17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., andread prayers.
-Has the Acting Prime Minister any information to give to the House about the dispute on the northern coal-fields, which, according to to-day’s press, has ‘been responsible for idleness at 25 manes and the loss of 20,000 tons of coal daily?
– I could give a lot of information concerning the origin of the dispute;, and the disastrous results of the loss of coal production. The Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), with whom I discussed- the matter yesterday afternoon, informed me that it was hoped that the trouble would lie overcame to-day. If She honorable member so desires, I shall prepare and make n statement setting out the whole of the circumstances, including the attempts that have been made to remove the difficulty which caused the stoppage and is deeply to ibo regretted. I do not attempt to condone the loss of coal.
National Policy : Newspaper Comments
– Has the Acting Prime Minister read in an editorial in the Sydney Morning .Herald to-day, the statement: “Not in Parliament but in onion conclaves has national war policy bt-en principally hammered out - not merely- in respect of industrial matters, hut on questions involving high military policy”? Is this statement true? If not, is it not regarded by the Acting Prime Minister as a malicious attack upon the integrity of General ‘MacArthur and our other military leaders, and a subversive stab at Australia’s war effort?
– I have not read the statement mentioned. A» a matter of fact, I have not had an opportunity to read any newspaper this morning. I shall read it, in order- to determine whether action by the Government would be warranted-.
– Will1 the Acting Prime Minister state whether a twelvepower food conference opened in London yesterday? If so, was Australia represented, and- were any of our rural and food producing industries included in the representation? If not, was the Government consulted in regard to the deliberations?
– Australia has- been directly associated with some of the food conferences that have been held. The Secretary to the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, Mr. Murphy, while abroad’, has had a number of consultations with other authorities in regard to the food position generally. I regret that 1 am not able to state whether Australia was directly -represented at the conference mentioned by the right honorable gentleman. Mr. Murphy has participated in food conferences m America, as well as in Britain. I shall endeavour to ascertain the exact position, and advise the right honorable gentleman.
– Has the Minister for Transport seen an article in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of the 4th June, headed “Poor Deal for State in Standard Rail Scheme”, attributed to Alderman Chandler ? The article states, in part -
Apparently, the scheme provides for the complete unification of the rail-way systems or Victoria and South Australia, but only for one line in Queensland, running from the far-west to the north.
A* is usual in federal matters, Queensland appears to he getting an extremely poor deal.
If the statements in the article are correct, will the Minister see that Queensland receives treatment as favorable as that accorded to New South Wales and Victoria ? If it is not correct will he have the facts published in the same newspaper so that the public of Queensland may be made aware of them? I may add that Alderman ‘Chandler is the leader of the Citizens’ Municipal Organization, leader of the Queensland branch of the People’s party, and, last but not least, State leader of the new Liberal party.
– The statements contained in the article are a mass of inaccuracies. That would be sufficiently serious if it were due entirely to ignorance; ‘but, judging by the amount of propaganda of this kind appearing recently in the press of Australia, there seems to be something more .behind it than pure ignorance. The Government has decided to proceed with the standardization scheme in two parts. The first part, as submitted by Sir Harold Clapp, coversthe standardization of various lines throughout Australia. Queensland has not been neglected in the preparation of the first part, but certain modifications have been proposed toy the Queensland Minister for Transport, and these are now receiving the consideration of the Commonwealth Government. Representations have also been made by Federal Labour members of Parliament from Queensland regarding certain railway lines which they believe ought to be included in the first part of the scheme, and those proposals also are receiving consideration. I can assure the people of Australia that neither Queensland nor any other State is being neglected in the plans being prepared for the standardization of railway gauges. The first section of the scheme provides for an expenditure of £76,000,000, but we confidently hope that in a comparatively short period of years railway gauges will be completely standardized throughout the whole of Australia.
-Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet received the report on the tobacco industry from the committee which has been inquiring into it? May we expect an early decision from the Government regarding the findings of the committee, as the preparation of land for the forthcoming planting is now due, and growers want to know their position.
– I have received the report, and I regret that there has been delay, but this was due to the fact that the members of the committee were scattered all over the Commonwealth, and. the report had to be sent to them for signature. A. submission has been prepared for Cabinet on the subject, and it will be dealt with as soon as possible.
– Yesterday I received from a serving soldier a letter in which he said that he had been informed by theReturned Soldiers’ Classification Committee that, as a serving soldier, he was not eligible to participate in ballots for the allotment ofland to be made available by the Commonwealth Government or theState Government for soldier settlement. I got in. touch with the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, and Dr. Curtin told me that that was not so, and that serving soldiers could participate in ballots for whatever land was available. According to the Sydney Morning Herald to-day the New South Wales Minister for Lands, Mr. Tully, made an authoritative statement -
The returned soldiers’ executive fully agreed that men who are now serving overseas should have the same right to apply for, and be allotted land, as those who have been discharged.
Will the Acting Prime Minister state the policy of theCommonwealth Government regarding land to be made available to serving soldiers? Can they make application and. have their applications accepted!?
– I shall have a statement prepared in reply to the honorable gentleman’s question.
– I have a letter from a discharged serviceman, who had a brilliant pre-war scholastic career, complaining that the Department of Post-war Reconstruction has told him that no provision has been made in the professional and vocational training scheme to allow university students’ who were attending part-time before the war to complete their studies as full-time students. They are not eligible to obtain full-time training benefits. I think this is an anomaly that was not foreseen, and I ask that it be removed. Summarized, the request is that some provision be made to enable pre-war part-time university students to obtain full trainingbenefits if they can satisfy departmental authorities that they were part-time students before the war because of financial necessity and not by choice. In the absence of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, I ask the Acting Prime Minister what can be done about the matter?
– Am I to understand that the honorable gentleman’s correspondent is working and carrying out certain university courses at the same time?
– No. He is attending full-time at, the university; but, because he was not a full-time student before his enlistment, he is not allowed the ‘benefits in tended for full-time students.
– The matter will be examined, and a reply provided.
– As Chairman, I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by Clerk, and - by have - adopted.
Interruption by Floods.
– Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral endeavour to induce the Postin aster-General to consider again the advisability of stationing telephone and telegraph linesmen in the upper reaches of the coastal rivers district of New South Wales, and, indeed, along the whole of the eastern coast of Australia. If that is not possible, will the PostmasterGeneral endeavour to make available at country post offices the necessary repair equipment to enable linesmen to restore very quickly services that have been interrupted? This position has developed since the advent of the motor car. Years ago, linesmen were stationed in the highlands, and were able to restore services shortly after they had been interrupted by a disaster such as the floods which have occurred in northern New South Wales, during the last few days. With the introduction of the motor oar, linesmen have been stationed in towns on the lower reaches of the rivers, and when flood waters make the roads impassable, the men are unable to proceed to the highlands for the purpose of restoring communications there. It is imperative that information should come regularly from the highlands to give people living on the lower alluvial flats a preliminary warning of floods, so that they may vacate their homes and move their stock.
– I shall .bring the two proposals of the right honorable gentleman, together with his comments in support of them, to the notice of the Postmaster-General and ask him for a favorable reply at an early date.
Impressment of Machinery
– I have received from the Blacktown Shire Council a communication stating that, in common with other local governing bodies, it released its speed patrol grader units to the Allied Works Council in accordance with the desire of the Government when Australia was threatened with invasion, and has not been a’ble to replace them. The council requires u speed patrol grader unit and a 2-ton or 3-ton motor lorry, because the roads in the shire have been greatly affected’ by heavy traffic to and from military and air ‘force establishments in the district. Will the Minister for Works investigate this matter, with a view to releasing this plant to the Blacktown Shire Council, in order that the roads, which at present are in a disgraceful state, may he restored to a condition of reasonable repair ?
– When Australia was threatened1 with invasion, the Allied Works Council found it necessary to impress, for war purposes, road-making machinery and Other plant owned by local governing bodies. I do not know whether the Blacktown Shire Council has applied to the Allied Works Council for the release of its machinery; this organization has already returned large quantities of this kind of machinery to their former owners. I shall inquire into the matter raised by the honorable member, and supply an answer as soon as possible.
– The Minister for the Navy has announced that H.M.A.S. Australia will proceed to Great Britain for repairs and to refit. Can the honorable gentleman say whether any of the repairs to damage caused by Japanese air attack in the Philippines were held up by industrial unrest in Sydney?
– The transference of H.M.A.S. Australia to a dockyard in Great Britain for the installation of necessary equipment and to undergo major repairs, Las nothing to do with any industrial disturbance on l3ie Sydney waterfront. In fact, the warship was practically not affected by any dispute. H.M.A.S. Australia will refit in Great Britain in accordance with ian agreement arrived at between the Admiralty and the Commonwealth Government, under which warships requiring major repairs will bc transferred from Australian ports to Great Britain or elsewhere in order to leave the facilities in this country available for urgentrepairs required by units of the British Pacific Fleet.
k” ohm al Motion fob Adjournment.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. J. S. Rosevear). 1 have received from the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The mismanagement of the general fodder position by Commonwealth authorities.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– I have taken this action because I consider the subject with which I shall deal is the most serious domestic problem facing the Commonwealth to-day. I believe that honorable members generally will appreciate that the position is sufficiently alarming to demand an immediate meeting of State Ministers of Agriculture with the Commonwealth authorities if a calamitous dislocation of our distribution system is to be averted in the most critical months of the year. The position in Victoria is not only serious but is also in the process of becoming dangerous, due to what, is commonly known as the “ chaff grab “. That term has been applied to the action of the Commonwealth in acquiring 2,000 tons of fodder which had been allocated to Victoria with the approval of the Director-General of Agriculture, Mr.
Bulcock. That chaff was bought and paid for, and, naturally, the system of distribution was based on the anticipation that the contract would be honoured. However, the Commonwealth, to use a colloquialism, “ threw a spanner into the works “. I have been intrigued lately by questions which honorable members opposite have been asking with the intention, in my opinion, of trying to prove bungling on the part of the Government of Victoria. The latest question on the subject was perfectly ludicrous, and is, I believe, being used as a kind of bed-time story for children. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod), in the course of the question, intimated that of a parcel of fodder lately handled by the Victorian authorities only 10 per cent, went to the most vitally affected areas of the State. The actual fact, as the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully)! probably knows, is that in the over-all distribution of fodder in Victoria 70 .per cent, has gone to the most vital areas. To try to convey to the Australian public through the National Parliament that the Government of Victoria has been remiss in its duty in this regard and that it is deliberately neglecting to supply fodder in areas where it is most needed is both unfair and ludicrous. Instead of facing this serious issue in a responsible way, some honorable gentlemen opposite have been indulging in “little Australianism”. It is deplorable that they should seek to make some small political capital out of what I believe to be a great national emergency. The honorable member for Wannon may have asked his question innocently, and independently of other questions, but he revealed a complete ignorance of the general position. The questions that have been asked bear all the marks of concerted action. The attack, if it may be so termed, is to attach guilt to the innocent victims instead of to those responsible. The old military axiom that attack is the best form of defence is being applied. Blaming the other fellow for that of which we are guilty is a dishonorable practice which usage has clothed with a certain degree of respectability. The purpose is to give the initiative to the guilty party, and to place the innocent victim on the defensive. I believe the object of certain recent actions to be the covering up of “ the chaff grab “. I appreciate the reasons which cause honorable members representing border electorates in Victoria, to have an inferiority complex when discussing governmental matters in that State, but I cannot understand Victorian, members making more difficult the solution of a problem of this nature, by trying to discredit their own State. That is exactly what is happening; a false impression is being given in thi3 Parliament, and the solution of the problem is being made more difficult. The concerted action to which I have referred is represented by these facts: When the “grab” was first made, it was correctly anticipated that a good deal of criticism would be aroused and. much hostility engendered ; consequently, preparations were begun for the defence which obviously would have to be made. At the outset, the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Victoria, Mr. Cain, moved the adjournment of the House to discuss what he termed “ the bungling of the Government on the fodder problem “. Honorable members will note the similarity of expression in that Parliament and this - “bungling”; not exactly euphonious, but easily under.stood. Simultaneously, the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) began asking questions in this House for the same purpose, namely, to impute bungling to the Government of Victoria. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) “ attended the party “. Not on one occasion did he deny the charge of bungling in an undertaking with which his own officers were intimately associated,. He gave to me the impression of benevolent acquiescence in the impeachment. Whilst promising to make further investigations in regard to the position in Victoria, he did not once say that he would also ascertain the reason why the State of New South Wales had not made provision for the rationing of fodder as the Government of Victoria had ; because that would not have been “ playing ball “. The purpose of these attacks, obviously, was to divert public attention from a State that has lamentably failed to discharge its obligations to the country by rationing fodder as other States have had to do. Of course, the Government of New South Wales is not a Country party administration. I am happy in being able to provide a complete and devastating reply to the charge of bungling from, no less an authority than, the Director-general of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock. That gentleman, addressing in Melbourne the nine merchants importing chaff from Western Australia, said that Victoria had done an excellent job in the rationing of fodder; in. fact, it had done the best job of any of the Australian States.
– Mr. Bulcock said that on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.
– I shall be interested to hear whether the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will repudiate the statement off his chief executive officer. There is an answer to the petty attempts to impute bungling to a government which, to-day, is suffering because of the drastic rationing it has imposed in order to bolster up fodder supplies for the benefit of those who have done nothing in the matter. The present “ grab “ is reminiscent of another “ grab “, by reason of which Victoria was mulct in an amount of £4,000,000, only to bolster up the revenues of the same State of New South Wales. If this “ grab “ be persisted in by the Commonwealth, the Department of Agriculture in Victoria believes that it may result in the death of many hundreds, probably thousands, of horses, a consequence of which would be the complete or partial dislocation of the provisions designed1 to maintain essential services, including the sowing of crops and the clearing of drains-which means the clearing of hundreds of miles o’f reticulating channels in the north-west of Victoria.
– Thousands of miles.
