referendum on the transfer of powers to the Commonwealth Parliament to enable it to cope with post-war problems. We have travelled far on the road to success in this war as the result of the sacrifices of the fighting services and the acceptance by the community generally of restrictions on their comfort and freedom. To ensure that those sacrifices shall not have been made in vain, we must guard against a repetition of the errors which were made when the last war ended with a premature peace. There must be no recurrence of the carnage which has taken place; therefore we must thoroughly stamp out, the war spirit this time and not relax our efforts to maintain peace. Only unconditional surrender by our enemies, as demanded by the leaders of the United Nations, Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt, will assure us of final and litter victory and lasting peace.. Although numerous forecasts have been made, no one can be certain when Germany will be defeated. Some authorities believe also that Japan will collapse shortly after Germany lays down its arms, whilst others prophesy that the struggle in the Pacific will be protracted. When Germany has been subjugated a good deal of the strain will be removed from the Allies, including Australia. Mr. Churchill has announced that, after the defeat of Germany has been accomplished, Great Britain will demobilize a considerable portion of its forces. The United States of America will take similar action. When their troops are being demobilized .priority will be given to married men and others with domestic obligations. One Australian in every eight is serving in the fighting forces; and no other country engaged in this war has a higher proportion than that. According to the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) 50 per cent, of our available man-power is in the services, and the restrictions which have been imposed upon the civilians are at least as heavy as those imposed in other Allied countries. Australia has probably contributed more by reciprocal lend-lease than it has received from its Allies. Our casualties in the war total 83,601, ‘including 16,961 killed. Without in any way detracting from the contributions made by other Allied nations, I believe that the Australian effort has been outstanding. Canada, which has a substantially bigger population than Australia, has sustained 36,134 casualties; New Zealand, 31,022 casualties; South Africa, 25,890 .casualties; and other British colonies, 27,871 casualties. Those figures prove that, in this conflict, Australia has borne more than its share of the burden. Therefore, this country is entitled to expect a reassessment of obligations when Germany has been defeated, because the war against Japan may continue for a considerable period. Every member of the League of Nations should play its part in the subjugation of Japan. Mr. Churchill has pointed out that the present war could have been avoided.

Speaking on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Viscount Cecil, the President of the League of Nations Union, he said -

The war could easily have been prevented if the League of Nations had been used with courage and loyalty. Though the road has been one of tragedy and terror, the opportunity will be offered- to guard at least for a few generations against such a frightful experience. You may be sure that 1 shall act in accordance with the spirit and principles of the league by clothing those principles with the necessary authority.

Japan was the original aggressor who broke the Covenant of the league in the rape of China, and the league “ fell down on its job “ because it did not take active measures against Japan. That emboldened Italy and Germany, and they became aggressor nations. Consequently, every member of the league should contribute its share in the final subjugation of Japan. The representative of Soviet Russia. M. Litvinov, pointed out a fewyears ago that peace was indivisible. Russia considered that active step? should hove been taken to uphold the Covenant of the league against Japan and other aggressors. If that policy be adopted in future it will ease the burden on Australia and assist to stabilize our position. We are entitled to expect that consideration. According to an announcement by the War Production Board on the 25th August last, manpower regulations must bp continued in the United States of America for three months after the defeat of Germany. That is a part of a general plan to convert 40 per cent, of United States industrial facilities to civilian production after Germany capitulates. Therefore Australia is entitled to seek a re-assessment, of its obligations in the war against Japan.

The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has indicated that provision will be made this year for a total expenditure of £653,000,000, a decrease of £33,000,000 compared with last year. Although income tax rates will remain unaltered, certain concessions will be granted for the purpose of correcting anomalies. War expenditure this year’ will be £39,000,000 less than it was last year, but civil expenditure will increase by £5,745,000. The estimate of total revenue i.= £328,000.000, whilst public loans and treasury-bills will yield £325,000,000. The Treasurer explained that, to the 30th June, 1944, treasury-bills amounting to £343,000,000 had been issued for war purposes. These bills, and the large expenditure in Australia by our Allies, have placed excess spending power in the hands of the public. This is primarily reflected by an increase of the note issue by £135,000,000, deposits in the trading banks by £220,000,000, and deposits in the savings banks by £227,000,000. Individuals control an excess of spending power in a very liquid form. The figures indicate a danger of inflation in the post-war period, particularly as the defeat of the referendum will hamper the efforts of theCommonwealth to deal with the situation by the control of prices.

The Treasurer announced some concessions to taxpayers, including a rebate of £50 for each taxpayer, his wife, and children under. 21 years, for medical expenses, and rebates for dependent children up to the age of eighteen years, who are receiving a full-time education. Dental expenses not exceeding £10 will be allowed, and in addition, sales tax on building materials will be removed. I point out, however, that the sales tax will continue to apply to certain equipment for dwellings, such as stoves. Whilst I recognize that the concession on building materials will afford relief amounting to £500,000-

YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– It will be more than that when building is re-commenced on a big scale.


– I realize that. But the immediate relief given to homebuilders will be £500,000. That is most desirable, because homebuilding should receive every encouragement. I hope that, at the earliest opportunity, the Treasurer will exempt from sales tax stoves and other equipment for homes.

The present budget, does not relieve taxpayers of any substantial portion of their tax burdens, but I am gratified to learn that the Government’s financial policy will be reviewed early next year. Relief shouldbe given as soon as possible to people in the low-income groups, who, before the war, did not pay income tax. Sympathetic consideration should be given also to the advisability of increas ing invalid and old-age pensions. The whole basis of pensions should be reviewed. I look forward to the time when economic security will be assured to all sections of the community, particularly to workers in private industry, who, under present conditions, enjoy no protection. Civil servants, Commonwealth and State, on reaching the retiring age, receive superannuation. The Government of New Zealand has made a general provision on behalf of workers. A percentage of the profits of private industry is set aside for the purpose of ensuring the economic security of employees when they reach the retiring age. The Commonwealth Government should examine that plan with a view to applying it to Australia.

I welcome the announcement that an all-party committee will be appointed to examine proposals for granting a gratuity to members of the fighting forces. Such an allowance should be most liberal. At present the war is costing Australia £2,000,000 a day. Even if the Commonwealth provided £100,000,000 or £200,000,000, the amount would represent war expenditure for only 50 or 100 days. We must fulfil our obligations to those who have made big sacrifices on our behalf. A gratifying improvement has occurred in repatriation administration. A more sympathetic attitude has been adopted towards ex-servicemen, particularly in respect of rehabilitation.

Sitting suspendedfrom 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.


– Whilst I appreciate the more sympathetic administration of repatriation matters under the present Minister for Repatriation (Mr.Frost), there are so many anomalies relating to the position of ex-servicemen, that I believe it is most desirable that the Government should give consideration to the setting up of a special committee to deal with the rehabilitation, vocational guidance, &c., of service personnel. Such a body was apparently contemplated by the Government when it included in its amending repatriation legislation, provision for a standing committee on repatriation.

Despite the propaganda that is being indulged in to-day by certain interests, I trust that the’ Government will give full consideration to the useof national credit inthe post-war period. It has been demonstrated clearly that national credit canbe used safely inwar-time for destructive purposes, and I see no reason why itshould not be used also inpeacetime forcreative and constructive purposes. Obviously, we must notcontinue tobuildup a huge structure of debt.To-day,our national debt is £2,300,000,000, or nearly double what it was when the war started.Similarly, the national debt of Great Britain has increased from £8,000,000,000before the warto£20,000,000,000. Wemust ensure that our financial structure is built upon a soundbasis. We cannot lookto Great Britain in the post-war period for any great extension ofmarkets for our exportablegoods. Rather will the reverse bethecase. When thewar ends the entire resourcesof thiscountry must be harnessednotonly for the purpose of peace, but alsotoensurethe future security ofthisnation. We natives of this country areinclinedtooverlook the opportunities whichthis land offers. That as exemplified in the views occasionally expressed by visitors to this country.For instance,the Canadian HighCommissioner, Mr. Justice Davis, recentlyreturned from a tour of our central and northern areas. The followingisapress reportof theimpressions gained by Mr. Justice Davis of those areas:: -

page 904


“EldoradoofWealth “. “Centraland Northern Australia hold an eldoradoofpotential agricultural wealth “, declaredtheHighCommissionerforCanada (Mr.JusticeDavis)yesterday. “IwishallAustralianscouldseewhatI haveseen.Ihavereturnedwiththefirm beliefthatwhatIhaveseenisAustralia’s greatestasset,”he added.

TheHighCommissionerhasjustreturned fromatripthroughCentralAustraliato NorthernAustraliawherehevisitedmilitary andairestablishments.Hedroveoverthe highwayfromAliceSpringsandinspected 1,300milesofisolatedgrazinglands.

