17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet been able to consider the representations that I made to him on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce in Tasmania, regarding supplies of superphosphate for that State? If not, willhe take an early opportunity to do so, and give a considered statement?
– I have not had time to go into the matter fully. The internal distribution of superphosphate is determined by the Departments of Agriculture in the different States; but as the over-all supplies are governed by the allocation that is made by the Superphosphate Industry Committee, I shall take the matter upas the honorable member has suggested, and then make a full answer to his representations.
circulationof Questionnaire-loss ofTax Stamps.
– Is the Treasurer aware that a questionnaire isbeing circulated by the Taxation Department, and that it seeks to pry into the most intimate details of the lives of taxpayers, in that it asks that the department shall be supplied with information concerning expenditure from 1941 to 1943 upon food, clothing, gas, electricity, entertainment, medical and dental fees, gifts and presents, education, car expenses, and a host of other matters i If so, does the honorable gentleman approve of this Gestapo-like method of obtaining private information? Willhe inform the House of the department’s reason for seeking it, and introduce legislation which will protect the taxpayeragainst such inquisitorial tactics?
– I have not seen the questionnaire. The Commissioner of Taxation is vested with certain powers by virtue of legislation passed by this
Parliament. I never seek to interfere with the methods by which he gives effect to the wishes of the Parliament in the collection of taxes; but I am willing to ask him to giveme a statement which may be submitted to this House. As for the honorable member’s reference to Gestapo methods, I think I made it clear in this House on a previous occasion that any measure taken by the Commissioner of Taxation to discover tax evasions has my full support. In this, I speak for myself only. I know that a great many people seek to evade the payment of tax, andI assume that it is the duty, of the Commissioner - a duty with which he is charged by Parliament, not by me - to see that all those who should pay income tax do in fact pay it
– Yes, but this does not seem to be a case of evasion.
– I.generally find that statements referring to cases of this kind are exaggerated.
– Buthow can a taxpayer possibly supply the details required for as far back as 1940 ?
– In some instances, it is the duty of the Commissioner to go back as far as 1930 in order to get out assessments.
– But in this case the man is being asked for details of household expenditure on food, clothing, rent, &c. It is an impossible request.
– I assume that the Commissioner is acting in accordance with the powers conferred on him by Parliament. I shall learn the particulars, and furnish an answer to ‘the honorable member later.
– Will the Treasurer say whether it is a fact that the Taxation Department is suing taxpayers for the value of tax stamps stolen from them? Is it true that one man is being sued for £60, despite the fact that he has paid through his employer, all tax due by him, and that some one else was convicted and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for the theft of the stamps? Does not the. Treasurer think that it is a hardship to require taxpayers in such instances to pay double tax?
– Many of these cases were encountered, and to prevent recurrence the Government last year introduced a different system under which duplicate tax stamps must be presented to the Taxation Department by both employee and employer. It is perfectly true that the money deducted by the employer would have been forwarded to the Taxation Department, but it is also true, although I am not saying that it occurred in the case mentioned by the honorable member, that the stamps could have been sold or given to some other person. The mere fact that the employer had deducted the money and forwarded it to the Taxation Department did not absolve the taxpayer from presenting stamps equal to the amount of his tax, because, if he did not present them, the Department would be entirely dependent on the word of the employer that the tax had been paid and of the employee that ho had not otherwise disposed of them. It is a difficult problem.
– The magistrate sentenced the thief of this man’s stamps to six months’ imprisonment, which is positive evidence that he did not dispose of them illegally.
-I am prepared to examine that case, as I have examined several other cases of similar character. It was because of those cases that the Government decided to introduce the new system under which they cannot recur.
Extended Leave - Civilian Suits - GrovelyCamp Inquiry : Private J. Wilson - Return ed- from- AotiveService Badge.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the granting of extended rest leave to members of the Australian Imperial Force who have had more than five years active service with the forces?
– It has been represented to me by the Legion of ExServicemen’s Association that serious anomalies have arisen in connexion with the award of the returned-from-active-service badge, as many members of the armed forces who have been subjected to enemy action are ineligible for the badge, whilst thousands of others who have seen only technical active service in near areas and have never been exposed to enemy action, are eligible. In view of those allegations, will the Prime Minister have the conditions governing the award of the badge examined with the object of ensuring that all personnel shall be treated justly and equitably?
– I bring to the notice of the Minister for the Army the case of a soldier who was discharged from the Army fifteen months ago after883 days’ service, and who up to the present has not been able to get a suit of civilian clothing. He has been asked several times for his measurements, and now thatWar Cabinet has decided not to issue any more civilian suits, he has been told that he is entitled to only £2 10s. for a suit instead of the higher allowance agreed upon. This man has no civilian clothes, and £2 10s. will not buy him a suit. I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is not possible for this man to be treated in the same was as those who have been discharged since War Cabinet reached its decision?
– It is obvious that a mistake has been made if the man was offered only £2 10s. If the right honorable member will give me the particulars I shall have an investigation made.
– In a letter to me dated the 28th February, 1945, the Minister for the Army stated that a Mr. Betteridge, who had been discharged from the Army on the 21st April, 1944, was entitled, under the regulations then in force, to a suit and a hat, or if these were not available at the time to cash payments of £2 10s. and 10s., respectively. The soldier in question did not collect either the clothing or the cash. Would itbe correct to say that he is not now entitled to an additional amount to make the total equal to the payment made at the present time, because the additional sum cannot be paid retrospectively? In view of the statement of the right honorable gentleman that there had been an obvious miscarriage of justice, will he take steps to alter the policy so as to make the present practice apply retrospectively to those who did not collect either suits or payments prior to the alteration?
– I shall be glad to give sympathetic consideration to the representations of the honorable member.
– Has the Minister for the Army received the report on the Grovely camp inquiry? If so, is he able to make a statement to the House? Will he make the report available to honorable members?
– I have not yet received the report on the Wilson case from Mr. Justice Reid. When it comes to hand it will be made available without delay.
– Has the Minister for
Post-war Reconstruction seen the following newspaper report: -
The British Government has decided to switch over as soon as possible from the construction of temporary homes to permanent dwellings. The Minister for Works, Mr.. Duncan Sandys, said in the House of Commons that this was in the interests of economy and town-planning. Permanent dwellings could be built on normal sites and would not have to be pulled down in a few years.
If Great Britain, with its limited resources, can embark upon such a policy, will the Minister investigate the possibility of following its example? Also, in order to cope with the rush of homebuilding after the war, will he take steps to increase the production of materials used for building?
– I have not seen the newspaper announcement. I believe that very few temporary houses are being erected. The Department of Post-war Reconstruction has certain plans in hand to build up supplies of raw materials, but until considerably more man-power is available that will not be possible.
– As the Minister repre senting the Minister for Munitions is no doubt aware, rabbits are multiplying so rapidly that they are a dreadful menace to primary production. The annual ration of 25 cartridges to primary producers is inadequate. I ask the Minister whether, if it is not possible to provide sufficient cartridges to meet farmers’ requirements from local factories, he will arrange for the importation of supplies from the United States of America where, I understand, supplies are available? Importation has not been permitted hitherto.
– I recall that question being asked of the Minister for Munitions earlier this session, and he undertook to make an investigation. No doubt, his unfortunate accident has delayed the inquiry. However, I shall take it up and see what information is made available. I shall discuss with the Division of Import Procurement the possibility of getting supplies from the United States of America.
– As I understand that coal reserves in South Australia and Victoria are much improved, can the Minister for Transport say what are the prospects of an improved interstate railway service ?
– The whole subject of rail restrictions and the possibility of their relaxation is to be considered at the next meeting of the “War Railways Committee, after the House adjourns over Easter.
– I have just received from the wife of a serviceman in Melbourne a letter stating that she and her husband would like to adopt the four orphans of her sister and brother-in-law, who were recently killed in an air raid in Groat Britain, as the children have no other relatives in Great Britain. I know that the Prime Minister is interested in child migration, and I accordingly ask him to state the Government’s policy thereon and to say whether children available to come here for adoption will be included.
– Apart altogether from the general policy of migration, which can be made the subject of a statement in due course, the particular instance that the honorable gentleman has mentioned is one in which, I am quite sure, the best instincts of any government which Australia might have would be aroused. Arrangements can be made to bring those orphans to Australia for adoption by what I understand to be their only surviving relatives, 1 shall be mosthappy to do that. That reply applies to other instances of like nature. But the Government’s resources of shipping are limited and, as was indicated in general terms in the Governor-General’s Speech, I cannot foresee any early relief.
– Yesterday, the Melbourne Herald reported that at the annual conference of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Fathers Association in Melbourne, it was said that Italians and others, who had been released from internment camps, were permitted to return to their homes, farms and businesses in military areas, whilst Australians who entered those areas were liable to arrest and severe penalty. The conference demanded that Italians and other aliens, who had been released from internment camps, shall be prohibited from entering those areas for the duration of the war: What action does the AttorneyGeneral propose to take?
– Action to release persons from internment, whether they are of Italian origin or not, is taken by the Security Service. Each case is examined, and such matters as security risks, intelligence reports, and the needs of the community for food production are taken into consideration. In addition, the Aliens Committee makes a general recommendation to the Director-General of Security. Later, I- shall endeavour to give to the honorable gentleman a more detailed answer, but he may rest assured that the first consideration in all these matters is the preservation of the security of the country.
– It is alleged that Australians who entered those military areas were arrested.
– That may have occurred in particular instances. I shall have the whole matter examined.
– by leave - Yesterday, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked me a series of questions concerning the credentials, or letters, which were given by me to Mr.
Frank P. Goldberg, of New South Wales, on the eve of his departure for the United States of America. I answered the last question in the affirmative, and said that I would give consideration to the other questions that he addressed to me. When my colleague, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Beasley), returned to Australia last year, he made a press statement regarding the need for greater publicity for Australia in the United States of America. Mr. Goldberg, I understand, wrote to him saying that he was going to America on a business tour, and offering to assist the Government if his services could be of any value to the country. Mr. Goldberg was referred to me as the appropriate Minister, and, in due course, I met him in Sydney, on not more than two occasions. I did give two letters to him. The second was dated the 11th October, 1944, and was addressed,
To Whom It May Concern “. It reads -
Mr, Frank Goldberg, who is visiting the United States of America, has been invited by me to investigate means whereby greater publicity can be arranged between Australia and theUnited States, particularlyas it concerns trade possibilities, tourist traffic, migration and allied subjects. I would greatly appreciate any facilities made available” to Mr. Goldberg to enable him to advise me fully on these subjects when he returns to Australia.
That letter differs in no respect from the letter usually given to persons of repute who intend to travel abroad, and are anxious to help the Government of the day to discharge its responsibilities.
– But not to investigate matters!
– Mr. Goldberg had undertaken to investigate any matters at his own expense. He is probably the most important person in the publicity and advertising business in Australia.
– But did not the Minister authorize him to make investigations on behalf of the Government?
– As Minister for Information, I asked him to advise me. The letter he received differed in no way from letters given by Ministers of other departments to persons who intend to travel abroad. As a matter of fact, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) came to me last year, in company with the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), and said that they were contemplating a trip to America. They asked me to make facilities available to them in the New York office of the Department of Information so that they could make a lecture tour of the United States of America at their own expense in order to enlighten the American people on the importance of Australia’s war effort.
Mr.F adden. - Very generous of them !
– I told the honorable members that if they would give me an assurance that Australian domestic politics would not be introduced into their lectures they would have the advantage of the facilities of my department. I do not think that there was’ anything wrong in that attitude. The honorable gentlemen did not, however, make their contemplated trip abroad. Had they done so, they would have received a letter in terms much similar to those in the letter given to Mr. Goldberg.
The first letter to which I have referred was addressed to Mr. Goldberg personally, and with the consent of the House I shall incorporate it in Hansard -
Parliament House, Canberra, 30th September, 1944.
Dear Mr. Goldberg,
Confirming our discussions, I have great pleasure in inviting you. during your forthcoming visit to the United States and Canada, to investigate onmy behalf the use and availability of commercial advertising media in those countries for presenting in the post-war period the case of Australia in relation to tourist traffic, trade possibilities, migration advantages and allied subjects.
Through your long experience as the governing director of the Goldberg Advertising (Australia) Proprietary Limited in Australia and New Zealand, I realize that you will have affiliations in the United States and Canada that would enable you to make an expert survey of the different media, and advise in relation to the use that can be made of them for the purposes that I have mentioned above.
Our desire is not to assail people overseas with blatant propaganda of any type, but to seek channels through which we can breed a greater understanding of one another’s difficulties, and spread a greater’ knowledge of each other’s opportunities.
If you would prosecute your inquiries along such lines I am only too happy to request all those with whom you will be making contact to extend to you on my behalf their fullest co-operation and helpfulness.
I am requesting the Minister for External Affairs to ask the Legation at Washington to assist you in every way possible, and you can. of course, count on the co-operation of the officers of my own department abroad.
We realize that there is still a very big task to be accomplished in making known abroad Australia’s urgent need of greater population, the opportunities that it can offer to new citizens, the possibilities that our national post-war development will cater for a big expansion of our international trade, and the amazing and untapped resources of interest chat Australia can offer to tourists seeking relaxation from their ordinary normal spheres of activity.
In drafting our plans for spreading this knowledge I am looking forward on your return from your trip to a report that will, materially, assist by supplying me with factual information that we will require, and valuable advice that we will appreciate.
Again I thank you foryour valued cooperation, and trust that you will receive all the help you desire in the quarters where your inquiries will be made.
Minister for Information.
I have received from the DirectorGeneral of my department a. memorandum sent to him by Mr. David W. Bailey, director of the Australian News and Information Bureau, 610 Fifth avenue, New York, concerning Mr. Goldberg. It is dated the 19th February, and reads -
Mr. Frank Goldberg advises me that he has received a letter, a copy of which is attached, from the reporter of the Los Angeles Times who interviewed him, and who attributed to him statements which Mr. Goldberg has denied.
For the record, it should be stated that Mr. Goldberg, since his arrival in New York, has made no statements likely to embarrass the Australian Government or Australia’s interests in the United States, nor has he, to my knowledge, represented himself as having any authority from or association with, the Australian Government.
En view of the statements which have been made about Mr. Goldberg’s alleged utterance, which I said in the House last week I regarded as false, I bring to the notice of honorable members, also, the letter written by the reporter of the Los Angeles Times who interviewed Mr. Goldberg, and referred to in Mr. Bailey’s statement. It is addressed to Mr. Goldberg, and reads -
Press Room, Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles1 3, 12th February, 1945.
My dear Mr. Goldberg,
At your request I enclose some extra clips of the denial the Los Angeles Times ran as a result of the unfortunate interview when you were here, 18th December.
This story is of about the same space as the original one and got good position, so I am sure it was seen.
Personally I very much regret the disturbance that this innocent, and intended good natured, piece has caused.
When you told me about Australian slang apropos what we were talking about (new chum, &c.) I assumed that you would not object to having it put in your mouth.
After all it is my job to make an attractive story, and it is the differences, not the similarities, that makes those of one nationality interested in another.
You certainly are a good booster for Australia, and I was trying to make youa picturesque one.
Timothy G. Turner.
Mr. Frank Goldberg, Barclay Hotel, New York City.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether or not there is a government practice which obliges all persons desiring to be furnished with credentials when intending to leave Australia, to place the request for them before the head of the Government? Does not this matter impinge upon the relationships that exist between Australia and other countries, in that citizens who carry official credentials may be provided with opportunities to see things which otherwise would not be accorded to them? Consequently, may not poor “ Timothy “ be working overtime in preparing apologies?
– Persons proposing to visit other countries do not always ask for credentials from the head of the Government. Many persons have left Australia without bothering the head of the Government for a credential of any description. Those persons who apply for what are known as the official credentials - which the Prime Minister signs and which, as the honorable gentleman knows, have attached to them a red seal - have to be recommended to me by a Minister of State. Before issuing such credentials, I should have to be satisfied that they were engaged on work that is essential to the conduct of the Australian war effort. Persons proposing to go abroad for personal reasons associated with their businesses, and whose departure had been approved on the ground that their absence from Australia for some time would not impair the war effort, could, perhaps, get a letter of recommendation even from the honorable gentleman to a personal friend in the country which they intended to visit.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture explain why the prices paid in Tasmania for fat lambs for export to the United. Kingdom are approximately l1/4d. per lb. less than those paid in New Zealand for lambs of comparable quality?
– The matter is one for determination by the Government of the United Kingdom.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether or not the Government has yet determined its policy in relation to the financial proposals agreed upon at the conference held at Bretton Woods? If it has, does it propose to have a debate upon the matter in the Parliament; if so, on what date?
-Cabinet received the report of the Australian representatives at Bretton Woods, all of whom were officials, and came to no decision at the time other than to place the recommendations and the report before the House. No ratification of the agreement reached at Bretton Woods has yet been made by any of the 45 countries that were represented, at the conference.
– I understand from broadcast announcements that aircraft are tobe used to visit various towns throughout Australia as a part of the advertising campaign in support of the Third Victory Loan. Will the Treasurer ensure that Tasmania shall not he neglected in this respect?
– I shall make inquiries so as to ascertain whether or not Tasmania has any cause for complaint, and shall certainly ensure that that very important State shall receive every consideration in the matter of advertising in support of the Third Victory Loan.
– On the 28th February last, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs a question regarding the seizure of American cigarettes by officers of the Department of Trade and Customs at Sydney. In a reply that I have received to-day, it is admitted that American cigarettes seized by the department had been sold, and it is stated that probably they had been brought to Australia from Pacific Islands by American servicemen. As American citizens are experiencing a shortage of cigarettes in order that their fighting forces may obtain the supplies that they need, will the right honorable gentleman accede to the request of the American provost-marshal that the proceeds of sales shall be handed to him, together with any cigarettes seized in future, in order that they may reach American soldiers who are fighting in the Pacific - the destination for which they were intended.
– The honorable gentleman will notice that the last paragraph of the letter stated -
Recently, however, an assurance was given to the United States provost officers that no more seized American cigarettes will be sold by the Department of Trade and Customs pending further consultation with those officers.
The points now raised by the honorable member will be brought to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen the twelfth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which contains a reference to the failure of the Attorney-General - or of the Government on the recommendation of the Attorney-General - to bring down legislation, which would enable the commission to arbitrate compulsorily with the Australasian Performing Right Association, which, according to the commission, has overcharged the Australian public by £17,000 a year?
– That never happened in your day!
– There was no Broadcasting Committee in my day to make recommendations. I refer the Attorney-General to the following passage in the commission’s report -
This question was considered by the Standing Committee, which, after being assured by the honorable the Attorney-General, Dr. H. V. Evatt, that there was no constitutional bar to the proposed amendment, recommended, in February, 1943, that “ legislation be introduced as soon as possible to give effect to the recommendation in the Gibson Report “.
Despite repeated representations by the commission since then, no action has yet been taken.
– The impression created by the honorable member - quite unintentionally. I am sure - is misleading. The Australian Broadcasting Commission asked me to attend a meeting to discuss whether it would be constitutional for Parliament to pass legislation, to provide for the compulsory determination of a fair charge to be paid by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and other broadcasting bodies, to the owners of performing rights. I spent a considerable time in research for the benefit of the committee, then attended the meeting and gave it my advice. There my responsibility ended. The recommendation of the Broadcasting Committee has been brought before Parliament, and it is now for Parliament to determine what action is to be taken.
– It is for the Government to decide.
– Yes, and for Parliament also. My function- was to advise the committee, and that I did.
– Will the Prime Minister give effect as soon as possible to the recommendation of the Broadcasting Committee in February, 1943, that legislation bc introduced to empower the Australian Broadcasting Commission to compel the Australasian Performing Right Association to arbitrate on the matter of fees payable by the Australian Broadcasting Commission ?
– It would be difficult for any one to display less energy in this matter than have the heads of previous governments. A joint committee of this Parliament conducted an inquiry into what are known as the rights - whatever they are - of the Australasian Performing Right Association. I remind honorable members that others besides the Australian Broadcasting Commission are affected by the charges imposed by the association.
– Was not the matter referred to arbitration four or five years ago?
– Yes. Picture theatre proprietors, cafe proprietors and a good many other people still have grievances against the association of the kind specified in the report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I shall have the matter looked into. I do not undertake at this stage to remedy every grievance which everybody in Australia professes to have.
Return of Planters’ Families
– Can the Minister for External Territories say when the wives and, families of planters will be allowed to return to Papua? When will the inquiry by Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C., be completed, and when is it expected that his report will be in the hands of the Government? Will the report ‘be presented to Parliament ?
– The report of Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C., will be in the possession of the department within a few days. Applications from the wives of planters for permission to return, to Papua are now being dealt with by the department. A general statement regarding the restoration of civil administration in Papua will be made shortly.
– Is it a fact that, following an invitation by the Minister for Information to Italians in Australia to become good citizens of their country of adoption, II Risveglio, printed in Sydney, stated that an important .part of the task o.f the movement it claimed to represent was to help Italian workers to defend their rights, as, for instance, in the struggle to obtain equality of pay and treatment between Italian and Australian workers employed in the Civil Constructional Corps, thus carrying out Mr. Calwell’ s advice in a practical way?
Does the Attorney-General subscribe to those views, and as three-quarters of this newspaper’s letterpress is printed in Italian, with certain of its articles, including that about the Minister, in English, will he consider the danger to national security of newspapers in certain foreign languages circulating in Australia, and prohibit their publication unless printed wholly in English?
– Newspapers may not be printed in Australia in a foreign language except by permission of the Government, which is given on the recommendation of the Security Service. Therefore, the newspaper Il Risveglio must have received such permission. The rest of the honorable member’s question I shall refer to the Minister for Information.
Debate resumed from the 7th March (vide page 408), on motion by Mr. Fraser -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Royal Highness the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
May it please Your Royal 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.
. -I echo the words of welcome to Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester uttered by the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply and those who have followed them in this debate. I hope that during His Royal Highness’s occupancy of the GovernorGeneralship of the Commonwealth of Australia, he and his wife will be privileged to see at first hand a large part of our great country. My special interest as Leader of the Australian Country party is that they shall gain a close acquaintance with our rural industries.