– Perhaps so. Those channels have become filled with sand during the dry weather. I believe that, at the moment, more than 2,000 horses are being used in the attempt to complete the clearing of the drains, in order that water may be supplied to farms that are badly in need of it. In addition, 6,000 horses are engaged in the delivery of essential commodities in the city. If this danger be not averted, the difficulties of the Commonwealth will become immeasurably greater next year. ‘Should we have the misfortune to experience a further drought on top of that through which we are now passing, and at the same time, by reason of neglect, be unable to have crops sown in areas in which they can be grown, our position at this time next year will be unenviable. That is one of the reasons for my having brought to the notice of the country to-day the serious position in which we are placed. When it became apparent, early last year, that Victoria and several other States would not have sufficient fodder to maintain essential services, the DirectorGeneral of Agriculture and several State Ministers of Agriculture conferred, and the order was issued’ for stock to be taken of supplies throughout the Commonwealth. The discovery was made, that 24,000 tons of fodder was available for sale in Western Australia. The agreement was- reached that 10,000 tons of it should be diverted to South Australia. Apparently, that allocation satisfied that State. Mr. Bulcock agreed, that the remainder of it - 14,000 tons - should, go to Victoria. That State immediately sent officers to Western Australia, and they succeeded in purchasing 13,260 tons of chaff. Because of shipping difficulties, they could transport to Victoria - during the year only 3,600 tons. Of the remainder, 4,000 tons was taken to the seaboard at Fremantle, and stored so that it would, be convenient for shipment. Honorable members will note how convenient it was for the staging of the great “ grab “. Had I been Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, probably I would have realized the handy position in which I was. placed when I wanted chaff for another State. The ostensible reason for the “ grab “ is that the chaff was needed to feed pit ponies in New South Wales. That gives to it a Commonwealth flavour, and also diverts attention from the delinquencies of New South Wales. It is ironical that Victoria should supply, out of its savings, fodder for pit ponies in New South Wales, and at the same time have to institute gas rationing because of inability to obtain sufficient supplies of coal, which could have been provided had the pit ponies worked full time. The
Minister knows what is being done in Victoria. He knows that the authorities have threatened to forbid the keeping of race-horses for training, but in New South Wales nothing of the sort has been done. If he had taken steps to ensure that race-horses in New South Wales were turned out before fodder was commandeered from another State for the benefit of New South Wales, sufficient fodder would have been saved to feed the pit ponies, and there would have been no need to take fodder from Victoria. Nothing has been done in New South Wales comparable with what Victoria has done in the rationing of fodder. In Victoria, on the other band, a drastic rationing system has been introduced. Horse transport has been replaced by motor transport wherever possible. Racing has been “ cut to the bone”. Two-thirds of the number of race-horses formerly in training have been turned out; - between 500 and 600 altogether - and last night it was stated that the remainder might also be turned out’. A coupon system has been introduced under which no one may buy a bag of chaff without producing a coupon. Coupons are issued on the basis of the number of horses which each person owns, and the kind of work he is doing. That procedure should have been followed in all States. It is entirely wrong that, from the fodder saved by rationing in Victoria, supplies should be commandeered by the Commonwealth for use in a State where no attempt has been made to save fodder. In addition to the 2,000 tons taken last week, the statement was made only yesterday that it was proposed to take another 500 tons. That would be indefensible while more than 600 racehorses remain in training in New South Wales. It has been said, that the fodder taken from Victoria is only borrowed - that it will be replaced. The newspaper Westralia, a usually well-informed journal, states in an article headed “ The Chaff Grab “-
As it is, there is a grave doubt whether the Commonwealth plan to replace from Western Australian sources the 2,000 tons of chaff diverted from Victoria to New South Wales, and the 2,000 additional tons that it is proposed to divert, is capable of fulfilment.
If it is proposed to replace the chaff, the Government should investigate the possibility of doing so from what would be sated if race-horses were turned out in New South Wales.I am convinced that there is no need to take from Victoria the additional 500 tons mentioned while race-horses are still in training in New South Wales. The authorities in Victoria are perplexed as to how to maintain essential transport services. They have introduced an effective system for rationing fodder, but the fodder thus saved has been grabbed by the Commonwealth because the State next door has appealed for supplies. The fodder available for purchase by Victoria, including pressed hay, rice hay, and 1,930 tons of straw, including rice straw, totals only 14,370 tons. In March of this year, there was in Victoria a total of 460,000 tons of fodder,whereas the normal reserve of fodder at that time of year is 1,250,000 tons. The Department of Agriculture in Victoria, estimated that at the end of May, there was only 210,000 tons of fodder left in Victoria. There are 70,000 farina, so that there is an average of only 3 tons of fodder to each farm, leaving 14,370 tons for sale for outside workand this includes the quantity which is being diverted to New South Wales. [Extension of time granted.] According to the Victorian Year-Book, there are 129,000 horses in the three Victorian districts most affected by drought, namely, the Wimmera, the Mallee and the northern areas. How are these horses to be fed during the next four or five months if the fodder which has been saved through our long-sightedness in Victoria is to be taken by the Commonwealth for the benefit of another State which is obviously in a better position as regards feed than is Victoria? I recognize that other States have their problems, too, and that the position in New South Wales has been aggravated by the calamitous floods on the north coast; but I maintain that the Commonwealth has been remiss in not having imposed a general fodder rationing plan on the whole of the Commonwealth. It could be provided that, unless a State cooperated in the carrying out of this plan, supplies would not be made available to it. If the Commonwealth can commandeer chaff, it could also refuse to commandeer for the benefit of any State which failed to comply with the rationing arrangements. It is not too late now to countermand the order for the diversion of this last 500 tons of fodder from Victoria, if it is proposed that it should go to the same destination as the earlier consignments. The Government should investigate thepossibility of saving fodder by requiring race-horses in New South Wales to be turned out to grass. I ask the Minister not to acquiesce airily in the present situation, in which one State has bungled its fodder arrangements, and is now profiting at the expense of a State which, was more prudent.
.- The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), to whom I listened with great interest, is not aware of the facts. He presented his case moderately and, I am sure, to the best of his knowledge ; but I think it was inspired by the Government of Victoria. We all know that there is no more astute politician in Australia than the Premier of Victoria, who, whenever he desires to cover his tracks, attacks the Commonwealth Government and charges it with bungling. I know as much about Australia’s fodder position as, at least, any one in Victoria. The Commonwealth Government arranged with the Government of Western Australia for 24,000 tons of hay above the usual quantity to be cut for the eastern States. I made the arrangement on behalf of the Commonwealth Government with the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia on the definite understanding that all the drought affected eastern States would receive their quotas. Subsequently Cabinet approved, on my submission, of the payment by the Commonwealth of a subsidy of £6 a ton on all that hay. A singular fact, of which I was not aware, I admit, until quite recently, is that Victorian fodder merchants went to Western Australia and secured 14,000 tons of that fodder. The Government of South Australia obtained 10,000 tons. That accounted for the lot. Would it be equitable for the Commonwealth Government, after having arranged for the 24,000 tons to be cut in Western Australia, and having agreed to pay a subsidy of £6 a ton to stand idly by and allo.W it all to go to two States, leaving nothing for New South “Wales, or for Queensland, whose fodder position is not good and to which we have had to divert supplies? The Director-General of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock, wrote to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Martin, on the 14th September, 1944, suggesting that the State Government should have the power to acquire stocks of hay and chaff so as to be in a position to enforce the release of existing stocks and to arrange the distribution to the best advantage. Mr. Martin was asked to give urgent consideration to the suggestion and to advise whether he was prepared to accept the responsibility of acquiring and distributing the various stocks of fodder. Had Mr. Martin accepted that suggestion at the time, he would have had a clear knowledge of the fodder supplies existing in his State. As it is, on his own admission, he has no knowledge of fodder crops in Victoria, and in order to ascertain these he started early in May a census which was to have been completed by the 15th May, but was not. Time will not permit me to go into details of the debate on fodder on the adjournment of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. The Melbourne Sun on last Wednesday published the following : -
Hay and chaff will not be able to be bought without coupons after Friday, the Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Martin) announced last night. This order - made under the National Security Regulations- will apply to Melbourne metropolitan area, and in the cities of Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. . . . Mr. Martin said it was expected that the new system would eliminate 2,500 horses in the areas affected. [ emphasize Mr. Martin’s words “ would eliminate”. We have had a fodder crisis for a long time, but not until now has the Government of Victoria taken a serious view of it and taken steps to eliminate 2,500 horses from the fodder pool. Here is an indication that many horses were getting fodder to which they were not justly entitled. If the plan instituted by the Victorian Government had been instituted when the Government of South Australia took over theacquisi tion of fodder in South Australia, the position would have been a great deal better. The Director-General of Agriculture, in September of last year, appealed to the Minister for Agriculture in Victoria to take action–
-Was he right in saying that Victoria had done the best job of all.
-J asked Mr. Bulcock “ Did you make that statement ?”, and he said, “ In no circumstances, can I remember making it “.
– Those were his words. I said, “Are you sure you did not make it ?”, and he said, “ I cannot, for the life of me, remember having said that “.
– He does not deny having made it.
– He has absolutely no recollection of it. Only a few days ago, 800 tons of fodder was delivered from Western Australia to Victoria, Prior to that, the shipments to that State exceeded1 5,000 tons. Consequently, with the quantity from Western Australia Victoria received more than 6,000 tons.
The position regarding colliery horses in New South Wales was becoming acute, and Mr. Bulcock conferred with me on the subject. I had received urgent letters from various agencies controlling SUP- plies of fodder for colliery horses, and, incidentally, I received some private letters from the men in charge of those animals. The view was expressed that the feed position was becoming deplorable, and that, unless supplies were more readily forthcoming and the quality of the feed were improved, the effect on the production of coal would be serious. Mr. Bulcock mentioned that a shipment of fodder would be leaving Western Australia, and suggested that 2,000 tons of chaff should be diverted to New South Wales. Then I received from the honorable member -for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson,” the first intimation that - the irrigation channels in the Wimmera were in a serious condition, and that the diversion of the chaff to New South Wales would seriously interfere with the work of clearing them and inflict great hardship upon settlers in the Mallee. I immediately rang Mr. J. Thomson, manager of the Australian Wheat Board, who controls shipments, and asked him whether the vessel could be diverted to Melbourne »nd unload a part of the cargo. Mr. Thomson replied’ that it could be done, if I required it. I said: “ I do require it. In order that the clearing of the irrigation channels in the Wimmera shall not be delayed, and settlers in other parts of Victoria shall not suffer hardship because ofl the lack of fodder, you must divert the ship to Melbourne, and unload 500 or 1,000 tons of fodder.” That instruction will be observed. Following a further request from the secretary of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association, Mr. McCredden, I stipulated that the fodder, which would be unloaded, must be sent to the country districts of Victoria. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) accused the Government ©fi having shown preference to New South Wales at the expense of Victoria. Discrimination against any State in favour of another State is to be deplored at any time, and, since becoming a Minister, I have not held any special brief for New South Wales any more than for any other State. In my administration, I have not, shown partiality to any State, and while I remain a Minister, I shall always endeavour to adopt a strictly impartial attitude. Indeed, a Minister would be recreant to bis trust if he were to act otherwise.
Recently, the Director-General of Agriculture and the Food Controller visited the rice-growing areas in New South Wales, and informed me that, if the Government were prepared to subsidize the cutting, a quantity of, rice-hay could be obtained for fodder. I immediately secured the approval of the Treasury for the expenditure, and 6,000 tons of ricehay will be made available in New South Wales. The Minister for Agriculture in that State has agreed to the immediate diversion of 2,000 tons ofl rice-hay to the districts in Victoria mentioned by the honorable member for Gippsland. Since the shortage of fodder became acute, New South Wales has constantly adopted » reasonable and generous attitude to Victoria. Of course, the position of Victoria is acute; but, so also is the position in certain other States. The disastrous floods in the northern coastal districts of New South Wales are accentuating the fodder difficulty. The Commonwealth Government has done all that is humanly possible to improve the position. We have subsidized heavily. About 6,000,000 bushels of grain and sorghum, with some form of oats in it, has been purchased from the United States of America at a cost to the Commonwealth Government of between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 sterling. Incidentally, the transport of wheat from Western Australia to the eastern States will involve the Commonwealth in an expenditure of £2,500,000. From these figures it will be seen that the Commonwealth Government has not been recreant to its trust. Recently, two officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture proceeded to New Zealand for the purpose of purchasing fodder. One of them returned yesterday; the other will remain to supervise the loading of the feed. They have secured 7,500 tons of hay, which will be shipped to the eastern States. The first shipment of 2,500 tons will be made next week. All that has been done on behalf of the States, and Victoria will receive, perhaps, a little more than its quota. Because of the adverse seasonal conditions, that State has a more urgent need of fodder than any other State, with the possible exception of South Australia, where drought conditions are still serious.
The honorable member for Gippsland may rest assured, that no State will be shown preferential treatment. The diversion of fodder, which has been referred to, was absolutely necessary. For a considerable period, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) has acted for me in Western Australia to supervise the marshalling and conveyance of fodder to the seaboard. That work has been done at Commonwealth instigation and expense. Yet the Government of Victoria has never* expressed appreciation of the Commonwealth’s efforts in this direction. A few days ago, members of the Victorian Country party vehemently attacked the attitude of the State Government, because they knew the true position, and the degree of Commonwealth aid that had been given.
I have received’ from the Victorian Wheat and: Wool Growers Association a bitter complaint about the failure to send fodder from Western Australia into the country districts of Victoria. The distribution was not supervised by the State Government;, as was done in South Australia in order to ensure ah equitable apportionment. It was left to private enterprise to make the distribution as it saw fit. The honorable member for Gippsland submitted his case with moderation ; his approach to subjects is always fair and reasonable. Reference has been made to the provision of fodder for race-horses. Of course, supplies for this purpose have been reduced considerably in Victoria and New South Wales. I have been in frequent consultation with the Minister for Transport regarding the fodder position. For many months permission has been given for horses to be transported to country districts where agistment is available in local centres, and where there is fodder that could not be railed to metropolitan areas. I was also in consultation, a few days ago, with the Acting Premier of New South Wales and with officers of the Australian Jockey Club, and I was informed that a considerable reduction had been made in the number of horses in training; consequently compulsory action was not needed. L have also been in communication with the Minister of Agriculture in New South Wales, Mr. Graham, who made the following points in regard to fodder control in that State: -
New South Wales controls fodder distribution by the issue of transport permits.
There are no permits for fodder for racehorses.
No Western Australian fodder goes to racehorses.
Four thousand bags of oats were confiscated from race-horse owners in New South Wales.
Returns are obtained from all persons holding more than 10 tons of fodder.
Ft will be apparent, therefore; that New South Wales has taken certain action to control fodder. Whether its control measures have been as effective as those of Victoria, I am not in a position to say. The diversion of 2,000 tons of fodder from Victoria to New South Wales has been made the basis for this attack; but 1 point out, as I have done earlier, that the fodder was urgently needed for colliery horses. I am aware that fodder is also needed for horses doing essential work in some country districts of Victoria, but I am sure that all honorable members realize that, unless fodder were provided for colliery horses, coal production would be seriously affected, and coal is essential to the maintenance of the war effort. [Extension of time granted.] I made a public statement that 2,000 tons of Western Australian fodder was being diverted from Victoria to New South Wales. I know nothing of any additional diversion, and it could not be effected without my approval. When I made the statement I also understood that the amount so diverted would be made up to Victoria subsequently, and I guaranteed that that State would receive the 14,000 tons which had been allocated to it. I admit that the allocation of 24,000 tons of Western Australian fodder purchased with the help of a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government was not made on a proportionate basis between New South- Wales and Victoria, but the special circumstances of the case had to be considered. The attack that has been made on the Commonwealth in this regard has come principally from the Premier and the Minister of Agriculture in Victoria. There is no more astute politician in Australia than Mr. Dunstan, and he and his colleague, in my opinion, have made this attack in order to cloak their own deficiencies, and to take attention away from their own bungling. The honorable member for Gippsland is, no doubt, doing his best to get them out of the difficulty in which their mishandling of fodder has put them.
