17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair’ sit 3 p.m. and read prayers.
Air. CHAMBERS. - For some time there has ‘been a shortage of fish (or consumption in various States, due in many instances to the lack of necessary fishing equipment. “Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping investigate the possibility of securing a further shipment of fishing nets, the last shipment of which arrived at Port Adelaide, in May, 1044?
– I shall be pleased to lake up the matter with the Minister for Supply and Shipping. It would appear that we shall have to discuss with the Division of Import Procurement the possibility of importing equipment.
Discharges - Missing Troops at Ambon Prisoners in Japanese Camps -
Transport of Troops
– “Will the Minister for the Army state the number of checked applications received at Land Head-quarters for discharges from the Army, and the total number of discharges approved? Further, bow many of the soldiers actually recommended for discharge have declined to leave the Army?
– Approximately 1,000 of the men recommended for discharge by Man Power have refused to accept discharge. Approximately 75,000 applications for discharge already have been checked at Army Head-quarters. Approximately 40,000 have been approved for discharge, including the 20,000 approved for discharge to the 30th June, 1944, and 20,000 of the 30,000 to bc discharged by the 30th June next. The discharges are being made in accordance with the decision at which the War Cabinet arrived some time ago. The Department of the Army is dealing expeditiously with all applications, and is observing the priorities decided upon, giving the highest priority to the dairying industry.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether he is in possession of any information regarding the fate of the men of the 2/21st and 2/22nd battalions, which were stationed at Ambon in 1941-42? If so, what is the nature of that information?
– I have a list of camps at which it is believed the Japanese retained certain prisoners,, and I have also a list of presumed camps about which the information is not quite, so reliable. When I have had that information examined, I shall give to honorable members, confidentially, such information as I have. That would bc the best course for me to adopt.
– Has the Minister for the Army yet made a decision regarding’ the request that has been made to him to discontinue charging fares to soldiers who travel by Army transport from camps to nearby towns during leave periods?
Mr.FORDE.- I shall deal first with the case that was submitted to me concerning the men at the Strathpine Camp. I believe that I havebeen correctly informed that at one stage a private omnibus proprietorwas charging the troops 4s. return for the journey into town. The service was taken overby the Army and a charge of 5d. each way was made on the Army transport vehicles. The troops considered that when they had to travel more than a mile to a local railway station when on leave free transport should be provided for themby the Army. After discussing the matter with theCommanderinChief it was agreed that, in such circumstances, free transport should be provided. That decision applies to Strathpine and other military camps similarly situated.
Resignation of Mr. W. j. Cleary.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General prepared to make a statement upon the reported resignation of Mr. W. j.cleary as chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Has the resignation been received? If so, what were the reasons for it?
Mr.CALWELL. - Mr.Cleary has tendered to the Government his resignation as the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He has not given any reasons in explanation of his action.
– Does the Minister for Information intend to supply any particulars in regard to the resignation of the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Can the honorable gentleman say how and when a successor is to be appointed?
– The matter is one for decision by the Postmaster-General, who now has it under consideration.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether there is a possibility that some of the coal mines in New South Wales will have to close down because of a shortage of explosives, the manufacture of which has been restricted because of a shortage of labour? If so, how long is this situation likely to last?
– I hope that no coal mine will have to cease working because of a shortage of gelignite. The present situation is a delicate one, and must be carefully handled ; yet references to it have been grossly exaggerated, according to the evidence which has come before me yesterday and to-day. There is no doubt that stocks of gelignite are lower now than they were a year ago, and the difficulty lies in getting the right kind of women to work in the factories of Nobels and Imperial Chemical Industries, where the gelignite is made. Between 300 and 400 employees were put off by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in October last, and the explosives manufacturing firms were given first preference in the selection of employees from among those displaced workers. The firms needed only 20 or 25 workers, butall those who had been displaced refused engagement. We sent a female man-power officer, and also a female officer in the employ of one of the firms concerned, to persuade the women to undertake the work. They refused for a variety of reasons, some of which wore that the work was dangerous, that they would be isolated, and that they would have to pay high fares to and from their place of employment. Wo are still doing our best to meet the situation. During the last six or seven weeks, twelve women have been sent out, and twelve have left. Only this morning three were sent. These firms make gelignite which is used, not only for coal-mining, but also for gold-mining, and it may be that they also make sporting cartridges.
– Yes, they do.
– I am going to ask them to transfer some of the labour engaged in the making of explosives for other purposes to the making of explosives for use in the coal mines. Some very reckless statements havebeen made in the press on this subject. The representative of one of the firms concerned stated this morning in Melbourne that the firm was in no way responsible for the press statements and was, in fact, satisfied with the results of the conference which had been held with the manpower authorities this week. We hope to be able to arrange for the production of sufficient supplies of explosives to keep the mines working.
– Will the Prime Minister indicate what will be the basis of Australia’s delegation to the conference at San Francisco on world security? In view of the suggestion that members of the Opposition will be members of the delegation, will he indicate whether they will attend as individuals or in a representative capacity? If they are to attend in a representative capacity, will all the parties in the Parliament, including the Government party, be given the opportunity to select their representatives? Will the delegates speak with one voice or, in the event of a disagreement, will the views of the Government members prevail? Will the delegation have power to bind Australia or will Parliament have the opportunity to endorse its actions?
– I have made no decision other than to appoint the Minister for External Affairs and the Deputy Prime Minister to represent us at the conference arranged at San Francisco and also at an earlier conference. I am going to attach to the delegation that will go to San Francisco such competent aid as I think will enable the delegation not only to represent Australia adequately, but also to assist in laying the foundations of world security.
– The executive delegates will be the two Ministers. That it unquestionable.
– Yes. The delegates will be the two Ministers whom I have named. The others will be assistants. The Ministers will have such assistance as I shall arrange.
– During the Prime Minister’s indisposition, the Acting Prime Minister undertook that the overlooking of men of the 8th Division and some Royal Australian Air Force personnel in Great Britain in the award of the 1939-43 Star would be investigated. Can the Prime Minister report any progress?
– Yes. Further discussions have taken place between the Commonwealth Government and the Imperial Government. These discussions are not yet complete; there are some matters which have yet to be decided. I hoped a week ago to be able to make this week an announcement which would have terminated the whole matter, I hope satisfactorily; but there have been delays, which I am sure the honorable member will appreciate, at the other end where there is a great deal of demand upon the time of the men who have to make these decisions.
– As most honorable members are aware, great difficulty is experienced in securing supplies of wire netting. In Brisbane, the Allied Works Council has already sold to dealers and to wholesalers a quantity of wire netting and proposes to sell more of it. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and ‘Shipping to consider the advisability of co-ordinating the lists of applications for wire netting, which are now held by various departments, so that supplies which are being sold by the Allied Works Council may be made available to existing applicants ? Will similar consideration be given to the wisdom of co-ordinating sales by the Allied Works Council and the Department of the Army of motor tyres, engine parts and other goods, which are in short supply and are urgently required ?
– i believe that the disposal of wire netting, engine parts and the like should be undertaken by the War Disposals Commission. The sales should be directed by one organization, rather than two or three bodies, so that consideration may be given to all the applications which have been made for the. goods. I was not aware that disposals of the kind to which the honorable member referred were occurring, but I shall suggest to the Minister, under whose authority the War Disposals Commission comes, that the manager might discuss this matter with the departments concerned with a view to giving effect to the honorable member’s request.
– Recently it was announced that, a committee of Cabinet had been appointed, three years after the Black Marketing Act had been passed, to consider black marketing operations. Will the Attorney-General inform me whether it is a fact that under the Black Marketing Act 1942, his consent is necessary before any prosecution could be launched ? If so, on how many occasions has his consent been sought; on how many occasions has it been granted; and on how many occasions has it been refused? Where prosecutions have’ taken place, what fines or terms of imprisonment have been imposed? If the right honorable gentleman is not in a position to answer these questions to-day, will he promise to make a statement to the House to-morrow on all the points that I have raised?
– Offhand, I am not able to give the figures which the honorable member sought, but I can briefly answer the other points. Under the BlackMarketing Act, no person may be prosecuted unless the proceedings are recommended to the Attorney-General by a committee of three persons. That is to say, those three persons must recommend, a prosecution before legal proceedings may take place. Regarding the operation of the act during the last few years, in almost every case where the recommendation has been made, there has been a prosecution. If proceedings have not been launched, the reason lay in some special circumstances mentioned by the committee. But it is almost an invariable rule to institute proceedings under the Black Marketing Act wherever the prosecution has been recommended. As the honorable gentleman knows, a prosecution under that act is an alternative to a prosecution under existing regulations, such as the Prices Regulations. The difficulties in the administration of the Prices Regulations have been referred to by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane)/ who administers them. Some cases have been taken from court to court, and difficulties have arisen from time to time. I shall try to obtain figures in relation to the matter and give full information to the honorable member as soon as I can.
Western Australian Service
– Is the Minister for Transport yet able to say what arrangements are being made to provide transport for pea-sons in Western Australia to whom have been issued permits to travel to the eastern States, but who have been unable to secure accommodation on the trans- Australian train?
– Following upon strong representations by Labour members from South Australia and Western Australia, I have had an investigation made, and it has now been found possible, with the co-operation of the Army, to run an additional train in both directions. A train will leave Port Pirie on the 5 th March and depart from Perth on the return journey on the 9th March. Accommodation will be provided for 120 sitting passengers in each direction.
– In view of the serious shortage of vegetable seeds in Australia, I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether the refusal of the Vegetable Seeds Committee to register certain farmers for seed production can be reconsidered? Many of these individuals diverted their activities into seed production and made contracts with seed merchants for tha purchase of their product, only to find that consent to the sale of the seed1 has been refused by the Vegetable Seeds Committee. I have in mind, in .particular, a valuable area of lucerne land in the Lower Manning which was diverted to seed production owing to the representations that were made in this connexion. The owner of the property now finds that the Vegetable Seeds Committee will not grant, a permit for his seed to be sold.
– I shall cause an immediate investigation to be made. The object of the Government in appointing the Vegetable Seeds Committee was to assist in the proper production and distribution of vegetable seeds. I do not consider that the committee should retard the equitable distribution of seed.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture read in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 21st
February the report that, according to Mr. Hope Martin, president of the New South Wales Seedsmen’s Association, bungling by the Vegetable Seeds Committee has disorganized production and has involved ‘both the Commonwealth Government and seedsmen in heavy financial loss? Will the honorable gentleman call for an immediate report upon Mr. Martin’s allegations and inform the House of the extant of and the reasons for the heavy financial loss alleged? Further, will he state whether or not this alleged loss has affected the production of vegetables in Australia?
– I shall have a full investigation made, and supply the particulars I obtain.
– Is. the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that, owing to inability to secure supplies of1 whole or gristed wheat, the pig and poultry industries in New South Wales are threatened with extinction? What steps does the honorable gentleman propose to take with a view to avoiding such a catastrophe on the food front?
– Approximately 8S,000,000 bushels of wheat has been made available ‘for distribution for feed purposes, up to November next, when it is anticipated that the early harvest will be gathered. A committee representative of the State Department of Agriculture, the Commonwealth Department of Commerce and Agriculture, and the Australian Wheat Board has been formed to ensure an equitable distribution. The industries mentioned by the honorable member have a high priority, and he need not fear that there will ‘be any likelihood of their extinction.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service with a view to obtaining a report from Ryland Bros., Newcastle, as to the number of men required to galvanize the whole of its production of rabbit-proof wire netting? Does the honorable gentleman know that 45 men, operating on three shifts, could galvanize the whole of the production of that plant?
– I am willing to confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service. Probably, however, materials as well as labour are involved-; if so, the Minister for Munitions, too, will have to be consulted.
– I have received from the directors of the Casino Cooperative Dairy Company three posters issued by Commonwealth Food Control. Accompanying them is the statement that the directors consider them unfit to be exhibited, and incapable of stimulating the production of milk and butter, which, apparently, is the object sought to be achieved. When the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has seen them, perhaps he will agree that they are more suitable for Man than for the man on the land. One poster depicts a number of amazed cows reading a notice entitled “ All cows kindly requested to produce more milk “. Whether the farmer or the cow is supposed to read it, I cannot say. The second poster depicts a man milking a cow in a paddock instead of in a bail, and the inscription makes the cow say, “ An extra pint. Good work, eh, Charlie?” The final poster depicts a bull in a paddock enclosed by a barbedwire fence which has neither struts nor supports, and which any self-respecting bull could push over wit’hout effort. On the opposite side of the fence is a calf with the legs of a foal, and a cow grazing. The calf is supposed to be saying to the bull, “ Why does mum do all the war work? “ Does the Minister approve of propaganda of this kind being published in country newspapers as advertising matter? Will he state what is the cost of it, and whether or not he considers that it will assist in the production of food? Further, will he ascertain who is responsible, and. have the posters withdrawn from circulation?
– I have not seen the posters. Maybe the Casino Co-operative Dairy Company, and the honorable member for Richmond, like the critics of Mr. William Dobell, do not understand art.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs to state whether or not considerable discontent exists among American fighting personnel in Sydney because the Department of Trade and Customs has sold large consignments of American cigarettes seized in the efforts tostamp out black-marketing operations, instead of heeding the request for their return to the American authorities for distribution among American troops fighting in the Pacific?Will the honorable gentleman state what has become of the proceeds of such sales, and undertake to be guided in future by the wishes of the American authorities?
– I am not aware of the discontent to which the honorable gentleman has referred, but I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Trade and Customs, who daily receives numerous similar complaints.
– I lay on the table of the House the following paper: -
Sugar. - Protocol relating to the International Sugar Agreement (signed in London, 31st August, 1944).
The Protocol, which was signed by representatives of the Governments of the Union of South Africa, Commonwealth of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Cuba, Czechoslovakia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States of America (including the Philippines), and Poland, extends the International Sugar Agreement, which originally operated from 1937, for a further period of one year from the 1st September, 1944.
It will be realized that, owing to the war, the operation of certain portions of the agreement, relating mainly to the quota obligations of importing and exporting countries, has been merely nominal. The opportunity has been taken in this protocol to declare such portions inoperative during the extended life of the agreement. Accordingly, the main purposes of the renewal of the agreement are to maintain the central machinery for the adjustment of international sugar supplies in the period immediately following the end of the war, and to gain time for the conclusion of a wider scheme to meet the long-term problems of the industry.
– In view of the report that unemployment and sickness benefits and pharmaceutical benefits are to come into operation on the 1st July, will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services say whether he has considered the practicability of establishing departments in cities and provincial towns where all social service activities may be grouped ?
– Yes, and plans are now being worked out and preparations made for engaging staff for such offices.
– In view of the fact that arrangements have been made for the supply of wheat for stock feed to farmers in New South Wales, will the Minister for Commerceand Agriculture arrange for a similar distribution of feed wheat to the drought areas of south-western Queensland? If it is proposed to make such a distribution will the Minister say what arrangements have been made for transporting wheat to Queensland ?
– Wheat for the feeding of stock will be distributed equitably among all the States. Wheat is already being transported in regular consignments to Queensland, and the Department of Stock and Agriculture in Queensland is arranging for the transport of supplies under the new arrangement. If the honorable member has in mind any particular case, and if he will let me have full particulars concerning it, I shall have it immediately investigated.
Withdrawals of Prosecution
– Will the AttorneyGeneral obtain information as to the number of persons and/or companies proceeded against by the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s office in the Tamworth district on the 26th February, 1945, for offences under the Prices Regulations? Was one of the persons Mr. Cyril J. Cahill, chemist, of Tamworth, and was the case against him withdrawn by the Crown Solicitor’s representative who offered no evidence? Is Mr. Cahill the president of the local branch of the Australian Labour party, and will the Attorney-General lay on the table of the House the file in connexion with Mr. Cahill’s case?
– I am not aware of the details, but I shall look into the matter and reply to the honorable member later.
– In view of the short age of fencing wire, water piping, &c, in South Australia, will the Prime Minister approach the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited with a view to having these materials manufactured at Whyalla?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter. The Minister for Munitions tells me that the trouble is due to the shortage of labour, and I can appreciate the difficulty. I very much regret that there are many other shortages attributable to the same cause. If it is possible to effect any immediate improvement it will be done.
– Is it a fact that the power alcohol distillery at Warracknabeal will not operate for twelve months or more, and that as a consequence, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, which is working with the Department of Supply and Shipping, has necessarily reduced its staff there to small proportions ? Is it further a fact that the services of seven local men have been retained, only one of whom is a returned soldier, although the men dismissed include a number of returned soldiers of the first and second Australian Imperial Forces? If so, does the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping consider this is in keeping with the Government’s so-called policy of soldier preference?
-It is a fact that the power alcohol distillery at Warracknabeal has been completed for some time, though I do know that it will not operate for twelve months. It has not yet operated because there has been no wheat available. Also, to he quite candid, the coal stocks which had been laid in had to be taken over by the Victorian railways ; they could not he left there unused. As for the people employed, that matter is in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited which has undertaken the work, and which will be responsible for the servicing of the plant until it can he put into production.
– The Department of Supply and Shipping is also responsible.
– The Department of Supply and Shipping is responsible in a general sense for the enterprise, hut it has delegated to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited the work of actual production. That was the natural thing to do. I shall take the matter up with the company, and a further reply will be given in due course.
Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service : Disciplinary Measures
– Does the Minister for the Navy know that a rumour is circulating to the effect that a cell with iron bars is being erected at the Flinders Naval Base for the purpose of disciplining members of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service? Is there any basis for the rumour ?
– I can assure the honorable member that I would not countenance any such proposal, and neither would the Naval Board. The women associated with the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service have such a high reputation and such an excellent record that not one of them, I am convinced, would commit a misdemeanour which would warrant the form of detention mentioned. If there were such a person in the force her presence would not be tolerated for five minutes.
– Is the Minister for Air aware that flying instructors, who were invited to join the Royal Australian Air Force at the beginning of the war, and who have trained a great number of airmen, are now finding, upon their retirement, that a financial regulation has been brought into force which reduces the rate of deferred pay below the rate offered to them on their enlistment? Will the Minister have this regulation rescinded, and the original contract honoured ?
– I am not aware that such a regulation exists. If the honorable member will supply me with full information I shall have the matter inquired into.
– I have to inform the House that I have received a copy of a resolution of the Congress of the United States of Venezuela, containing expressions of sympathy with, and wishes for the victory of, the cause of the United Nations. A suitable acknowledgment has been forwarded to the President of the National Congress of Venezuela.
Debate resumed from the 23rd February (vide page 108), on motion by Mr. Fraser -
Thatthe following Address-in-Reply to His Royal Highness the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
May itplease Yourroyal Highness:
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our most Gracious Sovereign, to extend to Your Royal Highness a welcome to Australia, and to thank Your Royal Highness for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– As the Prime Minister had urgent business with the Governor-General, he was unable to continue his speech. The party leaders were agreeable to his continuing his remarks at a later stage. I have no knowledge of any understanding as to when those remarks should be continued.
– I knew that the honorable member for Parkes had secured the adjournment of the debate, and I thought that it would be an impertinence for me to intrude.
– A nation united in welcoming its first Royal Govern or-General was the impression given by the choice of men from opposite ends of the Commonwealth to move and secondthe Address-in-Reply to the Speech of the Governor-General, the Duke of Gloucester. The mover, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser), represents an electorate the eastern boundary of which is washed by the waves of the Pacific, and the seconder, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke), is from the western extremity of the continent washed by the Indian Ocean. This, I think, happily indicates the unity of the welcome to His Royal Highness. I add. my meed of praise of the speeches delivered by them in carrying out their task.