The Governor-General’s Speech was not only long and comprehensive, but also historic inasmuch as it was read by a brother of His Majesty the King. The
Speech dealt with not only the war situation but also, at very great length, the domestic policy of the Government. Emphasis was laid on the intention of the Government this session to implement the fundamental plank of the Labour party platform, namely, “ socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange “. That must lead Australians to believe that the war is so nearly over and the situation, has so improved as to enable diversion from an all-in war effort to matters of political importance to the Government, which, by their very nature, demand that they shall be postponed at all events until after the next general elections. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has emphasized more than once that the war against Japan will last for at least another two years. Before the expiration of that period the people will be asked to decide who shall occupy the treasury bench. Matters of domestic policy can be best decided after one side or the other has been given , a mandate by the people. It is important that we should recall that even though the tide of war has fortunately turned in our favour in the SouthWest Pacific through the gallantry, strength, and fitness of our forces, the Japanese still possess powerful forces to be reckoned with. Only last week we heard the following statement broadcast over the national network: -
The United States War Production Board has issued a warning that the Japanese Army is still numerically as large as the German Army was at its peak. It claims that the American Army Air Force must be completely re-equipped for the final battle of the Pacific.
I have listened with interest to this debate and the many points made therein ‘by honorable members. The fact must be faced that there is a good deal of uneasiness and frustration, even though it may be the result of misapprehension, about the part that our fighting men are playing in this world Avar, particularly in the South-West Pacific. There is much misapprehension because the public cannot be told just what the circumstances are; but the fact remains that great numbers of our men have been in camp for three years, many of them having gone into the forces straight from school, in a state of idleness. They are writing to their people telling them of their idleness, and, consequently, there is much discontent. Without exaggeration I can say that 1 have received hundreds of letters from dairy-farmers and other industrialists claiming that if our men are not required to fight they should be demobilized and returned to industry, particularly primary industry, in order that they might make a more tangible contribution to the campaign. That is the physical picture of inactivity or unwise employment of our fighting forces. There is another picture, and, within the limits of security, I desire to make a few observations thereon. It must be remembered that the Australian Army was assigned to General MacArthur, who, in turn, was given a directive, as to the use to which our forces should be put in the vast policy of the Allies. That, directive was approved by the leaders of five governments, including the Prime Minister of Australia, arid defined a theatre of war which became known as the South-West Pacific Area. The whole of the Australian Army is under the control of General MacArthur. Therefore, any extension of that directive is not the sole responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. Any modification or alteration of the directive can be made only with the agreement of the five governments that are parties to it.
A good deal of the misunderstanding which exists regarding the deployment of our forces is partly attributable to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) himself. On the 7th December, 1944, in a sixteen-page booklet entitled Target for 1945, the right honorable gentleman recalled that he had declared in Parliament last November that Australian land and air forces would play a full part in the Philippines operations. He proceeded -
There will be some spectacular campaigns and some less spectacular work. The Philippines was a spectacular job. The mopping up of Japanese armies in and around New Guinea may be less spectacular but just as necessary.
It was unfortunate that the Minister described the role assigned to Australian troops as “ mopping-up “ operations. The facts show that 90,000 by-passed Japanese are in New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomons. Apart from them, 150,000 other Japanese have been by-passed in the general advance. . Far from being a mopping-up campaign, the defeat of 250,000 well-trained and well-equipped Japanese will require a major effort. Approximately 100,000 of them are at Australia’s front door. They have dug themselves in. They are not, as most people appear to believe, scattered groups of men. Undoubtedly, they are isolated, and face great difficulty in obtaining supplies, but the fact, remains that until they are liquidated, we are unable to reconstruct New Guinea and adjacent territories. Nor can we carry out our obligation to retake Rabaul and liberate the Australians who were cut off there. The longer the Japanese are allowed to entrench themselves in New Guinea, the greater will their influence over the native population become, and our difficulties will be immeasurably increased in the future. Hearing some people talk, one could be pardoned for thinking that there is no theatre of war in which Australian forces may be employed. Within the limits imposed by the requirements of security, I shall make a few observations.
The Minister for the Army stated that Australian land and air forces would play a full part in the Philippine operations. That was the original plan. Certain Australian forces were to be made available to General MacArthur when he attacked the Philippines. In fact, he asked for them. The plans were completed, and the Austraiian troops were ready to embark. They had not been allotted a secondary role. They were to attack a certain area at a certain time. Happily, the American army, navy and air force were strengthened, and Japanese resistance was less formidable than had been expected. The fortunate result was that the American campaign in the Philippines proceeded successfully, with less loss of life and greater expedition than had been hoped. One fact which the House must not overlook is that the Philippines belong to the United States of America. When the Japanese attacked, the Americans were driven out of the Philippines. The Americans regarded it as their first responsibility to retake the islands, and Australian forces were to be identified with the campaign. Does any one regret that there was not a great loss of Australian lives in recapturing the Philippines?
The turn of events that prevented Australian troops from participating in the Philippines campaign was indeed fortunate and should be so regarded. But the troops who were to have engaged in those operations have since been unemployed. For too long have they contemplated the Queensland landscape. Long before this they should have been given the task of liquidating the Japanese in New Guinea in order to make it secure. I do not profess to be a military expert, but as a layman and . an observer, I contend that these troops should now be effectively employed in battle areas, or should be demobilized for the purpose of returning to industry, particularly the hard-pressed rural industries. The Japanese occupy some strategic bases within the area defined in General MacArthur’s directive, such as Borneo, Sumatra and other islands which are important jumping-off places for a campaign in Malaya or China. Much has been said about our obligations in Malaya. Those obligations are known and accepted. Quite contrary to the general belief abroad, the Commonwealth Government has not been asked to send Australian troops outside the theatre denned in General MacArthur’s directive. Certain new arrangements will be made for their employment as the war develops. For security reasons, I am not able to refer to them. But I believe that the strength of the Australian Army should be re-examined and, if possible, men should be released so that they might return to industries in which their services are urgently required. The Government cannot have it both ways. It cannot allow men who were intended for the Philippines campaign to remain unemployed, with the consequent waste of all their training. It should either use them in war operations elsewhere or make them available to the man-power pool for employment in essential civil industries.
On the information available to me I nsk the Australian people in general to hp patient in this regard.
– Would the right honorable gentleman say that when our obligations in our own area have been met our men should be demobilized?
– I would not say thai. When America entered the war certain definitions of spheres of operations were agreed to. Australia was to become the arsenal, the jumping-off ground, the storehouse, and the larder for the United Nations, especially in the south-west Pacific. I wonder, sometimes, whether we have not seriously neglected the obligation that rests upon us to provide foodstuffs for the fighting services of the Allied Nations, and the people of the United Kingdom. It may be that we have pui too many men into uniform and that the services of all of them are not now required in the lighting forces. This subject is under constant review by the Advisory War Council and in dealing with it the Government must be guided by the opinions of its military advisers and experts, having regard to the fact that the directive given to General MacArthur was based upon the views of the representatives of five United Nations.
I consider, however, that the Government has laid itself open to serious criticism because it is now seeking to implement a considerable part of its domestic socialization policy. Unfortunately, the opinion has been created in the minds of many people that all is well, that peace is practically with us, and that we may look forward to living in Utopia in the near future. It should be remembered, however, that, in the opinion of persons best qualified to judge, the war will not end for another two years. Before the expiry of that time general elections will have been held. The Government should, therefore, be devoting the whole of its attention to the maintenance of a 100 per cent, war effort, particularly against Japan. It will be time enough for honorable gentlemen opposite to think about their fantastic domestic policy after victory has been achieved. Until the waT ends we should confine ourselves to th, maintenance of the war effort.
It appears, however, that the Government intends to proceed with its policy of socializing interstate airways and banking. As more appropriate opportunities will be available at a later stage to discuss these socialistic projects, I shall content myself, at the moment with saying that such legislation should be deferred at least until the end of the war. Our principal concern at the moment should undoubtedly be the defeat of Germany and Japan, and domestic politics should- be relegated to the background.
I wish now to consider our rural and food-producing industries in relation to the home front. We must constantly keep in mind our obligations to the Mother Country, to the other nations allied with us in this great struggle, and to the starving millions of the world, who, obviously, will make heavy demands on us when peace has been happily achieved. These obligations require the most earnest attention to food production, though we cannot afford to disregard the need to provide shelter for our own people. Our ability to discharge our obligations in respect of both food and shelter is limited by the man-power that is available to us.
I listened with very deep interest to the speech of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser), who moved the adoption of the AddressinReply. The impression that I gained from the honorable gentleman’s speech was that, whilst he regarded himself as a staunch advocate of rural industries, he considered that the future stability of rural life in Australia was bound up with the Government’s socialization policy. The honorable member makes no secret of his advocacy of the socialization . of industries, for, in a broadcast on the 24th November ‘last, he predicted an extensive programme of legislation involving government control of industries, and declared, “ The fight is on “. I suggest to him that rural producers have no interest whatever in anything to do with socialism and that they will indicate this when he next seeks their suffrages. Whilst I heartily endorse the honorable gentleman’s observation that primary industries are of the utmost importance to the welfare of Australia, I am of the opinion that the persons engaged in these industries should be enabled to maintain their operations and take their rightful part in national post-war rehabilitation without becoming involved in the socialization policy of the Government. It was a surprise to me that, although the honorable member has consistently and frequently criticized the Government for its lack of realism in connexion with rural industries, he did not voice those views in his AddressinReply speech.
In considering the position on the home front, regard must be had to manpower. According to figures compiled by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, the number of male wage and- salary earners in rural industries in Australia varied from July, 1939, to March, 1944, as follows: -
That is the latest total that is available to me. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) stated in November last that in June, 1944, our rural industries had less than 75 per cent, of their postwar labour force available to them, despite the fact that since October, 1943, between 18,000 and 20,000 additional men have been released. The right honorable gentleman went on to say that during 1944-45, 21,000 additional men, including 8,000 for dairying, and 500 women, would be restored to food production. According to official figures, 57,4S8 discharged service male personnel were returned to industry between November, 1943, and the 30th September last. Of that number, 5,338 were returned to the dairying industry and 13,404 to other rural industries, a total of 18,742. Thus it will be seen that, of the service personnel restored to industry, rural industries received about one in three. The result has been disastrous; there is physical evidence of it everywhere, in the deterioration of the amenities in the countryside and in the productivity of the nation. The production of butter declined in 1943 to 157,498 tens, the lowest output since 1930-31. A departmental statement published in the press last Tuesday mentioned that the cheque this season for Australia’s exports of butter is expected to amount to £7,000,000, compared with nearly £16,000,000 in 1939-40. The exports of butter for the first half of this season totalled 25,000 tons. It is expected that the shipments for the twelve months will total nearly 50,000 tons, of which, it is stated, 45,000 tons will be taken by the British Ministry of Food. Prior to the war, Australia exported annually more than 100,000 tons of butter to Britain and moderate quantities to other countries. I admit that the cold statement of those figures is not quite fair, for there are difficulties in connexion with the export of our butter, transportation being a major one. Nevertheless, the figures demonstrate the decline of production. In the wheat industry, the decline has been of disastrous dimensions, and is likely to menace the future stability and economic equilibrium of this country. Fodder crops have declined considerably. The agricultural acreage has reached a dangerously low level, the decline since 1939 having been 30 per cent. Meat has been further rationed. All of these facts are linked with the unbalanced man-power policy of the Government. Altogether too much regard has been paid to the secondary industries. I emphasize the essential need to divert attention from artificial secondary industries that have been built up under war emergency, to the maintenance and expansion of our great rural industries, particularly our export industries, at whose expense those secondary industries have thrived. There is an acute shortage of seed oats in Queensland, and this will seriously curtail production next year. The Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales has informed me, through the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, that he will not permit seed oats to be moved from New South Wales to Queensland. The Commonwealth Transport Department has refused permission for the haulage of oats, oaten hay and chaff from the Riverina to Queensland, despite the fact that that State has supplied many hundreds of tons of lucerne hay and chaff for the feeding of dairy herds in the metropolitan area of Sydney and for starving stock in other centres through New South Wales.
I also emphasize the unsympathetic treatment that has been meted out to the farm machinery industry of this country. One of the biggest farm implement manufacturers has written to me in these terms -
Food production goals for 1944-45 were presumably set to take care of the estimated needs of the armed services and civilians. Drought and lack of man-power will prevent the achievement of those goals at a time when Australia has assumed the additional responsibility of supplying, in some degree, the food for the forces diverted by England for service in the Pacific.
The output of machinery for food production fell far short of the need in 1044, and the need was large, despite the widespread drought. Manufacturers of agricultural machinery face 1945 with the certainty that, only if adequate man-power is made available, can they discharge their obligations to the food production programme. Repeated efforts to secure man-power have been met with sympathetic response from the DirectorGeneral of Man Power, his deputy and others, but the man-power is not forthcoming.
The plant and materials are available - where are the men?
An increase from 44 hours - reported to be the hours worked weekly in Government munitions establishments in and around Melbourne - to 48 each week should free one-twelfth of the operatives for other work. [Extension of time granted.]
The whole edifice of rural life and activity has been disturbed. The position in regard to man-power is disastrous, and is quite out of proportion to our obligations at home and abroad. Difficulties have been aggravated by the shortage of equipment, particularlyof farm machinery. There must be a re-survey of the fiscal policy. Only by this means can rural industries be enabled to assist the nation, not only during the war but also in the post-war period. There are prospects of a good season in Queensland, and the wisdom of spreading equitably the available supply of seed oats throughout Australia is obvious. The effects of drought would then be overcome largely, because the failure of crops in some areas would be counterbalanced by the production in other areas that had been affected to a less degree. A case in point is the production of wheat, which in Queensland was highly satisfactory last season, notwithstanding the failure of the crop in many other areas throughout Australia. Consequently, I urge the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to take steps which will ensure an equitable distribution of the available supply of seed oats throughout each State, particularly in Queensland. I have been informed that the oat, barley and lucerne crops are likely to he affected disastrously in Queensland after the coming season, and that in consequence there will be an undue strain on the already depleted Australian wheat crop. Another matter which in the future will be of serious concern to the primary industries, and consequently to war production, is the refusal of permits to stock-breeders to purchase bran and. pollard. As it is impossible to import blood stock from the United Kingdom and other sources, the quality of the beef produced for the .naval and military forces must be maintained by careful husbanding of. the blood stock already in this country. If it be allowed to decline through inability to obtain the necessary feed, the position will become most serious. It is a condition of the lease from the Crown of one station property that has been brought to my notice, that at least 200 herd bulls shall be produced annually. For this purpose, thirteen stud bulls were acquired at a cost of £3,000. An admixture of bran and pollard is needed to balance the other fodder fed to this stock; yet permission to obtain these commodities for this purpose has been refused! Inevitably, the quality of Queensland beef will deteriorate seriously if this attitude be not changed. These are but a few instances of the disabilities from which rural industries in Queensland are suffering.
In order to demonstrate the importance of Queensland in primary production, I shall quote from a report of the State Employment Council. According to that report, it was estimated that 6,600 Queensland employers and 21,500 employees produced wool for at least 10,000,000 consumers and meat for 3,750,000 consumers in the year 193S-39. In the dairying industry, 29,400 employers and 23, SOO employees raised dairy products for 4,300,000 consumers ; and in the sugar industry 7,800 employers and 17,200 employees produced sugar for 15,000,000 consumers. In all other Queensland products, 22,700 employers and 54,500 employees were needed to produce for substantially less than 1,000,000 consumers. Those figures are somewhat out of date, and my only reason for giving them is to stress the importance of husbanding the great rural industries of this country, because what is happening in Queensland will be repeated in the other major rural producing States of the Commonwealth. The report contains other exceedingly pertinent observations; for example -
It WaS estimated that at present 30,000 fewer persons were engaged in rural production in Queensland than would have been the case had the Avar not intervened.
In other words, the war has drawn 30,000 persons from the countryside to the capital cities. That is a very important observation, and it provides striking evidence in support of the declaration repeatedly made by Queensland members on this side of the House that, because of the bungling of manpower by the Government, injustices have been done to the northern State, the effects of which have been felt throughout Australia, because our great rural industries have been reduced to a very dangerous condition. The report contains this further statement -
Assuming, however, that by an unparalleled feat of .economic organization in the immediate post-war period, occupations for the above number were found in secondary production (other than processing rural products) and in service and distributive industries, over £10,000,000 capital would be required for the necessary factories, apart from the management, artisan and selling skills required, and the obtaining of raw materials and markets.
The point that I make is, that it is useless to build up artificial secondary industries at the expense of the great rural industries. Our idle land should he put to use before there is further investment in secondary industries, particularly if those industries are artificial and unnatural, and have been established specifically for the purpose of attracting population to the cities. A sound postwar future for our primary industries is obviously a matter of front-rank importance if financial stability is to be maintained. In this connexion, it is interesting to recall some pertinent observations published in the Queensland Economic News for May, 1944-
Complete industrial self-sufficiency for Australia would mean reducing the agricultural and pastoral population of Australia to about half of its 1930 level. It -would mean the disappearance, not only of farming population, but also of many of the country towns which are in economic equilibrium with the farming population. It would mean a wholesale de-population of Queensland and Western Australia, and still further concentration of population in Melbourne and Sydney. [ cite instances from Queensland because it is only from there that I can obtain the facts which bear out ray argument. A further interesting observation published in the Economic News, one which I suggest the Government would do well to heed, is - Ve should indeed make careful provision for enough secondary and service industries to provide full employment for our increasing population, but our policy should be the steady and systematic development of those industries which are natural to the country, rather than a hasty rush into industries of mi artificial or premature kind.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Eraser) spoke of the need to remove what he described a? “ the power of monopolies, which throttle the small business man and farmer “. I have something to say concerning the monopoly of the powerful industrial unions which dictate the policy of the party to which the honorable member belongs. These unions have used their bargaining power to get more for themselves, even though this has meant less for others - principally for the farming ‘community. The wages paid to industrial labour are reflected in the skyrocket prices which farmers have to pay for the products of secondary industry, and they must either buy those products or give up farming. Beca.use they have to pay such high prices their standard of living falls, seeing that the prices which they receive for their own produce have risen but little. For instance, dairyfarmers who supplied a butter factory in New South Wales in 1944 received for L lb. of butter-fat about 25 per cent, more than suppliers obtained in 1914. On the face of it, that might appear to be encouraging, yet in the intervening period prices of city-made articles indispensable to the farmer rose by over 175 per cent., and they paid for those articles out of a relatively lower income. Graziers, in 1913, received an average of 9.33d. per lb. for their wool, and in 1939 the average price was 10.75d. - a rise of 15 per cent.; but in the meantime the price of woolpacks rose 38 per cent.; number 8 black wire, 92 per cent.; axes, 162.5 per cent. ; and boots, no less than by 218 per cent. Since 1939, the price of manufactured goods has risen much more proportionately than has the price of wool. The freight on greasy wool from Charleville to Roma station increased 32 per cent between 1914 and 1938. Is it any wonder that farmers believe that they are not getting a fair deal?
While industrial workers have been getting more and more out of the national income, rural producers have been getting less and less. Actually, the position of primary producers as a body has never been more unsatisfactory, and unless something be done to remedy the situation widespread bankruptcy must result. Many people are under the impression tha.t the farming community is doing well under war conditions, but that is not so. It is only necessary to travel through the country in order to see how neglected fences are falling down, blackberry and other noxious weeds are getting possession of the land, and rabbits are increasing - all because farmers have had to postpone the work of maintenance and improvement on account of a shortage of labour and materials. Such prosperity as the farmers are enjoying is a false prosperity, in that they are living on funds which would ordinarily be used for the maintenance of their properties, On the productivity of their properties depends the real wealth of Australia.
Prices of Australian factory products rose from an index figure of 1,700 in 1927 to 2,420 by the middle of 1943, but over the same period the prices of farm products fell from an index figure of 1,900 to 1,550. This means, in terms of human effort, that primary producers are getting less and less for each ounce of energy which they put into farming. [Further extension of time granted.^ Furthermore, when the city industrial worker bought farm products in 1914, each £1 of his money had a purchasing power of 20s., but by 1943, his £1 was actually worth 25s. 9d. However, when the farmer, in 1943, bought factory products, his £1 had a purchasing power of o’.dy 13s., whereas it had been worth 20s. In 19.14. These figures are indisputable.
They are not mine, but were collected and collated for me by eminent statisticians.
It is obvious that this position must he Corrected if rural producers are to receive justice. It cannot be permanently corrected by the payment of subsidies or by schemes of artificial stabilization. Such measures are palliatives, not permanent remedies. In order to stabilize conditions permanently, and enable Australia to take its place in the export markets of the world, we must get more for our products, and produce them at less cost. I do not want to be misunderstood. I do not stand for low wages, nor does any member of the Country party, but we must remember that there is such a thing as a low return for wages paid. We must get more production for the money paid in wages. Only in that way can we put Australia in a position to compete on the markets of the world, sell our exportable surplus in order to maintain economic equilibrium, and keep us out of the international bankruptcy court.
.- I associate myself with the expressions of loyalty and welcome extended to. Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester by the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. The Speech delivered by the Governor-General contains a summary of the legislation which the Government proposes to introduce into Parliament this session. Most of it is long overdue, and I, as a supporter of the Government, welcome it. I am sure that all honorable members were impressed with the Speech of the Governor-General, particularly with that part which referred to the progress of the war. All honorable members will join with the GovernorGeneral in wishing for an early cessation of hostilities on all fronts.
I do not intend at this stage to discuss the merits of the legislation mentioned in the Speech of the Governor-General, but I avail myself of this opportunity to mention some of the major problems which confront Australia. I was disappointed at the failure of the recent referendum designed to bestow increased legislative powers of the National Parliament. I sincerely believe that the development of this vast country is beyond the capacity of the State governments. I have in mind particularly the State of Western Australia, which has a population of 480,000. It is the largest State in the Commonwealth, rich in natural resources, many of which have as yet been hardly touched. Western Australia produces 70 per cent, of the gold won in Australia, notwithstanding the fact that only the richer and more accessible fields are now being worked. Many good fields, because of their isolation, or because of the lack of facilities, had been abandoned even before the outbreak of war. It has been estimated by persons in a position to know that the gold-mining industry of Western Australia, could, if properly developed, support twice the population which it supported before the war. I appreciate the fact that this Government has already appointed a mining panel to investigate the possibility of further development, and I look forward eagerly to its report and recommendations. Some critics have suggested that there was no need for the appointment of such a panel, but I do not agree with them. I believe that it should inquire into such matters as housing and other amenities which affect the health of the miner and his family. Previously, such things were sadly neglected. The health of the miner and his family were not adequately safeguarded by laws and regulations, which were concerned only with underground conditions. Proper housing, and adequate water supply and sanitation are essential to the health of any community. Whilst steps to safeguard the health of miners have been taken by State governments the incidence of industrial disease is still very high. I believe that uniform legislation applying to the whole Commonwealth should be passed to provide for the payment of adequate compensation to miners whose health has been affected by their occupation. Whilst I admit that no measure of compensation can adequately repay the mine-worker whose health is affected by industrial diseases which, in, the best of circumstances, are inseparable from mining, the most modern methods of mining hygiene and ventilation have failed to obviate entirely the effects of dust, gases and humidity on the health of the mineworkers. Improvements made in some sections in the past have done much to reduce the incidence of industrial diseases. The worst of these are tuberculosis and silicosis which, when contracted by the mine worker, either together, as they often are, or separately in varying degrees, lower his resistance to the contraction of the more common ailments such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma.