– I do not intend to bake up the cudgels on behalf of the State Ministers to whom the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) has referred; but I have no hesitation whatever in saying that that honorable gentleman is himself far from blameless for the difficult fodder position that has arisen. I am not so foolish as to blame him for the drought. I say, frankly, that seasonal conditions, the lack of man-power, and insufficient superphosphate have all contributed to the situation. But I remind the Minister that I warned him in 1943 of what would happen unless reserve stocks of fodder were accumulated. In order to refresh the honorable gentleman’s memory, I shall read from Hansard of -the 1st July, 1943, page 699, the following report of my remarks on that occasion : -
I take this opportunity to draw the attention of the minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) to something which will react seriously against the industry unless something be done about it. Recently, a ceiling price was fixed for oats and hay. The producers of these products have mot previously sought assistance from the Government. They have ploughed their lonely furrows and have taken the consequences. The ceiling price of oats has been fixed at 2s. lid. per bushel.
– That has nothing whatever to do with this bill.
– It has, because it is important that oats and hay be grown in order to provide a reserve fodder in case of drought. Unless something he done, farmers will not sow oats. The present cost of threshing anil bagging oats is equivalent to one-third of the selling price fixed by the Prices Commissioner. It costs 2s. Cd. a bushel to thresh a bag of oats. Allowing another 5d. a bushel for freight, 1 bushel in every bag is required to meet those charges alone.
– The Commissioner did noi reduce the price of oats
– That may be, but many farmers had on hand stocks which they could not thresh because the price was too low. Th. position will become worse unless the Government is prepared to say that a certain area of land must he sown with oats in order to provide reserves and guard against periodical droughts. The position is serious, and .1 urge the Minister to consult his officers with a view to doing something which will permit these producers to get a fair return. If that be not done, hundreds of acres which should be sown with oats will be used for other purposes.
The Minister has to-day admitted that the Commonwealth Government is subsidizing “Western Australian fodder producers to the amount oft £6 a ton in respect of hay that has1 been purchased from them to meet urgent requirements in the eastern States. That situation could have been avoided had the ceiling price of hay been fixed in 1943, not at £3 15s. or £4 a ton in the metropolitan areas, which, in some instances, was equivalent to only £3 5s. a ton in country districts, but at a reasonable price which would have given producers a fair return. In 1943, thousands of acres of ploughed land could have been sown for hay, but the fixed ceiling price was so low that farmers could not afford to sow. That low ceiling price must also be considered in conjunction with increased wages of from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. an hour which farmers were com- pelled to pay to rural workers under National Security Regulations. Those high wages,, combined with the shortage of men owing to the military call-up, and the knowledge that at harvest-time only a limited number of partially incapacitated men would be available, caused many farmers to withhold from sowing oats and other grain for hay. The statement by the Minister to-day that a subsidy of £6 a ton has been paid ,<m this hay, constitutes an admission that the Government acted wrongly when, in 1943, upon its attention having been drawn to the danger with which the country was confronted, it refused to guarantee to the growers a price which would have induced them to provide a reserve stock of fodder, with which we could have carried on. These facts are indisputable. There is another point in connexion with the diversion of the shipment of 2,000 tons from Western Australia. The Minister will, remember that early in the week I asked him two questions. There had .been a lot of newspaper comment. I read in one newspaper that the purpose of the diversion was to feed pit ponies. In reply to my question, the Minister pointed out that, in addition to pit ponies, there were colliery horses. He also informed me that the total number was 23000. The diversion of 2,000 tons of fodder for 2,000 animals was a most liberal ration, and was not necessary at a time when cattle and horses were dying throughout the country districts of Victoria. The action of the Commonwealth was particularly unjust, having regard to the fact that the fodder had been stored for a specific purpose on behalf of the Victorian Government. I remind the Minister also that the arrangement by South Australia and Victoria was made with the full acquiescence of Mr. Bui cock - who, I understand, had full power in the matter. My main contention is that, even though it might have been necessary to provide temporary relief for the pit ponies and horses engaged in coal mines, the diversion of 2,000 tons was not jus’tified at the time.
– That was a shipload.
– The ,ship could have unloaded a portion of its cargo at Melbourne, leaving only sufficient to enable New South Wales to overcome a temporary difficulty. The Minister has stated that 7,000 tons of fodder hae been, purchased in New Zealand, and that Victoria will get a portion of it. What will .be the use of this feed if the stock have died before it becomes available? They require sustenance when they are starving.
– It is admitted that the supplies in the Victorian districts mentioned were sufficient to last for three weeks ; consequently, it was not a case of life or death.
– That is not correct. Men supplying some townships with milk had to cease doing so. It is impossible to get even a pint of milk for an infant in some townships. I cannot believe that it was necessary to divert 2,000 tons of hay to New South Wales for the purpose of feeding 2,000 horses, when other supplies were being procured from New Zealand. [Extension of time’ granted.] I admit that pit ponies are engaged on essential work. But I remind the Minister that 6,000 horses carrying on essential services in the city of Melbourne have to be fed. They have been put on a ration that has been “out to the bone”. It has been rightly said that the steps taken by Victoria to eke out its supplies of fodder are not paralleled’ in any other State.
– The same position exists in connexion with horses in the other States. ‘
– It is not the same. The Minister has admitted that the conditions are infinitely worse in Victoria and South Australia than in New South Wales. Only Gippsland has had anything like a normal season. A portion of New South Wales is enjoying a good season. I realize,of course, that the northern coastal districts which experienced a disaster last week will need fodder. Had they participated in the hay that was diverted, T should not have complained. The Minister cannot absolve himself of responsibility for what has happened, because in 1943 he was told of the likelihood of the present position arising; yet he and other Ministers, particularly one Minister, said that there was no need for us to prompt the Government as to what it should do, and that it wa3 quite capable of taking whatever action might be necessary. If it be possible to acquire hay from New Zealand in the near future, I implore the Minister to divert 2,000 tons to Victoria, to replace the quantity of which that State has been deprived for the benefit of New South Wales. Only if it be obtained in the near future will the lives of thousands of stock be saved.
.- The point that impressed me most in the case stated by the honorable members for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) and Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) was its inaccuracy, and their complete ignorance of the real facts. Australia as a whole is passing through the dual tragedy of a war and a drought, but Victoria has the triple tragedy of the war, the drought, and the Dunstan Government, whose complete blundering in connexion with the fodder position has led that State into a very serious position. Let us consider the 24,000 tons of Western Australian hay which, because of action’ by the Commonwealth Government, was set aside as a reserve upon which the eastern States were able to draw. As far back as the 5th October last, the agreement was reached between the Commonwealth and the States that, in the absence of an emergency, approximately 14,600 tons should be distributed in Victoria and 9,400 tons- in South Australia. A little later, however, Mr. Martin altered the figure, and issued permits to private merchants to purchase 13,230 tons. How he arrived at that figure, we do not know. In the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, on the 22nd May, he said that approximately 3,000 tons had been received from Western Australia, and that it was believed that a further 8,000 tons would be received. It is clear that he had no knowledge of the facts. The statement of the honorable member for Gippsland-, that Victoria received 3,600 tons, is quite incorrect. The merchants given permitsby the Government of Victoria hadreceived up to last week 5,542 tons. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture said that probably an additional 500 tons has since been delivered. In Western Australia, 750 tons has been loaded and is probably on the way to Victoria. This will bring the total deliveries to 6,792 tons. The Commonwealth Government promised that by the 30th September, 24,000 tons would be brought from “Western Australia and distributed between Victoria and South Australia. Only 10,717 tons remains to be transported to fulfil that obligation. The Commonwealth has more than honoured its promise to maintain supplies. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was responsible for having 4,000 tons stored at Fremantle. Arrangements were, made with the Director of Road Transport in Western. Australia to establish a pool, and to ensure that no chaff would be left behind the cutters. A pool was established on North Wharf, Fremantle, for the purpose of maintaining a steady flow of supplies. The position in Victoria could not have been affected by any action of the Commonwealth, because as yet no hay has been diverted. The 2,000 tons said to have been “ grabbed “ has not yet left the coast of Western Australia. The honorable member for Gippsland claimed that party politics had been introduced by Mr. Cain, when he moved the adjournment of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria to discuss the fodder position. A debate on the fodder position was first instituted on the 22nd May, by no other than a Country party member, Mr. Dodson, the representative of Ouyen. In the course of his remarks, he said that had the Parliament been meeting for more than one day a week, he would have brought the debate on a fortnight earlier. [Extension of time granted.] That means that the conditions in Victoria to which reference has been made to-day, were operating on the 8th May. Yet the direction to divert 2,000 tons was not given until the 7th June. Members of the Australian Country party say that party politics should not be introduced into the discussion, but they are themselves attempting to screen the incompetence and the inaction of the Victorian Government. This is what Mr. Dodgshun said -
I have made representation to the Minister to the effect that we should have acquired earlier in the year the stocks of hay, grass, and nf other growths that can be used for stock fodder. My reason for that statement is that because we did not acquire those stocks some persons have been able to build up their supplies, to the detriment of people in more urgent need and having first priority businesses to attend to.
I have been informed by reliable authority that a machine has gone to, say, ten farms and has found that there are no oats for seed on those places. In that area there mar be a proportion of six or seven to one among the farmers who have no oats for seed. That means that the oat crop will be depleted in those areas this year, and I think that condition applies generally throughout the State.
The honorable member for Gippsland claimed that racing has been reduced in Victoria, but horses are still being raced there. As one who knows something about racing, I say that more than 3,000 bushels of oats is being fed to racehorses in that State each week and this grain might well be used as seed.
– That is a complete misstatement of the posi tion.
– Well, it is a misstatement by a Victorian member of the Country party who had no axe to grind. Mr. Dodgshun went on -
An instance in my own electorate was brought under my notice, in which a man was offered £2 10s. a bag for oats if he could get the fodder to Melbourne to feed racehorses. I know that £20 a ton has been paid for hay in the black market. Hay and other fodder are being devoted to unessential uses.
Mr. Cain, in the course of the discussion, said -
On the 4th of this ‘month a permit was issued to a man, who owns half a dozen horses, to buy a truck of chaff; in other words 11 tons or 220 bags.
This man was permitted to buy 11 tons of chaff, sufficient to last him for three months; yet we are told that infanta are going without milk because there is no fodder for cows. The statements I have quoted have not been challenged, so it would appear that the responsibility for the present state of affairs in Victoria must be accepted by those whom the honorable member for Gippsland defends. The Victorian Government cannot escape blame. According to the figures cited by the honorable member for Gippsland there was 460,000 tons of fodder in Victoria in March of this year. From New South Wales, 16,000 tons was obtained, besides 8,000 tons from South Australia and 6,000 tons from Western Australia.
– Victoria has been living on the other States.
– Definitely. As the Minister pointed out, the Commonwealth is acquiring 7,500 tons of fodder from New Zealand, and the portion to be sent to Victoria will be more than sufficient to replace the chaff that has been diverted from that State. The Dunstan Government failed to arrange for the proper distribution of fodder, because Mr. Dunstan did not approve of interfering with private enterprise. A vast amount of fodder was left in the control of merchants. In such circumstances, I am justified with charging the Dunstan Government with collaborating with black marketeers. The Dunstan Government also failed to co-operate with the Commonwealth in arrangements for the proper distribution of wheat. When it was found necessary to arrange a distribution scheme, all the State governments agreed to co-operate except the Victorian Government, and the Commonwealth was compelled to go ahead without it.
– I made a personal appeal to Mr. Martin for co-operation, and he refused it.
– The Victorian Government vies with Ghandi as a promoter of non-co-operation and civil disobedience. So serious has been the bungling of the situation by the Government of Victoria that, unless there is an improvement in the handling of fodder which the Commonwealth makes available, it will have to take control for the duration of the war of the Victorian Department of Agriculture, so that there may be equitable distribution of whatever supplies are available.
.- I support the protest of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) against the diversion of 2,000 tons of chaff which had been obtained by the Victorian Government for the feeding of stock in drought-stricken areas. I doubt whether the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) realizes how bad is the position in parts of Victoria. In the northern and western districts conditions are tragic. Never before in the history of the State have they been so bad.
– I realize that.
– The taking of fodder which is needed to save the lives of horses and cattle is a crime. Hundreds of good horses have already been shot, and a great many more will have to be destroyed unless the weather breaks.
– That is happening in other States, also.
– I know that South Australia is having its troubles, too, but fodder has not been taken from that State. Victoria is the aggrieved party. Notwithstanding the accusations which have been made against the Victorian Government, the fact remains that it is the only State government which has tried to distribute to the best advantage what fodder is available. There is no merit in the criticism that much of the fodder has been used in the metropolitan area. That is largely because the Commonwealth Government, admittedly as part of the war effort, imposed restrictions on motor transport. There are about 6,000 horses employed in essential work, delivering food, &c, in the metropolitan area, and they must be fed. Only the other day the people of the little town of Wedderburn informed the Minister for Agriculture in Victoria that they were without milk, because there was no fodder with which to feed the few dairy cows still alive. Their experience is typical of that of many towns in the northern and western areas. The Commonwealth Government cannot be acquitted of blame for the present fodder shortage in Victoria and South Australia. The last opportunity to establish a reserve of fodder in Victoria occurred in 1943. The Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Martin, asked the Commonwealth Government to arrange with the Prices Commissioner to raise the selling price of hay, then fixed at about £5 a ton. The man who actually grew the hay received only about £3 15s. or £4 a ton. Labour was scarce, and it paid the farmers better to harvest their crops for grain, and that they did. Although Mr. Martin made representation over a period of two months, the Prices Commissioner waited until March before raising the price to £7 a ton, and it was then too late to cut hay. Mr. Martin was prepared to make a drive in the Wimmera area, where there was fairly good crops, to induce the people to cut hay, but it was impossible to do anything while the price was so low. It is probable that an extra 100,000 tons of fodder would have ‘been available if the Commonwealth Government or its servants had had enough sense to realize the position.
In the electorate of the honorable member for “Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) there are thousands of miles of water channels which must be cleaned out so as to he ready for use when water is available. Otherwise the whole countryside will revert to desert. Horses are needed to do this work, and those horses must be fed. Therefore, I urge the Minister to replace the chaff which has been taken and to get additional fodder, if possible, for those States in which the effects of the drought are most severe.
