17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Him. J. 8. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– -The coupon rating in respect of knitting wool is so high that persons desiring to knit cardigans and other garments for themselves find that the number of coupons they have to tender for tho wool that they need is greater than would be required were they to purchase the articles factory made. Will tho Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs have the coupon rating for wool examined, with a view to making such a reduction as will encourage persons to knit their own garments, thus saving man-power and popularizing the use of wool?
– The facts stated by the. honorable member appear to me to constitute an anomaly which should not exist. ‘ I consider that steps should be taken to meet his request.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister state whether or not the dispute at the Newcastle works of
Lysaghts Limited is the result of the decision reported to have been reached by the Federated IronWorkers Union, that the reinstatement of ex-servicemen unionists should not result in the displacement of other unionists from the status and conditions of employment enjoyed by them when ex-servicemen present themselves for reinstatement? Does not the Government consider that such a policy, if persisted in, may result in further wide-spread industrial stoppages?Will the Acting Prime Minister instruct dissenting unions that exservicemen must not be embarrassed by factional squabbles arising out of their reinstatement rights ?
– I am not sufficiently acquainted with all the details to make a full reply , at present, but I shall have the matter examined, and advise the honorable gentleman later.
Day Labour Costs
– Has the attention of the Minister forWorks been directed to the article in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, headed “ Government in Industry “, “ Raises Costs, Says Sir P. Stewart, M.P.”, in which , the honorable member for Parramatta is alleged to have said that estimates given in evidence to the PublicWorks Committee recently showed that a building project would cost £115,000 if carried out by the Government, and only £73,000 if completed by private contract? If the Minister has read the article, can he say whether or not the statement attributed to the honorable member for Parramatta is correct?If it is not correct, will the Minister make a statement covering the whole position, in order that the public may have complete and truthful information?
– I have not seen the article referred to, but I shall read it, and also study the evidence mentioned. I shall make a full reply as early as possible.
– I ask the Acting
Attorney-General whether or not certain industrial disputes in Sydney have had their origin in domestic quarrels within trade unions, and have involved sectional workers who contend that the union executive does not represent the opinion of the rank and file?Will the honorable gentleman consider raising in Cabinet the matter of introducing legislation requiring all trade unions to lodge with the Registrar of the Arbitration Court complete lists of their members? Will he recommend that such legislation shall provide that ballots shall be held to fill unpaid executive positions, and that these shall be conducted by the Registrar of the Arbitration Court, thus ensuring that the leadership of unions will reflect the opinion of their members?
– The answer to the first question is “ Yes “. Ibelieve that when a union applies for registration by the Arbitration Court, it has to submit to the registrar its constitution and rules, but I do not think that the names of its members also must be lodged. I shall discuss with my colleagues the right honorable gentleman’s suggestion in regard to the introduction of legislation on the subject.
– Yesterday, the honor able member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) asked me whether I would lay on the table of the House papers relating to the granting of permission to Mr. E. Thornton to travel recently from England to Australia in a Liberator aeroplane. The arrangements in this matter were made by the British Embassy inWashington; consequently, no papers in connexion with it are on the files in Canberra.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) asked me whether an application had been made by, or permission had been given to, members of the International Youth Committee to travel to a world conference. The Canberra office of the Department of External Affairs has no knowledge of any such application. It is making inquiries with a view to ascertaining whether one was lodged at anotheroffice of the department.
– As the coal position now appears to be most favorable the stocks of coal, according to press reports, having risen considerably in recent months, can the Minister in control of lighting restrictions indicate when permission may be granted for the use of power for night sport?
– A few weeks ago, the Production Executive, which has some voice in this matter, considered the relaxation of restrictions. It learned that the stocks of coal are higher to-day than they were some little time ago. Nevertheless, because of the necessity to accumulate reserves to meet the demands of the winter months, the relaxation of the regulations dealing with night lighting was regarded as undesirable except in regard to such lighting as was generated by the use of fuel other than black coal. “Wherever possible, the restrictions will be relaxed in such circumstances. It will be extremely difficult to remove the existing controls until we are assured that the stocks of coal are sufficient to meet the requirements of the winter period.
– Last February, I raised the matter of the appointment of a joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, or one constituted solely of honorable members of this House. Can the Acting Prime Minister say whether or not the Government has considered the matter ?
– I understand that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) have given same consideration to the matter. I cannot say whether or not they reached a definite decision, but I shall endeavour to clarify the position.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister able to inform the House of the negotiations that are taking place between representatives of the Australian and British Governments, with a view to the continuance in the post-war period of the wool stabilization scheme that has been in operation during the war period? Can he say whether there are bright prospects of the wool industry being able to continue its operations after the war at the price which has been paid by the British Government for all wool produced in Australia during the war.
– I cannot give any definite information regarding wool prices. A great accumulation of wool, which has been purchased by the Government of Great Britain from Australia and other dominions has occurred during the war, and the disposal of it now presents considerable difficulty. The problem of disposing of that wool as well as the clips that will be coming forward has given much concern to the Commonwealth Government, and I presume also to the governments of other dominions, whilst the matter has caused some anxiety to the Government of Great Britain in its effort to provide a reasonable guarantee to wool-growers for the future. At the request of that Government a conference was convened in London, and it is now taking place, for the discussion of the problems relating to the disposal of the surplus stocks and the current clips as they come forward. Australia is represented at the conference by the Secretary to the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, Mr. Murphy, and the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. McFarlane. In view of the great importance of the matter the Government considered it desirable to send those high officers to the conference. I understand that the discussions will continue for another seven or eight days. Certain proposals have been advanced, but decisions have not yet been reached. Any final agreement reached will have to be endorsed by the governments of the respective dominions.
– The Central Wool Committee is also represented.
– I am glad to have that reminder. The Chairman of the Central Wool Committee, Mr. Justice Owen, is also a member of the delegation, and the Chief Executive Officer of that Committee, Mr. N. W. Yeo, is assisting him. In addition to the advisers, the delegation includes the presidents of the two organizations of wool-growers. Until any proposals that may emerge from the conference become known, I cannot give a definite answer to the honorable gentleman’s question.
– Last year, Brisbane waters and other waters were opened for net fishing, and an official statement was made that that had been done by the State authorities at the request of the Commonwealth Government. In view of vehement protests from the Gosford and Woy Woy councils and other district bodies against further net fishing, will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction have the matter investigated, with a view to determining the damage done to fish breeding by permitting the netting of fish in these waters? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that in the circumstances no further action shall be taken to permit net fishing in waters which are ordinarily closed, thus denuding those waters of fish ?
– It would appear from what the honorable member has said that certain waters normally closed to net fishing have been opened by the State Government to that kind of fishing at the request of my department. It may betrue that during war-time we have had to open to fishing certain waters which normally would not have been fished. The reason is that we desire to build up in wartime supplies of fish, partly to replace meat, which has been rationed. I am sure that before these waters were opened to netting, the whole matter was fully investigated by my department and by the State Government concerned. The waters would not have been opened at all if, in the opinion of the State authorities, who have the final jurisdiction in the matter, such action would detrimentally affect the supply offish in post-war years. I shall have a full inquiry made, and the honorable member will be advised of the result.
Regulations Advisory Committee - Manchester Goods
– The Canadian Minister for Munitions has told the people of Canada that within the next few weeks80per cent. of the war-time con trols operating in that country with regard to business and industry, will have been removed. Can the Acting Prime Minister offer similar encouragement to the harassed civilian population of Australia, and, in particular, can he supplement the activities of the Regulations Advisory Committee, in order to get a more speedy review of present-day restrictions, and, concurrently have a more speedy examination made by the Government of the recommendations of that committee ?
– I have indicated in reply to previous questions that the Governmentis anxious to relax restrictions of various kinds as soon as that can be done, having regard to the war operations in the Pacific, which, of course, are dependent on the supply of man-power and, to a large degree, the supply of materials. The regulations are constantly under review, in order to decide whether it is practicable to remove or relax some of them. At present a special departmental committee is advising the Ministers concerned, and examining all of the controls, having regard to the factors of man-power and materials, in order to ascertain what controls can be relaxed.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister arrange for an overhaul of war-time regulations and restrictions with a view to the immediate withdrawal of many obnoxious provisions which are no longer required? Further, in view of the improved position in regard to supplies of manchester goods in Australia, and the needs of householders to replenish their stocks, will he have the matter examined with a view to removing some of these goods from the list of rationed articles?
– I have already covered the first part of the honorable member’s question in a reply given to a question asked earlier this afternoon by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). I could not do more than repeat what I said to him.
As to the rationing of manchester goods, I point out that the problem is one of supply. The position is most difficult, because there is a great demand for these goods. This matter comes under the control of the Minister for Trade and
Customs who informed me this morning that there is a shortage of manchester goods and that it was difficult to guarantee delivery of goods from overseas. The honorable member may rest assured that the matter will be fully examined and that if any relaxation be possible action will be taken.
PERMIT to A. Scaramuzzi
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to the case of Amobono Scaramuzzi, a naturalized Italian, of Eastwood, who obtained from the department in Sydney a permit to erect a cottage costing £810, although it has been disclosed that he owns five other cottages of a total value of £6,800. I understand that, following revelations published in a weekly newspaper, the permit has been withdrawn find .cancelled by the departmental officials in Sydney. In view of the fact that this man has been shown to have been guilty of unpatriotic conduct by understating his income for taxation purposes to the .amount of over £6,000, in circumstances which the Commissioner of Taxation would probably regard as suggesting fraud, are any proceedings contemplated against him for his flagrant breach of the law? Will the Minister inquire whether any other person acted in collusion with him in obtaining the permit, and W111 he refer the matter to the Crown Law authorities?
– I shall call for a full report on the matter, and if I find that there is cause to take action against this person, I shall refer the papers to the Crown Law authorities.
– The Melbourne Herald of last evening reported that a meeting took place between representatives of the Mumimbidgee River Users Association and certain Commonwealth Ministers to discuss the proposed diversion of the Snowy River into the Mumimbidgee River. Will the Acting Prime Minister state definitely whether lie will accede to the request of the Victorian authorities for the appointment of a commission or committee of experts representative of New South
Wales, Victoria and the Commonwealth to inquire into the matter? As this appears to be the only way in which the matter can be finally resolved, will he take immediate steps to have such a commission or committee appointed? Since the Minister has already stated that the matter will receive consideration, will he state what purpose can be served by delay?
– It is true that yesterday morning the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction and I received a deputation representing a great part of Mumimbidgee area, and we discussed a proposal for the diversion .of the Snowy River waters, principally for irrigation purposes, but also, no doubt, for the generation of electric power. Members of the deputation, at considerable length, explained the proposals which they had in mind, and which would involve an expenditure of £13,000,000. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction explained to them that the proposed diversion was of great concern to the State of Victoria, and that before anything could be done it would be necessary to reach an agreement with the Government of Victoria as well as the Government of New South Wales. Neither the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction nor I gave consideration to the merits or demerits of the proposal. It was pointed out to the deputation that the making of agreements between State governments was usually a very difficult matter, and in this instance the Commonwealth Government would also be a party to the agreement. As for the suggestion that a commission should be appointed to examine the proposal, I point out that,, after the war, there will be so many urgent works to be undertaken, that unless this particular work had been by then already engineered, and plans prepared and agreements concluded, it would be unlikely to be undertaken for a considerable time. Apart from any action which this Government may take, the proposal must necessarily become the subject of consultation ‘ between the Commonwealth and State governments. Money will have to be found before the work can be done, and the finding of the money will, no doubt, be a matter fortho Loan Council.
Call-up of Youths.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service ask the Minister for the Army to discontinue, if possible, the calling up of lads when they reach the age of eighteen years. Many of them, when called up, are still at school or at a university, or are apprenticed. As they will not be sent to a combat area until they are nineteen, will the Minister see whether it is possible to prevent their being called up?
– The whole subject of the use of man-power will be discussed early next month.
– Will this matter be discussed, also?
– Yes. I shall see that special attention is paid to this matter of the breaking of apprenticeships, and the interruption of studies, &c., involved in the calling up of youths when they reach the age of eighteen.
Manufacture of Engines in Australia.
– Some time ago, I asked the Minister for Aircraft Production, whether it was advisable to go on with the proposal to manufacture in Australia Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, having regard to the developments which have taken place in the jetpropulsion of aircraft. I now ask the Minister whether he has seen in the Melbourne Herald of yesterday’s date the report of an interview with Mr. John Storey, the Chief Executive of the Beaufort Division of the Department of Aircraft Production, in which the following passage occurs -
Within a few years (probably four years at the outside) all sizable aircraft, from medium transports up, will be jet-propelled. . . In both England and America, he says, jet (or gas turbine) propulsion now fills the picture completely. Designers of military aircraft are no longer planning for power plants consisting of the internal combustion engines which most people still regard as normal.
I again ask the Minister whether he believes that it is advisable to go on with this very expensive project?
– I have not seen the report referred to, but I have conferred with Mr. Storey since his return to Australia, and he made no suggestion that the policy in regard to the production of Rolls-Royce Merlin engines in Australia should be varied. Before finality is reached, I shall take steps to ensure that any knowledge which Mr. Storey has obtained on the subject while abroad will be availed of when determining the wisdom or otherwise of proceeding with the project.
Mr. SCULLY (Gwydir- Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture). - by leave - Yesterday, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) asked a question regarding the following statement published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph -
A New South Wales government official said in Sydney last night that the Federal Government’s bungled agricultural policy had contributed largely to the fodder shortage . . He said : “ When the Commonwealth limited wheat acreage to be sown, it also limited the areassown for hay”.
Before leaving Sydney yesterday morning, I conferred with the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Graham, who told me that no one in his department had any authority to make such comment. Actually, the comment which was attributed to a State government official is just silly, and displayed complete ignorance of Commonwealth Wheat Stabilization Regulations. The fact is that hay-growers are not required to register under the wheat stabilization plan. Hundreds of hay-growers in the various States are not registered. In 1942, in answer to a question asked by the then honorable member for Swan, Mr. Marwick, I made it clear that no restriction was imposed upon the growing of hay in any part of Australia. Farmers could grow as much hay as they chose. Quite recently, on the borders of my own electorate, one man grew 2,000 acres of wheat for hay without registering, and the crop was ultimately sold to the Victorian Government.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Army say whether it is a fact that a number of ar.my huts in the Drummoyne Municipality, in my electorate, which until recently were occupied by a searchlight unit, are to be disposed of? If so, will he give consideration to those huts being made available as temporary residences to families in need of homes, and advise me as to how applications may be lodged in order to obtain priorities ?
– I am not aware that surplus army huts are available for disposal at the place mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall make inquiries and let him know the result. The disposal of army huts is a matter for the “War Disposals Commission. I shall draw the attention of the appropriate Minister to the matter with a view to ascertaining whether arrangements can be made for people who require homes to get all the information about such huts from the War Disposals Commission.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether, at she conference he had last week with strikers involved in the Balmain waterfront dispute, he suggested that the men should resume work under certain conditions, including the calling of a general meeting of the Balmain branch? If so, was a recommendation conveyed to Mr. Thornton, general secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Union, for his endorsement? Will he say whether Mr. Thornton refused to endorse the proposal, stating that if the recommendation were enforced he would call a strike which would have involved hundreds of unionists? In view of the action of Mr. Thornton, who is well known for his disruptive tactics, will the Government consider deregistering the Federated Ironworkers Union?
– As I said yesterday, a conference was called at Canberra, and after discussion a proposal along the lines mentioned by the honorable member was submitted by me to the parties, who replied that they would call the executive officers of the union together to consider it, and let me have a reply. Since then I have been informed that they cannot accept my proposal. The letter also contained a number of sugges tions. There is no truth whatever in the statement that they threatened to extend the strike. Both parties to the dispute were, I believe, anxious for a resumption of work.
– In view of the general misunderstanding that appears to exist in regard to proposals for land settlement of ex-servicemen, can the Acting Prime Minister inform the House what stage has been reached in regard to this matter, particularly whether the States have agreed upon any definite plans and whether there is any hold-up of such plans by the Commonwealth Government?
– A similar question was addressed to me yesterday by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Fraser) and I then arranged to have a full statement prepared for him. I do not remember the details of the reply which has been forwarded to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, but I shall arrange for the same information to be supplied to the honorable member for Darling. I understand that draft financial agreements covering soldier land settlement have been prepared and are ready to be forwarded to the States. As three of the States will act as principals and three as agents, two forms of agreement have been prepared and the State governments have been asked to comment on them. In the meantime, there is nothing to prevent the State governments from going ahead with the acquisition of estates. They have been invited to forward to the Commonwealth Government a list of the properties which they propose to acquire for the land settlement of ex-servicemen. Their proposals will have to be approved by the Commonwealth Government which will bear a proportion of the cost. I cannot say that I am fully acquainted with the latest information on the subject, but I understand that the Queensland Government’s proposals are more advanced than are those of the other States. About a week ago I was informed that in all States plans for the subdivision of land are well advanced. There is nothing to prevent the State governments from selecting the areas which they desireto bring under the scheme. The State governments will set up bodies, on which the Commonwealth Government will he represented, to select suitable settlers from among the applicants.
Ration to Newcastle Waterfront Workers
– Has the Government yielded to the ultimatum of Newcastle waterfront workers that unless they were given a special ration of tobacco they will stay away from work on one day in each week? If that is correct will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House of the circumstances which merit suchdiscrimination?
– I read something about this matter in the newspapers this morning, but I have no details. I shall ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to supply the honorable gentleman with full information.
Requirements of Primary Producers
– Cable for electricity extensions is needed in a number of country areas, particularly in the Bega valley. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture approach the heads of the armed forces with a view to ascertaining whether, at this stage of the war, the large stocks that are being held to meet their needs, can be reviewed with a view to making a small part available where it can be shown that the use of the cable would enable electrification of farms and thus contribute to the production of food, particularly dairy products?
– Recently I obtained through the Minister for Munitions the release of electricity cable for certain urgent works. He is reviewing the position with a view to either releasing stocks or accelerating the manufacture of cable.
– I bring to the notice of the Acting Prime Minister two application forms for motor cycle tyres and tubes which were returned to the applicant, who lives in a border town in my electorate, by the authority controlling these goods. Nothing is alleged to be wrong with the forms except that the particulars required were typed. Is it the intention of the Government to abolish typewriters, for instance in theTreasury, where they are used for filling in cheques, or does it intend to refuse to accept any form that is typewritten, notwithstanding that it is properly signed? Alternatively, will the Acting Prime Minister just whisper in the official’s ear, “ Don’t be so silly “ ?
– I am not familiar with the forms mentioned by the honorable member, as I have been fortunate enough not to need to make application for the articles to which he referred, but, if he will let me have the particulars, I shall take the matter up with the department concerned.
– Last Friday I asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question about the transportation of wheat from South Australia. Now I ask him whether he has seen the statement by Mr. Condon, M.L.C., delegate to the Council of Mill Employees, that if flour-mill shifts were reduced from three to two there would be a serious loss of bran and pollard to primary producers who already were in a serious plight as the result of the drought?
– I have not seen the statement. In New South Wales and Victoria, flour milling has been reduced to one shift a day. In South Australia and other States it has been reduced to two shifts a day. I had a long discussion with the manager of the Australian Wheat Board about this matter. The plain fact is that there is insufficient wheat in Australia to meet even rationed feed requirements as well as a full milling programme. I assure the honorable gentleman and those who are agitated that the offal deficiency will be offset by extra supplies of wheat. The food value of offal is only one-third that of wheat. Reduction of the number of flour-rnilling shifts and rationing of feed are the only means by which we shall , be able to tide ourselves over until the next harvest.
– The United Kingdom White Paper dealing with awards to servicemen refers in section 2 to those who have already been awarded the 1939-45 Star - for service in Sicily or Malaya. How does the Acting Prime Minister reconcile that statement with the explanations given from time to time by the Prime Minister that the issue of the 1939-43 Star to members of the Australian Imperial Force in Malaya and New Guinea was the subject of negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Great Britain? Has a decision been reached concerning the right of newspaper war correspondents to awards granted by General MacArthur? Can the Acting Prime Minister make a clear statement as to what representations are being made by the Commonwealth Government to the British Government regarding men who have served in the operational area around Darwin?
– I told the honorable member yesterday that a number of questions have arisen regarding the award of decorations and that the Defence Department was examining the whole matter. I shall ask that the examination be expedited in order that I may soon be able to make a full statement covering all the points that have been raised.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 22nd May (vide page 1966).
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - (1.) In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ member of the Forces “ means -
a member of the Naval, Military or Air Forces of any part of the King’s dominions other than Australia, who is or was, during the war, engaged on, or called up for, active service and was born in Australia or was, immediately prior to his becoming a member of any of those Forces, domiciled in Australia ; and “ the war “ means the war which commenced on the third day of September, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-nine; “ war service “ means -
in relation to any of the provisions of this Act, the continuous full-time service of any person as a member of an organization or part thereof which is declared by proclamation to be an organization in relation to which those provisions apply.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That, in sub-clause (1.), paragraph (f), of the definition of “ member of the forces “ the words “, or called up for, active service “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “service in a prescribed area “.
– I ask the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) to defer his amendment because a preliminary question arises which I think should be considered by the committee. The clause defines members of the forces in certain categories. It includes members of the permanent forces other than the Australian Imperial Force, members of the Australian Imperial Force, and members of the Citizen Forces “ enlisted, appointed, or called up for continuous service for the duration of, and directly in connexion with, the war “. The definition then deals with certain women’s services and so on. The question has arisen - I know that it has been discussed among honorable members privately - and it should be, I think, settled in the committee, as to how far this definition includes aliens. My own impression is that it includes both enemy aliens and friendly aliens for all purposes, and I should like the Minister to throw some light on the problem. A member of the forces being defined in this way seems to include, for a start, both the Permanent Forces and the Citizen Forces. Section 30, Part III., of the Defence Act which deals with the constitution of the defence forces of the Commonwealth provides -
The Defence Force shall consist of the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth, and shall be divided into two branches called the Permanent Forces and the Citizen Forces.
That provision was subsequently altered to include the Royal Australian Air Force by the Air Force Act of 1923 which provides, “ There shall he an Air Force, to be called the Royal Australian Air Force, -which shall be part of the Defence Force constituted under the Defence Act”. ‘So that in all three arms we have both Permanent Forces and Citizen Forces together making up the Defence Force. Then, in the course of this war, the question arose as .to the constitution of an Army labour corps, and by Statutory Rule No. 44 of 1942, that corps was established, the regulations being called the Defence (Labour Corps) Regulations. Regulation 2 provides - 2. - (1) In these Regulations - “ the Corps “ means the Army Labour Corps constituted by these Regulations. and regulation 3 provides -
There shall be an Army Labour Corps, which shall be a corps of the Active Citizen Military Forces and shall consist of -
Having regard to those provisions, as I read them, it seems clear that the expression “ a member of the Citizen Forces who is or was enlisted, appointed or called up for continuous service for the duration of, and directly in connexion with the war “ covers all aliens under military law other than those in the Australian Imperial Force, and would include aliens serving in the labour corps; because the word “ soldier “ in the regulations to which I have referred is defined in section 4 of the Defence Act as including “ a non-commissioned officer and every person subject to Military Law “. In those circumstances it would appear - and I would welcome the Minister’s correction on this point if I am wrong - that the definition clause in the bill before us includes in the bill for all purposes, ‘including preference and reinstatement, all aliens who have served either in the Australian Imperial Force or in the Citizen Forces including the Labour Corps; and that they are included automatically whether they are enemy aliens or friendly aliens. It may very well be - and I imagine it is so, particularly, in the Labour Corps - that a certain number of those are enemy aliens. If that is true, it opens up a very wide question to which, no doubt, honorable members would desire to address themselves; because there are aliens, and aliens. There are some whose personal friendliness towards the country would be beyond doubt. But there are some who have found their way into the Labour Corps after a period of internment, and their attitude towards the country might be open to considerable doubt. However, I do not want to go into the merits of the matter at this stage. I ask that the Minister clarify the position so that the committee may know whether it is discussing a clause which incorporates in the bill for all purposes of the bill, aliens, whether enemy or friendly, who have served in any of the unite to which I have referred.
