17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read, prayers.
Motion, (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to- - That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next; at 3 p.m..
– by leave - I inform the House that the Australian Advisory War Council has ceased! .’toexist. The council was established in October, 1940, when the1 right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) was Prime Minister and the late John Curtin was Leader of the Opposition. After a meeting of the council last night, the non-Government members intimated that they considered’ that the purposes for which it had been established .had now been, achieved.
I desire to place on record the Government’s appreciation of the services of the non-Government members- of the council, first to the Curtin- Administration, and, latterly,, to my Administration. They have always given of their best, and have-‘ contributed greatly to the conduct of the Australian- war. effort. I add my personal thanks for the courtesy and consideration which members of. the1 council have extended to me, both as Acting Prime Minister and as Prime Minister. During that period,, our deliberations, have always been of the most friendly and helpful character. Many quite important matters of. policy, although not soimportant as had to be considered in the critical days of the war,, but generally relating to the war, have been dealt with under my chairmanship,, and I am deeply appreciative of the assistance that I have received, from the other. member, of, the council.
. - by. leave - On behalf of the nonGovernment members of the Advisory War Council, I express appreciation’ of the sentiments voiced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). The -non-Government members consider that the- Advisory War Council, being as its title denotes, a wartime institution, and the war having terminated, its purposes have been completed and it should cease to function. We, too, desire to place on record, our appreciationof the frankness, tolerance, understanding aicd friendliness which have always: characterized the deliberations of the -council. Having been both the leader and a member of the council, I shall always be grateful for that collaboration. I am sure that those sentiments are shared by thu other members of the council who sit on this side of the House. I think it can be said that the council rendered a useful service in the interestsof Australia during the distressing times through which we have passed. It has accomplished the task for which it was appointed.
– In view of Australia’s dependence on outside sources for its vital supplies of fuel oil, and having regard to the great efforts and sacrifices of the- Australian fighting forces in re; conquering considerable areas of enemyheld territory where abundant supplies of oil. exist, -will, the Government direct its delegates to the peace settlement talks to seek, in the name of the Commonwealth Government and the people of Australia, appropriate oil rights, as has already been done by certain other belligerents?
– The honorable member can rest assured that the government representatives will do all they can’ to ensure that the best interests of this country shall be protected. We do not want any nation to secure undue- advantages as the result of the peace settlement, but we hope that the arrangements made will be such that Australia’s essential oil requirements shall be met. The matter of oil rights will, I assume, have to be discussed with individual countries, apart altogether from the final peace settlement. As ‘has been mentioned by the Minister for Defence, representing the
Minister for Supply and Shipping, the oil position; particularly in respect of petrol and lubricating oil, is now being examined. A proportion of the oil used in Australia now comes from the dollar area,’ and a larger proportion of it is obtained from the sterling area. I do not know what the final arrangements may be in respect of oil that we may be able to obtain from the Netherlands East Indies. Although there is a line-up at present with the dollar area, there may be a re-arrangement in that regard. . The point which the honorable member has raised will have every consideration.
– Prior to the war, a favoured-nation agreement was entered into between Australia and Italy, under which we were obliged to receive as immigrants a certain number of Italian nationals annually. Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether Italy’s declaration of war on Britain automatically cancelled that agreement? If the agreement still operates, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to have it cancelled 1
– I cannot state offhand the legal position with regard to the matter. Any such agreement would obviously need close re-examination. I shall arrange with the Attorney-General to have the matter re-examined, and an answer to the question will be supplied to the honorable member.
Issue op Badges - Call-tip of Youths -
– Will the Prime Minister consider the issue of a badge to all members of the Australian Forces who have served in Australia during the war, but who were not given an opportunity to serve outside the country 1 This would bring them into line with those servicemen who receive a badge after their return from overseas.
– I shall have the matter examined.
– Can the Prime Minister
Bay- whether any decision has been reached regarding the call-u<p of- youths now’ of’ military age who are liable for service? If it has been decided not to call them up, is this to be taken as an indication that the Government has abandoned compulsory military training?
– All I oan say. at the moment is that recruiting has been temporarily suspended, and that the matter will be examined by the Government at an early date. Matters associated with the defence forces of Australia are in some measure linked with Australia’s responsibilities under the United Nations Charter.
– Is the Minister for Defence yet in a position to make a statement on the issue of campaign stars to members of the Australian fighting forces ?
– by leave- Several honorable members have asked questions in relation to this matter and I have informed them that discussions have been in progress for some time between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Unfortunately these discussions have not yet concluded, hut in anticipation of a question upon this matter I have, prepared the following information : -
The normal practice is that war medals arc awarded under the same conditions to all members of His Majesty’s forces who are eligible to receive them. The conditions of eligibility adopted by the Government of the United Kingdom, when referred for consideration by the Commonwealth Government, were found not to meet Australian requirements and, as honorable members are aware, theCommonwealth Government made certain reservations on important questions of principle. These reservations which are directed to adapting the general scheme to meet Australian requirements were set out in the statement made by the Acting Prime Minister in the House of Representatives on the 18th May, and were elaborated in his further statement on the 25th May. Negotiations in relation to the Australian reservations are still proceeding between the Commonwealth and United Kingdom Governments, and the Government hopes to be in a position to make a further statement, in the near future;. In the meantime, action is proceeding for the issue of campaign ribbons to members of the Australian forces eligible to receive them.
The ribbons denoting the grant of awards are, in the case of the 1939-1945 Star and Africa Star, now available and are being issued to all serving members entitled. Sufficient stocks of the ribbons for the newly instituted campaign stars, including the PacificStar, in which Australia is particularly interested, are now in hand to make priority issues, and it is expected that stocks to cover a complete initial issue to the forces will shortly be available. The urgency of the matter is fully appreciated by the Government and everything possible is being done to meet Australia’s requirements.
In regard to the manufacture of the stars themselves, the United Kingdom authorities announced in May, 1945, that consideration of the manufacture and issue of the stars had been postponed. It was not the practice to issue stars during the war, but now that hostilities have ceased, it is expected that this will be reconsidered, and that the stars will be issued to all concerned as soon as they become available. As already stated, the ribbons are being issued now.
In the conditions adopted by the United Kingdom Government, provision was made for the award of European Campaign Stars to all those engaged in operational service on the cessation of hostilities in Europe. Following this precedent, the Pacific Star will be awarded to all members of the Australian forces who were engaged in operational service in the (Pacifictheatre on the surrender of Japan. Immediate action is being taken to issue as a first priority, the ribbon of the PacificStar to eligible members of the forces who will participate in the occupation of Japan, and in the acceptance of the surrender of Japanese forces. The issue of ribbons to all others eligible will proceed as stocks become available. Regarding the issue of ribbons to those who have already been discharged from the forces, it will be appreciated that the issue of the ribbon to men no longer in uniform is of lesser urgency than the issue to those still serving, but all three services have arranged to consider application’s from discharged members and to issue ribbons, as stocks may admit, at least in those cases where any uniform is worn in the ex-members civil occupation.
I think the House should know the points we have raised with the United Kingdom on this subject. The reservations that the Commonwealth has made to its acceptance of the scheme for campaign stars are briefly as follows: -
That is our case, and we are still debating it with the United Kingdom.
– Item No. 5 on the Notice Paper refers to the demobilization of the Australian Defence Forces, and the presence of this item has prevented honorable members from referring to the subject until it is brought on for discussion. In view of the great importance and urgency of the matter, will the Prime Minister have it brought forward for debate early nextweek so that honorable members may express their views ?
– I have consulted with the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the Australian Country party from day to day about the drawing up of the businesspaper, because th& Government desires to meet the convenience of members of the Opposition. The paper on demobilization was presented to the House only the day before yesterday. The Government would have been prepared to go on with the debate to-day, but considered that this might be too early for those who wanted to study the paper. I shall consult with the leaders of the Opposition parties next week, when urgent Government business has been dealt with, regarding the order in which they would prefer the remaining items on the business-paper to be considered.
– Oan the Prime Minister say whether the recent Conference of ‘Commonwealth and ‘State Ministers gave consideration to proposals for the establishment of tuberculosis hospitals in all the States? Is it a fact that nearly 300 sufferers from tuberculosis in New .South Wales are unable to obtain hospital accommodation? Did any of the Premiers at. the recent conference ask for financial assistance to build tuberculosis hospitals? “Mr. CHIFLEY.- .So far as I can remember, there was. no’ specific reference to hospitals for the treatment of tuberculosis at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. I have not studied the list of projects in the loan allocation for hospitals^ but it is fairly certain that the States will’ make provision for tuberculosis hospitals in their works programmes. Some time ago a conference of ‘Commonwealth and State Ministers for Health discussed the inauguration of a campaign for the eradication of tuberculosis, and the Commonwealth Government agreed to subsidize on a fi for fi basis amounts provided by the States up to £50,000 a year, chiefly in order to provide equipment and facilities for diagnostic treatment. The Commonwealth Government also intimated to the .States that, at a later stage, it would be prepared to consider assisting them with regard to capital expenditure. The’ Government proposes to submit to the Parliament a short measure covering an agreement made with the States in regard to diagnostic treatment,, and that will give to honorable members an opportunity to discuss this important subject. At the moment, I cannot say that any of the loan moneys allocated for hospital work, will be used specifically in connexion, with, tubercu losis but I shall ascertain the facts, and let. the honorable member know the result.
– ‘Can the Minister for Information say whether censorship is being maintained internally over private and commercial correspondence and to what degree, if any, censorship is still maintained over correspondence by letter or cablegram between Australia and other countries? If censorship is still being maintained in either direction, will he indicate the justification for it?
– Until the 30th September censorship will be maintained by the United Kingdom over all radio and cable telephone communications with Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden. Postal communictions censorship will be maintained in respect of these countries and also Bulgaria, Hungary and Roumania until the same date. There is no censorship at all, either internally or externally, over postal communications in this country. Censorship is, however, still being maintained over radio broadcasts, for the obvious reason that the enemy may stilt be capable of acts’ of treachery and of . causing injury to members of Australian forces or of the forces of our allies in the Pacific zone if im possession of certain information. The continuation of that censorship is a matter for the High Command rather than for the Commonwealth Government. In- this matter the Government is acting in concert with the United Kingdom authorities; At the- earliest possible moment all censorship restrictions will be lifted. Australia acted more quickly than did most other countries in the lifting of internal censorship; on the eve of the termination of hostilities with
Japan I’ made an announcement that once fighting ceased publicity censorship of Australian newspapers and other publications would cease. It did cease as soon as word was received that Japan had sought an armistice.
– In view of the difficulties being experienced in connexion with nian-power and materials, the demobilization of the fighting forces and other matters, will the Prime Minister consider the setting up of a Ministry for the Re-organization of Industry in order to guide and assist industry in reverting to a peace-time basis, and also to co-ordinate activities between the Commonwealth. Government and various State authorities?
– I do not consider that there is any need to establish another organization to deal with these matters. The Secondary Industries Commission, which has been set up under the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, is a very effective body. Most honorable members will agree that the four members -of the commission are able men. They keep constantly in touch with industry, not only with regard to its expansion but also with -regard to export markets, the provision of materials and machinery, and so on. I do not say that the commission has power to deal with all of these things, but it does contact other organizations which are able to assist in the work that is being done to facilitate the re-organization of industry. Therefore, I consider that the needs of industry are amply covered. For example, the Secondary Industries Commission has even come to me on matters affecting the taxation of certain secondary industries. Recently, I mentioned in this House the double taxation of United Kingdom investments in Australia, a subject which was raised by the Secondary Industries Commission. As I informed the House, I arranged for the Commissioner of Taxation, who is at present in London for the purpose of meeting officers of the British Government, to hold discussions with a view to making some arrangement in. this connexion. The commission has also brought to the notice of myself and other Ministers various factors which may affect the development of secondary industries.
– Will consideration also be given to American investments in Australia ?
– That matter is being examined now. Treasury conferences presided over by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) have been held to consider the position of American interests which may desire to make investments in Australia. These conferences have not yet finished ; another one will be held next week. For these reasons I consider that there is no need for the establishment of any new body at the moment. However, I shall examine the points raised by the honorable member..
– In view of the tremendous world surplus of wool, as disclosed by the Prime Minister last night, will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs take steps to wipe out completely all rationing of Australian-made woollen piece goods so that we shall be able to use more of those goods in Australia?