.-The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) must ‘be a very innocent and faithful follower of Mr. Dunstan. He seems grieved because I suggested that the distribution of fodder in Victoria had been faulty, and he charged me with attacking the Victorian Government. I see no reason why I should not attack the Victorian Government, if necessary, when every newspaper in Australia carries attacks against the Commonwealth Government, and particularly against the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully). Not. one is well founded. The honorable member accused the Minister of bungling and incompetence. The only bungling and incompetence disclosed is that of the Dunstan Government. Several questions I asked about fodder were asked with the purpose of establishing its guilt in that respect and the answers I received had that result. In certain areas of Victoria last year there were reasonably good crops. There were good crops in tho western district. I had a fairly good crop. There were good crops in the district represented by the honorable member for Gippsland. Why did the Minister of Agriculture in Victoria not then take a census of the fodder on hand, both Victorian grown and imported? Victoria imported 16,000 tons from New South Wale’s.
– On the 15th September last the Victorian Minister of Agricul ture was asked by the Director-General of Agriculture to take a census
– He did not do so because, like all other members of the Australian Country party, Federal or State, instead of representing the primary producers, as they claim, he represents big business - in this instance, the fodder merchants. I was told, in answer to one question, that there was 1,000 tons of hay at Werribee when horses were starving in the north. That is the result of having distribution in the hands of merchants. No wonder there is a black market. It was only when he saw that the farmers were at last waking up to his shortcomings that Mr. Martin took refuge in an attack on this Government, particularly the Minister for ‘Commerce and Agriculture, doubtless on the theory that attack is the best means of defence. A schoolboy would know that in a time of shortage maldistribution of fodder occurs if it is left in the hands of the merchants to dispose of.
– Who else would dispose of it?
– The Victorian Government should have purchased all fodder stocks in the State and placed the control and distribution in the hands of the Department of Agriculture.
– None of this trouble has occurred in South Australia where the State Government acquired the fodder.
– That is so. The Victorian Minister of Agriculture has now announced a coupon system of rationing of fodder, but it is too ‘late. There is a big gap between the quantity of fodder disclosed by Mr. Martin’s census and that which, on my reckoning, should be on hand. Who can tell where it has gone ? The questionnaire did not compel the disclosure of all the needed facts. Aware of his administrative failure, Mr. Martin has used the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) as his “ stooge “ in order to divert attention from his own incompetence by charging the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture with bungling. He was guilty of criminal negligence in allowing hay stocks to get into private hands during the worst drought we have known. Instead of the honorable member moving the adjournment, some one on this side should have moved, it in order to expose Mr. Dunstan and Mr. Martin, who should have done exactly what was done in South Australia. Then we should not have had all this humbug from the honorable member for Gippsland about the incompetence of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, when all the Incompetence is really to be found in the Victorian Ministry.
– No amount of eloquence can hide the bungling of the Commonwealth Government on the fodder question. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) had . legislation passed by this Parliament in 1940 for the establishment of fodder reserves in Australia, but, not long afterwards, the Curtin Government took office, and, from the time that, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) took over the Commerce portfolio, which was later changed to Commerce and Agriculture, there has been one long consistent record of bungling and misunderstanding of the Agricultural position. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) read what he forecast. I will not burden the House with the statements I made from time to time, but I do tell the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that to-day you cannot buy oats for seed. Oats were sold in my district at Christmas, and for a little while afterwards, at auction, for £1 a bag and no weights. I tried to bay oats for my own property - [ do not need many - but I could not get one merchant in Adelaide to accept an order, although the price is fixed at 3s. 6d. a bushel for seed oats and 3s. 2d. a bushel for milling into oatmeal. The result is that at the Hotel Kurrajong, where many honorable members stay, we get semolina for breakfast instead of rolled oats. That is due partly to the failure of the Government to make prices worth while and partly to the labour shortage position, plus the ridiculous wages that the farmers are compelled to pay for incompetent hands. The wage rates were put into operation by regulation after Parliament adjourned, and the regulation was withdrawn the day before it met again, so that this House should not have the opportunity to debate and vote upon it. We shall have the ill effects as long as the Scully wheat plan lasts. Never has a Minister for Commerce and Agriculture done more towards producing uncertainty, inefficiency and want in the wheat industry than has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture under what he has been pleased to call the “Scully wheat plan”. If ever we appointed in this country a commission to try men as war criminals, I believe that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture would be the first to be placed in the dock. The Border Watch, of Mount Gambier, on .Saturday, the 26th May, 1945, published the following illuminating article: -
Mr. L. A. de Garis, speaking at a meeting of the District War Agriculture Committee on 14th May, 1945, said-
Before proceeding, I point out to .the Minister that at Millicent the whole District War Agricultural Committee resigned in protest against its treatment by the Minister. Mr. de Garis said in regard to production of meadow hay -
In September last we passed a resolution te the Government that they give publicity and advertise that the price of £0 per ton would be paid for meadow hay.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. He is ignorant of the facts. We do not control district war agricultural committees; they are the responsibility of the State governments.
– The district war agricultural committees were formed as a part of the war organization of this country.
– ‘Talk about something you know something about.
– I do know something about it. One of the jobs of district war agricultural committees is to make recommendations to Federal Ministers; for instance, in relation to the release of man-power from the forces, and that is something with which the States have nothing whatever to do. The Minister knows that district war agricultural committees are wartime federal bodies, and nothing else.
– They are not Federal, they are State; they are under the direct control of the State departments of agriculture.
– Rubbish ! The buck has been passed from the Commonwealth to the States and back so often that it must be just about worn out. Mr. de Garis went on -
It was apparent (or definite) that this would he a very useful product. The committee became so enthusiastic that an urgent telegram was scut to Adelaide. While at that time there was no height or length of grass there was a good body and with the normal September and October rains in the southeast it was quite possible that a large area of land would be closed up for this purpose, no notice was taken of this committee until the grass was ready to cut. The people as a body did not know of any guarantee of price, and consequently grazed hundreds of acres which could have been closed up, and produced a very great quantity of meadow hay.
So, through lack of co-operation from the Commonwealth, the opportunity was lost. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, if the “Agriculture” part of his title means anything, must have some powers in regard to agriculture. He has powers in regard to wheat. A colleague fixes the price of hay and oats. The Ministry fixes the price of barley. It fixed the prices of clover seed, meadow hay, and everything else, but the Minister says that this has nothing to do with him, and that it is a matter for the States. Time after time he has risen in this House and assured us that the dairying industry is all right. No one could truthfully say that everything is well with the dairying industry. If everything is well with it, why was the subsidy to the industry increased by £2,000,000 only this week? That is one point. The other is this: Will the Minister deny that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture is subsidizing the price of chaff in certain quarters? He knows that it is. I received to-day from a member of the Legislative Council of South Australia who lives in my electorate a letter which was in the Minister’s office before this debate opened. In it he can see for himself the names of persons in my electorate who have been charged £11 a ton for chaff. Can wheat be grown for 4s. 3d. a bushel if you have to pay £11 a ton for chaff to feed the horses needed for the sowing? It is very doubtful, indeed. The whole administration of agriculture by the Minister is such that the sooner the Ministry is reconstructed the better.
– The honorable member’s record as Minister for Commerce was the most sorry of any Minister in the Menzies Government.
– Reference to Hansard will show that my record of things done well ranks among the highest. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture has no definite policy, and no perception of what confronts the agricultural industries of Australia. Given another dry season this year, disaster will overtake them. No rain worth mentioning has fallen in South Australia this year. Seed wheat has been sown although only half an inch of rain has fallen, and unless the country receives bountiful rains between now and harvest time, huge areas of South Australia will have suffered three successive years of drought. There are no reserves of fodder and grain, and there is no sign of grass, so that stock losses in Victoria, to which the honorable member for Corangamite referred, will be small compared with the losses that will occur in South Australia.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- My interest in this controversy as to who is to blame for the present fodder shortage in Australia is that the problem shall be resolved in a rational and sensible manner, so that primary producers in drought-stricken areas, who are suffering so acutely, shall receive all the fodder that can possibly be made available to them in order that they may continue their farming operations and their stock may survive. Some weeks ago, I referred to the controversy on fodder which has arisen in Victoria. The Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association communicated with me on the subject, and. I raised the matter on the adjournment of the House. Prior to that occasion, no other honorable member had mentioned it. Subsequently, I received from the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) assurances that no discrimination would be shown between States in the distribution of the limited supplies of fodder available. That is m.v approach to this problem.
The shortage of fodder, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales, calls for a proper survey and acquisition of surplus stocks, as has been done in South Australia, so that supplies may be distributed equitably to primary producers in urgent need of them. In my district, we are experiencing the third year of drought. Supplies of stock feed are exhausted, and are being imported from wherever they can be obtained. The water reticulation system, which is choked with sand, constitutes our greatest problem at present. The channels must be cleared, so that a run of water will be possible. Stock are dying from lack of feed, and the shortage of water. With the passing of time, that position will be accentuated. I take no sides in this controversy as to who is to blame. But responsible governments should co-operate for the purpose of alleviating the plight of settlers who are suffering from the drought. Let them cease playing the game of party politics in regard to this great national problem !
I agree that, in Victoria, the position has not been so effectively dealt with or handled so courageously as it was in South Australia. 1 commend the Government of South Australia for having followed the right course, even though it was the unpopular one. In pursuing its plan of acquisition, the Government met with the utmost hostility from farmers and others who were holding stocks of hay, but that did not deter the Government from doing what, in the circumstances, was obviously the correct thing. In Victoria we have witnessed a continual “passing of the buck”. We all are aware of the reluctance of the Government of Victoria to interfere in any way by means of regulations or controls, which it has opposed and denounced on every possible occasion. But what is the result of the shortage of fodder ? The whole field has been left open to all sorts of abuses and black marketing. That view has been sustained by the recent statements of members of the Parliament of Victoria, representing the political party to which I belong. Undoubtedly, those abuses are occurring; and when we are told that supplies of milk for children and invalids may have to be rationed, surely the time has come to drop parly politics, and do something effective to solve the problem. A practical solution would be for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, even now, to call another conference of all State Ministers for Agriculture for the purpose of deciding upon a policy, which could be put into operation uniformly throughout droughtaffected areas, for the equitable distribution of the limited quantities of fodder available. If that conference were held, we should see whether any State government was prepared to withhold its cooperation, and, if necessary, we could call its bluff. I suggest that to the Minister as a way out of the problem.
Question resolved in the negative.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 14th June (vide page 3126).
Clause 155 - (3.) Where the Back enters into an arrangement under section thirty-seven of this Act, or the Savings Bank enters into an arrangement under section one hundred and twentyfour of this Act, the Bank may appoint to the Service of the Bank officers of the body corporate or savings bank with which the arrangement is made although they have not passed a prescribed entrance examination.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.), the word “may” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “shall”.
This clause deals with the requirements for appointment to the service of the Commonwealth Bank, and is an extremely important provision, because it establishes a new method of recruitment of staff for the bank. It provides, in effect, that the system of selection of entrants which was previously followed shall disappear, and that a system of competitive examination shall be substituted for it. This is one of several provisions in the bill which will approximate the service of the Commonwealth Bank to the general Public Service. I do not desire to occupy much time in discussing this clause, but I believe that when we are dealing with a financial institution in which the relations between the bank staff and the public are relations of great trust and confidence, the method of selection of staff by the bank is very much to be preferred to a system of recruitment simply by competitive examination. I could elaborate that view at very great length if time permitted, but I merely desire now to state my own view that, in the long run, it will be found that a great disservice has been rendered to the Commonwealth Bank by making it, in effect, another department of the Commonwealth Public Service.
The second aspect of the clause to which 1 draw attention, is one which engaged us in some discussion last night. I refer to the question as to what is to happen when the Commonwealth Bank absorbs another bank under clause 37, or the Savings Bank absorbs another savings bank under clause 124. One honorable member declared last night that clauses 37 and 124 merely provided for the taking over of some institution that has become unstable. That is not so. Not one word in this bill refers to the instability of a banking institution. It is quite true that, in the Banking Bill which we shall consider later this session, there is an elaborate set of provisions dealing with instability of a bank, and authorizing the Commonwealth Bank, under certain conditions, to take over the business of a bank, and control it. But in this bill, we are not concerned with that problem. Clause 37 is in clear unequivocal terms. It is not conditioned by the instability of a bank, but merely outlines the case where, in the ordinary course of events, the Commonwealth Bank may decide, in agreement with some other bank, to take over that institution and absorb its business. Clause 124 deals with the simple case where, by agreement, the Commonwealth Savings Bank decides to absorb the business of some local or State savings bank. For example, in Tasmania there are at least two relatively small savings banks - the Hobart Savings Bank and the Launceston Bank for Savings. In the case of small institutions of that kind, the day may come when the Commonwealth Savings Bank, in negotiation and agreement with them, may agree to take over and incorporate their business in the Commonwealth Savings Bank. That is the kind of problem that is dealt with in sub-clause 3. In those circumstances, all that this clause does is to give a power to the Commonwealth Bank over the staff of the bank which is being absorbed - a power, I repeat, not a duty. Having regard to the circumstances, it is most desirable that the absorption by the bank of any smaller institution of that kind should be accompanied by the absorption of its staff. Otherwise, the first effect of the absorption would be to throw a number of bank officials out of employment. There are other aspects of that which arise in a later clause, and I need not deal with them now. In order to bring the other matter to a head, with the very brief prefatory explanation I have made, I submit my amendment.
– We are prepared to give, subject to the prescribed entrance examination, unfettered powers to the Governor in the management of the bank and the appointment of staff. I do not propose to examine closely the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) regarding the entrance examination, but he considers that the departure from the existing system will be unfortunate. However, the Government believes that no obstacle should be placed in the way of any young man or woman, who passes the prescribed entrance examination and desires to become a member of the staff of the Commonwealth Bank. In the past, almost a bar sinister has existed through the present form of control of the bank. For example, a questionnaire used to be submitted to applicants asking them who their grandmother was, and what their grandfather did in business.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– In case there is any doubt in the minds of honorable members about what I said before the suspension of the sitting, I wish to say clearly now. and a little more loudly if necessary, that the Government does not accept the amendment. Very careful consideration was given to the drafting of this legislation. The clause now before the committee is designed to provide that, in the future, entrance to the service of the bank shall be by examination. That does not “mean that every person who passes the examination will necessarily be appointed. Hundreds of persons, at times, sit for Public Service examinations to fill only 20 or 30 vacancies, and a choice is made from those who receive the host passes. Hitherto the Commonwealth Bank staff has been recruited in a different way. Applicants for positions have been asked all sorts of stupid questions. I daresay young fellows have been refused appointments because a certain officer did not 5ike the way they brushed their hair or wore their clothes.
– Has the bank had a good or bad staff?
– That is beside the point.
– It seems to me to be relevant.