– I should like the Minister to clarify paragraph b of the clause, which states -
A person who is or was, during the war, a member of the Australian Imperial Force.
By what stretch of the imagination could that definition be interpreted to include members of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force? And if, they are not so included, they should be. We should remove every possible doubt as to whether members of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force are included.
I also support the request made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and his remarks with respect to the definition of the Citizen Forces. ‘So far as I am able to ascertain, that definition includes aliens of all descriptions, both enemy and friendly. At this stage, the Minister should state exactly the position in that respect.
.- The right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) apparently wants to make absolutely certain that the members of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force are included in these definitions. They are included in paragraph a, therefore, it is not necessary to include them in paragraph 6.
– No, they are not members of the Permanent Forces.
– They are enlisted as members of the Permanent Defence Forces of the Commonwealth.
– The Air Force is not.
– Paragraph a states that “member of the forces” means -
A person who is or was, during the war, a member of the Permanent Forces, other than the Australian Imperial Force;
To get the definition of those who are members of the Permanent Forces, we must refer to section 30 of the Defence Act, which reads -
Thu Defence Force shall consist of the Naval, Military and Air Forces nf the Commonwealth, and shall be divided into two blanches called the Permanent Forces and the Citizen Forces.
That makes it, clear that the Navy is included in paragraph a.
– Not necessarily. The Navy may be included partly in paragraph c. to the extent that a person who is not a member of the Permanent Naval Forces, may be a member of the Citizen Forces.
– That is so. Under section 30 of the Defence Act, the Permanent Forces and Citizen Forces constitute the Defence Force of the Commonwealth and included in them are the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth. Members of the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth must be in either the Permanent Forces or the Citizen Forces.
– That answers my question.
– Last night, the honorable member for Barker raised this matter, and I assured him that the bill adequately covered both naval and air services. The Royal Australian Air Force is dealt with in the Air Force Act of 1923. Section 3 (1) reads-
There shall be an Air Force, to be called the Royal Australian Air Force, which may be raised, maintained and organized by the Governor-General for the defence and protection of the Commonwealth and shall be part of the Defence Force constituted under the Defence Act.
– The Royal Australian Air Force comes within the scope of the Citizen Forces?
– Members of the Royal Australian Air Force come under either paragraph a or paragraph c of this definition.
– As the act defines “ Defence Force “, why is not “ Defence Force “ used in paragraph a of the definition, instead of the words “ Australian Imperial Force “ ?
– Off-hand, I cannot give the explanation. But there will be some definite reason why the clause has been drafted in this manner.
– We want to ascertain the reason.
– All that the com,mittee required was an assurance that this clause would cover the members of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.
– That is so.
– That point has been made clear. The committee desires an assurance that the clause does not exclude any one whom the Parliament wishes to be included in the definition of “ member of the Forces “. It has that assurance. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) sought an explanation of the position of the Army Labour Corps. It is true that, this definition of a “ member of the Forces “ does include those who are serving in the Army Labour Corps. In addition, it includes aliens. I am not aware that any enemy aliens have ever been enlisted in the Army Labour Corps.
– There have been.
– There are dossiers relating to some of the aliens who have been enlisted.
– I should not think that that is the case. However, I am answering the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition. The definition does include those who are serving in the Army Labour Corps.
– Or in any other corps. The question which I raised was whether the definition itself includes aliens, both enemy and friendly, for all purposes, that Ls to say, aliens in whatever military unit they may serve?
– It does include all aliens who are serving in the Citizen Forces or for that matter in the Permanent Forces. It includes all of them, no matter whether they are serving in the Australian Imperial Force, in the front line, or in the Army Labour ‘Corps. I remind honorable members that in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, this Parliament made provision for them to be treated in exactly the same way as all other members of the forces.
– Depending on the nature of their service.
– As the Leader of the Opposition asked me to cover the whole field, I point out to the committee that those persons come within the definition of “ member of the Forces “, if they are fighting in the front line. They are entitled to the benefits of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. That was done in accordance with the wish of this Parliament; Also, aliens obtained the benefit of the preference provision after the last war.
– Only if they had been servicemen. That was a different qualification altogether.
– We are dealing with aliens who are members of the forces.
– -But who are not necessarily fighting.
M’r. Conelan. - No enemy alien may be a member of the forces.
– There is a precedent for granting to aliens who are members of the forces the benefits that accrue to other members of the forces. As I mentioned, the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act makes that provision.
– What section of the act makes that provision? .1 should like to see it, because I think that the Minister is wrong.
– The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) has assured me that the act makes that provision, and I am quite sure that he knows more about the act than does the honorable member for Morton (Mr. Francis).
– I am stating the fact. Let the honorable member prove that my .statement is wrong, if he can. As I was saying, those persons are entitled to the benefits of the Repatriation Act arid after the last war they were entitled to the benefits of the measure of preference which operated in this co un try.
– The circumstances were different. They were entitled to those benefits if they had seen active service.
– I rose to make the position clear after the Leader of the Opposition had asked a question, and I hope that I have succeeded in doing so.
.- This clause is probably the most important provision in the bill, because it will determine what classes shall benefit under clauses 16 and 17 in connexion with reinstatement in employment and preference. From the way in which this bill has been presented, it is obvious that it has been hastily conceived and very badly drafted. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made clear beyond all doubt that whatever may be argued regarding the meaning of the Defence Act, the words “ a member of the Citizen Forces “ will cover all persons who have been called up for military service or served in the Army Labour Corps in this country. To speak of servicemen in the same breath as enemy aliens and non-enemy aliens who were called up for the Army Labour Corps, is to make a travesty of the whole proposition of preference to exservicemen.
If honorable members will examine the whole of this clause, they will see. that a person who has been in the services for only a day or a week is eligible to receive all the benefits of this legislation. Every person covered by the words “ member of the Forces “, regardless of whether he was discharged at the end of a week, and irrespective of the locality and nature of his service, will be placed on exactly the same footing as men who served abroad in various theatres of war for four years. That is not my conception of our obligations to the exserviceman, and I cannot believe that it is the conception of any one who seeks to make a fair distinction between those who really have claims on this country for rehabilitation and those who, in point of fact, have not. The definition covers any person who, during the war, was a member of the Australian Imperial Force irrespective of the length of his service, when he may have transferred from the Citizen Military Forces, or who was enlisted, appointed or called up for continuous service for the duration of, and directly in connexion with, the war. Therefore, it is obvious that a person qualifies for the benefits of this legislation once he is called up for continuous service. In spite of the fact that such a person may have been discharged from the forces a week, or a month, or three months, after having enlisted, his entire service having been perhaps in a base area, where he was not able to do very much towards the successful prosecution of the war, he is to be placed on exactly the same footing as the man who volunteered at the outbreak of war for service in any part of the war, and in fact served for three, four or five years at the battlefront. It is idle to contend that this is a proper conception of our obligation to our servicemen. The vice of this provision will be seen by an examination of clause 16, for example. That clause states -
It may be assumed that the younger a man is, the more likely is it that he entered the war at the commencement and served overseas. Therefore, the younger the man, the less likely is it that a colleague who remained with his employer until being called up for military service will have had a shorter period of service with that employer. Clearly, the young man who enlisted at the outbreak of war will be at a disadvantage when it comes to reinstatement in his former employment, and this is called preference to returned soldiers ! I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to say whether or not the facts are as I have stated. If my interpretation be correct, itshows how important it is that this clause should be limited. As I said in my second-reading speech, the wider the field over which the Government pretends to spread preference, the less will be the value of the preference that ultimately is given. Not only is that point of importance, but also in accordance with sub-clause 5 of clause 16, if in the case which I have cited, the employer happened to employ the younger man, and some years afterwards, the older man came along seeking a job, the employer would be obliged to dispense with the services of the first man, provided he could not employ both of them. I repeat that in this definition is the vice of the entire proposals. Unless preference be limited to men who enlisted for active service and spent some time on that service, the Government’s entire preference scheme will be reduced to a complete sham. Although clause 27 provides that in granting preference in employment to ex-servicemen, an employer shall consider “ the length, locality and nature of the service” of the applicants, the clause does not state what weight shall be placed on each of those factors. Indeed, a close examination of the whole proposal makes it quite obvious that it gives no real protection whatever to the man who really needs preference. In clause 4, “war service” is defined, inter alia, as -
I should like to know what particular provisions the Government has in mind. Clause 32 is designed to bring within the scope of the so-called benefits of this measure, any person who has given service in relation to the war, irrespective of whether or not it has been service in the armed forces.
– The Minister is not listening to the honorable member.
– Nor should he.
– It has been quite obvious throughout this debate that the Government, having brought in this bill, intends to stick to it, irrespective of what criticism may be levelled at it. When we come to examine a subsequent clause we shall show quite clearly that this bill is designed not to give preference to exservicemen, but to preserve preference to trade unionists. This clause requires redrafting. It cannot be corrected simply by moving amendments to it; it will have to be recast completely. It is quite clear that the definitions have been drafted to cover such a wide field as to render valueless, or well nigh valueless, the subsequent preference provisions.
.- 1 am very surprised to learn that this bill covers, enemy aliens. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said last night that if at the committee , stage of this measure there were any provisions which he and the Parliament thought should be altered, he would agree to that course being taken. If enemy aliens are placed in the same category as Australians under this clause, it should be altered. Men who have been interned in this country–
– I rise to order. I ask that the words used by the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan), namely, that in his opinion this clause should be altered, be recorded.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).All the honorable member’s words are being recorded.
– I understand that under the Standing Orders an honorable member may ask that words be recorded by the Clerk.
– There is no provision in the Standing Orders for the recording by the Clerk of any words other than word’s which an honorable member may deem to be objectionable to him.
– Enemy aliens should be excluded from the .provisions of this clause. I cannot see why enemy aliens, who presumably lived here for some years without taking the trouble to become naturalized, should share in the benefits which will be provided for Australian men and women who have served on our behalf. Many enemy aliens who were interned were liberated after a certain time and placed in a labour corps for service in: various parts of Australia. Surely it is not the intention of the Go vernment to place these men in the same position as Australian servicemen?
– The clause provides for that,
– Oh, shut up !
– Order !
– Only last weekend I saw members of the Labour Corps working in the railway goods yards at Albury. I say without hesitation that those men have never been so well off as they are now. I cannot see why they should be placed in the same category as Australian citizens and friendly aliens, such as Americans, Russians and Greeks, who have served this country. I sincerely hope that the Minister will amend the clause so that enemy aliens will not receive benefits comparable to those provided for our own servicemen.
– It has been clearly shown that, in the opinion of honorable members generally, this clause should be amended so that the definition of “ member of the Forces “ should exclude enemy aliens who have only served as members of the Army Labour Corps. I accept that view, and at a later stage I shall move an amendment,
– The honorable member should say where the amendment came from in the first place. I sent it to him.
– I am quite willing to do so, but I want to add that I do not consider that the place where the right honorable member intended the amendment to be made is the correct place. In order to save further discussion, I advise the committee that later I shall move an amendment to include, at the end of the definition of “ member of the Forces “, the following words : - but does not include an enemy alien who served during the war us a member of the Army Labour Corps and not otherwise.
– “Why “ not otherwise”?
– Because, in my opinion, if an enemy alien is good enough to serve in the fighting services of Australia he is entitled to the benefits provided in this legislation.
– A non-enemy alien serving in the Labour Corps will be giventhe same preference as a man who served overseas for five years. Is that the idea?
– The Minister proposes to exclude only enemy aliens?
– Yes, that is true.
.- I am glad that the Minister will accede to the suggestion which has been made from this side of the committee. In my second-reading speech, I pointed out that many people who were not justly entitled to the benefits provided in the bill would be able to claim them. The honorable gentleman assured me then that the Government did not have that intention, but it is no accident that the clause was so vague in its original form. I believe that it was drafted for the purpose of including enemy aliens. I now ask the Minister to agree to another amendment to clarify the clause further. Paragraph a of the definition of “member of the Forces “ reads -
The term “ Permanent Forces “ should be clarified. When this point was raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), the Minister referred to the Air Force Act 1923 to show that the Royal Australian Air Force was a part, of the Defence Forces, and consisted partly of Permanent Forces and partly of Citizen Forces. However, I point out that the word “defence” is not mentioned in this clause. It refers to the “Permanent Forces” and the Australian Imperial Force. The Australian Imperial Force is not a part of the defence forces; it is a war organization. The Royal Australian Air Force to-day consists principally of Citizen Forces, and the point raised by the Minister in connexion with the Air Force Act 1923 was irrelevant. If the honorable gentleman will agree to the proposal of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) to include the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force with the Australian Imperial Force in paragraph a there will be no possibility of any misunderstanding. Will the Minister undertake to do that? It is only a matter of adding a few words. I can see why it was not originally put in the form I suggest. In paragraph c, enemy aliens and the Citizen Forces are grouped together. That was not accidental. Now that he has agreed to separate enemy aliens from Citizen Forces, he should include the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force with the Australian Imperial Force in paragraph a.
– Two important matters are involved in this clause. One has just been mentioned by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) regarding the position of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. The overwhelming majority of men in these services are neither permanent members of the Navy and Air Force nor of the Citizen Forces. I was Minister for the Navy at one stage of the war, and, therefore, I know a good deal about the conditions of enlistment in the Navy. Most of the men who have been enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force were enlisted for war service only, and they are not a part of the permanent forces of the Navy or Air Force as defined by the Navy Act and the Air Force Act. Men enlisted in the Navy in peace-time for short-term service for a period of seven years or for long-term service for a period of twelve years, and they could not secure a discharge until the specified term had been completed. A somewhat similar scheme applies in the Air Force. Men enlisted in those forces for war service are not enlisted for a. definite term ; they are enlisted to serve for the duration of the war and twelve months thereafter. The honorable member for Balaclava served in the Royal Australian Air Force under those conditions. His case provides a flat contradiction of the Minister’s argument. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) was enlisted under the same conditions. Members of the Australian Imperial Force are in a different position. Obviously they are not, and cannot be, part of either the Permanent
Forces or the Militia Forces. They were enlisted for a specific military object - service overseas. The only similarity between the Australian Imperial Force and the Air Force and the Navy is that, in time of war, members of all three forces are enlisted for service in any part of the world. The definition in this clause does not cover the Royal Australian Navy or the Royal Australian Air Force, and it ought to be amended to include them. Last night, the Minister assumed a perfectly sanctimonious attitude in claiming that the bill is sacrosanct. One could have imagined that it had come straight down from Allah on a carpet. Yet he had no sooner made that claim than he brought down a printed list of 34 amendments ! I have never before ‘seen such a thing in my life.
– He proposes to redraft the bill in that way.
– That is so. In view of his pontifical attitude, the committee should declare its acceptance en bloc of the 34 amendments. The vexed subject of aliens is as thorny and complicated as could be imagined. Certain aliens came to Australia before the outbreak of the war. Subsequently, some of them were designated friendly and others enemy aliens, despite the fact that they had come from a country which later was at war with Great Britain and Australia.
– Some of them have been designated refugee aliens.
– I am not fussy about that. They left the land of their birth, and came to Australia for their own protection. By reason of certain actions by a previous Australian government, ‘ they were guaranteed personal safety and a chance to settle in this country. Doubtless, some of them are worthy people. I am positive, however, that others are not. According to the attitude adopted by the Government, all of them are , to be grouped together and covered by a blanket clause. So far, nothing has been said about certain native forces that were enlisted. What is to be the position, under this legislation,of the aboriginal forces that were accepted into the Commonwealth Military Forces? The Torres Island force was specially enlisted, and received special [fi!>] rates of pay. Then there are’ also the Papuan infantry battalion, the Papuan labour corps, and the New Guinea corps. What is to be their position? The Minister has not started the job, for the simple reason that he does not possess a proper conspectus of the forces with which he proposes to deal under clause 4. He does not know either their character or their composition, nor does he realize the implications that will arise from this legislation. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) who has been a Minister for the Army, will recall some of these things; no doubt, some of them occurred in his time. The Minister is attempting to deal with a most complicated problem by means of a foot rule of his own construction. I have a strong suspicion that 34 amendments will not he sufficient, and that he will have to double the number before he proceeds much farther. Whenever we deal with the subject of aliens, we shall be confronted with problems. The clause ought to be amended in the way suggested by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). I served in the first war against Germany, with men who were aliens. Some of them were the beat soldiers imaginable. They came from all parts of Europe. But the conditions that existed in that wai1 were different from those that exist to-day. Before the outbreak, of the present war, there were certain political movements in Europe, some of them above-board and others underground. Certain powers deliberately a ttempted to “ plant “ their nationals in other countries. Doubtless, Australia did not escape attention in that respect. In this country, some persons of enemy origin were interned immediately the war commenced. The only safe way to deal with the reservists of a foreign power whom one finds in one’s country when war breaks out, is to place them under official control. I believe that a search of the records will disclose that some of the persons interned were subsequently released, and were actually called up for service. If the Minister wishes to instigate a first-class political riot in connexion with the rehabilitation of ex-service personnel, let him try to ram this treatment of aliens down the throat of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I believe that he is a member of that body; consequently, he ought to have some idea of the views that it holds. If he has not, I have no doubt that his comrades will enlighten him in due course.
.- The more I study the bill, the more convinced am I that it has been cleverly designed to confuse the whole issue in regard to the granting of preference to, and the re-establishment of, exservicemen. According to the explanation of the Minister, enemy aliens will receive equal consideration with ex-servicemen in the matters of preference and r establishment. Further consideration of the matter convinces us that the inclusion of the Civil Constructional Corps, and, indeed, any other section which the Minister may care to name, will be permissible. I put it to the committee (hat any preference or re-establishment under a bill of this character cannot do justice to the ex-servicemen if all these heterogeneous sections also are to be included. The only result will- be to confuse the issue. The Minister must have endeavoured to mislead the committee when, in making his explanation to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), he said that preference “was given to aliens after the last war. Surely the circumstances then were entirely different from those that now exist! We did not have a labour corps, or employment companies, and there was no influx of aliens, either enemy or friendly. Certainly, men of other nationalities volunteered and fought overseas in the common war. Being volunteers, they were entitled to the preference which any other fighting soldier received. But the position to-day is entirely different. We are now dealing with men in regard to some of whom dossiers have been compiled. They were drafted into labour battalions, because they were not acceptable to the fighting services, and laboured cheek-by-jowl with old soldiers of the last war. They have been suspects. Yet they are to be given exactly the same measure of preference and re-establishment as will be received by ex-servicemen! I repeat that this is a cleverly designed piece of work to confuse the whole issue; because, if the
Government can succeed in throwing into the melting-pot of preference and reestablishment the multifarious elements to which reference has been made, what might otherwise be a privilege to the fighting services will be destroyed. During the debate on the Australian .Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill, I moved an amendment to provide for the granting of preference. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said to me: “If you are prepared to withdraw your amendment, I give you my assurance that I shall bring down a bill granting preference to exservicemen “. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) accepted that assurance. But I knew only too well what would happen, and refused to accept it, dividing the committee on the amendment. It now appears to me that I took the right course, and placed the correct interpretation on the assurance of the Prime Minister, because this bill will not give preference to ex-servicemen. I do not know whether the honorable member for Henty considers that the assurance was given in good faith and has been carried out. The Minister has not removed all objections by agreeing to accept an amendment suggested by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). Let us assume, as the honorable member for Warringah did, that the cases of two men in employment have to be judged. The honorable member for Warringah argued the matter from the basis that the two were Australians with service of different lengths. I put it on the basis of an Australian and an alien who had worked in a firm. Under this provision an alien could be re-established in his position to the detriment of an Australian fighting man who had .been engaged in an operational area. That would not be tolerated by the servicemen’s organizations and it should not be tolerated by members of this committee. Some acknowledgment, no doubt, should be made of the services of aliens who have worked and fought on our side in this war, but if the Government desires to show appreciation of their services by legislative enactment it should provide for that to be done under some other bill. I admit that we should not discriminate unduly in this regard, because it would be unwise to arouse racial antipathies, but we should not include aliens or, f or that matter, the cooks of the Allied Works Council and the water “joeys” of the Civil Constructional Corps among those to be benefited under a measure designed to recognize the services of members of the fighting forces.
– Where are those persons mentioned in the bill?
– Paragraph / of the definition of “ war service “ states -
In relation to any of the provisions of this act, the continuous full-time service of am person as a- member of an organization or part thereof which is declared by proclamation to be an organization in relation to which those provisions apply.
That is a cleverly designed provision to enable the members of particular organizations to be made eligible for preference under the bill. My suspicion seems to have been confirmed when I find that the Government intends to include enemy aliens, against whom dossiers have .been compiled, ‘ among those who are to have the same preference as that to be given to Australians who have fought in the jungle of New Guinea. Unless this matter be cleared up to the satisfaction of the people, the organizations of the servicemen and honorable .members generally, the Opposition will take certain action with regard to it.
– As clause 4 will be put to the committee as a whole, I desire to make the purport of my amendments clear. I have already referred to the first amendment, which provides for the deletion from paragraph / of sub-clause 1 the words “ or called up for, active service,” and the insertion in their stead of the words “service in a prescribed area “.
– I do not intend to be put off ,by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) or anybody else. At the end of the definition of “ the war “ I shall move for the addition of the words “ and includes any other war in which His Majesty became engaged after that date and before the date of commencement of this part “. At the end of the definition of “ member of the Forces I shall move for the addition of the words “ but does not include an enemy alien who served during the war as a member of the Army Labour Corps and not otherwise “. Despite what has been said by members of the Opposition, that is all I am prepared to agree to. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) keeps harping on the question of whether the Navy and the Air Force are included in the definition of “member of the Forces”. He tells me that I do not know anything about the constitution of the Defence Forces, yet he is the only member of the committee who is not convinced that the definition in the bill includes the Navy and the Air Force. I have discussed the matter with the Solicitor-General, who has assured me that the Navy and the Air Force are covered by the definition. Paragraph a states -
A person who is or waS, during the war, a member of the permanent forces, other than the Australian Imperial Force.
There can be no member of the forces who is not a member of either the permanent or the citizen forces.
– Other than the Australian Imperial Force.
– That is so.
– There is no explanation of “ service in* a prescribed area
– I shall proceed to explain that matter. Paragraph / of the definition of “ member of the Forces “ reads -
A member of the Naval, Military or Air Forces of any part of the King’s Dominions other than Australia, who is or was, during the war, engaged on, or called up for, active service and was born in Australia or was, immediately prior to his becoming a member of any of those forces, domiciled in Australia.
My advisers consider that the term “ active service “ is vague and indefinite.
– Very indefinite.
– The question of what is active service in the case of members of the Naval, Military or Air Forces of parts of the King’s dominions other than Australia would be decided by the authorities in those dominions. The insertion of the words “ service in a prescribed area “ will ensure that members of the forces of other dominions shall not derive the benefit of this bill unless they have served in areas comparable with those in which Australians have served. In the opinion of the Government the words “ active service “, which in this instance would be interpreted by the authorities in dominions other than Australia, is not sufficiently definite, and therefore we desire to insert the words “ service in a prescribed area “.
– Who will prescribe it?
– That will be prescribed by the Government. It will include areas such as will enable members of the forces of other dominions whose service has been comparable with that of our own forces to obtain the benefits of the bill.
– Will it include the city of London?
– I should say that it undoubtedly would, but it would include a great many other areas, also. From the point of view of those to whom the benefits under this measure will accrue it is a matter of little importance ; it merely defines the term “ active service “. The purpose of the second amendment is to give effect to a suggestion made by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). I prefer the amendment in the form in which it now appears rather than in the form in which the right honorable gentleman circulated it.