Before the Address-in-Reply was moved we were told of the birth of a new party, the Liberal party of Australia. As Labour men we can congratulate its leader (Mr. Menzies) on the birth of that party, because we can see, if despatches from New South Wales can be believed, that it is a fighting party. In New South Wales it is already tearing itself to pieces. Whenever he speaks the Leader of the Opposition refers to the “ borderline” seats now occupied by Labour supporters. One hears him say, “ You won’t be here, and you won’t be here “ to one and then another of us. I represent a border-line seat, but I and my similarly placed colleagues are perfectly happy because we know that, with the party we have and the leader we have, whether the Leader of the Opposition likes it or not, we shall continue to grow in beauty side by side. The noises in the right honorable gentleman’s head are not the crash of Labour seats tumbling into dust, but the curfew bells of Kooyong.
The right honorable gentleman in his speech referred to the need to rescue Australian prisoners in Japanese hands. lt is most regrettable that a political issue should be made of how and when they should, be rescued. Every true Australian feels that our first duty is to release the men who were captured in Malaya and -Singapore, but we have to consider their rescue in conjunction with global strategy in general and strategy in the Pacific in particular. So far as we can gather, there are few Australians left in Singapore; they are in prison camps in Borneo, Korea, Thailand, Formosa, and other Japanese-held territory. I think that the strategy employed by General Douglas MacArthur, in association with the Australian High Command, is the right way to bring about a quick release of our men. The bombs that are raining on Tokyo, are a positive indication that our men will be rescued, and rescued forthwith. Of course, the fixing of our eyes on Singapore is quite understandable, but we should remember that it is not thence that we shall rescue our imprisoned troops. I hope that troops from India, under the command of Lord Louis Mountbatten, will soon reach Thailand, where many of our men are in labour gangs and that the intensified offensive against the Japanese by troops under the command of General MacArthur will bring the results that we all pray for. To rise hero and say that we must bring our men back from Singapore is not fair to their suffering relatives. It could not be said more truly than in the Prime Minister’s words that -those men placed their bodies between Australia and the enemy, but the Labour party is proud to be able to say that it enabled them to place more than their bodies between us and the enemy by putting weapons in their hands. We must rescue them as soon as possible. In that we are as one. But to make political capital out of their sad plight is scandalous. The Government is straining every nerve and sinew to effect their rescue, but the only way in which to accomplish it is by the full use of our strength against the enemy. The. bombing of Tokyo is a fair indication that within the next few months we shall rescue them. As the Prime Minister has said, a part of our heart is locked up in Singapore. We will in the quickest possible time avenge that tragic defeat of the early days of the war.
As regards Singapore itself, I have noticed that as the war draws to its end the ruthless and toothless capitalists are creeping out of their bomb-proof shelters. They were agreeable that our men should go to Singapore and fight against insuperable odds. But in demanding an attack on Singapore are they so imbued with the idea of rescuing them as they are enchanted with the prospect of repossessing themselves of the rubber, tin, oil, and spices of Malaya? This paragraph in the Sydney Daily Telegraph inclines me to the second view -
London, Sunday (A.A.P.). - Hopes that the intensified Pacific war will hasten the end stimulated speculative buying of Japanese bonds.
Some European bonds last week scored minor rises.
The Council of Foreign Bondholders reports that £400 million of British capital is invested in the obligations of enemy Governments, States, and municipalities, apart from other types of debt.
The stock markets finished the week with a firm tendency for most sections.
It does appear to me that the scaly neck of international capitalism is reaching out for its feast of souls again, and if we confuse military operations with the desires of the “ big chap “, who has made a pretty fair thing out of the war, we shall become entangled in the difficult issues of international finance. To the mothers, wives> and sweethearts of Australian troops who were sent to Singapore, I tender my heartfelt sympathy. They have passed through an appalling time. I demand that honorable members opposite shall not make political capital out of their misery by taking of the liberation of our men when already every effort is being made to liberate them.
The reform of the Commonwealth Bank has been an ideal of the Labour movement and the people of Australia for many years. I congratulate the Government on its forthright action and courage, which will be reflected in the future of this country for many years to come. Despite what may appear in the paid press and the tremendous misuse of paper, propaganda, and postage stamps when we are supposed to be fighting a total war, I believe that this reform., like all great reforms, will begin in a flurry of terror created by frightened people, and end in a cry of satisfaction from the people of Australia, who will be released, ultimately, from financial bondage. In the same category is the dramatic decision of the Commonwealth Government to assume control of interstate airlines. That the Government should take over an asset which belongs to the people is a reasonable proposition. This subject has already been debated in this House, hut one aspect of it has rather amused me. The newspapers and, again, the paid propagandists of the proprietary airlines, have made a great fuss about the pioneers of aviation in Australia. I do not concede that the companies are pioneers, unless they mean that, having assessed the profitable possibilities of civil aviation in this country, they pioneered more profits. The real pioneers were the Smiths, Hinkler, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Mr. C. P. T. Ulm, and other navigators of the air, who made our air routes possible. As usual, human endeavour comes first, and the capitalist then makes the most out of it. That is an instance of what we politely call “ progress “.
– The real pioneers of the air were the men who blazed the trail. When we nationalize our airways, we should consider the claim for recognition of that great Australian, Captain P. G. Taylor, who, in the last war and in- this war, and in the interval between them, made the name of Australia in aeronautics something to be conjured with. He is the last of the pioneers. If we are to take cognizance of the pioneers of aviation, we should recognize, not the pioneering profiteer, but the men who blazed the trail.
When reading the remarks of honorable members who have already spoken on the Address-in .Reply, I detected a note of despair concerning the “new order”. We must be sure that we do not make light statements and then as lightly dismiss them. The Labour party is dedicated to a better era after the war. Many call it a “new order”, but we like the more typical Australian slogan of a “fair deal”. We are dedicated to it, and intend to go on with it. We have no time for a note of despair, which is creeping into the speeches of honorable members opposite. Tremendous difficulties stand in the way of implementing this “new order”, but implemented it must be ! We have made certain definite promises. When we were sending our troops to war, we said that “ nothing was too good for the soldier “. Let us be sure that we do not mean it literally, namely, that “nothing” is too good for the soldier. At the same time, we must not forget our ‘responsibility to our workers in the factories. Any Australian who proposes to separate one side of the war-winning workers from another side, is doing a great disservice to this’ country. In any plans for reconstruction we must remember that, fact.
As I pointed out in my reference to Singapore, this country is passing through another phase of war. A year ago, bomb-proof shelters were the safest places for the international capitalist, but now he is creeping out of them, and we read disheartening and debilitating statements that this or that cannot be done after the war. Surely we can get back to the original decisions that we made earlier in the war, that if a thing can possibly be done, we shall do it. We must approach the “ new order “ or “ fair deal “ in the same spirit. If we cannot maintain the marching note that we gave to war, we shall lose the peace. All else will be futility. The Labour party has shown its willingness and eagerness to do dramatic things, and strong things, and to stand or fall by the outcome. On that, I congratulate the Government very sincerely. Although many aspects of reconstruction must be considered in this “fair deal” for all people, all are interlocking. The main one is the Government’s banking policy. Without banking reforms, which, happily, the Government will implement, nothing oan be done. We have taken the first step before the conclusion of hostilities. It is one of the most momentous things which has happened in this country, and we must proceed courageously to do the other necessary things. Housing, the rehabilitation of exservicemen, social services, and other things which are interdependent if Australia is to have a successful “ new order “, have, in , due season, had an airing in this House.
The principal portion of my speech will be devoted to migration. This subject is moat important, and if we are to get anywhere, we must adopt an extremely realistic attitude. In the first place, who told us that Australia will attract migrants? If honorable members will read the history of the great movements of people, they will find that people will migrate only when conditions offered to thom elsewhere are better than those in their native land. The great movement of peoples from Europe to America during the last century occurred because conditions in America were superior to those in Europe. If we want to attract migrants to settle in Australia, we must be able to show them something better than that which they enjoyed in their native countries. I refer to housing, employment, wages and working conditions as a lure to the migrant.
– Some real personal incentive?
M.r. HAYLEN”. - It is peculiar that in the past, Australia has restricted the entry of migrants and frowned upon migration. Suddenly, we assert that we must have migrants, and appear to believe that because we say so, we shall get a flood of them. That attitude is wrong. I am opposed to child migration. Then there is the problem of suitable migrants. It has many specific dangers.
– Why is the honorable member opposed to child migration?
– I am opposed to certain aspects of it. However, the point is not material, because the newspapers have published cables from overseas stating that no children will be available from Europe to settle in Australia.
– I am able to cite specific cases of children in England whose parents were killed in bombing raids. Those children would come to Australia.
– I am really afraid of child migration because children might be exploited by sections whom honorable members opposite represent. Child labour may easily become cheap labour, and we must be wary of that. It would be disastrous to bring youngsters to this country under the specious plea that we are actuated by patriotic motives and will be father and mother to them, when in reality they will become “ little brothers “ and jackaroos on far distant stations. Child migration is full of difficulties while so many people in this country think of youth in terms of exploitation.
– The real question is : Do we need population? Many people think loosely on this question. In wartime we would have paid any price for man-power, but after the war we shall have to consider whether we need people, when we need them, and whether we are ready to receive them. If people were the complete answer to population problems, India would be the most progressive place in the world, but we know what is happening there. China also would be most prosperous and would not be looking to Unrra for relief. In peacetime floods and starvation cause havoc in China, but there is always a teeming population; in fact, China has too many people.
The fact is that, to be successful, migration must be planned. We need to be able to give to people some assurance that if they migrate to Australia they will be cared for and will not press an Australian out of a job or out of a home. We should go carefully in regard to child migration. The family unit is what we need. We cannot look for great development from wholesale child migration. If, however, we adopted the family unit we should be on the way to a good measure of success. We could follow the American plan of inviting mechanics and tradesmen to settle in our country, and I have no doubt that many such individuals, who are sick of the Fascist regime and the terrorist experiences of Europe which have persisted for a thousand years, would be glad to come to this country and bring their families with them, and they would be able, by their industry, to become good citizens. We could learn from them and they could learn from us.
In any migration plan we must seek to break down our insular outlook in regard to foreigners. The best answer to that problem is, I think, the American practice of making migrants Americans immediately they land on Ellis Island. Such migrants may not become real Americans for a generation, but at least they have the immediate sense of approval by the American people, and they become assimilated much more quickly than would otherwise be the case, and many of their difficulties are immediately ironed out. In that regard I believe that we could do a great deal by the use of basic English. One of the- great difficulties that face newcomers to a country with a different language is that their accent immediately singles them out as strangers. They are apt to be overwhelmed by a sense of isolation, and to become segregated from their fellow citizens. I believe that if on all ships which bring foreign migrants to Australia provision were made for the use of basic English, which consists of about 800 words, it would help tremendously. If all orders aboard the ship and all communications to foreigners were in basic English the migrants would reach this country having at least a workable knowledge of our language and it would save them a great deal of trouble and enable them to settle down more easily.
We cannot expect to get exactly the kind of migrants we desire. It is like conceit of us to assume that we may pick and choose from the French, Nordic or better class Latin races. We may have only the choice of Levantines or defeated and Mediterranean peoples. We know very well that some European nations are themselves in difficulties in regard to population. The Scandinavian countries, for example, could offer conditions comparable with those, of Australia, mid we should not assume that we can obtain people from whichever country we choose to select. We must, however, retain a power of selection, and as an earnest of our wish to bring people here in order to develop this country, and not just to become cannon fodder in another war, we must make our conditions attractive.
I wish now to refer to the birth-rate and its bearing on population. In this connexion I shall refer to a report published recently in a newspaper which the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) does not know whether he can believe or not. Statistics cited in that newspaper indicate that during the war the birth-rate of Australia has increased by 25 per cent. The figures, which have not been challenged to my knowledge, have appeared in several newspapers. An increase of births generally happens during a Avar. It reminds me, however, that even before the war many European countries were greatly perturbed about population problems. Even Russia considered it necessary to provide rewards for large families, and the valiant women who were prepared to have families of nane, ten, or eleven children were well rewarded. Similar action was taken in France. We all remember, of course, that it was said that France got into difficulties in the last war because there were so few children in the community. With our 7,000,000 people, we could do a good deal by encouraging larger families, as well as by providing for a system of assisted migration. In regard to the latter, we should need a quota system in order to take care that the country be not flooded. A quota system should work as well for Australia as it has worked for America, and by adopting a proper system of this description we should be doing a good job for the people who come here as well as for ourselves.
Several European countries which have struggled with this problem of increased population have instituted various forms of marriage loans, and in every instance these have proved successful in achieving the desired end. What has been done in other countries in this way can be done in Australia. We also need batter methods of dealing with sterility. Many European countries have found it necessary to pass harsher laws against abortion. Before the war, it was estimated that 1,000,000 potential lives were being lost annually in Germany by the practice of abortion. The corresponding figure for France was 850,000. The figure for England was in proportion. There can be no doubt whatever that this disastrous practice was causing the destruction of the race, and’ penalties of a most rigorous kind were being imposed on people who were adopting this practice and thereby annihilating their race. The question has some significance also in Australia, and men and women who have so forgotten their responsibilities to their own country should be recalled to their sense of d<uty. A tightening . up of the law in this connexion would help the cause of a higher birth-rate.
The practice of providing marriage loans has been successful in Sweden, Russia, Germany, and Italy. In the Scandinavian countries it has been outstandingly successful, and we should remember these countries stand between Communist Russia and Nazi Germany, so their procedure should give us a democratic slant on this as well as other subjects. Seventeen separate investigations have been made in Scandinavian countries on this subject of birth-rate, and each investigation indicated clearly that marriage loans were successful. It cannot be said that unhygienic conditions and bad housing are completely to blame for the fall in the birth-rate, however, for the figures show clearly that the poorer people have always been the most patriotic in this respect, whereas the people in better economic circumstances have not always done their duty. We should not, therefore, be forever throwing stones at the working class in this regard. Certain provisions of the Beveridge plan indicate that the development of a system of marriage loans may be expected in Great Britain.
In most countries the marriage loan is equivalent to about £250. It becomes operative on condition that the couple marry at once, and that the bride shall give up any work that she may be doing and return to her home until the loan is repaid or cancelled. This subject has some particular relation to the rehabilitation, after the war, of our service personnel. We should encourage the many thousands of girls in the Services to marry and establish homes after their demobilization. Under most of the legislation of this description one-fourth of the loan is cancelled on the birth of the first child, and another quarter of it on each succeeding birth. The loan is free of interest, and is repayable by monthly instalments at 1 .per cent., beginning in from twelve to eighteen months after marriage. No repayments are required for a year after the birth of a child, and the loan is cancelled on the death of one parent. In Sweden there were 516,793 marriages in the year before the marriage loan legislation became effective, and 638,573 marriages in the year following its introduction, showing an increase of 121,000 marriages. In other countries, 25 per cent, of the married section of the population has received the loan, and this aid has had a tremendous effect on the welf are of people who decided to marry. In Australia today, with all our up-to-date social enactments and our much-vaunted laws for the benefit of the workers, if one were to ask married couples on the lower ranges of income as .to their circumstances when they had entered into matrimony, one would be told that they had tied a millstone of debt round their necks, in some instances for the rest of their lives. Those decent, lawabiding, conscientious citizens who determined to have a family and thus assist in the future defence and development of Australia, undertook a further burden with marriage. The simple expedient of a marriage loan, payable in cash or by means of coupons for the specific purpose of buying furniture and fittings for the home, is one answer to the question as to how the social problems of this country may be solved. The payment of £250 as a marriage loan would do much to make families happy and contented. The provision that the loan would be wiped out with the birth of the fourth child would be an incentive to married couples to have a family of at least that size. When I first raised this matter, some ladies at Newcastle said that I was promoting a stork race. I am not a competitor in anything of the sort; the impulse guiding me is on a much higher plane. Provision for the payment of marriage loans, ‘ sooner or later, must be included in our social legislation if we are adequately to deal with the problem of population, with which is associated the problem of migration. I commend the proposal as one that has been tested by European nations and has been found to be a safe and sensible measure, not only to increase the population but also to give some degree of happiness and contentment to the real people of the world, namely, those who on small salaries are struggling to raise families and thus supplement the resources of the nation, particularly in man-power.
I am firmly convinced that in any discussions we may have in regard to the new order, and in any arrangements that may be made for post-war reconstruction, consideration should be given to this matter in conjunction with that of migration. The hotch-potch idea of bringing people from England or Continental Europe to Australia, and letting, them slip back after they have spent a miserable few months in this country, was a characteristic of the old system. Migration should be tackled in two ways. First, we should build up our own race and increase our own birth-rate. All that can be done by means of social legislation should be done to make possible an increase of the native population, which should be kept strong and healthy by assistance in regard to hospitalization and medical services. Having laid that solid basis, let us invite migrants to come here, and ensure that work will be available f or them as well as for all Australians. Let us tackle the provision of housing, and undertake public works on a scale sufficiently large to absorb those who are in need of employment. Above all, let us make sure that migration shall not become a matter for control by those who would establish a pool of unemployed, of which they can make use in a time of depression. If we permit unemployment to become a vortex, all may be drawn into it. In our planning for post-war reconstruction, we should consider employment in its widest application. I submit that marriage loans and planned migration should make some contribution to the performance of the vast task that lies ahead of the Government of this country.
.- I join in the expressions of welcome that have been voiced by previous speakers to His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, on his assumption of the high office of Governor-General, and to the Duchess of Gloucester. That the King’s brother should undertake in Australia the duties of Governor-General, is a matter of keen pride to all Australians. His arrival will tend to strengthen the bonds between Australia, the Mother Country, and the other members of the British Commonwealth.
I listened with great interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), particularly in relation to the employment of the Australian Army. But I was even more interested in the all-too-short remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), who appeared to defend the employment in which our troops are engaged.
There will be general disappointment at the nature of the contents of the Governor-General’s Speech. We are still engaged- in a bitter and desperate war, the end of which is not in sight; yet the Speech did not lay any emphasis on measures that are necessary to bring it to a victorious conclusion, but rather dealt with legislation of domestic interest which pertains much more to peace than to war, and certainly has no direct connexion with the prosecution of the war. About a fortnight ago the Prime Minister, in a public statement, stressed the magnitude of our commitments to the cause of the Allies. We all know how enormous those commitments . are, and the difficulty we shall have in meeting them. If we are to meet them in the present conditions of man-power and drought, we must not be distracted, diverted, or even divided by controversial issues of an entirely domestic and political nature. Whether the proposed measures affecting banking, insurance and airways may be good or bad for the future of this country, is beside the point at the moment. At least two things are true. The first is that they have not any direct connexion with the war; and the second is that they will divide the country from top to bottom. They are completely out of place at the present time in the policy of a government whose main idea should be the prosecution of the war.
Insofar as the Speech deals with the war, it recapitulates fairly shortly, and accurately, the great advances that have been made on all the Allied fronts. We all are proud of the victories that have been won, which doubtless will contribute materially to the shortening of the war. In regard to the Australian forces, the Speech merely mentions their proud record, almost as an afterthought, in these words -
From 1!)42 to 1 944, ‘ the Australian Army hits played un outstanding part in the defeat of Japan’s plans for conquest in the SouthWest Pacific Area, and its striking force is now poised for further operations against the enemy.
The striking force of our Army has been poised for twelve months for further operations against the enemy, and it may continue to be poised, like the sword of Damocles, until the end of the war. ‘There is nothing in the statement of the Prime Minister, the Speech of the GovernorGeneral, or any other government pronouncement which gives any indication of a determination by the Government to see that our troops shall play a forward and vital part in future strategic operations. The Prime Minister made three points in connexion with their employment. The first was, that they had been assigned to General MacArthur for service in the South-West Pacific, in agreement with President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill. The second was that the strength of the force had been fixed by agreement between President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill; and the third stressed the extraordinary difficulty that exists to-day in finding adequate shipping for all the tasks for which it is required. Does the right honorable gentleman say that because Australian troops were assigned to General MacArthur last June, they are forever to remain assigned to him; that there can be no change in the assignment, no alteration of the theatre in which they are to be employed? That is implicit in his remarks. One of the normal features of military operations, and above all of military strategy, is that troops assigned to one theatre shall continue to operate in it only until they are no longer required there, and that there must be an immediate review of the assignment should they be more urgently required in another theatre.