In a report dated the 30th March, 1944, the Government Actuary of “Western Australia, Mr. S. Bennett, gave the results of an actuarial examination of the Mine Workers Relief Fund. This fund is contributory, employers, employees and the Government contributing equally. It supplements workers’ compensation benefits, mainly when the amount provided by the law is exhausted. The actuary’s investigation covered a period of eight years from the 1st February, 1935, to the 31st January, 1943. Experience showed that mine-workers with tuberculosis plus silicosis, or silicosis in the advanced stage, commenced to receive benefits at the age of 58 years on the average. That would make the average age of prohibition or notification about 54 years. Mine-workers found to be suffering from tuberculosis only could draw directly on the fund, and the average age at which benefits commenced for these cases was 40 years. Therefore, there is great need for uniformity in mining regulations throughout the Commonwealth. The highest standard achieved in mining in any part of any State might well be required as the rninimum in every part of all of them. That the fixing of a standard for all may present difficulties is admitted, but at least mining regulations could be uniform, consistent with differences inseparable from methods of mining and the nature of the deposits worked.
Since my entry into this Parliament, I have made repeated efforts to have the beneficiaries of the Mine Workers’ Relief Fund in Western Australia, namely, men who are suffering from tuberculosis ‘and silicosis, exempt from the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act restrictions. Under the existing conditions, despite the fact that these men have contributed to the Mine Workers’ Relief Fund throughout their working life, they are entitled to draw only 12s. 6d. a week, plus the oldage or invalid pension. I have stated time and time again that the major portion of their aggregate pension is expended in the purchase of medicines and have claimed that they are not comparable with ether pensioners suffering from this dreadful disease. I take this opportunity to make a further appeal to the Government to amend the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act in order to provide for exemption of people suffering from these diseases. The Commonwealth would lose nothing by this amendment, but these unfortunate people would then be able to» draw the full-pension from the Commonwealth which would be subsidized to thesame amount by the Mine Workers’ Relief Fund. I concede that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act will provide some amelioration of the circumstances of these diseaseridden men, but that will be insufficient, and the Government should act in the way I have suggested at the earliest possible moment.
In addition to gold-mining, the base metal industry offers a wide range of development.. Practically every material of any consequence used in the production of steel is in abundance, as are also asbestos and mica. There is also a large area of coal-bearing country known as the Irwin and Eradu field, and, despite the knowledge of its existence for over half a century, no real effort has been made that could be claimed to be a genuine test of this field. A few men with inadequate equipment have, from time to time, done prospecting work and have produced coal. In fact, at the present time, a few men are operating there, and I suggest that this is an opportune time for the Commonwealth Government to get behind this effort with both finance and equipment to ensure a thorough investigation. The development of this field would, have a far-reaching effect on a very large and valuable production area. Power could, be generated for the establishment of secondary industries which would develop as a matter of course. Adjacent to this seam are the well-known Tallerang iron ore deposits for the problem of the development of which the working of, this coal seam would provide a solution. These activities would be in accordance with the policy of decentralization referred to in the Speech of His Royal Highness, a policy which I have never ceased to advocate. I have seen the fallacy of the centralized policy adopted and supported by vested interests; it has resulted in our cities prospering at the expense of country towns. Trade is diverted from its natural avenue despite the expense and efforts of State governments to prevent that. I could give specific instances, as I have done on other occasions in this House when dealing with the claims of, the ports of Geraldton and Esperance, and I sincerely hope that the Government will show its determination in connexion with its policy of decentralization, as it is only by such means that our hinterland can be built up, and the nation properly developed. The Government must turn its attention to the undeveloped portion of this country, and, in the rehabilitation of our servicemen, an excellent opportunity will be afforded to show what really can be done. We should benefit by the experience gained in the bungling associated with the settlement of our returned soldiers after the last war, and should see that before settlement takes place such necessary amenities as water, transport and housing have been provided. There is ample room for settlement of a very large population in our far-northern areas. I refer to the Kimberley districts where the State Government has already taken the initiative in its support of a scheme propounded by Mr. R. j. Dumas for the -.construction on the Ord River of a huge dam which, it is estimated, will have a storage capacity of ‘2,000,000 acre-feet of water. When it is realized that the capacity of the Hume Reservoir is 1,250,000 acre feet, honorable members will appreciate the magnitude of this undertaking. Recent surveys disclose that there is 150,000 acres of land suitable for irrigation adjacent to this dam site, land which, in my opinion, would compare favorably with the land of the northern rivers in Queensland. I have travelled over both areas, and say, without hesitation, that the land in the Kimberleys is equal to the best I have seen in the northern parts of any of our States. There has been an effort to decry the climatic conditions of the Kimberleys, but such critics are without practical knowledge to support their claim. As in all tropical countries, dengue fever and malaria are not unknown, but neither is considered a major disease, and, for very many years, there has been no epidemic of malaria. I claim that living conditions are largely responsible for these outbreaks. I remember that in the early days, shearers would, season after season, contract this disease, but with the passing of the Shearers’ Hut Accommodation Act, under which housing conditions were improved, rarely, if ever, did shearers contract this complaint. As this improvement was effected in the shearing industry, it can be reasonably argued that, with proper living and housing conditions, malaria can be avoided. That there is scope for a large increase of the population . in that area, and an improvement of the cattle trade will not be denied, and I look forward to the successful settlement of this province with great interest. The engineer in charge of the vast undertaking is most enthusiastic about its success, and’ I hope and trust that the conservation of water in the Kimberleys will be the forerunner to many schemes of a similar character throughout the Commonwealth. Year after year, we see our rivers in flood. Water could be conserved that is wasting into the sea. Within the last six weeks the Gascoyne River almost flooded the town of Carnarvon out of existence. It is estimated that over £30,000 damage was done to the banana plantation on the banks of the Gascoyne by flood-waters. Surely, it is possible to conserve this water and use it over the dry periods. Such men as the late Dr. Bradfield, Ion Idriess, and others have given a great deal of their lives to writings expounding schemes1 for the conservation of our waste waters. Surely, their efforts to arouse the nation to its responsibilities will not be in vain. I invite honorable members to read Ion Idriess’s latest books, The Great Boomerang and Onward Australia.
Henry Lawson sounded a warning note when he wrote the poem, The Storm that is to Come -
The rain comes down on the Western land and therivers run to waste,
While the townsfolk rush for the special tram in their childish, senseless haste,
And never a pile of a- lock we drive - but a few mean tanks we scratch -
For the fate of a nation is nought compared with the turn of a cricket match!
There’s a gutter of mud where there spread a flood from the land-long western creeks,
There is dust and drought on the plains far out where the water lay for weeks,
There’s a pitiful dam where a dyke should stretch and a tank where a lake should be,
And the rain goes down through the silt and sand and the floods waste into the sea.
I saw a vision in days gone by, and would dream that dream again,
Of the days whenthe Darling shall not back her billabongs up in vain.
There were reservoirs and grand canals where the sad, dry lands had been,
And a glorious network of aqueducts ‘mid fields that were always green.
I have pictured long in the land I love what the land I love might be,
Where the Darling rises from Queensland rains and the floods rush out to the sea.
And is it our fate to wake too late to the truth that we have been blind,
With a foreign foe at our harbour-gate and a blazing drought behind?
Such warnings, however, went unheeded by the governments of the day, and serious losses of stock and. valuable food resulted. Let us now, however, forget the past and its failures and resolve to utilize what nature has provided for the benefit of mankind. The words of Lawson were prophetic- -
The East must look to the West for food In the drought that is still to come.
The large wheat surpluses that embarrassed Western Australian growers during 1942 and 1943 have suddenly become an asset of great national importance. Western Australia has the only full granary in the Commonwealth. In other major droughts, Australia has been obliged to import wheat from Argentina and North America for flour and seed. The necessity to do so during this drought hasbeen averted by the large carry-over of wheat in Western Australia. In fact, that State is not only providing wheat for the Eastern States for human consumption but also assisting to keep millions of stock alive. The result is that although stock losses, as is inevitable in a drought, are heavy, they have been reduced to a minimum by the transport of wheat and feed from Western Australia.
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) has appealed to growers, particularly in Western Australia, to increase their planting greatly during the coming season. He wisely decided that, in view of the special difficulties associated with wheat-growing in Western Australia, to pay compensation up to one-sixth of the area not planted. There will be general agreement with the proviso that before compensation may be obtained, growers must plant more than 50 per cent. of their basic area. Honorable members will recall that compensation was previously paid on an area restricted by one-third. That was a compulsory restriction which was accepted by the Commonwealth and State governments, because of the small local consumption and the relatively small milling capacity of the State. The present plan is voluntary, and growers are being encouraged by the higher first advance of 4s. 3d. a bushel at sidings to plant, where possible, up to their basic area. If growers are not able to plant to their full area and voluntarily restrict to the five-sixths basis, they will qualify for compensation. In some parts of Western Australia it is most difficult - sometimes impossible - to grow wheat without superphosphate. The productive capacity of the land in Western Australia varies from district to district. In some places, wheat may be grown with the application of only a small quantity of artificial fertilizer, but in the marginal areas wheat cannot be produced without superphosphate. Those facts must be taken into consideration when conditions governing wheat-growing in each State are being reviewed.
Some fictitious figures were quoted by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) to support his extravagant claim that wheat-growers have lost £10,000,000 as the result of the concessional wheat price for stock-feed. Everyone recognizes that that is the last desperate throw of a desperate political gambler. Recently, the president of the
Australian “Wheatgrowers Federation took the honorable member to task for his utterances, pointing out that the Commonwealth Government, through the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, had agreed to proposals submitted to the Minister by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. Those proposals provide that the price of wheat sold for stock-feed shall be brought up to the average realizations of grain sold for human consumption. The president of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation declared that the Minister’s approach to the matter was reasonable, and that he had always maintained an “ open door “ to the federation. Although the federation has repudiated the statements made by the honorable member, and asserted that the Government’s decision will mean, the payment of many millions of pounds to the Wheat Board, the honorable member continues to make his extravagant and baseless charges.
Associated with the rehabilitation and settlement of ex-servicemen is the problem of what shall be done with large estates adjacent to existing railways and in an assured rainfall zone. Steps should be taken to divide these estates up into blocks of not more than 1,000 acres, which would provide an excellent living for anyone family. In Western Australia some of the State’s best lands already serviced by railways and within the assured rainfall area are held by a few favoured persons. If this land were divided as I have suggested, the existing population in that area alone could be increased by 100 per cent. The land would be utilized to its fullest capacity and railway freights and local ports, &c, would be supported. This policy could be extended to other districts with beneficial results to the State and to the Common wealth.
Much has been said and written about the problem of soil erosion and its devastating results. I suggest that some authority should be created by this Parliament for the purpose of supervising and preventing the Overstocking of certain holdings. Man has taken full benefit of the natural resources of the nation, but made no provision to protect the country against the disastrous results of overstocking.
Rivers, and tho natural watercourses provided by Nature, have been exploited, to the fullest extent, with the result that’ when river frontages and watercourses are eaten out and devoid of all protection such as natural grasses,- salt bush and scrubs, they become a “ dust bowl “ The outcome is that natural watercourses and holding channels are filled in, rivers are unable to run, and what was once a beautiful grazing country becomes a desert and a menace to this country. Therefore, I hope that some consideration will be given to a recommendation that I have made for the creation of some authority to exercise supervision and prevent, as far as possible, any recurrence of this overstocking menace. I have seen the effects of it. I have known the pastoral areas of Western Australia for more than 30 years. I know that what was once valuable .pastoral land is today a desert. This devastation must be arrested. We must not act as if, with the passing of the present generation, Australia will cease to exist. No generation should be permitted to exploit the soil to such a degree as. to render it useless for production in the future.
Earlier, I mentioned that if the larger estates now held by a few people adjacent to our railways were subdivided, our population in such areas would be doubled. If this scheme provided for the’ development of the Kimberleys, our population in that area would be increased tenfold. Let us benefit by the experience gained in this war, and develop and populate our northern coastline so as to guard against the possibility of another attempted invasion. The north-west tides, particularly at Derby, Broome, and Wyndham, rise and- fall 28 feet. We have large ironore deposits at Yampi Sound and Kangaroo Island, near Derby. Other nations have- been able to harness the power of tidal rivers for generating the necessary power for their industries. I am not competent to submit a recommendation on so vast and complicated a plan, and I leave it to the engineering mind to decide the practicability of it. But I do know what has been done in other countries, and I am at a loss to know why this consistent rise and fall of the tides in that area has not been harnessed to supply the necessary power for generating purposes. Wyndham has also an excellent port, suited to cope with overseas shipping.With the proper development of the hinterland, Wyndham would become famous in the developmental schemes of Australia. Already, proof has been established of the capabilities of the soil through the efforts of Mr. Kim Durack, a graduate of Muresk Agricultural College, Western Australia, who was given charge of an experimental area on the Ord River. Grasses were planted with varying initial successes. For instance, the first seeding of paspalum did not germinate at all, but later sowings were more successful. Paspalum is now growing vigorously. The experimental area has its own irrigation scheme. Water is pumped direct from the river by a 36-h.p. diesel engine into a catchment tank on the bank and is reticulated through the various blocks. Last J uly I visited this area in company with the Hon. R. A. Coverley, Minister for theNorth-West, and was deeply impressed with what I saw.
Mr. Durack went to great pains to explain the progress made with various grasses, fruits, &c, with which he was experimenting. Many of the imported grasses, including lucerne, had made excellent progress. Last year, I suggested that the Commonwealth Government should encourage a parliamentary delegation to visit this area.I now repeat that suggestion. If facilities were created for the visit of a representative delegation to the Kimberleys, it would be an excellent advertisement and encourage the development of this large, valuable area. The delegation should include supporters of the Government and members of the Opposition - men from pastoral and grazing areas in other States. They would be able to form an opinion of the possibilities of the Kimberleys, compared with pastoral districts in their own States. I hope to receive considerable support for my suggestion. During the war. the Darwin and Katherine areas have received the best advertisement they have ever had, for large numbers of Australian and American troops who havebeen in the areas have come to appreciate their value. I have had many talks with such service personnel, both in the Northern Territory and in the southern States, and I cannot remember one man who has not been loud in his praise of the possibilities of the country.
In addition to giving scope for improvements in the cattle industry, East Kimberley has proved suitable for sheep-raising. Already very many stations have been successfully established in West Kimberley, along the Fitzroy River. One station alone, Liveringa, put about 100,000 sheep through the shearing sheds last season. This brings me to the consideration of a factor in our wool industry which is of paramount importance to Australia, particularly from the point of view of maintaining the production and export of wool. During the last ten years the pastoral industry of Western Australia has experienced the most severe and protracted drought in the history of the State. Commencing in 1935, the drought continued for more than six years, with only temporary relief, and its effects were most devastating. After temporary relief for a couple of years, there followed a further succession of drought seasons, culminating in 1944, with the result that flocks were reduced to an extremely low level. Fortunately, the 1945 season has opened with favorable rains which, as far as I can ascertain, have been fairly general ; but it will need more than good seasons to put this industry on a sound footing. In view of the importance of the industry to the Commonwealth an obligation rests on this National Parliament to give consideration to recommendations that have been made through the Western Australian Government for its rehabilitation.
In 1941 the State Government appointed a royal commission to inquire into the financialposition of the industry following the succession of droughts. Certain recommendations were made, but, in the meantime, the war had intervened, and, because of the position of the nation generally, the claims of the industry were not pressed. However, as our plans for rehabilitation include a general overhaul of all industries, I trust that early attention will be given to the recommendations of the commission, and that every effort will be made to render whatever practical assistance is necessary to the re-establishment of this valuable adjunct r.o our national life.
During the budget debate last year I stated that Australia’s wool clip totalled, in round figures, 3,500,000 bales per annum. Of this only 10 per cent, was used in Australia for manufacturing purposes. E suggested then, and I repeat now, that it would be in the interests of Australia if our wool were appraised and converted into wool tops and wool yarns in the various country centres where it is produced. The local elimination of waste matter from our greasy wool would result in a considerable saving in freights, tt would also provide employment for Australian people. If a policy of, this nature were applied, it would be difficult to estimate the benefits that Australia would receive. This is no idle statement. The adoption of this procedure would be of great importance to our nation, and would be a most practical way of increasing our rural population, which is of such vital importance. It has been proved beyond all doubt that Australia is capable of manufacturing the most intricate machinery, and when the various factories, which we have established for war production, cease to be needed for that purpose we should take the opportunity to convert such of them as are suitable to spinning and weaving, and so ensure permanent benefit to the country.
Much has been said from time to time, in this Parliament, about the need for the standardization of our railway gauges. We have had a sad experience, during this war, particularly since Japan became a combatant, of the effect of railway bottle-necks. Every Labour representative of Western Australia in this Parliament realizes the urgent need to continue the 4-ft. 8-J-in. gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle, and we have decided to do everything in our power to influence the Commonwealth Government, not only to complete the 4-ft. S£-in. gauge line to Fremantle, but also to give it a No. 1 priority. Because of the geographical position of .Western Australia, and the distance of Perth from the other capital cities, it is absolutely essential that the standard gauge railway shall ‘be completed to both Perth and its port, Fremantle. We intend to give the Government, every possible assistance in connexion with this most important project.
I listened with deep interest to the speech of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) on housing, and I agree with all that he said on the subject; but I wish to know from him ‘ and from his colleagues on the opposite side of the chamber whom they regard as having been responsible for the slums that exist in the various capital cities of the Commonwealth? We all remember, and, in fact, are never likely to forget, that during the depression years at least 800,000 people in Australia were not only unemployed but were also practically starving. Why did nol the Government of the day, of which, for a period at least, the right honorable member for North Sydney was a member, provide employment for this vast army of workless people in the construction of dwellings. At that time ample material was available for the purpose. There was no shortage of either man-power or material, and houses could have been built for all who needed them. Yet we find honorable gentlemen opposite not only appealing to this Government to do something about the matter at once, but also criticizing it because it is not able to meet all the housing needs of the community at once. They conveniently forget that this Government is carrying a greater load than any previous Australian’ Government has- carried. It has had to bear war burdens the like of which the country has never previously known. Yet honorable gentlemen opposite have the temerity to criticize it because it cannot find man-power and materials immediately for housing projects. I say to the right honorable gentleman and to his colleagues that they are responsible for the present position because, during the period of more than two decades when governments which they supported occupied the treasury bench, they did nothing to meet the housing needs of the community, and allowed the slum conditions to develop in our big cities which are, to-day, a blot on this fair continent. If they had done their duty they would have grappled with this and other great national problems.
– .[ join with other honorable members in extending a most cordial welcome to His Royal Highness the GovernorGeneral, the Duchess of Gloucester, and the members of their family. I also pay grateful tribute to the members of our fighting services, and to those of the Allied Nations, for the great work that they have done. It is ‘because of their gallantry throughout the war that we are still a free people and are able, at this juncture of the conflict, to discuss legislative projects for the fair land in which we live.
I wish to comment on our external policy. I was disappointed, as I am sure many citizens of Australia were, that no reference was made in . the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to Australia’s relations with the Government of the Netherlands, particularly in relation to the Netherlands East Indies. What are the relations of our nation with this neighbour to whom we a-re indebted so greatly? The United States of America has applied what is generally called a “good neighbour “ policy to the peoples of Central and South America. If ever a nation had a. good neighbour, Australia has had one in the Netherlands East Indies. We should not forget that the people of the Netherlands East Indies could have capitulated to the Japanese, as did the people of French Indo-China, and had they done so they could have remained in possession of their territory, and their wealth. However, they chose to fight the Japanese aggressor, and that decision, was one of the factors which contributed to the salvation of Australia. For this reason we owe the Dutch people a great deal.
Australia is now seised of the importance of perimeter defences. Surely never again will this nation be content to rely solely on mainland defences. A policy of perimeter defences will undoubtedly involve close and cordial co-operation on nil defence matters with the people of the Netherlands East Indies. The leasing from Great Britain by the United States of America of certain islands in the Bahamas for use as naval and air bases is a plain indication of future international policy in this respect, and also of the overwhelming importance of perimeter defences. We must be on “ good neighbour “ terms with the Dutch people in the Netherlands East Indies. We must be as far-sighted as, and take lessons from, both the United States of America and Great Britain.
Are the Dutch people receiving any help from us ? I have no doubt that they need help and, in their rime of need, wlshould practise the “ good neighbour “ policy. It is more than likely that the Dutch are receiving lend-lease aid from the United States of America. We are reported to be interested in Empire lendlease as well as in lend-lease arrangements with the United States of America. Our sister dominion, India, is also reported to be taking advantage of the lend-lease procedure. In view of the rapid progress that is being made in the reconquest, of the South-West Pacific Area, it would be of interest to members of the House, and to the Australian people generally, to hear from a member of the Government a clear and concise exposition of our relations with the people of the Netherlands East Indies, and with the Netherlands Government. There is nothing in our lend-lease arrangement with the United States, I take it, to preclude us from entering upon lendlease arrangements with other countries. Have we this freedom? If we have it. let us extend the “ good neighbour “ policy to the people of the Netherlands East Indies.
I turn now to the dairying industry and, in particular, butter production. For some- years the Government has provided a subsidy for the dairying industry. I believe that in 1943-44 the total payments under this heading reached the promised amount of £6,500,000. Subsidies totalling £7,500,000 have been promised during this financial year, but a condition is attached to th, payments. The dairy-farmers are to be required to produce 180,000 tons of butter. I am convinced that when, the Government made that condition it was confident that the dairy-farmers could not fulfil it. Ft would appear, therefore, that the amount that will be paid in subsidies this financial year will be less than that paid in the previous year. That possibility is not likely to prove an incentive to greater production in the industry.