– The proposal of the Minister for the treatment of aliens is inadequate, in that it excludes only those aliens who were associated with one specific organization. It would be safer to accept the proposed amendment of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), and restrict the benefits of the bill to those aliens who have served in the combatant forces. It is acknowledged by everybody that some aliens, who were unfortunate enough to be born in enemy countries, are better citizens of Australia to-day, and have played a more worthy part in the war effort, than have some reputed friendly aliens. The best way would be to exclude both friendly and enemy aliens from the automatic application of the benefit provisions of the bill, and to give them the right to appeal to such committees as may he formed for the purpose. As the bill now stands, enemy aliens may not only enjoy parity of treatment with Australian soldiers in some circumstances, but they may actually receive preferential treatment. It might happen that an alien, at the time of his enlistment, had a longer period of service with a particular employer than an Australian soldier. Thus, although he served only as a noncombatant, he could receive preferential treatment in the matter of reinstatement over an Australian who had a distinguished combatant record. The attempt of the Minister to compare the treatment of aliens on active service during the last war with those who have served with the forces in this war, is quite beside the mark.
The Minister did not explain the reason behind paragraph /, which gives the Minister the right to proclaim any organization as one the members of which would be entitled to benefits under the bill. It is obvious that the purpose of this provision is to permit the inclusion of members of the Civil Constructional Corps. Indeed, honorable members will ‘recall that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) definitely mentioned members of the Civil Constructional Corps, who had been taken away from their homes and sent to work in other parts of Australia. It would also be competent for the Minister, under that provision, to declare mine workers and wharf labourers and others of that type to be essential war workers, and thus entitled to benefits under the bill. This indicates the danger of attempting to legislate for servicemen and nonservicemen in the one bill. I appeal to tho Minister, even at this stage, to reconsider the matter with a view to redrafting the bill so as to confine it to servicemen, those men who - to use a hackneyed phrase much in favour on the other side of the House - placed their bodies between us and the enemy. If he will not go so far as that, I ask him to agree to the deletion of paragraph /. I am prepared to move an amendment to that effect.
– It would be helpful if the Minister would agree that the paragraphs in this clause should be discussed separately.
.- I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to indicate whether he will, or will not, accept the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). There are several important matters to be discussed before we deal with the amendment moved by the Minister. It is idle for usto jump from one point to another; some honorable members wish to refer to one aspect, and other members to other aspects. I draw attention to paragraph a of the definition of “member of the Forces” which reads -
A personwho is or was, during the war, a member of the Permanent Forces, other than the Australian Imperial Force.
It may be said that the mere fact that a person was a member of the Permanent Forces, regardless of where he served or the length of his service, entitles him to special consideration. That is a matter which should be discussed, as it might place a person who served at Victoria Barracks in the same category as another person who was a combatant in an operational area. I hope that the Minister will agree . to take the paragraphs separately.
I shall now address myself to the Minister’s first amendment. Because of the indefinite meaning of the term “ activeservice “ the Minister proposes to substitute the words “ service in a prescribed area”. He said that service in a prescribed area would cover operations comparable to those in which fighting troops had been engaged. My first complaint is that under the definition of “ war service “ the whole field is covered, as far as that is possible. My second complaint is as to the nature of the service covered by the term “ war service “, which is defined as -
It will be seen thatno consideration is given to the locality in which “ war service “ is rendered, the nature of the duties performed, or the length of time for which service was rendered. The benefits of this legislation should not be extended to all persons who have rendered “war service” regardless of the length or locality of such service, or the nature of the duties performed. I stress that point because of the necessity to give full force to whatever preference the bill will confer on persons entitled to preference. The Minister has said that the term “ active service “ is indefinite. In lieu of the definition of “ war service “ in the bill, I shouldlike to see substituted the definition given in the Defence Act where “active service” is defined as follows : - “Active Service” - Has a meaning corresponding to that of the same words as used in sub-section (1.) of section 189 of the Army Act defining the expression “on active service “.
The definition of “ acti ve service “ in section 189 (1) of the British Army Act of 1881 is-
In this Act, if not inconsistent with the context, the expression “ on active service “ as applied to a person subject to military law means whenever he is attached to or forms part of a force which is engaged in operations against the enemy or is engaged in military operations in a country or place wholly or partly occupied by an enemy, or is in military occupation of any foreign country.
If any real preference is to be given to servicemen, my view is, first, that there should be a limit on the persons to whom such preference shall be extended, and, secondly, that it should be limited according to the nature of the service that is rendered. I pin my colours to the definition in the Army Act of Great Britain which I have quoted. Unless there be such a limit, whatever benefits will be conferred by this legislation will prove illusory indeed. A man who served in an operational area for five years will, under this legislation, be placed in exactly the same position in relation to preference as a man who served for three months at some base. A man in a combatant unit who served in Crete, Greece, New Guinea, Borneo or the Middle East will be placed on the same basis as a man who served in a pay corps at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. Indeed, the combatant may be placed in an even worse position by virtue of the provisions of clause 16. I suggest that “ war service “ be redefined, so as to make it mean exactly the same as in the Defence Act. Then, by limiting the type of service as I have suggested, we shall give more effective preference to the persons to whom the bill is intended to apply.
– I cannot see how I can help the committee, because I cannot accept any amendment relating to a paragraph prior to paragraph / of the definition of “member of the Forces “. I listened carefully to a fairly long discussion of various matters, but 1 did not hear anything to influence me to change my mind.
– The Minister has occupied one-third of the time of the discussion.
– If the Leader of. the Opposition would like me to sit down after saying, “I cannot accept any amendment relating to any paragraph prior to paragraph f” without offering any explanation, well and good. Honorable members raise point after point, and I suppose they expect me to answer them. The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) raised the question of the Civil Constructional Corps being included. There is no question of the Civil ‘Constructional Corps being included.
– What about paragraph / of the definition of “war service “ ?
– That has nothing to do with the Civil Constructional Corps.
– But it gives power to the ‘Government to include it.
– No. The whole of clause 4 relates only to members of the forces. If the honorable member will read the clause again, he will see that there is no possible chance of the Civil Con structional Corps being approved as an organization, to which the . definition of “ member of the Forces “ can apply.
– I appeal to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) once more to deal with this clause item by item. The clause is of 70 lines and is broken up into a considerable number of sub-clauses and paragraphs. It is. a vital clause because it deals with matters which will affect service men and women and members of the civil community for many years.
– It is one of the key clauses.
– Yes, one of the key clauses. Yet we are denied the privilege given to this committee on dozens of other occasions to deal item by item with a clause which is broken into an enormous number of sub-clauses.
– It is broken, in only three places.
– You are speaking of great ruts, but the whole clause is badly corrugated* with bumps all through it. I do appeal to the Minister to meet the wishes of the committee in this respect. Thereby he would be only doing justice to the people, honorable members, the Government and himself. What is the need for this to be hastened through? Why should’ not the rights of the soldiers be heeded? Why should the people who for years will be affected by this clause not be assured that it has been properly discussed?
– Why should it he delayed ?
– Honorable members on this side are not permitted to propound their views clearly without interruption from honorable members like the honorable member for Reid, who are not concerned that there should be constructive criticism-
– Order ! That has nothing whatever to do with the amendment.
– The people of Australia want to know the real truth of this bill and what all the hidden meanings and implications are.
– The honorable member is very suspicious.
– I am suspicious. The bill that the Minister has placed before us is like the curate’s egg. It is good in parts, but other parts have a worse odour than any which ever permeated this chamber previously. The Minister told the Labour caucus and the executive of the Trade Union Convention in Melbourne on the 30th March, that they must take the whole bill and nothing but the bill-
– Order! That has nothing to do with this clause.
– All right. I say that the amendments moved by the .Minister should be dealt with fully and freely. I nsk him through you, Mr. Acting Chairman, whether he will accept the proposition made by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and me that this clause be considered sub-clause by sub-clause?
– It is for the Chair to determine that.
– Will the Chair determine that?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.There is an amendment before the Chair, and I ask the honorable member to speak to it.
– Can we deal with it hit by bit?
– Amendments must be taken in the order in which they are moved.
– All right. First, as regards the amendment to paragraph /, of the definition of “member of the forces “ proposed by the Minister under which the words “ , or called up for, active service “ are to be replaced by the words “ service in a prescribed area “, the honorable member for Warringah gave the definition of “active service” contained in the British Army Act and made certain quotations from the Defence Act. Perhaps the Minister will be able to explain why Australians who are serving in the forces of the Empire in other parts of the world, either compulsorily or voluntarily, are to be treated differently from Australians serving in. the Australian Military Forces. Is there something wrong with serving the Empire in another part of the world? Must there be discrimination against an Australian who fought under the Canadian flag, the South African flag or the Union Jack in favour of an Australian who fought in the battle of Albury transferring equipment from one railway truck to another? What an extraordinary proposition! I cannot understand why the Minister must rush to his legal officers for advice and then move for the insertion of the phrase “ service in a prescribed area “ instead of using the words “war service in His Majesty’s Forces”. It seems to me that the areas in which men have served meritoriously will be proscribed. I have said before and I say again that the whole bill is cant, humbug, hypocrisy and cheats the soldiers of their rights.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order !
– There is nothing disorderly about that. It is a plain fact.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must withdraw those words.
– Very well, I withdraw the words thought to be disorderly.
– On a point of order, is not an honorable member entitled to express his view that a measure is cant, humbug and hypocrisy? Where does that reflect upon any honorable member or infringe the Standing Orders ? Surely, we are not told that Ave must limit our language to that degree? Under what circumstances does the Chair call upon the honorable member to withdraw?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.There is no point of order. The words are distinctly unparliamentary.
– I bow to your ruling. It was entirely wrong of me to refer to the bill as cant, humbug and hypocrisy, because it speaks for itself. What do we find when we come to the Minister’s proposal with respect to aliens? The Minister has drafted an amendment which on his own confession will, confer the benefits to be provided under this measure upon enemy aliens serving in the labour companies, or the Civil Constructional Corps or other bodies of the Commonwealth. It was discovered during the war that prior to the outbreak of hostilities the organization of the Nazis was so thorough that they even went to the extent of putting key Nazi supporters into concentration camps in Germany, anc! after performing certain operations on them, sent them to other countries to act as Nazi spies. Under the amendment, such persons would be able to qualify for all the privileges, including preference, made available under the bill, although, possibly, they may he among the deadliest enemies this country has ever had. Nevertheless, the Minister tells honorable mom bers opposite to accept the bill without criticism. Last night, for instance, we heard the eulogy voiced by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson), a devoted follower of the Government, who was put clown the drain just as surely as is a dead rat when the flood passes clown to the sea.
– I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The honorable member has made a comparison between a dead rat and myself. If that is so, he shall not “ get away “ with his remarks simply because he makes them in this chamber, because I shall ask him about the matter outside.
– I did not for an instant suggest that the honorable member in any way resembles a dead rat. It seems extraordinary to me that the Minister’s amendment has been drafted so carelessly that the Minister himself did not notice that he was including enemy aliens. For that reason, I shall support the amendment moved by the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) and shall oppose with all my might the amendment moved by the Minister.
– As I am anxious to conserve my right to speak on the other matters arising under the clause, I shall direct myself to the amendment before the Chair, that is, the amendment moved by the Minister with respect to paragraph f which includes the definition of “ member of the Forces” certain Australians serving in the forces of other parts of the King’s Dominions. The Minister proposes to introduce a limitation on their rights to be included under this bill, the limitation being that such Australians - T emphasize that, such Aus tralians - serving in other parts of the King’s Dominions must have performed their service “ in a prescribed area “. And a prescribed area is an area prescribed, under the Acts Interpretation Act, by the Governor-General in Council in this country. Therefore it is prescribed by executive action here. A curious contrast is produced by this amendment. Under the bill as it stands, all members of the Australian forces are within the scope of the bill wherever their service may have been performed. To take two extreme cases mentioned, they are included whether their service is performed at Albury or in New Guinea. In other words, there has been a comprehensive inclusion of all those serving in the Australian forces; and, shortly, we shall be discussing an amendment designed to put some limitation upon that. If that is the position of an Australian serving in the Australian forces - that without any reference to territorial limits or prescribed areas at all he is within the scope of the bill - why should some other rule be applied to an Australian who serves in the forces of some other part of the King’s Dominions? If it is good enough for an Australian serving in the Australian forces wherever he serves to be included in the bill, it is good enough for an Australian native serving wilh the British, Canadian or New Zealand forces to be within the bill wherever he serves.
– This amendment is designed to ensure that they get comparable benefits.
Mr. MENZIES. 1 unhesitatingly accept the Minister’s assurance as to what he intends, and I am by no means wedded to the expression ‘‘active service” as it now stands in the clause, because that in itself may connote limitations which do not exist in the Australian forces. Therefore I do not quarrel with the intention of the amendment, but with the amendment itself, because service in a prescribed area will give rise to limitations. Areas cannot be prescribed without fixing boundaries, and the moment that is done there will be some people inside the boundaries and some outside; and the moment some people are left outside the boundaries when an area is prescribed, then you have to apply a rule to Australians serving in the forces of other dominions which does not apply to Australians serving in the forces of their own country.
.- I fail to ate the purpose of the amendment moved by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). Whilst I agree that interpretation of the words ‘ “ active service “ presents difficulties, the Minister’s amendment puts it “ up in the air “ altogether, ‘and leaves the matter in the hands, not of the Parliament, but the Government. It is apparent that the wording of the amendment was hastily conceived. I suggest that the following wording would meet the position: - (/) a member of the Naval, Military or Air Forces of any part of the King’s Dominions other than Australia, who served during the war, and was born in Australia or was, immediately prior to his becoming a member of any of those forces, domiciled in Australia: and . . .
That would simplify paragraph / and would place Australians serving in the forces of other parts of the King’s Dominions in the same category as members of the forces who enlisted, or were called up, in Australia.
.- Before we discuss the actual provisions of the bill wc should at: least know whom the bill is intended to benefit. Until we are clear on that point, it is useless to proceed with the measure. What is the position with respect to this clause? This is the basis upon which the whole bill has been built, but the Minister received a shock this afternoon when he discovered that the definitions in this clause include enemy aliens. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) declared’ that he was totally opposed to the inclusion of those persons.
– So I am.
– Obviously, the Government and its supporters do not understand the fundamentals of the bill. In the circumstances, the Government should withdraw this measure and introduce another one which it does understand. Last night, the Minister circulated 34 proposed amendments. My experience in this chamber is that when a Minister intends to submit a number of amendments to a bill, ordinary courtesy dictates that he shall make them available to honorable members without delay, so that they may discuss their effect during the second-reading debate. Last night, however, the Minister circulated 34 amendments in the closing stages of the second-reading debate, and honorable members had no opportunity to examine them. Now, we have made the remarkable discovery that the Minister has just realized that the definitions in clause 4 have an effect that neither caucus nor Cabinet suspected. The position is ludicrous. When moving the secondreading of this bill, the Minister said that it was probably the most important legislation that could be introduced in any Parliament, and expressed his pride at having been asked to introduce it. Caucus should now be asked what it really thinks of the bill, so that honorable members on this side of the chamber may know the position.
I shall say more about enemy aliens when the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) moves an amendment designed to correct the anomaly in the bill. For the present, I consider that this bill, which gives to enemy aliens the same rights as it confers on Australian servicemen, should- have a new title. A3 the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) suggested, enemy aliens should be dealt with, not in a bill to provide for the re-establishment in civil life of members of the forces but in separate legislation.
The Minister has submitted an amendment which will limit the rights of Australians, mot enemy aliens, who enlisted in the fighting forces in Great Britain, Canada, India or New Zealand.
M!r. Dedman. - That is not correct.
– The bill in its present form does not impose such a limitation upon them.
M!r. Dedman. - It does.
– On the outbreak of war some Australians who were abroad enlisted in the naval, military of air forces of parts of the _ King’s Dominions other than Australia, and they should be entitled to, at least, as much consideration as enemy aliens or members of the Army Labour Corps will receive. Some of them will require rehabilitation. The very fact that they enlisted gives to them a right over some other persons who were not so ready to offer their services.
As to whether the words “ active service “ or “ service in a prescribed area” should be used, I should be satisfied if the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Henty were accepted. The definition of “ Citizen Forces “ in Statutory Rule No. 42 of 1944 reads -
That, I assume, is what is meant in the clause under discussion. The statutory rule continues - and shall consist of -
soldiers of the age of eighteen years and upwards but under sixty years who are enlisted in the Corps or transferred to the Corps from other portions of the Military Forces.
In view of that definition of “ Citizen Forces “, no one should suggest that these men, who have not performed combat duties, should be given preference over Australians who served in the armed forces of other parts of the King’s Dominions. I hope that the measure will be withdrawn.
.- I am at a loss to understand why any measure of discrimination shouldbe introduced, as it has been by the amendment. Clause 4 contains a large number of categories of service personnel who, under the bill, will be entitled to certain benefits. Their rights are not limited by the fact that they served in any particular locality. Paragraphf of the definition of “ member of the Forces “ deals with another category of Australians who served in the armed forces, not of Australia, but of other parts of the King’s Dominions. Under thisbill, their rights will be limited by the fact that the area in which they served must be prescribed. If an area is not prescribed, the men who served in it will not get the benefits of this legislation. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said, in reply, that the Government intended that those men should receive exactly the same rights as the various classes of servicemen mentioned in earlier paragraphs. If that be correct, why does not the paragraph put the position beyond doubt? It is a simple matter to draft a paragraph that will provide that those men shall receive the same rights as all other members of the forces mentioned in earlier paragraphs. It is curious that Australianborn citizens, who are members of the naval, military or air forces of any part of the King’s Dominions other than Australia, should have fewer rights than have enemy aliens or other aliens now serving in the Commonwealth forces. Paragraph f should be amended for the purpose of removing any suspicion that the rights of those Australians will be limited in any way.
– At the risk of being told once again that I am speaking too often, I desire to make it perfectly clear that this amendment will not mean any kind of discrimination. It will not impose any limitation on the benefits that may be enjoyed under this legislation by a member of the naval, military or air forces of any part of the King’s Dominions other than Australia. In fact, it will mean an extension of the benefits to more people than would obtain them under the clause in its present form.
I am not aware of the position in the United Kingdom to-day, but I know what it was in the last war. For a member of the forces of the United Kingdom to be on active service during the last war, he had to serve outside the United Kingdom. That is to say, any one serving in the London area, which was mentioned by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), would not, under the clause in its present form, be eligible for any benefits. Therefore the words “ active service “ should be replaced by the phrase “ service in a prescribed area “.
– Would not the words “engaged On war service” be suitable?
– “ War service “ might mean anything.
– The honorable member for Warringah is admitting that an amendment is needed, but he says that it ought to be made in another form. Several other honorable members have said that they cannot understand the need for any amendment at all. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) said that the amendment would limit the application of benefits. I deny this. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the benefits will accrue to a greater number of persons. I believe that this is the best form the amendment can take, and I propose to stick to it.
– The explanation offered by the Minister merely confuses the issue still further. Evidently, he believes that by imposing limits he can widen the scope of the benefits. I confess that I cannot understand that. There must be some form of words which would make the definition acceptable, but the Minister has not found it. I had great hopes of this bill when the Minister, with a great flourish, said that he would accept any amendment that would make the bill better and more workable, but I became suspicious when he himself introduced no fewer than 34 amendments. Nothing that has happened since has removed my suspicions. The Minister has moved an amendment, the purpose of which is to extend the benefits of the bill to Australians who have served with the forces of other dominions in “prescribed areas “. If areas are prescribed, theremust, presumably, be some who have served within those areas and some who have served outside them. Some would be entitled to benefit and others would not. Therefore, the effect of the measure must be to limit the application of benefits. The Minister cannot name one section of the forces which, as the bill stands, will be excluded from benefiting under the ‘measure. Batmen, cooks. iti embers of the Pay Corps, members of the Legal Corps, those who fought on the Albury front, and those who loaded ships at Woolloomooloo - all are included. That being so, why should the Minister not include those Australians who joined up with the forces of other dominions. We have often heard Ministers say that this is a global war; that it is, in all its phases, one war. Surely it should not be beyond the ingenuity of the Government draftsmen to discover a few words that would give to all Australians who served in the forces of other dominions the same benefits as are to be given to Australians who served in our own forces. As the bill stands there is little in it to afford satisfaction to servicemen. Practically any one can become entitled to a benefit under it. The Minister has said that he is prepared to accept amendments to make the bill better and more workable. Therefore. I appeal to him to listen to the arguments of honorable members on this side of the House, particularly those, who, like himself, are ex-servicemen. Apparently, no member of the Labour caucus realized that enemy aliens may become entitled to benefit under the bill. When this was pointed out to the Minister, he immediately saw the force of our submissions. I appeal to him to abandon his attitude of self-satisfaction, and to meet us candidly and reasonably. He should take the committee into his confidence, and together we can make of the bill something of which he and the Parliament may be proud.
– I hope that- the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) will bear with us when, we submit amendments designed to improve the bill. The Minister has moved an amendment to confer benefits on Australians who, as members of the forces of other dominions, have served in “ prescribed areas “. However, no definition is offered of the term “prescribed areas”. The Minister offered an explanation, but he merely contrived to confuse the issue. If honorable members on this side had not raised the point, we should not have extracted from the Minister an admission that he knew that, as the bill stood, enemy aliens were included among those who would benefit under the measure. The fact is that we are not discussing a serviceman’s repatriation bill, but a bill providing for the re-establishment of a great many persons in civil life. Our task is to try, within the framework of this bill, to provide for the needs of exservicemen. We are now discussing definitions, and it is by no means clear who is included in the term “ Australian Imperial Force “. I cannot see why a full definition of “ defence forces “ should not be included in order to clarify the position. The Minister had the audacity to ask where enemy aliens were included in the bill. In paragraph b of the definition of “ member of the Forces “, where is there any reference to the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force? It seems that we must be crystal-gazers if we are to learn the Government’s intentions. As the bill stands now, those who will come out best are likely to be those who did least in the war, including enemy aliens. Even supporters of the Government did not know that enemy aliens were to be included in the benefits provided by the bill, and when they joined in objecting to this provision the Minister withdrew it. Therefore, we must be forgiven if we attempt to secure further clarification of the definitions. I have never known a bill in which the definitions have occasioned so much confusion as has arisen from those in this bill. We still do not know just what is meant by “ prescribed area “ in the Minister’s amendment. I hope that the Minister will take the committee into his confidence and make its real meaning plain. If we knew exactly what was intended, we might be able to insist upon the exclusion from the benefits intended for servicemen of persons who did very little or nothing at all for the defence of the nation. There is a dastardly plot by the Government to extend preference to men who do not deserve it. The honorable member for New England said the bill was like the curate’s egg, but I cannot see good in any part of it. It offers no advantages to the serviceman, because he will have to share the privileges that it confers on him with men who did not fight for the defence of the country. His status is merely that of a citizen included with others to whom the Government is prepared to extend benefits. I hope that the Minister will make another and more satisfactory attempt to satisfy us. The definitions are obscure and the whole bill needs clarification.