On the second point, namely, that the strength of the Army and its general disposition should be determined by agreement among the Allied Nations, which have an overall picture of the situation, and that it is obligatory on us to fit into the general scheme so as to conserve shipping, I should say that if there is suffi cient shipping to transport troops from Australia to the Philippines or to Bougainville, surely it could be made available to move them elsewhere; because, on the assumption that the journey was not extremely long, no more ships would be needed to transport them to one place than to another. Only a few days ago, a British Minister of the Crown stated that, if our troops could be made available for British armies, ships also would be provided to transport them. There would appear to be a lack of drive on the part of the Government. Apparently, it considers that, as we have played already a noble and gallant part, we should be content to leave with General MacArthur the decision as to where our troops should be employed, and be free to bring forward measures of a controversial nature which more properly appertain to times of peace. That is wrong. If ever there was a time when Australia should be represented fully on all the fighting fronts, it is now. Over the whole of the vast war front, the armies of the Allies are advancing. General MacArthur, with brilliant and spectacular drives, has practically broken the back of the campaign in the Philippines. The Russians ha.ve advanced almost to the gates of Berlin, after having won great victories and inflicted enormous losses of men and materials on the Germans. On the west front, British, Canadian, French, and American troops are advancing towards the Rhine. In Italy, there are large numbers of British, American, Canadian, South African, Italian, Greek and New Zealand contingents, all of whom are advancing. In Burma, British and Indian troops are attacking Mandalay, and are now in control of the northern communications of that country. On all this vast front, there is only one of the United Nations not represented on the strategic battlefields - and that nation is Australia. I do not forget what the Royal Australian Air Force has done, what has been achieved by our air squadrons abroad, nor do I forget what is being done now by our airmen serving in the South- West Pacific. I also bear in mind the distinction earned by the Royal Australian Navy in all the waters of the world, and especially in the
South-West Pacific. I do not forget these things when I say that Australian troops hare been relegated to the role of the charwomen of the Pacific, mopping up the mess left behind as the front of battle has moved forward. I do not under-estimate the difficulties of the campaign upon which they are engaged, the hardships of climate which they have to endure, nor the skill and gallantry required of them. Nothing I say is derogatory of our troops. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. McEwen) said the other day that criticism of this kind was derogatory of the Australian Army. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), in a public announcement over the air, said that these criticisms’ were a slur upon our men. My reply is that they are not derogatory of our men, nor are they a slur upon them. It is within my own experience, and within that of others also who have served on the fighting fronts, that on occasions gallant troops have, after heavy losses, gained objectives which were of no real value. It was no slur on their gallantry to say that the objectives were of a secondary order of importance. My remarks challenge the judgment of those responsible for assigning our troops to the work upon which they are engaged, but they are not derogatory of the troops themselves.
– How does the honorable member for Parkes get those statements over the Australian Broadcasting Commission stations every Sunday night?
– Ask him. Last December, when we were first informed that our troops were to be assigned to mopping up duties, the Minister for the Army said, first, that the troops were under the command of General MacArthur; secondly, they were to be engaged in mopping up operations in the islands : thirdly, some of the troops, presumably the best equipped and best trained, were to bs sent to the Philippines. Well, the Philippines campaign, so far as strategic fighting battles’ is concerned, is practically over. There will be a lot of mopping up to be done, but it is not my idea nor, I hope, that of anybody else in the House, that our troops should be engaged solely on these mopping-up operations.
In any case, why should this mopping up be done? We have been told, and I accept the statement, that the Japanese in the islands are not dying of starvation; that they are growing nice and fat and round, and are perfectly happy; and that they are producing their own food, and are intermarrying, or are likely to intermarry, with the natives. The suggestion is that fifteen or twenty years hence we shall have in those islands a half-caste, hostile population that will be inimical to our security. The other day the Prime Minister, in answer to a question, said that the campaign was necessary in order to exterminate the Japanese and to restore .civil government. The deputy leader of the Australian Country party joined in the discussion with the statement that there are millions of natives in the islands concerned, and that they have to be rescued from a. terrible fate at the hands of the Japanese. As a matter of fact, it is a gross exaggeration, to say that there are millions of natives. Probably, the native population affected would be not more than 900,000, and of these a great many are not subject to the Japanese any more than they were subject to us. They live remote from control in the woods and mountains, and have never ‘been subjugated or counted. The picture painted by the deputy leader of the Australian Country party may be realistic enough, but it has no real bearing upon the defeat of the enemy. The reasons advanced by him and the Prime Minister are practical and sentimental, but they are civilian reasons. But the military reasons are the supremely important ones. The honorable member for Parkes said that we were confusing military and civilian reasons. I reply that if any one is confusing those things he and those who think like him are doing so.
On this subject of the importance or otherwise of mopping-up operations, it is of decisive importance to bear in mind the fact that, during the last eighteen months, we have gained complete command of the sea in the Pacific theatre of war. The American fleets, supported, I am glad to say, by some British squadrons, are riding the seas practically unchallenged, while the
Japanese fleet is bottled up. Our warships and transports proceed on their way in little danger and with practically no losses. That produces a positive result for us, and a negative one for the Japane.se. It means that the Japanese troops in the islands which Wave been by-passed are immobilized and bottled up. So far as their capacity to affect any vital decision of the war is concerned, they might as well not exist. They cannot of themselves exercise any influence on the decision of the war; yet we are committing ourselves to their extermination now. Here is another point to consider. On the other side of the world, in the Atlantic ports of France, there are 100,000 Germans contained by French forces, and their presence is much more of a nuisance to the Allies than is the presence of the Japanese in the South-West Pacific Islands a .nuisance to us. The ports of Dunkirk, St. Nazaire and Lorient are still used sometimes by TJ-boats, yet the Gorman garrisons in those towns are allowed to remain. The Germans are also allowed to remain in possession of the Channel Islands, a few miles farther west, although those islands are populated by people of our own race who are virtually starving as a result of enemy occupation. One might say that their situation called for immediate action, yet the Allies in Europe are not attempting anything more than to contain the German forces. Surely, then, we would be justified in applying the same policy here, where the dangers of occupation are far less than those in Europe. One of the first rules of war is to concentrate the maximum force at the decisive point, and another is not to use men upon unnecessary operations. Yet we are violating those rules now; we are sending to the islands men who might be better employed elsewhere.
Then there is the political aspect. In the sphere of law it has been said that justice should not only ‘be done, but should also appear to be done. If we translate that doctrine into military terms and apply it to the present situation, it becomes evident that Australia should not only play a part in this war, but that it should also appear to do so. Yet that is just what Australia is not doing. Aus tralia’s prestige is all-important to us, and it depends upon something more than sending supplies and equipment to the forces of other nations; it depends upon the sending of our forces to play their part upon the decisive battle-fronts. The influence of Australia at the peace conference, and during the period after the war, will not depend upon the number of tons of wheat or butter or potatoes that we send to the Allied forces, nor even upon the number of our men killed in secondary operations on by-passed islands ; it will depend on the part played by Australian troops on the vital battlefronts of the world.
The record of this Government cannot justify any one in expecting forceful action from it in the military sphere. Its actions have always been dictated by anxiety rather than by strength of purpose. At the beginning of the war, when Australia sent the Australian Imperial Force abroad, its despatch was opposed, I believe, by every member of the Labour party in this Parliament. Then, when Japan came into the war, and the Labour Government was in office, it recalled the 6th and 7th Divisions to Australia at a time when they were on their way to Burma. They were diverted from “Burma, and were brought back to Australia to take part in the New Guinea campaign.
– Did I understand the honorable member to say that a decision had been taken to shift Australian troops to Burma?
– No, to divert them from Burma. The 6th and 7th Divisions were diverted from Burma to Australia.
– They never got to Burma.
– They never got there, but they were expected to go there.
– Who picked them for that operation?
– The High Command.
– Which High Command ?
– The British High Command wanted them to go there.
– I think the honorable member ought to stick to what he knows.
– Let us now see what happened to the 9th Division, which contained, the flower of our troops. It was one of the best divisions that ever left Australia. The original plan of the High Command in the Middle East provided that the 9 th Division of the Australian Imperial Force should take a prominent part in the battle of El Alamein, and should then follow through North Africa with the rest of the Eighth Army. I do not know whether the Australian Government was right or wrong in what it did on that occasion, but I do know that whenever there has been an alternative the Government has always played for safety. It asked that the 9th Division be returned to Australia. Mr. Churchill, backed up by Mr. Roosevelt, asked that it be allowed to remain for the attack at El Alamein, and for the subsequent campaign. The Australian Government allowed it to remain for the attack, but immediately afterwards, against the wish of the British and American Governments, it was brought back to Australia.
– That is a misstatement.
– - Not a complete misstatement.
– But still a misstatement.
– It may be incorrect on one or two points, but, in general, it is right. I call attention to the action of the British Government when faced with difficulties probably even greater than those that faced this Government when Japan entered the war. When Great Britain was threatened -with invasion across 20 miles of Channel by the German armies it was threatened also with a grave disaster in the Middle East. What did it do? It sent to the Middle East practically the last remaining armoured division, although it was urgently required in Great Britain to aid in its preservation. That action saved the situation in the Middle East and probably altered the whole course of the war. The decision was made by men of immense courage and vision, men who see beyond the ends of their noses, men who took a chance knowing what great events and decisions hung upon what they did. I mention that because it seems to be the exact reverse of the general attitude of the Australian Government in regard to the conduct of the war ever since the Labour party took office. Let us face the facts. We live largely on make-believe and slogans. We are no worse in that respect than other peoples. With the censorship, external and internal, no country knows what is going on outside its borders. We believe that everything we do is grand and is admired by other countries, but our contribution to the war effort of the United Nations is not regarded by other countries in the same light as we regard it ourselves. Not only the British people, but also the British Government itself, are at least disappointed, to put it mildly, at the contribution that we have made in the last few months to the fighting fronts of this war. Our stocks have fallen considerably in the United Kingdom. That is due to the Government’s lack of drive and its disposition to hang whatever it does wrong on to its having placed this country’s power at the command of General MacArthur. What is required is a forceful, forward policy in military matters in keeping with the initiative of our fighting men and regardless of the command under which they may be placed. I cannot believe that it is . not known to all that the greatest part of the flower of our troops have been doing absolutely nothing for many months. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) said that they were training and refitting, but any soldier knows that a year is not required to retrain and refit veteran divisions that have fought well in other parts of the world. All this inaction tends to lower the morale of the troops and cause such offences as absence without leave. It reduces their keenness and blunts the whole edge of the military weapon that we want to use and will use one day. The same applies to the Royal Australian Air Force. We have squadrons unemployed. Men who fly Liberators and Spitfires are sitting down doing nothing at Darwin and various other Australian stations, stagnating and tired to death of what is taking place. More forceful action is needed. What should the Government do? It should decide, in consultation with our Allies, where our troops can be most usefully employed. That raises the question of the assignment of our troops to General MacArthur. It is now two years and nine months old, and should be reconsidered. Speaking as a soldier, I can say that it raises difficulties of administration and equipment and a thousand other minor problems which do not arise when our troops are employed with formations equipped and armed as they are. The question that arises is whether our troops are necessary to the Americans, who have large forces available. Though I am proud to see them fighting alongside the Americans, I do not want to see them continuing the housemaid’s job of mopping up until this war ends. Their real role is alongside troops of the British Empire, and I suggest that the place where they are required and can be most usefully employed is in SouthEastAsia, where Britain is short of veteran trained divisions. Consideration should be given to that, because, as the Prime Minister knows, the operations of the South-East Asia Command are hampered because good divisions are required. When this matter is being discussed again, consideration should be given to whether the most useful role for our forces would not be in that zone rather than in mopping up behind the American forces all the way to Singapore and even China. Our interests do not lie in China so much as in Malaya and SouthEast Asia, where we have a moral, material, and sentimental interest, as it was in Malaya that we suffered our big defeat, and many thousands of our men were captured. Some of them are in or about that area, although not necessarily at Singapore, and consideration should be given to that aspect. I ask the Government to consider all those matters. It should, play a more active part in order that we may take our proper place in the fighting line so that our prestige shall be raised and our voice may be heard at the peace table.
– I had intended to conclude the observations I commenced last week, but the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has referred to almost the same subject. In respect of what occurred when the Japanese struck in the Pacific, it must be remembered that they struck not only at American theatres of influence and responsibility, but also and most heavily at British theatres of responsibility. In the very nature of things this meant not only redisposition of certain forces, but also changes in command and the setting up of new theatres of responsibility. The honorable member knows that the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Great Britain conferred immediately after the attacks on Pearl Harbour and Singapore and that decisions were reached by them. I say to the country that no decision reached by the Australian Government was incompatible with the decisions reached by the President of the United States of America and the. Prime Minister of Great Britain. This country has never been sufficiently strong or sufficiently sure of itself to be able to defend itself with its own strength. We have had to depend upon not only the strength of Great Britain, but also the strength of the United States of America, and, in so far as it could be given to us, the strength of the Dutch. The use that is being made of Australian fighting men in a world war, and their allocation to various theatres have, of course, been the political responsibility of the governments. I can speak only for this Government, but I can express a view regarding other governments. No government would make a military decision without having before it the best available military advice and information. The advice given to this Government was that the forces available for the defence of Australia when Japan struck, having regard to the absence of sea and air power in this part of the world to deploy against the Japanese, were hopelessly insufficient to ensure the safety of Australia. In those circumstances, and having regard to what Mr. Churchill himself had said, not only publicly but in communications to the Australian Government, it was very clear that certain Australian forces which, while there was no war in the Pacific, could properly be employed in other parts of the world, had calls upon them to return to defend their homeland. I make no apology and I do not think that at this stage I am even called upon for an explanation of why that was done. I only say to the honorable gentleman and, with great respect, to every one, that the assignment of the Australian forces to General Douglas MacArthur was made by this Government because, in order to ensure the minimum strength that General MacArthur needed to carry out the directive given to him by five governments, including the Government of Great Britain as well as the Government of Australia, it was necessary that the Australian land forces as a whole should be assigned to him. Otherwise, he would not have been able in 1942, and the greater part of 1943, to carry out the directive given to him not only by me, but by me in association with four other heads of governments. This is a collective war, a global war in which you cannot dispose strength in one place unless yon take it from somewhere else. The high strategy of the war lays down, not the particular units that shall serve in any one place, but the general balance of strength. The changes that the High Command and the five governments would like to make in the disposition of the Allies are frustrated by difficulties which I do not propose to particularize but which I did indicate in broad outline last week, and which are referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech. I have only to say by way of assurance that the country has some idea of the political and general decisions reached at the Crimea Conference, but in addition to those decisions, I have a summary of the immediate military preparations that have been agreed upon by the three governments that were represented at the conference. Two of the three governments represented at Yalta are at war with Japan, and I inform the House that the policy of this Government is to fit in with a general programme agreed upon by the United States of America and Great Britain in fighting the total war. The criticisms which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) uttered about despatching Australian troops to Burma or to any other theatre at this juncture are criticisms which may quite reasonably be made, but it is not always practicable to answer them. The Australian Army has certain assignments which must be completed, and I intend that they shall be completed. If they are not, plans which are in the course of being mounted will be frustrated. That is all there is to it.
Those remarks enable me to say. that the Commonwealth Government should make the most effective use of the manpower of this country. Obviously, that is its duty to the fighting men. But the only way in which the Government can fulfil that duty is by the most direct association and collaboration in carrying out high strategy as determined by the heads of Allied governments. I assure the House that that is being done. It is the most certain way in which to terminate the war.
– Will the Prime Minister say when the plans to use Australian troops in the Philippines, as announced by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) were altered, and for what reason?
– There is no occasion for me to say that. I understand that the honorable member knows the facts.
– I do not.
– The honorable gentleman must have been in the United States of America at the time.
– That is so; but it does not answer my question.
– I have a complete answer.
– The right honorable gentleman gave only a partial answer last week.
Mi’. CURTIN.- I do not know whether at this moment I should reveal the information. It would be quite simple for me to say that a plan was envisaged for the attack upon the Philippines ; that the plan involved a series of movements; that the first movement evoked from the enemy a display of strength, and a vain effort to send reinforcements; a,nd that the enemy suffered such, severe losses of naval and air power, and of man-power in the first movement against the Philippines as to justify the commander dispensing with some of the proposed intervening movements and making a landing much ahead of schedule, on a certain place. From there, he established air command over another island, enabling him to land upon it and thereby by-pass an area in which the Australian troops were to have operated. Those are facts.
– It could be said that the plan was so expeditiously and completely carried out that the plans for the employment of Australian troops were entirely altered.
– That is true. There is no need for me to do more than to give a broad picture of what occurred. Frankly, I have avoided any temptation in this chamber to justify political policy by revealing detailed military plans. The revelation of those plans might give to the enemy a pointer as to what the commander would do in some subsequent similar operation, and I see no need to be so informative to everybody, when I feel confident that average intelligence would enable us to perceive that in this part of the world, with the minimum forces, we have achieved miracles of success. We can go down on our knees and tender thanks that certain events in which we were embroiled, did not occur earlier than they actually did. For example, I mention the Battle of the Coral Sea. If we had been forced to wage that battle in February or early March instead of in May, 1942, it could easily have produced an entirely different result. Of course, we owe our success to the fact that the conflict in New Guinea and in the Philippines, which the enemy had to wage, took much longer than he probably expected, and delayed his offensive against us. In view of all the circumstances, I do not feel disposed to refer any further to that matter.
I come now to a discussion of what we are to do in the world henceforth. As I see it, this country must continue its military operations until both Germany and Japan have been defeated. That involves such a considerable demand on the man-power of this country, as to make it utterly impossible for the Government to satisfy the quite legitimate claims which are made upon it to divert manpower for various civilian purposes. The world is in a sorry state, but no one in Australia is cold, hungry or thirsty.
– A lot of people here are idle.
– There are in many countries of the world, men, women and children upon whom the weight of war has fallen so terribly that in addition to suffering daily bombings, they are unable to get adequate food, heat, or any kind of comfort in substantial measure. That is their material condition. This year, the world will be grievously short of meat and of a number of other vital commodities. The means of heating in Europe, both for power and warmth and . for the carrying on of industries, will be most difficult to improve; I am informed that they will be difficult even to maintain. Countries like Greece, Italy and France have now to draw coal from the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom and America cannot get enough coal for their own war purposes and civilian industry, and even if they could, shipping would be required to transport their coal to those countries. Apart from production, Australia has a coal problem arising from the shortage of explosives, strikes, discontent and war weariness. These problems occur not only in Australia, but also in countries far greater than Australia, with populations which are twenty times that of this Commonwealth.
If people here imagine that this war of such frightful dimensions can be waged foi1 more than five years without the complete exhaustion of all the supplies that the world inherited . f,rom the years of peace, they are guilty simply of wishful thinking It cannot, be done. Consequently, whatever be the amount of money that is employed or whatever be the amount of pressure that is exerted the truth is that until the war is over, the demand upon the man-power of the country for the maintenance of the Navy, Army and Air Force will be so great, because of their wastage and because of the distances over which they will have to be deployed, as to make it impossible for any country to improve its standard of life. I know that in Australia every transportation industry, every manufacturing industry and every service such as school teaching and health can make out to me complete cases in support of the release of man-power in order that they may augment the services which they are rendering to the community. But no source is open to them for that augmentation other than the reduction of the armed strength of this country. At this stage of the war that cannot be done without prolonging the agony of the war and giving to the enemy an opportunity to make the best use of the present situation, when it is going against him and when it is essential, if we are to win quickly, that we should use the maximum of our military strength.