– In the absence of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) who represents the Minister for Trade and Customs in this House, I shall investigate the question on his ‘behalf. I shall endeavour to supply an answer to the right honorable member next week.
PROPOSED N:ew ADELAIDE-SYDNEY Route - -Hunter River BRIDGE at Hexham
– I ask the Minister for Transport whether at the recent Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers at which the standardization of railway gauges was discussed the Victorian delegates made any representations with respect to the construction of a line which would shorten the route from Adelaide to Sydney by approximately 200 miles? Oan he say whether the Commonwealth is prepared to assist in thai project ?
– The Premier of Victoria handed to me a pamphlet dealing with the proposed rail connexion, mentioned by the honorable member, but I think that I am correct in saying that the record of proceedings at the conference would not disclose that he pressed for acceptance of that proposal. As a mater of fact, judging by the attitude adopted by certain Premiers it appeared that they were not favorable to Commonwealth assistance in respect of certain rail projects which we have in mind. The particular line referred to by the honorable member is not included in the plan submitted by Sir Harold Clapp on the standardization of railway gauges, and it is not regarded by the military authorities as of strategic value. Therefore, the proposal becomes a matter mainly for consideration by the governments of the two States concerned. I have indicated that view to the Premier of Victoria. I believe that should the two States consider the line to be necessary, but, because of financial considerations, feel that they are not capable of proceeding with it, the Commonwealth would be prepared to consider what assistance could be rendered in the matter.
– Is the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction aware that the New South Wales Government proposes to erect a bridge for road traffic at the Hunter River at Hexham? In view of the large industrial development in the lower Hunter district, will he take up with the New South Wales Government the matter of making provision for rail traffic over the river at that point?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Transport, and should we find it necessary to confer with the Government of New South Wales on the subject we shall do so.
– Early this week I asked a question of the Prime Minister regarding the bombing of Darwin, and the right honorable gentleman said that he could see no security reason why the report of Mr. Justice Lowe should not be published. Has he further examined the matter?
– I confess that owing to pressure of other duties I have not made the examination I promised, but I shall do so as soon as possible.
Status of Australia
– The Prime Minister promised to ask the Minister for External Affairs to prepare a statement on the status of Australia in relation to Unrra. As it has been announced that the Minister is to leave Australia at an early date for London, will it be possible to make that statement available to the House before his departure?
– As the Minister for External Affairs will be leaving next, week for the conferences to be held in London I do not know whether it will be possible to have prepared the statement referred to by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether any ships captured from the enemy have come into the possession of the Commonwealth and, if so, whether any prize money has been paid to Australian crews?
– Offhand, I am not able to say whether Australian crews have shared in such prize money. I shall make a full statement on the matter at an early date.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether in the proposed shipbuilding programme for Australia it is intended to build ships of types more modern than those that have been constructed up to date? I refer particularly to the need for ships with improved refrigeration accommodation and speedier vessels of the diesel type which would enable Australian freighters to compete with vessels of the types now being built in other countries. In addition, is it intended to construct ships of the utility type which can be used for passenger traffic and the transport of cargo?
– Vessels of the 9,300 ton type, which we have been constructing, are among the best of all classes of ship that’ have been built during this war. They possess the most modern facilities and auxiliaries. I admit that the refrigeration space provided in them has been restricted, and this matter will possibly receive consideration in any future shipbuilding programme.
– They are also rather 3low.
– The engines which we have installed in. some of these ships are of the most modern type. In fact, the machinery in Australian-built vessels is greatly in advance of that in ships constructed in Great Britain. At present, the Director of Shipbuilding is abroad, securing the latest information on these matters, and I hope that upon his return next month, he will submit a report that will guide us in determining the class of vessel that Ave should construct in future. En addition, Ave must obtain the views of those who operate freight and passenger services not only in our own coastal trade but also between Australia and other countries. The views of those associated with the shipping industry must largely guide us in deciding the types of vessel required for future use.
– -Following the cancellation by the United States of America of lend-lease, is the Prime Minister able to give any assurance that in the immediate future, it will be possible to issue import licences and allocate dollars for the purchase of farm tractors, cer tain specialized farm machinery, motor transport and other essential requirements of the nation? These items can be obtained only from the dollar area, and Australia urgently requires them because they are in short supply here.
– The honorable member may rest assured that all the goods which are now on order or requisitioned under the lend-lease programme, and the importation of which has been approved, have been closely examined by the Minister for Trade and Customs and myself. Some of the requisitions were based on the assumption that the war would continue for a longer period than it did. The items which the honorable member mentioned are urgently required by many branches of industry in this country. However, the dollars which will be avail- able to us for the purchase of good? abroad, assuming that lend-lease is discontinued entirely and no similar arrangement is made, will depend upon the allocation from the dollar pool that the Government of the United Kingdom is able to make to us. I am sure that Great Britain will be reasonable, as it always has been, in this matter, particularly in view of the fact that Ave sold all our dollars to it. I have no hesitation in saying that dollars must be provided for the purchase of essential goods. I cannot say at the moment what will be the final result of the present discussions on this matter; nor can I tell the House now what amount of dollars will be available from the pool for the purchase by Australia of goods in the dollar area. Some weeks will pass before it will be possible for me to make a statement on that matter. However, I am hopeful - and that i’s why I have refrained from making; any comment on the general cancellation of lend-lease - that it will be possible to come to some arrangement that will be reasonably satisfactory to all parties.
– Parked in various centres in Australian cities to-day are hundreds of thousands of heavy-duty tractors suitable for farm work. In one place in Victoria there are 120 new tractors suitable for that work. I ask the Prime Minister whether the obstacles could not be removed which prevent these tractors from being made available to primary producers who urgently need them to prepare land in anticipation of the coming harvest.
– When the honorable member raised this matter earlier in this week, the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping promised that an inquiry would be made. I understand that an instruction has been issued for an immediate investigation. I shall take the matter up personally.
House Tenancy of Soldier’s Wife
– The Minister for Defence will recollect that the wife of Corporal Pedvin, a tenant of a Governmentowned house in Canberra, was served with notice of eviction on the ground of non-payment of rent amounting to about £20. When I last raised the matter, the Minister replied that the committee of which he is the chairman appointed .by the late Prime Minister to conduct an investigation of it, had been unable to arrive at a determination because of the absence in San Francisco of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), who is a member of it. Has the committee been called together since the honorable member for Ballarat returned to Australia? If not, will the Minister cause it to meet as early as possible, particularly in view of the desirability of having the matter finalized before the return of ‘Corporal Pedvinwho is a prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese?
– It might be a good thing if Corporal Pedvin were back in Australia. I am particularly anxious that he should return at an early date. Another prisoner of war involved in similar circumstances has already returned, and his comments when invited to discuss domestic matters which had arisen during his absence were very interesting to the department, which was pleased to discuss his case. The honorable member for Ballarat has been back in Australia only about a week, and the House has been in session during this week. I had hoped to secure the attendance of an honorable senator from South Australia who is a member of the committee, in order that the matter .might be considered afresh with a view to a determination being reached in connexion with a proposal that had been made. The interests of some persons might not be well served if certain matters of- a strictly domestic character were ventilated.
– Do not make insinuations; they have been made time and again.
– I am answering the question as I see fit. The honorable gentleman has made many insinuations.
– I have made charges.
– The honorable gentleman has tried to make party political capital, and has told lies.
– I call for a withdrawal of that statement.
– The statement being offensive to the honorable member, the Minister should withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. I have no wish to be offensive to the honorable gentleman, or to anybody else. Statements have been made which have not. been substantiated.
– The Minister is merely being offensive to a prisoner of war.
– The prisoner of war in question, I hope, will be back in Australia in due course. I should like to take special steps to have his return expedited, because what he has to say may prove very interesting. The matter will be considered as early as possible.
– Is the Minister in possession of any information, gained through, the investigations that have been made by officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, or from any other source, which he has not communicated to members of the committee who have been in or outside Australia?
– If I had, I should regard it as highly improper to discuss it in this House.
– I do not want the Minister to discuss any information he may have, but merely want to know whether he has information which he has not given to members of the committee.
– It would be highly improper to answer a question of that kind in this House before the matter had been placed before the committee.
– In view of the Minister’s statement that there is certain information which it might be best not to reveal, or words to that effect, has he any reflection to make on the character of either Corporal Pedvin or Mrs. Pedvin in connexion with the case?
– When the committee has completed its inquiry, its report will disclose whether any reflection has been cast on anybody.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for .Supply and Shipping say whether persons whose rifles were impressed by the authorities will be able to secure a rifle from ‘the Commonwealth Disposals Commission ? I have been given to understand that general dealers do not wish to handle the disposal of such rifles.
– It is alittle difficult to determine how the matter should be handled. If the honorable member can cite specific cases, he might be helpful by placing the particulars before the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Those interested in the matter also might make application for rifles. Whether they could be made available could then be determined.
– Many employers are not yetfully informed as to their obligations under the Re-establishment and Employment Act, in regard to the reinstatement of former employees. Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction consider issuing a brochure explaining in nonlegal language the obligations of employers in respect of the reinstatement of former employees and the granting of preference to persons who, having returned from service, seek employment?
– A brochure has been prepared for issuance to members of the services. I agree that it deals only with those who seek reinstatement and preference. I shall consider the honorable member’s request, and endeavour to give full publicity to the obligations of employers in respect of both reinstatement and preference.
– During the last war, RedCross workers and others who gave voluntary service in connexion with service canteens, comfort funds, and similar undertakings, were granted decorations by the government of the day. As such a policy is not favoured by the present Government, will the Prime Minister consider the adoption of an alternative plan under which consideration may be shown to those who, either in this country or abroad, have given valuable assistance to the fighting forces and have done much to uplift the morale of the services? If that cannot be done directly, will the Government do it indirectly?
– I was not aware of the action taken in the matter after the last war, but consideration will be given to the honorable member’s suggestion.
Debate resumed from the 30th August (vide page 5062), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the following paper be printed: -
Land Settlement Scheme for ExServicemen - (Ministerial Statement, 20th July, 1945.
.- As peace will be declared on a date much earlier than was anticipated, it will probably be found necessary to take executive action to implement the Government’s plan for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land before a bill can be prepared to enable honorable members to discuss fully the proposals of the Government as outlined in that measure. Many plans have been presented to us, and we are now considering another. I am a believer in plans, because they are necessary even for the construction of a house or a woolshed. The most important matter, however, is the method of implementation and the organization provided for the execution of the plan. That is the position with regard to soldier settlement. The plan is satisfactory, but it is most important that it shall be properly implemented and that there shall be good organization for the preparation of the farms which are to be occupied by ex-servicemen.
My first experience of land settlement schemes occurred about eighteen years ago, when I was a stockman in the employ of the Victorian Department of Agriculture, at the State Research Farm at Werribee. My job was to look after the Suffolk sheep stud and keep a check on all cattle and horses on the property, as well as to remove any stray stock. On one occasion on my morning trip around the boundaries, I saw five steers which did not belong to the Government of Victoria, and I had to take them to the local pound. On my way there I met a man who told me that the stock belonged to a soldier settler who lived on Duncan’s Road, which became known as Diggers’ Road, because it served one of the areas on which ex-servicemen had been settled. I said that to avoid putting the owner to the expense of getting his stock back from the pound I would inform him that his cattle were straying, and the man said to me, “Ride down Diggers’ Road and stop at the third house on the left”. I left the stock to graze, and riding down the lane, I eventually reached Port Phillip Bay. I had travelled a distance of about 5 miles, but had seen no houses. On my return journey, I remarked that all I had passed were sheds, but the man replied, “ No, they were the homes of soldier settlers “.
Some years ago, I selected a block in Western Australia, and about 15 miles from my farm was another soldier settlement concerning which a more harrowing tale could be told than about similar settlements in Victoria. About 75 ex-servicemen had been placed on the land under certain financial conditions. When I took up my land about twenty years after the last war, only three of the original 75 settlers remained on their blocks. The others, who had fought for the preservation of democracy, had become bankrupt. They were not only financially “ settled “, but many of them were also “ settled “ in health, and they had to walk off their holdings.