.- It is a pity that the bill is not more plain. During the second-reading debate, some of us said that it was an insincere measure, and I still believe it to be so. In the Government’s eyes the civilian matters just as much as the serviceman. The discussions which have already taken place in committee show that the measure is muddled, and some extraordinary revelations have been made in the last hour. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) would have rushed the clauses through the committee stages, but he has been prevented from doing so and, because honorable members on this side of the chamber and one supporter of the Government pointed out that some enemy aliens would benefit under the bill, he offered to make a minor amendment. After considering all of the definitions, one cannot help believing that the bill is badly drafted. The Minister waved our arguments aside earlier, and said that theSolicitor-General had stated that members of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force were included in the Citizen Forces. Surely, in a bill of this importance, to include them generally under the heading of citizen forces is wrong and a slight to both services. The clause merely states - “ member of the Forces “ means -
There is no mention in the bill of the Royal Australian Navy or the Royal Australian Air Force. Although the Minister has retired to his corner and obtained an opinion from the legal officers that those services are covered by the term “Citizen Forces”, I am of the opinion that they are big enough and important enough tobe mentioned specifically. I hope that the Minister will heed my remarks. He referred to legislation enacted in 1923, and said that the Air Force consisted of permanent forces and citizen forces. Does he know that to-day the strength of the Royal Australian Air Force is nearly 160,000 ? The percentage of permanent m embers is trifling, and the number of pre-war citizen members is very small. Apart from the fact that the Navy and Air Force should not be passed over in this way, there is a danger of error unless they be mentioned specifically, as the Australian Imperial Force is mentioned. All that is necessary is to name the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force in paragraph b of the definition ‘of “ members of the Forces “. We are pleased that the Minister has decided to exclude enemy aliens from preference, but paragraph / of. the definition of “ war service “ giv.es him the opportunity to retract his decision. If the honorable gentleman intends to exclude aliens from preference, he must strike out that sub-paragraph in its entirety. It reads - “ War service “ means - (/) in relation to any of the provisions of this Act, the continuous full-time service of any person as a member of an organization or part thereof which is declared by proclamation to be an organization in relation to which those provisions apply.
Unless that paragraph be deleted, the Government could, at any time after the bill had become law, issue a regulation to provide that munition workers, wharf labourers or members of any other organization should be eligible for all the benefits to be given in the bill. I assure the Minister that I am not unsupported in my arguments. The Deputy Leader of! the Opposition has already raised, the point, and ex-servicemen’s organizations are making representations about it. If paragraph f of the definition of “war service” be retained, we shall always be uncertain as to whether some pressure group may induce the Government, to extend the benefits to its members. There is another minor point to be cleared up, regarding the definition of “active service “. I should like to see preference given only to men and women who served in combat areas. They are the ones who are most concerned with the war. The Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act specifically states that a man must have served in a theatre of war, which is the same thing as a combat area, in order to qualify for a service pension. This matter involves Australians who have served in the forces of Great Britain and other parts of the Empire. I accept the Minister’s explanation on this point, because he has pointed out that under the British law “ active service “ does not mean service in Great Britain. There is no necessity for further discussion on that point.’ I repeat that, in my opinion, it is vital that paragraph / in the definition of “ war service “ should be deleted. Unless the Minister agrees to do that, we cannot believe that the Government will give any great measure of preference to ex-servicemen. I exhort the Minister to mention specifically the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force in paragraph b of the definition of “ war service “. A lot of time would be saved by adjourning the further consideration of the clause, and having the definitions improved by a committee representative of all parties in both Houses of the Parliament. Otherwise, the argument on the definitions may continue for days.
.- I agree with the Minister that the result of the acceptance of his amendment would be to extend the benefits of this legislation to those who may have served in a naval, military or air force of any part of the King’s dominions, but I do not agree that such persons would be placed on a basis comparable with that of Australians who had served in Australia, New Guinea or elsewhere. That is the issue.
– That would depend upon the area prescribed.
– A prescribed area must be a part subtracted from the whole. It would be futile to imagine that the mere statement “ anywhere in the world where they may have served “ would constitute the prescribing of an area; yet that would be the position of all other Australians. Paragraphs / and q of the definition of “member of the Forces” deals directly with the same subjectmatter, paragraphf primarily with male members of the naval, military or air forces of any part of the King’s dominions other than Australia, and paragraphg with female members of such forces. The language used in paragraph g is -
A person who is or was, during the war, engaged on continuous full-time service with any Nursing Service or other Women’s Service auxiliary to the Naval, Military or Air Forces of any part of the King’s Dominions other than Australia. …
What objection could be offered to the use of the same language in paragraphf? As now proposed, the language of paragraphf will have a different connotation from that of paragraph g, and there will be discrimination between the two services dealt with. Paragraph e of the definition of “war service” reads - in the case of a person specified in paragraph (d), (e), (f) or (g) of the definition of “ member of the Forces “, service in any of the bodies specified in those paragraphs;
Therefore, all that need be done under paragraphf is to indicate with sufficient clarity the actual personnel on whom the benefits are tobe conferred, and then give the same definition to “ war service “ under paragraphs d, e, f andg of the definition of “member of the Forces “. Paragraphf should be redrafted to read -
A member of the Naval, Military or Air Forces of any part of the King’s Dominions other than Australia, who as or was, during the war,engaged on continuousfull-time service.
That would make the same construction applicable to all, whether they had served in the Australian forces or with other dominion forces.
– I suggest the addition of the words “ as such “ after the words “ full-time service “.
– That would make the definition clearer. In my view, the Minister will not achieve what, clearly, he has in mind, if he persists in the use of the words he has proposed in his amendment.
We are now defining thosetowhom the benefits of this legislation are to be extended. Because of its importance, I direct attention to the last sub-clause of thebill, which, in relation to regulations made by the Governor-General, states -
During the war, the regulations may provide for the repeal or amendmentof, or addition to, any of the provisions of this Act.
That sub-clause is vitally important. Under paragraphf of the definition of “ member of the Forces “, we are concerning ourselves with the particular persons to whom the benefits of this legislation are to be applied. Not much purpose will he served if, having reached finality in committee, power is retained in the bill to alter completely what we have decided. Assuming - as I must, for the purpose of my argument - that the Government will insist upon the retention of clause 135 (2) as framed - which I have just read - I ask the Minister to make it quite clear that whatever may be decided in committee will stand, unless it is altered by this Parliament; in other words, that in no case shall clause 135 (2) be applied in respect of the provisions of clause 4.
.- The Minister said that the amendment was designed to widen the scope of the clause. That is perfectly clear. He also told the committee that “active service “,as defined in Great Britain, means service outside Britain. I am quite prepared to believe that his intention, in submitting this proposition, was to remove some limitation which is implicit in the term “ active service “. But what he refusesto see is that his proposal does not necessarily mean that, but could mean an increase of the limitation, depending upon the area prescribed. If there is any justification for discriminatingbetween Australians who served under Australian military control andthose who, happening to be on the other side of the world, flung themselves into the conflict under the control of the militaryauthorities of the United Kingdom or another dominion instead of waiting until they had returned to Australia, the Minister has not toldus of it, but rather has accepted the suggestion that there should be discrimination. Lest he consider that there is no discrimination, I shall tell him ofa case that has come to my knowledge. A young architect who was in England at the outbreak of the war, enlisted in the Royal Air Force and did valiant service with it. His potential benefits under this legislation will have limitations that will not be shared by his father, a member of the Volunteer Defence Corps on the North Shore line. Surely there is no comparison between the service of a young man with the Royal Air Force in operations over Germany, and that of a member of the Volunteer Defence Corps who did week-end duty on the North Shore line! I am afraid that a little political dignity is the only thing which prevents the Minister from acceding to what is undoubtedly the wish of the committee. His dignity may be considerably conserved if, at this early stage of the discussions on the bill, he will show a little readiness to accede to the wish of. the committee, and do what, after all, would be a fair thing to those Australians who joined up with the forces of other dominions.
.- Last night, when the Minister’s action in bringing down 34 amendments to the bill was being discussed by the committee, he, in a happy spirit of conciliation, and a desire to> take the committee into his confidence, said that he would be prepared to accept from any quarter amendments designed to’ improve the measure. The amendment, he has submitted to paragraph / of the definition of “ member of the Forces’” is not acceptable to me, because although he has told the committee that, his intention is to widen the definition, he is asking it at the same time to pass the> clause in an indefinite state. It is unfinished, because it leaves with the Government the duty of defining the areas in which Australians have served. Somebody must define the areas, and that means, taking in all the oceans and continents of the world. The Minister should accept the logical suggestion of the honorable member for Warringah that paragraph / should he brought into line with paragraph g. That would improve the definition and be acceptable to honorable members on both sides of the committee.
– I am at a los3 to understand why the Minister does not accept the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). It is quite clear that in a certain sense the Minister’s amendment would widen the definition, but the present paragraph is in fairly narrow terms because of the special definition given to “ active service “ in the Defence Act. What is now proposed is that the Minister should include within the scope of the bill men who were horn in Australia and domiciled here but, being out of Australia, became members of the forces of some other part of the King’s Dominions. They are on exactly the same footing for all purposes as members of the Australian forces who serve as such. There is no distinction whatever. I am certain that the Minister does not desire to make a distinction, and, if so, why should we not use language which, beyond doubt, would put the position of Australians serving in the forces of Canada or New Zealand on the same footing as those serving in the forces of Australia? The committee will wish to include men who answer the description indicated by the honorable member for Warringah. Is there any reason why they should not be included by the simplest form of words that has yet been suggested.? I can see no drafting objection to such an amendment. If the Minister has any objection to it in principle, it is because he desires differential treatment to be given. Honorable members of this committee do not wish that to be done. The amendment suggested does justice to the view of the committee and should be accepted.
– As far as the Air Force is concerned, I have explained to the Minister that there is a vital distinction to-day between every man who was a permanent member of the force before the war broke out and those who have enlisted since. A man who has joined up since the war cannot be given a substantive rank. He can have only a temporary rank, but if he belonged to the Permanent Air Force which existed prior to the war, he could have any rank. The Minister now proposes that the definition of “member of the forces” should include persons who enlisted overseas in other forces and have served in prescribed areas. I shall mention two examples of which every honorable member of the committee has personal knowledge. In 1940, certain. persons were asked to enlist for service overseas as yachtsmen and men of that type. They were not to serve with Australian forces, but were to go on active service hunting enemy submarines. Probably the Minister will say that they are covered by the definition. Another force raised in Australia and sent overseas was the Forestry Corps which stayed in Scotland for a long period. The members of that corps did not go into a forward area, but were called upon to do a specific job overseas.
– They are covered by this definition.
– The Minister makes that statement without investigation. What were the terms of their enlistment? Other men who were enlisted’ for forestry purposes served in New Guinea. The Government does not know what it is trying to do in one sense, but in another sense it knows only too well. It is trying to confuse the issue. Out of the present chaos, two placards stand out prominently. One reads, “Up with the alien”, and the other states, “ Down with our own countrymen “. That criticism applies particularly to men who have served with the forces of other parts of the Empire and were not enlisted in Australia. The Minister’s proposed amendment is one of the worst things the Government has tried to do in a very bad bill. The committee should give the fullest possible attention to the position which will confront many Australians who for some reason have served with overseas forces. To my knowledge, and to the knowledge of practically every member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, certain difficulties arose after the last war because the rights and privileges of returned soldiers were not correctly defined in the preference legislation of that day. The object of the Opposition is to ensure that there shall be no distinction whatever between Australian men and women who have served the King in any part of the world. If there is any foundation for the practice which we have followed for years past, both before and after the passage of the Statute of Westminster, the cardinal point upon which we must first fix our minds is that for all purposes of war service, it does not matter where an Australian citizen has served. If he has given war service, whether as a member of the British forces in the United Kingdom, in India, or anywhere else, without any doubt, without any qualifications, and without any chance of doubt or qualifications, he should be entitled to rights at least equal to those enjoyed by every Australian citizen who served in an Australian uniform. The prosecution of the war, has stressed the need for British people of all types, and in all parts of the world to stick together. If, as the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has said, the Government will be able to varythis measure immediately it has been passed, then that is one of the worst features ever introduced into any legislation. No matter what we may do in regard to this amendment, or in regard to other amendments which may be accepted, it stands to reason that so long as sub-clause 2 of clause 135 remains in this bill, there can be no guarantee of permanency, no protection for the individual, and no security for the group which this legislation purports to cover. For instance, certain changes may take place in this Government. The possibility that we may have a new Labour Prime Minister is being canvassed in the press, with what justification I do not know. But let us suppose for instance that the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) were elected to that position. He might desire that certain provisions in this legislation should apply to anybody who did not serve north of the Brisbane line. I emphasize that so long as sub-clause 2 of clause 135 remains in this legislation, there can be no question about the necessity for the Opposition to insist as best it can, upon the inclusion of every safeguard, protection, and guarantee, which the wit of man can devise, to ensure that this bill shall be passed in a form different from that in which we see it to-day.
The honorable member for Warringah has drawn attention to a very important and far-reaching distinction between paragraphf and subparagraph g of the definition of “member of the Forces “. I cannot see any logical reason why the Government should not use the same words in paragraphf which the Minister proposes to amend, as are used in paragraph g. To my mind the language used in paragraph g is infinitely clearer and more understandable than anything else that has been suggested so far. The Minister no doubt has devoted considerable time to the study of this bill, either personally or by proxy. Because of the manner in which the honorable gentleman rushes to the back of the chamber so frequently, I have a very strong suspicion that that study was more by proxy than personal. As the honorable member for “Warringah has said, this amendment is most farreaching, because it affects the rights and privileges of everybody who may have served outside Australia in the King’s forces. The amendment proposes the deletion of the words “ or called up for active service “. I can quite understand that the Minister may believe that these words are not exactly the ones that he would have employed, because for instance, the persons concerned may not have been exactly called up for active service. For instance, a man may have volunteered for service in the British Navy or in another army about, which 1 shall not say anything at present, but the identity of which will gradually be made known. He may have had certain scientific qualifications which prompted him to offer his services to the Government Of the United Kingdom, the Government of Canada, or some other Government. He may have been sent on a special mission to a country which he understood very well. He may not have been actually in contact with the enemy; nevertheless, his work may have been instrumental in saving a great deal of sweat, sacrifice and even bloodshed. The history of warfare abounds with cases of that description. It is unthinkable that the Government should treat this matter so lightly. The Minister has adopted that very pontifical attitude to which I referred earlier this afternoon, as if anything which he says must be final, and cannot be questioned.
– I have already accepted an amendment on this clause from the honorable member.
– The Minister is endeavouring to trade one amendment for the other.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 0 to 8 p.m.
.-1 join with other honorable members in asking that greater consideration be given to Australian men who were overseas when the war broke out and joined Empire forces in Great Britain or one of the other dominions. I object to the discrimination against such men in the Government’s proposals. Every man who joined the forces in Australia and remained with them for six months will participate in the benefits of this legislation, whereas men who joined Empire forces overseas will not do so.
– That is not so.
– The Government’s proposals will exclude some Australians who fought in the European war, and I appeal to the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to include them. The silence of honorable members opposite is significant; not one member on the Government benches has risen to say a word in favour of Australians who joined the forces in other parts of the Empire. The fact that they did so should be sufficient justification for their inclusion in the benefits of this legislation. Until the Opposition pointed out thai enemy aliens would be entitled to preference and rehabilitation benefits under this bill, the Minister claimed that he was not aware that that was so. He now proposes to make an amendment to meet that position. I have a high regard for the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) who has appealed to the Minister to comply with the request of the Opposition, but, so far, his efforts have not met with any response.
– The honorable member has no right to make such a statement.
– We are only asking that men be accorded rights which the Minister is prepared to grant to women.
– As the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) ha<pointed out, nurses who have, had service outside Australia will be treated more generously than will the men to whomI have referred. The Minister cannot justify that discrimination. I am pleased to see the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) in the chamber, for I recall that last night, when the Minister in charge of the bill refused the request of the Opposition to postpone consideration of the bill so that honorable members might have an opportunity to consider 34 amendments which had just been circulated, the Acting Prime Minister acceded to it. I, therefore, appeal to him now to grant to Australian men who served in the forces raised overseas the same consideration and the same benefits under this legislation as will be enjoyed by men who joined the forces in Australia. It is regrettable that men who offered their lives for the defence of Australia should not readily be granted the benefits to which they are entitled. If honorable members opposite are determined to discriminate in the way proposed by the bill, their actions will have a boomerang effect.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has in effect admitted that the original drafting of this measure was faulty and that the bill in its present form will not achieve the end which the Government desires. He has, therefore, foreshadowed a number of amendments. In paragraph g there is a provision couched in language similar to that suggested by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). The Minister is prepared to concede to women who have served outside Australia as nurses, certain rights that he is not prepared to extend to men who joined Empire forces outside Australia. That is illogical. In the early stages of the European war, numbers of Australians who were then overseas joined forces which were raised in other parts of the British Empire. Some of them did so thinking that an Australian ExpeditionaryForce might not be sent to fight overseas. They were justified in that fear, because they knew that members of the then Opposition were opposed to Australians being sent overseas to fight. I do not want to see those men penalized because they showed courage and initiative in joining forces in other parts of the Empire in order to carry the fight to the enemy. Such men are worth looking after. I believe that it will be a blot on this legislation if we do not concede to Australian fighting men, wherever they fought, the rights and privileges that we are prepared to give to men who enlisted or were called up for service in this country in a time of national danger: Paragraph g reads -
A person who is or was, during the war, engaged on continuous full-time service with any Nursing Service or other Women’s Service auxiliary to the Naval, Military or Air Forces of any part of the King’s dominions other than Australia who was born in Australia or was, immediately prior to her becoming a member of that Service, domiciled in Australia.
We ask that similar language shall be used in respect of all Australians who fought in any part of the world in the defence of the Empire - men who, notwithstanding that they enlisted overseas, are still good Australians. They are entitled to similar treatment to that which we propose to give to men who joined forces raised in Australia.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Dedman’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. W. J. F. Riordan.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
. -I move-
That, in sub-clause (1.) after paragraph (f) the following proviso be inserted: - “ Provided that, for the purposes of the preceding paragraphs of this definition enemy alien members of a labour corps; an employment company or a non-military establishment or organization shall not be included in the definition of ‘member of the forces’.”
I move the insertion of that proviso for the purpose of specifically excluding enemy aliens from benefit under this measure. It cannot , be accepted that the Minister did not realize that the definition of “ citizen forces “ included enemy aliens, notwithstanding his statement that he did not, because the various organizations representing exservicemen have made representations by both deputations and correspondence to the Minister and the Government, as well as having circularized all honorable members, in support of a request that the bill be amended to exclude enemy aliens, and have pointed out that the present definition of “citizen forces” includes them. Honorable members on this side cannot believe that the Minister was innocent of the meaning of the definition as he claimed to be to-day. We are definite in bur belief that in no circumstances should enemy aliens enjoy the privileges and advantages, meagre as they are, conferred on members of the forces by this bill.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio- Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of theCouncil for Scientific and
Industrial Research) [8.17]. - I have already said that I believe an amendment of this nature should be made,but I did point out. that the appropriate place to which to make the amendment was at the end of sub-clause 1 g and I propose, when we reach that stage, to move an amendment. Accordingly, I cannot accept the amendment.
– Why should the Minister move all the amendments?
– Iwas asked if I would consider making the amendment. I have considered the matter, and I have decided that I ought to make it; but the appropriate place is at the end of subclause 1 g, and, therefore, I cannot accept an amendment at the end of subclause 1f.
– I cannot understand the Minister’s attitude. He says that he is willing to accept an amendment, but he does not say whether he is willing to accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.Fadden) . There is a difference between the amendment moved by him and the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister. We were led to believe, before the sitting was suspended, that the Minister did not understand what he was doing, that this was a hurried, slipshod measure which he did not understand, but had accepted it in its present form, with the concurrence of caucus, and on the advice of his officers. Now the Minister has come forward with 34 amendments, of which that which he has now foreshadowed is not one. Not one of them has been placed before caucus. This bill is a creaking vehicle in need of 34 additional parts to make it go.So the Minister tries to lead the committee to believe that he did not realize that enemy aliens, perhaps active Nazis, were to be given all the benefits proposed for members of the forces.
– All the Nazis are on that side. Eric Harrison of the New Guard is one. It does not matter about you–
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).Order !
– It does not matter about you either.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Hunter to withdraw and apologize to the Chair.
– I am sorry.
– Before the interlude I was mentioning-
– You are an interlude.
– I object to being called “ an interlude “ and I ask that the honorable member withdraw that remark.
– I ask the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to withdraw and apologize.
– What, again? Out of respect to the Chair only, I do.
– My leader has pointed out that ex-servicemen’s organizations in Australia, not just recently but for weeks, have asked the Minister to accept an amendment to ensure that it shall not be possible for enemy aliens to benefit.
– How does the honorable member know what the returned soldiers have asked me to do ?
– I realize, as the honorable gentleman ought to, that the Leader of the Australian Country party is a truthful gentleman and does not tell lies, and he has said that the returned soldiers have asked the Minister to accept such an amendment.
– I ask the honorable member to discuss the clause.
– Before the Minister interrupted me I said that he had been asked by the returned soldier organizations to ensure that enemy aliens should not be included in the bill.
– That is not a statement of fact.
– Now the Minister has said that he is willing to accept an amendment, but not the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party..
– Yes, he has.
– He has not. Incidentally the Minister’s proposed amendment has not been circulated.
– Neither has the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party been circulated.
– I ‘do not know who is making this speech - the Minister or me - but I have the floor, and I ask that the
Chairman keep order so that I shall be able to say what I intend to say.
– Order ! ‘The honorable member is entitled to be heard, and I ask other honorable members to keep silence.
– I repeat that there is a difference between the amendment of the Leader of the Australian Country party and the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party provides that “ enemy alien members of a labour corps, an employment company or a non-military establishment or organization shall not be included in the definition ‘ member of the forces ‘ “. I think that the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister does not include any reference to non-military establishments or organizations.
– The honorable member is only thinking.
– Well, the amendment has not been circulated, but the Minister will admit that it does not include those bodies. We have had one experience of the Minister misleading us in regard to the inclusion of enemy aliens in this bill-
– I ask for the withdrawal of the statement that I have misled honorable members.
– The Minister has objected to the words used by the honorable member and I ask him to withdraw them.
– What word does he want me to withdraw?
– “ Misled.”
– Very well, I withdraw the word, and say that the Minister has put the committee under a misconception - perhaps that is a neater word - as to the inclusion of enemy aliens in this bill. Honorable members want to be under no misconception in the future, and we demand that enemy aliens in the Allied Works Council or in any non-military establishment or organization shall in no circumstances be included in the bill. I point, out to the Minister that there is a grave doubt whether they cannot be included under paragraph / of the definition of “ war service “, and under clause 32. So I have very much pleasure ~ in supporting my leader’s amendment, and I say to Government supporters that if they desire to protect the rights of Australian soldiers and citizens they ought to make it perfectly certain that the words that the right honorable gentleman proposes to insert in this clause shall be inserted and that, the Minister’s amendment shall not be accepted, because there is a doubt as to its meaning. It is all very well for Government supporters to make a lot of noise, but, the people of Australia want to be sure that there shall be no doubt that Nazis from Europe shall be excluded from, benefits under this hill.
.- As one of those who bitterly opposed the inclusion of enemy aliens, I accept the Minister’s assurance that they shall be excluded. Honorable members opposite are only desirous of making political capital out of this issue. Apparently, representatives of the returned soldiers’’ organizations have been in consultation with certain members opposite, who do not mind where it is inserted so long as provision is made to exclude enemy aliens.
– The returned soldiers want a watertight exclusion.
– It remains to be seen whether it will be watertight; but I accept the Minister’s assurance that at a later’ stage he will move an amendment designed to exclude them.
– I could have understood the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) saying to the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), “ I will accept your amendment in the appropriate place”. That would make sense and would not create a precedent, because it has been characteristic of the courtesy of Ministers who have introduced legislation to inform honorable members who have discovered faults in legislation that they will accept an amendment to correct such faults at the appropriate time. But the Minister is not doing that. Let us have a look at the history of this matter. The Minister said, with a great flourish last evening, that he would accept any amendment which he thought would improve the bill. His statement is on record. When we entered the committee stage, it was pointed out to him that clause 4 as drafted would give to enemy aliens exactly the same right to the facilities and benefits provided under the measure as is given to ex-service personnel; and he had to admit that he was not aware that the clause made enemy aliens eligible for such benefits. Neither were honorable members opposite aware of that fact, although the 34 amendments proposed to be moved by the Minister were explained to them. As they take more interest in the proceedings they will find one or two other defects of which they are not yet aware. However, as soon as it was shown that enemy aliens would be entitled to benefits under the measure, honorable members opposite voiced a protest, and as the result the Minister decided to amend the clause along the lines of the amendment moved by the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden). But the Minister, instead of following the course dictated by courtesy, and saying that he would accept the amendment of the right honorable gentleman, has decided to go back on his promise that he would accept any amendment which would improve the bill. He now says, in effect, that any amendments that are worthwhile will be inserted by the Government. Why does he adopt that attitude? Because he does not want it to be placed on record that the Government was so little aware of the real implications of the bill as drafted, that it did not know that it made enemy aliens eligible for benefits to be granted to ex-service personnel. The Government does not want that fact to be placed on record, and,- therefore, the Minister now reserves the right to insert an amendment to rectify an anomaly which has been pointed out by honorable members on this side. Such an attitude outrages all decent procedure on the part of a Minister in piloting a bill through this chamber. I believe that upon reflection he will say to the right honorable member for Darling Downs, “ I shall accept your amendment in its proper place”; and, in that case, the right honorable gentleman will withdraw his amendment temporarily, and move it at the appropriate time.