Having measured out what I consider to be the contribution which the country should make, I shall be no party to lessening the resources which the military commanders require. In addition, I shall be no party to the derangement of manpower policies and commitments which we make periodically in order to get a balanced war effort in this country. I know that armies cannot fight without food, and without the backing of the civilian population, and that some adequate provision must be made for the maintenance of civil life. But I see in Australia no sign of anybody being absolutely short of food, clothing or even of housing, although I know how acute the housing problem is. But I make comparisons with other countries which have been ravaged with war and I ask myself, “ Am I warranted in prolonging their privations by taking men from the armed services of this country for the purpose of building more homes when the population of this country, however badly it is housed, is, fortunately, housed, because our great cities have been spared the terrible batterings which other great cities of the world have had to endure ? “ Therefore, it would be entirely illusory for the head of the Government, and it is a mistake for any other responsible man, to imagine that the time has come when we can start to promote the re-establishment of the civil order.
– That is not what has been urged by honorable members on this side of the chamber.
– I am speaking for myself and for the Government. It is the Government that formulates the manpower policy.
New plans of military strategy and tactics are at present under preparation as a result of a higher direction which has been given to us, and no doubt re-arrangements will be made in the course of a short period. Honorable members will learn of them when events which they are designed to produce are placarded before them. That is the right way in which they should be revealed.
At different periods we have to determine what we shall do, and then “stay put” on that plan for some period-. I undertake that by June there will be a revision of the man-power allocations of this country as between the services and industry because by then, I believe, certain events will have transpired which will warrant adjustments.
I now look for a moment at the foreign policy of this Government, a foreign policy which, in the very nature of things, must always be in harmony with that of the British Commonwealth as a whole. The difficulty of dealing with foreign relations at this juncture in public statements must be obvious to any wellinformed critic. I imagine that every time the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs makes a speech in the House of Commons on the subject he says to himself : “ I know I am buying into some trouble here, and that explanations that I will be called upon to make in amplification, or in some other way, will give rise to misunderstandings”. I sum up foreign policy, in a time of war, as that series of relationships with other countries which will contribute the earlier to the victory which the fighting forces are seeking to attain - it is the business, the political activity, in which a country engages which will be a reinforcement of its strength and of its military power. [Extension of time granted.] I know of no other realistic statement of foreign policy or external relationships. This inevitably means that policy cannot be based on anything else but the facts. The business of foreign policy should be to win friends. Its purpose is to discomfort enemies. It can surely be successful only when it gives to the Government more and stronger allies, and tears from the embrace of the enemy his satellites and denies to him support which he thought was potential to him. If any one thinks that this is a parlour game, or that it can be conducted in the full light of dev. I can only say that I am the head of a government, not a diplomat.
I wish to say that throughout this war I have had nothing but the greatest admiration for British foreign policy. It may be presumption on my part to say what I am about to say, for it is not my business to criticize other peoples and other countries, but from my knowledge, and having regard to all the circumstances, I believe that Mr. Anthony Eden will be known as the greatest Foreign Minister in the whole history of Great Britain. He has not only given to this problem the application which it demanded, but he has also brought to it a degree of genius for making friends. Countries became friends of his country as the result of his activities, which have been a powerful ministration to the fact that to-day the British people still stand free, even though we were at one time isolated and opposed to the most powerful and formidable enemy in the whole story of our race. The business of this Government on foreign policy was to give advice, to state its views, now and again to criticize, and to make suggestions which, in its view, would strengthen the family relationship. This we have done, remembering always that our articulation in the world would be more impressive as a member of a family than it could ever be if we made it as a separate and distinct entity. I see no abatement of the sovereignty of this country in making that statement.
If we are to concert with other peoples of goodwill in order to have a better world, there must be some pooling of sovereignty, some association of this country with other countries, and some agreement which, when made, should be kept. For this purpose, there must be some realization that countries cannot always have their own way, if they really wish to live in amity. There must be some give and take. That is the real test, and in wartime the test is not in the taking but in the giving. There is a price that the world must pay for peace; there is a price that it must pay for collective security. I shall not attempt to specify the price, but it does mean less nationalism, less selfishness, less race ambition. Does it not mean also, some consideration for others and a willingness to share with them a world which is, after all, good enough to give to each of us a place in it, if only all of us will observe reason and goodwill toward one another? The British Commonwealth is, itself, an exemplification of the practicability of such an association, for it offers a demonstration of New Zealand and Australia., and Canada and South Africa, and the United Kingdom so comporting themselves towards each other. As an example to the world I believe this is something which will not only contribute to education, but will also give a true demonstration of the wider and more effective association necessary for peace. It is a matter of positive virtue for consideration by theorists of peace; it is more than a matter for high statement.
It has been suggested that I should tell the House what the Australian Ministers to San Francisco should say and do, but I have already announced that, before the San Francisco conference is held, they will have- consultation with others.
– Will other political representatives come into this consultation?
– No ; only Ministers.
– What will the other representatives do?
– If the honorable gentleman will allow me to do so, I shall tell him. I do not hesitate to say that this is a matter that deserves the most serious consideration. For surely the things that I am talking about should not be sponsored by any one political party ; they should be shared by all of us.
– But will they be?
– I see no reason why they should not be. The honorable gentleman should remember that we have to deal with a state of law and also a state of fact, The state of law provides that no alliance, treaty, or agreement can be made between nations except through the governments of those nations as the contracting agents. The high contracting authority is the Government of the day. Obviously, Ministers of State are the persons who must engage in the actual negotiation of the contract, or whatever it may be.
– And the ultimate commitment.
– Yes. I can see no earthly reason why those who represent a country abroad should not feel that they really represent it, and not only the narrow views, if they be narrow, of their own political parties. They should be able to realize that they are giving expression to what may be the views of other interests in the nation. It must be remembered that nations with diverse political systems an*d “ with probably conflicting national interests will be asked to agree concerning world charters, and uPOn certain principles applicable to countries outside their own. What is the stake? The stake is peace - peace against war. If we can gain, peace it will mean a reduction of the annual insurance premium that we have to pay for that peace, and therefore the freeing of resources for the promotion of human welfare, as against the maintenance of great armaments. I do not hesitate to say that it should be the prerogative of the Government, in choosing Ministers to be able to send as associates, consultants, and helpers, persons who, in the opinion of the head of the Government, are qualified to be of use in that important connexion. I make no apology for this statement. This country should be able to agree to that procedure. Other countries have agreed to it, and have adopted it. All the wisdom of this nation does not reside in those who seek election to Parliament, but the responsibility does.
– Members are the representatives of the people.
– I am aware of that.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to inform the House of the principles that will be espoused by the Australian delegation, before it goes?
– I do ; I intend to state them now. I wish to be precise in my statements, otherwise there may be misunderstanding here or in other places prior to the meeting of the conference and, because of such misunderstanding, the success of the conference might be prejudiced.
The aims of the Government’s postwar policy in regard to national security are an adequate defence policy, the development of the maximum cooperation in defence among members of the British Commonwealth, and the establishment of defence and security policy on an all-party basis, in order to ensure its continuity.
I interpolate at this point that, during this war, I believe the Advisory War
Council has provided a means whereby the defence of this country, as a political responsibility, has to a great extent been shared by persons not supporters of the Government of the day. I am grateful for what previous Prime Ministers have said of me in this connexion. I do not think that I worked any less sincerely as Leader of the Opposition for the defence of this country than I have worked as a member of the Government. I believe that that is true of other members of the Advisory War Council. Had the Leader of the Opposition remained on the council I would have said also that it was true of him. I offer no comment concerning his withdrawal from the council. The decision was made by the right honorable gentleman’s party, and it is not my business to pass judgment on it.
The aims to which I have just referred are inter-related and will be jointly and severally pursued as a cohesive and unified objective. The provision of an adequate defence policy as a part of collective security is one which the San Francisco conference cannot ignore. In regard to an adequate defence policy, the strength of the Australian forces and supporting resources to be provided depend on the extent of the commitments’ involved in co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth and between Australia and other nations in the world and regional organizations, and: the degree of reliance that can be placed on the effectiveness of such co-operation. That must be clear. The greater the degree of reliance that can be placed on such co-operation the less will be the need to add to the commitments.
At the London conference in Maj’, 1944, the Australian Government’s proposals were outlined for the improvement of the machinery for cooperation between members of the British Commonwealth. From the defence aspect, each Dominion is faced with a different strategical problem. Australia is therefore proceeding with the development of machinery for closer consultation with Great Britain and New Zealand and in the light of its own particular position. To illustrate what I mean I remind honorable gentlemen of a remark that I passed some time ago, that if I could not have five brothers I would have two.
With reference to participation in collective security, the future world organization will be dealt with at the San Francisco conference. The paramount aspect will be the adequacy of the machinery to provide security. The future peace of the world will depend on the effectiveness of the structure that will be built on this momentous occasion. The achievement of an adequate defence policy, and the maintenance of continuity in regard to it, will depend upon whether or not the policies that govern local and Empire defence, and participation in the world security organization, are broadly based and command the general support of the Australian people. The policies must be truly national in character, and should be sponsored by all political parties, irrespective of which party may be in power. I cannot imagine the defence of a country being effectively developed if, upon a change of government arising as the result of differences of opinion in regard to social, economic, and other matters, there should be some violent interruption of the plan of defence previously laid down. So I hone that in this matter of the safety of the country there will he the maximum of co-operation between all parties in the House, regardless of what otherwise may divide them. [Further extension of lime granted.’] That is why it is important that the foundation of the world organization to be laid at San Francisco should meet with general Australian agreement, and, - 1 hope, the approval of every other country. In the very nature of things the representative of any country at any international conference must be the representative of the Government of the day. That always has been and must be the case. The Government has to decide who shall put forward the pro’blems of the country in a way which, in its judgment, will meet the requirement of the particular body at which major discussions arc held or decisions are taken.
In what I have, already said, I have made it abundantly clear that the position of Australia in an effective system of collective security on a world basis is integrally associated with the maximum co-operation of the interests of the British Commonwealth as a whole. This is not the first time that I have said that. I am happy to say that arrangements have been completed whereby Australia will share in discussions upon these matters with Britain and with the other dominions, so that all of us may have a clear comprehension of what is involved, and what may best be done on behalf of all. Ministers will proceed, as early as may be practicable, to take part in this family discussion. When it has been completed, I shall issue a directive to the Australian delegates to the San Francisco conference in the light of what has been considered.
– How can there be continuity of policy if representatives from the non-Government parties of the House do not take part in those preliminary discussions?
– Numerous conferences have been held in respect of Imperial defence and security, and other conferences in respect of such matters as world organizations. On this occasion, I have taken the responsibility of planning to give certain help to Ministers. I do not intend in any way to change the character of this conference; nor could I do so. The relationship must be that of government to government.
– But could not the 110nGovernment members attend as consultants, instead of being left behind?
– I propose to invite certain persons to go to San Francisco. The purpose of the preliminary family consultation, I make clear, is not to have an Empire Hoc at the San Francisco conference.
– It would bc a better family conference if more children attended it.
– I do not know of any Imperial conference or consultation which a government supported by the honorable member asked an. Opposition member to attend.
– Mr. Bruce asked Mr. Charlton, as Leader of the Opposition, to attend one.
– The right honorable member for Cowper is mistaken. The then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, invited Mr. Charlton, to proceed to the
Assembly of the League ofl Nations at Geneva, and Mr. Charlton did so. He was not again asked, nor were any of bis successors. It is the judgment of the Australian Government that the maintenance of international peace and security involves the form and structure of the world organization and security machinery, and rules to govern their operation, as well as the defence considerations involved by any scheme of world and regional security. The latter, in turn, means the military commitments involved, and the military security to be afforded. International economic, social and other humanitarian problems include the form and structure of the world organization, and the machinery for economic and social co-operation, as well as the rules that govern their operation, together with questions of monetary, trade .and labour policy, transport and communications, particular commodities, relief measures, and the economic standards and well-being of peoples. These are to be considered at the San Francisco conference. When one has regard to the background of the questions that have to be taken into account in dealing with a world organization, it must be clear that Ministers will need some consultants and some assistance. I propose to furnish them with such consultants and assistance. But I say quite candidly to the House that any agreements will be agreements between governments. I cannot see how a government can participate in the making of such agreements except, through those who have been directed by the Prime Minister of the day to represent the country. Surely it is not suggested that I, as the head of the Government, should have persons chosen for me to represent Australia at a conference of this nature! The primary responsibility, most certainly, is mine, and the collective security is that of the Government.
– The responsibility is that of this Parliament.
– I am responsible to the Parliament. The Parliament can dismiss me if I fail to do the right thing. Until it does so, I propose to carry out the. functions of government as I see them.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has set out, very clearly, his views in relation to foreign policy in general, and the conference that is to take place at San Francisco in particular. There is very little that I. can say on this matter, because the principles laid down by the right honorable gentleman seem to me to be unarguable. It is obvious that the Government of the clay must take the responsibility for everything that is done in its name. That has been the position from the earliest times. It was the practice during and after the last war. I take no exception at all to the right honorable gentleman seeking the co-operation of the Opposition; I regard that as ,a very sensible and proper thing to do. I think, however, that he is wise in making it quite clear that his Government will be responsible for the decisions taken, the votes cast, and the line adopted at the conference.
In regard to foreign policy in general, the right honorable gentleman has made it clear that the fundamental principle is a common policy for the British Commonwealth of Nations. Indeed, no other policy is practicable to any of the Dominions. We might do much harm - we could not do any good - by an attempt to do more than set forth our views to the other members of the British Commonwealth, to argue them with as much force as might be necessary, and to abide by their decision. I, however, would have it made perfectly clear that this does not in any way impair our right to an effective voice in moulding a com!mon policy. This is essential, because it sometimes happens that the Dominions are consulted after Empire policies have been decided and steps taken to implement them. That happened in the last war. I have informed my mind, as well as I have been able, of the views that Mr. Churchill holds on this point, and I agree with them.
Last week, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made some references to Poland. The position of Poland, is one which appeals to us all. It is, however, one that is common to all the conquered countries of Europe. Poland, as well as every other country in Europe that has been overrun, is concerned about its frontiers. The Atlantic Charter commits us to a policy which will ensure ,a country against such aggrandizement by another country as would confine its people within narrower limits than were theirs at the outbreak of the war. I know something of the circumstances of Poland, because I was one of those who were actively engaged in delimiting the boundaries of that country after the first world war. Poland is entitled to justice. It is entitled to security, but it is not more entitled to justice or security than is any other nation. Justice is not to be meted out only to small nations, but to all nations, great and small, and the security of small nations is not to be ensured at the expense of great ones. There can be no profitable discussion in this Parliament about the boundaries of Poland, for it is inevitable that any such discussion must reflect upon another of our allies to which Poland owes whatever freedom from Nazi oppression it enjoys to-day. Who are we to sit in judgment on Russia? To that country D day and all that, followed from it, is due. Without Russia there could never have been a D day, nor any massing of American and British forces on the western front. Had not Russia contained at least 200 enemy divisions on the eastern front D day would, have been an impracticable venture. It is not for me to champion the cause of Russia, but I stand here to do it even-handed justice. Russia is as much entitled to security and justice as is any other nation, and that security can be ensured only by such frontiers as will give the people of Russia an assurance that what happened to them in this war will never happen again.
Much could lie said about the war, but not, I think, with profit, except in regard to its effects upon the Australian people and the employment of Australian forces. Some criticism has been expressed about the utilization of our forces. It was said that they were not being advantageously employed at the present time, and that it would be better for us and for the Allied cause generally if they were employed, say, in Burma. That may be so; I arn quite unable to express a useful opinion about it. I am no soldier, but I say this: I know of no better use to which Australian forces could be put than to fight on Australian territory, and that they are doing to-day. I remind the House that they are now engaged in completing what they have been doing for the last two or three years. They have covered themselves with glory. In this war, as in the last, they have been shock troops. They have been fighting in terrain the most difficult, perhaps, in any of the theatres of war. They are fighting now in Bougainville and New Guinea. The Leader of the Opposition said that Australian forces are engaged in “ moppingup operations “. I remind him that we are fighting in this war to achieve victory, and in order to be victorious over Japan it is necessary to drive the last Japanese soldier out of the territory which belongs to us or to one or other of our Allies. In the case of some enemies such a victory might be achieved by surrender. But not in the war against J apan. I do not know how many German prisoners are in Allied hands now - perhaps 1,500,000, perhaps more. But how many Japanese prisoners are in Allied hands? The war in the Pacific is a stern and bloody struggle which will not finish until the last Japanese soldier is driven out of all those territories and islands which they now occupy. I remind honorable members that they are strongly entrenched in parts of New Guinea, and that they have been there for three years. Not until Rabaul is assaulted and taken, and the Japanese driven out of New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland and the Solomons, can Australia hope to enjoy that security for which we are fighting.
As His Royal Highness, the GovernorGeneral, has pointed out in his Speech, the war in Europe is reaching its climax. How long it will take before Germany is overwhelmed we do not know. According to a report in to-day’s press, Mr. Churchill confessed that he had hoped for a much earlier termination of the war in Europe. However, it is still going on. Those who prophesy about the war situation take upon themselves a thankless task. I do not know when the war will end, but I do know this: The war in Europe is in its last stages. I cannot see any possibility of Germany escaping that complete and decisive defeat which is essential for the peace of Europe and of the world.
But the war in the Pacific has hardly begun. The situation is obscure. The Prime Minister referred this afternoon, as also did: Mr. Churchill recently, to recent successes as a set-off against the delay in finishing the war in Europe, but what de those successes amount to? I ask honorable members to cast their minds back, to consider the hold that Japan has over all the islands and territories in the Pacific. Did Genghis Khan, in all his campaigns achieve success equal to that which crowned the arms of Japan in the three months following the 8th December, 1941? At the end of that time the Japanese were able to say that the Pacific was a Japanese sea, and to say it with much more truth than informed the words of Mussolini when he declared that the Mediterranean was an Italian lake. In three months . the Japanese had conquered’ half a world, and they still control the greater part of it. After stern fighting the massed naval, military and air forces of America, aided by the full force which Australia could bring to their assistance, have dislodged the Japanese from one or two strongholds. The Japanese are now fighting an apparently losing war in the Philippines. I know it is said that the fall of the Philippines will represent a decisive defeat for the Japanese, and may mean the virtual end of the war in the Pacific. I do not believe that for a moment. Despite recent reverses, Japan’s naval and military strength is not seriously impaired. Allied aeroplanes are now bombing Tokyo, and that may go on for quite a long time without breaking the morale of the Japanese people. We were told in this morning’s press that 6,000 aeroplanes are bombing Germany, but there is no sign yet of a crack in the German civil morale, nor of a collapse of military resistance. We should hia.ve been the last to say that Britain would collapse as- a result of bombing. It was bombed. It was subjected to a cruel and savage assault, but the morale of its people was not broken, and though sorely tried, emerged, triumphant, and we are free to-day, by the grace of God and the victory which Britain achieved in 1940.