– I might as well ask whether the Public Service has a good or a bad staff. The Labour party fought for many years to substitute examinations for the former system of haphazard selection which allowed nepotism and many other abuses to creep in. Now every father and mother’s son and daughter has an equal chance. The Leader of the Opposition is anxious to provide in the bill that if the Commonwealth Bank takes over a private bank it must necessarily employ the whole of the staff of that institution, irrespective of the circumstances of the case. Of course, it is most likely that when the Commonwealth Bank does take over another banking institution it will re-employ practically the whole of the officers involved. When the Commonwealth Bank took control of the Savings Bank of New South Wales, the Queensland Bank and the Western Australian Savings Bank it reemployed practically 100 per cent, of the officers of those institutions. It must be obvious that any properly organized institution would need to do so. If the Commonwealth Bank could carry on the affairs of absorbed institutions with its existing officers, and without the help of the former employees of the institutions so absorbed, it would indicate that it had had a serious surplus of officers. As I 3aid earlier in the discussion of this measure, there is no immediate inten tion to absorb other institutions. The circumstances under which other banks may be taken over are prescribed in the bill. The officers of private banks which may be taken over need have no fear about their positions.
– But will they have to submit to examinations?
– The intentions of the Government are stated quite clearly in the clause.
. I am amazed at the Minister’s interpretation of the clause. I invite the attention of the honorable gentleman to the Treasurer’s note on this clause in the memorandum explaining the provisions of the bill. It reads -
The object of this clause is to bring into operation ii method of selection for appointment to the Bank’s service based upon a competitive examination. Candidates must be British subjects and in good physical health. Details of the medical examination and the competitive examination will be prescribed ‘by regulation.
The Bank must of necessity employ a number of employees in whose ease a competitive examination would be inappropriate, e.g., cleaners and luncheon room employees.
– That is an explanatory note. It is not a clause of the bill.
– But it explains the method by which appointments will be made. The exemption from competitive examination relates to such persons as cleaners and luncheon room employees who, of course, are subsidiary officers. It is clear to me that persons who expect to be engaged in the banking chamber and in other professional branches of the bank will be required to pass the prescribed examinations. The Government is applying a method of appointment that is already outmoded. Matriculation is not the only factor required in these days for admission to the University of Sydney, for the University Senate may take into account other qualities.
– The senate cannot prevent entry into the university of persons who have matriculated.
– The regulations provide that there must be other qualities associated with matriculation. I am concerned about the position of officers of banks which may be taken over by the
Commonwealth Bank and so, as a matter of fact, are the officials of the Bank Officers Association. Some time ago a deputation from the association interviewed the Treasurer on this subject. The delegation was received courteously, but in making its report to the members of the organization it stated -
It would appear that there is no guarantee in the proposed legislation of continuity of employment in the industry nor that the interests of bank officers will be protected. In short, it appeared that the employees’ interests had received no consideration in this matter.
The delegation gathered the impression from Mr. Chifley’s remarks that the likely legislation will result in a curtailment of the activities of the private trading banks and that, to the extent of such curtailment, the interests of members of the associations will be adversely affected.
It must be apparent, therefore, that there is considerable room for doubt, and the assurance the Minister has given us on the matter is, to use an expression of which he is fond, is so much “hocuspocus “.
I certainly understood the honorable gentleman to say, before the suspension of the sitting, that he would accept the amendment.
– Then the honorable gentleman must take it that I have recanted.
– Apparently, he has discussed the subject with the Treasurer since then, and now he will not accept it. That is characteristic of the honorable gentleman’s approach to the bill. At one time he tells us that he understands it, and later on he says that he does not understand it. The explanatory note furnished to us by the Treasurer makes it clear that appointments without examination will be limited to persons in subordinate positions such as cleaners, dining room attendants and the like. For that reason I shall support the amendment.
.- i regret having to occupy more time of the committee, but I must do so because the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) endeavoured to mislead honorable members by reading only a part of the Treasurer’s explanatory note on this clause. For that reason I shall read all of it. It states -
The object of this clause is to bring into operation a method of selection for appointment to the Bank’s service based upon a competitive examination. Candidates must be British subjects and in good physical health. Details of the medical examination and the competitive examination will be prescribed by regulation.
The Bank must of necessity employ a number of employees in whose cose a competitive examination would be inappropriate, e.g., cleaners and luncheon room employees.
– That is what I said.
– But the honorable gentleman did not read the remainder of the note, which is as follows : -
The regulations may provide for the examination to be waived in such cases.
Should the Bank require to take over staff from another institution in the event of a banking amalgamation affecting either the Bank or the Commonwealth Savings Bank, the staff taken over will not be required to pass an entrance examination.
The honorable gentleman ceased reading at the words “cleaners and luncheon room employee? “. Hp must be dense if he cannot understand the meaning of those words.
– The Minister cannot see any alternative between amalgamation and a continuation of the activities of a private bank. It, may be that certain activities would be left to the private bank, but whether the private banks are put out of business by a process of slow strangulation or by some other process, it will be necessary for the Commonwealth Bank to absorb a great number of bank officials. I ask the Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini) to explain that away.
.- This clause is necessary, in order to ensure that admission to the service of the bank shall bc on reasonable and just terms, and that we shall definitely dispense with the system under which, for a number of years, appointments have been made as the result of favoritism, friendship, or some other cause, rather than by means of competitive examination. Apparently, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) knows as much about this clause as he does about the other clauses - nothing. He has repeatedly displayed absolute ignorance.
In his violent opposition to the Government and all its proposals, he loses all sense of judgment and reason. The terms of this clause are almost, if not exactly, the same as those of the corresponding section of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. Perhaps the honorable member for “Wentworth does not know that it was a Labour government which enacted: that provision. This will safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth Bank and its employees - who are public servants, in that they serve the public.
– They are not in the Commonwealth Public Service.
– I agree that they do not come under the Commonwealth Public Service Act. Nobody except the honorable member would be so silly as to raise that point. The Commonwealth Public Service Act lays down the conditions of employment in that service. The bank is another service of the Commonwealth, and on that account the Government proposes that special conditions shall be attached to employment in it. If it is fair to provide that those who wish to enter the Commonwealth Public Service shall first pass an entrance examination, then it must also be fair to impose the same condition on those who desire to enter the employment of the Commonwealth Bank, so that they may furnish evidence of their efficiency. The back door will be closed, and neither friendship nor f avoritism will operate. When a competitive examination cannot be held, a man with the necessary qualifications may, nevertheless, be appointed. That is a regular practice in the Commonwealth Public Service. Many Commonwealth employees have not passed a competitive examination. Persons possessing university degrees may be appointed to specified positions without fulfilling that requirement. If an officer with technical qualifications is needed, and a certificate is given that the position cannot be filled from within the Service, an appointment is made from outside the Service. A somewhat similar position may arise in the service of the bank, and if it does it will be dealt with in a similar way. If the business of the Commonwealth Bank should increase so greatly as to make necessary an augmentation of its staff, and the business of the associated banks should decrease so substantially that the services of some employees should be dispensed with, I have no doubt that experienced officers will be taken into the service of the Commonwealth Bank without having to pass a prescribed entrance examination; because it may not be possible to fulfil requirements by that means alone. The door will be open to employees of the associated banks to obtain engagement with the Commonwealth Bank. It will be necessary for the Commonwealth Bank to obtain the services of a number of men who have had lengthy experience in banking practice, because it will .be the leading banking institution in the Commonwealth. I am confident that men now employed by the associated banks will be pleased to enter the employ of the Commonwealth Bank, and that they will be welcomed by that institution.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 156 to 159 agreed to.
Clause 160 (Appointment of persons without examination).
– This clause is designed to permit appointment to the service of the Commonwealth Bank of a person who has not passed the prescribed entrance examination. Therefore, on its face, it would appear to have some relevancy to the very important problem - quite apart from that which the committee has just discussed - of what will happen to employees of trading banks who are not absorbed by the Commonwealth Bank when the business of their employer has been diminished as a result of this legislation. As the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) has just said, the practical object of this legislation is to increase the business of the Commonwealth Bank and diminish the business ofl the trading banks. That, no doubt, is a part of the general design of the Government, and, from the point of view of Government supporters, is a proper result. The time may come when staffs will be surplus in some or all of the trading banks. We have a lively interest in what is to become of the employees of the trading banks who will be displaced in consequence OB the expansion of the Commonwealth Bank. When I first read this clause, I thought that it was designed to do something about such a case, by providing that, in special circumstances, individuals might be admitted to the service of the Commonwealth Bank without passing the prescribed entrance examination. But if honorable members will read sub-clause 2, they will learn that no such appointment shall be made unless the Governor certifies that, in his opinion, there is no officer available in the service of the bank who is as capable of filling the position. Most of the positions rendered unoccupied as a result of the pressure that is to be applied will not be specialized positions. The men driven out of the service of the trading banks will be tellers, lodgerkeepers and clerks, doing what may be described as a normal, almost a routine, job, and it will be very difficult for the Governor to certify that there is no officer in the service of the Commonwealth Bank capable of filling a position to which an appointment has to be made. The man requiring assistance will be out of employment because he is not a specialist, and will not be able to find refuge in the provisions of clause 160. I place before the committee a statement of the staffs of the Australian trading banks, including those who are on active service -
Total nt present on war service, excluding men killed (474) and mon discharged ( (404). la 7,855. which equals 50.5 per cent, of pre-war staff.
Under the other legislation brought in by the Government .and discussed re- cently, there is an obligation on the trading banks to re-employ at the end of the war all of their employees who enlisted. If that obligation cannot be fulfilled because the business of the trading banks has sensibly diminished, and those men become disemployed, then there ought to be a specific provision in this legislation placing on the Commonwealth Bank the obligation to take up and carry out the obligation which reposes in the trading banks. I shall not move a specific amendment, because the matter requires detailed ‘Consideration ; but I point out to the Minister and te the Government that there is no satisfactory obligation in this clause which will cover the cases of those men. I believe that honorable members on both sides of the House desire that the position of these men shall be protected. If the supporters of the Government are right, then the circumstances I referred to will come about, because Commonwealth Bank business will become predominant. If my view prevailed that would not happen, but my view will not, prevail. The bill will be passed and will become law. The greater the success o’f this legislation from the point of view of the Government and its supporters, the greater will be the reality of the problem to which I have referred.
– I agree largely with what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). This matter will probably require more mature consideration - perhaps after the bill has passed this chamber. The Government has done all it can to make provision- for bank officers who may be displaced. If the business of the Commonwealth Bank expands it will need to .employ more persons. I shall bring the representations of the Leader of the Opposition to the notice of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and they will be considered.
.- I referred to .this matter last night when speaking to another clause. I pointed out then that in the Royal Australian Air Force there were a great many bank officers, especially in air crew. Some of them have served for four years, and we know that 15,000 members of the
Royal Australian Air Force will shortly be returning from overseas. There are many bank officers serving in the Army and in the Navy, also. If the Commonwealth Bank expands, and branches of the private banks are closed down here, there and everywhere, the men to whom I have referred will have to look to the Commonwealth Bank for employment. The odds will be heavily weighted against them if they have to pass a written examination immediately upon their return. They cannot be expected to compete in a written examination with youths fresh from the university or from schools. They are well-educated men and had reached a position of some authority in their banks, but for some years they have been employed in work of another kind, work in which they have acquitted themselves very well, if they are to be required to pass a written examination, it will not be preference to ex-servicemen, but rather the reverse.
– There is provision to meet the case of those men.
– There is no provision to exempt them from having to sit for a written examination.
– That is provided for in sub-clause 1 of clause 160.
– That is the clause to which I am speaking.
– Sub-clause 1 is modified by sub-clause 2.
– The provision in subclause 1 would apply to bank managers or senior officers whom the Commonwealth Bank may want to take over, but it would not apply to the general range of bank officers who are now members of the fighting services.
– It could apply to them.
– It could, but I want an assurance that it will. Otherwise, I shall move an amendment to provide that servicemen, who were bank officials before enlistment, will be exempt from the need to sit for a written examination.
– Of course they are exempt.
– There is no specific provision to that effect anywhere in the bill.
– Sub-clause 2 does not modify sub-clause 1 of clause 160.
– The clause does not say that the provision shall apply specifically to ex-servicemen.
– It is not necessary to say it.
– I have the Minister’s assurance to that effect, and it will be recorded in Hansard. The matter can be put in order if the Treasurer will issue a direction to the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank to this effect. Then there will be no ambiguity.
– There is no need to do that.
– We know how promises can be lightly made in this House, but it is not always so easy to honour them. A Minister may find that he has not the power to do so.
.- I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has not moved a specific amendment to the clause. Like him, we are anxious to avoid inflicting injury or hardship upon those who have been in the employ of the private banks. Every honorable member on this side of the chamber has raised this point with the Government, and the Federal Executive of the Bank Officers Association, as well as some of the State branches, have discussed the matter with the Government. In reply to my representations, I forwarded to the Western Australian association a letter from the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), from which I quote the following : -
I quite appreciate your interest in the wellbeing of the employees of these institutions and I am myself just as interested. It is obvious, however, that it is impossible for either the Commonwealth Bank or the Government to foresee the rate of possible expansion of the Commonwealth Bank or to foretell how many new employees will be required during the period of expansion. We cannot forecast with any degree of certainty what the private hanks are likely to do in respect of their staffs, and, bearing these points in mind it is plain that the Government is not in a position to give any guarantee as to the ultimate disposal of the officers concerned.
The interest of the Treasurer in the welfare of bank officers is just as keen as that of any one else, but it is impossible for him to forecast at this stage what will be the effect on the private banks of the expansion of the Commonwealth Bank. I believe that clause 160 will give officers the right of entry into the Commonwealth Bank, though there are some limitations, I admit. However, their position is safeguarded by other clauses in the bill, notably those dealing with the amalgamation of other banks with the Commonwealth Bank. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) quoted the wording of a memorandum by the Treasurer on this subject. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that members of the Opposition - no doubt we did the same when we were in Opposition - will sometimes quote a Treasurer’s memorandum as if it were the expressed policy of the Government. At other times, they will complain that such a memorandum is not worth anything - that the only thing of importance is the wording of a bill. The memorandum quoted discussed certain specific cases - extreme ones, it may be said - showing how certain officers might be affected. It referred to the position of cleaners on the one hand, and of bank officers on the other. It will be admitted that there is a wide difference between their positions. I do not share the view of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that this legislation will have the effect of strangling the operations of the private trading banks. I believe that they will not be able to earn such large profits as in the past, but their profits will tend to be stabilized. We all are anxious that officers employed by the private banks shall be able to enter the service of the Commonwealth Bank without any loss of standing, and without sacrificing their accumulated rights in the matter of superannuation, &c. I am sure that the rights of bank officers in this direction will be adequately safeguarded.