Mr.Davissaidthateverywherehehadbeen toldthatthecentreandnorthofAustralia werevaststretchesofuselesswasteland. However,hehadseenagreatundeveloped area,greaterinsizeandinsheerpossibilities thaneithertheCanadianortheAmerican west,yetitwasanareawherethestageof developmentwasaboutequal,withminor exceptions,towhatCanada’swasin1880.

The American High Commissioner, Mr. Nelson T. Johnson, also made a tour of Central Australia,and upon his return said, “ Don’t tell me any more about the dead heart of Australia’”. It is evident that by visitors, at least, this land is regarded as one of great possibilities. The development ofour large uninhabited areas is something for which the national credit could be used to great advantage. It has been said truly that what is physically possible isalso financially possible. Thepeople of this country never again will believe that while we have idle manpower and ample material resources, money cannot be found for creative purposes and the development of this country. However, post-war planning must be based upon a long-range policy involving extensive research and preparation, and that will take considerable time, possibly years. In the meantime “we must give consideration to some means of absorbing ex-servicemen and munitionsworkers who will be displaced fromwar industrieswhen hostilities cease, if work is to be available for them then the Government will have to provide for their sustenance under the National Welfare Act. It would be much more practical to have post-war plans so well advanced that the change-over from war production to peace production, utilizing existing factories, may be carried out immediately. We do not desire to seea repetition of what happened at the outbreak of war, when it took a coupleof years toharness the resources ofthis country fully to war production. A good example to the Allied nations is being given by the United States of America where plans have been preparedalready for thechange-over to peace-time production . Reference to thatfactismadeinyesterday’sissueof the Daily Mirror in which the following item appears-: - swiftreturn tonormal in u.s.

Post-war Produ cttonPlan.

Difficult Task Faces Industry

New York, Thursday. -Oncethe gong sounds

Americaplanstoswingoverfromwarto peace-timeproductioninaminimumofthree andamaximumofsixmonths.Itisonthat basisthatallplansarebeingmade.Par- ticularlyisthissowiththesteelandauto- mobileindustries,whichleadtheproduction effort.Innormaltimesmetorcarmanufac- turersemployedabout700,000persons.Now they are using 1,200,000 to man mass productionof munitions. That proportion of pre-war to war workers is general in all the big industries. The big problem is how to work the transition smoothly and with the least unemployment.

We inthis country are in a similar position. There are more workers in industry and in the fighting services to-day than were engaged in industry prior to the outbreak of war, and it is essential that we have plans in readiness to change immediately to peacetime production. In that regard I hope that the Government will take industry into its confidence. By that I mean not only those in control of industries, but also the workers, who are very uneasy about their future. They want to know what the Government proposes to do with the undertakings in which they are employed to-day. So far, they have been kept in the dark. That state of affairs is undermining their morale, and to some degree, impeding our war effort. Now that the position is clear so far as the Governments’ powers are concerned, I consider that industry should be taken into the Government’s confidence, and plans discussed immediately for an instant change-over to peace-time production.

I do not subscribe to the views of certain honorable members opposite, and I was rather surprised to hear some of then suggest that the Government should not continue the production of aeroplanes and motor cars in the postwar period. Surely it is not the desire of any honorable member that Australia should be once again a primaryproducing country and that Australians should be, in effect, “wood and water joeys “ for overseas interests. We must develop our secondary industries and convert existing factories, particularly thosethathave been set up for war purposes, to peace-time production, whether it be of motor cars,aeroplanes,ships, or anything else. In view of its isolated situation, Australia, above all countries, must be as self-reliant as possible. It is true that every nation must be dependent upon the outside world to some degree at least, but that is no reason why we should not take every step to meet our own requirements. With one or two minor exceptions, we have all the resourcesnecessarytoenableusto become self-reliant. At least, we must never revert to the position in which we were placed at the outbreak of the Pacific war, when we had to rely on other countries to come to our aid.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has indicated various ways in which the Government can co-operate with private industry, and we hope that the fullest use will be made of the Commonwealth’s limited powers to protect the interests of taxpayers and people now employed in the various war industries by capitalizing the Government’s interest in those industries and ensuring that there will be at least some return tothe people for the heavy capital outlay.

I am pleased that the Government has indicated that in the sale of accumulated stocks by the War Disposals Commission, priority will be given to governmental and quasi-governmental bodies, Federal and State. In that connexion also, I hope that before these assets are released, the future requirements of this country in regard to hospitals, hostels for pensioners and returned soldiers, national fitness camps, &c, will be given the fullest consideration. If these properties he sold to private industry immediately, the Government may have to re-purchase them later at a higher cost.

I hope also that on the general principles of post-war planning, we shall be given an early progress report from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Chifiey) so that honorable members may give the fullest consideration to the various aspects of this most important matter. We realize that the Government has been preoccupied with war duties, butthe time is now approaching when there should be a frank discussion on the general subject of postwar planning. Housing also is becoming a very urgent problem. Authorities dealing with this matter have stated that in the immediate post-war period there will be a shortage of 230,000 homes. It is contemplated that30,000 of these will be built in the first year after the war. This is a matter with which I am very much concerned because, in my electorate, there has been considerable industrial development since the outbreak of war. I know of many workers who are living under deplorable conditions. Some, including ex-servicemen and their families, are living in the bush or along the river in tents, caravans, and temporary structures. One family of six is living in the fowlhouse of a relative who is a poultry-farmer. Another family of six is living in a disused brick kiln. Recently, press publicity was given to the case of a tubercular soldier and his family who were seeking a home, and in the meantime were sleeping in an air-raid shelter in Camperdown park. They had four blankets but no pillows; and their bed consisted of two wooden benches pushed together. They were sleeping in their clothes. Those are appalling conditions under which to bring up the future generations of this country, and I trust the Government, through the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman), will give immediate attention to this very urgent and pressing problem. The measures that are being adopted now to deal with this position are half-baked. The erection of temporary sleep-outs and half houses can do very little towards solving the real problem. They may afford some temporary relief, but these buildings are the future slums. I hope that the Government will give some consideration to relaxing building restrictions, and that at least in respect of these extremely urgent cases which I have mentioned, .permits will be given for the building of substantial residences in accordance with the needs of the families concerned. Honorable members are placed in an embarrassing position when their constituents ask them for an explanation of building construction which does not appear to be essential or is undertaken by persons who would seem to be in a privileged position. I hope that, for the time being, the Government will desist from the erection of a new building in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. There is much greater necessity to provide for the requirements of servicemen and their families, as well as workers in industry, and the new Court House could well be deferred until the postwar period. As a member of the Canteens Board of Inquiry, and” of another secret tribunal, I worked for a period in the present Arbitration Court building in Melbourne, and found that, although it is not up to modern standards, it is presentable enough, and is certainly in much better condition than are many buildings in which other people have to transact their business or live. Preference should be given to urgent home-building requirements.

From information that has come to me and other honorable members, it would appear that a sympathetic attitude is not being adopted by many persons who hold administrative positions. It must be realized that in war-time some persons who would not ordinarily be regarded as fitted are appointed to administrative posts. Likewise, a new government cannot “ swop horses when crossing a stream “ and has to continue in administrative positions many officers appointed by its predecessors. It is obvious that some of the present administrators are not in sympathy with the policy of the Government. That may have contributed to the defeat of the referendum. I hope that the Government will review the administration generally when the war position has eased, and will insist upon a more sympathetic approach and the observance of government policy. Those administrative officers who fail to meet this requirement will not be fitted to continue to hold their positions. We cannot pass over and forget the defeat of the referendum, because of its vital effect on the future of this country. When Australia was in imminent danger of invasion by the Japanese, representatives of the Commonwealth and the States met and reached an agreement on what were regarded as the fourteen powers which the Commonwealth needed as a minimum in the post-war period. Surely the Commonwealth must have greater powers after the war ! I have read that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is calling a convention of twenty political parties. These must include “ bits and pieces “. I submit for his consideration that the really sincere people who have the welfare of Australia at heart should get together and consider particularly the matter of Commonwealth powers in the post-war period. Our war experiences have taught us that we cannot return to the old condition of complacency, under which our industries were allowed to run down, there was a vast army of unemployed, and we had to appeal to overseas countries to protect us in our time of danger. Reliance on a “Brisbane line” strategy proved unavailing. We had a close call, and must analyse and appraise the position with which Australia will be confronted in the future. The inclusion in the Commonwealth. Constitution of at least some of the powers that were sought would clarify many matters that are now in doubt. Apparently, despite the defeat of the referendum, some of those powers may be exercised by the Commonwealth under what is known as the defence power. Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C., an eminent constitutional authority, in a booklet entitled Wider Powers for Greater Freedom, said: -

In the view of some legal publicists, constitutional law is hut the legalistic expression of the economic and political philosophy for the time being dominant in tile society concerned.

