17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
2/22nd Battalion: Losses by Drowning - Releases - Service Awards - co-ordinator of demobilization and Dispersal.
– Has the Minister for the Army been officially advised that a large number of members of the 2/22nd Battalion at Rabaul were lost by drowning? If so, what were the circumstances ?
– I shall probably be in a position to furnish the information by to-morrow.
– Numerous instances have been brought to my notice of men “who, having served for five years, were entitled to release and had been on the point of discharge, but had been told that their discharges had been cancelled and they would have to come under the points system. The result is that they will not be released for a considerable time. Will the Minister for the Army state whether he has cancelled the fiveyear discharge plan? If so, in view of the injustice to men who enlisted when very young and have since had five years’ service, will he direct that the plan be again implemented, and that such men be treated as exceptions to the points system ?
– The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction outlined in the White Paper on demobilization the conditions under which discharges from the fighting services were to be made. He explained the points system, and stated that, during the interregnum ending on the 31st September, there would be a cessation of discharges on account of long service, and that all members of the forces would come under the points system as from the 1st
October. If the honorable gentleman will place specific cases before me, I shall be pleased to have them considered.
Mr. -Spender. - The matter is one of principle.
– The principle was dehated in this House after the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction had outlined the proposal.
– A great injustice is being done to men with long service.
– Ships and aircraft bringing long-service personnel from advanced areas have been arriving in Australia every week. There will be fresh arrivals within the next few days.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service say when I may expect an answer to question No. 4 on the notice-paper which first appeared there on the 31st August ?
– I am not aware that any answer to a question asked by the right honorable member has been withheld. I shall have inquiries made and I hope to supply an answer either to-day or to-morrow.
– Will the Minister for Defence make a statement to the House at an early date concerning the progress of discussions with the United Kingdom Government concerning the award of service medals to certain members of the fighting forces who, so far, have been denied them?
– Cablegrams and messages on this subject have been exchanged with the United Kingdom Government, but I am sorry that a satisfactory solution of the problem has not yet been reached. I shall endeavour to make a statement to the House on the subject before the end of this week.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether Lieutenant-General Savige has signified his acceptance of the post of Co-ordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal, and if so, when he will assume the duties of that position?
– A signal was sent to Lieutenant-General Savige by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction asking him to accept the position of Coordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal, but at the moment I am unable to say whether he has signified his acceptance of it. I shall endeavour to obtain the information for the honorable gentleman.
Formation in Small Centres - Return of Impressed Rifles.
– A general staff instruction in connexion with the disbandment of the Volunteer Defence Corps states that it is not expected that the formation of rifle clubs will be permitted in future unless there is a membership of at least 30. Will the Minister for the Army have the matter re-examined, taking into consideration the fact that insistence upon a minimum membership of 30 would effectively prevent the formation of rifle clubs in many small country centres, and thus penalize keen riflemen merely because they happen to live in such centres? Will the right honorable gentleman also bear in mind that, prior to the war, rifle clubs were operating quite effectively in such centres with a membership as small as five?
– The Government has not yet made a decision in regard to the future of rifle clubs. I shall take into consideration the very valuable representations of the honorable gentleman concerning an organization which played a most important part in training the young men of Australia in the days of peace, and will serve a useful purpose in the future.
– Many of the civilian rifles impressed at a very low price at an early stage of the war with Japan had valuable sights attached to them. Some of them were not ordinary service rifles, but special B.S.A. rifles. Will the Minister for the Army have these weapons restored to their original owners, at the prices at which they were impressed? Will he also make other rifles available at a reasonable cost to members of the Volunteer Defence Corps who are now joining rifle clubs ?
– In regard to the calling up of .303 rifles from the members of the Volunteer Defence Corps, personal and written representations have been made to me by other honorable members, as well as by the honorable member for Bendigo. It has been stated that the holders, many of whom were members of rifle clubs, had taken a great pride in their rifles, and that those who live in far-flung country areas now need them in order to destroy pests of various kinds. The strong case made out has impressed rae, and I have ordered that, upon the completion of a check of the names and addresses of those in country districts who have held these rifles, the weapons shall be returned to them. I believe that the holders will render useful service. In the early days of the war a number of B.S.A. rifles were impressed by the Army authorities, but later, when sufficient .303 rifles were available, it was decided that the B.S.A. rifles should be returned to their original owners. So far as I know, that instruction was carried out. I shall, however, take into consideration the representations of the honorable gentleman and other honorable members on this subject. My colleague, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) is active in this matter.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a cablegram from Washington that from 10,000,000 to 12,000,000 tons of food is required in Europe if 100,000,000 persons are to be spared the suffering caused by malnutrition and disease ? If so, in view of the importance of Australia making its maximum contribution to the food requirements of Great Britain and other war-ravaged countries, will the Prime Minister inform the House in broad outline of the nature of the Government’s plans for Australia to make such a contribution ?
– I have not seen the cablegram to which the right honorable member has referred, but I have, of course, seen other statements on the subject and I know that the food position in Europe is desperate. I am not able to make any broad statement on the subject at this stage, but I shall examine the position with the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, with a view to making a full statement later.
Return of Evacuees to Darwin - Development - Land Settlement ob Ex-see viicemen
– by leave - During the past few weeks the Department of the Interior has been inundated with inquiries from former civilian residents of Darwin regarding the possibility of their early return to that area. This is a very healthy sign and demonstrates the faith of former residents in the possibilities of our northern areas. I am doing everything possible to expedite the return of former civilian residents to Darwin, but there are many practical difficulties in. the way. The position in Darwin after the bombing in February, 1942, waamost extraordinary, as the entire civilian population had to be evacuated. Every possible precaution was taken to defend the Darwin area against a Japanese invasion, which seemed almost certain at that time. Although the threat of invasion passed, Darwin became an important base and was used by the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. It wasimpossible to allow civilians to return, asthe town was completely occupied by theservices. The Government watched the position closely, as it was anxious that the town should become normal as quickly as possible. Conferences were held with the service authorities. These were attended by the secretary of my department, Mr. J. A. Carrodus, and the Administrator of the Northern Territory,. Mr. C. L. A. Abbott. In July of thisyear it was agreed that the Administrator should return to Darwin with a small1 nucleus staff, and that was done on the 6th August. My officers and I have been, in close touch with the Administrator,, and plans are in hand for the commencement of the return of the civilian population as soon as the services move out and houses and accommodation becomeavailable. There are considerable problems to overcome as Darwin has been heavily damaged; it is estimated thatonly about 40 per cent, of the buildingsstanding prior to the bombings can be used again. The Government decided to acquire the freehold lands iri Darwin and will lease business and residential” blocks to citizens as soon as the ‘necessary- machinery can be set up and the acquisitions completed. Arrangements have keen made for wholesale .stores to reopen- in Darwin, and retail stores will follow as a matter of course. The return of civilians to Darwin will have to be according to careful planning, as at present there is absolutely no accommodation for them. The Government is determined that .the town must be neat and tidy, and it will not, therefore, tolerate any attempt to erect shacks or shanties. . I have approved the setting up of a Darwin Town Committee, consisting of experienced officers, who will deal with all these problems and make arrangements for accommodation. The work of reconditioning Government-owned buildings is now actively under way. Although there are many difficulties ahead, my department and the Department of .”Works are making every effort to overcome them with a view to getting the former residents of Darwin back to their homes as early as possible. As honorable members are aware, an act was passed recently authorizing the Commonwealth to acquire all of the lands within the area which it is considered will be required for the development of the town of Darwin. Officers of my department have been engaged in checking titles, ownership and boundaries of all the blocks, and it is expected that it will be possible to take the necessary action under the Lands Acquisition Act at an . early date.
A plan for the town of Darwin was prepared some time ago by Mr. R. A. Mclnnis, formerly City Planner of theCity of Brisbane. It has been decided to alter this plan in some respects, particularly in regard to the site of the administrative centre. The Department of Works and Housing, which has a town planning organization, is at present working on the alterations to the plan, and the revised plans should be available in a few days.
I am anxious that the former residents of Darwin should be permitted to return at the earliest possible date. The area, however, is still under military control, and it may be some time before the town can revert to civil control. The Department of the Army wishes to relinquish military control as soon as possible, but the Navy still has important commitments in the area. The Department of the Navy has a personnel of approximately 1,500 in Darwin, and occupies 34 cottages.
I can assure honorable members thai the Government is alive to the necessity for developing the Northern Territory. Its development is, however, linked up with the development of the whole of the north of Australia, and consideration is at present being given to the appointment of a committee of representatives of the Commonwealth and the Governments of Western Australia and Queensland to discuss questions of development, and make recommendations to the three Governments concerned. This most important matter ha3 already been discussed by the Prime Minister with the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland, th« Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and myself as the Minister responsible for the Northern Territory. It has been agreed that if a vigorous programme of development is to be undertaken in an area in which physical and economic problems overlap State boundaries, some form of joint Commonwealth-State machinery will be required. Cabinet has therefore endorsed a proposal that a departmental committee should be set up consisting of two representatives each of Western Australia, Queensland, and the Department of the Interior, with a representative of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction as Chairman. It is intended that the representatives appointed to the committee should be chosen after consultation between the Governments in order to provide for specialists in pastoralism, mining, water conservation and other fields of development. The committee will be set up as early as possible, and authorized to prepare plans for development with the utmost despatch. AIL plans and proposals will, of course, he considered by the three Governments concerned.
I propose to visit the Northern Territory as soon as my parliamentary duties will permit me to do so, in order that I may have a first-hand knowledge of the conditions prevailing, and the development that can be undertaken. I intend to visit the main cattle stations as well as the principal towns and communities, and also to inspect the work being done by the Government of “Western Australia on the OrdRiver. Honorable members who have been to the Northern Territory will appreciate the fact that this trip at this time of the year will not be a “ joy ride “, but I am so anxious to get a start on some real development in the Northern Territory that I feel I should do the trip now rather than wait until next year when the weatherwill be more congenial.
I have no fantastic ideas about the Northern Territory, but I know that it is much better country than the average Australian thinks it is, and I am hopeful that, in co-operation with Western Australia and Queensland, some real development can be started. The war has demonstrated how vulnerable Australia is in the north, and I trust that we may now see our way clear to inaugurate some schemes of development that will be of real value, not only to the Northern Territory and the northern parts of Australia, but to the nation as a whole.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether the Commonwealth Government has yet been able to evolve a policy for the settlement in the Northern Territory of ex-servicemen who desire to establish themselves on the land ? In this instance, the Commonwealth Government is not obliged to enter into an agreement with a State government, and the settlement of ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory will be entirely its own responsibility.
– The statement £ have just made indicates that steps are being taken to examine the position and to invite the interest of the governments of the two adjoining States, Queensland and Western Australia, with a view to studying all the possibilities of development in that area.
– Why has South Australia been excluded?
– When the report of the committee is received, a definite statement regarding the Government’s policy will be made. The scheme now under consideration was proposed by the former Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Willcock, at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in 1944, and a committee was appointed to inquire into the matter. The Government of South
Australia knew exactly what was happening, but apparently was not interested in any proposition other than the completion of the North-South railway line, which it claims is a contractual obligation of the Commonwealth.
surrender of japan- javanese in Australia.
– In view of Australia’s vital interest in the policy to be pursued in the occupation of Japan, and the need to eradicate militarism in that country, is the Prime Minister in a position to tell the House whether the policy so far pursued has met with the approval of his Government, whether he has any views as to what should be the policy for the occupation of Japan, and, if so, what those views are ; and whether Australia has any observers in Japan capable of expressing to the Government their expert opinions regarding the way in which the surrender terms are being carried out?
– I take it that the honorable member’s question referred to the occupation of Japan proper.
– I referred to all problems arising out of the surrender.
– Therefore, I take it that the honorable gentleman referred to the occupation of Japan proper and of islands which have been recovered from the Japanese.
– With regard to the position in Japan, Brigadier Warren Anderson is acting as liaison officer between the American forces and the Commonwealth Government. Reports come to the Government through this and other channels as to the various measures that have been taken. With regard to territories which were occupied by J apan but are now being taken over by Allied forces - some of them have already been partially recovered by Australian or American troops - there is direct communication with people associated with the occupation forces, who inform the Government of the general action taken. Brigadier Rogers is associated with this work on the staff of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten’s South-East Asia Command. When the honorable member spoke of the policy of the Government, did he refer to the policy in dealing with Japanese who have been responsible for atrocities ?
– That, and the policy of dealing with the Japanese Government.
– The return of surrendered enemy forces to Japan will depend on the availability of shipping. I made clear last week that the general procedure laid down by the War Crimes Commission would be adopted in dealing with Japanese responsible for atrocities or the harsh treatment of Allied prisoners. The War Crimes Commission has established complete machinery for dealing with all aspects of atrocities committed by the Japanese. In order to save time now, I shall prepare a full statement for the information of the honorable member regarding the Government’s contacts with the occupation forces and the general procedure that is laid down for dealing with war criminals.
– Will the right honorable gentleman include in that statement the Government’s views regarding all problems arising from the surrender of Japan?
– I shall try to keep the honorable member as fully informed as possible.
– I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the following telegram which I have received from the Mayor of Casino : -
Is it true 2,000 invalid Javanese being sent Casino? Citizens perturbed.
During the last two or three years there has been a camp of several hundred Javanese on the outskirts of Casino. The town is not very big, and citizens consider that the number of Javanese already there is sufficient for the district. If 2,000 Javanese are to come to Australia, could they not be dispersed throughout the Commonwealth?
– I am not able to say whether or not the information given to the honorable member is correct. I am not aware of any such movement, although I do know that a number of former internees are being sent to Australia. The best I can promise to the honorable member is to have an immediate inquiry made, and to give consideration to his request that if his information is correct, the 2,000 Javanese he dispersed, rather than concentrated in on*centre.
“PULP” LITERATURE AND COMIC STRIPS.
– Has the Government decided to lift the embargo on the importation of “ pulp “ literary material and comic strips from the United States of America and other non-sterling countries? Does the Prime Minister realize that the lifting of the embargo would result in unfair competition by works of foreign origin with Australian books and adversely affect Australian authors, artists and printers, and Australian literature generally? Will he give early consideration to the request of the Australian Journalists Association for the establishment of a parliamentary select committee to investigate all phases of book production in Australia?
– I shall be pleased to confer with the Minister for Trade and Customs on the embargo. Sympathetic consideration will be given to the honorable gentleman’s suggestion.
Hold-up of Dutch Ships.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping seen the statement by Indonesian supporters of the Japanese-formed government in the Netherlands East Indies that the nine Dutch ships held up in Australian port? are to carry materials for the suppression of the “newly elected People’s Government “ ? Has he seen the statement of the Sydney spokesman of the Waterside Workers Federation that the waterside workers will not supply labour for ships carrying military stores and ammunition ? Has he also seen the claim of the Dutch authorities that the ships are to carry medical supplies and clothing needed to save the lives of thousands of people in Java ? As munitions and stores likely to be used for suppression would come from government sources, can he say whether any such articles are being made available to those ships? If no -such articles are being made available, can he give an -assurance that will ensure the departure of those ships, which are required in Dutch ports?
– I have read most of ihe statements referred to by the honorable gentleman, but beyond that my knowledge is limited. There is a conflict of views between the authorities as to what the ship are carrying, and independent inspection of the ships may be needed to ascertain the facts. I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to provide a reply to the honorable gentleman.
– I understand that a considerable number of tractors reserved for the use of the Army and Allied Works Council is to be released for distribution to primary producers and others, and that many of the tractors are not equipped to operate on kerosene or other crude fuels and require petrol. I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider making petrol available, as has been done in New Zealand, I am reliably informed, to primary producers, free of import duty, until such time as the tractors can be converted to kerosene or other crude fuel? Would the Government be prepared to subsidize the cost of converting the tractors so that they may operate on crude fuels?
– It is correct that a considerable number of tractors is being released. They were used by the military authorities. Some time ago the honorable member asked a question about some tractors that were under the control of the Division of Import Procurement and had been sent to Australia under lendlease. Inquiry revealed that many of the tractors were not fully equipped. The honorable member’s suggestion, I take it, is that because power kerosene cannot be used in these tractors the import duty on petrol purchased for use in them should be. waived.
– That is done in New Zealand.
– That proposal would require fairly close examination.- For instance, administrative difficulties might arise in determining whether the petrol was being used in these tractors, or other farm, vehicles, or passenger vehicles. However, I shall examine the matter. Secondly, the honorable member asked about a government subsidy for the conversion of tractors from petrol to crude oil. I do not know how that could be done. For instance, a man who bought a tractor completely conditioned for work would appear to be in an unfavorable position compared with a man who purchased a tractor not fully equipped, and was subsidized by the Government in respect of the purchase of the necessary parts. All I can say is that I shall examine the matters raised by the honorable member, although at the moment both of them seem to involve considerable difficulties.
Parcels fob Civilians.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has made representations to the British Government with a view to meeting the desire of many people in this country to be allowed to send food parcels of a greater weight than 5 lb. to civilians in Great Britain? That is the present weight limit for such parcels. If he has not done so, will he do so at the earliest opportunity? Secondly, will the Government give favorable consideration to reducing the postage in respect of such parcels for the duration of the present acute shortage of food in Great Britain?
– The honorable member raised both of these points in questions which he asked last week. He was then promised that the matters would be examined by the appropriate Ministers as soon as possible. I regret that it has not yet been possible to supply the information. I understand from the Minister for Information that representations had already been made to the British Government to lift the present weight limit of 5 lb. on food parcels despatched to civilians in Great Britain. I shall follow up both of the matters raised by the honorable member and supply the information as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health and Social Services whether he is aware of the serious shortage of nurses in metropolitan hospitals as the result of which many hospital beds cannot be occupied? Has he made representations to the Minister for the Army to forgo the points system in the demobilization of nurses in order to overcome the shortage?
– I am aware of the acute shortage of nurses, and have referred the matter to the Acting Minister for Health and the Director-General of Health.I shall discuss with the Minister for the Army, the honorable member’s suggestion that the points system in the demobilization of nurses be a bandoned.
– I have received the following telegram from an exserviceman whose two brothers were captured at the fall of Singapore -
Please ask Minister Army reason delay releasing names prisoner of war Fukuoka camp Japan.
I ask the Minister for the Army whether in view of his statement that some delay in the publication of names of released prisoners of war was justified to allow checking, he himself should not have exercised some patience before announcing the expected total of prisoners yet to be recovered, instead of causing optimism which he has now admitted cannot be sustained ? What were the “ various sources “ from which the Minister obtained his original information regarding the total number of prisoners it was hoped would be recovered?
– The estimated number of prisoners of war who are likely to be recovered was collected by Second Echelon and Army Records from various sources, including United States and British Army authorities, and that estimate was made public.
– That was a pity.
– No. Great pressure was brought to bear to ascertain the estimated number of prisoners of war. The exact number of prisoners of war in Germany and the South-West Pacific was definitely stated, but as was emphasized at the time, the number in the South-West Pacific, Japan proper. Singapore, Borneo and other places could be only an estimate because of the difficulty in getting authentic information and the failure of the Japanese, before the conclusion of hostilities, to report the movements of prisoners of war from one island to another. Indeed, many movements were never reported, and that increased the difficulty of making estimates. That fact was always stressed when any estimates were given. The total number of prisoners of war, or personnel believed to be prisoners of war, was known to the Australian Army authorities. However, they did not know how many had died and that information is now being obtained. I am not able to give any information about the reported delay in sending certain names from the Fukuoka camp, but I assure the honorable member that I have frequently held consultations with the Adjutant-General and the Colonel in Charge of Records, Second Echelon, and every week-end I have telephone conversations with the authorities about these matters. The officials are anxious, as is every member of the community, that the fullest and most reliable information shall be given as soon as possible to every relative or friend of inmates of prisoner-of-war camps. The matter mentioned by the honorable member will be investigated and I shall supply a full reply.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service inform me whether the Government has reached a decision regarding the proposal to grant fourteen days’ annual leave to persons employed under Commonwealth awards?” If so, when will the announcement be made?
– Although the Government grants fourteen days annual leave to its own employees, it does not propose directly to give fourteen days annual leave to all employees working under federal awards; but it did help- to have the matter brought before the Arbitration Court. Judge O’Mara dealt with the claim of the Metal Trades Federation Case, and, after calling evidence, decided to refer the matter to the full bench of five judges. That hearing will commence in Sydney this week.
– Following a question concerning the Australian Women’s Land Army which I asked in this chamber last week, my attention was drawn to the following press statement by the Prime Minister on the extension of rehabilitation benefits : -
These facilities are extended to members of the Australian Women’s Land Army who because of incapacity arising out of their service were unable to return to their pre-war occupations.
I should like to know whether that announcement was made as the result of the Cabinet consideration which the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction informed me was then proceeding. In view of the fact that although not incapacitated, women : may have suffered considerable loss of skill in the performance of their ordinary callings as the result of several years service with the Australian Women’s Land Army, will the Prime Minister recommend to Cabinet a further review of the situation?