Recently, in the sitting-room in Perth of the Wheat and Wool Growers Association of Western Australia, I read an inscription on the wall intimating that the furniture in the room had been supplied from a fund donated in memory of a returned soldier named Evans who served in the last war. The overdraft on his property was so heavy that he was unable to meet his commitments, but he refused to leave his block. He had a wife and children, and he said ‘that as he had fought for his country he did not intend to give up bis farm. Police were sent to his farm, and in a state of desperation, he set fire to his haystack. He was mentally deranged, probably partly because of his war service from 1914 to 1918, and partly because of the conditions which the government of the day had imposed in respect of his property. He was so incensed because of the way in which he had been treated ‘that he went to gaol. There he began a hunger strike, and his resistance was so low that in a few days he died. The farmers in the district subscribed to a fund which was used to furnish the room in Perth. That memorial should at least remind us that ex-servicemen should be placed on the land on this occasion under better conditions than those imposed on them after the last Avar. The immigration scheme was a financial failure, and many of those who Went on the land ultimately became a burden on the State because of broken health while they were still young. In making plans for the absorption of immigrants we must remember that the first objective is to provide them with an occupation, whether in the office, in the mine, in the mill or on the farm. When we have decided what proportion are to become primary producers, Ave must then set about ensuring that they become economic units in the community. We must ensure that those who settle on the land shall engage in the production of suitable commodities for consumption within Australia and for export beyond it. We must encourage them to produce commodities which will be readily saleable on the world’s markets. The man who settles on the land, whether to produce fruit, or wool or wheat. must be encouraged, to make his home on the land. We must take cognizance of the fact that servicemen have for years been engaged in war, which is a destructive occupation. Moreover, in the services, the men had constant company, and the change from a life of that kind to life on a farm is abrupt and unsettling. Recently, I discussed the matter with a young man who had been released from the Army fourteen months ago to assist his father on the farm. I asked him how he was getting on, and he told me that he was just beginning to feel that he could settle down. At first he found it very difficult. When he came in from working the tractor all day, he felt lonely. He wanted to get away where he could meet men, and talk to them. That is a factor which Ave should not overlook. We should provide community centres where soldier settlers, after their day’s work, can go with their wives to talk or read. Such social contacts would, help them to adjust themselves to peace-time conditions.
Above all, we must help the new settlers to become economic units. After the last war, we instituted schemes for settling on the land soldiers and immigrants, but the schemes were so conducted that the settlers were encouraged to believe that they could depend Upon the State rather than upon themselves. In the first place, where they Were settled on resumed land, it was bought at too high a price, so that it was practically impossible for ‘them to make it pay. The settler was told that if he ploughed so many acres the Government would advance him 10s. an acre. If he drilled the land with seed and superphosphate he would be paid another 15s. an acre. If he did any clearing he would be paid something for that also. The result was that the settler was robbed of the initiative which is necessary in order to make a success of farming. The incentive to plan for himself was taken from him. He was encouraged, in fact, to do as little work as possible, and then to sit back. As one settler said, “ We used to wait for the little men to come around with a government cash bag every fortnight “. Because the land was over capitalized, it was impossible for most of the settlers to make it pay, so their attitude was: “Why should we bother ploughing the land well, when we can just scratch it over and still get 10s. an acre for doing it? Why should we put the combine over it twice, and put in 1 cwt. of superphosphate to the acre, when the Government will pay us just as much for scratching the surface and putting in 20 lb. of superphosphate ? “
Every effort must be made to keep down capital costs. In the development of the land before the settlers go on to it, modern machinery must be used. For instance, suppose on an average holding it is necessary to construct three dams. These would cost £75 each under the oldfashioned method of using horses, or a total of £225, which, capitalized at 5 per cent., would represent an annual charge of £11 5s. With the use of a bulldozer, however, the dams could be excavated at a cost of £10 each, or a total of £30, upon which the annual interest charge would be £1 10s., so that there would be a saving of £9 15s. a year. For a dairy farm, the old method of clearing was to ringbark the trees, let them dry out, and then to use the firestick. By this method it would take from five to seven years to clear a few acres, and perhaps 50 years to clear any considerable area, and the cheapest cost at which the work could be done would he £10 an acre. To-day, with a modern bulldozer, that land could be cleared for about £2 an acre. The clearing of 100 acres at £10 an acre would cost £1,000, which, on the basis of 5 per cent, interest, represents a charge of £50 a year. Under modern methods clearing that land would cost only £200, interest upon which would be only £10 a year. The saving would be £40 a year. In those two matters alone the use of modern machinery would mean a saving of £49 15s. a year to the owner of a small dairy farm. It will be seen that the use of modern methods may lighten the burden which settlers will have to carry.
The third consideration is the selection of land of the right type. In my opinion, the whole scheme of soldier settlement has started off on the wrong foot ; we are dealing with the matter on a State basis, instead of on an Australia-wide basis. Wealthy States like Victoria and New South Wales will be able to expend more money, and, therefore, will be able to attract more settlers, than will some of the other States which have not enjoyed the benefit of Commonwealth expenditure on war industries to anything like the same degree. Nevertheless, the less wealthy States may have land much more suitable for settlement than is available in the eastern States. I see no reason why we should take notice of invisible survey lines, marked by rusty survey pegs, in the less productive parts of Australia. I believe that if nature has provided certain favorable physical conditions in certain parts of Australia this Parliament should see that those areas are developed. In Western Australia there is an area of at least 16,000,000 acres with a rainfall more suitable to primary production than in any other part of the world. There has never been a drought in the south-west portion of that State. Moreover, the quality of the land is such that it can grow those primary products for which the World is hungry, and for which, in my opinion, there will be an ever-growing demand. The area referred to is ideal for fruit-growing and pig production, as well as for raising fat lambs and baby beef. In my opinion, those are the most important commodities which this nation should produce in the post-war period.
In some parts of Australia wheat production has reached the limit of the capacity of the land. That statement may be challenged, but I remind the Souse that some years ago this Parliament discussed the expenditure of millions of pounds to transfer settlers from drought-affected wheat areas, where the attempt to grow wheat was regarded as uneconomical, to other districts. That is conclusive evidence that wheat-growing was being extended into unsuitable areas. Saturation point in regard to wheat production has been reached in large areas of this continent. The wool industry also is facing a serious situation, due chiefly to the challenge of synthetic materials. But those who produce fat lambs, beef and other meats have nothing to fear from synthetics, and therefore I repeat that for those commodities there will be a growing demand, particularly if the world is to give expression to its announced intention to raise standards of living generally. For the reasons- which 1 have given I submit that production should be on a national basis, rather than on a State basis. That brings me to a further point in regard to land settlement. I do not think that at this juncture it is wise to acquire large properties which are already producing to the limit of their capacity, when at the same time, there are large tracts of country unalienated in other parts of Australia. For instance, it would be wrong to cut up a property now held by one primary producer and divide it among six men if the ultimate production from the area were not likely to be increased. The position would be different if there were no unalienated land in Australia suitable for settlement. In those circumstances, 1 would be among the first to advocate closer settlement of holdings already in production. It is just as important to the defence of Australia that large undeveloped areas in the western portion of the continent should be developed as that closer settlement should take place in the eastern States. Our first aim should be to use land in order to increase the total production.
Many of the men who will settle on the land when demobilized will need vehicles and implements of various kinds. I hope that their needs will be taken into consideration in connexion with the disposal of surplus materials by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, and that the various governments will endeavour to acquire much of this equipment for use by ex-servicemen settlers. Sales by the commission are being advertised from time to time. At one sale recently in Western Australia, wagonettes were sold for 15s. each. These horse drawn, vehicles could easily be converted for use as farm vehicles; if pulled by a tractor or a motor truck they would be ideal for carting hay, superphosphate, &c, and for other work on farms. With a little alteration they should be worth £45 each.
– Where were they sold?
– They were sold at Karrakatta in Western Australia by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. We should endeavour to buy much of the galvanized iron. Some is damaged, but it would be quite good for the sides of the sheds that will be required by the prospective settlers in the dairying areas. Many Army trucks should be put aside in order that the intending settlers may be able to buy their needs at a reasonable cost instead of on the -open market at enormously high prices two or three years hence. The Government is dismissing thousands of men from munitions factories, but the munitions annexes ought to be used to manufacture the machinery that the soldier settlers will need. I do not think that would bc a violation of the Constitution. The annexes could well manufacture milking machinery and stationary engines required to drive the milking machines, the chaff cutters and the grain crushers needed on dairy, pig, fat Iamb and baby beef properties. They should also be used for the manufacture of small tractors suitable for use on small properties. The returned men of this war are much more mechanically minded than were the men who returned from the last war. Moreover, modern machinery largely relieves the drudgery that is one of the greatest drawbacks in all forms of primary production. However ambitious we may be to ensure the settlement of returned men, and however greatly we may wish for their success, we shall not be able to achieve our objectives unless we adequately tackle the broader problem of orderly marketing of the commodities that they will produce. All our plans will go awry if we allow, as we did after the last war, men to go into various classes of primary industry and then find that the bottom has dropped out of the market. Therefore, in conjunction with the scheme of land settlement, we must ensure that, whatever field of primary production men enter, they shall receive a payable price for their commodities.
– The ministerial statement on soldier settlement, which occupies the attention of honorable members to-day, resulted from agreements made between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments. Our first duty is to ensure that there shall be no repetition of the debacle that marked the land settlement agreements after the 1914-18 war. The best is not good enough for the men who fought for us. Those who desire to settle on the land must be given the very best land this country has, whether it be large estates’ or Crown lands. We must ensure too that the blocks shall be living areas that will ensure a lucrative return to the settlers in good seasons to protect them against the inevitable dry seasons. The settlers must be given every financial assistance they need. They must also be given the best advice that agricultural science can provide. But, above all, the duty reposes in this Parliament to ensure that markets shall be available for the inevitable increased production. Therein lies the kernel of the scheme. On the availability of markets depends the .success or failure of this scheme, because it matters not how good the seasons may be or how fertile the soil may be if the products cannot be sold profitably. Indeed, the better the season the greater the production and the greater the glut unless there is a market for the surplus. We have heard nothing from the Government as to what it has done towards negotiating trade agreements with the other dominions and other countries in order to hold the markets that we have had hitherto or to develop new markets. The .addition of tens of thousands of new settlers to the ranks of our primary producers will intensify the problem of marketing that has troubled us in the past. We shall be in a sorry state, therefore, if we do not take time by the forelock and negotiate trade agreements wherever we can. Canada, throughout the war, has followed the policy of development of markets, and has thereby acquired a large share of world trade, whereas we, as the result of shortage of labour and transport, have found it impossible to fulfil our existing obligations and have had to withdraw from markets instead of expand them. A continuance of that state of affairs will spell doom not only for the soldier settlement plan but also for the whole structure of our primary industries.
This plan provides that the Commonwealth Government shall find the money and that the States shall, according to their will, act either as agents for the Commonwealth or as principals. Some State governments would not accept the role of agent for the Commonwealth and want to run their own shows. So a uniform scheme was not practicable. I am not clear as to whether the agreements with all of the States are identical; I do not think they are. In each of the agent States, the Commonwealth will apply its own ideas with regard to settlement. Some of the States have already made great progress in their preparations in this matter. New South Wales on its own initiative has already acquired land of sufficient area to provide individual holdings with a carrying capacity of up to 4,000 sheep. Both New South Wales and Victorian Governments have advanced preparations considerably. They have acquired the best lands available in those States. I agree with the view that very good land is available in the larger States of Queensland and Western Australia. So far as I can discover, however, Queensland has not made very great progress in this matter. I hope that the Commonwealth, being the Government that will pay, will ensure that the States shall fully carry out their obligations under the general scheme. The latest information I have been able to obtain is that no land has yet been acquired for soldier settlement in Queensland, and that nothing has been done in that State to survey land for settlement. Now, as the result of the sudden ending of the war, Queensland is practically left “up in the air “ in this matter, and, so far as I can ascertain, no land will be available for soldier settlement in that State for some considerable time. The Commonwealth should see that Queensland steps into line with the other .States and makes the best land available for this purpose.