He pointed out that the constitution of the United States of America had been broadened periodically in order to meet the circumstances of the times. We have had the experience of modernblitzkreig warfare. In a few weeks, the Japanese came down through Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies right to our coastline, and but for the assistance rendered by the UnitedStates of America and Great Britain a different story would have had to be told to-day. Should we be faced with a similar state of affairs in the future, we may not be able to receive help from outside. Therefore, we should harness the resources of this country, not only for peace, but also for the security of the nation. An analysis of the powers asked for at the recent referendum shows that many of them are essential to the future defence and security of Australia. As an example, I mention “ Employment and Unemployment”. At the outbreak of the war, the Commonwealth had to expend from £2,000,000 to £3,000,000 on the training of unskilled workers, who, because of the depression from 1929 to 1932, had not been able to receive training in industry. Many of our industries were run down. There were idle factories. Great defence undertakings, like the Cockatoo Island dockyard, had become partly inoperative because of the limited interpretation which the High Court had placed on the power of the Commonwealth. Matters relating to the stabilization of the conditions affecting primary producers, air transport, and the standardization of railway gauges are vital to our future security. At one juncture, the American forces considered the abandonment of Australia as a base, because of the holdups that occurred at State borders. Commonwealth works also are essential; and matters such as family allowances cannot be dissociated from security because, in order to be secure, we must add considerably to our population. We must also consider the possibility of future menace, particularly in view of the fact that in Asia the sleeping giant is at last awakening. In India there is an organization known as the Khaksar. It is a semi-Fascist body, which in 1939 had a membership of 400,000. The membership has now risen to about 3,000,000. The Sunday Telegraph recently published the following details regarding it -

In India is a Fascist organization of 8,000,000 members which needs an immediate clean-up.

Three thousand members of the organization, the Khaksar, are now in Bombay.

They are waiting for the meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah ; and mean trouble.

Yesterday they were strutting the streets in flowing khaki uniforms, topped with a white Arab head-dress tied with red, white and gold cord.

T heir leaders claim that they have come to Bombay to “ create by their example of brotherhood and selfless service the right atmosphere for a lasting Hindu-Moslem understanding”. But others know differently.

The Khaksar (the word means earthlike, or humble) is a well organized and dangerous military party withall the trappings and pseudo philosophicmumbo-jumbo of Nazi-ism, and is a legal organization in India.

That is an indication of a menace to the security of the British Empire and the world generally that mav arise in future, if the problems of India be not satisfactorily solved. In China, too, there are some peculiar features about the leadership of the defence forces of that country. In Japan, the Bushid o cult wields a tremendous influence over the lives of the people, just as Nazi-ism has shaped the minds and characters of the Germans. It would be a sorry day for this country if the Khaksars of India, theKuo-min-tang of China, and the Bushido movement in Japan ever joined forces. [Extension of lime granted.] We should not return to the old attitude of laisser-faire which prevailed after the last war and at the outbreak of the present war. The Roman Empire fell when Rome became decadent and complacent. We should harness the resources of this country, not only for the immediate tasks of peace, but ahso for the future security of the nation. No Chinese wall of complacency or Maginot mentality will protect and sustain us. As the Prime Minister has stated, we dare not again enter a war from scratch, but we much marshal the whole of our resources, and work unitedly as a nation.


– One matter mentioned by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) should be brought to the notice of. the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). Statements relating to geographical and economic conditions in Australia by gentlemen who have sojourned for only a short period in this country, may create a wrong impression in the minds of the people of the rest of the world and should he taken up and answered by the PrimeMinister. I refer to the honorable member’s statement regarding addresses about the “dead heart” of Australiadelivered recently by Mr. Nelson T. Johnson who, in effect, told the world that Australians have been guilty of hoarding a vast area of productive land, contrary to the best interests of this and other countries. It will be recalled that Sir John Latham, who led an Australian goodwill mission to Japan some years ago, stated on his return that he had been at pains to place the facts about Australia before the Japanese and other Asiatic people. He found that they had formed an entirely erroneous impression about this country’s capacity for development, and for sustaining an increased population. If loose statements are made about Australia, without stressing the disabilities under which we suffer because of the climatic conditions and geographical features of the centre of this continent, Australia will be accused at the peace table of having adopted a selfish attitude to other nations. We shall be told that we hold a large area of land which we have failed to develop, and that we have prevented other countries from developing it. Such statements as those of Mr. Nelson T. Johnson may be made in good faith, probably with the idea of representing Australia as a land flowing with milk and honey, butthey do a great disservice to us, and may have a most unfavorable effect at the peace table.

The only criticism that I wish to utter with regard to the budget is that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has displayed no imagination whatever in the presentation of the financial position. We are inarching toward peace, and the present prospect is much brighter thanthat of two or three years ago. Some hope should be given to the community as a whole, and to private enterprise, by indicating what the Government proposes to do in the matter of post-war rehabilitation. Our sister Dominions are taking the opportunity to-day to establish loan funds which will enable other countries to put chase goods from them. They are also preparing to release labour and material for the rehabilitation ofsecondary industries, so that these may get off to a flying start as soon as the war is over. We, in Australia, lack the imagination to do this. We are giving no help whatever to private enterprise, and are paying no attention to the development of our industries to enable them to compete on an equal footing with those of other countries. I fear that Australia will be caught flat-footed in the race for markets after the war.

The budget debate has produced a strange crop of speeches, not the least of them being that deliveredby the Prime Minister. It is evident that he has travelled a long way along the road of orthodox finance. Not only did he promulgate financial doctrines which have for long been supported by honorable members on this side of the House, but he also paid a very high tribute to the war effort of the United Kingdom. Indeed, he pleaded for greater Empire understanding, and for the development of Empire trade.

Mr Lazzarini:

– Who would not?


– I remember listeningtoa famous speech by the Prime Minister in which he advocated somethingfardifferent.Inhisspeech yesterday, he, spoke of the impoverished millions of Europe and Asia who would want goods for which they would not be able to pay. He added -

Obviously, therefore a certain amount of common sense willneedtobe exercised by the people of this country.

No one will want to disagree with that, but we are wondering how that common seneistobeexcercised, having regard tothewellknownfinancialbeliefsof many honorable members who support theGovernment. The Prime Minister treated thecommittee to a lecture on elementary economieswhichevokeda succession of “Hear, hears” from the Opposition. At one stage the Prime Minister was driven toremark. “ I did not, make that statement far the purpose of getting applause from the Opposition”, but it was significant that there was no applausefromthe ranks of the Government’s supporters. It is evident that the Prime Minister has diverged widely from the policy of his party, and that he was expressing views contrary to those of some of his senior Ministers. I have here a publication on the front page of which ap pears a not very flattering sketch of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). The publication is entitledDr. Evatt and Social Credit, and it is an illuminating document having regard to the orthodox financial views just expressed by the Prime Minister. It contains a report of an address delivered by Dr. Evatt before the Douglas Credit Society on the 3rd September, 1942. Iquote the following: -

You have done your job. The old false shibboleths, in regard to money are due for interment in the grave in which they live today.

That statement is contrary to the present-day financial faith of the Prime Minister. Dr. Evatt went on -

What you have donehas converted Aus- traliantothedoctrinesyouespouse.

Idonot know whether honorable mem- bers opposite would subscribe to that. Arewetounderstandthatthey have embracedthecredittheories of Major Douglas? After listening to the speech of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.Fadden) to-dayI came to the conclusion that the Government had out-Douglased Douglas. But Dr. Evatt continued -

When I went abroadI found that what is the position here is the position,in Britain and America.It is the physical factors that are of real importance. Mr. Churchill would agree to that. He would not give adamn about the monetary aspect.

I am sure that Mr. Churchill would be flattered to hear that he would not give a damn about the monetary aspect of the war.We know that the AttorneyGeneral was speaking to a group of people at a luncheon, believing that he wouldnot be reported.

Mr McEwen:

– Oh, no! He never speaks if he believes thathe is not going to be reported.


– I agree with the honorable member that thatis so as a general rule, but I am inclined to think that on this occasion he slipped. Here is a further extract from Dr. Evatt’s speech -

It has been said that you cannot fool all the people all the time, or, to quote an old proverb, “ If somebody fools youonce, shame on him. If he fools you twice, shame on you.” We must watch that aspect.