– I understand that some confusion occurred in the release to the press of a statement dealing with certain decisions made by Cabinet, and other matters that were under consideration. [ do not recall all the details, but I shall ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to have the subject re -examined.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the removal of controls in respect of transfers of land up to a value of £100, so that the present considerable delays may be avoided, the department may give more expeditious consideration to those that have to be dealt with, and building operations, particularly in country centres, may receivea much needed impetus?
– In response to a similar suggestion by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) some time ago, I examined the matter, and found that if the suggestion were adopted the payment of prices up to the amount mentioned by the honorable member for small blocks would probably be used as an argument for raising the valuations of all other blocks in the area. The objective of the Government is to ensure that land values shall not he increased excessively. They have been raised in some degree, despite all the controls that have been exercised. If £90 were paid for a block of land the fair value of which was probably only £20, all other values in the area might be forced up. Many municipalities are inclined to adopt that course for rating purposes. When I previously examined the matter I could not agree to grant the exemption suggested.
– A sale at any price affects the other values in the district.
– I agree with the honorable member. Sales at very low prices have been allowed to go through. As there has been a steady relaxation of controls, I shall examine the matter afresh. I have previously claimed that many delays are caused by the inability of solicitors handling transfers to dispose of them expeditiously because of the lack of staff. Such an instance came to my notice to-day when an applicant for a transfer who had made strong complaint against the Treasury upon being informed that the application had been made only recently, apologized, and admitted that the delay had been caused in the office of the solicitor who had been handling the matter.
– In view of the statement that dollar exchange is causing difficulty in importing petrol, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping negotiate with the British authorities, if negotiations have not already been undertaken, with the object of obtaining essential requirements from sterling areas, and thus meeting in some degree the acute need to increase supplies for transport purposes ?
– The purchase of petrol is not easy even in sterling areas. Because of the shortage of dollar exchange in most of the countries that wish to make purchases, the demand for petrol from the sterling area has been accentuated; consequently the supplies even in chat area have had to be rationed. We are doing our best to get supplies.
– In view of published reports that action is contemplated in regard to wage-pegging and the fixing of the basic wage by regulation, will the Minister for Labour and National Service give an assurance that before any such action is taken the Parliament will be given an opportunity to debate fully all aspects of the subject? Further, can he say what decision has been reached by the Government in regard to war loading and war risk bonuses?
– The subjects to which the honorable member has referred are matters of Government policy, and are not determined by any one Minister. 3o far, the Government has not reviewed its wage-pegging policy.
– There have been press statements on the subject.
– I am not responsible for them.
– Is the Minister for Air aware of the anxiety occasioned by the increasing number of transport accidents in the Royal Australian Air Force since the war ended? Oan he say how many such accidents have occurred and the number of persons involved, and whether any information as to the cause of such accidents is available? Does he not think that the number of accidents which have occurred indicates that a tightening-up of the maintenance of aircraft is needed ?
– The notice.[,aper contains a question similar to that asked by the honorable member. The information sought will take some time to obtain. There seems to be an impression that the number of air transport accidents has increased since the war. Unfortunately, several accidents have occurred since the cessation of hostilities, and an examination of them is now being, made in order to determine whether they are out of proportion to the number of hours flown. Honorable members ar~ doubtless aware that the Royal Australian Air Force is flying aeroplanes to placesconsiderable distances from bases, in-, order to bring home prisoners of war asearly as possible. It will be appreciated that the greater number of flying hoursthe greater the risk of accidents. I hop,soon to be in a position to supply theinformation sought.
– Some time ago the Acting Attorney-General, in reply to a ques tion regarding the operation of the war service moratorium regulations as they affected landlord and tenant relations,, said that he would have a memorandum on the subject prepared by the SolicitorGeneral. Can the Minister say whetheranything has since been done in this connexion?
– A discussion on thissubject has been arranged for next Thursday night, after which I hope to be ableto supply an answer to the honorablemember’s question.
– Can the Prim*Minister say whether the Government hae decided what shall be done with certain facilities established in various centresfor the convenience of service departments during the war, as, for instance., the water supply line at Tenterfield? That water service extends for several miles and could be used by farmers were it not that I understand a prohibitiveprice has been asked. Similarly, certain , facilities provided at Evan’s Head could be used by the local authorities, and ii is probable that in other parts of theCommonwealth other conveniences have been provided. ‘ Has the Government yetdecided how civilians and local authorities who may wish to use these facilities are to be treated?
– Decisions have been, made in a number of individual caseswhilst, the disposal of stores, hutment*and other facilities has been entrusted t”> the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. I cannot say what has been done in the specific instances mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall endeavour to get the information sought by him. A final decision has not yet been made as to what camps and buildings will be retained as permanent establishments. That matter is now being examined, but, of course, the decision will depend on what our defence requirements will be in the future. That question, in turn, is associated with world security. I shall arrange to supply a statement on the subject as early as possible.
Service to Canada
– As the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation is re ported to have said at Vancouver that a civil air service will shortly be established between Canada and Australia with a branch service to New Zealand, will the Minister for Air indicate what is intended by the Government, and when the projected service is likely to commence?
– I am unable to make a statement on the subject at this juncture. Mr. McVey, the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation, is probably now en route to Australia. The matter to which the honorable member referred was one which he proposed to discuss with overseas authorities. The honorable member will appreciate that in a matter of this kind arrangements must be made with authorities in other countries. When Mr. McVey’s report has been received and a decision has been arrived at I shall be happy to make an announcement on the subject. I am not in a position to do now.
-I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The failure of the Government to take effective steps to settle the present widespread industrial trouble in New South Wales.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– The purpose of this motion is to enable the House to discuss the state of industrial affairs at present existing in New South Wales, and, in particular, to enable the House to give some consideration to the policy, or absence of policy, of the Government in relation to these matters. If its policy had to be described quite briefly, it could be described as one of futility and inaction. At the present time, there are in New South Wales at least four major industrial crises. There is a very dangerous and far-reaching strike of employees in the Bunnerong power house of the Sydney County Council, involving the electric light and power supplies of the city. That has been going on for weeks, and at the moment it shows no sign of terminating. Secondly, there is extensive waterside trouble in Sydney, which, in the last 24 hours, has included an impudent attempt by Communists in the Waterside Workers Federation to intervene in the domestic affairs of a foreign country, namely, the Netherlands East Indies. Thirdly, there is a continuation - and this has become almost chronic - of inadequate coal production. Fourthly, there is an extensive stoppage in the iron and steel industry.
The co-existence of these four industrial situations is a very serious state of affairs - something which has been described quite rightly by one honorable member opposite as industrial anarchy. When any criticism is made - and one was made by implication the other day when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) asked a question about the Bunnerong dispute - the reply of the Government tends always to fall into a set form. First, it says that the Opposition when in power was confronted with an extensive coal strike in 1940, and therefore it is not permitted to criticize what happens in 1945. It is a stale answer and a puerile one, but it is repeatedly offered. The second answer is one of great frankness, even if of great feebleness. It is this: “What can we lo about it, anyway? Have you any suggestions to make? We have none. We can’t think of anything to do; therefore, we do nothing “.
I wish to say something about this constant reference to the coal strike of 1940 vh idi has become the Government’s permanent excuse for inaction in 1945. In 1940 - I put this before the House merely in passing - the demands on Australian production were not so great as they subsequently became. The influence of a coal strike was not, in .1940, as deadly as that of a coal strike in 1944 or 1945. There are two other factors to be borne in mind, also. The first is that, in 1940, when the coal strike occurred, the Commonwealth Government had no direct powers of industrial compulsion. At that time, full power over persons and services in Australia had not been taken. The National Security Act was amended in June, 1940, after the collapse of France. In the second place, strikes were not then illegal. The prohibition of strikes which, had originally existed in the arbitration law had been struck out during the time of an earlier Labour administration. However, to-day, and last year also, but I confine myself to to-day, the Government has full power of industrial compulsion. As the result of regulations which came into force in 1942, beginning with Statutory Rule 77, there is power in the Government, if it seriously desires to deal with industrial disputes, to issue peremptory orders to both employers and employees. We know quite well that in scores of cases such orders have Deen issued. Whenever they have been issued against employers, they have been rigidly enforced, and whenever they have been issued against individual employees, they have been rigidly enforced. However, whenever they have been issued against organized employees, they have represented a mere gesture, because their disobedience of the orders has never brought down the punishment which is prescribed for disobedience of the law.
If the Government is not prepared to enforce the law as it stands it should repeal it, and make perfectly clear that anarchy is the rule - that law has gone, and that it is a case of each for himself; but as long as the law stands - and I remind honorable members that the law in question was brought in by this Government - that law should be enforced. The real issue is not between the Government and the Opposition, hut between government as government, and the militant unions who are defying the law. The real issue to be determined is, who runs this country in the industrial sense? Who is to exercise authority in relation to industrial law - the duly constituted Government of the land, or such militant unions, usually Communist-led, as care to defy the law?
On Friday last, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) was asked a question by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and 1 quote the relevant parts of the Prime Minister’3 reply -
The trouble at Bunnerong is between the men and what is a semi-government utility.
There is a certain irony in that. This is not a strike against a monopoly or against the private boss, but a strike against a government utility. The Prime Minister went on -
I do not think that there is anything the Commonwealth Government can do about it more than can be done by the State Government and the Trades and Labour Council, which are both trying to bring about a resumption.
– Has the Government no disciplinary powers?
– It has the same powers as had .the Government in which the honorable member was a Minister. Even then the Government had power to put all the coalininers on the northern fields in gaol for going on strike, but it did not do so.
I pause in my quotation to point out that this very easy reply - the kind of reply with which we have been familiar, for a long time - happens to be completely wrong on both grounds. In the first place, it is not true that this Government has the same powers as had the Government in which the honorable member was a Minister. As I have just pointed out, the powers of this Government are immeasurably greater, because’ emergency powers were taken at the beginning of 191-2, which, in reality, are unlimited in relation to the controlling of industrial disputes. So that part of the answer was wrong. In the second place, the right honorable gentleman was unfortunately once more in error when he said that the Government in 1940 had power to put all the coal-miners on the northern fields in gaol for going on strike, because, at that time, that was not an offence against the law as it is to-day.
– If the right honorable member had had that power, would he have put them all in gaol?
– If I had had the power, I would have exercised it. The interjector’s sentiment, although it is expressed with the usual aggressiveness of the Minister, is, in reality, an expression of utter, weakness. In effect, he says: “It is all very well to say we have the power, but really we could not dream of exercising it, because that would mean punishing people.” I suppose that punishing people would mean that the Government might have more trouble, and the one thing that the Government has in mind is not to have more trouble. Here we have the perfect expression, though in a truculent form, of the doctrine of appeasement. I resume my quotation. Next, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) interjected and said -
Then do something.
And the Prime Minister said -
The honorable member asks us to do something, but I should like him to make a suggestion.
In other words, this is what we have come to: The Government, which possesses unlimited authority in these matters and which has a responsibility imposed upon it by the people, turns in the feeblest manner to the Opposition, »nd soys : “ Please tell us what we ought to do to enforce the law which we ourselves made.” That policy is one of utter and contemptible surrender.
The Commonwealth Government’s control ever the coal-mining industry is, we are told, to be abandoned. I do not know whether or not this is true, but statements to that effect have appeared, and the reason for the abandonment is sometimes said to have something to do with the Constitution. In reality, the Government has made a mess of control, and bad production has been at its worst under government management. In a vital national industry at a vital time, when civil production needs to be built up so that people coming out of the service; may be rehabilitated promptly, we arc confronted with the fact of the Prim, Minister and the Government of Aus-, tralia handing the whole problem over to the States with a pretty broad him that the way of peace will be the way of surrender and that the sooner the States surrender the better. In. the case of the Bunnerong dispute it is said by the Prime Minister that the powers of the Government were exercised. 11 appears that an order was made in Maj last. Was that order issued with the intention that it should be obeyed or was it just a piece of paper, a mere gesture? The people will be interested te have an answer to that question. Either the order has been forgotten or the courage of the Government has entirely oozed away, because not one step has been taken towards enforcing it.
I now turn to the unrest on the waterfront. There has been an extensive holdup of shipping in Sydney. Here we have what is perhaps the supreme example of the feebleness of the Government. To every demand that is made for increased food supplies for Great Britain and to every demand that is made for a speedier return of troops for demobilization, the reply is given that there is a grave shortage of shipping. I remind the House thai a shortage of shipping can arise not only from an actual shortage of ships but also from failure to use the ships that we have to their fullest advantage. A quick turn-round of ships in port is vital to a .free flow of shipping to Australia and here we find something which is cutting right across the effective use of shipping. On the Sydney waterfront there are strikes, every one of which is, in reality, a strike against the law of the country and not one of which has any justification. In the last 24 hours, insult has been added to injury by the fact that the Waterside Workers Federation, Communist led, has decided, as it did on a prior occasion, to intervene in foreign policy. It has now undertaken to see that certain Dutch ships shall not be loaded for transport to the Netherlands East Indies unless, forsooth, the men on the waterfront are given a guarantee that the goods are to be used by a so-called “ People’s Government “, which is o revolutionary movement in the Netherlands East Indies operated and controlled by a man who was the puppet Premier of the country under Japanese rule, the one man who was and is the Quisling of Java. The Communists - these rogues who disfigure the life of Australia, these rogues who are devoted to mischief-making in every walk of life and who manage to take with them a few soft-headed gulls who call themselves Communists - actually have the effrontery to hold up ships which contain much-needed supplies for an allied power which has an honorable record in this war, because they want to run the foreign policy of Australia instead of the Government. If the Government knuckles down to that, if it is prepared to say to. these people, “ All right, we are sorry that your ideas on foreign policy are not the same as ours and therefore we make way for youlet yours be the foreign policy “, then it must take the responsibility for a grave affront to a friendly power. A government which permits conduct of that kind in relation to a friendly power is itself responsible for that conduct. What is this so-called “ People’s Government “ in Java? It is formed by the Indonesian Nationalist Movement, led by Dr. Soekarno, and it turns out that Soekarno was the puppet of the Japanese during all those years of occupation in which the Dutch were driven temporarily out of their East-Indian empire. All these things make a very sorry picture.
– What is Lord Louis Mountbatten’s place in this? Would he have to take a part in this affair?
– The Minister is very ingenious in his reference to Lord Louis Mountbatten. I was saying, when he tried to take me off to another part of the world, that these facts make a very sorry picture. There can be few honorable members in tins House who do not realize that. Unless this Government comes to life and takes strong action, this picture can become nationally contemptible. The reputation of Australia is in the hands of the Government, and the people of Australia expect the Government to take real steps to defend it.
– I support the motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) for the reasons that he gave for submitting it. No honorable member accepting his responsibilities as a trustee for the people of Australia can be satisfied with the industrial anarchy in Australia to-day. The people who sabotaged Australia’s war effort are using every means to sabotage postwar reconstruction. I do not intend to go into the details of all the industrial disputes, which are not only bringing into disrepute the Government, but are also endangering our constitutional system. Strikes on the coal-fields are causing all sorts of travel difficulties. The miners care not a rap whether women and children are forced to sit up all night in trains instead of having the comfort of sleepers and other conveniences that would be available if industrial peace reigned on the coal-fields and coal were got. The strike at Bunnerong has been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, who also referred to the unsatisfactory conditions on the waterfront. Those conditions are not new. Indeed, the Government’s spinelessness has encouraged industrial outlaws. It was most refreshing to hear that the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) spoke very straight to the miners on the 13th September when he said -
The public is in no mood to hear further recitals of these sickening details.
Sickening indeed! In order to have a full appreciation of the industrial turmoil in Australia to-day, when we should be in the forefront in supplying food to the starving millions of Europe and in discharging our responsibilities as an integral part of the British Empire to ease the plight of the people of Great Britain, we need to look at the strike statistics, which disclose the extent to which industrial lawlessness is developing. In the March quarter of this year, according to figures supplied to me to-day by the Commonwealth Statistician, there were 253 disputes involving 63,347 workers and a loss of 274,725 working days. The number of disputes in the March quarter was the highest, with one exception, for any quarter since the March quarter of 1943. There has been a progressive increase of the number of working days lost since the June quarter of last year, as is disclosed by the following table : -
Those figures are a barometer of the appalling industrial conditions that the Government is apparently unable to remedy. In 1942, 1943, 1944 and the first quarter of this year, working days lost totalled more than 2,500,000. That is an appalling loss. Its gravity surely must impress itself upon every one with a sense of responsibility. This country has gone through manpower difficulties, and primary industries have lagged when they should have been expanding in order to take up their responsibility to provide food to the world, particularly to the Mother Country. The loss of 2,500,000 working days can be reduced to the number of men who would have been available had the Government grappled with the problem and applied the necessary solution. Look at the record of the Homebush meatworks. I am not going into statistical details, because 1 have constantly placed them before the Government on other occasions, but there have been enormous losses not only of man-hours but also of production. To-day more than 20,000 workers are on strike in New SouthWales. Supplies of coal, iron, steel, electricity, meat, wire and nails have ceased or have been greatly curtailed.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald to-day, the strikers in New South Wales alone include 3,900 wharf labourers, 6,000 iron workers, 10,000 coal miners, 14,000 meat workers, 600 powerhouse workers, 240 wire workers and 4,000 printers. In Queensland, sheep have not been shorn for months. I know pastoralists there whose sheep are carrying more than twelve months’ wool, which they cannot get shearers to remove. There has been a general loss as the result. According to Country Life, one pastoralist lost at least 2d. per lb. on nearly 1,000 bales of wool, which means a loss of more than £2,500. Compare the Government’s inaction in regard to strikes of unionists with its stern action against the master bakers in Queensland. They went on strike, The then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, lost no time in invoking against them the National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations - that is Statutory Rule No. 77 referred to by the Leader of the Opposition - and declared that the Government was determined to pursue vigorously a course that would seek the full penalty provided by the law. That penalty was inflicted upon the master bakers. [Extension of time granted.] When we examine the causes of the industrial unrest in this country we must come to the conclusion that one of the basic causes is the failure of the Government to take vigorous action in the matter. By this failure the Government has given encouragement to lawlessness and industrial anarchy. The Government, as the result of its appeasement policy, is held in contempt by the workers who take no notice whatsoever of its threats, because their experience has led them to believe that the Government will never implement any of its threats. Another contributing factor to industrial unrest is the activity of Communist agitators who have been given every licence by the Government to disrupt industry and undermine constitutional authority. In addition, attempts are being made by a section of the industrial movement to smash our system of industrial conciliation and arbitration. Both the Government and the trade union movement have stated that they stand for industrial conciliation and arbitration. What is wrong with the present system of arbitration? If the trade union movement believes that the present system is not adequate, or is not acceptable in its present form to the workers, the system should be thoroughly overhauled and brought more into conformity with conditions requisite to maintain law and order in our industrial life. It is easy for a section of the industrial movement to say that it believes in conciliation and arbitration, but, in view of its actions, that section might just as well say that it believes in Marquis of Queensbery rules while, at the same time, it fights with a horse shoe in its glove. Apparently, that section of the industrial movement believes in industrial arbitration only when arbitration suits the workers.
What are the remedies for our present industrial unrest? The Australia Country party has more than once placed its industrial policy before the people. The remedies suggested by my party are: First, immediate action by the government to enforce the wide powers it possesses under Statutory Rule No. 77 of the National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations to direct any person to perform specified duties in relation to his trade, business or calling; secondly, la searching investigation of the activities of Communists in relation to industrial disputes; thirdly, action to prohibit strikes and to empower the court to take rigorous action against those who counsel, or encourage, strikes and against the funds and property of any organization participating in them; and, fourthly, legislation to require all trade unions to lodge with the Registrar of the Arbitration Court complete lists of their members, to provide that ballots be taken to fill unpaid executive positions, and that these ballots be conducted by the Registrar of the Arbitration Court, thus ensuring that the leadership of the unions shall reflect the opinion of their members.
Our industrial unrest is a cancerous growth; and the Government must grapple with the evil. If it fails to do so, we shall experience within the next few months circumstances which must prove disastrous having regard to the grave problems which will arise during the transition from war to peace, If the position is not dealt with vigorously, we shall experience strikes and industrial dislocation generally early next year ; and no one who has the good of Australia at heart can view such a prospect without dismay. We must exert every effort to establish harmony in industry in order that we shall be better able to pass from the dark days of war, now happily behind us, to the days of peace when the nation must rehabilitate itself and make Australia a place fit to receive the men who by their sacrifice have made possible our presence here to-day.