In the agreements, provision is made for farm and grazing areas on perpetual lease or in certain circumstances the settler may pay a deposit of one-fifth of the purchase price of his holding, and for the first year he will be given assistance at the rate of £3 30s. a week in respect of each individual engaged on the holding. No rent or interest will be charged for the first year, and later, only 2 per cent, will be charged. That provision is most generous. I repeat that action already taken by the New South Wales Government is a credit to that State, and conforms with the generous treatment which the Australian people as a whole agree should be meted out to ex-service personnel. Most of the land provided for soldier settlement after the war of 1914-18 was unsuitable. That was the case in Queensland particularly. The Beerburrum settlement, which is situated in my electorate, is a striking instance of incompetence in that respect. On that settlement, individual soldiers were allotted twenty acres, on which they were expected to make a living by growing pineapples. If it were possible to grow pineapples successfully on that land, it would te possible to grow them anywhere. Settlers also undertook the growing of tobacco with equally disastrous results. Most of the land selected for soldier settlement after the war of 1914-18 was on the fringe of good areas. It was suitable only for grazing purposes, and had poor carrying capacity even for grazing. In other cases, areas for subdivision into agricultural holdings were selected in inaccessible areas where transport was lacking, and it was impossible to provide ordinary community amenities. The Commonwealth Government must profit by the mistakes of the States in the past. In addition, we have at. hand modern machinery, such as tractors and bulldozers, to clear the land and help eliminate much of the drudgery formerly associated with the pioneering of primary production. In the. past the pioneer who went into virgin country with his wife and children was practically broken in health before he managed to place his venture on a payable basis. Many of those difficulties can be eliminated by utilization of modern farming machinery. I again emphasize the importance of providing payable markets for all ex-service personnel who are to take up land under this scheme. Otherwise, we shall again he obliged to restrict production. Only two years ago we were limiting the production of wheat. We must avoid a repetition of that policy. However, should the government of the day deem it advisable to restrict production, the soldier settler should be the last person to be penalized by such a policy. In this respect, preferential treatment must be given to soldier settlers at the expense of people who stayed at home during the war and were thus enabled to enter primary production under the best conditions. However, we shall not find it necessary to restrict production in the future, so long as we take adequate steps to ensure suitable markets for our products.
Provision is to be made to train prospective settlers in higher agricultural methods. That is most commendable. In this work the Government should co-opt through honorary organizations the services of experienced settlers in particular localities, because, with their knowledge of local conditions, they are in the best position to render the most useful assistance to intending settlers. I sincerely hope that before very long we shall be not merely discussing plans for soldier settlement but will have before us the legislation now long overdue to implement this scheme. Until such legislation is enacted in both this and the State Parliaments none of the States can commence operations.
– The States have already made a commencement in anticipation of the passage of that legislation.
– No land is actually being made available to soldiers under this scheme, and until the necessary legislation is passed to ratify these agreements the States cannot allow ex-service personnel to select land. The Minister is aware that New South Wales was ready many months ago to open up some areas and could have gone ahead with settlement but for disagreement between the Commonwealth and the States generally regarding the qualifications of settlers, and as to whether the prospective settler, or his representative, should be permitted, during his absence in the fighting forces, to acquire land for him. Other difficulties arose, and months passed before’ they could be adjusted. That adjustment occurred shortly before the House adjourned on the 2nd August. The States, which have undertaken a lot of preparatory work, are now ready to begin the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land, and the Commonwealth Government should at once introduce the necessary legislation instead of merely making a statement of its intentions. This is just talk.
– The honorable member opposed the Commonwealth’s attempt to secure the necessary power at the referendum.
– The Government, on passing the necessary legislation, will have the power to provide for soldier settlement. Why does not the Government enable the States to proceed with their plans?
– There is nothing holding back the States from going right ahead now.
– The States which are ready to begin soldier settlement cannot go right ahead now, because they require money, which must be appropriated by the Commonwealth Parliament, In addition, an enabling bill must be passed. When that legislation is enacted, the State parliaments will pass the requisite bills. That must be done before soldier settlement schemes in Australia can function. Instead of having this discussion to-day, the Government should introduce the necessary bill without delay, so that the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land may proceed smoothly and expeditiously. I hope that the greatest consideration will be given on all occasions to this scheme. The best land should be provided for the purpose, and from this hour the Government should be active in finding markets for the commodities to be produced by the settlers.
.- Land settlement of ex-servicemen is one of the most important subjects discussed by this House for a long time. We have learned a good deal from the very serious mistakes which have been made in the past. Indeed, much of the land settlement undertaken in Australia has proved a tragic failure. Therefore, those in charge of the settlement of ex-servicemen must fulfil a very important task. We require not “soldier closer settlement” but “ successful closer settlement “. Some honorable members have stated that as soldier settlers, they were placed on the land after the last war, but had no possible chance of succeeding. After years of hardship, they walked off the properties with their families, broken in spirit. The most important consideration in soldier settlement is the capitalization of the land. After men had slaved for years, State governments wrote down the value of their properties. I regret that the scheme for the settlement of ex-servicemen is not a national plan wholly controlled by the Commonwealth. I fear that State jealousy will intrude in this as it has intruded into many other matters. If this were a national responsibility, all parties would experience a greater measure of satisfaction, and losses would be lower. Of course, losses will occur. Sometimes the cart is put before the horse. The land has only one value, namely, the value of the commodities that it will produce. The land, in itself, is not worth a “ cracker “.
A guaranteed price has not been provided for all our primary products, and for that reason I regret that the Government’s referendum proposals were defeated. Even if a man were given a block of land and produced wool, wheat, butter, fat lambs or fruit, he could not succeed financially unless his returns covered his living and working expenses. Therefore, we must have a marketing scheme which will guarantee to producers prices that will cover the cost of production. The higher the valuation of the land, the greater must be the cost of what it produces. Therefore, .the value of the land should be as low as possible. When land has been acquired at. a fair price for the purpose of soldier settlement, it will be the responsibility of the government of the day to fix the capital value of the farms at a figure which will not financially cripple the producers, and which will enable the produce to be sold at. a price that the consuming public can afford to pay. Where Crown land is available in suitable areas, it should be the first land to be provided for settlement. It should not be sold to exservicemen, but should be made available to them at the lowest possible rate of interest. Consequently, the whole proposition depends upon the provision of finance. I am gratified that the Commonwealth Bank is now operating under its new charter, and I hope that the resources of the institution will be used to promote the land settlement of ex-servicemen. The Commonwealth Bank should create money for this purpose and make advances to settlers at a rate of interest not exceeding I. per cent. In addition, the Commonwealth should issue a direction to the States not to charge more than 2 per cent, interest on money advanced to soldier settlers for the purpose of improving their properties.
The States will be responsible alsofor erecting homes on properties, and providing water and electricity supplies. Electricity in rural areas is cheap, and I hope that this service will bc provided immediately the soldier settler takes possession of his property. In fact, water and electricity should be provided even before the settler goes on the land. I realize that we cannot do everything at once, but we should prepare as quickly as possible, with the manpower and materials available, to provide water and electricity for the settlers and generally improve living conditions on the land. By that means, we may be able to arrest the drift of population from the country to ‘the large cities. When so many conveniences are available to residents of the metropolitan area that are denied to primary producers, men and women will not be contentto be slaves on the land. That has been the experience of settlers during the last 30 years. Wheat-growers and dairy-farmers in particular have endured slavery of the worst possible kind. The Commonwealth Disposals Commission should make available to soldier settlers surplus Army equipment at the lowest price. One honorable member spoke in favour of community holdings. For three, four and five years soldiers have lived with large bodies of men, and life in the comparative solitude of the rural districts will be strange to them. They should be given all possible amenities and entertainments, because they have earned them. Every honorable member will be pleased to see those things provided without delay for our soldier settlers.
– I approve of any action that- may be taken by the’ Government to provide suitable land for soldier settlers, where water is available. I agree with the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) that associated with the availability of land should be the stabilization of prices and the expansion of markets, so that the products of the soldier settlers may be assured of returns that will cover the cost of production, and, in addition, enable them to enjoy a reasonable standard of comfort. The stabilization of prices is an essential factor in the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land, because even good prices and markets, as we have had in the past, are not always an inducement to men to suttie on the land. It is vital that in future primary products should be made available in sufficient quantities to meet the demand, and that satisfactory prices should be assured, if not by a straight-out guarantee, then by a stabilization scheme which will provide an economic return from the sale of the produce.
I desire now to refer to the matter which I raised in the House yesterday relating to a statement which appeared in Queensland’s leading newspaper. It was to the effect that 177 properties in the Dalby district had been frozen, although no notification of the action had been given to the owners. I do not object to the resumption of land where holdings exceed a living area, and 1 do not object to land being resumed in any particular district. We cannot push our ex-servicemen out to the back-blocks. They are as much entitled to live in accessible districts as is any other member of the community. The action to which I have referred was taken by the Queensland Government under National Security Regulations. The only intimation of the freezing of the land was a notification in the Queensland Government Gazette. Even there, the names of the owners were not stated, but only the portions of the blocks affected. How many farmers have ready access to the Government Gazette t In fact, how many members of Parliament get the Commonwealth Government Gazette, or how many read it if they do get it?
– Local governing authorities get the Gazette.
M>r. ADERMANN.- Yes, but it is not the duty of a shire council to inform landowners that the Government has frozen their holdings for land resumption. Included in the newspaper statement - and this is the point which concerns me - is the definite assertion that the land of many servicemen of this war and the last war, and even of widows who have been struggling to keep their properties operating during the war under most difficult conditions, has been frozen. It is said also that many of the blocks which have been frozen are only bare living areas, or even less than living areas. I should be pleased to have an assurance from the Minister that it is not the intention of the Government to resume land which is not in excess of a living area, and also that the Government does not intend to take land from one serviceman in order to give it to another; in other words, rob Peter to pay Paul. It was with a view to obtaining this assurance that I asked a question upon this matter. I do not agree that the Commonwealth Government is devoid of all responsibility in respect of what is being done. The
Queeusland Government is not regarded as an agent, but as a principal; but the Commonwealth is partly responsible, and must have some regard for the money which it invests in this scheme. In effect, it is fathering the settlement scheme and the Government of Queensland should not be permitted to take action which is unBritish. I refer to the freezing of land without notifying the owner thereof, who. in some instances, may remain unaware of the Government’s action until he endeavours to sell his property. In a properly organized land settlement scheme there should not be anything to hide. All actions should be open and above-board. The reply given by the State Minister was to the effect that people should not be selfish in this matter. Surely, that is a rather weak answer. The Minister did not deny the charge that land had been frozen without notification. It is hardly fair to describe as selfish the action of a person, whose whole livelihood depends upon the return which he obtains from a block of land, not in excess of a living area, in protesting against the freezing of his holding by the method adopted by the Queensland Government ! Property-owners are entitled to know what is being done. The districts mentioned in this statement include fertile lands capable of settling many exservicemen. In my own district 160 acres of scrub land is regarded as sufficient to provide a reasonable living, but in the Dalby and Taroom districts a much greater area is required, depend-, ing upon the use to which the land is to be put. On behalf of residents of the Taroom and Wondoan districts I have presented many petitions to the Minister. These people are most concerned because the State Government proposes to settle soldiers on areas of 1,500 acres, or in some oases less. Practical men are unanimous that the ex-servicemen will starve on these areas, even if they engage in dairying. I can confirm that view from my own meagre knowledge of these districts. At Wondoan holdings of not less than 3,000 acres are necessary to enable settlers to earn a reasonable livelihood. The statement now under discussion gives an assurance that no action will be taken without the advice of practical men, and I hope that the Government will listen to the advice of the men whose names I have passed on to him.