– I wish to make the position clear with respect to this matter. The right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) has moved an amendment which at the moment I have not before me.
– I sent it to the Minister.
– The amendment which the right honorable gentleman sent to me is not in respect of this particular clause at all.
– But I also sent to the Minister my amendment in respect of the clause now under discussion.
– I have not seen a copy of it. It is proposed to insert this amendment at the end of paragraph / of the definition of “member of the Forces whereas I have said that I wish to give effect to the wishes of honorable members in this matter, and that I propose to move an amendment at the end of paragraph g.
– But not the amendment of the right honorable member for Darling Downs?
– No. Surely, what the committee wishes to do is to make the bill as nearly perfect as it can. Therefore, what does it matter who moyes the amendment? I propose to adhere to the procedure I have set out for myself. The amendment which I propose to move in order to make the position clear is -
That at the end of paragraph (g) the following words be added - “ but does not include an enemy alien who served during the war as a member of the Army Labour Corps and not otherwise”.
– That amendment is not sufficiently wide.
– That is the amendment which I propose to move.
.- In spite of what the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has said, I ask him to reconsider his decision in this matter. What the Minister proposes to do is to provide something far short of what the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) desires. I interpret the Minister’s amendment to apply to enemy aliens in the Army Labour Corps only, whereas the right honorable member for Darling Downs wishes, in addition, to exclude from the definition “ members of the forces “ enemy aliens who are employed in labour - companies and non-military establishments or organizations. Apparently, honorable members opposite are quite prepared to allow enemy aliens employed in organizations to which the right honorable gentleman’s amendment refers to qualify for the full benefits under this measure. Honorable members on this side wish to make absolutely certain that enemy aliens in those organizations shall be excluded from benefits under this measure. Surely, the Government can l>e in no doubt about this matter, because honorable members opposite, along with honorable members on this side, have received letters from returned soldier organizations pointing out this defect. The fact that enemy aliens are not excluded has been made known to all honorable members who have taken an intelligent interest in the bill. If the Government has not known of that position, it has not displayed an intelligent interest in the proposals and suggestions made to it by returned soldier organizations, and that fact reveals clearly that the goodwill of members of our fighting forces has not been the first consideration of honorable members opposite. I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment of the right honorable member for Darling Downs, and to every honorable member opposite to endeavour to convince the Minister that it is absolutely imperative to accept that amendment in order to close up every possible loop-hole and thus ensure that in no circumstances whatever will enemy aliens be eligible for the preference, rehabilitation and other benefits under this measure. This is not a matter for the Minister only. It concerns every honorable member opposite. Should they be prepared to sit down and be dumb on so vital a matter, the responsibility will rest on their own heads. There can be no doubt in the minds of honorable members opposite of the issue involved, because they have received communications from returned soldier organizations pointing out the dangers involved. However, only one honorable member opposite has made any sort of a protest, and he has not had the influence with the Minister which. I had hoped he would. The Minister has yielded the minimum in this matter. I object strongly to the bare minimum concession being granted in. response to our request. In spite of the amendment forecast by the Minister provision will not be made to exclude from benefits under this measure enemy aliens who are members of the organizations referred to by the right honorable member for Darling Downs. I appeal to every honorable member opposite to close up that hoop-hole.
.- The committee is facing a very unusual position. I hate to reiterate the point; but I must repeat that the Minister said he would accept amendments from either side of the chamber if such amendments improved the bill. We have just had an example of pig-headed stupidity as the result, of which the Minister has put the committee in the position of granting rights to women- which he is not prepared to grant to men because he does not wish to give way on the fact that a better amendment than his own was put forward by another honorable member. The result will be that certain things will have to be prescribed in respect of every ocean and every continent on which Australians serve as members of the forces of any other part of the King’s Dominions. The Minister has- admitted that he did not know that enemy aliens were embraced in the benefits conferred by the bill. He admitted that he did not know what, the bill purported to represent. When that fact is pointed out to him by members of the Opposition, be proposes an amendment to cover the one point which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) emphasized., namely, that enemy aliens who were interned in this country, and subsequently enlisted, or were called up for service in labour battalions are by the law of this land members of our Citizen Forces, and entitled as such to the benefits provided under this measure. Now, because of the provision which grants power to the Governor-General in Council to extend the benefits of the bill, such benefits may be extended to other organizations in which enemy aliens are serving and automatically entitle them to these benefits. The right honorable member for
Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) has added a little to the amendment put forward by the Minister in order to provide beyond all doubt that enemy aliens will not be eligible for these benefits. I am sure that that is what the people of Australia desire. The Minister in fairness to the Parliament and to our ox-service personnel should accept the right honorable gentleman’s amendment. If he does not do so, he will be acting most ungenerously and will delay the passage of this measure for days, whereas we wish to pass it as expeditiously as possible because it is an urgent measure. I appeal to the Minister to act a little more generously, and with a little more flexibility of mind in his approach to this matter. It does not matter whether the better amendment emanates from the Opposition or the Government. The Minister should honour his promise to accept amendments which he thought would improve the measure. Therefore, I ask him to accept this small alteration which will leave no doubt in the minds of the people that what they desire will be provided. The Minister wishes that enemy aliens who are in the Army Labour Corps shall be excluded from the bill. It is agreed by honorable members on both sides that enemy aliens who are fighting for this country should be entitled to these benefits. But we do not wish that any enemy aliens who were called up for service in any other corps or service, such as the Allied Works Council, should receive these benefits. It may be that at some future date, the Government, in exercise of its powers under sub-clause 2 of clause 135, may extend these benefits to members of the Allied Works Council; and I am not sure that the clause now before the committee does not give power to the Government to embrace those bodies. In common fairness, the Minister should accept the amendment moved by the righthonorable member for Darling Downs, and thus make sure that if this measure is extended to any of these other organizations, enemy aliens in those organizations shall not qualify for benefits under the measure.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio- Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research) [8.45]. - The honorable member for Henty (Mr. ‘Coles) has accused me of being ungenerous, stupid and pig-headed. .1 will not take those remarks from the honorable member or anybody else. I am just as generous in my attitude to ex-servicemen as he is, and I am just as clear-headed in my exposition of the details of this bill as he is. Probably I understand it a great deal better than he does. There were serious objections to the acceptance of the amendment in the form in which it was moved in the preceding paragraph but I do not propose to cover that ground again. The only reason why enemy aliens have to be excluded from paragraph / is that the Army Labour Corps is a part of the defence force of the Commonwealth.
– This afternoon the Minister did not know that enemy aliens were members of the Army Labour Corps.
– I admit that. The honorable member for Henty, and members of the Opposition generally, suggested that, at a later date, the Government may endeavour to extend to employees of the Allied Works Council the benefits under this bill. I point out that the Allied Works Council cannot possibly be included within the scope of this clause. The committee is dealing with the definition of “ member of the Forces “ and has considered members of the permanent forces and of the citizen forces. Obviously, the Allied Works Council has nothing to do with the defence force of the Commonwealth. If the honorable member for Henty cannot see that, he is more stupid than he makes me .out to be.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to assure the committee that sub-clause 2 of clause 135 will not be used to bring within the scope of this hill any organization that the Government may desire to include.
– We shall deal with that clause later on its merits.
– I hope that the committee will divide on this amendment. We are dealing with a paragraph which makes it possible for enemy aliens to derive from this legislation the same benefits as will bp conferred on Australian servicemen.
Up to and including paragraph /, the Navy, Army and the Air Force have been mentioned, and it is at this point that the committee should insert a provision to exclude enemy aliens from participating in the benefits of this bill. For some reason best known to himself, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) desires to deny to the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), who has submitted the amendment, the privilege of haying it incorporated in the bill. The Minister desires to insert a similar amendment at the end of paragraph g. The objection to that course is that after the committee has agreed to paragraph /, enemy aliens will become eligible for the benefits under this bill. I ask: Why not exclude them at this point? This afternoon, the Minister admitted that he did not know that enemy aliens could benefit, and when he was reminded of it to-night, he lost his temper.
– I never lose mv temper.
– The Minister lost his temper when he tried to explain away points made against him. My only desire is to remove this blot from the bill without delay, and this is the time to do so. The amendment proposed by the Minister does not make it perfectly clear that all the objections to the inclusion of enemy aliens will be met. It is too narrow. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party will satisfy the Opposition, and I ask the Minister to reconsider his decision.
– I arn one of those who is not particularly concerned as to where an amendment, which is designed to achieve a certain objective, is placed in a clause, although I am somewhat concerned at the growing habit in this chamber, under the present Administration, of Ministers refusing to accent amendments submitted by the Opposition, even when they are prepared to adopt the principle. They prefer to vary a word or two, or as in this instance, insert the proposed amendment in a different place. Whilst I regret that habit, I should not care if the amendment in its present form were inserted at the end of paragraph g instead of at the end o’f paragraph f.
Earlier, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) declared that he was not prepared to allow any enemy aliens to enjoy the benefits which this bill will confer upon ex-servicemen. Later, he announced his willingness to accept the assurance of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), and to support the amendment, which the Minister proposes to move. I desire to make it clear to the honorable member for Griffith that acceptance of the Minister’s amendment will mean that some enemy aliens will still be entitled to benefits under this legislation.
– In what way?
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.That lias been made very clear, and I do not desire to repeat, the arguments. There are 1 non-cambatant organizations
Other than the one specifically excluded by the Minister. If the honorable member sincerely desires to exclude enemy aliens from this bill, he must support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), which makes the distinction, not by nominating one particular body for exclusion, but by excluding alien members of all those organizations of a noncomba fla n t na tu re.
.- This discussion shows clearly that paragraph must be amended. Clause 4 covers all kinds of aliens’ who are employed to-day in labour battalions in the Citizen Forces. For my part, I do not mind what particular form the amendment takes, so long as the purpose which we seek is properly achieved. But the amendment under consideration does not go so far as it should go. In my opinion, all aliens, including friendly aliens, should be excluded from the benefits which paragraph c confers on the persons mentioned therein. 1 shall point out what can happen even if the amendment now under consideration be adopted. The amendment will exclude from the benefits of reinstatement and preference all enemy aliens who are serving in labour battalions, but leaves open those benefits to friendly aliens serving in those battalions. For example, an Australian and a Greek might have been employed, in a particular business. When the Greek was called up, he joined a labour battalion. Six months later, the Australian received his call-up, and entered a combatant unit. In due course, the two men will be demobilized. Who will get preference in reinstatement? Under this legislation, it will be the Greek, because he was called up before the Australian.
– That is not correct.
– I assure the honorable member that I have stated the position correctly.
– Preference will be given to the man who had the longest term of employment.
– That is not so. The person who was first called up for service will receive preference in reinstatement. I ask: Is it right that a friendly alien in this case should receive preference in reinstatement over an Australian citizen?
Then again, a friendly alien - an Albanian or Yugoslav - might serve in a labour battalion doing ordinary manual work. When he is discharged, he will demand that his preference rights shall be implemented. Suppose they are implemented.. It might happen that the friendly alien and an Australian citizen, who worked in a munitions establishment, will be applicants for a job. The Australian, having no preference rights, will not get the job, because the Yugoslav bad served in a labour battalion. If that principle is admitted, that condition of affairs will cause a great deal of resentment among many people in Australia. Justice should be done to aliens who have worked for us during the war; but that justice should be given to’ them in ways other than by including them in the provisions dealing with reinstatement and preference. So far as I am aware, no other country gives preference to non-nationals.
– Or to any one.
– In other countries, nonnationals have secondary rights to nationals. 1 Aliens who have resided in this country for six years or more have had the opportunity to become naturalized. Those who omitted to do so obviously did not desire to become Australian citizens. Those considerations should be taken to heart before this amendment is adopted.
– The Minister foi- Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) stated that he considered that my amendment should he added to paragraph g. Personally, I am indifferent as to where it is inserted. If the Minister considers that it should be added to paragraph g and is prepared to accept my amendment in the form in which I submitted it, I am prepared to have it embodied at the end of that paragraph.
– I direct attention to the position into which the Minister (Mr. Dedman) is putting the people of Australia and this Parliament by his refusal to accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Eadden). Some 40 years ago, a ship was built called the Titanic. It was the master vessel of its day, just as the Minister’s bill, in its way, is a supreme effort. The Titanic made its maiden voyage across the Atlantic.
– The 1’itanic was unsinkable, and this bill is unthinkable.
– The shipbuilders claimed that the vessel was unsinkable When the Titanic travelled across the Atlantic, it did not carry enough lifeboats and lifebelts to enable the passengers and . crew _ to be saved if, by any mischance, the vessel met with disaster. Unfortunately, the vessel hit an iceberg and sank with the loss of many hundreds of lives. No harm would have been done if the ship had carried an adequate supply of lifeboats and lifebelts, and had not sunk. Similarly, no harm will be done by adding to this clause the words suggested by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). If there is no need for them, no harm will be done, but if they are necessary they will protect Australian ex-servicemen and other beneficiaries under this bill from the intrusion of enemy aliens by a back-door method. If the Minister refuses to accept these words, I say definitely that there can be only one impression conveyed to the members of this committee and to the people of Australia, namely, that the Minister is. deliberately leaving a loophole by which enemy aliens may be brought within the provisions of this measure. I repeat that although the words may be of no use, there is no harm in inserting them in the bill, but if there is any danger of enemy aliens sneaking in by some back door or secret passage, it is the bounden duty of the Minister to include these additional words in the bill. If he does not agree to their inclusion he cannot complain if his acts are judged in the harshest possible manner by the people of Australia.
.- Apparently the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) credits honorable members with little intelligence. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has’ given an assurance that an amendment is to be made to the bill to provide for the exclusion of certain members of the community whom honorable members on this side of the committee, as well as honorable members opposite, desire should not be eligible to benefit under this measure. That assurance should be sufficient for honorable members opposite. It has been said that in the past it has been usual to accept amendments from the Opposition benches, but I have been in this chamber long enough to know that that is not the case. Clauses have been redrafted at the suggestion of the Opposition, and in this case the clause is to be amended to meet the point raised by the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) and by members of the Opposition. For the honorable member for New England to suggest that the intelligence of honorable members on this side of the chamber is inferior to that of the Opposition is so much nonsense. The people of this country, as well as members of this committee, desire the exclusion of enemy aliens from the benefits of this measure and to suggest, as the honorable member for New England has done, that the Government wishes to provide a loophole to enable enemy aliens to enjoy these benefits is ridiculous.
Question put -
That the. proviso proposed to be inserted (Mr. Fadden’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. W. J. F. RIORDAN.)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to-
That, in sub-clause (1.), at the end of the definition of “ member of the Forces “ the following words be inserted: - but does not include any enemy alien who served during the war as a member of the Army Labour Corps, but not otherwise; “
– I move -
That in sub-clause (1.) at the end of the definition of “ thewar “ the following words be added : - “ and includes any other war in which His Majesty became engaged after that date and before the date of commencement of this Part.”
The clause as it stands defines “the war “ as “ the war which commenced on the third day of September, one thousand nine hundred and thirty-nine “. On that date of course we were not at war with Japan. The original definition was the one used throughout the war, and it was inserted in this measure before victory had been achieved in Europe. That is why this amendment has become necessary. Since hostilities ceased in Europe, “ the war which commenced on the third day of September, one thousand nine hundred and thirty-nine “ has ended, and it has become necessary to amend the definition to ensure that the period during which we continue to be at war with Japan shall be covered.
– It will be recalled that in my second-reading speech I drew the attention of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to the fact that the definition of “ thewar “ was not sufficiently wide to embrace the war with Japan. I based that claim on the fact that there were two separate proclamations of war. One was the declaration of war against Germany on the 3rd September, 1939, and the other was the proclamation of the 16th December, 1941, declaring war on Japan on the 9th December, 1941. The Minister acknowledged the fact that the definition as originally drafted was not sufficient to embrace the two wars, and he has now moved an amendment to overcome the difficulty ; but I consider that the definition as amended is still unsatisfactory. The amendment provides for the addition of the following words : - and includes any other war in which His Majesty becameengaged after that date and before the date of commencement of this Part.
My point is that we may be at war with other people in the meantime. After the last war a state of war existed with certain other countries. The matter should be placed beyond doubt, by substituting the words “ up to the date of the declaration of peace” for the words “before the date of commencement of this Part “. Some of our forces may still be engaged in active service operations after the passing of this act, and they would not be embraced by the words “ before the date of commencement of this Part”.
– I am surprised that the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) should adopt such an attitude. The Minister has been very generous to him.
– I have merely made a friendly suggestion.
– The Minister has acknowledged that the right honorable gentleman was responsible for bringing the matter to the notice of this chamber. I, too, said in my second-reading speech that if there were the slightest chance of any differentiation between the dates on which Australia became involved in war with Germany and Japan, the matter should be clarified immediately. The Minister has given way to the right honorable gentleman, and if he is not satisfied he is merely indulging in what has been described as “ diabolical politics “.
– I support the suggestion of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). This legislation should cover not only the war which commenced on the date mentioned in the bill, but also any other war in which the forces of His Majesty may have ‘been engaged before the final declaration of peace. I have had some experience in this respect. After the last war. certain benefits were given to the members of the Australian forces, including the payment of an additional ls. 6d. a. day for the duration of their service. Two divisions of Australians were sent to certain areas in Egypt and on the Western Front. There were also many “ side shows “ in Russia and other places, for service in which men were either sent or volunteered, and they did not receive any special consideration on account of that service. We should make it clear that the actual declaration of peace shall be the final date, in whatever war we may be engaged. There is no certainty that the wars with Germany and Japan will be the only wars in which we shall be engaged. Our armies in Europe are facing to-day elements which may cause an outburst, at any time. At Trieste, there are all the elements of a further outbreak of hostilities. Lebanon is in a similar category. Our nien might easily be embroiled in trouble in such places. Within the last few weeks, men have been sent out of Australia as reinforcements. We want to make sure that they will be in the same position as the men who have served for two Or three years, in regard to entitlement to share in the ‘benefits provided by this legislation. The men who served in “ side shows “ in Russia and the Middle East after the last war did not get any credit for that extra service of five or six months. That was most unjust. Irrespective of whom we have fought, if we send our men to fight against an enemy, or allow them to do so, they should receive the same benefits as the men who have served in the two major wars.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), who speaks with experience of the Middle East. After the last armistice, Australian troops took part in operations in Kurdistan, and British forces took part in operations in Afghanistan. One needs no imagination to foresee the possibility of further conflict on the continent df Europe, even though Germany has been defeated. Let us hope that it will not happen. We should, therefore, not neglect the opportunity that we now have to extend the date up to the declaration of peace, so that any action may be covered. Young men who have recently gone into action after a long period in Australia may be detained in foreign parts as garrison troops after the enemy has been defeated. I earnestly request the Minister to accept the suggestion of the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden).
– The Minister could well accept the suggestion to substitute the words “ up to the date of the declaration of peace “ for the words “ before the date of commencement of this Part “. Even in the war against Japan, until peace has been finally declared the storm may have passed, but the sheet lightning will flicker on the horizon of the world for many months. That was tho; experience after the last war.. As the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) has pointed out, small “ shows “ broke out in many parts of . the world. There are danger spots in the world to-day, and war might easily occur after the main hostilities have ceased. It would he grossly unfair to exclude the men in the Royal Australian Air Force who might have been enlisted after the date mentioned, and might not have been fighting in the two wars, but had been engaged in a “ side show “ subsequently. The right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) has suggested only a slight alteration, which would not interfere with the tenor of the Minister’s proposal.
– As this bill proposes the repeal of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, all privileges enjoyed by exservicemen of the last war will be abolished.
– It does not do any such thing.
– The Minister does not propose to give under this legislation to ex-servicemen of the last war the privileges they have hitherto enjoyed. I ask him to consider the possibility of doing that, so that these men may get whatever assistance they may need.
.- The honorable members for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) and Balaclava (Mr. White) have referred to the possibility of Australian troops being engaged in a conflict which is not connected with the two wars referred to in this legislation. Why should we fix a date at which service shall cease to count, in order to obtain the benefits1 of this legislation? Surely it should apply to all men who are engaged in any war in which Australia is involved !
– Make it apply to all future wars!
– We cannot say for certain that there will not be other conflicts. This measure has been described by Government supporters as the charter of the ex-serviceman. It is only logical that it should apply to service in the future, without a definite date being fixed. I should like the Minister to give a reason, if there is one, why that cannot be done.
.. - I cannot see any reason for the adoption of the suggestion of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has referred to a date. There is no mention of a date in this clause, which merely defines the exact meaning of the words “ the war “. There is no indication of whether service shall cease to count on the cessation of hostilities, the declaration of peace, or some other occasion.
– It is confined to the wars against Germany and Japan.
– That is perfectly true. Surely, the right thing is to state that the meaning of the words “ the war “ is the war against Germany and Japan ! Do honorable members opposite want a bill to be drafted in anticipation of other wars ?
– That is ridiculous!
– That is the only meaning which one can place on the suggestion of the Leader of the Australian Country party. Should we be unfortunate enough to find ourselves engaged in another war - which God forbid - surely then will be the time to draft legislation to meet the existing circumstances.
. - i. should like the Minister to tell me whether the fact that no mention has been made in .these definitions of the exservicemen of the 1914-18 war, implies that those men will be precluded from’ any benefits under the parts relating to” the Commonwealth Employment Service, Disabled Persons, Servicemen’s Settlement, Housing, Legal Aid; Bureaux, and other matters? I am not seeking to secure for them entitlement to re-establishment in employment, because they were given that long ago. Nor am I suggesting that specific reference should be made to them, in. the preference clauses. But there may be other benefits of which they may not be entitled to take advantage. >Can the Minister state whether or not they are likely to be precluded from doing so? If they are, then their rights should be preserved.
.- The Minister, in reply to the appeal by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), and myself, said that we should not visualize a new war, but he knows that after the last war he, himself, was put into a minor campaign.
– I was not put there. I went there.
– The Royal Australian Air Force has over 15,000 members of air crews serving overseas in 500 units of the Royal Air Force, in addition to their own squadrons, and when peace is declared they may be sent to other countries. Their commanding officers are not anxious to give them up. Many of those units may be sent to other campaigns, and members of the Royal Australian Air Force may be flying in various parts of the world. Will the Minister shut the door to the possibility of their getting the benefits which they should enjoy in their native land?
– That is nonsense !
– I shall not be shouted down by the Minister. By the addition of a few words the matter could be put right.
– I was serious when I asked whether the rights of the men who served in the 1914-18 war are likely to be prejudiced. The position should be clarified beforethe clause is passed. Will the Minister say whether the rights of those men will be affected-, or does he propose to ignore them? Will he ride roughshod over the men of the 1914-18 war ? Perhaps he has no knowledge as to whether their rights are prejudiced under these proposals? The observations of previous speakers regarding his stubbornness seem to be justified. Either he is completely ignorant, on this matter or he is gravely discourteous to the committee. I do not intend to record a silent vote. Has the Minister any knowledge of the position?
– I am not in the witness box. If the honorable member has finished speaking he should sit down.