Mr. COLES (Henty) [4.351– The. approach of some honorable members to the problem of industrial unrest is simply appalling. Certainly, the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) has cited a list of industrial stoppages which have caused tremendous loss and difficulty in this country during the last year. I agree with his remarks about those stoppages; but I do not agree with the approach of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) to this problem. If we consider the matter carefully for a moment we shall realize that the present wave of industrial unrest sweeping over Australia, and evidenced in stoppages and the application of the go-slow policy in industry, ig a result and not a cause. If we tackle the problem intelligently, we shall first seek the causes and not rail at one another about the results. If we do not make a broad, intelligent approach to this problem, in view of our return to peace-time conditions, Australia will experience an era of industrial unrest such as the nation has not yet witnessed. The very list of stoppages which the right honorable member for Darling Downs read out reveals the trend in industry to-day.
The time has come when we must take a comprehensive view of the problem, and not start quarrelling with one another about the remedies that should be applied. First, we must investigate the problem thoroughly; and if we intend honestly tocure the causes of the trouble we must have the courage to apply the remedies indicated by such an investigation. During the war courageous action has been taken in Great Britain in order to settle industrial disputes. I refer to the Bevin plan for settling industrial disputes in English ports in 1941 when the ship-owners and the unions could not settle their differences, with the result that vessels vitally required for the transport of food were not being turned round in English ports with sufficient speed. Mr. Bevin intervened in the disputes and formed port authorities. To a degree he nationalized the industry. Whilst I do not favour nationalization of industry in peace-time, I realize the necessity for taking a broad view in a matter of this kind during war. If we do not desire to reduce our living standards, which must be the result of reduced production, we must face up to this problem. Australia made an extraordinarily meritorious war effort, particularly during 1942. In that year, our people organized by the Government to a major degree, got together and put forward an effort equal to that of any of the United Nations.
I am sure that our people thought that the co-operative spirit of that time when they accepted the pegging of wages, prices, and profits, would ensure for us a prosperous peace. Many of our people sincerely hoped that the spirit engendered in that year, when such great danger threatened this nation, would continue in the peace. However, I am afraid that that hope has been dashed, because evidence that that spirit is being carried into the peace is almost completely lacking. Indeed the position to-day is that industrial unions and managements virtually go to their corners and gird up their loins for a first-class fight, causing stoppages in industry regardless of the hardships resulting therefrom to the masses of our people. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth Government will not have power to deal with the industrial situation after the expiration of the National Security Act. Therefore, the Government should exercise its authority now with a view to providing a guide for State governments. Some honorable members demand that the Government shall take punitive action against strikers, but we know in our hearts that prosecution and fines are not the way in which to get the best results. Punishment only adds fuel to the fire of dissension and leads to further industrial unrest. The Government should call a compulsory conference of employers and employees to discuss this problem. If that be not acceptable, the Government should appoint a parliamentary committee or royal commission to investigate the causes of industrial unrest in this country, and the methods used in establishments where industrial unrest does not occur.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ causes “ ?
– I have not time now to deal with them at length, but I should like to submit them to a royal commission. The causes are, naturally, the unequal distribution of the rewards of industry and the conviction that industry should he conducted for the welfare of the people instead of the people being used to serve industry as such. They require investigation. I advocate, not punitive action against employees or managements, but an exhaustive inquiry for the purpose of discovering the finest standards in existence in industry in Australia. Our ideal should be to ensure that the best conditions in industry should be adopted as the standard. In conversation with employers, I have found that all are good chaps individually ; they try to be a “ jump “ ahead of their business opponents and to give the best conditions to their employees. But when they meet to decide what they shall do collectively, they adopt the suggestions of the meanest among them because in that way, they consider there is safety. The truth is that safety would lie in adopting the suggestions and the proved methods of the most advanced employers.
– Does the honorable member believe that industrial standards in Australia have not been equal to the highest in the world ? In what countries are industrial standards better than the, are in Australia?
– Even assuming that industrial standards are better in Australia than they are in any other country, we are not to be satisfied for all time with present standards. Time goes on and we must continue to improve our standards so that the people will benefit. The Government should regard seriously the challenge of the Opposition and take action in an intelligent manner for the purpose of finding out whether we can stem the movement down the road toward industrial anarchy, as it has -been described. The Government should undertake an intelligent investigation of the causes of industrial unrest, and the recommendations of the royal commission, being based upon sound premises, could be incorporated in the legislation of the States.
– It is rather significant that no Minister has sought to answer the charge* levelled by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), but a very ardent supporter of the Government has stated the case on its behalf and his solution it exactly the same as the remedy proposed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) a few days ago. Replying to my statement on the Bunnerong strike, which I made on the adjournment, the right honorable gentleman said, “ The Australasian Council of Trades Unions cannot do anything ; the unions cannot do anything; the State Government cannot do anything; and we cannot do anything”. Now, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) has a solution. He proposes that the problem should be submitted to a conference of employers and employees, or to a royal commission. I remind the honorable gentleman that the conferences which the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, had with the representatives of the coalminers, and which led to the introduction of the Canberra Code, did not stem the strikes on the coal-fields. The commission which investigated conditions on the coalfields has not had any beneficial effects, or prevented industrial anarchy. This “pussy-footing” and policy of appeasement in which honorable members opposite indulge serve only to inflame the strikers. To-day, in New South Wales, seven or eight major strikes, involving between 25,000 and 30,000 persons, are in progress. Members of the Opposition, to date, have been very generous to the Prime Minister. He has been in office for only a few months, and we have not previously moved the adjournment of the House to discuss industrial unrest. We gave the right honorable gentleman an opportunity to grapple with the problem. But now we view with alarm conditions in industry in New South Wales the like of which have never before been known in the history of Australia. Whilst tq have acted most generously towards the right honorable gentleman, we must now take measures to ensure that the Government will act. Last week, when I referred to the strike of the Bunnerong employees, I pointed out that the Commonwealth Government had prosecuted certain master bakers inueensland for having refused to bake bread on two days and argued that similar action could be taken in the Bunnerong dispute. But the Prime Minister concluded his reply with these words -
For that reason, I have stated that the only possible intervention by the Commonwealth Government -would be the institution of a series of prosecutions on the existing order.
When I asked the right honorable gentleman to prosecute the Bunnerong strikers, he took no action. Indeed, prosecutions were launched against the men who participated in the strike at the Rhonda colliery, but counsel for the Commonwealth Government asked the court for an adjournment. Obviously, the Government does not propose to take action against those “ sit-down “ strikers.
The strike of the Bunnerong employees is likely to affect the supply of electricity for lighting, heating and power throughout the Sydney metropolitan area. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, this is a strike not against some great monopoly, but against a semi-governmental body. Why have the men gone on strike! They are striking not against onerous working conditions, but against the law of the country - an award of the Industrial Commission to which the Commonwealth Government agreed. When the Industrial Commission heard this ease earlier this year, counsel for the Commonwealth gave an undertaking that the Government would see that the men obeyed the award. What has the Government done? The Prime Minister said that he could not do anything to settle the dispute, because the unions could not control the men. Following the trouble last May, the Industrial Commission said, in effect : “ If we have to rehear this case, we require an undertaking that any award which we may make shall be given effect by the Commonwealth Government.” After the commission had ruled that shift-work was essential - shift-work is the issue in this strike - the Commonwealth Government gave to the commission an assurance that the men would observe the award.
I understand that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), speaking to the Acting General Manager of the Sydney County Council, gave an undertaking that the Commonwealth Government would guarantee that the men would observe the judgment of the Industrial Commission. If the Government thinks that by issuing an order it has honoured the undertaking, it has another “ think “ coming. The issue of the order does not honour the undertaking. If the Government undertakes to see that the men observe, the judgment, nothing short of honouring that undertaking will be acceptable to the public. If the Government gives its word it should stand by its word. In this instance, the employees have ignored the order of the court. The Prime Minister says that the order issued in May still stands, but what has the Government done to enforce it? It has done nothing. By its inactivity and by statements such as those made by the Prime Minister, the Government has encouraged industrial lawlessness. The men are quick to sense the strength or weakness of a government. When they find that the Government will not enforce the law, they will embark on further strikes that challenge the authority of the Government.
The Prime Minister said that the State Government had done all it could to settle the dispute, and the Commonwealth Government could do no more. Let us we what the State Government has done. lt gave directions that the Department of Railways and the Public Works Department should not feed electric current into the city circuit. This prevented the augmenting of the general supply, so that there was a shortage of current, and industry was threatened. The Government took this action because it yielded to the pressure of the workers. Secondly, the State Government brought pressure to bear on the general manager of the County Council to induce him to appease the workers. It sought to induce the general manager to break the law in order to get the men back to work. When it failed in this attempt, it approached individual members of the County Council, and tried to get them to bring pressure to bear on the general manager. Finally, the Acting Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Baddeley, although he knew that it was hot legally possible, stated that inquiries would be made with a view to the State Government taking over the Bunnerong Power Station. Already, it is a semi-government utility, and he said that the State might take it over altogether. This merely gave the men a further incentive to continue the strike. The leaders of most of the unions in New South Wales are Communists, and communism has a stranglehold on both the State
Government and the Commonwealth Government. Honorable members opposite, whether members of the Government or merely its supporters, are afraid to challenge the Communists. The Government has aided and abetted the strikers in their attitude of anarchy and lawlessness. It has failed to uphold the law* of the country, and any Government which so fails cannot govern as it should.
– The present situation, no matter how we look at it, is deplorable. It is true that there has been, during the last week or so, a wave of what we might almost describe as industrial vandalism in New South Wales. Nevertheless^ the number of working days lost through industrial disputes is not nearly so great now as immediately before the war, or even during 1940 or 1941, when the previous government was in power. No one can justify the present situation, but we should look at it fairly. I did not intend to cite the comparative figure* until the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) gave figures regarding stoppages for certain years, beginning from 1942. If he had gone back to 1941, the figures would have presented a different picture, and if he had gone back to 1938 he would have found that th* figures were very much higher than those for this year. For instance, for the first quarter of 1945, the number of man-day* lost was 274,000, but for 1938, the number was 1,337,984. For 1941- a year which, I suggest, the honorable member purposely omitted - the figure was 1,507,000. This suggests that members of the Opposition tend to exaggerate the facts, bad as they are. By doing so, they merely irritate the situation, and do more harm than good. Even the Arbitration Court judges have suggested that such exaggerated statements ar* embarrassing. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, almost every time h« mentions the subject, makes statement* and cites figures which are out of relation to facts. Only recently, Sir Essington Lewis, who is acknowledged to be one of our greatest captains of industry, praised the ironworkers very highly, and it if admitted that the iron industry is on* of the most difficult f rom the labour point of view. He praised the ability and moral conduct of those workers, and of the Australian workers generally. Therefore, it is not fair to condemn all Australian workers, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition tends to do, because some are guilty of irresponsible conduct. “When the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was Prime Minister during the early part of the war, we were facing a very difficult industrial situation. For instance, we urgently needed 7,000 tool makers at a time when there were only 500 in Australia. The right honorable gentleman discussed the matter, as he was accustomed to do, with the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), and the Government and the Opposition co-operated to overcome the difficulty. The Opposition appealed to the unions to accept conscription of labour, and the irritating regulations governing industry. One of the promises made to the unions at that time was that this power would not be used to take sides in an industrial dispute. That is my answer to the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that the present administration has more power than his Government possessed to deal with industrial trouble. I have kept my word, and will not allow the regulations to be used on behalf of either side in an industrial dispute.
– Why, then, was an order issued on the earlier Bunnerong dispute.
– That order was issued by the Prime Minister, after consultation with all the parties concerned, in order to make it possible for a judges to hear the case. The men were ordered back to work, on the understanding that the court would deal with the matter immediately. That was the beginning and the end of that order; having achieved its object, it ceased to operate. The State Industrial Commission heard the case, and granted an increase from ls. 3d, to 2s. a day to men who worked on the afternoon or the night shift. The judge could have granted 10s. a day, had he liked; there .was no regulation to prevent him from doing so. He must have received permission from the Chi nf Judge of the Arbitration Court to hear and determine the case. The statement repeatedly made, that more could not be done for the men because of the wagepegging regulations, is not correct. The amount fixed by the State judge had nothing to do with the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court after he had agreed that there was a prima facie case for a review of the conditions in the industry.
– The honorable gentleman has said that he declines to take sides in any dispute. Would that hold good if Commonwealth law were defied?
– I made the general statement that, having agreed with the unions that regulations should be issued setting aside what they had regarded as sacrosanct, we would not use those regulations for the benefit of either side in an industrial dispute. The Menzies Government would not intervene in similar circumstances. A flagrant defiance of the law, of course, would raise other considerations. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) contended that the proper method of dealing with industrial troubles is to determine the cause of them, and he suggested an investigation on the lines of action taken by the British Government. Having had consultations with the principal parties involved, the Government has decided to have an investigation of that character in regard to conditions on the waterfront generally. We have suggested that the investigation shall be entrusted to a judge. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that an extraordinary situation has arisen within the last few days. The largest of the present disputes, which involves thousands of waterside workers, has really been caused by coloured seamen having walked off Dutch ships and declared them black. The Bunnerong dispute, one of the most serious, started some months ago. There was a change of management, and the new manager immediately introduced the system of shift work in replacement of the payment of overtime for excess hours. Although the award contained provision for shift work, that had remained a deadletter for sixteen or seventeen years. Strictly speaking, I do not think that the manager had any authority, under the wage-pegging regulations, to make the alteration, because they provide that working conditions may not be worsened. [ visited Sydney, where I conferred with the manager and representatives of the men, with the result that the matter was referred to the court. I consider that the manager was ill-advised. The trouble has continued ever since. The State government, the Sydney county council, and representatives of the unions, are to hold conferences, beginning probably today or to-morrow. I have been advised by telephone from Sydney to-day that it is hoped that the dispute will be settled this week. The view is held that more harm than good would be done by intervention that would stir up the trouble. Although the dispute at Collie is not referred to in the motion, I mention in passing that the parties are in conference, and probably the matter will be settled. The waterside trouble presents greater difficulty, because of international complications, and I do not know how it can be handled. It is similar to another dispute, which arose while the Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister, because of the shipment of pig iron to Japan. The allegation on the present occasion is that the goods are being supplied to a government that is a puppet of the Japanese.
– The real question is, who controls the foreign policy of the country!
– The international complications are too great for me to unravel. I hold a brief for the workers of Australia. There are nearly 2,000,000 trade unionists, and they constitute an overwhelming proportion of all the working people of Australia. I shall not permit 90 per cent, of them to be condemned because 10 per cent, are not playing the game. While negotiations are proceeding, while round-table conferences are being held, and while State Premiers are doing their best to bring about harmony in industry, it is unwise to raise the subject in the Parliament and so create an atmosphere prejudicial to the success of such negotiations. It is only to be expected that after six years of war there will’ be some lawlessness in the community. During the war both employers and employees held their hands, but now that the war is over there seems to be an eagerness to get to grips on issues that had been deferred. I have noticed that some employers are now trying to get even with men against whom they did not wish to take action during the war period. On the other hand, some groups of employees who stayed their hands during the war are now taking steps unconstitutionally, in trying to get the things that they. want. I hope that by conferences of employers’ and employees we shall be able to settle disputes by constitutional methods. There must be greater uniformity in regard to many matters as, for instance, annual leave, sick leave and hours of labour if there is to be peace in industry throughout the Commonwealth. The present lack of uniformity causes chaotic conditions. I am hopeful that the means being adopted to settle disputes will lead to the acceptance by all parties of constitutional methods.
.- If what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) has said is the answer of the Government to a challenge by the Opposition on an important national question, I can only gay that it is the most lamentable and ineffective answer that I have ever heard in thi( House. The whole of the Commonwealth is threatened with industrial dislocation and upheaval; yet the Government has no better answer to give than the one which we have just heard. I shall not attempt to take the discussion beyond the limited scope to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) attempted to confine it. He referred specifically to industrial lawlessness in New South Wales. In support of his remarks I say that if the problem is to be solved for Australia as a whole, we must first solve it for New South Wales, because industrial lawlessness in Australia really boils down to industrial lawlessness in New South Wales. Of the 785 industrial disputes which occurred in 1943, 689 took place in New South Wales. In the following year 801 out of 941 disputes occurred in that State, and for the March quarter of 1945, during which there were 253 disputes in the Commonwealth, 217 were located in New South Wales. In other words, between 80 per cent, and 90 per cent, of the industrial disputes within the Commonwealth during those yearsoccurred in one State. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) said that’ we must not criticize the effects but must try to find the causes. I shall dismiss without comment the humbug and hypocrisy in which he indulged in an attempt to explain the situation.
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to refer to another honorable member in that way. Such language is unparliamentary.
– We must look deeper than did the honorable member for Henty if we would find the causes of the industrial upheavals which are constantly taking place. The honorable member said that the main cause of disputes is that workers in industry are not given a fair share of the profits of industry. What drivel! We have in Australia the best developed and most comprehensive system of industrial arbitration in the world. I challenge any honorable member to deny that. Under the arbitration laws of this country, the court is bound to award the highest wage which the industry can afford to pay. That is the law at a time when governments take 30 per cent, of the profits of industry, and- therefore the honorable member’s statement that the workers do not get a fair share of the profits of industry is so much nonsense. What is the reason for the concentration of industrial disputesin one State? Why do not similar disputes occur in other States? Is it because in those States men and women are more hard working and patriotic? As [ have said, we must look beyond the statement of the honorable member for Henty if we would find the real causes of industrial unrest in New South Wales. It cannot be said that in that State workers are unable to get their disputes dealt with quickly, or that there is an unsympathetic government in office. A Labour government has been in office in New South Wales for a number of years, and there is a preponderance of Labour members from that State in this House. Moreover, the State arbitration system works in conjunction with the Commonwealth system. There are conciliation commissioners galore. There is no lack of opportunity or facilities for the organizations of the men involved to air their genuine grievances and to have them speedily and impar tially determined. What is the reason for this anarchy? I do not blame the Australian working man. He has shown that he can do as good a job as any other man, and in addition that he has initiative above that displayed by most workers in other countries. In 1942, the workers of Australia made a wonderful national effort. I put the blame, first, on the Government, and, then on trade union leadership. I have seen enough of the industrial movement in this country to know that 90 per cent, of industrial stoppages are deliberately planned and fostered by the men’s leaders. Unfortunately, the members of unions follow their leaders implicitly; they have been trained to do so. When we hear men say that the trade union leaders are trying to restrain the men, I reply that in 90 cases out of 100 such talk is merely so much twaddle. I repeat that stoppage* in industry are deliberately planned and fostered. Within the trade union movement there is a bitter struggle for power between the Australian Labour party members proper and the Communist element. Because supporters of the Australian Labour party proper are not prepared to stand up to the Communists they are not giving the leadership they should.
The Minister cited figures to show that the position to-day is not worse than it was in “ previous years, but he conveniently stopped at March, 1945, whereas the attack by the Opposition is directed to the serious state of affairs which has developed in New South Wales during the last few months. I remind the House that when the Menzies Government introduced legislation to outlaw strikes in 1941 the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) pleaded with the then Prime Minister to withdraw the bill. In doing so, he gave an assurance of Labour’s support and co-operation. At that time the Leader of the Labour party pledged the trade union movement to a whole-hearted war effort. It was on the basis of those undertakings, and not because it was the policy of the Government of the day, that that bill was withdrawn. I make this further comment because to me it is something that the trade union movement has to answer. It is claimed that the trade unionists are working for better standards, and in the best interests of the Australian working people; but they know, if they have any common sense, that rising standards can only be brought about by increasing production. The provoking of incident after incident on the coal-fields, in transport undertakings, on the wharfs, and in the workshops is causing such a serious decline of this country’s productive capacity that a rising standard of living is no longer practicable. Surely there is a place here for resolute government leadership and government education. Surely there is a place for forthright trade union leadership. If these men have the best interests, of the workers and of Australia at heart, there is an obligation upon them not to lead men into positions where hold-ups occur, but to point out to them that they can only achieve rising standards and maintain production by giving of their best and ensuring regularity and continuity of employment. Failure to overcome these difficulties as they occur represents a continuing charge against the Government. Ministers cannot evade that charge by saying that worse things happened when a previous government was in office, or by making extraordinary statements such as that made by the Minister for Labour and National Service when he said that he had given an undertaking that the powers would not be used to support one side in a dispute. We are not asking him to exercise his powers to take sides. Let the disputes be heard by the proper tribunals, but once a tribunal has given a decision, the use of power to enforce that decision cannot be regarded as taking sides. An issue having been determined by the proper authority, it is the Government’s duty to maintain its own strength, and that of its tribunal, by enforcing the decision.