So I say that this war will go on. How long it will go on I do net know, but, however long it may be, we must play our part in -it. It has been said that the responsibility for recapturing Malaya is ours, and that we are also responsible for the islands to the north - Java and the other islands of the Netherlands East Indies. I accept all that, but let us put first things first. I take no exception whatever to the use of Australian forces in fighting on Australian territory. They ‘are now engaged in operations essential to victory.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– We are committed in the Governor-General’s Speech to vast and complex post-war schemes. These do not, I am sure, exhaust the list of those with which we shall have to deal, and we are not of course called upon to discuss them now in detail. That we shall have the opportunity to do later. But they are schemes vast and complex. They involve the raising and expenditure of great sums of public money. They are, in short, plans for the Australia of tomorrow. That has been the characteristic attitude of Australia throughout its history. Its people have taken the achievements of to-day as the stepping stones for a greater to-morrow and have gone on, inspired by a robust faith in the great destiny of Australia. For 50 years or so, events fully justified their belief in the future greatness of this country; but, during recent years, another story has to be told. For the last 50 years Australia, whose growth in numbers and wealth has been amazing and bears more than favorable comparison with that of almost any other country has suffered from a decline of the birth-rate. The fall has persisted, perhaps not uniformly, but steadily from at least 1891 until this day. Australia is not the only country which has felt this decline. It might be called the disease of modern civilization were it not for the fact that it affected the ancient worldthe great empires of Rome and Greece fell through the failing crop of men. It has profoundly affected this country, both in peace and in war. The Prime Minister this afternoon spoke, as was proper from the leader of the Government and the people of Australia, of the future, and of the part that . Australia would play in it. He sees us advancing steadily in company with the other members of the British Commonwealth, taking a proud position in the world of tomorrow, playing our part on that great stage; hut the decline of the .birth-rate, which I propose to review, compels us to realize that our feet are already on the steep slope that leads to national extinction. A few figures will set that out. In 1S90, the birth-rate per 1,000 of population was’ 35. In 1900, it had fallen to 27.3, and, in 1939, it stood at 17.6. The growth of population through natural increase, that is, the excess of births over deaths, stood in 1914, when World War I. broke out, at 17.4; in 1939 it had fallen to 7.7. In 25 years, it had fallen by over 50 per cent. In 1914, when we had m population of 5,000,000, the natural increase accounted for S6,000; in 1939, when we had a population of 7,000,000 - ^,000,000 more - the excess of births over deaths was only 53,000. Two million more people and 33,000 fewer children! Let me state this in another way : In 1914, the number of babies born was 138,000 ; in 1939, the number born was 123,000. There were 2,000,000 more people and 15,000 fewer babies. Had the 1914 birthrate continued, we should have had 37,000 more babies. We are now engaged in the second world war in 25 years. War is a terrible scourge. Death and destruction follow in its train. But, in war we fight an enemy made up of men like ourselves with whom we can grapple. In the declining birth-rate, we fight an unseen and far more deadly foe. In World War I., we lost 60,000 fighting men. In this war wc have so far lost about 18,000. So, while we have lost in nine years of the two greatest wars in human history S0,000 men, the loss through the fall of the birth-rate in the five years of this war has been more than 400,000. Had the 1881 birth-rate operated to 1940, we should have had nearly 2,000,000 more people. What is the limiting power now? The Prime Minister was very eloquent on man-power - this is the limiting factor of all our efforts. He told us that, whilst he recognized the urgent need for making men available for civil employment, the first duty of the Government and the country was to win the war. W.e have not enough men for our military and civil needs and we have not more men because the birth-rate has fallen and immigration has ceased to bemore than a negligible trickle since 1930. What is the cause, of the decline in the birth-rate? The number of married women has increased with the growth of population, but the number of babies born to every 100 such women decreased from 24 in 1901 to 12 in 1939. There is no evidence whatever of loss of fertility, ‘but the fact remains that they have only half as many babies per cent, as they had in 1901. In 1901, there was one baby among every four married women. In 1939, there was only one baby among every eight married women. From whatever point we view this’ matter, we get the same result. Men and women marry later. The childbearing period of- women is greatly reduced. Lord Simon’s Royal Commission on Population has found that, with one exception, Australia has the highest percentage of bachelors in the world. At 29 years of age, 6S per cent, of Australian men arc bachelors. No wonder the birth-rate is declining! To what extent is the declining ‘birth-rate due to economic conditions? That economic conditions play a part in the decline is admitted, but that it is not tile dominant and compelling factor is clear from a review of the position. Looking back over the last 50 years, we see that, when the basic wage was half what it is to-day, th<-. birth-rate was twice as high ; the farther we go back, the more pronounced the relation between the birth-rate and economic conditions becomes. The lower the wage the higher the birth-rate! And this relation still persists. The birth-rate has fallen throughout the community; but the birth-rate in the residential suburbs of our great cities, where the well-to-do have their homes, is only about one-half of the rate in the industrial suburbs, where the workers live. So it would appear that the higher the income, the lower is the birth-rate. If we seek an explanation, we shall find that the primary reason lies in psychological and spiritual causes, rather than in material things. The old ideals and the principles that guided us in the past no longer serve. It is now as it was in the time of the Roman Empire. Tacitus said that notwithstanding the very wise laws promulgated by Augustus, the rearing of children did not become frequent, so powerful were the attractions of a childless state. The Prime Minister ‘ very rightly pointed out to us that we could not expect to enjoy world peace, and to implement the provisions of the Atlantic Charter, unless we conformed to the conditions that were considered right and proper by the world at large, or so much of the world as was concerned with .maintaining peace. [Extension of lime granted.]
I shall not labour that point. I state simply a fact that everybody knows. The League of Nations, established in 1919 to maintain world peace, failed to do what its founders had hoped because it did not exercise over the nations that control which is essential to the maintenance of world peace. This war need not have happened’. It could very easily have been prevented’. The means at the disposal of Great Britain and France were ample to prevent Hitler’s Germany from re-arming. They did not do so, and so war occurred. What are the causes of w.ar? Putting aside the greed and ambition of men, the causes of war are to be sought in the uneven growth and distribution of population. Some countries are densely peopled; others are sparsely settled. The populations of some countries are increasing more rapidly than those of others. Take France and Germany, to illustrate my meaning. One hundred years ago, the papulation of France was probably twice as large as that of Germany. To-day, the position is reversed. A century ago, Japan had not much more than onequarter of its present population. Japan’s population to-day is increasing at the rate of 1,000,000 a year. Our rate of natural increase is 7.7 per cent., that of Japan Ls 12.9 per cent. We should not be lulled into a state of false security because other nations besides our own suffer from a declining birthrate. Our geographical position and the economic conditions of the nations of the Orient are sufficient to make us realize that unless we populate this country, which we can neither defend ourselves nor develop, other people will do it for us.
What are the armed forces of this country fighting for to-day? They are fighting for a free Australia, governed by Australians.- But what is the position? We are talking about what we shall do to-morrow. Golden visions swim before the eyes of many of our people of a new and wonderful world from which war and poverty will have been for ever banished. As I have said, Germany and Japan went to war in order that they might have room for their increasing millions. They could not get this room for expansion except by war. They will lose the war, but cbe causes which led to it will remain. Unless some authority exists which will compel the’ nations to observe the principles of the Atlantic Charter, so that people all over the world will have equal opportunities, there will be another war. But whether or not another war does occur, the world of to-morrow will not permit 7,300,000 people to slam the doors of a wide and fertile continent against the overcrowded countries. We shall have to populate this country ourselves, or make way for those who will do so.
One of the causes of the falling birthrate - I do not say that it is a primary cause - is the shortage of homes. In a broadcast address recently, the deputy chairman of the Housing Commission of Victoria told the people the facts. He said that 1,250,000 persons in Australia had no homes. They were housed in slums. .Some of them were sleeping ten and twelve in a room. They had no prospect of getting suitable and decent accommodation. Before this war, a man who started to build a home for himself earned merit in the eyes of hi3 fellow citizens. He was a “ go-getter “ on his own behalf and that of his family. But, to-day, no one dares to build a house unless he has a permit. If he does so, he will be either fined or sent to prison, or both. There used to be private builders who were ready and eager to erect homes, but they are not allowed to do so now. Like Bacon, who took all knowledge for his province, the Government has ‘ taken this matter into its own hands. It is going to build houses itself. In fact, it has already made a start on the job and the deputy chairman of the Housing
Commission of Victoria told us something of what his organization had been doing and what it intended to do. He declared that in order to overcome the existing deficiency, Australia required 225,000 houses, and stated that to the 3lst December, 1944, Victoria had permission from the Commonwealth Government to build 1,160 dwellings. During the same period 4,465 homes were to have been erected throughout the Commonwealth. But last January, determined no doubt to begin the new year well and a little disturbed by its own extravagant view of the matter, the Commonwealth Government reduced the building programme for Australia to 1,850 homes. In Victoria, approval was given for the erection of 500 dwellings. To offset this reduction the Commonwealth Government promised that in the first post-war year 50,000 houses would be built, and in the second post-war year 80,000 dwellings. As the Prime Minister knows, people cannot live in houses built of the stuff that dreams are made of. They want real houses. The deputy commissioner told us how many houses had been actually built. In the last nine months of 1944, Western Australia built three dwellings, Tasmania six, South Australia 68, and Victoria 158. No mention was made of the number built in New South Wales, and that, I suppose, was just as well, because from what I am able to gather, the position in that State is desperate. Houses cannot be obtained for love or money.
I do not censure the Prime Minister or the Government for the position, because you cannot make men. This war has taught us some wonderful things about ourselves, which we never suspected before. We find that we are not only a most energetic and resourceful, but also a very rich people. We certainly did not know that before. Last year we expended £540,000,000 on the conduct of the war, and we shall spend very nearly that amount this year. If we require more money, we can raise it. Another Victory Loan will be floated during the next’ few days. If we require more guns , or aircraft, we can make them, provided wo have the necessary raw materials. But we cannot make more men. So this war has taught us that whilst we are a very rich, resourceful, and wonderful people, who by virtue of our character and quality deserve a proud position in the new world, there are not enough of us. Australia’s feet are treading the dread path to national extinction. This is not something which will happen in the dim and distant future. Unless a miracle occurs, and we check the downward trend of the birth-rate, our population will begin to decline after 1960, just fifteen years hence, about the time when we may begin to expect another war. So it is very important, indeed, that we should be able to do something to check the declining birth-rate. The Government has not been able to do anything effective in this matter. I make that statement not to censure the Government, but as a fact of which the Government might take most serious note. As the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said, many men in this country are doing nothing in an expensive way. They may be doing it with some distinction, but it is still expensive. In any case, much of it is work that could be done by men who are too old to fight. By a more complete regimentation than we have yet attained, it may be possible to withdraw from less essential work a few more men who could undertake housing construction, but we cannot do very much more; yet housing is absolutely necessary to an improvement of our population ‘position. In fact, it goes to the root of the matter. I hope that the Government will take the matter up with more vigour and make available the labour necessary to build the homes that the people require. [ Further extension of lime granted. ~
The future of Australia is dependent upon family life. Family life is a dominant factor in the birth-rate, and the home is the environment in which family life flourishes. The relation between the high percentage of bachelors ;n Australia and the fall in the birth-rate is- intimate, and one reason why men do not marry is to be found in the shortage of homes. If we want to raise the birth-rate, we must build homes for the people. Give men and women decent homes, give them social security, open wide the opportunities for the education and training of children to fit them for a place in the new world, put the man and woman with a family on at least an equal footing financially with the childless couple or unmarried men and women, and you will have done something to check the fall of the birth-rate and to encourage its rise.
.- The Speech of His Royal Highness the GovernorGeneral contained many references to the important legislative programme of the Government, but before proceeding to deal with those items I wish to devote a little attention to statements made by members of the Opposition about the disposition of Australia’s fighting forces. It appears that since some honorable gentlemen opposite have achieved the distinction of becoming members of His Majesty’s Opposition in the Parliament, they have developed, in their own estimation, into master military strategists. I have in mind, particularly, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). Evidently these honorable gentlemen have short memories, for they seem to have completely forgotten the manner in which they, when members of a previous government, sent our fighting men at various times to theatres of war with the poorest of military equipment. We all are well aware that Australian soldiers went into action in Greece and Crete with most unsatisfactory equipment. It ill becomes the members of the Opposition who were responsible for this to criticize the disposition of our forces during the regime of the present Government. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) clearly showed this afternoon, our men are serving in the theatres where, in the view of the High Command, they can most effectively serve under present conditions. It is most unfair of honorable gentlemen opposite to belittle our men as they are continually doing by statements in the press and on the platforms of this country. Such criticisms can do little to speed the winning of the war. Our men are performing a service at present which, though it does not bring them into the limelight, is nevertheless obliging them to take tremendous risks. If they are not in the glamour they are certainly doing a fine piece of work to ensure victory by the Allied Nations. The review of the war by His Royal
Highness the Governor-General must inspire feelings of pride in every Australian. The achievements of our own forces rank high in the records of the Allied Nations in this great struggle. Although the end of the conflict may still be a long way off, our men are definitely helping towards the achievement of the victory, the peace, and the economic security for which we all long; and I repeat that it is unfair of Opposition members to criticize the disposition of our forces as they have done.
In my opinion, one of the most important legislative measures referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech was that which foreshadowed action to re-establish the members of the fighting services in civil life. I believe that the bill that will be introduced to deal with this subject will rank with the most notable pieces of legislation of its kind in any British dominion. Nothing that we can do to re-establish our service personnel in civil life will be too good for .them. The men and women who have borne the brunt of battle for this nation deserve the very best that the nation can do for them. I shall reserve my further remarks on this subject until the bill has been introduced.
I wish now to refer to the banking legislation and the measure to control interstate airways which the Government has indicated that it intends to introduce. What has been said on these subjects by honorable gentlemen opposite clearly shows the length to which they are prepared to go to condemn the Government’s programme. From time to time Opposition members have complained that insufficient printing paper has been made available for the British Medical Association and other organizations to publicize criticism of Government policy. It has been said that the so-called Liberal party is entitled to adequate provision in this regard. I consider that the Labour party may justly regard itself! as being extremely liberal for undoubtedly there has been a tremendous waste of man-power and material in the insidious propaganda of honorable members opposite against the Government’s proposals. During the last few months there has been an unceasing flow of pamphlets, leaflets and advertisements in the press in opposition to the Government’s banking proposals. The propaganda in which honorable gentlemen of the Opposition and the people whom they represent have engaged in this regard has clone nothing whatever to deepen our sense of national unity, although national unity is so vital a need at this time. lt is not right that such propaganda should be allowed to find its way to every nook and cranny throughout the community, for a great deal of what has ‘been published is based on false premises. The fact is, of course, that the Opposition and all anti-Labour institutions in this country, such as the Institute of Political Science and other organizations which stand behind the newly formed so-called Liberal party, are concerned only with damaging the prestige of the Government, but, unfortunately, in doing so they are weakening our war effort and so reducing the chances of the early relief of Australian prisoners of war still in enemy hands.
Although the Government’s proposals for banking reform may not go as far as some people would like them to go, I believe that they provide for a big improvement in banking as we knew it in the days before the war. I believe also that the reforms that will be proposed will receive the endorsement of practically every person in the community, and will be opposed only by vested interests and those who represent vested interests in this Parliament. We are accustomed to honorable gentlemen of the Opposition opposing all measures that are intended to benefit the great mass of the people.
I suppose I fall into the category mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) of those who occupy border-line seats may be expected to jump in any direction in order to suit certain sections of the public, but I wish to make it clear that I shall support any proposal which I believe to be in the best interests of the community as a whole, and I shall not trim my sails to meet the whims and fancies of sectional interests. I shall support those measures which I regard as being broadly in the national interest. However, I am quite convinced that the great majority of the electors of Martin will support the Government’s banking proposals, and that they will, indicate this in no uncertain way at the next election. They will not be turned aside by the propaganda of the anti-Labour forces of this country. What I have said is sufficient to indicate my general attitude on the Government’s banking policy; I shall have more to say on the matter when the measure is before the House.
I come now to a consideration of the Government’s social security programme. The social security programmes of the various governments of the world will undoubtedly play an important part in the new order for which we are hoping after the war. I regard the achievements of this Government in the field of social security as having been outstanding in the last few years, in spite of the fact that we are engaged in a war of greater magnitude than the world, has ever previously known. I had intended to cite some figures concerning the housing position, but it appears that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and I have been studying the same books lately. The right honorable gentleman has given to the House figures which I had intended to use. I shall not repeat them but, in the circumstances, shall content myself with making some general comments on the housing problem. I realize that, as the Prime Minister said earlier to-day, our man-power- requirements for war purposes are such that the ‘Government is not in a position, at present, to release more labour for home-building. The shortage of houses is so great - according to the report of the Housing Commission, the number is between 250,000 and 300,000- that the War Cabinet, the Production Executive, and the Government as a whole, will have to give special consideration to the matter. It is having a tremendous effect on the people. A large portion of the blame for it must be laid at the door of that much-praised section of industry, private enterprise, which cannot truly be said to have catered adequately in prewar years for the low-wage earner, or the great majority of those who wished to procure homes, despite the fine capital investment, which house-building represented. Possibly, the conditions in my electorate are not different from those in many other electorates. In portions of it, there is tremendous overcrowding. Some persons are using shops as dwellings, and. in parts of the metropolitan area the people have had to be content with tents and shacks. Real slum areas exist, the like of which would not be seen in many other parts of the world. Two and three families live in the one house. The wives of soldiers are living with their parents. Where there are children, the overcrowding is so great that harmony is destroyed and family relations are disrupted. There are instances «f a man and his wife living in different suburbs, because accommodation is not available for them to reside together. The women of the community have carried a tremendous burden during the war, and we ought to see that it is lightened in every way possible. This could be achieved in’ some measure by the provision pf adequate housing. It cannot he denied that discontent, unhappiness, and bad health result from the conditions under which many of the people are living to-day. It is tragic to read of the crowding of three, four and five persons into a room, and of as many as fourteen adults occupying a threeroomed house. Hundreds of young people who want to marry have no expectation of doing so because of the housing shortage. Although the people appreciate the difficulties of the Government, they consider that steps ought to be taken to relieve, the position. Every honorable member should read the article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, the 10th February, under the heading “ Soldier’s Wife Pleads for a Home “. It showed clearly the problem that confronts the average wife in her endeavours to obtain a home, and would move most people to see that something was done to provide a measure of housing security. Unless we have horne-building on an expanding scale, I do not know what will happen when we have to face the problem of housing the thousands of service personnel who will be discharged when peace has been declared. I appreciate fully the difficulties in relation to manpower, which constitute the crux of the whole situation. In order to obtain the labour that is necessary, an immediate complete census of building tradesmen who are now in the forces and in other industries should be made. There should then be a minute examination, with a view to determining whether or not any of those men could be diverted immediately to the building of homes. If such a census has been taken already, it should be repeated “ with a finetooth comb “. There must be many men in the forces who could be employed in some way on an extended home-building scheme. Recently, acceding to. the demand of the dairying industry, a large number of men was discharged from the forces to engage in milk and butter production. Seasonal leave has been granted to men who formerly were rural workers so that they could assist in the removal of crops and in doing other farm work. Either an extended period of leave, or temporary release, could be granted to men for this vital purpose of home-building. At the moment, the number of persons engaged in it is not nearly adequate. Although the war housing programme is an excellent one, and has been undertaken by the States and the Commonwealth to the utmost of their capacity, it falls far short of requirements. A more extensive programme must be undertaken much greater than the existing scheme, in order to ensure the construction of anything near the number of houses needed. Homebuilding should receive priority over repairs of all kinds, and those persons who wish to build homes should be assisted in every way. If necessary, the Allied Works Council should be engaged on this important aspect of national life when other works of which it is the constructing authority have been completed. It could do a speedy and good job. There are many persons who own two or three houses, which are used as weekend accommodation, in suburban areas not far from the centre of the city. In a time of national crisis, they should be asked to nominate the house in which they wish to live, and the others should be made available to persons who have been searching unsuccessfully for accommodation. Suburban week-end places are conveniently situated. Dozens of them are used only periodically throughout the year, and if they were made available they would cater adequately for the needs of many persons who t;o-day cannot get houses. I appreciate the efforts of the Government to cope with this and other problems, and realize that the Minister for Post-war’ Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman ) and others have gone to no end of trouble to find a remedy. The problem demands urgent attention. The shortage of houses does not appear to be confined to the capital cities, but is found also in rural areas. In the Australian Capital Territory, there are conditions which are worthy of the consideration of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) or the Minister in charge of housing. I am advised that the number of applicants for homes in Canberra exceeds 400. Some persons who live in the other capital cities have houses here which they use only on rare occasions. Possibly the Government could arrange to have them made available. Some married couples who move in the social world have big homes in which they rarely live. It has come to my notice that the wife and three children of a man who is working in Canberra are living in Sydney. This separation has lasted for more than a year. The wife is suffering from severe mental distress, which is aggravated by the fact that she has to rear unaided the three children whose ages are one year, three years and seven years. Possibly, a house in Canberra i hat is not. often occupied could be made available to this family, with beneficial results. There are persons occupying small houses who, because of the size of their families, ought to have larger houses, and vice versa. I am informed that there is tremendous crowding in Canberra. There seems to be some hold-up in the provision of adequate accommodation. A census should be taken in order to determine whether or not better use could be made of the housing that is available. The effects of bad housing will be as detrimental here as in any other city of the Commonwealth; consequently, the Minister responsible should take action immediately to correct the position. Apart from the war, no greater problem confronts the Government than the provision of necessary housing accommodation.