.- Judging by the Minister’s reply to the - point raised by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), he did not seem to grasp the import of their suggestion. I desire to have my mind clarified regarding this part of the clause. It purports to define the meaning of the words “ the war “, and the amendment submitted by the Minister is that, at the end of the definition, the following words should be added :< - and includes any other war in which His Majesty became engaged after that date and before the date of commencement of this Part.
The honorable member for Bendigo referred to the grave risk of other wars after the date of commencement of this part of the bill and before the final declaration of peace. That is the gap which the Leader of the Australian Country party desires to bridge. The Minister said he. hoped that there would be no further wars, but, lest there should be another war in Europe or elsewhere, it would be better to safeguard the position by adopting the suggestion of the Leader of the Australian Country party.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has raised an important matter which cannot be left clouded in uncertainty by silence on the part of. the Minister or the Government. The committee has had no word from the Minister as to whether the benefits to be conferred by this measure are in whole or in part applicable to those who served in the 1914-18 war. We are not in a position to debate the merits of the matter, because the Minister has not indicated whether the Government intends to include those ex-servicemen. In the absence of an explanation by him, the committee must assume that he proposes to exclude them. I pointed out that the repeal of certain legislation which gives some protection and rights to those who served in the 1914-18 war is proposed in this bill, because other provisions supposedly giving an equally satisfactory result are embodied in the measure. If what is proposed to be done will have the effect of excluding those who were to benefit under the existing provisions, the committee should be told what the position, is, but the Minister remained ungraciously silent following the speech of the honorable member for Wentworth That honorable member did not make an attack on the Government, but merely sought information. Any Minister in charge of a bill is under an obligation at any time to inform the committee of the significance of provisions on which, it is asked to vote. The Opposition merely invites the Minister to state clearly what the policy and intentions of the Government are. Unless he can state thom distinctly and forthwith, he will not save any time in the discussion of the measure, because members of the Opposition are determined that they shall l>c advised as to the Government’s policy regarding this matter.
.- I urge the Minister to break down his oyster-like silence. The debate will proceed more satisfactorily if he refrains from sidestepping real issues. Clause 22 provides for the repeal of section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, and in clause 23 an amendment of the Commonwealth Public Service Act is proposed which deprives members of the First Australian Imperial Force of certain preferences granted to them. Owing to the silence of the Minister, members of the committee cannot ascertain whether the protection now enjoyed by members of the Australian Imperial Force will be preserved.
– How does the honorable member relate those remarks to the clause now under consideration?
– We are now dealing with a definition clause that will have an important bearing on every clause of the bill. The meaning of every clause will he governed by the definition clause. If it is not adequate we could make it so; but the Minister sits, grinning like a chimpanzee, although this is an important bill which affects the welfare of the members of the fighting forces in the last war as well as in recent wars. Members of the Opposition represent servicemen engaged in the present war, and they are entitled to the information needed to enable them to know exactly the significance of the Minister’s proposals. The Commonwealth Public Ser vice Act affords special consideration to members of the Commonwealth Public Service who fought in the last war. Certain sections of the Post and Telegraph Act provide that a person who has served continuously in the Commonwealth Public Service for two years shall be entitled to permanent employment, but it is proposed under the bill to delete those provisions and leave the ex-servicemen high and dry. I want to he satisfied that we are not taking away from members of the First Australian Imperial Force those advantages, privileges and concessions which were granted to them in other legislation. Unless that assurance can be given I desire that the definitions in this clause be amended so as to guarantee their rights to members of the First Australian Imperial Force. I ask the Minister to break his silence, and to give the assurance for which I ask.
– I rise to order. The committee has not yet agreed to the definition of “ the wa r “. I submit that this should be disposed of before we proceed to the discussion of other definitions.
– Clause 4 is under consideration.
– The committee is considering clause 4, and I cannot help it if honorable members jump about from one part of the clause to .another. I confess that I still cannot see how the point raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) is related to this clause, but I shall give them the information for which they asked. Returned soldiers of the 1914-18 war will he entitled to all the preference benefits which this bill provides. They will not be entitled to the benefits under Division 1 of Part II. of the bill - that is, to reinstatement in civil employment. They do not want that. The same applies to the apprenticeship provision. They will be entitled to all the service which can be rendered to them by the employment organizations. They will not be entitled to vocational training, nor to the benefit under Part
– What about housing?
– It should not be necessary for the Government at this stage to make provision for housing for soldiers of the last war. If any of them are still in need of houses it shows that the governments that were in office between the two wars did not do very much for them.
.- The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) seems to think that if any of our troops are engaged in sideshows after the main hostilities end it will be time enough then to consider whether they should be included among those who will benefit by this legislation. In this connexion, the experience of some soldiers who served in previous wars has been unfortunate. There were several sideshows after the last war. For instance, two cavalry divisions were kept in Egypt and the Middle East for five months after the last war officially ended. Many of the men served in the Western Desert, including the Halfaya Pass area where our soldiers of this war served. They did not receive any gratuity.
– Why was that?
– Because the Government of the day decided that the war had ended on the 11th November, 1918. Many of the men to whom I refer were still serving abroad in July, 1919. Some of our men volunteered for the service in Russia and others were sent. A personal friend of . mine named Sullivan was among them. Unfortunately, he was killed in an accident in London. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry while serving at Archangel, and I am told that he never received one penny as a war gratuity for his service in Russia. The Minister should agree to an amendment providing that men who serve in any war in which His Majesty’s troops are engaged are entitled to all the benefits under this legislation and to war gratuities also.
.- After listening to what the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) has just said, I am convinced that he and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) are not justified in saying that they are here as representatives of the returned soldiers. The honorable member for Moreton was an assistant Minister at one time, but it appears that he let the returned soldiers down very badly. The honorable member for Bendigo has told us that Australian soldiers who were left behind after the last war to continue the fight were denied war gratuities and other benefits when they returned to Australia. When the honorable member for Moreton speaks of himself as a representative of the returned soldiers I invite him to look at the figures for the last general election which reveal just what the returned soldiers thought of him and his party. The bill provides that any one who served in the forces prior to the 3rd September, 1939, or since that date, will be entitled to benefit.
– Not prior to that date.
– Yes, and that covers men who served in the Australian Imperial Force during the last war, as well as those who served in the Boer War.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. G. W. Martens.)
Majority . . . . 13
Motion agreed to.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That paragraph (/) of the definition of “ war service “ be left out.
So far, most of the discussion has been on the interpretation of the definition of the expression “member of the Forces’’ together with some discourse On the definition of “the war “. My amendment relates to the definition of “ war service “. This is a material definition, because there are certain ‘instances in the bill in which war service. is the qualifying factor. For example, on the question of reinstatement in employment clause 12 (1) provides -
Any person, who has completed a period of war service may apply to his former employer for reinstatement in employment.
Then the machinery of the bill runs on. Tho definition of “ war service “ is very material for various purposes, and’, in particular, in connexion with reinstatement. The definition of “ war service ‘’ reads - “ war service “ means - (,/) in relation to any of the provisions of this Act, the continuous full-time service of any person as a member crf an organization or part thereof which is declared by proclamation to be an organization in relation to which those provisions apply.
I do not know whether the Minister has any doubts on this matter, but I entertain none that under this provision it is quite possible to proclaim any civil organization, or any part thereof, and to provide that service in that organization is to be deemed to be war service.
– The right honorable gentleman might get the University Rifles’ into that definition.
– It might be possible to include all sort3 of organizations. However, I am directing my remarks to a serious matter which is not to be dealt with by vulgar interruptions. The question to which I direct attention is whether civil organizations ought to be capable of being brought within the scope of this legislation. Having regard to the language used there can be no doubt that it is designed that civil organizations will, by mere Executive act, be brought into the same category as military organizations for various purposes in this bill, and, in particular, for reinstatement. Consequently, the question which was debated on the second reading arises, namely, whether we should have in the one bill provisions which deal with soldiers and provisions which deal with civilians, and, in particular, whether the same set of provisions on any topic in this bill should embrace both soldiers and civilians. ‘On that point, a number of honorable members have expressed their views, as I have done. Therefore, I shall not engage in wearying repetition. But as I indicated in my second-reading speech, there will be no adequate protection of the soldiers under this scheme if soldiers are to be confused with civilians, or with civilian bodies, instead of being kept distinct and their affairs administered by people who understand them, and will give to their individual claims sympathetic consideration. But the matter does not end there. Reference has been made - and I refer to it now, not because I wish to discuss a clause out of its turn, but to throw light on this clause - to clause 135, which provides in sub-clause 1 in. fairly stock form for the making of regulations. It then goes on, in subclause 2 to provide that -
During the war, the regulations- may provide for the repeal or amendment of, or the addition to, any of the provisions of this Act.
That means that during the currency of the war the Executive may, notwithstanding any decision of the Parliament, alter any of the definitions that we have been discussing. As to whether those alterations would continue to operate after the war is a matter to which I shall not at present direct attention ; that matter willi arise when we are dealing with clause 135. It is certain that ait least during the currency of the war, which may be for a considerable period of time, the Executive may not only exorcise the power contained in paragraph f of the definition of “ war service “, but may also produce new powers and write them into this clause.
-Could not either House of the Parliament disallow such a regulation ?
– Theoretically, either House of the Parliament could disallow any regulation made under clause 135, but in view of the strictly party divisions which have taken place in the committee stages of this bill, I ask the honorable member what he thinks of the prospect of any such regulation being disallowed. That means that two elements are introduced into this clause; first, that which is introduced directly by paragraphf, which provides positively for a power in respect of a civilian body, and, secondly, the inevitable implication arising from clause 135 that during the war the Executive may write further paragraphs into this clause at its own choice. That gives rise to two questions, each of which is deserving of an answer in connexion with this paragraph. The first question is whether we ought to have civilian organizations confused with military organizations in legislation of this kind; and. the second question is whether we ought to have the scope of a major bill made dependent, not upon the definitive voice of the Parliament, but upon uncontrolled Executive action. Without any desire to occupy undue time on this matter, I urge the committee to reject paragraphf.
– I cannot see my way to accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). Paragraphf of the definition of “war service “ has been included in order to preserve the right of members of certain organizations, such as the Australian Red Cross Society, the Australian Comforts Fund, the Salvation Army, the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association, to reinstatement.
– Why not name such organizations specifically in the bill?
– Members of those organizations have rendered excellent service during the war.
– No one contests that.
– They have already been given the right to reinstatement under an order which reads -
National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations.
Order Under Regulation 4.
In pursuance of the powers conferred by regulation 4 of the National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations, I, Edward James Holloway, the Minister for State for Labour and National Service, do hereby declare the following parts of organizations’ to be, for the purpose of these Regulations, organizations rendering war service: -
Those parts of -
The AustralianRed Cross Society,
The Australian Comforts Fund,
The Salvation Army,
The Young Men’s Christian Association, and
The Young Women’s Christian Association, which consist of persons accredited and attached to the Defence Force or any part thereof.
Dated this twenty-second day of December, 1944.
In the circumstances, I do not propose to accept an amendment which would have the effect of deleting paragraphf.
– I listened with interest to the explanation given by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). If paragraphf has been designed for the purposes mentioned by the Minister, I ask him to name those organizations in the paragraph, so that we may know exactly how far it is proposed to go. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said, paragraphf is related to clause 12 and also to clause 135, the latter of which gives to the Governor-General power to make regulations for various purposes during the period of the war. When I recall the history of this bill, I naturally am suspicious of this paragraph. Honorable members will remember that, in the first instance, the Prime
Minister (Mr. Curtin) promised, when I moved an amendment to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill designed to include therein a provision that members of the forces should be given preference in employment on demobilization, that a bill to provide for preference would be brought down. The bill that has been brought down limits that preference to seven years, and the preference that the returned soldiers will get under it will be of no value whatever to them. So much therefore for the assurances of the Prime Minister! Next, I invite honorable gentlemen to examine the history of the government behind the Government - the leaders of the trade union movement. Look at the, opposition shown to this bill by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Workers Union, the Trades and Labour Council and the Victorian Labour party. We know that the bosses of the industrial unions are also the bosses of the Government. Therefore we have good cause for suspicion. If the Minister’s explanation is as simple as it appeared to be and is the true explanation, why does he not name in the bill the organizations that are intended to be brought within its scope, instead of leaving it so vague that it will be possible for other organizations to be included. The Australasian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Workers Union have already claimed that munitions workers should be given the same privileges under this measure as are tobe given to returned soldiers. No honorable gentleman opposite would deny that, and, if munitions workers are to be catered for in this way it will be but a short step to include members of the Civil Constructional Corps. I believe the clause is designed to enable certain organizations to bebrought within the ambit of this measure at a given time and that those organizations will he decided not by the Minister but by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions which controls him and before which he appears time after time to explain, for instance, why this bill has been introduced. Honorable members remember that he went to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and told it that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) had threatened to throw the Government out on its neck unless it introduced preference to returned soldiers. It is the government behind the Government that will direct the Minister as to which organizations should be covered by this clause. Unless the Minister is prepared to specify in the bill the organizations that he has in mind, in other words, “ come clean “ on this occasion, I for one will divide the committee. There is a wealth of logic in the case put by the Leader of the Opposition. He has placed his finger on something which requires more than an assurance by the Minister that paragraphf applies only to the Young Men’s Christian Association and similar organizations. If those organizations are worthy of inclusion - and some of them are - they should be specified in the bill and not left to conjecture. It should not be possible for the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Workers Union or the Trades and Labour Council to give the Minister a direction which he will be spineless enough to accept, as he has done on other occasions.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. W. j.f. RIORDAN.)
Majority . . . . 13
Motion agreed to.
Question put -
That the paragraph proposed tobe left out (Mr. Menzie’s amendment)be so left out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. W. J. F. riordan.)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolvedin the negative.
– I just want to say that, having regard to the fact that a vote has recently been taken which terminates the particular discussion, the Minister falls into great error about the course of this debate.Clause 4 is not just one clause out of 135. Clause 4, being the definitions clause, determines the whole scope of this legislation, and it istherefore quite inevitable that avery great deal of the discussion in the committee will be on the clause which determines the scope of the measure. In those circumstances to think that any important question raised - and the Minister will give me the credit of saying that I have raised no frivolous questions on. this bill - can be adequately considered in two or three speeches is justnonsense. Paragraphf of the definition of “war service “ to which I was referring before therecent interruption is explained by the Minister as affording accommodation for the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Australian Comforts Fund, the Australian Red Cross Society, the Salvation Army and the Young Women’s Christian Association. If the object of paragraphf is to accommodate organizations of that kind, then there isno conceivable difficulty about saying that the organizations referred to are those mentioned and any other like organizations which may be proclaimed. It presents no drafting difficulty whatever to do that. The fact that the Minister is not prepared to do that, and retains words which I assert to the committee are equally capable of referring to theCivil Constructional Corps, or the IronworkersUnion, is conclusive evidence-
– Or to the Liberal party.
– And if it were not such a dead body, I would even include the Labour party. When the committee has a clause before itwhich is stated in the widest possible terms and which may quite plainly include any organizations of any description selected by the Executive, and the Minister says - “ Ah ! But we do not intend to do that. We have nothing up our sleeve. All we are going to do is to place a benevolent hand on the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Australian Red Cross Society and kindred organizations “ - if that is all the clause means but does not say so, I shall continue to believe that it moans something quite different.
– I endorse the remarks just made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), and, in order to test the sincerity of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that this clause relates only to the organizations he has named, I move -
That, in paragraph (f) of the definition of “ warservice “, the words “ of an organization or part thereof which is declared by proclamation to be an organization in relation to which those provisions apply “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “of the AustralianRed Cross Society, Australian Comforts Fund, Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association and such other organizations having kindred objects “.
I move that amendment in order to preserve to those organizations all, or any, of the benefits which are provided under this measure, and, at the same time, exclude the dangerous possibility to which the Leader of the Opposition has directed attention. In order to consider this paragraph fully, we must read it in conjunction with clause 12, under which the Civil Constructional Corps could be included so long as this paragraph stands as now drafted. Clause 12 refers only to persons who have completed a period of war service, and “ war service “ under this paragraph means the service of any person as a member of any organization declared by proclamation. Consequently, if the Civil Constructional Corps, or any other organization, be declared an organization, clause 12 would become operative. There is also the weakness, pointed out by the Leader of the
Opposition, under sub-clause 2 of clause 135 which provides -
During the war, the regulations may provide for the repeal or amendment of, or the addition to, any of the provisions of this act.
Bearing in mind the relationship between paragraphf of the definition of “ war service “ and clause 12, as well as the danger existing under sub-clause 2 of clause 135 the Minister, if he is sincere in saying that paragraphf of the definition of “ war service “ shall be extended only to the organizations he has mentioned, will have no hesitation in accepting my amendment, under which paragraphf will be confined to those organizations.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. W. j. F. RIORDAN.)
Majority . . 13
Motion agreed to.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Fadden’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr.W. J. F. RIORDAN.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. W. J. F. RIORDAN. )
Majority . . . . 14
Motion agreed to.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. W. J. F. RIORDAN.)
Majority . . 17
The CH AIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).There is no point of order involved.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 5 -
The regulations may provide that persons resident in Australia who were, during the war, engaged on active service with the Naval, Military or Air Forces of a prescribed part of the King’s, dominions other than Australia, of a prescribed foreign power allied or associated with His Majesty or of any prescribed foreign authority recognized by His Majesty as competent to maintain Naval, Military or Air Forces for service in association with His Majesty’s forces, shall, for the purposes of such of the provisions of this Act (other than Division 2 of Part II., and Division 1 of Part VI.) as are specified in the regulations, be deemed to be discharged members of the forces.
– I move -
That the words “ active service “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ service in a prescribed area “.
The reason for this amendment was given during the debate upon an amendment to clause 4 and it is not necessary for me to go further into the matter at this stage.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) for some clarification of this clause, which provides that ex-servicemen of the United Kingdom or of the forces of other dominions shall be eligible for the benefits conferred by this measure. The clause goes further, and includes also persons “of any prescribed foreign authority”. Will the Minister say what is contemplated by that provision?
– The Government has not any particular foreign authority in mind, but if at some future date the Government should believe it proper to enter into reciprocal agreements with other countries in regard to ‘ the benefits which the nationals of those countries could obtain under our , re-establishment legislation, and which our nationals could obtain under the re-establishment legislation of those countries, this clause would make it possible for regulations to be issued to that effect. It is an enabling clause.
– I shall heap coals of fire on the head of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) by endeavouring myself to answer the question raised by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) because the Minister has not answered it. This clause makes certain provisions in regard to “ a prescribed part of the King’s dominions other than Australia, or of a prescribed foreign power allied or associated with His Majesty “. That would cover various powers which have fought as allies of ours. In my view, the subsequent words, “ or of any prescribed foreign authority recognized by His Majesty as competent to maintain naval, military or air forces . . .”, arc intended to cover various committees of resistance which have fought with the Allies in the course of the war, such as the committee headed by General de Gaulle in London, who led a committee of resistance engaged in rallying Frenchmen. It might turn out that under his banner there served somebody who was out of the service before France as a power was restored to the conflict. Consequently, if the clause provided only for’ men who had served with a prescribed foreign power, a number of men who had served with recognized committees of resistance might be excluded. Therefore, the clause has been made sufficiently wide to cover British forces wherever they might have been, troops of allied powers wherever they might have served, and also troops who served under authorities of the kind which I have described.
.- I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) whether the substitution of the word “ any “ for the words “ a prescribed “ first occurring, would not make the clause clearer and cover the position more adequately. The clause states -
The regulations may provide that persons resident in Australia who were, during the war, engaged on active service wit1) the naval, military or air forces of a prescribed part of tile King’s dominions other than Australia . . .
The use of the word “ prescribed “ appears to indicate that there is a limit which may be imposed by proclamation or by some other means, whereas if the word were “ any “, every part of the British Empire would be covered. I offer this suggestion in a constructive spirit. I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) for his explanation of the clause.
.- I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to review his explanation of this clause in view of what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies).
– He only amplified my explanation.
– I protest against the manner in which the committee is being misled by the Minister. I have never known a Minister to know so little about a bill. Then, when the Leader of the Opposition comes to his aid, the Minister suggests that the clear explanation given by that right honorable gentleman is merely an amplification of his own lame interpretation. Progress should be reported to enable the Minister to learn something about the bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 1 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Modification of the Defence Act).
.- I should like some explanation of this clause. It states -
Sub-section (3.) of section one hundred and eighteen a of the Defence Act 1903-1945 shall, in so far as it is inconsistent with this Division, be inoperative.
Section 118a of the Defence Act was designed to prohibit an employer from preventing an employee from serving in the Australian Forces. It provides - (1.) An employer shall not prevent any employee and a parent or guardian shall not prevent any son or ward from rendering the personal service required of him under parts III. and IV. of this Act.
Sub-section 2 provides* that an employee shall not be prejudiced in his employment by the fact that he was engaged on compulsory military training. This clause relates to sub-section 3 of section 118a of the Defence Act which provides that the rendering of personal service shall not terminate a contract of employment, and that such a contract shall be suspended during the absence of the employee, and so on and provides that that sub-section shall be inoperative insofar as it is inconsistent with the reinstatement division of the bill. Why is the word “ inoperative “ used ? After all, if this bill becomes law and there is a provision in it which is inconsistent with some provision of the Defence Act, I take it that that provision of the Defence Act will be repealed to the extent of that inconsistency. The use of the word “ inoperative “ suggests that the clause is not designed to repeal that provision of the Defence Act, but to suspend it in some way until this measure ceases to have effect. If that is the position, I am satisfied, but I should like to be sure that that is the position.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has explained exactly the reason for this clause. As he said, certain provisions of the Defence Act are inconsistent with the objects of this measure because they would prejudice the re-employment of a returned soldier. We do not wish to repeal a sub-section of the Defence Act, but merely to render inoperative the provisions of. that legislation which are inconsistent with this bill, so that a soldier seeking reinstatement will not be prejudiced.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 - (3.) The Reinstatement Committees appointed under the National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations shall be deemed to have been appointed under this Division.
– This clause has to he considered in conjunction with clause 20 in the same division, dealing with reinstatement in civil employment, which reads - (1.) The Minister may appoint a Reinstatement Committee in each State and Territory of the Commonwealth.
The clause then goes on to provide that each committee shall consist of a chairman, one member to represent persons who have rendered war service and one member to represent employers. The provision for the setting up of the Reinstatement Committee, and the determination of ito personnel, is quite elaborate. Clause 9 seems’ to cut right across that, by providing in sub-clause 3 -
Tha Reinstatement Committees appointed under the National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations shall bc deemed to have been appointed under this Division.
Ifr. Mountjoy.- That sub-clause is to be deleted.
– Let us assume that the Minister’s amendment for the substitution of another sub-clause has .been moved and carried. It will then read -
Tks Chairman and other members of the Reinstatement Committees appointed under the National .Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations holding office at the date of commencement of this Division shall be deemed tq have been appointed chairmen and members, respectively, of the corresponding Reinstatement Committees under this Division.
The point that I am making for what it is worth, is that clause 20 appears to confer the power to appoint a reinstatement committee with a type of personnel aa though a start was being made, whereas clause 9 presents a ready-made committee, with its personnel determined, and says that it shall be deemed to have been set up under the later provisions of the measure. I suggest that that is not a very sound way of doing such things. If the Parliament is to consider unfettered how a reinstatement committee ought to be constituted, its hands should be left untied. For example, honorable members might come to the conclusion that, under clause 20, a reinstatement committee should consist of more than one representative of servicemen, or more than one representative of employers, or that it ought to be constituted in some other fashion altogether. If they do, they will find when they reach clause 20 that under clause 9 they have already validated the appointment of reinstatement committees on a basis utterly different from that which they might want to establish. iSo I suggest to the
Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) that, in order that the committee may ‘be enabled to deal with the matter without restriction, it would he wise to defer the consideration of clause 9 until after the consideration of clause 20.