– If the arguments of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) are the best that the Opposition can present in support of its so-called attack on the administration of the Government, we have no need to look any further for the reason why the Opposition parties have failed so badly in recent by- elections. I understand that there will be another by-election in South Australia on Saturday next, and quite possibly thi* attack upon the Government has been launched with the object of assisting the Opposition’s colleagues in that State who are being desperately pressed to retain the reins of government.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) would have us believe that they deplore industrial troubles in this country. 1 believe thai they welcome and take a delight in such troubles, because they believe them to b» an embarrassment to this Government Honorable members opposite are more concerned about deriving some political advantage than with preserving industrial peace in this country. The Leader of the Opposition referred to what he- termed four major disputes, and spoke of the Government’s alleged weaknesses. 1 think he need the word “ contemptible “ in one reference. However, the right honorable gentleman rather deplore* references by some honorable members on this side of the chamber to happenings in this country in 1940 when an anti-Labour administration was in office and the coalminers were on strike for ten weeks. Did the Leader of the Opposition, who wai then Prime Minister, enforce the lav against these men? I have a clear recollection that he went to the coal-fields to plead with them to go back to work, but when the coal-miners boycotted his meetings, he crawled down to where they were assembled to make his plea on behalf of his government. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt.) has spoken to-day of the wonderful national effort achieved by Australian workers collectively in 1942; but I have a clear recollection of the Opposition attacking the Curtin Government at that time and demanding that the law be enforced against a minority of workers who were striking, lt was only because of the Opposition’s pressure and provocation that Regulation 77 ever saw the light of day. 1 said then as Minister for Labour and National Service, and I repeat now, that industrial peace will never be achieved in this country by coercing trade unions, but only by reasoning with them logically, and if they have no case, endeavouring to convince them of that.
Brit honorable members opposite had different methods of handling industrial disputes. I remind the Leader of the Australian Country party that during his term of office as Prime Minister, there was an inquiry by a royal commission into what has been referred to as a “slush” fund. All that that Administration was doing was using Commonwealth moneys in an attempt to bribe trade union officials into keeping their members at work. These are the people who now talk about the necessity for strong action by this Government. The report of the royal commission did not show certain members of tho OPPOsition up in a very favorable light. It is true that in 1942 we had record production, but members of the Opposition were not satisfied with it. They wanted to provoke more industrial troubles. If the action advocated by honorable members opposite at that time had been followed, and certain workers had been gaoled, there would have been a major industrial dispute such as that which occurred under the Menzies Government.
The Leader of the Opposition said that in 1940 there was not the same demand for coal as there is to-day. I can quite appreciate that because in 1940 the then Government was not doing anything about developing Australian industries - particularly defence industries - which would have led to an increased demand for coal. What he did do recently, when this country was still faced with imminent peril from abroad, was to advocate a general strike. He said on the floor of this House that we should challenge the workers of thi 8 country. He said, “ If it involves a general strike, let us have a general strike. Let us have a show-down with the trade onions “. When this country was fighting for its existence, all that the honorable gentleman could suggest was a general strike! One naturally assumed that the Opposition would have come forward to-day with some constructive proposals for dealing with what it regards as the present deplorable position, but all that the Leader of the Opposition can suggest as a means of getting more coal, is to put all the coal-miners in gaol. I have never heard such a stupid proposal. When I questioned the honorable gentleman by interjection as to whether he actually favored gaoling all coalminers, he said, “ I would apply the law “, and applying the law in its entirety means putting these men in gaol. That would mean a general industrial stoppage in this country and obviously would not be a solution of our problem at all.
Now I come to one of the disputes to which the right honorable gentleman referred. He said that the waterside trouble was one which involved foreign policy, and therefore did not concern the domestic affairs of Australia. I am not certain whether the right honorable gentleman has some information which is not available to other honorable members. He said that the leader oi some movement in Java was a puppet of the Japanese. I am not able to say whether that is right or wrong. However, I do know that the late Sir Henry Deterding, head of the Dutch Shell Oil concern, which derived most of its wealth from the Netherlands East Indies, made a donation of £1,000,000 to assist Hitler and the German Nazi movement. There may be some truth in what the right honorable gentleman said, but he remained notably silent regarding wealthy persons who have, by their assistance, made the Nazi movement possible. He also said that the workers were asking for an assurance as to how goods shipped to the Netherlands East Indies were to be used, and described this as impertinence on their part. I recall an occasion when pig iron wag being shipped from Australia to Japan, and workers at Port Kembla refused to load it on to the ships. They did not do so because of any selfish reasons, although it is remarkable how members of the Opposition always try to create the impression that the workers strike only for selfish motives, such as the desire for higher wages or better conditions. Tn the Port Kembla dispute, the men refused to load pig iron for Japan for the highest of motives. They placed the nation first, and penalized their dependants by refusing to work. Because those men, imbued with the highest national ideals, refused to handle pig iron for Japan, the right honorable gentleman was prepared to compel them to do so. In order to show that, my views are nov shared only by members of the Labour party, I cite the opinion of Sir Isaac Isaacs, the first Australian GovernorGeneral, who was not a member of the Labour party. After he had applied his judicial mind to the circumstances of the dispute, he came to the conclusion that the Government of the day had, in fact, been giving direct aid to Japan, a potential enemy of Australia. Before the Leader of the Opposition suggests by innuendo, in this chamber or elsewhere, that pertain people are not so loyal to Australia as they might be, it would be well for him to examine some of his own statements in the past. Apart from his declarations regarding the Port Kembla incident, I have a clear recollection of him talking about the necessity for having a prosperous post-war Japan and a prosperous post-war Germany at the time when the first disclosures were made of atrocities committed by the Japanese against Australian prisoners of war. It might be reasonable to suspect that certain people in this country were not so hostile to the Nazi elements in the world as they now attempt to make people believe. On one occasion, the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) was reported to have said in Adelaide that he would rather have the Nazis in charge of this country than the trade union leaders. [Extension of lime granted.] The right honorable gentleman was reported to have expressed preference for the Nazis over the trade unionists, who were displeasing him at that time.
– That is an absolute lie.
– Order !
– Instead of attempting to settle some of the strikes which have occurred in this country, members of the Australian Country party actually fomented and encouraged them. I refer, for instance, to the milk hold-up, when certain of the milk-producers were prepared to deny milk supplies to women and children. Members of the Australian Country party did not then ask that the dairy-farmers, to whom they look for political support, should be put in gaol. They merely talked about the injustices inflicted on the primary producers and demanded certain guarantees for them. Tt is evident that they want to vent their spleen only on the industrial workers.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) said, “We do not want any conferences or inquiries. We believe in upholding the law. Let us have it enforced “. I recollect many occasions when members of the Opposition failed to show ardour in upholding the law. I have no recollection of demands being made by them for rigorous action against blackmarketing or, when they were in control of the affairs of the nation, of any action being taken by them against those who were responsible for the boot scandal, when inferior footwear was supplied to our troops. As a matter of fact, speech after speech was made by them in this Parliament demanding that the guilty parties in that affair should be given “just” treatment.
The Opposition has failed to prove itscase in this debate. Whatever the industrial situation may be to-day, the people of Australia are fully aware that, if there were a change of government - and, fortunately, there is no possibility of such an occurrence - there .would be industrial turmoil from one end of the country to the other. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) is th« only non-Labour member in this House who has made any constructive suggestion for the settlement of the industrial unrest. He proposed that an inquiry be held into the causes of the trouble. The disputes arise from the old struggle between employers and employees for a greater share of the wealth produced in industry. The only proper way to deal with our industrial problems is to conduct a complete examination of the causes of trouble, so that action may be taken to eliminate them. You will never coerce the trade unionists of Australia. You can reason with them and argue logically with them, but you will never be able to increase production by throwing workers into gaol and by adopting a policy of victimization against those who stand up for what they believe to be their rights.
.- I have listened to the speeches of two Ministers purporting to reply to the charges made against the Government by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). In each case the defence rested primarily upon a recital of events said to have occurred years ago, which had nothing whatever to do with present circumstances. It may be true that this or that did happen years ago, but we are talking about things that are happening to-day and about action that the Government ought to be taking now. The Ministers’ arguments were a merecastigation of previous governments for failure to do what they con- sider those governments ought to have done. Such arguments may or may not be well founded, but they do not excuse the present Government for its failure to take immediate, strong and appropriate action to eliminate industrial unrest. A completely indefensible strike is in progress in the major electricity supply service of Sydney. It cannot be pretended that the Commonwealth Government ought to be indifferent to this matter. The Commonwealth Government has clothed itself with complete power to deal with industrial disputes, yet it has taken absolutely no action to exercise that power. It may or may not be true that action should have been taken to deal with coalmining disputes years ago, but that has no bearing upon the neglect of this Government to take adequate action in respect of the production: of coal. The Labour party claimed entitlement to office because it would be able to secure continuity of work and production through resolving industrial disputes that we could not resolve. It does not matter a decimal point what hours of work were lost in 1938, 1941 or 1944. Little difference existed between hours lost when the war against Japan was on and the Labour party was in office and the hours lost before the war when we were in office. Of course, one cannot compare year with year; one must compare the relevant circumstances, and the circumstances to-day demand infinitely more production now than then. The Labour party, when in opposition, continually preached class consciousness and advocated the right of Australian workers to strike, thus breeding in the minds of the workers, whom it now cannot control, the belief that they have the right to strike. That is and always has been completely indefensible. This country possesses an arbitration system for the settlement of industrial disputes. The decisions are backed by the authority of the court, but that, of course, must be backed by the authority of the Government. The Labour Government has scarcely once used its authority to end disputes. Comparison of the record of the Labour Government with that of its predecessors of other political colour is useless, because we were confronted continuously with a Labour opposition agitating the minds of the workers. The Labour party told them that every strike while , we held the reins was right. So Labour sowed the seeds of discontent among the trade unionists, and to-day it cannot handle the crop of industrial strife and turmoil that it inherited. The continuous breeding of the spirit of class consciousness by spokesmen of the Labour party is above all responsible for the unions’ defiance of authority to-day. Of course grievances must arise. It will be a sorry day for the world when men will not be prepared to endeavour to better their conditions and to uplift the standards of this country. But we have probably the best system in the world for the hearing of claims that conditions should be bettered. We need the strength of the Government behind the decisions of the Arbitration Court. In this chamber, time and time Again, one hears responsible Ministers, even the Prime Minister, offering excuses for absolute anarchy in our industrial life. They know as well as we do, but will not admit, the nefarious infiltration of Communists into the trade unions. We hear nothingabout that from honorable gentlemen opposite, but we know the facts.
– The last ministerial speech was full of Communist propaganda.
– Every speech made by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) is full of Communist propaganda. He referred to the export of pig-iron to Japan. Some thousands of tons’ of pig- iron, it is true, was exported to Japan. Just before that, however, action was taken by the Lyons Government to cancel arrangements made by the Labour Government of Western Australia to allow the export to Japan of 10,000,000 tons of iron ore a year from Yampi Sound. Our birthright of 150,000,000 tons of native iron at Yampi Sound was to have been sold for the pittance of 3d. a ton royalty. Honorable gentlemen opposite should blush to talk about a shipload of pig-iron when the Labour Government of Western Australia had approved of a contract to sell 150,000,000 tons of iron ore to Japan. Labour men should never mention the sale of iron to Japan. Threepence a ton was the price of our birthright! We prevented it, and the Labour Premier of Western Australia came to Canberra to protest. That ought to dispose of the pig-iron story. The Bunnerong strike continues. Coal strikes continue. Sheep in Queensland have been unshorn for as long as twenty months, and this Government does nothing week after week. The Homebush workers refuse to slaughter sufficient stock, and tremendous losses are being sustained by the stock-owners. Let the Government tell us what it will do about these matters this week, and not attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian people by telling them what someone did not do in 193S.
– I listened with some interest to the speeches this afternoon, particularly that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). I infer that all the people who strike should go to gaol if the law is to be strictly enforced. I put it to the right honorable gentleman that if all the men who strike are convicted and do not pay the fines they must go to gaol. The right honorable gentleman referred to something that I said the other day about the powers of the Menzies Government and the coal miners. It is perfectly true, as the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) said, that the right honorable gentleman, when this country was at. war, cheerfully welcomed the prospect of a long general strike of the coal miners. He said, in effect, “If we are going to have trouble, let us have it “. When the country was in dire peril he was prepared in a spirit of vindictiveness against the workers to welcome a prolonged fight, regardless of how the country might fare. In reply to the right honorable gentleman’s contradiction of my statement, I remind him that the National Security Act was passed in 1939. Under that act the Government which he led had complete power to do all the things which the Opposition now urges this Government to do. I do not think that any one will deny that.
– I am sorry to have to correct the right honorable gentleman. A very vital amendment of the National Security Act was made in June, 1940.
– I welcome the right honorable gentleman’s interjection. That amendment was made after the coal strike; his Government, with a majority in both chambers, could quite easily have amended that act while the coal strike was on. But the right honorable gentleman visited the coal-fields during the strike, and when the country was held up for lack of coal supplies, this is what he said to the miners on that occasion -
I did not come here to-day to make threat*. Threats are foolish tilings at the best.
That is how the right honorable gentleman spoke to the miners on strike when the country was urgently in need of coal. 1 refer to that fact merely because the right honorable gentleman emphasized the limitation of the powers of the Government which he led. I repeat that with a majority in both chambers, hia Government could have amended the National Security Act in order to enable it to deal effectively with strikes, but it took no action to that end. I remind the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) that when he was Minister for Labour and National Service, munitions factories in Melbourne were held up because of strikes for week after week, but the Government of the day did not prosecute, the strikers. 1 admired him for his generous outlook on those difficulties. I am not condemning him at all, but simply stating that the Government of which he was a member did not take action against those strikers. Honorable members opposite speak about appeasement. When, as the honorable member for Fawkner said, the Government which lie supported proposed to introduce proposals to outlaw strikes, it abandoned those proposals as the result of representations by honorable members on this side when we were in opposition, and also by trade union leaders. Was that not appeasement! I am not saying that such a course was not justified ; but it seems to me that that was appeasement of not only the trade union leaders but also the Opposition of the day.
With respect to industrial unrest generally, I deeply regret events in New South Wales and elsewhere. I do not agree with the strikers; but very often it is truly said that to understand all is to forgive all. The workers of this country, during the years of war, have given to Australia in general a magnificent response. But for the efforts of the workers of this country in the services and war industries, Australia would not have the magnificent record which it boasts to-day. For that reason, although the workers may often be wrong, I shall not at any time join in a crusade to crucify the workers of this country to whom I belong. I say frankly that the Government will take any action which it believes will tend to settle industrial trouble, or which it believes it should take in the interests of the community.
The hold-up of ships bound for Javanese ports is a matter between the Dutch authorities and their own subjects. Indonesians refuse to work those ships. If the Dutch authorities cannot make their own subjects do the job, I can easily imagine that the subjects of another country are not likely to take action which might be regarded as “ scabbing “. Last week I traced the trouble at the Bunnerong Power Station. In the original dispute, the court issued an order, and that order was obeyed. It is true that the employees at the station are not now obeying it. It can be argued that that order is not entirely spent, but all that could be done under it would be to prosecute the men on strike at Bunnerong. If I believed that prosecutions would settle the trouble at Bunnerong I, and I am sure the Government, would, in the interest of the nation, follow that course. But prosecutions will not solve the trouble. The Government knows that nearly all of these troubles are occurring in defiance of the unions and union leaders, and if the unions themselves are not able to force their own members back to work I am sure that prosecutions by the Government would not do so.
I do not propose to trace the history of the coal strike, but the AttorneyGeneral has stated that he was not prepared to prosecute in those cases. There are 250,000 men on strike in the United States of America to-day. Possibly there may be 300,000 on strike to-morrow. Does any one imagine that the American Government could settle those troubles by prosecuting the strikers? -Despite all this talk and ranting about appeasement, I shall not do anything that has not the mark of common sense upon it. When it is clear that action under the law will produce the things we want to produce and settle industrial trouble, I shall follow that course, but when such a course would only aggravate the trouble, human nature being what it is, I shall certainly not recommend it to the Government.
– The right honorable member’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Me. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6.5 to 8 p.m.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 21st September (vide page 5802).
Department OF COMMERCE AND AGRICULTURE.
Proposed vote, £374,000.
.- I should tike the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Forde) to give to the committee some information about Australian representation in New Zealand. Last year, the budget made provision for a trade commissioner and a commercial secretary. This year, the Government has provided for a high commissioner, official secretary, assistant secretary. and commercial secretary, but no reference is made to a trade commissioner. Will the right honorable gentleman inform me whether our representation in New Zealand has been reduced by the abolition of the office of trade commissioner ? If so, will the commercial secretary be responsible for performing, in addition to his normal duties, the functions previously carried out by the trade commissioner, or will the high commissioner have some responsibility for trade matters? If all matters relating to Australian markets in New Zealand are to be delegated to the commercial secretary, I doubt whether the business will be as efficiently conducted as it was in the past. If the commercial secretary is capable of performing the functions of both offices, obviously, the position of trade commissioner was redundant. However, I am of opinion that the abolition of the position of trade commissioner is k retrograde step. Markets will play a most important part in the rehabilitation of Australian industries under peace-time conditions, and I strongly deprecate this reduction of our representation in New Zealand.
I also ask the Minister whether any significance attaches to the reduction of the vote for the Apple and Pear Marketing Board. Last year, provision waa made for £725,000, but this year, the amount has been reduced to £150,000.
Does the Government contemplate the abolition of the board in the near future ? I notice also that no financial provision is made this year for the Field Pea* Board, in respect of which the Government expended £90,195 last year. Will the Minister inform me’ whether that board has ceased to function?
.- The Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Forde) will agree thai the meat industry in Victoria hoa been in a chaotic condition for a considerable time, and the drought has accentuated the difficulties. Because of the drought, large numbers of stock died, or could not be fattened, and supplies reaching the market have been light, and prices, of necessity, have been high. Recently, the Prices Commissioner, apparently having no knowledge of what has happened during the last twelve months, reduced meat prices. As this action will accentuate the chaotic conditions in the industry, 1 urge the Minister to summon tha representatives of the meat trade and the Prices Commissioner to a conference, where they may fully discuss the position At times, prices on the hoof have been well in advance of wholesale prices, and butchers have been either losing hundreds of pounds a week, or selling on the black market. The Minister, the Prices Commissioner, and the Rationing Commission are doubtless aware that meal rationing has been most difficult to administer. Indeed, any real policing of meat rationing is well nigh impossible. The position at present must not be allowed to continue, and if the Minister will invite the representatives of the meat trade and the Prices Commissioner to confer, they may reach a satisfactory arrangement. Supplies of meat are substantially less than requirements, and the action of the Prices Commissioner in reducing prices is almost the decision of a madman. It will not have any practical value. Whilst he may fix wholesale prices, it will be impossible, because of the shortage of fat stock, to do anything in order satisfactorily to ameliorate the position in the saleyards.
A nasty rumour is current that in the late part of the season, when fat lambs will be marketed in large numbers, the Government may acquire all lambs at the fixed price. At times during the last few months, lamb has been fetching more than ls. per lb.; the fixed price is about 6d. or 7d. per lb., less killing charges. It is impossible to give an accurate estimate of the losses of sheep during the drought. My estimate, which is based on sound advice, is that about 20,000,000 sheep and lambs have been lost during the last twelve months. Very few lambs for export will come from the Riverina this year, and even in the safer districts of Victoria and New South Wales, the numbers will be considerably reduced. There are two factors to be considered. First, the number of lambs forwarded for sale will not be great, and secondly, .many ewe lambs which normally would have gone to the killing works for export, will be bought by graziers and taken back, to the farms for re-stocking purposes. Most primary producers are only too anxious to ensure that as much food as possible shall be exported to Great Britain, but there is no reason why one particular section of primary producers who have to market lambs at set periods of the year should have to contribute more than their fair share to the export trade. For months past, the owners of early lambs have been reaping a golden harvest in the markets of Sydney and Melbourne. During October and November, fat lambs will reach the Victorian market in ever-increasing numbers. Undoubtedly one effect of this will be some recession of prices, but I do not believe that prices will recede to normal export levels because, as I have said, many ewe lambs will be bought by graziers for re-stocking purposes.
If the Government acquires lambs at a fixed price, the result will be that fat lamb-raisers who sell <at a certain period of the year, will suffer in comparison with others who can market their lambs early in the season or can hold them to derive the benefit of the late market, by having to contribute more than their fair share to the export trade. It is to the advantage of .all sections of the community to build up our export trade. If a loss is to be incurred in doing that, the people of this country generally should share it. It should not be borne largely by a certain class of primary producers merely because climate and possible locality demands the marketing of lambs at a .fixed time of the year. I shall be pleased if the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will give some indication whether or not the acquisition of lambs is contemplated and if so, at what price. Will it be the normal export price, and if so, will the Minister give consideration to the particular conditions under which certain primary producers have to market their lambs at a particular time of the year? I suggest that the difficulty might be overcome by allowing a concession on killing charges. This matter is of more than ordinary importance. It affects a large number of producers in Victoria and in other States.