One other aspect of this matter concerns me greatly: It is no use making land available to ex-servicemen without also providing water. It has been stated that water should be available but I point out that in many of the most fertile districts of Queensland where the soil is excellent and the land is most suitable for settlement schemes, no water is being made available. The Government of Queensland has a subsidy scheme under which it will advance up to one-third of the capital cost tff a water conservation and irrigation scheme. Although that advance may be adequate in towns of >a reasonable size it is not sufficient to provide water in agricultural districts. If sufficient water for stock and for home use has to be brought for many miles, it is economically impossible for settlers themselves to provide the necessary finance. This morning I received a letter from the Inglewood Shire Council, setting out particulars of a scheme that has been planned completely by the shire engineer, and eulogized by the State government department concerned. The council states that unless a 50 per cent, subsidy be made available the plan will be impracticable, and that the proposition is doubtful even at that figure. To ensure an adequate supply of water to that district a 75 per cent, subsidy would be required. Water is important to land settlement, and, on this subject, I asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) many months ago who had the responsibility of planning and testing water schemes in the first instance. As I expected, the honorable gentleman said that it was the responsibility of the State governments. I understand that that is correct. However, I am concerned about the number of schemes, if any, that have been submitted by the Queensland Government to the Commonwealth Government. Shire councils are doing a good job in making the services of their engineers available for the planning of water supply schemes, but they cannot finance the construction of national water and irrigation services’. If the Queensland Government wants to obtain assistance from the Commonwealth Government, it should be alive to the position and should submit planned and tested’ schemes. It seems to have been dilatory in this respect, although the Minister may have particulars of schemes of which I am not aware. I should like to know whether that is so or not. The Minister seems to have made one serious oversight in preparing his statement. He gave no promise of financial assistance to State governments for the purpose of making water available in districts where there is fertile land but no water. Before introducing the bill, the Government should provide for such assistance because it is urgently needed. The engineer of the Inglewood Shire Council estimates that, under this scheme, it would be necessary for a tobacco farmer to pay £5 an acre to make the service economically practicable. I know little about the practical side of tobacco-growing, but, from practical experience of other rural industries, I know that it would be economically impossible for any holder to pay £5 an acre for water facilities alone. The cost would be excessive. This aspect demands the attention of the ‘Government, which should grant financial assistance to the States so that water may be provided where fertile land is available. I hope that provision for such aid will be included in the bill when it is presented to this House.
Sitting suspended from 12.39 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I regard the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land as a problem of major importance and the greatest magnitude. We have experience to guide us in the settlement that was undertaken after the last war, and I trust that the mistakes then made will not be repeated on this occasion. One could draw pointed attention to the inflated prices then paid for land in all States, and in many instances to the unsuitability of the men selected for settlement. In the agreement between the States and the Commonwealth, made as far back as the 5th October, 1944, the Commonwealth Government showed itself to be seized with the’ importance of having plans prepared so that this very important task might be undertaken immediately after the termination of the war. It is worthy of note that the agreement has not so far been ratified by any State. The States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania are to act as agents for the Commonwealth, and the States of Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales are to accept full responsibility. The problem in relation to the Commonwealth is very much greater than it would have been had the people conferred on it powers which it sought at the referendum last year. As they failed to approve of those proposals, the only course was for the Commonwealth to make agreements with the States. The principles upon which the agreements have been made, are sound. They are -
Although those may be regarded as the main guiding principles upon which settlers will be accepted under this scheme, they do not achieve anything really worthwhile. The necessary funds have to be provided, the land must be chosen, and the men must be selected. I am very greatly impressed by the provisions in the document which the Premiers, as far back as October last, agreed to adopt as a basis for consideration of the matter. The Commonwealth is tackling the problem realistically. I hope that the men will be carefully selected and that suitability will be the determining factor. There will not be inflated land values in the States that are to act as agents for the Commonwealth, or in New SouthWales and
Queensland, because they have leasehold tenure. I understand that the Government of Victoria insists that the tenure for that State shall be freehold. The risk of inflated values is greater with freehold than with leasehold tenure. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) has suggested to me that the Government of Victoria insists on freehold tenure because it wishes to perpetuate inflated values. No doubt that reason actuated the attempt last month, at a conference of farmers held in Victoria, supposedly non-political, by two members of the Australian Country party, one from Victoria and the other from New South Wales, to “grind their own party-political axes “ at the expense of land settlers. The problem with which we are confronted is the settlement of men in rural areas under such conditions that they will have a reasonable means of livelihood. The settlers should be carefully selected, and the land chosen should be suitable for their purposes.
That brings me to points made by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) when he spoke of land being frozen by the Queensland Government. I do not know much about Queensland, but I agree that it is one of the best States in the Commonwealth. I suppose, on occasions of this sort, one may be pardoned for taking a somewhat local view. For some time, there has been considerable agitation on one of the islands in the Furneaux group in Bass Strait, concerning the opportunities for the settlement of men now serving with the forces, when they are discharged. The Flinders Municipal Council has expressed considerable concern about the control of areas suitable for agricultureand dairying. These are falling into the hands of a limited number of persons. On the 5th July, I received a letter from the local authorities intimating that they had agreed to a motion in these terms: -
This council views with concern the apparent absence of control in thismunicipality of rural land transactions to the disadvantage of service personnel, and requests you to enlist Federal intervention to prevent further properties changing hands unless a searching inquiry is made and report from the local District War Agricultural Committee obtained. If it is found that an owner or lessee desires to sell, the Government should acquire the equity in such suitable land which should be preserved for the settlement of service personnel.
A good deal of agitation has occurred on the islands in the past because of the action of private land-owners, some of whom are absentee owners, in holding the land out of full production, although it is eminently suitable for dairying and the raising of fat lambs. It is regrettable that this valuable land should be used merely for grazing purposes. The State legislature has no power to acquire the land without leaving each owner an area of 3,000 acres. The provisions of the law under which the land can be acquired by the State cannot be liberalized because of the attitude of the Legislative Council of Tasmania. An area of 3,000 acres may seem small compared with the vast areas held in a State such as Queensland, but I remind honorable members that the total area of the islands in the Furneaux Group is relatively small. Unless the land be divided into small holdings there is no hope of progress on the islands.
Flinders Island, the largest in the :group, contains 513,000 acres. The whole of the group contains 660,000 acres. There are about 100 charted islands. As the present stranglehold increases, this land will be held by even fewer people than in the past, and those who wish to take up dairying or the raising of fat lambs will have fewer opportunities to do so. During the war the number of owners has decreased and the pre-war population of 1,004 has now been reduced to a few hundreds. The production of the butter factory has decreased considerably in the last five or six years. This is a co-operative factory which is supplied by the producers throughout the islands, and unless this good land be occupied by a sufficient number of people to enable intensive cultivation to be practised, the factory will eventually be forced to cease operations. The production of the factory since 1939 is indicated by the following stable : -
It would be highly regrettable if the butter factory were compelled to close its doors because of a continued decrease of production. A local organization was established to ascertain the wishes with regard to post-war avocations of islanders who have joined the fighting forces, and the replies received show that 97 per cent, of them wish to settle on the land on their return from the war. They wish to take up dairying, the raising of fat lambs and general mixed farming in the country with which they are familiar and where they have been reared. Unless steps can be taken to secure control of the land, there is little prospect of subdividing it for closer settlement.
The inhabitants of these islands have suffered a good deal in the past because of their isolation. The shipping service was formerly infrequent, and even at present it is not so frequent as it might be. Unless the production can be increased the service must necessarily become less frequent. The group is well served at present by air transport, as an aeroplane calls there daily. An aeroplane travelling from the mainland to Tasmania alights there, and it also calls at the islands on its return trip to the mainland on the following day. I hope that the Minister will endeavour to suggest a .means of solving the problem of these islanders. In this regard we might well apply a policy of decentralization. I may be charged with taking a parochial view, but it is my duty to look after the interests of my own people. While the servicemen have been away, others have seized the opportunity to obtain control of the land, sometimes in a very subtle way.
The approach of the Government to the general subject of land settlement has been realistic, and I am glad that agreements have been made with the States. I hope that the settlement schemes will be placed under the control of capable and experienced men, that there will be a careful selection of settlers, and no inflation of land values. In this way, exploitation of the soldiers can be avoided, and we shall discharge our duty to serve in time of peace those who served us so well in time of war.
.- In considering the subject of soldier land settlement our first duty is to assume the correct mental attitude to the matter. Men who have fought, and perhaps suffered, for this country have a better right than any one else to settle on the soil which they defended, and no one has the right to prevent them. This does not apply only to those who, by virtue of previous experience or family associations, may be regarded as types suitable for putting on the land. Many men entered the services too young to have gained experience that would qualify them to engage immediately in farming, but had they not joined up they might, before this, have gained the necessary experience. If they wish to take up farming they should be given an opportunity to train themselves for farm life just as men are trained for the trades and professions. I regard every man who has fought for Australia entitled to become a soldier settler if he so wishes.
The idea of soldier settlement has been prejudiced by the sad experience of so many soldiers after the last war, and by the exaggerated reports which are circulated indicating that soldier land settlement schemes had proved an almost unmitigated failure. I know that land settlement proved a sorry business for many of the men who returned from the last war. Thousands who caine through the war, perhaps unscathed, lived to have their health, both physical and mental, wrecked by their experiences as soldier settlers. I hope that there will be no repetition of this. We must make a liberal approach to this problem, and show a willingness to provide the right kind of land, and sufficient assistance to enable the settlers to make a success of their venture.
– And the land must be made available at the right price.
– That is essential, and it must be made available on satisfactory terms.
– There must also be assured markets.
– Yes, but that may not prove to be entirely within our own control. However, we should resolve that, if the satisfactory control of marketing should prove to be beyond our power, the soldier settlers must not be allowed to suffer. Australia should not be regarded as a country of vast empty spaces waiting to be filled by men returning from the war. There is a well defined and limited area of country with a reliable rainfall. Beyond that there is an area of hard country. I hope that we shall not attempt to turn the soldiers into pioneers to open up the hard country while allowing others to continue in occupation of the more favoured areas. I believe that the population of Australia can be greatly increased, not by settling people in the areas which are now empty, but by settling more densely the already settled fertile lands in good rainfall areas. We inust have the right kind of land at the right price. We ought not to expect these men to fill the role of pioneers.
– That was a mistake made after the war of 1914-1S.
– I know something of this subject because I was one of a number of men who settled on the land after that war. I am still on the land, and I know the hardships that have had to be endured. I was one of a band of between 400 and 500 men who were allotted land in a big settlement area in Victoria. The land was all right, and I do not think that the prices charged for it were unreasonable, but the areas allotted to the settlers were fantastically small, and the arrangements made for the development of the land were ridiculously inadequate and tardy. Ever since 1919 I have lived among men who have endured hardships that have arisen from the mistakes of the last soldier settlement scheme. I have seen broken hearts, suicides and murders in my district, the result of the condition of mind of men who were set a hopeless task after the last war. If there is one thing about which I am determined, it is that men shall be given a fair chance in this second attempt at soldier settlement. I believe that of all the mistakes made after the war of 1914-1S the basic mistake was that the areas allotted to settlers were too small. In many instances, the land was poor, and should never have been purchased for soldier settlement; in other instances, the men were inexperienced, and did not have sufficient training; in still other instances, the land was too highly priced. But my observations have convinced me “that the basic cause of failure was that the areas were too small, and that even had the other conditions been more favorable, large numbers of men still could not have succeeded because of the circumstances that existed. I hope that we shall not repeat that mistake. We should not he too parsimonious about this matter. The business of farming is not one that can be undertaken by a man with a few hundred pounds of capital on land worth a few hundred pounds. If men on the land and their families are to enjoy a reasonable standard of living, a fair investment on their part, or on the part of the Government which is setting them up in the business of farming is required. I hope that neither the Commonwealth Government nor the State governments will fail to face up to the necessity to do the job properly - that they will not try to do it “on the cheap”. I am sure that it will be found that despite their previous experience in farming operations numbers of men who will be placed on the land will not have the necessary experience in farm management to make a success of the enterprise. Men may find that they have not had that complete training which will enable them to carry on farming on their own account. I hope that provision will be made for efficient and continuous assistance to, and supervision of, the men who go on the land. Supervision is important. It was not provided for in any substantial measure in previous soldier land settlement schemes. Cash advances amounting to £250,000 were made to soldier settlers within a radius of 5 or 6 miles of my holding. The then Victorian Government appointed a retired carpenter as supervisor and advisor-in-chief o’f those men.
– That may be done again.
– I hope not. I have referred to some of the mistakes that were made in the past, and which I now urge should be avoided in the future. We all realize the necessity to avoid the mistake of trying to settle men on poor land, or land that is too costly, but I emphasize the need for larger areas, sufficient capital, and a shorter developmental period. Under the previous soldier settlement scheme, a settler was entitled to an advance of £625. The farm allotted to him was marked by a peg driven in the ground at each corner. Out of his £625 he was expected to build a house, fence and subdivide his land, buy a herd of dairy cows, a team of working horses, construct a milking shed, buy seed, manure, and implements. What was left of his original £625, I suppose, could be used for other purposes!