, - The object of this clause is to ensure that authority for the work already done and now being partly done under the regulations, shall be embodied in this legislation. We do not want to have nullified what has been done and is now being partly done. Already, notifications have been issued to employers of the readiness of certain ex-servicemen to resume their former positions by a certain date. I do not consider that any harm will be done by making provision in regard to reinstatement committees in two clauses. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) will not be prevented from moving for the amendment of clause 20 should he desire to do so. The deletion of this provision would be dangerous. .
– I am suggesting, not that it be deleted, but that its consideration be deferred until after the consideration of clause 20.
– In order to avoid conflict between the two provisions, would the Minister have any objection to adding to the proposed amendment the words “insofar as the personnel of the present committees comply with the provisions of clause 20 “ ?
– I do not consider that there is any need for that. The present set-up is to remain, but the Government proposes to add one more member to the reinstatement committee. I move -
That sub-clause (3.) be left out, -with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new sub-clause: - “ (3.) The chairmen and other members ot the Reinstatement Committees appointed under the National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) -Regulations holding office at the date of commencement of this Division shall be deemed to have been appointed chairmen and members, respectively, of the corresponding Reinstatement Committees under thi* Division.”.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended agreed to.
Clause 10- (1.) In this Division, unless the contrary intention appears - “ war service “ does not include service as a member of the Permanent Forces, other than the Australian Imperial Force. (2.) Subject to the next succeeding sub- section, a person shall be deemed for the purposes of this Division to have completed a period of war service upon the termination of that service for any cause whatsoever. (3.) Where
Amendment (by Mr. Holloway) proposed -
That, in sub-clause (1.), the definition of “ war service “ be left out.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) might have extended to the committee the courtesy of explaining the reason for the proposal to delete this definition. The Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman) has proclaimed it a perfect measure, unlike anything else in heaven or on earth. That is perfectly true. Never has there been, and I hope there never will be again, any measure like it. It was not created overnight but is the result of months of work. The Minister has designated it a charter for the servicemen of Australia, upon which they will be able to look back with satisfaction. Only last night, Government supporters claimed that it needed no amendment. Yet suddenly this and 33 other amendments are brought down without a word of explanation, and we have to accept it, not by logic but by faith. The Government has brought it down; therefore, it must be right and we are not to question it. The Minister explained earlier that the permanent forces include the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. I should like to know whether this clause deliberately and specifically excludes members of those services.
– Another question,I point out, is: How does one reinstatea permanent soldier in civil employment?
– The whole hill is shabby and tawdry, but it is glossed over with a view to inducing the people to believe that it means what it does not mean. When one wants to discover the interpretation of it, one has to study the report of a conference of the Victorian executive of the Australian Labour party on the 30th March in newspapers like the Melbourne Age. No ministerial explanation is given. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has asked, how does one reinstate a soldier in permanent civil employment ? Such a person may have been born in an army barracks, and have had no civil occupation. Yet, under this carelessly drafted legislation, he is to be reinstated in civil life! The Minister’s interpretation makes one wonder whether he gives any consideration to the statements that he makes to the committee. He told us last night that the permanent forces include the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. Apparently, they do not. One moment they do. and the next moment they do not. There should be an explanation of the reason for the inclusion of this provision in the first place, and for the present proposal to delete it. Would it, if left in, damage the effectiveness of the legislation, and will the servicemen be assisted by its deletion? Ministers are treating the committee, and the people of this country, very poorly.
– I hope that the honorable member has not lost all faith. When the definition of “ war service “ was inserted in the bill, it was not known that service personnel in the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy, early in the war with
Germany, were enlisted or appointed on a permanent basis. The intention of the definition was to make it clear that members of the regular permanent forces were not covered, by the reinstatement provisions. However, since it now appears that early in the war certain enlistments were made to the permanent forces from civilian ranks, it has been decided to omit this definition, as otherwise those men would be debarred from claiming reinstatement. So far as other members of the permanent forces are concerned, there can be no question of reinstatement, as they had no former employer. Some of those who, as the result of the war, were enlisted in the permanent forces from civil occupations, will be discharged from them and will want to return to their former avocations.
Sitting suspended from 11.80 to 11.50 p.m.
– The Minister has been good enough to explain why he has proposed the deletion of the definition of “ war service “. Actuated by the helpful atmosphere in which we now meet, I shall give another reason why the definition should be deleted, and it is at least as good as that given by the Minister. The definition of “war service” in clause 4 reads -
The definition proposed to be deleted is the direct negative of that which I have just read. I am not unmindful of the fact that, whereas the first definition refers to the bill generally, the second refers only1 to the division relating to reinstatement in civil employment; but the committee is asked to swallow a large lump if it is expected to believe that since the bill has been drafted and printed, somebody has discovered that among the members of the Navy and the Air Force are men who have no jobs to return to at Victoria Barracks or at Air Force stations.
– This definition refers to members of permanent forces, such as the garrison artillery.
– I realize that , it is designed to exclude mem bers of the permanent forces from the reinstatement provisions, because they would naturally go back to their permanant jobs.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That in sub-clause (2. ) after the words “ upon the “ the word “ honorable “ be inserted*
I have the certificate of discharge of a man who was a prisoner of war in Crete and escaped. It bears no reference to the soldier’s character. I have been asked to take action with, a ^ view to having the certificates so worded that when a man is a really bad character the employer will be protected. Honorable members will agree that if the man-power authorities have no guide as to the character of discharged servicemen, the sub-clause should be amended in the direction indicated.
– Because a man has been punished once, should he be penalized for life?
– No. The practice is to destroy conduct sheets after the lapse of two years. I am referring only to persons who have been convicted of serious crimes. Does the honorable member suggest that a man who has committed a heinous offence should be treated on the same basis as another with an impeccable character ?
– The words “honorably discharged” are used later in the bill.
– That is so.
– It would be too dangerous for me to accept the amendment without further consideration. The more serious offenders referred to by the honorable member for Balaclava would not be affected by the proposed amendment, because they would have to serve a long sentence after their discharge; nor would ex-servicemen who had only a few black marks against them. I shall consider the point and confer with my colleagues regarding it. If the amendment be considered desirable, an opportunity will be afforded for its insertion when the bill is before the Senate.
– The Minister thinks that perhaps the proposed amendment would raise new considerations which would be difficult, but I refer him to clause 89, dealing with reestablishment loans, which is only another division of re-establishment. There he will find that “ eligible persons “ means -
That clause has attracted the attention of the Government in its review of its own proposals, bi cause amendment No. 27, circulated by the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) provides for the deletion of sub-paragraph i and the insertion in its stead of the following sub-paragraph : -
It is difficult to understand why, if honorable discharge is a reasonable and practicable thing for the purposes of clause 89, it is not a reasonable and practicable thing for the purposes of the clause which we are now considering. Why should a man be entitled to one set of benefits although his- discharge is dishonorable and another set of benefits only if his discharge is honorable? The whole point overlooked by the Minister is that we are seeking to confer benefit upon servicemen. That is the prime purpose of this legislation.
Thursday, 2k May, 1945.
– The amendment would be dangerous and I oppose it. It might be harmful to men discharged from the services, and in some cases discharged with ignominy for offences which to the civilian mind were not very serious. I have details before me at present of the case of a man now imprisoned in Long Bay gaol. He committed a crime, under provocation, which in civil life would be no crime at all. As far as I can ascertain the facts, he struck a superior officer in a detention camp. I admit that it was a serious military crime, but in civilian life it would be regarded as a comparatively minor offence. Many men are now languishing in civil gaols in Australia for military crimes which would be considered of small consequence in a civil court.
– That is true, but it is beside the point.
– If we insert the word “ honorable “ we shall probably do injury unwittingly to persons who should not suffer further because of crimes they have committed. During the last war many members of the British Army were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for military offences, but when the war ended they all were released. Members of the Australian forces who have committed offences should, of course, be punished, but it is unjust to carry their punishment into their civil life, particularly when the offence would be regarded as a very minor one if committed by a civilian.
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has moved that the word “ honorable “ be inserted before the words “ termination of that service “ in sub-clause 2 of clause 10. The effect of this would be to make it a condition that those who were to benefit under the act should have received an honorable discharge from the forces. That brings us to a consideration of what constitutes an honorable discharge. A man’s discharge could be held to be honorable even though he had been convicted of an offence of the kind mentioned by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) if, in fact, he had not been courtmartialed for a major offence. If he has committed a major offence it is only right that the prospective employer should know of it. .Such a man should not be entitled to the same benefit as the man whose service has been in all respects honorable.
– In the case to which I referred the offence was provoked by the action of a very foolish young officer.
– That may be so, but the employer is entitled to protection from the man with a criminal record. Otherwise, this legislation may be invoked to gain for him entry into a firm where he could take advantage of his position to rob bis employer. The Government is not prepared to take any risks in the case of men to whom it lends money. It is provided that they must have received honorable discharges, but it says, in effect, that the private employer must look after himself. The arguments which honorable members opposite have used about hounding down the man after he has served his sentence for an offence apply with equal force (to those who would benefit under clause 89 of the bill-that relating to the making of loans’. The protection which the Government proposes to confer upon itself in regard to lending money should be extended to the employer for the safeguarding of his assets and those of shareholders, and also to protect the interests of other employees.
– In order to help the Minister to overcome his hesitancy, I point out that clause 89 is not the only one in which it is provided that persons must have an honorable discharge in order to obtain benefits. This condition is laid down also in clause 62, which deals with the granting of re-establishment leave. If ,it is desirable to protect the authorities in the case of re-establishment leave by imposing such a condition, it is much more important to afford the protection to the prospective employer, and to protect other employees from displacement by persons who should not benefit under the legislation.
– This provision is identical with the regulations which were issued during the regime of the last Government, and I am sure that there must have been a good reason for drawing the regulations in this form. I suggest that those responsible did not want men to be starved because they did not have an honorable discharge. ‘ A committee, when considering a claim for reinstatement, would certainly take into consideration a man’s discharge if the job involved the handling of: money or important documents.
– But it is only when a dispute arises that the matter goes before a committee. Otherwise, the prospective employer does not know that the ex-serviceman has a criminal record.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) would employ a man to look after his books or to handle money for him without seeing his discharge. I have much sympathy with the view of those honorable members opposite who favour the amendment, but the Government would, if it accepted the amendment, be taking the risk that it might deprive a man of the right to work merely because he had committed some minor offence.
.As the bill now stands any ex-serviceman, no matter what kind of a discharge he may have, will be entitled to bo reinstated, in his former employment. The amendment proposes that he shall be entitled to this benefit only if he has received an honorable discharge. Clause 27 provides for preference in employment for ex-servicemen, but it is laid down that preference shall not be extended to a person who has, since the termination of his service, been convicted of an indictable offence. If it is right to make such a condition apply in the case of employment, it is only logical to apply it also in, the case ofl reinstatement.
– As the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has pointed out, my amendment, if accepted, would make for uniformity. I point out to the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) that a serviceman may be court-martialed for a very minor offence. Indeed, for anything but the most trifling offence, he may choose to be tried by court-martial rather than be dealt with by his commanding officer. The offence which would disqualify a man for an honorable discharge would be a criminal offence for which a man would receive the full punishment prescribed by the civil law or some extremely serious service crime. The old form of: discharge stated whether the conduct of the serviceman had been “ exemplary “, or “ very good “ and so on. The form has been altered, and the present discharge makes no reference to conduct at all. I was asked whether anything could be done to protect the good soldier from the really “ bad hat “. On? man told me that his firm had engaged, through the man-power authorities, an ex-serviceman who stole from his fellow employees, and then cleared off with valuable stock, the property of the firm which had been very good to him. There is nothing in the present discharge, form to indicate that a man has committed even the most heinous- offence.
– A serviceman might be convicted for being absent without leave.
– Any one who has been the commander of a unit knows that many of the cases which come before him are of a trivial kind. Yet, as the clause stands, a man who has committed murder would be put in the same category as a man with a good record. Such a man would not have an honorable discharge. I shall not press the amendment, but I point out that the bill is not uniform. The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia will not accept a man with a bad record of this kind.
– That may be, but it would not see him starve.
– That is a cheap gibe; such a man is provided for elsewhere. Unless the man-power authorities know what a man’s record is, good soldiers as well as employers may be penalized.
– I cannot accept the amendment.
– Sub-clause 2 of clause 10 reads -
Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, a person shall be deemed for the purposes of this Division to have completed a .period of war service upon the termination of that service for any cause whatsoever.
That seems to fix only the time of the termination of his service, and does not appear to have anything to do with employment, and therefore the question of an honorable discharge does not arise. When I was Minister for Repatriation in a previous government I found that there was a provision in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act that proof of satisfactory service had to be submitted before a returned soldier could be employed. Satisfactory service involves an honorable discharge. I suggest that the Minister should look at the clause again; and, should he find that what I have said is correct, I am confident that he will agree to accept the amendment to insert the word “honorable”.
– I shall consult with my colleagues, but I cannot accept the amendment at this stage.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.), paragraph (o), sub-paragraph (i), the words “one month” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ three months “.
Read in association with clause 12, this provision means that a man who has completed a period of war service, or service in an essential industry, is allowed only one month within which to apply to his former employer for reinstatement. Many men whose war service has terminated will be so glad to be free that they will not realize how quickly the time will pass. A period of three months would provide them with an opportunity to settle down and come to a decision. This is an amendment which the Minister may safely accept.
– I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment, and also a corresponding amendment in clause 12. As I understand clause 10, it relates to a man who after a period of war service does not go back to his former employer and apply for reinstatement, but instead takes some other job which comes within the definition of “ essential work “. If he goes to a job of greater national importance than his former job within one month of completing his war service, his rights to reinstatement in his original post are preserved to him, whereas he would forfeit his rights of re-engagement if he were to take another job for purposes of his own. I agree with that principle; the Minister has done well to incorporate such a provision in the bill. But the time limit is important. The man is not to have the protective advantage of that provision unless he has engaged in “ essential work “ within one month after the completion of his war service. Similarly, under clause 12 he must within one month of completing his period of war service apply to his former employer for reinstatement. There is unanswerable force in what the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) has said. On the termination of his war service, a man will not be likely to work to a time table and say “ I must do certain things within four weeks After several years of war service he may take may weeks to “ find his feet “. If, say, two months after his discharge he undertook some essential work and then went to his original employer and applied for reinstatement, he might be told that he was a month late, and had forfeited his right to reinstatement. If that happened it would be a grave injustice. A similar position might arise under clause 12, but it would be simpler. He would have to be a man of remarkable aplomb to remember, after several years of war service, that he had to sign, on the dotted line within four weeks of his discharge. The amendment is reasonable. No one will be prejudiced by increasing the term from one month to three months, but a great many men will be prejudiced if the term of one month be retained. I am sure that the Munster will see the merits of the amendment, and will accept it.
.I hope that the Minister will give an early indication of his intention. The case presented by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) could be taken a further stage. I do not accept the contention of the Leader of the Opposition that a case which might arise under clause 12 would be simpler than one covered by this clause.
– When I used the word “ simpler “ I meant simpler in construction.
– In this clause, we are dealing with that vast body of men who have rendered “ war service “ but have been discharged during the period of the war, many of them on medical grounds. Some of these men will not feel physically fit to assume the full responsibilities associated with their former employment for weeks, or even months, after their discharge. Therefore, the cases which are likely to arise under this clause may bc more difficult than those which will arise when men who do not suffer any physical disability are demobilized for ordinary routine reasons. I cannot find anywhere else in the bill that persons who are discharged on medical grounds and are unable to resume work for a period of longer than one month because of physical disability, are protected in respect of their reinstatement rights. I hope that the Minister will clarify the position of those discharged because of some physical disability who may be prejudiced if expected to resume work one month after their discharge.
– I too should like to be generous in thi* matter, but there are some difficul tie* associated with my agreeing to the request. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said, this is t matter of preserving the right of the individual to reinstatement. All that i* to happen is that he will have to make application for reinstatement within a month. He does not have to go back to work within three months.
Opposition Members. - We know that.
– I also point out that reinstatement committees may extend the period beyond one month. As I have said there are difficulties associated with this matter.
– Tell us some of them.
– I shall. Consider the position of a large firm expecting a comparatively large number of demobilized men to apply for reinstatement. It will have to look ahead to see what provision it must make for their reinstatement. If it is to be kept ignorant for three months of the number seeking reinstatement, it will be unable in the meantime to engage any one permanently. That would place the firm in an invidious and difficult position.
– That is falacious. Demobilization will be spread over twelve months.
– There are difficulties? in the way of giving effect to the amendment.
– Do these difficulties arise on clause 10?
– I think they do.
– Clause 10 does not deal with the period in which application must be made for reinstatement. It deals with the time for taking some essential job. The Minister referred to the power of a reinstatement committee to extend those times. Clause 21 gives power to extend the times specified in clauses 12, 13 and 14, but not clause 10.
– The best I can offer the Opposition is that I shall have the matter examined. If I then consider that tho request can be granted I shall be prepared to have an amendment inserted in the Senate.
.It is good that the Minister has promised to examine the matter, but it should be sufficiently clear for him to agree on the spot.
– I am a canny Scot.
– Yes, but even a canny Scot ought to be able to see the justness of the proposition and accept it on the spot. 1 agree that there should be some time limit because, otherwise, men could apply for reinstatement six or twelve months after discharge, but I suggest that one month is too short, and that, without difficulty, the period could be extended to three months. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) drew attention to tho case of men discharged on medical grounds who may not know whether they will be able to take reinstatement. Perhaps they will not know what they want to do. The time limit must be extended to meet their needs. Men who have been at the war for five or six years will not want to make a sudden decision on whether they require reinstatement. They will want to look around. One month is too short. The Minister mentioned a difficulty in regard to firms, but I see none. He knows that discharges are made unbeknown to firms or any one else.
– This will apply to a period when men will be demobilized at the rate of 4.000 or 5,000 a week.
– But the fact remains that the example the Minister gave does not stand examination. Firms will not know when men have been discharged.
– A firm knows how many of its employees enlisted, and the number for whom it will have to provide reinstatement.
– -Reinstatement in due course. There could be no difficulty for firms if the time were extended to three months. I ask the Minister to accept the amendment straight away.
.I do not often find myself in agreement with the Opposition, but I do consider that the case presented has some merit. I am, however, prepared to accept the assurance of the Minister that he will have this matter examined with a view to making an amendment in the Senate. That appears to meet the situation.
– It does not go far enough.
– Let us look at the situation. A man who has been in the Army for five years or more is discharged and has to make application for reinstatement within one month. He does not know anything at all about this and is not concerned about it for the first month because he is finding his feet and getting around.
– He learns all about it before he leaves the Army.
– He may or may not know something about it. But these men are young, and what they will he concerned about will be getting rid of the uniform, meeting their friends and getting settled back in civil life after years in the Army. They will want to have a look around. Four weeks does not take long to go by. However, I am prepared to accept the Minister’s assurance that he will consider an extension of the period and, if he is convinced, have an amendment made in the Senate. That should meet the wishes of the Opposition, in whose case I see a lot of merit.
– This discussion has provoked two unusual circumstances, one, the concern of the Minister for large firms, and, the other, support of the Opposition by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). My contribution to the discussion will be a reference to clause 62 which deals with reestablishment leave and provides that men with clean discharges shall be entitled, after six months’ service, to 30 days’ leave, which is the precise period in which they must apply for reinstatement in order to conserve their rights to reinstatement. Clause 62 provides that men may be discharged before starting their 30 days’ leave. There is real danger, as was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Baas (Mr. Barnard), that if the period in which reinstatement must be lodged is limited to one month, men who fail to moke application will unwittingly forfeit their right to reinstatement.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has once again shown his spirit of sweet reasonableness in his willingness to examine the proposal that the period should be increased from one month to three months. I trust that as the result of his reexamination of this clause he will find himself able to extend the period.
– He has had two months in which tq consider it already and has done nothing.
-It is unfortunate that some members of the Opposition cannot follow the excellent example of their leader, but insist on snarling in such a way as to invite the defeat of their amendments. Those are foolish tactics. If the Minister, as the result of his reconsideration, is able to extend the period to three months, it will be more valuable to the discharged men than will the period of only one month. As the Minister is unable at the moment to agree, I think we should be satisfied with his undertaking to reexamine the clause. Possibly, if he cannot agree to three months, he will be able to agree to1 two months, but I feel that there is every reason why the period should be extended.
– I do not know why such a simple matter as this should be boggled about for so long.
– I made an offer which tho honorable member will not take. All right! The honorable member is only wasting time.
– I ask the Minister not to interrupt. I predict that many scores of men wilD forfeit their right to reinstatement unless the time be extended. The Minister and all honorable gentlemen know that the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia understands what it is talking about when it asks that the period be extended. After the last war many men were de mobilized abroad. That may happen again. Many may not know of this provision in time. Others may go on leave for three months or so and overlook this requirement. Others may be discharged from hospitals, and very often the repatriation machinery does not work ae quickly as it should. I am sure thai the Minister for Repatriation (MrFrost) will agree with that statement. Many men are kept going from this office to that office, and they may just overstep the time limit and lose their rights in the matter. No one wants to see that happen, but that is more than a possibility. I cannot imagine employers taking the stand which the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has predicted. I am sure that the Chamber of Manufactures or the Chamber of Commerce would not do so. The Minister has spoken about demobilization and has pictured large numbers of men approaching the bigger firms. Demobilization will be spread over the Commonwealth and the proportion of ex-service personnel applying to one firm at one time will not be very great. The Minister says that he will consider the amendment. I urge him to accept it immediately and thus provide a very valuable benefit foi thousands of servicemen.
– I have listened carefully to what has been said on this matter. What amazes me is how the Government hopes to administer a scheme of such dimensions as that embodied in the bill when. at the same time, it regards the granting of a little concession such as this as an insuperable difficulty. Apparently, in spite of all the advisers available to the Government, this is a difficulty which cannot be overcome. However, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has promised to consider the matter and, if need be, have the amendment inserted in the Senate. That is the greatest concession he has made to-night, and in view of that promise I shall, with the leave of the committee, withdraw my amendment.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
.- I revert to the point which I raised when I was referring to the conditions of men discharged on medical grounds and pom out the practical difficulties which might arise in requiring them to comply with the limitation of one month. Even the suggested extension to three months may not be adequate in respect of such eases. I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to take into consideration the sort of case which can arise in this category, and, if necessary, insert a special provision to cover cases of men who can establish that they have been discharged on medical grounds, and that for a period in excess of three months they have not been physically capable of making the necessary application, or resuming their former employment.
– 1 am sure that cases of the kind mentioned by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) will not arise, because a person is not discharged from the forces until medically fit to do a job. Otherwise, he or she is looked after by the Repatriation Department. Therefore, the contingency mentioned by the honor«ble member is already covered. However, I shall have another look at the matter.
– I contradict the statement just made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), and in support of my claim I am able to produce as evidence the case of a man residing in Canberra. This case was brought to my notice only last night. It is that of a young man who, when he was discharged, was told by the service medical officers that he was not to do any work for six months. He was not given any sustenance or pension. He was just told that he must live on his parents for the next six months. I can produce that man to-morrow morning should the Minister desire me to do so. Therefore, it is useless for the Minister to make statements of the kind he has just made. We can beat him on them every time. The Minister cannot get away with it. His statement is not true. I have had other cases of the same kind in my electorate. At the moment,
I am fighting with the Minister, the case of a member of one of the women’s services. The service medical officers refuse to tell the parents of the girl why she was discharged. They have merely stated that should the parents be prepared to pay for a consultation with a private doctor, and should he be prepared to confer with them, such a consultation could be arranged. Therefore, even at this hour of the morning, the Minister should not try to put over sta tern en te of the kind he has made. He has just made a straight-out categorical statement which any honorable member on this side of the chamber can disprove. What is the Minister going to do about the matter?
Claude further consequentially amended.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 (Application for reinstatement in employment).
.The point that arose in clause 10 with respect to the period allowed for applications arises also in this clause. The period prescribed in that clause was one month.