I support what the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy) has said in regard to the Apple and Pear Marketing Board. In the early stages of the war, owing to the cessation of exports, the board was brought into existence to acquire fruit and market it. Later, following a High Court decision, the activities of the board were confined to Western Australia and Tasmania. In recent years, millions of bushels of apples and pears have been purchased by the board and destroyed because they could not be exported or shipped to the eastern States. This problem, of course, iB bound up with our export trade, which in turn is bound up with the problem of providing shipping space. Can the Acting Minister give any indication whether shipping space will be available in any greatly increased quantity in the near future for the export of apples and pears? If more space were available the losses caused by the purchase of fruit which cannot be sold, would be reduced. If even portion of the available fruit could be exported, in addition to providing urgently needed supplies for Great Britain, the return to this country would be appreciable. Also, there would be a diminution of the activities of the board. I trust that before long the exporting of apples from Tasmania and Western Australia will again play an important part in our economy, thus obviating the necessity of purchasing this fruit and allowing large quantities of it to rot on the ground. I should welcome any information that is in the possession of the Government on this subject.
– I trust that the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Forde) will ensure that something shall be clone to step-up commercial agreements between Australia and other countries. Now that hostilities have concluded, it has become apparent that the Other dominions have been very active in this regard, even during the war. The extent of their activity in fact is rather perturbing. I note that general expenses for Australian representatives in other countries are not very great, particularly in regard to Great Britain. Australia’s export trade depends largely upon agreements with other countries and there is at present in some quarters a suggestion that so far as is practicable, a state of free trade should exist throughout the world in future. We cannot help but be perturbed by such a threat, particularly in view of the fact that under the Ottawa agreement many concessions are obtained by this country. Upon that agreement depends the sale of many of our primary products. Certain nations are very active at the moment in an attempt to destroy the Ottawa agreement, and I hope that the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will be able to tell us just what the Government is doing. I should like to know what our prospects for increased production are, and how soon trade is likely to flow as freely as in the past. If as the result of exservicemen being settled on the land there is to be greatly increased production, we must be sure also of better marketing prospects. In my electorate there is a large area devoted to the production of pineapples. Before the war Australia entered into an agreement with Canada under which Australian pineapples entered that country free of duty, whereas pineapples from other countries were subjected to import duty. That agreement was of considerable benefit to Au<tralian growers of pineapples; when war broke out SO per cent, of the Australian export trade in pineapples was with Canada. Unless an agreement of that kind operates in the future the pineapple industry will suffer. The same may be said of many other primary industries in which there will be a surplus available for export. All honorable members regret that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr7 Scully) is indisposed, and we hope that it will not be long before he resumes his place in the chamber. I hope that the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Forde) will indicate the Government’s policy in this matter, particularly if United Kingdom trade is to be developed more with sterling countries. I trust that we shall have from him an indication of Government policy in respect of the renewal of trade treaties.
.- Although the expenditure for the Depart ment of . Commerce and Agriculture last year was £377,234 the appropriation for this year is set down at only £374,000, a reduction of £3,234. In my opinion, that indicates a rather pessimistic outlook on the part of the Government. Now that the war has ended, it must be obvious to all that in the period ahead Australia should be expanding its export trade. Last year, under the item “ Commercial Intelligence Service Abroad “, £41,300 was expended. This year the appropriation is set down at £40,900. What is the reason for that reduction at a time when we should be making strenuous efforts to expand our markets beyond what was possible in a year of wart Recently a young man who had served for several year3 in the Royal Australian Air Force in the Middle East told me that he believed there were exceptional opportunities in the Middle East for the disposal of canned fruits and other canned goods. He pointed out that during the war Syria and Egypt and other Middle East countries had gained a knowledge of Australian products with which they were favorably impressed. On receiving his discharge from the Air Force he proposed to return to the Middle East with token shipments of 10,000 cases of canned fruits in an attempt to obtain markets for them and other Australian goods before other exporting countries captured the trade. I made representations to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) on his behalf, but was informed that there were not 10,000 cases of canned fruits available to develop that trade. The position may be better now, as that information was given to me some months before the surrender by Japan. It is the duty of the Government to encourage persons who are willing to do their best to establish markets overseas for Australian products. When more normal conditions return there will be a tremendous struggle for world trade. Unless our exporters are given assistance in the way that other nationals receive assistance from their governments, wb mall find ourselves shackled. That brings cue to the Government’s policy in respect >f releases from the armed forces of men to develop our primary industries.
I am sorry that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is not with us. All honorable members respect him, and hope that he will soon be well enough to resume his duties. I am glad, however, that acting for him is the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) who is in a large measure responsible for the policy of releases of service personnel to assist in primary production. I shall give some’ figures to show the handicaps which primary producers have suffered while attempting to meet the demand for food.stuffs. In March, 1939, there were 493,000 owners and employees engaged in rural production but by March of this year the number had fallen to 393,000, a reduction of 100,000. While the number of employees and owners in rural industries fell by 100,000 during the war, those in receipt of wages and salaries in civil employment increased from 1,730,000 in July, . 1939, to 1,919.000 in June, 1945, an increase of 189,000. As a result, our butter exports to Great Britain declined from 100,000 tons a year before the war to 37,000 tons last year. Tn addition, there has been a steady decline of the number of dairy cattle. During 1943, the number decreased from 5,000,000 to 4,900.000, and in March, 1945, the number stood at only 4,800,000, so that there has been a decline of about 100,000 each year. The other day. the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) made a point of the fact that our production of beef had increased as compared with the previous year. Of course, the reason is that 200,000 dairy cattle were turned into beef, with the result that next year we shall not have the extra beef, and neither shall we have the butter. A further significant fact is that, in the last two or three years, the number of calves on dairy-farms has declined very seriously. In 1943, the number stood at 835,000. In 1944, it was 753,000, while iii 1945, it was 740,000.
It must be obvious to every one how important it is that we should maintain our market in the United Kingdom for butter. Already, since the termination of the European war, Denmark has shipped 10,000 tons of butter to Great Britain. Next year, it will probably be 100,000 tons, and very soon Denmark will get back to its pre-war position as an exporter of butter. Before the war, we had increased our exports to 100,000 tons of butter a year to Great Britain. For the next year or two we shall probably export no more than 50,000 tons a year. Once we lose our overseas market foi butter it will be very difficult to regain it. Therefore, I urge the Minister for th« Army to speed up the release of men so that they may go back to their own farms or the farms of their parents. I have received a great many letter* asking for the release from the services of men who wish for nothing better than to exchange the idleness of camp lift in Newcastle or Brisbane for an active life on their parents’ farms where they may help the old people. However, according to the method adopted by the Government, these men will have to wait a long time before they obtain their release under the points system or on occupational grounds. I urge the Government, if it wishes to export food to Great Britain, to take steps to increase the production of food, rather than reduce the ration to the Australian people. It can be done if there is the will to do it, but at the moment the Government does not seem to be willing to do what is necessary to put the primary industries back on their feet.
– Prices for primary products are better now than when th* last Government was in office.
– It is not a matter of price. This Government is not prepared to accept responsibility for surplus products if the overseas market should fail. It is imperative that we should get in ahead of our competitors - the Scandinavian countries so far as dairy products are concerned, and the United States of America in respect of canned products. The Government should do what is necessary to re-establish our export trade without which we cannot purchase goods overseas, and without which the nation cannot live.
.- The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) gave the committee his usual dissertation. Any one hearing him would be led to believe that the war against Japan had been over for a couple of years instead of a month.
– When he was Minister for Commerce the dairy-farmers received 8d. per lb. for butter - starvation rates !
– That is so. It was left to this Government to provide an adequate subsidy to the dairying industry as well as to other primary industries.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan;.Order ! I ask the honorable gentleman to address the Chair.
– I agree with some of the remarks of the honorable gentleman about exports. When I was in Canada last year I met quite a number of people interested in the importation from Australia of dried and canned fruits. I agree with the honorable member that a market exists for those products in Canada, when we are able to supply it. The honorable member however has accused the Government of not having done the things it ought to have done to develop that market, but the fact remains that it is quite impossible to do it now and that it has been impossible ever since Labour has been in office because of the war against Japan. The honorable member mentioned a man in the Royal Australian Air Force who wants to ship 10,000 cases of preserved fruits to the Middle East as if we had them hidden away in some corner ready to be brought out at a minute’s notice.
– Our competitors are doing it.
– Our competitors are not. The honorable member knows they cannot. Like us, they have had to use their products to feed their fighting forces. I agree that as soon as we are able to export those products we ought to have a vast market overseas. Not so long ago I referred to our export trade with India. We ought to encourage the export of our products to new markets. It is rather surprising, therefore, that expenditure on commercial intelligence abroad, to which the honorable member referred, should be reduced. Instead of reducing it we ought to be increasing it, because, obviously, if we are to go after markets, we shall have to spend money to secure them. That is obvious. For that reason, there is substance in the contention of the honorable gentleman that we should be exploring the possibility of opening new markets. There is a ready market in Canada for our dried and canned fruits and our other products. All we have to do is to foster it, and that requires expenditure of money. That applies equally to the market in India, which is a close neighbour.
– We should have some difficulty in finding a market in India.
– Is the difficulty of a problem any reason why we should throw up our hands in despair?
– Not at all. We should need to increase the subsidies.
– Increasing subsidies does not solve all our problems.
– I know very well it does not.
– It goes around in a vicious circle. There are ways of dealing with these matters and I do not believe that’ because a problem is difficult we should sit down and say that we cannot do anything about it. We have to get new markets if we are to increase our export trade. So I repeat that we ought to be increasing rather than decreasing expenditure on commercial intelligence abroad.
The honorable member for Richmond, in urging the release of men from the armed forces to return to primary industries, cited .the reduced numbers of workers in those industries in the last few years. It is perfectly true that the numbers have been reduced. Why? Simply because of the need to preserve this country inviolate so that we shall have our farms operated by our own people. That is why there are fewer workers in primary industries and more in secondary industries and why so many have been drafted to on« or another branch of the armed forces..
Everybody knows that our dairy herds have been reduced. There are two reasons.
– It was recently denied from the treasury bench.
– No one on this side has denied that. One reason is that primary producers sought the best and -easiest market. Some went out of dairying and others slaughtered their cows for fat stock. The second reason was the severity of the drought that prevailed for two years in some parts of Australia. Whatever statistics are’ cited by honorable gentlemen opposite in support of their Arguments, the fact remains that the war and the drought were the reasons for the deterioration of the stock position. Throughout the war a shortage of manpower hast prevailed. One would think to hear honorable gentlemen opposite talk about increasing our butter exports that they were the only people concerned About the position.
– So we are.
– The Government has been concerned about it throughout the war, because of Great Britain’s urgent need for supplies of our primary products. The task of increasing our primary production generally must be prolonged. Overnight, we cannot build up dairy herds, or make adequate manpower available to rural industries. The Government is just as alive as honorable members opposite to all these difficulties. Honorable members opposite have indulged in cheap criticism of the methods being followed at present. However, I am confident that within the next few months the Government’s methods of tackling this problem will be proved to lie entirely satisfactory.
– I propose to deal briefly with three points in respect of. the proposed vote for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. The first point, which is very important, is the development of export markets which was referred to by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). I am afraid that our difficulties in this respect will be extremely grave during the next twelve months or two years. We must first overcome the shortage of shipping; and that problem will not be solved either easily or early. Secondly, we must deal with the problem of prices. It is rather interesting to note that we frankly admit that the dairying industry is made payable only on the basis of a complicated system of subsidies. It stands to reason that unless we are able to obtain export markets which will yield returns comparable with those now obtained by producers under the present subsidy system, the industry will require further subsidies. However, no provision is made in the budget in that respect. Further, our situation overseas is highly complicated even in our best market, the United Kingdom. Undoubtedly, the people of Great Britain are willing to take anything that we can send to them, but a great difficulty arises because of the shortage of shipping for the transport of our products. Further, there is at present, and there will be for some time to come, a grave doubt as to whether we can produce certain commodities comparable with those produced by competitors on the United Kingdom market. I am not in a position to assess the devastation which has been caused in the dairying industry in Denmark chiefly by the removal of livestock during the German occupation of that country, but I have no doubt as to the position of Holland and Belgium as producers of butter. Holland’s chances of exporting butter for a long time to come are practically nil; but I shall take a lot of convincing that we shall be able to head off Denmark in the United Kingdom market because of Denmark’s proximity to Great Britain and its application of modern methods in the dairying industry. No doubt, Denmark will regain the dairy products market in the United Kingdom earlier than we shall be able to do. Shortage of shipping alone will retard us in that respect.
With respect to the general state of world trade, the capacity of many peoples to buy is doubtful. Their capacity to get down to a monetary system which will enable them to take part in world trade again must be explored. I am not one of those who believe that that will be done within the next few months. No doubt, investigations will take place from time to time and in due course we shall be informed of the results. It is extraordinary that in a budget of this magnitude we should find that the only department whose estimate is reduced is the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. Notwithstanding the opinions of my manufacturing protectionist friends opposite, the welfare of this country in the past has depended upon primary industry and I believe that it will depend upon primary industry in the future. However, I do not know the conditions upon which world trade will be conducted in the future and I am a little intrigued by .the matter because of the principles upon which the wool agreement has been founded. I should like the committee to consider whether we are to expect long-term agreements between governments, or alternatively between government-sponsored organizations in Australia and similar organizations overseas, with respect to the sale of our exportable primary products such as wheat, dairy products and fruit. Is that to be the method under which trade is to be conducted in the future, or are we to revert to the system in operation in this country before the war under which the individual or, in many cases, co-operative organizations handled the transactions ?
– Which method does the honorable member prefer?
– I believe in the greatest possible freedom of trade and that the individual is the best judge in these matters. Further, one of the best forms of private enterprise is co-operative enterprise. That has been proved in the dried fruits and dairying industries. I believe that given the opportunity itmight be proved in other primary industries also. I do not want the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) to be under any misapprehension as to what I mean when I speak of private enterprise, because co-operative enterprise is one of the best forms of private enterprise. These are matters to which honorable members must give serious thought during the next six months. Australia is a country with a small population. We figure in the export markets of the world to a greater degree than our small population would lead one to expect.
Nevertheless, we are not able to discern the outlines of post-war trading. Therefore, it is necessary that we should have overseas as early as possible competent trade commissioners who will be able to look after the interests of Australian exporters. The honorable member for Richmond has done a good service to the country in emphasizing that point. Secondly, we must study our livestock position. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) referred to fat lambs and the mutton industry generally. His observations apply also to the beef and pork industry. A few days ago I read a statement by some authority that Australia was not fewer than 400,000 dairy heifers short of its requirements. I am not surprised at that, and I doubt whether some honorable members opposite are surprised, for the prices ruling for young cattle during the last few years have been extraordinarily high. They are still very high. The tendency is not to rear these young animals beyond the age of five or six months, and they are marketed at very high prices. But this is having a serious effect upon the future of the beef and dairy industries in Australia. The Government should closely examine this matter.
– Does the honorable member desire” the Government to interfere with private enterprise?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).Order! I ask the honorable member for Barker to address the Chair, and not to answer interjections.
– I am always willing to answer interjections. Replying to the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson), I point out thai the Government must govern. The Government should lay down fair conditions under which private enterprise can carry on. You, Mr. Chairman, will have vivid recollections of how “ successful “ the Queensland cattle stations were under government control. I do not advocate that that experiment should be tried elsewhere, even in the rather wealthy State of Victoria. The cattle industry as a whole must be carefully examined in the near future. Australia has not yet shaken off the effect* of the disastrous drought. In large areas of South Australia, particularly in the electorate of Grey between Wudinna and Ceduna, farmers will not harvest any crop. For the first time in the history of that portion of South Australia, farmers have experienced a complete failure. ‘ In the past, they always managed to get some return. A few days ago, I was talking to a well known pastoralist who informed me that on his property, which is situated in one of the districts with a good rainfall in South Australia, he has only 90 lambs this year. In normal years he shears more than 8,000 sheep; this year he will shear only one half that number. He has kept them alive with mistletoe and sheoak during the last eighteen weeks.
A few years ago, many primary producers began to raise large numbers of pigs. Fodder was comparatively cheap and most plentiful, and producers did well. But last year, notwithstanding that “ delicious “ statement on the 9th February, 1944, by the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that Australia had more than sufficient wheat then to see us through the next two or three years - I have that statement handy if any honorable member opposite happens to doubt it - the Government was compelled to limit the quantity of wheat and other grains required by pig producers and poultry breeders. The effect was immediate. Pigs and poultry are no longer being produced.
– That is not correct.
– I am referring to conditions in South Australia. If primary producers in Victoria are able to obtain sufficient quantities of grain to enable them to raise pigs on the scale on which they were produced in South Australia in the last three or four years, they should be a happy lot of people. We in South Australia are not able to get grain, even for the hatcheries. Some hatcheries produce over 100,000 chickens a year, but they have been compelled to go out of production because grain cannot be supplied to them. The Government must examine these matters. We may miss one year’s production without very serious effects, but we in South Australia have missed more than one year. The numbers of live-stock have seriously diminished, and the effect will be felt not only in the immediate future but also for a number of years. A dairy cow does not come into production in less than three years. That is a long time. A few days ago, I read that the dairying industry required 4’00,000 heifers. That is a serious position. These details should be familiar to the representatives of country electorates, but no doubt the representatives of the large cities are not aware of them and no amount of talking in which other country members and I may indulge will make them familiar with the seriousness of the position.
During the war, various Commonwealth departments entered into agreements with people to grow vegetableseeds. Some of these ventures were illstarred, if I may use an astrological term. At very great expense people undertook to grow vegetable seeds. Most of them knew nothing about the matter. They were advised to do so by certain officers of the State Departments of Agriculture, and I have a strong suspicion that those officials knew as much about the subject as the people whom they were advising. Special carrots for the production of seeds were sent into the electorates of Gippsland and Barker. They were put in bags for transport by rail, but were mislaid for two or throe weeks and developed a mould. The result was that the seed was not very good, and in some cases only 9 per cent, of it germinated. The growers got a raw deal. The Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture wrote to me stating that the department would refrain from charging one grower in my district for the seeds that had been sent to him. That is a generous act! If the Government can “ get away “ with that practice with every one of its creditors, the public debt will soon be liquidated. The Government should examine the losses which certain people have incurred in growing vegetable seeds. I am not one of those who believes that we should encourage people to undertake work which they are not competent to do, but war conditions always produce extraordinary conditions and war is always wasteful. A measure of justice should be meted out to those people who rendered a service during a time when the Government and the country were “up against it”. I hope that the Government will take a fair view of this matter, and meet any reasonable losses which have not been due to any oversight or failure to carry out instructions.
.- The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) referred to the muddle which the Prices Commissioner and the Meat Controller are making of the stock market in Melbourne. They suddenly decided to seize certain stocks of meat. Incidentally, the meat was supposed to be sent to Great Britain or some other country, but was sold through a retail shop in Footscray belonging to Sims Cooper Proprietary Limited; one of the big exporting firms. The meat was marked, and was recognized. The people who are being injured by this utter stupidity are those who have suffered throughout the long and severe drought. They had to pay high prices for fodder, owing to the colossal mess which the Prices Commissioner made of that matter, and when no more fodder was available, their stock died. Those whose sheep . survived are getting eighteen bales of wool from 1,000 sheep. Under normal conditions, they obtained between 32 and 36 bales from that number of sheep. The lambing has been very poor, and the percentage of lambs very low. When there was an opportunity to obtain a payable price for the few sheep available, there was interference with the market. It was stated in the press that the market price of lambs dropped by approximately 4s. a head last week. Towards the end of the sale, it dropped by 12s. a head, because the butchers had bought their quota and just walked out of the yards. There was a meeting to-day at the Newmarket sale yards which was attended by more than 500 people, including representatives of producer:, stockmen, auctioneers and others interested in the trade. The price of meat has been reduced by Id. per lb. ostensibly so that extra meat can be provided for Great Britain; but the truth is that ti. meat or that portion of it which is not being taken by the big firms that have been robbing primary producers for years is being sold in the islands to the Americans and in the Middle East at 8d. per lb., whilst Great Britain is paying ls. 5d. per lb. for beef to the meat interests of Argentina and the United
States of America. Incidentally, the worm thing that ever happened to the Australian meat trade was the sale of the business formerly conducted by W. Angliss and Company (Australia) Proprietary Limited to Vestey’s, whose main interests are not in this country, but in Argentina.
– Surely the honorable member does not suggest that the firm of W. Angliss and Company (Australia) Proprietary Limited was any more merciful to the primary producers. The Angliss interests always bought on the cheapest market and sold on the highest market regardless of the interests of th* producers.
– That may be. 1 believe that that firm and other exporters “ rigged “ more strikes amongst slaughtermen than anybody else ever did : but at least they did not have the international background that Vestey’s has. As I have said, Australian lamb is being sold in the Middle East, and to American forces in the islands at 8d. per lb., whilst Great Britain is paying ls. 5d. per lb. to the meat interests of Argentina and the United States of America. Therefore, the decrease of Id. per lb. is not for the benefit of Great Britain, but of the big exporting companies and of the city people who demand cheap meat regardless of the fate of graziers, many of whom during the recent drought have lost practically all their possessions. Now, when the producers have an opportunity to get some small recompense for their losses, there is interference by some “ mugs “ who know nothing about the trade. That is exactly what is happening. This matter is being handled by professors and public servants who may know something about tobacco or tailoring but not about meat. It is high time the people who produce the meat received some consideration. A substantial subsidy is being paid to the dairying industry to-day - £2,000,000 ,a year of it is being provided by the British Government, but this administration takes all the credit - and wheat-growers also are receiving assistance. The only industry that is not being assisted is the grazing industry which in the past has been the backbone of our national economy.