.- The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) has made a most extraordinary admission. He said that all members who support the Government are in favour of affording protection to the employees of .private banks. The Government is also sympathetic. Honorable members on this side of the House are 100 per cent, in favour of it. Nevertheless, the bank officers are to be left out on a limb which can be sawn off at any time. My experience in this Parliament has taught me that when the supporters of the Government believe that a certain thing should be done, provision should be made in the law for doing it. When the High Court comes to interpret legislation, even official pronouncements by Ministers as to the meaning of specific provisions is not taken into account. The court concerns itself only with the meaning of the words in the act. It is a scandal that Parliament should be practically unanimous on the need for protecting employees of private banks, and yet that nothing should be done about it. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) referred to the fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) had abstained from moving an amendment. Of what use is it for honorable members on this side of the House to move amendments? We have been moving them day after day, but none of them has been accepted. If the honorable member will himself move an amendment designed to ensure the protection of the interests of bank officers we shall support him. Otherwise, the professions of sympathy by Government supporters are no more than hypocrisy. The only way in which they can demonstrate their sincerity is to ensure that provision shall be made in this legislation. I believe that he made representations to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), who, in his memorandum, agreed that something ought to be done. Well, the time to do It is now. My experience has been that once a measure passes through Parliament it is very difficult to vary any of its specific provisions. It is often easier to have a radical alteration effected to the whole act. This is the only Parliament which we can be sure of being in. Therefore, if we believe that something ought to be done, let us do it now, so that we cannot afterwards be charged with having evaded the issue.
.Honorable members on this side of the House are just as much concerned as any one else for the welfare of employees who may be displaced because of the expanding activities of the Commonwealth Bank. It is good to have the assurance of the Minister that he will take up the matter with the Treasurer in order to ascertain whether some policy can be evolved in that regard. No doubt, in the light of what happens, the Government will be in a better position to evolve such a policy. With others, I believe it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to consider the interests of bank officers if they should be displaced, but I do not share the fears of some honorable members opposite that the private banks will be more or less done away with or over-ridden by the Commonwealth Bank. The opening up and development of this country will provide plenty of scope for all the financial institutions now operating, in addition to the extended activities of theCommonwealth Bank. Apart from that, there will be many schemes in which any officers displaced should be able to find suitable niches. Special consideration should be given to men whose service can be utilised in the developmental schemes, such as public works and housing, in the administration of which skill in accountancy will be necessary. If the Commonwealth Bank desires further staff, preference should be given to men whose service with private banks has been terminated, particularly those with war service. I have every confidence that the Government will fully protect their accrued rights and privileges and that there is no need for the concern expressed on their behalf by honorable gentlemen opposite.
– We should have from the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke)and the honorable member forReid (Mr. Morgan) an explanation of their changed attitudes since they sent telegrams to the Bank Officers Association in reply to telegrams from it asking them to protect their interests. The honorable member for Perth said that in the fears we express on behalf of the bank officers we are exaggerating the position as the trading banks will not be detrimentally affected by this legislation. Bather are they likely to be stabilized. The March issue of the New South Wales Banker, which any honorable member may buy for 3d., contained the following telegram sent by the honorable member to the Bank Officers Association : -
I have your two telegrams regarding proposed banking legislation. I regret the delay in answering your communications, but this has been due to the difficulty in obtaining clerical assistance . . .
He deals with other matters and then proceeds -
The result of the legislation, should, in my opinion, greatly expaud the activities of the Commonwealth Bank, and would, no doubt, affect a corresponding decline in the operations of private banking institutions. If this should be so, the transition should be an easy process and your members should not be penalized if they are able to transfer to the staff of the Commonwealth Bank.
I will not read the rest unless it is desired. The point is that he first promised to look after their interests. Then he told them that they need not worry - that everything in the garden was lovely. Having said that, he let the bill go through the caucus in its present form. Now, months afterwards, realizing that he failed to honour his promise to them when the party was considering the legislation in caucus, he hopes the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) will do something to protect their interests. He well knew that their interests would not be preserved when he sent the telegram. The honorable member for Beid trusted that the Government would give the bank officers special consideration. But look at what he said to the Bank Officers Association in a telegram published by the New South Wales Banker, in February -
Your telegram is to hand in which you express concern as to the effect which proposed banking legislation may have on the position of bank officers, and I wish to say that the matter was given full andsympathetic consideration, at the meeting of the Parliamentary Labour party yesterday.
Whilst I am not in a position to discuss details until the bill is introduced into the House, I feel confident that officers will not in any way be prejudiced by the legislation, and in the case of those who may transfer to the Common weal th Bank they, too, will be protected.
He assured them that they would not be prejudiced, but now he hopes that the Treasurer will look after their interests. The honorable gentlemen had the opportunity when this bill was before the caucus to do something to protect the interests of these unfortunate people, but neglected to do so.
.- The irresponsible Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) goes from blunder to blunder.
– Only ten minutes remain for the whole of the remainder of the committee stage.
– I appreciate that, but I. cannot refrain from answering the inaccuracies of the honorable member. First, he said that I sent the Bank Officers Association a telegram. I did not. It was a letter that I sent to the bank officers in Perth. I did not send a letter to the New South “Wales bank officers.
– The honorable member sent a letter to the Bank Officers Association which is a federal body.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was wise enough not to move any specific amendment, but his deputy blunders along. I do not object to any letter that I have written being made public. In the first place, I expressed concern that the bank officer.? might be affected by this legislation. Then I said that the banking legislation would ensure that the banks would not be forced into a cycle of boom and slump, and that in that way their position would be stabilized. I rose to counteract the irresponsible time-wasting misstatements of the honorable member.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 161 to 167 agreed to.
Clause 16S (Excess Officers).
– Clause 168 provides means of getting rid of excess officers. They may be transferred to lower classifications or retired from the service of the bank. I can see no provision for an appeal against dismissal on the grounds of being an excess officer. Yet clause 165, which deals with promotion, provides for appeals to be made by bank officers against the promotion of other bank officers. Clause 173 provides that an officer dismissed, retired, transferred or reduced for inefficiency or misconduct shall have the right of appeal. It is an odd distinction.
– I do not know that the Commonwealth Public Service Act does not contain the same provision.
– Neither do I. That is why I raise this matter for consideration. I invite the Treasurer to consider it, not now, but before the bill leaves the
Senate in order that what appears to be a serious anomaly may be removed.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 169 to 17S agreed to.
Clause 179 (Balance Sheets).
– Sections 33 and 35 of the existing Commonwealth Bank Act provide that the Commonwealth Bank shall furnish to the Treasurer quarterly statements of the assets and liabilities of the bank for publication in the Gazette and also other periodical statements as prescribed. Section 35 provides that the bank shall publish a halfyearly balance sheet. There is a provision in this clause for the making of annual balance-sheets. I can appreciate that, but I see no provision in clause ISO for quarterly statements to be made as under the existing law. I direct the attention of the Treasurer to the fact that under clause 40 and the subsequent clauses of the Banking Bill the trading banks have stringent obligations imposed upon them to make periodical returns. If there is any reason for the nonmaking of returns by the Commonwealth Bank, I shall be glad of an explanation.
– I shall examine the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 180 to 189 agreed to.
New clause 15a.
– I have given notice of two new clauses, but after a glance at the clock I shall “move only one of them. I previously circulated copies of this clause, which is intended to follow the clause that dealt with the powers of the Central Bank. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 15a. - The Bank shall publish, at least weekly, its telegraphic transfer rates oi exchange for sterling expressed in terms of Australian money.”
This is not the clause of which 1 gave notice. I had the advantage of some consultation with the officers advising the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), and they pointed out a weakness in my own proposal. It has been altered to meet that objection, and I believe that 3 can say that, even at this time, which is more than the eleventh hour, the Treasurer will accept it. Is that so?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the remainder of the committee stage of the bill has expired.
New clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Lazzarini) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- The time allotted for the consideration of the bill in committee expired before I had an opportunity to move for the insertion of a new clause. I should like you, Mr. Speaker, to inform me whether the Standing Orders permit me to move for the insertion of the clause before the bill is read a third time?
– No ; and the right honorable gentleman knows more about the Standing Orders than he pretends.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Australian Army: Case of TX3545 - Enemy Prisoners of War: Church Services - Australianbooks and Magazines : Man-power and Paper - Motor Tyres and Tubes - Rationing : Women’s Garments: Linen Goods - War Service Homes - Royal Australian Air Force: Repatriation of Widows - Australian Forces : Release of Long-service Personnel - Mr. T. W. White, M.P.; Resignation from Lyons Government - Water Piping - Flax - Rabbits - Superphosphate Dairying Industry : Free Fodder.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to bringto the notice of the Government a matter of extreme importance, and hope that the Minister representing the Acting Minister for the Army will take action to rectify a serious injustice. I raise this matter not in a spirit of antagonism, but simply to correct an injustice. My complaint is about the almost callous treatment that has been meted out to a member of the fighting forces. I shall not mention the man’s name, but his military number is TX3545. He has had more thanfive years’ service in the Army, and has served in Darwin and Timor. Indeed, he was one of the 40 Tasmanians who escaped into the jungle when Timor fell before the advancing Japanese. After having lived under most unpleasant conditions for about twelve months, he eventually escaped. He was an inmate of the Hobart Hospital for a period, and received treatment for a cyst, abscesses and sinus trouble. When his health had sufficiently recovered he was transferred to the 7th Division and sent to New Guinea. After some months he contracted malaria, and also underwent an operation. He was in hospital again for a considerable period, and, after eleven months, was brought to the mainland in a hospital ship. He has had bouts of malaria on nine or ten occasions, and has been a patient in the Heidelberg Hospital. Because of his illness, caused through war service, he was reclassified medically B2 and was recommended to besent to a cool climate. The Army selected the “ cool climate of Queensland”, and he was attached to a war graves maintenance unit. Application was made for his release on compassionate grounds, because of his ill health, and the health of his parents. His father, who suffers from a serious disability caused in the last war, is constantly receiving medical attention. There are two sons in the family of military age, and both have had more than five years’ service. The mother is a diabetic, and suffers considerably from rheumatoid arthritis.
– Has this man been discharged from the Army?
– No; that is the burden of my complaint. He should be discharged. The mother has a child aged seven years to rear. When this man applied for his release on compassionate grounds he received the stereotyped reply that consideration had been given to his case, but the circumstances disclosed were not sufficient to justify his release. Not being satisfied, I raised the matter personally with the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser), who kindly consented to review it. Again, the man received the reply that the circumstances did not justify his release at present. I urge the
Minister to take appropriate action to ensure that justice shall be done to this man.
In my opinion, the Government is not carrying out its obligations under the Prisoners of War Convention, 1929, which requires the Commonwealth to permit prisoners of war freedom in the performance of their religious duties, including attendances at the services of their faith. In reference to this convention, a circular has been issued over the signature of A. H. Pearson, Staff Captain, P.W., Tasmania, Lines of Communication Area, dated the 24th July, 1944. It reads-
Employers are responsible for the safe cus tody of prisoners of war who live and work on their property.
They are required to see that prisoners of war employed by them obey the following rules: -
Prisoners of war must not leave their employers’ property except -
) to attend religious services, for which special arrangements will be made by the military authorities.
The Acting Minister for the Army informed me that an agreement had been reached under which the church authorities concerned would arrange to use local private transport facilities for the purpose of taking prisoners of war to church services, and that prisoners of war control officers had been directed to co-operate with local church authorities to that end. I claim that the Department of the Army is simply “passing the buck” on to the local church authorities. Many employers are prepared to accept the responsibility to transport prisoners of war to church, but the Department of Supply and Shipping refuses to permit them to purchase tyres for their motor cars. Hence, they are not able to transport the prisoners to church.
– Most prisoners of war a re treated too well !
– That may be so; but a responsibility devolves on employers to ensure that prisoners may attend church. I urge the Minister to examine this matter, in order that the Commonwealth may fulfil its obligations under the convention.
.- I desire to refer again to the problems of Australian novelists. At the risk of appearing to be tiresome by raising this matter at various times, I still consider that I have a case to present on behalf of Australians who write books for their livelihood. They are not very numerous, and should be given the opportunity to capture the market for literature which will be waiting for them here after the war. Their position in the past has been peculiar. When large quantities of literature were imported before the war, Australian authors had the greatest difficulty in earning a livelihood. Then, to the consternation of the writers themselves, when war conditions created a big demand for literature of any sort, particularly on subjects dealing with Australia, the rationing of paper operated against their interests, and they were still unable to make a living from their craft.
I should like to point out how definitely the position regarding newsprint has improved for the newspapers, despite the pitiless barrage of criticism that they direct against the Labour party. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has done a magnificent job on their behalf. Although the war in the Pacific is still to be won, and newsprint throughout the world is in short supply, the newspapers, by a series of increases, are now within 80,000 tons of the pre-war quantity of newsprint that they used. This startling item of news has not been published in the press. The newspapers endeavour to foster the idea that the ration is still very thin, and they are just managing to make do with it. As a matter of fact, they have received preferential treatment in the allotment of supplies. When shipping was available, newsprint was rushed to this country.
Another matter, which has not been general information and can now be revealed, is that when the war position was darkest in the Pacific, a suggestion was made to the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) and to Cabinet, that only one daily newspaper should be published in each metropolitan area. That proposal was resisted so strongly by the people who are accused of always trying to throttle the press, that shipping was even made available so that one, two and three newspapers, mostly publishing anti-Labour propaganda, could be thrown over the garden wall every morning. I mention those facts to indicate that the attitude of the Government towards the newspapers has been reasonable. In the rationing of printing paper for Australian novels, we have not been quite so fortunate. Paper required for this- purpose is manufactured in flat sheets- and not in rolls as is newsprint, and there has been a lack of storage for it. We are being held up in the printing ofl books for the lack of a mere 50 or 60 men. Many novels have been written by Australians on timely subjects, but their sale will depend largely upon their availability before interest in the subject fades. Some of the stories relate to areas of active service in which Australians have been engaged, and they should be published before the immediate interest in the subjects is lost. The Australian Commonwealth Literary Fund has given approval for the printing of about 40 books, but a bottleneck has been created because so few tradesmen are available for printing and bookbinding. A representative of Angus and Robertson Limited-, one of the biggest publishing firms in Australia, has informed me that the firm would not be able to place on the market before next May even the best Australian novel ever submitted to them, because the existence of this bottleneck would make the printing of it impracticable. Releases are .being made overseas, however, and ‘it -may easily occur that our Australian writers will once again lose the cream of the Australian market, and fall back to the position they were in before the war. I ask that something bc done to assure our writers of reasonable access to their own market. If 50 or 60 men, including 40 printers and the remainder bookbinders, could be released from the Army, the needs of the case would be met, and the Australian people could have made available to them works by their own fellow citizens. It is urgently necessary that bookbinders be released. Because of the lack of these craftsmen, there is being placed on the market a series of what we know as “ quickies “, which are paper-covered books that are stitched by girls. They sell at a cheap rate, and have not a high literary value. Men are prepared to write and edit them for the time being, but it is desirable that facilities should be provided for Australian writers of high quality, of whom there are many, to place their productions on the market. It is regrettable that because 06 the lack of quite a small volume of man-power this cannot be done. I ask that strong representations he made to the Minister for the Army to release a sufficient number of printers and bookbinders to make available to the Australian people Australian works which will assist in the development of the cultural- side of Australian life.