This morning the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) said that on one occasion he was surprised to find that what he thought were shacks were in reality the homes of soldier settlers. We should not baulk at a few pounds in this matter, and force men and their families to live in shacks. If the job is worth doing, we should insist that Australian men and women shall be entitled to reasonable living standards. There are certain basic requirements of a people who claim to be civilized. Those requirements should be provided for all ex-servicemen who go on the land. I hope that we shall not tolerate a state of affairs in which men and their families will be expected to live in sub-standard homes to which a water service is not connected. A tap in the home from which water could be drawn was the rarest of luxuries under the soldier settlement scheme after the war of 1914-18. Unless the Commonwealth Government lays down certain basic requirements, we may find some parsimonious or short-sighted State government repeating the unsatisfactory state of affairs which soldiers of the last war experienced. The very minimum that we should provide is a decent home with water laid on. If possible, electric light should be available on every farm. 1 know of many farms in Australia within a mile or two of a transmission line which are without electricity because farmers cannot afford to have it connected to their properties. We must remedy that state of affairs. I hope that we shall lay down standards that will ensure minimum conveniences, which may have been regarded as luxuries in au age that I hope has gone by - conveniences such as a septic tank system, which can be installed for a few pounds, that will give the sanitation of a water closet in the home. That is a rarity to-day, but of that we have no reason to be proud. Quite apart from the ultimate economic success or failure of soldier settlement, those are things that should be provided at the starting-point. Men who have fought for this country should not be compelled to wait in the hope that one day, perhaps ten years hence, they will be able to afford them if they work hard enough. But after the last war, men who had fought in France for years had to depend on good seasons and payable markets to be able to afford pipe-running water in the kitchen so that their wives could turn on the tap inside to fill the kettle instead of having to go out to the tank, regardless of the weather, every time water was needed. These may sound elementary things to be talking about, but they are the life of many Australian men, women and children, and I hope that we shall deal with them immediately, and not allow them to bo decided by the ultimate economic state of their farming operations, some of which, such as overseas prices, arc .admittedly not within our own control.
As I expressed the view that inadequate areas were the greatest cause of failure of the previous soldier settlement scheme, I express the view that the second cause of failure was the intolerable time it took the farmers to develop their holdings. They had inadequate money and, consequently, inadequate equipment. I know of many farmers with 40 or 60 acre properties that took four, five, six, or seven years to develop because they had nothing to develop them with except their two hands, a couple of crocks of horses and a small income. If it is worth our while to provide the money to put men on the land, it must also be worth our while to ensure the availability of modern equipment and labour for its development. Within the next few months, we shall be confronted with the problem of providing jobs for demobilized members of the forces. We should not put a man on the land and say to him, “ Those four pegs represent your boundary. When you have strength and time enough you can erect a boundary fence, and later, when you have more time, you can erect subdivision fences, and then, with more time on your hands, sink a dam “.
I hope that we shall use some of the resources that we have marshalled for war to prepare the farms to a very considerable extent so that we shall not hand them over to the soldier settlers in an utterly undeveloped state. I do not say that because I think they should, be spared or wish to avoid hard work. What I do think is that if we put men on land that they cannot develop to the productive stage for four or five years, they will have no hope from the word “ go “. Their only hope lies in their being able to bring their properties into production in a comparatively short space of time. Otherwise, they will be doomed to failure and all the suffering that goes with it. Therefore, I impress upon the Government, with all my strength, the point that we must marshal our resources of men and equipment to ensure the substantial development of the properties before they are handed over to the settlers. There is more to this problem than the farm itself, for there is the community life to be considered. The resumption of estates for closer settlement by former members of the forces means the establishment of community life. If the members of a community are to enjoy the ordinary amenities of community life enjoyed by their fellow men in urban areas certain services must be provided. It seems too silly to say that roads must be provided, but it did not seem to occur to any one *25 years ago that a farming community of a few hundred men and their families needed roads. For years and years after my settlement of Stanhope was formed, men moved round the district in their spring carts and jinkers up to the axles in mud. in wet weather. It is true that no settler could afford a motor car, but, for five or six years after its settlement, had he been able to, he could not have driven it round the district. Roads, therefore, are an elementary need. Transport services must be provided. Wherever possible the localities must be connected with electricity. All the normal services that make for a happy and contented countryside of people must be given. There is more to farming than hard work. There must be provision for recreation. There must be a public hall for moving pictures and other aspects of the community life of a locality.
– A library!
– Yes. At Stanhope the Government of Victoria erected a public hall, built of weatherboard. Its cost was £1,560. We were given 30 years in which to pay for it.
– Plus the interest.
– Yes, the interest was 4£ per cent, and there was an amortization charge. I remember that after fifteen years we had paid £1,560, and still owed £1,560. Fortunately the hall was burnt down. That was the only way we could get out of debt, because it was insured. Soldier settlement must not be considered exclusively on the basis of the unit of one settler. It has to be considered on the basis of the community life of Australian men, women and children. There have to be roads, schools, transport services, and hospitals. In the hot inland areas there has to be a swimming pool for the children, and the adults too. They must be provided with the ordinary amenities of life. I hope that these needs will be borne in mind by the Government. I am sorry that there was insufficient heed paid to some of those points in the Minister’s statement. I only hope that they have not escaped the attention of the Government, although I have no reason to think they have. I remind the Government of those points which it may have overlooked. Apart from the States, this Parliament controls a great province in the Northern Territory. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) is possibly the best fitted to handle that matter, because he knows the outback country better than any other honorable member. I am absolutely convinced of the opportunities for Australians with the assistance of scientific investigation to make a very good living in the Northern Territory not on pocket handkerchief allotments, but on reasonably large areas. This Parliament has a job of soldier settlement on its hands in the Northern Territory. This is not a matter to be handed over exclusively to the States. I shall express my views upon the particular points of the proposed legislation when it is introduced.
At present a considerable area of freehold land is passing into the ownership of aliens while our men are still in the forces. I refer particularly to the district of Shepparton which is situated in my electorate. Month after month during the whole of the war, despite protests made locally in which I myself was active, land was being sold at Shepparton even to unnaturalized aliens.
– Could not the State Government prevent that?
– Yes; and I hold no brief for the Government of Victoria in respect of that particular matter. But, under the National Security Act, this Parliament also has power to prohibit unnaturalized persons from acquiring freehold land. That is the law in Queensland, and I agree with it. At the same time, the Commonwealth Government, under the National Security Act, forbids the transfer of any land except with the consent of the appropriate authorities. I have made my remarks with regard to soldier land settlement on non-party lines, and I shall not throw a dead cat into the ring at this juncture. However, nothing could be more disheartening to men after serving in the forces than to return with the ambition to own land in their home districts and find that during their absence the land which they wished to acquire had passed into the hands of a person of alien birth. I appeal to the Government to put an end to these transactions particularly in areas where there are aggregations of aliens. Such areas are limited in number. They include principally Werribee and Shepparton in Victoria, and areas in the sugar-growing districts in Queensland. In those areas the density of alien population should not be allowed to increase.
.- I agree with most of the remarks made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) particularly with respect to the picture he presented of the privations of settlers under soldier land settlement schemes after the war of 1914-18. I myself took up land in one of those settlements and I could add to the harrowing story which the honorable member has placed before the House. I do not propose to do so; but I should like to ask the honorable member why he shirked his responsibility in this matter by opposing the Government’s referendum proposals which were designed to place soldier land settlement on a national basis under the control of the National Parliament? As the result of my bitter experiences as a soldier settler after the war of 1914-18, I resolved that the young men who fought in this war should not suffer similar experiences. For that reason I supported the Government’s referendum proposals. But the honorable member for Indi opposed them. Had they been carried, this Parliament would now be able to implement the ideas which he has just expressed; but we find ourselves powerless to do so.
– I do not agree with that.
– It has been one of my burning desires to prevent a repetition of the treatment meted out to soldier settlers after the war of 1914-18. That is why I fought so strenuously in support of the Government’s referendum proposals which were designed to give to this National Parliament full control over this vital subject. Much of what the honorable member has said is correct, but he should have helped to obtain that power for this Parliament. To-day we cannot take action to remedy the position in Victoria to which he has referred. Consequently, I feel a little bitter with (lie honorable gentleman. I know of old settlers who are still without adequate water supplies. Only nine out of the original settlers in the area in which [ took up land have survived. The remainder of the holdings have been reabsorbed in the big estates. I recall the days when many of those settlers were obliged to sell one bag of wheat at a time in order to provide the necessaries of life for their children. To-day, people in that area are being told that the Commonwealth Government has complete power to deal effectively with soldier land settlement. That, of course, is not true. On the other hand, the State Government has refused to take effective action to remedy the position.
The Commonwealth Government’s referendum proposals visualized a uniform national plan of soldier land settlement which would have been financed through the Commonwealth Bank. Under such a scheme the Commonwealth could have assisted the settler with one of his greatest burdens, namely, interest. Settlers found it impossible under the old purchase system to develop their holdings, and, at the same time, meet their interest charges. Under a national scheme, land could have been purchased for soldier settlement in the interests of the nation, and having thus reverted to the Crown all opportunity for land speculation would have been obviated. The land could have been made available possibly at a rate of interest as low as lj per cent. Indirectly, the scheme would have been of great benefit to the nation as a whole. However, at the Premiers Conference in 1944, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria chose to act as principals, whilst Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia agreed to act as agents of the Commonwealth, in effect, giving almost complete power in this matter to the National Parliament. It is a great pity that Victoria did not fall into line in this matter, because it is the only State which ha3 not a lease-hold system. I have advocated the lease-hold system ever since I went on the land after the war of 1914-1S. But under the system of soldier settlement which operated in Victoria, we could not possibly succeed. Our debts were increased not by loans but by accrued interest. The Government of Victoria could have capitalized that, and then advanced money to settlers at an interest rate of 1^ per cent, per annum. Years later, the Government wrote off the debts as a dead loss, and the burden was borne by the taxpayers of that State. I could have paid the interest on the capital if the Government of Victoria had reverted, as New South Wales has done, to the leasehold system of tenure. I hope that when the Parliament of Victoria discusses the ratification of the proposed agreement, an amendment will be submitted for the purpose of making that State an agent of the Commonwealth, just as South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have become.
We desire to do our best to assist the soldier settler. On analysis, the assistance which the Commonwealth is giving is most generous. The serviceman, both before and after his discharge, will be given vocational training. When he takes possession of his block, he will be paid wages for a period. Imagine the position that I would have been in if this arrangement had operated twenty years ago! For eighteen months I lived in a tent before I obtained any return for my labour. After having worked hard on the property and erected fences, I had the magnificent return of £60. I could have earned more if I had been selling copies of the Melbourne Herald from day to day. However, I shall not complain about that now. I had to obtain credit from the local storekeeper, and for six months I lived on the sum of £12. Under the present scheme, I would be paid a wage until my farm came into production. The Commonwealth - and no one has stressed this fact - will bear all these costs. While the settler is working on his block, he may be milking a few cows, and the returns from the sale of milk will assist him to pay his rent and to purchase stock. Although he will be in receipt of that income, he will still be paid wages, and will not be called upon to repay that money. It is not a loan. The cost of any training which he undergoes, and necessary transport fares, will also be borne by the Commonwealth. The States do not mention those facts.
The whole plan is unnecessarily complicated. If a uniform plan had been put into operation throughout Australia under Commonwealth control, it would have operated more smoothly and efficiently than the present arrangement under dual control. The Commonwealth will have no voice in selecting the soldier settlers, or in the administration of the scheme. But it will bear a proportion of any losses. Let us assume that twelve or twenty men will be settled on a certain area. The value of the property in the initial stages does not concern the settler. Improvements, including the erection of a home, the provision of water supplies and the construction of fences will be undertaken, and the land will then be valued. At that stage, the rental of the property will be fixed at a figure that will enable the settler to meet his commitments, and still live under reasonable conditions. The authorities may be obliged to write down the value of the property by £2 an acre, and the Commonwealth will bear 50 per cent, of any losses in Victoria. In other States, the Commonwealth will bear three-fifths of the los3. That is how the .plan must work, because of the system of dual control between the Commonwealth and the States. As the honorable member for Indi pointed out, the administration of the scheme will be most important. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth will not control the administration. I emphasize that fact, because many people believe that the Commonwealth is responsible for, and exercises full control over land settlement. That view is not correct, at least as regards Victoria.
– People are always relieved when they discover that.