The Commonwealth has received up to £84,000,000 a year from wool. This industry has carried a substantial part of the load of financing this country in war-time; yet, to-day, graziers are being “ belted “ under the slogan “ More meat for Britain By all means, let us give Great Britain all the meat that we can spare, but let the whole community pay for it. The reduction of price will benefit not Great Britain, but the big exporting companies and city dwellers, who demand cheap, meat. I should like to know who is getting the rake-off.
– When speaking to this vote last week, I drew attention to the paucity of the estimated expenditure upon Australia’s commercial intelligence service abroad. I pointed out, as did the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), that the estimate was £400 less than the actual expenditure last year. The Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Forde) gave the House an assurance that the Government intended moat vigorously to extend the activities of the commercial intelligence service abroad. He agreed that it was most important for our export industries to have adequate trade representation overseas, particularly to take advantage of the altered conditions resulting from the war. I say now that, the facts are absolutely the opposite to what the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture lead this House to believe. Consequently, his explanation can only be regarded as most unsatisfactory.
An examination of the Estimates shows that the original gross amount provided for the commercial intelligence service was £24,974, but that the sum of £3,944 is deducted, making the net amount of £19,230 .after crediting the Dried Fruit Control Board with £1,800. The notation reads, “ Less amount estimated to remain unexpended at the close of the year “. That is hardly an indication of a vigorous expansion of this essential service overseas, and I should like the Minister to explain that matter.’ Compare the amount provided for this very important service, with the sum of £355,000 provided for the Food Control Branch under division 208. The total appropriation for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture is only £374,000. For the item “ Commercial Intelligence Service Abroad “ the sum of £40,900 is set down. That is not sufficient for a service whose functions are to find markets for Australian products and to safeguard our exporting primary industries. When wereflect that for travelling expenses and subsistence, and salaries and allowances a total of £50,800 will be required, a vote of £40,900 for the commercial intelligence service abroad seems far too small. The Estimates show clearly that important matters have not been properly considered: they have been drawn up in a slovenly manner. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture has important functions to carry out, yet only £374,000 is to be provided for the maintenance of rural industries in the post-war period whereas £355,000 is to be appropriated for food control. That is an appalling state of affairs and shows that the Government’s policy is out of focus, because it reveals a total disregard for the needs of our great primary industries,
.- The committee is indebted to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) for drawing attention to the position of those engaged in the production of fat stock for the market. This industry has had no assistance whatever from any government, notwithstanding the losses caused by severe drought conditions.
– Has not the wheal industry received assistance?
– That industry hae been compelled to supply wheat for feeding stock and fattening pigs at 3s. 4d. a bushel, notwithstanding that the export value of that wheat is between 8s. and 9s. a bushel f.o.b. Australian ports. As the honorable member for Bendigo said, those engaged in the grazing industry have not come cap in hand to the Government for a subsidy. Ceiling prices have been fixed at a level which is barely remunerative even when production is normal. Notwithstanding violent downward movements of the live-stock market there has been but the slightest adjustment of prices. The honorable member for Bendigo said that the price of fat lambs had fallen by 4s. a head, and mentioned prices having fallen towards the end of a sale by as much as 12s. a head.
– Tell us the present price of fat lambs.
– It may be that fairly high prices have been paid for fat lambs - as high as £2, or even more - but those who point to those high prices do not say that whereas in normal seasons there may be an 80 per cent, lambing this year the percentage has been very low. Indeed, many thousands of farmers have had practically no lambs at all, or at least no lambs which have survived the drought.
– To-day’s prices are about double normal prices.
– As a practical farmer, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) must know that the only man in a position to send fat lambs to market to-day is the man who has reduced his flocks and herds by probably 25 per cent, in order to meet drought conditions. Even £2 a head for lambs in a poor season may mean that the pastoralist is on the way to bankruptcy. The slope is more steep when violent fluctuations are allowed to occur. The industry has not asked for a subsidy on fat stock, hut if the Government will not grant such a subsidy it should not interfere artificially with the marketing of stock. No one will quarrel with the general principle of securing as much fat stock as we can for export to the United Kingdom. No doubt it ought to go at the export price, but if the export contract price be below the prevailing price level [ submit that the Government ought not to attempt to bring prices down to the export level.
It is pertinent on this occasion to draw attention to the need for fodder conservation in order to safeguard the live-stock industries of Australia against the ravages of recurring droughts. If Australia has not learned the need for fodder conservation out of its experience during recent years I should think that that lesson would never be learned. There has been a big falling off in the production of wool. I do not know the exact figures, but I should say that there has been a 40 per cent, reduction of wool production. We all know that great losses have been incurred by those who breed cattle and sheep. It is not possible to recover those losses in one year as in the case of the loss of a cereal crop. When live-stock is destroyed, years may elapse before the flocks and herds can be built up to their former strength. These industries mean more to Australia than a means of providing a livelihood for thousands of good Australians; they are essential to the economic fabric of the country. The need for a nation-wide plan for fodder conservation has ostensibly been recognized by governments for many years.
– And nothing has been done about it.
– That is right nothing has been done about it. For that I do not lay the blame on this Government. It is an inexcusable thing for which every State government must accept responsibility, and every Commonwealth Government, also. We shall not gain anything by seeking scapegoats for the neglect of the past; rather should we profit from our experience. Two things are necessary if we are to do better in future - water conservation and fodder conservation. In the past, water conservation has been regarded as the exclusive responsibility of State governments, but they cannot be regarded as exclusively responsible in the future. The matter is too important for the National Parliament to leave it any longer to the care of subordinate parliaments. The Commonwealth Government should cooperate with the State governments in planning for water conservation on a major scale. Because of the system of uniform taxation, and the limitation placed upon State borrowing by the Loan Council, it is no longer possible for State governments to embark on schemes involving large capital expenditure. Therefore, the matter becomes a Commonwealth responsibility. It is essential that we should conserve all the water in our meagre river systems. Recently, I had an opportunity to see the wonderful water conservation scheme which had been carried out in the Tennessee River Valley in the United States of America. There, an intricate river system which in the past had sometimes flooded hundreds of thousands of acres has been harnessed by a series of weirs, so that the menace of flooding has been removed, and a vast amount of electric current is being generated. About twenty weirs have been constructed, converting the river into a series of ponds, each weir being thrown across the river just above the point where the slack water from the lower pond ends. This has been done in an area where there is an annual rainfall of about 50 inches. There was no need to conserve water for the sake of the water itself, but the work was done in order to provide electric power, to prevent flooding and to provide a means of navigation. If such a huge undertaking was worthwhile in an area where the rainfall is adequate, how much more worthwhile would be a similar work in Australia. We have an opportunity to conserve water in the river Murray and its tributaries, but the work has scarcely been begun. In the town of Shepparton there is the largest cannery in the British Empire, yet the fruit is grown in an area through which . one can drive in a motor oar in ten minutes. If irrigation could be provided it would be possible to grow tomatoes and peaches and fodder crops right along the river for a distance of 800 miles. I doubt, however, whether the rainfall in the catchment area is enough to permit the irrigation of so large an area. However, it should be possible to create half a dozen more settlements like those at Shepparton and Mildura. So far, we have constructed a weir that nerves only to conserve the run-off of the river in a season of small flow. With a Bolder financial approach to this problem - perhaps by spending as much as £100,000,000- we would be able to store water that we might not have to use for a number of years, and with such a scheme in being we could transform the Murray valley into one of the most productive areas in the world.
The conservation of fodder was dis.cussed at a recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, which agreed that the matter would be considered jointly by the States and the Commonwealth which would share the cost of the preliminary examination. Thus, nothing more was done than to reach a decision that the problem should be inquired into. Apart from the pro duction of fodder by irrigation, we know that the basic requirement in the way of fodder conservation is to store sufficient grain and bulk roughage to tide over dry periods. It is not difficult to calculate how much grain should be stored, having regard to the number of live-stock that would have to be fed. Twenty years ago it could have been said, “ But you cannot store grain for long periods because of mice and weevils and so on “, but we know how to overcome those troubles now, and grain can be stored quite safely for an indefinite period. So there should be no delay in setting to work to give effect to plans to store wheat, when it is cheap, and oats and barley grain in silos in appropriate districts. That is a job for the Governments of Australia to do. There ought to be a constant reserve against not one but a series of bad seasons. It would not be expensive in terms of money, and, in terms of saving of live-stock, it would be repaid one hundred fold. The conservation of grain is simple, but in droughts live-stock need a certain quantity of roughage. That calls for the storage of hay. We are up against a rather more difficult problem on two counts in that respect. First, it is expensive to make hay because of the labour required, and, secondly, it is not so easy to store hay, protect it against the weather and vermin and preserve its quality. They are by no means insuperable problems. Practical men know how to overcome them. They are to be grappled with in two ways. First, the Commonwealth and State Governments must apportion, between themselves the financial responsibility, and., secondly, they must determine how much hay is to be stored, who is to be the owner and where it is to be stored. That should not be difficult. Then there has to be a price fixed that must be remunerative to the potential producer of hay and within the compass of the men who will be using it in drought conditions. The essential is modern labour-saving hay-making equipment. It is a truism to say that most of the hay made in Australia So far has been made by men on the end of pitchforks. That is a crude and expensive way of making hay. Practically all the wheaten hay and a lot of the meadow hay is made with the use of pitchforks.
There is very little revolutionary haymaking equipment in this country, but in America I have seen a hay baler operated by one man turn out six big bales of hay a minute.
– Hay-balers were on the market before the war.
– One-man balers were not.
– They are only squatters’ machines, anyway.
– They are the machines that must be available to the Australian farming community in numbers and at reasonable prices.
– What do they cost?
– In Australian currency the cost of such a machine would be £500. The machines must be available in sufficient numbers and at reasonable prices to the farming community if our costs of production are to enable us to compete with agriculturalists in other parts of the world.
– Is the Government to provide the machines to the primary producers ?
– I invite the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) to confer with his fellow agricultural expert, the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). I have no doubt that they will devise an adequate plan. Here is an opportunity for Australian secondary industry to manufacture the modern equipment that the farming community needs. A comparable machine can go into a crop of maize or other green fodder and reduce it by a one-man operation to chopped green stuff ready to fill a silo. It seems amusing to some honorable members opposite that I should be pointing out to the Australian Parliament the necessity for adequate plans for fodder conservation. It is not amusing to the thousands of men and women on the land in Australia who have endured the ravages, personal privations and financial losses of the devastating drought that recently ended in Australia. It is not a laughing matter for them and I believe that it will not be regarded as a laughing matter to the majority of honorable members. I put it strongly to the Parliament and the Government that there ought to be an end to this eternal agreement that we all engage in for years and years that there must be a national plan of fodder conservation without any action worth recording. The time has come when we must say that we have learned our lesson and that henceforth we shall convert words to deeds and get on with the job of a national plan of water and fodder conservation.
Mr.LEMMON (Forrest) [9.48].-I cannot allow to go unchallenged the statement of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) that no assistance has been given to the meat producers of this country. It is not unusual to see the honorable member and his colleague, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) having a little each way. AsI see the trouble in Victoria, the Government, in endeavouring to apply its ceiling price policy, simply had to take control of the meat. As long as the Government was prepared to maintain a ceiling price for the commodities that the farmers bought all was well, but as soon as a ceiling price was imposed on the commodities that they produced they shed crocodile tears. They have either to support the economic policy of ceiling price* or admit that they support black marketing, because it is not possible to sell the meat at black market prices unless it is cut into joints. The honorable member for Indi said that the meat producers had received no assistance. The subsidy for wheat stock feed alone has averaged1s. 8d. a bushel, and the honorable member cannot say that the Government is not assisting the meat producers, because only a few months ago he alleged that the Government was robbing the wheat-growers in order to benefit the meat producers. He cannot have it both ways. The Government is not only subsidizing the meat industry in respect of stock feed at the rate of1s. 8d. a bushel for wheat, but is also paying 8d. a bushel for the transport of wheat for this purpose from Western Australia.I remind the honorable member for Indi that he was a member of a government which imposed a levy of 15 per cent, on fat lambs. At that time, when I received my account in respect of lambs sold by me I was debited at the rate of 15 per cent., and when I inquired the reason for this deduction I was told that thelevy was imposed for the purpose of subsidizing the great canning industries for which the honorable member and his colleagues shed crocodile tears. What political hypocrites ! After the Japanese entered the war, the Curtin Government not only abolished the 15 per cent, levy but was also responsible for other advantages to the industry. Whereas my receipts for fat lambs during the regime of the Government of which the honorablemember for Indi was a member averaged 17s. a head, my returns after theCurtin Government took office and eliminated the levy of 15 per cent, averaged from 21s. to 21s. 6d. a head. The honorable member for Indi, therefore, is indulging in humbug and hypocrisy. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) alleged that the Government was slaughtering all our dairy cattle. The Government admits that during the war, the dairying industry, like all other rural industries, was short of man-power and superphosphate. On top ofthose difficulties Australia experienced the worst drought in its history. Nevertheless, whilst our normal meat exports to Great Britain totalled from 240,000 tons to 250,000 tons a year,our exports during this period of difficulty totalled approximately 350,000 tons, or an increase of 100,000 tons. I remind honorable members opposite of a statement made by their colleague the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), shortly after I was elected to this chamber about two years ago. He saidthat when a tragedy overtakes the wheatindustry, that industry will take twoyours to rehabilitate itself; that when tragedy overtakes the sheep industry,that industry will take approximatelythree years to get back to normal ; butwere 2 tragedy overtakes the dairyingindustry, that industry will take at leastthree years under the most favorableconditions, and five years under normalconditions, to rehabilitate itself. Due to warand drought, the dairying industryhasbeen overtaken by disaster. However, Isay frankly that were we again at war,andhad to decide whether we would slaughter dairy cows in order to feed our troops and the people of Great Britain, the Government would not hesitate to implement again, the policy which it has implemented during the war; and it would be proud to do so. Now, although the war is hardly over, the honorable member for Indi expects the Government immediately to satisfy all of the industries’ demands. That, of course, is humanly impossible.
I am able to support one suggestion made by honorable members opposite. I urge the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, as they have suggested, to give earnest consideration to the immediate appointment of trade commissioners abroad. Trade commissioners are required to survey possible markets and to advise the Government on the classes, quantity and quality of products which prospective markets are likely to absorb. That information will be of very great value. In order to assist the work of trade commissioners, the Government should attach to their staffs publicity assistants to prepare for publication in the press and magazines information dealing with Australia’s primary industries and thus enlighten the people of other countries concerning the quality and classes of our products. I urge the Acting Minister to giveserious consideration to these suggestions.
– As Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, I find it somewhat refreshing to lay aside for the moment the more controversial problems of Army administration and enter the peaceful atmosphere of pastures, dairy herds, sheep and poultry flocks, banana-growing and primary industry generally. I was inclined to think that it would be impossible to raise controversy on these matters, but honorable members opposite have alleged bungling on the part of the Government in the administration of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. However, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) has replied so effectively to some of their complaints that he has relieved me of the responsibility of doing so. The right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) criticized the reduction of the Estimates for this department, but a reduction of £3,000 in a total vote of £374,000 is negligible. Oppositions of the political brand of the present Opposition usually criticize governments for increasing expenditure. I remind those honorable gentleman that while we were engaged in an all-in war we concentrated all our attention upon the war effort. In such circumstances it would have been out of place had the Government increased expenditure on our commercial intelligence service abroad. As a matter of fact, a number of our commercial representatives were either taken prisoners of war or driven out of countries, such as Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies, whilst others had to be temporarily withdrawn from their posts in other countries. That policy is now being reversed. With the cessation of hostilities the Government has planned a very big expansion of our commercial intelligence service abroad.
– Is that why the vote in respect of that service is being reduced by £400 compared with the vote last year ?
– The war is hardly over. Indeed, peace-time conditions have not yet been established in the Pacific zone. I assure the right honorable member that the Government intends to appoint a number of commercial representatives abroad. In particular, the expenditure proposed in respect of our trade representation in New Zealand has been criticized. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy) complained that the Government had abolished the office of Trade Commissioner to New Zealand. The fact is that the commercial secretary is doing exactly the same work as that which the trade commissioner performed. With the appointment of a High Commissioner to New Zealand, the Government considered at the time that the designation of commercial secretary was more appropriate.
– Last year there was a trade commissioner, a commercial secretary and a high commissioner.
– A trade commissioner to New Zealand will be appointed, and he will do the work of the commercial secretary, under the High Commissioner.
– In other words, the office of trade commissioner has been abolished and the commercial secretary will do the job.
– No, the trade commissioner will do the work which has been done for a short period by the commercial secretary.
– The Estimates do not make financial provision for a trade commissioner.
– The Government considered that it was better to alter the designation. Probably the honorable member will approve the proposed reversion to “ Trade Commissioner “. The honorable member referred also to the reduction of the appropriation for the Apple and Pear Marketing Board from £725,000 last year to £150,000 this year. The explanation is that because of the sales on the local market, the amount of £725,000 was not expended. As the result of the small crop, prices were high and the loss was practically negligible. According to the Estimates for the operations of the board this year the amount of £150,000 will be adequate to meet any losses. Some honorable members opposite asked me to define the future policy of the Government towards the apple and pear industry. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost), who has a practical knowledge of the industry, and some other honorable members have shown a great interest in this subject, because to Western Australia and Tasmania it is important that apples and pears shall be acquired in the 1946 season. A few days ago, Cabinet decided that the Commonwealth should acquire all apples and pears in Western Australia and Tasmania during the 1946 season. In the last three seasons, the crops in those States have been acquired by the Commonwealth and marketed by the Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board. That practice will he followed in 1946 under conditions which, I think, will prove satisfactory to those engaged in the industry.
– Is there any prospect of a revival of the export trade in apples i
– Yes. Arrangements have already been made for an increase of exports. The difficulty is the lack of shipping. This year, limited exports have been resumed to the United Kingdom under a purchase arrangement with the British Ministry of Food. The agreement provides for the shipment of 254,000 cases of apples from Tasmania and Western Australia. To the degree to which shipping can be made available, the export trade will be expanded.
– Has the Field Peas Board ceased to function?
– I shall obtain that information for the honorable member tomorrow. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) referred to the meat industry. The Meat Controller, Rationing Commission and Prices Commissioner have, in some respects, worked together, and at times concerted action has been necessary. I am satisfied that everything possible is being done to meet the problem of keeping prices within the prescribed ranges. The difficulties have been great. I inform the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) that the steps taken by the Meat Controller against certain operators in Melbourne were well justified. Certain butchers were buying stock at prices which made it impossible to control meat prices. In addition, they were purchasing more stock than they were entitled to buy, and thus were engaged in black marketing and reducing the supplies available for Great Britain. The honorable member for Bendigo and others complained in one breath that insufficient quantities of meat were being sent to Great Britain, but in the next breath they protested when authorized officers of the Commonwealth stepped in and checkedblack marketing. Meat prices under the British contract and in the civilian markets are more payable to producers than they were when the previous government was in office. That statement cannot be questioned. The honorable member for Bendigo, who has an intimate knowledge of the practical aspects of fatlamb production, quoted the prices which were being paid to-day compared with the prices which were paid a few years ago. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) made some helpful suggestions regarding the fat lamb export, trade. The Government is not considering any proposal toacquire fat lambs, but if the proper authorities suggest a scheme similar to that mentioned by the honorable member. the Government willcare- fullyconsider it.
Mr.HUTOHINSON. - I did not suggest that the Government should acquire fat lambs. I said that a rumour was current that the Government proposed to do so.
– I also have heard those rumours. At the present, no such proposal is before the Government.The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corscr) asked whether the Governmemt intended to support a policy of world free trade. I have not heard it seriously suggested, and the Government hasnot considered it.
– The honorablemembers for Wide Bay wondered whether there was any prospect of the revival ofthe agreement with Canada for the export of pineapples grown in Queensland.