According to statistical information available to mc, the production this year will be less than that of last year, which, of course, is understandable when we consider the serious drought conditions that have operated over large parts of the continent. The amount of the subsidy is different for four months of the year from that of the other eight months. I do not, necessarily, disagree with- the policy on that account, but I have no doubt whatever that the variation of the amount that will be payable in different periods of the year will increase the difficulties of the dairymen, and these are already sufficiently trying in the winter months. According to the figures for the first seven months of the year, the production for the whole of the year will be 140,000 tons, or less. As the Government prescribed a production of 180,000 tons, the dairymen will receive only seven-ninths of the subsidy, or approximately £5,670,000, instead of £7,500,000. They should receive 4.6d. per lb., but actually they will receive Id. per lb. less. If ever there was a time for the encouragement of the dairying industry, it was during the last twelve months. When I first entered, this House, I pointed out that the most desperate need of ‘the industry was man-power. The Government was twelve months too late in granting substantial assistance in that respect. The man-power position has since been eased. It is unfortunate, however, that many of the men who were released from the Army in order that they might return to tho dairy farms, have not remained in the industry. I admit that that is not the fault of the Government. They object to having to work every day in the week, whilst employees in other avocations receive higher pay and have much better conditions, particularly when they see that the Government is not encouraging the industry as it should.
The right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) has referred to another matter which will affect production next season. Six weeks ago, I telegraphed, to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, urging the importation of seed oats from overseas or from other States to Queensland, and his reply was to the effect that importation from overseas was inadvisable because of previous experience. I do not know what the previous experience was ; therefore, I cannot question the correctness of his decision in that regard. But I heard the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) boast of the qualities of Western Australia - in which,
I believe, there is a large quantity of seed oats, the distribution of which in other States is said to be prevented by lack of shipping. Surely, one ship could be provided to transport seed oats in the interest of the dairying industry in the Eastern States! If tho Government delays another three or four weeks, the season will be too late to sow oats for feed purposes, in. Queensland at least ; and no alternative seeds of any consequence are available in that State. We could’ not even get a quantity of seed wheat as an alternative; in the early part of the season, it grows to a head, and is unsatisfactory for fodder purposes. At this time of the year, oats are required. Yet, in spite of telegrams, letters, and representations in other forms from every source in Queensland, the Minister does nothing. Seed must be provided immediately, if butter is to be produced during the winter months of this year.
The lack of motor tyres for transport purposes is another deterrent of production, not only in dairy farming but also in other primary industries. I have referred to this matter previously. The position appeal’s to have become aggravated within recent months. The explanation of the authorities is that the rubber position is now worse than it was previously. If the Government states that as a fact, I accept it. But there are some phases of distribution which I cannot accept as fair. I know from personal experience that many producers in Queensland are rural prisoners. Permits are granted to persons who live in and adjacent to towns, where other transport is available, and in other instances where the use of motor transport is not essential. In the sparsely populated areas of the Maranoa electorate, hundreds of producers have shown to me the refusals they have received from the rubber control authorities, the stereotyped reply of whom is, “Rubber conditions are too hard ; you can get nothing “.
I agree with much of what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has said, particularly in regard to water conservation. I cannot, however, agree with his statement that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture had rightly decided to pay !i bonus to those who did not productwheat, or had allowed their land to lie idle. The Scully “ tragedy “ in regard to the production of wheat has left Australia almost starving. When -a government that sees stocks declining continues to pay a bonus to growers not to produce wheat, we begin to wonder whether it has gone mad, because no other construction can be placed on such a stupid decision. When an honorable member describes the decision as wise, we wonder what is the meaning of the word “ wisdom “.
I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie on the subject of water conservation, Men like Idriess, Timbury and Dr. Bradfield have sponsored a course which ultimately, if adopted, must save Australia. Although their conclusions may not always be right, or receive the endorsement of eminent engineers, they are fighting a worth-while battle, because the dust bowl of Australia is increasing to tragic proportions. The Queensland Government may be dilatory in submitting to the Commonwealth planned and tested schemes for water conservation. The scheme proposed by Dr. Bradfield was estimated at the time to cost £30,000,000. It provided for the diversion of waters from the northern coastal area to the hinterland. I cannot say whether or not it Ls practicable. Mr. Kemp, until lately Deputy CoordinatorGeneral of Works in Queensland, and now the Main Beads Commissioner in that State, has stated that the project is not practicable and I hold his opinion in high regard. The point that I make is that if the Queensland Government put up Mr. Kemp to decry the Bradfield scheme, and did not submit alternative schemes that had been planned and tested, obviously the central Government would say that it could do nothing until tests had been made. If it is the function of the State Government to utilize its Irrigation Department in that respect, I cannot blame the Commonwealth Government. My purpose is not to attack any one politically, but to see that action shall be taken so that tested schemes may be available in Queensland for the utilization of our fine rivers and fertile soils in the interests of the nation immediately man-power and materials are procurable.
.- His Royal Highness the Governor-General, in opening the present session of the Parliament, said that he was eager to renew his association with the Australian people, and to learn much of Australia and its institutions during his period of office. Already he has made a very good start. Within a few days of his arrival, he travelled thousands of miles, prinpally in northern Australia, visiting Army camps and seeing at first hand the conditions under which our fighting men are existing. He has intimated that he will acquaint himself of what is being done in the workshops, so as to form an idea of Australia’s war effort. Thus he has set a. very good example to our leaders. I am sure that he will obtain the right perspective of Australia’s war effort, a full and true account of which will be furnished to the Government of Great Britain when he returns to that country. Perhaps he will also be able to give to that Government, as well as to the people of other countries, an impression different from that which doubtless they have formed as the result of the adverse propaganda that has issued from time to time from the press overseas and even from people in this country. Members on the other side of the House seem disposed to disparage everything which our own men do, but have nothing but good words for things that are done by people on the other side of the world. I deprecate a certain kind of publicity which has appeared in sections of the press about their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Every little incident, even though associated with their private lives, has been played up. I realize that the spotlight is very much upon those in high places, but I do not think that there is any justification for the publication of details about the size of the Royal entourage, and the number of vehicles required to carry the luggage, or about tiled bathrooms, or the number of aeroplanes which are to be used. It is difficult to understand the reason for such references. If they are intended to popularize royalty they are not likely to achieve their purpose. Perhaps the idea is to embarrass the Government, particularly with some of its own supporters, who may believe, as I do myself, that the office of GovernorGeneral should be filled by an Australian citizen. No doubt the Australian Government, at the request of the British Government, after the untimely death of the Duke of Kent, invited His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester to fill the position of Governor-General of Australia. I have no further comment to make on the appointment, the decision having been made. .1! believe that the newspaper comments of the kind to which I have referred do a disservice to the Government and to the Labour movement, as also to the community generally, who look to persons in high places for an example, particularly in regard to the mode of living in time of war. The press in Great Britain has led the people to believe that members of the Royal Family lead very simple lives. I believe that they do, and I have no doubt that the Duke of Gloucester will also set an example in Australia of simple living.
In his Speech, the Governor-General said that the war in Europe was moving to a climax, that the defeat of Germany appeared to be imminent, but that the war against Japan might drag on for eighteen months more. Nevertheless, with the defeat of our major enemy. Germany, more attention must be paid to post-war problems at home and abroad. Therefore, we are naturally interested in the delegation which is to represent Australia at the conference of the United Nations, beginning at San Francisco on the 25th April next. The conference, a? the invitations state, is designed to sei up - a general international organization based on the principle of sovereign equality of all peace-loving States, and open to membership of all such States, large and small, for the maintenance of peace and security.
The members of the delegation will, no doubt, be soon on their way, and we wish them well. I hope that the same tragic mistakes will not be made this time that were made in the peace settlements which followed the wars of last century and the first world war. Despite the fact that neacs is dear to all peoples, the world has not been able to preserve it. The peace settlements which followed the Napoleonic wars led to a series of further wars, particularly to world wars numbers one and two. After the Napoleonic wars, the major powers divided the world into spheres of influence, and an era of imperialism was inaugurated which led directly to the world war of 1914-18, and to the present war. I hope that our delegates to the conference in San Francisco will succeed in ensuring that the next peace shall be better drawn. Already, we have heard talk of zones of security being granted to the major Allied powers. I trust that no permanent arrangement along those lines will be made. After the Napoleonic wars, the four great powers were Britain, Prussia, Russia, and Austria. France was then, as Germany is now, the “ big bad wolf “. The victorious Allied powers entered into a so-called Holy Alliance of peace-loving nations, but, the smaller powers, including Sweden, protested that the real control of international affairs was being handed over to the four great powers. ‘ In spite of that protest, spheres of influence were set up which created a spirit of competition. For the time being, the four great powers remained friendly, but eventually they began, in the words of Mr. Sumner Welles, to jockey for position. Russia tried to extend its sphere of influence, and this led to the Crimean War in the middle of the last century. Some time later, Britain’s efforts to extend its influence in South Africa led to the South African War. The efforts of Prussia to expand brought it into conflict with France, and led to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. These conflicts, in turn, led up to the Great War of 1914-18. The League of Nations, which was set up to prevent wars, was an idealistic organization with certain inherent weaknesses. It did not take into account human nature, and the present stage of human evolution. The Covenant did not provide adequate means for enforcing decisions of the League, and for policing the peace of the world. Germany and Japan, following the lead of the other great imperialistic nations, tried to extend their spheres of influence. Germany declared that it needed Lebersraum, or living space, and Japan declared that it was destined to found a co-prosperity sphere in Asia. Behind these high-sounding expressions was the same urge to extend their spheres of in- fluence, and the resultant clash of interests, together with the weakness of the League, led to the present war. Germany and Japan, realizing the weakness of the League, openly defied it. It was the defiance of the League by Japan after the Mukden incident which ushered in the era of aggression by the Axis powers. The League was unable to enforce its decisions. We have been assured by the Allied leaders that steps will be taken, when setting up the new world peace organization, to provide it with the means to insure that its will shall prevail. We have also been assured that it will not be dominated by the great powers. Mr. Churchill, speaking in London on the 27th February last, is reported to have said -
The new world peace organization cannot be based on a dictatorship of the great powers, whose duty is to preserve the world, not to rule it.
At the same time the organization must take account of the great powers’ special responsibility to be so framed as not to compromise their unity and capacity for effective action at short notice.
It would embody much of the structure and characteristics of the League of Nations, but would differ from it in that it would not shrink from establishing its will against an evil doer or evil planner in good time and by force of arms.
There is good hope, and more than hope - resolute determination - that it will shield humanity from a renewal of its agony.
The Secretary of State for the United States, Mr. Stettinius, discussing the same matter, is reported thus -
Washington,6th March (A.A.P.).
The United States Secretary of State, Mr. Stettinius, yesterday explained the proposals which the inviting powers have made for the World Security Council, and which will be discussed at the San Francisco world conference. He said that in judicially settling international disputes the council would be so constituted that no nation, large or small, was above thelaw, nor could any nation Bit in judgment on its own case.
I realize that, in the early post-war period, the great powers will possess the necessary naval, military and air power to enforce the terms of peace, but I hope, that as time goes on, the basis of the organization for the maintenance of peace will be broadened.
Sitting suspended from 5.80 to 8 p.m.
– Despite the assurances of the Allied leaders as to our aims and ideals in connexion with world security organization, and the declarations in the agreements that were reached by them at Moscow, Teheran and Yalta, there are certain aspects of those agreements, and the proposals that will come before the delegates at the San Francisco conference which will need to be very closely watched, because, after all, the same sincerity was shown by the leaders who brought about the Treaty of Versailles, after World War I., and the Treaty of Vienna, after the Napoleonic wars. The objectives of the creators of the Treaty of Vienna were justice, charity and peace. That justice is our objective on this occasion is shown in the “ four freedoms “ of the Atlantic Charter. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the seeds of the first world war were sown at Vienna and in the era of imperialism that resulted therefrom, and. likewise, the seeds of World War II. were sown at Versailles. Therefore, we should ensure that the foundations of the new world organizations shall be on a much different and stronger basis. We have been assured by the convenors of the San Francisco conference, as the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) pointed out, that the Dumbarton Oaks conference proposals are merely to be taken as the basis of discussion and are not to be regarded as binding upon the nations that will participate. Nevertheless, certain decisions reached at Dumbarton Oaks, which will be considered at the world security conference, must be closely watched. One concerns the council of security that will be set up, really as the governing body of the proposed new world organization. It is proposed, as was the case with the League of Nations, that the controlling authority shall be the central council, which will be dominated again by the large powers. On this occasion, the “ Big Five “ - Great Britain, the United States pf America, Russia, France, and China - will be the permanent members, and the rest of. the nations will from time to time elect six to make a total of eleven. Whilst the council itself is to be given certain powers of assembly from time to time to make certain decisions, the “ Big Five “ will have the power of veto at all times, and they will dominate the new world organisation. That may lead to the same state of affairs as resulted from the setting up of the League of Nations. The League of Nations in general assembly met from time to ‘ time, but the delegates merely talked themselves out and their decisions were futile. That led to the revival of power politics. Many people already consider that a third world war is inevitable. Even before this conflict has been ended, almost every week one hears from prominent people declarations about its inevitability. I do not believe in the inevitability of war; I believe that war can be prevented. I think, too, that the means of attainment arc as important as the aims and objectives, and I submit that one matter which our delegates should take up is the composition of the central council that, will be the governing body which, I hope, will be representative of all nations, not merely the large powers. The large powers, after all, consist of a minority of the peoples of the world. They are nations with less than 50 per cent, of the population of, the world. Therefore, if it is. left to them to decide, it will be minority government, the antithesis of democracy, and that must lead to further trouble. My views in that regard are supported by eminent authorities. William Hard, a journalist of world reputation and experience, and a student of international affairs over the last 25 years, in an article published in the Reader’s Digest of October, 1944, entitled “Are we on the wrong road towards peace says -
As fervently as anybody I desire an organized and energized international effort towards a permanent peace. As respectfully as anybody. I concede sincerity and good conscience to the existing managers of American foreign policy. I, nevertheless, begin strongly to wonder if they are not taking the wrong road towards their lofty goal. lt is the “ great power “ road. It has been travelled many times before. I submit that it often originates in idealism, but always culminates in conflict. I shall describe its stages as they have shown themselves in the modern past, and as they begin to show themselves in the unfolding present. They lead, i think, to new disillusionment and new despairs.
Dealing with the Security Council, he makes this statement -
I contend, therefore, that the primary aim of the United States should be a world union of all nations, in session at all times for consideration of all world problems. I am convinced that such a union, organized to take and express world views in world emergencies, and energized by daily duties of world service, can be the strongest bulwark against war that can be built.
Therefore, I hope that our delegates will consider the widening of the Security Council to ensure the representation thereon of all the nations on an equitable basis, perhaps according to population or geographical size. Otherwise, I can see the sowing of the seeds of another world war going on under our very noses.
I do not subscribe to the theory that the end justifies the means. The settlement of. the Polish situation may be very good. It may be the right decision. I am not questioning the decision, in all the circumstances, taking into consideration the history of Poland, and the fact that the Curzon Line was settled not by Stalin, but, at the end of the last war, by an American, a Britisher, and a Frenchman, and is, therefore, not something merely considered by the Soviet Government to be the correct solution. But we should consider the means by which that settlement was brought about, in order to ensure that there shall not be a repetition of past misunderstandings and bitterness in the problems that will arise and have to be dealt with by the world security organization. It may be described as a “ realistic “ settlement, but we have had realistic settlements before. We had a realistic settlement at Munich where those concerned were not even allowed to be present when the issue was decided. Mr. Chamberlain went back to England believing that he had done a good job, and he assured the world that we should not have war in our time. Only too soon was the world disillusioned. But if we adhere to the principles, aims and ideals for which we are fighting and the methods of achievement do not conflict, we may be able to attain our goal. Arthur Greenwood, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, debating the Crimea conference decisions in the House of Commons last week, said he thought it foreign to the principles of British justice that Poland’s fate should have been decided in its absence, and that the Polish Government had not been well treated by the British Government.
Sir William Beveridge said ;
We must stick to principles, and if it ever happened that we could not stick to both our friends and our principles, we must stick to our principles.
Therefore, I submit the means of attainment are as important as the objective that we have in view. The same position may arise on the other side of the world. Already we have been told that the Chinese leader, Chiang Kaishek, is concerned about the intrusion of communistic influence, and is more afraid of the Communists than of the Japanese. Chiang Kai-shek intends to have that matter raised at the San Francisco conference. I hope that it will be settled equitably and that we shall not have another realistic settlement. Hitler and Mussolini claim to be realists; so did Napoleon and others like him. If we do not set the right example we shall not be able to blame others who follow our bad example. William Hard made certain deductions as to the possibility of further war resulting from a clash between a Pan-Asiatic union, dominated perhaps by the Soviet, and the western democracies, in which he said -
What then? Then if the sphere system continues to revolve as it has always revolved, this: the Chinese Asiatic sphere and the Soviet Asiatic sphere will try to push the British and French spheres out of Asia. They will push first by arguments, then by threats, then by deeds. Alliances growing out of this war will be utterly forgotten, just as alliances growing out of the Napoleonic wars were. British and French imperialism in Asia will be liquidated not gradually and creatively and humanely, but abruptly and destructively and brutally amidst the horrors of a World War III.
And then, with the sphere system still revolving, the Chinese Asiatic sphere and the Soviet Asiatic sphere will turn upon each other to tear an emancipated Asia to pieces. We could cry to God. Is there no better way for men to live?
These fears and apprehensions of men who have closely studied this problem indicate the very important obligations that will devolve upon our representatives at San Francisco.
In addition to the basis on which the Security Council will be set up, 1 also urge that the method of policing the decisions of the world organization be given serious consideration, and that it. not be left to the great powers, as in the past, to police the world, with zones of security or spheres of influence. I also submit that the world police or peace force that will be set up to police the decisions of the world court should be representative of all the nations of the world on an equitable basis, and with sworn allegiance to the league. Human society must be or should be as sensitive as the human body itself to enable it to register immediately a disturbance in any part of the globe, to institute prompt investigations of the cause, and speedily to take remedial measures, whether peaceful or otherwise, as the circumstances should warrant. If we have a central authority, representative of all the nations, in operation at all times, able to receive reports from various parts of the world, and to have police forces in operation, it will be able to act immediately to prevent occurrences such as the Mukden incident and the rape of Abyssinia that led to this world conflict. This organization must not be too unwieldy, and it must be able to act swiftly. [ trust that the men, particularly the young men who will be members of this peace force, will be trained not only in the arts of war but also in the arts of peace; in addition to possessing a high degree of military skill they have attained high physical, cultural, and spiritual standards, so that they may spread the spirit of goodwill and -co-operation throughout the world. That will help to usher in an, era of lasting peace for all mankind.
Whilst the new organization will probably take over the assets of the League of Nations, it should also take over the liabilities. The principal liability is the responsibility for the present world conflict. Because of its inability to act when aggression occurred ten or fifteen years ago, the League of Nations must accept responsibility for the Second World War. Now, many nations are hastening to participate in the San Francisco conference. At the last minute, they have climbed on to the “ band wagon “. The late-comers should be made to bear some responsibility for the prosecution of this conflict as well as accept any benefits that may ensue. Australia has made a greater contribution, in proportion to its population, than any other member of the Allied Nations. Of its total population, Australia has one in eight in the fighting services, and no other allied country has such a record. In this conflict, we have had to bear a strain out of all proportion to the size of our population. Mr. Churchill, when visiting the Western Front a few days ago, said that one good heave by all would encompass the downfall of Germany. I hope that those nations which are represented at the San Francisco conference and which will accept responsibility for world peace and security in the future, will give oné good heave and help to bring about the speedy downfall of the Japanese aggressors in the Pacific.
One matter which I am glad to note is that, before the decisions of the San
Francisco conference will be implemented, this Parliament will have an opportunity to endorse them. Our delegates will not be empowered to bind Australia irrevocably. After all, we are fighting for the (principles of democracy and we should lose no time in getting back to a proper democratic footing. We realize that in a conflict of this nature emergency powers must be given to our leaders, particularly the military leaders. In some respects, very substantial powers have been placed in the hands of the leaders of the Allied nations. After Dunkirk, Churchill was the spokesman for the British people. (Extension of time granted.] When the United States of America entered the conflict, President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill made the declaration that is known as the Atlantic Charter. Other Allied countries were not given an opportunity to take part in the discussions that led to that declaration, and I do not think that the Atlantic Charter, great as it is, has been adopted by the Parliaments of the Allied Nations. Definitely, Australia has never adopted it. We have taken it for granted, although as a matter of fact it is only a declaration by two men. At Teheran, the “ Big Three “ assembled: later the “ Big Four “ met at Cairo. A few weeks ago, the “ Big Three “ assembled again at Yalta.. Mr. Churchill pointed out that as the war recedes it becomes less ideological, and it is essential for the representatives of the people to get back without delay to a firm democratic basis and ensure thai Australia’s decision shall be endorsed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth after adequate discussion.
Returning to the home front, I note a suggestion, particularly by members of the Opposition, that the Government should mark time with its post-war programme. They contend that the Government should concentrate on winning the war instead of preparing for the peace. But the representatives of “big business “ are already preparing for the post-war period. -Ships leaving this country are crammed with the representatives of “big business”, some of them sponsored by government departments, who propose to visit other countries in order to meet their capitalist friends and make plans for the post-war period. If it be good enough for private enterprise to do that, surely no objection can be raised when the Commonwealth Government takes action to safeguard the interests of the people in the post-war period. We are fighting for a new era. The Government has arranged a comprehensive programme to give effect to its policy after the war. For example, a programme of social security will be launched bythe Government during this session. One of its outstanding features will be the rehabilitation of members of the fighting services. After all, that is our first duty to them, in recognition of their great sacrifices on our behalf. When the Government’s proposals are announced, they will be well worthy of the men of the fighting forces and will be a just reward for the protection that they have extended to us.