– That is the result of propaganda disseminated by the State Government. The Commonwealth should have full responsibility for land settlement. Then, if we failed, the blame could be sheeted home to us. The Premier of Victoria, who declined to permit the Commonwealth to have full responsibility, must accept his share of the blame for any failures that may occur. One honorable member mentioned that a retired carpenter had been appointed as a supervisor under the scheme adopted after the war of 1914-18. Under the proposed scheme the Commonwealth could not object if a similar appointment were made, because in Victoria at least, it has no control over the administration of the scheme. Even if the Commonwealth’s representatives considered that an area was not suitable for soldier settlement, there is nothing to prevent a State government from placing settlers on that land.
– In that case, the Commonwealth would not provide any money for the scheme.
– That would be just too” bad for the soldier settlers, because even if the Commonwealth rejected an area, many cx-servicemen would still acquire properties on it. They would be told that, despite the Commonwealth’s objections, the land was suitable for settlement. I myself was told that the block which I took would be satisfactory. I had the opportunity to acquire the land, and took the risk. I do not complain about that. But in such instances the Commonwealth will not provide any financial assistance. Such a situation should be avoided.
I agree that the soldier settlers should be given every possible amenity. The honorable member for Indi stated that the settlers in his district had raised a loan of £1,560 for the erection of a hall. Their financial position must have been fairly ‘satisfactory. We were unable to persuade the Education Department of Victoria to erect a school . building in our district, and were obliged to do the work ourselves. Honorable members should see it. It was made with galvanized-iron sheets, and is still standing. The settlers also built the local hall. Those were the conditions under which we had to exist, and rear and educate our children. Just imagine! The settlers themselves had to build a school. Before the school was built we held a meeting at the settlement, because the children were growing and needed schooling. A representative of the Education Department attended. He said to me, “Is this settlement likely to be permanent?” That was a burning question then, because nearly every fortnight we were receiving what were tantamount to eviction notices. We were threatened with a fine of £1,000, or the cancellation, of our lease in fourteen days. Possibly the Education Department had discussed our plight with the Lands Department, because I asked the representative, “ What do you know about it? Have you been to the Lands Department? We are very interested”. He said, “I do not know anything about it”. I thought that he did. He was not prepared to recommend the erection of the school. My mind then went back to the time when my father and others built a slab hut for a school in the Murray Valley, and I mentioned that fact to the inspector. I said, “I thought that we had advanced in this enlightened age, and that our children have the right to receive a proper education, even though we are only soldier settlers”. I asked him whether the Education Department would provide a teacher if we built the school.
He replied that the department would, and eventually it did. We should do everything in our power to prevent a repetition of those occurrences. It is a dreadful condition of affairs.
Unfortunately, the administration of the soldier settlement scheme in Victoria will be controlled by the State Government, and the Commonwealth will not be able to rectify any anomalies that may arise. That fact is worrying me. I hoped that this Parliament would assume full responsibility for soldier settlement. The honorable member for Gippsland knows what should be done. Why, then, should not the Commonwealth take full responsibility for the operations of the plan? I know what the States will do. Victoria will set up a cry for money. Probably all that Victoria wants is money, and when the Commonwealth responds, we shall not know how the Victorian Government will expend it. If we provide money we should decide the manner in which it shall be expended. That is only sound business, but we are almost powerless to do so. The Commonwealth should be empowered to administer the scheme. I feel very strongly on thi3 matter and shall again express my views upon it when the hill dealing with the subject is introduced. It is the fault of honorable .members opposite and their supporters that the Commonwealth does not have the necessary power. That is my charge; but I hope that influence Tr,111 be brought to bear upon the States to confer these powers upon the Commonwealth. Legally, that could be done, then this matter would be the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, and we should be able to test the sincerity of individuals. Yesterday, this House debated the problem of attracting migrants to this country. Land settlement is one of the greatest factors in an increasing birth-rate. In the past, young men going into industry have not known how long their jobs would be secure, whereas a man who goes on the land, even under the conditions referred to by the honorable member for Indi and by myself, knows at least that although he may not have any money, he will have shelter and will not go hungry.
A family can live off the land. It can provide its own meat, eggs, butter and firewood. Difficult though our conditions were, at least we did not have the landlord on our doorstep every week. That of course was the good side of the picture, and I do not suggest for a moment that there was not also a very bad side. Many ex-servicemen of the last war had been associated with the land all their lives, and did not mind facing the hardships associated with establishing a farm. They did not expect Rolls-Royce motor cars; they did not need them. They thought that if they worked reasonably hard they would have a chance of owning their properties in the not-too-distant future.
– Soldier settlers will never be out of debt if this Government’s proposals are adopted. They will never own their land.
– I shall never own my land. When I undertook to purchase it, its value was placed at £3,000. In 1937 - -sixteen years later - I had paid about £2,000. I inquired how much I had paid off the principal. It was doubtful if I had even met my interest commitments, and I did not think that I had reduced the principal at all. However, 1 was told that I had reduced the principal by £32. I laughed when I heard that and said, “ Hurrah, it will be mine in 1,500 years “. I was reducing my capital indebtedness at the rate of £2 a year, and paying £200 a year interest. My entire return from wool did not meet my interest obligations and I was shearing more sheep than the average landholder in that locality. If I had held the land under lease, I would have had to pay only about £60 a year.
– But the honorable member would never had owned the land.
– Nor shall I own it under the present .arrangement, unless I live for 1,500 years. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is behind the times. Even the old people are waking up to what has been going on. The belief that every person should own his property is a relic of the old days of the crofters in Scotland and .Ireland. My father who came to this country when he was five years old, was a member of a crofter family. I asked him once how he came to migrate to this country. He said that he and his father were out at sea one day with the herring fleet, and when they returned they found that their crofts were on fire. Their land had been mortgaged to wealthy interests, and because the crofters had been unable to meet their commitments, eviction proceedings had been taken against them. When mcn came to enforce the evictions, only the womenfolk were at home, and they set fire to the crofts. To quieten the crofters, the mortgagees chartered a ship and sent them off to Australia. In that way we got some of our best settlers. In those days in Ireland, if a. man owned an acre of land he could live - unless, of course, there was a failure of the potato crop, in which case he faced starvation. That is why the old people wanted to own their land. To-day, what matters is not the ownership of land, but its use. As I have said, I am paying £200 a year interest upon my property.
– The honorable member would have to pay rent if he leased his property.
– I would have to pay only 1£ per cent, or 2 per cent, interest on £3,000, which is £45 or £60 a year. 1 would have an additional £155 or £140 a year to spend on improvements.
– Does the Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank lend money at 1^ per cent, or 2 per cent.?
– It would be Crown land on lease at a fair annual rental.
– But it would be acquired by the Government at a fair purchase price, and the lessee would have to pay interest upon that money.
– That -is quite right. It could be done, and it has been done in New South Wales and Queensland. Who owned the land in this country a hundred years ago ? The land of which my holding is a part was leased for grazing in those days. The lessee had only grazing rights, and had no control over the land. In the 1870’s, a closer settlement .plan was put into operation, and small holdings of approximately 160 acres were established, but the squatters who had held the grazing rights, for which they had paid only 10s. an acre, obtained the land through dummies. They made a fortune out of it. Then a new generation grew up, and the nation redeemed the land for soldier settlers like myself. In return for our services overseas, we obtained holdings, but by that time the land had “run down”. When I took possession of my property, I had to pay £180 a year, and to work very hard indeed to make the holding a going concern.
– On the honorable member’s reasoning, a person should always lease land for home-building instead of buying it. Apparently, the honorable member does not believe in home ownership.
– I do. The point I wish to make is that by leasing land at a fair rental from the Crown a farmer is able to increase production, and perhaps to raise a bigger family. Looking at the matter from the point of view of a statesman, and not that of the Auditor-General, the important consideration is in what manner can the biggest profit be derived for the nation. If I were given a block of land free of charge, the nation would still show a profit. On my land I originally ran 420 sheep. Some of them died because the land was overstocked. Subsequently, by the application of scientific methods, including the use of superphosphate and subterranean clover, as well as a lot of hard work, by 1940 I was able to increase the carrying capacity to 1,800 sheep. That represented increased profit to the Crown. I was in debt, but the assets belonged to the nation, because, after all, it was the nation that held the original mortgage. One can estimate in terms of money what the extra wool was worth, but the greatest asset of all was that 100 children were reared in the district. These children had a definite value in the . national balance-sheet. Some of them fought for the nation during the war. I am convinced that many more young men would go on the land and rear their families if they were able to obtain their land on leasehold. As an illustration, I wanted 2 tons of superphosphate, which would have cost about £10, to topdress a paddock which had just been sown with clover. The Closer Settlement
Board would not provide me with the money, although it was necessary for me to use fertilizer in order to improve the property. It would have been a safe investment, because, within three years, the pasture would have improved sufficiently to carry an additional 100 sheep. However, the State government had to balance its budget, and I was not allowed to incur the expenditure. Had I owed the Crown £160 per annum instead of £180, I could have used the difference of £20; to invest in manure.
– Did the £180 represent only interest, or did it include capital repayment?
– It included capital repayment.
– Then that would have been equivalent to saving money; the honorable . member would have been acquiring an asset by degrees.
– That is illusory. The asset was depreciating owing to the lack of superphosphate. Now I can maintain only about 1,000 sheep where I previously had 1,800. In Victoria, settlers will, in effect, borrow money from the Commonwealth Government at 3f per cent, interest. Sinking fund costs, which will amount to about li per cent., will have to be added to that, so that our men will have to pay over 5 per cent, interest, which is too high a rate.
– Are they not to be given a 25 per cent, equity in the land?
– They will want more than that if they are to pay 5 per cent, interest on their money.
– The honorable member’s arithmetic is at fault if he does not make allowance for that.
– No. I have paid too much to be in doubt about this matter. Interest of 5 per cent, is too high. The landholder must provide for contingencies such as droughts or price slumps, and, under the system supported by the honorable member and his colleagues, there will be slumps. The land should belong to the nation. Then it would be a national asset and concessions could be granted to the settler. In such circumstances, I would have no hesitation in asking the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) to make a substantial reduction in the interest and other charges. Under the system advocated by the honorable member forIndi, settlers will want loans which will never be repaid. I am sorry that the scheme which I suggest has never been adopted in Victoria for the benefit not only of settlers but also of the nation as a whole.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Anthony) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House donow adjourn.
.- I refer to the training of doctors now serving with our armed forces who will soon be demobilized. A fully trained medical profession is essential to the life and well-being of the people of Australia. Therefore, the question of appropriate training of our demobilized medical men, and especially our younger medical men, is a matter of the highest national interest. This is quite apart from the value of the personal rehabilitation of the medical men themselves. The question touches the life and health of every one in the community. Proper training now may save as many lives as a migration policy may bring into the country. Lives so saved would be those of Australians actually doing the nation’s work, and it would not be necessary to acclimatize and teach our ways of life to migrants. Improved health services will result only from the proper training of our doctors. The position of the medical profession in Australia is that we have about 4,000 doctors, of whom 2,000 are on active service. In the United States of America, a questionnaire submitted to 20,000 service doctors indicated that over 80 per cent. desired post-graduate training for a year or more after discharge. A similar questionnaire in Canada sent to 4,000 service doctors showed that nearly all desired to undergo post-graduate courses. They all feel that their war-time experience has been solely confined to the treatment of healthy young male adults who have become battle casualties or are suffering from diseases common to young men. War experience does not fit a doctor for civilian practice, in which he will be concerned mainly with the ailments of women, children and the aged.
Of the 2,000 Australian doctors in the services, probably 700 are young men whose medical curriculum was cut short by a year or eighteen months through war conditions in order to make their services available to the fighting forces. When they graduated, their hospital experience was also curtailed by many months, and they were then pushed off to routine medical jobs where they would deal mostly with disorders and injuries of males. These men were probably from 23 to 23 years of age when they graduated. Six years of war would make many of them 32 or so years of age, and during that period many have married. At least another 700 older men would also desire post-graduate training. In the interests of the nation’s health, specific action must be taken to deal with the re-training of these doctors. It is essential that special provision be made to cover the whole field. To this end, the universities are doing what they can in giving special courses, but they are very short of lecture rooms and equipment for extra students, especially as, during the war years, medical classes have increased considerably in number. Many hospitals are assisting by increasing the number of their resident medical graduates, but, even if the number of these interns were increased by 50 per cent., it would not nearly meet the requirements of the situation, and practically all hospitals are short of their younger specialists who are away on active service. Many of these men would desire an opportunity to undertake further overseas specialization before returning to their usual work. Assistance, such as New Zealand is giving to graduates who are willing to undertake oversea training in Great Britain or America, would help to relieve the situation in some degree. No provision in this regard has been made by Australia. We should follow the example of New Zealand in this respect.