– The Government is examining that matter, and an announcement will he made at the appropriate time. Australia is fully alive tothe necessity to increaseits export trade, and to appoint trade representative abroad. Before the financial year hat expired, and when our war responsibilities can be, put aside to a greater degree than at present, additional appointments will be made. We are to enter into a very satisfactory wool agreement which, I believe, will be hailed with approval by the overwhelming majority of wool-growers. The representatives of the wool-growers’ associations, whom I met in Melbourne recently, have given to it their cordial approval. Contracts have been made at satisfactory prices for the sale of our meat and butter until September, 1948. Honorable members will have more reason to congratulate the Government than to criticize what has been done.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) referred to tie shortage of labour in the primary industries. All countries which have been engaged in an “ all-in “ war effort have suffered because of the acute shortage of labour not only in primary industries but also in secondary industries, and no charge of havingneglected the claims of primary industries can be laid atthe door ofthis Government. Before the Government took office, thousands of young men and women had left the primary industries to enlist in the fighting services or to seek employment in factories engaged on war production, where probably the wages were higher and the conditions more attractive than they were in the primary industries. Realizing the importance of primary industries, the Government, in May, 1942, placed a blanket exemption upon all employees of essential primary industries. After that date, nobody was called up from those industries. As soon as the war position improved, realizing the importance of the food front, the Government commenced to m!ake substantial discharges from the fighting services to enable primary producers to carry on. Since October, 1943, about 34,000 men have been released from the fighting services to engage in rural industries, and it is estimated that more than 8,000 men will be released from the services for rural industries during the next few months. This will be in addition to rural workers released under the demobilization plan. From October, 1943, to June of this year, 26,053 occupational releases from the Army and Air Force were approved for rural industries, including approximately 7,000 for Queensland alone because of its big claims in regard to the sugar industry. For the current half year, 3,000 rural releases are being recommended for all States. In addition, routine discharges since January, 1944, have included 8,264 rural workers, and it is estimated that 5,000 rural workers will be included amongst servicemen to be released by December as the result of the discharge of long-service veterans, and the release of men on other grounds. These discharges total 45,317. That can hardly be regarded as an indication that the Government is unsympathetic towards the claims of primary producers. The opposite is the case. The Government has shown itself to be sympathetic in a practical way. No section of employers can pass through the stress of war without suffering some inconvenience. As a matter of fact, whilst I was in Europe f travelled through Holland and saw the plight of thousands of dairy-farmers who had no cows left on their properties - 200,000 cows had been slaughtered or driven to Germany. A similar position existed in Belgium and Denmark.
In this country, farmers at least were left with their herds. Some of them no doubt sold their herds because of the favorable prices ruling on the beef market, but that is merely a temporary phase. At least the farmers had their freedom and had plenty of good food. They were in an infinitely more favorable position than primary producers in other countries which were overrun by a ruthless enemy. To summarize, in addition to maintaining an all-in war effort, the Commonwealth Government has been mindful of the claims of primary producers. As I have said, it has negotiated a wool agreement which will be of inestimable value to this country for the next fourteen years because it guarantees a reasonable return to wool-growers. Also we shall be able to sell all our surplus meat and dairy products to the United Kingdom up to 1948. Not only primary producers, but also the people of Australia generally are most fortunate to have come through this war with comparatively little inconvenience compared with the lot of many millions of unfortunate people overseas.
Certain questions raised by the honorable member for Indi are well worth further consideration and are being actively considered now that the war is over. These include fodder conservation, and water conservation and irrigation. Fodder conservation was discussed by the Australian Agricultural Council at its meeting in Adelaide over which I presided in the absence of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully). Certain decisions were made at that meeting, and will be the subject of discussions at the next meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers. Unfortunately, although fodder conservation has been discussed for many years, very little has been accomplished. The primary producers of this country are not fodder conservation minded to the degree that farmers in the United States of America, in Great Britain, or on the Continent are. That is very obvious to any one who travelled through rural districts in those countries. However, the problem is not being neglected by the Government. Water conservation and irrigation projects will be included in the national works programme, which involves an expenditure of £200,000,000. Already that programme has been discussed at conferences of Commonwealth and State Ministers.
In short, in regard to primary industries, the Government has a record of which it is justifiably proud as it is justifiably proud of its record in gearing this nation to an all-in war effort, and helping substantially the victory that has been achieved by the Allies in the South-Wast Pacific Area.
– Listening to the speech of the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Forde) one would not imagine that we were failing in our obligations to Great Britain insofar as the supply of food is concerned, or that despite the severe rationing of butter and meat and other commodities in Australia, we were unable to do the job which this primary producing country should be able to do. To say that we- should be proud and thankful that we are not in the position of other countries, such as Denmark and Belgium, merely clouds the issue. On many occasions in the past few years I have endeavoured to draw the attention of this Government to the plight of our rural industries. In doing so, I have tried to be helpfully critical by placing before the Government, not only my own experiences and observations as the representative of a country constituency, but also information which I have obtained from voluminous correspondence with thousands of farmers who have submitted their cases to me. It is because of that knowledge, and of the factual observations that I have been able to make, that I rise for a second time in the course of the debate on this, proposed vote to express great disappointment at the speech of the Acting Minister. The right honorable member expressed satisfaction with what the Government is doing, but there is no reason for satisfaction. I believe that the blanket exemption upon call-ups from primary industries was imposed largely as the result of protests that I made when on more than one occasion I moved the adjournment of the House to consider this matter. On the 5th or Sth May, 1942, the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), who was then Minister for Labour and National Service, introduced that blanket exemption, but only after the strongest pressure had been brought to bear by myself and other members on this side of the chamber. It i3 a matter for regret that the Government cannot approach this subject more sympathetically. Last year our exports of butter dropped from 100,000 tons to 37,000 tons, and the prospects for the next few years are not good. The falling off of dairy production is not entirely due to bad seasons. In July of last year the Commonwealth Statistician sent a questionnaire to dairy produce factory managers, but it would appear that the Government is not aware of the results, as otherwise it would have taken action to rectify the position. The questionnaire was sent to 450 dairy produce factory managers who were asked to indicate the causes of the decline of dairy production. The information was desired primarily for the guidance of the ControllerGeneral of Food. The answer* indicated that 3,500 farmers had either left their farms or had ceased to engage in dairying. There were 429 responses by factory managers to the questionnaire. Of that number, 247 thought that farmer* in their districts were drying off their cows; 186 were of the opinion that the falling off of production was due either wholly or partially to fatigue consequent on a shortage of labour ; 104 thought that adverse seasonal conditions were a contributing factor. It will be seen that only 104 out of 429 factory managers who responded attributed the reduced production to seasonal conditions. Surely that is sufficient answer to the contention of the Government that the decline of primary production is the result of adverse seasonal conditions. These men have told the Government why the production of butter has fallen and why this country’s obligations to Great Britain cannot be fulfilled. Yet the Government is not releasing men for rural production quickly enough. The Statistician’s figures show that at the 31st March, 1945, primary industries were still 100,000 men below requirements. The release of men from the armed forces to engage in rural production is necessary, not in order to confer some favour on dairy farmers, but in order to assist the nation to provide vital foodstuffs. The
Government should be more sympathetic to requests for releases of men from the armed forces to engage in rural production; its present policy is not conducive to an improvement of the food supply position. At this period of the year men are needed at ‘ once.
A good deal is said about the need for fodder conservation. Now is the time of the year for crops to be put in and for land to be got ready. Farmers would do these things if they had the necessary man-power. Instead of saying that so many men will be released in December and January, the Government should release men now. In various camps throughout Australia large numbers of men are idle. “Why wait for some points system to be put into operation ? If there are not sufficient doctors to deal with men in the usual way, let men be released temporarily for work on farms, and later let them be medically examined and discharged. I know of scores of men in camps on the mainland of Australia whose farms are neglected at a time when food is urgently needed. These men are consuming food instead of producing it.
I do not agree that the position of the dairying industry in Denmark is bad, although dairy-farmers in Holland have suffered grievously. I have here a report from a large firm which deals with dairy produce from my district in which it is said that inquiries have been made as to conditions in Denmark. The report, which is dated the 13th September, 1945, points out that in Denmark 10,000 tons of butter have already been landed in the east coast ports of Britain since V-E Day. It is expected that Denmark will soon be in a position to export between 60,000 and 80,000 tons of butter per annum, after supplying that country’s own needs, and that, provided certain problems can be overcome, the quantity may reach 100,000 tons in the coming vear. The report goes on to say that the cattle population of Denmark is only about 10 per cent, below pre-war totals, ft will be remembered that before the war Denmark was Australia’s principal competitor in the butter market. That country is1 quickly getting back to normal conditions, and will again be a formidable competitor. What is the use of appointing trade commissioners unless we can supply the goods for which they find markets ? Under the policy of the present Government we shall have goods to sell only after our competitors have captured all the markets. It is all very well to say what will be done next year. In the meantime, the people of the United States of America are capturing the tinned fruits market. South Africa also is active. There is no time to lose. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) knows that apple-growers are concerned about re-establishing their trade with the United Kingdom.
– There is no refrigerator space available..
– There is anxiety as to the future of the apple industry after refrigerator space has been made available. I agree that at the moment ii is not .possible to export apples, but we could, at any rate, send token shipment* of canned fruits.
– If we had the fruit to send.
– That is a defeatist attitude. The commodities are available now. It is merely a matter of diverting 10,000 or 20,000 or 50,000 cases of fruit from the services, and sending them overseas. Already our competitors are in the field, and we should realize that no time should be lost in re-establishing our own markets overseas. The prospect of our export industries is very bleak unless prompt action is taken. In particular, it will be difficult to find a market for our butter unless we can aci immediately. We must first see that our trade representation overseas is adequate, and then we must follow up with the goods. We cannot produce the goods if we keep men idling in military camp* when they should be working on the farms.
During the drought, small farmers ob the North Coast were severely hit by the shortage of fodder, particularly wheat, yet the Government, as part of the acreage restriction scheme, is providing £285,000 to compensate farmer* in Western Australia for not growing wheat. Surely our experience of the last year or two should teach us the need for growing as much wheat a* possible both for ourselves and for people overseas. The Government’ s continuation of acreage restriction will require tome explaining to those who, during recent years, have been unable to get feed for their stock.
. -The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) was wrong in assuming that 1 was arguing in favour of acquisition in respect oflambs. As a matter of fact, I was urging the reverse of acquisition. I maintain that any plan which penalizes a certain section of the growers must be regarded as the responsibility of the community. I was pleased to bear that the Government has not considered such an acquisition scheme and I hope it will not do so.
. -Last week, a ministerial statement was made regarding the tobacco industry, but we might still fairly exhibit the sign in regard to this industry, “ Wanted,a policy “. Last year, the Government paid nearly £753,000 to the tobacco combine, in addition to a similar amount the previous year, but still no statement is forthcoming regarding what is to happen to the tobacco industry. An inquiry was instituted in July of last year, and the Minister said that the report would be presented in a few days, that it was only necessary to obtain the signatures of some members of the committee who were then absent. Those members have long since returned, and although I have made frequent inquiries on the subject, no policy has yet been announced, although the planting season is approaching. I can only conclude that the Government intends to do nothing for the industry. The Government, which declares that it is not the friend of monopolies, nevertheless has up to the present paid £750,000 to the tobacco monopoly to enable it to swell its dividends. I protest against the Government’s lack of interest in the industry. As a matter of fact, no provision is made in the Estimates for the encouragement of small primary industries, as is borne out by the fact that the vote this year is less than it was last year. The Minister should hasten his decision, if he intends to make one, and let the tobacco-growers have time to sow their crops this year. Importations of tobacco leaf could be reduced if the growers were given a payable pricerather than that rebates of excise should be given to the monopolists. The concession asked for by the growers in July last year should be granted so that they shall have a stabilized payable price. The revenue would not suffer.
The Minister expressed selfsatisfaction at the subsidies paid to primary producers. I hope the payment made to potato-growers is not one that gives the Minister a feeling of self-satisfaction, because obviously it should not be, because the price that the growers were receiving when the Government chose to alter its policy and pay a subsidy on potatoes was satisfactory. Obviously, the policy waschanged for electioneering purposes, before the last general election, No one can suggest that aprice of£6 10s. a ton for potatoes exclusive of the subsidy is payable and is likelyto induce expansion of potato-growing.
– A lot depends on where the potatoes are grown.
– I agree. What: I say applies at least to Queensland. I admit that that State is not able to grow potatoes so cheaply as they can be grown in the southern States. The price needed by the Queensland growers is from £13- to £15 a ton if their industry is to be at: all profitable. That was the price they were receiving when the Government changed its policy. Regarding other subsidies paid to primary producers, Inotice that £4,700,000 is included in the total. I do not know whether that includes payments made to the Division of Import Procurement by the Department of Supply and Shipping. That is no morea payment to primary producers than in the subsidy to the potato-growers. That, in addition to the fact that the dairying industry is receiving a rebate of about £2,000,000 from the United Kingdom Government, indicates that, instead of the primary producers receiving about £12,000,000 this year, they will receive approximately half that amount. So there is no reason for the Government’s self-satisfaction. The paymentis no more than the growers are entitled? to. Other members of the community have their prices fixed and the primary producers have an equal right, in return for their labour, to receive fair prices.
All parties should be concerned with the need to stabilize the prices of primary products if the rural industries are ito prosper. The policy of co-operation will help to bring about stabilized prices more satisfactorily than any other method. The Australian Country party stands for co-operative enterprise. I have heard many supporters of the Government express their belief in the same principle. So I am glad that we agree, notwithstanding our other political differences, on the basic need for stabilization. If primary producers are to be given a subsidy this year and have it reduced or taken away next year, obviously the growers will suffer. Many statements have been made about the wheat-growers not having received the benefit of the overseas price. If the wheat-growers are not to receive it now, the difference between the overseas price and the amount paid to them ought to be set aside to provide a fund to maintain the price of wheat at a payable level should there be a glut and a consequent slump. I entirely agree with the complaint of the honorable member for Richmond about the £285,000 to be paid to Western* Australian farmers not to grow wheat. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) referred to the tragedy that overtook the wheat-growing industry from which it took two years to recover. For a long time, I have called the Scully wheat plan the “ Scully wheat tragedy “. When this country and many others are crying out for wheat we should not be paying money to people not to grow it, especially when we have had to spend about £3,000,000 to subsidize the growers of other stock-feed. One reason for the decline of dairy production is the lack of fodder. Yet the Government refused to allow wheat-growers in Queensland to grow wheat at the guaranteed price of 4s. a bushel when; on the figures -of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, the price of wheat brought to Queensland from the southern States was no less than 5s. 7d. a bushel. The Scully wheat plan needs to be drastically amended. Unlimited wheat production ought to be allowed until we again have a surplus. That would enable us to assist Great Britain, and Eastern and other countries that are in need of food. I regard the subsidizing of farmers not to grow wheat as a device to assist a couple of Labour electorates in Western Australia, but I am concerned not so mnch with that as with the national aspect of the matter. It is tragic that wheat-growers in Queensland were limited to 3,000 bushels on which the guaranteed price of 4s. a bushel was paid. That forced them out of production because it was not payable to produce only that quantity of wheat. I hope that the Government will co-operate with all parties in the near future in an endeavour to draft a policy that will give to primary industries stable, payable prices rather than that prices be inflated this year and below the cost of production next year. I am concerned about the future of primary industries and the need to stabilize prices in order to ensure the maintenance of those industries.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of Social Services, £632,000; and Department of Supply and Shipping, £288,000- agreed to.
Department of EXTERNAL Territories.
Proposed vote, £40,000.
– I take this opportunity to commend the Government upon its appointment of Colonel J. K. Murray as Administrator of the Territory of Papua-New Guinea. I am confident that Colonel Murray brings to this important post the special qualifications which it requires. For many years he has been principal of the Agricultural College at Gatton in my electorate. I knew him for many years before I was elected to this chamber. Colonel Murray - or Professor Murray as he is better known in Queensland - holds diplomas in the science of agriculture and tropical agriculture, whilst his able and competent wife who also holds a diploma in the science of agriculture and the degree of Bachelor of Economics will. I am sure, be most helpful to him in the duties of his new post. This appointment is, indeed, a very good one. Colonel Murray, although modest, is a man of deep convictions, and a fearless administrator. He is well fitted to discharge the trust which the Government has now reposed in him, and I am confident that he -will carry out the duties of his new office without fear, or favour.
Mr.ANTHONY (Richmond) [10.55]. - Before the war an extensive survey was made in New Guinea and Papua in an endeavour to determine the effect of what we term civilization upon the lives and health of the natives. I understand that in the years immediately preceding the war about 50,000 natives were registered by name. The officer responsible for that survey was Mr. Chinnery, an anthropologist, who is now engaged in the Northern Territory. In making that survey he did an excellent job, but we shall not reap the full value of the information gained unless a check survey is made by the officers who carried out the first survey. The second survey will be of most value as a check, if it be undertaken immediately, in view of the fact that these territories have been occupied for several years by the Japanese. Therefore, I suggest to the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) that, in pursuance of the Government’s objective to obtain the fullest information on these matters, he arrange a second survey in order to check the results of the first survey.
I also ask the Minister whether he can indicate when the Government proposes to restore civil administration in New Guinea. What are the Government’s plans in that respect? I should like to know when and where it proposes to establish the capital. When the Japanese invaded New Britain, Rabaul was the capital, but Lae had been chosen for the future capital. This matter was fully discussed at that time.
– It is hoped to restore the civil administration in New Guinea some time next month. At present, I cannot indicate the exact date, because of the difficulty of providing adequate transport for officers of the administration. This matter will be discussed at a conference to be held next week. The result of that conference will be announced as soon as possible. The present administration is only provisional. Until such time as the final set-up of the Terri tory is determined - and that matter awaits the result of discussions elsewhere - it will be impossible to determine the site of the permanent capital. However, the temporary head-quarters of the civil administration will be at Port Moresby. The Government has extensive plans with regard to the development of its territories, the control of native labour, and the improvement of educational and health facilities for the natives. I have already made a statement on behalf of the Government with respect to those matters. From time to time as the Government determines its plans for the rehabilitation of the territories under its control, other announcements will be made. I assure the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) that the Government is pressing on with its plans, and that the civil administration will be quickly restored. The Government’s objective is to rehabilitate the territories as quickly as possible, to give to the natives better living and working conditions, and by improving their standard of education to give to them eventually the opportunity to share in the government of the territories.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed vote, £216,000.
– The estimated expenditure for the Department of Immigration is most important, because I have no doubt that the amount of money provided is the answer to the policy which the . Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) enunciated last week. If it be the answer, the proposed expenditure to give effect to that policy is not likely to be sufficient. For example, an amount of £25,000 has been provided for migration publicity with the object of attracting to Australia the millions of people whom we require to ensure the security of this continent against aggression. The amount is absurdly low. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have criticized the Government’s wasteful expenditure in other departments, but we consider that greater financial provision should be made for certain departments, including the Department of Immigration. An amount of £65,000 has been provided as a subsidy towards child migration. As the Minister correctly pointed out, child migration should be encouraged, because children are more readily absorbed and accustom themselves to our ways and habits more quickly than do adult migrants. That amount of money is not likely to enable the Minister to achieve . the Government’s objective. For British migrants other than children, a subsidy of £50,000 is provided. That will not be adequate to attract the number of people whom we desire. This amount will be expended, not on establishing the machinery necessary to encourage migrants, but on subsidies. If the money were required to establish the machinery, it might be regarded as a small contribution towards achieving the objective, but administrative salaries and payments in the nature of salary have been increased from approximately £29,000 last year to £52,000 this year. That increase is not sufficiently large to facilitate the handling of the numbers of migrants to whom the Minister referred as being necessary to implement the first portion of the policy which he enunciated. More must be done. The sum of £25,000 for migration publicity does not touch even the fringe of the subject. That sum might well be expended in only one of the various countries from which we propose to attract migrants. I should like the Minister to give to the committee more information about these estimates, so that we shall be in a position to approve or reject the.m as we see fit.
.- Honorable members must adopt a realistic attitude in regard to child migration. It is not likely that Australia will have migration of British children to Australia on a large scale, because there is in Great Britain a new valuation of the child, which was expressed in the record vote for education, and the amazing programme for education which the British Government recently outlined. The expansion of secondary industries, which Great Britain wil] endeavour to effect, and the valuing of its juvenile community as potentially highly skilled workers, will probably operate against the migration of British children on a large scale. Therefore, we may have to face the possibility of bringing to Australia children from the Continent of Europe, and in that event, their medical rehabilitation will be necessary.