The Government proposes to review its policy regarding war service homes, and to introduce a programme for the housing of ex-servicemen. I respectfully submit to the Government and to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that we should liberalize this policy, and not allow members of the fighting forces to undertake the purchase of homes under conditions that will load them with debt. We should ensure that they shall be granted financial accommodation at a nominal rate of interest. Why should any profit be made by the financial institutions out of the housing of ex-servicemen? If any interest be charged, the rate should be only sufficient to recoup the financial institutions for accountancy expenses. Personally, I hope that the Commonwealth Bank will arrange the finance for the erection of homes for ex-servicemen. In addition to reducing the rate of interest, the Government should increase the amount of the advance for the purchase of homes. At present, the limit is about £900. Because of the increased cost of homebuilding, that sum is not sufficient to meet the expense of erecting a reasonable dwelling. The Government should follow the example of New Zealandby increasing the amount of the advance to at least £1,500.
One matter which should not be overlooked is the necessity to formulate in the near future a policy for providing permanent housing. Instead of erecting temporary buildings and structures which will become slums in the future, the Government should construct permanent dwellings for the people. In addition, the Government should concentrate upon the production of raw materials for home-building. Unless Ministers give serious consideration to that aspect, we shall be in a parlous plight. Because of war commitments, timber and other materials are in short supply. If we were to change over to peace-time activities overnight - and peace will come overnight - we should be required to provide homes for 1,250,000 people, who are not adequately housed at the present time. Unless preparations be made now, a chaotic state of affairs will develop when peace returns. Already the Government believes that the war may last only another eighteen months. Therefore, the time is opportune to make preparations for a vigorous housing programme and the provision of the necessary raw materials.
I was gratifiedto learn that the Government proposes, at an early date, to remove war-time restrictions which have been imposed upon the people. Whilst I realize that considerations of urgency necessitated the introduction of many regulations, I do not believe that all of them are absolutely necessary. We should have approached the matter in a different manner, tried to build up the morale of the people and brought them wholeheartedly behind the Government. To a large extent, they are wholeheartedly behind the Government, but some are disgruntled because of war-time restrictions which, unfortunately, have been imposed upon them. We should give more attention to building up morale, and appeal to the better instincts of the people. That was shown recently in a report by an American coal mission which visited Great Britain for the purpose of examining the condition of the coal-miners there. The mission was headed by Mr. A. S. Knoizen, director of the mining division of the United States War Production Board. He said that the output per man was 323 net tons in 1890, compared with 321 tons last year. The report of the mission said -
Regardless of where the greater measure of blame lies, results have proved beyond doubt that government orders and regulations arc a poor substitute for efficient management and labour team-work.
I hope that the Government will, as indicated in the Speech of His Royal Highness, remove war-time restrictions at the earliest possible date. I commend the Government for its determination to introduce banking reforms and reorganize the Commonwealth Bank, restoring to that institution its original charter so that it will function in the interests of tine people and not on behalf of the financial institutions, as it did at the time it was sabotaged by the Bruce-Page Government. The Government proposes also to give consideration to “ rackets “ and impositions on ,the public, particularly the workers in industry and the poorer sections of the community, by many insurance organizations. Henceforth, the Government will protect the public in that regard. In addition, the Government has a programme for increasing social services, including invalid and old-age pensions, widows’ pensions, and child endowment, but these are only treating the effects. I was disappointed not to hear in the Governor-General’s Speech an intimation of the Government’s intentions to introduce a comprehensive programme to promote national health and fitness. Admittedly,some benefits will be provided, such as free medicines and hospital allowances, but, again, they will be only treating the effects. If we desire to build up a healthy and happy community, we must give consideration to national fitness. It staggers me to learn that army camps - one of them is at Prospect, not far from my electorate - are being dismantled, although the British Forces based in this country require another camp not far away. Those camps should not be dismantled until the Commonwealth, and State Governments indicate their requirements in regard to national fitness establishments and the like.
His Royal Highness also indicated that a statement on employment will be made in the near future. That subject is most important. I hope that the statement will indicate the Government’s determination to provide full employment in the post-war period, and that we shall not have a repetition of the deplorable conditions that existed during the depression, when hundreds of thousands of men and women workers lost their jobs. The London Economist, in a recent article, declared! -
If Liberal democracy fails to provide full1 employment for all, it must give way to someother economic system.
In Australia, with its vast resources,, large-scale unemployment should- not exist. We have heard the saying that whatever is physically possible is financial^ possible. Therefore the Government should introduce a “ right to work “ bill designed to ensure that every person in the community who is able and willing to accept work shall be provided with it. It should be a government responsibility to make work available for everybody who needs it.
The Governor-General’s Speech referred to problems associated with the birth-rate and population which, as we know, are giving the Government some concern. No doubt we shall hear a good deal from various people about all kinds of fanciful schemes and theories to increase the birthrate and encourage people to come to this country. In my opinion, people will be encouraged to come here only if we make our conditions of living second to none in the world. People do not leave their native country unless they have substantial reasons for doing so. Somethingwas said about this subject when the British Press Delegation was in Australia some little time ago, and I notice that at a press conference in London at the week-end Sir Walter Layton stated that a conclusion of the British ‘Commonwealth Relations Conference was that it was impracticable for Great Britain tosupply, after the war, the numbers and types of immigrants desired by the Dominions. We cannot expect to receive from Great Britain all the immigrants of the right type that we would like to welcome to this country. People do nol readily leave their homeland; in fact, they do so, usually, only by force of circumstance. [Further extension of time granted.’) British people will come to this country only if our conditions of living are more attractive than those of other countries.
How did we secure our first big increase of population? After the early days of penal settlement in this country, there was no big inflow of population until the gold discoveries in the middle of the last century. Just as the children of Israel were led into the wilderness by Moses with a promise that they would come to a land flowing with milk and honey, so in the days of the gold rush people were attracted to Australia by the promise of easily won wealth. We must improve our standards of living before we can expect a big influx of population. The Government has promised an attractive legislative programme, and I believe that its promises are sincerely made; but it must also indicate that it intends to provide conditions in this country which will give full employment to everybody. By so doing it will attract people from other parts of the world. [Quorum formed.)
Mr. HUTCHINSON (Deakin) [8.85 J.The debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Royal Highness the Governor-General has occupied a considerably longer time on this occasion than similar debates have occupied in recent years. The speeches delivered by honorable members have covered a wide range of subjects. The debate is notable because it was inaugurated by the delivery of a speech by a. prince of the Royal House of Great Britain, and a brother of His Majesty the King. It is notable also because it indicates the kind of legislation that will come before honorable members in the near future. Undeniably this legislation will have an important influence on the future of this country. If the objects of the Government are achieved the whole economic structure of Australia will be affected, and there will be a serious . interference with the freedom of the individual in this country. In fact, the first shots are now being fired in a socialistic war that must increase in ferocity as the months go by.
There are, in this Parliament, two distinct parties, the Government and the Opposition, and between them there is a marked cleavage and conflict of opinion. The Government and the Opposition stand for two different theories of the art of government. The theory of the Opposition has been developed in people of British stock over hundreds of years. It is what I shall call the philosophy of private enterprise and the rights of the individual. In making that statement I do not suggest that our standards are those which were laid down many years ago by Adam Smith, for much water has run under the bridges since Adam Smith wrote his Wealth of Nations. I do not suggest, either, that the type of private enterprise which honorable members on this side of the chamber advocate is that, which was embodied in the eighteenthcentury doctrine of laisser-faire. Many of the theories of Adam Smith have been riddled since that notable authority first expounded his ideas. The conception of private enterprise held by honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber is suitable for modern conditions. It does not mean that governments composed of honorable gentlemen holding the views that we who sit. in Opposition hold would debar certain Government activities, but such activities should act as an aid or assistance to private enterprise. The policy which we expound, and which the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) referred to as liberal-democracy, does not contemplate control by a group of business men sitting in board rooms in this country or in places overseas. We do not visualize any system of government which would permit a few people in this or any other country to exploit the people of Australia. There is nothing in the modern conception of private enterprise which would justify that description of our policy. That policy is based on the principle that the individual should be elevated by the activities of the state. We believe that every person should have the free right to express his opinions. We believe that persons with a fanciful, unorthodox or adventurous outlook on life, who are constantly seeking to do things in a new and better way, should not be debarred from expressing themselves. The principles to which we adhere were those which enabled James Watt, HenryFord, and Mitchell and Vickers, ofLondon, who built the first Spitfires, to give their great inventions to the world. Such a system, has enabled the great advances that have been made for the mora], material and medical benefit of mankind, and our policy seeks to encourage all such activities. We believe, however, that this policy is being seriously assailed by certain paragraphs in the Speech which His Royal Highness the Governor-General delivered to this democratic Parliament a few weeks ago.
Honorable gentlemen on the Government side of the chamber advocate a policy, the cardinal principle of which is the socialization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. If that statement is wrong will somebody speak to the contrary?
– If any honorable gentleman does so he will be out of order.
– Silence gives consent to my statement. Since the days of the late 1920’s the policy of the Labour party of Australia has shown the marked influence of a certain Germanic Jew, Karl Marx, whose doctrines, at one time or another, have swept through most of the countries of the world. Karl Marx has been called a profound thinker and a great philosopher. I doubt very much, however, whether people realize how impossible his ideals are of achievement in a world of human beings full of imperfections. I doubt whether Karl Marx’s range of vision or experience of business was very great. I believe that I speak the truth when. I say that the doctrines of this Germanic Jew have caused more murder, loot, bloodshed, chaos and crime than those of any other single individual since the world began.
– On what authority does the honorable gentleman make that statement ?
– Modern history proves it. Only recently Mr. Winston Churchill reminded us that the activities of Communists had caused a great deal of trouble in Greece, and that democracy was not a harlot to be picked up in the streets by any man with a tommy gun.
– Order ! The words the honorable member is using are quite improper in this debate.
– I was merely quoting a remark of Mr. Winston Churchill.
– Even Mr. Winston Churchill can be censored.
– I know that on one occasion, in the Senate, he was called “ the mad dog of Europe “.
– Order !
– Anyway, why attack Karl Marx because he was a Jew?
– I am not attacking Marx because he was a Jew. I was directing attention to happenings which followed the application of his theories. The Marxian theories were first given wide expression in Russia, but the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) knows, as I do, that even when we were in Russia in 1935. Russian politics had taken a sharp turn to the right. That has been the tendency ever since then. A great deal of bloodshed occurred in Russia before its leaders saw the light. Heavy losses, famine, murder and other disasters, befell the people of Russia before the change of heart came. The next outbreak of the Marxian philosophy occurred in Italy in the days of the social revolution led by Benito Mussolini. That form of government if described as Fascism, and it leans a good deal to the right. The theory was next expressed in the national socialism of Germany. Although this Marxian doctrine finds expression in many different ways, in some instances very sharply to the left, and in others very sharply to the right, a common feature in all cases is that the individual must be subservient to the State. There is a very wide difference between the policy which we on this side expound and that expounded by honorable gentlemen opposite. An exposition of the essential differences in principle between communism and socialism would be very interesting. Lenin described socialism as the lowest and basest form of communism. The idea of the Communist is to seize power with the aid of the tommy gun or any other weapon on which he can lay his hands. His aim is revolution and bloodshed, in order to make a quick approach to a totalitarian regime. The doctrine expounded by Mr. Wells, the president of the miners’ federation, in principle is basically the same as that expounded by the Labour party to-day, namely the socialization of the means of production. It was argued in my early days in this Parliament that the capitalist and imperialist countries were the real menace to world peace. I heard that argument dozens of times, particularly from the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), one of whose- pet subjects was the Imperialist menace of Great Britain. It was used also at the outbreak of the war, at Trades Hall conferences, at which the people of Downing-street were described as scabs ‘ who had instigated an Imperialist war. Yet the history of the last decade shows that the capitalist countries have been the peaceful ones, whereas the socialist countries, or those expressing in some form the basic doctrine of Karl Marx, led the world to its present blood bath. In the dying days of the year 1931, I had the privilege of having on the platform at one of my first meetings a man who subsequently became famous as the Prime Minister of this country. I refer to the late Eight Honorable J. A. Lyons. He uttered some very true words that night in the presence of the people of Wangaratta. They can well be repeated to-night, and could be broadcast with advantage to the four corners of this country. They were -
You talk about moderates in the Labour party. I tell you that there are no moderates to-day in the Labour party, that they are in toto in agreement with a certain policy which I believe is false to the true traditions and doctrines of the Australian people. [ regard that as a statement of the truth. There are no moderates in the present Labour party. It may be that one section speaks differently from others. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) and the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) may speak differently from the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). Some members of the party may prefer the high road and others the low road. But if they are true to their political faith, their ultimate goal is the same.
The Speech of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester contains a forecast of the future. To-morrow, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) is to introduce banking legislation. I do not know what it contains, but I have a fairly good idea. The first aim of the socialists always must be to obtain control of the people’s money. If they can secure ‘a grip on the money of the people they can do likewise with the freedom of the people. Wherever the doctrine of Karl Marx has been given expression, the story is the same. The way to power lies through the money of- the people. So thi1 Governor-General’s Speech fired the first shots in the war for socialism which eventually will envelop Australia. The object of the Constitution alteration referendum was to obtain additional powers for the Commonwealth. The people, realizing that there could not be freedom under a socialist State, and that, concurrently with government control of industry, there must be the means to control and regiment man-power, rejected the proposals that were placed before them. Having failed to obtain additional power by such means, the Government now proposes to take another course. The socialist ship of state is to leave port to-morrow. It is loaded to the gunwales with all the bureaucrat? that it needs. On its decks are arrogance and ambition sufficient to satisfy any follower of Karl Marx, and at the masthead is the flag of socialism.
From ‘ the time of Runnymede, the British people have developed a system of government and a conception of life which became soundly established during the reign of Queen Victoria. It is a system that has spelt freedom for the individual. Not only has it produced the best form of government, but in addition it has given to the world the greatest advances which history has recorded. The theory of Karl Marx, and the system of totalitarianism expressed through socialism, are as false as hell itself. I have no hesitation in saying that although we on this side may be few in number, we shall fighsuch a policy all the way. I cannot imagine any government of the present, day developing along the lines of socialism. In many respects the Labour party has- gone a long way since I first entered this House. To-day, it is firmly seised of the necessity for international co-operation, and a soundly conceived national defence. What is more wonderful, it is imbued with the idea that if Australia is to continue to be a free country in the south seas it must attract to its shores an unlimited population. There is a strange affinity between water, people and money in that all three always flow to the freest point. The reason for the migration of people is that they are attracted by the prospect of freedom and the incentive of the material or spiritual wealth which they believe they will find in the new country. In the ten-year period from 1850 to 1S60, concerning which I refreshed my memory recently, one of the most remarkable advances in our short history occurred, because in those ten years approximately 1,000,000 people arrived in Australia. No wonder there are people who talk about the glories of the ‘fifties and the sixties! What spurred them to come to this country? Was it the existence of a perfect social system, with a payment of £1 10s. a week as an old-age pension? No. It was because, gold was glittering in this jewel of the South Seas. They came, expecting to find wealth and to escape from many of the hidebound traditions of the Old Country. It was no mere spirit of adventure that led men of our race to round the Cape of Good Hope or to cross the Atlantic in the Mayflower. People will always go to a country which, in their opinion, will give to them room for the expression of their individuality and the hope of greater advancement and higher rewards than they would have in their homeland. As I. view the world to-day, there will be after the war a confused Europe, torn and twisted .by strife for a second time in from 20 to 30 years. The hopes and expectations of the people have been smashed time and again. Many of them will be inclined to cut adrift from the old alliances and traditions which have led them into nothing but blood baths. They may well say, “ There is freedom, a new life, and hope for us in a country like Australia “. A tide of people might well flow to this country, and if we absorb them properly a good deal of our fear of the millions of Asiatics to the north of this continent will disappear within the next 50 years. But. that cannot be done by shutting out the use of English money on such things as airways. I cannot see anything wrong with the introduction of new money to this country. Almost invariably, it is accompanied by new ideas and more people. I come from a small country town. The people of my district are always hoping that somebody with money will start new enterprises in their midst, and thus open up and transform the whole of the surrounding country. Yet in a broadcast speech the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) said, in effect, that the mere prospect of an English company pouring millions of pounds into this country for the development of airways was something at which to shudder. According to him, this, above all, must not happen. If that be sense, I do not know the meaning of the term. To introduce a socialistic policy at this stage of Australia’s development is tocommit a colossal blunder.
Many honorable members who participated in this debate addressed themselvesto subjects of purely domestic concern.,, but the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.. Menzies) very properly brought the discussion back to matters affecting the country’s war effort. He mentioned specifically the part being played by the Australian Imperial Force in the islands to the north of Australia. The Australian Imperial Force is our brain child. It was the Government which we supported that originated the idea of the second Australian Imperial Force, when the Labourparty’s idea of Australia’s participation in the war was to send to Great Britain, amillion pounds worth of food. We sent the Australian Imperial Force overseas,, where it covered itself with glory on the battlefields of Greece, Crete, Syria and North Africa. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) said that theAustralian Imperial Force had to fight in Greece and Crete without proper equipment. That is true, just as it istrue that at the beginning of the war every British soldier had to fight without proper equipment. So far as our own men are concerned, we on this side of the House are less to blame for the lack of equipment than are those on the other side. When we went to the country in 1937 on what was largely a defence issue we were bitterly opposed by the present Prime Minister, and’ we lost several seats. We knew that it would be of no use to try to induce the easygoing Australian public, who did not like heavy taxation, to go more than a certain distance in .defence expenditure.
– During that election campaign, honorable members opposite proved to their own satisfaction that aircraft could not bomb naval craft-
– That is not so, but in 1936 we set about building aircraft in this country, and by 1939 we had at least some craft in the air. While honorable members opposite were talking about aircraft, we began to build them. The machine we got into the air was not the latest, but it played a large part in the training of our airmen. At that time, wc got together the nucleus of a body of skilled workers who, since then, have built something better. It is only now that we are getting any really effective craft into the air. Whatever may be said of the Wirraway, it was at least a useful training aeroplane. When the production of Wirraways ceased, no other aircraft of any value were produced for a considerable time. I do not believe that any democratic government could, before the war, have developed a full-blooded defence programme in Australia. It could have been done only by the application of Gestapo methods. It is true that men had to fight ill-equipped in the early days of the war. Somebody had to fight. Somebody had to try to stem the rising tide of Nazi-ism, which otherwise would have engulfed the world-. Honorable members will recall that when Mr. Churchill visited one of the bombed areas of London, he mounted a heap of rubble and, while the bombs were still bursting in the neighbourhood, declared -
I know that wo have not had all that we should. They aru doing their worst, and we are doing our best, but the day will come when we shall give it back in good measure.
We know that the British forces, which then fought unaided, did succeed in holding the fort long enough to enable the home front to be organized. Thereby, they changed the whole course of the war. Expert commentators have said that the three weeks’ delay suffered by the German Army because of the holdup in Greece meant the difference between the Germans getting to Moscow and not getting there. For the Germans, it was a matter of “ Moscow for the winter “, and because they suffered those three weeks’ delay, they never got into Moscow, and the Russians were able to fight back. History has shown that, in a case of a Russian campaign, when winter comes let the invading army watch out. If our men did not have all the equipment which they should have had, they let flesh and blood take the brunt. The strength of a nation does not depend upon bread alone. It is nourished on its traditions, and expresses itself in the courage and sacrifice of its men, and the devotion of its women. This was not the first time in the history of Britain that men have had to fight in the early part of a war without proper equipment, but they have always held the fort. That is why our flag still flies to-day, and because of the sacrifices that were then made we are to-day a stronger and a better people, so that Mr. Churchill was able to say of Great Britain, “ This country Ls the most united country in the world
I am far from satisfied with the present role allotted to the Australian Imperial Force. Varying opinions on this subject have been expressed by members of the Advisory War Council. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) seemed reasonably well satisfied with the task which has been allotted to the Australian forces. Nevertheless, the fact remains that there are two divisions rusting in idleness in Australia. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) expressed grave doubt as to whether our forces were being properly used. It cannot be denied that the Australians, who are the finest front-line troops in ‘the world, are being employed in mopping up Japanese who do not, in the main, matter at all. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) said that there were 16,000 Japanese on Bougainville, but those Japanese have been by-passed, and are, to’ all intents and purposes, immobilized. They have no command of the sea or of the air. Even if they are working a few cabbage patches to keep themselves alive, 30 much the better for us when we take the islands over from them. Why waste lives fighting them now, when they will have to be recalled by whatever government is in power in japan at the end of the war without our firing a single shot or losing a single life? They will have to be recalled just as those Germans will be recalled who are now shut up in the Channel Islands, and in the French Atlantic ports of Lorient and St. Nazaire. [Extension of time granted.] It seems to me that our forces are being required to fill an undignified role. I should like some more information about,these “ mopping-up “ operations. I should like to think that there is something more to what they are doing than merely providing the Prime Minister with the opportunity to say at the peace conference that our troops cleared the Japanese from Australian territories. If there are two divisions rusting in Australia it cannot be claimed that they are helping to bring the war to a speedy conclusion. They are, by their inactivity, helping to prolong the war.
– I dare say the Combined Chiefs of Staff will be greatly instructed by what the honorable member is saying.
– I should like to know something of the role played by the Australian Government in the recall of the 9th Division. The Prime Minister has said that five governments were concerned.
– The five governments had nothing to do with the recall of the 9th Division.
– I understand that the Australian Government recalled the 9th Division at a time when it was proposed by the powers that it should go through the North African campaign with the other troops.
Mr.curtin. - I do not think the honorable member understands very much.
– If the information cannot be given in this House, let us have a secret meeting of members, so that we may hear what happened. During this debate, widely differing opinions have been expressed by members of the Advisory War Council. It is generally believed that, after the paths of the Americans and the Australians diverged, the Americans were bound to go to the Philippines where they had suffered defeat, just as I think we are bound to go where we had suffered our greatest defeat - to Singapore, and in company with our British friends, keep a date there with the Japanese. Our forces have a very direct interest in the Netherlands East Indies, Burma and Malaya. Above all, they should be given the opportunity to avenge what was perhaps the greatest defeat ever suffered by British arms - the loss of 80,000 troops at Singapore. I want to know further what was this Government’s role in connexion with the loss of Singapore.
– What does the honorable member mean - this Government’s role?
– I have heard it said on good authority that the British Government would have liked to take the troops out of Singapore.
– The honorable member should refresh his memory. When I was Leader of the Opposition, the present Leader of the Australian Country party was Acting Prime Minister. The CommanderinChief in that theatre of war visited Australia in an endeavour to get the kind of assistance which he needed at that time. The government of the day was not capable of helping him, and when a warning was issued, the then Prime Minister delivered a speech in London which gave great satisfaction to Japanese diplomats.