That met with uproarious laughter. Evidently his hearers had their own opinions as to whether Dr. Evatt was trying to fool, them, and this is borne out by the remarks of Mrs. Lillie Beirne, secretary of theSocial Credit Movement of New SouthWales -

I am sure we have all listened to Dr. Evatt to-day with great interest. I share Mr. Barclay-Smith’s opinion that Dr. Evatt has the necessary character to challenge financial orthodoxy, but [turningtoDr.Evatt] I do notknow whether you have the courage. [Laughter and uproar.]

The right honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways. Either he believes in this radical financial policy, or he does not. We all’ know the financial policy which the Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini)would put into operation. We know also the views of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy) as well as of other honorable members opposite. The fact is that the Prime Minister has departed radically from the accepted policy of his party in regard to finance-. Speaking on the subject of moneys raised for war purposes, the Prime Minister gave the amount as £1,651,000,000, which he said, reflected the prudent financial policy of the Government. In making that statement the right honorable gentleman paid a tribute to the Opposition, for he made it clear that his Government had continued the financial policy of its predecessors. I agree that an orthodox financial policy is prudent, but prudence in finance goes further than the mere raising of money; wise expenditure also is needed. In his budget speech under the heading “ Revenue and expenditure “, the Treasurer referred to the National Welfare Fund. There is a growing inclination on the part of the Government to distribute largess to the people. Indeed, this tendency is assuming alarming proportions. Australians are not naturally a mendicant people, but considerable sections of them tend to lean more and more upon the Government. Unfortunately, that tendency is being encouraged by the Government, which grants bonuses to this section and pensions to that section of the community, and distributes largess generally. Should this process continue, the effect may be to destroy one of the greatest assets of a strong people, namely, a proper sense of civil and individual responsibility. No nation can be great if it refuses to accept responsibility. The action of the Government is tending to destroy what should be a fundamental characteristic of the Australian people. A study of the various subventions made by the Government indicates the direction in which this country is heading. Each year about £2,400,000 is paid out to mothers under legislation providing for a maternity allowance. The sum of £160,000 is distributed each year as funeral benefits, whilst sickness benefits for this year are estimated to cost £8,500,000. Payments in respect of unemployment, based on an assumption of 1 per cent, of the population being unemployed, are estimated to be £2,000,000 this year. As. however, the percentage of unemployment, is likely to be six times the Government’s estimate, it would appear that the country will have to find £12,000.000 a year under this heading. Under the Government’s scheme for free medicine, £2,100,000 will have to be provided, whilst another £4,400,000 is earmarked for free hospital treatment, and £100,000 for the treatment of tuberculosis. Invalid and old-age pensions represent £22.000,000, whilst £11,900,000 is to be set aside for child endowment. Widows’ pensions involve an appropriation of £3,050,000, whilst pensions to soldiers of the last war represent £10,000,000, and a similar sum is the estimate for pensions to soldiers of the present war. If to these sums we add £250,000 for administration - that is probably an underestimate - we arrive at an appropriation of £S6,860,000 from Consolidated Revenue for these purposes. How can Australia remain solvent if obligations of this kind continue to pile up? The Government has further social service legislation in mind, and, unfortunately, it embodies non-contributory schemes. Obviously, this country cannot carry on if such schemes be extended in any considerable degree. Individuals must accept responsibility for themselves and their dependants if Australia is to survive as a nation. Yesterday, I endeavoured to obtain from the Treasurer some information regarding the amount of tax payable by persons with incomes exceeding £400, but the information has not yet been supplied. However, I have prepared an estimate which I believe will prove fairly accurate. It would appear that from taxpayers in the group to which I have referred, the Government expects to receive £91,000,000 this year, as under the agreement entered into with the States, 20 per cent, of that amount, or approximately £1S,000,000, will have to be returned to the States, and the Commonwealth will retain about £72,000,000 of the moneys collected from that source, or, approximately, £15,000,000 less than our . commitalents for social services, pensions, and the like. No doubt, one of the first acts of the Government in the post-war period will be to remove altogether, or, at least, to reduce taxes on incomes below £400, and therefore I have disregarded receipts from persons in that income group. 7. do not know where we shall get the money to pay for the contemplated social services. We cannot continue indiscriminately pyramiding social services on social services at the expense of the Consolidated Revenue, because the Treasurer has already told ns that no extra money can be expected from the income tax. We all know that the same can be said of indirect taxes. The only means left is that of bank credit, the use of which must be limited lest the country should become bankrupt. If we are to remain solvent, the Government must give urgent consideration to those matters.

The following significant statement was made by the Treasurer in the budget speech : -

While both the war loans floated last year wore over-subscribed, the number of subscribers (totalling 508,000 and 452,000 respectively) fell short of expectations.

There must be a reason why so few people invest in war loans. There is more money in the community than ever before. In this chamber we have been told of the big bank balances standing to the credit of the people, and the Treasurer has frequently referred to the dangerously inflated purchasing power. The people are not investing, because they are satisfied that they are not receiving £l’s worth of value for each £1 expended and that money is being wasted. The Prime Minister admitted that there was a certain amount of waste and said that there must be waste of money in Australia as in every other nation engaged in war. I agree. I do not claim for a moment that we could conduct this war entirely as a business undertaking, because unknown hazards must be prepared for. Instancing some of the waste, the Prime Minister said that certain projects had been started and then abandoned, because of changed circumstances. I do not criticize that. I am thankful that conditions changed so much for the better that, instead of those projects being put to use with the possible loss of valuable Australian lives, they were able to be written off as no longer necessary parts of the war machine. There is, however, other waste which could be avoided in certain branches of governmental activity. I instance the Allied Works Council, which, when it was established, laid down an efficiency requirement of 35 per cent, from its workmen. Not even that low level of efficiency has ever been achieved. The stories about inefficiency on Allied Works Council projects which come down from the Northern Territory are legion. The Allied Works Council is a huge sink from which the people’s money is being allowed to drain away instead of being intelligently and prudently used in furthering the war effort. The graving dock is one example of the faulty administration of the expenditure of public moneys. Whereas it was estimated that that dock would cost £3,000,000, it has already cost more than £10,000,000, and much of the excess cost has resulted from utter waste of labour. The increased cost of materials would account for’ but a tiny fraction of the excess. The cost per cubic yard of concrete has risen to an alarming extent, and the cost of general services has been extremely high. Those are matters which the Government could easily handle. It could put its finger on the trouble at a moment’s notice if it had the desire. I heartily support the recommendation made by several honorable members during this debate that the Public Accounts Committee should be reconstituted’ in order that there may be a constant check on governmental expenditure. The War Expenditure Committee is not sufficient, for it may only investigate expenditure, not estimated expenditure.

Mr Archie Cameron:

– It cannot provide a remedy after the damage has been done.


– That is so. Once the money has been expended, that committee can do nothing but discover why it was expended, whereas a Public Accounts Committee could investigate all projects before their commencement. Earlier, when the need was haste at all costs, I refrained from suggesting the reconstitution of that committee, because I knew that it was more essential that the works he laid down than that, their cost be subjected to prior inquiry; but now that, as the Prime Minister has said, the war has moved away from Australia, we should not be committed to huge expenditure on great undertakings without a thorough preliminary investigation, which, if made by a Public Accounts Committee, would, I am sure, save Australia scores of millions of pounds.

Another matter which is causing great concern to the people is the freeandeasy manner in which the Government expends public moneys. Honorable members remember the auspicious day on which the powers referendum was held. They also have equally vivid memories of the way in which the Government misused public moneys during the campaign. The public is aware that the Government abused its authority, because the press was full of stories on the subject. The people willnot trust the Government unless it obeys the ordinary canons of political decency. Parliament, which should be the custodian of the revenues, has lost its authority, because governments spend money without even obtaining the sanction of Parliament. If the people of Australia allow that state of affairs to continue, they will see the breakdown of our democratic system of parliamentary representation. Those are some of the things which are worrying the people and which explain why they are not contributing to loans as they should. Recently it was reported in the press that the Government anticipated sales of surplus war material to realize between £500,000 and £1,000,000 during the ensuing financial year, and that this money would be paid into general revenue. The point I emphasize is that these surplus goods were purchased, or produced, mainly out of loan money; and surely, the money realized from the sales of such goods should be used to wipe out the debt so created. It should not be paid into Consolidated Revenue. It should be used to redeem treasury-bills, or long-term or short-term loans. Obviously, it should be used to redeem the debt incurred in the production of those goods.

Mr Chifley:

– I take it that the honorable member is now advising, and not criticizing, the Government, because no official statement has been made as to what will be done with that money.


– I am referring to a press report on the matter. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) asked the Treasurer if he would make a statement as to how the Government proposed to deal with this money.

Mr Chifley:

-And Isaid that I would.