– The assurance which I. gave in respect of clause 10 applies also to this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 - (3.) The employment to be made avn.ila.bl* under this section shall be employment -
– -This clause can operate quite contrary to the merits of a case. It provides that should two persons previously employed in the one establishment, and both of whom qualify under the war service provisions, claim the one job, the claim of the person with the longer service with the firm at the date of the enlistment of the first of the two men to enlist, shall prevail. Lt- is possible that the person first to enlist might be a young man who spends five or six years on active service as a combatant, whereas the other person competing for the same job might have enlisted much later, and in a noncombatant service, or if he joined a combatant service might not have left Australia. Yet the latter could claim preferment , under this clause. Provision should be made, as has been done with respect to the preference clause, that’ the employer may exercise discretion based on the length and nature of the service of the claimants. . know that there are difficulties with respect to this provision in relation to preference, but no greater difficulty will exist in applying the same principle under this clause. By doing so, we shall prevent gross injustice from being dentin many cases.
– This clause provides that when several persons apply to a former employer to be reinstated, the employer shall give preference to the applicant whose length of service with the employer was the greater at the date when the first of the applicants to enlist commenced his period of war service. This provision can cause a great deal of injustice. I shall cite a case typical of many which have been brought to my notice and, no doubt, to the notice of other honorable members. Although X shall use fictitious names the facts cannot be disputed. Of two men, whom we shall call Smith and Jones, Smith has, say, three years service with his firm prior to enlistment. He is- a married man occupying a good position, and has a family. In 1940, France falls and leaves the Empire alone in the struggle. He is prepared to throw up his position, and his family life in order to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force. Jones, on the other hand, is a man with ten years’ service with his employer, and his position is comparable with that held by Smith. But Jones does not enlist. He is a single man. He hangs on to his job, and, in fact, influence is exerted on the manpower authorities to enable him ‘to keep his job. In. 1942, he is veritably dragged “ screaming from the tart shop “ and put into the military forces. What will happen when Smith returns? We must admire his spirit, but when he applies for reinstatement in his position, Jones, because he had eight years’ service with the firm before Smith enlisted, will get the job. If that is an instance of what will happen, many injustices will be done throughout the Commonwealth. In country areas, where the fact of such cases will be known, trouble will arise between the individual and the firm, and will spread throughout the district.
The Minister should carefully examine this clause. I realize that the contention can be advanced that in certain instances, seniority should count. Because of certain circumstances, some men could not enlist, even if they had been willing to do so. But to the class of case such as that which I cited, there is no reply. The Minister should adopt one of two courses. Either he should delete, in subclause 4, the words “ whose length of service with that employer was the greater at the date on which the applicant “, or the matter should be determined by a reinstatement committee after an examination of all the facts. Perhaps the second course would be the better one. The employer should not be required to judge between applicants for a position.
– I cannot accept the proposal put forward by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart).
.This is a very important clause, because it gives virtually an automatic right of reinstatement to persons who come within the definition of “ war service “ in clause 4. Therefore, I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that the committee has already, in clause 4, defined the categories of persons who will become entitled to reinstatement. One weakness of the bill in its present form, is that the definition of “ war service “ has been left in such a loose and unsatisfactory manner. That condition was the inevitable result of the Minister’s refusal to hear what honorable members on this side of the chamber desired to say about clause 4, and to accept some proper limitation upon the looseness of the phraseology which occurs in it.
– I heard honorable members opposite for six and a half hours on the subject.
– We are all the more uneasy because of the attitude which the Minister displayed when dealing with clause 4. He refused to limit-
-Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to clause 16.
– I can show very readily that I am doing so. What I am putting to the committee is that, because of the way in which the words “ war service “ have been defined in clause 4, virtually no limit is placed on the categories of persons who can be included in this right of reinstatement. If under paragraph / of clause 4 (1), the Government chooses to proclaim any industrial unions which had taken part in the war effort, and groups such as merchant seamen, civil air pilots, munitions workers and iron workers, which might be claimed to be within a “ protected “ industry, then, as the definition of “war service” now reads, those persons will be entitled to benefit under the reinstatement provisions of this bill. If that is to be the case, and 700,000 persons in civil employment are given reinstatement privileges, it will defeat altogether any substantial protection for the discharged serviceman. Therefore, the whole bill in general, and this clause in particular, carry the taint of the ill-defined term “war service” which the committee has already adopted.
I turn now to another aspect upon which, I hope, the Minister will be able to enlighten me. A correspondent has cited a particular instance, and I consider that it is covered by the provisions of this clause, but my correspondent and I would be reassured if the Minister would confirm it. It is one of a typical group of cases which will arise, and which, I assume, the clause seeks to meet. My correspondent, who is the principal of a firm of chartered accountants, wrote -
I should say, at the commencement, that as a returned soldier from the last war I am most sympathetic with any proposals to repatriate service men and women.
In the case of my firm, at the outbreak of the war our staff consisted of four girls and eight men and youths. The whole of the male staff enlisted or were called up and from time to time other males, whom -we have appointed to our staff to take their places, have also joined up or been called up. Our staff now consists of two youths of under eighteen years and four girls. It is obvious that, with this reduced staff, our business must have contracted considerably, otherwise we could not have carried on. We are, therefore, faced at the present time with a reduced business, a staff reduced by 50 per cent, in number and by considerably more than 50 per cent, in efficiency, and it appears to me that it will be quite impracticable for us to take back all service .personnel who were formerly employed by us. The principal reason is that there will not be the work to give them. The former repatriation proposals appear to me to have been quite workable and fair; but the present proposals would appear to be unjust to employers, such as ourselves, who have been unable, owing to loss of staff, to maintain their businesses at their previous levels.
I ask the Minister to note that two points arise in the details supplied by my correspondent. First, there is the fact that employees of the firm enlisted and were replaced by male personnel who, in turn, enlisted.
– That matter is dealt with in the bill.
– The second point is that, because of a contraction of his business, the employer now employs only four girls and two youths under the age of eighteen years, and sees no apparent likelihood of his business expanding sufficiently to enable him to re-absorb even the original employees.
– That will depend entirely upon the volume of his business.
– He claims that his business, because of the contraction of his activities, will not permit him now to re-engage those original employees.
– During the demobilization of troops, some businesses may expand rapidly.
– The clause as a whole appears to deal with that kind of position. I note that sub-clause 5 provides that- where it is not reasonably practical for a former employer to make employment available to an applicant without employing in some other occupation or under less-favorable conditions some person who has been reinstated in accordance with this Division or in accordance with the National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) . Regulations, or without terminating the employment of that person;
– What is the honorable member fishing for?
– I am fishing for information, and am asking the Minister for it.
– Provision is made in the bill for every matter which the honorable member has mentioned.
– That is all I want to know.
– Why does not the honorable member read the bill?
– I have read the bill over and over again. The Minister also read it over and over again, and at the conclusion of the second-reading debate circulated 3,4 amendments. I have read it over and over again, and want to be sure that a specific case, which has been brought to my notice by an exserviceman, who is sympathetic to returned -soldiers, is amply covered by the bill. If the Minister gives me that assurance, I am happy to accept it.
– I am glad to know that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) does not propose to accept the suggested amendments to subclause 4. When the honorable gentleman says that he does not intend to accept an amendment, he can be relied on to adhere to his decision. It would be most unfortunate if this clause were amended in order to meet special cases such as that cited by the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson).
– Can the honorable member reply to the case which I cited f
– Yes. I consider that any attempt to meet the special case which the honorable member cited would create far more anomalies and difficulties than it would resolve. If the suggested amendment were adopted, and the applicant who first commenced war service were given prior right of reinstatement, the effect would be that’ the person reinstated would usually be a single man. The explanation is that in the majority of cases, the single man joined the forces before the married man with a family enlisted or was called up for military service.
– Can the honorable member reply to my suggestion that the difficulties should be resolved by a reinstatement committee ?
– To refer such a matter to a reinstatement committee without setting out any principle to guide it, would be to adopt a cumbersome and unsatisfactory method, which would cause considerable delay. In these matters, we must lay down one principle and abide by it. The best principle which we can choose, if we must choose one, is that of giving the reinstatement to the man whose length of service with the employer waa greater at the date on which the first person enlisted.
– Paragraph a of sub-clause 3 reads -
The employment to be made available under this section shall be employment - in the occupation in which the applicant was employed immediately prior to the commencement of his period of war service and under conditions not less favorable to him than those which would have been applicable to him in that occupation if he had remained in the employment of the former employer, including any increase of remuneration to which he would have become entitled if he had remained in that employment.
Servicemen who will be reinstated’ in employment will be safeguarded in the matter of increases of remuneration, but’ remuneration does not cover everything. I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.) paragraph (a), after the word “ remuneration “ the following words be inserted: - “seniority, promotion and status “.
Employees who, prior to enlistment, may have had years of service with an employer, and may have been due for promotion, should not lose that advantage owing to their war service. This amendment is merely an added precaution. I am sure that the Minister will agree that it is reasonable and will accept it.
– I support the amendment. Remuneration is not the only consideration in this matter. Yesterday in Melbourne an address was given at the Legacy Club by a brigadier of the 6th Division, Australian Imperial Force. The speaker pointed out that that division had served for six years and asked for some relief. When the men of the Sixth Division return to civil life, they will be concerned with more than mere remuneration. They must be given the promotion which they would have received but for the war. Some employers might not favour the reinstatement of these men in their former positions, and the same attitude may be taken by unions. Recently, a strike occurred at Lysaghts Newcastle Works Proprietary Limited because employees objected to the status which was given to a returned soldier upon reinstatement. I am sure that no honorable member will support that. Acceptance of the amendment will be evidence of the sincerity of the Government in regard to this clause. I hope that the Minister will accept it.
– The amendment is not necessary. The point which it seeks to cover is already adequately provided for. Sub-clause 3 states -
The employmentto be made available under this section shall be employment -
in the occupation in which the applicant was employed immediately prior to the commencement of his period of war service and under conditions not less favorable to him than those which would have been applicable to him in that occupation if he had remained in the employment of the former employer, including any increase of remuneration to which he would have become entitled if he had remained in that employment.
That is quite clear.
– It specifies only “remuneration “.
– Actually, there was no necessity for any reference to remuneration at all. The sub-clause provides that an employee shall be reinstated, not in the position which he occupied when he enlisted in one of the services, but in the position which he would have occupied had he not enlisted at all.
In relation to the suggestion made by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) concerning sub-clause 4, it must be remembered that the honorable member is dealing with only one category of employers, namely, employers who will find them selves unable to reinstate all their former employees who are entitled to, and seek, reinstatement. In view of this Government’s policy of full employment, there will be very few employers in this country who will not be employing more men after the war than they were before the war started. Therefore,to the degree that that policy can be implemented, this problem will not arise. Adoption of the suggestion by the honorable member would mean that a firm which found itself in the unfortunate position of being unable to reinstate all its former employees would be landed with the lees experienced employees to carry out its business in very difficult circumstances. That is a sufficiently strong reason to justify my refusal to accept the suggestion.
– I wish to move an amendment to sub-clause 3.
– Order ! The committee has passed that portion of the clause.
– But so far we have not been taking amendments in their correct sequence.
– The Chair takes amendments in the order in which they would appear in the clause. The first amendment proposed to this clause was that of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann). That amendment concerned line 45 on page 7 of the bill and the committee cannot go back beyond that point now.
– I rise to order. Do I understand your ruling to be that although the clause has not been finally agreed to by the committee, it is not competent for a member to move an additional amendment?
– It is not competent for an honorable member to move an amendment to a part of the clause which the committee has passed.
– Speaking for myself and from my own experience, I quite agree that it is the practice to take amendments of which notice has been given in the order in which they come in the clause ; but let us suppose that amendments of which notice has been given having been disposed of, the committee then goes back to the question whether the clause should stand part of the bill. On that question any honorable member is at liberty to speak. Supposing also that at that stage it seems good to the committee to consider and pass an amendment which, up to that time, had not arisen, are we to understand that the committee, though it may discuss the clause, cannot at that stage make any amendment to it? That, in my opinion, would be making a rigid law of a long standing rule of convenience, and would mean that, the amendments circulated, having been disposed of, the committee could simply take the clause or leave it, butcould not alter it. I submit that the ruling goes too far, and that in the absence of any other honorable member desiring to move an amendment, it is competent for the honorable member for New England to submit one.
– Standing Order 135 states -
No amendmentshallbe proposed to any part of a Question after a later part has been amended, or after a Question has been proposed on an Amendment thereto, unless the proposed Amendment has, by leave of the House, been withdrawn.
The committee has dealt with an amendment moved by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann). The Chair has given its ruling on the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). Any honorable member may if he so desire, move that the committee dissent from the ruling of the Chair.
Mr.White. - During the discussion of clause 4 a great deal of latitude was allowed, and amendments were not put in the order in which they appear in the clause.
– Order ! The Chair has given its ruling.
– That is so, but I ask the Chair to be reasonable. If a certain procedure is permitted during the dis cussion of one clause, surely the same procedure should be followed when dealing with subsequent clauses. I contend that as clause 16 has not yet been passed, the amendment which the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) wishes to move, should be accepted for consideration.
– It is not a question of latitude. The Standing Orders lay down the procedure thatis to be adopted in committee and the Chair has given a ruling.
– When this clause was reached, I rose stating that I had an amendment to move upon it. Apparently, the Chair did not hear me, and the call was given to the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann), who also had an amendment to move.
– The honorable member had an opportunity to claim his rights.
– I propose to exercise my rights by moving that Standing Order 135 be suspended so that the committee may discuss a matter which is vital to the returned soldiers of this country. I refuse to be suffocated when I am endeavouring to voice the views of the people of this country.
– In committee an honorable member is not entitled to move that a standing order be suspended.
– Then I ask leave to move the suspension of Standing Order 135.
– It is not competent for the committee to grant leave for that purpose. The honorable member may, if he so desires, ask leave to move an amendment to the clause.
– I ask leave to move an amendment to clause 16.
Leave not granted.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. W. J. F. RIORDAN.)
Majority . . 12
Motion agreed to.
Clause agreed to.
Where any person has been reinstated in employment . . . then, for the purposes of determining the rights of that person, as against the employer in whose employment he has been reinstated, in respect of -
Amendment (by Mr. Fadden)negatived -
That, after paragraph (d), the following paragraph be inserted: - “ (e) all other privileges and preference based on length of employment “.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 18 - (2.) In any proceedings for a contravention of this section, the onus shall, where the employment was terminated or varied within six months after reinstatement, be on the employer to prove that he terminated or varied the employment as required by sub-section (5.) of section sixteen of this Act or that he had reasonable cause for terminating or varying the employment and, in any other case, the onus shall be on the prosecutor.
– I draw attention to what seems to me to be a curious feature of this clause. It may be that I misapprehend it. The clause says this-
Where an employer has reinstated a former employee in accordance with this Division . . he shall not, except as required by sub-section (5.) of section sixteen of this Act– which does not matter for this purpose - or without reasonable cause, terminate the employment of that employee or vary it by– making the terms less favorable. The part to which I direct attention is “ he shall not, . . . without reasonable cause, terminate the employment of that employee “. I can quite see the reason for some such provision, because it would never do to allow an employer to evade the substance of the law by taking a man back into his employment and very shortly afterwards terminating it. Something has to be done to prevent that. But I am not at all sure that the clause has not gone too far. Take the case of a man who, prior to enlistment, was employed from week to week, perhaps in a very casual way, in an employment which, in its nature, was casual employment. He returns and is reinstated. By virtue of this clause, it would appear that his employment would be completely changed in its character, because the employer would be bound to continue him in employment, and not to terminate the employment without reasonable cause; and without reasonable cause would mean that the man’s employment would become permanent, subject to a right to determine it for what the law would describe as “ reasonable cause “. So the effect, in many instances, will be to convert casual employment into what is essentially permanent employment. That, I consider, is not necessarily a good idea. It may, as a matter of fact, produce very great hardship in many cases; because many employers of casual labour would not employ the volume of such labour that they do employ were it not for the fact that it is casual. Therefore, what the legislation proposes to do is to alter the whole nature of the employment. My feeling on the matter, which is not very clear-cut, is that we would have done well to make some saving in this clause in respect of employment which was really casual in character, because I doubt very much whether it was ever the real intention of the Government to make such a change in the nature of the employment, after reinstatement, from what it was before enlistment. I want to make it quite clear that I recognize: the necessity for a safeguard. There should be no real loop-hole left for a man who desires to evade the obligation of the law. But I should be grateful if the Minister would have a look at the matter in the light of what I have said, and discuss it with the parliamentary draftsman, in order to determine whether or1 not the clause does go so far, and, if it does, whether anything can be done to change it.
– Will the Minister also consider the (significance of the words employed in sub-clause 1, where it is stated that where an employer has reinstated a former employee - he shall hot . . . without reasonable cause, terminate the employment of that employee or vary it by employing the employee in an occupation, or under conditions, less favorable to him than the employment in which he waa so reinstated.
In many sections of industry, such as sheetmetal work and fellmongering, the employer may find it necessary to abandon a section of that work, and an employee might be called upon to continue in the same industry and under the same employer, but under conditions less favorable ‘to him than those formerly enjoyed by him. In some cases an employer, through no fault of his own, might be forced to employ men under less favorable conditions.
– I hope that there will be no watering down of the important safe-, guards provided in the clause. The points made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) have no weight’ against the overriding necessity for the protection of servicemen in their employment against unscrupulous employers who, having been compelled to take men back into employment, will often taken advantage of* any pretext for dismissing them. The Leader of the Opposition considers that the words “ without reasonable cause “ may provide too strong a safeguard, but, in my opinion, the strongest possible safeguard is necessary to ensure that employers shall discharge- their obligations. The words used in the clause seem to me to be entirely necessary, because employers, aided by brilliant lawyers, often take advantage of any loop-hopes in legislation.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), as well as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), have recognized the necessity for this safeguard. . It is suggested that perhaps in certain cases it might operate too harshly, and I shall have the matter examined from that aspect. If I consider an alteration necessary I shall have it made in the Senate.
.Subclause 2 provides that in any proceedings for a contravention of this provision the onus, where the employment was terminated or varied within six months after reinstatement, shall be on the employer to prove that he had reasonable cause for terminating or varying the employment. It seems to me that six months is too short a term in which to enable men who have been reinstated to settle down properly in their employment. If a man has been away on active service for three, four or five years, he may not he able to regain his former skill within, six months. I move -
That, in sub-clause (2), the words “six mouths “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “two years “.
– I cannot accept the amendment. If an employee who had been reinstated were subsequently dismissed, action could be taken against the employer, even if it were five years later. The six months referred to in the sub-clause is only the period for which the onus of justifying his action is on the employer.
Mr. ABBOTT (New England) (1.48 a.m.]. - I strongly support the amendment and find it difficult to understand the attitude adopted by the Minister, after having listened to the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser), who said that on no account would he allow servicemen to lose any of their rights under the bill. When a vote is taken on the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) I hope that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro will vote according to the view which he has expressed. Honorable members opposite who have declared their anxiety to protect servicemen should not give mere lip service and at the same time meekly obey the orders of their caucus or of Ministers. I hope that honorable members opposite will vote according to their consciences, and not according to caucus.
– An extremely important principle is embodied in this clause. It is proposed to extend to two years the period during which the obligation will rest upon the accused person to prove his innocence. For my part, whenever it can be avoided, I have ‘always been against requiring an. accused person to prove his innocence. In the bill, it is provided that the onus of proving his innocence shall rest upon the employer for six months, and that is reasonable. After the expiration of that period, there will still be no lack of opportunity to prose.cute but then the principle will apply that the accused person is regarded’ as innocent until he has been found guilty.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) f 1.53 a.m.]. - Speaking at Fremantle last year, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) s’aid that the objective of the Government was to abolish the employer’s right to hire and fire. Now, when the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) puts forward a proposition designed to achieve that desirable end, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) holds up his hands in horror. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is a member of the Regulations Advisory Committee which has approved of several regulations in which the onus is placed upon the accused person to prove his innocence.
– The committee subsequently recommended the abolition of that provision in many instances.
– But not in all instances. Evidently, the honorable member believes in half-measures.
He would like to have one foot in this world and one in the next. At the time the Attorney-General, made his statement in Fremantle he was stumping Western Australia in support of the Government’s late lamented referendum proposals. Apparently, however, what was then regarded as good Labour policy is now to be abandoned.
– The purpose of this measure is to rehabilitate ex-servicemen in permanent employment. That being so, the Government might well consider extending the period to two years.
– The employer would still be prevented from dismissing the ex-serviceman without reasonable cause, even at the end of two years. The only point is whether he must prove his innocence or whether the other man must prove his guilt.
– I suggest that if the period were extended it would give the ex-serviceman an opportunity to settle down.
.Having heard the explanation of the Minister, I ask leave of the committee to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 19 agreed to.
The following paper was presented : -
National Security Act - National Security (General) Regulations - Order - Use of Land.
House adjourned at 1.58 a.m (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for the Army, upon notice -
AM.2753,has been specially fitted with tanks for additional fuel and fresh water, improved armament, battened decks, single-berth cabins and saloon accommodation, skylights and other improvements?
– The Acting Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
Mr. E. Thornton.
n. - The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) yesterday asked whether papers relating to Mr. Thornton’s return to Australia could be laid on the table of the House. I am now able to inform the honorable member that Mr. E. Thornton’s return passage by air was arranged through the British Embassy in Washington and that there are consequently no papers available in Canberra.
Country Electrical Undertakings : Subsidies.
y. - When speaking to the motion for the adjournment of the House on the 4th May, 1945, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) raised certain questions relative to the payments of subsidies to a number of electricity supply undertakings.
I have had inquiries made concerning these matters and I am now informed that decisions have been reached in six of the seven cases to which the honorable member referred and that these decisions have been communicated to the undertakings, with the exception of the Kerang Shire Council, which isbeing advised of the decision on its claim for relief under the prices stabilization plan. The remaining case, that of the Wycheproof Shire Council, has been delayed because it was found necessary to obtain further information from the council. This information has now been furnished and an early decision is expected. With regard to the general question of delays in these matters, I emphasize the detailed investigations and checking required. The payment of public money is involved and every care must be taken by the authorities concerned. However, I assure the honorable member that the need for expeditious handling of claims is appreciated and every effort will be made to avoid unnecessary delays.
Brisbane Women’s Hospital.
y. - On the 11th May, 1945, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr.
Adermann) asked certain questions relating to an increase of charges by the Brisbane Women’s Hospital.
Investigations have now been made and I ann informed that this increase was not approved by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner. Further, the Deputy Prices Commissioner, Brisbane, has discussed the matter with the Hospital Board and the board has reverted to the former charge of 12s. a day.
s asked the Minister in charge of War Service Homes, upon notice -
How .many houses ha ve been - (1) (a) built, (b) bought or acquired by the War Service Homes Department from its establishment to the 3rd September, 1039, and (2) (a) built, (6) bought or acquired by the department since that date.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) built or assisted to build, 21,412; (&) bought or acquired, 15,955. 2. (a) built or assisted to build, 31; (6) bought or acquired, 158.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and ‘Shipping has supplied the following answers: -
d asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
y. - On the 27th April the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) asked me to have further inquiries made regarding the provision of scrub cutters in the Bollen district of south-west Queensland. Arrangements were immediately made for the DirectorGeneral of Man Power to. review the position, and he has now provided the following report: -
Investigations have nOW been made and disclose that after a survey by the District War Agricultural Committees the first application for labour was made on the 20th April for five men for the Dirranbandi area. Two of these were supplied immediately but on the 30th April a request was received to withhold labour and on 8th May, the proposed employer stated no more men would . bc required as rain had fallen. It has also been ascertained that no men were required for Bollen, St. George or Mungindi areas. Applications were made on 10th May for six men in the Wyandra Cunnamulla district and an endeavour is being made to supply this labour. It is understood that Mr. Philp, of Bollen, was given one man but advised by deputy in Brisbane later by telephone that he did not now require labour.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 May 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450523_reps_17_182/>.