– Do not get away from the point. The Prime Minister is the greatest exponent of laying smoke screens. He is talking about a period months before that about whichI am talking. I am talking about the loss of Singapore, and more than 80,000 British and Australian troops.
– Of course, preparations had to be made long before the attack was launched, if it were to be resisted.
– What I am worrying about is whether the British Government did or did not want to rescue those men, and what part the Australian Government was to play. That is what I am worrying about.
– Oh, the honorable member is worrying !
– Yes. I and a lot more people want to know the truth, even if it can only be told in a secret meeting to honorable members. I hope that before Jong we shall hear that the men of the Australian Imperial Force are to have a more important job to do, that th’ey are to be alongside their British comrades, and that they will be used, as they should be, to bring this war to a speedier conclusion.
There are many subjects which I should like to debate now, but cannot owing to luck of time. I content myself for the present with debiting the plight of the primary industries under the policy of this Government. We have long prided ourselves upon being a great primary producing nation. In normal times, we export vast quantities of primary products. Before the war rapid advances were being made in all branches of rural industry. Yet, to-day, we are short of wheat, oats, chaff, hay, maize, and barley. I know that we are passing through the worst drought in our history, and I do not deny its ravaging effects upon primary production; but no one an get away from the fact that much of the shortage of essential foods has been caused by the lack of, proper oversight and direction resulting from bad policy. We on thus side of the chamber have continuously urged the Government to do two things that are done in Great Britain and as the result of which, according to a recent report on Rural England, the British countryside has never looked so prosperous and well kept, despite the war. How different things are in Australia! The two things needed are payable prices for the farmers and payable wages for the farm hands. In Australia, the majority of prices were pegged by this Government after the outbreak of war at levels less than the cost of production operating when the war broke out. Since then costs of production have considerably risen.
– That is not true.
– In some instances it is.
– It is not.
– Yes it is. The ceiling price fixed for hay was low and costs increased. The farmers had no inducement .to produce hay. Two or three weeks ago, I asked the Acting Prices Commissioner to supply me with all the ceiling prices that affect the man on the land. I have not received the information, but that is typical of all government departments. However, I have the figures published in Stock and Land, a reliable newspaper. It gives the price of oats at 3s. a bushel. From experience, I can say that twenty years ago oats at 3s. a bushel would have only been barely payable.
– The honorable member omitted to say that that is the price at growers’ sidings.
– All right, at growers’ sidings. Twenty years ago, 3s. a bushel for oats would have been barely payable, and since then growers’ costshave greatly increased. I have- not time to go through all the prices, but the price of oats suffices to prove my contention that the ceiling prices are far too low foi- men to continue in production. If the Government desires, as it should, to make oat-growing attractive it must raise the price by at least 6d. a bushel. M remaining time enables me to deal only with wheat. Stupid class-conscious legislation embodied in the Scully plan hai retarded production. What has happened i3 typical of the Labour party’s approach to a national matter. The Government said to itself, “ There are a lot of little men in the wheatgrowing industry. There are some big men, but we do not worry about them. They do not vote for us in any case. We must work on lines that will bring kudos to us”. Therefore, it limited the guaranteed price to the first 3,000 bushels produced. That limitation brought in 70 per cent, of the wheat-growers, but they grow only 30 per cent, of the wheat. The remaining 30 per cent, of the wheatgrowers are the “ big “ men, who grow 70 per cent, of the wheat. The result was that, denied a payable price for their wheat, many of those growers swung their activities to raising mutton, lamb and wool.
– The meat was wanted.
– It was, hut, in conjunction with the shortage of labour, which has not yet been given to the primary industries, the stupid policy of this Government has resulted in a shortage of wheat. A few weeks ago, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) stated that from then on no wheat would be available to feed sheep, apart from stud sheep. To a slight degree that decision has since been altered. I warn the Government that unless it ensures the maintenance of fodder to the millions of sheep in the drought-stricken areas, if the drought continues until the end of May, when we shall have the cold blasts of winter, it can expect a los.« of from 20,000,000 to 30,000,000 sheep. That would .be a national disaster. A political approach to a subject needing statesmanship has brought this nation to a serious pass. The Government has committed blunder upon blunder. For instance, the farmer can get neither sufficient labour nor sufficient material. “We have been told ,by the ‘Government that the shortage of man-power to-day is worse than ever ‘before, ‘but I am unconvinced. I have learned from people in munitions factories, aircraft factories, the food control and government offices, that a deuce of a lot of loafing is going on. At Coalcliff colliery, which the Government took over, the number of men employed has increased and the production has fallen. There is waste everywhere, and as the- result lack of confidence is permeating the whole community. Even in secret, I should like to be told’, as we were told two or three years ago, what the munitions programme is. I know that we are building Lancaster bombers to take the air when the war is over.
– We are starting to build them.
– Yes, starting to build them; that is all. I know one man on the land who has been told that he cannot be provided with wire netting for many months. A constituent of mine boring for water to supply stock-owners asked for galvanized iron and was told that he could not be supplied for nine months. That, when stock are dying for want of water !
– Men are dying, too.
– Yes, and men must have food in order to live. I want to know what is causing the lack of. these vital materials. As a representative of the primary producers, I have every right to expect that I shall be told what is happening in regard to the munitions programme. The information must be given to the House under a bond of secrecy, if it cannot be given- to the people. I see that you are rising, Mr. Speaker, to tell me that my time has expired. So I shall sit clown, and leave the rest of my speech for some other lime. All I say in conclusion is that we should do much better if, instead of rushing into experiments in socialism, we got down to the immediate task of. winning the war in order that our kinsmen in the hands of the Japanese may be soon liberated.
.- I suppose I should apologize to my constituents, if not to the House, for having delayed for so long my maiden speech in this Parliament. Since my election in 1943, I have listened with rapt attention to speeches made on both sides on the war itself, and the problems that will confront us when the war is over. Before I entered this chamber and before the Menzies Government was supplanted by the Curtin Government I was perturbed about the safety of the Australian people. I knew the defenceless state of the Queensland coast. My mind goes back to the years before Germany plunged the world into war when, except for the short period in which the right honorable, member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), hampered by a hostile Senate, tried to guide our destinies, anti-Labour parties had occupied the treasury bench since the fall of the Fisher Government. During those years every effort by the Labour party, thwarted by its occupancy of the Opposition benches in its desire to ensure the taking of adequate measures for our safety, met with an utterly negative response from those whom the country had entrusted with the duty to safeguard it.
After the last war Australia was one of the nations that definitely assisted Germany to create the greatest mechanized army in history. At the same time, we knew that the BerlinRomeTokyo Axis was preparing to make war against us. From time to time honorable members opposite have endeavoured to excuse their misguided policy by ‘advancing many specious arguments, -but ‘they deceived no -one. AntiLabour governments .knew if or years that a -second world war was inevitable. iVs long ago .as 1930 I realized that Japan would attack Australia. That ‘position was made perfectly plain -years ago when the Japanese proclaimed their policy of expansion. Australia was included among the countries ‘that were defined as coming .within the ‘Greater East Asia sphere. A former Prime Minister of Japan declared that Australia would be -the first country that the Japanese would .conquer.
Germany and Italy had been at war with Great Britain for two years -before the Japanese struck at Malaya. I shall not enter into the ‘historical details of the conflict because it does not appear necessary for me to do so. The point Which I emphasize is that successive Commonwealth governments, -whilst knowing perfectly well the ambitions df the Axis, neglected to strengthen the defences of Australia. When the war situation was blackest, the Labour ‘Government took office, and we are -proud of its achievements. It courageously placed this nation on a -war-time footing and made the country secure against invasion, so that our wives and1 children were-not molested. Being a resident of Queensland, I ‘have, perhaps, a better -knowledge than most other Australians have of the defenceless condition df this country before the Curtin Government “took office. In the preparation for the -defence of Australia, Queensland was totally ignored. Our people in - the north were to have been sacrificed. Even though the invader did not set foot on our shores, no ‘State has suffered economically and socially ‘from the war ‘to such a degree as has Queensland. “Before the outbreak of war, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, and the then Minister for the Army, Mr. Spender, cn their missions abroad, declared that in the event df war, Australia would be impregnable. Mr. Casey, who was the Minister for Supply, and later became British Minister in the Middle ‘East, stated in London after the commencement o’f hostilities -
The Commonwealth is self-contained in all the main lines of armanent and ammunition.
We -ave practically independent of all outside .sources of raw materials and the finished product.
If any one tells me that we were totally independent of outside -sources of supply, I shall regard him as being either -a knave or a damn fool. In June, 1938, the then Minister for Defence in the United Australia party- Government made this astounding statement -
The Royal Australian Air Force was one of the most up-to-date air forces in the world.
Four months later, he announced “that he “had the satisfaction of being able to assure Cabinet, ‘from his own personal investigations, that Australia’s military organization was complete for any emergency”. Three years later we realized that our preparations had been far from complete. Those statements illustrate how incompetent were those people to safeguard this Commonwealth. Inept in peace, they were hopeless in war-time administration. In “May, 1939, the then Minister for the Army, Mr. Spender, said -
When war involving Australia, does occur the -Commonwealth is prepared to meet it.
We know that we were not in any such position. Three clays before Germanyattacked Poland, Mr. Menzies said -
Foi- the first time in history, Australia is so -thoroughly prepared for eventualities that it Iras complete plans, fully documented, for taking all -those steps which would need to be token after an actual declaration of war.
All that the anti-Labour Government had were “ documents “. Meanwhile the troops lacked tanks and guns- and planes. That government “ sold “ the people of Australia. The right honorable gentleman -knew -that his statement was a damned lie. .These remarks are not to be construed as a personal attack on honorable members opposite. -I participated in this debate for the purpose of replying to- criticisms by honorable members opposite of the Curtin Government’s conduct of the war. I declare emphatically that the Labour Government has done infinitely more than any of its predecessors to safeguard Australia from invasion. Unfitted to organize the country for war, the ‘tories failed the people and lulled them into a false sense of security. In a crisis, they were found wanting. They were not concerned with the fate of Australia. They had no Australian outlook or sentiment. They were serving the interests of people who desired to appease Germany and Japan. The only people who do not gain anything from a policy of appeasement are the common people. They suffer in peace and in war. I have yet to learn that the common people derived any advantages from an appeasement policy.
The Leader of the Opposition, and other honorable members opposite, criticized the Government’s war effort. When a nation goes to war it needs an army. Wars cannot be fought without armies. The strength of the army necessary in the circumstances of a particular war must be determined by military officers trained in, the art of war. The Government has accepted the advice of such experts. In the early days of this war the members of the Opposition said, “Put everybody into the Army”. Later they said, “ Release everybody from the Army “. The Government has had to be guided in this matter by expert advice. Possibly I have been less successful than most honorable members in securing releases from the Army, but I realize the difficulties of the Government.
Australia is probably the most fortunate country in the world for it has been entirely free from invasion. Our people are able still to attend horse races, the pictures, dog races, or wherever else they desire to go, and, to a considerable degree, the administration of this Government has contributed to that freedom. Shortly after the first Curtin Government assumed office it had to face the very serious problem of providing for the defence of Australian territory, for Japanese aggression had suddenly made the position acute. How was the Government to meet the situation? Honorable gentlemen opposite contended that Great Britain should have been approached for help, but we all know that Great Britain, which had by its attitude in the days of appeasement, helped Germany to prepare for war, was unable to do anything for Australia, for it had to prepare to meet the most effectively mechanized armies the world had ever seen. I have no wish to say anything derogatory of the United
Kingdom for we can understand the circumstances under which the British leaders were practically forced to say to Australia, “You must look after yourselves. If you cannot do so, you will have to sink “. In these circumstances the Curtin Government was forced to look elsewhere for help, and the Prime Minister wisely looked to the United States of America. The Opposition, at that time, accused the Government of having torn Australia away from the Mother Country; but I ask, where would this country have been had America not literally poured into it hundreds of thousands of troops and immense quantities of war equipment? The Government also recalled the Australian Imperial Force from the Middle East, and this act undoubtedly had a restraining effect on the Japanese. I do not claim any credit for what the Government did in those days, for I was not a member of the Parliament at that time, but at least I was a loyal supporter of the Labour party. The consequence of the Government’s actions was that when the last general elections occurred the present Prime Minister was returned to power with a larger majority than the Labour party has ever had in the history of federation. That was a complete justification of the Government’s administration.
I consider that the Government should now give its attention to the measures necessary to ensure the economic security of the people in the days immediately ahead of us. I make no apology for saying that. As a member of the working-class, I consider it to be my duty to advocate the claims of the working-class in this House. We believe that a better state of human society is possible, and we intend to do everything in our power to improve the living conditions of the people. It is all very well for the Government to send a delegation to the San Francisco conference to give consideration to the peace terms, but I consider that a responsibility also rests upon it to ensure the economic well-being of Australia, The Labour party stands for the preservation of human rights and the elevation of living standards. A good deal has been said in recent days about our so-called civilization, and the freedom we enjoy. What freedom do we enjoy? We have freedom to work, if we can get it; we have freedom to walk the streets, if we have not the money to pay a bus-faro ; we have freedom to allow our children to go cold and hungry, if we have not the wherewithal to clothe and feed them. Such a civilization may well be called brutalization. I know a. good deal about the harshness of life. I have never known the care and attention of a mother and father, for my parents died when I was very young. Life, for me, has been a hard struggle with many conflicts. I know what it means to be unemployed and also to work for a mere pittance. 1 have seen little children and men and women starving, and begging for bread. Is such a. life to be called civilization? If people tell me that a life which is marred by poverty, crime, bloodshed, prostitution and war is civilization, I refuse to believe it. Civilization does not exist where those horrors are to be found.
I look for a better world. I hope that in the days that follow this war we shall not pass through the ordeal to which our people were subjected after the last wer. We all remember that a false boom occurred soon after the cessation of hostilities in 191S, but was followed by the worst depression that the world has ever known, when governments in every country were forced to take instructions from a gang of international financiers whose only aim was to secure profits for themselves. In the days that follow this war we must seek and secure economic and social security. There must be no more depressions. People say that Australia cannot be selfcontained, and that we cannot live within ourselves. I have yet to be convinced of the truth of that statement. Let us assume for a moment that, by some catastrophe, Australia was completely cut off from the rest of the world. Does any honorable gentleman consider that we should not be able to provide food, raiment and shelter for our own community? It has been said to me that the wealth of a country is determined by what it produces. [Extension of time granted.’] The wealth of a country is determined not by what it produces but by what the people eat and wear, and the. recreation and leisure they enjoy. In view of what the present Government has done for the people during the war. and what it intends to do in the ensuing peace, I can see no reason why it should not retain their confidence. Then, it will not. be long before Australia will become one of the greatest countries on earth.
Many arguments have been advanced in support of the need for an increase of our population. The insufficiency of the present population has been demonstrated during the war; it has not enabled us to meet fully all of our commitments. It is claimed that this country can carry an additional 10,000,000. 20,000,000, 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 people. I am not prepared to argue in favour of an influx of population until a state of economic security has been established for the people who already are here. When we have satisfied ourselves that we have so developed our primary and secondary industries that we can absorb a larger population than we now have, I shall be prepared to advocate that others shall be brought in, but riot, otherwise.
Housing is a subject with which I am particularly concerned. In common with probably all my colleagues, I have studied it for a long time. I have also been the victim of circumstances in relation to it. When I assumed the responsibility of maintaining a wife, I had the obligation of providing accommodation for her. For a time, under the rack-renting system which operated in New South Wales, 1 paid an exorbitant rental. I then decided to build a home for myself. Under the housing schemes of the States, a deposit is required, and fortunately I had sufficient to make one. Under the Workers’ Dwellings Act, my payments for a house costing £850 extended over a period of twenty years, at the end of which I discovered that in the aggregate they amounted to enough to purchase two houses of the same price for cash. 1 do not claim that Queensland is the most advanced State in Australia, but at, least it has given a lead on many occasions te other States in housing as well as in other matters. It has a Workers’ Dwellings Act and a Workers’ Homes Act. I have always considered that housing should be a Commonwealth and not a State matter, but I accept the fact that there must be a liaison between the two authorities because of the decision of the people at- the recent Constitution alteration referendum. Under the Workers7 Dwellings Act, a. deposit of 5 per cent, is made on perpetual lease conditions. For a house- which costs £S00, the deposit is £40 and the weekly payment 17s. 8d. An insurance policy is taken out in the purchaser’s name and the premium is included in the payment that he makes. Should be die at any time, even one day, after taking possession, the home becomes the property of his widow without her having to make any additional payment. P hope that proposals for- an enlargement of Commonwealth powers will again be submitted to the people in the very near future, and that for their own protection the- people will see the wisdom of granting them.
I have discussed with different Ministers the subject of public health. The responsibility for the maintenance of health should be assumed, not by the individual, but by the nation. I heard the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) speak to-day of silicosis. There are also many other diseases from which the people suffer. I have found in the past- that unless- one has the- money to pay for treatment, one cannot get it. For many years Queensland has attempted to provide, so far as was humanly, possible,, all medical services that were needed by people in- bacl health and it has achieved’ more than any other State in respect of maternity welfare and general health-, I am not satisfied with the present position under which conflicting interests operate in making determinations in respect of the health of; the community. The matter should be under one control, and the best advice, as well as free medical attention, should be available to alii I- am concerned not so- much about curing people who unfortunately have- contracted disease, as about preventing the occurrence of disease. Unless- we progress along those lines in the future, we shall not raise -the standard of health of our people.
I am convinced that when the Government makes its next appeal to the people it will have achieved what they will’ regard as worth while. Already it has ensured our protection. The people have trusted it- in a time of war; and’ after the passage of legislation that is- to be introduced they will’ again- entrust it with their economic- and social future.
– The right honorable the Leader of theOpposition (Mr. Menzies), in this debate^ spoke on a very high plane, indeed. He referred to a matter- of high- politics. It seems to me that that has not been sufficiently recognized by honorable members who have since spoken. The point that he took, as I understand- it; was that the present conduct of the war; apart altogether from any questions of victory or defeat, must have tremendous- influence upon political developments in the Pacific zone in the future.
We speak frequently of spheres of influence. That, at best, is- a term merely of convenience; because, in a world: as close-knit as ours is to-day, the influence of any country cannot in any way be defined. Circumstances and events in one corner of the civilized globe influence events at the farthest end of the. earth’. But it is proper, nevertheless; and quite easy, to determine the specific and.- particular spheres of interest of every country.. It is; particularly so for. us in Australia because, apart, from New Zealand; no country in the world- is so clearly, andi so entirely concerned with the developments in. the Pacific zone- as is Australia. A little while- ago, I was in- the Australian National Airways office in Melbourne, when my. attention was directed- to a- poster on the wall,, and to me- iti was a. revelation. Probably we- learn more quickly and easily- through our eyes- than in any other way: The poster was a representation of Australia in. a kind of perspective map - dramatized, of course. It showed. Australia as, in effect, a- Pacific- island, and I became more keenly, conscious at that moment than ever before of our isolation from the rest of the- occidental world, by the waters of the- Pacific. As events move and develop in the Pacific, so will our future- be influenced. During the reply of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin)- to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (My. Menzies) he said that the policy of- the Government was to give general agreement to,- and’ fit in with, the plans- developed by the United States of America and Great Britain for the conduct of the war. I hare- little to say by way of disagreement with that, always assuming that Australia’s voice is really heard. As the end of the war approaches, hovever, it- becomes’ more and more necessary that our acquiescence in any plan should be given only after the very closest scrutiny, and after insistence that our views he considered in the formation of the plan. Even the most beneficent of plans should not be formed unless our voice is heard. No voice but Australia’s own can express its needs or interpret its aspirations,, and no country save New Zealand has greater cause to apprehend a future war. No other country is so completely contained within the Pacific zone, and none has greater need or greater right to share in the development of policies in that area, and in their direction. That right is founded, not on our geographical position alone, but also on our intimate representation of those people who, at one stage of the war, held in. their keeping the destiny of the whole world. It is recorded of Jeanette Rankin, the first woman who ever spoke in the American Congress, that when it came to a decision between peace and war, she burst into tears, and said, “ I cannot vote for war “. It is naturally abhorrent, particularly to women, to take any part in the formulation of plans for war, and I would very gladly side-step my responsibility to-night to make any comment on the war situation. My emotions are heavily engaged. Members of my own family are in almost every theatre where Australians are operating to-day. I do not for one moment underrate the work being done by our forces in Bougainville, New Britain, and New Guinea, nor does any honorable member on this side of the House; but I cannot forget, either, that there are 20,000 of my young countrymen waiting in Asia for us to liberate them. Some of them came from my home town. I knew them when they were little boys. I now know their young wives; some of whom have not even heard from their husbands for three years. There were 20,000 of them, but they are dying from privation and disease, dying in Japanese transports’ carrying them back to Japan.In every home from which one of these men came this query is constantly being’ raised : When are our men to be released, and what are the plans of the Government for their release?’” I do not for one moment presume to> make any comment on the strategy of the war, but I say this: General MacArthur is one of the greatest military figures of this age. There is in him also something of a great poet. He has an instinct for that which appeals to the human heart. General MacArthur knew - none better - that when he himself landed on Corregidor it would give a fillip to the war effort of the United States of America that would be without parallel. I say to the Government that if it could be accomplished - the Government knows best how - that we could have some part in the retaking of Singapore1, it would have such an effect on the people of this country that there would be no longer any need to concern ourseslves with that lack of morale of which the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) complained during the last session. I believe that the flagging spirit and lack of interest sometimes shown would disappear, and we should have new energy and new courage to go on to the end of the war.
I ask the Government to make some kind of announcement regarding the plans which are being made for the reception of our prisoners in Japanese hands, as an earnest of the fact that they are not forgotten. I ask the Government, also, to make a statement regarding the plans for the relief of other internees in Eastern countries. There are 1,500,000 white people between here and Tokyo, and the organization necessary for their rehabilitation and repatriation will be tremendous. In this I believe that the Australian Government has some direct responsibility beyond its share in the work of Unrra. I ask the Government to make a statement on this subject, and on its plans for the rehabilitation of our war prisoners, as one way of furthering the war effort.