– My point is that the report to which I refer has not been denied by the Treasurer, and, therefore, it has given rise to a suspicion in the public mind that money contributed specifically for war purposes is not being used for that purpose. Perhaps, that is one reason why the number of subscribers to government loans is decreasing. . 1 repeat that as the Treasurer did not deny the press report to which I refer, we must expect people to believe it.

Mr Chifley:

– There is an old adage: “ Never complain and never explain “.


– If that is the attitude of the Treasurer on this matter, he must be prepared to stand up to criticism to whichhe has laid himself open. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), in his speech to-day, cited certain facts to show that a reply given to him by the Treasurer on a certain matter was not quite so goodan explanation.

Dr Evatt:

– Does the honorable gentleman suggest that money received from the sale of surplus war material should go to the benefit of Consolidated Revenue, or capital expenditure, or be apportioned between the two?


– I am suggesting that it should be used to redeem some of our loans.

Dr Evatt:

– But all of that money is not referable to capital expenditure.


– The AttorneyGeneral has become so imbued with the Douglas Credit, theory that he is now endeavouring to pose as a financial expert. I am merely pointing out that the whole of this money should be used to redeem loans. Some of our expenditure from loan money may have been for the purchase or production of the goods to be disposed of, but the Attorney-General is no more able than I am to say what portion of loan money has been used for that purpose. The Treasurer, on page 13 of his speech, made the following observation with regard to deferred maintenance : -

Because of war-time exigencies maintenance work which would normally have been carried out on property and plant has had to be deferred. The effect from an income tax point of view is that the taxpayer’s income is artificially inflated.

I am very pleased that the Treasurer has at long lastagreed to introduce some form of deferred credit. For some time honorable members on this side have been endeavouring to impress upon the Government the advisability of adopting a scheme of post-war credits. The Treasurer may call his latest innovation “ deferred maintenance but, in fact, he is adopting the principle espoused by honorable members on this side in their advocacy of post-war credits.

Mr Chifley:

– The exception being that I have told these taxpayers when they will get their money back, whereas honorable members opposite have had nothing to say on that point in respect of post-war credits.


-Every one will agree that this country, in view of its resources, will find it easy to repay loans incurred under a system of post-war credits. However, I am pleased that the Treasurer has at last embraced the principle espoused by honorable members on this side. I commend him for this reform, because it is long overdue. Owing to the shortage of mechanics, operators and replacement parts, most of the plant in industry has deteriorated to a serious degree. To-day an ever-growing section of plant in industry could not be used should thewar cease in the immediate future. Yet, most of this plant will be essential in any scheme for the rehabilitation of members of the fighting services. I have in mind a number of plants which could not be operated at the moment. As it has been impossible to maintain plant for the reasons I have given, money which would normally have been expended for such purposes has been treated as taxable income, and such taxpayers have been taxed on inflated incomes. This reform should help such taxpayers considerably. But why does the Government stop there? Why does it limit this reform to expenditure on maintenance and repairs? Why does it not go the whole distance, and introduce deferred credits in respect of all classes of taxpayers? Sucha system would overcome much of the unrest in industry. We have iton the authority of representatives of the coalminers, and we know from our own experience, that men will not work overtime if, by doing so, they become liable to so high a Tate of tax that they are able tonetonly a small proportion oftheir overtime earnings. The coal-miners declare that that is one reason why they willnot work on more than a certain number of days each week-. They have pointed out that, by working two extra days, they earn only7s. 6d. net; and, in the vernacular, they say, “ We are not going to work for Ben Chifley “. Therefore, the Government could overcome much of the present industrial unrest, if it were courageous enough to go the whole distance and give the benefits arising from deferred credits to all classes of taxpayers.

Mr Chifley:

– That is not the honorable member’s own idea; the Leader of the Australian Country party first put it forward.


– The Treasurer has now partially embraced that principle, and I am suggesting that he should go the full distance. The Government accepted in full a principle advocated by the Leader of the Australian Country party in another respect.

Dr Evatt:

– What was that?


– Pay-as-you-earn taxation. If the Government requires efficiency in production, it must face the problem, because this matter is likely to affect the economic structure of the country after the war. The purpose underlying the granting of a rebate for deferred maintenance formachinery is to encourage the rehabilitation of industry. [Extension of time granted.’] Unless plant is reconditioned, production will suffer in the post-war period. In this budget, the Treasurer has made some effort to encourage the establishment of industries upon a reasonable basis after the war. It affords industries an opportunity to recondition their plant in readiness for the post-war development scheme. But other things will have to be done. Industries will be obliged to purchase new plant, because a considerable portion oftheir existing plant is practically worn out. Therefore, the Government should allow rebates of tax on the purchase of newplant. In addition, the Government should show consideration to firms which must recreate their marketing andbusiness organization. Allowance should also be made for the fact that ex-servicemen, upon returning toindustry, will not be 100 percent. efficient, andwill require a certain periodinwhich to accustom themselves to their new jobs.

Regarding industrial rehabilitation, many employees persist in refusing to work overtime. Superficially, that attitude might not appear to have serious effects, but a moment’s thought will dispel that idea. With depleted staffs and the need for maintaining production, firms must strive for the maximum output. A staff which normally did not work overtime in a factory or workshop, must now maintain production in order to keep the business solvent, and in order to do so the employees must work a certain period of overtime. Rut many workers are reluctant to comply, because their additional earnings make their incomes subject to a higher rate of tax, with the result that they receive little return for their increased efforts. The production per man-hour in industry is much less than it was before the war. In many production units a rot appears to have set in.

Mr Makin:

– That is occurring in other countries, too !


– I do not deny it; but, at the moment, I am referring to conditions in Australia. It is common knowledge that workers are not producing the same quantity of goods per manhour as they produced before the war. Although they do not go on strike, they effectively curtail production by declining to produce their maximum output. What is the reason? I believe that the Government can encourage greater production by allowing a rebate of tax on overtime earnings. That concession would also create greater contentment among workers. The matter is one of common sense. Whilst the Government allows a rebate for deferred maintenance on machinery, it has overlooked the claims of the human machines. Overtime is subjecting the human machines to stresses and strains that were unknown to them before the war. If the Government grants rebates for deferred maintenance on machinery, I see nothing illogical in allowing rebates on overtime earnings.

Mr Coles:

– Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition seriously suggest that the Government should agree to a different rate of tax for persons earning the same income?


– I am suggesting that overtime should be exempt from income tax, and the Government would be well advised carefully to examine my proposal. Commonwealth revenues would not be affected, because the concession would encourage workers to increase their output, and that would ultimately lead to higher revenues. Honorable members may say that the adoption of any proposal would tempt some employees to absent themselves from work in normal hours, and present themselves for duty when -they could earn overtime. Any such attempt could be prevented by fixing a maximum figure that would be subject to tax.

Mr Coles:

– I suggest that the honorable member should evolve a scheme and submit it to the Government.


– It presents no insurmountable difficulty, because the tax is now collected at the source.

The Prime Minister, I understand, has adopted the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition to hold a secret meeting of the Parliament to discuss man-power problems. Obviously, this subject cannot be thoroughly debated in a public session of the Parliament, but valuable information could be given to honorable members at a secret ‘meeting. Therefore, I welcome the Prime Minister’s acceptance of the suggestion. Although the reference to man-power in the Treasurer’s speech reveals a trend in the right direction, it does not go far enough. The supply of many essential goods is most limited, and housing presents a difficult problem. Employed in certain government departments, such as the Allied Works Council, are thousands of men who are performing: no useful work. A committee should he appointed to examine the man-power requirements of government departments, the armed services, and munitions establishments with a view to transferring to more useful occupations men who are not required for the maintenance of the strength of the Army or for the munitions programme. By that means, thousands of men could he released for the purpose of building up our post-war industries. As long as we have within government departments this reservoir of glorified clerks in their hundreds and thousands, men employed in munitions works hut not doing any useful work, men in the services who, in the main, are wasting their days because theyhave nothing to do, and others in the Allied Works Council doing nothing of any value to the country, so long shall we be confronted with the man-power problem. Man-power authorities are still hampering small industries, by taking good men away from them under the direction of the Department of War Organization of Industry, which, in the main, has the effect of restricting our post-war production.

Two other matters are raised in the budget. The Treasurer undertakes to allow a rebate of £10 for dental expenses in the case of a taxpayer, his wife, and members of his family under 21 years of age. Whilst that concession is acceptable, it does not nearly cover the amount generally expended by a family in the treatment of teeth. Most of the ills in this community spring from faulty teeth, and strictures which should shame us have been passed on the position created in Australia by neglect in this regard. So long as the Government is prepared to penalize parents for spending money on the care of their children’s teeth, which means the care of their health, so long shall we have an unhealthy community. Although I commend the Treasurer for this small consideration. I must say that it is somewhat niggardly, particularly as it is in the form of a rebate, and does not mean much to the average taxpayer.