I am confident that the legislation 1 have mentioned will receive the earnest consideration of the members of this Parliament. When the legislative programme outlined in the Governor-, General’s Speech has been given effect, the people will be more gratified than ever at having a Labour government on the treasury bench.
.- I propose to confine my remarks to the war, and to the things necessary for the winning of the war. When listening to the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly), I could not help noticing how much time he devoted to discussing postwar problems, and the new heaven that is to be created after the war, and how little time he devoted to talking of the war itself, and the need for winning it. He referred in disparaging fashion to the sending of Australian troops to Greece by the Menzies Govern,ment. He complained that it was very wrong to send them there because, he said, they were illequipped.
– They were sent there against the advice of General Blarney.
– No one could ever get the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) into any campaign; his feet are so cold that they are frozen, to the ground. If the Australian troops had not been sent to Greece, Australia might have saved some of its sons, but in the saving of them it would have lost its soul.
– Rubbish !
– I have heard no complaints from soldiers who fought in Greece because they were sent there in an effort to save the Greeks. On Saturday last, while I was travelling in the train, I spoke to a British naval lieutenant, who said that, during the first two years of the war, he served in a British Home Defence unit. He said that some of these units were armed with pikes and obsolete weapons, because, after Dunkirk, there were no other weapons in Britain with which to arm them.
– Oh, talk sense !
– My informant was a member of the Home Guard at that time, and it is a fact that there were practically no weapons available in England.
That, however, did not deter Mr. Churchill from saying that they would fight the Germans on the beaches, in the streets and on the landing fields. It would have shown a poor spirit on the part of Australians if they had hung back from the fight because their equipment was not perfect.
The foreign policy outlined by the Prime Minister in his speech to-day is the same as that which has been advocated foa1 years by members of the Opposition parties in this House. There was nothing in the policy which one could criticize, and, listening to him and to the cheers with which his speech was greeted by his followers, I was reminded of the words in Newman’s hymn, Lead Kindly Light: “I was not ever thus”. The present attitude of the Labour Government is in striking contrast to the attitude of the Labour party in past years. The Prime Minister said that the foreign policy of Australia must be kept in harmony with that of Britain. With that we entirely agree. We believe that the Empire should, as far as possible, speak with one voice. There must not bo division in the counsels of the Dominions. In the division of the Empire lies its greatest peril. The Prime -Minister also said that it should be Australia’s aim to bring together in friendly intercourse all those nations which were anxious to destroy the enemy in the shortest time. With that sentiment also we agree. The speech of the Prime Minister may have appeared a flawless gem of oratory, but when it is subjected to a close examination flaws are detected. For instance, he referred to the need for all parties in the Commonwealth to speak with one voice on foreign affairs. Therefore, he said, he had issued invitations to leading members of the Opposition parties to accompany the delegation to the San francisco conference and to take part in the discussions on the war policy of the United Nations and on the peace terms which are to be imposed upon our enemies. Nevertheless, representatives of the Opposition parties are not to be invited to the preliminary conference between representatives of the various countries of the Empire. Yesterday, the Prime Minister admitted, in response to my suggestion that
Mr. .4 66o//. such a preliminary conference be held, that it had already been summoned. It seems extraordinary that he should recognize the desirability of representatives of the Opposition attending the conference at San Francisco while he refuses to allow them to accompany Ministers to the earlier conference of representatives of the United Kingdom and the Dominions. When he was asked what were the main points of foreign policy which he would lay down, the Prime Minister said that they would be an adequate defence policy for the Commonwealth, effective Empire defence, and collective security. No one would wish to criticize his submissions, but many finishing touches to the picture are required.
– They are objectives, not a policy.
– That is so. The Prime Minister did not say anything about the sanctions which would be necessary to enforce a policy of collective security. As is well known, the failure of the League of Nations was due almost entirely to the fact that it lacked power to enforce its decisions. Until we can evolve some way of getting rid of international competition in armaments, until we have an international police force, it is very doubtful whether we can hope for any real benefit from setting up a system of collective security. Neither did the Prime Minister say anything about the attitude of the Government to the proposal of Russia for an international air force. He did not even say whether, in the opinion of the Government, the British Empire should have a single air force to which Great Britain and the Dominions would contribute. In support of his refusal to invite the representatives of the Opposition to the preliminary conference of Empire countries he said that any agreement reached at such a conference would be an agreement between’ governments, and that it would be improper for members of the Opposition to be present at the making of such an agreement. However, even if they were not present at the actual making of the agreement, surely they should be present in the same place where the conference is held, so that they might be consulted in the formulation of a longterm Empire policy. The Prime Minister went on to say that he did not intend that there should be au Empire bloc at the San Francisco conference. Presumably, therefore, whatever agreement is reached between Great Britain and the Dominions is not to be binding on the parties when they attend the conference at San Francisco. The Prime Minister is certainly inconsistent.
A serious flaw in the Speech of the Governor-General was the omission of reference to the resurgence of France during the last few months, although the Speech mentioned practically every other country in the world, and all the seven seas. I know that in some quarters it is customary to speak of the French people as being difficult, ‘and that General Smuts said that France was finished as a great nation. For my part, however, I believe that, by his very obstinacy and his granite-like determination, General De Gaulle is welding France into a homogeneous entity of a kind not known since the days of the revolution and the First Empire. It was an oversight that no tribute was paid in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to General De Gaulle and the work he is doing.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) spoke of the use to which Australia’s military forces are being put in the South-west Pacific. He said that they ‘were being used for mopping up operations in New Guinea, in the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands. It is true that this is a secondary campaign, but it is a campaign which is being fought under the most difficult conditions, in filthy country whore fever abounds. I suggest that the Government might inquire of the CommanderinChief of the Australian forces whether it is a fact that they are not being supplied with the same effective technical equipment as is being used by our allies farther north, and which was used by both our own forces and tho Americans in the New Guinea campaign. It is freely said that they are not receiving the advantage of these mechanical aids. The fact is that this campaign is being fought in territories controlled by Australia. I agree with the Prime Minister, that as these are wholly Australian areas, they should be cleaned up by Australian troops. We must show the natives that we, the rulers, are looking after their welfare, and that wo will destroy the enemy who invaded their land. The Leader of the Opposition said that Australia, as a sovereign state, had the final say in the disposition of its troops, and I think the Prime Minister agreed with him. As a matter of fact, the Australian Government has no say whatever in the ultimate disposition of our troops at the present time. On the 10th December, 1942, the Prime Minister stated that the Australian Government, when it agreed to the appointment of General MacArthur as CommanderinChief, had signed away its control over Australian troops, and handed them over to the command of General MacArthur. As the Prime Minister said, the Australian Government in agreeing to this unique set-up - the appointment of General MacArthur to command our troops - surrendered a part of its sovereignty. Thus, for Australia to regain full command over the distribution of its troops it would be necessary to vary the terms of the agreement under which they were made available to General MacArthur.
Wc should, cast our minds back to the situation as it existed at the time General MacArthur arrived here in 1942. It then seemed as if the battle was about to burst in full force upon the northern shores of this country. It seemed almost certain that Australia would be invaded, and we did not have much with which to resist invasion. The fate of Australia was decided at the battle of the Coral Sea. From that time forward the tide of .’battle began to roll northward. There was .the magnificent fight by our troops in the Owen Stanley ranges, when the southward drive of the Japanese land forces received its first check. That battle, and the subsequent campaign in Now Guinea, constitute one of the greatest epics- in the history of this country. In those days the tide of battle surged on our shores, but to-day it has ebbed northwards until it is only 750 miles from the mainland of Japan. To the north-west of Australia, however, there is an entirely different situation: the Japanese still occupy vast areas in Malaya, Burma, the Netherlands East Indies, the Moluccas, Celebes and Timor.
While in the eastern sector our American allies are proceeding towards Japan, to the west the forces of Great Britain are proceeding south-west to the conquest of Burma, and, later, Malaya. It seems to me that Australia has a particular present and future interest in that area. The Leader of the Opposition said that we should send one or two divisions there, but the Government should go a lot further than that. Once we have cleaned up the Japanese in our own territories to the north, the Government’s duty will be to take up with the other four governments signatory to the directive given to General MacArthur the question of altering that directive in order that we may put all the forces of Australia under the command of Lord Louis Mountbatten in the South-East Asia sector, so that they shall take part in the reconquest of Malaya, Japanese-occupied China, and, finally, the conquest of Japan. The Attorney-General spoke of the Government being bound by the directive to General MacArthur and implied that it would be impossible to alter that directive without the consent of the other signatory nations. If the Attorney-General had cast his mind back towards the end of 1942 he would have recollected that, eight months after the directive had been signed, the Australian Government determined to amend the Defence Act to enable the militia to serve anywhere in the South- West Pacific Area, which would have been only carrying out the solemn undertakings given by this Government; but, instead of carrying out those undertakings, the Government, under the criticism of its supporters and the trade unions, whittled down to very small proportions the area in which the Militia could serve. It would be interesting to know whether the other signatories to the directive were agreeable. We should change the assignment to General MacArthur because we want the greatest, possible unity in the Empire. We shall help that unity by having our soldiers serve under an Empire command where they will meet their kinsmen from the other dominions and Great Britain. The second reason is. that our troops would be going into Malaya to release the men of the 8th Division imprisoned in the Japanese “ hell “ camps. It would have a magnificent effect on the morale of the Australian troops if they knew that they were going forward to release their imprisoned brothers. On the practical side, as the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) pointed out, it would make the ordnance problems easier, and the problems of the Quartermaster-General much simpler, because any one who has studied the ration tables of the United States and the Australian Armies knows that they comprise very differentfoods. Moreover, it would greatly ease the shipping problems of the Allies, because comparing the distance from Great Britain to the Malaya area, compared with that to Malaya from Australia, a saving of about 8,000 miles would be effected on each round voyage. Furthermore, the alteration of the directorate would ‘ mean that moreBritish troops could be released to go into Europe, and that would release more ‘ American troops for the Pacific and Asiatic campaign, and Australia’s troops would be fighting with Empire troops equipped similarly to themselves.
Another suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition was that there should be a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament to put forward its views to the Government on foreign affairs. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) disagreed, not on the ground that the committee was unnecessary, but, as he said, because it would be redundant, as the Advisory War Council could do the job. Many people in the Commonwealth consider that there is a great necessity to preserve Parliament’s ancient rights of free discussion and to be the place where matters are fully debated and decisions made. This new practice of creating committees or councils, which sit in secret and bind members of Parliament to decisions which Parliament has little opportunity ti discuss before they are fait accompli. should be ended, because discussion in Parliament is thereby stifled and the very purpose for which Parliament exists is broken down. If secrecy is necessary in the interests of the security of the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister should confer with leaders of the Opposition parties. Those are the people whom the
Prime Minister should consult and who should make the decisions. This holeandcorner method of using an Advisory War Council or other committees is, I believe, entirely wrong. If it were necessary to have an Advisory War Council in the crucial clays of this war, it is certainly not necessary to-day, and the system has practical disadvantages, because the chiefs of Staff, probably the three busiest men in the Commonwealth, have to be dragged every fortnight from Melbourne to Canberra to answer questions and make reports on what is taking place. They also have to do that in respect of the War Cabinet, duplicating their duties. The agenda lias to be prepared by probably the busiest of all public servants. Moreover, the time of Ministers is needlessly taken up. Everything the Advisory War Council does could be as well done if the Prime Minister consulted the two Opposition party leaders. But the Prime Minister invariably defends the Advisory War Council. It may have been the baby of the Leader of the Opposition, but the Prime Minister was its father, because it was his idea.
– The Country party supports it still.
– I am free to express my views. I am not tied by caucus decisions as the honorable member is. I am a free man. When Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister said that the Advisory War Council had been created at the request of the Opposition as an alternative to the proposal of the then government for the establishment of a national government.
– The Labour party shied at it like an ill-trained donkey.
– If the Government feels itself so incompetent that it must have this Advisory War Council standing on its right hand in order that it may suck its brains to find out what it should do in the war situation, why does it not take them into the Cabinet?
Paragraph 18 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech says -
Australia’s annual expenditure on food foi the services now exceeds £100,000,000, or more than the total Commonwealth revenue in the pre-war year. This task could not have been performed but for the wholehearted cooperation given by the farmers, food and transport workers, technicians and the consumers.
Despite those eulogistic references’, it is sad to see what a desperate food position this country has reached through shocking mismanagement since the advent of this Government. Wheat is the basis of Australia’s food production. It is the source of flour, bread and offals, exports, poultry-feed, pig-feed, and, in droughts, sheep-feed. We are told by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) that the calamitous shortage of wheat in Australia to-day is due to the drought, which, luckily, seems to be breaking throughout the Commonwealth. But droughts are not rare in Australia; we have had them ever since Australia was discovered. Wise men make provision to meet them by conserving fodder; but what do we find in Australia to-day? A steady decline in the production of wheat, greatly accelerated since the Labour party took office. Wheat acreage and production steadily increased from 1908-9, when there was 5,300,000 acres under wheat and a crop of 63,000,000 bushels, to 11,000,000 acres and a crop of 103,000,000 bushels in 1913-14. During the war of 1914-.18, the wheat production of the Commonwealth expanded very greatly. In 1915-16, Australia had 12,500,000 acres under production and the harvest was 179,000,000 bushels. In the early thirties, production remained relatively high. The story of the decline is best told by the following figures : -
The estimate for 1944-45 is 52,000,000 bushels. Since 1941, the acreage sown to wheat has been reduced by 40 per cent. To one who has made a study of these figures, the curious feature is that as the production of wheat declined, the export price rose, as follows: -
Tor the period July to December, 1944, the export price was 5s. 11. 6d. Thus Ave have a falling supply, with a rapidly increasing export price. The principal reason. Wily wheat production has declined is that growers did not receive a fair price for their product, and they had very little encouragement to grow wheat. In addition, the licensing system introduced by the Government restricted wheat-growing. I admit that the shortage of superphosphate and the luck of man-pOWer caused some of -the difficulties, but the main reason for the decline of production was the inadequate price paid to the growers on the total wheat produced. The Commonwealth Government would not have run any risk if it had paid a satisfactory price to the growers, because the export price was continually rising. Although the licensing system Was never intended to f route shortages, production did decline. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture should have introduced flexibility into the licensing scheme, and the guaranteed price should have covered the whole of the harvest, as the Commonwealth would not have sustained any losses. The. effect of the insistence of the Government on paying low prices when the export price was constantly rising is shown in a comparison of the acreages licensed, and those actually sown with wheat. In 1942-43, when 11,000,000 acres WaS licensed for wheat-growing, the area Sown was !>, 300,000 acres. Thus only S6 per cent, of the licensed area Was sown. In 1.043-44, licences were issued for 10,600,000 acres, but only 7,900,000 acres was Sown, or 74 per cent, of the 1 licensed area. Obviously, farmers were not sowing all the acreage that they were entitled to SOW because the payments which i hey were receiving from the Government were inadequate. In the 1942-43 harvest, an advance of 2s. a bushel was granted in respect of 30 per cent, of the wheat. In the 1943-44 harvest, this figure had shrunk to S per cent. The production of wheat in excess of the quota declined from 51,000,000 bushels in 1942-43 to 42,000,000 bushels in 1943-44 and to 17,000,000 bushels in 1944-45. Those figures disclose that under this system farmers will not grow wheat in excess of the quota of 3,000 bushels. *</inline>
I now desire to refer briefly to wheat prices in this Avar and the First World War. In 19141-18 the price of wheat averaged 4s. 8-kl. a bushel; during this
Avar, the average price has -been less than 3s. 6d. a bushel, or a decline of ls. 2-kl. a bushel. As costs are estimated to have increased by ls. a bushel compared with those in the last war, the wheat-grower is worse off by 2s. 2d. a bushel to-day. At no time during this war was there a danger that Australia won k exceed the export totals permitted under the International Wheat Agreement. Australia is allowed to export 95,000,000 bushels of wheat, but that total has never been reached. In 1942, the total,- Wl tl flour equivalent, was 45,000,000 bushels; in .1943, 37,000,000 bushels, and in 1944, 41,000,000 bushels. Those figures prove that, the International Wheat Agreement has not curtailed wheat production in this country. At present the Commonwealth is in a deplorable position. If the drought had not broken, the Government would 2’robably have been compelled to introduce rationing of bread. The loss of stock and poultry would have been colossal, with disastrous effects on production generally. But the main factor in the curtailment of production is the failure of the Government to pay to wheat-growers ah adequate price when export values were steadily rising. Our farmers have been very harshly treated. They need 5s. 2d. a bushel for their wheat, and they should bc paid that sum. During the last six months, the price has been 5s. ll.Gd. a bushel at ports, and the Government can, with the greatest possible safety, guarantee to the wheat-growers a price of os. 2d. a bushel. The position in Australia :s still desperate. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture believes that we shall be able to meet the position wilh comparative ease since the recent beneficial rains, but the figures indicate that it will be a close struggle.
– It will bc a tight squeeze.
– If anything happens to the clerk of the weather and drought conditions return, we may have to pull in our belts a few more holes. The Government should refrain from trying to fool the farmers, and should attempt to regain their confidence. “Wheat-growers of Australia have lost their confidence in this Government because of the deplorable conditions existing in their industry. The Government should announce that for the next season licences will be freely granted and that the quota of 3,000 bushels will be abolished. In addition, the Government should guarantee to the farmers a return of at least 5s. 2d. a bushel.
Deplorable conditions prevail in other primary industries. The Government has launched a most intensive campaign to increase production in the dairying industry. Propaganda, has even been issued by the department for the purpose of shaming cows into giving an increased output of milk. The position is serious, because the production of whole milk throughout the Commonwealth has been steadily declining. Whole milk produced for all purposes throughout Australia has been as follows: -
The reduction of output since 1939-40 has been approximately 182,000,000 gallons, and that is a deplorable condition of affairs, because milk is one of the greatest protective foods for the health of the community. Between 1938-39 and 1943-44, beef production has declined by 29,000 tons, but mutton land lamb production has increased by 125,000 tons. The peculiar feature about the increase of mutton and lamb production is the relationship to the increase of the price of wool, which Australia obtained from “Great Britain some time ago.