There was in the Governor-General’s Speech a reference to the punishment of war criminals, a matter which has given me a great deal of anxious thought. Unspeakable things have been done in this war, things which cannot he overlooked. Those who have suffered will not allow them to he overlooked ; yet we must realize the grave difficulties inherent in the business of seeking out war criminals and bringing them to justice. There is general agreement that those guilty of grave crimes must be punished, but I am convinced that the bringing of: them to justice must be a part of the war, and not a part of the peace. It may be achieved under the terms of armistice; it cannot be achieved, under the terms of a peace settlement. There artpeople who fear that we too readily forgive. It is not that so much, as that we too readily forget. The lessons of history are apparent to us only at such times as we can take no action to give effect to our learning. The only treaty concluded after the last war that has endured until to-day is the Treaty of Lausanne, and that was concluded after a long interval when all the passion that the war had given rise to had disappeared. I. welcome the San Francisco conference, not as a forerunner of the peace conference, but as the forerunner of other conferences, similar in character to itself. Some one in the United States of America said recently that it does not matter whether the forthcoming peace is a hard peace or a soft one; the thing that matters is that it shall be an enduring peace. Therefore, I hope that the peace treaty will not be signed for a long time after the cessation of the actual fighting. “We have nothing to guide us in the formulation of peace terms. The experiences of the years before the war are not going to ‘be repeated in the years after the war. We are going into unknown country. We must feel our way into the peace. Therefore, I hope that the San Francisco conference will he the first of several that will lead us gradually forward until we can make a peace, confident that everything ha3 been seen in the light of common sense and sanity, and in the desire to make peace enduring.
Mr. Churchill has been quoted on numerous occasions, and his most popular utterances are those which deal with the war. His great and stirring addresses calling the people to battle are probably without parallel in the history of statesmanship, but here is an extract from a recent speech -
Having at the end of my life acquired some influence upon affairs, I wish to make it clear that I would not prolong this war needlessly for a single day, and my hope is that if and when the British people are called by victory to share the responsibility of shaping the future we shall show the same poise and temper as we did in the hour of our mortal peril.
There are people who have been under the heel of the conqueror and we cannot expect from them, when that heel has been, removed, the poise and temper that the people of Britain showed in that hour. We have only to look at those countries already liberated to realize that forces are at work which will make even internal peace extremely difficult to achieve in any one of them. It seems to me then that the keynote of the next few years, the keynote of the San Francisco conference, must be patience. Again 1 say that we must feel our way into peace. I believe, as most people present in this chamber believe, that in some form of collective security our only hope for peace lies. Some form of international cooperation has to be evolved, some sort of structure built; but I believe also that any temple of internationalism, of international peace, which we can raise mus have as its supports, pillars of sound nationalism. I see about me everywhere in Australia to-day certain sign? that disquiet me. I believe that there are agencies at work - whether deliberately or accidentally I do not know - which threaten to destroy our traditional culture before we have developed one indigenous to Australia. There if praise ‘ from some people for every country in the world but their own, for the deeds of every nation but -that from which they sprang, and that has an effect upon the minds of certain people, insidious, but none the less real, which will make more difficult the building of the fair Australia for which we all hope. No nation lasts long if it deserts its own gods. Some time ago in Melbourne I watched a march of fighting men just back from New Guinea. In their face0 was the trace of all they had suffered. Some showed signs of illness even as they walked. It was a moving and beautiful sight. At one. stage, they passed a spot in Flinders-street which has a very special interest for me. It is the spot where Batman landed more than 100 years ago to select the site for Melbourne. I wondered, as I watched those hoys, whether any of them thought of that as they passed the place. I have no doubt that probably none of them did. Yet they could no more escape the influence of the time when that historic event took place than they could escape the fact that they were born of certain parents. There was in every man that marched something of the people that founded this nation. There was in every one of them something of the spirit that, through many years, has formed this nation, the spirit of the race from which it sprang. We are not creatures of a day. As the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) pointed out very beautifully not long ago, we live with our background and our past, and if we attempt to divorce ourselves from that we divorce ourselves from the most stabilizing influence that we have. Every member of this House recently had presented to him a beautiful production portraying an artist’s conception of the Four Freedoms, and there was a splendid letterpress with it. Those of us of British race must surely sec that right through the tapestry of our history can be traced a pattern of ever-evolving freedom that finds now, in literary expression in the Atlantic Charter, something which the whole world can see and understand. What are the four freedoms? Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. I hope that every honorable member read the article on freedom from fear, because, if he did, he will know that the part that our race has played is no mean thing for any man to turn away from, and, in spite of every tragedy of our history, there is yet to be seen that slow and certain movement toward that freedom which makes us now the people we are. Listen to what Stephen Vincent Benet wrote -
What do wo mean when we say “ freedom from fear “ ? It isn’t just a formula or a set of words. It’s a look in the eyes and a feeling in the heart and a thing to be won against odds. It goes to the roots of life - to a man and a woman and their children and the home they can make and keep.
Here is a house, a woman, a man, their children. They are not free from life and the obligations of life. But they can be free from fear. All over the world, they can be free from fear. And we know they are not yet free.
It is our pan to continue now in every way and in every place that struggle to make them free.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Williams) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Chifley) read a first time.
War Disposals Commission : Motor Cycles - Black-marketing : Beer - Infantile Paralysis: Featherstone Treatment - Dairying : Milk Prices - Fat Lambs - Potatoes - superphosphate KENMORE sanatorium -
Motion (by Mr. Forde) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Many people whose motor cycles were impressed by the Government at the outbreak of war against Japan have written to me protesting against the method adopted by the War Disposals Commission for the disposal of surplus motor cycles. A typical complaint is that of a constituent, of mine that his motor cycle, a 1938 model 500 cc. type, was acquired for £57 10s., which he considers was £20 less than its value. Now he is being asked to pay £68 for a similar machine, £10 10s. more than he received three years ago. My correspondents complain that dealers, at the time of acquisition, were given 5 per cent. on every machine impressed from them by the authorities. Now the machines are to go through the traders again, and they will once more make a profit on the resale. Thewritersof these letters claim that, instead of these machines going through the various traders, those people whose motor cycles were impressed should have the first opportunity to buy direct from the authorities one like that which they handed over. I ask that the Minister responsible shall look into this matter to see what can be done to satisfy purchasers.
– People were concerned recently by a number of disclosures in the Sydney Sun about black-marketing of beer.
– Where do they get it?
– I shall tell the honorable member the source of supply. I think the Government knows where it is and I want to know what it intends to do about the evil. The disclosures have caused people to ask, as the honorable member for Wilmot asked, where this black-market liquor is coming from?
– Not the black market! I want to know where the white-market beer is.
– It is not bootleg liquor ; it is “ the real McCoy “ and quite obviously it is legally manufactured. The racket is so widespread that every taxi driver in Sydney knows where this blackmarket liquor can be bought. Indeed, many thousands of people in Sydney know just where to go to get it at exorbitant prices. The inspectors concerned and the police are singularly silent about it. Very seldom do we hear of any raids of great importance on, or arrests of, those who are peddling this black-market beer. One wonders why this veil of silence has fallen over this racket. The first question is, what is the source of supply? A little investigation by the responsible officers would show just where the source is, and they could then take the necessary action to dam it. The answer seems to be so easy that one wonders why the source was not blocked long ago. In order that we may get this into proper perspective lot us first examine the basis of the beer quota. In certain localities, the quota is too great now, although it may have been justified when it was fixed, because no change has been made in the quota in accordance with the diminished demand resulting from altered circumstances. So honorable members can see just where the black-market beer is coming from. The quota was first based on the purchases for 1941, less one-third. Later, a concession was given in which the quota was based on the purchases for
January and February, 1942, less onethird. The hottest months of the year, when the consumption of liquor was at its maximum, were taken as the basis for the establishment of quotas.
Now let us consider what is happening in country centres. Take large towns where troops were concentrated in January and February, 1942. In that base period, between 4,000 and 5,000 troops were quartered in the neighbourhood of Tamworth, but to-day the personnel in the camps number only about 1,000 and they are attached to a convalescent depot. Tamworth has more beer than is required to meet local requirements. Indeed, I understand that the Army authorities have already drawn the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to the fact that the surplus of beer at Tamworth is injurious to the convalescent soldiers. The Minister has been asked to do something about the matter, but nothing has been done, and the quota fixed when from 4,000 to 5,000 troops were in that area still operates. Last year about 4,000 troops were located in Dubbo, and the beer allotted to that town was fixed on the 1941 basis. Certain hotels could not sell their 1943 quota because the troops had been moved from that area. Therefore, the hotels deferred their deliveries till 1944, when they were able to take their’ quota in bottled beer. One hotel, which was unable to sell more than 200 dozen bottles of beer when the troops were present, was able, in 1944, to sell 4,000 dozen bottles. I have made close investigation of this matter. When we find that beer has been allotted to towns where formerly there were large troop concentrations, and that the original quota still operates, notwithstanding the fact that the troops have been moved, whilst the hotels have been able to delay deliveries from year to year, and subsequently take out their quotas in bottled beer, one can trace the source of supply of the beer now finding its way to the black market. An increased quota was granted to Berrima because of an increase of the number of industrial workers there, and subsequently that district was classified as an industrial area. After a time the industrial workers left Berrima, but when the Minister was asked for the immediate withdrawal of the increased quota, he directed that the full quota should operate until further notice. The conditions are similar in Goulburn and Wagga.
Honorable members may wonder how the beer is carried to Sydney. It is conveyed there in the bottoms of lorries containing market garden produce, and it reaches the city by various other means. There is no policing of the cargoes being sent to the metropolitan area. One can understand why the black market attracts the attention of gangsters and “standover “ men like those who were prominent in the United States of America in the prohibition days when bootlegged liquor was being got rid of. Brewery carters carry bulk beer to the hotels. The carter says to the publican, “ Your quota for the month is X hundred gallons. I shall deliver to you Y hundred gallons less than that quantity and will pay you Z pounds for the balance “. The publican is quite satisfied because he gets as much for this beer as if he had served it over the counter, but, instead of doing that, he has to work for only a couple of hours in disposing of the beer on hand. Last Christmas I drew the attention of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to blackmarketing operations in Sydney, and I challenged him to take certain action. He did so, and the inspectors appointed to do the job did it with great success. But that was only “ a flash in the pan “, and black marketing has since increased. The evil has never been worse in Sydney than it is to-day. Pillaging on the wharfs has reached an extremely high mark, and this has led to black marketing in other goods. I am concerned with the effect that this will have upon the morals of the community. Black marketing was the forerunner of the gangster and the “ stand-over “ man in, the United States of America. Already, in New South Wales, the signs are evident that gangster methods are being pursued. Honorable members will know, from their reading of the newspapers, that there have been quite a number of violent deaths by shooting recently. People have been “ taken for a ride “, and others have been assaulted. Mob control and gangster methods have sprung into existence hecause of the lucrative nature of black marketing. In my opinion, there is only one way in which to stamp out this evil. The Government must make a thorough investigation of all the possible sources of supply. Wherever liquor is being delivered, the Government must ensure that it is being consumed by the people for whom it is intended. The quota system must be revised so that no centre shall be over-supplied with beer. If the quota for a town were allotted on the basis of large troop or industrial concentrations, and the conditions have now changed, the quota should be immediately reduced. Ir* addition, as a deterrent, the maximumsentence that the law provides must beimposed upon all those who engage in* black marketing.
.- I direct the attention of the Government to the fact that an epidemic of infantile* paralysis is developing in Sydney. To date, 50 cases, with three deaths, have been reported, and my reason for referring to the matter this evening is to ask for an inquiry into a method of treatment, which is being employed by a man who would be known to the medical profession as a “ quack “. He is Mr. Leslie M. Featherstone, of North Caulfield, Victoria. Normally, I would not take any notice of reports of cures by this type of practitioner, but some special circumstances relating to this man haveprompted me to take this action.
This is not the first outbreak of infantile paralysis in Australia. In 1937, 115 deaths occurred out of 1,857 cases, and in the following year 159 deaths occurred out of 2,698 cases. But the deaths are only a part of the tragedy of this dreadful scourge. In the wake of infantile paralysis is the tragedy of the broken lives of children who are condemned to be crippled for life because, to date, no satisfactory method has been found of preventing infantile paralysis. A man whom I believe to be quite uninterested other than that he desires to do something for humanity, brought to my notice evidence of cures effected by this practitioner. My informant himself had a crippled hand for twenty years, due to an accident, but to-day the hand appears to be normal and he has a firm grip with it.I shook hands with him. He has submitted to me evidence of the cure of several children by this particular treatment. What interests me is that it is evidently the formula more than the treatment that is responsible for the results. When looking into these cases I discovered a remarkable document which I desire to place before the Government. It was a letter written on the 7th September, 1937, to the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, Minister for Health and Repatriation -
We, the undersigned, having had personal experience of the efficacy ofthe remedies of Mr. Neil Featherstone, 23 Brunswick Street. Fitzroy, and also some knowledge of the success of the treatment in other cases, are strongly of the opinion that an investigation of the value of the remedies in the treatment of infantile paralysis is amply justified. In view of the increasing seriousness of the outbreak in Victoria, and its possible spread to the Federal Capital Territory, we respectfully urge the Government to institute an examination of the treatment without delay.
Sir W. J. Clemens (formerly Chairman.
Sir Geo. S. Knowles (SolicitorGeneral).
This letter referred to nine cases of children who had been cured by this man’s treatment. It gives the addresses of the parents. I shall not weary the House by reading all the cases, but they can be described as miraculous cures. Honorable members may be interested in one of them -
Stephen Lancaster (Canberra), 3 years 4 months. Paralysed and almost died September, 1030. Certified by two doctors in Canberra, whose names can be supplied, to be Encephalitis Lethargica and diagnosis agreed to by Dr. Butler of the Health Department, which later certified the disease as Polio Encephalitis. Little hope given for saving life and definitely stated that he must inevitably be a cripple and mentally defective if he lived. The inflammation of the brain was so terrible that the doctor stated that nothing could be done by the medical profession. Treated by Mr. Featherstone for one and a half days. Treatment continued by parents under direction by telephone from Melbourne. Case watched by Canberra doctor in case of the necessity of a death certificate. Out of danger in ten days. After three weeks, though still partially paralysed, sufficiently well to take to Melbourne where treatment completed after further eight weeks. To-day at ten years of age he is well-known in Canberra as a vigorous healthy boy who always comes near the top of his class. His parents are prepared to submit the child for examination and to personally give a detailed history of the case which is also well known to the federal Health Department.
All of these cases are well known to the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), who has in his possession case histories and photographic records. I know that one high official did refer the matter to Cabinet in 1937, and that Cabinet almost decided to order an investigation for the purpose of ascertaining whether this formula might save children and parents from misery and suffering. But for some reason or other no action was taken. The originator of the treatment is now dead, but his son, who had worked with his father for ten years, has carried on the practice. I hold no brief for him. I know nothing about his work other than the reports that have been given to me, and the case histories of these children. All that I ask is for an investigation to be made, because this method of treatment may be of some benefit to sufferers. If it saves only one child from misery it will be worthwhile. I understand the attitude of the British Medical Association, and am sympathetic towards it, but this particular man is not a. member of that organization and would not be bound by its rules. As honorable members are aware, the rules of the British Medical Association provide that any formula or discovery made by a member shall be available for the benefit of humanity. But this man probably earns his living from his formula. I am not concerned about that. There may be a way to reward him. During recent years there have been some remarkable discoveries in medicine, and some miraculous cures have been effected by various sulpha drugs and penicillin. These and other remedies have been most effective in the treatment of war wounds, pneumonia, and deep-rooted diseases for which medical men had no cure. The treatment to which I refer is worth investigating. There is nothing to lose, but there may be much to gain by an investigation, and I appeal to the Government to act promptly. I hold no brief for any “quack”, but if there is any chance of finding a cure for infantile paralysis we should do our best to find it.
– I draw attention to the unsatisfactory state of affairs and the grave dissatisfaction which exists in the whole milk trade in New South Wales. In this connexion I desire to read a letter, dated the 1st March, 1945, which I received from the secretary of the Milk Zone Dairymen’s Council in Sydney -
With this letter is enclosed a copy of a letter written to the honorable J. .H. Curtin on the 5th February, 1045. This letter wau written following abortive deputations to the honorable W. J. Scully and the honorable F. M. Forde from this association prior to the withholding of milk supplies early in January this year. The association represents practically every one of the 3,000 small farmers in the New South Wales Milk Zone.
On going through this letter to Mr. Curtin you will see that this council has merely asked that certain matters in dispute be submitted to an independent arbitrator for adjudication.
This letter is written to you to ask whether you will support the Milk Producers of New South Wales in their claim to have their grievances properly dealt with by way of arbitration.
Would you therefore be good enough to let me know whether you are in agreement with the requests of this association, that the matters in dispute be referred to arbitration; we would also like to know if you are prepared to take any steps on the floor of the House directed towards having our claim to arbitration granted?
It will be remembered that on the 1 0th January of this year, the dairymen diverted their milk from the New South Wales Milk Board to other uses. Distasteful as that action was to them, it appeared to be the only possible way in which they could draw the attention, of the public to the procrastination and sharp practices which they were suffering due to the action of the Commonwealth
Government. All that the suppliers asked for was a fair and independent arbitration assessment of their claims which they had sought for the past eight months without result. It may be well to remind honorable members of the dairymen’s fight for justice. In May, 1914, the New South Wales Milk Board, after an investigation of dairymen’s costs, lasting nine months, came to the conclusion that for whole milk received by the board they were entitled to an average price of ls. lid. a gallon. The Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, Professor Copland, immediately stepped in and fixed the price at ls. 6 1/2d. a gallon.. The re-action of the dairymen was to divert supplies immediately. But the matter was settled a few hours later by a temporary subsidization of price, bringing it to the Milk Board figure, and an agreement that there would be an inquiry into costs conducted by representatives of the Milk Board, the Prices Commissioner and the producers’ organization. The promise of the joint inquiry was made by the then Acting Prime- Minister (Mr. Forde). However, faith was not kept with the dairymen, and Professor Copland immediately proceeded to an independent inquiry which lasted about three and a half months, when the price was fixed at ls. 6 3/4d. a gallon. Acting on the promise of the then Acting Prime Minister that if they were dissatisfied with prices the producers should immediately appeal to him, they did so. They were referred to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully). The former told them by letter, that the price would be reviewed in twelve months’ time which, as the secretary of the Milk Zone Dairymen’s Council, Mr. Sedgwick, pointed out in his letter to the Prime Minister of the 5th February, 1945, “is a most comforting thought to the farmer who has gone bankrupt in the meantime “. The Council met the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture by deputation on the 4th October, 1944, and made representations to him. The Minister stated that he was impressed with the case and would have the matter re-opened. The council heard nothing further from him. Finally, in desperation, it turned again to the then
Acting Prime Minister with a request for an independent inquiry, with the result that Mr. P. W. Nette, a Treasury official, and a member of the Prices Stabilization Committee, was appointed. Could any appointment have Deen less likely to convince the farmers that an unbiased inquiry was to be held, because two departments with which Mr. Nette was associated were vitally affected .? The Treasury would necessarily be required to subsidize the consumer of milk, and so it was greatly concerned in keeping farmers’ prices as low as possible. Mr. Nette brought in a finding supporting that of his colleague, Professor Copland. The result was that the farmers diverted their milk, and the great metropolitan areas were short of supplies from the 11th to the 17th January of this year. That state of affairs was ended by the Government showing considerably more haste in attending to milk matters than previously, and also by the decision of the proprietors of the Sydney Morning Herald to appoint an independent firm of accountants to investigate the dairymen’s claims. Temporary drought relief was given. The report of Kent, Brierly and Fisher, the independent accountants, is an illuminating document, and shows only too well that the milk suppliers had very sound reasons for being dissatisfied with the previous “ loaded “ inquiries. The Prices Commissioner’s data for his fixation were based on a sample taken from 51 dairymen out of 3,000 in the zone, and on that sample he worked out that the dairymen received 14.24d. a gallon for milk supplied. The accountants took figures supplied by the Milk Board as to the amount of milk received by the board and the amount sold to manufacturers, which, on the basis of actual deliveries, showed that the price received was 13.78d. a gallon. After demonstrating other anomalies in the calculations of the Prices Commissioner and Mr. Nette, the independent accountants came to the conclusion that the dairymen were entitled to ls. 7.9d. a gallon instead of Professor Copland’s finding of ls.- 6£d. a gallon. In their report, however, Kent, Brierly and Fisher stated that they used certain statements of the Prices Commissioner without being able to inquire into their accuracy. Some of these statements, I understand, the Milk Zone Dairymen’s Council does not accept, as, for instance, Mr. Netted assumption of the amount received for milk for manufacture. In the determination of the price, none of the investigators allowed the dairy-farmer any amount for his skill as a farmer. He receives the same reward as unskilled labour, and yet his work demands knowledge and skill of the highest order. All that the dairymen ask for is a proper inquiry into their work by an independent arbitrator - not a government official - and they state they -will abide by the result of such inquiry. How bitterly they feel regarding the shabby treatment they have received is shown by the following extract from the letter of the secretary of the Zone Council to the Prime Minister, dated the 5th February last: -
You and your Government have flatly refused them arbitration. Arbitration is a plank of the Labour platform. Arbitration is also one of the foundations upon which British justice rests, and yet the Australian public has the spectacle of your Government - a Labour government - denying us arbitration as a means to receiving justice.
To this appeal there has been no reply. On the 28th February I asked the Prime Minister to grant a full and independent inquiry into dairymen’s costs, and for the result of such inquiry to be binding on the Prices Branch. To that appeal, I have had no reply. Subsequent to my questions, there appeared in the press a statement that the Prime Minister had agreed to re-examine the milk price question on certain very limited references. I do not believe that this will satisfy the suppliers. These men have been treated unfairly, and there has been so much procrastination that they are being made desperate. In order to give them justice, the Prime Minister should immediately appoint an independent arbitrator to settle once and for all their basic costs, and a fair price based on those costs should be given for their milk.
.- Earlier to-day I asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) why the price paid in Australia for fat lambs for export to the United Kingdom was approximately 1 1/4d. per lb. less than that paid for similar lambs in New Zealand.