The next rebate is in regard to education and applies to the maintenance of dependants between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years. The Treasurer specifically mentioned that theconcession is designed to give some relief to parents whose children are receiving a university education.I remind him that the lads and lasses who go to the university generally do so at about eighteen years of age and upwards, so that if he really wants to do something to help parents to give their children a university education, he will allow a rebate of the whole of the cost of the university course, and not only maintenance between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years. As the young man or woman progresses in university studies, so thecosts of the course pyramid, and when the maximum fees are reached the pa rents need assistance. That is particularly the case among people with small incomes, who have to pay the same fees as those who are better off, buy the same equipment and books, and enter into the same commitments generally. The Treasurer should, therefore, grant a total exemption of the cost of a university course.

Progress reported.

page 915


Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.

page 915


Mail Services: The NorthCoast of New South Wales - Motor Tyres - Superphosphate - Trade with Middle East - Censorship - War Pensions - Arbitration Court Buildings, Melbourne - Building Materials - Housing - Machinery Parts.

Motion (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.


.- I desire to bring before the Government the matter of the mail services on the North Coast of New South Wales during the present coal shortage. Before the shortage occurred, four trains ran on the North Coast railway lines. They consisted of two Brisbane expresses, one North Coast mail, which went right through to Murwillumbah, and a fourth train which ran through to Kempsey. There was also what was practically a fifth train which ran to Kempsey. They ran every day in the” week, hut since the coal shortage began the services have been diminished by something like eight or ten trains, with the result that many of these districts are not nearly so well supplied with mails as when they had a daily mail service. The North Coast is a district in which settlement up the various rivers is at right angles to the railways. The mails are put off at various towns, such as Kempsey or Macksville. and from those points 20 or 30minor mail services radiate. The Railways Commissioner and the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) have collaborated extremely well in trying to overcome the present difficulties. I desire at this stage to express my great regret at the death last night of Mr. Hamilton, the Deputy Director of Postal

Services in New South Wales. I pay tribute to his wonderful work in that position and, indeed, during the whole period of his service. When I first became Treasurer, Mr. Hamilton was one of the senior officers of the Treasury, and I had the opportunity of knowing him for many years. We can ill-afford to lose his services. The Postal Department and the Railways Department have tried to assist in the delivery of mails by allowing the mail-bags to be discharged at every point at which the expresses have stopped, but unfortunately certain of the trains do not stop at many of the more important towns, especially in the southern part of the NorthCoast district. There they can throw off the mail-bags as they pass through the stations, but, under present arrangements, they cannot pick up the outward bags. I understand that, there has been devised in Britain and America a system of handling the mail-bags while the train is in motion. I suggest that the Postal Department should contact the New South Wales. Railways Commissioner to ascertain if anything can be done to ensure that the mail services are kept up as far as possible to the old schedule. I do not make any complaint about what has been done in this matter, because I am satisfied, from my own knowledge, that both departments have strained their resources to secure the best possible returns’.

Associated with that subject is one which I raised this morning, but which I do not think was fully understood by the Minister who replied to my question. He gave me a partial answer, but the point I, madewas that there at Newcastle for instance, a pool of tyres. There is also at Lismore and Newcastle a reserve pool of certain machinery parts, such as cogs for motor lorries tractors, and so on. It has always been very difficult to have these parts sent to one who is some distance away. As the parts break while the machine is in use, the replacement parts are needed immediately. During the coal shortage, the Ministers for Munitions and Supply and Shipping should try to establish a small pool of spare parts at Grafton, Kempsey, Taree, and, if necessary, Casino, thus reducing the delay, which has been very greatly increased by the curtailment of trains, and enabling farming operations to be conducted with as little interruption as possible. The Minister for Munitions saw fit to allow the ClarenceCounty Council to have a pool of electric motors fifteen months ago. If something more could be done during the coal shortage, it would be very greatly appreciated and would help materially the food production effort.

The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) should endeavour to ascertain whether or not it is possible to establish two-way trade with the Middle East. I have been informed that quite a number of vessels travel to the Middle East with supplies. Most of them are taken to the Middle East Service Centre, an Allied instrumentality which is largely under British control. I have also been informed that on several occasions during the last six months vessels of 12,000 tons have returned to Australia from the Middle East with practically no cargo. There are ample supplies of phosphatic rock. in Transjordania. As every one knows, Australia is very short of superphosphate. I understand that this rock could be shipped at Haifa and Akaba, the one on the Mediterranean and the other on the Red! Sea. There is a railway to Haifa and a. fairly good road to Akaba. If advantage were taken of the cargo space that is available, we could obtain substantial quantities of phosphatic rock, and this would enable us to increase our supplies of superphosphate. We also need certain goods that are in short supply, such as. olive oil, figs and dates. There is an excellent opportunity to establish reciprocal trade. In the first place,. Australia should have official representation on the. Middle East Service Centre, which is a British organization. I understand that the Australian. Trade Commissioner in Cairo has no official standing. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture should ascertain whether or not sanction can be obtained to his representing Australia on that organization..

Barker · ALP

– I wish to deal with the vexed matter of censorship. I said the other day that, one woman had informed me that, she had written to the royal commissioner asking that she be allowed to give evidence, and that she had not been called. Since then, Senator Leckie has given to me the marne of another woman in Melbourne who also wrote to the commissioner, but was not called to give evidence.

The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) was not able to remain this afternoon, and gave to me a letter from a gentleman in Sydney who wrote to him in these terms : -

  1. wrote to Mr. Justice Webb at the censorship inquiry on the 1st August last, by registered letter, yet T. have had no acknowledgment.

He went on to say -

Apparently, His Honour was censored even whilst inquiring into censorship. More power to your elbow and publicity to your name.

I also have an extract from evidence given before the Australia First Inquiry. It was shown, by submission by Mr. Coyle. assisting the commissioner, that a letter of the 24th April of this year, written by a gentleman named Cahill to Mr. R. D. Collins, a leading man in Australian National Airways in- Melbourne, was censored. The judge thought that it must have been censored because it had come from a person, who had previously been interned, but that gentleman pointed out that that could not be the explanation, because he had posted it in a public letter box addressed to Mr. Collins; consequently, there must have been interference with the mail of Mr. Collins.

The honorable member for New England and I also have discussed a certain document, and, because of what the Prime Minister said the other day, he has asked mc to give my views as to what took place at the parliamentary committee. My recollection is that it was I who observed that there was a certain “number on the document. I make no bones about saying that at all times I regarded the document as secret.

Dr Evatt:

– That is the real point.


– Apparently, however, that opinion was not, shared by some other members of the committee. The honorable member for New England asked whether he could have a copy of the document. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) said that it had been prepared for the information of Cabinet, but was not a Cabinet minute. A copy of it was supplied to each member of the committee, and I still have my copy under lock and key. In response to the request of the honorable member for New England, I made a check and found that the copy that I have does not carry a. Cabinet number, nor is it marked “ secret “. I say that in fairness to the honorable member, who may be under some misapprehension, as may be some other members of the committee.

Dr Evatt:

– The honorable member agrees that when it was placed before members of the committee he regarded it as a secret document?


– I so regarded it; but apparently other members of the committee did not. I simply give my view of the circumstances under which it came before the committee. I do not think that there is any disagreement, between the Attorney-General and myself in that connexion. But the document shown to us originally did have on it a number. I called attention to it. I thought it was the mark of a Cabinet document. “We were told that it had only been attached for information to a’ document which had that number on it. Copies were supplied to members of the committee, but the number did not appear on them, and they were not marked “ secret Notwithstanding that, I personally regarded the document as secret. It is one which I would not regard in any other way.

There are other points arising out of censorship, due to the statement of the Prime Minister that he had completely lost faith in the Parliamentary Censorship Committee. The Attorney-General can place my remarks before the Tight honorable gentleman. On the 27th July I received from the Prime Minister a letter in regard to the Parliamentary Censorship Committee being wound up. The final paragraph read -

I take this opportunity to convey to you my thanks for your assistance in connexion with the work of the parliamentary committee.

I have had occasion to make a check with Senator Foll and the honorable member for New England, and have discovered that the letters which they received do not contain that paragraph - a rather strange circumstance. I have not seen their letters, but they have told me that they are perfectly certain that they do not contain that paragraph. An official check ought to he made of the correspondence. If the Prime Minister had completely lost faith in the committee, he had no right whatever to send that letter to me. The proper thing for him to do now is either to qualify the statement made in this chamber last Wednesday evening, or to withdraw his letter to me. I personally do not care which he does; it is entirely a matter for himself. When Ministers of State sign their names to letters of. this kind, we have a right to assume that they mean what they say. I arn always prepared to allow that a Minister may make a slip and correct it later, as was done yesterday by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully). As the matter was left on Wednesday, the Prime Minister had cast as great a reflection on my conduct as on that of the other members of the committee, who included four of his own Cabinet colleagues.