Except for a brief reference to a plea by Lord Leathers, who emphasized the urgent necessity for using all shipping possible in the most economical manner, the Governor-General’s Speech contained no mention of shipping problems. T hemost disturbing thing in the Commonwealth to-day is the almost total disregard of the rule of law. This is not confined to the industrial sphere, but is prevalent throughout the community. Industrial anarchy is raging everywhere. Mr. Guy Anderson, who is president of the New South Wales Labour Council, said -
The present state of industrial anarchy must cease. Let us stop this stupidity. The unions must accept the machinery of the Trade Union Movement. If we are going to allow this chaotic position to continue, the Government will he wrecked, you will he wrecked, and you will have as your only alternative a revolution against established authority. The sympathy of the council might be with the men concerned, but there existed a state of industrial anarchy.
That is perfectly true. Unfortunately, the Government is doing practically nothing to prevent this industrial anarchy. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) said that the story of the State coal mine at Lithgow was a sad and sorry one. We heard him describe the conditions existing at Coalcliff, where the output of coal actually declined after the number of miners had been increased. The Government will not obtain any benefit in this field until it takes firm action to put down industrial anarchy. I am gratified to learn that the Government has announced its intention to prevent the pillaging of cargoes on the wharfs, and has appointed a committee consisting of three Cabinet Ministers to recommend appropriate action. To me, it seems extraordinary that the Government should require nearly four years to decide that it is necessary to prevent thieving on the wharfs. Sydney newspapers, particularly the Sydney Morning Herald, have published a number of articles on this subject. Yesterday the Melbourne Herald reported that a” man named James Riley, aged 37, appealed in the Quarter Sessions in Sydney against his conviction and imprisonment for three months for stealing on the wharfs. Riley admitted to the judge that he had a bad record and had been declared to be an habitual criminal, but said that hn had tried to go straight. He waa sentenced to three months’ gaol. As long as the Government, is prepared to allow this kind of thing to go on, it can expect trouble. It seems that some people arc hiring out their wharf labourers’ badges for 10s. a day. I am reliably informed that these facts were placed before both the Commonwealth Government and the State Government some mouths ago, but no action has been taken to cope with the position. These “ harpies “ are still allowed to go on the wharfs, where they steal goods intended for our men in New Guinea and, in doing so, they bring into disrepute the many wharf labourers who do a good honest job. Does the Government intend to continue to allow these criminals to act against the interests of honest working men, or does it intend to do something effective to clean up the situation? I hope that its expressed desire to correct this disgraceful state of affairs is a genuine one and an indication that something effective will be done without delay.
I now wish to make a few remarks on the general subject of shipping and the necessity for a quick turn round of ships, in port. In this connexion I direct attention to the following paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech -
The critical position of Australian shipping coincides with an overall pressure on tonnage as a result of the requirements of the Eastern and Western theatres of war and of liberated countries.
I remind honorable gentlemen also of the report in to-day’s press that Mr. Churchill had stated in the House of Commons that the shipping position is more acute at present than it has ever been.
Let me remind the House of certain happenings on the Australian coast, particularly at the port of Fremantle, in the Prime Minister’s electorate. A three weeks’ strike at that port has not long ended. While it continued, vessels had to be diverted to other ports, and cargo for overseas shipment had to be left on the wharfs. Included in tin’s cargo, on the 7th February, were between 20,000 and 25,000 bales of wool which were awaiting shipment to the United States of America. This wool had been sold to America, some of it as long ago as early December, and the purchasers were given to understand that there was every likelihood that the December purchases would be shipped by the end of December or early January. The wool was urgently required to manufacture war requirements to replace uniforms and blankets that were lost during the invasion of Normandy, and the fighting in Germany. After the strike ended and ships were brought into port loading proceeded at such slow rate that the wool could not be lifted before the vessels had to leave. It is estimated that, at the prevailing abnormally slow rate of loading, it would take about a fortnight to load 10,000 bales of wool. Prior to the war, wool was loaded at the rate of over 2,000 bales a day without overtime, or at the rate of 3,000 bales a day for a twelve-hour clay, lt should have taken at the most five days to load the 10,000 bales, but, with a few hours’ overtime each day, the loading could have been done in less than four days. According to a report published in the West Australian on the 7th February, Mr. E. Saw. president of the Perth Chamber of Commerce, stated that only 24 bales of wool per hour per gang were being loaded. A stevedoring company stated that, in pre-war days, each hatch would take in an average of -9Q bales an hour. At that rate, with three hatches working, 270 bales of wool an hour could be loaded, giving 2,160 bales a day. Loading 270 bales an hour for a twelve-hour day, 3,240 bales could be handled.
If the Government intends to allow the present state of anarchy to continue in certain industries in this country, we shall not deserve .much consideration at the peace table. The Prime Minister uttered some most laudable sentiments this afternoon, and the perfect English rolled off his tongue like water flowing down a noble river, but such sentiments must be described as pure humbug and hypocrisy, unless something be done to improve industrial affairs in this country. [Further extension of time granted.] It is all very well for the Prime Minister to speak so eloquently on foreign policy, and the like, but his job is to put his own house in order, and unless he does so Australia will not be able to pull its full weight in the war effort.
.- The lengthy Speech delivered by His Royal Highness the Governor-General indicated that the Government intends to submit in this session of the Parliament a programme of legislation which will be in the interests of the great majority of the people of the Commonwealth. We have reason to congratulate ourselves upon the appointment of His Royal Highness as Governor-General of the Commonwealth. The appointment indicates that the British Commonwealth of Nations intends to hold together in the peace period with a tenacity which has never before been excelled. His Royal Highness expressed the hope that the war would end during his period of office. We all hope that that will be the case. I firmly believe that the conflict will be decided on the Western Front. The war is going better in the Pacific sphere than we could have expected it to go, and Australia is playing its full part in the victories that are being achieved.
Our Navy, in particular, has fought magnificently on the seven seas of the world. It has covered itself with glory and has done whatever it has been called upon to do. It has, without loss, convoyed ships over many thousands of mile’ of ocean. These thoughts take my mind back to the days when, as a young fellow, I stepped onto the deck of the greatest battleship Australia has ever had, the first H.M.A.iS. Australia. We were awed by the armaments of that famous ship. It is my sincere hope that, in the days that follow this war, we shall not repeat the mistakes of the days that followed the last war, when, as we know, the Australia was taken out to sea and sunk. That act robbed us of one of the best weapons of’ defence we have ever had. The Australia was a battle cruiser of 19,200 tons with a designed speed of 25 knots. She carried eight 12-in. guns. She would have performed magnificently in the bombardment of certain Pacific islands which other units of our Navy have been called upon to bombard in the last few years. I prophesied, in 1914, that the British Navy would win the war. I see no reason to alter my view of the efficacy of the Navy as a fighting force. The members of the Royal Australian Air Force have rendered a service second to none and, as for the Australian Army, it has, in my opinion, waged a magnificent fight. It is deplorable that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and other honorable gentlemen opposite should have seen fit to criticize the Army as they have done, lt has been said that our men are now playing a secondary role and that they are engaged in what the Leader of the Opposition has described as “ mopping-up operations “. I was surprised that my friend the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), as a former soldier, should have approved of such a statement. I expected a gentleman of his calibre and military experience to know better than to make such a statement. I did not think that he would support any statements derogatory to our army, or our soldiers. The work that our men are doing may not be glamorous, but it is most important. They are, in fact, fighting (the cream of the Japanese army. The Japanese units still in the South- West Pacific Area were destined for the invasion of Australia, and they were specially picked for this service. Many of them are of fine physique, being 6 feet tall. Mothers, wives and sweethearts know only too well that their men are engaged in the cruellest and most severe kind of warfare, for they are fighting not in massed formations on plains but in small patrols of eight or ten men in the jungle. They are engaged in what is practically single file warfare. Those who describe such operations as “ mopping-up “ have no right, in my opinion, to be in public life. I doubt if they have any right to be citizens of this Commonwealth.
– They will be mopped up at the next election.
– Many of their kind were mopped up at the last election. After the next election we shall need additional seats on this side of the chamber.
I disagree with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that he had had no opportunity to discuss the disposition of our fighting forces. He had an opportunity to do so but, like a lot of the people whom he is accustomed to criticize, he went on strike with some other members of his party when he walked out of the Advisory War Councilbecause of some disagreement. He was at liberty to do so, of course. However, he not only walked out, but, being a great national leader and a God-sent saviour of the Commonwealth, he caused to be expelled from his party those members of it who did not walk out of the Advisory War Council with him.
– But he was a great soldier.
– I have no desire to make any reference whatever to what the right honorable gentleman, or any other person, has done in the military sphere. My point is that the Leader of the Opposition had more opportunities than most members of this Parliament to inquire into exactly what was being done with our fighting forces, and he declined to take advantage of them.
The Governor-General’s Speech contains a paragraph dealing with the housing of the people. The present Government is not to blame for the existing shortage of houses. When supplies of materials were ample, the people had no money with which to build homes. The Government was then composed of members of the United Australia party, who recently saw fit to change the name to the Liberal party of Australia. From 1934 to 1938, not one home was built under the Advances to Homes Act of South Australia in the metropolitan area. The policy of another Liberal government was responsible for that state of affairs. To-day, the people as a whole have more money than they have ever had before, due entirely to the war. Many of them did not know what it was to have employment until the outbreak of war. They arc now in a position to acquire homes, but because of the national obligations into which Australia has entered with the Mother Country and its Allies in the Pacific, the necessary materials and manpower are not available. The Government is doing everything possible in regard to the provision o-f housing.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has suggested marriage loans with a view to increasing the birth rate in Australia. I am quite in accord with his proposal. My political teeth are not quite so long as those of some other honorable members, but I can speak with knowledge of the rank and file of the people and have not been blinded by a long period of public life. A young man on the basic wage may have a margin between income and expenditure, but if he marries that margin disappears. If the couple have one child, they find it harder to live, and their difficulties are further increased by the birth of a second child, because, in regard to living expenses, two children are regarded as equal to an unemployed adult.
– It was the Menzies Government which legislated for child endowment.
– I agree with the honorable member. No man was more amazed than I was, when it did so. The amount of the endowment is not sufficient to do what it was intended to do. It is estimated that 12s. a week is needed to raise a child, in Australia.
The Governor-General’s Speech, in paragraph 52, says this -
We are now well into the sixth year of war. Due to our unpreparedness and our belief in peace, the enemy’s earlier ascendancy on all fronts was so complete that the demands on us to survive were colossal, and, at times, looked beyond our capability.
That, is quite true. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) said that in 1942 we had very little with which to fight. He should be the last person to speak in that strain, because he was a member of the Government which sent ill-equipped troops to Greece and Crete. On the hustings, a woman said to me: “ Since you people have been the Government of the Commonwealth, my brothers have written and told me that they now have all the equipment which they need in order to do the job “. The Sydney Morning Herald said on one occasion that the first Curtin Government had started two years behind scratch. That referred to the period during which honorable members who now sit opposite said that they intended to do everything to win the war. The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) caused more dissension in industry than any other man when he instituted a war loading on the basis that he fixed. That we were ill-equipped was not the fault of the Labour party.
My mind goes back to 1936, when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) who then led the Labour party in opposition, told the people of the Commonwealth : “ Now is the time to build aircraft, to build a Navy, and to have a mechanized Army “. The great leaders of the nation criticized him, and said that when the next war arrived the armaments which he proposed would be out of date. There were highly placed people in the Mother Country who said the same. Had the then leaders of the Commonwealth embarked on the programme enunciated by the Labour party, they would not have been in the position which they occupied when we went to war with Germany, The leader of this Government and of the Commonwealth has proved himself over and over again the greatest and most far-sighted statesman Australia has ever had, and the people will express confidence in him whenever the Parliament goes to an election.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned.
Northern Territory : Reconstruction of Darwin ; Re-siting or Katherine - ‘Canberra : House Tenancy of Soldier’s Wife - Wire Netting and Barbed Wire - Industrial Training of Soldiers : Allowances.
Motion (by Mr. Makin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I bring to the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) the necessity for conveying information to people of the Northern Territory regarding the Government’s plans for the reconstruction of Darwin .and the re-siting of the town of Katherine. I understand that certain other plans are being considered by a departmental sub-committee, on which the people of the Northern Territory have no representation whatever. No information regarding the decisions of the sub-committee has been conveyed either to the people of the Territory or to me. Some time ago, I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin,), asking that certain reports of the sub-committee be made available to me, but up to the present I have received no reply and have not seen the reports. The annual report of the Administrator of the Northern Territory, which was laid on the table to-day, may not contain the information which I desire. I have been informed that the Government has decided to shift’ the town of Katherine three miles westward, and a little further up the Adelaide River. Naturally, the local residents desire to know why that is to be done.
The Minister for the Interior should make an authoritative statement as to what the Government proposed to do with Darwin, Katherine and the Northern Territory generally. If a satisfactory statement were made, a good deal of suspicion, if not, perhaps, mistrust, on the matter, would be allayed. If the local residents knew the facts, they would be in ia, position to present a case which would assist the Government in taking the right action. The sooner the facts are brought to light the better, because it is most unsatisfactory to leave the matter in the hands of the sub-committee, on which the local residents have no representation. The Minister for the Interior informed me in writing last week that he is not prepared to accord the Northern Territory Development League any more consideration than a private individual. One would imagine that a Labour Government would normally be in favour of the people of the Territory banding together in order to protect their rights; but in this case, apparently, the people are expected to submit individual requests or observations to the Minister, who will, no doubt, pass them on to somebody else. Last October, when I visited Darwin, army engineers were putting in a sewerage system, but nobody there could tell me whether the work was being done in accordance with the Government’s plans for the reconstruction of Darwin. It would be interesting to discover that, in order to provide employment for the troops, they have been called upon to do work which is not in accord with the Darwin reconstruction proposals which some committee is preparing for the benefit of the people of the Northern Territory.
– I draw attention to a recent action of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) for the purpose of evicting the wife of a soldier who is a prisoner of war. The matter is of such significance, as possibly reflecting Government policy - because the Government cannot escape responsibility for the action of its Ministers - that it should be ventilated in this House. Unfortunately, the people of Canberra have no representative in this Parliament to state their grievances, and, as this matter has been placed in my hands, 1 propose to give the full facts to the House. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) can then deal with the responsible Minister in such way as he thinks fit, but on his action the Government will be judged.
– Be careful about this matter.
– I shall cite the whole of the facts, and, if the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) can counter the charges which I propose to make, I shall be pleased to hear his reply. Leslie John Pedvin, who enlisted in 1940, was the tenant of a house belonging to the Government and controlled by the Department of the Interior. The house is situated on block 15, section 10, Griffith. I produce a summons issued for the eviction of his wife and family, and signed in the handwriting of the Minister for the Interior. The summons is directed to Leslie John Pedvin, who is a prisoner of war in a camp in Burma. It was served on his wife, who with her son, aged fourteen and a half years, is living in the cottage. She has nursed an ambition, ever since her husband went to the war, to keep the home for him on his return, but the responsible Minister has taken action for a very paltry reason to evict her, although she has fulfilled all her proper obligations in the meeting of her commitments except with regard to a concession which is in dispute. The decision to evict the wife and child of a soldier who is a prisoner of war was taken in the very week when the Government was enunciating a policy of qualified preference to ex-service personnel; but what is the value of the Government’s words when a summons signed by the
Minister is issued for the eviction of the wife of a serviceman? The details of the case are such that the Government’s action appears in an even worse light. The summons states, “ I hereby give you notice to quit and deliver up possession of the cottage and- appurtenances “, &c. It states that 90 days will be allowed in which to vacate the premises, which means that they must be vacated by the 15th May next. That notice, as I have already said, is signed by the Minister.
– That is not a summons.
– It is a notice to quit, and is therefore a summons calling on the wife of the soldier to vacate the house. If the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Lawson) wishes to quibble over words he can do so, but the notice compels the woman to get out of her cottage by the 15th May or be thrown out. Pedvin was a works supervisor in this very department that is now seeking to evict his wife and child from their home. He was receiving a salary of more than £500 a year, but he went away in the forces on a sapper’s pay. He joined the 8 th Division, and was unfortunately taken prisoner with the other members of the division at Singapore. The muchmaligned Menzies Government granted a concession to dependants of soldiers who were tenants of the Department of the Interior in Canberra, under which their rent of £3 5s. a fortnight was reduced to £2s. 2s. 6d. a fortnight. After her husband embarked, Mrs. Pedvin found that her allotment was insufficient to maintain her, and she obtained employment in the Trade and Customs Department. While she was so employed she willingly surrendered the concession in respect of rent, as she was, in fact, required to do. When the state of her health compelled her a few months later to relinquish her employment, she applied to the Department of the Interior for a restoration of the concessional reduction of rent. Her application was refused, and has been consistently refused every time it has been renewed. I have here a pile of correspondence from officials of the department, and from the Minister himself, and I say that it is a disgrace to the officials and to the department because of the harshness of the language used and the unsympathetic treatment and complete lack of consideration which it evinces. The department and the Minister have adopted a bowelless attitude, quite unworthy of the Government. I have here a letter from the officer in charge of housing, Mr. A. W. Edwards, who bluntly informed Mrs. Pedvin that her application was refused. She then wrote to the Minister and received a contemptuous reply. She received a letter written by the Minister’s private secretary, a young man who signs himself J. E. Collings, who, T understand, is the Minister’s grandson. Not only is the letter bluntly formal, but, probably owing to the young gentleman’s lack of military knowledge, it contains a serious error. It is as follows: -
The position in regard to your rent concession is as follows: - When the concession was granted, your husband’s rank was that of sapper, and your total income from allotment and allowance £2 19e. 6d. a week. To-day your husband’s rank is corporal, and your total income from allotment and allowances is £4 7s. Gd, a week.
In the circumstances, the concession is no longer permissible.
The truth is that the increase of Mrs. Pedvin’s allowance was in no way connected with her husband’s elevation of rank. It was due to the extra allowance granted by the Treasurer to the wives and dependants of all soldiers. Before any increased allotment could be drawn by Mrs. Pedvin, the application had to be signed by her husband, and he, being a prisoner in Malaya, naturally could not do anything of the kind. The Treasurer’s grant to soldiers’ dependants is being used by the Minister for the Interior and his officers as a reason for depriving this woman of something to which she is entitled, and had previously enjoyed.
What are the facts in this case? Mrs. Pedvin is £20 in arrears with her payments. She has paid every penny which she ought to have paid, barring the amount of the concession to which I have already referred. Because she has withheld that amount - about 10s. a week - she has been served with an eviction notice. She is being ordered to get out on to the streets; there is nowhere else she can go. If there is no mercy in the heart of this gentleman who is controlling the affairs of Canberra tyrannously controlling them - it is time the Government intervened. I notice that the eviction order was directed to Pedvin himself, who is a prisoner of war in Malaya. I suggest that if the young gentleman who so directed it is really anxious to serve the notice he should get himself into uniform and follow Pedvin to Malaya.
– I am astonished that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) should wax so indignant over this supposed injustice to a soldier. When I sat on the Opposition side of the House I frequently had occasion to flog the then Government for the soulless way it evicted soldiers from war service homes and from farms. The honorable member referred to soldier preference. The only preference which he or any of his colleagues ever gave to soldiers was preference in pick and shovel jobs. I am convinced that no returned soldier would get any great measure of preference from the honorable member for Richmond if he wanted a job picking bananas. The following statement on this case has been supplied to me by the Minister for the Interior : -
I have particulars of the three cases which have been referred to in the press ; but, as the honorable member dealt with onlyone case - that of Mrs. L. J. Pedvin - I shall confine my remarks to it -
Mrs. L. J. Pedvin, Griffith (Husband a Prisoner of War).