The next matter to which I shall refer relates to the need for the release of more adequate supplies of supercalendered or glossy magazine paper. This matter comes under the authority of the Minister for Trade and Customs. The magazine publishers of Australia have carried on as best they could during the war. Their magazines have achieved a fairly wide circulation within the limits of rationing, but considerable quantities of overseas magazines are entering Australia as pulp, which, in effect, means they are being dumped here. These highly coloured journals are placed on the market at a small price, and they are selling to the detriment of the Australian publications. I know that anti-dumping regulations are said to be in force, but, nevertheless, these magazines are circulating widely. For this reason it is highly desirable that additional quantities of supercalendered flat magazine paper should be made available to printers in the interests of the Australian magazines which, during the war, have performed a most useful public service by the publication of morale-building articles, pictures, and the like.
I ask that these representations be considered promptly, and if a favorable decision be given I shall have no need to continue to press the claims of Australian writers and publishers.
– I direct attention once again to the urgent need to make tyres and tubes available, under less restrictive conditions, to essential users in country districts, including primary producers. It is well known that large stocks of tyres and tubes are held in
Australia. With the cessation, of hostilities in Europe and the improvement of the war position in the Pacific, I consider that there should be some relaxation of the regulations. Our tyre position is not nearly so serious to-day as it was when the restrictions were first imposed. The distribution of tyres and tubes is controlled in Queensland by the Directorate of Emergency Road Transport. I do not desire to reflect upon the administration of tho officers of that department, for, of course, their activities are controlled by government policy. But, to illustrate the extremely unsatisfactory manner in which the regulations are being enforced, I bring to attention the plight of two school teachers in the Gympie district. These men applied for tyres and tubes because they lived a considerable distance from Gympie, and have no means, of transport apart from their own motor vehicles. Each received a reply in identical terms from the Directorate of Emergency Road Transport to the effect that whilst the department appreciated the difficulties of the situation, tyres and tubes could not be made available. The letters read, in part - .. . the release, in. view of the serious stock (position and the difficulty being experienced in ‘maintaining satisfactory tyre equipment on vehicles operated by highly essential users, cannot he authorized.
It is regrettable that such a strictenforcement of the regulations should still be insisted on. I say the stock position is not serious. The prospect of rubber supplies eases with every island conquest north of Australia. ‘
One of these school-teachers lives 15 miles from the nearest railway or store. He has to go to Gympie for . provisions and, for all dental and medical requirements. His wife is undergoing medical treatment, but no omnibus service or public conveyance of any kind is available for her use. This school-teacher’s tyres are almost worn out. They have been retreaded. The teacher has experienced several dangerous blow-outs. He has not had any new tyres for over four years-. Three of the tyres he is at present using were on the vehicle when he bought it eight years ago. This man has a son in the Army and a. daughter in the -Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, and when his children go home on leave they have to be met at the railway station and driven 15’ miles to their home. If the man is not given a permit to obtain tyres and tubes he will be absolutely marooned. The fact that he is still using tyres which were on his vehicle eight years ago shows that he has not been extravagant, and, of course, he cannot have used his vehicle except for strictly essential purposes. I find it hard to believe that so strict an enforcement of the regulations is necessary as to justify the rejection, of his application.
The other case is that of a schoolteacher who lives 18 miles from Gympie. His request for a permit to obtain tyres and tubes was supported by a petition from the parents and children of the school. He is the headmaster of the school and lives 5 miles from it. No housing accommodation is available any nearer than that. He is often compelled, to walk in all weathers- both to and from school, and he must obtain his food supplies from Gympie. He has to cross rough gullies and water channels, when he takes short-cuts to get to school, and it is necessary for him to keep a change of clothing at the school. His wife is a sewing teacher and has to give lesson*, at the school once a week. . For this, purpose, she mus’t be conveyed there and back. Unless her husband is given a permit, to obtain new tyres and tubes, he will have to jack up his car, his wifewill have to give up her teaching workat the school, for she is not able to. walk over the bush- tracks that her husband uses. This will mean that the children at the school will be denied teaching in essential domestic- subjects. There is no telephone at the school and there are no near neighbours. In the event of accident or sudden sickness, the teachers and pupils of the school would be in a serious difficulty. These two applications were endorsed favorably by the Department of Public Instruction of Queensland, and the second one was also recommended by the District War Agricultural Committee as the case was regarded as urgent.
I appeal to the Government to give this matter immediate attention. It ie surely not too much to ask that schoolteachers, primary producers and other essential users of tyres and tubes be granted the necessary permits to obtain supplies.
– I ask the Government to give consideration to a further liberalizing of the coupon scale for women’s clothing. The present scale is, in any opinion, too harsh and somewhat unbalanced. For example, nine coupons are required for a pullover or cardigan, but eleven coupons would be required to purchase the wool to knit the garment. In a country which produces a large quantity of wool, there should be no need for the rationing of woollen garments, and, in particular, coupons should not have to be surrendered for wool purchased for hand-knitting in the home.
Statements have appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser, claiming that after three years of rationing the stocks of house linen held by householders must be greatly depleted, yet sales have not increased appreciably since the commencement of the new rationing year. Warehouses and stores state that they have supplies of linen goods of which they are unable to dispose. This matter should be investigated by the Chairman of the Rationing Commission or some of his officers, in order to see what may be done to ease the position. If possible, there should be a separate coupon allowance for the purchase of household goods. It is necessary to surrender 56 coupons when purchasing a pair of double bed sheets. That is altogether too high a coupon rating. I have supported the rationing during the war, but if its continuance means that stocks will be left in retail stores and warehouses, some relief should be given. During a recent week-end visit to Sydney, I was amazed to see the windows of big stores in the main streets filled with pyjamas that were marked as having beon made in England from English material. Women like to be well dressed, and men take a pride in the appearance of their womenfolk. What chance has a woman of keeping her wardrobe well stocked when she has to surrender 23 coupons for a dress? Cannot something be done in the near future to liberalize the rationing scale for clothing and household linen?
.- .1 have frequently referred to the inadequacy of building operations under the War Service Homes Commission, and have discovered that the amount ‘appropriated annually for this purpose does not permit the commission to become really active. The appropriation last year was £200,000. In 1943-44, the appropriation was £2S,000, of which £25,000 was expended ; and in 1942-43 the figures were respectively, £25,000 and £22,000. This is a Commonwealth instrumentality. It cannot function properly with such a small appropriation. The budget for next year is in the preparatory stage, and the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) should enable the Minister in charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Frost) to enlarge the activities of the commission. I am tired of referring to the figures. I have asked the Minister to produce a policy, but apparently, he is unable to do so, because the funds made available to him are not sufficient.
– He has been given more than he has been able to use.
– That statement shifts the burden completely to the shoulders of the Minister, and it would appear that the position is hopeless. When the honorable gentleman is questioned, he replies with a tirade of abuse. However much the Government may object, I intend to continue to make representations in this matter until satisfactory action is taken. The Minister has admitted having 6,748 applications for war service homes from eligible people. One applicant is an original member of the 9th Division, who is living in a garage with his wife and child. He has been on a priority list for the last two years, and is now only hi the 90th place on that list. Nothing could be more ludicrous, if not tragic. A service organization in Melbourne is clamouring for action. If the Government implants disappointment and disillusionment in the hearts of these men, it will pay the penalty later. The lives of many families are being detrimentally affected. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) made that admission to a deputation in Melbourne. If the War Service Homes Commission has as much money as it needs, why are not homes built by it? I received a letter yesterday from a soldier who has had five years’ service in the Army and wants to buy a property for a reasonable sum, yet is not eligible to receive any assistance. On the other hand, a man who may have been discharged after a year’s service can make application, even though he may not get anything. Whoever may have been responsible in the past, the act is inadequate to-day. A man who has had service should be entitled to make application for a war service home. That is the position in New Zealand. The wife of a prisoner-of-war, and the widow of a serviceman, also should be entitled to make application.
– Is not a widow eligible?
– No; the commission will not accept the risk.
– A widow is eligible for a home.
– That is the reverse of what the Minister said lost week. If the position has been changed since then, 1 am glad to hear it. I fear that the Minister is wrong, and that he does not know the act under which he works. Only 31 war service homes have been built in five years. The commission holds 3,829 building allotments, and has as much money as it needs. When it does not go ahead with the building of homes, it is guilty of shameful inactivity. The number of homes constructed for civilians is extremely small. The latest figures, which I obtained last week from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), reveal that 13,094 of the 29,600 applications received have been approved. ‘Civil construction is tripped at every turn by restrictions. I sent to the Minister applications dating as far back as February and received only a bare acknowledgment. When I asked that action should be taken, the Minister said that he was not aware of any delay. The people have every reason to be indignant. The Government will have to face a lot of trouble in the near future by reason of its neglect of domestic priorities. If the Minister in charge of
War Service Homes is indifferent, thereare others who are not.
Some weeks ago I mentioned in this House that widows of Royal Australian, Air Force men in England could not return to Australia. Some of them have been waiting for two years or longer, yet are unable to secure a passage. TheMinister assured me that a shipload of widows was being brought to Australia and suggested that I should advise thoraaking of a fresh application by the person on whose behalf I had made representations.
– I did not state that therewas a shipload of soldiers’ widows, but said that some widows were coming toAustralia. Why not keep somewhere near the truth?
– The Minister cannot say “ yes “ or “ no “ without beingabusive. I wrote post-haste to the personsconcerned. I had known the deceased airman, who had an excellent record in Great Britain as an instructor and in operations in which he was eventually killed. I advised his parents of what the Minister had said ; in fact, I sent to them the Hansard report of the statement. A fresh application was made, but the parents were merely referred to anunfavorable reply which the Minister sent to me some months before. SenatorArmstrong also has interested himself in this English widow, who hasmade repeated applications at Australia House for a passage to this country and has received the assurance that something will be done. It is the same old story. One is put off with any sort of a statement in this House, and nothing happens. The position is anomalous in that a man who marries overseas can be followed to Australia by his wife, even if he has been married for only a week, whereas a widow who was married for two years cannot obtain a passage.
I shall refer now to another matter that arose in debate yesterday.
– Standing Order 266 reads -
No member shall allude to any debate of the same session, upon a question or bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in committee.
– Then it would seem that a misquotation by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) cannot be corrected.
– The honorable member may discuss- war service homes, but may not refer to a previous debate.
– The honorable member for Lang said yesterday that during the Lyons regime approximately 100 men had been evicted from war service homes. I consulted Hansard to check the accuracy of that statement, and found that, on the 25th September, 1935, the honorable member had asked a long question in which he sought information concerning the number of men evicted from war service homes during the years 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1935. He was informed that there had been 68 applications to courts in New South Wales for ejectment orders against purchasers of war service homes in 1932, 127 applications in 1933, and 121 applications in 1934. But the evictions were, in 1932, nil; in 1933, one; and in 1934-35, four.
– No credit for that was due to the government of the day.
– The Minister has probably never read the report of the committee appointed by the Lyons Government to inquire into war service homes administration during the depression. It was found that many returned soldiers could not pay their rent, and prosecutions were launched by the department. The Government intervened, however, and directed that no returned soldier should be evicted unless another home was found for him. Some men who had taken on too great liabilities were found smaller homes. The Minister should, read this report. It would help him in the administration of the department over which he presides.
There is great disappointment among servicemen and their relatives that an order has not been issued by the Acting Prime Minister, in accordance with his undertaking of the 1st June, that men who have had five years’ service should be given the opportunity to obtain their release from the Army. I have asked that extra pay should be given to those who elect to stay on. It is a cruel thing that, after the Acting Prime Minister made his statement, immediate steps were not taken to give effect to it. I received letters only yesterday refusing the release of men witu five years’ service. They were not trying to get out on that account, but because they wanted to return to rural industries, or because they wished to be discharged on compassionate grounds. There is consternation among servicemen and their relatives because nothing has been done, although more than a fortnight has elapsed since the Acting Prime Minister made his’ statement. In the circumstances, the relatives of servicemen might be justified in feeling that they have been misled. I was going to say hoaxed, but. I know that there is nothing deliberate about it. It is merely that there has been undue delay. Service chiefs should be given their directions on the subject immediately, so that arrangements can be made for replacing those men who are to be released.
.- For months past, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has been strenuously endeavouring to make political capital out of the subject of war service homes. He has been riding on the backs of the returned soldiers. He has lost no opportunity at question time, and during debates, to introduce the subject of war service homes, and always he has posed as the champion of returned men.
– The honorable member certainly is not.
– I am trying to be honest. The “honorable member for Balaclava mentioned evictions from war service homes.
– The Government is trying to evict the wife of a prisoner of war from her home in Canberra to-day.
– The honorable member is a member of the committee which has been given the duty of considering whether she should be evicted or not. The responsibility is now his. It may be mine later, and if so I shall be honest. The bluff of the honorable member has been called. The figures cited by the honorable member for Balaclava show that, in New South Wales alone, during the three years from 1932-35, court action was taken to evict 316 exservicemen from war service homes. The honorable member for Balaclava was a member of the government at that time, but I have not heard that he resigned as a protest against the prosecutions.
– We did not take any action against them. We stopped the evictions.
– The fact remains that prosecutions were launched against 316 persons during the worst depression in the history of Australia. It has also been revealed that many servicemen had to leave their homes because they could not keep up their payments, but the honorable member for Balaclava did not raise his voice in protest. Nevertheless, he is still trying to pose as the champion of ex-servicemen. We must judge him by his record, and he was a member of a government under which eviction proceedings were launched against 316 exservicemen. I have no doubt that if he were in office to-day he would agree to the same action being taken again. He did not resign then in protest, but we know that he resigned from the Ministry because he was placed too low on the list of precedence at a function at Government House. He did that because his vanity was hurt, and because he is small and petty.
– I rise to a personal explanation. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) has misrepresented me.
– The honorable member may not interrupt an honorable member’s speech to make a. personal explanation.
– I am sorry if I have misrepresented the honorable member, but I like honesty in politics as well as in everything else.
– I shall, come out to Brunswick and tell the people there what [ think of the honorable member.