When child immigrants have been brought to Australia, emphasis should be placed upon assimilating them into the Australian way of life, and to that end. 1 disapprove of the large-scale segregation of children in institutions. Adoption should be a major feature of any child migration policy, and a careful check should be kept on the homes in which the children are to live. A period of probation should be provided, children who are members of a family should not be separated, and welfare workers should supervise, at least for a time, the homes in which the adopted children live. Following the policy of adoption, small child-centres should be established where the children will live in groups of ten, and condition? will be as near to family life as possible. An expansion of the ideas of the Fairbridge Farm system in that particular respect is desirable. The staffs of those small centres, in my view, should be married couples. The most desirable locations for child centres are country towns, the country itself, or the outer suburban areas. A full range of facilities which are necessary for children - by that I mean schools from nursery to secondary schools, medical and dental facilities, and adequate facilities foi recreation - should be provided. Children should not be segregated in special schools, as are the Fairbridge Farm children. If we want them to be assimilated into Australian life, they should attend Australian schools where they will mix with Australian children. That they should be put into uniform dress, so that they shall advertise the fact that they are from an institution is completely undesirable. To get rid of the institutional atmosphere from the places to which these children are brought should be our aim. When the children reach adolescence they should have vocational guidance to fit them for employment. We must - I have said this before, and shall not labour it - get out, of our minds the idea that child migrants brought to Australia must specialize in agriculture. We should allow them to follow their bent. and a vitally important thing, which the Fairbridge Farm system, as it works in Western Australia, has shown most abundantly to be necessary, is that some organization should be established for after care in order to ensure that when the children leave their schools or the child centres to which they were first taken, they shall not go where they will be exploited or where their lack of knowledge of the community will be capitalized to some one’s selfish interest. Apart from those supervisions, the after care organizations should watch the transition of the children from the school stage to their eventual absorption in the community.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) to a matter that has been brought to my notice by the Imperial Ex-Services Association of Western Australia,, an organization of Imperial soldiers who served in the British forces, but not in the Australian forces. No provision is made for these men in the Re-establishment and Employment Act, hut I do not wish to go into that because it is not a matter which concerns this department, although I think it is a matter which deserves a good deal of consideration by the Parliament. I find that certain publicity matter has appeared in Great Britain dealing with the position of ex-soldier migrants from Great Britain to Australia which may prove to be very misleading. I have before me a page from the English Daily Mirror, of 27th March, containing under a suitable heading the following article : -
First in the field to bid for British migrants, particularly ex-servicemen, is Australia, the island continent with a population of only 7,000,000;
Introduction of a bill into the Australian Parliament which would give British exservicemen migrants equal benefits with their Australian comrades - free tools and good pay while learning a trade, preference in jobs and loans to start business - is only a part ot Australia’s blue-print for post-war immigration.
The article then gives some further particulars on that matter. I point out to the Minister that our re-establishment and employment legislation does not provide for British ex-service migrants the advantages referred to. I understand that discussions have been proceeding between the Governments of Great Britain and of the Dominions, on the question of reciprocity in relation to these matters, but so far, these discussions have not produced any result of which we are aware, although no doubt they have proceeded quite a long way.
– We have reached agreement on principle.
– That is a phrase with which I am familiar, and I know it means that the argument is about to begin. The present position is that exservicemen migrating from Great Britain to Australia are not entitled to the benefits of our rehabilitation legislation, and, therefore, the statement in this article is completely untrue. I am drawing the attention of the Minister to it not because I am holding him responsible in any way, but because, as the statement has been made, it is eminently desirable that our representatives in London should correct any false impression arising from it. That is all I have to say at this stage, because that is the only portion of this matter that has a bearing on the Estimates of the department now under consideration, but, at a suitable time I shall take the opportunity to suggest to the Government that an agreement should be expedited on this point, because if we are to secure from Great Britain migrants who are ex-servicemen, and I believe that they would be admirable migrants, we must be prepared to offer to them the same kind of advantages in regard to training, rehabilitation, and land settlement, as we offer to our own exservicemen. Only in that way will we induce men who have served in the armed forces of Great Britain to settle in Australia.
– I look upon the Department of Immigration and the financial provision made for it in the Estimates as very important indeed. Whilst the vote of £216,000 is £182,420 more than was expended last year, I fear’ that it does not envisage the implementation of a very urgent or vigorous policy by the Government. I have always believed that migration transcends party political considerations.
To achieve the best results there should i»e absolute and conscientious co-operation between all parties and all interested organizations. I notice that the Estimates provide for the subsidizing of voluntary migration organizations to the sum of £7,500 aud of farm schools to the sum of £5,000. As the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) pointed out:, the allocation for migration publicity, namely, £25,000, is not adequate, having regard to the importance and urgency of the work. With regard to its urgency, there is one aspect which I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister. The American Consul.General in Sydney recently expressed the opinion that there still remained in Au s.tralia approximately 8,000 wives and 4.000 fiancees of United States military personnel, who will ultimately desire to proceed to the United States of America. That is an important matter. It represents a direct loss to Australia of 12,000 young women either married or of marriageable age - a class which i3 the largest single factor in the population potential. The indirect result to Australia of the loss of natural increase is almost incalculable, and may well amount to 25,000 or 30,000 in a few’ years. Whatever attitude the Minister may take regarding the stimulation of migration, his efforts may be more than counterbalanced by this potential loss.
Another important factor that I desire to bring to the notice of the Minister is the desirability of encouraging the migration to this country of rural workers. I should like to know what the attitude of the Government is in that regard.
.- The first fact that should be remembered about the Estimates which have been submitted to this Parliament for approval is that they were prepared originally in about June. They were in course of preparation even , / the collapse of Germany and were almost ready for printing before the collapse of J apan. The criticism of honorable members opposite must be viewed in the light of those facts. The preparation of Estimates is one thing; the expenditure of money may be an entirely different thing. We have pro vided for a certain expenditure by the Department of Immigration, but it does not follow that the amount of £216,000 set down in the Estimates will be the total sum expended during the year on immigration. When the Estimates were drafted it was not expected that the war against Japan would end so suddenly. Indeed, the best military advice within a fortnight of the collapse of Japan was that the war would last for another twelve to eighteen months. It was futile to talk of great schemes of immigration in June last.
– Any man in the street could have told the Government differently.
– The average person in the community was just as surprised as was any member of this House when the atomic bomb brought about the collapse of Japan. In a previous statement, I mentioned the target figure in connexion with immigrants - a number which is capable of realization when shipping is available - but for another twelve to eighteen months we shall be short of shipping. It must be remembered that about 3,000,000 servicemen have to be repatriated from Europe to Canada and the United States of America, and many thousands of Australians have to be brought back to this country. There are about 11.000 airmen in Europe for whom we have been trying to get shipping since the war against Germany ended, but the best that we can hope for is that they will be home for Christmas. There are also 5,000 civilians in Great Britain awaiting passages to Australia. Of that number, 2,500 are wives and children of Australian servicemen, whilst 500 are the fiancees of Australian servicemen. The remaining 2,000 are Australian men, women, and children who have resided in England since the war began and now want to come back home to Australia. We can bring them back only at the rate of about 100 a month in cargo and semi-cargo vessels - the only shipping available. In the light of these additional facts, it is futile to talk of bringing millions of people to Australia to swell our population. We shall bring immigrants here as soon as it is possible to do so.
– Housing accommodation must be provided for them.
– When we have rehabilitated our own people, and when the housing problem is approaching solution, we shall bring immigrants here. The worst thing we could do would be to bring to this country people for whom, there are no jobs and no accommodation. It is true, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition points out, that only £25,000 has been allocated for migration publicity, but more than that amount will be expended in the present financial year. The reason for the small sum set down is understandable in the light of the situation which existed when the Estimates were prepared. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) said that £65,000 for child migration is not likely to bring many children to this country. There was a time when we expected to get 50,000 children from Great Britain. We thought that there might be that many children whose parents had been killed by air raids. Fortunately, the number of orphans in Great Britain due to air raids is only about 3,000. The people of the United Kingdom do not want others to take charge of those children; they think that they are capable of doing so, and, indeed, that it is their responsibility. Therefore, if we are to get child migrants we shall probably have to seek them on the continent of Europe. With conditions there so chaotic - there is scarcely a government with which we can negotiate - this is not the time to seek child immigrants on the Continent. We shall get them later, but I cannot see any hope of getting any number from Europe in the near future. When they do come, they will not be put into institutions as some honorable members expect. I thank the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) for his helpful comments in this connexion. A secondclass home is better than a first-class institution as a place for rearing children. The best way to bring people to this country is in family units - the father, the mother and the children. We shall try to do that. If we do not get sufficient numbers of immigrants from Great Britain, we shall look to those other nationals who have fought in the
Royal Air Force and the British Army, and can speak the English language. About 15,000 Poles have served in the Royal Air Force, and several thousands of them have married English and Scottish women. Many of these have small families. The same can be said of numbers of Czechs, Dutch and Yugoslavs. There are at least 1,000,000 people who have left the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In Sweden and Norway, also, there are great numbers of people who would make admirable Australian citizens.
The honorable member for Wentworth also spoke of the appropriation of £50,000 to bring immigrants other than children to this country. We shall spend more than that sum when agreement is finally reached between the Australian and the United Kingdom Governments. I hope to be able to make a statement on that subject before Parliament rises for the forthcoming recess. After I hear that the United Kingdom Government has approved the details of the scheme, announcements will be made simultaneously in Great Britain and Australia. The scheme provides for the migration to this country of British service personnel and British citizens who were not servicemen. We propose to make liberal concessions to these people coming from the other side of the world to Australia. The agreement represents the finest approach ever made by an Australian Government on the subject of attracting British immigrants to Australia. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) drew attention to an article which appeared in the London Daily Mirror, of the 27th March last. I had previously seen the article which is inaccurate. I have been advised by those who know the English press that this newspaper is notoriously unreliable. At any rate, a statement that the Australian Government is introducing a bill to give immigrants equal rights with Australian soldiers regarding rehabilitation is not a fact. My office in London took early action to place the truth before the people of Great Britain. We must be careful not to mislead the British people as was done in previous immigration campaigns. We are not going to tell them that this is a land flowing with milk and honey, and that every immigrant can get a job at £10 a week as soon as he steps off a ship. We shall tell them the facts. We shall look after them when they come here, and do everything we can to safeguard their interests.
– If the Government gives them a fair deal they will look after themselves.
– That is true, and if we do not give them a fair deal other immigrants will not follow. If we treat them well they will do more than the Government can do to induce other British people to come to this country. At present, we are doing all we can to make the people overseas understand the sort of life which they will lead if they come to Australia. Australia House is receiving 1,600 inquiries a week, and I have myself received a considerable “ fan “ mail from the continent in which I have been- variously addressed. I have even been given the title of Excellency, beside others to which I can lay no claim. The writers are anxious to come to Australia, and they seem to be fine people. Inquiries have been received from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, Canada and the United States of America. In answer to the comments of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), I agree that we shall need rural workers, but it should not be forgotten that our economy is changing. We are no longer a nation of drovers and shepherds and station hands. The great bulk of our people live in cities.
– Unfortunately, that istrue.
– Yes, but we cannot change overnight. We shall be glad to welcome those who can help us with our housing programme, such as engineers, bricklayers, carpenters, and the like, and we are taking special steps to attract them. There will also be room for rural workers. Many foreign nationals who have served in the Royal Air Force come from agricultural countries, and when they come to Australia they will, no doubt, turn to rural industries. The Leader of the Australian Country party also mentioned the proposed joint parliamentary committee on immigra tion. Some time ago, I stated in the House, when I tabled a statement of Ministerial policy, that the Government was prepared to discuss the appointment of such a committee with the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country party, but no advance has yet been made by either of those gentlemen. If they approach the Government it will consider favorably a proposal for setting up the committee.
– The Minister for Immigration and Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) said that he did not intend to mislead the people of Great Britain regarding immigration - that he proposed to tell them the facts. I wish the Government would do the same in regard to other matters. In answer to my criticism, the Minister said that the Estimates had been compiled before the surrender of Germany, and that they were almost in print before the collapse of Japan.
– I said that they were in preparation before the fall of Germany. -
– Yes, and that they were almost in print before the fall of Japan. What sort of treatment is that to accord the Parliament of the nation? Without giving any consideration to the changed circumstances arising out of the collapse of Germany and Japan, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) throws the Estimates on the table, and asks honorable members to give them their serious consideration: Evidently he did not even consult with the departments regarding a revision of the Estimates. All the Estimates of expenditure are unnecessarily inflated. The Government appears to be lost to all sense of decency when Ministers can make an admission of the kind just made. It is an insult to the .intelligence of honorable members and to the taxpayers.
.- All honorable members are agreed that the Government acted wisely in setting up a Department of Immigration. We know that the population of Australia must be rapidly increased, and I had hoped that the new department would have prepared plans to get on immediately with its job. It has a great opportunity before it now, but that opportunity will quickly slip away. I agree with most of what the Minister said, but he put before us little in the way of positive proposals. There are millions of people in the world to-day whose whole manner of life has been disturbed by the war, and who are, therefore, in a state of mind which predisposes them to take the tremendously important step of making a new home for themselves overseas. Thousands of men and women in the fighting forces of the world have no homes to go back to. Their domestic lives have been completely shattered by the war. Many thousands of young men and women have never had a civil adult life and will soon be starting one for the first time. This is the moment to place before them specific concrete proposals that will attract them to this country. Let this moment pass and they will find employment and settle down elsewhere. Many thousands will marry and rear families and it will be futile for the Minister, or any one acting for him., a year or two hence to try to induce them to come here, because there will be no chance of persuading them to leave their native lands to become Australian citizens. So the very pith of this matter is quick action and there is no evidence of quick action in the Minister’s statements. Not only are there citizens of the United Kingdom willing to come to live in Australia ; there are also about 15,000 Poles in the Royal Air Force alone and contingents of Czechs and various other desirable Europeans who have been fighting in the British forces, many of whom are willing to come here. They would be desirable citizens. As the Minister has said7 tremendous numbers of people have been displaced from the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. I have been told that there are 1,000,000 such people who have no desire to return to their native lands now that they are completely under the domination of Russia. They are of the type that would make desirable Australian citizen, but they will not be available in a couple of years. I agree that the problem of shipping is very real. A great number of European refugees who have been serving in the Allied forces subject to military discipline would be willing to come to Australia in troopships.
– Would the honorable member like to bring women and children to Australia under troopship conditions?
-If the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) had been listening instead of dozing, he would have known that I was not talking about women and children. All other honorable gentlemen heard what I said and I am not inclined to repeat my remarks’ for his benefit. Many of them would be glad to travel under troopship conditions to Australia where there is a job for them to do. I know that the Minister indicated that, in addition to the shipping problem, there was the problem of housing, but those people are not asking for the red carpet to be rolled out for them or that they should travel in staterooms on ships and on arrival expect to find houses built and furnished for them and a job awaiting them on the first Monday morning after their arrival. They are willing to come here to help us build the houses that we need, to help us to rehabilitate farms, and to help us in developmental work that must be undertaken. So I ask the Minister to reconsider the attitude that he has adopted in his various statements to the effect that it is futile for us to talk about any sizeable immigration scheme at present because of shipping difficulties and the shortage of this, that, and the other. We know how a country can be developed by a great flow of immigrants. We have the example of the development of the United States of America. I should not wish Australia to adopt an immigration plan of the character of that adopted by the United States of America with such fruitful results, because I have not the slightest doubt that the migrants who went to that country in a completely unplanned manner were ruthlessly exploited in the jobs that they took. I would be the last to advocate the adoption of such a policy in Australia. Migrants who come to Australia should work under the same terms and conditions under which all Australians work, neither better nor worse, but I am sure that that does not mean that we need to have feather beds awaiting them. This country was pioneered by people willing to come here and work because it was a happier home for them.
– The honorable member does not want immigrants to start off under the conditions that the pioneers faced.
– I do not and I see no necessity why they should. I am confident* that we have the opportunity to assimilate tremendous numbers of those people in fruitful employment. I have not the slightest doubt that displaced nationals in the United Kingdom and the various parts of Europe, who are of the type that it would be desirable to have here, could engage in such valuable developmental work as afforestation. That might involve camp life. I am not suggesting that married couples should have to live under camp conditions. But many thousands of people displaced from the Baltic States would gladly seize the opportunity to help us to grow forests, to lock rivers and conserve water, to make bricks, to fell trees and to saw timber.Some of this work would enable us to get on with our home building programme. We need absolute determination to seize what will probably be the last great opportunity in our lifetime to attract hundreds of thousands of people to become Australian citizens. I hope that the Government will not allow the opportunity to slip through its fingers.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Industrial Trouble on the Waterfront: Hold-up of Dutch Ships; Indonesian Seamen.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– To-day the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said that the trouble on the waterfront involving Netherlands vessels was due to the refusal of Indonesian seamen to load those vessels. This raises the important point regarding penalties prescribed under the Immigration Restriction Act in respect of the entry of prohibited immigrants. To-night I received information from Brisbane that the Trades and Labour Council in that city had requested the Prime Minister to-day to get the Government to waive the penalty provisions under that act in respect of the Indonesian seamen who are on strike. I should like to know whether the Prime Minister has received representations from the Trades and Labour Council in Brisbane on this matter ; and, if so, what was his reply to those representations. Are these Indonesian seamen quartered at the Trades Hall in Brisbane? Are they seeking shelter there? If they are put off the ships, or are discharged because they are on strike, the Government must take action against them as prohibited immigrants. If the Trades and Labour Council in Brisbane is interesting itself on behalf of these men, what international complications are involved? Does the Prime Minister intend to waive the penalty provisions under the Immigration Restriction Act in respect of these men? If so, may not such action by the Australian Government be taken by the Netherlands Government as encouragement to its nationals who are on strike to defy the discipline which the Netherlands authorities themselves might wish to impose upon these men? This situation is fraught with grave possibilities. The possible complications are such that the country should be made aware of any decision by the Government before it enters into any commitment which might be misconstrued by one of our former allies. I could deal with the matter at length, but owing to the lateness of the hour I do not propose to do so. However, in view of its importance, I raise it in order that we may be enabled to learn what is likely to happen before the Government enters into any commitment in the matter.
– in reply - As I have not heard any representations on the matter raised by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), I cannot have given them consideration. In any case, I do not propose to reply to the honorable member until I consider the reply I shall give to those who may make the representations, and, if necessary, to the Netherlands authorities whose representatives will interview me to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre- sented : -
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 140.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 144.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -
Fremantle, Western Australia:
Penrith, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Boot nails and boot nailing machines - Revocation.
Cone rattan (No. 1) - Revocation.
Motor cycle spare parts - Revocation.
Screw wire - Revocation.
Restriction of pastrycooks’ goods (New South Wales) - Revocation.
Subterranean clover seed (Return of stocks) (No. 2).
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (109).
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Order by State Premier - Tasmania (dated 29th August, 1945).
National Security. (Timber Control) Regulations - Order - Control of timber (No. 2) - Revocation,
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1945 - No. 7 - Inspection of Machinery.
House adjourned at 11.55 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The information requested is being obtained.
n asked the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - l and 2. The £7,500,000 appropriated for the year 1044-45was an estimate of the amount required to pay subsidy of 3½d. per lb. (commercial butter) throughout the year, plus additional subsidy of 2d. per lb. in the non-flush months, aiming to give the producer an average return of Is. 7.3d. per lb. of butter. For purposes of calculating the amount required to meet these subsidies, it was necessary to forecast production of dairy products, butter output being estimated at approximately 150,000 tons for the period. Due mainly to the drought, production of dairy products was lower than anticipated (butter production being 137,000 tons) for the financial year 1944-45 and the actual amount paid out- during the year in subsidies under the Dairying Industry Assistance Act was £6,812,197. However, this latter amount also takes account of a decrease in the actual subsidy rate payable by the Commonwealth from 1st April, 1945 through the United Kingdom making increased payments on export dairy products by way of a higher price in lieu of subsidy payments. Against the £6,812,197 actually paid out in dairy subsidies during 1944-45. an amount of £1,659,325 has been offset as a recovery from the United Kingdom of amounts due in respect of exported dairy products to the 30th June, 1944. Thus net expenditure for the year 1944-45 is shown at £5,152,872. The amount to be recouped from the United Kingdom in respect of exports during the 1944-45 financial year is being calculated, and a claim will be made on the Government of the United Kingdom in due course.
Mr. -Forde. - On the 6th September, the honorable member for Galare (Mr. Breen) raised the question of the supply of strippers and headers for the wheat industry.
The honorable member is advised that a thorough survey of the industry has been made and the manufacturers have been authorized to produce these machines and other harvesting equipment up to their full production capacity. I am assured that the total number in process will be completed. Production of harvesters and’ binders will exceed the : average annual’ level of production during the base- period of. eight years ended the 30th June, 1942. It is virtually impossible to increase the planned ‘ production at this stage, because processing commenced ‘in April and fabrication and assembly of components take some months to complete. Recent intake of additional labour will aid prompt assembly of machines. Realizing that some shortage will be inevitable, special efforts have been made by manufacturers, at the department’s request, to produce spare parts for repairing machinery already on farms. These parts must be ordered immediately, however, if they are to be supplied in time. Cereal growers who appear unlikely to receive in time, for the coming harvest, harvesting machinery which they have ordered, should endeavour without delay to make satisfactory arrangements with neighbours or with contractors to take off their crops.
Armed Fordes : Awards to Auxiliaries.
y. - On the 13th September, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked a question relating to the grant of decorations or certificates to members of auxiliary organizations who have given honorary service in this war as was done after the last wai-.
I inform the honorable, member that war medals instituted for the war of 1914-18 were awarded to members of approved philanthropic organizations who were accredited representatives with the defence forces, and to all civilians officially accredited to the forces who had the requisite qualifying service. War medals were not awarded to members of auxiliary organizations who were not so accredited. The same procedure is being followed in relation to campaign stars and medals instituted for service in this war and the same conditions aro applied to awards to accredited civilians as apply to ro embers of the forces.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 September 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450925_reps_17_185/>.