– I do not often speak of individual repatriation cases in this House, but I shall refer to one now for the purpose of drawing attention to a matter of principle. The Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act has been amended and improved from time to time, ‘but I think that it could be improved further in many directions. I draw attention to a Queensland case, that of a returned soldier of the last war who died. When his widow applied for a pension she was told that her husband’s death was not due to war service. I knew the man personally, and I saw him while he was a prisoner. I knew that he had been badly wounded and that he was flogged by his Turkish captors. When I saw him years after the war, I realized that he had suffered extensively in mind and body. He was not nearly so robust as he had been originally. The Repatriation Department -was established, to deal with the disabilities of ex-servicemen of the last war, and many millions of pounds have been expended on their behalf. It is a cruel thing for the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal to tell a widow that the evidence in favour of her application for a war pension including a letter from me, is not substantial. She wrote to me further on the matter, and I replied that, as I knew the facts, I should be prepared to go to Queensland, or any other part of Australia, in order to appear before the tribunal. She later sent to me the following stereotyped reply which she had received from the Queensland branch of the Repatriation Commission: -

I wish to advise that at the present juncture you have no right of appeal, as the Repatriation Commission decided on 10.7.44 that the further evidence submitted by you on 17..r>.44 was not material to, and did not have a substantial bearing on, the claim: and also the evidence submitted by you wa* previously considered by’ the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal on 31.7.41.

It seems to me that the method of dealing with applications of this kind requires investigation.

I shall cite a parallel case, which also occurred in Queensland. A soldier died a few years ago and left a widow and five children, but the claim of the widow for a war pension was rejected. She wrote to me, because I knew her husband. I appeared before the tribunal, after a great deal of trouble, and. I found that whilst one or two members acted humanely, others adopted too legal an attitude. This body was set up to be not only legal but also humanitarian, because the Repatriation Act was passed in order that justice might be done to all exservicemen. After a battle of words with me, the members of this tribunal, which had rejected the claim on two previous occasions, later reversed their decision. I had let them know that I thought their behaviour had not been up to the standard of that of the Turks, who had exchanged the returned soldier in question as a prisoner of war.

The doctors, on whose verdict the case to which I have specially directed the attention of honorable members was decided, did not see the man himself, but declared that his malady was that of a man of middle age, and that he may have died from natural causes. I have seen sufficient in the services to convince me that in some cases a post-mortem has revealed that death has been due to different causes from those certified by doctors. In the latter case to which I have directed the attention of the

House, the widow and children would have been condemned to poverty, had I not taken action on their behalf.

Dr Evatt:

– The act now places the onus of proof on the department.


– I know that it contains a section providing that the applicant must be given the benefit of any doubt, but it does not seem to operate. Before L” went overseas on the last occasion I moved for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the operations of the act, and I am glad to know that, while I was absent from Australia, action was taken in the interests of exservicemen and their dependants. In practice, however, the provision mentioned by the Attorney-General does not operate in all cases as was intended by Parliament. If a soldier makes an application in a State other than that from which he originally came, he sometimes cannot get into touch with ex-members of the unit in which he served. Ihave referred finally to a case in which the department sent to the soldier’s widow a copy of sub-section 7 of section 64 of the act, telling her in effect that the fact that another man knew her husband on service and knew that he had suffered more than almost any other man in that region, was immaterial to her claim. If that is how the act is interpreted, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr.Frost) should not be satisfied with it. Men who were in the forefront of the fight, and who cast their uniform aside on returning to Australia, or prisoners of war for whom no medical record was kept have difficulty in establishing their claims to a war pension; whilst men in clerical jobs, whose medical records are kept, have complete documents and can more easily receive consideration. Unless I receive a satisfactory assurance on the matter I shall submit a formal motion for the adjournment of the House in order to direct attention to this anomaly. Although the department is conducted, in the main, by returned soldiers, the fact that they have a routine method of doing things results in the very men whom the act was intended to benefit not receiving help.


.- I draw attention to the statement published in the Canberra Times last Wednesday to the effect that Cabinet had decided to proceed immediately with the construction of a new building in Melbourne to accommodate the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, at an expenditure of £118,000. This is to be a sixstoried building. The paragraph stated that the Prime Minister had said that the judges, counsel and advocates had complained of the accommodation in the existing building. Towards the end of last year a resolution was passed in this House referring to the Public Works Committee the proposal to erect a new arbitration court building. I protested, saying that this was not the time to erect an expensive building for such a purpose. I referred to the need for first providing homes for the people. The Prime Minister gave me to understand that it was proposed merely to make a preliminary investigation, so that the report of the Public Works Committee would be available for the guidance of the Government. I have looked up the Hansard report of the discussion, and find that the Prime Minister then said that I could be assured that the building would not be proceeded with until the matter was again brought before Parliament.

Mr White:

– I also opposed the proposal.


– Yes, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), and one or two other members of the Opposition opposed it. The Prime Minister did not say that the building would not be commenced before the end of the war. He pointed out, as I thought reasonably enough, that there might be a period towards the end of the war, when labour and material would become available to enable some public works to be put in hand. For the erection of the proposed Arbitration Court building builders and materials will be employed at a time when they could more properly be employed in the erection of homes for which thousands of people are crying out. I regard it as inhuman that the Government should give priority for the erection of a building of this kind in Melbourne, merely so that it may provide a more congenial atmosphere for the judges, the lawyers and advocates who will spend a few hours in it, while there are thousands of men and women who have no roofs over their heads.

Dr Evatt:

– No priority has been a Hot ted for the building. The assurance of the Prime Minister still stands.


– The Public Works Committee made its report to Parliament, and it was tabled last February. It is now for the Government to decide whether or not to act upon the report.

Dr Evatt:

– I repeat that the Prime Minister’s assurance still stands that nothing will be done until the matter comes before Parliament. I hope to have a more complete statement ready for the House on next Tuesday.

Mr White:

– I asked a question on this subject this morning, and the Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini) said that the building was to be gone on with.

Dr Evatt:

– The report has not been approved by Parliament. It has been printed, but not approved. It is necessary to have a proper building, but there is a time for everything, and this proposal will have to take its turn.


– Then the press report was incorrect, because it stated that the building was to be proceeded with immediately, and it professed to report the comment of the Prime Minister.

Dr Evatt:

– It was incorrect. I arn trying to arrange that the High Court building in Melbourne, which is not occu-pied continuously because the High Court is sometimes absent in other States, shall be made available from time to time to Arbitration Court judges so that the present congestion mav bc relieved.


– That sounds very reasonable. I accept the statement that the atmosphere in the existing building, is not congenial, and that a new one is necessary.

Dr Evatt:

– The building is a very old one. No one knows, that better than does the Leader of. the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who has practised before the court there,, but the Government agrees that this proposal cannot be given priority over more necessary undertakings.


– In order to put matters in their- proper perspective I remind the Attorney-General that he will have a voice in ultimately determining the priority of this proposal. Therefore, I propose to cite a few instances to prove my contention that other building projects are more necessary. I know of one family near Wangaratta who w’ere burnt out last Christmas. At the time there was the man, his wife and seven children. In April last another baby was born, and the whole family has lived through a bitter winter in tents, because they were unable to obtain material with which to erect a home. Only a fortnight ago I wrote to the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) on behalf of a returned soldier who wanted to get galvanized iron, for his home. I was told that the iron would be made available in the order in which the application had been received. I can only construe that as indicating that he would get the iron after others, who had applied before him, were given iron with which to roof their fowl-houses and cow-sheds. It was only after writing a strong letter that I received an assurance that tie iron would be made available. I have written many letters on behalf, of another man who .served for four years in the last war. He served again in this war,, and, when classified as medically unfit, went into a munitions plant. To-day,, he and his wife and two daughters are living under four different roofs, because no suitable accommodation can be obtained for the family.

Dr Evatt:

– The honorable member has made his point, and it has- been acceded to..


– I thank the Attorney-General, but I propose to makmy point even, more strongly. The assurance of the Attorney-General is at variance with the reported statement of the Prime Minister, and with what the Minister for Home Security said only four hours ago in this House in reply to the honorable member for Balaclava.

Dr Evatt:

– The honorable member has accepted un.y assurance, which was given in good faith.