The Minister at first claimed -that my statement was incorrect. I am sure that he misunderstood my question because in a letter which he wrote to me dated the 27th February last, he stated that the prices paid were as follows: - First quality lambs: under 42 lb., average 7j86d. per lb. in Australia, and 9d. per lb. in New Zealand ; over 42 lb., average 7.34d. per lb. in Australia, and 8.50d. in New Zealand-; .Second quality lambs under 42 Jb., average -7.47d. per Jb. in Australia, and 8.75d. in New Zealand; over 42 lb., average 6.64d. per lb. in Australia, and 8.25d. per lb. in New Zealand. The Minister himself, supplied those figures to me. Australian lambs are equal in every respect to New Zealand lambs which are being exported to the United Kingdom. I now ask the Minister to take up this matter with the appropriate authorities with a view to securing the same price for Australian lambs as is being .paid for New Zealand lambs. Should it be impracticable to arrange a new agreement immediately, the Minister should recommend to Cabinet the payment of a subsidy equivalent to the difference between the price paid for Australian lambs and that paid for New Zealand lambs until such time as the agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Commonwealth can be reviewed.
The primary producers of Tasmania are very gravely concerned because only No. 1 grade of potatoes are now being accepted. The growers consider this to be a very grave injustice. They complain that when the contract system was inaugurated for potato growing the price was reduced by approximately £6 a ton. They contend that if they were permitted to sell in the open market during the last three years the price would not have fallen below £20 a ton and at different periods record prices would have been obtained.
– That is the argument advanced by isolationists in the United States of America.
– I do not know what the Minister as talking about; but, apparently, he claims that when the primary producer has a bad time, when there is a glut in the market, ‘the ‘Government does not, and should not, take action, but when (ihe producers ‘are receiving a little of their own back the Government steps in and denies them good prices. Under the present contracts the price for Brownells is £12 10s. a ton, and for Bismarcks £12 a ton. These prices are substantially below the price paid prior to the introduction of the contract system. Despite these facts the farmers of Tasmania and the mainland have loyally accepted the contract system. They have produced a record tonnage of potatoes, but they claim that they have been badly let down by the Government because of its rejection of all potatoes other than No. 1 grade. I hope that the Minister will give consideration to this matter also.
A further complaint by the primary producers is that the present system of control of the dairying industry is. having a very detrimental effect on the -industry. This industry is one of our basic industries. Many others depend upon it, such ns beef production, the supply of milk to cities, fellmongering, chocolate and. ovaltine manufacture, and other minor industries. The importance of the dairying industry, apparently, is being overlooked if one -is to judge by the low prices fixed by the Prices Commissioner and which the dairymen are now compelled to accept. I recognize that substantial subsidies have been made available in respect of butter production, but the cost of production has increased enormously. Notwithstanding the substantial subsidies made available, the price paid to dairymen to-day is still unprofitable. Dairying U definitely a sweated industry. It is no wonder that many are leaving the industry, and that there is a definite shortage of production of essential commodities. The serious decline in butter production in Australia is sufficient indication that something is radically wrong. The decline in the production of butter and the non-rearing of cattle are bound to have very serious repercussions throughout Australia unless something be done immediately to rectify the position. We must encourage the industry. Otherwise, it will take us a decade to effect a recovery.
I wish tq refer briefly to another matter which is interwoven with the welfare of the primary industries. I refer to the .rapid and progressive deterioration of pastures in Tasmania. This problem is causing very serious concern. I urge the Minister to give special consideration to Tasmania’s position in this respect at the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council when the supply of superphosphates is under consideration. [ make this request because Tasmania’s position is so dissimilar to that of the other States. Tasmania suffers special disabilities in respect of soil and climate. Those two factors are of vital importance, and, of course, we have very little control over them. I understand that in large areas on the mainland superphosphate is definitely a good tonic for the soil, but in Tasmania superphosphate is indispensable for 90 per cent, of the improved pastures. This is essential in order to prevent the pastures from reverting to their original primitive and unproductive condition. I understand that in the mainland States much stock is fattened on natural pastures. That is not the case in Tasmania. Top-dressing definitely is needed not only for the benefit of the fat lamb industry but also to assist lambing ewes and the successful rearing of lambs, ft is practically impossible to rear lambs in Tasmania on the natural pastures. Although the State produces very little wheat, oats definitely is a very important crop; and it requires much more superphosphate than does wheat on the mainland. Another disability is that the growing season in Tasmania is much shorter than on the mainland. Without plenty of top-dressing the pastures will not provide adequate winter feed, with the result that there must be more handfeeding.
I urge the Minister to give consideration to the four matters that I have briefly mentioned.
– I associate myself with the effort that is being made by the dairymen who supply the great city of Sydney with whole milk to obtain remunerative prices and conditions comparable with those that are enjoyed by persons engaged in the industries which have built up that great city. I support the demand for a further inquiry with respect to the prices that are being paid at the present time. An inquiry merely in regard to the figures will not overcome the difficulty, or remove the simmering discontent and the frequent shortage of milk, which already is beginning to threaten seriously the health of the people in the greatest city in Australia. Action to cure the position must be taken in regard to not merely the dairymen who supply Sydney but also dairymen throughout the whole of Australia; because, within the last three years, with the approach of every winter milk has had to be rationed. I recall that, returning from a visit to the Army in New Guinea to examine the incidence of malaria, an Army colleague told me that when he returned he found that his wife, sister-in-law and two children - one child not a year old - were supplied daily with only one pint of milk. That condition persisted for nearly a month. But for the artificial milk that was available, many children would have died. As the city grows, the position will become worse. The problem is being tackled from the wrong end. In all the action that has been taken, the price to the consumer has been the determining factor. The aim should be to ensure the most ample supplies of milk for the whole of the people of Australia. Butter is in a similar category. Rationing is adopted in Sydney whenever there is a shortage of feed- in fact, every winter. The time has come when we must realize that thai is the wrong way in which to view the matter. We should first consider what food is necessary for the maintenance of health and proper nutrition throughout Australia. Having determined the quantity of protective foods such as milk, butter, eggs and poultry that it” absolutely necessary, a price incentive should be given to ensure a continuous stimulation of, production. A programme should be drawn up which would always provide an abundance, and in war-time support our Allies as well, as Britain. The Government has no general policy in regard to the production of these essential foods. There is one set of principles in relation to the production of wheat. A. man who grows up to 3,000 bushels receives special consideration. Other principles are applied to the dairymen, the meat industry, the fruit-growers and the growers of vegetables. What we really need is a definite. coherent plan which will ensure that we shall get somewhere. I urge the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) and the Government to revert to the principles which, during the twenty years between the two wars, enabled us to double the production of dairy products. At the end of the last war, the total number of dairy cows in Australia was 1,747,000. When the present war started in 1939, the number was 3,400,000. The production of butter increased from 182,000,000 lb. to 450,000,000 lb., and the number of persons engaged in the dairying industry increased from 57,000 to 124,000. This was achieved by allowing the whole of the industry to be guided and controlled by those actually engaged in it, and by offering all an incentive to do their job. At the present time, the Government gives supplementary concessions of all kinds in addition to the subsidy, not really for the purpose of assisting the dairy-farmer, but more for the purpose of keeping down the price which the consumer has to pay. These numerous concessions are given in such a way that they do not help those who are the worst off, with tile result that they are continually I dropping out of the industry. Feedwheat is provided in order to assist the dairy-farmer, yet a man who is 30 or 40 miles from a railway station cannot secure any means for the transport of that wheat to his property. Nor can he have lime carried on the railways to enable him to increase the fertility of his soil. He cannot purchase tyres for a motor vehicle. Producer-gas units cannot be removed from the cream lorries, with the result that one cream run after another is being given up, for die operating cost is so high that the rates are being doubled. He cannot have a telephone installed in his house. In one case which I have brought to the notice of the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) the main telephone line runs through the property, and the erection of one pole would enable it to be taken into the house and .be the means of saving a tremendous amount of time, yet the department will not do the work without the payment of £37 10s. for the pole and two or three chains of wire that are needed for the extension to the house. In these conditions, how can production be increased in the dairying industry? During the last four or five years, dozens of schools have closed because there are no children to keep them going. I urge the Minister to get down to essentials in an endeavour to bring about an improvement of existing conditions. We hope that after the war there will be many more people in Australia, and we cannot afford to allow production to decrease.
, - I congratulate the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) upon bringing the requirements of the dairying industry to the attention of the House, and particularly for drawing attention to the milk supply for the metropolitan area of Sydney. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earl* Page) also referred to the harmful effect which the policy of the Government is having upon rural production, and upon the milk supply to metropolitan areas. He was able to bring to bear upon the subject his mature knowledge, and, as a professional man, to speak of the importance of the milk supply to the health of the people generally. Mr. Thompson, the secretary of the Milk and lee Carter; Union, stated in Sydney in December last that 5,700 dairies had closed down in the last five years. This represented a loss of 300,000 dairy cows, and of 44,000,000 gallons of milk. The recent dispute which affected the supply of milk to the metropolitan area of Sydney was a very serious matter. Indeed, anything which affects the supply of milk to the people cannot be regarded lightly. Thcposition of the dairying industry in Australia at the present time is far from satisfactory. It is not a matter of milk only, but of butter also. This afternoon. I referred to the decline of butter production. The dairying industry is very important to Australia, having regard to our obligations to the United Kingdom, and to our allies in this war. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) to recognize the importance of the dairying industry at the present time, and the important bearing it will have on the future economy of Australia.
– Yesterday, I asked, the Minister, for. Repatriation (Mr.Frost) for information about the tuberculosis- sanatorium at Kenmore, in Queensland. From his reply it would appear that he wasnot very well informed on the subject. At the present time, the only institution suitable for the treatment of tubercular soldier patients in Queensland is at Rockhampton, but some time ago a suitable building was designed; and has since been erected, at Kenmore. It was designed on the most modern lines, and the building is now completed and furnished. When the Minister inspected the institution in May, 1943, he said that he would return and open it in June of that year. Instead of doing so, however, he wrote stating that the only way in which the work could be hastened was to obtain for it a higher priority. It appears that no higher priority has yet been obtained to permit the construction of nurses’ quarters, and until these are provided patients cannot be moved into the building. The Tubercular Soldiers Association has bitterly complained of the delay. It was from this association that I learned that 33 tuberculosis patients had died during the last six months at the Rosemount Hospital, which is not a tuberculosis institution. Among them were two of the first tubercular soldiers of this war. The sanatorium, beautifully equipped, has been lying idle for thirteen months. I desire to spur the responsible Minister in some way to put an end to that situation.
– He is not here.
– I realize that, but my question was asked yesterday, and it is due to the Minister to be present. I trust that he will see that the existing policy, whereby the contractor is continually subjected to the loss of timber supplies and labour on the ground of other work having higher priority, is discontinued. Surely there can be no greater priority than in the interests of unfortunate discharged soldiers who are suffering from tuberculosis. The necessary provision should be made so that they can enter this institution, which is already available to them. Present conditions also are altogether unfair to the nursing and medical staffs, who have done remarkably well in endeavouring to provide for their patients under adverse conditions. At Rosemount there is no dining-room provided, and meals have to be taken on the verandahs in close proximity to very sickbed cases. I have been informed, that the smell of disinfectants has at timesso much affected some soldier patients that they have had to leave the dining table and. have been unable to eat their meals. I trust that the Minister concerned will see to it immediately that the nurses’ quarters are completed so that the institution may be occupied.
– There is an urgent matter to whichI wish to direct attention because the reply given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) with respect to a question asked by me this afternoon cannot be left where it is. My inquiry was in regard to the credentials furnished to peregrinating Australians before leaving for overseas. According towhat the right honorable gentleman said this afternoon, if such persons obtain the Prime Ministerial recognition they get something with a red seal attached. That might appeal to some people, but it would be rather difficult for persons, for example, on my side of the House, to accept. The Prime Minister added that if junior Ministers gave credentials to the persons seeking them, those credentials were of a different character altogether and carried no seal whatever.
– That should suit the honorable member.
– I intend to deal with the honorable gentleman next week. As soon as the debate on the Address-in-Reply has been’ disposed of, the Department of Commerce and Agriculture will be on the map so far as I am concerned. When people desire to travel overseas and credentials are to be supplied by anybody, there ought to be only one policy with respect to the furnishing of such documents. The head of the Government alone should give credentials in the circumstances.Ifthat policy were adopted. the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) would not be getting some of his friends in the United States of America into trouble.
– I did not get any one there into trouble.
– There is this aspect of the whole matter that ought to be considered : People in foreign countries do not know that there are two qualities of credentials issued by this Government - one which carries a red seal, and another of a lesser and minor variety. If the Government is going to carry on ashas been disclosed to-day, then upon the document carrying the red seal there should be a statement to the effect that there is also in force a minor type of recommendation, and on that other type of recommendation there should be set forth the information that there is a higher species of’ recommendation. Thus people concerned overseas would have an idea of the status of the Australian visitor with whom they were dealing. In my experience as a Minister, there was only one source for the issue of credentials in the circumstances I have described, and that was the Prime Minister’s Department.
-Did applications come in profusion?
– I know that I signed a number of them, but that may have been only because my signature was one of the few amongst the members of the Cabinet that could be deciphered.
– The honorable member had. something over Napoleon in that regard.
– Yes, and something over the honorable gentleman, also. If the procedure in force when I was concerned with the matter has been departed from, and the principle continues to hold good that the Prime Minister, whenhe speaks, is to be. regarded as speaking for the Cabinet while other Ministers speak for themselves individually, then the sooner the people of Australia and others overseas know of it the better it will be both for the Government and for the reputation ofour citizens when they go abroad.
– in reply - At this late hour I shall not attempt to reply to those nine honorable members who have spoken on the motion for the adjournment. They have addressed themselves to a wide variety of subjects, culminating in the matter of the issue of testimonials with red seals and tassels attached. I undertake to bring all their representations to the notice of the Ministers concerned, and I feel sure that they will be given the utmost consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
National Security Act -
National Security (Emergency Control)
Regulations - Order - Papua and New Guinea (Administration) (No. 4).
National Security (General) Regulations - Order - Prohibited place.
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Order: - No. 73.
House adjourned at 11.52 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Motor Car Industry.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as practicable.
Oil from Shale: Glen Davis Operations.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers: -
y asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Postmaster-
General has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
y asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e. - On the 23rd February, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) asked the following questions, without notice : -
The delivery of parcels and second-class mail matter addressed to personnel in certain Pacific operational areas hits been seriously delayed owing to shipping difficulties, and in a certain area only one delivery has been made since early in December, and that, unfortunately, not before Christmas; also, letters for delivery by air are sometimes left behind because room is required on the aeroplane to carry visiting Army personnel, probably on inspectional work. In view of these facts, 1 ask the Minister for the Army whether he will investigate a complaint that in recent weeks a colonel visiting a Pacific operational area by aeroplane was accompanied by a native batman and a dog, thus necessitating the exclusion of first-class mail matter of corresponding weight?
The investigation which I called for, and which has necessitated a considerable amount of inquiry from personnel at present engaged in conducting active operations, has now been completed. It has been ascertained that the officer evidently referred to by the honorable member was accompanied by a fighting soldier in the New Guinea Infantry Battalion and by a patrol dog used in forward aureus. Anassurancehas been given by the Army PostOfficethat no mail was left behind in consequence.
In obtaining theinformation to enable me to reply to this inquiry, a total of thirteen signals passed between the Army authorities in Australia and the forward areas. It would, therefore, be appreciated if, in future, whenhonorable members desire to submit questions of this nature, they could be supported by suchdetailsas the name of the officer involved, the places travelled to and from, the dates of travel, which will enable the matter to be readily inquired into without the necessity of detailed investigations firstly to determine whether or not the incidents referred to actually occurred, and if they did occur, the circumstances which necessitated the action w hich was taken.
It will be appreciated that, in the case now under inquiry, there was justification for the action taken, and, in view of the high priority always accorded to first-class mail matter, my investigations have clearly indicated that mail has never been off-loaded because members of the forces were required to travel, except on a high operational mission.
y asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for
Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
How many members of our naval forces with six months’ service or more have been discharged to date?
– The Acting Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answer : -
The total discharges from the outbreak of war to 28th February, 1945, have been 6,241, including deceased personnel. No figures are readily available concerning the discharge of members with six months’ service or more, but it is estimated that these would amount to approximately 5,000.
e asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Munitions has supplied the following information : -
y. - Yesterday, the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) asked me a series of questions dealing with statements made by the honorable member forIndi (Mr. McEwen) at a meeting of Riverina wheat-growers.
I have since perused the press report of the meeting, and the statements attributed to the honorable member forIndi are in line with statements which have been made by him in this House, and which I have previously had to correct. To give an adequate reply, I ask the indulgence of the House while I trace the negotiations on government subsidy for wheat sold for stock-feed. In July last year, I attended the annual conference of the Wheat Growers Union of New South Wales, and informed delegates that it was the Government’s intention to adjust pool payments so that wheat sold for stock-feed would be brought up to the average realization of wheat sold for human consumption. Subsequently, 1 had conferences with representatives of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation and with the Australian Wheat Board, to whom I explained the proposal. Both conferences accepted the proposal as reasonable and satisfactory. Since that date, the president of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, Mr. T. W. Lillie, has publicly questioned the accuracy of statements being made by the honorable member for Indi alleging loss to growers. Mr. Lillie has made it clear that the Government’s proposal has the support of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation and organized growers. This is a clear indication that the honorable member for Indi is not speaking for the industry. Particularly is this so when he argues that there should be a stable price for only portion of the crop consumed in Australia, and that the balance of wheat consumed locally should be tied to the export price whether it be high or ruinously low.
Such a policy is opposed to the industry’s belief that it is entitled to stable returns. As the responsible Minister, I accepted this principle when the concessional price plan was first introduced. Although the export price was low, I agreed that the concessional price for stock-feed should be related to the quota advance of 4s. a bushel at sidings, ft was then agreed that a subsidy of fid. a bushel would be given by the Commonwealth so that sales of wheat as stockfeed would be brought up to the advance on. quota wheat. The proposal, which I first made last July, and which was accepted by the Wheat Growers Federation and by the Wheat Board, was an extension of the principle to which I have just referred.
Since the Government’s decision was made to provide increased compensation for stock-feed wheat, officers of the Treasury, in consultation with officers of my department, have been engaged in calculating the additional amounts to be paid to the Australian Wheat Board, on behalf of growers for addition to pool realizations. Although this will mean a further government subsidy running into millions of pounds, the honorable member for Indi, with no knowledge of the amount involved, and in an attempt to make political capital, has accused the Government of withholding moneys from wheat-growers. The statements made by the honorable member are unsoundly based and are calculated to cause dissension in the industry. As far as I am aware, the honorable member only began his campaign after I had announced that the Government intended to compensate the Wheat Board, on behalf of growers, by bringing the price of wheat sold for stock-feed up to the average realizations of wheat sold for human consumption. On the one hand the honorable member has tried to capitalize my decision, and, on the other hand, has tried to undermine growers’ faith in their own organizations which regard that decision as satisfactory.
Coal-mining Industry: New South Wales Pensions; Publication op Confidential Information.
– On the 2nd March, tb* honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) asked me whether I would investigate the complaint made by the Minister for Mines in the New South Wales Parliament in an endeavour to learn how matter appeared in a section of the press dealing with an actuarial investigation of the New South Wales Miners Pensions Fund.
I have endeavoured to ascertain how the matter was communicated to a section of the press, and have been unable to do so.
Yesterday, before tabling the report by the committee of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives on methods of recognition of the services of the fighting forces, I was advised that a section of the press had been informed of some part of the purport of the report and, that being the case, I felt it should be tabled. It had been my intention to table the report to-day when enough copies would have been received from the Government Printer to meet the requirements of members of both Houses.
It may be of value, perhaps, if I in timate that the Government has full power under section 79 of the Crimes Act to deal with the misuse of confidential documents in this way, and I intimate chat the Government will not hesitate to use its power. The relevant section reads -
If any person having in his possession any . document or information… which has been entrusted in confidence to him by any person holding office under the King or the Commonwealth, or which he has obtained owing to his position as a person who holds or has held office under the King or the Commonwealth communicates the document or information to any person, other than a person to whom he is authorized to communicate it or a person to whom it is his duty to communicate it,heshall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty - Imprisonment for seven years. If any person receives any . document or information, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to believe, at the time when he receives it, that the document or information is communicated to him in contravention of this part of this Act, he shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty - Imprisonment for seven years.
It is clear, therefore, that the person who gives the information commits an offence, as well as the person who receives the information. It is, of course, necessary that the court should be satisfied of the guilt of the person accused!, which is right and proper.
Power Alcohol: Warracknabeal. Distillery.
y. - On the 28th February, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asked a question regarding the dismissal of men at the Warracknabeal power alcohol distillery. He stated that the services of seven men had been retained, only one of whom is a returned soldier, although the men dismissed included a number of returned soldiers.
I advised the honorable member that the question of employment of labour is one for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, which is operating the distillery on behalf of the Government, but I would have the question taken up with the company.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has investigated this matter and has made the following information available : -
The power alcohol distillery at Warracknabeal was completed towards the end of last year, but the plant did not operate owing to the shortage of wheat. All employees were dismissed with the exception of eight men, who were retained for the purpose of preserving and watching over the plant during the idle period. These employees consist of one Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited permanent technical officer, one fitter and six men. who, during the period of construction, had been sent by the company to a New South Wales distillery for special training as leading hand, process workers and still men.As these men had been trained as key operatives, their services have been retained to facilitate the operation of the plant immediately wheat is available. At the present time, they are performing the work of general labourers and watchmen. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, which has the right to appoint and control all personnel, has been requested to consider the replacement of unskilled workers retained with local discharged personnel.The company is at present investigating the position and has indicated that if local discharged service personnel previously engaged at the distillery are unemployed and are available for re-employment and are deemed capable of performing duties required of them, the suggested replacement will hp effected.
n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
Can arrangements be made with the Education Departments in the States to allow the enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force of school teachers volunteering for aircrew duties?
– As enlistment in the various services is a matter coining within the administration of my department, I supply the following information to the honorable member : -
When this country was in serious danger of invasion, a great number of school teachers were taken into the services, with the result that a heavy burden was thrown upon those remaining to meet the educational needs of the nation.
Having in view the very serious repercussions likely to follow any further weakening of the teaching profession, the Man Power Directorate has, over recent years, taken vigorous steps to control the entry of teachers into the services.
Relaxation of this control to the extent of permitting teachers to enlist in the Royal Australian Air Force for air-crew duties would undoubtedly result in the closing of more schools, the lessening of educational facilities available to the children and the placing of additional burdens on the shoulders of the already hard-pressed teachers.
In fact, the need for relief. to those teachers is so urgent that the Mau Power Directorate has, for some time past, been recommending thu release of a number of teachers from the services in order that they might return to their normal duties.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 March 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450308_reps_17_181/>.