– So long as the honorable member tells the truth, about his treatment of servicemen, I shall be happy. Every time that he- endeavours to. make political capital at the expense of servicemen I shall do my best to expose him. I know that the honorable member had war service in two wars and has paraded in uniform, and that as a consequence he has been carried, on the backs of the soldiers. I ask him to come out into the open,, and to be honest with himself and with the men. who fought in the last war and in this war. The honorable member who was a Minister in a government which was prepared to evict servicemen from war service homes now criticizes the Minister in charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Frost) because homes are not being built for servicemen. Probably the honorable member wishes, houses to be built for them so that, should he become a member of a future Ministry, he will be able to evict the tenants from the homes which he now demands shall be built.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) said that I resigned from a previous government because of some question of precedence which had arisen. That is quite untrue. I resigned from Cabinet mainly because I was not satisfied with its preparations for war. I have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Bourke who has set out to vilify me. It appears that no honorable member can speak on a matter affecting servicemen without being vilified.
– Order ! The honorable member is not making a personal explanation.
– I have always practised what I have preached, and I commend that policy to those who try to defame me.
.- As the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) is not in the chamber, I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) to convey my representations to him. The Department of Supply and Shipping has stated that it is not prepared to allow people in country districts to carry stocks of piping. Throughout the northern and north-western portions of Victoria, and in the Riverina districts of New South Wales, the only water supplies, other than those in irrigation areas, are provided by dams and wells. The people in those districts are dependent solely on such sources of supply. As the water has a high mineral content the pipes through which it passes rust quickly. Should a breakdown occur, it takes, on the average, from ten to twelve weeks for the service to be restored. These unfortunate people are experiencing great difficulties, especially with: their stock dying of starvation. They may manage to carry on with meagre supplies of fodder, but they cannot carry on without water.
– Has the honorable member in mind galvanized piping?
– Galvanized iron piping would be best, but any kind of piping would be appreciated. Black piping will not last long, for the reasons that I have mentioned. Plumbers and tinsmiths are not permitted to carry stocks of piping; they must make application in each case. As- I have said, there are considerable delays. It is essential that they be permitted to keep stocks of 2-in., 1^-in. and I -in. piping. I do not suggest that the stocks should be as great as before the war - a plumber in my home town usually kept in stock about 2,000 feet of piping of various sizes - but I ask that plumbers be permitted to carry, say, 200 feet or 300 feet of piping of different sizes. Should & windmill break down it is essential that relief be given within 24 hours; otherwise stock will die. Obviously, the decision not to allow stocks of piping to be held in country districts was made by some one in Collins-st.. or Pitt-st., who has never experienced conditions in the country especially in times of drought. I hope that the Minister for Munitions will realize the gravity of this situation and will take steps to meet it.’
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker)
A difficult situation has arisen because of the present high prices for rabbit skins. It is claimed by people in the Mount Gambier district that the carcasses of large numbers of rabbits are being destroyed because trappers will not trouble to handle them on account of the big incomes they are making from the sale of the skins. Valuable meat is being thrown away. This complaint may interest the Commonwealth Leather Board and I ask that it be given consideration.
The third matter to which I wish to refer came through the Primary Producers Union at Tarpeena, which states that superphosphate is being made available in a portion of my electorate for the cultivation of pine trees, although dairymen, market gardeners, graziers and others claim that they cannot get sufficient manures to meet their requirements. As honorable members know, the wheat industry is suffering from inadequate supplies of superphosphate. If it be true that superphosphate is being allotted for the cultivation of pine trees, an explanation of the Government’s policy should be given. I believe that after the war Australia must embark on a well-considered scheme of reafforestation, but I doubt whether, at the present time, superphosphate . should be devoted to pine cultivation to the detriment of crops to provide food for man and beast.
.- Last Sunday the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) made a statement regarding the milk and butter subsidy, in which he pointed out that, of the total assistance of about £12,000,000 given to the dairying industry about £1,250,000 was represented in the subsidy for wheat and other fodders needed to keep dairy cattle alive and in milk, but, because of the shortage of fodder, only about one quarter of the subsidy is being paid by the Treasury. There is nothing on which to pay it. The other subsidy is given per pound of butter and per gallon of milk. Unfortunately, many dairymen will not be helped by that, because their cattle are dry. So much per pound of butter or per gallon of milk is no good to a man who is producing none. That position is fairly general all over Australia. The difficulties have been accentuated in the last few days by disastrous floods in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, where half of Australia’s butter is produced. I have received from a constituent of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), who is absent in San .Francisco, a letter which shows that the position in Victoria is equally bad, in that the dairy cattle there are also dry. The writer says -
Any extra price given for butter will not benefit me, as 1 had to dry my herd off in February to save them from dying. They will not be in again till August.
So the production subsidy helps him not at all. In northern New South Wales and southern Queensland the green crops are under water and will rot. Therefore, I suggest, not as a permanent measure, but for the next two or three months, that the Government, which has been fortunate in getting a certain quantity of fodder from Hew Zealand, should make a substantial part of it available free to those whose stock are practically starving. One dairy farmer at Hastings told me that, whereas he had always made a profit in his 30 years in the industry, this year, because of the weather, he was already £400 behind in his accounts. To load him with extra debt for fodder would be to prejudice his position and perhaps discourage him from continuing in the industry. The amount of money involved would not be great. It would be offset by the saving that the Government is making in not being called upon to pay the subsidy on the fodder, for the simple reason that few are able to buy it. That would ensure that the cattle would be kept alive during the winter and ready for milking in the spring. Otherwise they will not be. Nothing in the world can prevent us from being extraordinarily short of milk in the next six or seven months, but if we lose the dairy cows, we shall be short, not. merely for six or seven months, but for a couple of years, because it will be necessary to breed back again. I make this as a constructive suggestion, in the interest, not only of the dairy industry, but primarily of Australia.
– The matters raised by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy), the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), and the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy), will be referred to the appropriate Ministers, but I shall answer the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) now, because both matters raised by him concern me in my two ministerial capacities. I am as anxious as he that war service homes shall be built. I have officers in Great Britain doing everything possible to arrange for passages to Australia for the wives and widows of members of the Australian forces. We have been fairly successful. I cannot tell the honorable member everything that has happened since the cessation of the war in Europe, but I can tell him that transport conditions are a lot better now, and that a number of wives and widows are coming to Australia. I make no apology for the fact that we give preference in arranging passages to the wives of men who have been badly wounded in action or have been separated from their husbands for long periods. The honorable member will not say that we should not give preference to the wife of a blinded soldier. I do not think he would say that women who have been separated from their husbands for only a few months should be preferred to women who have not seen their husbands for four or five years, especially as many of the former class have been living normal married lives for most of the time. Some members of the forces had been married only a few weeks before they were despatchd to North Africa and later to the Pacific, where they have been fighting ever since. My department gives both classes preference.
– The position in regard to wives is good; my reference was to widows.
– We have brought some widows out. Four or five women on learning of the death of their husbands, cancelled bookings which had been made for them. Several widows are on their way out. We are doing everything possible to bring out both wives and widows and they are coming in large numbers. The honorable member, during his speech, accused me of getting vexed and giving sharp answers. Offensive questions, statements, and interjections deserve sharp answers. I shall give the honorable member as good as he gives me. The honorable member for Barker and other honorable members of the Opposition ask for information in a decent way.
– So do I.
– The honorable member does not. He is always offensive towards me. If he asks his questions properly he will be answered properly. My job is to do everything I can on behalf of the soldiers and their wives, widows and families, and I am doing it. That disposes of my capacity as Minister for Repatriation. Now, as regards war service homes, I claim that the commission and its staff are most efficient. The Commissioner is recognized as one of the most able officials in the Commonwealth, and he is working day and night in the interests of the department. I say to the honorable member for Balaclava that provided he raises matters in a courteous manner, I shall extend courtesy to him; but, if his manner is offensive I shall deal with him accordingly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented: -
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 86.
National Security Act -
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 87-91.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 88, 89, 90.
House adjourned at 4.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Government. This project was also supervised by Mr. L. J. Hartnett as Director of Ordnance Production, in whom I have the greatest confidence. I am advised by those competent to express opinions in such matters that the expenditure indicated is not at variance with expenditures normally incurred in tooling up for arms production. It is to be noted that production on this project was exclusively undertaken by private enterprise.
Re-establishment and Employment bill1 945 : Departmental Assistance.
y. - On the 25th May the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked the following questions, upon notice : - 1. (a) How many departmental officers were employed in the drafting of the Reestablishincnt and Employment Bill? (b) What departments do they belong to? (c) What are their ages? (d) How many of them have seen active service in (i) this war and (ii) the last war? (e) What salaries arethey paid ? 2.(a) How many officers have been called during the committee stage this week to advise the Minister in charge of the bill when amendments by Opposition members are moved? (b) What departments do they belong to? (c) What are their ages? (d) How many of them have seen active service (i) in this war, and (ii) in the last war? (e) What salaries are they paid?
I now supply the following answers: - 1. (a) 4. (b) Attorney-General’s Department, (c)63; 52; 37; 26. (d) (i) 1; (ii) nil. (e) £ 2,100; £1,452; £700; £392.
Waterfront Employment: Operations at Newcastle.
– On the 13th June the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked a question regarding a strike by the Newcastle waterside workers and the employment of Army personnel to handle cargo for the services.
I now inform the honorable member that the’ Acting Port Chairman at Newcastle recently disciplined 44 men for not working in accordance with the award and Stevedoring Industry Commission Orders. The men appealed against the decision, but the Stevedoring Industry Commission, upheld the action of the Port Chairman in disciplining 34 of the men and gave the remaining ten the benefit of the doubt. When the result of the appeal became known, all the registered men at Newcastle ceased work. The Stevedoring Industry Commission and the executive of the Waterside Workers Federation instructed the men to resume work. The men, however, called a further meeting on the morning of the 13th June to consider the position and shortly before noon indicated that not only would they resume work in accordance with the commission’s instructions, but also that they were prepared to resume working overtime at the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s Perth at Newcastle. No work could have been clone at Newcastle in any caseon the 12th June owing to wet weather, so the actual time lost was during those breaks in the weather on the 13th June when work was possible. The work of loading on five ships was involved, and Army personnel were placed on a Liberty ship on the 13th June to work Army cargo. Normal resumption took place yesterday morning, and it is not expected that any further trouble will occur.
t asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Melbourne, the following week in Sydney and the succeeding six days in Melbourne without returning at any time in the three weeks to h is head-quarters?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
There are two scales of allowance, i.e., the scale provided by determination of the Public Service Arbitrator and the scale provided by the Public Service Regulations. These scales provide the following daily rates: -
For the first two weeks absence from head-quarters on duty, officers are paid the rates shown in 1 above, and thereafter the following rates per week apply: -
t asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y. - The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) yesterday asked me a question concerning statements made by the “Voice of Freedom” over Station 2SM, Sydney. The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The information given regarding the potato industry by the “ Voice of Freedom “, over 2SM is completely at variance with factsThe acreage planted to potatoes in the Guyra district in 1941-42 prior to control was 3,238. For 1944-45, it rose to 8,000 and not from 2,000 to 12,000 acres as stated by the “Voice of Freedom “. In order to ensure that deliveries would be in proportion to market requirements, New England growers were allotted a quota of 1,000 tons a week. Contrary to the allegations of bureaucratic control made by the “ Voice of Freedom “, a meeting was called at Guyra of representatives of growers’ organizations and others interested, and they worked out the details of the scheme which was to operate. Actually, growers did not deliver half of the district’s quota during the three weeks’ period of its operation from the 19th March, to the 7th April. As from the 9th April, the quota to individual growers was doubled and still the 1,000 tons per week was not forthcoming. A week later quotas were lifted and have not operated since. Again, contrary to the statements made during the “ Voice of Freedom “ session, if any individual grower was given a smaller quota than he desired to deliver, that was the result of a local arrangement as the potato committee did not receive the quantity it asked for. The fact is that the potato moth has been a major problem almost every year for the past fifteen years, and during March and April, the threat was so serious that growers were afraid to dig because the moth would have attacked the tubers as they were brought out of the ground. Actual deliveries from the
Kew England district in each week from the 20th January, to the 26th May, were as follows: - 18 tons, 87 tons, UG tons, 249 tons, 352 tons, 522 tons, 352 tons, 462 .tons, 437 tons, 589 tons, 736 tons, 205 tons, 644 tons, 824 tons, 079 tons, 913 tons, 752 tons, 1,022 tons, and 937 tons.
It was not until rain late in April and -May checked the moth, that deliveries started to improve.
n asked the Minister for ‘Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following answers : -
The Director-General of Man-Power was asked to investigate these matters and has provided the following report in respect of questions 1, 2 and 3: -
The only State which indicates an acute shortage of health inspectors is Queensland. The Department of Health and Home Affairs in that State has advised the Deputy DirectorGeneral of Man-Power that they have no knowledge of any such man who is at present available for employment.
South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania report no evidence that repeated implications have been called by a number of municipal councils and. that qualified men are not available to fill the positions.
Victoria reports that in isolated (not frequent) cases, qualified men have not been available when applications have been called for by councils, due mainly to the fact that the positions to be filled are of a temporary nature only - no permanent positions are being offered byshires and municipal authorities.
Queensland reports there are three positions in which non-certificated men are acting, and that there are two or three other vacancies which cannot be filled.
Western Australia reports that a limited number of municipal councils have advertised for qualified men but it has not been possible to fill the vacancies because the applicants are in other employment of high priority or in one of the Services and not eligible for discharge.
Recommendations for the release of qualified health inspectors from the Services have been made by the deputy-directors in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. Some of these have been approved and others not approved, because of service requirements.
South Australia and Tasmania have no record of any application for the release of a qualified health inspector from the Services.
In respect of question 4, the honorable member can be assured that requests such as he refers to will be taken up immediately by officers of my department.
s asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : -
Tyres and Tubes.
y. - On the 23rd May, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked a question and subsequently submitted a letter from Mr. A. W. Murray, of Bordertown, South Australia, regarding two applications for cycle tyres and tubes which had been returned to the applicants because the forms had been typewritten and not handwritten in ink.
I have had the position examined and find that when the Control of Cycle Tyres and Cycle Tubes Order was promulgated a method had to be devised whereby the application forms could be handled by distributors of cycle tyres and tubes, and not departmentally, because of the volume of applications to be dealt with expeditiously. It was appreciated that there were weaknesses in the scheme devised, and that the application form lent itself to manipulation, particularly as to the number of tyres and tubes required.
The number of typewritten applications which has been received is negligible, and typewritten forms have been accepted as a general rule. However, in South Australia, the official representative of the Department of Supply and Shipping had strong suspicions that the system was being abused, and, therefore, issued instructions that it would be necessary for the person requiring the cycle tyres or tubes to complete the application in his own handwriting in ink. These instructions have now been withdrawn, and typewritten forms will be accepted in future.
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Queensland has been read, and it is agreed by those who have in hand the plans for standardization of railway gauges that the coordination of all rail, road, air and shipping facilities is desirable to ensure that this great national project will be undertaken with ii full appreciation of, and as a part of a comprehensive transport plan.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 June 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450615_reps_17_183/>.