– Another case which comes to my mind is that of a constituent of mine at Cobram, who had a home of his own, but left it for a period because his wife had to- go into hospital. He let his home to an employee of the Government; he himself is a contractor to the Government. When his wife came out of hospital, and they wanted to resumethe occupancy of their home, they found that the law made it possible for the tenant not only to retain possessionbut also to sub-let a portion of it to another tenant, and forbade the owner and his wife access to their home. Only after months of protest have they been permitted to occupy a small sleep-out in the house - a room no bigger than the table in this chamber - and a smaller room which has no stove and no external lighting, whilst the only means of access to it ; by the owner and his wife is by climbing through a window from the sleep-out. Such is the shortage of buildings in Australia that the incidents which I have related could be multiplied possibly 10,000 times. That being so, I shall not ceaseto voice my protest against the expenditure of £118,000 to erect a six-story building in Melbourne until such time as many hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent in building homes which are urgently needed by the people of this country.

Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs · Barton · ALP

. -in reply - I shall convey to the appropriate authorities the remarks of honorable members on the various subjects to which they have referred.

As to the remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), it is clear that what the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said recently was that, when the document to which the honorable member for Barker referred was given to the press, it appeared abundantly clear that the committee could not work effectively as a committee. I do not think that the Prime Minister intended to do more than indicate his view as to the functions of the committee : he did not intend to reflect on individual members of the committee. That is the substance of what the Prime Minister said when he entered the chamber after the honorable member for Barker had “concluded his speech.

I have already given assurances to the honorable member forIndi (Mr. McEwen)- When the debate on the proposal to erect a new Arbitration Court building took place on the 13th October. 1943, the Prime Minister pointed out that the matter would have to come before the Parliament again before the work was proceeded with. The honorable member for Indi concluded his speech on that occasion with the words -

It seems, then, that even if a favorable report be made by the committee, the work cannot be put - in hand until Parliament has considered the subject again.

That is the position. A new building for the Arbitration Court will have to be provided, but it cannot be given priority over more essentia] projects.

Mr McEwen:

– Once the proposal comes before the Parliament as a matter of government policy, its acceptance becomes automatic.


– I do not think so. If that were the position, the proceedings of the Parliament would become completely automatic. The proceedings here are never of that character.

On behalf of the Government, I say that it entirely endorses the remarks of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) regarding the late Mr. Hamilton, who was Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in New South Wales. He was a valuable public servant.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 921


The following paper was presented : -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1944 - No. 23 - Fourth Division Postmasters. Postal Clerks and Telegraphists Union.

House adjourned at 4.20 p.m.

page 921


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Preference to Ex-Servicemen.

Minister for Home Security

Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. What duties are now being carried out by the Minister for Home Security?
  2. Is the retention of the portfolio justified under present circumstances?
Mr Curtin:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) Co-ordination of civil defence activities throughout the States. Based on recent advices of the Defence Committee a nucleus organization is being maintained in each of the States and a minimum scale of training, sufficient to keep the organizations in being, proceeding.

  1. Civil defence equipment including civilian respirators and lease-lend fire-fightiug appliances valued at approximately £6,000,000 is under the control of the Minister. Action is proceeding to dispose of surplus equipment to the Australian and Allied forces and certain items are being disposed of to the public. Collections from disposals for the current year total approximately £90,000.
  2. Administration of protection of bulk oil regulations. Although the work of protecting bulk oil installations costing approximately £1,400,000 was completed some time ago, a considerable amount of work is still outstanding in connexion with the adjustment of costs as between the oil companies and the Commonwealth.
  3. The administration of National Security (Camouflage) Regulations. Under a recent decision by War Cabinet, the Department of Home Security retains the responsibility for providing camouflage research instruction and training for the Royal Australian Air Force. Camoufleurs attached to the Department of Home Security and accredited to the Royal Australian Air Force are serving in New Guinea and other forward areas.
  4. Administration of National Security (General) Regulation 35a. Many of the orders promulgated by the State Premiers under this regulation are now coming forward for the Minister’s concurrence in their amendment or repeal.
  5. Administration of the National Security (Salvage) Regulations and ministerial control over the operations of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission.
  6. Administration of Civil Defence (Workers Compensation) Regulations. These have been extended to cover the Volunteer Air Observers Corps and other similar organizations.

    1. Yes.

Quebec Conference.

Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Prime

Minister, upon notice -

Is the Commonwealth Government represented at the Quebec Conference now in session. If not, why not?

Mr.Curtin. - The conference being held at Quebec is between Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt. Sir William Glasgow, Australian High Commissioner in Canada and General Sir John Lavarack have proceeded to Quebec in order to be available to participate in discussions arising out of the conference as may be necessary.

Brisbane Repatriation Mental Hospital

Mr Francis:

s asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

  1. In connexion with the Brisbane Repatriation Mental Hospital, proposed to be erected in the grounds of the civilian mental hospital at Goodna, will he so arrange the lay-out) of and access to that hospital that it can only be approached from Wacol, thus segregating it entirely from the civilian institution?
  2. Having regard to the fact that approach to the proposed site is at least 2½ to 3 miles from Goodna railway station, and, as at present arranged, can be approached only by traversing the full length of roadway through the existing civilian institution, will he open up a means of access from Wacol, which is only half a mile from the proposed site?
Mr Frost:
Minister for Repatriation · FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. I have called for a report on the matter, and a further answer will be given as early as possible.
  2. See answer to No. 1.


Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Prime

Minister, upon notice -

  1. What were the terms of reference issued to the committee of members of the Parliament on censorship ?
  2. What were the terms of reference issued to the commissioner appointed to inquire into censorship?
Mr Curtin:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as f ollows : -

  1. The terms of reference agreed upon between the leaders of the Opposition parties and myself for issue to the committee of members of the Parliament on censorship were as follows: - To inquire into and make recommendations to the Government with respect to censorship.
  2. The commission issued to His Honour Sir William Flood Webb, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland, authorized him to inquire into and report to me - (a) on all matters relating to post and telegraph censorship (including telephonic censorship) referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Censorship mentioned in regulation 127 of the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations which, in the opinion of the said commissioner, having regard to the interim report of the committee dated the 14th day of June, 1944, and the decision given to implement the recommendations made therein, require investigation or further investigation; and (b) on all matters which, in the opinion of the said commissioner, are relevant to any of the above matters or should, in his opinion, be dealt with or reported upon by him, and in pursuance of regulation 71 of the National Security (General) Regulations, the commissioner was authorized to require any person to furnish or produce to a person specified in any such requirement any information or article in his possession as is so specified, being information or an article which the said commissioner considers it necessary or expedient in the interests of the public safety, the defence of the Commonwealth, or the efficient prosecution of the war to obtain or examine.
Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Minis ter for the Army, upon notice -

Will the Army automatically review all applications for release already rejected, as a result of the new policy announced last week, or will persons interested be obliged to renew their applications, including scrutiny by the district war agricultural advisory committees and man-power authorities?

Mr Forde:
Minister for the Army · CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– The Army conditions governing the release of personnel to industry have not been changed, except in regard to the 4,000 discharges for the dairy industry. Recommendations already received from the Man Power Directorate for the discharge of personnel for employment in the dairying industry are, however, being reviewed by the Army, and it has now been decided to make 4,000 discharges, irrespective of medical classification or location of unit. Action is being taken to implement this decision without delay. Applications already rejected for other industries will not be reviewed. Therefore, it will not be necessary for employers to renew their applications to either the district war agricultural committees or man-power authorities for cases which have been dealt with by the Army. The applications will either be reconsidered where they are for employment in the dairying industry, or remain not approved for other industries.

Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Minis ter for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -

Before deciding on a reconstruction of the Australian Wine Board, will the views of the Grapegrowers Federation and the Australian Viticultural Council be obtained and fully considered?

Mr Scully:

– Before considering any alteration of the constitution of the Australian Wine Board, the views of the Grapegrowers Federation and the Australian Viticultural Council will he taken into consideration.

Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

Will he cause investigations to be made into the cost of growing wheat which would bring up to date the recommendations on the wheat industry contained in the Gepp report?

Mr Curtin:

– No. The extensive inquiry which would be involved is not considered practicable during the war.

Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -

  1. Is the wheat sold at concessional rates by the Wheat Board sold at a price fixed entirely by the Wheat Board without ministerial suggestion, advice, or direction?
  2. Does the government propose to pay to the grower the difference between the concessional rate and overseas parity?
  3. Has he any statement to make on wheat and wheat prices, and Wheat Board control?
Mr Scully:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. No. The concession price to buyers was made low to encourage essential food production. The board was directed to sell at the low price, and a subsidy equivalent to the reduction waa paid by the Commonwealth, to the board.
  2. No. ‘Overseas prices are not considered to indicate fair prices within Australia. An additional .’payment based on the pool return has been announced.
  3. The honorable member is referred to the debate on wheat in this House yesterday afternoon.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 September 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.