Her income from her husband’s military income is£4 7s.6d. a week.
In addition, her husband owns substantial properties in Sydney from which income is derived. This income is not shown in Mrs. Pedvin’s statutory declaration.
Mrs. Pedvin is not unable to pay the rental of £1. 12s.6d. She pays£1 2s.6d. regularly, but refuses to pay more.
– Yes. I am simply stating the facts which the Minister for the Interior has supplied to me. I am not trying to make the case against this woman worse than it is. If the honorable member wishes for more information, I shall let him have it -
Rent concessions are based purely on ability of the tenant to pay.
Notice to quit was served on the 14th February, 1945, and expires on the 15th May, 1 945.
She has one son fourteen years of age.
The honorable member suggested that Mrs. Pedvin might be turned out into the street to-morrow morning -
I emphasize that the Auditor-General, who is an independent examiner of government accounts, constantly draws attention to these arrears of rent, and that the Minister for the Interior is not an ordinary landlord, but is the custodian of government funds and. property. All the facts show that in this case the tenant was capable of meeting her commitments.
– I draw attention to the difficulties experienced by land-holders because of the lack of supplies of wire-netting and barbed wire, particularly the former. I have received communications from areas that have been devastated by bush fires which destroyed the wire-netting necessary for the protection of the holdings against the ravages of rabbits. The small quantity of galvanized wire-netting that is obtainable is of a gauge too light to meet the requirements of land-holders, whilst the black netting which is available in slightly larger quantities rusts so quickly as to be almost useless. I hope that the Minister will see his way to divert some man-power to the manufacture of wirenetting to meet the needs of land-holders. I understand that he is anxious to do what he can in this matter, but he may not know the conditions that exist in the ureas most affected. The rabbit pest in Victoria, particularly in stony country, constitutes a definite menace to pastoralists. Asit is almost impossible to get men to trap rabbits, or to dig out their burrows, many land-holders who in past years kept their properties clear of vermin now find that their fences are no longer rabbit-proof. I ask the Minister to look into this matter and to do his utmost to ensure that the essential requirements of land-holders are met.
. -I draw attention to the treatment of a discharged soldier who is doing a course a t the Sydney Technical College. He has put his case in letters in which he states-
I attach three letters which relate to my second (or final) year at Sydney Technical College.I have placed all particulars of my original enrolment as a sheep and wool student, and hope you may be able to do something to help future students from the Army who will probably be in my category eligible for part-time training only. Many returned men will need flexible regulations if they are to succeed in the study of some trade or profession, and give and take will be very helpful. Even if I get no assistance, as seems likely, some good may be done for others.
Owing to the rather pre-emptory letter from the Deputy Director of Industrial Training. I have paid my fees fearing I would be pushed out of the class by many others seeking admission.
He says -
In April, 1943, while stationed at Caloundra, Queensland, and in response to suggestions from the Army education authorities, I joined the postal classes of sheep and wool. By July, 1944, I had completed the 37 lessons and five sectional examinations (under supervision) averaging 70 per cent. in the 37 lessons and85 per cent. in the sectional examinations. After last August, I went out to several sheds wool rolling. On receiving word of my acceptance as a student for the final year I moved to Sydney and commenced work at East Sydney Technical College. I contacted the Rehabilitation at Shell House, and found them “ sympathetic “ and they said they would pay my fees and I was enrolled under those conditions. I found, however, that they would pay part-time (or night classes) fees only, which meant two years instead of one on full time.I explained that I had completed one year by post and only needed this year from now till July to enable me to sit for the final. I was told that the ruling was from Canberraand definite. I am not eligible for sustenance so part-time fees arc the only ones available - though fees for two years are the same as those for one year full time.
To obtain any benefit I must waste a year when another four months will have me ready for the final. I have carried out, or completed the job, whore quite a few gave it up and therefore think the conditions ought to be at least varied.
He received the following letter from the deputy director of Industrial Training, Mr. P. D.Riddell-
In connexion with your enrolment without payment of living allowances in the day classes (full-time) in sheep and wool at East Sydney Technical College, I regret to advise that in terms of a recent advice from the Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction it is not possible for a trainee, eligible for part-time training, to enrol for a full-time course and still receive part-time training benefits as far as fees,&c., concerned. I am sorry, therefore, that I must request you to adopt one of the following alternatives immediately : -
Withdraw from the full-time day class and enrol in the part-time evening classes if you still wish to receive the part-time training benefits under the reconstruction training scheme, or
Remain in the full-time day class and meet your own fees and other expenses incidental to instruction.
He paid his full-time fees and did not receive the benefits of the part-time training. It seems that the regulations have been drawn to meet conditions in the city where a student may have a job in the day time and be able to attend classes only at night; but the student from the country is in entirely different circumstances. I ask the Minister to ascertain whether the ruling of the Ministry at Canberra cannot be made flexible in order to meetcases such as that mentioned.
– I am sorry that the Minister for Works (Mr. Lazzarini) has left the chamber without answering the case raised by the honorable member for Richmond, (Mr. Anthony). This matter should not be allowed to stay where it is. The long screed read by the Minister, on behalf of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), did not give the answer sought by the honorable member for Richmond, but it did give an indication of the Government’s policy towards ex-servicemen and its attitude towards all those who cannot raise public opinion in their support or are not sufficiently militant to force it to give them the consideration they deserve. The Minister said that the soldier concerned had city property and that the income therefrom was being collected by his wife. He was challenged by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), who wanted to know what income was being received from the property and whether it was in fact being received by the wife. The Minister said, “ If you want further information I will give it to you “. He asked honorable members to wait.
– He did no such thing.
– He said that if honorable members would be patient he would give them all the facts, but he left without doing so.
– The honorable member is twisting his statement.
– I am not, as the Minister well knows. Instead of making a further statement, the Minister left the House, treating it with the disregard that is part and parcel of the Government’s attitude towards this chamber.
– The honorable member knows that the Minister could not speak again in this debate.
– Yes, but before resuming his seat, he should have given the House the information it desired, or he should have stayed to listen to the charges mia.de. His attitude is typical of the disregard shown towards honorable members by the Government. I do not know the facts. I do not know whether this soldier’s wife is in receipt of income from this property or whether it is being paid into his estate. But I do know that he is a prisoner of war. If the Government is so insistent that the law shall be observed in this case, then it should not yield to the pressure of important industrial unions and withdraw charges, refund fines, quash convictions, and release from the Army men who have been enlisted because they have participated in an illegal strike while, at the same time, pursuing through the courts people who have merely absented themselves from work for a short period, an action which the Full Court of New South Wales held to be illegal only to have it* decision reversed by the High Court. Because this woman is seeking to preserve the rights of her husband she, in marked contrast to the lenience displayed towards members of powerful trades unions, who consistently break the law, is being pursued to the full limits of the law.
– The Minister for the Interior ought to be made to deliver the summons to the husband in Tokyo.
– Yes. The honorable member for Richmond said that the Minister ought to deliver it to the prisoner of war himself and should not persecute his wife. My reason for rising now is that the Minister, characteristically, failed to honour his undertaking to supply the honorable member for Richmond with the information for which he asked and then left the chamber, apparently considering the case closed. We do not consider it closed. We have the right to know the full facts. We do not want those facts to be glossed over by the Minister reading a statement prepared outside this House. If the Minister is consistent and the statement is carried to its logical conclusion then all the law-breakers of this country must be pursued by the Government until the law is satisfied. But when we find that the Government is not prepared to take the action against unionists and its supporters, which it takes against returned soldiers, or prisoners of war, or wives of prisoners of war, we have a fair indication of where its sympathies lie and the policy which it intends to adopt in the future with regard to these unfortunate men.
– I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). The case of the trainee he mentioned comes under the reconstruction training scheme, because the trainee is a discharged serviceman. I am not familiar with all of the regulations dealing with the payment of allowances in respect of part-time students. I shall investigate the matter thoroughly and see whether the right course has been followed. . If not, I shall have the matter rectified.
-Will the Minister also examine the regulations with a view to making them more flexible to meet cases of the kind mentioned by me?
– Yes, although very often it appears on the surface to be easy to do something which later is found to be rather complicated. However, I shall inquire into the matter thoroughly and advise the honorable member of the result of my investigation.
– Over 1,500 exservicemen are now undergoing training.
– Yes, the scheme is working very successfully. With regard to the matter raised by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) completely distorted the position as stated in the reply given by the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior in this chamber. The honorable gentleman has a habit of adopting such tactics for political purposes. I listened attentatively to every word the Minister said in reply, and he did not make the statement attributed to him by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– He promised to give to the honorable member for Richmond the information sought before he finished his reply.
– No. It must be remembered that the Minister is only acting in this chamber for the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), and, therefore, cannot be expected at short notice to supply all details asked for by honorable members in a case of this kind.
– He should not promise to give such information.
– He did not do so. In order to obtain a concession as the wife of a prisoner of war, it is necessary for the occupant of a house to make a statutory declaration setting out the income coming into the house. It is perfectly obvious that that is the source from which the Minister for the Interior obtained his information. Therefore, it is unlikely that he is wrong. If he is in the wrong, it must be because the information given in the statutory form is incorrect. Therefore, I suggest to honorable members opposite that, before casting aspersions on Ministers, who are discharging their tasks under great difficulties, they should be fully aware of the facts before making allegations such as those made by the honorable member for Richmond and repeated by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I understood the Minister when replying to the matter raised by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) to say that the notice given was not an eviction notice. Here is the notice that was served on this person -
I hereby give you notice to quit and deliver up possession of the cottage and premises with the appurtenances situate at block 15, section 10, at Griffith in the Australian Capital Territory which you hold of the Commonwealth of Australia as tenant thereof under tenancy agreement dated the 30th day of September, 1938, at the expiration of the fortnight of your tenancy which shall expire next after the end of a period of 90 days from the service of this notice namely on the15th day of May next, on the ground that you have failed to pay the rent reserved in such agreement in respect of a period of not less than56 days namely a period of 109 days.
Dated the 14th day of February, 1945.
Minister of State for the Interior for and on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia.
That is plain English ; and if that notice is not a notice of eviction, I do not know what is.
. -in reply - I shall bring to the notice of the Minister concerned the matters raised by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) dealing with proposed alterations of the townships of Darwin and Katherine. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) requested that greater quantities of wire netting should be made available to enable settlers to deal effectively with the rabbit pest. I sympathize with his representation. He also said that the wire now being supplied is of too fine a gauge. I shall bring that statement to the notice of manufacturers. We are endeavouring to standardize manufacture at a gauge most suitable for the greatest number of purposes for which the wire may be required. In view of the limited facilities at our disposal at present we cannot, of course, permit manufacture of a wide range of gauges.
– Wire of a very fine gauge when buried in the ground rots very quickly.
– At present, the manufacture of wire netting is limited to about 1,200 tons a quarter. At the moment, none of this is being supplied to the armed forces; the whole of the output is being absorbed by those engaged in the production of food. Consequently,I believe that we shall be able to relieve the position to which the honorable member referred.
– The 18-gauge wire is essential, because the fences on many properties are in a satisfactory condition except for the fact that the wire has rotted where it is covered by the ground.
– It may be possible to produce suitable wire to enable that class of repair work to be undertaken. I shall examine the matter.
Whilst the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) may consider that the order to quit, which has been issued to a tenant of the Department of the Interior, is a direct eviction order, he will probably find that in the course of events, the order would not, in itself, be sufficient to evict the person concerned. It is an order for possession, but does not actually effect possession. There is a material differencebetween an order asking for the possession of a property, and an actual eviction order, which must be obtained from a. court of law.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal - Report for 1943-44.
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 186.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules . 1945, No. 15.
Customs Act - Customs Proclamation -No. 619.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 12.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -
Mile End, South Australia.
Saddleback Mountain, Kiama, New
National Security Act - National Security (General ) Regulations - Orders - Prohibiting work on land, and use of land (3).
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1945 - No.1 - Mining.
Northern Territory - Report on Administration for year 1943-44.
Superannuation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 181.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasuser, upon notice -
– T h e answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he state the amount of taxation, income and land, outstanding at the 31st December, 1944, in respect of (a) the Commonwealth, and (b) the States?
– The following are the amounts of Commonwealth and State taxation, income and land, outstanding at the 31st December, 1944 : -
The amount shown as Commonwealth income tax includes £681,871 war-time (company) tax. It should be borne in mind that most of the’ tax shown outstanding at 31st December, 1944, would not be due and payable until some time later. The amount of Commonwealth income tax outstanding is the amount shown in the taxpayers’ accounts, but the total is offset by any stamps, group certificates or other tokens representing amounts already paid by taxpayers by way of deduction from their wages or salaries which have not yet been presented by them. The amount of this offset is not ascertainable.
t asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
With reference to the desperate position of poultry, dairy and pig farmers in respect of stock foods, in particular wheat, and also in special reference to the case of Permewan, Wright and Company, a firm responsible for the distribution of stock food for 500,000 head of poultry and 2,000 dairy cows in the Dandenong area and now without adequate supplies -
Have steps yet been taken to make adequate supplies available to these primary producers in the immediate future, and
Will he make a statement showing the exact position of the wheat supplies in Australia, the quantities of wheat that will be available for stock feed and the times when they will be available for the various categories of primary producers, so that primary producers may know their position.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
t asked the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The matters raised in the honorable member’s question are being investigated and a reply will be furnished as early as possible.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is he prepared to table for the information of Parliament the Jensen report, which was shown some months ago to caucus and from which large extracts have recently been published in a Sydney weekly paper?
– It is not proposed to table the report submitted to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction by Mr. J. K. Jensen, Chairman of the Secondary Industries Commission. When matters dealt with in the report are brought before Parliament, relevant information contained therein will be furnished to honorablemembers.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What was the landed costin dollars and pounds (Australian) per car for the cars recently imported for ministerial use and the subject of an article in a Sydney weekly newspaper recently?
– The cost “ ex wharf “ to the Commonwealth of the Chrysler sedan cars recently imported by the Commonwealth for ministerial use was £A.7 65 10s. per unit. The cost in dollars, including factory cost, inland freight and ocean freight, was $2,410 per unit.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Mr.Forde. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
On the 23rd February, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked the following question, without notice : -
I ask the Minister for the Army whether or not members of the Public Relations Directorate of the Army holding non-commissioned rank are reporting operations in forward areas. If so, will the right honorable gentleman give urgent consideration to the matter of granting commissions to such members, and to the acknowledgment of their individual reports when statements are made to the press ?
I am now able to inform the honorable member for Wentworth that noncommissioned as well as commissioned officers accompany the forces and report operations. It is the practice to consider non-commissioned officers for promotion to commissioned rank, and when vacancies occur promotions are made according to merit. Public Relations personnel hand over much of the material gathered in the field to accredited correspondents on the spot. They do not expect, and it is not practicable nor desirable that they should receive public acknowledgment by name for the discharge of their normal duties. As with other members of the Army, outstanding work by Public Relations personnel mia.y be acknowledged by citation in official despatches from field commanders.
r asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
War Disposals Commission: Army Trucks; Machinery and Plant; Motor Cycles.
y. - On the 22nd February, the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry), asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, if he could state what procedure was necessary to secure army trucks now being made available by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answer : -
Trucks are being sold through normal trade channels and are being released from the army parks as quickly as the trade can take them over. These trucks are available only to persons holding priorities one to six. Prices have been fixed by the Prices Commissioner. Essential users who are anxious to obtain a truck should lodge their orders with their local motor truck dealer and he in turn should contact his principals and ensure that he gets a fair percentage of the available trucks, for disposal in his area. The Disposals Commission expressly provided that primary producers must bc given every reasonable opportunity of obtaining vehicles.
On the 22nd February, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) asked if the Minister for Supply and Shipping would consider appointing an officer of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to interview country people who may be interested in the purchase of surplus machinery and plant located in country districts. The Minister has considered the suggestions put forward by the honorable member, and has provided the following information : -
It is the policy of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to give every opportuntiy to country people to purchase plant and equipment that might become available in their locality. There will be no removal of materials from the country to the city if the goods can be sold under reasonable conditions in the area in which they are located.
The Commonwealth Disposals Commission in. conjunction with the Department of Munitions and the Secondary Industries Commission is reviewing the position regarding plant and equipment in country munition factories, so that if they can be declared surplus by the holding department they will be released promptly to the country people who require them. When materials are ready for disposal full publicity will be given in the country press and all interested persons will have an opportunity to purchase.
On the 22nd February, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked me a question, without notice, regarding the disposal of surplus motor cycles by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. He suggested that all those owners whose motor cycles had been impressed by the Government should be given an opportunity to purchase motor cycles from the Disposals Commission. I referred the honorable member’s representations to the Minister for Supply and Shipping who has made the following information available : -
It is anticipated that the numbers of motor cycles becoming progressively available will be sufficient to meet all demands including those of owners who had their cycles impressed. It is not possible for the commission to sell direct as this would involve the setting up of it. large retail establishment which would involve considerable expenditure and use of man-power. Within the next two or three weeks all legitimate dealers in motor cycles will be in a position to take orders for cycles. The prices have been determined by the Prices Commissioner, and are considered to be very reasonable.
Rubber: Sporting Goods; Sandshoes fob Children.
– On the 23rd February, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, the extent to which synthetic rubber may be used in the manufacture of sporting equipment, particularly sandshoes for school children.
I am now in a’ position to say, in reply to the honorable member, after investigation, that, due to the capture by the enemy of rubber-producing countries early in the war, an acute rubber shortage for war purposes prevailed and it became necessary to restrict the general use of rubber.
The manufacture of rubber sandshoes was and is still limited to quantities required in essential industries, such as cane-cutting, roof and scaffold work on buildings. Later, when further restrictions in the use of rubber became inevitable, the Controller of Leather and Footwear agreed, after a conference with the officers of the Rubber Control, to forgo the use of 50 per cent, of the rubber used in soleing materials for footwear. This soleing material had previously been a valuable adjunct to the available supplies of sole leather for footwear of utility types.
If at the present time any quantity of the available reclaimed rubber used in footwear were diverted to sandshoes it could only be at the expense of that which is used in utility types of footwear, both hi original manufacture and in repair items. Added to this there would be the additional problem of providing raw rubber used in the solution which attaches the golosh of sandshoes to the upper.
In view of the present world position in relation to rubber supplies’ of all types, I think the honorable member will appreciate that relief in the direction indicated by him is not practicable at the present, time. However, the position is being carefully watched and, when practicable, consideration will be given to the diversion of some of the rubber supplies to sporting equipment, particularly sandshoes for school children.
Drought Losses of Stock.
ly. - On the 23rd February, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) asked a question, without notice, concerning the losses of sheep and cattle during the last two years owing to drought conditions. I now desire to inform the honorable member that an endeavour is being made by my department to obtain an estimate of stock losses due to drought conditions. The honorable member will appreciate that, without an official census, it is most difficult to obtain reliable figures of losses during the course of a drought. The direct responsibility for agricultural production still rests with the States. However, special steps have been taken by the Commonwealth on its own initiative and also in co-operation with the States to assist certain primary industries affected by drought, and the position is being closely watched in case further emergency measures should be necessary. The position of all primary industries affected, by the drought will be reviewed when the full effects of the drought can be assessed.
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Sydney General Post Office Clock Tower.
l. - On the 22nd February, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) asked a question regarding the possibility of having the Sydney post office clock installed at Maryborough, Queensland, post office. The representations of the honorable member have been examined by the Postmaster-General, who has supplied the following answer: -
No decision has yet been made regarding the future use of the tower clock removed from the General Post Office in Sydney. In any case the tower of the post office at Maryborough, Queensland, is structurally unsuitable for the accommodation of the Sydney clockandmechanical apparatus associated therewith.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 February 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450228_reps_17_181/>.