Some relief in connexion with training might he obtained by delaying the peak rush. This could be achieved by keeping down the tempo of discharges, say, by making the younger men serve on boards, handling prisoners of war, &c.
This, however, would not solve the problem. A very substantial avenue could be opened up by the encouragement of assistantships with senior medical men, in both city and country. These senior practitioners could often give training in handling patients and dealing with people, and especially in treating women and children. This would compensate in some degree for the lack of hospital experience. New machinery needs to be set up to handle this problem as a whole. There must be some authoritative body to advise and direct discharged medical men, and additional financial allowances should be offered as an inducement, to young doctors especially, to take the ‘fullest possible course of training. During the whole period of the war, medical co-ordination committees established under National Security Regulations, have on the whole functioned very satisfactorily. Et would be wise to carry the principle of this organization into the post-war period as a distinctive element in our rehabilitation scheme, and not merely as a part of the Post-war Reconstruction D*partment. During the war, the medical co-ordination committees consisted of representatives of the British Medical Association, hospital authorities, the State Health Departments, the universities and the three fighting services, together with a layman. In New South Wales, especially, this committee functioned very well; and Mr. Gollan, the Labour member for Rockdale, as the lay representative, has been extremely valuable. In the war-time set-up, there has been a federal co-ordinating organization acting as liaison between various States. In the post-war set-up, the Commonwealth Department of Health should take a more prominent position than it has done during war-time, when, after all, a major problem was the medical care of service personnel. Provision should now be made for an organization consisting of an independent chairman who should be a layman, the Commonwealth DirectorGeneral of Health, and representatives of the British Medical Association, and the services to handle the problem as it changes with the progress of time and the passing of war-time conditions. In each State there should be also a representative of the State Department of
Health on a similar committee. If some highly respected and thoroughly trusted medical man could be induced to give his time and advice to returning medical men ‘as to what might best be done for their future, much time might be saved and the crippling of many careers prevented. Dr. George Bell, of Sydney, who has been controller of the co-ordinating committee in New South Wales, is the type needed. I have no doubt that he, and similar men in other States, would be willing to continue their unpaid patriotic work for two or three years, in order to re-establish good peace-time medical conditions.
– I suggest that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) might make to this House a report on the working of the vocational training scheme for men discharged from the Australian Military Forces. My reason for doing so can best be stated by giving particulars of a case that has been brought to my notice. A young man discharged from the Australian Imperial Force on the 8 th January of this year applied for vocational training in a fulltime plumbing course under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, because, prior to enlistment, he had been apprenticed to that trade.. He was informed that there was no course for plumbers, because the plumbers’ union and the master plumbers would not agree to one being established, but that he could take a course in any other building trade. He expressed a wish to continue plumbing, and was told that he would have to wait until the committee next met in a month’s time, when the matter would be reconsidered and he would be notified of its decision. He did not receive any notification after the meeting of the committee. When he made further inquiries in April, he was informed that he must receive the consent of the plumbers’ union to undertake a course in plumbing. He obtained that permission, and submitted it to the committee. He was then subjected to a psychology test, to enable the selection committee to decide whether he should undertake a plumbing or some other course. Apparently he proved his suitability, because he was so declared By the psychology committee, and was. notified to that effect on the 1st June. He was then told that, he would be advised by letter whether acourse was available for him. As he had not received any notification by the 30th. June, he interviewed the secretary, and was informed that his papers had not yet been received from the committee. The secretary promised to look into the matter and let him know what step he should next take. On the 30th July, he was again interviewed, and was told that there was no vocational training in plumbing to be obtained’, but that there was a refresher course at the Melbourne Technical School, which, if he inquired, would let him know whether or not he could be accommodated. He made inquiries,, and learned that there was no such course in existence. So having been chased from pillar to post for seven months, he was then exactly where he had been at the outset. He brought his. case to me, because he considered that other young men being discharged from the forces might be similarly placed. I should like- the Minister to inform this House of the (rue position in regard to vocational training for young men who i+rc coming out of the forces, and to state whether they are being given a chance to engage in those industries for which they consider that they are fitted. I should like to know, what vocational training courses, have- been started, and how many of those who have1 applied tobe trained have not yet been- placed in training, as well as the length of time that has elapsed since they made application. The House should be informed in those respects because, although not many of the younger men are coming out of the forces at present, the number of discharged men will soon- be large., I am rather perturbed, because I. want to be sure that- the machinery to be set up under the Re-establishment and Employment Act will work effectively,, and that men will’ not be humbugged, and compelled to walk the streets month after month,, attempting to be assisted back, into industry. I shall be pleased if the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost), who is in charge of the House at the moment,- will ask the Minister- for Postwar Reconstruction’ to* consider- my re- quest. I. shall pass on to the Minister the. full particulars of the case I have raised, so that he may let me know whether or not it is an isolated case.
’.- I direct attention to the serious plight of many dairy-farmers as a result of the recent drought. When the Drought Relief Bill was under consideration, 1 pointed out that it provided for assistance to cereal-growers only, and left other primary producers high and dry. The colossal capital cost of the drought to- Australia is. difficult to estimate. I considered that it was from £70,000.000 to £80,000,000, whilst other estimates ran to £100,000,000. I have received, numerous letters from dairy-farmers complaining of their difficulties, many of whom are threatened with financial ruin. Although their position is desperate, they have grave difficulty i,n obtaining real concessions from the trading banks. The following is- typical of the communications that have recently been addressed to me: -
I desire to bring under your notice the very serious financial: .position in which’ dairyfarmers in your electorate have been placed in consequence of the recent prolonged drought - the worst that this district has ever experienced1. A brief statement oi my own case1 may be- taken as typical of the plight of many others.
A year ago,. I had a herd of 40 milking cows, with 35 head of young dairy cattle. Besides good pastures, I had 17 acres sown for fodder crops and a fodder reserve of 25 tons that “would have carried me over a1, normal dry season. However, awing to the1 long drought over the- past year, my crops; yielded poorly, the pastures became bare early, and reserves’ were exhausted’: likewise the additional- fodder I was able to ‘buy at & cost of £1(50. Sly milk production- fell away f.i-.om- 80 gallons ‘a .day to 5 gallons a day, the- stock lost condition and many died.
Fortunately, good rains have recently fallen, and there are excellent prospects for pastures and crops. Unfortunately, through, stock fosses I aru left «46h only 30 cows and ti- heifers, many in poor condition. Most of the gov» were dried off to keep them alive, and many are not in calf. My financial resources have Seen- exhausted because of greatly reduced income and increased expenditure for fodder. T am consequently without- funds to purchase the milking cows, so urgently needed to make up stock losses, and take advantage of the good spring now assured, as- well1 as- save me from financial ruin with, its. dire -effect om- my family.
That is not an isolated case. Whilst it is possible for the pastoral industry to recover from the effects of the drought after a few years, the dairying industry is in a much more difficult position. One can imagine the plight of dairy-farmers who have lost their stock and will be unable to replace their herds with cows of good quality. If they resort to breeding new stock, four or five years will elapse before the production stage will be reached. I .hope that the Minister at the table (Mr. Frost) will bring this matter to the notice of the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Forde). The Government should take the matter up with the governments of the States, with a view to joint action being taken to assist dairyfarmers.
– Can suitable cows be purchased at present?
– I have grave doubt whether cows of good quality could be obtained for three or four years. Widespread belief prevails in some country areas that the recent banking legislation will play an important part in enabling the primary producers to recover from the effects of the drought. If they are to resume .full production they will need financial assistance, and it must come in the main from banks, stock and station agents and wool-brokers, and the farmers will have to restock their properties with animals purchased at fairly high prices. The fact that the trading banks are to bc required to restrict the rates of advances to those prevailing in 1939 will have the effect of making them careful to advance money only on sound securities. They will not be inclined to take so many risks as in the past, and they will therefore pick their marks.
In my opinion all that should be done is not being done, to enable the industry to make a quick recovery now that the war is over. For months past honorable members have contended that various controls should be lifted, and everything possible done to get man-power back into certain industries. Australia will emerge from the war into a highly competitive world, and much will depend upon the speed with which each nation takes advantage of the economic conditions that will prevail in the immediate post-war period.
It seems to me that the United States of America will win the race by more than a short head, because it has a wary eye on private industry. Before long the American businessman will be first into the world’s markets with his goods.
Australia is a young country, and has not felt the full effects of the war. We have been singularly free from war damage and everything possible should be done to enable industry of all kinds to return to normal production. This Parliament has spent a great deal of time in discussing banking legislation and the nationalization of inter-state airlines which matters have no relation to the present problems, and the result is that very little has been done to enable industries to recover from the effects of the war. The result is that the termination of the war caught the Government flat-footed. In particular, I urge that steps be taken to expand the textile industry, which has an important bearing upon wool production. The world is hungry for woollen goods. I believe that there is a ready market immediately in the United States of America, and everything should be done, including the rapid release of key men from the services, to enable us to produce high-quality goods for export. The manufacture of motor vehicles is another case in point. I do not know whether the industry would be economic or not, but I believe that the early post-war years offer the best chance of success. If we can establish the industry firmly during that time it should prove to be a great national asset, and one that will provide much employment. A great many qualified technicians are now being released from munitions factories, and will shortly be seeking employment. These include first-class fitters and turners, draughtsmen, and men trained in factory layout.
Offers have been made to the Government by several firms to begin the manufacture of motor vehicles in Australia without additional assistance by way of tariff or bounty, but they have asked that certain things be done in order to facilitate production. They have asked for the provision of machine tools under lend-lease arrangement, and for the standardization of legislation in the States so as to enable standard accessories to be made for use in all parts of the Commonwealth. I have previously raised the matter of the excessive cost of sheet steel for which the price is higher in Australia than in most other countries in the world, and sheet steel is responsible for 40 per cent. of the cost of the raw materials in motor car manufacture. At the time I ashed my question on this subject the Minister responsible did not know that sheet steel cost more here than elsewhere, but he undertook to get into touch with A.R.M.C.O. with a view to having costs reviewed. Something should be done to provide transport facilities, which are urgently needed at a time when motor vehicles are not obtainable from overseas, and may not be available for years at reasonable prices. In this matter the Government should have acted long ago. It has had access to all the relevant information, and should have been ready to encourage the production of motor vehicles immediately upon the cessation of hostilities.
If the expansion of industry is to be encouraged, and employment provided for people released from the services, taxes must be reduced. The Government must do what was done by the Lyons Government in 1933-34 when, in order to encourage employment by private enterprise, taxation rates were reduced. The Government of that day took a chance by reducing taxes, but its action had the desired effect, and before long, due to the expansion of industry, the Treasury was collecting more revenue than before the reduction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.10 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice -
What steps were taken in 1942 by the military authorities and/or the Bishop of New Guinea, in consequence of the expected invasion by the Japanese, to safeguard the lives of Anglican and other missionaries who were working in the neighbourhood of Buna, Gona and Sangara up to the period of the atrocities referred to in the report of Sir William Webb?
– Civil administration in the Territory of Papua was suspended from the 12th February, 1942, and information is not available in the Department of External Territories as to action taken in the direction indicated subsequent to that date.
s asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the desirability of ensuring the use of efficient equipment for country fire brigades; will he consider the removal of sales tax from all purchases of fire brigade equipment before next summer?
Mr.Chifley. - Yes, consideration will be given to this matter.
Rural Reconstruction Commission. Mr.’ Abbott asked the Minister .for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The information required by the honorable member is being obtained and will be made available at the earliest possible date.
Royal A Australian Air Force
N asked the Minisit:! f ot Air, upon notice -
How many men had been enlisted for full-time service in the Royal Australian Air Force on the 30th June, 1940?
d. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Commonwealth Bank : Annual Report and Balance-sheet.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will the annual report and balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia bf ivailable to honorable members prior to the budget debate?
Y - The Commonwealth Bank has advised that it is expected that the annual report and balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia will he published in about a fortnight
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 August 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450831_reps_17_184/>.